All posts by LynnHoll

About LynnHoll

I have been an artist and designer all my life incorporating graphic design for websites, gardens, publications, fabrics, interior design and cooking. I am now retired from my professional job, but still create artistic visions in all forms on a daily basis.

Armenian Grill: Pork with Pepper Sauce & Skewered Potatoes

Khorovats is Armenian barbecue. Here, thick-cut, bone-in pork chops, are marinated in a mix of onion and oregano, then grilled with wood chips to infuse the pork with smokiness. According to Milk Street where we found this recipe, bone-in, blade-end pork loin chops are the best cut because they contain a good amount of fat, which keeps the meat moist and flavorful; but rib chops will work, too (because they are leaner, it’s important not to overcook them).

In a nod to son David’s fiancée Vikki, who has Armenian heritage, we decided to make this meal paired with another dish from the same country, Armenian Grilled Potato Skewers (recipe below). It’s pretty important to get spuds that are the same size, but was an impossible task at the time we were grocery shopping. So we had several that were larger and had to preboil them a bit longer as well as grill them several more minutes.

Left, Vikki and David hold dog Olive while they patiently wait for dinner to be served.

The sauce that accompanies these chops is also excellent with any grilled pork or chicken. All-in-all we agreed it was fabulous, our only complaint was that the garlic cloves could have been softer. I admit, I did choose large cloves, so cutting them in half or going smaller would most likely have remedied that issue.

The consensus was unanimous, we all LOVED the dinner!!

Tip: Don’t soak the wood chips before wrapping them in foil. Dry chips smoke more readily, which is desirable for quick-cooking foods such as pork chops. After placing the pork on the grill, don’t open the lid for 10 minutes. This allows the smoke to collect and create a more intense smokiness in the chops.

Armenian Grilled Pork Chops with Pepper Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Pork Chops

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
  • 3 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 10- to 14-oz. bone-in pork chops, each 1 to 1½ inches thick
  • 3 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 cups apple wood chips (for smoking)

For the Sauce

  • 1 lb. plum tomatoes (4 medium), cored
  • 12 oz. Cubanelle peppers, Hungarian wax peppers or Anaheim chilies, stemmed, kept whole and seeded
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions

  1. To prepare the chops, in a food processor, combine the oil, onion, oregano, 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon pepper. Process to form a coarse paste, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Using a paring knife, make verticals cuts spaced about ½ inch apart into the fat on each chop. Add the chops to the onion paste and turn to coat, rubbing the mixture into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before heating the grill.
  2. Loosely wrap the wood chips in a 12-by-18-inch sheet of foil, forming a flat packet roughly 7 inches square. Poke several holes in each side of the packet. Prepare a grill for indirect, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, pour a heaping chimney of hot coals evenly over one side of the grill bed and set the wood chip packet on the coals; open the bottom grill vents and lid vents. For a gas grill, place the wood chip packet directly on one burner that will remain on during cooking; turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate. If using a gas grill, turn off one burner, leaving the remaining burner(s) on high.
  3. To prepare the sauce, while grill heats, in a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, peppers and oil. Place the vegetables on the hot side of the grill, then cover and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly charred all over, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to an 8-inch square disposable foil pan and add the garlic, 2 tablespoons of butter and the oregano. Cover with foil and poke a few holes in the foil, then place the pan on the cool side of the grill. Scrape any excess marinade off the pork chops and place the chops on the cool side of the grill alongside the foil pan. Cover the grill, positioning the lid vents over the pork chops if using a charcoal grill. Cook without lifting the lid for 10 minutes.
  4. Move the chops to the hot side of the grill and cook, uncovered and turning occasionally, until well-browned on both sides and the centers near the bone are just barely pink when cut into or reach 135°F, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a platter, place 1 piece of the butter on each chop and tent with foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, uncover the pan; the vegetables and garlic cloves should be completely softened. Using a fork, mash the vegetables until broken down but a bit chunky. Use tongs to remove and discard any large pieces of tomato or pepper skins that do not break down. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter until melted, followed by the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with the pork.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Armenian Grilled Potato Skewers

When purchasing potatoes for this recipe, look for ones about the size of an extra-large egg and that weigh about 2 ounces each and are of similar shape and size. The potatoes can be precooked and refrigerated up to a day in advance; just before grilling, skewer them, brush with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.

You’ll need three or four sturdy 12- to 14-inch metal skewers; skewers with pins that are flat rather than round or square help prevent the potatoes from spinning around, making them easier to manage on the grill. Place the skewered potatoes on the hot side of the grill after you’ve removed the pork chops and allow the potatoes to brown while the chops rest.

Keep in mind, you don’t want to precook the potatoes at a rolling boil which can cause the skins to split (which did happen to a few of ours). Aim to keep the water at a gentle but constant simmer. Don’t skewer the potatoes without first chilling them in an ice bath. Chilling firms the potatoes slightly so that they cut more cleanly when scored with a paring knife.

Armenian Grilled Potato Skewers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. small Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Directions

  1. In a large pot over high, bring the potatoes and enough water to cover by about 1 inch to a boil. Reduce to medium-high, cover partially and cook until a paring knife inserted into the largest potato meets just a little resistance, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle but steady simmer, 8 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then transfer to the ice water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain again and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Thread the potatoes lengthwise onto each of three 12- to 14-inch flat metal skewers, dividing them evenly. Using a paring knife, make 4 or 5 parallel crosswise cuts into each potato, stopping when knife blade reaches the skewer; leave the second sides of the potatoes uncut. Brush the potatoes on all sides with about ½ of the melted butter and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare a grill for high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, pour a large chimney of hot coals evenly over one side of the grill bed and open the bottom grill vents and lid vents; for a gas grill, heat all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
  4. Place the skewered potatoes on the hot side of the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter, brush with the remaining melted butter. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper and the oregano. Serve with lemon wedges.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Both recipes by Diane Unger for Mik street

Greek-Inspired Beans and Tomatoes

By mid-August we harvest green beans on a daily basis. Even with gifting friends our excess supply, the beans will be a staple for dinner many nights a week. We’ve roasted, grilled, steamed and boiled them either alone or in combination with other veggies.

I asked The Hubs to whip something together that would use both an abundance of the beans and our plum and grape tomatoes, and that would compliment our dry rubbed loin lamb chops and Herby Potato Salad. Greek-style instantly came to his mind, which typically uses flat Romano beans. However using our freshly picked pole beans, the dish was still hearty, healthy and bursting with fresh and vibrant colors and flavors.

In lieu of blanching the beans first, you could add them raw at the halfway point of cooking the tomatoes. Just keep a sharp eyeball on the beans so that they are crisp-tender and not overcooked, limp and no longer bright green.

Greek-Inspired Beans and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed, blanched
  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin oilive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. plum/grape/cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar

Directions

  1. Blanche* the green beans in salted boiling water for 2 to 3 minuted depending on how thick they are. Drain and immediately drop in an ice bath until cool. Drain in a colander.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat oil until shimmering over medium heat. Add garlic slices and cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the onion to the garlic with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to cook until the onions are softened, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, turn the heat back up to medium, stir in a 1⁄2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of the oregano. Stir well, partially cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until tomatoes break down and release their juices.
    *If you choose not to blanche the beans, you can add raw beans 5 minutes into cooking the tomatoes, and cook just until beans are crisp-tender, about 5-6 minutes more.
  5. Stir in the blanched beans and remaining oregano and cook for 1-2 minutes more while beans heat through. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Serve immediately.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Italian-Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

Take a walk on the wild side and rev up your standard grilled cheeseburger with this riff on toppings. Instead of the same-old lettuce and tomato on a ground beef patty, start with sweet Italian sausage, then top with melted provolone, tomato pesto and garlicky spinach all nestled in a toasted ciabatta roll.

The grocery store was only offering rectangular ciabatta rolls, so after toasting them, they were cut in half which became the perfect size vehicles with enough heft to support the rest of the ingredients. Yes, anchovy paste is optional and it’s not for everyone, but believe me, the small amount of salty funkiness adds a welcome layer of umami complexity when dissolved into the garlicky spinach.

The Mr. just couldn’t help himself and had to have a second one! See below for a bonus Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto recipe. You only need 1/4 cup of the tomato pesto for the burgers, so you have plenty leftover for another use such as in a pasta dish or an appetizer.

Italian-Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 10 oz. baby spinach
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 tsp. anchovy paste (optional)
  • Salt 
  • 1 lb. sweet or hot Italian sausages (or a combination of both), casings removed
  • 4 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried-tomato pesto, store bought or homemade (see recipe below)
  • 4 round ciabatta rolls, split and toasted

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, bring 1/4 inch of water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 1 minute; drain and press out as much water as possible. Wipe out the skillet.
  2. In the same skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the spinach, season with salt and stir just until coated, about 10 seconds.
  3. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Using slightly moistened hands, form the sausage meat into four 4-inch patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Brush the burgers with oil and grill over moderate heat until browned and crusty on the bottom, about 5 minutes.
  4. Carefully flip the burgers and grill until the burgers are cooked through about 5 minutes longer, adding the cheese one minute before taking off the grill. Spread the pesto on the rolls. Top with the burgers and spinach and serve.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe from Food & Wine

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

This herby Italian sauce is not only great on the sausage burgers, but works with shellfish and pasta too. Make a day or two ahead to save time and effort on dinner night. Leftovers make a great condiment on baguette toasts topped with shredded mozzarella and a chiffonade of fresh basil… YUM!

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

  • Servings: Yields about 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, undrained
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, well-packed
  • 1/4 parsley leaves, well-packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Blend the sun-dried tomatoes, along with their oil, roasted red pepper, garlic, basil, parsley, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor until it forms a thick paste, adding extra oil until smooth.
  2. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

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Creole Corn Sauté

When the first farm-fresh cobs of corn are ready in early summer, we all can’t wait to start chomping down on those flavorful kernels. By August, we’re ready for a fresh approach to corn on the cob. Over the years, we’ve made many a sautéed corn recipe, noting this Creole version from Cook’s Country would be a great side dish for an upcoming BBQ for eight. Since the original is intended for four guests, we doubled the amounts.

For deep, porky flavor in every bite, it starts with bacon. Aromatics are added, then sprinkled with the reserved bacon over the final dish for texture and additional smoky flavor. Instead of sautéing the bell peppers (I used a red and a green since the recipe was doubled) and garlic with onions, scallions are used for their lightness and are better suited to summer.

Lightly browning the corn kernels lends a pleasant, nutty quality to the Creole Corn Sauté. To meld the dish, extract pulp and milk from corn cobs with the back of a chef’s knife down the stripped cobs and collect the juices, then added the corn pulp to the skillet with the kernels. This way the sautéed corn gets creamy, and the individual ingredients come together as a unified dish.

Creole Corn Sauté

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6 medium ears corn
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped fine
  • 5 scallions, white parts chopped fine, green parts sliced thin
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce, Tabasco brand preferred
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cut kernels from cobs over large bowl and scrape remaining pulp into bowl with kernels. Set aside.
  2. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet.
  3. Cook scallion whites and bell pepper in bacon fat until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add corn and corn pulp to skillet and cook until lightly browned, at least 3 minutes, probably longer. Off heat, stir in scallion greens, parsley, thyme, hot sauce, and bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe compliments of Cook’s Country

Spanish-Style Flatbread with Roasted Peppers, Artichokes and Prosciutto

Kick your weeknight dinner up a notch with this simple version of coca, a type of Spanish flatbread. Coca is open-faced like pizza (without cheese) and can be savory, sweet or plain. In Catalan, its place of origin, a coca is a gathering of leftovers or whatever vegetables might be in season (coca derives from the Dutch word kok, for cake). For that reason, this dish isn’t so much a recipe as it is a broad template.

For ease, use store-bought refrigerated pizza dough, put it into a rimmed baking sheet and top it with roasted peppers, marinated artichokes and capers before sliding it into the oven. As the crowning touch, slices of prosciutto are draped on after the flatbread comes out of the oven. If you’re able to find Spanish dry-cured ham, such as serrano or Ibérico, feel free to use it instead. Voila, a fun dinner in no time!

A pizza wheel cutter makes it a cinch to slice up!

A few notes about the ingredients. Our crust was a European-style pizza dough that was already rectangular in shape making it a cinch to spread onto the rimmed baking sheet. Each package was 14.1 ounces, so I used two, one on top of the other, which ended up being over 4 ounces more than called for.

FYI—Don’t use cold dough, as it will be more resistant to stretching and shaping than room-temperature dough; it also bakes up denser. Remove it from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes in advance, depending on the ambient temperature of your kitchen. Also, to prevent sticking, make sure to coat the baking sheet with cooking spray before placing the dough on top.

If you have the chance, get the Trader Joe’s brand of marinated artichoke hearts, they’re the best! For the roasted red peppers, we used a jar of Spanish-style grilled Piquillo peppers. And the amount of prosciutto was increased to four ounces. (I would have chosen Serrano ham if the store had been carrying it at the time.) The sweetness of roasted peppers is balanced by the brininess of jarred artichokes and capers. A sprinkling of fresh thyme offers herbal notes, while sliced prosciutto adds depth and savoriness.

Spanish-Style Flatbread with Roasted Peppers, Artichokes and Prosciutto

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 12-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry and roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup drained marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup drained capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs. store-bought refrigerated pizza dough, room temperature
  • 5 thin slices prosciutto (about 2½ oz.)
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 500°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Mist a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together the red peppers, artichokes, garlic, capers, thyme, 1 tablespoon of oil, ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper; set aside.
  3. Set the dough in the center of the prepared baking sheet, then press and stretch it until it covers the pan and is of an even thickness. Press from the center outward and lift and stretch the edges as needed; it’s fine if the dough doesn’t completely fill the corners. If the dough is resistant or shrinks after stretching, wait 5 to 10 minutes before trying again; if it is very elastic, you may need to give it 2 or 3 rests.
  4. When the dough fills the baking sheet, brush it with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Evenly distribute the red pepper mixture over the top, leaving a narrow border around the edge, then gently press the toppings into the dough. Bake until the edges of the dough are well-browned, 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and slide the flatbread out of the baking sheet and onto a wire rack. Tear the prosciutto into narrow ribbons and drape over the top. Cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a cutting board. Sprinkle with the parsley, then cut into pieces. Serve drizzled with additional oil.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Calvin Cox for Milk Street

Grilled Pork Chop for Two

It’s likely you’ll have the ingredients for the wet spice rub already in your pantry. Among them would be paprika, which lends a fiery red-orange color, not to mention a sweet and slightly fruity taste with very mild heat.

While this approach uses one thick pork chop, you could use two thinner chops (I wouldn’t go less than one-inch thick); just be sure to keep a close eyeball on the temperature because they will get done much sooner.

Well, as luck would have it, tornadoes were in the area with two actually touching down only miles from our house. Just as The Hubs took the chop off the grill pan to let it rest, we were instructed to take cover immediately, so we spent about 15 minutes down the basement before getting the all clear—but at least the meat got to rest!

We served our pork with a side of Avocado Cucumber Salad and a few Truffled Pasta Purses.

As you can decipher from the stormy weather, we were not able to use our outside grill, so we took the next best option and that would be “Grilliam” our cast-iron grill pan. It works basically on the same principal as a gas grill, with grate marks and all!

Grilled Pork Chop for Two

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp.  garlic powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp. each oregano, salt, and pepper
  • 1 1-3⁄4″ to 2″ (about 1.5 lbs.) boneless pork chops

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper until a thick paste forms.
  2. Coat both sides of the pork chop in the paste and set it aside on a plate, or in a ziploc bag, to marinate while you warm up the grill—or for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Preheat your grill to medium-high.
  4. Grill your pork chop for 10-12 minutes per side with lid down, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees (test with an instant-read thermometer). After removing from the grill, let rest on a moated cutting board for 5 minutes tented with foil.
  5. Slice against the grain in 1⁄2-inch slices, arrange on a platter and pour over any accumulated juices.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Stuffed Eggplant Extraordinaire!

Baked Stuffed Eggplant with Italian Sausage is described by Food & Wine as over-the-top stuffed dreamboats. Well “dreamboats” may be a stretch, but they were very good indeed! Ripe tomatoes and roasted eggplant come together to yield a hearty filling, made even better with the addition of Italian sausage (sweet or hot, your choice). Combined with a bright and lemony breadcrumb topping and a quick-fix tomato sauce jazzed up with fresh herbs, this makes a stunning summer main dish.

OK, first glance at the list of ingredients and I hear a few of you sigh an audible groan. But please don’t despair, yes the process is a bit time-consuming, but so worth it! Just be sure you have enough time on hand. It’s rare that we ever follow a recipe exactly due to inability obtain the needed ingredients, or because the amounts of some of those ingredients just don’t seem adequate.

For example, the smallest eggplants I could get were 10 ounces each, while the recipe called for smaller ones. Then, the original amount of sausage was only a 1/4 pound—barely a tablespoon per serving, so we doubled the amount to a 1/2 pound. Finally, the marinara sauce at only 8 ounces again seemed inadequate, so a 14-ounce jar was our choice; in which case the fresh herbs were increased to counterbalance the adjustments.

When it came time to cooking the eggplant and onion, I increased those cooking times because as noted at only 2 or 3 minutes, the veggies weren’t as far along as they should have been. All of our changes are noted below.

It’s important to get eggplants that are all the same size. Here, at 10 ounces each, they were bigger than the recipe called for so we made some adjustments.

Baked Stuffed Eggplant with Italian Sausage

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 7 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • Zest from 1 lemon (about 2 tsp.)
  • 1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 3 small eggplants (about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. altogether)
  • 1/2 lb. Italian sausage (sweet or hot), if necessary, casings removed
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 small onion)
  • 1 lb. plum tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper 
  • 8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 2 cups), plus more for garnish
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 14 oz. jarred marinara sauce

Directions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add breadcrumbs, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside.
  2. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Chop pulp into 1/2-inch thick cubes. Sprinkle eggplant shells with 1 teaspoon salt, and invert onto a clean, dry towel. Let stand 30 minutes to drain. 
  3. Preheat broiler to high with oven rack 5 to 6 inches from heat. Pat eggplant shells dry, and brush with 1 tablespoon oil. Place eggplant shells, cut side up, on a baking sheet, and broil just until tender, about 5 minutes. (I did this in two lots, 3 at a time.)
  4. Remove from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Place in a single layer in a 10- x 14-inch baking dish.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage, and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon to break up large pieces, until sausage is browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a large bowl. Reserve drippings in skillet. 
  6. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high. Cook reserved eggplant cubes in hot oil, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  8. Transfer tomato mixture to the large bowl with sausage. Add feta, 1/2 cup breadcrumb mixture, egg, 2 tablespoons oregano, 2 tablespoons mint, 2 tablespoons parsley, and vinegar; toss until combined. Divide mixture evenly among eggplant shells. Top evenly with remaining breadcrumb mixture, and place stuffed eggplants in oven. Bake at 375°F until filling is golden and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. (Because our eggplant were larger, I cooked them for 40 minutes.)
  9. Meanwhile, stir together marinara sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon of the oregano, mint, and parsley in a small saucepan. Heat over low just until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Drizzle over baked stuffed eggplant just before serving. Sprinkle with remaining sauce and additional feta, if desired.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe loosely adapted from Food & Wine

Citrus Basil Shrimp Kebabs

These babies are lickety-split fast, extremely simple, and so freakin’ yummy! In fact, keep this marinade in mind for poultry as well. You may decide to try other herbs in place of the basil, like oregano, tarragon or chives; or also give them a sprinkle of fresh herbs at the end.

It was the perfect appetizer to bring for a small dinner party at our friends, Mr. and Mrs, Z. The evening could not have been lovelier as we were sitting outside sipping some wine and marveling at the well-manicured gardens. We transported the soaked wooden skewers, marinating shrimp and a sprig of basil leaves along with the perfect sized platter. All that needed to be done when the four of us were ready for a nosh, was to preheat the grill and thread the 20 shrimp onto the skewers—evenly distributed at 5 apiece.

Within minutes on the grill, the shrimp were done and the feast could begin… Speaking of feast, I have to give a shout out to our hosts for the fantastic meal! Mrs. Z. made a leg of lamb that was to die for, accompanied by a tasty potato salad, an incredible watermelon and arugula salad, asparagus, green bean and tomato salad, and a wonderful summery dessert of nectarines over blueberry compote topped with vanilla ice cream all artfully presented in parfait glasses. A dinner to remember for sure…

But I digress, back to the original post which is the featured shrimp kebabs…

Citrus Basil Shrimp Kebabs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
  • ½ tsp. grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp, tails left on

Directions

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2.  Soak four 12-inch wooden skewers in water to cover for at least 30 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the orange juice, lemon or lime juice, orange zest, garlic, olive oil, basil, and salt and pepper until well blended. 
  4. Add the shrimp and mixture to a large ziploc bag, seal and mush around to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the broiler or grill. Skewer the shrimp, dividing them evenly between the skewers. Discard any remaining marinade. Broil or grill for about 4-6 minutes total, turning once as they brown, until they are just cooked throughout.

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Adapted from a recipe by Katie Workman

Avocado Cucumber Salad

A super-easy and healthy side dish to go with your grilled entrée. According to The Endless Meal where I found this recipe “Everything works about this salad: the crunchy but slightly softened cucumbers, the creamy avocados, the earthy cilantro, and the hint of spice that tingles your tongue.”

Making this cucumber and avocado salad requires maceration. The basis of which is tossing the cucumbers in a little salt and sugar then letting them sit at room temperature while some of the juice is drawn out. The process softens the cucumber just a little and makes a sort of dressing for the salad.

NOTE: You can prepare it ahead of time by combining the cucumbers and spices in the bag but NOT sprinkling the salt and sugar over. Place the bag in the fridge for up to 8 hours. When you are ready, take the bag out of the fridge, add the salt and sugar, let it sit for a half hour then continue with the rest of the preparation.

Yes, it is a “green salad” but quite different from what most of us picture because there is no lettuce at all! The recipe calls for a red Thai chili, but in lieu of that we used a green serrano making it even “greener”. The flavors and textures paired wonderfully with our grilled pork chop, but the salad does not store well after the initial meal, so eat it up! (That is why we cut the recipe in half for the two of us—with just a tad remaining.)

Avocado Cucumber Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup minced ginger
  • 2 English cucumbers, quartered and sliced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 Thai red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. neutral-flavored oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1/4 cup each: basil leaves and cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Place the ginger, cucumbers, sea salt, sugar, garlic, and red chili in a large, resealable plastic bag. Squish the bag around a little so that everything is mixed together. Set the bag aside on your counter for a half hour.
  2. Pour everything from the bag into a salad bowl. Add the celery, oil, and lime juice and toss well. Season to taste with sea salt. Add the diced avocados, basil, and cilantro and gently toss once more.
  3. Serve within a half hour.

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Adapted from a recipe found on theendlessmeal.com

Chicken and Corn Stir-Fry, Oh My!

You’ll enjoy this unusual stir-fry combination utilizing fresh corn kernels cut from the cob. The corn, along with rice, does lean toward a carb-heavy meal, but it is so satisfying and full of flavor. Coating the chicken pieces in cornstarch thickens the sauce at the end so that it clings to the meat and veggies.

Rarely overpowering, oyster sauce is packed with umami and adds tons of depth to stir-fries like this one, boosting flavor in marinades, and just being all-around incredibly delicious. No ripe corn at the market? Bon Appétit suggests to swap in peppers, peas, mushrooms, or summer squash.

As with any stir-fry, make sure to chop and prep all of the ingredients ahead of time because once you start cooking, the process goes incredibly fast and you need to keep swinging that metal spatula around.

Chicken and Corn Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 lb.), cut into 1” pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 1” piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. (or more) Aleppo-style pepper or other mild chile flakes
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • Steamed rice and cilantro leaves with tender stems (for serving)

Directions

  1. Stir together oyster sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Season with salt and sprinkle with cornstarch; toss lightly to coat.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large well-seasoned wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook chicken, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and nearly cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. To the wok, add red onion, garlic, ginger, Aleppo-style pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Cook, tossing, until vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add corn and cook, tossing often, until tender, about 3 minutes.
  6. Return chicken to wok with vegetables.
  7. Stir in reserved oyster sauce mixture and cook, tossing often, until reduced nearly to a glaze, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  8. Serve stir-fry with rice, topped with cilantro.

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Adapted from a recipe by Chris Morocco for Bon Appétit

Cod with Scallion-Sesame Butter

WOW, what a refreshing and surprising fish dish from Bon Appétit! This nod to scallion-ginger sauce uses both butter and olive oil, giving extra richness to lean whitefish. A dusting of cornstarch, which I added using a sifter for uniformity, imparts that restaurant-style golden crisp.

Our cod was paired with tri-colored couscous and fresh green beans, both of which made happy with the scallion-butter sauce. Seeing as how olive oil is an integral ingredient, use a high-end EVOO, you’ll definitely taste the difference. It seems almost too simple with the short list of common ingredients to end up so tasty!

Cod with Scallion-Sesame Butter

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 6-oz. cod or other flaky whitefish fillets
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch or all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1” piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Directions

  • Pat fish dry with paper towels; season with salt. Sprinkle one side with an even layer of cornstarch; brush off excess.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Lay fish, cornstarch side down, in skillet and cook, shaking pan occasionally, until golden, crisp, and opaque around the edges, 6–8 minutes. Turn fish over and cook just until fillets are cooked through and flake easily with a fork, 1–2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place scallions in a medium heatproof bowl. Combine butter, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and remaining 4 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to foam and garlic turns light golden, about 4 minutes.
  • Pour over scallions, stirring to wilt. Let cool 1 minute, then season with salt.
  • Serve fish with scallion-sesame butter spooned over.

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Recipe from Chris Morocco for Bon Appétit

Grilled Shoulder Lamb Chops with Garlic-Rosemary Marinade

Growing up, I distinctly remember my mom making grilled shoulder lamb chops, and even though I was a very picky eater, I loved those chops. Fast forward many decades and I am a fan of just about any type of lamb, yet the shoulder chops don’t seem to be as common anymore (at least where we live). So when I spotted them at Costco recently, I knew they had to find their way into the grocery basket.

They tend to be less pricey than many other lamb options—a plus in most people’s thinking. And this recipe can’t be any simpler. With a few common ingredients , and precious little cooking time, you’ll be wanting to add these babies to your regular rotation. Even though you can marinate them in a s little as 30 minutes, I highly suggest you do so for at least 8 hours, and up to overnight.

Our three steaks were a bit thinner than the suggested 3/4″ so they took only a total of 4 1/2 minutes to reach medium-rare, just how we like them, and in no time at all! Use an instant-read thermometer after 4 minutes to get an idea of the internal temp. We barely had time to cook the accompanying fresh green beans and corn on the cob while the lamb rested.

Grilled Shoulder Lamb Chops with Garlic-Rosemary Marinade

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

MARINADE

  • 1 Tbsp. roasted garlic paste, or 2 large cloves minced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

LAMB

  • 4 shoulder lamb chops, about 3/4 inch thick (blade or round bone)
  • Salt & fresh ground pepper

Directions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients in small bowl. Rub both sides of each chop with the paste; add to an air-tight ziploc bag for at least 30 minutes. (Can be refrigerated overnight.)
  2. Turn all burners on gas grill to high, close lid, and heat until grill is very hot, about 15 minutes. Leave one burner on high and turn other burner(s) down to medium.
  3. Rub grill grates with oil. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Grill chops, covered, over hotter part of grill, turning them once, until well browned, about 4 minutes. Move chops to cooler part of grill and continue grilling, turning once, to desired doneness, about 6 minutes for rare (about 120 degrees on instant-read thermometer), about 8 minutes for medium (about 130 degrees), or about 10 minutes for well-done (140 to 150 degrees).
  5. Remove chops from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Honey Garlic Shrimp, Corn and Avocado Bacon Salad

The love affair begins with the dressing, which is the key to adding unforgettable flavor. Just like a romance, it is sweet, spicy, tangy—with a jolt of garlic thrown in. Although I had to laugh at the notion that this Honey Garlic Shrimp, Corn, and Avocado Bacon Salad recipe from Half-Baked Harvest was supposed to feed six. Including daughter Julia who was in for a visit, the three of us polished it off entirely—yes, it was THAT good!

While there is not much cooking, you do need to char the ears of corn, crisp the bacon and sear the shrimp. Afterward, it comes together in minutes. Honey garlic seared shrimp cooked together with the bacon drippings is then tossed up in a fresh salad of romaine, grilled corn, salty feta, and creamy avocado. The herby dressing is so deliciously flavorful and pulls it altogether. You will be pining for more 💜…

To simplify things on dinner night, pre-prep by making the crispy bacon pieces and charred corn ahead of time, let cool, and store until ready to use.

Honey Garlic Shrimp, Corn and Avocado Bacon Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. grainy dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
  • 1/3 cup mixed herbs, chopped (rosemary and basil)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Salad

  • 1 1/2 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 slices thick bacon, chopped after cooking
  • 6 cups regular or baby romaine, chopped
  • 3 ears grilled corn, kernels removed from the cob
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 avocados, sliced
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (don’t buy the pre-crumbled variety)

Directions

  1. To make the dressing. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
  2. In another bowl, toss the shrimp with 1/3 of the dressing. Let sit 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan. Roughly chop when cooled.
  4. Add the shrimp to the hot bacon fat and cook on both sides until seared, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat. You will need to do this in two batches.
  5. To make the salad, combine the greens, corn, and tomatoes in a salad bowl and toss with a little dressing. Add the shrimp, bacon, and avocados. Spoon the dressing overtop. Top with feta. Season with freshly cracked pepper and salt. Serve warm or cold.

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Adapted from a recipe by Half-Baked Harvest

Grilled Pesto Chicken Breasts

This pesto chicken recipe takes a three-pronged approach, compliments of Cook’s Country. Starting with a batch of homemade pesto, a portion is thickened with extra Parmesan cheese to make a stuffing for the bone-in, skin-on breasts. A cheese-less portion of the pesto functions as a marinade, flavoring the outside of the meat. Finally, cheesy pesto, thinned out to sauce consistency, is served with the chicken for one final hit of fresh basil flavor.

I am a white meat fan when it comes to chicken, while The Hubs prefers the dark meat which he believes to be juicier. While I can’t always argue with that logic, I do know that with the skin and bones of the breast pieces intact, the more succulent the meat will be.

Our poultry breasts weighed in at 15 ounces or so, a bit more than the 12-ounce pieces listed in the ingredients. In fact, one of them was larger than the other three and actually took an additional 7 minutes to come to temperature, so keep a close eyeball on the internal temps with an instant-read thermometer, especially if they are varying sizes.

Brimming with fresh basil, this recipe was a perfect opportunity to cut it back mid-season from our herb garden, encouraging robustness for the remainder of the season. And while the directions indicate to marinate the breasts in the pesto sauce in a bowl for one hour, I let them get happy in a large glass baking dish for three hours in the refrigerator wrapped tightly with saran wrap.

Results? The Hubs LOVED them! That’s big praise coming from a guy who steadfastly prefers the dark meat of the thighs and legs. He couldn’t believe how moist the white meat remained and how flavorful the overall pesto approach was. “Let’s make this for company” he sang, and I thought yes, let’s!

Note: that the pesto base is divided into three separate mixtures for marinating, stuffing, and saucing the grilled chicken.

Grilled Pesto Chicken Breasts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice, about 1/2 large lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 4 (12-oz.) split bone-in chicken breasts, trimmed

Directions

  1. Process basil, ½ cup oil, garlic, lemon juice, and ¾ teaspoon salt in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Remove ¼ cup pesto from processor and reserve for marinating chicken.
  2. Add Parmesan to pesto in processor and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses. Remove ¼ cup Parmesan pesto from processor and reserve for stuffing chicken.
  3. Add remaining ¼ cup oil to Parmesan pesto in processor and pulse until combined, about 3 pulses; set aside for saucing cooked chicken.
  4. Starting on thick side of breast, closest to breastbone, cut horizontal pocket in each breast, stopping ½ inch from edge so halves remain attached. Season chicken, inside and out, with salt and pepper.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of Parmesan pesto reserved for stuffing in pocket of each breast. Evenly space 2 pieces of kitchen twine (each 12 inches long) beneath each breast and tie to secure breast, trimming any excess twine.
  6. Place stuffed breasts in bowl and add pesto reserved for marinating. Rub pesto all over chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  7. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
    FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-low. (Adjust burners as needed to maintain grill temperature of 350 degrees.)
  8. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken, skin side up, on grill (over cool side if using charcoal). Cover and cook until chicken registers 155 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes.
  9. Flip chicken skin side down. If using charcoal, slide chicken to hot part of grill. If using gas, turn all burners to medium-high. (Our grill is very hot, so I only turned up the heat to medium.) Cover and cook until well browned and chicken registers 160 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Transfer chicken to platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove twine from chicken and carve meat from bone. Serve, passing Parmesan pesto sauce separately.

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Adapted from a recipe for Cook’s Country

Leftover chicken salad enjoyed poolside.

BTW, if you are lucky enough to have some leftover breasts, make a chicken pesto salad. When cooled, remove the cooked meat from the skin and bones. Either shred it, or cut it up in small chunks (it will still contain the pesto stuffing).

In a mixing bowl, add the chunked chicken, small diced celery, thinly sliced scallions, mayonnaise and more of the pesto topping. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. We served ours the next day for lunch over Bibb lettuce and topped with sliced yellow and red bell peppers and more sliced scallions.

Grilled Tarragon Mustard Flank Steak

Our vegetable garden was brimming with an assortment of aromatic herbs and one of them that exploded recently was the tarragon. We often pair tarragon with chicken but thought perhaps steak might make a good companion for a change.

Never used tarragon? It is a leafy green herb that is highly aromatic with a subtle licorice flavor. It adds a fresh, spring taste and a bit of elegance to a variety of recipes, including salad dressings, sauces, fish, chicken, and in this case, a steak dish. In France, it is referred to as “the king of herbs” because of its ability to elevate a dish, and is one of the four herbs in the French mixture fines herbes, a combination of parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives.

While the cooking time for this recipe is minimal, you want to make sure you leave ample time to marinate the meat so that it gets all happy in those flavors of mustard, white wine, scallions and of course, tarragon.

From mid- to late-summer we often pair our grilled entrées with fresh picked corn and locally grown tomatoes, and this was no exception. The basil was just plucked from our herb garden for the caprese salad, which is also where the tarragon came from.

Grilled Tarragon Mustard Flank Steak

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 2-lb. flank steak
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup mustard (Dijon or grainy Dijon mustard work really well for this)
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon, plus extra for garnish
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions

  1. Combine oil, wine, mustard, scallions and chopped tarragon in a zipper plastic bag. Add steak, seal bag and rotate until steak is coated.
  2. Marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours and up to overnight, turning the bag over occasionally.
  3. Heat grill to high. Reserve some marinade for basting, discard the rest. Grill steak for 5 minutes per side for medium rare, 125° on an instant-read thermometer.
  4. Rest steak on a moated carving board under foil for 10 minutes (don’t skip this step) and then thinly slice at an angle and against the grain. Arrange on a platter and drizzle any accumulated juices over meat. Serve at once.

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Adapted from recipe for FramedCooks.com