Brandywine Prime

Birthdays only roll around once a year (a good thing at my age), so we always try to make it memorable for each other. Last year, even though it wasn’t a milestone, Russ bought tickets to the Longwood Gardens Fountain & Fireworks show “Monet in the Garden.” Originally, I was going to treat him to one of their fountain and fireworks shows for his birthday back in mid-May, but they were sold out. Well, either way, both of us got to enjoy(?) it for someone’s birthday.

Our original plan was to celebrate beforehand with a special dinner at Longwood’s fine dining restaurant, 1906. Apparently however, they close that restaurant early (like mid-afternoon early) on the days when they have the fireworks concerts. So after a little research, we found Brandywine Prime at the location of the historic Chadds Ford Inn less than 5 miles from the gardens. Ironically, that is the same restaurant I dined at with my parents after a trip to Longwood around 25 years ago!

The best laid plans right? You may recall from a previous post that it rained so hard that day, and never got out of the 60’s (in mid-July!!) so we grudgingly changed our plans to eat a quick pizza on our way to Longwood Gardens. It poured pretty much the entire show 😦

But I guess we’re gluttons for punishment because almost one year later we got tickets for another Fountains & Fireworks show and revived our plans to dine at Brandywine Prime


A short clip of this year’s spectacular fireworks display.

From the time Brandywine Prime opened in February of 2007, it has been a unique dining destination, a restaurant that brings distinctive American fare to the charming and historic Chadds Ford community. It has been lovingly modernized to offer a comfortable dining experience. One of the reasons for Brandywine Prime’s success has been the willingness by the owners to adapt and change based on what customers want and expect.

It’s rustic charm and casual atmosphere can be attributed to the fact that it is situated in the beautifully restored 300-year-old Chadds Ford Inn. The superb traditional American fare of steaks, chops, and seafood, brings an elegant and upscale touch to the restaurant. Everything is made from scratch including their own bread and desserts. They place an emphasis on prime steaks and chops and seasonally changing seafood selections that arrive daily.

fireworks movie

After an hour-and-a-half touring Longwood Gardens (the weather was sunny and hot this year), we arrived a few minutes early for our dinner reservation, and were shown immediately to an upstairs corner window table. Due to the somewhat early time, only one other four-top was already seated, but the place was filling up quickly when we left.


But let’s get down to the reason we came. The Food. The meal was fantastic!! Our very friendly and seasoned waiter started us off with glasses of the day’s featured wine, a Grenache Red. Shortly thereafter, we were served a basket of still warm, crusty bread accompanied by soft triangles of butter scattered with a red sea salt (apparently a restaurant staple).

I zeroed in on the Jumbo Lump Crab Cocktail from the Raw Bar section of the menu. Holy Moses, the bowl was brimming with the largest lump crab I’ve ever seen—and I’ve eaten a lot of it in my lifetime! The succulent morsels were atop a bed of wakame seaweed (not visible in photo), and garnished with red sea salt and an artisan olive oil, with a side of wonderful cocktail sauce.


A coworker with Russ informed him that the Kennett Square Mushroom Tart was phenomenal so that’s where he started. Filled with a triple cream brie, local sautéed mushrooms are topped with truffle oil and microgreens; each bite literally melted in your mouth (I know, because he gave me a taste).


For entrées, Russ opted for the 14-ounce Milk Fed Veal Chop from the Steakhouse Grill section of the menu. It was served simply with butter-braised French green beans with herbed butter and their homemade BP steak sauce. While he had declared my appetizer as the winner of the two choices, he claimed the chop was the BEST veal he can ever remember eating, and told the waiter too. He also couldn’t pass up a side of Truffle Parmesan Fries that came with a nice crisp, a touch of salt, lots of grated parm and a side of ketchup.



I stuck with the seafood theme and chose the Grilled Faroe Island Salmon, which was wild caught and artfully plated with tender asparagus, salt-roasted beets, pesto vinaigrette and a Meyer lemon aioli. Yes, it was quite good, but I had to agree, Russ won the entrée round with his veal chop.


With zero room left to even consider coffee or dessert, we paid the bill, which was by-the-way a bit pricey, but well worth it. So if you ever find yourself in the Chadds Ford Chester County, PA area, treat yourself to some fine dining at Brandywine Prime—and take in a stroll through Longwood Gardens…


Slammin’ Carolina-Style Barbecued Chicken

Y’all are aware, barbecue is practically synonymous with summer here in the United States, and some would insist South Carolina is the spiciest. This southern state is one of several that claim to be the “birthplace of barbecue,” and it has a whole host of different sauce options if you’re looking to change it up—like this tangy sauce which is a nice reprieve from the traditional red BBQ sauces.

The Midlands of South Carolina serve a barbecue sauce that is easily recognizable thanks to its brightly colored mustard base. This recipe, Carolina-Style Barbecued Chicken is sweet and tangy, and arguably the one the state is most known for. Here, mustard tames the sweetness of the brown sugar. If you don’t have regular yellow mustard on hand, substitute Dijon-style like I did—it provides a golden yellow color and a bit more twang.


Because daughter Julia was visiting, I cooked 4 each of both dark (Hubby’s preference) and light meat (the ladies’ choice); and being the “saucy” folks that we are, I increased the marinade mixture. Well, I’m so glad I did because the chicken was slammin’ good! This might be my new favorite BBQ sauce; and in fact, we’re thinking of smothering our next racks of grilled baby back ribs with it…. stay tuned…


TIP: If using breasts halves, chop each one into two so that the pieces are approximately the same size as the thighs.

Carolina-Style Barbecued Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/2 cup yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Frank’s
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 pieces skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and/or breasts
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • 1 large tomato, sliced


  1. Preheat a grill for direct and indirect heat to high.
  2. Whisk the mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard powder, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl. Whisk in the butter.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then toss with about one-third of the mustard sauce in a large ziploc until coated. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  4. Brush the grill grates generously with vegetable oil. Remove the chicken from the fridge.
  5. Put about 1/4 cup of the remaining mustard sauce in a small bowl for basting and reserve the rest for topping.
  6. Sear the chicken over the direct heat until well marked on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each side.
  7. Move the chicken to the indirect heat side of the grill and cover, basting occasionally with the sauce, and flipping after about 10 minutes. It is ready when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thighs registers 170 degrees F, 10 to 12 minutes per side.
  8. Serve the chicken with the reserved mustard sauce, sliced tomato and other sides as desired.

Adapted from a recipe from Food Network Kitchen

The Reverse Sear

SUMMERTIME = GRILLING TIME. Sometimes there’s just nothing better than a perfectly grilled steak. While we have often used the reverse sear method in a cast-iron skillet on the stove top and in the oven, this season we finally started using it outside on our gas grill. It works so well for a perfectly medium-rare steak with a charred exterior, I doubt we’ll go back to the old way. We liken the process to a sous-vide without a sous-vide machine, or slow-cooking without the extensive time commitment.


In food terminology, searing is a technique in which you cook the surface of the food over high heat in order to form a brown crust. Reverse sear refers to when you sear your meat in the cooking process. With a reverse-sear, you cook your steak over a low temperature first before giving it a final sear over high heat.

As far as the choice of meat, the ribeye, the perfect blend of taste and tenderness, is also one of the most forgiving steaks due to all of the marbling. You don’t want to go all-out miserly here, so go ahead and purchase one good steak per guest. You’ll need bone-in (preferable) or boneless ribeye (or T-bone) steaks at a minimum 1 1/4″-thick. Sprinkle steaks evenly with salt and pepper, set on a wire rack in a shallow pan. Chill uncovered in the fridge, 4 to 48 hours.


Setting up your grill for the two-zone method:


Light all burners to preheat the grill. Turn off the center burner to create a cool zone below steaks for indirect cooking. If your grill does not have a temperature gauge, use an oven thermometer to monitor the heat.


Ignite briquettes (50-75 for a 22″ grill) with vents open. Once covered with ash, bank half the coals on opposite sides of the grate, leaving a cool zone in the middle for indirect cooking. Set rack in place.


  1. Prepare your grill for a two-zone fire (see above).
  2. Grill steaks indirectly in a closed grill. Try to keep the heat at 300°F. Like cooking in a low oven, the gentle heat moves slowly to the center of the steak without overcooking the outside.
  3. Pull steaks off the grill when they reach an internal temp of 100°F. They won’t look delicious yet, but don’t sweat it. Let them rest to redistribute juices while you stoke/adjust the fire.
  4. A good sear requires blistering heat of 450°-500°F. For a gas grill ignite the center burner and adjust heat to high.
  5. The final step is what develops the complex flavors we crave. Sear steaks over direct heat 4 to 5 minutes, turning often until well-browned and crusty and an instant-read thermometer reaches 130°F for medium-rare.
  6. Let steaks rest for 5 minutes before slicing.


Little Scrolls with a Twist

Here is my riff on a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook, “Simple” that I’m calling Casarecce Pasta with Campari Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage. With gentle simmering and a bit of water to facilitate cooking, campari or cherry tomatoes are transformed into a bold pasta sauce. To ratchet up the flavor, herbs, red pepper flakes and pecorino Romano are added.


Casarecce, a classic pasta shape from Sicily (shown above), are short pasta noodles with curled edges and a groove down the middle; they look a bit like little rolled up scrolls. It is also known as ‘casareccia’ in certain areas of Italy. Its shape catches and holds sauce very well, but other short pastas such as bucatini, penne and ziti could work too.

The end result was an extremely robust and flavorful sauce that we couldn’t get enough of. And while I’ll often cut back the amount of pasta by 50%, I used the entire 12 ounces and it made for the perfect ratio to the other ingredients.

You know, normally I don’t think of sage as being the go-to herb in Italian red sauces—for me it’s usually basil and/or oregano. But I have to say, we had some beautiful sage in our herb garden that was screaming to be picked and used, and it was a wonderful compliment to the garlic and tomatoes.


Casarecce Pasta with Campari Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb. campari tomatoes, quartered (or halved cherry tomatoes)
  • ½ tsp. white sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 12 oz. casarecce pasta
  • ¾ tsp. smoked paprika
  • Shaved pecorino romano, to serve


  1. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, pepper flakes and bay, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 4 minutes.
  3. Reduce to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a steady simmer, until the tomatoes have fully broken down and the sauce is thick enough that a spatula drawn through it leaves a trail, 45 to 55 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and remove and discard the bay. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sage and the smoked paprika, then cover to keep warm.
  5. When the sauce is almost ready, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
  6. Drain the pasta, then return to the pot. Add the sauce and toss until well combined. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  7. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sage and shaved pecorino, then drizzle with additional oil.

Chicken, Shiitake and Watercress Stir-Fry

We loved this stir-fry which gets deep complexity from Chinese fermented chile-bean sauce, also called toban djan, found in the Asian section of well-stocked supermarkets. Chicken, Shiitake and Watercress Stir-Fry comes together in a snap and is great with rice—preferably steamed with homemade chicken stock for a boost of flavor.

The original recipe from Fine Cooking called for only one pound of chicken. The smallest package of thighs I could buy was a little over 1-1/2 pounds, and I used the entire amount, and therefore adjusted some of the other ingredients. What baffles me is, we barely got three servings out of the enlarged proportions, and the original said it would serve up to 4—if you eat like a mouse maybe.

Three bunches of watercress may seem overkill, but once it is de-stemmed and wilted into the stir-fry, it almost disappears. The recipe below has been altered to fit our changes and serve 3-4 adults.


Chicken, Shiitake and Watercress Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. sake or Shaoxing
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. canola or other neutral oil
  • 2 Tbs. Chinese chile-bean sauce; more to taste
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 3 medium bunches watercress, stemmed (about 1-1/2 lbs.)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. rice vinegar


  1. Put the chicken in a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, the sake, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
  2. Heat a wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the chicken to the pan in a single layer. Leave the chicken undisturbed for about a minute before stirring, and then cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and partially cooked, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.
  3. Return the pan to high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the chile-bean sauce, and ginger to the pan, and stir to combine.
  4. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 2 minutes.
  5. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan. Stir in the broth and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the watercress, vinegar, and more chile-bean sauce to taste. Toss until the watercress wilts. Serve hot.

Adapted from a recipe by Lisa Russell

Taking Sides

Let’s face it, walking around the same old block every day can get a bit boring. Maybe it’s time to try a different side street, or in this case, a new side dish to serve with your entrée. It’s time to let your BBQ go VGQ, and to that end, here are three grilling options that should spice up your dinner repertoire.

You already know how the grill performs a smoke-and-char magic act on fish and meats, so give the same treatment to vegetables and reap the benefits. The grill’s dry heat concentrates everything that tastes good while adding the unmistakeable smoky essence of summer.

IMG_3675A recent dinner consisted of grilled lamb loin chops, accompanied by the grilled onions and asparagus sides. The lamb benefited from the balsamic vinaigrette and gremolata.

Grilled Onions with Balsamic Vinaigrette

If you’re an allium fan, you’ll adore these onions (recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated). Keep in mind, the size will affect the cooking time, so it’s important to choose onions that weigh between 7 and 8 ounces each and measure about 3 inches in diameter.

In step 3, be sure to err on the side of achieving darker charring, as the steaming step will soften the char’s appearance and flavor. The onions can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature which alleviates some stress when throwing a meal together.

Grilled Onions with Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • ½ Cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 4 Onions
  • 1 (13 Bx 9″) disposable aluminum roasting pan
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh chives


  1. Whisk 6 tablespoons oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in bowl; set aside.
  2. Trim stem end of onions and halve onions from root end to stem end, leaving skin intact. (Root end can be trimmed, but don’t remove it.) Brush cut sides of onions with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle each half with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  3. Arrange onions cut side down on grill over medium heat and cook (covered if using gas) until well charred, 10 to 15 minutes, moving onions as needed to ensure even cooking. Flip onions and cook cut side up until light charring develops on skin side, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer onions cut side up to disposable pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Return disposable pan to grill and cook over medium heat (covered if using gas) until onions are tender and easily pierced with paring knife, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. When onions are cool enough to handle, remove and discard charred outer skin; arrange onions cut side up on large platter. Rewhisk vinaigrette and drizzle evenly over onions. Sprinkle with chives, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.IMG_3665IMG_3673

Grilled Summer Squash with Lemon, Mint and Pine Nuts

Here, a fresh vinaigrette lends a bright contrast to the sweetness of summer squash (which gets extra caramelized from the heat of the grill).


Of course Mother Nature can throw you a curve ball as she did the night we made our dinner. Thunderstorms had been raging through the area for days and more was on the way. Luckily, our Plan B was “Grilliam” our cast-iron Staub grill pan. In fact, it was even quicker than a grill because it took less time to heat up, while providing the caramelized char in under 15 minutes—a Win, Win! The downside of course, was having to cook the main entrée in another skillet.

Grilled Summer Squash with Mint Vinaigrette and Pine Nuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 to 3 lb. zucchini and yellow squash, trimmed and sliced lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for the grill
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint, more for garnish
  • 2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts


  1. Prepare a hot gas or charcoal grill fire. Or in the case of inclement weather, a grill pan.
  2. Lightly brush both sides of the squash strips and season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Oil the grill, then grill the squash, turning once, until tender and grill marks appear on both sides, about 15 minutes total. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, smash the garlic with 1/4 tsp. salt to make a paste.
  4. Transfer to a small bowl, and add the lemon zest and 1/4 tsp. salt. Whisk in the lemon juice, and then slowly add the  oil, whisking until blended. Stir in the mint.
  5. Toss the squash with enough of the vinaigrette to coat well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and additional chopped mint.

Grilled Asparagus with Cilantro-Lime Gremolata

Not moving the spears during cooking allows them to get a rich sear on one side and remain vibrant green on the other, which helps them retain their freshness and tender snap. This riff on gremolata enhances the stalks’ vibrancy. And you seriously can’t get much easier than this 3-ingredient topping.


Grilled Asparagus with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 bunch asparagus, trim the base of the spears with a knife and peeled away their tough skin.
  • 4 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp. grated lime zest
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced


  1. Combine all ingredients in bowl.
    IMG_3667To avoid harsh garlic flavor, don’t mince the garlic until you’re ready to mix the gremolata.
  2. Brush asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Heat on a hot grill without moving until the spears achieve a nice char on the underside.
  3. Remove to a platter and sprinkle with gremolata. Serve hot or warm.

Grilled Gochujang Shrimp with Scallions

As you are aware, there are so many hot sauces on the market that it might be tough to wrap your head around another one, but stay with me here because this classic Korean condiment, gochujang, is having a moment in the sun for good reason. How to describe this fermented chili, garlic, and rice-based sauce that is enormously popular in Korea? Garlicky. Spicy. Fermented. Thick. Savory. Funky. Sweet. Umami. It’ll definitely appeal to those who like Sriracha, like us.


In this recipe found on, Grilled Gochujang Shrimp with Scallions gets just the right amount of spicy flavor and a healthy dose of umami from gochujang. If you’ve never purchased it, it’s often sold in plastic tubs in Asian grocery stores or in red squeeze bottles in the Asian aisle of many supermarkets.

Simply serve the shrimp with steamed rice (preferably steamed in shellfish stock instead of water) and kimchi, use as a filling for lettuce wraps, or add them to a salad along with a sesame-soy vinaigrette.


Grilled Gochujang Shrimp with Scallions

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 5 Tbsp. gochujang, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1½ Lbs. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
  • 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 Scallions, thinly sliced on diagonal


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons of gochujang, the soy sauce, sesame oil and grapeseed oil.
  2. Measure 2 tablespoons of the mixture into another medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the shrimp to the remaining mixture and toss to coat, then cover (or put in a ziploc bag) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  4. To the reserved 2 tablespoons gochujang mixture, whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon gochujang and the rice vinegar, then toss in the butter; set aside.
  5. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes; clean and oil the grate.
  6. While the grill heats, thread the shrimp onto four or five 12-inch skewers, dividing them evenly; skewer each shrimp in a C shape, piercing through two points.
  7. Place the skewers on the hot side of the grill and cook until they begin to char and the tails begin to blister, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the shrimp are just opaque, another 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Slide the shrimp off the skewers into the bowl containing the gochujang-butter mixture and toss until the butter has melted and the shrimp are well coated.
  9. Add the scallions and toss again, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

NOTE: Don’t over-marinate the shrimp. If left for longer than 1 hour in the marinade, the shrimp may become too salty.

Coriander-Orange Skirt Steak with Arugula

This dish, inspired by a recipe in “Season” by Nik Sharma, delivers a flavorful steak plus salad using just a handful of ingredients. A simple spice mix spiked with orange zest seasons both the steak and the vinaigrette that dresses the arugula; while the peppery bite of the baby arugula complements the bold flavors of the meat.


Don’t use extra-virgin olive oil, as its smoke point is too low for searing the steak (which we increased to 1 1/2pounds); regular olive oil is the better choice. Alternatively, use 1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil for cooking the steak and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in the dressing.


With few ingredients, this meal comes together quickly. As a speedy side that is also low-carb, we paired it with a Caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, fresh-picked green and purple basil chiffonade and a lite balsamic dressing.


Coriander-Orange Skirt Steak with Arugula

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest, plus 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp. garam masala
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1-lb. (or larger) skirt steak, trimmed and cut crosswise into 5- to 6-inch sections, patted dry
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 5-ounce container baby arugula


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the orange zest, coriander, garam masala, 2½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Measure 1 tablespoon of the mixture into a large bowl; set aside. Rub the remaining mixture onto both sides of each piece of steak, massaging it into the meat. Let stand for about 15 minutes.
  3. In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the steak in a single layer and cook without disturbing until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Flip and cook until the second sides are well browned and the center of the thickest piece reaches 125°F for medium-rare or 130°F for medium, another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a platter, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. To the reserved spice mixture, whisk in the orange juice, sherry vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
  6. Add the arugula, toss, then transfer to a platter. Slice the steak thinly against the grain and place on top of the arugula.

Bookmark This Quick Weeknight Dinner

Sheet Pan Salmon With Potatoes and Broccolini is another “Easy Dinner” from the Real Simple Magazine (RS), December 2018 issue. In the name of convenience, less dishes to wash, and healthy ingredients, I figured this was a must-try for a weeknight meal. Not only does this simple salmon and veggie dinner come together on one sheet pan, it keeps your shopping list short—a double win!

However, my main concern was with how the broccolini was treated. There was no way it was going to be anywhere near done in only two minutes under our broiler. (Gas ovens tend to have lousy broilers.) By steaming it in the microwave until crisp tender, the broccolini was at least partially cooked before I added it to the sheet pan.


I cut our 1 1/2-pound salmon fillet into three portions as opposed to four, weighing in at 8 ounces a piece. Therefore I reworked the cooking time table so that after the potatoes roasted (which were pretty small) for only 12 minutes, I added the salmon (on top of some sliced shallots), and cooked everything another 7 minutes before adding the broccolini. Then I broiled it all another 5 minutes total, turning the sheet as necessary for even browning.

The key to making this recipe work is the timing—and getting the broccolini just right. Starting the potatoes off first allows them to get a head start, instead of overcooking the salmon or fussy steps. The sauce is tangy and mahvelous, and brings everything together. Two thumbs up!

Sheet Pan Salmon with Potatoes and Broccolini

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 pound small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
  • ½ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 4 6-oz. salmon fillets
  • 1 pound Broccolini, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced, (optional for salmon bed)
  • 1½ teaspoon Dijon mustard


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, rub salmon with 1 tablespoon oil and season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  3. Add salmon to sheet (over a bed of shallots slicing if using) and roast until potatoes are tender, 5 more minutes.
  4. Turn potatoes, add Broccolini to sheet, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Heat broiler and broil all until salmon and Broccolini are browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Whisk lemon juice, minced shallot, and mustard with remaining ¼ cup oil and ¼ teaspoon salt and drizzle over salmon and vegetables.

Lean, Light & Bright Burgers

Chicken Burgers with Lime, Pepper and PickleWho knew a lean burger could taste so light and bright? Lime zest and juice as well as fresh cilantro and red bell pepper brighten these babies beautifully. And the addition of dijon mustard with the mayonnaise raises the level of tang just a smidge more.

Every now and again it’s nice to change things up. And even though a grilled beef burger is an all-American favorite, especially during the warm weather months, these chicken patties are sure to make you raise an eyebrow or two. 

Because the meat is so lean, they are best cooked in a cast-iron skillet as opposed to on the grill. You’ll still get a nice crisp char on the outside, but the meat will remain juicy on the interior.


Don’t leave off the pickle; that little bit of tang and crunch makes a big difference.


Chicken Burgers with Lime, Pepper and Pickles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 lb. 98% lean ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 4 provolone cheese slices
  • 8 butter lettuce leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted if you like
  • Sliced dill pickle chips


  1. Heat oil over medium-high in a large cast-iron skillet until shimmering.
  2. Put the chicken, onion, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, lime zest and juice, pepper flakes, and 1-1/2 tsp. salt in a medium bowl, and use your hands to mix well (the mixture will be very moist).
  3. Divide evenly to make four patties. Put the burgers in the hot skillet.
  4. Sear, flipping once halfway through until the burgers are cooked to 160°F, about 7 minutes each side.
  5. Flip one last time and top each burger with a slice of cheese. Let melt about one minute more. Temperature should now be 165°F.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise with the dijon mustard in a small bowl until well combined.
  7. Spread the mayonnaise/mustard sauce on each of the bottom buns. Top with the burgers, lettuce, pickles, and top bun, and serve with chips or fries.

Adapted from a recipe by Diana Andrews

Steak, Snap Pea and Asparagus Stir-Fry

We love stir-fries with lots of veggies and this one was everything it claimed to be—easy, fast and incredibly good. And is par for the course, we often make a few tweaks based on our own preferences or comments from other reviewers. In this case, we reduced the mirin (by half) which lends a sweet taste; instead we added chili garlic sauce for a more spicy note.

Several other alterations included increasing the amount of sirloin steak to 1.75 pounds (we wanted leftovers), adding a red bell pepper (great way to add a pop of color and more nutrients), increasing the snap peas to 12 ounces, and using a wok instead of a skillet. However, the recipe below is the Bon Appétit original.

You bet this was a keeper, and we totally enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next couple of days.


Steak, Snap Pea and Asparagus Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 lb. sirloin steak
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 8 oz. sugar snap peas
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 6 scallions
  • 1 2″ piece ginger
  • 3 Tbsp. mirin (Japanese rice wine); or 50-50 mix of mirin and chili garlic sauce
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • Kos


  1. Place 1 lb. sirloin steak on a cutting board and pat dry with paper towels. Slice meat crosswise as thinly as possible.
  2. Transfer steak to a medium bowl and add 1 Tbsp. cornstarch1 Tbsp. soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Toss with tongs until meat is evenly coated.
  3. Prep the rest of your ingredients: Trim ends of 8 oz. snap peas and remove any strings; transfer to another medium bowl. Snap woody ends off of 1 bunch asparagus and discard. Cut asparagus crosswise into 1″ pieces; transfer to bowl with snap peas.
  4. Trim both ends of 6 scallions and set aside 2 scallions for serving. Cut 4 remaining scallions crosswise into 1″ pieces and add to bowl with asparagus and snap peas.
  5. Scrub 2″ piece ginger under running water, then slice crosswise as thinly as possible; add to bowl with the other veggies.
  6. Combine 3 Tbsp. mirin, ¼ cup oyster sauce, 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar, and remaining 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a glass measuring cup and stir with a spoon to incorporate.
  7. Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet, preferably stainless steel, over medium-high. When oil shimmers across surface of skillet, add vegetable mixture. Cook, shaking skillet often, just until asparagus are tender but still retain a hint of crunch, about 3 minutes. Return vegetables to original bowl.
  8. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high. Add steak, arranging slices in a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, until juices start to pool on surface of meat and underside is browned, about 3 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, scrape bottom of skillet and loosen meat.
    We had to sear the meat in two batches, putting the first batch in with the bowl with the cooked veggies.
  9. Immediately add cooked vegetables and sauce to skillet and cook, tossing constantly, until meat is fully cooked and sauce is thick and bubbling, 1–2 minutes more.
  10. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute or two. Season stir-fry lightly with salt. Divide 2 cups cooked rice among plates. Spoon stir-fry over. Thinly slice reserved 2 scallions and scatter over.

Adapted from a recipe by Claire Saffitz from Bon Appétit

Easy Appetizer from The Basque Book

It’s been six years since our visit to lovely San Sebastian, a coastal town firmly ensconced in the Basque Country of Spain. A relatively new cookbook for Russ, The Basque Book (by Alexandra Raij with Eder Montero) made us fall in love with the cuisine all over again—although we’ve been pretty regular Spanish chefs in the interim.

We were heading to a small house party at the home of friends Paula and Mike and wanted to contribute a couple of appetizers. One of them, Marinated Mushrooms with Vermouth and Garlic, was a simple recipe from The Basque Book. Snappy to make, they can be popped into your mouth right away (or at least once they’ve cooled), but if for some odd reason you have any left over, they are even better a day or two later—so you might want to make an extra batch—just sayin’.

The final step is to thread the ‘shrooms onto little skewers, but we didn’t bother. Simply plating them in a serving dish with a large spoon and a side of crusty baguette to mop up the tasty sauce was party-friendly enough. Vegetarian- and vegan-approved.


Marinated Mushrooms with Vermouth and Garlic

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 tsp minced garlic (OK, I used 1 Tbsp.)
  • 1//2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds small, white button mushrooms
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp dry vermouth
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. In a large saucepan, warm the garlic and oil over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  2. Add the mushrooms and 1 tsp salt. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to release their juices and shrink just a little.
  3. Add the pepper flakes and parsley, and cook for about 2 minutes longer.
  4. Add the vermouth and deglaze the pan, stirring to dislodge any browned bit. Cook for about 6 more minutes, until the remaining liquid has a syrupy consistency.
  5. Remove from the heat, add a pinch of salt, and stir in the lemon juice. Transfer the mushrooms and their liquid to a dish, let cool, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  6. Thread the mushrooms on bamboo skewers, arrange on a platter, pour the liquid from the dish over the mushrooms, and serve at room temperature.

Meet Your Mojo

Grilled Shrimp with Turmeric Mojo Sauce is like a tropical curry sauce with a kick and it’s a great recipe for a last-minute grilling idea that’s sure to impress guests. If you make the mojo ahead of time it will literally only take 15 minutes to marinate the shrimp and 2 or 3 more to grill. That’s barely enough time to pop open a cold one!

Shrimp, unlike chicken or steak, can take on the flavors of a bright, acidic marinade in minutes, making it a good choice for last-minute grilling. You actually don’t want to let shrimp sit in the marinade for too long because the acid in the citrus will start to firm up and cook the flesh. Even though the original recipe didn’t say how long to marinate, we did for 15 minutes, which I noted below.


Because we had a two-pound bag of extra large shrimp in the freezer, we thawed the entire amount. The supermarket wasn’t carrying habaneros, but I always keep jars of pickled chiles on hand and substituted serranos with their seeds, which added plenty of heat. You can determine how much to include based on your own tolerance for spiciness.

We both concur, turning the shrimp would be much easier if threaded onto metal (or soaked wooden) skewers instead of flipping each crustacean individually… next time. Rice, or couscous steamed with shellfish stock makes a nice base on which to lay the shrimp and soak up some of the extra marinade. And a grilled veggie like asparagus, rounds out the meal without using additional cookware.


Grilled Shrimp with Turmeric Mojo Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 habanero chiles, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 3″ piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • ⅓ cup fresh orange juice (about 1 large)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil, plus more for grill
  • Kosher salt
  • 1½ lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • Cooked short-grain white rice or couscous (for serving; optional)
  • Flaky sea salt


  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Pulse garlic, chiles, ginger, lime juice, orange juice, sugar, vinegar, and turmeric in a food processor until combined and almost smooth. With the motor running, gradually stream in ⅓ cup oil and process until emulsified.
  2. Pour half of the sauce into a small bowl; season with kosher salt. Set aside for serving.
  3. Transfer remaining sauce to a medium bowl and add shrimp. Season with kosher salt and toss to coat. Marinate about 15 minutes.
  4. Clean and oil grate, then immediately arrange shrimp on grill. Grill until bright pink and lightly charred, about 1 minute per side.
  5. Divide shrimp among bowls. Spoon reserved sauce over; sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with rice or couscous if desired.

Recipe found in the June/July Grilling Issue of Bon Appétit


Grilled Veggies: Stars of the Show

One of the easiest, most satisfying, quick and pan-less ways to prepare vegetables is grilling them. There’s no question that vegetables are good for you because they’re filled with vitamins and nutrients that we need to stay healthy. But sometimes, even for many adults, they just aren’t appealing enough to eat. Grilling them is another matter. Why?

Because the flavor is enhanced naturally. While marinades are definitely delicious—and some of the recipe links below bare that out—they aren’t a necessity when grilling vegetables. Because of the smoke from the grill, the vegetables are infused with a subtle barbecue flavor that appeals to everyone. But that’s not all.

The heat from the grill caramelizes the natural sugars inside the vegetables, causing them to taste sweeter and more flavorful, as in the spring onions and portobellos that we recently grilled. Simply tossed or brushed with a good extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, then arranged on a hot grill for 3-5 minutes per side, perfection!

Loin lamb chops, spring onions and portobellos were the perfect grilling trio as they all took less than 10 minutes to cook. They were all simply brushed with a good extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper prior to grilling.

Found a veggie you’ve never tried? Give it a ride on the ole barby. You’ll find that when you’re unsure about how to cook a vegetable, grilling is the simplest answer. It’s also the easiest—no prep time involved if you’re too lazy to do any slicing or chopping, and we’ve all been there, right? You will get the best results using vegetables with a low water content. Examples include mushrooms, onions, cabbage, asparagus, and bell peppers; although we’ve been known to grill eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and bok choy too.

An added bonus for when you host both plant-based diet followers and die-hard meat eaters. Grilled vegetables can be the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal or an accompaniment to a main dish.

So go for it! Heat up your grill. When it is medium hot, either place your vegetables on the grill, in a foil pouch or on skewers. If you are using dense vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, these take longer to cook, so add them first. Turn the vegetables when they need it and brush on more marinade or oil when required. If you can pierce the vegetables easily with a sharp knife, they are ready to eat.

Some past postings of vegetables we grilled:

Mixed Medley in a Basket:
medley in a basket

Eggplant and Tomato Skewers:

Baby Bok Choy:

Lime-Miso Marinated Asparagus:

Deconstructed Veggie Kebabs:

Filipino Adobo Chicken—Our Way

Just as there are umpteen versions of Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Mexican Salsa Roja, you can also find a plethora of recipes for Filipino Adobo Chicken. To clarify, “adobo” refers to a method of marinating and stewing for any cut of meat or fish in a briny mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and spices. However, don’t confuse Filipino adobo with the spicy Spanish adobo sauce. Although they both share the Spanish name, they are vastly different in flavor and ingredients.


There are basic adobo ingredients, yet often a variety of others are included. Vinegar and soy sauce are the heart of adobo, but over the centuries, other liquids have occasionally been added to the brine. Some combos include coconut milk, which mellows the strong flavors of the vinegar and soy sauce. Others include sugar or honey to add a touch of sweetness and an almost teriyaki-like characteristic. The flavor of adobo can also be varied depending on the type of vinegar used. In the Philippines, coconut vinegar, rice vinegar, or cane vinegar are the most common.

Over the past Winter holiday season, Hubby attended a work function where one of his coworkers contributed a crockpot full of her mother’s version of this dish. He was so impressed, he asked the officemate to email him the recipe, which she did—but we didn’t get around to making it until late Spring. Anyway, the recipe below reflects my changes, which Mr. Hubs also loved.


If using bone-in chicken breasts, cut the split breasts into quarters so that they are a more uniform in size to the dark pieces to ensure even cooking, plus the marinade will penetrate more of the meat. BTW, for additional flavor, swap out unsweetened pineapple juice for the 1 cup of water. If you serve it over rice (best steamed with homemade chicken stock instead of water), spoon the extra sauce over.

Trust me, you’re gonna hope there are leftovers!


Filipino Adobo Chicken

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 Cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup soy sauce
  • 3 Whole garlic bulbs, smashed and peeled
  • 1 Tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. adobo seco seasoning
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped; plus more for garnish
  • 3 Lbs. bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks, breasts; or a combination thereof
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 Cup water (or unsweetened pineapple juice)


  1. Combine the first seven ingredients in a small bowl. Add with chicken to a ziploc bag; refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Drain, reserving marinade. Pat chicken dry.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken on both sides for about 4 minutes per side.
  4. Stir in water (or pineapple juice) and reserved marinade. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink and sauce is slightly reduced, 20-25 minutes. The meat is done when an instant-read registers 165°. If some pieces are done before others, move them to a platter and cover with foil.
    NOTE: If you want to reduce the sauce further (which is what I did), move all of the chicken to a platter when it reaches 150° and cover with foil. The meat temperature will rise as it rests. When the sauce is to your liking, add the chicken back to the skillet for a minute or two while spooning the marinade over the meat.
  5. Serve chicken immediately over steamed rice with cooking sauce.