Rotisserie Chicken Salad

Two rotisserie chickens on sale for $10, a bargain I couldn’t pass up. I had gone to the store for one bird to make Enchiladas Verdes, but when I saw the sale, it was a no-brainer. When I got home and the poultry cooled off, I stripped off the skin then harvested all of the white and dark meat. The skin and bones I bagged for the freezer for The Hubs to make his delicious stock.

This couldn’t be any easier. If you happen to have some leftover cooked chicken on hand, you could certainly use that and save yourself a trip to the grocer.

Rotisserie Chicken Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 small rotisserie chicken
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 green onions (green and white parts), sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped tarragon
  • 1/2 large lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Bibb lettuce leaves
  • Red bell pepper strips, optional

Directions

  1. When rotisserie chicken is cool enough to handle, pull off the chicken, then strip all white and dark meat from the bones. Discard skin and bones, or save to make stock at a later date.
  2. Chop the chicken meat into about a 1/2-inch dice. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Slice and dice the celery, green onion, grapes, parsley and tarragon. Add those ingredients to the mixing bowl along with the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve on a couple of Bibb lettuce leaves and garnish with bell pepper strips, if using.

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Summer Solution Pasta

Cherry and grape tomatoes are in abundance by late August, as is fresh corn and herbs. So this “clean-out-the-larder” approach helps you use up some of the excess staples and fresh produce in a tasty way.

It starts with a roasted cherry-tomato sauce that includes garlic, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to add a slightly sweet note. To scale back on the sweetness, switch the balsamic to red wine vinegar and reduce or omit the brown sugar.

On occasion, we have already cooked ears of corn leftover from a previous meal. Here’s a chance to use them up. Cut the kernels off the cobs and add them to boiling water when you toss in the dried fusilli.

Once the pasta is done, plate into a large serving bowl and stir in the pesto—we used a homemade sage pesto* but one made with basil will work just as well. Next fold in the tomato mixture and let guests scoop out a serving, passing the grated parmesan around for topping. A side salad makes a nice companion to the pasta and uses up more of your produce.

*FOR THE SAGE PESTO:
• ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
• ½ cup fresh sage leaves
• ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 oz. (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
• Salt and pepper
Pulse pine nuts and garlic in food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses. Add parsley and sage; with processor running, slowly add oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl, stir in Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Summer Solution Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
  • 1 or 2 ears of corn, cooked with kernels cut off the cob
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh basil or sage pesto (see recipe above)
  • 1 lb. whole wheat fusilli, cooked according to package directions
  • Grated Parmesan for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix together tomatoes and garlic in a nonreactive 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  3. Whisk together oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Drizzle over tomato mixture.
  4. Bake until tomatoes are softened and caramelized, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile cook the fusilli according to package directions, adding the corn kernels in with the pasta when the water starts to boil. Time it so the pasta is done at about the same time as the tomatoes.
  6. Mix the pesto into the fusilli and corn and fold in the tomato mixture.
  7. Serve, passing around the grated parmesan for topping.

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Florentine Dip

NYTimes Cooking writes “A good dip transcends time — especially one with fresh herbs, which makes this 1959 recipe from Craig Claiborne stand out amid other recipes from the convenience food era of the 1940s and ’50s. Studded with capers, garlic and anchovies, the dip comes together quickly, then sits in the refrigerator, ready to buy you time when your guests arrive.”

Although the title is a bit of a misnomer in the fact that Florentine recipes usually include spinach as an ingredient. But I won’t quibble over the title because it was a fabulous dip! And if you are squeamish about anchovies, they are mashed up and assist the other ingredients in bringing out a true depth of flavor.

However if you’re adamantly opposed to anchovies, try fish sauce. Don’t be put off by the name. It does not taste fishy. As a fellow anchovy hater however, I have come around to using them mashed up in small amounts as here, where they give an indefinable flavor boost.

BTW, America’s Test Kitchen has a great recipe for an anchovy substitute involving miso and nori. It works beautifully in most recipes that call for anchovies or anchovy paste.

Florentine Dip

  • Servings: Yields 1 1⁄2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. mashed or finely chopped anchovies
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped chives
  • 2 tsp. chopped capers
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ garlic clove, minced
  •  Salt and black pepper to taste
  •  Sliced vegetables and/or sturdy potato chips, for serving

Directions

  1. Using a wooden spoon, blend the cream cheese and anchovy paste together in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the sour cream, parsley, chives, capers, lemon juice and garlic, season with salt and pepper, then stir until well blended.
  3. Place in the refrigerator for several hours to season.
  4. Spoon the dip into a bowl and serve with sliced vegetables or chips, or both.

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Adapted from a recipe by Craig Clairborn for NYTimes Cooking

Grilled Corn, Avocado and Chicken Salad With Feta Dressing

With the last gasps of the unofficial summer calendar closing in on us, let the season’s bounty shine on the plate. And to that end, this lively salad of corn, scallions, jalapeño and avocado tossed with a tangy buttermilk-feta dressing is like summer on a plate. The sweetness of peak-summer corn and the richness of creamy avocado balance out the tartness of the dressing.

While this recipe from NYTimes Cooking could be a side dish or a vegetarian main, we opted to add a protein to give it more heft as an entrée. In that vein, we grilled some chicken breasts with a Japanese 7-spice rub, but grilled shrimp or salmon would work wonderfully also. And to save time on dinner day, we grilled the chicken the day before while barbecuing other items.

The directions below are for the full recipe which allows for 4 to 6 portions. But with just the two of us, we cut most of the recipe in half, while altering quantities of other ingredients as we saw fit. After eating two healthy servings, we still had some leftover for lunch the following day.

Grilled Corn, Avocado and Chicken Salad With Feta Dressing

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, rubbed with spices of your choice (optional)
  • 6 ears corn (about 3 lbs.), shucked and silk removed
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 3 Tbsp.olive oil
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh chives
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 medium head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 2 avocados, sliced

Directions

  1. If a protein is desired, grill chicken (or shrimp, salmon) until done. This can be done a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. Brush corn, scallions and jalapeño with the oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until corn kernels are browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes, and the scallions and jalapeño are charred all over and tender, 9 to 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and let cool slightly.
  5. In a medium bowl, using a whisk (I used a pestle), mash the feta into a coarse paste. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon zest and juice and garlic, then stir in chives and parsley.
  6. Finely chop the charred jalapeño and stir it into the feta dressing; season with salt and pepper.
  7. In a large bowl, toss lettuce with half the feta dressing and arrange on a platter. Cut corn kernels off the cob and slice scallions into bite-size pieces. Arrange avocado slices, corn and scallions on top of the lettuce.
  8. Serve with remaining dressing.

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Adapted from a recipe by Sue Li for NYTimes Cooking

Summer Pasta with Grilled Eggplant Sauce

Eggplants, also known as aubergines or brinjals, grow all over the world. They are fruits — though, like tomatoes, they are treated more in cooking like a vegetable. In fact, they’re closely related to tomatoes and peppers. Purple eggplants are the most common cultivar in American grocery stores. Some purple fruits appear almost black due to their rich pigments. 

And these coveted nightshade plants are currently in abundance from your garden, the local farmer’s market, or perhaps some friendly neighbors. With so many recipes to choose from, this particular one from Food Network uses the eggplant in a clever way.

Even though the exterior of eggplant is a gorgeous deep purple color; the beauty of this vegetable lies on the inside. This recipe takes advantage of the fact that the flesh of grilled eggplant transforms into a luscious creamy sauce that’s perfect for dressing up little tubes of rigatoni. To make the most of summer’s bounty, cherry tomatoes are grilled alongside the eggplant until bursting with juices, then mixed into this summer vegetable pasta.

Health Facts: Eggplant is rich in fiber, protein, manganese, and nutrients like potassium and vitamins C and K. It is a great source of antioxidants, which make it effective in guarding your body against future ailments. Being so rich in fiber, eggplants are also great for keeping your blood sugar levels intact. 

Summer Pasta with Grilled Eggplant Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated zest (about 1 tsp.) and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 lb. mezze rigatoni
  • 1 large eggplant, about 1 1/4 lbs.
  • 11 oz. cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups), halved (quartered if large)
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, chopped, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves, chopped, plus more for serving
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Prepare a grill for high heat.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lemon juice to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot; set aside.
  3. Pierce the eggplant a few times with a fork or knife. Place on the grill, cover and cook, turning every 8 to 10 minutes, until completely charred all over and the flesh is soft when pressed, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly for 10 minutes.
  5. While the eggplant cooks, prepare 2 sheets of foil, each 12-by-12-inches, and stack them together. Place the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper in the center of the foil. Fold over 2 opposite sides of the foil then fold in the remaining sides to create a tight seal.
  6. When 15 minutes of cooking time remain for the eggplant, add the foil pack to the grill and cook until juices start to bubble out of the top (this means the tomatoes and garlic are sufficiently cooked without having to open the pack), 13 to 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the eggplant to a cutting board (keeping any juices that accumulated in the bowl) and squeeze gently to crack the skin and expose the flesh. Use a spoon to remove the flesh, transfer to the large bowl and mash lightly with the spoon or a potato masher (you should have about 1 cup of flesh); discard the skin.
  8. Stir in the ricotta and Pecorino Romano until smooth then pour into the pot with the pasta and mix until combined. Fold in the contents of the foil pack (including any juices that accumulated), the basil, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper; stir until combined, adding the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin out the sauce if needed.
  9. Serve with more basil, parsley, Pecorino Romano and crushed red pepper flakes if using.

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Recipe Courtesy of Emily Weinberger for Food Network Kitchen

Herby Yogurt Sauce with Grilled Lamb Chops and Cucumber Couscous Salad

Did you know that plain yogurt is an excellent base for a marinade? It slowly tenderizes the meat, rendering it juicy, but never meaty or tough; plus it leaves a pleasant tangy flavor behind. In this case, a simple blend of yogurt, shallot, lemon and salt is a perfect match for lamb’s richness.

A portion of the mixture is set aside to purée with tender green herbs and lemon juice for a quick finishing sauce after the lamb is done. The original recipe called for baby lamb chops (aka lollipop chops), but we prefer a meatier cut such as the loin chop, and the ingredients list reflects our changes.

The yogurt sauce mixture not only complimented the meat but benefited the sliced cucumbers as well. Another side was whole wheat pearl couscous cooked in homemade chicken stock for added flavor.

Herby Yogurt Sauce with Grilled Lamb Chops and Cucumber Couscous Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, all from 1 lemon
  • 8 loin lamb chops
  • 1 cup packed fresh tender herbs (such as parsley, dill and mint leaves), plus more for serving
  • 1 cup pearl whole wheat couscous, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cucumber, sliced thin for serving

Directions

  1. Stir together yogurt, shallot, salt, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Measure 1 cup of the mixture into a large ziploc bag. Cover and refrigerate the remaining 1/2 cup yogurt mixture.
  2. Add lamb chops to ziploc bag; seal bag and turn to coat lamb in sauce. Let marinate in the fridge at least 2 hours, and up to 24. Ours marinated 8 hours.
  3. Preheat grill to high (450°-500°). Scrape off excess marinate from lamb, then discard the bag .
  4. Sprinkle chops evenly with salt and pepper. Arrange chops on oiled grill grates. Grill covered, turning once or twice until browned and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 135° for medium-rare; about 10 minutes total; lollipop chops will take about 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer chops to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, transfer reserved yogurt mixture to a food processor. Add fresh herbs and lemon juice; pulse until smooth, about 20 pulses.
  7. Serve lamb alongside sauce, cooked couscous, cucumbers and additional herbs.

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Adapted from a recipe for Food & Wine Magazine

Coconut Chicken Curry

Curry powder is stirred into this braise only during the last minute of cooking, delivering a bright hit of spice on top of the paprika and turmeric mellowed into the slow-simmered chicken.

This dish needs time on the stove but not much attention, and gets even better after resting in the fridge, making it an ideal weeknight meal that can last days. There’s plenty of coconut milk broth to spoon over rice or noodles; or even platha, a buttery, flaky Burmese flatbread, for dipping.

Based on reader reviews claiming the curry was too soupy, we omitted adding any water. Other changes included altering the amounts of the spices including adding Thai red curry paste and fresh ginger to the mixture. These changes are noted in the list below.

In order to make the most of the ingredients, it is important to let the curry sit for 20 minutes at the end. This allows the chicken to soak in more flavors as the curry cools.

Coconut Chicken Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbsp. ground paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 13-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, plus more as needed
  • 1 ½ tsp. Madras curry powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground cayenne
  • 2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
  •  Cooked rice or noodles, for serving
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs, for serving
  • 1 lime or lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

Directions

  1. Trim the chicken thighs of excess fat and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces; transfer to a bowl. Add the paprika, turmeric and salt, and use your hands to mix well. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients, or cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high. Stir in the onions, lower the heat to medium-low and cook gently, stirring often to prevent scorching, until tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the water from the onions has been cooked out and a glossy layer of oil has risen to the surface, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the marinated chicken and stir to release the spices into the onion. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a near boil. Let the coconut milk simmer briskly for about 4 minutes to thicken a bit. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the fish sauce. The broth will thin out as the chicken starts to release its juices.
  4. Lower to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Droplets of paprika-red oil will rise to the surface. Stir in the curry powder, cayenne and Thai red curry paste and simmer briefly and remove from the heat.
  5. Let the curry sit for at least 20 minutes before serving. This allows the chicken to soak in more flavors as the curry cools. Bring to a simmer again right before serving and taste, adding more salt or fish sauce if desired.
  6. Serve over rice or noodles, with bowls of cilantro and lime wedges.

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Adapted from recipe by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy for NYT Cooking

Tomato Salad with Tuna, Capers, and Black Olives

Local tomatoes are king this time of year so we try to use them in a variety of ways almost everyday during the season. Here’s a simple summer tomato salad recipe that makes the most of—and uses up—some of the tomato bounty from your garden or local farm market.

America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) discovered that salting the tomatoes before mixing them into the salad brings out their juices, which make a great base for the dressing. Another discovery was there’s no need to peel homegrown tomatoes for a tomato salad recipe, because their skins are usually thin and unobtrusive.

The amounts of the ingredients are subjective to your own preferences. If you prefer tuna packed in oil, go ahead and use it; in fact, save the drained oil from the tuna and use it instead of, or with, the remaining olive oil. No blanching or cooking needed here!

The olives, red onions and capers are boldly flavored Mediterranean standbys, typically a healthy diet to follow. It’s a great option to bring on a picnic or to enjoy lunch at your community pool.

While we are on the subject of great tomato recipes, I have to give a shout out to the Heirloom Tomato Tart (shown above) that I blogged about 4 years ago. If you are also interested in that recipe just click on the link. The tomato salad recipe is below.

Tomato Salad with Tuna, Capers, and Black Olives

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. vine-ripened tomatoes
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. capers, chopped
  • 12 large black olives, such as Kalamata or other brine-cured variety, pitted and chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 6-oz. can solid white tuna in water, or oil-packed if preferred

Directions

  1. Core and halve tomatoes, then cut each half into 1/2″ thick wedges. Toss wedges with salt in large bowl; let rest until small pool of liquid accumulates, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk oil, lemon juice, capers, olives, onion, parsley, and pepper to taste in small bowl. Pour mixture over tomatoes and accumulated liquid; toss to coat. Set aside to blend flavors, about 5 minutes.
  3. Crumble tuna over tomatoes; toss to combine. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

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Spicy Chinese Beef Skewers

Spice it twice—the mantra for this flavorful beef skewer. After skewering but before going on the grill, the meat is dusted generously with the spices. Those spices toast, their flavors deepening during cooking. Once the meat comes off the heat, it’s seasoned a second time with the same spice blend, creating multiple layers of nuanced flavors from the same few ingredients.

What did we do different? In place of flat iron steak, we substituted flap meat because it was already in our freezer and it’s easier to source than the aforementioned flat iron cut. In keeping with the Asian theme, we also grilled bok choy right along with the meat skewers. They benefited from a chili oil sauce that complimented the meat rub.

Don’t trim the fat from the beef before cooking. The fat adds flavor and helps keep the meat succulent. If you’re using a gas grill, make sure to give it at least 10 to 15 minutes to heat before cooking the skewers. This ensures the meat gets a nice surface char without overcooking the interior.

Spicy Chinese Beef Skewers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs. beef flat iron steak, sliced against the grain into ¼-inch-thick strips
  • 1 Tbsp. dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more for grill grate
  • 2½ Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 2½ tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1½ tsp. sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • chili oil, to serve (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, sherry, soy sauce and oil. Let stand at room temperature while preparing the spice mix and the grill.
  2. In a small skillet over medium-low, toast the cumin, fennel and Sichuan peppercorns until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and add the pepper flakes. Process until coarsely ground, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 1¾ teaspoons salt. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the mix and set aside to use as garnish.
  3. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals and let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents and the lid vent. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
  4. While the grill heats, thread the beef onto ten 8- to 10-inch metal skewers, evenly dividing the meat and pushing the pieces together. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture evenly over both sides of the meat, patting gently to adhere.
  5. Grill until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and grill until the second sides are lightly charred, another 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkling both sides of the skewers with the reserved spice mix, then drizzle with chili oil (if using).

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Adapted from a recipe by Laura Russell for Milk Street

Sautéed Cod with Zhoug

Zhoug, a spicy pesto-like condiment with a base of cilantro and often parsley, is popular throughout the Levant and Middle East regions. Its zip and pungency comes from fresh chilies, a small handful of spices and fresh garlic. Olive oil supplies fruity richness.

Milk Street claims zhoug is just the thing to add bold, bracing flavor to mild-tasting fillets of white fish. Readily available cod works well in this recipe, but snapper and tilapia are also good substitutes. Whichever you choose, for quick, even cooking, look for fillets no thicker than about 1 inch. Be sure to dry the fish well by patting it with paper towels, especially if it was previously frozen; removing excess moisture helps ensure they brown well in the pan.

Unable to source Serrano chiles, a jalapeño and a Fresno were substituted. Cod was the fish of choice because it was the most economical of the options—and we like it. To complete the meal, we made sides of steamed green beans lightly dressed in a flavored olive oil, salt and pepper; and whole wheat pearled couscous in homemade seafood stock (instead of water), then finished with sautéed shallot and minced parsley.

NOTE: Don’t leave the cilantro wet after rinsing. Be sure to dry it well so there’s no residual water to cause sogginess during processing. Also, don’t move the fish around once it’s in the skillet, and don’t worry if it releases a little a liquid during cooking. The skinless fillets are delicate, so minimal maneuvering is best to keep them intact, as well as for best browning.

Sautéed Cod with Zhoug

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems (about 1 large bunch), roughly chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 serrano chilies, stemmed, halved and seeded
  • 1½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 6-oz. skinless cod, snapper or tilapia fillets, each about 1 inch thick, patted dry
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Directions

  1. In a food processor, combine the cilantro, garlic, chilies, coriander, cumin, cardamom, ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Process until roughly chopped, about 20 seconds.
  2. Add the ¼ cup oil and process until smooth, about another 30 seconds. Transfer ¼ cup zhoug to a small bowl; set aside for serving.
  3. Season the fish all over with salt and pepper, then brush the one side with half of the remaining zhoug. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering.
  4. Add the fillets zhoug-side down, brush the tops with the remaining zhoug and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottoms, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Using a wide metal spatula, carefully flip the fillets. Cook until golden brown on the second sides and the fillets are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Using the spatula, transfer the fillets to a platter. Serve with the reserved zhoug and lemon wedges.

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Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Caprese Salad with a Twist

Large, juicy, ripe heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes and fresh picked corn on the cob are two heavy hitters that shine from mid- to late-summer in our neck of the woods. For those few fleeting months we try to take advantage of the produce preparing them in a myriad of different ways. Often, the simple approach is just as tasty as a more complicated recipe such as a corn sauté or an heirloom tomato tart.

You may have enjoyed Caprese Salad before, but have you ever topped it with some grated lemon zest? This twist on the preparations adds a wonderful bright note that compliments the other flavors. Sun-ripened farmers market tomatoes are layered with creamy mozzarella and topped with aromatic fresh basil, sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar, and that aforementioned floral lemon zest.

To complete the meal, we boiled fresh ears of corn, and grilled a cedar-planked salmon with a North African spice rub—both of which took about the same amount of time to cook. Deliscioso!

Caprese Salad with Lemon Zest

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 large heirloom or beefsteak locally grown tomatoes
  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup packed fresh basil strips
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. high quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Zest from half a lemon
  • Cracked black pepper

Directions

  1. Cut tomatoes and mozzarella in even slices. Sprinkle evenly with kosher salt.
  2. Arrange tomato and mozzarella slices on a platter. Sprinkle evenly with basil strips.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  4. Using a microplane grater, grate lemon zest directly over tomato platter.
  5. Garnish with cracked black pepper.

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Bulgur Pilaf with Cremini Mushrooms

To bring more diversity to grain sides, Milk Street swapped out rice for bulgur, a form of wheat grain that’s been parboiled and dried so it cooks fast yet still retains all the benefits of whole grains. Earthy mushrooms pair well with the hearty grain and packs even more of a nutritional punch. For big mushroom flavor, choose widely available cremini mushrooms plus a ¼ ounce of dried porcini, to add nice depth.

Just a dash of soy sauce boosts the mushroom’s umami flavor even further and gives the dish a rich mahogany color. Sauté the mushrooms with an onion, then add the bulgur and the cooking liquid (a combination of water and broth) and simmer it until tender.

After removing the pot from the heat, place a dish towel underneath the lid (which helps absorb moisture) and let the bulgur steam gently for 10 minutes, which results in perfectly tender, chewy grains.

NOTES: When shopping, don’t confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which has a much longer cooking time and will not work in this recipe. Use vegetable or mushroom broth instead of chicken stock if you want to keep it vegetarian.

Bulgur Pilaf with Cremini Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • ¼ oz. (7grams) dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. cremini mushroom, stemmed and quartered if small or cut into 6 pieces if large
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup medium-grind bulgur, rinsed
  • ¾ cup homemade chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley

Our bulgur pilaf became the companion dish for Ginger-Curry Grilled Chicken Kebabs.

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, porcini mushrooms, and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in cremini mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, cover, and cook until cremini mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in bulgur, broth, water, and soy sauce and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until bulgur is tender, 16 to 18 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat, lay clean folded dish towel underneath lid, and let bulgur sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff bulgur with fork, stir in parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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Recipe from Americas Test Kitchen

Southern-Style Shrimp Boil

What’s a summer without at least one clam bake or shrimp boil? Upon receiving our latest Food & Wine magazine, their cover image was a tempting looking Shrimp Boil, so we decided there and then to make one. This shrimp boil is a one-pot summer feast for a crowd. However, their recipe served eight (at a minimum) and with only the two of us it made sense to cut it in half.

In it, sweet, plump Gulf shrimp, corn, potatoes, and andouille sausage, come together in a flavorful cooking liquor. It is recommended to use large shrimp in the shell, which helps prevent overcooking and imparts its own flavor to both the shrimp and broth. Add dense ingredients like potatoes and corn first, then sausage, then shrimp. Just before serving, the boil is finished in a garlic spice butter. Yummy!

Like “Barbecue,” “Shrimp Boil” is both a noun and a verb. While all of the flavors are important, the real flavor from a boil comes from a potent cooking liquor. This broth takes it aromatic flavors from alliums, lemon and spices; while a bottle each of white wine and clam juice add heft.

Not having a large enough pot with a fitted strainer, we omitted the strainer altogether, except at the end to drain the food into. Additionally, the amount of liquids were reduced to make sure everything would fit our smaller pot.

For authenticity, you may want to line your eating surface with newspaper or butcher paper and serve the shrimp, corn and potatoes splayed out on the table. Of course, a more formal/civilized approach is to serve from a platter. Whatever style you choose, make sure to have plenty of paper towels handy because the food is meant to be eaten with your hands.

Southern-Style Shrimp Boil

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 lemons
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning or Old Bay seasoning, plus more for serving
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tsp.)
  • 5 Tbsp. plus 1/8 tsp. fine sea salt, divided
  • Hot sauce (such as Tabasco), to taste
  • 11 qts. water
  • 1 750-milliliter bottle dry unoaked white wine (such as Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 8-oz. bottle clam juice (such as Bar Harbor)
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered lengthwise, root intact
  • 2 garlic heads, halved crosswise
  • 8 dried bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 lbs. small yellow, red, or gold potatoes
  • 8 8-oz. shucked ears fresh corn, halved crosswise
  • 3 lbs. fresh or smoked sausages, preferably andouille
  • 4 lbs. unpeeled raw large wild shrimp
  • Dipping Sauce, optional, for serving (See Step 5 for making your own.)
  • Whole-grain mustard, for serving 

Directions

  1. Grate zest from 1 lemon to measure 2 teaspoons. Set grated zest aside. Cut zested lemon and remaining lemon into quarters; set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low. Stir in Cajun seasoning, minced garlic, 1/8 teaspoon salt, hot sauce to taste, and reserved lemon zest. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm. 
  2. Place a 24-quart pot on an outdoor propane burner. Add 11 quarts water, wine, clam juice, onion, garlic heads, bay leaves, thyme, quartered lemons, and remaining 5 tablespoons salt to pot; cover and bring to a boil over high flame. Stir in crab boil packets; cover and cook 10 minutes. Place a fitted strainer inside pot.
  3. Add potatoes to strainer in pot; cover and cook 5 minutes. Stir in corn and sausages; cover and cook until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of sausage registers 155°F (or until heated through if using smoked sausages), about 10 minutes. Stir in shrimp; cook, uncovered, until shrimp are pink, opaque, and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Lift strainer from pot, letting liquid strain back into pot, and transfer shrimp boil mixture (potatoes, corn, sausage, and shrimp) to a large heatproof bowl; discard onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, lemons, crab boil packets, and strained liquid inside pot. Add reserved butter mixture to shrimp boil mixture; toss to coat. (If you don’t have a large enough bowl, you can do this step in batches, tossing half of the shrimp boil with half of the butter mixture at a time.) Arrange coated shrimp boil on a platter or a covered table. Season with additional Cajun seasoning or Old Bay. Serve with cocktail sauce and mustard, if desired.
  5. To make the dipping sauce: Stir together 1 8-ounce jar cocktail sauce, 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce in a small bowl. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 5 days. Grate fresh horseradish on top for serving, if you like.

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Adapted from a recipe by Hunter Lewis for Food & Wine Magazine

Ginger-Curry Grilled Chicken Kebabs

These luscious kebabs are an adaptation of the mishkaki from “Feast: Food of the Islamic World” by Anissa Helou, reinterpreted by Milk Street. Mishkaki are grilled skewers of marinated meat from Zanzibar, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Tanzania. So transport yourself to another land while in the comfort of your own home and enjoy a laid-back feast of Ginger-Curry Grilled Chicken Kebabs.

Zanzibar’s cuisine represents a fusion of the people and cultures—Persian, Portuguese, Arabic—that once colonized or settled in the area. Chunks of chicken are marinated in an aromatic mixture of their spices including ginger, garlic, tomato paste and lemon juice before they’re skewered and grilled.

Don’t worry if the cut pieces of chicken are irregularly shaped. As long as they’re similarly sized, shape isn’t important. Don’t crowd the skewers on the grill grate. Allow some space between them so heat circulates and the chicken cooks quickly and without steaming.

While it was suggested to serve with warm naan and plain yogurt for drizzling; we paired ours in combo with another Mediterranean dish Bulgar Pilaf with Cremini Mushrooms. Suffice it to say, we fell in love with this tasty meal. And the leftovers were just as good!

Ginger-Curry Grilled Chicken Kebabs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • 1 medium red, orange or yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the oil, tomato paste, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, 1¼ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
  2. Add the chicken and mix with your hands, rubbing the seasonings into the meat, until evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes while you prepare the grill or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
  3. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute evenly over 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, then clean and oil the grate.
  4. While the grill heats, thread the chicken, alternating with the pepper and onion pieces, onto 6 to 8 metal skewers. Place the skewers on the grill. Cook without disturbing until lightly charred on the bottom and the meat releases easily from the grill, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Flip the skewers and cook, turning every few minutes, until charred all over and the chicken is no longer pink when cut into, another 8 to 9 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a platter and serve with lemon wedges.

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Recipe compliments of Milk Street

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Honey

These addictive fig bites from Fat Rice chef Abraham Conlon are very simple, so it’s crucial to use the best ingredients, from true Spanish ham to ripe, juicy figs, crunchy marcona almonds (a fave of mine) and best-quality olive oil.

Unable to source jamón ibérico or serrano, we had to resort to prosciutto. And the original recipe indicated a whole almond should be place on top as a finish. But we decided that was not practical. How would the nut stay adhered to the piece? Instead, we placed the almond on top of the goat cheese, then wrapped each piece in a slice of the prosciutto with a mint leaf as garnish.

Or better yet, crush the almonds and mix them into the goat cheese mixture. Quite a decadent little bite!

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Honey

  • Servings: 16 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 fresh figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup ruby port
  • Black pepper
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced dry-cured ham, such as jamón ibérico, serrano or prosciutto torn into 16 long strips
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 16 Marcona almonds, lightly crushed
  • Small mint leaves, for garnish

Directions

  1. Arrange the figs cut side up on a plate. Drizzle with the port and season with black pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, using a fork, blend the goat cheese with the honey, scallion, crushed almonds and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
  3. Dollop small spoonfuls of the goat cheese on the fig halves. Wrap each cheese-topped fig half in a strip of ham and transfer to a platter. Drizzle the figs with olive oil, top with the mint and sea salt and serve.

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Adapted from a recipe by Abraham Conlon for Food and Wine