Friday, June 29

Fourth of July Menu Planning

Is there really anything more American than fried chicken? Pictured: Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Fourth of July is fast approaching, and I'll be making my annual trip to Minnesota to spend time with my fiance's family. We spend most of the day boating or swimming in the lake, only coming in to refresh the cooler or have a quick bite to eat. At night, there are cocktails, and wine, and family-style dinners to feed a crowd. Here are some of my favorite dishes to make and eat in such an iconic American setting, but I think they'll impart the spirit of summer and Independence Day no matter how or where you serve them.

Salads are a simple way to showcase the summer's great produce. Pictured: Arugula, Corn, & Tomato Salad

Grilled meat is always a crowd-pleaser. Pictured: Perfectly Grilled Rib-Eye Steak
It's not as famous as apple pie, but your guests won't mind one bit. Pictured: Peach Tart

Thursday, June 28

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad

Ripe heirloom tomatoes with creamy burrata cheese and fresh basil

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad

When the weather is warm and the heirloom tomatoes are at their peak there’s nothing I love more than a perfect caprese salad. Caprese can be boring and typical, but with great ingredients and attention to detail it can be mind-blowing. This is one dish where I think presentation is really important, so I look for different shapes, sizes, and colors of tomatoes and layer them carefully with the right amount of fresh basil and pinches of soft burrata cheese. I don’t believe in adding too much dressing, but the tomatoes badly need some sea salt, black pepper, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and an aged balsamic vinegar. This recipe could easily feed eight people as a starter or side dish, but my fiancĂ© and I polished it off for dinner with some homemade bread.

Heirloom Caprese Salad:
  • Slice 4 medium-large heirloom tomatoes into 3/4" thick slices and arrange on a plate.
  • Tuck a dozen or so whole, fresh basil leaves in between the tomato slices, then use your hands to pull a part a large ball of fresh burrata cheese.
  • Dot the burrata over the tomatoes, then season the whole thing generous with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves two - three (main course)
Serves six - eight (starter)

Wednesday, June 27

Strawberry Whole Wheat Pancakes

I recently came across Heidi Swanson’s new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day, at Anthropologie and fell in love with her recipes, approach to cooking, and San Francisco lifestyle. Unlike a lot of vegetarian cookbooks I’ve seen that try to make up for the missing meat with tons of spices or unhealthy ingredients, her recipes are simple and allow the produce and whole grains to really shine. Inspired, I adapted one of her recipes and served these strawberry whole wheat pancakes for breakfast last weekend. I love the contrast of the soft, warm strawberries in the cakes and the fresh cool slices on top. They add some necessary sweetness to the whole wheat and rye flours and will keep you full until the early afternoon. As a bonus, make extra batter and store it in the fridge for a quick weekday breakfast.

Strawberry Whole Wheat Pancakes:
  • Sift together 3/4 c. whole wheat flour, 1/4 c. rye flour, 1/2 tbsp. baking powder, 1 tbsp. sugar, and 1 pinch of kosher salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk together 1 c. buttermilk, 2 eggs, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract, then whisk in 1 1/2 tbsp. melted butter.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined, then fold in 1/2 pint of fresh, thinly sliced strawberries.*
  • Heat a skillet or grilled over medium-high heat and melt a little butter on it.
  • Pour heaping tablespoons of the batter onto the pan to form small silver-dollar shaped pancakes.
  • Wait until small bubbles form at the edges of the cakes, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until both sides are brown.
  • Divide onto plates and repeat with any remaining batter.
  • Top pancakes with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, maple syrup, and more sliced strawberries.

Makes ten - twelve pancakes
*Keep slices small or they won't fit nicely inside the pancakes.

Tuesday, June 26

Turkey & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I love having friends over for dinner during the week, but it can be tricky to cook something that's exciting and still weeknight-friendly. I usually opt for some type of lovable comfort food, such as these stuffed peppers, that can incorporate leftovers from previous meals. This version uses ground turkey, cooked quinoa, and a Southwestern spice blend for a filling that comes together in minutes. I assemble the peppers ahead of time (could even be done the night before and kept in the fridge) and then pop them in the oven when guests arrive. The peppers get soft, the cheese melts, and your whole house smells good. It's a great way to entertain on a weeknight, and you can even make double so that you can have them for dinner or lunch the following day.

Turkey & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers:

  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet and add in 1 diced onion.
  • Cook onion for 5-7 minutes, or until soft, then add in 1/2 lb. ground turkey.*
  • Use the back of a spoon to break up the turkey into pieces and let brown for about 4-5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in 1 1/2 c. cooked quinoa, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, and salt.**
  • Meanwhile, slice 3-4 large bell peppers in half and pull out the seeds and ribs.
  • Arrange peppers, cut side up, on a baking sheet and spoon the turkey mixture into each one.
  • Top with a handful of grated Monterey Jack cheese and bake in a 375F oven for 35-45 minutes, or until peppers are soft and cheese is bubbling.
  • Let cool slightly, then serve.

Serves three-four
*I used dark meat because it's less dry and has more flavor.
**Or substitute your favorite Mexican spice blend.

Monday, June 25

Crusty Rye Buttermilk Bread

My fiance is an avid golfer, so it was great to get an afternoon to myself over the weekend while he was out playing eighteen holes. I spent the time listening to music, taking care of some chores, and making a bunch of food to last the rest of the week. This bread was first on my list but it took nearly no time to put together. It's made mostly of rye flour and contains no yeast, so it's good for you and requires no resting or tedious mixing and kneading. I couldn't resist cutting a piece when it was still hot, spreading it with a generous smear of herb-shallot butter and a sprinkle of large-flake sea salt. It's the type of indulgent eating I love to do when I'm home alone.

Crusty Rye Bread Boule:*
  • Sift together 2 1/3 c. rye flour,** 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour, 1 3/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl.
  • Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in 2 c. buttermilk.
  • Stir until just combined, then turn out into a lightly floured surface.
  • Knead the bread together for about 30 seconds, or until it comes into a ball.***
  • Transfer bread onto a lightly floured baking sheet and brush with buttermilk.
  • Sprinkle a generous handful of flour over the top and score into eighths.****
  • Bake in a 400F oven for 30 minutes in the center rack, then transfer to the top rack of the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.
  • Let cool on a baking rack, then serve.

Serves eight
**I used Bob's Red Mill brand.
***If dough is sticky, add a little more flour.
****As if you're cutting a pie, but only score 1/2 way down.

Thursday, June 21

Kale & Onion Barley Risotto

I love cooking with whole grains like quinoa and farro (see favorite recipes here and here) and my latest obsession is pearled barley. The barley has a nice toothsome texture and is similar in size to aborio rice, so I decided to try my hand at making risotto out of it. I’ve seen the concept in other recipes, but since I rarely cook traditional risotto because of the timeliness, I tried to make it using my oven-baked shortcut and it turned out perfectly. This version folds in kale and red onions and contains no butter to keep it extra healthy, making it the perfect wholesome, fast, and cheap weeknight meal.

Kale & Onion Barley Risotto:
  • Add 2 1/2 c. vegetable stock and 3/4 c. pearled barley to a small dutch oven.
  • Place the lid on the pot and bake in a 350F oven for 45-60 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet and add in 1 thinly sliced red onion.
  • Cook the onion for 6-8 minutes, or until soft, then add in 1 large pinch of red chili flakes, 1 head of thinly sliced lacinato kale (ribs removed), salt, and pepper.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until wilted, then add in 1/2 c. vegetable stock and cook until kale is tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove the barley from the oven and immediately add in a large handful of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 c. vegetable stock, 1/2 c. white wine, and salt. 
  • Stir vigorously for 2-3 minutes, or until barley gets a creamy consistency.
  • Stir in the vegetables and serve.

Serves two - three (main course)
Serve four - six (side dish)

Wednesday, June 20


I usually like to live by a less is more philosophy, in that I'd rather have something with a few really great ingredients than something with a lot of mediocre ingredients. This is why I don't really enjoy salad bars or any other make-your-own restaurants that are so popular nowadays. So it was super refreshing to get introduced to the bocaditos at Blue Fog Market during my recent trip to San Francisco. They are basically mini sandwiches containing a few ingredients, my favorite being the salami, cream cheese, and honey on a baguette. It's such a simple snack, but if you use really great ingredients it's guaranteed to be delicious. The salty-sweet combination of the salami and honey is truly genius.

Salami, Honey, and Cream Cheese Bocaditos:

  • Slice a small baguette in half and generously spread both sides with cream cheese.
  • Layer in slices of salami and drizzle with honey.

Serves two - three 

Tuesday, June 19

Summer Squash Gratin

Summer squash just hit our markets a couple weeks ago, reminding me of a great squash gratin I had a wedding pre-party in Virginia last year. I like to think of it as a lighter, summery take on a potato gratin, where the majority of the dish is thinly-sliced squash rounds. Of course, no gratin would be complete without some crunchy bits and cheese, but a little goes a long way if you use high-quality ingredients. I brightened it with some chili and lots of garlic flavor, which really adds some depth to the mild vegetables. I served it as a side dish, but it’s certainly hearty enough for a full meal when paired with some bread and a green salad.

Summer Squash Gratin:
  • Thinly slice 4 summer squash into 1/8" thick rounds,* sprinkle with salt, then place in a colander for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet and cook 1 diced onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 1/2 diced serrano pepper until soft, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
  • Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a skillet, add in 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs, and toast until lightly golden. Set aside.
  • Squeeze excess liquid from the squash and toss with half of the breadcrumbs and 2 tbsp. minced parsley.
  • Butter a baking dish, then arrange a layer of squash on the bottom.
  • Top the squash layer with some of the onion mixture and a sprinkling of grated Monterey Jack cheese.**
  • Repeat layering until all squash has been used, then place in a 400F oven for 40 minutes, or until squash is cooked through and the top has browned.
  • Let cool slightly, the cut into pieces and serve.

Serves six - eight (side dish)
Serves four (main course)
*I used a mandoline to keep the slices uniform.
**I used a garlic jack cheese from our local market, but any white melty cheese works here.

Monday, June 18

Spicy Bourbon-Peach Grilled Chicken

This past week has been super busy with wedding planning and family get-togethers, so it was nice to get back into my kitchen on Sunday for a quiet, home-cooked meal. Sunday is generally my favorite day to cook, and I make a point to keep our schedule clear so that I can spend the afternoon preparing dishes (generally with ingredients I sourced from the morning's farmer's market) before lingering over a large meal and a few glasses of wine. This grilled chicken recipe starts out pretty basic, but gets a sweet and spicy kick from the bourbon-peach glaze. It's the type of relaxed, family-style cooking I love to eat (especially during the summer), and leftover sauce can be re-purposed into quick dinners for the rest of the week.

Grilled Chicken with Spicy Peach-Bourbon Glaze:
For Glaze
  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet, add in 1/2 diced large onion, and 1/2 diced serrano pepper,* and cook for 7 minutes, or until soft.
  • Add in 2 diced large peaches, 1/3 c. cider vinegar, 1/3 c. bourbon, 1 heaping tbsp. each of Dijon mustard and honey, 1 tbsp. ketchup, 1 tsp. chili powder, a large pinch of cayenne pepper, and salt.
  • Let the mixture cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, or until the peaches are very soft.
  • Puree in a blender until smooth, check for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.
  • Set aside.**
For Chicken
  • Rub 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts*** with canola oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Place skin-side down on a medium-hot grill and cook for 15 minutes, or until skin is dark and crispy.
  • Turn over and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through.
  • Brush on the glaze and let cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove from the grill and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
  • Serve with remaining glaze.

Serves four
*Or the whole thing, depending on how spicy you like it.
**Can be made ahead. Leave uncovered until cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a few days.
***Mine were about 9 oz. each.

Friday, June 15

Father's Day Menu Planning

Braciole, steak stuffed with cheese, garlic, and breadcrumbs and baked in tomato sauce, is one of my dad's signature dishes. Pictured: Braciole

I’m lucky enough to come from a family where both parents are great cooks, each excelling in their own areas in the kitchen. My dad is the grill master, although he’s been known to make a few great dishes off the grates as well. He has a unique ability to make recipes up in his head and never measure ingredients (much to my dismay as I always try to ask for his recipes and he doesn’t know any of the measurements), concocting flavorful marinades for seafood and steak that only he can replicate. This post is a Father’s Day tribute to him, sharing a few of his recipes that I’ve managed to document and some of his other favorite dishes. I’m sure your own dad (or any other special man in your life) will love them too.

Every year my dad tries to grow his own tomatoes and fails miserably. At least there are great store-bought varieties to be had. Pictured: Heirloom Tomato & Blue Cheese Salad
My mom doesn't eat meat, so my dad created this recipe that they can both enjoy. Pictured: Grilled Portabello Mushroom Parmesan

My dad is a sucker for anything with blueberries. The savory chops and sweet, tangy sauce work really well together. Pictured: Grilled Pork Chops with Balsamic-Blueberry Sauce

This peach and raspberry crumble is his favorite dessert. He asks me to make it at dinners all summer long. Pictured: Peach & Raspberry Crumble

Thursday, June 14

Grilled Pork Chops & Peaches

Grilled thyme-marinated pork chops and peaches make a simple summer meal

Grilled Pork Chops and Peaches

After realizing how delicious pork and grilled peaches are together in this salad, I couldn’t help myself from creating another dish featuring the two. Inspired by this recipe, pork chops are marinated overnight in a savory herb and vinegar mixture before hitting the grill. The sweet, smoky peaches are a summery (and in my opinion, more interesting) take on the classic pairing of pork and apples. They provide a nice contrast to the chops but still work together in unison. Impressive your guests by serving it at your next barbecue and you’ll have the whole table talking about it.

Grilled Pork Chops & Peaches:
  • Combine 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 c. olive oil, salt, and pepper in a resealable plastic bag.
  • Place 2 bone-in center cut pork chops in the bag, press out all the air, and place in the refrigerator overnight,* turning occasionally.
  • Remove the chops from the bag, scrape off extra marinade, and season with salt.
  • Place on a hot grill for 5-8 minutes a side, depending on thickness.
  • Add 2 pitted and halved peaches to the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until softened.
  • Remove the pork to a plate and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Divide chops onto plates and serve with peaches.

Serves two - three
*Or at least 6 hours.

Wednesday, June 13

Fresh Corn & Goat Cheese Polenta

I usually think of polenta as a cold-weather comfort food since it pairs really well with braised meats and rich sauces that I make in the winter, but it actually complements lighter meals just as well. To avoid standing over a hot stove and wearing your arm out by whisking forever, use a quick-cooking polenta. This version adds in fresh corn, which helps to reinforce the flavor of the polenta and give an interesting texture. The goat cheese adds some creaminess and tang, making this a super flavorful and unique side dish to serve at your next barbecue or gathering. I think it pairs perfectly with summer vegetables (such as this) or grilled meats, but leftovers would be great for breakfast or made into cakes.

Fresh Corn & Goat Cheese Polenta:
  • Bring 3 c. of chicken stock* to a boil, then add in 2/3 c. quick cooking polenta.
  • Turn the heat to low, add in the kernels from 2 ears of corn, and whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes, or until thickened.
  • Add in 3 oz. fresh crumbled goat cheese and 2 tbsp. butter and season with salt and pepper.
  • Continue whisking for another minute, or until the polenta is at the desired consistency.
  • Divide onto plates or into bowls and serve immediately.

Serves three - six (side dish)
*To make this vegetarian, you can substitute for vegetable stock or water.

Tuesday, June 12

Summer Succotash

Ever since our engagement we’ve had countless celebrations, out of town visitors, and extravagant meals. It’s super tempting to keep the good times rolling for the next year, but I’ve been trying to make a few more wholesome meals to offset all the extra cocktails we’ve been throwing down. This summer succotash is basically just sauteed vegetables, but the variety of colors, textures, and flavors keep it super interesting and delicious. I served it with polenta for an easy vegetarian meal, but it would also be a great tossed with pasta or as a side dish to grilled chicken or fish.

Summer Succotash with Chive Oil:
  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add in 1 diced red onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened.
  • Add in 2 large, diced zucchini* and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, or until almost cooked.
  • Add in 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Stir in the kernels from 2 ears of corn and 1 pint of halved grape tomatoes. Check for seasoning.
  • Meanwhile, bash together 1 bunch of chives, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and a little salt until oil turns a green color.
  • Cook for another minute or two, then divide onto plates.
  • Drizzle chive oil over the vegetables and serve.

Serves four - six (side dish)
Serves two - three (main course)
*The idea is to keep the vegetables equal in size and proportion.

Monday, June 11

Chorizo Huevos Rancheros

Crispy cheesy tortillas, pork chorizo, fried eggs, and a spicy red sauce make for one hell of a breakfast

Chorizo Huevos Rancheros with Fried Eggs

I love Mexican food for breakfast but often feel limited at restaurants because I don't like a lot of dishes with black or pinto beans, so I decided to create my own version of huevos rancheros at home. This recipe calls for a spicy homemade red chili sauce, crispy tortillas, and crumbled chorizo sausage with fried eggs. You can certainly add beans if you like, but it has so many other elements that I don't think it needs anything else except a few fresh garnishes of avocado and cilantro. It was so delicious that I made it for dinner one night and served it to guests for brunch a few days later. You'll definitely have leftover sauce, which is great on tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or served with chips.

Note: I like to make the sauce in advance and keep it in the fridge. Once it's made, it only take a few minutes to fry the tortillas and eggs and serve the huevos rancheros for breakfast.

Related Recipes:
- Red Chilaquiles with Fried Eggs
- Bean, Cheese, & Avocado Tostadas with Fried Eggs
- Chorizo, Potato, & Pepper Breakfast Hash

Huevos Rancheros with Chorizo:
For Sauce
  • Soak 6 dried guajillo chiles in boiling water for 15-20 minutes, or until softened. Discard the stems and seeds and shred the peppers into pieces. Reserve the soaking liquid.
  • Cook 1 lb. fresh chorizo sausage (casings removed) in a large skillet until brown and crispy, about 8 minutes, then remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Cook 1 large diced onion and 2 chopped jalapenos in the chorizo fat for 5 minutes, or until softened, then add in a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, 2 cloves of minced garlic, the guajillo chiles, and 1 c. chile soaking liquid.
  • Cook for another 10 minutes, then puree in a blender until smooth.
  • Season with salt and set aside.*
For Huevos Rancheros
  • Heat an oven to 250F.
  • Heat 1" of canola oil in a deep, small skillet until very hot but not smoking.
  • Fry 8 corn tortillas, one at a time, in the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes or until crispy, turning once.
  • Remove tortillas and immediately sprinkle each with a handful of grated Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Keep the tortillas on a baking sheet in the warm oven to melt the cheese while you make the eggs.
  • If you made the sauce and chorizo in advance, heat them on the stove or microwave until warm.
  • Heat another large skillet to high and cook 8 eggs to desired doneness and set aside.
  • To assemble, place a ladle of sauce on the bottom of each plate, then top with the tortilla and cheese, then top more sauce and two eggs on each tortilla.
  • Sprinkle the chorizo on the plate and top with sliced avocado and fresh cilantro.
  • Serve extra sauce alongside.

Serves four
*Can be made 3-4 days ahead of time and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Chorizo can also be stored in the fridge and reheated in a dry skillet right before serving.

Friday, June 8

Slow Roasted Salmon with Herb Yogurt Sauce

I love serving food family style, so I was super excited when Bon Appetit recently did a feature on family style meals with recipes from the chef at Farmshop (a restaurant located literally down the street from my house). This salmon with herb yogurt sauce is super low maintenance but packs the wow factor in its presentation. I found it a great way  to use up leftover fresh herbs, as I’m always having to buy a huge bunch just for a few tablespoons in my recipes. The salmon is cooked slowly at a low temperature, which transforms the texture and flavor into something much more luscious and tender than I’ve seen in other recipes. I love serving it whole at the table with a large fork, so that each person can take as much or as little as they like. Same thing goes for the sauce, although it was so good that I couldn’t resist putting several generous spoonfuls on mine.

Slow Roasted Salmon with Herb Yogurt Sauce:
For Sauce
  • Combine 8 oz. Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp. chopped dill, 1 tbsp. chopped chives, the zest of one lemon, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Set aside.*
For Salmon
  • Lightly coat the bottom of a small baking dish with olive oil, then fill with a bed of fresh herbs.**
  • Place a 1 lb. boneless salmon fillet, skin side down, over the herbs and brush the flesh with olive oil. Season well with salt.
  • Roast the salmon in a 315F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until just cooked through.
  • Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and the yogurt sauce.

Serves two - three
*Can be covered and stored in the fridge for 2 days.
**I used fresh dill and thyme.

Wednesday, June 6

Breakfast Bruschetta

Heirloom tomatoes are one of my favorite types of summer produce, and I couldn’t resist buying a few at the farmer’s market this past weekend. This dish is sort of a like a breakfast take on bruschetta and only has a few ingredients so that the tomatoes can really stand out. The creamy goat cheese and luscious egg yolks make this hearty enough for a weekend brunch, but the portability of the open-faced sandwich make this totally doable for a quick weekday breakfast. It can be a little messy to eat, though, so keep some napkins close by for after you finish.

Goat Cheese, Tomato & Egg Bruschetta:
  • Slice a small baguette in half, brush with olive oil, and toast in a skillet or grill pan until golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, combine 4 oz. goat cheese, the leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme, a splash of milk, salt, and pepper until the goat cheese is a spreadable consistency.
  • Spread the goat cheese on the grilled bread and top with sliced heirloom tomatoes.*
  • Meanwhile, melt 1 tbsp. butter in a hot skillet and cook 4 eggs until your desired doneness.
  • Divide the eggs over the toasts and top each with a handful of arugula, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves two
*You will need one large or two small tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 5

Spicy Chorizo Mussels

What’s better than eating seafood or eating meat? Eating both! I love playing around with different types of surf and turf, and this recipe of chorizo and mussels couldn’t be easier. The herbs and spices from the sausage flavor the broth and cause its vibrant orange-red color, making it as visually stunning as it is tasty. The briny mussels stand up to the chorizo really well and yield the most perfect bite when you get both on your fork at once. Serve with a bunch of crusty bread, pour a glass of white wine, and enjoy.

Spicy Chorizo Mussels:
  • Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
  • Add in 1 diced yellow onion, 1/2 lb. diced chorizo,* and 1 pinch red chili flakes** and cook until onion is soft and sausage has browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in 2 lbs. cleaned mussels (discard any that are already open) and 1 c. dry white wine.
  • Put a lid on the pot and let cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the mussels have opened.
  • Remove the mussels to plates and let the sauce reduce for another 5 minutes.
  • Pour sauce over the mussels and serve.

Serves two - three (main course)
Serves four - six (starter)
*I used the cured chorizo, not the fresh sausage.
**Add more or less depending on how spicy you like it.

Monday, June 4

Green Bean Salad

Lettuce is generally the least exciting part of a green salad, so I like experimenting with lettuce-less vegetable salads as a different and unexpected side dish. This recipe is super versatile, but the base is formed by green beans (I think it's more interesting to use a few varieties, like haricot verts and yellow wax beans) and dressed with a punchy, herb-packed vinaigrette. The other vegetables can be mix and matched, but I love the sweetness from the grape tomatoes and the crunch from the red onion. Serve it cold or at room temperature, and make extra because leftovers hold up great in the fridge for a few days.

Green Bean, Tomato, & Red Onion Salad:
For Dressing
  • Whisk together 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp. minced fresh dill, 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • Slowly whisk in 3 tbsp. olive oil and check for seasoning. Set aside.
For Salad
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt.
  • Trim the ends off of 1 1/2 lbs. of green beans* and add to the pot.
  • Boil for 4-5 minutes, or until crisp-tender, then drain into a colander and run cold water over them until cold. Let dry.
  • Toss the beans with 8 oz. halved grape tomatoes and 1/2 very thinly sliced red onion.
  • Toss with the dressing and serve.

Serves four - six
*Preferably use a few different types.

Friday, June 1

Peach & Blue Cheese Salad

Peaches are one of my favorite fruits, and I tend to buy a ton of them in the summer when they’re at their peak. I love using them in dessert recipes (some of my favorites are here and here), but they work surprisingly well in savory dishes. The peaches in this salad get caramelized on the grill, which helps to intensify their flavor and gives them a smoky, meaty taste. Their sweetness forms a nice balance with the other strong, salty flavors of the blue cheese and prosciutto, making this the perfect salad for a starting course or light meal.

Peach, Prosciutto, & Blue Cheese Salad:
For Dressing
  • Whisk together 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Slowly whisk in 1/3 c. olive oil until emulsified. Set aside.
For Salad
  • Slice 4 peaches* in half and remove the pit and stem. Brush with canola oil.
  • Cook the peaches on a hot grill for 3 minutes a side, or until caramelized and slightly softened.
  • Slice the peaches into wedges and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, toss 1/2 lb. baby arugula with dressing and divide onto plates.
  • Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese** and drape a few thin slices of prosciutto on top.
  • Arrange peach slices on top and serve.

Serves two (main course)
Serve four - six (starter)
*Try to use slightly under ripe fruit as it holds up better on the grill.
**Use a mild blue cheese, such as Maytag.