Friday, August 29

Peach & Raspberry Red Sangria

A refreshing summer drink made with red wine and fresh fruit

Peach and Raspberry Red Wine Sangria

This peach and raspberry red wine sangria has been my beverage of choice for most of the summer. I feel a little guilty that I've held out on sharing it until Labor Day weekend, but there's still time to make a batch before the weather turns cool. I'm a big fan of sangria and this is my favorite recipe to date. It's on the sweet side, but not so sweet that you can't drink several glasses, and the fruit tastes great after sitting in the wine overnight. The secret ingredient is the cassis, which magnifies the flavors of the wine and of the fruit. I like to drink it somewhere between cold and room temperature, so it's a great make-ahead drink for a party. Just mix all the ingredients together in a pitcher the night before, take it out of the fridge once guests arrive, and leave it out during your party without worrying about keeping it cold. It's the perfect beverage to enjoy on a sunny afternoon or warm evening and even works as a brunch cocktail in the late morning.

More Cocktail Recipes:
- Pineapple-Mango Rum Slushie
- Jalapeño Margaritas
- Mojitos

Peach & Raspberry Red Sangria:
  • In a large pitcher, combine 2 bottles of red table wine,* 1/2 c. creme de cassis, 1/2 c. triple sec, and 1/2 c. orange juice.
  • Stir in 2 tbsp. sugar until dissolved, then add in 1 pint of raspberries and 2 sliced ripe peaches.
  • Let the sangria sit for at least a few hours in the fridge (overnight is ideal).
  • Pour into glasses and serve.

Serves four
*For those of you who shop at Trader Joe's, I used Chariot Gypsy Red.

Thursday, August 28

Steak & Shishito Pepper Skewers

Quick beef and pepper kabobs in an Asian-inspired marinade

Grilled Steak and Shishito Pepper Skewers

These beef and shishito pepper kabobs are a quick, easy, and flavorful summertime meal. The nice thing about making steak skewers is that you don't have to use an expensive cut of beef because it's cut into small pieces and quickly grilled so that it won't get tough or dry out. It's also much easier to stretch the meat to feed a crowd with kabobs than it is with making individual steaks. Shishito peppers are in season now and are a pretty mild, but they add great flavor to the dish. If you can't find them or they're not in season, you can substitute bell peppers or other mild chiles.

Related Recipes:
- Corn & Shishito Pepper Grilled Pizza
- Grilled Lamb Skewers
- Grilled Swordfish & Zucchini Skewers

Grilled Steak & Shishito Pepper Kabobs:
  • In a bowl, whisk together 1/4 c. soy sauce, 1/4 c. sesame oil, 1 tbsp. honey, 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar, and 1 tsp. ground coriander.
  • Cut 3/4 lb. top round steak into 1" cubes and add to the marinade for 30-60 minutes.
  • Toss 15-20 shishito peppers with 1 tbsp. sesame oil and salt.
  • Heat a grill to high.
  • Alternate threading the beef and peppers onto 4-5 skewers.*
  • Grill for 5 minutes, turning halfway through.

Serves two
*If using wooden skewers, make sure to soak them in water for several hours before grilling.

Wednesday, August 27

Breakfast Quesadilla For One

A fried egg, melted cheese, and crispy tortilla quesadilla...for one

Single-Serving Breakfast Quesadilla

I worked from home every Friday with my previous job and it was glorious. I took advantage of it to the fullest - keeping my PJs on until late in the morning, getting in an afternoon run around the neighborhood on my lunch break, and always making myself a hot breakfast. These single-serving breakfast quesadillas were my go-to, and I really perfected them over time. I have a tiny skillet that's just about the size of a corn tortilla and it's the only equipment needed to make this dish. Start frying an egg in the pan, top it with a handful of grated cheese, and then lay a tortilla on top. After the bottom of the egg has set, flip everything over, fold it in half, and - boom - breakfast is served. Sometimes I would get fancy and add sliced avocado or chopped cilantro on top, but usually I just drizzled with hot sauce and ate it over the sink in about six bites. It's the perfect quick breakfast for one, although you could easily double or triple the recipe to feed more people.

Related Recipes:
- Roasted Chili & Cheese Egg Bake
- Breakfast Tacos
- Chilaquiles

Single-Serving Breakfast Quesadilla:
  • Melt a small pat of butter in a small skillet over medium heat.
  • Crack an egg into the pan and season with salt and pepper.
  • When the egg starts to set, add a handful of grated Monterey Jack cheese on top and then gently lay a corn tortilla on top.
  • Flip everything so that the tortilla is on the bottom and the egg is laying on top.
  • Cook for another minute or two, then fold it in half and cook for another minute on each side, or until the cheese melts and the egg is cooked through.
  • Serve with hot sauce or salsa.

Serves one, make as many as you want

Tuesday, August 26

Grilled Lamb Burgers with Feta, Tzatziki, & Arugula

Greek-inspired burgers made with ground lamb and a creamy yogurt sauce

Grilled Lamb Burgers with Feta Cheese and Tzatziki Sauce

If he could, my husband would eat a cheeseburger everyday. I love them too, but I get bored with the same beef patty all the time. So in an effort to switch things up a bit, I made this lamb burger that's influenced by a lot of my favorite Greek flavors. If you don't eat much lamb or you're introducing someone to it for the first time, this is a great gateway dish. The patty is meaty and juicy, and its slightly gamey flavor is balanced by the salty feta, tangy tzatziki sauce, and peppery arugula. The burgers are super quick to prepare and it's easy to double the recipe to feed more people. This burger is a weeknight winner that deserves a spot on the dinner table.

Related Recipes:
- Lamb-Beef Kofta with Yogurt Sauce
- Classic American Cheeseburgers
- Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

Grilled Lamb Burgers with Feta, Tzatziki, & Arugula:
  • Heat a grill to high.
  • Season 1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb with 1 tbsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tbsp. ground black pepper.
  • Mix until combined, then divide into quarters and shape into 4 burger patties.
  • Brush the burgers lightly with canola oil, then grill for 3-4 minutes per side. During the last minute, grill 4 split burger buns until toasted.
  • Remove the burgers and top each with a handful of crumbled feta cheese. Let rest for a few minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine 1 c. Greek yogurt with 1/4 minced preserved lemon,* 1 minced garlic clove, and a handful of chopped fresh dill. Set tzatziki sauce aside.
  • To assemble, spread the bottom burger buns with tzatziki, top with burger patties, thinly sliced red onion, handfuls of arugula, and the top bun.

Serves four
*Can substitute the preserved lemon with 1 tbsp. lemon juice and a large pinch of salt.

Monday, August 25

Fig, Goat Cheese, & Arugula Pizza

A smokey grilled pizza with sweet figs, tangy goat cheese, and peppery arugula

Fig, Goat Cheese, & Arugula Pizza

I bought some of the best figs I've ever had at the farmers' market last week. Most of the basket didn't last long, but I managed to save some and made this grilled pizza. Figs and goat cheese aren't the most common pizza toppings, but they really work in this unique dish. The sweet fruit is counterbalanced by the tangy cheese, peppery arugula, and grilled dough, which keep the pizza on the savory side. Some prosciutto or crispy pancetta would be another nice addition if you wanted to add meat. I like to put a lot of greens on top (I only photographed about one-third of the arugula I used) and toss it with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It's almost like having a salad and a pizza together with no need for another side dish.

Note: If you don't have a grill, you can put the goat cheese and figs on the dough and cook the pizza on a baking sheet in a 450F oven for 12-15 minutes.

More Fig Recipes:
- Pan-Roasted Chicken with Fig & Wine Sauce
- Fig & Goat Cheese Crostini
- Duck Breasts with Fig Sauce

Grilled Fig, Goat Cheese, & Arugula Pizza:
  • Heat a grill to high.
  • Roll out one pizza dough to 1/8" thick and brush with olive oil.
  • Grill the dough for 4 minutes on one side, then flip grilled-side up on a cutting board.
  • Spread 3-4 oz. room-temperature goat cheese on the pizza, then sprinkle with 10-12 quartered figs.
  • Grill the bottom side of the dough for another 4 minutes, then turn off the heat and keep it on the grill for another few minutes.
  • Transfer the pizza to a serving board and sprinkle with a few handfuls of baby arugula and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Serves four

Thursday, August 21

Grilled Cod Tacos with Citrus Slaw & Avocado Crema

Corn tortillas filled with grilled fish, crunchy cabbage slaw, and spicy avocado sour cream

Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema and Citrus Cabbage Slaw

These fish tacos are perfect for summer entertaining. You can make all the components separately, set them out on a buffet or the kitchen table, and then let everyone compose their own tacos to their liking. I used a simple spice-rubbed grilled cod for the fish, but really any type of fish or even chicken would be good here. The spicy avocado crema and citrus cabbage slaw (inspired by this Bobby Flay recipe) help to elevate this dish from a basic fish taco to something really special and shouldn't be left out. The slaw is light and crunchy and adds great texture to the taco and the crema adds a richness and kick of heat from the jalapeño. It's a healthy and fresh meal that is perfect for lunch or dinner, preferably eaten outside and enjoyed with an ice cold cerveza.

Related Recipes:
- Mahi Mahi Tostadas
- Salmon Tacos
- Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos with Spicy Crema

Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus-Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Crema:
For Avocado Crema
  • In a blender or food processor, combine 1/2 ripe avocado, 1/2 c. sour cream, 1 tbsp. chopped jalapeño, the juice of 1/2 lime, and a pinch of salt.
  • Blend until smooth and check for seasoning.
For Citrus-Cabbage Slaw
  • In a blender or food processor, combine 2 tbsp. lime juice, 2 tbsp. orange juice, 1 tbsp. mustard,  1 handful of fresh cilantro leaves, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly stream in 1/4 c. canola oil until emulsified.
  • Remove the core from 1/2 a head of cabbage and then thinly slice it into shreds.
  • Toss the cabbage with the dressing and set aside.*
For Fish Tacos
  • Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat.
  • Stir together 1 tbsp. ancho chile powder, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. brown sugar in a small bowl.
  • Brush 1 lb. boneless skinless cod fillet with canola oil and sprinkle the seasoning mixture on top.
  • Grill the cod for 4 minutes, then flip and cook for another 4 minutes, or until just opaque in the center.
  • Add 8 corn tortillas to the grill and cook for about 30 seconds, or until warm.
  • To assemble the tacos, spoon some crema into the tortillas, top with pieces of fish, then top with some of the slaw.

Serves four
*The slaw can be prepared an hour or so in advance. It's actually better if it sits for at least 30 minutes so that the flavors can meld together.

Wednesday, August 20

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Beer-Soy Marinade

Plan to start marinating the pork the night before, and you'll have a fast, healthy meal you can whip up for dinner the next day

My husband has been helping out with the weeknight cooking a little more now that I'm spending more time commuting to and from my job everyday. Pretty much everything he makes is on the grill, so I've been on the lookout for easy dishes that he can throw on the barbecue while I'm on my way home. Pork tenderloin is a great choice because it's quick-cooking, lean, and inexpensive. We found this recipe from Bon Appetit for a beer and soy sauce marinade that imparts a ton of flavor into the meat. The brown sugar, beer, and soy sauce caramelize on the hot grill and form a sweet and salty crust on the outside of the pork. It takes just a few minutes to prepare the marinade in a ziplock bag the night before, and I just let the pork sit in it overnight until we're ready to grill the next day. It's a low-maintenance dish that still looks and tastes great.

More Pork Tenderloin Recipes:
- Grilled Mustard-Glazed Pork Tenderloin
- Peach-Chile Glazed Pork Tenderloin
- Orange & Coriander Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Beer and Soy Sauce Marinated Pork Tenderloin:
  • In a large resealable bag, combine 1/4 c. beer, 1/4 c. low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, and 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar.
  • Add in 1 large pork tenderloin, about 1 1/4 lb. and seal the bag. Let marinate for several hours, preferably overnight.
  • Heat a grill to high heat.
  • Remove the pork from the bag and discard the marinade. Let sit at room temperature while the grill heats.
  • Grill the pork for 12-15 minutes, turning on all four sides, or until the pork registers 140F with a meat thermometer.
  • Let the pork rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Serves three-four

Tuesday, August 19

Grilled Eggplant with Burrata & Romesco

Smokey charred eggplant, creamy burrata cheese, and a red pepper sauce come together for a delicious summer side dish

Grilled Eggplant with Burrata Cheese and Romesco Sauce

My husband and I had a date night at Tar & Roses a few weeks ago and - besides sitting next to Dustin Hoffman - the highlight of the meal was a side dish we ordered with eggplant, burrata cheese, and romesco sauce. It's a combination of ingredients that I would have never come up with on my own, but it tasted incredible. The charred, slightly bitter eggplant, the creamy cheese, and the sweet and earthy romesco sauce all complimented each other to create a dish full of texture and complex flavor. I tried to replicate it at home and it was so good that we ate it two nights in a row. If you make the romesco sauce in advance or buy it from the store, the whole dish comes together in only about ten minutes. It makes a wonderful summer side dish and even would work for a vegetarian entree.

Note: It's important to try and use Japanese or Chinese eggplant for this dish. They are longer and skinnier than regular eggplant and have less bitter seeds, making them ideal for grilling.

More Eggplant Recipes:
- Lamb & Walnut Stuffed Eggplant
- Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- Grilled Swordfish with Eggplant-Pepper Salad

Grilled Eggplant with Burrata Cheese and Romesco Sauce:
  • Heat a grill to medium high.
  • Halve two Japanese or Chinese eggplants lengthwise, brush with canola oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the eggplant over medium-high heat for 6 minutes, turning once, or until charred and soft.
  • Cut the eggplant into bite-size pieces and arrange onto a serving plate or bowl.
  • Break apart one ball of burrata cheese and dollop it all over the eggplant, then dollop 1/4 c. romesco sauce* over everything.
  • Sprinkle with a handful of torn fresh basil leaves and serve warm.

Serves four (side dish)
*See my recipe for homemade romesco or try and buy it at specialty food stores or high end groceries.

Monday, August 18

Romesco Sauce

A simple Spanish sauce made from peppers, almonds, bread, vinegar, and oil

Romesco Sauce

Romesco is like Spain's version of pesto. Instead of Italian pesto made with basil and pine nuts, romesco is a red sauce made from peppers, almonds, and stale bread. Like pesto, it tastes good on just about everything. The sauce is thick and slightly sweet with a little finish of heat from the chile at the end. It will brighten up everything from grilled chicken, to roasted vegetables, to a simple sandwich. I like to make a big batch of it over the weekend and keep it in my fridge to use all week. It's great to have on hand during weeknights to dress up leftover rotisserie chicken or a roasted piece of fish. Or just spread some on a piece of crusty bread for a snack. No matter what you do with it, romesco will become on of your new favorite things to eat and cook with.

Related Recipes:
- Homemade Basil Pesto
- Charred Tomatillo Salsa
- Red Harissa Sauce

Romesco Sauce:
  • Soak 1 dried guajillo chile in hot water for 30 minutes, then remove the stem and seeds and roughly chop.
  • Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet over medium heat and lightly toast 3 oz. blanched or marcona almonds.
  • Add the pepper, almonds, 4 roasted piquillo peppers,* 1 piece of stale crusty bread that's been ripped into pieces, and a pinch of salt to a food processor.
  • Blend until smooth, then add in 1 1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar and 1 c. extra virgin olive oil.
  • Check for consistency. The sauce should be thick but still spreadable. Add a little water if needed to loosen it up.
  • Check for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

Makes 1 1/2 - 2 cups
*From a jar.

Friday, August 15

Pineapple-Mango Rum Slushie

Pretend you're on a tropical vacation with these cold, fruity cocktails

Pineapple Mango Rum Slush Cocktail

I've been lucky enough to go on a fair amount of tropical beach vacations in recent years, and one of my favorite things to do is sit out by the pool or in the ocean with a fruity drink (paper umbrella strongly encouraged). It's a luxury that always epitomizes a relaxing vacation for me, but enjoying a tropical blended drink at home is the next best thing. These pineapple-mango rum slushies are like an adult smoothie filled with frozen fruit, sorbet, and, of course, booze. Everything gets combined in a blender, pureed til smooth, and - voila! - vacation in a glass. There's actually no ice in the drink, so the final result is a thick, rich smoothie that doesn't water down and has to be sucked with a straw. It's a refreshing cocktail to enjoy on a hot summer day. Just close your eyes and you'll feel like you're in the Bahamas.

More Refreshing Cocktails:
- Jalapeño Margaritas
- Mojitos
- Kumquatinis

Pineapple-Mango Rum Slushies:
  • Blend 2 c. frozen pineapple chunks, 1 scoop mango sorbet, 1/2 c. white rum, 1/4 c. orange juice, 2 tbsp. triple sec, 2 tbsp. water, and 1 tbsp. sugar in a blender until smooth.
  • Check for taste and adjust if needed.
  • Pour into glasses, add straws, and serve.

Serves two - four

Thursday, August 14

Jalapeño Corn Fritters

Tender savory pancakes that taste just like fresh summer corn

Bon Appetit Jalapeno Corn Fritters

There isn't a dish with fresh summer corn that I don't love. I put it into pastas, make it into soup, throw it into salads, and eat it straight from the cob. These jalapeño corn fritters from Bon Appetit is another recipe to add to the list of favorites. I actually think that calling them "fritters" is a little misleading because they aren't deep-fried and actually cook up like tender, savory pancakes. The batter is made from little else than pureed fresh corn, jalapeños, and a little bit of flour and egg to bind it. It's easy to make the batter in the blender or food processor and then just ladle it into a skillet to cook. The fritters are tender and taste exactly like fresh sweet corn with a little kick at the end from the chile. These would make a great side dish or appetizer, or spoon some cook black beans on top for a satisfying vegetarian meal.

More Corn Recipes:
- Corn, Potato, & Bacon Chowder
- Corn, Avocado, & Arugula Salad
- Corn, Potato, & Cheese Chile Rellenos

Jalapeño Corn Fritters:
  • Combine 2 eggs, 1/4 c. flour, 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese, and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt in a blender or food processor.
  • Pulse until just combined, then add in 2 c. fresh corn kernels, 1 thinly sliced scallion, and 1/2 chopped jalapeño.*
  • Pulse a few more times, making sure to leave some larger pieces of corn in the batter.
  • Heat 2 tbsp. canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Ladle in 1/4 c. amount of batter and cook for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Repeat with any remaining batter and serve hot.

Serves two (main course) - four (appetizer)
*Remove the seeds if you're worried it will be too spicy.

Wednesday, August 13

Caprese Sandwich with Prosciutto

Everything you love about a caprese salad, but in a sandwich (with prosciutto!)

Prosciutto Caprese Sandwich

I can't believe it's already mid-August. This summer has flown by, and tomatoes are already at their peak season. Stock up on them and eat them raw as much as you can, because this is the best they'll be all year. We tend to eat a lot of caprese salads when the heirlooms reach a low price and we can load up on them at our farmers' market, so this sandwich is a nice variation on the traditional Italian salad of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. The same ingredients are layered between slices of crusty ciabatta bread, and I added some slices of prosciutto, because why not? Although, you can certainly leave the prosciutto out if you want to make it vegetarian. It's the perfect lunch for a warm summer day and only takes about five minutes to assemble.

Related Recipes:
- BLT Sandwiches with Avocado
- Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad
- Roasted Pepper, Burrata, & Prosciutto Sandwiches

Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil, & Prosciutto Sandwich:
  • Cut a loaf of ciabatta bread in half lengthwise and toast both sides.
  • Slice 2 large heirloom tomatoes and 2 balls of fresh mozzarella into 1/2" thick slices and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add 1/3 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto to the bottom of the bread, then top with the tomatoes and cheese, then arrange a handful of fresh basil leaves on top.
  • Drizzle 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil on top, then top with the top piece of bread.
  • Slice the bread into quarters and divide onto plates.

Serves four

Tuesday, August 12

Black Bean Huevos Rancheros

This filling vegetarian breakfast would also make a delicious dinner

Huevos Rancheros Tostadas with Black Beans

Mexican breakfast foods are one of my favorite things to make on weekend mornings. They're generally pretty filling and savory, so if I eat them in the morning, I'll have energy all day while I'm enjoying the great LA weather or running around doing errands. These huevos rancheros are a vegetarian spin on one of my favorite dishes on KSD, my chorizo huevos rancheros (see link below). Instead of meat, the crispy tortillas get slathered with a chunky black bean mash, then topped with a spicy red ranchero sauce, fried eggs, and a few garnishes. I actually keep servings of the ranchero sauce in my freezer, since it's the most time consuming part and reheats well once it's defrosted. This is also a great thing to make with leftover black beans, although you could use a drained can of black beans in a pinch.

Note: I used avocados, jalapeños, and fresh cilantro as garnishes, but you can play around with what you like best and add or remove any of them from the recipe.

Related Recipes:
- Chorizo Huevos Rancheros
- Bean, Cheese, & Fried Egg Tostadas
- Slow Cooked Black Beans

Huevos Rancheros with Black Beans, Avocado, & Queso Fresco:
For Ranchero 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.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. canola oil in a small pot and add in 1 large diced onion and 2 chopped jalapeños.
  • Cook 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
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Brush 4 corn tortillas with canola oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Place the tortillas on a baking sheet (it's ok if they overlap a bit) and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until crispy.
  • Meanwhile, mash 1 c. cooked black beans with 1/3 c. bean cooking liquid* and a pinch of salt in a pot over medium heat.
  • Cook until thickened and hot, about 5 minutes. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  • Melt a pat of butter in a skillet and fry 4 eggs to desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper.
  • To assemble, spread the beans on top of the crispy tortillas and divide onto two plates.
  • Drizzle the ranchero sauce on top, then top each with 2 fried eggs, a handful of crumbled queso fresco,** chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, and sliced jalapeños.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy.

Serves two, easily doubled or tripled
*If using canned black beans, drain and rinse the beans and mash them with some water or stock. You might want to add in some additional spices like cumin or chile powder for more flavor.
**Found in the cheese section of some supermarkets or Mexican grocery stores. Can substitute with feta cheese.

Monday, August 11

Coffee-Rubbed Strip Steak

A juicy grilled steak crusted with a dry rub made of ground coffee beans, brown sugar, and spices

Coffee Dry-Rubbed New York Strip Steak

I just got back from a work trip to Portland and am happy to be back home after living out of a hotel for a week. I rarely take this much time off from cooking, so I couldn't wait to get back into the kitchen and cook up a big dinner with my husband. We made a weekend trip to the farmers' market for summer produce and then grilled a steak to serve alongside all of our vegetable sides. This recipe is super simple, but the coffee rub adds so much flavor to the meat that it doesn't taste like your average grilled strip steak. The coffee has a slightly-bitter and smokey flavor that pairs really well with the sweet brown sugar and spices. When the hot flames from the grill come in contact with the sugary rub, it forms a caramelized crust on the beef. It's a restaurant-worthy meal but it's still easy and cheap enough to make on a weeknight.

Note: I used a New York strip for this recipe, but the rub would work with any cut of beef that you like. Rib eye would be particularly tasty, but even a leaner cut like flank steak would do.

More Steak Recipes:
- Truffle Buttered NY Strip Steaks
- Grilled Steak Salad with Mixed Greens, Tomatoes, & Goat Cheese
- Grilled Skirt Steak with Salsa Verde

Coffee-Rubbed New York Strip Steak:
  • Heat a grill to high heat.
  • In a small bowl, stir together 1 tbsp. finely ground coffee, 1 tbsp. ancho chile powder, 1 tbsp. brown sugar, 1/2 tbsp. salt, 1 tsp. ground coriander, and 1/2 tsp. ground ginger.*
  • Brush a 12 oz. New York strip steak with canola oil, then sprinkle the steak all over with the coffee rub, making sure to press in the spices so that they totally adhere to the meat.
  • Let the steak sit at room temperature for about thirty minutes before cooking.
  • Grill the steak for 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  • Let the steak rest, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Serves two normally, or one very hungry person
*The rub can be created well in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for months. You probably won't need all the rub for just one steak.

Thursday, August 7

Mixed Greens & Fennel Salad with Fried Capers & Anchovy Dressing

Salty fried capers, parmesan cheese, and an umami-rich dressing at a ton of flavor to this simple salad

There's a great pizza place by my house called Milo & Olive. Literally everything that I've ever tried from there is good, but my favorite dish is actually their green salad with fennel, fried capers, and anchovy lemon dressing. Seriously, compared to their other offerings like homemade sausage pizza and to-die-for meatballs, I'll take this salad any day. It doesn't sound like something so revolutionary, but it really is. It's salty in the best possible way. It's full of crunchy fried capers (I am obsessed with making them at home ever since this recipe) and grated parmesan cheese that add complex, umami-rich flavors that really make the salad pop. The mixed greens (I go heavy on arugula) and thinly-shaved fennel add crunch and freshness. And everything gets lightly coated with a powerful anchovy dressing that I loosely base off a recipe by genius chef Nancy Silverton. It's a salad that will carry any main course and it couldn't be easier to make. You can even prepare the dressing and fried capers in advance so that assembly is a breeze when you're ready to toss everything together.

More Salad Recipes:
- Tricolore Salad with Parmesan & Anchovy Dressing
- Ojai Raw Veggie Salad
- Kale, Brussels Sprout, & Hazelnut Salad

Mixed Greens & Fennel Salad with Fried Capers & Anchovy Dressing:
For Dressing
  • In a food processor or mortar and pestle, combine 1 garlic cloves, 2 anchovy fillets, 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper until smooth.
  • Slowly add in 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil until combined.
For Fried Capers
  • Heat 1/4 c. canola oil in a small skillet over high heat.
  • Drain and rinse 2 tbsp. capers and pat very dry.
  • Fry the capers in the oil for 30-60 seconds, or until the capers open up like a flower and are crispy. Drain on a paper towel.
For Salad
  • Thinly slice 1/2 bulb of fennel and toss with 6-8 oz. mixed greens, such as arugula, baby lettuces, and radicchio.
  • Add in the fried capers and 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese.
  • Toss with the anchovy dressing and check for seasoning.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves two-four (side dish)

Wednesday, August 6

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Start your morning off right with these sweet cinnamon and chocolate chip pancakes

Cinnamon and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I absolutely love ordering room service when I stay at nice hotels. The food isn't always great, but there's something so indulgent about picking up the phone, ordering breakfast, and being able to eat a hot meal in your own room or even in your bed. My husband and I stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa earlier this summer, and one of my favorite parts of the trip was ordering room service for breakfast. We were lucky enough to have a room with a great private patio and we asked them to set up our meal out there so that we could eat al fresco. It was such a luxurious experience to put on our plush hotel robes and sit out there while we shared breakfast and planned our activities for the day. We both loved the chocolate chip pancakes, which were light and fluffy and had a kick of cinnamon in them. I decided to recreate the dish for brunch last weekend so that we could relive the experience at home. It's a delicious way to start your morning and is perfect for a special occasion or just when you feel like treating yourself and want to start your day off right.

More Pancake Recipes:
- White Peach Upside-Down Pancakes
- Healthy Oat Pancakes
- Oven-Baked Pancakes

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Pancakes:
  • Warm 1 c. milk* and 4 tbsp. butter in the microwave or in a saucepan until the butter is melted. Let cool slightly.
  • Whisk 2 eggs into the milk mixture.
  • In another bowl, stir together 1 1/4 c. flour, 1 tbsp. sugar, 4 tsp. baking powder, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon.
  • Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined, then stir in 6 oz. mini chocolate chips.
  • Meanwhile, heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat and grease with butter.
  • Pour 1/4 c. spoonfuls of batter onto the griddle and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until large bubbles form on the surface and the bottom is golden brown.
  • Flip the pancakes and cook for another minute. Repeat cooking with any remaining batter.
  • To serve, sprinkle the pancakes with extra mini chocolate chips and serve with maple syrup.

Serves four
*I used 2% milk, but whole milk or anything similar will also work.

Tuesday, August 5

Duck Breasts with Fig Sauce

Restaurant-worthy duck breasts with crispy skin and a quick fig and wine pan sauce

Duck Breasts with Fig and Wine Sauce

I'm traveling for business all week, so my husband and I decided to have a romantic dinner to spend time together before I left. Instead of going out, we opted to cook duck breasts at home and used some ripe figs we picked up at the farmers market to make a quick pan sauce. Duck is one of my favorite things to eat for a special occasion and it's so quick and easy to prepare at home. The whole dish can be made in a single skillet and requires only about thirty minutes from start to finish, which is great for date night because you don't have to spend too much time worrying about the cooking and can focus on each other instead. The end result is a restaurant-worthy plate of crispy roasted duck breasts with a sweet and tangy sauce made from figs, wine, and balsamic vinegar. It's a real showstopper and so much better than going out to an expensive restaurant.

More Duck Recipes:
- Duck with Cherry-Port Sauce
- Whole Roasted Crispy Duck
- Fig, Duck Confit, & Mixed Greens Salad

Pan-Roasted Duck Breasts with Fig & Wine Sauce:

  • Score the fat on 2 duck breasts and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place a heavy skillet over medium heat and add in the duck breasts skin-side down.
  • Cook the duck for 10 minutes, or until most of the fat renders and gets golden brown and crispy.
  • Flip the duck and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, or until lightly pink in the center.
  • Transfer the duck to a plate and pour all but 1 tbsp. duck fat out of the pan.*
  • Increase the heat to high and add in 1 pint of halved black figs, cut-side down.
  • Cook for 3 minutes, then flip the figs and add in 1/2 c. red wine, 1 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the wine has reduced by half, then stir in 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in 1 tbsp. cold butter until it melts.
  • Slice the duck breasts and spoon the sauce on top.

Serves two generously
*Save the duck fat and use as you would butter or olive oil. It will keep in the fridge for a month and the freezer for longer.

Sunday, August 3

Fattoush Salad with Crispy Pita & Creamy Lemon Dressing

A fresh and crunchy salad made with toasted pita chips, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, red onion, and feta cheese

AOC Cookbook Fattoush Salad with Crispy Pita Chips and Creamy Lemon Dressing

I had dinner at Lucques in L.A. the other week and it reminded me of how great Suzanne Goin's cooking is. I have her A.O.C. cookbook at home and her recipe for fattoush salad has been on my list of recipes to make. Fattoush is a Middle Eastern salad that combines pita bread and fresh vegetables, although there are a lot of variations out there. This version reminds me a lot of my favorite Greek salads but with the addition of crunchy pita bread croutons. The whole salad gets tossed with a creamy lemon dressing and salty feta cheese for some richness and tang. It's the perfect thing to make in the summer when cherry tomatoes are ripe and sweet, cucumbers are at their peak, and you want something light and refreshing to eat.

Note: You can substitute the Persian cucumbers for one English cucumber and the little gems lettuce for chopped romaine lettuce. I also left off a handful of torn mint leaves that was included in the original recipe.

Related Recipes:
- Greek Salad with Grilled Shrimp
- Whole Wheat Garlic Pita Chips
- Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa & Pomegranate

Fattoush Salad with Crispy Pita & Creamy Lemon Dressing:
For Dressing

  • Smash and peel 1 garlic clove. Add a pinch of kosher salt and use the side of your knife to mash the garlic into a paste.
  • Add the garlic, a large pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice to a small bowl.
  • Slowly whisk in 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, then 1/2 tbsp. heavy cream. Check for seasoning.

For Salad

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Tear 3 pita breads into 1" pieces and toss with 1/4 c. olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  • Arrange the pita in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes, or until crisp and brown. Let cool.
  • Meanwhile, halve 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, thinly slice 1 small red onion, thinly slice 3 Persian cucumbers, and chop 1/4 c. of fresh parsley.
  • Wash and dry 3-4 heads of little gem lettuce and pull apart the leaves, tearing larger ones in half.
  • Place all the ingredients and 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese in a large salad bowl and toss with the dressing, making sure that everything is well dressed and that the dressing is really massaged into the pita and lettuce.
  • Sprinkle another 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese and 1/4 fresh parsley leaves over the top and serve.

Serves two-three (entree)
Serves four-six (side dish)

Friday, August 1

Prosciutto & Melon Kabobs

A fun take on a classic Italian dish

Prosciutto and Melon Kabobs

I recently had a great plate of prosciutto and melon at Cotogna in San Francisco. The idea is so simple: just high-quality prosciutto, an Italian cured ham, and ripe cantaloupe melon sprinkled with a bit of lime zest. It's a dish that requires no cooking and barely any time to assemble, but the sweet and salty flavors really work together. I recreated the dish at home to have with cocktails before we went out for a late dinner date and served the prosciutto-wrapped melon on wooden skewers for a fun presentation. It would make a great appetizer for a party, especially a cocktail party, because it requires no utensils and can be eaten with one hand (while the other hand holds a drink). Despite how easy it is to make, it's a true Italian classic and something that looks impressive to serve to people.

Related Recipes:
- Grilled Peach, Burrata, & Prosciutto Salad
- Poached Cherries with Goat Cheese
- Parmesan-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Prosciutto & Melon Kabobs:
  • Cut 1/2 ripe cantaloupe melon into 2" pieces.
  • Wrap half pieces of thinly-sliced prosciutto* around each piece of melon.
  • Slide 3-4 pieces of prosciutto-wrapped melon onto wooden skewers.
  • Sprinkle the zest of 1 lime on top.

Serves eight
*You'll need about 8-10 slices of prosciutto.