Pork Chops with Sweet potatoes, apples and fennel

Cider Dijon pork Chops

Cider Dijon Pork chops 1 Pork Chops with Sweet potatoes, apples and fennelOh my goodness… I didn’t think it would happen. But it did. The temperature has dropped below 80 degrees!! WOO HOO!!

Ok, for some of you, this is no big deal. But for me… this is huge.. we might (gasp!!) actually be heading into fall!

Which means – apples, pumpkins, soups, stews, casseroles and all sorts of yummy goodness – and yes, I said “yummy” – this is, after all a food blog and not the New York Times.

So to celebrate, I am making Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Fennel. And this is definitely a dish you should add to your fall food line up – because it is yummy!!! Ok, and it also has bourbon in it… need I say more???

Cider Pork Chops 2 Pork Chops with Sweet potatoes, apples and fennel

I probably don’t need to, but I will. First off, apples and sweet potatoes are naturals with pork – this is a no brainer. Fennel however, may not seem quite so intuitive – but when it’s roasted it’s anise flavored earthiness works beautifully with all the other components and keeps the dish from being overly sweet.

The best part though? You’ve got everything you need for a full meal right in this dish – and you can get it on the table in under an hour with 2 pans to wash – and no one needs to be the wiser that this did not involve multiple  pans and hours of prep.

Which means of course, more time for whipping up something else “yummy” – and here are some ideas to get you started!


Nutmeg Cake Pork Chops with Sweet potatoes, apples and fennelNutmeg Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce

Bourbon Pumpkin Bundt CakeBC2 Pork Chops with Sweet potatoes, apples and fennel Bourbon Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Glaze




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Pork Chops with Sweet potatoes, apples and fennel
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Serves: 4 servings
  • 4 boneless pork loin chops - about 1 inch thick
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon (optional)
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large sprig rosemary
  • Vegetables:
  • 1½ Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 lb. yams, peeled and cut into 2 inch by ½ pieces
  • 3 granny smith apples, cored and cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into ¼ inch slices
  1. Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. Scatter vegetables onto a sided sheet pan and drizzle with the oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat the vegetables. Place the sheet pan in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes and then stir the vegetables and continue roasting for another 10 - 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, blot the pork dry. Add the oil to a cast iron or other oven safe skillet and heat over medium high heat. When the oil is just shimmering add the pork. Season with salt and pepper. Sear on one side and then flip the chops. Sear on the other side. Place skillet in the oven to finish cooking the chops. Cook for another 10 - 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Remove pan from oven and transfer chops to a plate. Add the bourbon (if using) to the skillet. Place the skillet over medium high heat and cook, scraping up the browned bits. Add the apple cider and cook for 5 minutes until the cider is slightly reduced. Stir in the dijon mustard. Cook until incorporated. Turn off the heat and add the butter - stir until the butter is melted. Divide the vegetables among 4 plates. Top each with a pork chop and divide the sauce between the chops and serve.

Farro with Artichokes, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Artichoke, mushroom and farro

Artichoke mushroom and farro  Farro with Artichokes, Caramelized Onions and MushroomsI am on day 41 of being an “empty nester.”.. but who’s counting?

It isn’t really going as I planned. At all. See, I thought I’d all of sudden have all this free time to read cookbooks, work out and even have a candlelight dinner or two with my DH.

Well, except for the working out, it hasn’t happened… and even the working out has been sub optimal.

Sheesh. So, I continue to be in the mode of looking for relatively easy, quick and nutritious meal options like this Farro with Artichokes, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms.

Artichoke Farro and Mushrooms 2 Farro with Artichokes, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

And once again, leave it to Melissa’s Produce to make my life easier! In case you weren’t aware of it, Melissa’s has a whole line up of convenient, ready-to-eat vegetables and legumes – things like lentils, beets, fava beans and now  steamed artichokes!!!

Screen Shot 2014 09 30 at 1.51.46 PM Farro with Artichokes, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Artichokes have always been one of my pantry staples – I put them in pasta, salads, and they do wonders for chicken dishes. There is only one problem though… the canned ones are kinda briny. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love “briny” – olives, pickles and capers are all regular occupants of my fridge. But there are a number of dishes where that  “briny – ness” (hey this is a food blog so I get to make up words on occasion) is not a good thing. Like in this dish of chewy farro with caramelized onions, mushrooms and artichokes that’s laced with sherry. It’s a one bowl meal – hearty with an earthy nuttiness and a touch of sweetness from the onions and sherry. All you need is a salad … and maybe a nice fire to curl up in front of with a bowl of this in your lap.

Well, if you live anywhere but California that is… we are still in shorts and flip flops.

But back to these  steamed artichokes, which have earned a prime spot of real estate in my fridge.  Melissa’s  really, really knows the way to this girl’s heart.

ArtichokeMushroom and Farro 3 Farro with Artichokes, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

And when you try them… I think these artichokes will find a way into your heart too… especially if they are in this dish!

Farro with Artichokes, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms
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This works as a side dish for roasted meats and poultry. For a vegetarian main dish use vegetable stock and add a can of drained cannellini beans.
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup semi pearled farro
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 package [url:1]Melissa's steamed artichokes
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  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup sherry
  • ¼ tsp. pimente de espellette or smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper
  • freshly grated parmesan (optional)
  1. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until the onions are tender and golden brown, about 10 -12 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic and celery and cook until the mushrooms are tender. Increase the heat to medium high and add the sherry. Cook until almost all the liquid is evaporated. Add the farro, stock, pimente de espellete and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil - cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the liquid is evaporated and the farro is tender. Divide among 4 bowls and top with parmesan if desired.



Hatch Chile and Lemon Rice Salad

Hatch chile and Lemon Rice Salad

Hatch chile and lemon rice salad 2 Hatch Chile and Lemon Rice SaladI’ve got a little “hatch chile fever” going on at the moment so hang in there. This should be the last hatch recipe for a while.. I think icon smile Hatch Chile and Lemon Rice Salad This Hatch Chile and Lemon Rice salad has been on my mind for a while. Last winter when I had no fresh hatch chiles!!! and my frozen stash had dwindled to almost nothing, I was thinking about this salad. So I  made some notes and filed it away to await my new supply of hatch chiles.  So you see, I kinda had to make this salad – and it was sooo tasty I wanted to share it!!!

Hatch chile and lemon rice salad 3 Hatch Chile and Lemon Rice Salad

I think you are really going to like this one –  it’s sweet, sour, crunchy and well,  punchy… there is a lot going on with this salad – chiles, bell peppers, zucchini, avocado and corn – which is just the way I like it.  If you’ve taken a peek at the recipe, don’t freak out and the long list of ingredients because this Hatch Chile and Lemon Rice Salad is really two different recipes. The first is for a Lemon Relish  – which btw, is terrific on fish and chicken so I’d make a double batch – use it with chicken or fish one night and use the rest in this salad for later in the week.

And since  fall has officially started and we are all returning to “the routine” anything I can “make once, eat twice” goes to the top of my list of things to make –  like this Hatch Chile and Lemon Rice Salad.

Hatch Chile and Lemon Rice Salad 1 Hatch Chile and Lemon Rice Salad

If you haven’t gotten your supply of  roasted Hatch Chiles yet, you still have time to head out to a chile roast in your area – here’s a handy list from Melissa’s Produce to help you find a “chile roast” near you!!!!

Hatch Chile and Lemon Rice Salad
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Serves: 6 - 8 servings
  • For the relish:
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • For the salad:
  • 1 recipe lemon relish
  • 1 cup long grain rice, cooked
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano (mexican if possible)
  • 1 tsp. Tangin
  • 1 cup roasted hatch chiles, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1½ cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1 cup diced, seeded yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • ¾ cup minced cilantro
  1. For the relish - Remove the zest from the lemon and add to a small mixing bowl. Slice the lemon thinly and then remove the remaining peel. Chop the pulp and add pulp and any remaining juices. Add the remaining ingredienst and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. For the salad: Cook the rice and let cool. In a large mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients except the avocado. Add the rice and the lemon relish. Stir to thoroughly combine. Fold in the cilantro and avocado and serve.

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake

ooey gooey chocolate cake

ooey gooey chocolate cake 1 Ooey Gooey Chocolate CakeIt isn’t pretty.

In fact, in the pantheon of beautiful desserts, this Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake wouldn’t even crack the top 100…  or maybe even 500.

But as they say, “looks can be deceiving” – and that is absolutely true, in this case. On a number of levels.

No, this Ooey Gooey Chocolate cake isn’t pretty nor is it “so sinfully rich I could only eat two bites” which seems to be the gold standard of today’s chocolate desserts. This cake harkens back to earlier times when desserts were just… well desserts – a little something sweet to follow a meal, before the time when we took the basics, like chocolate cake and didn’t add chocolate chips, salted caramel sauce, m and m’s in the center, etc. etc. Not that doing those things is necessarily bad of course, but sometimes… well sometimes you just want something simple – like Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake.

Oooey Gooey Chocolate cake 2 Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake

Oh, and that frosting you see? That’s part of this cake’s charm – no separate frosting to make -it makes its own! (Because you know I am lazy smart about desserts!)

So where did this recipe come from?Well, the other day I was going through some old (and by old I am talking 60 years here people) cookbooks that were my mother’s.  To be honest, I can’t remember what prompted that stroll down memory lane, but whatever it was, it was completely overshadowed by this recipe. Written in pencil on a piece of scratch paper in my mother’s elegant script was a recipe for chocolate upside down cake.

Oooey Gooey Chocolate cake 3 Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake

Since I still have two YA men under my roof (1 week and 3 days until they are Texas bound, but who’s counting??) I regularly run out of three things – meat, milk …. and dessert. So, I am constantly on the lookout for quick and easy desserts which will satisfy my crew – and by “dessert” I mean chocolate so this recipe definitely caught my eye. After scanning the ingredients I headed to the kitchen and within 20 minutes this cake was baking.

It was good – but not great… but it had possibilities. So, a couple of days later it was back into the kitchen – a few tweaks and the second cake was done.

Now this is the cake I’d imagined when I’d read the recipe – chocolately but not sinfully rich – not too heavy but with enough heft that a scoop of vanilla ice cream is almost mandatory.

It’s ooey, it’s gooey with enough chocolate and nuts that everyone can find something to love… and with all that going for this Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake, who cares if it isn’t pretty???


Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake 5 Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake


Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake
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There are no eggs and little fat in this cake so it's best eaten the day or day after it's made!
Serves: 8 servings
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. Kahlua (optional)
  • 2 oz. melted 70% bittersweet or semisweet cocoa chocolate
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. high quality dark cocoa powder (I used Varlhona)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  1. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine the milk, melted butter, the vanilla and Kahlua if using. Add liquid to the flour mixture and stir. Stir in the melted chocolate and the pecans. Spray a 9 inch cake pan (with 2 inch sides) with cooking spray. Add the batter, smoothing the top so it's even and covers the pan. Sprinkle the top with the white and brown sugar and the cocoa powder. Pour the boiling water over.
  2. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes - cake should spring back lightly when pressed. Let cool for 10 - 15 minutes. Place a platter or cake stand over the cake and then invert. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.



Grilled Asian Pineapple Salsa

grilled pineapple salsa

Grilled Pineapple Salsa 1 Grilled Asian Pineapple Salsa

My poor grill.

During the summer, my grill rarely gets a night off – just about anything and everything gets thrown on there for dinner – salads, chicken, fish, burgers, steaksand even dessert have all taken their turn on those hot little rods. And yes, I even grill the ingredients for this Asian Pineapple Salsa. But one thing that does not get on that grill? Olive oil.

Grilled Pineapple Salsa 3 Grilled Asian Pineapple Salsa

Not that I don’t love olive oil –  if you’ve spent any time here at the Table, this should come as no surprise. But during the summer, well, my affections turn to another –  Mazola corn oil. Yup, that beautiful, golden hued beauty who far too often is passed over in favor of… olive oil.

And this folks, is a shame.

Why? Well, olive oil, despite it’s lovely color, flavor and nutritional benefits does not belong on a grill!! It’s smoke point is far too low – 325 – 375 degrees. With grilling, medium heat is about 325 – 375 – and if you want those lovely grill marks? Your grilling at 400 – 450 degrees.  Using olive oil for  grilling is at best a waste olive oil (as the heat destroys all those lovely flavors) and at worst will impart an acrid, rather nasty taste to your food.

Which is why I like using Mazola corn oil – it’s smoke point is around 450 degrees.

But I like it for other reasons – flavor being one. To me, Mazola corn oil has a richer flavor and mouthfeel than canola oil and I love pairing it with grilled foods – it’s a no brainer with anything mexican but works surprisingly well with other cuisines as well – like this Asian Pineapple Salsa!

Grilled Pineapple Salsa 2 Grilled Asian Pineapple Salsa


Last, but certainly not least is that  Mazola corn oil has a great nutritional profile – 14% saturated fat, 29% monounsaturated and 57% polyunsaturated fat. If you use a lot of olive oil like I do, corn oil is a perfect compliment to it in your diet – giving you a nice balance of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Speaking of diet, you’ll be pushing that guacamole away in favor of this grilled asian pineapple salsa to dip those tortilla chips in – at least if you are like my son who braved the far reaches of my fridge to find it!  A mixture of grilled, fresh  pineapple,  sweet onion, cilantro, mint, jalapeno, garlic and ginger and wrapped up in a little fresh lime juice and corn oil it’s a delicious dipper for tortilla chips – or on top of some grilled chicken… or salmon… or tossed with greens and leftover grilled chicken… see where I am going with this?? Yeah, you can use this salsa on just about anything!

Grilled Pineapple Salsa 5 Grilled Asian Pineapple Salsa

Your grill might not thank you… but your taste buds? Oh yes!!!

Grilled Asian Pineapple Salsa
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Your yield on this will vary a bit depending on the size of your pineapple. For an average sized pineapple, my yield was a little over 3 cups! This salsa is great served with tortilla or wonton chips, on chicken, salmon or other fish!
  • ½ fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch thick batons
  • 1 sweet yellow onion (maui or walla walla) peeled and cut into ½ inch thick slices
  • 2 Tbsp. Mazola corn oil
  • 1 inch piece of peeled ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ red fresno chile, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, minced
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilanto, minced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp. Mazola corn oil
  1. Pre heat the grill to medium high heat. Brush the pineapple and onion with Mazola corn oil. Add to grill and grill until pineapple is caramelized and has turned a deeper shade of yellow - about 3 - 4 minutes per side. Add the onion slices and cook until onion is lightly browned.
  2. Remove from grill and let cool.
  3. When cool enough to handle, cut the pineapple into ½ inch dice and put in a large bowl. Dice the onion into ¼ inch dice and add to the pineapple. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings - if you like it spicier add more fresno chile! Serve




Fresh Fruit Cake

Summer Fruit Cake

Summer Fruit Cake 1 Fresh Fruit CakePeople who know me  probably would be shocked to hear this – I think – but I’m lazy. Yup – if there is an easy way to do something, I am all over it.

Especially in the summer. But with desserts like this Fresh Fruit Cake being lazy is, IMO a very good thing.  Juicy, sweet nectarines – if that’s what you have – or  juicy, sweet peaches or plums, or pluots or… well, pretty much any sweet, juicy fruit would work I think.  A simple butter based batter, and  a simple topping of dark brown sugar and candied ginger. Done. It’s pretty much a one bowl cake – ok, technically it’s two since you need one for the flour, baking powder and salt, but since you can wipe it out when you’re done and put it right back – so it doesn’t count, right?

Summer Fruit Cake 2 Fresh Fruit Cake


You can have it for dessert, with a little ice cream or cream fraiche or this Creme Fraiche Sorbet - if you’re not feeling lazy… that is.

Summer Fruit Cake 3 Fresh Fruit Cake

Or, have it for  breakfast – without the ice cream… because that might just be a little too decadent in the morning – even for me – but a little plain greek yogurt would be amiss here either!


So, pull out that mixing bowl and then take off for a lazy afternoon – you’ve earned it!

Fresh Fruit Cake
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Serves: 8 servings
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. white rum (optional)
  • 2 ripe nectarines, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. apricot preserves
  1. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and ¼ tsp. salt. In the bowl of a mixer,combine the butter and the sugar. Beat until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and rum, if using. Add the flour and mix just until the flour is fully incorporated. Spoon batter into prepared pan (it will be thick!) spreading evenly. Lay the nectarine slices side by side along the edge of the pan in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the brown sugar and crystallized ginger. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until cake is cooked - give the pan a jiggle - if the batter still jiggles in the center cook for another 5 minutes.
  2. Let cool. When cool, brush the nectarines with the apricot preserves.
  3. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche sorbet




Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls 1 Shrimp and Mint Summer RollsI’ve probably said it before, but I truly love what I do.  I love meeting people as  crazy passionate about food as I am. So, when Melissa’s Produce invited me to the  launch party for Katie Chin’s new book, Everyday Thai Cooking: Quick and Easy Family Style Recipes. I said “yes”!! – after doing the obligatory happy dance of course!! We of course got to try a number of dishes from the book as well as meet Katie and learn some tips and tricks  – such as how to use lemongrass and that “galangal is the friskier cousin of ginger”!!! Absolutely best line of the week, hands down.

Leaving the party  laden with wonderful Thai ingredients like  fresh limes, lemongrass, cilantro, mint, thai basil and garlic I got to thinking……

I need to have a party. With  Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls.  From Katie’s Book.

So I did.

Summer Rolls Party 2 Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls



Contrary to what you might think, Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls are perfect for parties. Prep your ingredients, make up a dipping sauce and set up a couple of stations and let everyone roll their own!

Summer Rolls 5 Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls


Deb’s first Shrimp and Mint Summer Roll – she did great!!!


Summer Rolls 3 Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls


One of the best things about this cookbook (ok, aside from the recipes!) is that many of the recipes come with step by step photos which really help illustrate (no pun intended, honest!) Katie’s clear directions.  So, if you been intimidated to make  Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls… get over it – just get Katie’s book. And if you  want to delve into more amazing Thai food –  Everyday Thai Cooking : Quick and Easy Family Style Recipes is an excellent place to start.

Spring Rolls 2 Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls

Oh, and I also recommend starting with the Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls….. party optional!!!

Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
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The roasted sesame oil, rice paper wrappers and thai basil can all be found in Vietnamese grocery stores or in some large grocery stores.
  • For Rolls:
  • 2 oz. dried rice vermicelli
  • 1 tsp. dark sesame oil
  • 16 medium sized cooked shrimp
  • 1 package round 9 inch rice paper wrappers
  • 1 cup carrots, cut into matchstick size strips
  • 1 cup cucumber, cut into 3 inch by ⅛ inch pieces
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup fresh thai basil leaves
  • 8 large butter lettuce leaves
  • Spicy Peanut Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter ( not natural - use a low sugar/sodium one like Jif)
  • 4 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. red curry paste or chili garlic sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • Crushed roasted peanuts for garnish
  1. Place the rice vermicelli in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring saucepan to a boil. Boil for 2 -3 minutes until noodles are soft. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place into a medium sized bowl and toss with 1 tsp. dark sesame oil.
  2. Fill a large bowl with very warm water. Lay a clean towel in front or use a clean plastic cutting board. Dip a rice paper wrapper in the warm water, turning so that all parts of the wrapper have been dipped in the water. Don't soak it. It should still be firm but flexible. Lay the wrapper on the towel or the cutting board.
  3. Starting with the butter lettuce, layer a small amount of the carrots, cucumber,noodles, mint, basil and 2 shrimp on top. Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling, fold in the sides, and then roll, as you would with a burrito to make an egg roll shape. Place on a serving platter and cover with non stick plastic wrap. Continue with the remaining wrappers and ingredients. Serve with Spicy Peanut Sauce.
  4. For Sauce:
  5. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan . Stir to combine. Cook over medium low heat until the mixture begins to simmer. Transfer to a small bowl and garnish with roasted peanuts. The sauce can be made one day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Mint, Coriander and Honey Kebabs

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Mint coriander and honey lamb kebabs Mint, Coriander and Honey KebabsI am a little embarrassed to admit this but I have a crush… a food crush to be exact.

And who is the object of said crush??  Yottam Ottolenghi, the genius behind the eponymous food shop “Ottolenghi” in London – and once you make these  Mint, Coriander and Honey Kebabs I think you will understand why.  Truth be told, I’ve had this crush for several years, after picking up a copy of “Plenty” and happily cooking my way through it. So, when the DH and I headed to London a couple of months ago, Ottolenghi ‘s food shop was definitely on my list!

It didn’t disappoint – and after a morning of sightseeing we were ready to do justice to the beautifully heaped platters of salads on display.  The lovely young woman who helped us piled our container high with all manner of vegetable and grain salads and, with a couple of drinks tucked under our arms, we were off to devour our lunch – and devour we did!

In addition to the drinks, I also had a signed copy of “Ottolenghi, The Cookbook”  tucked under my arm – the only book of his that I didn’t have – and the first thing I made when I got home? These Mint, Coriander and Honey Kebabs – which, after one bite, I knew would be a regular feature on my summer grilling menus!

Screen Shot 2014 06 10 at 11.51.00 AM Mint, Coriander and Honey Kebabs

The marinade, like all Ottolenghi’s dishes, is beautifully balanced – herbaceous, sweet and spicy it hits all the right notes – and if lamb isn’t your “thing” I can tell you that this marinade is equally fabulous on salmon or virtually any other fish, chicken,  tossed with tomatoes and cucumbers… heck, I think I could slather this on just about anything!!!

Mint coriander and honey kebabs 2 Mint, Coriander and Honey Kebabs

Needless to say, these  Mint, Coriander and Honey Kebabs will be part of our Father’s Day menu – and I honestly can’t think of any dad who wouldn’t love this marinade – whether slathered on their protein of choice or on zucchini, peppers, eggplant. Once you’ve tried it, you will understand what I’m talking about… and maybe develop a little crush of your own!

Mint, Coriander and Honey Kebabs
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Serves: 4 - 6 servings
  • 2 lbs. boneless leg of lamb, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • ¾ cup fresh italian parsley leaves and stems
  • 1¼ cups fresh mint, leaves and stems
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 - 1½ inch knob of ginger, peeld and sliced
  • 1 - 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tsp. soy sauce (I used low sodium)
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the lamb in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings - adding more jalapeno if a spicier marinade is desired.
  2. Place the lamb in a large ziploc bag and pour enough marinade over to completely coat the lamb - refrigerate the lamb for 8 hours or overnight.
  3. You may have extra marinade. Refrigerate and use within a day.
  4. Soak ten 12 inch wooden skewers in warm water for 30 minutes. Thread each skewer with 6 to 7 chunks of lamb until all the lamb is used. Pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Pre heat your grill to medium high heat. Add the lamb and cook, turning occasionally, until the lamb is cooked and slightly pink in the middle - about 7 - 8 minutes total. Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of 140 for medium - 130 degrees if you like it rare!
  6. Serve lamb kebabs with the reserved marinade.
Adapted from "Ottolenghi: The Cookbook"
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 kebabs

Lemongrass Ginger Cooler

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Lemongrass Ginger cooler Lemongrass Ginger CoolerSweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami –  otherwise known as the 5 basic “tastes”  and the foundations of flavor.

Although it’s  technically not a “taste” I would add one more – “spicy” or “heat” – that tingly warmth that only a pepper can provide like the jalapeno in this Lemongrass Ginger Cooler.  Salsa, Kung Pao Chicken, Creole Shrimp and any of the myriad Indian curries just wouldn’t be the same without them – and we wouldn’t be as obsessed with them. Spicy or “hot”dishes hold a special fascination – and if you don’t believe me, take a stroll down the aisle of your local supermarket and check out the sheer number of “spicy” condiments!!!!

So, most of us  are all familiar with bell peppers, jalepeno’s and… if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, Hatch chiles… but what of the other 50 or so other types? The  Pequins, Tepins, guajillas and, Shishitos?

Do you ever look at a recipe that lists a pepper and pass it by because you had no idea what that pepper was or because you knew your market didn’t carry it and you had no idea what other pepper you could use?

Yup, I thought so….well, “been there, done that… read the book”.

And yes, I literally have just read “the book” – Melissa’s Produce’s  brand new book – “The Great Pepper Cookbook – the Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Cooking with Peppers” - and this is definitely the book that has been missing from my bookshelves for far too long. Of course, it has fabulous recipes – that goes without saying. But what really excites me about this book is this – it’s a “passport to understanding the most universal ingredient of the New World”.

Screen Shot 2014 06 02 at 11.33.36 AM Lemongrass Ginger Cooler

By that I mean this book has a beautifully illustrated guide which explains “heat” – i.e. the Scoville scale and then goes on to describe individual peppers – where they are on the Scoville scale, their season (for fresh peppers), what other names they go by and… what other peppers you can subsitute with if you can’t find that particular pepper – or like me, you don’t plan far enough in advance so you can order them from Melissa’s !!!

I can’t tell you the number of hours I’ve spent researching this very question for a variety of dishes…

Thank you Melissa’s Produce!!!!

So, now that I’ve convinced you to buy the book … or put it at the top of your list for Father’s Day, wedding showers, birthdays or… my personal favorite – instead of the usual bottle of wine hostess gift… what kind of recipes are in  the book?

Glad you asked!!

The answer course is just about anything you can think of… including this Lemongrass, Ginger Cooler which gets it’s kick from jalapenos! This past weekend I made up a batch of this to sip (ok, I did more than sip!) while I planted tomatoes and herbs in the garden. It’s incredibly refreshing and  would also make a terrific base for a cocktail!

Lemongrass Ginger Cooler
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
You can add a little honey or agave nectar to sweeten this if desired. I also served it with a splash of lime juice as well!
Serves: 6 servings
  • 6 cups water
  • 5 oz. fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 large stalk fresh lemongrass, trimmed, split and chopped
  • 1 fresh jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeds removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 lime (optional)
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain into a pitcher and discard solids. Cool for an hour and serve over ice.