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My cousin Sandra deserves all the credit for bringing these amazing Thai chicken satay skewers into our lives. Neiman Marcus deserves credit, too, because the recipe originally appeared in one of their cookbooks, but to me, these will always be Sandra's skewers, because she introduced us to them. The chicken in this recipe marinates in a bold mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce, and herbs. Most satay marinades feature coconut milk, which mutes the power of the herbs a bit, but this one does not. The only changes I made were to reduce the amount of brown sugar, and to substitute lemongrass paste for a stalk of fresh lemongrass. We like to serve the skewers with light and easy sliced cucumber salad, and with our... Read more →


If there were a contest for the world's greatest cucumber lover, I'm one-hundred percent certain -- or even more, if that's possible -- that I would win, or at least be a strong contender for the title. I can't seem to get my fill of cucumbers these days. Every week this summer I've made dill pickles, or a batch of gazpacho, or cucumber smoothies. And when I can find the small pickling cucumbers, I munch on them for afternoon snacks, for a quick pick-me-up. Cucumber salads make the perfect accompaniment to Thai food, like the satay skewers in the photo below (I'll share that recipe in my next post), and this version uses ingredients you always have on hand in the pantry. To make very... Read more →


Does this ever happen to you? You assemble all of the ingredients for a particular recipe on your countertop, but somehow, you end up cooking something completely different? I won't tell you what I was planning to do with this salmon and corn, except to say it was, well, the opposite of soup, but the day demanded a chowder, and it couldn't have turned out better. Spontaneous changes in the menu require creative use of whatever is in the pantry, or, as in this case, what's not in the pantry. I had no chicken or fish stock in the freezer or on the cupboard shelves, so I used the universal substitute -- water -- and added a bit of half-and-half. To keep the chowder gluten-free,... Read more →


To be honest, I'm not crazy about green beans, at least not when they're overcooked, mushy and limp. However, this is the summer of "if it's green, I'm grilling it," so it seemed only fair that I test out green beans on the grill last week. Who knew that grilled beans would stay fresh and still crispy, with just a hint of smoke from the grill? And they made perfect dippers for a spicy peanut-harissa sauce that also would be great with steak or slices of toasted bread. If you haven't tried green beans on the grill, I urge you to get out a grill basket and give it a try. You can make these beans on the panini press, too. I promise that once... Read more →


Which ingredients absolutely, positively, have to be in the perfect potato salad? I think we can all agree on potatoes, but what else? Celery? Pickles? Eggs? Sugar? Onions? When it comes to the perfect potato salad, I'm a potatoes-only purist. For me, it's more about the sauce that binds it all together, and I prefer tangy to sweet. However, I'm not against adding a good handful of garden-fresh herbs when I'm lucky enough to have some. This summer, I've been making lots of dill pickles, and there's always a good bit of fresh dill weed left over, so this creamy dilly potato salad has become the standard variation for the season. Don't skimp on the dill; it's an ingredient in its own right, and not... Read more →


Ah, turkey meatballs. It's no secret that my husband Ted and I love turkey meatballs seasoned any which way, and we have fun mixing up big batches and stashing them in the freezer for salads and meatball sandwiches. This summer I've fallen in love with salsa verde -- spicy green tomatillo-based salsa -- so it was inevitable that salsa would find its way into our most recent meatball variation. The key to these meatballs is to drain the salsa of excess liquid, so that what you add to the meatball mix is mostly the solids that carry all of the salsa spices. It takes just a few minutes, and you can set the salsa in a sieve to drain while you assemble the remaining ingredients.... Read more →


Whenever I buy a quart-size bottle of buttermilk (and why is there is no other size available?), I use some for baking, some for salad dressing, and the rest for marinades. Buttermilk is a great tenderizer, as any fried-chicken lover knows, and that's especially handy for grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which can dry out quickly on the hot grill unless they've been marinated first. This recipe calls for a quick marinade, of one hour but not more than two hours, so with buttermilk and chicken breasts on hand, you can start this when you get home from work, and have it on the grill in time for dinner. Add a side of potato salad, some grilled vegetables brushed with olive oil and seasoned with... Read more →