Caramelized Pork & Cucumber Stir-Fry

I have never cooked cucumbers before! The cucumber slices in this stir-fry were quickly sautéed until just crisp tender- great. I also loved the seasonings in the finished dish.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Christina Chaey. I used my largest skillet (14-inch) but would use a 12-inch next time. I don’t have a 14-inch splatter screen and I made quite a mess. :/ It was worth it.

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 1 large English/European cucumber, peeled in alternating lengthwise strips, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, halves sliced crosswise on a diagonal 1/2-inch thick (I used a melon baller to remove the seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal), plus more
  • 2 T oyster sauce
  • 2 T soy sauce (I used Trader Joe’s light soy sauce)
  • 2 T Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or medium-dry sherry (I used dry sherry)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3 T grapeseed or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 Fresno chile, halved, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 one-inch piece ginger root, peeled, finely grated
  • 2 to 4 large garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground white or black pepper
  • white rice, for serving (I used white Basmati rice)
  • minced cilantro, for garnish, optional
  1. Toss cucumber slices and kosher salt in a medium bowl to coat evenly. Let sit until cucumber slices start to release their liquid, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, stir oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sherry (or Shaoxing wine) in a small bowl to combine; set aside.
  3. Using your hands, form pork into six small patties. Season lightly with salt; set aside.
  4. Drain cucumber slices in a colander and rinse well under cool running water. Drain, shaking off any excess water, then pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet (12-inch) over medium-high. Cook cucumber slices, tossing vigorously, until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate.
  6. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high.
  7. Add reserved pork patties; gently flatten with a spatula. Cook, pressing occasionally to help meat make contact with pan, until deeply browned and crisp underneath, about 4 minutes.
  8. Flip patties; cook until other side is deeply browned and crisp, about 4 minutes.
  9. Break up pork into large pieces; continue to cook until no longer pink, about 1 minute.
  10. Add chile, ginger, garlic, and pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  11. Add cucumber back to skillet along with reserved sauce. Cook, tossing often, until sauce is reduced and evenly coats pork and cucumber slices, about 1 minute.
  12. Serve stir-fry over rice. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Salmorejo (Andalusian Tomato & Bread Soup)

Christopher Kimball of Milk Street TV announced that this chilled tomato soup was superior in both taste and ease of preparation to my beloved summer gazpacho. I had to try it!

This puréed velvety soup is more elegant, creamy, and filling than gazpacho. We ate it as a complete meal with a green salad. It can be made year round with Campari tomatoes, which I used, or made with peak-season summer tomatoes, of course.

This recipe was adapted from MilkStreetTV.com, contributed by Diane Unger. The bread is undetectable in the finished soup but creates the desirable consistency. The sherry vinegar is an essential ingredient as well. I loved all of the garnishes. Lovely.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored (I used Campari tomatoes)
  • 2 1/2 ounces country-style white bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)(I used fresh sourdough)
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 3 T sherry vinegar, plus more to serve
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 thin slices of prosciutto (about 2 ounces), torn into pieces
  • 3 or 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced or quartered, optional
  • finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
  1. In a blender, combine the tomatoes, bread, bell pepper, garlic, sugar, vinegar, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Blend on high until completely smooth and no bits of tomato skins remain, about 1 minute. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. With the blender running, gradually add 3/4 cup olive oil.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl of lidded container, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 4 hours.
  5. While the soup chills, make the hard-cooked eggs, if using. Fill a saucepan about a quarter of the way with cold water. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Add more water so that the eggs are covered by at least an inch of water. Bring to a full boil, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes, drain. Place eggs in an ice bath. When cool enough to handle, peel and quarter or slice. Set aside.
  6. While the eggs cool, place a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering.
  7. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and let cool completely, then roughly chop; set aside.
  8. Taste the soup and season again with salt and pepper. (Chilling the soup blunts the flavor and additional seasoning may be required.)
  9. Ladle the soup into (preferably chilled) bowls. Top with the prosciutto, hard-cooked egg (if using) and chopped parsley or cilantro.
  10. Drizzle with additional oil and vinegar, as desired. (I omitted this addition.)

Grilled Swordfish with Corn Salad

Wow. This was a special summer meal. A celebration of my CSA share too. 🙂

The meal was inspired by my first batch of CSA corn. Absolutely fabulous. We ate it raw- only heated by the warmth of the grilled fish. The corn salad also incorporated my CSA scallions. We ate it with steamed CSA wax beans and with slices of my friend’s beautiful home grown cucumber on the side. All so fresh and delicious! Amazing.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. The grilling instructions resulted in absolutely perfectly cooked swordfish. Using an instant read thermometer was also essential. We were short one family member so I only served three swordfish steaks. Excellent.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 (6-ounce) swordfish steaks, 1- to 1 1/2-inches thick
  • 6 T unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, plus more for serving
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • grapeseed oil (or another neutral oil)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced or 1 ounce chives, cut into 1-inch lengths (about 1 cup)
  • 2 oz cilantro (1 small bunch) cilantro, leaves and stems, cut (if desired)
  • flaky salt, for serving
  1. Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking over medium-high heat by pouring the coals onto one half of the grill. For a gas grill, heat all the burners to high, then turn off one of the end burners before cooking. (See Tip regarding grill temperature below.)
  2. While the grill is heating, pat the fish dry and make the salad.
  3. To make the corn salad: In a medium bowl, combine the rice vinegar, canola oil, 2 teaspoons sesame oil and corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the scallions (or chives) and cilantro on top of the corn mixture (don’t stir them in), and season with salt and pepper.
  5. When you’re ready to grill, pat the fish dry again. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and lightly coat with grapeseed oil.
  6. Clean the grill grates with a grill brush, then oil the grates with an oiled paper towel.
  7. Grill the fish until well browned on one side and it releases easily from the grates, 4 to 6 minutes.
  8. Flip with a fish spatula and cook until it registers 130 degrees, 2 to 4 minutes. (For a gas grill, close the lid between flips, listening and keeping an eye out for flare-ups.)
  9. Immediately transfer the grilled fish to a platter.
  10. Toss the corn salad to incorporate the scallions and cilantro, then top the fish right away with the salad, spooning extra dressing over the fish.
  11. Let rest for 5 minutes before eating. Season to taste with flaky salt, pepper and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.

Tip: Medium-high is 375 to 450 degrees. You should be able to hold your hand 4 to 5 inches above the grates for 4 to 5 seconds. High is above 450 degrees. You should be able to hold your hand 4 to 5 inches above the grates for 2 to 3 seconds.

Chicken & Corn Stir-Fry

I have a couple more dishes featuring sweet summer corn to share. This quick stir-fry was perfect to serve after a busy day outside. After prepping the ingredients in advance, it was fully prepared in the time that it took for the rice to cook.

This recipe was (slightly) adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. The original recipe notes that peppers, peas, mushrooms, or summer squash could be substituted for the fresh corn. Great!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 3 T oyster sauce
  • 1 T unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 4 to 5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 lb), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 4 T vegetable oil, divided (I used canola oil)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped (about 1 T)
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (or other mild chile flakes or paprika), or more, to taste
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • cooked rice (I used white Basmati rice)
  • cilantro leaves with tender stems, for serving
  1. Stir together oyster sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Trim the chicken and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Prep the red onion, garlic, ginger and corn. Set aside.
  4. Cook the rice using your preferred method.
  5. While the rice is cooking, season the chicken pieces with salt and sprinkle with cornstarch; toss lightly to coat.
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large well-seasoned wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high. (I used a 14-inch stainless steel skillet.)
  7. Cook chicken, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and nearly cooked through, 6–8 minutes.
  8. Add red onion, garlic, ginger, Aleppo-style pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Cook, tossing, until vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add corn kernels and cook, tossing often, until tender, about 3 minutes.
  10. Stir in reserved oyster sauce mixture and cook, tossing often, until reduced nearly to a glaze, about 2 minutes.
  11. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  12. Serve stir-fry with rice, topped with cilantro.

Mexican Layer Dip

My daughter recently had a camp out with a few friends in our backyard. They slept in a giant, 14-person tent. What fun! 🙂 The camping was combined with another event on their summer bucket list- a “dip-night.” (inspired by TikTok 😉 )

The girls each contributed a different dip, savory or sweet, to create the feast. We made this Mexican layer dip and served it with tortilla chips and Trader Joe’s corn dippers. The recipe was adapted from ThePioneerWoman.com. I loved that her version incorporated warm beans as the base of the dip. It was an easy crowd-pleaser.

  • 1 can refried beans (I used Trader Joe’s Fat Free Refried Beans)
  • hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Cholula, to taste (I omitted it for this crowd)
  • 1 can diced green chilies (I used Trader Joe’s mild green chilies)
  • ground cumin, to taste
  • 3/4 to 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (mild or sharp)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • freshly made guacamole (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1 cup Pico de Gallo (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 can sliced black olives (I omitted them)
  • kernels from 1 ear of corn
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish, optional
  • sliced or diced jalapeños, for garnish, optional
  • tortilla chips (and/or other corn chips), for serving
  1. Begin by heating the refried beans in a small pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add one or two dashes of hot sauce, if using, and a small can of undrained diced green chilies. Stir well.
  3. Sprinkle the bean-chile mixture with a little bit of ground cumin. Stir to incorporate.
  4. Spread the beans on the bottom of a glass bowl or high-sided or wide serving dish.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar evenly over the top.
  6. Next, dollop the sour cream over the cheese. Spread it into a single layer, as much as possible, being careful not to disturb the cheese underneath.
  7. The next layer is the guacamole. (I used my favorite guacamole recipe (link above) using 2 avocados and garlic-chipotle salsa. This time, I omitted our traditional add-ins of chopped tomatoes and red onions.)
  8. Next, sprinkle an even layer of shredded Monterey Jack cheese over the guacamole.
  9. Top with a generous layer of Pico de Gallo.
  10. Sprinkle chopped black olives over the top, if using.
  11. Microwave an ear of fresh corn for 1 minute on high. When cool enough to handle, place upright in a bowl and slice of the kernels. Sprinkle the kernels over the top as the final layer.
  12. Garnish with jalapeños and cilantro, if desired. Serve with tortilla chips.

Grilled Za’atar Chicken Thighs & Tomatoes with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

My husband made this full-flavored grilled chicken for my birthday dinner. One of our favorite grilled chicken marinades is yogurt-based. It truly results in the most juicy and flavorful meat. Because yogurt is more gentle than vinegar or lemon juice used in other marinades, the marinating time can be extended without altering the texture of the meat. Making the marinade a day in advance is perfect when activities are planned for the day of the meal and there is little time to spend in the kitchen.

Much of my birthday celebration was focused on food- no surprise. 🙂 My first surprise was a very special breakfast pastry delivery from Dominique Ansel in NYC. (I am a huge fan!) So beautiful, I had to take a few photos.

If that wasn’t enough, we enjoyed the beautiful weather by going out to lunch at a favorite outdoor spot. Lovely.

We ate this grilled chicken over rice for dinner. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. The original recipe suggests serving it with pita and cucumber-tomato salad. I loved it with grilled tomatoes. We also had warm naan on the side.

My daughter and I made Strawberry Crumb Cake for our celebratory dessert. We ate it warm with vanilla ice cream. ❤

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated, pressed, or minced
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more sprigs for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the tomatoes and for serving
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons za’atar, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram, plus more sprigs for garnish
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 8)
  • 8 to 10 Campari tomatoes
  • pita, rice, or naan, for serving, as desired
  1. In a large bowl or container, stir together 5 of the grated garlic cloves, half the lemon zest, 1/3 cup yogurt, the cilantro, oil, za’atar, oregano or marjoram, salt and black pepper. Add chicken and toss until well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, light the grill to medium (or heat your broiler with the rack 3 inches from the heat source).
  3. Remove chicken from bowl, shaking off any excess marinade, and grill or broil on one side until charred in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and grill or broil for another 5 to 8 minutes, until just cooked through. Using an instant-read thermometer, the meat should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  4. Brush the Campari tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Thread onto skewers. Grill until heated through, slightly charred, and soft.
  5. While the chicken and tomatoes are cooking, place remaining 2/3 cup yogurt in a small bowl. Stir in the reserve grated garlic clove and lemon zest, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Cut one zested lemon in half and set aside for serving (save the other zested lemon for another use).
  7. To serve, place chicken on a serving platter and drizzle with olive oil and a large squeeze of the zested lemon. (We served it over Basmati rice and drizzled it with the juices accumulated after removing the chicken from the grill.)
  8. Top with cilantro and oregano or marjoram sprigs and serve with yogurt sauce.

Garlic Aioli Potato & Egg Salad

Making homemade mayonnaise has been a challenging endeavor for me. It is always described as “quick and easy” but that has not been the case in my kitchen! This time- with a little bit of a struggle- I finally had a successful result. 🙂

The garlic aioli base of this potato salad was very creamy and flavorful. The diced hard boiled eggs added even more richness to the finished dish. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the method and proportions. The original recipe suggests making the salad at least an hour prior to serving to allow the flavors to mellow.

This dish could also be made with store-bought mayonnaise as a shortcut! Skip steps 3 and 4 and add garlic and lemon juice to the mayo.

Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, at room temperature, more as needed (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T sour cream
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) finely chopped celery
  • 2 T finely chopped red onion
  • 1 pound small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size (I used tiny yellow potatoes)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely chopped chives, cilantro, or parsley, for garnish
  1. Place the 2 whole eggs in a small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; immediately remove from heat and cover for 8 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel and dice small.
  2. Meanwhile, combine grated garlic, salt and lemon juice in a blender, and pulse a few times to combine. (I used a Vitamix.)
  3. Pulse in the egg yolks. (I incorporated the egg yolks briefly at the highest speed.)
  4. With motor running, set to medium-low speed (3 on a Vitamix), very slowly drizzle (drip!) in olive oil until completely incorporated and mayonnaise is thick. (I covered the opening with a paper towel to prevent any mess.)(I initially began this process with 1 egg yolk and the mixture separated. I was able to bring it back to a creamy state by slowing adding the broken mixture to an additional egg yolk prior to slowly adding the rest of the olive oil in the blender.)
  5. Scrape the mayonnaise into a bowl and fold in sour cream.
  6. Fold in the chopped celery and red onion.
  7. Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then generously salt the water. Cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. (I cooked the potatoes for 20 minutes.)
  8. Drain and cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them.
  9. Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with diced boiled eggs and 2/3 of the mayonnaise.
  10. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use.
  11. Just before serving, toss with some of the remaining dressing to taste (if desired). (I reserved the remaining mayonnaise for another use.)
  12. Season with black pepper and add more salt, if necessary, to taste. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve.

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