Spicy Pork Kebabs with Fennel, Cumin & Red Onion

This is a full-flavored, weeknight summer dish. I served it with sautéed Napa cabbage, grilled radicchio, grilled fennel, and brown Basmati rice on the side. We squeezed fresh lime juice over the grilled meat, but next time I may also serve it with a garlicky lime-yogurt sauce.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used cubed pork tenderloin instead of pork shoulder and modified the proportions.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 ¾ pounds boneless pork shoulder OR 2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lime, plus some wedges for serving
  • ¼ cup cilantro or basil, leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 jalapeño or other green chile, seeded if desired (I used an unseeded Serrano chile)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 small red onion, sliced, for serving
  1.  Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag.
  2. Juice the lime into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, chile and honey. Blend until the chile and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
  3. Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you heat the grill, or up to 24 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, heat the grill or broiler with a rack positioned 4 inches from the heat source.
  5. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill over the highest heat possible, or broil on high, for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. It should be just cooked through: A little pink is OK, but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
  6. Serve the pork with cilantro sprigs and onion slices on top, and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.

Sweet & Garlicky Pork Chops

These Thai-style pork chops were very juicy and flavorful. I used very thick pork chops but this garlic-packed marinade would also be great with pork tenderloin.

The recipe was adapted from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen. I modified the grilling method. We ate it with special Aahu Barah Basmati rice and Ritzy Summer-Squash Casserole– a great combination.

Yield: 4 to 8 servings

  • 4 thick (1 to 2-inch) or 8 thin (1/2-inch) pork chops or pork tenderloin (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 head garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
  • 3 T granulated sugar
  • 5 T Asian fish sauce or soy sauce (or a combination)
  • 3 T honey
  • 3 T rice wine or sherry wine
  • 2 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. If using thin pork chops, cut 1 or 2 cuts in the fat side of each pork chop to keep them from curling during grilling.
  2. Arrange the pork chops in a glass baking dish and set aside.
  3. Combine the garlic and sugar in the bowl of a mini food processor; process into a paste. (Alternatively, pound into a paste using a mortar and pestle.)
  4. Add the fish sauce, honey, rice wine, sesame oil, ginger, salt, and pepper; process to combine.
  5. Pour the mixture over the pork chops. Spread to coat both sides.
  6. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. (I flipped the meat over after the first hour.)
  7. Preheat the grill to high on one side and low on the other.
  8. When ready to cook, oil the grill grate.
  9. Arrange the pork chops on the low heat side and cook for 5 to 10 minutes per side for thick chops (possibly half the time for thin), or until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees.
  10. Move the pork chops to the high heat side and continue to cook until nicely browned on both sides, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
  11. Transfer the chops to a platter and serve immediately.

Grilled Vegetable & Fresh Ricotta Sandwiches

One of our absolute favorite dinner sandwiches is filled with garlicky grilled eggplant and feta cheese. After seeing this recipe, I kept thinking about making this version on freshly baked sourdough bread. I loved the idea of slathering the bread with fresh ricotta cheese too. Yum!

The recipe was adapted from SaraMoulton.com. I used my favorite recipe for fresh ricotta and served the sandwiches on homemade sourdough bread. I added garlic and grilled the vegetables instead of roasting them as well. We ate them with creamy cucumber-avocado salad on the side. It was an amazing vegetarian meal.

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 small to medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 2 medium to large zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 6 to 8 Campari tomatoes or 6 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • fresh ricotta cheese (see Note)
  • 8 slices of no-knead sourdough bread, crusty bread, or whole grain bread
  1. The evening before serving the meal, start the homemade sourdough bread process, if using. Bake the bread the day of the meal. (Alternatively, use another crusty bread or whole grain bread.)
  2. Place the vegetable slices in a single layer on a cutting board or rimmed baking sheet; season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Crush the garlic cloves with a garlic press and spread the garlic over the top of the eggplant slices. Let rest a minimum of 30 minutes (the longer the better).
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the fresh ricotta cheese. I made it according to the recipe but simmered the mixture for approximately 5 minutes, until it was visibly curdling. I strained it for about 15 minutes and omitted the addition of lemon zest. (The longer it is strained, the thicker the consistency.) Set aside.
  4. Brush both sides of the eggplant and tomato slices with olive oil. Toss the zucchini slices with olive oil.
  5. Grill the vegetables separately until slightly charred and tender; grill the eggplant directly on the grates and grill the zucchini and tomato slices using a grill basket. (Alternatively, the vegetables can be roasted on parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets in a 425 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.)
  6. Divide the warm ricotta among 4 slices of bread and top with the hot vegetables and remaining 4 slices of bread. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.

Note: Making fresh ricotta can have varied results- sometimes it has large curds, sometimes it has small curds and occasionally it has no curds. If this should happen to you, don’t panic, just add another tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and the curds will appear.

Chicken Teriyaki

This non-traditional “Seattle-style” chicken teriyaki is a crowd-pleaser. It is sweeter than authentic Japanese chicken teriyaki. I cooked it under the broiler, but it would be fabulous grilled. We ate it over rice with roasted cauliflower and asparagus.

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, crushed in a press
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon pineapple juice
  • 8 to 10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • rice, for serving
  1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except cornstarch and chicken. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and stir until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard cinnamon stick and mix in 1/2 cup water.
  2. Place chicken in a heavy-duty sealable plastic bag. Add soy sauce mixture, seal bag, and turn to coat chicken. Refrigerate for at least an hour, ideally overnight.
  3. Remove chicken and set aside.
  4. Pour mixture into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low. Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and add to pan. Stir until mixture begins to thicken, and gradually stir in enough water (about 1/2 cup) until sauce is the consistency of heavy cream. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Preheat a broiler or grill.
  6. Lightly brush chicken pieces on all sides with sauce, and broil or grill about 3 minutes per side.
  7. While chicken is cooking, place sauce over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer, adding water a bit at a time to keep mixture at a pourable consistency. (I did not have to add additional water.)
  8. To serve, slice chicken into strips, arrange on plates, and drizzle with sauce.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Thighs

This is another Mexican-inspired chicken dish. I coarsely hand-shredded this juicy chicken to serve as a taco filling with loads of toppings. It would also be wonderful in a burrito bowl or simply on it’s own with street corn, refried beans and rice. Yum.

The recipe was adapted from DamnDelicious.com. I marinated the chicken for 6 hours and it was very flavorful. I broiled the chicken instead of pan frying it as well. It would also be perfect grilled.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice, plus wedges for serving
  • 1 T lime zest
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 4 large thighs)
  • cooked rice and refried beans, for serving, as desired
  • guacamole or avocado slices, for serving, as desired
  • corn, red onion, shredded cheese, tomatoes, and salsa, for serving, as desired
  • hot sauce and sour cream, for serving, as desired
  • flour or corn tortillas for serving as a burrito or tacos, optional
  1. In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  2. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine chicken and cilantro mixture; marinate for at least 2 hours to overnight, turning the bag occasionally. (I marinated the chicken for 6 hours.)
  3. Preheat broiler or grill.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a rimmed baking sheet, if broiling.
  5. Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  6. Let rest and cool slightly to coarsely hand-shred (to use as a taco or burrito filling).
  7. Serve with rice and refried beans and assorted toppings, as desired.

Brazilian Beer Chicken

I have already made this fabulous, full-flavored grilled chicken twice this summer. We loved it!

The recipe was adapted from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken and coarse grain mustard instead of regular Dijon. On the first occasion, I served it with tzatziki and arugula-basil salad with peaches. Recently, I served it again with roasted potatoes, a raw zucchini salad, and sautéed fresh corn with shallots. All delicious. The original recipe suggests serving it with rice and beans. Next time!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 12 to 16 oz beer (I used a Brooklyn lager)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 1 T sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 9 to 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) whole chicken, quartered
  • coarse salt
  • parsley, for garnish, optional
  1. Combine the beer, oil, mustard, paprika, and pepper in a bowl with a spout. Whisk throughly to blend.
  2. Stir in the onion, garlic, and bay leaves.
  3. Place a ziplock bag in a pyrex dish. (I used a 1 gallon bag.) Place the chicken pieces in the ziplock bag.
  4. Pour the marinade over the chicken in the bag. Seal the top and squeeze out excess air.
  5. Turn to coat all of the meat. Lay bag horizontally in the pyrex dish. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to 2 days, turning occasionally.
  6. Preheat the grill.
  7. When ready to cook, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and blot dry with paper towels. Season generously with salt.
  8. Oil the grill and cook the chicken, marinating occasionally, until lightly browned and cooked though.
  9. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve immediately.

Grilled Corn & Avocado Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing

I have a few side dishes to share showcasing sweet summer corn. The romaine lettuce base and generous sliced avocado and grilled corn topping made this a must try summer salad. I love salads with loads of toppings.

My entire family loves creamy blue cheese dressing (who doesn’t?), so I knew that a creamy feta dressing loaded with fresh herbs would be the icing on the cake.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sue Li. I only used half of the prepared dressing in the finished salad.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 6 ears corn (about 3 pounds), shucked and silk removed
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 6), trimmed
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 medium head romaine lettuce, cut or torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high.
  2. Brush corn, scallions and jalapeño with the oil and season with salt and pepper. (I didn’t oil the corn.)
  3. Arrange on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until corn kernels are browned in spots and the scallions and jalapeño are charred all over and tender, about 10 minutes, a little longer for the corn.
  4. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and let cool slightly.
  5. When cool, remove charred jalapeño skin. Then remove the stem and seeds. Finely chop.
  6. In a medium bowl, using a whisk, mash the feta into a coarse paste. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon zest and juice and garlic, then stir in chives, parsley, and charred jalapeño. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. In a large bowl, toss lettuce with half the feta dressing and arrange on a platter or salad bowl.
  8. Cut corn kernels off the cob and slice scallions into bite-size pieces.
  9. Arrange avocado slices, corn and scallions on top of the lettuce. Serve with remaining dressing or add additional dressing, as desired. (I reserved 1/2 the dressing for another use.)

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