Shrimp & Basil Stir-Fry

My herb garden has been beyond fabulous this year. I wanted to make sure that I made this dish before my beautiful basil faded away.

This dish was described as being “more addictive than Doritos.” 🙂 The recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I don’t usually follow a recipe precisely, but did on this occasion because I had never used Fresno chilies. Oops. The dish was tasty but beyond spicy. I regret not tasting my chilies for heat intensity. I will certainly do that next time, and will follow the recipe as written with milder chilies or remove the seeds and ribs for spicier chilies.

The spicy-sweet sauce was delicious and I still enjoyed it. This dish also comes together very quickly and is perfect for a weeknight meal. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with tomato slices on the side. The tomatoes really helped offset the heat. 🙂

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 3 Fresno chiles, coarsely chopped (seeds and ribs removed, to taste)
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 T vegetable or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, patted dry
  • 2 cups basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • lime wedges, for serving
  • 1 cup of rice (cooked in 2 cups stock or water), for serving
  1. Blend chiles, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, salt, and 3 T oil in a blender until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Transfer marinade to a medium bowl and add shrimp; toss to coat. Let sit 10 minutes.
  3. Heat remaining 1 T oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high.
  4. Using tongs, just when oil begins to smoke and working in batches if needed, add shrimp, leaving marinade behind, and cook, turning once, until lightly charred around the edges, about 1 minute per side.
  5. Remove pan from heat. Add basil and toss vigorously until basil is wilted.
  6. Transfer shrimp mixture to a platter. Serve with rice and lime wedges alongside.

Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Thighs

This is another incredible and full-flavored grilled meat dish. I used the marinade on boneless, skinless chicken thighs but it would also be wonderful with shrimp or flank or skirt steak according to the original recipe. I love that the residual marinade is cooked down into a sauce for serving.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz. I marinated ten chicken thighs but would add up to five more next time. I also used a mixture of harissa and sambal oelek for heat. Fabulous.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek and/or harissa)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 T light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 2 T vegetable oil, plus more for grill
  • 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (use 10 to 15 thighs)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • lime wedges, for serving
  1. Prepare a grill for medium heat.
  2. Finely grate ginger and garlic into a medium bowl.
  3. Add coconut milk, chili paste, lime juice, brown sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons oil and whisk to combine.
  4. Add chicken and toss to coat. Let sit at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  5. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip back into bowl, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Pour marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2–3 minutes.
  7. Clean and generously oil grate of grill (if there are a few flare-ups while you do so, not to worry, they will burn off).
  8. Grill chicken, turning once and basting occasionally with marinade, until you see some good grill marks and chicken is cooked through, 8–10 minutes.
  9. Transfer chicken to a platter. Brush with remaining marinade. Top with cilantro and serve with lime wedges alongside.

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.

Watermelon Margaritas

I am a major fan of this pretty pink cocktail. It was very light, refreshing, and minimally sweet. Puréed watermelon is the only source of sweetness. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from 3-Ingredient Cocktails by Robert Simonson, via The New York Times.  I did not strain the puréed watermelon and omitted the jalapeño slices. We tried it with both the cayenne and salt on the rim, and salt alone. Both were delicious. 😉

The original recipe recommends to taste and add more watermelon juice if your margarita is too boozy, and extra lime juice or even a pinch of salt if it’s too sweet.

Yield: 2 drinks

For the (optional) Salted Rim:

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt or fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tajín or 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)

For the Cocktail:

  • ice, as needed
  • 6 ounces fresh watermelon juice (from about 1 1/2 cups chopped seedless watermelon)(I used cubes from a mini watermelon)
  • 2 ounces tequila, preferably blanco
  • 2 ounces Cointreau
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 large limes), rinds reserved (I used 1 1/2 limes)
  • 2 to 3 thinly sliced jalapeño rounds, optional
  • small slices of watermelon, for garnish, optional
  1. Prepare the salted rim, if using: In a small shallow bowl or plate, combine the sea salt and Tajín or cayenne. Set aside.
  2. Blend the watermelon in a Vitamix or blender; strain if desired. (I left it puréed.)
  3. In a shaker filled with ice, combine the watermelon juice, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and jalapeño (if using). Shake to combine. (Note: The watermelon flavor shines brighter without the Cointreau, but the liqueur takes the drink into more traditional margarita territory. If you’d like to compare, first try the mixture without, the liqueur, then add 1 ounce of it per serving.)
  4. Using one of the squeezed lime halves, run it along the rim of two margarita or rocks glasses, then dip the rims into the salt mixture.
  5. Fill the glasses with ice, then strain the margaritas into the glasses. Garnish with additional jalapeño slices and/or watermelon slices. Enjoy immediately.

Key Lime Bars with Vanilla Wafer Crust

These sweet-tart bars are a wonderful summer dessert. They transport well and are perfect for sharing.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Samantha Seneviratne. The dollop of lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream was essential.

Yield: 16 bars

For the Crust:

  • 1 (11-ounce) box vanilla wafers
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons/115 grams unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 1 ¾ cup/420 milliliters condensed milk (1 14-ounce can plus 1/2 cup)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup/180 milliliters Key lime or conventional lime juice (from 5 to 6 conventional limes or 12 Key limes)
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup/240 milliliters cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.
  3. In a food processor, combine vanilla wafers and sugar, and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process until evenly moistened.
  4. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press it down into an even layer. (I use the base of a dry measuring cup.)
  5. Bake until fragrant and a shade darker, 14 to 17 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice and lime zest.
  7. Pour filling over crust (it’s okay if it’s still warm) and bake until the filling is set, about 15 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  9. Use a sharp knife to release edges. Using the parchment overhang, carefully lift and transfer the bar to a cutting board.
  10. Just before serving, whip heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. (I use a chilled bowl.)
  11. Cut bars into 16 squares. Top each bar with a dollop of whipped cream to serve.

Strawberry-Basil Martini

This was the first thing we made with our freshly picked Long Island strawberries. In fact, I enjoyed it the day that we picked them. 🙂 It was jammy and absolutely fabulous.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by José Zepeda. The sweetness can be easily adjusted by decreasing the amount of agave or simple syrup. It was a warm evening, so we served it over ice. Perfect.

Yield: 1 drink

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberries with the basil leaves and simple syrup or agave nectar.
  2. Add ice and the remaining ingredients and shake well.
  3. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with strawberry slices and basil, as desired.

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.

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