Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Chicken Stir-Fry with Beech Mushrooms and Mixed Greens

To me, a stir-fry is one of the freshest, fastest, easiest, and most flavorful dishes you can put together any night of the week. Here, lean chicken, fresh vegetables, and a bold sauce with a balance of sweet, tangy flavors and a pop of heat make this a go-to dish when you want a dinner that’s nutritious, delicious, and yes, even quick.

Note: If you can find beech mushrooms, buy them. These little beauties grow in clusters on fallen beech trees and come in both white and brown varieties. They’re some of the most popular mushrooms in Japanese and Chinese cuisines, and you can find them in the produce sections of well-stocked Asian markets.

White Beech Mushrooms
Serves 4


For the Sauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped 

For the Stir-Fry
  • 6 tsp water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil, divided
  • 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small, bite-sized pieces
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 oz white beech mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup very thinly sliced carrots (matchsticks)
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced and separated
  • 8 cups mixed greens (such as snow pea leaves, arugula, and escarole), torn if large
  • 2 cups cooked short white rice

Prepared Vegetables

Torn Greens

For the Sauce
  1. Whisk the first 6 ingredients (through sambal oelek) in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat a wok over medium-high heat and add the peanut oil. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry 35-40 seconds. Add the broth mixture and simmer 2 minutes. (Reduce the heat if the mixture comes to a hard boil.)
  3. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set aside. Do not wipe out the wok.

Garlic and Ginger

Cooked Sauce
For the Stir-Fry
  1. Whisk the water and cornstarch in a small bowl until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.
  2. Re-heat the wok over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil, swirling to coat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the wok. Stir-fry until the chicken is just cooked through, 6-7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok. Add the mushrooms, carrots, and white parts of the scallions and stir-fry 3 minutes. Add all greens and stir-fry 1-2 minutes until wilted.
  4. Return the chicken to the wok and stir in the reserved sauce. Re-whisk the cornstarch mixture and add to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. 

Chicken Beginning to Cook

Vegetables Beginning to Cook

Greens Added

Wilted Greens

Chicken and Sauce Added
Divide the rice among 4 shallow bowls. Divide the wok mixture on top and sprinkle with the green parts of the scallions. Serve right away.

Chicken Stir-Fry with Beech Mushrooms and Mixed Greens

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Skillet-Seared Scallops Romesco

Romesco is a traditional Spanish—specifically, Catalonian—sauce made with a base of roasted red pepper, olive oil, and nuts, usually almonds. Other common ingredients are garlic and sherry or red wine vinegar. Lots of recipes also call for ground, stale or toasted bread as a thickener, as well as roasted dried chiles or chile flakes. Here, I kept it simple and easy with only a few ingredients and no fuss. If you don’t have a gas range to char the bell pepper directly over a flame, roast it under a broiler instead.

Simple is the way to go with the scallops too. A little butter, fresh lemon juice, some seasoning, and the key ingredient: a cast-iron skillet. A quick sear in the pan caramelizes the scallops, turning them golden brown on the outside and keeping them moist and tender inside.

Note: This romesco recipe makes more than you’ll need for two servings. Refrigerate the leftover and serve it with grilled chicken breasts in a couple days.

Serves 2

  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted almonds
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6 large sea scallops (about 2/3 lb)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley

Romesco Ingredients

Sea Scallops
  1. Char the bell pepper over a gas flame (or roast under a broiler) until the skin is blackened and blistered all over, 8-9 minutes, turning several times. Transfer to a paper bag (or a bowl covered with plastic wrap) and close tightly. Let steam 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the pepper to a cutting board and scrape off the loose skin. Remove the stem and seed pod, then chop the pepper. Place in a food processor and add the garlic, almonds, vinegar, and paprika. Pulse until chunky smooth.
  3. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and process until smooth (there will still  be some texture from the nuts). Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.

Pepper Beginning to Char

Charred Pepper

Skinned Roasted Pepper

Ready to Process

Processed without Oil

Oil Added

Romesco Sauce
  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it melt until sizzling. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Sear on one side, undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottom, 3 minutes. 
  2. Turn the scallops and sear another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown on the other side and slightly opaque in the middle. Stir in the lemon juice and cook 30 seconds.

Butter Beginning to Simmer

Scallops Beginning to Sear

Seared Scallops
Garnish with parsley and serve with romesco alongside.

Skillet-Seared Scallops Romesco

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Grilled Pork Chops with Mandarin-Maple Sauce

This sweet, citrusy sauce for grilled pork chops is easy and fast to put together—and adds a delightful burst of bright flavor to the smoky, savory meat. Give it time to cook a bit to develop its deepest flavors, and the combination of mandarin oranges and maple syrup will bring that mmmmm-factor to the meal.

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1/2 cup drained mandarin oranges, chopped (from an 11-oz can, in light syrup—2 tbsp syrup reserved)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops, about 1-inch thick
  • olive oil, for rubbing

Drained Oranges

Chopped Shallots and Oranges
  1. Light a grill for medium-high heat with space for off-heat grilling.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and add the butter. When foamy, add the shallot and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the chopped oranges, reserved syrup, and maple syrup and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a light simmer and cook until slightly reduced, 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand while the chops grill. (The sauce will thicken a little more as it cools but should still be fairly thin.) 

Shallots Beginning to Cook

Sauce Beginning to Cook

Cooked Sauce
  1. Rub the grate with oil.
  2. Rub the pork chops lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until slightly charred and just cooked through, about 12 minutes total, turning 2 to 3 times. (Move the chops off heat as needed to prevent flare-ups.) 

Chops Beginning to Grill

Grilled Chops
Transfer to a platter and let rest 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over top and serve.

Grilled Pork Chops with Mandarin-Maple Sauce