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!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Spiced Lamb Stir-Fry over Rice

When we think stir-fry, we usually think dishes based on Chinese, Thai, or other Asian-style cuisines, but this method of cooking can really translate to any type of dish—as long as it can be prepared quickly at a high temperature.

So, enter lamb. And, of course, a few fresh vegetables and herbs. The key here is very aromatic spices that penetrate the meat and kick up the flavor of the overall dish. Lamb is a meat that doesn’t need much time on the fire—give it plenty of time in the dry rub, then finish it off fast in the wok.

Serves 4

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 lb boneless lamb shoulder, cut into thin, 1-inch strips
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil, divided
  • sea salt
  • 6 oz asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 small dried red chiles, such as arbols (stems removed)
  • 3 small garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly vertically sliced
  • 1 medium julienned red bell pepper
  • 3 cups cooked basmati (or other long-grain white rice)
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • torn fresh mint leaves, for serving

Prepared Ingredients
  1. Combine the cumin, pepper flakes, turmeric, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Place the lamb in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).
Spice-Rubbed Lamb
  1. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar in another bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat a wok (or deep pan) over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Season the lamb with salt and add to the pan. Stir-fry 3-4 minutes, until almost done. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon and wipe out the wok.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the asparagus, chiles, garlic, onion, and bell pepper, and stir-fry 4 minutes, until lightly charred and softened.
  4. Add the cooked lamb, along with any juices from the plate, and the soy sauce mixture. Stir-fry until the meat and vegetables are coated and the sauce is slightly reduced, 2-3 minutes.

Lamb Beginning to Cook

Stir-Fried Lamb

Vegetable Mixture Added
Divide the rice among 4 shallow bowls. Divide the stir-fry on top and sprinkle all with sliced scallions and mint leaves.

Spiced Lamb Stir-Fry

Monday, February 5, 2018

Chicken Salad Wraps with Honey-Yogurt Sauce

Here’s one of the quickest, easiest casual dinners or lunches you can put together—fresh and flavorful too. The key is the sauce for the wraps: cool, creamy, tangy Greek-style yogurt, sweet clover honey, and just a touch of white balsamic vinegar to brighten it. A little salt and pepper and you’re done. Yes, you can purchase honey-flavored yogurt but making it fresh is too simple to opt for store bought.

Lean chicken breast, vegetables, nuts, and fruit make the chicken salad not only tasty but light and nutritious too. Instead of buying cooked chicken, take just a little time to cook it yourself. Simply cut about three quarters of a pound of boneless, skinless breast into large chunks, simmer it in chicken broth for about 20 minutes, and transfer the pieces to a plate. When cool, shred the meat and you’re ready to make your salad.

Serves 4

  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup unsalted almonds, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 4 9-inch sourdough or whole-wheat wraps
  • thin red bell pepper strips and cucumber slices, for serving
  • olive oil, for drizzling

Chicken Salad Ingredients

Toppings for the Wraps
  1. Combine the yogurt, honey, and vinegar in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine the shredded chicken and next 5 ingredients (through basil) in another bowl.
  3. Add the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. (Check for seasoning before serving.)

Honey-Yogurt Sauce

Chicken Salad without Sauce

Chicken Salad
  1. Lay the wraps on a work surface and divide the chicken salad in the middle of each, leaving about a 2-inch border at the bottom.
  2. Top with bell pepper strips and cucumber slices and drizzle with olive oil. Fold the bottom edges up and fold the sides over, overlapping tightly.

Leave about a 2-inch border
Chicken Salad with Toppings
Serve as is, or wrap the bottoms in foil.

Chicken Salad Wraps with Honey-Yogurt Sauce


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Wine-Braised Beef Stew

Good, old-fashioned beef stew is a simple, no-fuss dish that needs one important ingredient: time. Time ensures not only fork-tender meat but it also allows the broth and wine to gently meld their flavors and reduce to a slightly thickened, creamy texture for the finished stew. That’s it—plain and simple. And simply delicious.

  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for oiling skillet
  • 1-1/2 lbs beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • flour, for dredging
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper   
  • 8 small yellow potatoes (about 2-inch diameter), quartered
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick pieces

Chuck Roast

Prepared Beef

Small Yellow Potatoes

Prepared Potatoes

Prepared Carrots
  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven (or deep, ovenproof pan with a tight-fitting lid) over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Dredge 1/2 the beef in flour, shaking off excess. Sear until beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer the beef to a plate and repeat with another 2 tablespoons of oil and remaining beef. Transfer the 2nd batch to the plate.
  4. Add 1/4 cup wine to the pan and cook 1 minute, scraping up brown bits. Add the garlic, onion, and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, 3 minutes.
  5. Return the beef to the pan and add the broth and remaining 1/2 cup wine. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and place in the oven. Braise 1-1/4 hours.
  6. Stir the potatoes and carrots into the stew and continue braising until the meat and vegetables are very tender, 45 minutes.

Beginning to Sear

After Turning

Initial Wine Added

Garlic Mixture

Ready to Braise

After 1-1/4 Hours

Potatoes and Carrots Added
Divide the stew among 4 shallow bowls and serve hot.

Wine-Braised Beef Stew