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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!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chicken Tenders with Sour Cherry Sauce


Quick and easy pan-seared chicken tenders make dinner a cinch, but you can ramp up the flavor with a silky, rich sauce that’s quick and easy too. Bring on the sour cherry jam. Most jams can be used as bases for great meat sauces, and I think cherry is one of the best. Its slightly sweet, slightly tart taste provides just the right combination



Note: If you can’t find sour cherry, regular cherry jam will work just fine.

Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1/3 cup sour cherry jam
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 3-oz chicken tenders
  • 1 tsp crumbled dried oregano
Preparation
  1. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
  2. Add the jam and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the glaze slightly thickens, 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the mint. Cover while the chicken cooks.
Shallot in Butter 
Sauce Beginning to Cook 
Sour Cherry Sauce
  1. Heat a very large, heavy (preferably cast-iron) skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil, swirling to coat. Season the chicken tenders with salt, pepper, and oregano and add to the skillet. Cook until golden on the bottom, 3-4 minutes.
  2. Turn the tenders over and cook until golden on the other side and just cooked through, 3-4 minutes longer, depending on thickness. (Tip: Lay a sheet of aluminum foil lightly over the skillet to help retain moisture as the chicken finishes.)
  3. Add the sour cherry glaze to the pan and turn the tenders several times to coat.
Seasoned Chicken Tenders 
Tenders Beginning to Cook 
After Turning
Cooked Tenders
Sauce Added
Plate the chicken and spoon the remaining glaze from the pan on top.

Chicken Tenders with Sour Cherry Sauce

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Braised-Lamb Wraps with Lemon-Mint Yogurt and Marinated Cucumbers


Juicy, fork-tender lamb braised with warm and savory spices and herbs turns an ordinary meat wrap into a mighty-special dinner. Add a creamy, lemony, minty yogurt sauce and top it with tart and spicy pickled cucumber slices, and your guests will thank you for every minute (and hour) you put into creating this flavor-loaded, casual-with-a-little-elegance, hand-held meal.

Makes 8-10 wraps

Ingredients

For the Lamb and Cucumbers
  • 2 tsp finely chopped mint 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/2-lb lamb roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 6-inch piece of seedless cucumber, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped hot green chile (such as serrano or jalapeno)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 8-10 warm, 6-inch, whole-wheat flatbreads
Thinly Sliced Cucumber
For the Yogurt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely chopped lemon zest
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Preparation

For the Lamb and Cucumbers
  1. Combine the first 7 ingredients (through paprika) in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Rub the herb and spice mixture all over the lamb. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight). Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before continuing.
Rub and Lamb Roast
Spice and Herb Rubbed Lamb
  1. Combine the vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, and fine salt in a medium bowl, stirring well to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the cucumber and chile, turning and pressing down to cover as much as possible. (Slices will continue to sink into the brine during marinating.) Cover and let stand 2-4 hours, stirring or turning a few times. Drain well through a sieve before serving.
Cucumbers in Marinade
  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the lamb roast and sear until browned on the bottom, 4-5 minutes. Turn and sear until browned on the other side, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the broth and cover the pan tightly. Place in the oven and braise until fork-tender, about 3 hours, turning once halfway through.
  4. Transfer the lamb to a plate and let rest until cool enough to handle. Reserve 1/2 cup of the juices from the pan and discard the rest.
  5. Pull the lamb into shreds, discarding any fatty parts. Return to the pot with the reserved 1/2 cup of juices and heat until hot throughout.
Ready to Braise
Braised Lamb
Shredded Lamb
Serve the lamb with lemon-mint yogurt (recipe follows), marinated cucumbers, and warm flatbreads.

Braised-Lamb Wraps with Lemon-Mint Yogurt and Marinated Cucumbers
For the Yogurt
  1. Whisk the yogurt, mint, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to 4.)
Yogurt Sauce

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Marinated Grilled Shrimp and Shishito Pepper Skewers


I think shrimp grilled over an open flame takes this briny seafood favorite to a rich, smoky depth that you just can’t get with other preparations. That said, keep a few things in mind for the best results:
  • Use big (very big) shrimp.
  • Pair the shrimp with an equally quick-cooking companion (like shishito peppers).
  • Grill the skewers on bricks—the best way to grill delicate food fast with no sticking.
Here’s a note about that (from Chicken Yakitori with Shiitakes and Scallions):

"Resting skewers of meat and vegetables on two bricks placed 9 to 10 inches apart allows them to grill at just the right height to get great char flavor without burning or sticking to the grate. You’ll need at least 12-inch skewers in order to have enough room for the food in the middle and space on each end to rest the skewers on the bricks.

You can use metal or very sturdy wood skewers (soaked in water 30 minutes) so that they don’t bend toward the fire with the weight of the food in the middle. To know how much room you’ll have for the food, wrap the bricks in foil and place them on a counter several inches apart. Lay your skewers across them and adjust the spacing so that at least an inch (1-1/2 inches, even better) is resting on each end."  

If you’re not familiar with shishito peppers, listen up. These small, mild, thin-skinned peppers are great for grilling or frying and eating whole. Don’t overcook because they’ll lose that tasty, little crisp bite, but a wonderful outer-char from the grill—mmmm, that’s good. 

Note: For this recipe, I removed the stems from the peppers to making skewering easier. If you’re grilling or frying without skewering, leave them whole and use the stems as little handles for devouring the peppers.

Serves 2 (easily doubled)

Ingredients
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp dried red chile flakes
  • 12 large shrimp (12-15 count), peeled
  • 6 shishito peppers, stem ends removed
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cold rice salad (or steamed white rice), for serving
Extra Large Shrimp
Shishito Peppers
Trimmed Shishito Peppers
Preparation
  1. Combine the garlic, peanut oil, sesame oil, and chile flakes in a small bowl.
  2. Place the shrimp in a large, sealable plastic bag and the peppers in a small sealable plastic bag. Add 2/3 of the marinade to the shrimp and the remaining 1/3 to the peppers. Seal both bags and turn several times to coat. Refrigerate 2-4 hours.
Marinade for Shrimp and Peppers
Shrimp and Peppers in Marinade
  1. Light a grill for medium-high heat.
  2. Wrap 2 bricks tightly in aluminum foil. When the fire is ready, place the bricks on the grill grate, 9-10 inches apart (depending on the length of your skewers), with direct heat in between.
  3. Remove the shrimp and peppers from the marinade and thread, alternating pieces, onto 4 long skewers (soaked in water 30 minutes, if wood), leaving at least 1 inch free on each end. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Lay the skewers on the grill with the ends resting on the bricks and the meat and peppers over the fire. 
  5. Grill, turning once or twice, until lightly charred and just cooked cooked through, 4-6 minutes total, depending on the size of the shrimp.
Prepared Skewers
Skewers Beginning to Grill
Grilled Skewers
Serve the skewers over a cold rice salad or steamed white rice.

Marinated Grilled Shrimp and Shishito Pepper Skewers

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pan-Roasted Salmon with Apricot-Chile Glaze


Pan-roasting salmon is one of the easiest—and tastiest—ways to prepare this flavorful and nutritious fish. A few minutes on the stovetop, a couple minutes in the oven, done.

A simple sweet and spicy glaze kicks up the finished dish a notch or two. And it’s just as easy as the fish.

So the theme here? Big flavor. Big nutrition. Little effort. Little time. And everything to feel good about.

Serves 2

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 small serrano chile, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/4 tsp dried red chile flakes
  • 2 tbsp water
  • sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 6-oz salmon filets (about 1 inch in thickest part), skin on 1 side
  • freshly ground black pepper
Salmon Filets
Preparation
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the chile and shallot and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
  3. Add the apricot preserves, chile flakes, and water and season with salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the preserves melt and the glaze slightly thickens, 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover.
Chile and Shallot
Glaze Beginning to Cook 
Apricot-Chile Glaze
  1. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil, swirling to coat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place flesh-side down in the pan. Cook until beginning to lightly char, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Turn the filets flesh-side up and brush with half the glaze. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the fish is just cooked through but still opaque in the middle, 3 minutes.
Salmon Beginning to Cook
After Turning
Ready to Roast
Pan-Roasted Salmon
Transfer to a board or plate and brush with the remaining glaze. Let rest 3 minutes before serving.

Pan-Roasted Salmon with Apricot-Chile Glaze