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!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Fire-Roasted Baba Ghanoush with Flatbread Toasts

Baba ghanoush is a Middle Eastern dish similar to hummus, except the baba ghanoush calls for eggplant instead of chickpeas. Garlic, olive oil, tahini, and fresh lemon juice figure heavily into both dishes, and toasted pita or naan bread is a tasty accompaniment for either. 

Some baba ghanoush recipes call for chopped herbs, a mixture of spices, or onions and peppers, but the simplest, most authentic recipe is usually best: eggplant, sesame, lemon, garlic, and oil. Not only simple, but loaded with flavor.

Note: I roasted the eggplant over hot coals to bring out a smoky, rich flavor in the fleshy pulp. You also can roast the eggplant in the oven at 400°F if you don’t have a charcoal grill. 

Also note: I used pure sesame paste in place of tahini here to keep the “roasted” theme going. If tahini is easier to find, use it instead.  

Makes 1-1/2 cups


1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb)
olive oil, for rubbing, plus 1-1/2 tbsp
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp sesame paste
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
sea salt
toasted flatbread pieces, such as naan or pita

Baba Ghanoush Ingredients

  1. Light a charcoal grill for direct, medium-high heat.
  2. When the coals are ready, rub the eggplant lightly with oil and place on the grill rack over the coals. Roast until blistered and softened, turning several times, 20-25 minutes.
  3. Remove the eggplant and let cool until easily handled.
Eggplant Beginning to Roast on the Grill

Eggplant after Turning

Grill-Roasted Eggplant
  1. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and hold over a bowl to let as much water as possible run out. Dab the inside with paper towels. Scoop the pulp into a food processor and add the garlic, sesame paste, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse until creamy smooth.
  2. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and gradually stir in 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Grill-Roasted Eggplant

Pureed Eggplant Mixture

Baba Ghanoush
To serve, place the bowl of baba ghanoush on a platter and scatter flatbread toasts around it.

Fire-Roasted Baba Ghanoush with Flatbread Toasts

Friday, August 2, 2019

Iceberg Wedge Salads with Tuna and Blue Cheese Dressing

Of the many bottled blue cheese salad dressings on the market, none is as good as the one you make in your own kitchen. The ingredients are simple, the preparation is easy, and the flavor is fresh, tangy, and oh so blue.

Don’t let anyone convince you that iceberg wedge salads are passé. One cook’s cliché is another’s continued treasure, and this little salad is loaded with tastes and textures that never go out of style.

And don’t let anyone tell you that cheese doesn’t go with fish. Once you taste the tender, meaty, slightly briny tuna drizzled with blue cheese dressing, you’ll be glad you listened to your palate.

Serves 2 (easily doubled)


For the Dressing
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chopped shallot
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water
For the Iceberg and Tuna
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 slices thick, crusty bread
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 wedges of iceberg lettuce, about 6 inches long
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 6-oz can of solid-packed, wild-caught tuna, packed in oil, drained
  • 8 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 8-10 small green and black olives
Salad Ingredients

For the Dressing
  1. Place the blue cheese and next 5 ingredients (through shallot) in a food processor and season with salt and pepper. Pulse several times to blend the ingredients. (The mixture will be chunky.) 
  2. Gradually add the olive oil, processing until the mixture is creamy but still thick. Add the water and process until the dressing is thinned to a pourable consistency.
Dressing Ingredients Ready to Process

Processed Dressing
  1. Transfer the dressing to a sealable container and refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow flavors to develop. Bring to room temperature and stir well before using (may be made 1 day ahead).

Fresh Blue Cheese Dressing

For the Iceberg and Tuna

  1. Smash and peel the garlic clove. Rub the garlic over each piece of bread, leaving a little pulp on each. Drizzle each piece with olive oil and toast lightly. 
  2. Place 1 lettuce wedge on each of 2 plates and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle each with 2 tablespoons of dressing. Divide the tuna and arrange in chunks, overlapping the wedges. Divide and arrange the tomatoes and olives around the plate.
Drizzle each salad with additional dressing and serve the garlic croutons alongside.

Iceberg Wedges with Tuna and Fresh Blue Cheese Dressing

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Grilled Chicken Skewers with Lemon-Fig Glaze

No matter how many dinners I’ve cooked or how many recipes I’ve created or finessed, I keep coming back to the same principle: simple is best. Here’s an example. Little chicken tenders are great for grilling on skewers, and an easy soy sauce-olive oil marinade ensures even more tenderness. All they need is a tasty glaze, and that’s easy too.

Here, I used fig preserves and honey for the sweetness (and stickiness) and fresh lemon juice for the balancing tartness. Simple and flavorful, that’s all.

Note: For this recipe, I used the Japanese style of grilling meat skewers elevated on bricks. This method keeps the small chicken tenders from touching the hot grate and possibly sticking or tearing. Yes, you can grill the skewers directly on an oiled grate, but if you’re interested in the brick method, check out Chicken Yakitori with Shiitakes and Scallions.

Also note: The soy sauce in the marinade takes the place of salt. There’s also salt in the glaze, so no need to sprinkle additional on the chicken!

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 small rosemary twigs
  • 8 3-oz chicken tenders
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tbsp fig preserves
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine the soy sauce, olive oil, and 2 rosemary twigs in a sturdy, sealable bag. Add the chicken tenders, seal, and turn several times to coat. Refrigerate 2-4 hours.
  2. Light a grill for medium-high heat. Wrap 2 bricks tightly in foil and place on the grill as noted in Chicken Yakitori with Shiitakes and Scallions.
Tenders in Marinade
  1. Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and melt the better. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Add the fig preserves, lemon juice, honey, and chopped rosemary and bring to a light simmer. Cook, stirring frequently to break down the preserves, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
Shallot in Butter

Lemon-Fig Glaze
  1. Remove the chicken tenders from the marinade, letting excess drip off, and season with pepper. Thread 2 tenders lengthwise on each of 4 skewers (soaked in water 30 minutes, if wood).
  2. Place the skewers on the bricks and grill the chicken, turning a few times, until lightly charred on both sides and cooked through, 12-15 minutes total, depending on the thickness of the tenders. About 3 minutes before the chicken is done, brush both sides with most of the glaze. 
Ready to Grill

Beginning to Grill

Glazed Tenders
Transfer the skewers to a platter and brush with the remaining glaze. Serve right away.

Grilled Chicken Skewers with Lemon-Fig Glaze