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, July 20, 2017

Peach, Plum, and Avocado Salad

This fresh, flavorful, summery salad gives new meaning to a mixed-fruit bowl. Sweet peach and plum, savory avocado, crunchy cucumber, some earthy herbs, and a bright, citrusy dressing come together for a light, refreshing salad to serve alongside a main dish or simply enjoy as a tasty lunch all by itself.

Either way, I think you’ll like the combination of flavors and textures. I topped it off with some roasted pumpkin seeds for a crunchy, salty finish.

Serves 2-3

  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large firm-ripe peach, cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1 large plum, cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1 large firm avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup small-diced seedless cucumber
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup small cilantro sprigs
  • 2 tbsp small mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp roasted, salted pumpkin seeds

  1. Whisk the lemon juice, lime juice, and olive oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the peach, plum, avocado, and next 4 ingredients (through mint leaves) and toss gently to coat with the dressing.


Salad Mixture
Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Serve right away.

Peach, Plum, and Avocado Salad

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cheddar-Baked Vegetarian Pasta

If the sound of vegetarian pasta doesn’t thrill your kids—or you, for that matter—just add cheese. Cheddar, that is. While this humble cheese may not make its way into authentic Italian fare, nothing says you can’t enjoy its golden gooey goodness in a scrumptious pasta dish loaded with fresh veggies.

It’s simple, easy, and deliciously cheesy. And did we mention loaded with vegetables?

Serves 4

  • 7 oz rotini
  • olive oil for oiling dish, plus 2 tbsp
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 small zucchinis, chopped
  • 8 oz button or crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, reserving 1/2 cup juice
  • 3 oz snow peas, trimmed and cut diagonally in half
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly oil an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water 8-9 minutes. Drain.
  3. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. Add the garlic and onions and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and cook until beginning to soften, 5-6 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, reserved juice, and snow peas, crushing the tomatoes in your fingers, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a light simmer and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, 9-10 minutes.
  5. Add the drained pasta to the pan, tossing well to combine. 

Garlic and Onion

Mushrooms and Zucchini Added

Tomato Mixture Added

Pasta Stirred In
  1. Spoon half the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Spoon the remaining half of the pasta mixture in the dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and the parmesan.
  2. Bake uncovered until the cheeses have melted and the top begins to brown, 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes.

1st Layer with Cheese

Ready to Bake

Baked Pasta
Divide among 4 pasta bowls and serve right away.

Cheddar-Baked Vegetarian Pasta

Monday, July 10, 2017

Chicken and Green Bean Stir-Fry with Rice Noodles

The great thing about stir-fries is that they're fast and very flavorful with fresh ingredients and a variety of sauces. Here, I made a simple, five-ingredient sweet-and-sour sauce—no hot spices, just lots of flavor.

If you've not worked with rice noodles, good news: no boiling required. Rice noodles are so delicate they need only soak in water that has been brought to a boil, then removed from the heat. They're very starchy, and, as with wheat pasta, the starch helps the sauce stick to the noodles. If you don't want all that starch, you can rinse the softened noodles under cold water before adding them to the stir-fry.

The beans need to blanch in simmering water about three minutes, so prepare those first and remove, then steep the noodles in the same water with the heat turned off. Once the noodles are drained, the pan (or wok, in this case) is ready for the oil and remaining ingredients. Easy, fast cooking—in one pan.

Note: Japanese shishito peppers are sweet and mild, very thin, and two to three inches long, with firm but wrinkled texture. They’re often bright green, but they also come in a variety of “stages,” from green to yellow, orange, red, or a mixture, as I had for this recipe. You can find them in bulk at general Asian markets or in supermarkets with a really good variety of fresh produce.

Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breast, trimmed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tsp cornstarch, divided
  • 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed, snapped in half (or into thirds, if long)
  • 3 oz rice noodle sticks
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil, divided
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 thinly sliced shishito peppers
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts

Prepared Ingredients
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients (through brown sugar) in a bowl, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
  2. Toss the chicken and 2 teaspoons cornstarch together in a bowl.
  3. Stir together the remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl. Set aside and re-stir just before using.

Stir-Fry Sauce
  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a simmer in a wok. Add the green beans and blanch 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a bowl of iced water.
  2. Remove the wok from the heat and add the noodles to the hot water. Steep 9-10 minutes, until softened but still firm. Drain the noodles in a sieve and rinse under cold water, if desired.
  3. Re-heat the empty wok over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil, swirling to coat. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Stir-fry until browned and just cooked through, 7-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Simmered Green Beans

Steeped Noodles

Chicken Beginning to Cook

Stir-Fried Chicken
  1. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok and add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry 30 seconds.
  2. Add the peppers, onion, and water chestnuts and stir-fry 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the beans and add to the wok. Stir-fry 2 minutes.
  4. Return the chicken and accumulated juices to the wok and add the noodles and reserved sauce. Re-stir the reserved cornstarch mixture and add to the pan. Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes.

Garlic and Ginger

Pepper Mixture Added

Green Beans Added

Cooked Stir-Fry
Divide the stir-fry among 4 shallow bowls and serve.

Chicken and Green Bean Stir-Fry with Rice Noodles

Friday, July 7, 2017

Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Traditional South Asian “satay” is a dish of grilled meat skewers served with a sauce that’s usually peanut based and spicy. Think kebabs, but instead of skewering large chunks of meat or vegetables, satay meat is cut into lengthwise strips and threaded onto the skewers in a zigzag fashion. I think small, 3-ounce chicken cutlets are great for satay—simply thread two cutlets lengthwise onto each skewer and you’re ready to go.

The peanut butter-based sauce in this recipe is a mix of spicy, sweet, salty, and, of course, nutty. Tip: Choose all-natural creamy peanut butter instead of the kind with all those ingredients you don’t need. Just look at the ingredients list. It should say: Peanuts.

Note: I grilled the skewers on bricks, which is great for tender chicken. Read about this type of grilling at Chicken Yakitori with Shiitakes and Scallions.

Serves 4

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh, peeled ginger, divided
  • 1 tsp peanut oil
  • 8 3-oz chicken tenders
  • 1/4 cup creamy, all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ground fresh chile paste (sambal oelek)
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice 

  1. Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon ginger, and peanut oil in a sturdy, sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken tenders, seal, and turn several times to coat.
  2. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or overnight).
  3. Combine the peanut butter, remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, chile paste, lime juice, and remaining 1 teaspoon ginger in a bowl, stirring well to incorporate the peanut butter. Cover and set aside while the chicken cooks. Re-stir and divide into small dipping bowls just before serving.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
  1. Light a grill for medium-high heat. Wrap 2 bricks tightly in foil and place on the grill as noted above.
  2. Remove the chicken tenders from the marinade and thread 2 tenders lengthwise on each of 4 skewers (soaked in water 30 minutes, if wood).
  3. Place the ends of the skewers on the bricks and grill the chicken directly over the heat, turning a few times, until lightly charred on all sides and cooked through, 15-18 minutes total, depending on the thickness of the tenders.

Chicken Skewers

Beginning to Grill

After Turning
Plate the skewers and serve the peanut sauce on the side.

Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce