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!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

When you want an easy, simple side dish loaded with warm, downhome flavor, this little sweet potato recipe may be just what you’re looking for. The key: maple syrup. Stir it into the cooked potatoes along with a bit of butter and mash it all together to sweet and creamy goodness.

Serves 4-5

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Prepared Sweet Potatoes
  1. Place the potatoes in a medium pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender, 10-12 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Stir in the maple syrup and butter and season with salt and pepper. Mash until creamy and smooth.
Ready to Cook
Drained Potatoes
Mashed Sweet Potato Mixture

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Serve right away.

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Cornbread Stuffing with Pancetta and Herbs

To me, the warmest, tastiest, and most inviting dish on the Thanksgiving dinner table is the stuffing—whether it’s shoved into a bird or served on the side. (And it’s just as delicious if you call it “dressing.”) I’m guilty of not making it more often throughout the year, usually waiting until the day it’s expected to be there. But whether it’s November or April, there’s only one way to make stuffing: from scratch.

Cornbread Stuffing with Pancetta and Herbs

I like using cornbread, as well as a little toasted white bread, because of that sweet corn taste and coarse texture it lends. But I would’ve never been able to come up with a recipe on my own—too many precise measurements needed in baking—so that’s why I rely on a good ol' Betty Crocker cookbook to tell me how to make it. The borrowed recipe is copied below.

Betty Crocker's Cornbread 

Note: I used only half the cornbread in this recipe because I don’t need a whole lot of stuffing. The other half can be frozen for four to six weeks.

Serves 8

  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling dish
  • 3 oz thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cornbread recipe (below), about 4 cups, crumbled
  • 2-1/2 cups lightly toasted white bread cubes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Stuffing Ingredients Ready to Cook

Herbs for the Stuffing


Note: Make the cornbread first (recipe below).
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the chicken broth in a saucepan and bring to a light simmer. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pancetta, onion, celery, and garlic and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook, stirring several times, until the pancetta is cooked and the vegetables are tender, 9-10 minutes.
Pancetta Mixture Beginning to Cook

Cooked Pancetta Mixture
  1. Crumble the cornbread (recipe below) into a large bowl and add the toasted bread cubes. Add the pancetta mixture and all herbs to the bowl and stir to combine.  
Cornbread and Toasted Bread Cubes

Stuffing Mixture before Broth
  1. Gradually add the warm broth to the bowl, stirring to combine.
  2. Lightly oil an 11 X 9-inch baking dish. Turn the stuffing mixture into the dish, spreading to an even thickness.
  3. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top, 30 minutes.
Stuffing Ready to Bake

Baked Stuffing

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Cornbread Ingredients and Preparation
(from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, New and Revised Edition, Golden Press, 1978)
  • 1-1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup shortening or bacon fat (Note: I used canola oil.)
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  1. Heat oven to 450° (F). Mix all ingredients; beat vigorously 30 seconds. Pour into greased round layer pan, 9 X 1 1/2 inches, or square pan, 8 X 8 X 2 inches. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.
 *If using self-rising flour, decrease baking powder to 1 teaspoon and omit salt.

Cornbread Mixture Ready to Bake

Baked Cornbread

Monday, November 9, 2020

Brined Smoked Turkey Thighs

If you’re having a small Thanksgiving gathering of four to five people—and you love that smoky meat flavor—think about ditching the traditional roasted bird in favor of juicy turkey thighs on the smoker. This is a simple recipe that requires only one big ingredient: time. Brine the thighs overnight and give them at least three hours on the smoker. You and your guests won’t be disappointed.

Here’s the caveat: no Thanksgiving required! Enjoy smoked turkey thighs any time of year. It’s all good.

Serves 4-5

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns (any color)
  • 5 cups water (plus more, as needed)
  • 4 turkey thighs

  1. Combine the salt, sugar, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a large, deep bowl, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Submerge the turkey thighs meaty-side-down in the brine, adding more water, if needed. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Turkey in the Brine
  1. Prepare your smoker or prepare a grill for smoking. Remove the thighs from the brine, rinse, and pat dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. If you’re using a grill (as I was), when the coals are ready and wood chips are smoking (with some flame is OK), place the thighs off heat and smoke, turning and repositioning as needed, for a total of 3 to 3-1/2 hours, depending on size. Let the coals cool naturally, from about 350°F to 200°F throughout the process.

Beginning to Smoke

After a Few Turns

Smoked Turkey Thighs
Transfer the thighs to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Brined Smoked Turkey Thighs