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!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Pan-Roasted Salmon with Grainy-Mustard Glaze

I’ve said it before—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 few minutes in the oven, and done.

A simple spritz of fresh lemon juice or a drizzle of olive oil would be good topping choices, but when you want to jazz up the flavor even more, try a bright, savory-sweet glaze or sauce. Here, I went with tangy whole-grain mustard mixed with honey for a sweet touch. A little garlic and shallot add the savory note.

It’s a simple dish that’s simply delicious. And light. Did I mention nutritious?

Serves 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
  • sea salt
  • 2 tsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 6-oz salmon filets (about 1-1/2 inches in thickest part), skin on 1 side
  • freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
  3. Add the honey and mustard and season with salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the glaze slightly thickens, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.

Shallot and Garlic

Glaze Beginning to Cook

Grainy Mustard Glaze
  1. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of 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, 3-4 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, 3-4 minutes.

Seasoned Salmon Steaks

Beginning to Cook

After Turning

Ready to Roast
Transfer to a board or plate and brush with the remaining glaze. Let rest a couple minutes before serving.

Pan-Roasted Salmon with Grainy-Mustard Glaze

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lettuce Wraps with Lamb and Minty Yogurt Sauce

Middle Eastern “keftas” (also called koftas, kaftas, or kuftahs) are small meat patties mixed with wonderfully aromatic spices, such as paprika, cumin, mint, turmeric, and cinnamon, among others.

For this kefta-style recipe, I grilled the meat patties without skewering them and served them in lettuce leaves with crunchy sliced radishes and a cool, creamy, tangy yogurt sauce—brightened up with fresh mint and lemon zest.

You can cook the lamb patties on the stovetop too. I recommend a large cast-iron skillet or griddle, with just a scant amount of olive oil to brush on the bottom of the pan.

Note: If you’re not completely sold on the taste of lamb, use half ground beef in this recipe. Either way, the spices will provide the big flavor.

For more about keftas, check out Kefta Kebabs with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce.

Serves 4


For the Sauce
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely chopped lemon zest
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Sauce Ingredients
For the Lamb
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large Boston lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes (halved, if large)
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives

Mint and Spices

Garlic and Onion

For the Sauce
  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.)

Combined Sauce Ingredients

Minty Yogurt Sauce
For the Lamb
  1. Place the lamb in a large bowl. Add the next 6 ingredients (through cumin) and season with salt and pepper. Mix gently to combine. Divide the mixture evenly into 8 puffy, oval-shaped patties. Let stand while the grill heats.
  2. Light a grill for medium heat with space for off-heat grilling.
  3. Rub the grill grate with oil and grill the patties until cooked through, turning 2 or 3 times, for a total of about 8 minutes, moving off-heat as needed if flare-ups occur. 
  4. Transfer to a plate or board and let rest 3 minutes.

Ready to Mix

Lamb Patties

Patties Beginning to Grill

Grilled Lamb Patties
To serve, divide the lamb patties among the lettuce leaves and dollop with sauce. Top with radish slices and chopped chives, and pass any leftover sauce at the table.

Lettuce Wraps with Lamb and Minty Yogurt Sauce

Friday, March 30, 2018

Baked Chicken and Mushroom Pasta with Mascarpone

Baked pasta is typically made creamy and cheesy with ricotta in the stuffing, but give mascarpone a chance instead. It’s the Italian version of cream cheese, and it melts wonderfully in the midst of hot pasta and tender chicken and mushrooms.

This dish is simple baked pasta at its simplest. Pretty darn tasty too.

Note: I used casarecce pasta for this recipe—a semi-short pasta similar to a skinny rigatoni. Choose your own short noodle. It's all good.

Cooked, Drained Casarecce
Serves 4

  • 6 oz mascarpone, room temperature
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil, divided, plus more for garnish
  • 7 oz casarecce (or other semi-short pasta)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for oiling dish
  • 1 lb chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup finely shredded asiago cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the mascarpone, eggs, half the rosemary, and half the basil in a large bowl.

Mascarpone Mixture
  1. Boil the pasta according to package directions and drain. Add to the bowl with the mascarpone mixture.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon oil, swirling to coat. Add the chicken and season lightly with salt and pepper. 
  3. Cook, stirring frequently, until just done, 7-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool 5 minutes, then add the chicken to the mascarpone mixture and wipe out the skillet.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the mushrooms, garlic, remaining rosemary, and other half of the divided basil (save some extra for garnish).
  5. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool 5 minutes, then add to the mascarpone mixture, stirring well to combine all the ingredients.

Chicken Beginning to Cook

Cooked Chicken

Mushroom Mixture Beginning to Cook

Cooked Mushroom Mixture

Combined Ingredients
  1. Lightly oil an 11 X 7-inch baking dish. Spoon the pasta mixture into the dish, spreading to an even thickness. Spoon the crushed tomatoes on top and sprinkle with asiago cheese.
  2. Bake uncovered until bubbly and beginning to brown, 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes. Garnish with sliced basil.

Spread Pasta Mixture in Dish

Tomatoes and Cheese Added

Baked Pasta
Divide among 4 pasta bowls and serve.

Baked Chicken and Mushroom Pasta with Mascarpone