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, November 29, 2016

Baked Skate with Orange-and-Date Salsa

Skates are flat, ray-like fish whose diamond-shaped, striated filets are easy to spot in the fish market. Its mild flavor and delicate texture make this fish a favorite, even among picky fish eaters. They also make it fast from the pan to the plate—about seven minutes in a 400°F oven.

Here, I topped the skate with a simple, fresh salsa made with sweet, chewy dates and the citrusy flavors of orange and lime. A bed of rice or farro rounds out this easy, light, and inviting dinner for two.

Serves 2

  • 2 large dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 small scallion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped peeled naval orange
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 6-oz skate filets
  • olive oil, for rubbing
  • cooked farro or rice, for serving
  1. Combine the dates and next 5 ingredients (through lime juice) in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Orange-and-Date Salsa
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a shallow baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Rub the fish on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender and flakes easily with a fork, 7-8 minutes.
Ready to Bake
Divide the farro or rice between 2 plates and top each with a skate filet. Spoon salsa on top and pass any remaining salsa at the table.

Baked Skate Fish with Orange-and-Date Salsa

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Grilled Chicken Satay

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 it here.

Serves 4

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh, peeled ginger, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 3-oz chicken tenders
  • 1/4 cup creamy, all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp ground fresh chile paste (sambal oelek)
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice 
  1. Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon ginger, and black pepper (to taste) in a sturdy, sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken tenders, seal, and turn several times to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or overnight).
Chicken in Marinade
  1. Combine the peanut butter, remaining 2 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.
Satay 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, about 20 minutes total, depending on the thickness of the tenders.
Ready to Grill 
Beginning to Grill

Grilled Skewers
Transfer to a platter and serve with satay sauce alongside.

Grilled Chicken Satay

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Chicken and Mushroom Stir-Fry with Mandarin Orange Sauce

Stir-fry is a go-to meal when you want a fast, fresh, flavorful, and, yes, even good-for-you dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. With soy sauce included, you don’t need additional salt. (If you must add a little, make it just that—a little.)

I didn’t use much chicken in this recipe—just a bit over half a pound. Meaty mushrooms carry the dish in place of actual meat. If you don’t like crimini or shiitake, choose your favorite and thinly slice. For less heat, use only two or three Thai chiles.

Serves 4

  • 1 11-oz can mandarin oranges in light syrup
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil, divided
  • 9-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 red Thai chiles, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk baby bok choy, coarsely chopped (stalks and leaves)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, stems removed, caps cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 3 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • steamed white rice, for serving

Prepared Vegetables
  1. Strain the oranges over a medium bowl, reserving the syrup. Place the oranges in another bowl and set aside.

Drained Mandarin Oranges
  1. Whisk the chicken broth, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch into the reserved syrup, stirring well to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch. Set aside. (Re-whisk just before using.)
  2. Heat a wok over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the chicken and stir-fry until browned and just cooked through, 6-7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of peanut oil to the wok and add the chiles, garlic, shallot, bok choy, and bell pepper. Stir-fry 2 minutes.
  4. Add the crimini and shiitake mushrooms and stir-fry 4 minutes, until beginning to soften.
  5. Return the chicken to the wok and add the re-whisked sauce. Stir until the sauce is slightly thickened and the mushrooms are soft, 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved mandarin oranges.

Chicken Beginning to Cook 
Cooked Chicken

Vegetables Beginning to Cook
Mushrooms Added

Sauce Added

Mandarin Oranges Added

To serve, divide the rice among 4 shallow bowls and the stir-fry evenly on top. Serve hot.

Chicken and Mushroom Stir-Fry with Mandarin Orange Sauce

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Grilled Pork Chops with Honey and Goat Cheese Butter

Tender grilled pork chops don’t need any fancy, fussy accompaniment to make them…well, fancy or fussy. A dollop of rich, creamy butter mixed with tangy goat cheese and sweet honey is all you need to set on top of the meat. Let it slide down the side and…hmmmmm.

Tip: For extra-juicy chops, let them rest in a simple brine bath before cooking. Combine a couple tablespoons of salt and a tablespoon of sugar with plenty of cold water in a large bowl. Submerge the chops and refrigerate at least four hours. Rinse and pat dry before preparing the recipe.

Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, plus more for serving
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 center-cut pork rib chops, about 1-inch thick
  • olive oil, for rubbing
  1. Combine the goat cheese, butter, honey, and thyme in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Ready to Mix
Honey and Goat Cheese Butter

  1. Light a grill for medium-high heat with space for off-heat grilling. Rub the grate with oil.
  2. Rub the pork chops lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper (light on the salt if the chops were brined).
  3. Grill until slightly charred and just cooked through, about 12 minutes total, turning 2 to 3 times. (Move the chops off heat as needed to prevent flare-ups.) Transfer to a board or plate and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Seasoned Center-Cut Rib Chops
Start over direct heat

Finish off heat

Let the chops rest
Serve the pork chops dolloped with the honey and goat cheese butter and sprinkled with chopped thyme.

Grilled Pork Chops with Honey and Goat Cheese Butter