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, September 27, 2021

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

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Harissa Grilled Beef Kebabs

The deliciously bold, spicy sauce called “harissa”—common in North African cuisine—is a mixture of dried chiles, fragrant spices, fresh lemon juice and olive oil, which all come together for a flavorful balance of heat and savor.

For this recipe, I used two types of dried chiles—de arbol for some spice and guajillo for deep, earthy goodness. If you like more heat, simply increase the number of chiles de arbol from four to six (or seven).

Serves 4

  • 4 chiles de arbol, stems removed, torn into 2-3 pieces, (shake out seeds, if desired)
  • 2 guajillo chiles, stems removed, torn into 3-4 pieces, (shake out seeds, if desired)
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • sea salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb beef sirloin steak (about 1-inch thick), cut into 12 equal pieces 
  • olive oil, for oiling grill grate

Beef Pieces
  1. Place all the dried chiles in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. When cool enough to handle, chop the chiles and place in a food processor along with the garlic, coriander, and cumin and pulse to form a coarse paste. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, tomato paste, and paprika and season with salt. Process until almost smooth, but still has texture.
  3. With the motor running, gradually add the extra virgin olive oil and process until chunky smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Reserve 1/2 for serving.

Torn Chiles

Chile Mixture Ready to Grind

After Grinding

Juice Mixture Added

Oil Added

  1. Place the beef pieces in a bowl and rub the remaining 1/2 of the harissa all over them. Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours.
  2. Light a grill for medium-high heat, with space for off-heat cooking.
  3. Remove the beef from the marinade and thread 3 pieces onto each of 4 skewers. (Soak wooden skewers in water 30 minutes before using.) Rub the grill grate with oil.
  4. Grill the skewers until lightly charred in spots and the beef is medium-rare, turning a few times and moving off heat as needed to prevent flare-ups, 6-7 minutes total, depending on thickness (or to desired degree of doneness).

Harissa-Rubbed Beef

Kebabs Ready to Grill

Beginning to Grill

Grilled Kebabs

Serve the skewers with the reserved harissa, passing at the table.

Harissa Grilled Beef Kebabs

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Easy Lasagna with Meat Sauce

This may be the easiest—and one of the tastiest—lasagnas you’ll ever make. As the name implies, it’s simple, good old-fashioned meat sauce that does the trick (as well as a plethora of cheese).

It’s not light, but it is delicious—and a welcome sight on the dinner table. Enjoy it responsibly.

Note: I typically make lasagna in a 13 X 9-inch baking dish so that it isn’t too thick. This time, however, I wanted a higher stack of layers, so I used an 11 X 7-inch dish. It still serves six—just smaller squares that stand tall.

Tip: When you're using a smaller dish, trim the cooked noodles so that they lie flat in it.

Serves 6

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1 15-oz container ricotta cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling dish
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped   
  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 2-1/2 cups crushed tomatoes (from a 28-oz can), divided
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp dried oregano   
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling, salted water 8-9 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  3. Combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, parsley, 1 chopped garlic clove, and the egg in a bowl and set aside.
Ready to Mix 
Ricotta Cheese Mixture
  1. Heat a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and remaining garlic and cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes.
  2. Add the ground sirloin and cook, breaking up the meat, until cooked through, 7-8 minutes. Drain any excess liquid from the pan.
  3. Add 2 cups crushed tomatoes and fresh oregano and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring to combine, until slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes. 
  4. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes.
Onion and Garlic 
Beef Added
Drain Liquid from Cooked Beef
Crushed Tomatoes Added
To Assemble and Bake
  1. Lightly oil an 11 X 7-inch baking dish. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes in the bottom of the dish and lay 3 noodles on top. (Trim noodles to fit dish.) Spoon 1/3 of the meat sauce over the noodles.
  2. Place 3 more lasagna noodles on top and spread with all the ricotta cheese mixture. Spoon another 1/3 of the meat sauce over the ricotta.
  3. Lay the remaining 3 noodles on top and spread with the remaining 1/3 of the meat sauce. Top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and dried oregano.
  4. Bake uncovered until the cheese is bubbly and the top begins to brown, 25-30 minutes. Remove and let rest 10 minutes.
1st Pasta Layer 
1st Sauce Layer
Ricotta Layer
Top Ricotta with More Meat Sauce
Ready to Bake
Baked Lasagna

Cut the lasagna into 6 squares and serve right away. 

Easy Lasagna with Meat Sauce