Another Hip Hip Hooray Holiday Weekend Special

As I mentioned last week, a midweek holiday can be a bit awkward. Do the celebrations start the weekend before the Fourth of July? Or do you start on the Fourth and keep celebrating through the weekend? The best solution is to take the entire week and do it proud.

With all this warm weather, a picnic or cookout is a happy holiday must. Need some help with your menu? Not to worry, I have a few suggestions …

For a light and bright appetizer, your friends will love my Rosemary Cashews and
Tapenade with crispy slices of cucumber and red bell pepper.

Now, gather around the picnic table and enjoy my Vietnamese Salad. Next, try my Grilled Shrimp (this time without the peanut sauce) and Szechuan Noodle Salad.

As long as the local strawberries are in season, you’ll want to head to the PYO for dessert. What could be more festive than a Berry Flag Cake or Strawberry & White Chocolate Fool. Parfaits.

Have a wonderful summer and holiday. Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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Celebrate Democracy & Vietnamese Salad

This Fourth of July, let’s embrace and celebrate our democratic republic – the Great American Experiment. Back on July the 4th 1776, the founding fathers declared independence from a tyrannical, and some say mad, King George. At the time, they could only hope that the experiment would last. From day one, it’s been far from perfect and always evolving. Sometimes the nation takes a step forward. Take for instance, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Sometimes, it takes a step backwards. Consider McCarthyism and the Red Scare in the 1950s.

In spite of the ups and downs, our democracy has held. Our deep belief in equality, that all people are created equal has been central to our success. We cherish the fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These beliefs are at the very core of our national identity. It is what continues to make us patriots 242 years after the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.

The United States was founded by immigrants. From the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, to the laborers who built the railroads and programmers who created Silicon Valley, the United States has always been a proud melting pot of diversity. Eight of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were not born in the United States. They were farmers, lawyers and doctors who crossed an ocean in search of a new life. We are a nation that has grown and prospered with each new generation of immigrants. Some came for adventure but most were in pursuit of a better, safer life.

I lived in Switzerland for seventeen years. It was an interesting experience for many reasons. For one, I was an immigrant, a foreigner, a legal alien coming from a nation of immigrants. With dozens of United Nations agencies and just as many multinational companies, Geneva is a wonderfully diverse city. At work and at play, people from vastly different cultures come together. On street corners, in restaurants, in the supermarket, people of every nationality and race speak a multitude of languages. Like communities across the U.S., this cultural melting pot made the town all the richer.

One summer, I was the assistant coach for a tee-ball team of five-year-olds. A few were Swiss but the vast majority were immigrants, just like their coaches. Many, but not all, were Americans. I’m guessing their parents signed them up to maintain a link back to their homeland. For the others, it was a chance to try something new. Overall, they were just a jumble of kids who wanted to have fun. While I have no proof or statistics, I’d hazard to guess that their talent was as varied as any tee-ball team you’d find in the U.S. Given the superb (?!?) coaching they received, I’m sure they had more fun than the average U.S. tee-ball team.

I joke about superb coaching because I was one of the worst softball players to darken the doors of my middle and high schools. However, I figured out one thing and passed it on to my five-year-old charges. Keep your eye on the ball, hold the bat tight and swing. Ignore the noise from the crowd. Don’t worry if that cute little Belgian girl likes you. Stop thinking about ice cream after the game. Keep your eye on the ball and you will hit it every time. Like magic, they did.

This 4th of July and every day, keep your eye on our shared American values. Hold tight to the belief in equality for all people. Don’t allow the country’s high standards for liberty, justice and opportunity falter. These beliefs are at the very core of our national identity.

Have a wonderful Independence Day and summer. Bon appétit!

Vietnamese Salad
A refreshing salad is perfect on a hot summer night. Serve this one with your favorite grilled fish or chicken. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 heads baby bok choy, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 head romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
About 5 ounces arugula
3-6 radishes, finely chopped
1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, cut into curls (use a vegetable peeler)
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, cut in julienne
Garnish: 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Put the vegetables and herbs in a large bowl and toss to combine.

To serve: toss the salad with just enough Vietnamese Vinaigrette to lightly coat. Transfer the salad to a large, deep serving platter or individual plates and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Vietnamese Vinaigrette
Makes 1 cup

Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
2 cloves garlic
1-inch piece fresh ginger
1-inch chunk red onion
1-2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon or to taste chili sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup or to taste extra virgin olive
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Put the lime zest and juice in a blender or small food processor, add the garlic, ginger, onion, honey and chili sauce, season with salt and pepper and process to chop the vegetables and combine. Add the vinegar, fish sauce and soy sauce and process until smooth.

Add the olive and sesame oils and process until well-combined. Transfer to a clean, glass jar. Let the vinaigrette sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors. Give the vinaigrette a good shake before using.

Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Tomato & Burrata Salad with Grilled Bread
Two Years Ago – Grilled Shrimp & Vegetable Salad
Three Years Ago – Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard
Four Years Ago – Grilled Tomato Crostini
Five Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Six Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Eight Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Nine Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your summer travel story? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Back on Cook’s Corner – Hint of Asia Barbecue Sauce

If you’ve missed me on television … well, yes, it’s been awhile. I’m back today on local ABC affiliate WMUR.


Just in time for your Fourth of July celebration, I’m stirring up a delicious new barbecue sauce. Give it a try at your holiday cookout!

You can find my recipe for Hint of Asia here or watch the video here!

Is It the Holiday Weekend Yet Special?

The Fourth of July falls on Wednesday this year. A midweek holiday is a bit awkward. Do the celebrations start the weekend before or continue through the weekend after? Better you celebrate both!

This weekend and next, invite friends over for a happy holiday cookout. Fly a flag, roll out the grill and have a delicious weekend. Need some help with your menu? Not to worry, I have a few suggestions …

For a light and bright appetizer, you can’t beat my favorite Shrimp & Cucumber Bites or Crostini with Cucumber, Radish & Feta.Want something more exotic? How about Baba Ganoush with pita chips and fresh veggies.

Now for the main course … get the grill going and enjoy my Grilled Vietnamese Beef or A Hint of Asia Barbecued Chicken or Hoisin Pork Ribs. Complete your main course with my fabulous Asian Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Asian Slaw.

As for dessert, it’s strawberry season. What could be better? For easy, you must try my Strawberries in Cointreau. If you want to get a little fancy try my Creamy Yogurt Tart with Fresh Strawberries.

Have a wonderful summer and holiday. Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Forget the Necktie & Grilled Vietnamese Beef

You’ve got five days to get it together, so, don’t blow it. And by it, I mean Father’s Day. If you are suddenly caught unawares, don’t worry you are not alone. Father’s Day is probably the most overlooked or just plain forgotten holiday in the whole panoply of fêtes, festivals and celebrations. Mom gets brunch, cards and flowers. If we remember, Dad gets another necktie.

In the era of business casual, most men, spend their days in Dockers and button-down shirts. The pants are always navy blue. Although the shirts are always light blue, they generally come in a variety of strips, checks and plaids. If he’s retired, your dad has probably traded in his navy blue trousers for khaki and button-downs for golf shirts. Working or retired, most dads have not worn a necktie more than a handful of times since 1998. Of course, there are exceptions. There are always exceptions. While politicians, talk show hosts, bankers and Wall Street wonders are the most obvious tie wearers, there could be others.

That’s not to say that a beautiful necktie is not appreciated. In fact, I’m proud to say, I gave my dad his favorite tie, pale yellow with light blue catboats. However, it was ages ago, 1998 or maybe 1997, and it wasn’t for Father’s Day. It was a Christmas gift. I can’t say for certain, but there is a good chance I neglected him that Father’s Day. (In my defense, I was living an ocean away.)

Anyway, about that favorite tie, it may be twenty years old but he still likes it enough to find an excuse to wear it once if not twice a year. I suspect that it would be near impossible to find one to replace it. Any new necktie would just join the pile he never wears but refuses to throw away. Most are boring navy blue with equally boring stripes. One has catboats but they sail across a dark, drab background.

All right then, if ties are out, what’s in?

How about socks? Think ridiculously bright colors, stars, stripes or polka dots. A beautiful pair of socks will add a little life to dad’s wardrobe. If he’s the conservative type, you might point to Bush 41. The former president has a spectacular collection of socks. My oldest niece gave Dad a couple of fun pairs for Christmas a few years ago. They are his party socks and he loves them.

Something to eat or drink? Here you have an endless list of possibilities from a bottle of dad’s favorite bourbon to a trio of intriguing hot sauces or mustards. If he can’t start the day without a great cup of Joe, then a pound of really good coffee sounds like a plan. Then again, you can help him get his grill on by signing him up for the steak of the month club.

Maybe you should give him the gift of time together? Instead of a book he’s already read or a shirt that doesn’t fit, plan an experience you can share together. Think about what your dad might like to do or see and make it happen. If he loves baseball, take him to Fenway. Fine wines – find a tasting and spend an evening sipping and spitting together. Wannabe chef – sign the two of you up for a cooking class. History buff – walk the Freedom Trail with him. You see, it’s not so hard.

Happy Father’s Day and bon appétit!

Grilled Vietnamese Beef
Give your favorite steak-and-potatoes man a taste of Asia this Father’s Day. Trying new things will keep dad young. Serve the beef with jasmine rice. Enjoy!

Serves 8
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5-6 limes
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 pounds tenderloin filets or sirloin steaks, trimmed
1-2 red onions, cut in half and then in 1/4-inch wedges
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces arugula
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves, cut in julienne

Make the marinade: put the garlic, juice and zest of 2 limes, soy sauce, fish sauce, olive oil and brown sugar in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

Put the beef in a large flat dish and the onion in a bowl. Add about 3/4 of the marinade to the beef and the remainder to the onions. Flip the beef to coat and toss the onions. Flipping and tossing once or twice, cover and refrigerate both for up to 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill; the fire should be medium hot.

Remove the steaks from the marinade and shake off any excess. Place the steaks on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side for rare and 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board, let the beef rest for 5-10 minutes and then cut across the grain in thin slices.

While the beef rests, drain and transfer the onions to a grill basket. Grill, stirring from time to time, until tender-crisp, 4-6 minutes.

Put the juice of 1 lime and the extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the arugula, cilantro and mint and toss to combine.

Cut the remaining limes into wedges.

Transfer the greens to a large platter or individual plates, top with beef and onions, garnish with lime wedges and serve.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Steak with Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic & Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze
Two Years Ago – Grilled Potato Salad
Three Years Ago – Maple-Bourbon Pork Ribs
Four Years Ago – Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce
Five Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Six Years Ago – Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint & Peanuts
Seven Years Ago – New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola
Eight Years Ago – Spicy Hoisin Wings
Nine Years Ago – Grilled Steak & Potato Salad

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate Father’s Day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Don’t Jinx It & Lettuce Cups with Stir-fried Chicken & Vegetables

I haven’t seen so many teeth in all my life. Okay, that might be an exaggeration but it’s been just about year since I’ve seen so many and such big smiles. More or less everyone was beaming last Wednesday. At least for a day, it was not just summery, it was a perfect summer day. Blue sky, low humidity and eighty-five degrees, you can’t beat it. And it was only May!

Now here’s the question – what exactly was that perfect summer day all about? Was it a harbinger of more to come, a tease or a blip on the National Weather Service radar? Who knows? It doesn’t really matter. The challenge is simple – DON’T JINX IT. Come on; don’t play innocent. You know what I’m talking about – we’ve all got a million examples, some more memorable than others.

Here’s one … the first time I dressed down for casual Friday. To set the scene – it was long before I reinvented myself and became a plucky freelancer. Only a small handful of women executives worked in my employer’s European operations. I was one of them. On that particular Friday morning, I’d been out the office for at least a week and I was dragging. Half asleep, I grabbed a mug of coffee, threw on a pair shorts and headed out the door. Yes shorts, take your pick; you can blame it on the nineties or jetlag. Anyway, I was no sooner at my desk that a colleague asks me to meet with his client. Oh, and not just any client, a stuffy, British, pinstripe-type and I’m dressed like Gidget on her way to a pep rally.

Need more proof? Well, a few years later I was on the fence, dithering back and forth on whether to stay or leave Geneva. I ferreted around, investigated a few job leads but nothing looked promising. Deciding it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, I upgraded and bought new stereo equipment. Within three months, I was house hunting in California and the stereo was on the Swiss equivalent of Craig’s list.

The list goes on. You finally get the car washed and it rains on the drive home. There’s six inches of new powder and it’s still snowing. You lie, call in sick and head to the mountain. A half mile from the ski slopes, you slide off the road and wreck the car. It’s overcast but you don’t bother bring an umbrella to your kid’s soccer game. It doesn’t rain; it snows. You only run into your arch nemesis or an old flame on bad hair days. You sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $125,000 and wait eighty-four years before winning another World Series. Like I said, the list goes on and on and on.

So what does all this jinx stuff have to do with summer weather in May? Simple, if you want it to last; don’t jinx it! In other words, don’t go running to the hardware store to buy a new air conditioner. Don’t drag the grill out of the garage and onto the patio. Leave the lawn furniture on the screen porch. Don’t swap out your winter and summer clothes. Sure, it’s a pain but day-by-day, dig through your storage containers to find a t-shirt, a pair of shorts and those sandals you love. If you want good weather to hold, you’ll keep tripping over that plastic box at least through Memorial Day. Flag Day, even the summer solstice, would be safer.

For the next month, maybe two, always bring your umbrella and bon appétit!

Lettuce Cups with Stir-fried Chicken and Vegetables
One of my after-the-movies, go-to restaurants took this off the menu a year or so ago. It is a great addition to any tapas-type meal. Time to add it to my regular repertoire. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth or a mix of both
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon or to taste sambal oelek or sriracha
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Vegetable oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, finely chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, finely chopped*
1 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
About 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
About 1/4 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
About 1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted cashews
Inner leaves – Boston or romaine lettuce, trimmed

Make the sauce: put the wine, hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, sambal oelek, salt and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat,
add the onion and carrot and sauté for 1 minute,
add the mushroom and sauté 2-3 minutes,
add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute,
add the chicken and sauté for 3-5 minutes.

Add the water chestnuts and sauce and cook, stirring, until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid has been reduced down and absorbed, 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and sprinkle with cilantro, sliced scallions, cucumber and cashews. Let everyone help themselves to lettuce and spoon chicken and veggies into the leaves. Fold the lettuce leaf around filling and enjoy.

* You can use ground chicken if you want to save a little time.

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One Year Ago – Crostini with Cucumber, Radish & Feta
Two Years Ago – Crostini with Fig, Stilton and Walnuts
Three Years Ago – Rhubarb Crumb Cake
Four Years Ago – A Duo of Aiolis
Five Years Ago – Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Mushrooms & Mustard Sauce
Six Years Ago – Crunch Salad with Apples & Grapes
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Mustard Pork Chops
Eight Years Ago – Rhubarb Crisp
Nine Years Ago – Spicy Grilled Steak

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What will you do to ensure the sun keeps shining? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Mud Season Weekend Special

Raining, snowing or a clear blue sky, I like to cook dishes from sunny climates during mud season. Think cheery recipes from the Caribbean, Asia and the Mediterranean. Friends and family will love the change. Here are a few suggestions to help you through a muddy weekend:

Let’s start with a few dips inspired by the Mediterranean. You love my Artichoke Pesto, and Baba Ganoush and Feta-Walnut Spread. Pita chips and some fresh veggies will make great dippers. Want to add a nibble or two? Try one or both of my favorites – Roasted Almonds or Spicy Olives.

Heading to the table, make the switch to south Asia with a flavorful soup. Either my Curried Carrot Soup or Curried Eggplant Soup would be a terrific choice.

Now, on to the main event. Serve up a little spice with my Vindaloo Chicken. Complete the dinner with spoonfuls of Roasted Cauliflower and basmati rice.

For dessert, think strawberries. They’re on sale at my local supermarket. Simply delicious, you will love my Strawberries with Yogurt Cream. That said, if you can find some rhubarb, you must try my Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018