Happy Father’s Day Weekend Special

Okay Daddy-o, it’s time for a little celebration. We’ll be fêting my dad with a little lunch on Sunday. What about you? Most dads will take casual over fancy any day. Casual doesn’t mean ordinary. Make your celebration special with a delicious cookout.

I’m still a bit up in the air when comes to my menu. I’m debating between stocking up on some artisanal sausages. What could be easier? Or throwing some burgers on the grill. Still pretty darned easy! With goat cheese and sundried tomato aioli, my Not Your Ordinary Burger is simply spectacular. My sister is bringing a salad. However, you might like to try my Insalata Caprese . The first tomatoes are in at our local farm stand! Dad might also like a spoonful of Grilled Potato Salad.

For dessert, I’m leaning toward Strawberry Tort.

However, if you’re thinking of dinner rather than lunch, you’ll still want to start with an appetizer or two. How about Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus and Rosemary Cashews?

Next, you’ll want to try my Insalata Caprese.

For the main course, your dad will love my Grilled Steak with Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic & Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze. Throw a few asparagus spears and red potatoes on the grill and you’ve got dinner!

Dessert … you still can’t go wrong with Strawberry Tort.

Happy Father’s Day! 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. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Let Dad Have His Day & Grilled Steak with Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze

Our poor dads, like the famous comic, they get no respect. Think back just a few short weeks to all the hoopla and folderol over Mother’s Day. Did you know that mom is almost fifty percent more likely to receive a card on her day than dad on his. As for gifts, the odds are even worse. Sorry buddy.

Maybe we should blame it on the retailers. After all, from flowers and chocolates to clothing and jewelry, Mother’s Day gets all the hype and even better deals. If they’re lucky, Dad’s Day may receive some vague recognition. The craft beers give a little shout out to dads but that’s about it.

It’s not that we don’t love you but, at least for daughters, moms are so much easier when it comes to buying gifts. I always figured if I thought a sweater was fabulous that my mom would agree. The same goes for a new handbag, perfume or earrings. But … huge, exasperated sigh … that’s hardly the case with Dad.

To make matters worse, the gift guides aren’t exactly fountains of wisdom. Shouldn’t someone tell the gift gurus that there aren’t a whole lot of men pining for a world’s best dad mug? And there’s hardly a line around the block waiting for bourbon-flavored marshmallows or teeny, tiny leather notebooks. But, hey what about the latest and greatest (?) – a grill so portable it fits in a briefcase. At home and on the road, don’t all dads live to grill? Unfortunately, I seriously doubt you’ll find grills on the list of FAA approved carry-ons.

What to do?

Forget some silly gift; celebrate Father’s Day with an apology. Apologize for keeping him awake half the night for the first two years of your life. For throwing up every time you were in the car for more than twenty minutes. For growing out of your sneakers before you even made it home from the shoe store. For that time he had to go down to the police station. For getting a divorce before the caterer had even sent her final invoice. For forgetting to pay back the down payment on your first house. For forgetting his birthday for the last fifteen years. For … for … for …

Next, give him a heartfelt thank you. Thank him for logging miles and miles around the living room when you had colic. For boosting you on his shoulders so you could see the parade. For teaching you to ride a bike, swim, sail, ski and/or drive. For helping you with your college tuition. For giving you an appreciation for the finer things in life … like a perfectly grilled burger or steak, fried clams with the bellies and a martini with olives. For brainwashing you to stay on budget and never, ever pay a penny in interest to the credit card companies. For … for … a whole lot more.

And finally, it’s highly likely that the one thing your dad wants more than anything is to spend time with you. So get out your golf clubs or tennis racket, pull on your hiking boots or dust off your bicycle and enjoy an afternoon together. Share your favorite museum with him or ask him to bring you to his favorite antique car show. Take in a movie or a concert. Buy a great steak and a nice bottle of wine or whiskey and fire up the grill. Listen to his jokes and his stories, no matter how long or how many times you’ve heard them before. You know what your dad likes to do. Make him happy; do it with him.

Happy Father’s Day and bon appétit!

Grilled Steak with Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic & Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze
This Father’s Day (or any day for that matter), dress up dad’s favorite dinner with a tasty glaze and a trio of aromatic veggies. (While you’re add it, add a few Grilled Red Potatoes.) Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil
3- 3 1/2 pounds New York strip steaks, cut about 1 1/2-2 inches thick
1 pound fresh (peeled and trimmed) or frozen pearl onions
8-12 cloves garlic, trimmed and peeled
1 pound whole mushrooms, trimmed

Make the glaze: put the vinegar in small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil the over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from the heat, stir in the mustard, brown sugar, garlic, shallot, rosemary and thyme and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.

Transfer the vinegar to a bowl or jar, add the olive oil and whisk or shake until well combined. Make the glaze in advance or let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Whisk or shake again before using.

Spoon enough glaze onto both sides of each steak to lightly coat and let the beef sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

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

Put the mushrooms in a bowl, drizzle with enough glaze to lightly coat and toss to combine. Place the mushrooms cup-side up on the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden with nice grill marks. Turn and continue cooking until tender, about 5 minutes.

Put the onions and garlic in a bowl, drizzle with enough glaze to lightly coat and toss to combine. Transfer the onions and garlic to a grill basket and, stirring a few times, grill until tender and caramelized, about 5 minutes.

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 and let rest for about 5 minutes.

To serve: slice the steaks and arrange on a platter or individual plates. Surround the steak with the vegetables and, if you like, drizzle with additional glaze.

Cover and store extra glaze in the refrigerator

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

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

What about you? 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, 2017

Cinco de Mayo & Grilled Shrimp with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol

May 5th, better known as Cinco de Mayo, is this coming Friday. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Celebrated from coast to coast with tequila shots and tacos, it is an excellent excuse for a party. Perhaps you’ve been thinking that it would fun to have a totally authentic Cinco de Mayo celebration. You know, skip the queso dip and Macarena in favor of real Mexican flavors and dance steps. I get it. You want to a party like they do down in sunny Mexico.

Alright then, here’s what you do … nothing. Yup, that’s right. Absolutely nothing.

Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated in Mexico. Widely mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates an early victory in the Franco-Mexican War. The Battle of Puebla took place on May 5, 1862. The resulting victory was more than fifty years after Mexico declared its independence from Spain. In case you’ve forgotten, Mexico was a colony of Spain not France.

So indeed, our enthusiastic celebrations of Cinco de Mayo are somewhat akin to the Swiss celebrating the American victory against the British in the 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh. In case you’re wondering, they don’t. I know where Plattsburgh is but I doubt that too many of my Swiss friends do. I also know where Puebla is. Not because I’m a geography or history whizz but because I looked it up on a map a few minutes ago.

Regardless of whatever convoluted calculations or interpretations you might try to make, Cinco de Mayo adds up to being a mostly American holiday. I suppose that’s makes sense. After all, we are a nation of immigrants and many of our holidays reflect that. The Chinese New Year celebrates our ties with China. Everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day. Oktoberfest has found its way from Munich to Muncie and several other U.S. cities.

Now the question arises – how to celebrate? Well, you could find one of those 100-foot margarita bars, the kind that serves fruity cocktails in glasses the size of fish bowls. Alternatively, you could expand your horizons and spend the day learning something about Mexico. Listen to Mexican music, study Mexican artists, investigate true Mexican cuisine or get a better understanding of how our two economies can and do work together.

Complete your day with a Mexican-inspired celebration. Skip the taco chain restaurants for a more authentic experience. I’m not sure if you can find real Mexican food this far north but you can always try. Many of us dream that one of those absolutely wonderful Mom and Pop-type Mexican restaurant will miraculously appear close to home. So far, it hasn’t happened but one can always hope.

For now, invite a few friends over and try your hand at some Mexican-inspired dishes. Dinner outside in early May in New Hampshire is probably pushing it but cocktails on the porch might work. Set your table with a brightly colored cloth and flowers and think warm and sunny thoughts.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo y ¡buen apetito!

Oh, and by the way, Mexican Independence Day – it’s on September 16.

Grilled Shrimp with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol
Appetizer or main course, shrimp with spicy peanut sauce will make a delicious addition to your Cinco de Mayo feast. This smooth peanut sauce is also good with chicken. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Olive oil
3/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 onion, chopped
4 or more (to taste) dried arbol (also called bird’s beak) chiles, stemmed
1/2 teaspoon allspice
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2-3/4 cup chicken stock or broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime or to taste

Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion, peanuts and chiles, season with allspice, salt and pepper and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant, 2-3 minutes more.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Let the salsa cool for about 15 minutes, transfer to a blender and process until very smooth. Cool to room temperature, stir in the lime juice and serve.

The salsa can be prepared in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Grilled Shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
About 2 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes (optional)

Put the olive oil in a bowl, add the garlic, lime zest and juice and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

Heat the grill to medium-high. Place the shrimp directly on the grill or thread them onto the soaked skewers. Grill the shrimp, turning once, until just opaque, 2-4 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol.

The shrimp can be grilled in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Puffy Apple Pancake

Two Years Ago – Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa
Three Years Ago – Cheddar-Sage Biscuits
Four Years Ago – Lemon-Lime Squares
Five Years Ago – Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart)
Six Years Ago – Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt
Seven Years Ago – Black & White Brownies
Eight Years Ago – Rhubarb Muffins

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

What about you? How will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo and our southern neighbor on Friday? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Easter Brunch Special

If dinner is more your style, check out my trio of Greek, Italian and French inspired Easter Dinner menus.

Are you one of those people who would rather brunch than lunch or dinner for Easter? Brunch is a good idea if you want to free up the afternoon for a hike, a long bike ride or a nap. Regardless of how you spend the afternoon, I’ve got a great brunch menu for you to enjoy with family and friends.

When it comes to brunch, you can’t go wrong with a cheesy pie. Try my Quiche Lorraine, Spinach Ricotta Pie or Asparagus & Goat Cheese Tart.

Of course you’ll want a big bowl of berries … strawberries, blueberries and blueberries are delicious with a dollop of my Lavender Infused White Chocolate Cream or Creamy Lime Custard.

Next, add a scone or a pound cake or both. I love lemon anytime, especially in the spring. Give my Lemon Scones or Lemon Pound Cake a try.

Top it all off with a delicious cup of espresso or a cappuccino and your favorite cookie. How about Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti or Almond Macarons with Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache or both!

Have a lovely Easter and bon appétit!

What are your plans for Easter? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2017

Three Ways to Celebrate Easter Dinner Special

Brunch more your Easter game. Stay tuned … and come back tomorrow for a great brunch menu and lots more great recipes.

I’m not a fan of ham, so, if you come to my house for Easter, get ready for a delicious lamb dinner. If you are of like mind, I have a few ideas for a festive Easter feast. If you are dreaming of a sunny warm beach, try my Go Greek menu. Are you missing the rolling hills of Tuscany? Well then, Think Italian. However, if cozy sounds more like it, then warm up with my Cheery Bistro Dinner. Feel free to mix and match. Here you go!

Go Greek!
A Greek themed dinner is the perfect excuse to serve one of my all-time favorites – Spanakopita Triangles. Unless you prefer my Zucchini Pancakes with Tapenade … or both.

When you are ready to move to the table, enjoy my Green-less Greek Salad.
Lamb is a favorite at Easter in Greece.
My Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce will not disappoint. Serve the chops with Israeli Couscous and Grilled Asparagus.

End your feast on a sweet and light note with my Strawberries with Yogurt Cream.

Think Italian!
For starters, pass a platter or my Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp and/or
Mushroom Crostini.

Next, gather around the table and give my Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette a try.

For the main course, enjoy my Grilled Butterflied Lamb with Asparagus Risotto.

And for dessert … a bright and delicious Lemon Pound Cake with fresh strawberries!

Cozy Bistro Dinner
Forget the same-ol’ same-ol’ shrimp cocktail, you’ll love my Roasted Shrimp with Tarragon Aioli. If you like, add some fresh veggies, they will be delicious with the aioli. Don’t forget the Roasted Almonds and the hors d’oeuvres are done.

Cozy on over to the table and start dinner with my Asparagus & Radish Salad

Keep it cozy with warm and wonderful Lamb Shanks with Mushrooms & Pearl Onions and Decadent Cheesy Potatoes .

And top it all off with one of my favorite bistro desserts – a sweet and tart Lemon Tart.

Have a Happy Easter and great weekend! Bon appétit!

How will you celebrate Easter? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2017

Easter at Nana’s & Lemon Pound Cake

My grandmother was happy for any excuse to see her family. Thanksgiving, Independence Day, you name it. At her house or ours, in the dining room or backyard, she loved seeing her clan all together. So, after Mom and Dad built the little brown house in the New Hampshire woods, an early Easter became the bane of Nana’s existence. A March Easter increased the likelihood that we would be skiing instead of headed to Nana’s for baked ham, scalloped potatoes and green beans.

As much as we loved her and we truly did, Nana and her Easter ham could not entice us off the slopes. We’d be more than delighted to indulge in her scalloped potatoes and green beans once the snow was gone. For her part, although she liked to have her family around her table, Nana wasn’t fussy. She’d have come up to our house in the suburbs without hesitation. Why, she would have been more than pleased to bring the scalloped potatoes or a lemon cake or both. (New Hampshire was another matter. She preferred to visit the little house in the woods during the summer.)

When it came to cooking, Nana was old school and a true New Englander. She baked at least once a week or at least she did when her grandchildren were around. I can’t remember ever being at her house when there were not homemade cookies in the jar. My grandfather’s favorites were Hermit Bars and Molasses Cookies. She baked lots of pies, especially blueberry, as well as the occasional cake and pan of brownies.

Her kitchen was tiny, just large enough to hold the stove, refrigerator and the sink with flanking counters. Cheery, calico curtains hid the treasures inside the lower cabinets. The uppers were open and held mysteries not found in my mother’s kitchen. No, these shelves were not filled with exotic spices. After all, Nana was a classic New England cook. However, she had a glass jar of cream of tartar. It was not creamy and was nothing like the tartar sauce that came with our fried clams at the local fish shack. There was also a canister of cornmeal and jars of nuts and raisins, ground ginger, baking powder and a bottle of molasses. Not a single one of these obscurities could be found in my mother’s kitchen.

Apart from the countertops on either side of the sink, her only work space was a small table. My sister Brenda and I would sit at that table and ask her countless questions while she bustled about. My grandmother was a bustle-er. We were more than curious as to why she didn’t bake her cakes from a mix or buy her cookies ready-to-eat and lined up in a plastic tray. After all, that’s what our mother did.

Now, this was not the kitchen my dad grew up with, that one might have been larger but maybe not. The kitchen I connect with my grandmother was in their cozy retirement house on Buzzards Bay. Infrequent or not, it continues to amaze me that Nana prepared family dinners for eight, twelve or more in that tiny kitchen.

Although it might have happened at least once, maybe twice, I never saw even a hint of chaos when Nana cooked. When we arrived for dinner, Easter or otherwise, everything was under control and close to ready. The ham was roasting and the potatoes were bubbling in the oven. The beans were trimmed, snapped and ready for steaming. A lemony cake was sitting on the kitchen table and strawberries were ready in the refrigerator.

… and if Easter was early, well, there was always Mother’s Day. Bon appétit!

Lemon Pound Cake
Lemony cake with fresh berries is a bright and sunny dessert for Easter or any spring feast. Enjoy!
Serves 12

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the pans
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Grated zest of 2 lemons
2 1/4 cups sugar
Juice of 3 lemons
6 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
Whipped Mascarpone & Cream (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8×4 1/2-inch (6-cup) loaf pans.

Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the lemon zest and whisk again.

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until fluffy. With the mixer running on medium-low, add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Add the lemon juice and beat until smooth. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat again.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Increase the mixer speed and beat until just smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the top and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Cool to room temperature and serve with a spoonful of fresh strawberries and a dollop of Whipped Mascarpone & Cream

Whipped Mascarpone & Cream
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

Put the mascarpone, zest, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat until fluffy. With the mixer running, slowly add the cream and beat until well combined. Increase the mixer speed and continue beating until soft peaks form.

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One Year Ago – Lavender Scones
Two Years Ago – Calzones with Marinara Sauce
Three Years Ago – Chocolate-Espresso Cheesecake
Four Years Ago – Runners’ Chicken with Pasta
Five Years Ago – Steamed Artichokes with Bagna Cauda or Warm Lemon-Garlic Sauce
Six Years Ago – Death by Chocolate Cake
Seven Years Ago – Filet de Perche Meunière
Eight Years Ago – Chicken Provençal

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

What about you? How will you celebrate Easter this year? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

It’s a Patriots Super Bowl Weekend Special

New England is ecstatic. Tom Brady and the boys are in Houston for Super Bowl 51! Whether you’ve invited the entire neighborhood over or need to bring a dish to someone else’s party … here are a few delicious ideas.new_england_patriotsThe almighty apps … As in appetizers, not software for your smart phone. Here are a few favorites:

If it the Super Bowl, you gotta have a great dip. Try any or all of the following!
Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus
Artichoke Pesto
Barba Ganoush
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Warm Gorgonzola with Caramelized Onions & Walnuts

Don’t forget the wings! Roast them in the oven or get out the grill:
Spicy Tequila Chicken Wings
Hoisin Chicken Wings

Next, comes that football favorite … chili!  I’ve got something for everyone – carnivores to vegetarian:
Pumpkin Chili with Turkey & Black Beans
Pork & Black Bean Stew with Salsa Verde
Red Bean & Pork Chili
Chicken, Black Beans & Corn
Chili Con Carne
White Bean & Veggie Chili

Add something green. Add a little crunch with a great salad or slaw.
Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint and Peanuts
Jicama Slaw
Spicy Cucumber & Radish Salad
Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons

Finish it off with something sweet.
Chocolate Hazelnut Bars
Peanutbutter Brownies
Root ‘n’ Tooty Good ‘n’ Fruity Oatmeal Cookies

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, 2017