Home for Lunch Bunch & Greek Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Last Tuesday, families were back at bus stops during my morning walk around the lake. It was the first day of school. Cell phones were in camera mode and working in overdrive. Most of the moms were wearing bigger and brighter smiles than the kids, much bigger and much brighter.

While my childhood was split between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, our Monday through Friday life was spent in suburbia. That’s where I went to school. It was a much different world from our northern New England paradise. For one thing, in square mileage, the town was half the size. However, the population was about fifteen, yes, fifteen, times greater.

In the spirit of the post-war building boom, houses were packed close together. Not reach out the window and shake your neighbor’s hand close but close enough. Instead of one regional elementary school serving a couple of towns, there were twelve neighborhood schools and no corner bus stops. From the first day of kindergarten until we finished the sixth grade, we walked to school.

These elementary schools were strategically located so that no child walked more than a mile. Or at least that was the theory. There were a few outliers. My friend Joy was one of them. Her street fell outside the one-mile radius of any school. Joy and kids like her had to tough it out, ride their bikes or hitch rides with their parents.

We actually walked to and from school twice a day. That’s right, we went home for lunch. As you might guess, that put quite a crimp in any parent’s day. But those schools were built in another time for another era. Most moms were stay at home; taking care of kids, house and husband. I’m sure there were a few exceptions but I never met any.

It didn’t seem to bother Mom much when my sister and I were little. She was always there when we bounced back and forth, to and from Fiske School. All the mothers in the neighborhood were on the same schedule. If they complained about it; we never heard. Then again, what seven-year-old pays attention to the hassles and inconveniences her mother might face?

Things changed a bit the year my brother started kindergarten. While the town had twelve neighborhood elementary schools, there was just one high school and one middle school. My sister was in her first year at the high school and I had just move up to the middle school. (We called it junior high back then.)

Anyway, our house fell within inches of the one-mile rule so, middle school or not, I still walked. My sister took the bus. But here’s the important part, neither of us went home for lunch. The school board figured that once you reached the ripe old age of twelve, you could handle a cafeteria.

On the other hand, my kindergartener brother was home every day at noon. It was about that time that my generally cheery mom started to talk about the home for lunch bunch. At twelve, I couldn’t help but notice the not-so-subtle note of irony in her voice. After all, this daily interruption and rush to be home had already been going on for ten years … and, there she was – looking at seven more.

Happy back to school and bon appétit! 

Greek Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

You don’t need to roll out the grill for this grown up version of a childhood favorite. Next time zucchini is on the menu, grill up some extra for tomorrow’s lunch. Enjoy!

Makes 4 sandwiches

  • About 1/2 red onion, cut in thin wedges
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Dash or to taste hot sauce
  • 1-2 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • Butter
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta
  • Black oil-cured or Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

Preheat the grill to high.

Put the onion and garlic in a bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Put the vegetables in a grill basket and, stirring from time to time, grill on high until tender crisp.

Return the vegetables to the bowl, fish out the garlic clove, add the hot sauce and toss to coat. Finely mince the garlic, add it back to the onion and toss again.

Meanwhile, brush the zucchini halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the zucchini until nicely browned and tender, 3-5 minutes per side. Remove the zucchini from the grill and finely chop. Add the zucchini to the onion and toss to combine.

Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread. Set half the bread slices in a skillet – you’ll probably need to work in batches or use 2 skillets. Spread a dollop of grilled vegetables on each slice and sprinkle with mozzarella, feta and olives. Top with the remaining bread slices, butter side up. Cover the skillet and cook on medium low until the bread is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Flip the sandwiches and cook until the cheese has melted and the second side is golden, about 5 minutes.

Cut the sandwiches into wedges and serve.

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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019


Happy Anniversary & Grilled Lamb with Fresh Mint

A few weeks ago, I passed a rather odd anniversary. It got lost in the general busyness of life and thoughts of Mother’s Day. I’m sorry to say that there was no cake or champagne. This is just wrong, especially since there were actually two anniversaries. Although I am not positive of the exact date, the first is simple. I moved to Switzerland on May 10 but it could have been the 8th or maybe the 9th. It was definitely a weekday because the traffic to Logan Airport was awful. The second is the slightly odd one. I have been back in the US for sixteen and a half years. It may seem a funny time to celebrate but this anniversary means that I have been back as long as I was away.

I write often of my time as an expatriate. It started with an internship. After the eight week project, I somehow or other forgot to come home. My repatriation date is easy to remember. It was one day before the 2000 election. Yes, I returned to the recount in Florida and the hanging chad debacle. If that wasn’t enough, for only the fourth time in history and the first time in more than a century, the president did not win the popular majority. So, in case you are wondering, yes, I did scratch my head and think, “What the heck have I come back to!?”

Now, why in the world would I think this odd anniversary is significant? Well, I can no longer say that I have spent most of my adult life living abroad. My time in Switzerland was and forever will be a remarkable experience, one that shaped me to the core. Not only did I live in Geneva but for many of those years, I managed a business that stretched from the tip of Africa to the Sea of Japan. An amazing time, it was the early days of post-apartheid as well as the post-perestroika and glasnost era.

My sales team was a great melting pot bubbling with more than a dozen nationalities, a raft of different languages and a whole host of religious traditions. Some young, some not so young, we were smart and strong men and women from vastly different circumstances with vastly different windows of opportunity. It was a great job. Not just because there were lots of wins (salespeople love wins!) but because it was a team of champions.

Diversity is a wonderful thing. There may be strength in numbers but we are even stronger when those numbers bring a vast and rich variety of experience. Sure, there is a certain comfort in sameness. Why else would we gravitate to mac and cheese or meatloaf and mashed potatoes when we’re feeling low? These are the foods of our childhood and as familiar as a comfortable, old shoe.

This group from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa were not comfortable old shoes. In fact, they were quite the opposite. Together, we embraced change and made things happen. We did our best to exchange ideas and tear down obstacles. We thought strategically and then executed well. We didn’t worry about flawless. Sometimes we stumbled, sometimes we bumbled but we always made good things happen. Together, a group of talented individuals built a winning team. We measured our success in customer delight, revenue, profits, growth and employee satisfaction. Oh, and by the way, I can assure you that this spectacular team never got tired of winning.

As much as I love my life today, I sometimes miss that other half of my adult life. I don’t miss the constant travel or even for the excitement of closing a deal. I miss those remarkable individuals who came together and became a team. But not to worry, the adventures continue! Last November, I celebrated another anniversary. By some strange coincidence, it was overshadowed by another election. Anyway, ten years ago last November, I began a newspaper column that continues to this day.

Thank you for reading and bon appétit!

Grilled Lamb with Fresh Mint
Lamb is popular in and around Geneva as well as throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. It is great for a celebration of family and friends. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4-5 cloves garlic
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
3-4 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Dash or to taste Harissa
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
About 2 cups dry red wine
3-4 pounds trimmed, boned and butterflied lamb
1 bay leaf

Put the garlic, onion, fresh chopped herbs, lemon juice and zest, mustard, honey and harissa in the bowl of a food processor or blender, season with salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Add about 1/2 cup wine and process until smooth. Add the remaining wine and process until well combined.

Put the lamb in a large, heavy-duty, plastic, re-sealable bag. Add the marinade and bay leaf and seal the bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate the lamb in the refrigerator, turning every few hours, for at least 6 hours. Overnight is better.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium high.

Remove the lamb from the marinade and place it on the grill. Turning it once or twice, grill until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers at 120 for rare and 130 degrees for medium, 20 to 30 minutes.

Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice the lamb and serve.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Two Years Ago – Greek Salad with Grilled Shrimp
Three Years Ago – Asparagus & Radish Salad
Four Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Five Years Ago – Asian Noodle Salad
Six Years Ago – Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart
Seven Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Burger
Eight Years Ago – Strawberry Rhubarb Soup

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

What about you? Do you have an interesting past life? Feel free to share!

A Memorial Day Cookout & Crostini with Red Pepper Tzatziki & Greek Salad

grilled_pork_chopOfficial or not, New England kicks off summer on Memorial Day weekend. The sky can be gray, rain may fall and the black flies can be vicious. It doesn’t matter. We New Englanders are a tough breed. If it’s wet, we’ll throw on a raincoat. If it’s dry, we’ll roll down our sleeves and slather on the bug repellent. Summer is short so please excuse us if we want to get an early jump on the season.

The best way to take a flying leap into summer is a cookout. So what if gale winds are whipping across the lake, it’s time to get your grill on. Call your friends, your family and neighbors and have a ball. Now, it’s been awhile so before you pick up the phone, here are a few essentials to help make your Memorial Day cookout memorable … in a good way.

Check the propane tank or buy a new bag of charcoal. Nothing puts the damper on a cookout faster than charcoal that refuses to light after sitting in a puddle in the garage all winter. Same goes for an empty propane tank. Gas grillers, if you don’t have a spare tank – think about investing in one. It’s a trick that I learned from my dad. That spare has saved the party more than once.

While you are routing around in the garage for the grill, find your cooler and give it a good scrub. Ditto for the outdoor furniture. How’s that for an added bonus? A Memorial Day cookout is a great motivator for getting the porch ready for summer.

Devise your menu. It’s a patriotic holiday so you may opt for traditional burgers and dogs. Even if you do, you can push the envelope with some interesting appetizers, sides and sweets. Sure, you can pick up a container of humus, a quart of potato salad and a sheet cake at the supermarket but it will taste like supermarket humus, potato salad and sheet cake. Perhaps I’m prejudice but I can’t help but believe that homemade not only tastes better; it’s better for you. When you make it yourself, you control the fat, sugar and salt. In addition, your dinner won’t be loaded down with preservatives or artificial ingredients.

While everyone likes them, as far as I know, there is no rule that says burgers and dogs are de rigeur for Memorial Day weekend. Show off your cosmopolitan flair and culinary prowess with dishes from around the world. Perhaps you’d like to try a Provençal picnic, Korean barbecue or even pizza on the grill. After all, we are a melting pot nation.

Take it up a notch. You may be tempted to load a case of America into the cooler. (In case you missed it, America is the temporary new name for Budweiser.) The timing is right; Bud’s newly rebranded cans hit the shelves yesterday. But, c’mon, you know you can do better. New England is the center of the universe when it comes to microbreweries. Okay, maybe not the center of the universe but we have more than our fair share of local, artisanal brews. Splurge a little and serve some of the best beer New England has to offer.

beach_binGo casual, pretty and green. It’s a cookout. There’s no need to break out the good china. Or any china or glassware for that matter. You can find colorful, reusable plastic dishes at your favorite department, discount or craft store. Okay, so maybe it’s not as easy as throwaway plates and glasses. But think of the trees you’ll save not to mention the landfill. Complete your table with a pretty tablecloth and pots of geraniums. You know you are going to buy geraniums anyway. Use them for your picnic table this weekend and plant them by the front door on Tuesday morning.

Enjoy the long weekend and bon appétit!

Crostini with Red Pepper Tzatzik & Greek SaladCrostini_w_Red_Pepper_Tzatzik_Greek_Salad_03
A delicious small bite, these crostini will be even better when local tomatoes are available. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 dozen crostini

1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 roasted red pepper, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon or to taste sriracha
1 pint cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1-2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
16 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
Red wine vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal and toasted or 6 small pita, quartered and toasted
About 6 ounces feta, crumbled

Make the tzatziki: put the cucumber in a fine mesh sieve, sprinkle liberally with salt and let drain for about 30 minutes. Rinse the cucumber, drain well and pat dry with a clean dishtowel or paper towels.

Put the yogurt, roasted pepper, garlic, herbs and sriracha in a food processor and process until smooth.

Put the cucumber and yogurt mixture into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Make the salad: put the tomatoes, arugula, olives and scallion in a bowl, drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons each vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Assemble the crostini: spread a dollop of tzatziki onto each slice of toasted baguette, top with a generous spoonful of salad and sprinkle with feta. Serve immediately.

You can assemble the crostini and pass or set everything out let your guests assemble.

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One Year Ago – Ginger Shortcakes with Rhubarb Compote
Two Years Ago – Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Two Years Ago – New Potato Salad Dijon
Four Years Ago – Asparagus Crostini with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Goat Cheese
Five Years Ago – Wheat Berry Salad
Six Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Burger
Seven Years Ago – Strawberry Rhubarb Soup

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

How will you spend the long holiday weekend? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

June – Time to Celebrate & Greek Salad with Grilled Shrimp

And so it begins, June – a month filled with rites of passage, transitions and promise. Pomp and circumstance will fill the air when graduates march from the high school one last time. Bevies of nervous brides will walk down the aisle to meet their just-as-nervous grooms and tie the knot. Families and all their earthly possessions will take to the road for a new life in a new home. Temperatures (and humidity) will inch up and up, proving once again that there really is summer in New Hampshire.

Along with those momentous occasions and wonderful warm weather comes the promise of parties, picnics, freshly squeezed lemonade and local strawberries. But what if there are no smiling graduates or beaming brides in your family this summer? What do you have to celebrate? Hhhmmmm.

Well, today is National Rocky Road Day. This well-loved ice cream got its name soon after the stock market crash of 1929. With the country in depression, the inventor hoped his new flavor would raise a smile on the difficult road to recovery. I suppose an ice cream social would not be amiss; perhaps even obligatory.

National Yo-Yo Day is coming up on Saturday. You could always organize a neighborhood tournament. Unless, you decide to forgo yo-yos in favor of the track, Saturday is also the running of the Belmont Stakes. With American Pharoah two-for-two on his quest for the Triple Crown, it’s a good time to whip up a batch of Belmont Breeze and invite friends over to see if history will again be made. Of course you could combine the two. The race only takes a few minutes, leaving you plenty of time to Walk the Dog and Shoot the Moon.

Sunday is National Donut Day. Although she couldn’t boil water, my father swears that his grandmother was the world’s best donut maker. Although she left a few clues, Nana Slack did not leave her recipe behind. Perhaps I should celebrate the day by trying to recreate her amazing donuts.

Later in the month, we have National Ballpoint Day on June 10th. I suppose we could all go to the bank and make off with a stash of pens. I think I’ll give that one a pass. National Picnic Day on June 18th sounds like a lot more fun. School lets out about that time. Why not celebrate the last day of school with a trip to the coast or lake and a picnic?

On the 21st you can take your pick and celebrate the Summer Solstice or Father’s Day or both. Enjoy the longest day with another picnic. This time, your feast should include Scandinavian delights like gravlax and lingon berries. Fresh lingon berries are more or less impossible to find outside of Scandinavia but you can probably find some jam at IKEA or on line.

If you have little ones at home or visiting, you can’t go wrong with National Fairy Day on June 24th. Spend the afternoon building fanciful Fairy Houses. Start with a walk in the woods to collect twigs, bits of bark and moss, acorns and stones for your whimsical constructions. Find a quiet and cozy spot to build your house (or neighborhood of houses) and put it all together. Finish off the afternoon with a scrumptious tea party with strawberry shortcakes.

Here’s hoping that your June is full of delights and surprises. Bon appétit!

Greek Salad with Grilled Shrimp
Whether your picnic is in the backyard or miles from home, everyone will love this classic summer salad. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 small red onion, cut in half horizontally and then into thin wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
About 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes (in a mix of different shapes and colors if you can find them), halved
1 European cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
8 ounces feta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
16-20 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2-4 pita breads, quartered

Put the onion and garlic in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with vinegar and toss to combine. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and toss again. Stirring occasionally, let the onions marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Put the tomatoes and cucumbers in a bowl, sprinkle with the herbs and toss to combine. Add the onions and olives to the tomatoes and cucumbers and toss to combine. Add the feta and gently toss to combine.

To serve: transfer the salad to a large, deep serving platter or individual plates and top with shrimp and a wedge or two of pita.

Grilled Shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
About 2 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
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, lemon zest and juice and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp, sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and up to about 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, about 2-4 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. The shrimp can be grilled in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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One Year Ago – Asparagus & Radish Salad
Two Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Three Years Ago – Asian Noodle Salad
Four Years Ago – Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart
Five Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Burger
Six Years Ago – Strawberry Rhubarb Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What will you celebrate this month? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Is-It-Spring-Yet Weekend Special

chairliftOops! I am more than a bit late posting a menu for the weekend. I couldn’t help it. We’ve just had two beautiful days … blue sky and warm temperatures. I couldn’t help myself, the ski slopes were calling my name. Can you blame? Not only is the mountain closing on Sunday but rain is in the forecast. In fact, the rain has already started.

I’m thinking a Greek-inspired menu would work well with this week’s grilled lamb chop recipe.

How to start? You could try my favorite Spanakopita Triangles. Unless you prefer my Greek Stuffed Mushrooms. Sip ouzo or a dry white wine and ignore the rain.

What about dinner? It’s not too early to drag the grill out of the garage or snowbank. My Grilled Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce sound good. Serve them with Grilled Asparagus and Couscous.

And dessert? The maple syrup has finally started to flow. It may not be Greek or Greek-inspired but my Maple Mousse with Apple Compote is delicious. Unless you are in the mood for my Chocolate-Orange Tart.

With any luck, the rain won’t wash away the last of the snow and we can have one last ski day on Sunday. If not, well, stay dry and have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

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

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

Pranks, Tricks & Scams & Grilled Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce

susie_brendaApril Fools Day is a fun, harmless holiday, filled with silly jokes and foolish pranks. When we were little, my sister Brenda was the master when it came to practical jokes. From time to time, I assisted her, playing Betty to her Veronica or maybe it was closer to Boo Boo and Yogi. More often than not, I was either oblivious to her antics, caught up in some adventure or misadventure of my own, or her clueless victim.

Brenda is a few years older than I am and, from about the age of eight or nine, was a clever prankster. She had no trouble thinking ahead and meticulously planned her little scams. I, on the other hand, was the ditzy sister. An optimist or romantic might say I was living in the moment; a practical parent might call it living in the clouds.

Not just a planner, Brenda had an uncanny knack for keeping a straight face as she deftly pulled the wool over her hapless victim’s eyes. If I somehow managed to pull off a prank, I was much too excited and pleased with myself to keep it quiet for long. My uncontrolled giggling was a sure sign I had a secret to share. Not my sister, she could think ahead, execute flawlessly and then innocently look her victim in the eye until she decided to unveil her sometimes dastardly, sometimes hilarious deed.

She had a long running prank with our much younger brother. When John was about two, she convinced him that she had a twin sister, Eleanor. Eleanor did not spend a lot of time at home but on boring afternoons when John was being a particularly pesky toddler, she would appear out of nowhere. She calmly sent John all over the house and yard to find first one fictitious twin and then the other. The prank went on for a long time but I never saw my sister snicker, giggle or do anything to give herself away.

Like most children, we had our list of daily chores. We made our beds, cleaned our rooms and set and cleared the dinner table. When we got a little older, we also did the dishes. Brenda hatched a few of her best pranks while stacking the dishwasher. Switching the salt and sugar were standard April Fools fare but she never played her best pranks on April 1st. One spring evening it was much too nice to stay inside so I skipped out of the dish detail. Hours later I discovered Brenda’s sweet revenge; a cold, little nest of spaghetti in the bottom of my bed. And yes, I dreamt of worms, both that night and a few more.

Even under her tutelage, I never developed Brenda’s skill for practical jokes. However, I did develop a bit of talent for tall tales. Tired of being mocked for my little feet, I once I wove an elaborate story of how my parents were missionaries and I grew up in China. I explained that out of respect for local custom my feet were bound as a child. I managed to tell the story with total sincerity and was surprised at how easy it was to dupe my tormentor. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I felt guilty and fessed-up pretty quickly. My childhood, while happy, was far from exotic. I grew up in a Boston suburb and had never been to China. Besides foot binding was outlawed long before I was born.

With winter dragging on and on it looks like Mother Nature has been pulling a prank on us. March came in like a lion and went out like a lion. We can only hope that she is feeling a little guilty and packs April with warm days and sunny skies. And if we can’t have warm days, can we please, at the very least, have sunny skies.

Bon appétit!

Grilled Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce
Grilled_Lamb_Chops_Lemon-Mint_Sauce_04Assuming you can dig the grill out of the snowbank, there is nothing foolhardy about these delicious grilled lamb chops and flavorful yogurt sauce. Enjoy!
Serves 6

Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
4 cloves garlic
1 shallot, roughly chopped
About 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1-1 1/2 cups dry red wine
About 3-3 1/2 pounds lamb chops (1-2 large or 2-3 small chops per person)
1 bay leaf
Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)

Put the citrus juices, garlic, shallot, mint, thyme, mustard and honey in a blender, season with salt and pepper and pulse to combine and chop. Add a little wine and process until smooth. Slowly add the remaining wine and process until well combined.

Put the lamb chops and bay leaf in a large, heavy-duty plastic, re-sealable bag, add the marinade and seal the bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate the lamb in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight, turning a few times.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. The fire should be medium hot.

Shaking off the excess marinade, remove the lamb from the plastic bag and place on the grill. Grill until medium rare, 2-3 minutes per side for small chops and 3-5 minutes for larger. Remove from the grill and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serve the lamb with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce.

Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Cover and chill for an hour or more to combine the flavors.

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One Year Ago – Confetti Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Two Years Ago – Magret de Canard Provencal
Three Years Ago – Strawberry & White Chocolate Fool Parfaits
Four Years Ago – Grilled Lamb & Lemon Roasted Potatoes
Five Years Ago – Spicy Olives
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you have a favorite practical joke, prank or scam? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

Anticipation Turns to Despair & Zucchini Pancakes

Pleasant_Lake_Winter_Mist_02Oh, that fickle Möûll! Once again, the Viking snow goddess has all but ignored us. To make matters worse, she delivered a beautiful blanket of white to the west and north. For days, meteorologists were almost dancing with excitement. They promised up to a foot, no eighteen inches, wait, make that two feet of snow. Snowmageddon was coming! The news filled skiers with joyful anticipation. The kind of anticipation that makes it difficult to think, read, write, eat or sleep. Restless but with hope in our hearts, we searched the sky for clouds and the first flakes.

Finally, exhaustion took over and we fell into bed. We dreamed of snow but woke to rain. Yes, that steady pitter-patter on the skylight was cold, miserable rain. As the day slipped into midmorning, always the tease, Möûll offers a glimmer of hope. No not sunshine, but the rain turned to big, fat flakes of snow. Optimism and goodwill abounded in this skier’s heart. It didn’t last long, my high hopes were dashed an hour or two later when those big, fat flakes turned back to rain.

Yet again, anticipation turned to despair. During one of the coldest winters in history, it rained and rained some more. Sometime in the middle of the night, the temperature finally plummeted and snow began to fall. Too little, too late, we missed out on the foot or more so eagerly promised by the weatherheads. What little snow we had, piled up into massive drifts under the force of twenty-five-mile-an-hour winds. Yes indeed, after a miserable wet day, the dreaded polar vortex returned.

To summarize, here’s what we got: first lots of rain, followed by not much snow and, finally, adjusting for wind-chill, seriously cold, way-below-zero temperatures. So Möûll, to borrow a phrase from Bob Dylan, what did we do to offend you?

And just like that the answer came to me. Obviously, we are not following the six easy steps to ensure a snow day. It’s something that most kids know but do you? Here goes:

1. Do your very best snow dance. Nothing halfway, dance like no one is watching!

2. Do your homework. Whatever the commitment, act like it will happen and prepare as usual. If it’s book club, read the book. If it’s an important sales call, review your pitch. Volunteering at the thrift shop, fill the car with that load of gently worn clothing. If you have kids, make sure they do their homework too.

3. Flush at least six ice cubes down the toilet. More if you are really serious, which you should be. (Stick to six if you have temperamental plumbing. In any case, if you end up with a problem, don’t call me, call your plumber.)

4. Wear your pajamas inside out and backwards. You must do both, inside out and backwards, or the charm doesn’t work. If you work from home, keep those jammies on all day.

5. Brush your teeth with the opposite hand.

6. Sleep with a spoon under your pillow.

I don’t know why or if these steps work but kids across the northeast swear by them. The penalty for not following these six simple rules; the storm will blow to the north or south and miss us or fall as rain. If you hate the snow, don’t worry, we’ll be putting away our skis in early April. After that, we can all beseech Idun or Freya, Artio, Brigit, Flora or Persephone for sunny days and the first flowers.

In the meantime, dream of snow and bon appétit!

Zucchini Pancakes
Wonderfully versatile, serve these pancakes as a main course or appetizer. They’re delicious at dinner with pasta or for lunch with a fresh, green salad. Alternatively, make smaller, one or two bite pancakes for your next cocktail party. Enjoy!
Makes about 24 cocktail-sized pancakes or 12-16 large pancakeszucchini_pancakes_01

1 1/2 pounds zucchini, coarsely shredded
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped, fresh mint
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon or to taste hot sauce
Olive oil
Garnish: Tapenade and/or sour cream or yogurt

Make the Tapenade and let is sit for at least a couple of hours to mix and meld the flavors. Click here! for the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Put the zucchini in a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and toss to combine. Let the zucchini sit for 5 minutes, squeeze out as much liquid as possible and transfer the zucchini to a large bowl. Add the scallions, garlic and herbs, season with pepper and toss to combine.

Whisk the baking powder into the flour. Add the flour and cheeses to the zucchini and toss to combine. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk in the hot sauce. Add the eggs to the zucchini and stir to combine.

Heat a little olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, working in batches add spoonfuls (a small ice cream scoop works well) of zucchini batter to the skillet and fry for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden and cooked through.

Drain on paper towels, transfer to an ovenproof platter and place in a 200 degree oven to keep warm. Serve with small dollops of sour cream or yogurt and/or tapenade.

The pancakes can be made in advance and reheated on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.

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Print-friendly version of the Tapenade recipe.

One Year Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Two Years Ago – Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons
Three Years Ago – Grilled Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Four Years Ago – Linguine with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Roasted Eggplant
Five Years Ago – Fettuccine with Classic Bolognese Sauce
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What are your thoughts on the record cold and, in some parts of the country, record snowfall? Feel free to share. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good.

© Susan W. Nye, 2014