Plastic Pollution Solution & Lemony Tarragon Pistou

The snow is receding. The lumps of dirty snow that line my driveway are no longer ten feet tall. Cheery crocuses (or is it croci, I can never remember) are doing their best to pop up and greet the spring. They are not alone. Plastic bottles, cups and whatnots are popping up everywhere. Each layer of melting snow reveals more plastic.

Invented in 1907, plastic was a major modern breakthrough. Plastic is strong. It weighs almost nothing. It’s cheap. It comes in an endless rainbow of colors. If it slips your hands, it won’t land on the kitchen floor in a million pieces. A myriad of uses have been developed for this miracle product.

Unfortunately, this miracle has a decided downside. It is the gift that never goes away. Since its invention, the world has produced more than 9 billion tons of plastic. That’s the virgin, not the recycled, stuff. About 80 percent of it is in the landfill. That’s 5.5 billion, yes billion, tons of plastic. It can take decades, even centuries for plastic to decompose. That mountain of plastic will be sitting around for a long, long time.

Sunday is Earth Day. The first Earth Day in 1970 motivated millions of Americans to think and act differently. The passage of the Clean Air Act was an early victory. The work continued with the Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act and Superfunds to clean up hazardous waste sites. This year, the Earth Day Network is asking all of us to think and do something about plastic. They are asking us to be part of the plastic pollution solution.

We’re all guilty so let’s start with an inventory. To find out how plastic gets into the house, we need to check our pantries, cupboards, counters and garage. When and how do we use this not so miraculous product? At my house, it comes in with my groceries, especially in the winter. It holds fresh produce and milk, it is wrapped around meats and poultry and it holds nuts and grains. All that packaging adds up. The average American throws out about 185 pounds of plastic every year.

It doesn’t end there. My dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, lotion, shampoo and deodorant are packed in plastic bottles and jars. I have plastic storage containers. I love my lightweight prep and mixing bowls. Should I mention the half dozen pairs of cheap reading glasses with plastic frames and lens scattered around the house?

In the garage, the blade and handle of my snow shovel are plastic. Looking further, there are several buckets, the dishes I take to the beach in the summer and some adorable but very uncomfortable rain clogs. For heaven sake, even the fenders on the cars are plastic. Most of these things aren’t going anywhere soon. They will remain in the garage until they wear out or break.

For the earth’s sake, let’s all take one small step, maybe two. If you don’t already recycle, start. If you do just a little, do a lot. Even better, stop bringing plastic home. Think about shopping for need and not for entertainment. Image the free time you will have, the savings and the reduction in clutter. When you must shop, bring your own bags. Many, maybe most, of us bring bags to the supermarket. What about the hardware store, pharmacy and everywhere else? I’m also thinking it’s past time I bring re-usable bags to the produce aisle. One small step … maybe two, if we all do it, it adds up. And who knows? Maybe next year we can commit to a zero waste household.

Happy Earth Day and bon appétit!

Lemony Tarragon Pistou
Pistou, pesto and salsa verte – they are all variations of delicious herbs and olive oil. Pesto Genovese is the classic basil sauce, pistou is the French cousin. Fabulously French tarragon is perfect for an Earth Day sauce. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 cups

Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch or to taste chili pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups loosely packed tarragon leaves
1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Put the lemon juice, garlic and mustard in the bowl of a small food processor, season with the chili pepper flakes, salt and pepper and pulse to combine and finely chopped.

Working in batches, add the tarragon, parsley, chives and thyme and pulse to roughly chop. Add the olive oil, walnuts and lemon zest and pulse to combine. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to combine the flavors.

Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Freeze leftover pistou for future meals.

Serving Suggestions:

Drizzle Lemony Tarragon Pistou on any of the following:

Grilled, steamed or roasted asparagus, carrots, green beans, potatoes or zucchini
Grilled swordfish, salmon or shrimp
Roasted salmon, cod or shrimp
Steamed lobster
Grilled or roasted chicken or lamb

Add a spoonful or two of mayonnaise to 1/4 cup Lemony Tarragon Pistou for a creamy sauce for chicken, lobster or potato salad.

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One Year Ago – Asparagus Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette
Two Years Ago – Homemade Personal Pizzas
Three Years Ago – Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri
Four Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Grilled Ham & Swiss Cheese Sandwiches
Five Years Ago – Peanut-y Chocolate Chip Cookies
Six Years Ago – Thai Curried Shrimp and Green Beans
Seven Years Ago – Asparagus Risotto
Eight Years Ago – Fennel & Feta Salad
Nine Years Ago – Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak, Potatoes & Asparagus

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

Do you have a plastic pollution solution? Feel free to share!

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

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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

Olympic Fun Facts & Grilled Filets Mignons with Salsa Verde

rio-2016-logoHeld every four years in Olympia to honor Zeus, the ancient Olympics games had a pretty good run. For twelve centuries, athletes ran, jumped, threw javelins and raced chariots. The games went a bit haywire after the Romans conquered Greece. Nero, who is most famous for fiddling while Rome burned, cheated in the 67 AD games. In spite of falling off his chariot mid-race, he declared himself winner. It was downhill from there and the games met their demise at the end of the 4th century AD.

Happily for athletes and sports fans, the games were revived in 1896 with the first modern Olympics. Although there were forty-three different events at the 1896 games, there were no chariot races. The nine-day competition was packed with a multitude of track and field, cycling, fencing, shooting, tennis, weightlifting, wrestling and gymnastics events. Fourteen nations sent athletes to Athens for the games. More than 200 men competed but not a single woman. That omission was rectified at the second modern Olympiad in Paris in 1900.

A lot has changed since the first few Olympics. Here are a few fun facts about the Rio Games:

Rio 2016 is an Olympic first! Rio de Janeiro beat Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo to become the first South American city to host the games.

Part cat, part monkey and bird, Rio’s Olympic mascot has musical roots. He is named for Vinicius de Moraesis, one of the authors of the bossa nova jazz classic “The Girl From Ipanema.” Unlike some of the more bizarre and even downright frightening mascots of the past, Vinicius is cute in a colorful, cartoonish sort of way.

More than 11,000 athletes from 206 countries are expected to participate in Rio. Five hundred and fifty-four of those athletes make up the US Team.

For the first time men and women without a country will compete at the Olympics. A team of ten refugees will compete under the Olympic flag. The team includes runners from South Sudan, swimmers from Syria, judokas from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a marathon runner from Ethiopia.

Gymnastics, track and field, swimming, tennis, wrestling, boxing and weightlifting are just the start. The list of events may seem endless but there are actually 306. From the sands of Copacabana beach to the legendary Maracanã Stadium, the games will be held at thirty-two different venues.

By the way, rugby returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1924 and the US is the defending champion. Golf has waited even longer. It’s returning after more than a century. The last time golf was played at the Olympics was in 1904 in Saint Louis.

Of course, our hopes are high for US victories. Although geopolitics and shifting national boundaries have had an impact, the US is at the top of the charts with an all-time count of 2,681 medals.

A whole lot of cookin’ wi1l be goin’ on in Rio. Tens of thousands of meals will be prepared in the Olympic village every day. Athletes will discover Brazilian staples like black beans and rice and some of the best grillin’ they’ll ever eat!

Enjoy the games! Bon appétit!

Grilled Filets Mignons with Salsa Verde
Get out the bossa nova records and whip up a flavorful salsa for a jazzy new take on the backyard cookout. Enjoy!  Grilled_Filets_Mignons_w_Salsa_Verde_06
Serves 8

8 (4-6 ounce) filets mignons or your favorite cut of steak
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Salsa Verde (recipe follows)

Brush the filets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. (In hot weather, reduce the sitting time.) Preheat a charcoal grill to medium-hot or a gas grill to high.

Place the steaks on the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes, turn and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes more for medium-rare. Reduce the cooking time for rare and increase for medium. Transfer the filets to a platter or individual plates, top each with a generous spoonful of Salsa Verde and let rest for 5 minutes before serving with more Salsa Verde.

Salsa Verde
Serves 8

2-3 tablespoons or to taste sherry vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
3-4 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons or to taste minced jalapeno or serrano chili
1 teaspoon cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
About 1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
About 1 cup cilantro leaves
About 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Put the vinegar and lime juice in the bowl of a small food processor, add garlic and jalapeno, season with the cumin, salt and pepper and pulse to chop and combine. Add the olive oil and process until smooth. Add the lime zest, scallions and herbs and pulse to chop and combine. Let sit for 10-20 minutes before serving

Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

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One Year Ago – Corncakes
Two Years Ago – Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Cheese Quesadillas with Fresh Tomato Salsa
Three Years Ago – Summer Salad with Green Beans, Blueberries & Goat Cheese
Four Years Ago – Shrimp Salad Niçoise
Five Years Ago – Insalata Caprese
Six Years Ago – Mojito Melons
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Antipasto
Eight Years Ago – Nana Nye’s Fish Chowder

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

What are your favorite summer Olympic events? Feel free to share.

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

Another Summer Job Story & Grilled Swordfish with Tequila-Lime Butter

laundry Last week’s post  about my dad’s complicity in his youngest and only male child’s first job hunt raised a bit of commentary. Not least of which was the story’s co-star, my brother John. His take on the tale was, “Umm… lovely storytelling but factually incorrect. While I was fifteen, my first job was as a dishwasher at the Pleasant Lake Inn. Cricenti’s came later.” Proving once again, that our dad never lets the facts get in the way of a good story.

So what about my first summer job? When I hit Main Street to find employment, I was turned down time and time again. I finally hit pay dirt with an offer to become the evening attendant at the local laundromat. The job didn’t begin to excite me but I was more than happy to be done with the search. Nothing breeds fear and humiliation like asking for a job when you have no particular skills and even less experience.

Unfortunately, my mother didn’t buy into the whole laundromat thing. A 5:00 to 11:00 (that was p.m. not a.m.) workday was not what she had in mind. She made all sorts of worrying noises about working alone, late at night. I couldn’t fathom what unsavory characters she thought might fluff and fold on my watch. I certainly wasn’t worried. It was a small town and the few kids who might pass for delinquents hung out at the bowling alley a mile or so down the road. I figured the cleaners would be deserted most evenings. I imagined quiet, even dull, hours spent eating bonbons and reading mystery novels.

Looking back, I now realize Mom’s key goal for my summer job was to get me up, out of bed and moving every morning. Working the night shift at the cleaners wouldn’t come close to accomplishing that. No doubt, she had visions of me sleeping until noon every day. Oh, and since I was too young to drive, she’d be the one to pick me up most nights.

Whether it was true or not, I told her that there were no other jobs to be had in the entire town. It was the laundromat or tanning on the beach by day and watching snowy reruns on our television’s one channel by night. She must have believed me because, within a day or two, my parents had put their heads together and hatched a plan.

I would become an entrepreneur and run my own little business as the lunch lady at the neighborhood beach. It was weekends only so it wasn’t perfect but it kept me busy from Thursday afternoon through the weekend. Neither was it gourmet. The limited menu served up tuna, chicken or egg salad or a PB&J, on white or wheat, with a handful of chips. And of course there were brownies (from a box) for dessert as well as lemonade and ice tea. So desperate to keep me busy, Mom and Dad staked me the $25 or so needed for the first bag of groceries.

There was one wrinkle. There always is, isn’t there?

I had to take on a partner when another kid’s parents came up with exact same idea just minutes before mine. Unfortunately for me, this girl would never be accused of excessive speed or energy. Obviously smarter than me, she cheerfully dodge most of the work and still collected half the profits. For her part, Mom was delighted. My new partner was a few years older, had a driver’s license and could borrow her family’s station wagon for the weekly grocery run.

And me? I have no idea if I made much money but I learned a thing or two about customers, co-workers and how to move – fast. I also learned that I never, ever wanted to own a restaurant.

Here’s to all the lessons learned at summer jobs and bon appétit!

Grilled Swordfish with Tequila-Lime Butter
A lovely summer dish for family and friends. Enjoy!
Serves 4Grilled_Swordfish_Tequila-Lime_Butter_02

1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons triple sec or Grand Marnier
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1 1/2 pounds swordfish
Lime wedges and fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Put the tequila, citrus juices, triple sec and olive oil in a re-sealable plastic bag or shallow glass pan, add the ginger and onion, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the swordfish and marinate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium hot. Remove the swordfish from the marinade and place it on the grill. Depending on how thick it is, cook the fish for 5 minutes per side or until cooked through and still moist.

Remove the swordfish from the grill and immediately top with a generous pat of citrus butter. Let the fish sit for about five minutes, cut into thick slices and serve garnished with cilantro leaves and lime wedges.

Tequila-Lime Butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1-2 teaspoons tequila
Grated zest of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon or to taste cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the butter, tequila and lime zest in a bowl, season with cayenne, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Spoon the butter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, shape into a log and then wrap and roll into a cylinder. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Tequila-Lime Butter can be made in advance. Store the extra in the refrigerator or freezer and try it with grilled corn, on a freshly grilled steak or toss with grilled shrimp.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa
Two Years Ago – Grilled Red Potatoes with Lemon-Garlic-Herb Oil
Three Years Ago – Tandoori Chicken
Four Years Ago – Blueberry Muffins
Five Years Ago – Peanut Butter Brownies

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

What was your first summer job? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going. Click here to leave a comment.

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

Watch Out for the Food Police & A Duo of Aiolis

ketchup_bottleWhat do Pickles, Lollipop and Mr. Ed have in common? No, these are not the names of the top contenders for this year’s Triple Crown. Instead, they are just a few of the offenders in the Food Police’s hall of shame. So what villainous acts have these three and many more foul foods committed? How can they land you in the pokey or lighten your wallet with a hefty fine? Here goes:

Speaking of horses. No, Vicar’s in Trouble needn’t worry. He may have come in dead last at the Kentucky Derby but he won’t end up on tonight’s menu. Slaughtering horses for human consumption is illegal in the United States. However, trusty steeds may want to avoid France and even more so Italy – horsemeat is very popular in both these countries.

Moving on to tomatoes. Fearful that barbarians from New York would influence one of their proudest traditions, the clam chowder bill was brought before the Maine legislature in 1939. This bill made it illegal to add tomatoes to chowder.

With peanut allergies on the rise, many schools prohibit the inimitable PBJ to darken their cafeteria’s door. However, peanut bans are nothing new. It is illegal to buy a sack of peanuts after sunset in Alabama or eat them in church in Boston.

When it comes to children, you can’t be too careful. Kinder Eggs may be a childhood staple in Europe and Canada but they’ve been banned in the United States since 1938. For the uninitiated, a small toy is hidden in each of these hollow chocolate eggs. Fearing that the tiny treasures are a choking hazard, U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection seize tens of thousands of the sweet treats every year.

We are not the only ones to protect our kids. A few years ago, the French government banned school cafeterias from serving ketchup more than once a week. And then only as a condiment for pommes frites … or what we commonly call French fries. The ketchup ban has two goals: to promote healthy eating and protect traditional French cuisine.

Lucky for us, Clint Eastwood did a stint as mayor of Carmel, California. While in office, he made our day and repealed a law that forbade anyone from eating ice cream while standing on the sidewalk. That said, Kentucky, Alabama and New York prohibit carrying an ice cream cone in your pocket. Why anyone would want to carry an ice cream cone in their pocket is beyond me.

Although you can find them on most bank teller counters, lollipops are outlawed in Washington. On top of that, in Massachusetts, candy may not contain more than one percent alcohol. So forget the tequila-pops or bourbon-lollies in either state.

A pickle is not a pickle unless it bounces. At least that’s the case in Connecticut. Not to be outdone, it is illegal to throw pickle juice on the trolley in Rhode Island.

Be careful where you make reservations. Eating in a place that is on fire is against the law in Chicago. And please, don’t get cute if you decide to take out. Sending a bunch of pizzas to a friend without their knowledge will land you a $500 fine in Louisiana.

Before you quote any of the above, please note: tireless hours and exhaustive research have been unable to confirm or deny if these laws are still on the books or ever even existed in the first place.

Have fun and bon appétit!

A Duo of Aiolis
After you try a flavorful aioli with your burger or fries, you’ll never settle for ketchup again. They are also great with chicken, seafood and fresh, steamed or grilled veggies. Enjoy!

Sun-dried Tomato Aioli best_burger_01
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup drained and roughly chopped oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Pinch cayenne
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 cup or to taste mayonnaise

Put the sundried tomatoes, garlic, onion, mustard, olive oil and vinegar in a blender or small food processor, season with cayenne, salt and pepper and process until well combined and smooth.

Add the basil, parsley and mayonnaise and process until smooth. Cover and chill for an hour or more to combine the flavors.

Spicy Red Pepper Aioli
Makes about 2 cups

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon or to taste brown sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon or to taste sriracha or your favorite hot chili sauce
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup roughly chopped roasted and peeled red peppers
1 cup or to taste mayonnaise

Put the olive oil, garlic, scallions, brown sugar, lime juice and sriracha in a blender or small food processor, season with thyme, cumin, salt and pepper and process until well combined and smooth.

Add the lime zest, red peppers and mayonnaise and process until smooth. Cover and chill for an hour or more to combine the flavors.

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One Year Ago – Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Mushrooms & Mustard Sauce
Two Years Ago – Crunch Salad with Apples & Grapes
Three Years Ago – Grilled Mustard Pork Chops
Four Years Ago – Rhubarb Crisp
Five Years Ago – Spicy Grilled Steak
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Food or otherwise, do you have a favorite unusual, even weird law? 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

Beat the Heat & Watermelon & Cucumber Salsa

on_the_raft_with_the_setting_sunIt starts with the question, “Hot enough for ya?” If it’s New Hampshire in July, the comeback is quick, “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity.” In reality, it’s both. So how do you beat the searing heat and heavy humidity? Here are a few ideas:

1. Close the curtains and everything else too! If the air outside is hotter than the inside of your house, close the windows and doors and pull the curtains during the heat of the day. After sunset, open the windows and use a fan in reverse to suck the hot air out of the house. As soon as the house cools down, flip the fan for a nice breeze.

2. Stay out of the sun. If it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, you’ll fry too. Mellow out in the shade or on a breezy porch and think cool thoughts. Read or re-read Doctor Zhivago or Call of the Wild. Take a nap and dream of Antarctica.

3. Change your schedule. If you walk, run, play tennis or golf, do it in the early morning. Or take up swimming. Spend as much time as you can in the lake, ocean or pool.

4. Keep your own personal sprinkler handy. Fill a spray bottle with cold water and periodically give your face, neck and wrists a good spritz. Store the bottle in the refrigerator between uses.

5. Don’t forget to turn on the vent in the bathroom when you take a shower. The house doesn’t need any extra humidity.

6. Turn off the lights, computer and anything else that plugs into the wall. If it’s electrical; it’s generating heat. Use a clothes line instead of the dryer. Turn off the dishwasher after the rinse cycle and let the dishes air dry. Unplug the oven until the heat wave is over.

7. Dress cool in light and loose fabrics. Stick to white, cream and beige, pale grays, blues and greens. You’ll look great and the air can circulate around your body. Go barefoot.

8. Drink and drink some more. The more you perspire, the greater the danger for dehydration. Dehydration raises body temperature, making you even hotter. Keep a glass of ice water handy at all times. Be aware; while they may be refreshing, alcoholic, caffeinated and sugary beverages are dehydrating.

9. Eat lightand enjoy foods with high water content. Light and bright salads with lots of fresh fruits and veggies are a good bet. Fruits, especially watermelon, are the perfect dessert on a hot day.

10. Add some spice to life. Ever wonder why hot, spicy food is so popular in Mexico, India and the Middle East. Eating hot stuff cools you down. Chili peppers help you perspire. As the moisture evaporates, you get a bit of relief.

Stay cool and enjoy summer! Bon appétit!

Watermelon & Cucumber Salsa
This versatile salsa is delicious as an easy appetizer with tortilla or pita chip. It also makes a great sauce or side dish for grilled fish, chicken or pork. Enjoy!

Juice and zest of 1 limewatermelon_cucumber_salsa_02
1/2-1 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon or to taste minced jalapeno pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups diced watermelon
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint

Put the lime juice and zest, red onion, garlic and jalapeno in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil and whisk again.

Add the watermelon, cucumber and yellow pepper and gently toss to combine. Sprinkle with cilantro and mint and toss again. Chill the salsa until ready to serve.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Chicken Salad Provencal
Two Years Ago – Lobster with Corn, Tomato & Arugula Salad
Three Years Ago – Greek Green Beans
Four Years Ago – Blueberry Pie
Five Years Ago – Grilled Lamb
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you beat the heat? Feel free to share. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2013

Weber Knock-Off & Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa

grillSummer solstice, the longest day has come and gone. Fourth of July has been and done. We’ve suffered through the year’s first heat waves and survived more than our fair share of rain, rain and more rain. With temperatures in the eighties and nineties, sticky humidity and dramatic thundershowers, it is well and truly summer.

After a cold winter and a hectic spring, summer is a wonderful time to kick-back and relax. Dig out those flip flops or splurge on a fancy new pair, get some sunscreen and head to the beach. Perhaps you’ll test yourself. Are you still fit enough to swim to the Island or at least the raft? For a more leisurely lake tour, break out your kayak and drift by the loons. On those hot and hazy days, it’s best to fill a tote bag with books and enjoy a lazy afternoon snoozing and reading in the shade. Busy or relaxed, at the end of the day, it’s a time for stress free, no fuss picnic or cookout.

When I set up my first apartment it didn’t take long for me to assemble my list of culinary must-haves. A grill (along with a blender and fondue pot) was high on my list. My first grill was a hand-me-down hibachi. The good thing about a hibachi is it is indestructible. You can leave it out in the rain or kick it off a balcony or both. Heck, you can probably run it over with a steam roller. On the downside, the grill surface is so small it can barely handle a couple of burgers let alone a cookout for a crowd. For anyone who likes to entertain, it is no surprise that these tiny grills disappeared along with disco balls and fondue pots. But who knows, fondue keeps bouncing back, maybe the hibachi will make a comeback as well.

My second grill was a Weber knock-off. The grill was still pretty small and a bit rickety. However, the price was right so who was I to complain. I was living in Switzerland and that grill brought a little slice of Americana to Avenue de l’Ermitage. The knock-off played a starring role in many wonderful summer evenings. It was called into action for parties large and small; feeding as many as fifty people in a single night.

Tragedy struck when my father, visiting from the States, backed into the little grill with his rental car. We picked it up and wrestled it back into shape. Well, at least sort of. Good old Dad promised a replacement but got on a plane before making good on his pledge. Thrifty New Englander, I continued to use the injured grill for a couple more years. In spite of its wobbles, many splendid meals and evenings were enjoyed.

Eventually the rickety faux-Weber’s legs gave out. No amount of coaxing could convince it to straighten up and cook right. Sadly, the grill was retired to the curb on recycling day. A larger, shiny, new knock-off soon took its place. Not much sturdier than the first, I eventually switched to a gas grill. When I moved back to the States, the gas grill refused to emigrate. Luckily, some friends agreed to adopt it.

Once I made it back to Pleasant Lake, Dad ran out of excuses and had to make good on his promise. His housewarming gift was, you guessed it, a new grill. Although I’m busier than ever, I still try to find time for cookouts with family and friends.

I wish you a wonderful summer and lots of good grilling. Bon appétit!

Susan Nye writes, cooks and lives in New London. Visit her website at http://www.susannye.com to learn about her Eat Well – Do Good project. For cooking tips and more, you can check Susan out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/swnye or watch her cook at http://www.youtube.com/susannye. © Susan W. Nye, 2013

Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa
swordfish_olive_caper_salsa_01Delicious addition to your summer grilling repertoire. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1/2 cup pitted and roughly chopped olives – black oil-cured or a mix of your favorites
2 cloves garlic, minced
1scallion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash or to taste hot pepper sauce
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 pounds swordfish

Put the olives, garlic, scallion, capers, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, juice of 1/2 lemon, the pepper sauce and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Set aside.olive_caper_salsa_02

Preheat the grill to high heat.

Drizzle the swordfish with a little olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the fish for about 5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Remove from the grill and set on a large serving platter. Let the fish rest for about 5 minutes.

Cut the swordfish into thick slices and serve with olive and caper salsa.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Red Potatoes with Lemon-Garlic-Herb Oil
Two Years Ago – Tandoori Chicken
Three Years Ago – Blueberry Muffins
Four Years Ago – Peanut Butter Brownies
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend the Fourth of July? Filled with activities or lolling about? Maybe a bit of both! Feel free to share. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2013