Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Olives and Feta

A simple orzo salad with tasty colorful summer produce of zucchini and tomatoes, tossed with olives and feta cheese. Delicious and healthy!

Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Olives and Feta

Happy July 4th! Of course, this blog post is pre-recorded, so you’re probably reading this on July 6th, (or August 23rd if you’ve just got around to cleaning out your spam folder. Not judging!), but as we write this, it is a wonderfully sunny and warm July 4th, and we’re all sitting in the garden, grilling burgers and drinking beers – the sound of laughter and ball games percolates across the neighborhood, fireworks are starting down by the Hudson River and … Okay, I can’t keep this up, it’s pissing down, it’s been storming heavily for two days straight, the garden is basically flooded, and the only people enjoying a ball game are the German World Cup team. We’re sitting in our living room eating dry crackers and watching a Star Trek: Next Generation marathon (in between World Cup matches, of course). We downloaded a firework app on our iPad. Wheeeee. Look, that one’s in the shape of a hot dog. Happy now? Are you? Are you happy? *Sobs*

Tomorrow (yesterday for you) will be (was) sunny and warm, so fireworks, grilling, drinking and general merriment has been postponed a day. But here’s the thing. Some dishes are better prepared the day before, and left to marinade for a day. And, lucky us, this orzo salad is one of them.
Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Olives and Feta

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Miso-Ginger Grilled Eggplant

Grilled eggplant – or aubergine – is kicked up with a miso ginger glaze before grilling or broiling. This is our favorite tasty addition to a barbecue party. 

Miso-Ginger Grilled Eggplant

Do you like eggplant? (Or, as my fancy European husband calls it, “aubergine”; oh, la de dah.) I really like eggplant. In fact, until recently, I had no idea that so many people really, really, really hate it. I know, shocking! (I’m easily shocked).

If you find yourself in the “hate” camp, might I respectfully suggest that maybe you just haven’t found the right recipe yet? (I’m a total hypocrite because celery is my Kryptonite and there is nothing and no one that will make me change my mind about that).

But we’re talking about you here. Don’t try to change the subject.

To be fair, it can be a little tricky to work with. If you’ve ever tried to cook eggplant with very little oil (I have), it becomes tough and leathery. No thanks. If you use too much oil, it can be greasy and heavy. Also no thanks.

That’s why I either like to roast it in a hot oven or, even better, grill it. Both methods work well because you can control exactly how much oil to use, allowing it to become tender and charred, without soaking up cups of oil. We’d like to show you our favorite way to make grilled eggplant.

Let’s talk about the sauce – or properly, a glaze, with the flavors of miso and ginger. For me, the pairing of eggplant and miso is one of those perfect things. It’s like peanut butter and jelly (or peanut butter and chocolate, for that matter). Hey, now I want peanut butter.

In winter months, I roast eggplant in the oven, brush on the miso glaze and then run it under the broiler until it caramelizes. Now that it’s grilling season, it’s even easier. And there you go: grilled eggplant for a BBQ side or a light lunch. The next time you have a barbecue party, invite us over and you know what we’ll be bringing!

Miso-Ginger Grilled Eggplant

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Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

These pickled radishes are my go-to if I’m making tacos, quesadillas, or really any kind of  sandwich. They are so quick and easy and are just the perfect thing to perk up anything slow-roasted or long-simmered. Best of all, they’re ready in under an hour and last for weeks.

We aren’t ardent picklers, but we do have two favorites: quick-pickled red onions, and these tangy babies. You can also add herbs (I like thyme, bay leaf and tarragon best), chili flakes or whole dried chilies for spice.  I had a big tin of pink peppercorns that I picked up from Sahadi’s last time I was there so I added them as well.

Black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds
Black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds

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Chard, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart

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When my gorgeous sister-in-law Hayli and her delightful husband Tristan got married in France a couple of summers ago, Matt and I spent a week at a gîte (french farmhouse) with his family and a mad gaggle of their international friends. It was a delightful mixture of cultures, languages and food with English, French, Belgian, Irish (and one slightly befuddled American).

Each night of the week, different groups of people would cook for the whole gîte (seriously, I think there were about 40 people in all). On our night, Matt and I along with a few co-cooks made baked pastas. I think one was a creamy wild-mushroom rigatoni and the other was a cheesy tomato penne type of thing. Not fancy but cooking for 40 people in a strange kitchen is HARD. I think between shopping, prepping and baking it took about 15 hours (okay, I may be exaggerating a teeny bit but it was seriously exhausting).

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