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cooking cove

Asian Style Green Beans. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

If you think this column is going to be about that ubiquitous traditional casserole made with green beans, cream of mushroom soup and French fried onion rings, it’s not. It’s going to be about fresh green beans, aka string beans, young and slender and just off the vine because green beans, like so many other veggies, just taste so different, so much better when they’re fresh picked, and now is the season to take advantage of that. 

You can make them part of a Ligurian pasta dish with potatoes and basil or you can just douse them with lemon juice and olive oil or toss them into a salade Nicoise. You can do the old standby, green beans almandine, or an Asian stir-fry. Or you can try them sautéed with cherry tomatoes, or with hazelnuts and citrus zest or dipped in batter and fried, or even left raw and dunked in your favorite dip.

Pasta with Pesto, Green Beans and Potatoes

YIELD: Makes 8 servings as first course, 4 servings as main course.


2 1/3 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup pignoli nuts

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup or more extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup or more freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into one-inch lengths

1 pound spaghetti or linguine


In the bowl of an electric food processor, combine the basil, pignoli nuts, garlic, oil, cheese, and salt and pepper; process, scraping bowl often, until a smooth consistency is achieved. To a large pot of boiling salted water add the potatoes and cook until they are not quite al dente, about 5 to 8 minutes; add green beans and continue cooking until potatoes are tender and beans are bright green and tender, about another 5 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove potatoes and beans and set aside to keep warm; when potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into one-inch cubes. To the potato and green bean water add the pasta and cook according to package directions; drain, transfer to large bowl, add vegetables and pesto and toss to coat thoroughly.  (If mixture seems too dry, add a little of the cooking water to it.) Serve hot with a tomato and onion salad.

Asian Style Green Beans

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter

1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons peanut oil 

2 tablespoons chopped shallot

2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger root

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons sliced scallions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, peanut butter and hot pepper flakes. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, then add shallot and ginger and, stirring frequently, saute about two minutes, until tender and a little crisp; add green beans and stirring frequently, saute until al dente; add sauce, toss to coat thoroughly, top with scallions and cilantro and serve hot with grilled fish and rice.

Beer Batter-Fried Green Beans

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 cup beer

1 cup flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Vegetable oil for frying

1 pound green beans, trimmed


In a medium bowl, whisk together the beer, flour, salt ad pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat to 375 F. When oil is ready, dip the beans in the batter, let excess oil drip off, then being careful to avoid getting spattered, gently drop the beans into the oil; fry in batches, and when they are golden brown and crisp, after about 5 to 8 minutes, with a slotted spoon remove them to drain on paper towels. Serve hot or warm with margaritas or dry white wine.

Pistachios. Pixabay photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Someone brought me a huge bag of pistachios last week and after shamelessly bingeing on them, I went on a quest to find other ways to use them. They had to be good, I thought,  in a semifreddo recipe I had and would add a nice crunch to summer salads. I tried a  pesto with the pistachios instead of pignoli nuts and was very pleased and also made a pistachio-crusted salmon which was a big hit.

I still want to try them in crumbles as well as in a crust for fresh fruit pies and tarts and also pureed with cheeses or yogurt to make dips and spreads. 

So, merrily snacking on the pistachios as I set to work, I did some homework and came up with these recipes. If you don’t like them, there’s always pistachio ice cream, everyone’s favorite, it seems, except mine.

Zabaglione and Pistachio Semifreddo

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


5 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons dry Marsala

3 large egg whites

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios


Line a 9 x 5 x 3” loaf pan with plastic wrap; leave a 2” overhang on the top edges and chill the pan in the freezer. In the top of a double boiler beat together the egg yolk, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the Marsala until well blended. Place over simmering water and beat until the mixture has quadrupled in volume; remove from heat and place the bowl with the mixture in a larger bowl of ice water and, stirring occasionally, let cool.  

In a large bowl beat egg whites until frothy, gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar and beat just until mixture holds soft peaks. In a large chilled bowl beat the cream until it holds soft peaks, gently but thoroughly fold in the egg whites; fold in the yolk mixture and then half a cup of the pistachios. Scrape mixture into prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 8 hours. Unmold the semifreddo onto a serving dish, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pistachios; slice and serve with fresh raspberries and espresso.

Orecchiette with Pistachio and Basil Pesto

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


1 pound orecchiette pasta

1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios

1 cup basil leaves

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 – 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

3 garlic cloves

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile in the bowl of a food processor combine the pistachios, basil, oil, cheese, garlic and salt and pepper; process, scraping sides of bowl often, until mixture reaches a smooth consistency. Reserving one cup of the cooking water from the pasta, drain it. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the pesto, and add the reserved pasta water as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Serve hot or warm with a tomato salad and foccaccia.

Pistachio-Crusted Salmon

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


One 2 1/2 pound side salmon, skin on

Freshly squeezed juice of two lemons

1/4 cup prepared mustard

1 cup shelled unsalted pistachio nuts

1/2 cup unflavored bread crumbs

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 F. Place salmon, skin side down, on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and mustard and brush lightly on top of salmon. In a food processor, combine the pistachios, bread crumbs, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Sprinkle  mixture evenly over lemon and mustard mixture on salmon. Bake until salmon reaches desired doneness, about 15 to 20 minutes; remove to serving platter and let sit about 5 minutes. Serve with a tossed green salad or fresh asparagus.

Cucumbers slices

By Barbara Beltrami

It may not be a popsicle or a slushy or an ice cold beer, but as veggies go, a cucumber(especially an English one) is, as the cliche goes, really cool. Put a slice or two in whatever your preferred hydration source is, be it a martini or spring water; use a few slices to soothe puffy eyes or a sunburn. Or make the cucumber the main ingredient of a salad, soup or refreshing drink. It marries well with citrus, yogurt, cream and herbs, especially dill, as you will see from the following recipes.

Cucumber-Dill Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1 large English cucumber

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Half a Vidalia onion, thinly sliced and broken into rings

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


Peel and slice cucumber into paper-thin discs. In a large bowl combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously, then add cucumber, onion, dill and chives and toss thoroughly to coat. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or serve at room temperature with pumpernickel bread and unsalted butter.

Cold Cucumber Soup with Lobster

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


Two 16-ounce containers Greek yogurt

1 1/4 cups light cream

3 English cucumbers, unpeeled and chopped

3/4 cup chopped red onion

8 scallions, both white and green parts sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 pound cooked lobster meat, cut into bite-size pieces

8 cucumber slices, for garnish


In a large bowl combine the yogurt, cream, cucumbers, onion, scallions, salt and pepper; transfer in batches to a food processor and process until it has the consistency of a coarse puree. Transfer to another bowl and when all batches have been processed, stir in the dill; cover and refrigerate until very cold, 2 to 3 hours. Just before serving stir in the lemon juice and sprinkle with lobster pieces.  Garnish with cucumber slices before serving.

Cucumber Raita

YIELD: Makes about 4 cups


2 cups plain Greek yogurt

2 cups grated unpeeled English cucumber

1 garlic clove, minced

Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons raisins


In a large bowl thoroughly whisk the yogurt until it’s creamy and smooth; add the cucumber, garlic, mint, salt and pepper and raisins; stir, cover and chill. Serve with curry or any spicy grilled meat or poultry.

Cucumber Margarita

Cucumber Margarita


YIELD: Makes 2 cocktails


1 wedge or slice of lime

Coarse salt

3 ounces tequila

1 teaspoon orange liqueur

3 ounces key lime juice

1/2 cup peeled and seeded chopped cucumber

2 tablespoons sugar

6 cilantro leaves, chopped

2 dashes Tabasco sauce

6 ice cubes

2 cucumber slices


Wipe the rims of two margarita glasses with the lime, then dip the rims in a shallow dish of coarse salt. In a blender combine the tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, chopped cucumber, sugar, cilantro, Tabasco sauce and ice cubes; blend for one minute, then immediately pour into prepared glasses and garnish with cucumber slices. Serve with chips.

South of the Border Chicken

By Barbara Beltrami

When in doubt — whether company is coming for dinner, whether you have house guests, whether you’ve spent the day at the beach, whether you’re on a staycation, whether it’s just too darn hot to even think of turning on the stove or oven, whether you just can’t do another takeout, or whether you simply cannot think what to make for dinner — throwing some chicken on the grill is the default solution.

If you think of it early enough, you can marinate just about any chicken parts in the fridge while you go about your activities. If you decide too late for that, you can pick up the chicken, raid your herb garden or fridge and create a tasty main dish that’s sure to please even the fussiest guests or family members.

Pollo al Mattone (Chicken Under a Brick)

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 bricks, wrapped in aluminum foil

One 4-pound chicken

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup dry white wine

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped rosemary

Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon

Coarse salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes


Prepare grill to medium, then place bricks on grill to heat up. Remove neck , extra fat, and innards from chicken and discard or save for another use. Place chicken, breast side down on a cutting board and, with poultry shears or a large knife, cut along both sides of spine and remove it. Cut the breast in half lengthwise. Wash chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. 

In a small bowl, combine oil, wine, garlic, rosemary, lemon, salt and pepper and hot pepper flakes. With a pastry brush coat the entire chicken with the mixture. Place chicken halves, skin side down on grill;  place a heated brick on top of each half, close lid and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until skin is crisp and there are dark grill marks\.

Remove bricks, flip the chicken, put bricks back on top and continue to cook  another 10-15 minutes or so, until a meat thermometer inserted at thigh joint reads 170F. Transfer chicken to cutting board and let sit about 5 minutes, then cut into 4 pieces.  Serve with corn on the cob and a tossed salad.

South of the Border Grilled Chicken

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

1/4 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Crushed hot red pepper flakes

Lime wedges


Butterfly each chicken breast by slicing it almost in half horizontally, then opening it like a book so it lies flat. In a large bowl combine the oil, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, lime juice, salt and pepper and pepper flakes. Place chicken in bowl and rub it all over with the mixture. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Preheat grill to medium. Use marinade to baste only during first 5 minutes of cooking as it has been in contact with raw chicken and must be thoroughly cooked; grill chicken, turning once, until just turning brown but not dark, about 5-10 minutes per side. Serve immediately with lime wedges, salsa and a salad or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Curried Grilled Chicken

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

2 tablespoons warm honey

1 tablespoon curry powder

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 small onion, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 boneless chicken thighs

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped


Preheat grill to medium. In a large bowl combine oil, mustard, honey, curry powder, salt and pepper, onion, garlic, and cinnamon. Place chicken thighs in bowl and toss to coat evenly with mixture. Place chicken on grill and baste with marinade only during first 5 minutes as it has been in contact with raw chicken and must be thoroughly cooked. Grill, turning once, until cooked through and meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reads 170 F. Sprinkle cilantro  over chicken and serve immediately with rice and grilled peaches.

METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

They’re here! Grab one and bite into it. Let the juice run down your chin, down your arm and onto your shirt. If it’s a good peach, who cares? If it’s not, you’ve wasted your money and made an unnecessary mess. And in my experience there’s no way of knowing whether it will be succulent and delicious or taste like a raw potato. It’s also been my experience that a peach’s quality has nothing to do with its price. 

I’ve bought peaches that are all rosy and perfect looking in green quart baskets at local farm stands and paid a handsome price for them only to have them go furry on me before they’re even ripened, and I’ve bought peaches on sale  at the supermarket that are not so rosy and are hard as rocks and had them ripen and taste wonderful. It’s really anybody’s guess what the variable is.  

The only thing I can say is that one should never ever buy a peach with any blemish whatsoever because it will not end well. You’ll ultimately  have to salvage parts of that peach that have not started to rot and cook them up to go with a nice dish of vanilla ice cream. Should you have to do that, here are a few recipes to try.

Peach Tart

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

7 tablespoons butter, softened

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons apricot jam

4 medium peaches, cut into 1/2” wedges

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


Place oven rack in lower third of oven, then preheat oven to 375 F. In a food processor combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and butter. Pulse a few times to blend, then add the egg and egg yolk and pulse just until a soft dough forms; turn the dough out onto a pastry board and knead until it all comes together. Press the dough onto the bottom and sides of a 10 1/2” fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. 

Spread the quarter cup jam over the bottom crust, then arrange peaches in concentric circles on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until crust is a light golden color and peaches are still a little hard; spread the remaining two tablespoons jam over the peaches and return tart to oven and bake for 25-30 minutes more, until crust is a nice golden color and peaches are tender.

Let cool about 30 minutes, then dust with confectioners’ sugar, remove from pan and serve warm with creme fraiche. 

Peachy Barbecue Sauce

YIELD: Makes about 2 cups


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large shallot, diced

One 3” piece ginger, peeled and diced

3/4 pound peeled, pitted and diced fresh peaches

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes


In a medium saucepan over high heat, warm the oil, then add the shallot and ginger; stirring often, cook until shallot is soft, about 3-5 minutes; add peaches, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper, and hot pepper flakes; stir and bring to a simmer, lower heat and maintain a gentle simmer until the peaches are very soft, about 25-30 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until it reaches desired consistency, then use to baste ribs, chicken or pork and serve with corn on the cob.

Peach Crisp

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


3 pounds fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, diced

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup rolled or quick oats

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Pinch salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9” square baking dish. Arrange peaches evenly in baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and butter. Mix until it achieves a crumbly consistency; sprinkle over peaches; bake until golden brown and crispy on top, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. 

Chick Pea Salad. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Summer and salads are synonymous. All those fresh veggies and fruits just waiting to be cut up and tossed in a bowl.  No cooking. No cleanup. The perfect accompaniment to something just off the grill. But wait a minute! Who says summer salads have to be accompaniments? Why not make them, with the addition of some protein, the actual meal? What follow are just a few of my favorite go-to main dish salads, but scores of them are only as far away as your pantry or fridge.

Chick Pea Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


One 14-ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

One medium red onion, diced

2 celery ribs diced

1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1  tablespoon chopped fresh oregano 

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 head Romaine lettuce, sliced horizontally

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

2/3 cup pitted black olives, halved

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley


In a large bowl, toss together the chick peas, onion, celery, cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, oregano, thyme, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Half an hour before serving, remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature. Add Romaine and tomatoes and toss  lightly to combine; transfer to serving bowl or platter and top with feta, olives and parsley. Serve with pita bread and tzatziki sauce.

Prosciutto, Parmesan and Cantaloupe Salad

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2-3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 ounces fresh arugula

3 ounces frisee

1/2  medium Vidalia onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

8 cups diced fresh cantaloupe

8 ounces small Parmigiano Reggiano shards

1/4 pound prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces


In jar of electric blender combine oil, lime zest and juice, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper and cilantro; pulse until completely emulsified.  In a large bowl, toss the arugula, frisee, onion, mint and basil with about one-third of the emulsion. In a large bowl (preferably clear glass), place a layer or the arugula mixture, then the cantaloupe, next the Parmigiano and finally the prosciutto; repeat until all ingredients have been used. Serve with remaining dressing and warm foccaccia.

Seafood Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes

Freshly grated zest of one lemon

Freshly squeezed juice of two lemons

Freshly grated zest of one orange

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup dry white wine

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined, boiled and refrigerated

1 pound cooked sea scallops, halved crosswise, boiled and refrigerated

1 pound fresh calamari, cleaned, cut into half-inch rings, boiled and refrigerated

1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves separated

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced

1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

3 medium tomatoes, diced


In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, wine and salt and pepper; add seafood and toss thoroughly to combine; cover and refrigerate at least three hours or up to twelve. When ready to serve line a platter or salad bowl with lettuce leaves, drain liquid from seafood mixture and transfer to lettuce- lined bowl.  Top with fennel, parsley, and tomatoes  and serve cold with crusty Italian bread and a chilled Sancerre wine.

Grilled Espresso-Marinated Flank Steak METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

While the grill and all things barbecued are Dad’s inviolable territory, on Father’s Day it’s necessary to get him to relinquish his squatter’s rights so that we can regale him with something special. I think if we can bribe him with a nice cold beer or maybe a margarita or two, perhaps he can be persuaded to just lounge by the pool or in the back yard, while we (under adult supervision if we are kids) baste and sear our tokens of appreciation for all he is and does, and I don’t mean just on the grill. 

It’s got to be something he doesn’t normally cook himself, something yummily unusual. Some great sides like oven fries, grilled corn on the cob, a nice green salad or garlic bread make easy accompaniments to any of the following recipes and there are also specific suggestions with each recipe.

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

YIELD: Makes 3 servings


1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup dry sherry

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

One 3 1/2 – 4 pound frying chicken, cut into 8 pieces


In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, sherry, oil, sugar, garlic and ginger. Place chicken pieces in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and pour in liquid; seal, then tilt and massage chicken to evenly distribute marinade. Turning bag occasionally, refrigerate for at least two hours or up to 12 hours. 

Prepare grill: Oil rack and start fire. Remove chicken from bag and pat dry with paper towels, but reserve liquid for basting. Arrange chicken on rack skin side down and grill, about 30 minutes. During last 10 minutes or so of cooking, brush the chicken with the reserved marinade (if chicken starts to get too dark, turn it so skin side is up.) Serve hot or at room temperature with rice pilaf.

Sicilian Grilled Swordfish with Tomatoes and Olives

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped pitted green olives

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

2 pounds swordfish steaks, cut 1/2” thick

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt


In a small bowl combine the tomatoes, onion, celery, olives, parsley and pepper. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately in which case let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Prepare grill, oil racks, and set grill to medium high heat. In a small bowl combine  oil, lemon juice and oregano. Brush fish on both sides with mixture, then sprinkle with salt and more pepper. Grill over hottest part of grill, turning once, about 4 to 5 minutes per side (it should flake easily when poked with a fork.) Stir tomato and olive mixture, then spoon it over the fish steaks and serve immediately with couscous.

Grilled Espresso-Marinated Flank Steak

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1 tablespoon finely ground espresso 

1 tablespoon lightly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of excess fat, at room temperature


In a small bowl, combine the espresso, brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper; slowly whisk in the oil. With a spatula or wooden spoon, smear the coffee mixture all over the steak on both sides. Rub grill rack with oil, then preheat to medium-high. Grill steak, turning a couple of times until it is lightly charred and a meat thermometer reads 125 F, about 11 minutes. Remove to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil and let sit about 10 minutes. Slice steak across the grain and serve hot or at room temperature. Serve with a tomato and avocado salad.

Lemon Chiffon Pie. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

When I think of summer desserts, the word “chiffon” immediately comes to mind and conjures up visions of airy cakes and pies light as summer frocks or curtains riffled by summer breezes. Fruit lends them their pastel colors … raspberry and strawberry pinks, lime greens, lemon yellows and blackberry lavenders, while egg whites and/or gelatin give them their voluminous substance.  

Lemon Chiffon Cake

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings


2 1/4 cups cake four

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

5 egg yolks

3/4 cup cold water

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

7 – 8 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar


Preheat oven to 325 F. Into a large bowl sift the cake flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center, then pour in oil, egg yolks, cold water and zest. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed, until very smooth.  In a separate large bowl beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold first mixture, a little at a time, into egg whites until completely blended. Do not beat or stir. Pour into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan.  

Bake 50 minutes, then raise heat to 350 F and about bake another 15 minutes, until top springs back when you dent it with your finger. Remove from oven, turn pan upside down on a wire cake rack and let cool completely. Gently loosen cake from sides of pan with a spatula or knife and remove from pan; turn right side up and serve with lemon sorbet.

Lime Chiffon Pie

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


One  9” baked pie shell

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin

1 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cold water

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

4 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish


In a large bowl combine the gelatin, half a cup of the sugar, salt, water and lime juice; add egg yolks and beat on medium speed until well blended; transfer to large saucepan and, stirring constantly, cook over low heat until gelatin dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir in lime zest, cover and chill until mixture starts to thicken, about 30 minutes. In a large bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until foamy, add remaining half cup of sugar gradually until egg whites form stiff peaks. With a spatula, gently fold in gelatin mixture, a little at a time, until completely blended; transfer to pie shell and chill. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve with mango sorbet.

Strawberry Chiffon Pie

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


1 graham cracker pie crust

One 1/4-ounce envelope unflavored gelatin

2 cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled (local, if available)

3 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar

Generous pinch salt

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


Prepare pie crust according to package directions. Soften gelatin in one cup cold water. In a food processor or blender puree one cup of the strawberries until smooth.  Beat egg yolks lightly, then combine with half a cup of the sugar, salt and lemon juice in top of a double boiler. Stirring frequently, cook over simmering water until mixture thickens enough to coat a metal spoon, about 5 minutes; remove from heat. Add softened gelatin to yolk mixture, stir until dissolved, stir in pureed strawberries, then set aside to cool. 

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add remaining quarter cup of sugar, then continue beating until stiff peaks form; with a rubber spatula carefully fold into cooled berry mixture, then pour into crust and smooth with spatula. Halve the remaining cup strawberries and arrange, cut side down, in pattern over mixture. Chill until firm and serve with iced coffee or iced tea.

Scallops. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Everything has gotten so expensive, and fresh fish is no exception. But if you’re going to spring for something delicate and delicious, do go for scallops.  Those nutty little nuggets of briny goodness, if prepared well, are worth the extra dollars. Whether in a ceviche where they’re marinated in citrus juice which actually cooks them, in a Grenobloise sauce, or wrapped in prosciutto or in a salad, they’re a perfect component for a light warm weather meal.

Scallop Ceviche

Scallops can be prepared numerous ways. METRO photo

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1 pound sea scallops quartered or whole  bay scallops

Freshly squeezed juice of 5 limes

1/2 cup orange juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber

2 shallots, peeled and minced

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper

1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons minced jalapeño pepper

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon grated orange zest


In a medium nonreactive bowl combine the scallops and juices. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Add salt and pepper, cucumber, shallots, scallions, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, jalapeño pepper, cilantro, parsley and oil; toss to thoroughly combine, then let sit at room temperature 15-20 minutes.  Drain marinating liquid and discard, cover scallop mixture and refrigerate for one hour, then divide it evenly among 4 stemmed glasses, sprinkle with orange zest and serve with bread and extra virgin olive oil.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup chopped cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

12 black olives, pitted and chopped

2 tablespoons chopped toasted pignoli nuts

1/4 cup olive oil

16 sea scallops

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

16 slices prosciutto

2 cups frisee, washed, torn into bite-size pieces

1 – 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease a baking dish with butter. Place tomatoes, basil, olives, pignoli nuts and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until ingredients are finely chopped. Season scallops all over with salt and pepper, then cover with tomato mixture. Fold each slice of prosciutto in half lengthwise and wrap firmly around each scallop, then place in a baking dish. Bake about 15 minutes, until scallops are cooked through and prosciutto is somewhat crispy. In a medium bowl toss the frisee with the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper, then place on salad plates and top with scallops. Serve with a nice chilled Sancerre.

Scallops Grenobloise

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound sea scallops, rinsed, drained and patted dry with paper towels

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 lemon, peeled, all pith and seeds removed, finely diced; add capers, 

2 tablespoons capers, drained

4 white mushrooms, cleaned and diced

2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Lemon wedges for serving


Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper and olive oil. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, then add scallops; cook, turning once, about two minutes, till golden brown on both sides; set aside to keep warm.  In a small skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add lemon, capers and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until butter begins to brown, about 3 minutes; stir in vinegar. Divide the scallops onto 4 plates, spoon butter, lemon, capers, mushrooms and fresh parsley over them and serve immediately with  asparagus

Potato Salad with Herbed Vinaigrette METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

For me, no backyard barbecue, picnic, beach or pool  party is complete without  potato salad on the menu. And I don’t mean that gloppy stuff from the supermarket. I’m talking about freshly boiled potatoes dressed with mayonnaise or oil and vinegar and laced with whatever you want. Any variety of boiling potato with a waxy consistency will work; the younger and newer the potato, the better. With or without the skin, the potatoes should be cooked until fork tender, immediately immersed in cold water to stop their cooking, and dressed, unlike green salad, as soon as possible. The following recipes should see you through the coming holiday weekend and many a summer get-together.

Traditional Potato Salad

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


5 – 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes

1 cup homemade or Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 tablespoon cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup fine chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped (optional)


Place potatoes in a 4-quart pot and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, immerse in cold water, then drain again and cool slightly. In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper; add potatoes, celery, onion and eggs, if using. Gently toss and serve warm or at room temperature if using immediately. Otherwise, cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours. Serve with meat, poultry, fish or other salads.

Mediterranean Potato Salad

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings


7 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved

1 1/2 cups homemade or Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 roasted red peppers, fresh or from jar

1/2 pound fresh string beans, cooked

One 14-ounce can white beans rinsed and drained

One 6-ounce can oil-packed Italian belly tuna, drained and flaked

1/2 cup pitted black olives

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained

1 can rolled anchovies, drained

1/2 cup sliced red onion

8-10 marinated artichoke quarters or halves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves


In a large pot combine salted cold water and potatoes. Over medium-high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook until fork tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, then drain again. When cool enough to handle cut potatoes into half-inch cubes; in a large bowl combine them with mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine and transfer to serving bowl. Add the peppers, string beans, white beans, tuna, olives, capers, anchovies, onion, artichokes, parsley, and basil in order given. Serve warm or at room temperature with cold cuts, crusty Italian bread, and cheese.

Potato Salad with Herbed Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12  servings


3 pounds tiny new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 – 4 tablespoons dry white wine

1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley leaves

4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

2/3 – 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


In a large pot combine cold salted water and potatoes. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then simmer until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again and set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl whisk together the salt and pepper, vinegar, wine, herbs and scallions; add oil and whisk vigorously. When cool enough to handle, slice potatoes 1/4” thick, and add to mixture, then toss gently. Serve warm or at room temperature with meat, poultry, fish or other salads.