Marseille Style Shrimp Stew

Marseille Style Shrimp Stew in a cast iron skillet served with toast

Seafood Summer
When the mercury starts to climb, my diet becomes sushi, ceviche, and shrimp cocktail heavy. Maybe it is because the high temps outside make a lighter meal sound more appealing. Or maybe it’s because I spend more time at the beach. And, you can’t not have seafood at the beach. But, during the summer months, I eat a lot of seafood.

I am especially fond of anything steamed or stewed in a light broth that requires some gorgeous crusty bread for dunking. Mussels, clams, shrimp…? Bring ‘em on. They are tasty. They are fast. And, any of the possibilities pair well with a salad and a cold glass of white or rose.

The added bonus? There is just something about a tasty bowl of mussels or shrimp that immediately transports you to a seaside village in the South of France. The smell of the salty air. The sound of the boats rocking on the water. Ahhhhhh!

Marseille Style Shrimp Stew
Adapted from Melissa Clark for Food and Wine
Yields 4 generous servings

In our recipe for Marseille Style Shrimp Stew, jumbo shrimp are stewed with savory fennel, cloves, tomatoes, orange zest, and wine. It is served with a rouille, or delightfully flavored mayonnaise, spread on a toasted baguette slice. Read more…

Homemade Merguez Sausage

Homemade Merguez Sausage on a board with grilled veggies

Fiery Fourth Of July
This Fourth of July weekend is a hot one, people. So hot, in fact, that the tradition of being outdoors and grilling might be in question. True, you could escape to the coast or up to the mountains but even then, you might want to limit the time you spend outside. This means having to watch over a larger piece of meat on the grill might not be ideal. I offer you a solution: sausages.

Sausages are the perfect pivot. They fulfill the traditional requirement. (Hot dogs ARE sausages after all.) Sausages are extremely portable and don’t really require any extra seasonings. Sausages can be eaten in a bun or not depending on preference. Sausages take almost no time to cook but the best reason to throw some sausages on the grill this 4th of July would be the amazing variety available.

4th of July purists would tell you to go with tried-and-true classics like beef franks, brats, or bockwurst. And, don’t forget about a lovely smoked kielbasa. I think you could never go wrong with a Polish sausage, a nice and spicy hot link, or some andouille for Cajun flare. Then there are your fancier flavors like spinach and artichoke or chicken and basil. Variety is the spice of life. Go crazy…

For those who really want to shake things up, I offer you this suggestion, Homemade Merguez Sausage. Merguez is a North African staple made of ground lamb and a mix of fragrant North African spices. Merguez is the sausage of choice when grilling in France, so it is definitely not your typical 4th of July offering but the flavor is worth going rogue—especially with a dollop of fresh harissa for some fireworks.

Merguez sausage can be found at our store. But, it is so easy to make that it is worth the minimal time to make your own.

Our recipe for Kitty’s Roasted Pepper, Tomato, and Salted Lemon Relish would work as a side for these as well.

Homemade Merguez Sausage Recipe
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Yields about 1 pound of sausage Read more…

Roasted Sheet Pan Chicken with Stone Fruit and Onions

A plate of Roasted Sheet Pan Chicken with Stone Fruit

Stone Cold Abundance
I tend to go a little overboard at the changing of the food seasons. I will buy more corn than I need out of excitement for the fact that the good local stuff is back. And, nine times out of ten, I end up freezing some because I can’t get to it all.

I do the same thing with stone fruits. I will taste a peach or a plum and be so blown away by its sweetness that I must, must, I tell you, have an entire bushel to take home with me believing unquestionably that I will actually eat all of them. News flash: That rarely happens. Inevitably I will have to find a different way of consuming my bounty. Sometimes I turn the fruits into jam. Sometimes I can the vegetables. More often than not, I will throw them in the freezer for later use.

That isn’t to say I don’t come across new and interesting ways of using my largess. Many stone fruits pair well with chicken or pork—especially when grilled. My most recent find, however, uses my favorite method for mid-week dining, the sheet pan.

This recipe for Roasted Sheet Pan Chicken with Stone Fruit and Onions comes from NY Times Cooking but I have adapted it more to my taste. It’s easy and goes great with some creamy polenta. Feel free to use something other than plums like peaches, apricots, or nectarines.

Roasted Sheet Pan Chicken with Stone Fruit and Onions Recipe
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…

Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Cherry Barbecue Sauce in a heart-shaped bowl with ribs on brown paper

Rack Em Up
It is officially barbecue season. This means it’s time to talk all things smokey and saucy. I have been in smoker mode lately—mostly because I am still trying to get the hang of my electric smoker.

Don’t come at me for the electric smoker. Yes, real BBQ masters always go with live fire and wood. Truth be told, I like smoked meats, but I wouldn’t say it’s a passion. I’m not getting up at 3 AM to fire up the wood smoker. I’ll leave that to the folks who know what they are doing and enjoy that process. I am happy to hand my money over to them for some juicy brisket anytime.

With the electric smoker, I can smoke some ribs or chicken relatively quickly when I have a hankering. I’ve even smoked some chicken on a Wednesday night after work…and it was glorious. Best part is, when I’m not using it, the smoker is stored out of the way ready to pull out for the next use. Win-win.

Why am I bringing this up you might ask? Because while the smoked meats are the main attraction, I want to talk about the sauce…

I have never met a rib I didn’t like. I like baby backs. I like spareribs. Whatever rack you have cooking I will eat. I will say though that I am a sauce-after-cooking kind of gal. Meaning, I like to put a dry rub on a rack of ribs, cook ‘em, slice them up, and let the person eating the ribs slather on their sauce of choice. That doesn’t mean I won’t eat them the other way. It’s just a preference that does necessitate having a good sauce.

My hands-down favorite sauce for ribs is this one for Cherry Cola Ribs  Cherry and pork go very well together be it ribs or a roasted pork loin. Now that it is BBQ season and fresh cherries are in the market, I’ve been thinking about using fresh cherries in a BBQ sauce. I found this one which uses balsamic vinegar for a little bit of pucker and sweetness.

Cherry Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Adapted from The Recipe Rebel
Yields about 30 servings

This recipe makes quite a bit, but the good news is you can throw this Cherry Barbecue Sauce in the freezer and enjoy the taste of cherries long after the season is over. And, if you want to make it out-of-season, you can always use high-quality frozen cherries. Read more…