We grill pretty much the whole year, including this past winter, definitely the hardest I’ve endured, but somehow survived.  I actually feel I survived against all odds, but my beloved (rolling his eyes to the ceiling) insists that “it wasn’t that bad”.  We fully disagree on this. Anyway, as I was saying, we use our grill all the time. If necessary, we brush the snow off and go to work.  Of course, it’s much nicer to grill when the sun is shinning and the temperature starts to get where I like it, mid 90’s.   We are not quite there yet, but the sun has been shinning as bright as the apricots for these skewers.  The recipe from Bon Appetit is absolutely delicious!  Coconut milk, peanut butter, and cilantro make a marinade-sauce combo very hard to beat.


(slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2012)

3/4 cup canned light unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped jalapeño (about 1 large)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 24 chunks
12 firm ripe small apricots, halved, pitted
Freshly ground black pepper

Purée first 6 ingredients and 3/4 tsp. salt in a blender until smooth. Add 1/4 cup cilantro leaves and jalapeño and blend briefly to combine. Transfer 1/2 cup marinade to a small bowl; cover and chill for serving. Place remaining marinade in a resealable plastic bag; add chicken, seal bag, and turn to coat. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Heat your grill to high. Holding 2 skewers parallel to each other and 1/2″ apart, thread 1 piece of chicken onto skewers, then 1 apricot half. Repeat with 1 more chicken piece and 1 more apricot half (using 2 skewers helps hold the meat and fruit together). Repeat with remaining skewers, chicken, and apricots for a total of 12, each holding 2 pieces of chicken and 2 apricot halves. Season with salt and pepper. Brush apricots with some marinade from bag; discard remaining marinade.

Grill skewers on one side until chicken is well browned, 3—4 minutes. Turn and grill until other side is well browned, 3—4 minutes longer. Move to a cooler part of grill. Cover grill and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a serving platter, and serve drizzled with the reserved marinade (bring it to room temperature before serving).


to print the recipe, click here

Not sure if it is my Brazilian nature, but I have a real soft spot for anything with coconut milk. As I mentioned before, I normally go for the light version that has a lower fat content, unless specified in the recipe that it won’t work.  For sauces and marinades the lower-fat performs as well as the regular one.  My preference is for the brand Thai Kitchen.   I had a small problem making the marinade because unexpectedly there was no cilantro in our fridge.  I made the marinade without it, and next day got some cilantro, shredded the leaves and  added to the sauce reserved for serving the skewers. I actually think it turned out very good, the cilantro retained a fresher flavor this way.   If you make this dish, consider my tweaked version.  😉

The apricots were pretty soft after grilling, in fact some bits stayed behind on the grill, but I am not sure this could be avoided.  Maybe apricots a little less ripe than the ones I used would stand the heat better.  If you prefer a firmer fruit, consider grilling the apricots by themselves, just for a couple of minutes.  I actually did not mind their softness, they almost turned into a component of the coconut sauce.  Delicious!

ONE YEAR AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

TWO YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

THREE YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread


Not sure how we made it so fast to the end of May, but here we are!  And the last Monday of the month brings with it the Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club.  Bloggers are paired in secret, stalk each other’s site for a nice recipe, and blog about it on the same day.  This month I was paired with Erin, from The Spiffy Cookie.  She is a graduate student working on her PhD in Microbiology and that immediately puts us both in a similar page.  Granted, I probably had my PhD before she was born, but still… I know what it takes and how frustrating it can be to get there.   As I always say to the students in the lab, “science is not for sissies“.  But, I digress.   I spent quite a bit of time on her site, tempted by many of her recipes. A few examples for you:  Chicken Burgers with Garlic & Rosemary Yogurt, Apple Oatmeal Breakfast MuffinsNutella Mousse (that almost made my final cut), and Nutella-Swirled Banana Bread Snack Cake (do I need to say anything more?).  But, in the end, my heart was set on Penne with Trapanese Pesto, because it seemed like the type of recipe Phil and I would love.  Plus, the almonds in the sauce take me to a Persian aura that is quite welcome in our kitchen these days. So, without further ado, my contribution to the SRC this month…

Sally(photo kindly optimized by an angel called Sawsan…)

(slightly adapted from The Spiffy Cookie)

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup almonds, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic
12 basil leaves
1-2 anchovies filets (or to taste)
2 tsp capers
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, almonds, garlic, basil, anchovies, capers, crushed red pepper, cheese, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to get it going. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream. Taste it. Add a little more salt if needed.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and return to pot.  Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss to combine.  Store whatever is left in a sealed container in the fridge for a week. Serve  with more cheese and basil.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I made two small modifications in the recipe, adding capers and anchovies to the pesto. Now, for those who personally know me, it will be shocking to learn I added anchovies were anchovies were not called for.  Yes, indeed, I don’t like anchovies, but have been working on improving our relationship.  For one of those virtual coincidences, a food blog I recently fell in love with (Chef Mimi Blog) had a post on Trapanese Pesto, and she added anchovies.  Being a certified anchovy-wimp, I added only 1 small filet, carrying it with the tip of the fork, arm extended as far as I could to avoid its pungent aroma…   🙂  Capers seemed like a natural partner for all other ingredients,  so into the pesto they went.

This was a delicious meal! For my taste, Trapanese pesto beats the Genovese by a long shot.  Less oily, less pungent.  The recipe made more sauce than needed for our pasta dinner, leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Erin, it was great to stalk your blog for recipes and get to know your site better (although I’ve visited your blog many times before) through this month’s adventure with SRC.  For those who want to see the full collection of recipes posted by members of our group, click on the funky frog and have fun!

ONE YEAR AGO: Superman

TWO YEARS AGO: Spring Pasta

THREE YEARS AGO: Ice Cream Melts for Mango


Paris will always be a home away from home for Phil and I.  If we could, we’d fly back there more often, but unfortunately we go through several years of (switching briefly to Portuguese) “saudades de Paris”.  Saudade is a word from my native language that has no exact match is English. From Wikipedia: “Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or deeply melancholic longing for an absent something or someone who one loves”.  The word originated in Portugal to describe the feelings of family members of sailors who would see them leave shore on the glorious days of Portuguese expeditions, uncertain of their return.  And the exact same feeling hit the sailors themselves, as the distance between them and their beloved country would get bigger and bigger.  It’s been 3 years since we’ve last been to Paris, so the “saudade” is intensifying quite a bit.  How do I deal with it? I indulge in reading some wonderful French food blogs, like Du Miel et Du Sel, where I found this post about a chocolate mousse. It was described as  “légère comme une plumme“, or “light as a feather”.  It delivered exactly what it promised, a mousse without the cloying nature that often sends it over the top for my taste. The secret? No egg yolks and no butter!  Just pure chocolate deliciousness


(from Marie Claire,  Du Miel et du Sel)

* 8 servings*

200 g dark chocolate (I used 72% cocoa)
200 g heavy cream
200 g egg whites (6 egg whites)
pinch of salt
60 g sugar

Cut the chocolate in small pieces and place inside a large bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a gentle boil, then pour it over the chocolate, one-third of the volume at a time, mixing well after each addition.  After all the cream is added, the chocolate emulsion should be very smooth, without any lumps.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt for a few minutes until they start to get some body.  At this point, add the sugar slowly, a little at a time, always whipping the eggs.  Beat until they form firm peaks.

Mix 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate, no need to be gentle at this point, just mix it all well to lighten up the chocolate mixture.  Add the rest of the egg whites very gently, folding with a spatula, making sure not to deflate the egg whites too much.  Divide the mousse into 8 serving cups, refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

We make desserts exclusively when we have guests over for dinner.  For this particular occasion, we had three very special guests at home, a Brazilian scientists who came over to give a talk, and two friends from KSU.   Our Brazilian guest not only is a great scientist and a dear friend, but once suffered through a tricky situation in our home in Oklahoma.  He came to give a talk in our former department (just like he did now at KSU), and on that evening we hosted a lab party that ended with a strawberry genoise cake.  By far the worst concoction I’ve ever made, one that my guests ate in silence, but not the “good” type of silence.  The bottom layer of my “masterpiece” had somehow turned into a solid rock, hard to cut even with a serrated knife!  I know, I know, how could anyone achieve that?  It was very embarrassing. I wanted to disappear from the face of the planet. Of course, once the initial shock was over,  we laughed about it, and everyone salvaged the top layer of the cake and left the concrete part untouched.   I’ve never attempted a genoise again, although my friend Gary, patissier extraordinaire, keeps telling me to go for it.  I will, once I get over that trauma (sigh). Anyway, I wanted to exorcise the demons of my past, and make a dessert that our guests would enjoy. A chocolate mousse light as a feather could not possibly turn into a rock, right?  Right.  This was the happy ending I was hoping for our pizza party.  You can make them big, you can make them small, you can top with strawberries, you can add shaved chocolate, or go for the kill and top with some whipped cream.  Whatever route you choose, Marie Claire said it all in her post:

Vous allez vous lécher les doigts.  (It’s finger-licking good!)

Black Olive Sourdough Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Buttermilk Cluster

THREE YEARS AGO: Farfalle, Farfalle


We never imagined a  tornado could be stronger than the one we witnessed on May 3rd, 1999.  We were wrong.  The devastation is impossible to describe.  We have a hard time watching the news, it is heart-breaking.

If you want to help, here is a list of ways to do so, taken from NBC News.

American Red Cross
The Red Cross has set up shelters in various communities. You can donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund here, and the organization also suggests giving blood at your local hospital or blood bank.

If you want to send a $10 donation to the Disaster Relief fund via text message, you can do so by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999. As in the case with other donations via mobile, the donation will show up on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your balance if you have a prepaid phone. You need to be 18 or older, or have parental permission, to donate this way. (If you change your mind, text the word STOP to 90999.) Phone: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767); for Spanish speakers, 1-800-257-7575; for TDD, 1-800-220-4095.

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief
This organization says donations will “go straight to help those in need providing tree removal services, laundry services and meals to victims of disasters.”

It is requesting monetary donations (It says clothing is NOT needed). For more information, and to donate, visit Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief’s website.

You can send checks to: BGCO, Attn: Disaster Relief, 3800 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City, OK., 73112.

Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is organizing disaster response units to serve hard-hit areas in central Oklahoma, including Moore, where it is sending mobile kitchens that can serve meals to 2,500 people a day, and to South Oklahoma City.

Supporters can donate online via the organization’s website, You can also text the word STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation via cellphone.

If you want to send a check, the Salvation Army asks that you put the words “Oklahoma Tornado Relief” on the check, and mail it to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK., 73157. Phone:  1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

United Way of Central Oklahoma
A disaster relief fund is being activated as of May 21 so that individuals can specifically donated to tornado relief-and-recovery efforts, the organization says on its site.

United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund is open.  Donations may be made online here. Checks, with a notation of “May Tornado Relief” can also be sent to the United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK , 73101.

Feeding America
Through its network of more than 200 food banks, Feeding America, whose mission is to “feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks,” says it will deliver truckloads of food, water and supplies to communities in need, in Oklahoma, and will also “set up additional emergency food and supply distribution sites as they are needed.” You can donate online here. Phone: 1-800-910-5524.

Operation USA
The international relief group, based in Los Angeles, says it is “readying essential material aid — emergency, shelter and cleaning supplies” to help Oklahoma’s community health organizations and schools recover.

You can donate online here. You can also give a $10 donation by texting the word AID to 50555. Checks should be sent to: Operation USA, 7421 Beverly Blvd., PH, Los Angeles, CA 90036 Phone: 1-800-678-7255.
(comments are shutdown for this post)


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If you are like me, when you think about curry you’ll imagine pieces of meat or veggies swimming in a spicy sauce.  This is not it. The pork tenderloin is marinated in a flavorful orange-soy mixture, then grilled.  The curry sauce is spooned over it, and to add another layer of flavor and texture pumpkin seeds are sprinkled on top.  This was one of those dinners that surpassed my expectations.  We could celebrate a Wednesday with it, but instead it opened our week to a good start: we enjoyed it for dinner after a very busy Monday.


(slightly modified from Bon Appetit, May 2013)

for pork marinade:
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 pork tenderloin, butterflied

for pumpkin seeds:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Kosher salt

for curry sauce:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 small shallot, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons green Thai curry paste
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (I used light)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Combine soy sauce, orange juice, maple syrup, and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Add pork and seal bag. Chill, turning occasionally, at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and toast, shaking pan often, until seeds are brown, about 4 minutes. Add cumin seeds, then gradually add sugar, then lime juice, tossing constantly to coat seeds with melted sugar and juice. Transfer pumpkin seed mixture to a foil-lined baking sheet; spread out and let cool. Season with salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add curry paste and lime zest and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add coconut milk and bring just to a boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Transfer coconut milk mixture to a blender. Add cilantro, lime juice, brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons water and blend until smooth. With motor running, drizzle in remaining 2 tablespoons oil and blend until creamy. Season curry sauce with salt and pepper, return to pan, and cover to keep warm.

Remove pork from marinade; pat dry. Grill pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 140°.  Let rest 10 minutes. Slice pork and serve with curry sauce and cumin-spiced pumpkin seeds.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  At first this recipe seems doable on a weeknight.  But I will be honest with you: when we come home from work I want dinner preparation to be as simple and painless as possible. The idea of making a sauce that involves grabbing (and later washing) the blender, toasting the pumpkin seeds, assembling everything AND thinking about a side dish to go with it leaves me searching for another recipe right away…  😉   So, I made all the components on a Sunday afternoon, no hurries, not pressure. The pumpkin seeds went into the pantry, the sauce in the fridge. The pork went to sleep in the marinade.    Next day I cooked some white rice, sliced juicy heirloom tomatoes, sprinkled them with Maldon salt and balsamic vinegar, a tiny little drizzle of olive oil.   Grilled the pork, warmed the sauce, and felt like a Kitchen Goddess.

Side note: these pumpkin seeds are excellent to snack on, the recipe makes more than you’ll need and that is a good thing!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Farfalle with Zucchini and Ricotta

TWO YEARS AGO: Slow-baked Salmon with Lemon and Thyme

THREE YEARS AGO: Hoisin Explosion Chicken