Fourth of July Cook-“in”

We were excited to be at home this year for July 4th after having missed it the last few years due to summer travel abroad. We also are lucky enough to have fantastic views of the East River so enjoyed watching the fireworks show!


Typically for New York, it was extremely humid and hot outside so while we briefly considered going to our deck and having a patriotic cook-out, we decided to stay inside, and do a cook-in. How did we keep from the smoke filling our apartment? Well obviously, “someone ooooo-pen up a window!” (see around time 1:36)

As part of the Klein family tradition, we of course had a 1776 viewing and after discovering that friends of ours had been meaning to see it, we had them over and did a little Fourth of July party.


I knew I wanted to cook burgers on our Staub grill pan which is one of our favorite kitchen tools, so went into the grocery store looking for some good grass fed beef. After lengthy conversation with the butcher, it turned out that apparently 80/20 meat is the best for juice burgers.  Leaner cuts will sometimes end up drying up too quickly and there ends your party, so get the slightly fattier stuff!


Served with a refreshing potato salad, and a blueberry pie dessert (complete with lopsided stars as I made them free-form), we ate a very American dinner!



  • Burgers
  • “Spring” Potato Salad – this salad a friend brought to a bbq where we had rack of lamb and it was divine (I used shallots in lieu of spring onions)
  • Blueberry pie



  • 1 – 1.5 lb ground beef (80/20)
  • About 2 tsp kosher salt
  • sliced tomatoes (for filling)
  • butter or romaine lettuce
  • thinly sliced onions
  • cheddar cheese, sliced
  • pickles (optional)
  1. Break the ground beef into 4 or 6 big chunks, roughly the same size. Mix in salt and pepper.
  2. Gently shape the chunks into patties and press a finger into the middle of each to create a “dimple” (this apparently helps the patty cook evenly).
  3. Set your pan over medium heat and heat up some butter or oil (about 1 tbsp)
  4. While the pan is heating up, toast the buns in an oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or just in batches in the toaster.
  5. Going back to the burgers, increase the heat to medium-high, and when it’s hot cook the burgers for 3-5 minutes on each side.
  6. Throw on buns and have guests fill with their favorite toppings!
  7. (If you want to add cheese and have it melty and gooey, add it after flipping the burger on top of the patty.)

Adapted from the Kitchn which also has fantastic videos to guide you through!

Spring Potato Salad

2 pounds small new or fingerling potatoes
1 pound asparagus
1/4 pound sugar snap peas, green beans or other spring pea
4 small-to-medium radishes, thinly sliced

Pickled spring onions
3 spring onions (about 6 ounces) or shallots
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Sharp mustard vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with one inch of water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes, and then drain. Set aside to cool
  2. Meanwhile, pickle your spring onions (or shallots). Whisk vinegar, water, salt and sugar together in the bottom of a small container with a lid until the salt and sugar dissolve.
  3. Slice the bulbs and paler green parts into very thin coins and submerge them in the vinegar mixture. Cover and put in fridge until you’re ready to use them.
  4. Refill the saucepan you used for the potatoes (here’s to fewer dishes!) with salted water and bring it to a boil. Prepare an ice bath, a large bowl with ice and water in it. Trim the tough ends off the asparagus. Once the water is boiling, add the asparagus.
  5. One minute later, add the sugar snap peas. Two minutes later, drain both together then dump them in the ice bath until chilled. Drain the vegetables and spread them out on towel to absorb excess water.
  6. Slice the cooked asparagus spears and sugar snaps into 1/2-inch segments and place them in a large bowl.
  7. Chop potatoes into moderate-sized chunks and add them to the bowl.
  8. Cut the radishes as thinly as possible, with a mandoline if you have one.
  9. Whisk the dressing and vegetables together when the vegetables have all cooled off. But don’t mix together more than about 2 hours before serving as the color of the greens is less vibrant afterwards (though the salad is still delicious).

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Spring Potato Salad.

Radish Slaw with Remoulade and Pistachios

Looking for a light, refreshing summer salad? This the answer to any steak or other rich, red meat dish that needs a zesty sidekick (though this also went very nicely with salmon).screen-shot-2017-06-03-at-8-57-20-pm-e1496538875297.pngWe made this originally to pair with our steak with corn salsa, and then quickly realized it went well with an assortment main meats.



  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 tbsp coarse grain mustard
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of EVOO
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp minced chives
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp cornichons
  • 1/2 tsp liquid from canned chipotles in adobo sauce (optional but if you have the chipotles from the steak recipe then why not?)


  • 1 large daikon radish, about 8 oz, peeled and dice
  • 1 bunch red radishes, sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • (optional but good if you’re repurposing leftovers) handful of mixed greens


  1. Place the egg in boiling water for 90 seconds using a slotted spoon.
  2. Take the egg out of the water, let it cool slightly. Tap the top of the egg to peel of the top of the shell and using a small tsp, carve out the egg from the shell (think of it as a flash soft boiled egg). Add to a food processor.
  3. Add the lemon juice, mustard, salt and the pepper and pulse or blend. With the motor running, add the olive oil until it is emulsified.
  4. Add the tomato paste, parsley, chives, capers, cornichons and the chili liquid and keep processing until well mixed.
  5. Separately, combine the radishes and celery in a large bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of the remoulade to coat completely and mix. (Save the remaining remoulade for seafood dishes or sandwich condiment. We still haven’t figure out what to do with our leftovers quite yet. Mainly because we forgot about it.)
  6. After mixing thoroughly, refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  7. Prior to serving, add the pistachios and mix.

Adapted from the Wine Lover’s Cookbook.

Steak with Corn Salsa

It’s always exciting to find yet another steak recipe when it seems that we’ve been cooking steak for years. This one was yet another gem from our favorite Wine Lover’s Cookbook that we feel vindicated in having picked up while in Healdsburg in Sonoma, California wine country.


After all, we are truly wine lovers and food lovers, so who could turn down an entire book of pairings?! Food-wise, the recipe calls for a pairing with a radish daikon slaw, but easily would have been fine with just the salsa. In terms of wine, the recipe recommends a Zinfandel, and that a Sangiovese could work just as nicely. (We used the Zin and it was fantastic.)


Flank steak (1/2 lb/person)


  • 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp reduced salt soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup of sliced yellow onions
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chiles in adobo


  • 1 can corn
  • 1/2 cup roasted bell pepper (chopped, I buy the jar of roasted pepper which makes this a cinch)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of white wine Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp of minced jalapeños
  • 2 tsp sherry wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil


  1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a plastic bag or bowl and add the steak. Turn the steak a few times to make sure it is all covered in the marinade, and then let it sit in the fridge, in the marinade for 4-5 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. When oven comes to temperature, cut off the top of the head of garlic. Place it on foil and pour olive oil over the top. Stick in the oven for 45 minutes to make roasted garlic.
  3. Once roasted and soft, scoop the garlic cloves out of the head and place in a medium sized bowl and mash them lightly.
  4. Add the corn, chopped bell pepper, Worcestershire sauce, jalapeños, sherry vinegar and basil. Mix thoroughly and then cover and refrigerate to let the flavors meld.
  5. Once the steak is finished marinating, bring a cast iron skillet or grill pan to high heat.
  6. Scrape the marinade off the steak, and add to the skillet for about 3 minutes on each side. Turn off the heat, cover in foil and let rest for about 5 minutes.
  7. Serve the steak over the the corn salsa.

Adapted from the Wine Lover’s Cookbook.

Soft Shell Crabs in Lemon and Butter

About a year ago, a new fishmonger opened up in our neighborhood. Curious, and great seafood lovers, Matt and I decided to walk in.

IMG_20170603_194948.jpgMuch to our pleasant surprise, it turned out that not only was our new fishmonger a great source of cooking information, but also a purveyor of the rarer fishy creatures of the sea.


While we haven’t quite made the plunge to try sea urchins, we did jump on the opportunity to cook soft shell crabs which we happened upon this weekend.


As it turns out, they’re very easy to make, as in basically you dredge them in milk, and then flour, and then you sear them for 4 minutes total.


Following Lisa’s advice, we went the simple route of lemon and butter and it was a perfect light summer dinner.


  • 1 cup whole milk (we used skim milk and turned out fine)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 small (4-inch-wide) live or already dressed soft-shelled crabs, cleaned (I didn’t want to deal with live crabs and our trusty fishmonger had them fresh)
  • 1 cup Wondra or all-purpose flour (I used all-purpose and it was fine)
  • 4 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee (we used ghee)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Combine milk, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish and soak crabs 5 minutes. Lift 1 crab out of milk, letting excess drip off, and dredge in flour.
  2. Knock off excess flour and transfer to a tray.
  3. Repeat with remaining crabs, arranging them in 1 layer as coated.
  4. Heat clarified butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté crabs, upside down, 2 minutes.
  5. Turn over and sauté until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  6. Transfer crabs to a serving dish. Add butter pieces to skillet and cook until golden brown with a nutty aroma. Add lemon juice and parsley (mixture will bubble up) and remove from heat.
  7. Season sauce with salt and pepper and drizzle over crabs. Serve with fingerling potatoes or a light green salad.

Adapted from Bon Appetit Soft-Shelled Crabs Meunière.

Steak with Gorgonzola Walnut Butter

Steak can get repetitive, and so it’s always exciting to find a new twist on an old classic.


The “butter” here is more a description of the consistency rather than actually being butter.

Putting a dollop on a seared steak just makes the “butter” ooze out onto the steak and the aromas released are fantastic. This recipe pairs nicely with a mint “tabbouleh” that is actually made with couscous.


  • 4 New York steaks (about 2 – 2.5 lb)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (1/2 tbsp dried)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

for the “butter”

  • 8 oz Gorgonzola cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 1 tsp white wine Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup lightly toasted walnut halves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced chives
  • 6 drops Tabasco

Couscous salad

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 3 tbsp diced scallions
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place steaks in a glass dish.  In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Marinate in refrigerator covered, for 2 to 3 hours.  Remove steaks from marinade when ready to grill.
  2. To make “butter,” combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process for about a minute until mixed thorougly.  Can be refrigerated, but plan to serve at room temperature.
  3. To make couscous salad, bring chicken stock to a boil and then add the couscous.  Cover until cooked (about 15 minutes).
  4. Mix in tomatoes, mint, chives, garlic, green onions, paprika and oil.  Season to taste.  Set aside.
  5. Heat up a cast iron skillet until hot, and cook steaks 5-6 minutes per side, or until cooked to desired doneness.  Shortly after turning, put a mound of the “butter” on each steak, and allow to melt slightly while the steaks finish cooking.  Serve with the couscous!

From The Wine Lover’s Cookbook, by Sid Goldstein


Duck Breasts with Honey, Ginger and Lavender

We’ve been finding D’Artagnan duck breasts at our local grocery store lately and so thought, why not – let’s make duck! After eating chicken over and over again, it turned out it was a great alternative and very easy to cook.


This recipe just requires a few hours of marinading, which really lends a wonderful flavor to the dish.


I also fell in love with tarragon after using it in this dish – an herb that (surprising to myself) I’ve almost never used.


Now I can’t wait to find other ways to add tarragon into our recipe rotations!


  • 2 whole boneless duck breasts
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp white wine Worcestershire
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp dried lavender
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil


  1. Cut whole duck breasts into two halves and trim all excess fat. Score the fat side of the breasts by cutting an X in the middle of the breast.
  2. Marinate breasts in half of the crusted pepper, Worcestershire, 1/4 tsp ginger, lavender, and shallot slices. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. In a large pan, combine wine, stock, vanilla, remaining 1/2 tsp of ginger reserved crushed pepper, and sliced shallots removed from the top of the duck breasts, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and reduct liquid by half.
  4. Add honey and tarragon and reduce further to sauce consistency.
  5. Remove from heat and swirl in butter. Season to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  6. In another skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Place duck breasts in pan, skin side down, and sauté for 5-6 minutes until lightly brown. Turn breasts and continue to cook on meat side for 2-4 minutes until medium rare. The juices should run pinkish.
  7. Remove breasts from the pan and slice at an angle. Fan breasts and top wit the sauce. Garnish with sprigs of tarragon. Serve with wild rice studded with dried cherries and minced green onions.

From The Wine Lover’s Cookbook by Sid Goldstein

Fun Frances Frittatas

So it’s no secret that I love brunch, and this was one of those brunches that came together with just leftovers from the fridge, but that happened to also be from one of my favorite cookbooks, My Paris Kitchen.

Truly simple to throw together, you just need some eggs, feta, basil, paprika and scallions.

  1. Heat the oil in a 10 in cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the potato cubes and 1 tsp of the salt.  Cook, stirring frequently until the potatoes are tender and cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.
  2. A few minutes before the potatoes are done, add the scallions and cook until they are wilted.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  4. Mix the eggs in a bowl with the remaining 1/4 tsp salt and the paprika.  Stir the basil into the eggs and pour the mixutre over the potatoes in the skillet.
  5. Crumble the feta over the potatoes, and press the pieces down gently with a spoon.  Cook the “tortilla” or fritatta until the bottom is golden brown and well set, rotating the pan from time to time as it cooks.  It will take 15-20 minutes.
  6. When the crust is browned, slide the skillet into the oven and let it cook until the eggs are set, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the skillet from the oven, and either cut and serve – or if you want to add some flair, flip it over into a baking sheet and then serve!

From My Paris Kitchen, David Lebovitz