Daily Archives: May 24, 2014

Brisket with Cola Barbecue Sauce

I have been intrigued with cooking with cola and other soft drinks ever since I first read about it – which was in the Nigella Lawson’s book “Nigella Bites”. Leave it to me to learn about Southern cooking  from a British food writer.  I started to experiment with barbecue sauce and the result is this jazzed up version for brisket. It’s a great way to entertain a crowd with big flavor and little work. The sweetness of the cola permeates the brisket which is then perfectly balanced with the acid coming from both the Balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. You will find yourself making dish over and over again. Yes, it’s that good!

From by the bay wishing you sweet cola food memories! Maryann

blog cola brisket

Brisket with Cola Barbecue Sauce

Serves 6

3 pounds brisket

3 cups cola barbecue sauce


Place brisket overnight in a sealed plastic bag along with the barbecue sauce. Next day, preheat oven to 275F. Empty the contents of the plastic bag into a Dutch oven include all the sauce. Cover with lid and place in the oven for approximately 4 hours. Brisket takes approximately 1 hours and 15 minutes per lb to cook. Remove from oven. Using two forks pull the meat apart and shred into the remaining sauce. Combine and serve. This can also be served as a sandwich using either fresh rolls  and coleslaw or as a soft taco along with some sour cream. 


Cola Barbecue Sauce

Makes 3 cups

12ozs. Cola

1 ½ cup ketchup

4 garlic cloves, smashed

5 bay leaves

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon chili flakes

5 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped


In a medium saucepan bring all ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes , sauce will thicken . Cool and use with steak, chicken or pork.

Note: no diet cola for this – the sugar is essential to the taste of the barbecue sauce.


Lobster Roll with Tarragon

Last weekend I had guests out from the city visiting by the bay. So when I was thinking about  what to serve my friends so that they could really experience the waterside, of course lobster came to mind, the quintessential waterside dish. I love lobster rolls and I make it many different ways. Sometimes I just want the simplicity of fresh lobster meat , a toasted roll and melted butter and it’s delicious. This weekend I wanted to kick up the ingredients for my lobster salad with Old Bay Seasoning to add warmth to the taste of cool mayonnaise, fresh herbs such as parsley and the slightly licorice flavor of tarragon and  a touch of fresh lemon juice to brighten all the flavors. My friends were taking the train from Penn Station, I told them to come early and I would pick them up in Port Washington and we would head over to the pier to buy some fresh lobsters. Once by the bay, I steamed the lobsters and made my salad. After a walk to the beach, we came back to have a terrific lunch of lobster rolls on the deck. What a perfect day!

From by the bay wishing you perfect waterside memories!
blog lobster roll


Lobster Roll with Tarragon

Serves 6

6 cups chilled lobster meat from 4 – 1  lb steamed lobster cut in chunks

½ cup celery, chopped fine

2 tablespoons scallions, chopped

¾ cup fine store bought mayonnaise

2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped

4 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

6 brioche rolls, top split

1/2 cup unsalted butter


To a bowl add lobster, scallion and celery. In a separate bowl , whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, tarragon, parsley, old bay seasoning, salt , pepper and cayenne pepper. Pour over the lobster mixture. Blend well. Place in refrigerator covered until ready to use.

Melt butter and brush the insides of the roll. Toast in a 400 degree F oven 4 minutes until golden brown. Fill buns with lobster salad and serve.

Fresh Corn with Shrimp and Grits

I got up early the other morning and when straight to the farm stand. I just love this time of year, especially the corn. I found some beautiful ears of butter and sugar corn which is a mix of yellow and white kernels. I wanted the corn to be the star of my dinner that night so I decided to make shrimp and grits. In order to have the delicious corn taste enhance each part of the dish, I shucked the corn to mix into the dish at the end and also make a corn stock that I used to make the sauce for the shrimp as well as to cook the grits. I finished the dish off with some fresh basil from my garden. The results were terrific. Don’t be daunted by the steps, they are all easy and go quickly, so definitely try it out.

From by the bay wishing you butter and sugar food memories!
Tip: when shucking the corn, I place a large bowl in the skin and shuck the corn instead the
bowl, with a knife. This makes for an easy clean up afterward.
blog corn shrimp grits
Fresh Corn with Shrimp and Grits
Serves 6
Ingredients for stock
6 large ears corn, shucked, kernels and cobs separate, keep 1 1/2 cups corn kernels for shrimp
4 cups store bought low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
Directions for stock
In a stock pot add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Remove the cobs from the stock and discard. Place remaining stock and corn into food processor and puree. Strain and keep stock to the side. You will have about 3 1/2 cups of stock. If you have less use less stock in the grits and add more water.
Note: This can be done in advance, earlier in the day.
Ingredients for grits
1 cup stone grounded grits
2 cups corn stock
2 cups water
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 pound unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons corn stock  or olive oil optional
Directions for grits
In a large sauce pan  4 cups of liquid in total – add stock, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add grits and cook uncovered for about 20 to 25 minutes until liquid is absorbed into the grits, stirring occasionally so grits don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and add the butter and cheese, stirring well. Optional : Right before serving add 2 tablespoons of the corn stock or olive oil  to loosen the grits.
Ingredients for shrimp
2 pounds shrimp cleaned and deveined
4 ounces thick cut bacon, chopped into cubes
1 1/2 cups fresh uncooked corn kernels
1 garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups corn stock
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons basil, chopped
Directions for shrimp
Place a large saute pan on medium heat  and add the bacon and cook until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel. Set aside. In the same pan saute the shrimp until they turn pink, cooking on both sides. Do not over crowd the pan. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Leave about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and add the garlic, green onion and corn. Saute for about 2 minutes until softened, then add the corn stock and lemon juice bring to a boil and add the shrimp and bacon, mix well and remove from the heat. Serve on top of the grits and top with chopped basil.


Cilantro and Pistachio Couscous

Looking for that quick reliable side dish? Stop looking and make couscous the dish. I always have some sitting on my pantry shelf. It’s easy and delicious side dish that can be make in advance and served at room temperature . It’s perfect for summer menus. Below is a basic recipe I use, but it’s easy to get creative. For example,  pistachios can be replaced with walnuts, pine nuts or pecans. The cilantro can be replaced with other leafy green fresh herbs such as mint or basil. You can add dried fruits or even fresh corn or berries. I suggest adding to your pantry today and  to your menu this week .

From by the bay wishing you delicious couscous memories!

Cilantro and Pistachio Couscous

Serves 6

1 ½ cups couscous

1 ½ cups boiling water

½ cup pistachios, chopped

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoons fine sea salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Olive oil and cilantro leaves to garnish


In a large bowl place couscous, cover with boiling water and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let bowl sit for 10 minutes. Remove wrap and using a fork lift the couscous to make fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. This can be served immediately or at room temperature. Just before serving add a drizzle of olive oil.

Short Rib Burger with Rosemary Onion Jam

I have a bit of a competitive streak when it comes to cooking. Each year we have an outdoor grilling get together where we try to out do one another for the best burger recipe. This year I went for a burger made of ground short rib. Short rib has just the right fat ratio for a juicy burger. Next, I made some vidalia onion jam as a topping that along with melted smoked cheddar cheese, crisp cooked pancetta and a little arugula made for a real winning burger! Try it for your next cookout and get rave reviews!
From by the bay, wishing you winning food memories!

blog onion jam

Rosemary Onion Jam

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large vidalia onions, chopped
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 springs rosemary, leaves chopped
In a medium sauce pan heat olive oil and add onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute onions until soft, about 15 minutes, stir so that onions to not burn. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to saute until onions are brown and the consistency is jam like. Remove from heat and cool. Place into a jam jar until ready to use. If not using within a few hours refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.
blog onion jam burger
Short Rib Burger with Rosemary Onion Jam
Serves 6
2 pounds ground short rib
6 sesame seed buns
6 slices smoked cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons onion jam
12 slices pancetta cooked, crisp
4 ounces baby arugula leaves
Cook burgers , as preferred. Cut rolls through middle and toast. Add the cheddar cheese to top of burger and melt. To assemble place some arugula to the toasted bottom of the bun. Place burger with cheese on top of the arugula. Top with the onion jam and then the cooked pancetta. Finish with the toasted top of the bun and enjoy!

Summer Agua Recipes

I just returned from a vacation visiting San Francisco and the surrounding areas. I highly recommend it! While shopping, I was struck by the number of small shops offering fruit flavored water to their guests. After buying so many bottles of fruit flavored water, I loved the idea of making my own.  When I returned to by the bay on Long Island, I did a little research. I discovered that agua fresca is Mexican in origin, frequently found in the traveling street markets, used to tempt shoppers. One of the most popular agua is made with watermelon. I quickly bought some watermelon and oranges to make my own flavored waters for the weekend. I am using less sugar then usually suggested in these recipes, as it’s my preference to have the water be less sweet and really taste the fruit flavor. The first recipe is for a watermelon agua, you could easily switch out the watermelon for cantaloupe or strawberries. The second recipe is for an orange flavored water. I am thinking to experiment next weekend making fresh ginger with the cantaloupe or cucumber water with mint. There are endless possibilities. Both recipes below are fantastic and it’s a great way to beat the heat!

From by the bay wishing you fruity food memories!
blog watermelon water
Watermelon Agua (Water)
3/4 pound watermelon, diced without the rind
4 cups water
2 tablespoons fine granulated sugar
juice of one lime (optional)
In a  food processor add the watermelon with 2 cups of water and puree. Strain into a bowl. Add the remaining 2 cups of water , sugar and lime juice. Mix Well. Place in a jar and refrigerate until cold before serving.
blog orange water
Orange Aqua (Water)

1 inch piece of orange zest
2 oranges peeled and quartered
4 cups water
2 tablespoons fine granulated sugar
orange slices
In a food processor add the oranges and zest with 2 cups of water and puree. Strain into a bowl. Add the remaining 2 cups of water and sugar. Mix well. Place in jar along with orange slices and refrigerate until cold before serving.

Blackberry Buttermilk Coffee Cake

blog bowl of blackberries

I grew up in New York City. My back yard was the hard gray pavement. Most of my childhood games were played on the sidewalk, games such as hopscotch, jump rope and stick ball. Every summer though my family would go on vacation and we would spend two glorious weeks away from the city. We would drive up to the Adirondack Mountains and stay at a cabin on Loon Lake. Much like Dorothy, my world went from Black and White to Technicolor. The cabin was in a wooded area just a short walk from the lake. The surrounding woods were filled with little paths to other cabins. Every afternoon I would take a long walks along the paths.  The woods were filled with blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. I would fill my pail each afternoon and return to the cabin. Many days I would return from my walk and my sisters and I would just eat the berries straight from the pail, too impatient to make them into a dessert. But on those few days that we controlled our impulses to eat those berries immediately we would stand at mom’s side and make a dessert.  We kept our desserts pretty simple: pies, cobblers and crisps. The blackberries almost never lasted until the morning so I bought enough recently so that I could make this delicious coffee cake, it’s moist and slightly sweet bursting with blackberries. Even better is how easy it is to make. Picking and cooking with blackberries were some of the happiest and most delicious moments of my life.

From by the bay wishing you delicious blackberry memories!

blog blackberry coffee cake

Blackberry Buttermilk Coffee Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
5 ounces fresh blackberries
For crumb topping
1/3 cup all purpose white flour
3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces ( 1/2 stick)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a non stick 8″ square baking pan and cover bottom with a square piece of parchment paper. In a small bowl add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix. In a medium size bowl add the oil, sugar and egg. Beat using a spoon until well combined. Slowly add the flour and buttermilk alternately, blending well after each addition. Turn batter into the greased pan. Top with the blackberries. In another bowl add the ingredients for the crumb topping and mix well using your fingers until butter is incorporated and texture is crumbly like sand. Sprinkle evenly on top of the batter. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. When cake comes out of the oven let cool 5 minutes and then loosen the sides with a knife . Let cool another 5 minutes and turn onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment paper and let cool another 10 minutes. Place on a serving plate . This is great to serve warm or at room temperature.

Talking Barbecue with Kenney Dale Johnson : Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce

Article first published as Talking Barbecue with Kenney Dale Johnson, Drummer for Chris Isaak on Technorati.

blog beyond the sun

I had the opportunity to chat with Kenney Dale Johnson the other day about barbecue. You probably know Kenney as the talented drummer and backup vocalist for Chris Isaak. Kenney and Chris have been performing on the road for over 27 years. Kenney shared ” I’ve been fortunate enough to sample fare from all the over the world, it’s pretty cool. I’m very adventurous.” Kenney was born and raised in Texas, so he knows a thing of two about barbecue. He had the opportunity to sample fare throughout the United States. Kenney recalled some of his favorite barbecue such as ” Carolina’s Mustard Base Barbecue Sauce and Blueberry Based Barbecue Sauce in Nashville.”  Kenney recently spent time in Memphis recording “Beyond The Sun” which was recently released by Chris Isaak and the band. The album is a collection of Sun cover songs from the early days of Sun Studio including Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Great Balls of Fire”, Carl Perkins’ “Dixie Fried” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” just to name a few of the 36 songs on the album. When in Memphis, Kenney enjoys dining at “Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous Charcoal Ribs” which uses a very special dry rub. Kenney “bought a bunch of the rub and I use to make chicken, that place is a kick in the pants if you get to go there.”  Well, after I hung up the phone with Kenney, I was intrigued to learn more about  Carolina’s Mustard Base Barbecue Sauce, so I did some research. I became even more interested when I discovered that this sauce was a mash up of German ancestry and American barbecue. So I started experimenting in the kitchen, where I travel through my cooking.  I came up with a recipe I know you’ll love. It’s a perfect balance of tangy and sweet.  I’m also including the recipe for Rendezvous Famous Seasoning Rub. I did not dare tamper with a best in class recipe. Hope you take the opportunity to enjoy both recipes while we head into the height of the summer barbecue season. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Kenney for his time and for the inspiration from his music and his food adventures.

From by the bay wishing you some Rockin’ barbecue memories!

Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce
1 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaveDirections
Combine all ingredients into a medium sauce pan on high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly, Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally. Cool and store in an airtight container over night in the refrigerator. Can be used as any other barbecue sauce, especially with pork or chicken.

World Famous Rendezvous Dry Seasoning Rub
From Charlie Vergos Rendezvous Restaurant in Memphis
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1 tabelspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder

Combine all ingredients together and store in an air tight container until needed.


Lime Sweet Potato Salad

My sister Nancy loves sweet potatoes! I don’t usually think about making sweet potatoes in the summer, it always seems like a fall food for me. So when we were planning a barbecue one weekend, Nan suggested I try making a sweet potato salad. I knew I had to use the flavors of summer which include for me lime and cilantro. Below is the salad I came up with and it was a big hit, so much so that it’s now requested all the time. Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!
From by the bay wishing you sweet (potato) food memories!
blog sweet potato 2
Lime Sweet Potato Salad
Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds sweet potatoes cut into cubes
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives to garnish
Add sweet potatoes to a large pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook potatoes until tender about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let cool. While potatoes are cooking, add the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and blend. Add the cooled potatoes and mix throughly, making sure all the potatoes are coated with the dressing. Let sit covered in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.

Dad’s Favorite Blue Cheese Dressing

I wanted to remember my Dad this Father’s Day by blogging about one of his recipes. Dad did not cook a lot but he had a few special dishes. I turned to my sister Nancy the other day and said, “What should Dad’s Blog be about? ” We both turned to each other and said simultaneously, Blue Cheese Dressing! My Dad was in banking, think Don Draper giving out loans instead of managing an ad agency and that would be Dad. Lunches and dinners with clients, often at the top steakhouses in the city. When Dad liked something he dined on , he often would come home and explain it to my mother. Mom is amazing, she had a very high success rate recreating dishes for my Dad. There were rare occasions where my father would try a recipe out himself. It usually would be outdoors on the grill or to accompany something cooked on the grill. Here is a favorite – the absolute best blue cheese dressing you have ever had. This is courtesy of Dad and whatever steakhouse inspired him. Dad would ambitiously make this dressing in a mason jar, shaking vigorously to get the right consistency. I’m going to suggest grilling some romaine lettuce and sliced heirloom tomatoes to accompany this dressing in honor of Dad’s passion for steakhouse dining and grilling! Enjoy!

From by the bay, wishing you a very Happy Father’s Day and making fond food memories!
blog blue cheese dressing
Dad’s Favorite Blue Cheese Dressing

6 ounces Maytag Blue Cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a medium size mixing bowl crumble in the blue cheese add the remaining ingredients and whisk together until emulsified. Pour ingredients into a glass covered jar and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. Shake ingredients well before spooning onto your favorite salad.
For salad pictured:
Take Romaine lettuce leaves and brush with olive oil, place on grill until lettuce starts to wilt and brown. Remove from grill and place on platter along with slices of heirloom tomatoes.
Lettuce can also be roasted in a 400 degree F oven. Place oiled lettuce leaves on to a baking sheet and roasted about 10 minutes until lettuce starts to wilt and brown, then remove from oven.