This Summer Salad is French, Delish & Super Easy!

This Summer Salad is French, Delish & Super Easy!

Is it summer yet? With Memorial Day right around the corner, and a heat wave oppressing the south, it sure does feel like it. My very own version of a favorite French salad is easily put together, and works with just about any fresh veggies and tuna/salmon you have on hand. It’s perfect for when you have graduation ceremonies, recitals and tee-ball playoff games to attend, yet need a refreshing entrée salad to whip up and fortify you before going into Mom mode.

This simple yet sophisticated salad is made up of tomatoes, olives, anchovies (my favorite) and hard boiled eggs. In this particular version of Nicoise, I left off the olives, and to my sweet surprise it still tasted like a classic Nicoise. The great thing about this quintessential summer salad is not needing everything you think you do to make it great – everything works! Let your creative license run wild!

On many American menus, you can find a version of a Nicoise salad that includes tuna, crisp-tender haricot verts and par-cooked potatoes.

Mine, of course gives a nod to the original French dish, and whole lotta latitude with this creative adaption. Let me know how you tweaked yours, and I just might show up for dinner!

Jorj’s Nicoise Salad
Serves 4
30 minute cuisine

For the salmon:

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

For the vinaigrette

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium shallot, chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Juice of a lemon, about two tablespoons

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

For the baby potatoes:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Sea salt and pepper to taste

For the Salad:

1 (2–pound) whole salmon fillet

1 pound seared tuna

1 (7-ounce) tin flat fillets of anchovies, packed in oil

¾ pound green beans, trimmed

1 pound Baby potatoes, boiled and peeled

Juice of a lemon, about two tablespoons

½ pound fresh Brussels sprouts, about 12, trimmed, about 2 cups

5 large eggs, hard-cooked and peeled

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved


Boil the baby potatoes until the tines of a fork can penetrate easily, about 10 minutes. Toss the potatoes with olive oil, fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Cool these to room temperature. Blanch the green beans and Brussels sprouts in boiling water, throwing them into an ice-water bath to cool down; then toss in the lemon juice.

Make a salmon rub from brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, onion and garlic powders. Smush the powders onto a whole filet of salmon, drizzled with olive oil and roasted in a 375°oven until still very moist on the inside, about 20 minutes.

Add the seared tuna, anchovies, hardboiled eggs and grape tomatoes.

Make a vinaigrette from chopped shallot, mustard, lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You can store the dressing in any container that you like, and add to the salad per your own taste. I like to drizzle my salad with vinaigrette right before I eat it.

Lay everything onto a platter and chill for at least an hour (and as long as all day).


Summertime and the Peach Desserts are Easy…

Summertime and the Peach Desserts are Easy…

Summer screams for ice cream, and ice cream screams for bold new flavors. While walking through the Farmer’s Market last Saturday, I came to a popsicle stand advertising the most interesting flavors: Lavender Chocolate, Roasted Blueberry, Thyme & Lime. It was fascinating! Inspired by these unique combinations, and having just bagged loads of juicy, fresh peaches, I embarked on a little ice cream screamin’ myself!

First, I decided to roast the peaches. Since I never roasted peached before, this was a bit of a trial. I preheated the oven to 400°, and divided my sliced peaches into groups. I placed half on parchment paper (on a baking sheet), and the other half on the sheet itself. Here they are in glorious detail:

Then I divided these groups, and sprinkled half with brown sugar. I placed the pan in the oven and waited. After 5 minutes, the peaches began to break down, but did not appear to brown. I waited 5 minutes more, and noticed that the peaches with brown sugar were beginning to brown. After a total of 12 minutes, the group with brown sugar looked perfect. Success!

Now for the ice cream! In my book, Sunday Best Dishes, I have a recipe for Salted Caramel Ice Cream. It involves caramelizing the sugar before you mix it into the custard. It sounds hard, but it’s really not. I made the caramel ice cream base (without the salt) and stirred in the peach puree. Let me just tell you I am really delighted with the results. And, I think you will be too.

What this recipe really shows is first how easy it is to make ice cream at home and secondly, how easy it is to make your own inspirational ice cream at home, using your favorite flavors and whatever is in season. I encourage you to give it a try and share your screamin’ ice cream with your fellow foodies here at

Roasted Peach and Caramel Ice Cream

Serves a crowd

30 Minute Cuisine plus cooling and chilling

Roasting fresh picked peaches intensifies the flavor and gives them a hint of smokiness. Caramelizing the sugar intensifies the sweetness. Seems to me, it’s a match made in ice cream heaven!

6 to 8 medium peaches, peeled and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 cups half and half

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar

6 large egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 425°. Place the sliced peaches onto a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the peaches, and gently toss. Roast the peaches until they begin to break down and turn golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly and then transfer the peaches to a blender and puree. You will get about 2 cups of really yummy peach puree.

Heat the half and half, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat, until little bubbles begin to form on the sides of the pan, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Heat the sugar in a separate saucepan pan with ¼ cup water, over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat and bring the sugar to a boil. Continue boiling until the sugar begins to turn caramel in color, about 8 minutes. Gently swirl the pan to make sure that the sugar colors evenly.

Now, here is the tricky part. SLOWLY pour the warm half and half into the caramel. As it first blends, the hot caramel will bubble up and expand up the sides of the pan. Stop pouring until the bubbles settle down, and then pour in the rest of the half and half.

Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Carefully pour about ¼ cup of the caramel half and half into the eggs, whisking constantly. This will temper the egg yolks and help to prevent them from scrambling. Pour the tempered egg yolks into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir until the caramel custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Pour the custard through a fine sieve (or colander) into a clean bowl. Stir in the peach puree. Place that bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes. Chill the peach custard, stirring occasionally, until it comes to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Cover the custard with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Place the custard into the bowl of your ice cream maker and freeze according to the directions for your machine. Serve immediately, or place the ice cream into an airtight container in the freezer. When you serve it it’ll look like this, PEACHY KEEN:

Pesto Change-Oh!

Pesto Change-Oh!

For traditional pesto, you For traditional pesto, you’ll need handfuls of basil, several cloves of garlic, another handful of grated cheese and pine nuts…

It’s summertime and nothing screams summer like fresh pesto. But, what the heck is pesto, and how do I use it? Well, my fine foodie friends, pesto is basically a full-flavored paste. It originated in Italy and combines, essentially, basil, garlic, grated hard cheese (think Parmigiano Reggiano), toasted pine nuts and olive oil. You can smush these ingredients all together using a mortar and pestle, or you can march into the twenty-first century and use your trusty food processor.

For traditional pesto, place a couple of handfuls of basil, several cloves of garlic, another handful of grated cheese, and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Then, with the machine running, slowly drizzle in about ½ cup of olive oil. Stop the machine, season with salt and pepper, taste and see if you need a little extra oil. Now you’ve done it! Store your pesto in an airtight container in the fridge. It will last for several weeks.

Now, how do you use it! I add a couple of spoonfuls to cooked pasta for a simple midweek supper. Add a dollop to sautéed zucchini, roasted Brussels sprouts, or butter-boiled potatoes. Spread some on your roasted turkey panini, your garlicky garlic bread and your breakfast burrito. And then there is my favorite use, corn on the cobb with pesto and fluffy cheese!

But wait! Let’s laugh in the face of fate, and change things up a bit. What if we create our own version of pesto with the summer’s fresh bounty of greens? Well, heck yeah, that’ll work!

I purchased garlic scapes and a bag of fresh spinach leaves last week at the market, and inspiration was born. Combining fresh greens, with macadamia nuts, scapes, Parmesan cheese and olive oil yielded one stunning pesto! I rolled my warm corn in the pesto, dusted it with more finely ground cheese, and served it for our Alfresco summer dinner with home-made sloppy joes. Getting hungry yet?

If summer has a super savory taste, this is it! If summer has a super savory taste, this is it!

Corn on the Cobb with Garlic Scape and Macadamia Nut Pesto

Serves 4

20 Minute Cuisine

In the early summer market, you can find long, green, circles of thin stalks that are garlic scapes. These are the flower bud of garlic plants. They are cut off the plant so that the bulb grows fatter and fatter. These strands of garlicky goodness can be used in the same way as garlic cloves with no peeling of course! I use them to make pesto and then I spread that pesto on everything. Melting, fragrant, nutty pesto is delicious on summer sweet corn. Give it a try to see what I mean!

3 to 4 garlic scapes, chopped, about ½ cup

½ pound spinach leaves, about 2 cups

1 bunch fresh basil, about ½ cup

¼ cup macadamia nuts

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup olive oil

4 large ears of corn, shucked

Place the garlic scapes, spinach leaves, basil leaves (no need to chop any of these, just dump them right in), macadamia nuts and Parmesan cheese into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until all the ingredients are ground together. Open the lid and season with salt and pepper. Replace the lid and with the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil to make a paste. Store the pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Place the corn into a pan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and cook until the corn is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the water from the pan. Place several spoonfuls of the pesto into the pan with the corn. Cover with the lid and swirl the pan so that the hot corn melts the pesto and all the kernels are generously coated. Serve the corn with additional salt and pepper and another sprinkle of Parmesan cheese!


Remove the kernels from the cobbs and place into a bowl. Drain a can of black beans and pour into the same bowl. Add chopped tomatoes, onion and a bit of fresh jalapeno pepper. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Stir this all together and chill for a corn and black bean salsa that is perfect with warm tortilla chips and fresh guac!

In Honor of Blueberry Muffin Day

In Honor of Blueberry Muffin Day

Summer wouldn’t be summer without bursting berries…

Love a pastry with a delicate, tender crumb? Then it’s time I shared my recipe for Very Berry Muffins. These are from my book, Sunday Best Dishes (print edition coming soon). The recipe is a delightful mix of blueberries, raspberries or just about any other berry you have on hand – and you probably have a few this summer. I use a combination of pastry flour with all-purpose flour, which gives these muffins just enough texture to remind you of blueberry cobbler. If you don’t have pastry flour, you can use equal portions of cake flour and all-purpose flour.

You might have noticed the huge array of flours that are taking up more and more space in the grocery and specialty markets. You can find coconut flour, almond flour, gluten-free flours, whole grain flours… the list goes on and on. It’s an excellent idea for you to experiment with different flours when you are baking to get the best possible combination for your taste buds.

Join the celebration and surprise your family with these easy-to-bake muffins on Blueberry Muffin Day on July 11th…. or any day you want to celebrate the muffin!

Very Berry Muffins

Got berries? These should do just fine in your muffins :) Got berries? These should do just fine in your muffins 🙂


When you open the oven door, the aroma of berry cobbler wafts through the kitchen. Served warm at breakfast, these muffins are a bona fide dessert! You may want to serve them with a slather of protein rich almond butter for a long-lasting energy boost!

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling

3 large eggs

¾ cup milk

½ orange, juiced, about 3 tablespoons

Zest of ½ orange, about 2 teaspoons

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup fresh raspberries

Granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 °.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together both flours, the baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, milk, orange juice and zest.

Coarsely chop the berries using a knife or by briefly pulsing in a food processor. Stir the berries into the wet mixture. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. The batter will be thick.

Drop the batter into the muffin tins using a 3-inch ice cream scoop.  Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with sugar. Bake until the muffins are golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and remove the muffins to a rack.

Sunday Swaps

This basic muffin recipe screams for your inventiveness.  You can use any fresh fruit that you like; all berries, chopped peaches, apples and bananas are perfect.  You can incorporate oats, nuts or chocolate chips; add flavorings like vanilla, instant coffee, peanut butter – it all works.