(Optional) Chopped Salad

This is what I would very loosely call a recipe for the salad I’ve been making all summer, and I’ve named it “(Optional) Chopped Salad” because all the ingredients are optional, depending on your taste and what’s available that day. I’ve brought it to BBQs and served it to company, and everyone wants the “recipe,” which makes me giggle. It’s just what you like and what you’ve got, all chopped up nicely in a bowl.

Don’t like olives? Fugettaboutem! Have a few Kirby cukes around? By all means. Rather use goat cheese or no cheese at all? Be my guest. The key is to wind up with a fresh, crunchy, lightly-dressed salad that makes you happy and is…

Oh my. I have gone and spoiled myself forever. I have stumbled upon the most perfect breakfast/brunch dish and now I want to eat it every day. And I don’t even like eggs!

I don’t remember where I first saw a version of this recipe, but for some reason it stuck in my head. Ratatouille. Yum. Eggs. Not-so-yum, but Iacono chicken farm is right near us in East Hampton, and the farm-fresh eggs continually beckon to me. I eat them occasionally because I think they’re good for ya and I just should-always poached-but there’s nothing enjoyable about it for me.

But the idea of masking an egg with ratatouille? Brill. I looked at a bunch of recipes…

Nyonya Grilled Shrimp

HELP! I need someone to try this yummy shrimp dish with the coconut sauce that I chose to omit (during the first week of a diet) and tell me how it is, because I have to imagine it elevates the dish to something truly remarkable.

We got the grill into proper working order a few weeks ago—finally a real charcoal grill after all these years with gas—and have been on a grilling tear every since. Trying to lose a few (okay, 30) pounds, dinner choices have been limited to the de rigeur boneless chicken breasts, fish, and maybe some veal. But I was jonesing for something a little sweeter, plumper, juicier, more succulent a couple of…

Ever have a "V8" moment where you open the freezer shortly before the witching hour and wish you had stuck those lamb chops in the fridge last night to defrost slowly all day? Story of my life. Well according to food science writer Harold McGee, if you've got half an hour or so before the hungry masses descend, you can indeed safely thaw compact cuts in a hot water bath without compromising quality. McGee outlines the technique—and the research behind it—in thisNew York Timespiece. Hip-hip-HOORAY!

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Cedar-Planked Salmon

Yes, I am wayyyyyy behind. There are more than 30 dishes in my queue to write about, but this Cedar Planked Salmon with Lemon-Pepper Rub and Horseradish-Chive Sauce from last night was so scrumptious that it leapfrogged over everything else and jumped to the front of the line!

We’re those crazy variety of New Englanders who love to grill year-round, but there’s nothing more satisfying than firing up the coals on beautiful June weekends when it’s still relatively cool and there’s light in the sky until almost 9:00. And it’s even more fun to share those magical late-spring days kicking back with friends-laughing, gossiping and savoring the season. (When I told Matt we were having friends…

Chocolate Cream Pie

Don't get me wrong, I loves me some fruit. Bursting berries, juicy pineapples, luscious mangos—all scrumptious treats. But for dessert, there's nothing as satisfying as something rich and chocolatey, crunchy and creamy. And man, this Chocolate Cream Pie(Saveur, Issue #126)fires on all cylinders.

I grew up eating the "semi-homemade" version of chocolate cream pie. My mom would boil up some My-T-Fine, pour it into a baked Oronoque crust from the freezer, chill it, and voilà! Chocolate cream pie! She'd serve it with a dollop of Cool Whip or a swirl of Reddi-Whip. Pardon me for a moment while I grab a barf bag.

This is the real thing, and we were lucky enough that Ben found…

Bagna Cauda Salad

This salad gives me a big dilemma. Honestly, I can’t decide whether it’s more pretty or more delish. (“Less filling!” “Tastes great!”) But I do know it’s one of the best recipes I’ve come across in a long time. I had seen it on Food52, Amanda Hesser’s website, over a month ago, printed it immediately and stashed it in my recipe binder. And then I promptly forgot about it. Last weekend, I was flipping through the binder for my go-to spaghetti with clams recipe, and there was the Bagna Cauda Salad, staring me in the face. Hmmm, I thought, what could be bad about adding a nice crunchy salad dish to our garlicky pasta dinner? Bagna cauda…

Apple Pie

This is likely to set off shockwaves among my foodie peeps, but believe it or not, I don’t have an apple pie recipe in my repertoire. I know-heretic, isn’t it? And the reason why may even be more surprising: I basically don’t like apple pie. Crazy. Warped, even. What’s more bizarre is that my sister and I were both born of apple-pie-loving parents, and neither of us likes it. (The most elusive genetic mystery, however, may be how our parents-two coffee-drinking folks-managed to produce THREE non-coffee-drinking offspring. Anywho.)

Ironically, I wound up marrying a guy who prefers pies to cakes, and I can crank out delectable creations filled with things like blueberries, chocolate cream, or pumpkin. But I…

Fake Shack Burgers

In honor of this week’s monumentally exhilirating announcement by Union Square Hospitality Group that Shake Shack will open its “first true roadside Shack” right here in Westport, CT-just a mere mile from my abode-I had to wax poetic about one of the dishes that’s been in my backlog for a few weeks now: the fake Shack Burger.

Full disclosure: the Reisers are completely obsessed with Shake Shack. The burgers have just the right juice/grease combination, the rolls are smushy and delish, the lettuce and tomatoes are fresh and pristine, the fries are crinkly and always hot, the custards rock, and the root beer is creamy, cold, and not overly sweet. Happiness is BenRei…

Fire-Roasted Clams

If you’re a clam fanatic, you absolutely must experience this dish—and the dramatic adventure that goes along with making it—at least once in your life. When you grow up on the Rhode Island shore, clams are a quintessential food staple, and when you grow up as David Cohen’s daughter, dad’s legendary clamboils and clam roasts are a sought-after annual tradition. My boys are now the next generation of roasted clam lovers, and they count down the days of summer until they get to have what they have come to affectionately name “Papa’s Clams.”

My dad officially refers to them as “Clams Like the Indians Used to Make”—and by Indians he unmistakably means Native Americans. So if you’re ready,…