Add an Asian Touch to your Fourth of July Barbecue with Ahi Burgers with Ginger Sesame Mayonnaise


There is nothing like a Fourth of July barbecue. Kids and adults love the patriotic fanfare as well as the smoky-sweet barbecue aroma in the air on this special day. I think I have made the gamut of dishes that somehow have come to signify Fourth of July. From southern pulled pork to ribs of every kind, I’ve kicked up the flavors and reimagined grilled sausages, burgers of every kind, steaks, and salads galore. When I want a simple menu I like to offer my standard juicy beef burgers and add one other burger to satisfy the non-meat eaters at my gathering.

This Ahi Burger with Ginger Sesame Mayonnaise is a true crowd-pleaser. Fresh tuna has become a staple at most supermarkets. Select tuna that is very fresh and doesn’t have a bloodline running through it. The tuna is finely chopped by pulsing it in the food processor with plenty of garlic and fresh basil. Once refrigerated and firm, they are grilled until medium. You can double or triple this recipe but do it in batches. Sometimes I add a slice or two of avocado on top of the lettuce. Make sure the burgers are not overcooked or they will be dry.

To round out your meal consider adding your favorite coleslaw or potato salad, grilled fresh corn on the cob and a fresh fruit platter for a colorful menu.  You can also sauté the burgers in a large skillet over medium-high heat if weather isn’t cooperating for barbecuing. And another variation is to make these into sliders (about 3 inch min-burgers with mini-buns) and serve as an appetizer.  I also love to serve this ginger sesame flavored mayonnaise as a dipping sauce for a vegetable platter (crudités) that includes carrots, pea pods, baby tomatoes and asparagus. Raise a glass of chilled Rose to celebrate our country’s independence and enjoy your day.


Ahi Burgers with Ginger Sesame Mayonnaise

Serves 4



4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 3/4 pounds fresh, well-chilled tuna fillets, trimmed of any dark spots and cut into large chunks

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons anchovy paste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Ginger Sesame Mayonnaise

½ cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon finely chopped pickled ginger

Dash hot pepper sauce, such as Sriracha


To Serve

4 brioche orother soft hamburger buns, sliced and toasted

4 medium crisp butter or romaine lettuce leaves


  1. In a food processor, mince the garlic. Add the tuna, olive oil, basil, anchovy paste and pepper and pulse until the mixture resembles the texture of ground meat. Divide the mixture into 4 balls and form them into 1-inch-thick patties. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


  1. To prepare the mayonnaise: In a small bowl stir together the mayonnaise, sesame seeds, sesame oil, vinegar; and ginger; season with the hot pepper sauce. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


  1. Heat the grill to medium high heat with a perforated grill sheet on top that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Place the tuna patties on the grill and cook for about 2 minutes on each side for medium.


  1. To serve, spread a tablespoon of mayonnaise on the bottom half of the toasted buns. Place the lettuce leaves on top. Place the burgers on top and dollop a tablespoon of the mayonnaise on the burger. Cover with the bun tops. Serve immediately.


Advance Preparation: May be prepared through step 2 up to 6 hours ahead. Keep the burgers and mayonnaise covered and refrigerated.


Roast Loin of Pork with Mustard Crust Brings out “Wows” at The Table


If you are tired of making the same holiday ham  I hope you’ll try this delectable recipe. When I developed this idea I thought about how good a mustard crust would be on a loin of pork. I was happily surprised at the resounding “wows” I received from the lucky tasters at my table.

Sounds complicated? In fact this recipe is so easy to make it might become a standard at your table during any of your holidays. The cognac sauce adds welcome flavor to the meat and the mustard applesauce is reminiscent of the classic pork chops and applesauce.

Remember that pork is 30% leaner than it was just a few decades ago so it will dry out if overcooked. In the past it was thought that pork had to be cooked until well done to avoid the risk of trichinosis. Make sure you cook the pork 5 to 10 degrees lower than you want it to be because it continues to cook as it rests. It’s okay if it is slightly pink inside.

Perfect for a dinner party, this moist pork roast is complemented by a savory Cognac and mustard sauce. Try serving this with braised spinach and rice pilaf. Or consider serving this with roasted Potatoes and Green Beans. For dessert, how about a chocolate pie?

To Drink? The two sauces are the keys here, so match the dish’s sweet and spice elements with a wine that delivers both. If white is your preference, select an off-dry Riesling from New York, Washington or Germany. For a red, a supple yet spicy flavored Australian Shiraz or Californian Zinfandel will be sublime.


Roast Loin of Pork with Mustard Crust


Serves 6 to 8


Mustard Apple Sauce

2 cups favorite apple sauce (Trader Joe’s Chunky-style is good)

2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard


Mustard Coating

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon favorite seasoning salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil


1 (3 1/2 pound) pork loin roast, tied


Cognac Sauce

1/2 cup cognac

1 cup chicken stock

3 tablespoons crème fraiche or heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Pinch coarsely ground white pepper


  1. To make the applesauce: combine the applesauce with the mustard in a small serving bowl and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate until serving.


  1. Combine all of the mustard coating ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the roast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Using plastic disposable gloves spread mustard coating evenly all over the roast.


  1. Roast the pork for about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers 140F. Remove from the oven and transfer the roast to a carving board. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Place the roasting pan on the top of the stove.


  1. To make the Cognac sauce: Add the cognac and stock to the roasting pan, and increase the heat to high. Bring to boil, scraping up the brown bits. Boil until the alcohol has burned off and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Whisk in cream and mustard and bring to boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add pepper and whisk well. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Strain the sauce into a gravy boat of bowl.


  1. Remove the string from the pork and slice the pork. Arrange the slices on a platter and spoon over some of the Cognac sauce. Garnish with parsley. Serve with the remaining cognac sauce and the applesauce on the side.


Advance Preparation: The applesauce mixture and mustard paste may be prepared 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated.


The Clever Cook Could:


  • Make this dish using pork tenderloins; figure 3 (1 1/4 pound) tenderloins and make sure not to let them touch when baking. Bake for about 25 to 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers 140F. Pork tenderloin is very tender and the sliced pieces will be smaller than the loin


  • Try the mustard crust on leg of lamb



Grilled Flank Steak with Smoky Salsa



  • 1 cup Smoky Salsa (see below)
  • 1 cup full-bodied beer
  • 1-2 pound flank steak


  1. Combine 1/2 cup of the salsa and 3/4 cup of the beer in a medium mixing bowl and mix until well blended. Flatten out the flank steak in a shallow, large nonaluminum dish. Pour the marinade over it and marinate for 2 to 24 hours covered in the refrigerator; the longer, the more tender.
  2. In a small serving bowl, combine the remaining salsa and beer for the sauce and mix together. Taste for seasoning.
  3. Prepare a barbecue for medium-heat grilling. Remove the steak from the marinade and grill it 3 inches from the heat for 5 to 7 minutes on each side for a medium-rare. Place on a carving platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice against the grain. Serve immediately with the sauce.

Advance Preperation

Recipe can be prepared up to 1 day ahead through step 2 and refrigerated.

Smoky Salsa


  • 5 large Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small red onion, cut into thick slices
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts only
  • 1/3 medium bunch of cilantro, bottom stems removed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon canned chipotle peppers
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock


  1. Prepare a barbecue for medium-high-heat grilling. Grill the tomatoes, onion slices and scallions until partially charred, turning occasionally. The red onions will take the longest. Transfer to a plate. Grill the cilantro for about 30 seconds, just to wilt and give off a slight smoky flavor.
  2. With the motor running, add the garlic cloves to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until pureed. Add the grilled vegetables and remaining ingredients and process until all the vegetables are pureed. Taste for seasoning. (For a thinner consistency, add more chicken stock.) Serve with chips and guacamole or as a condiment for grilled chicken or meat.

Advance Preperation

Recipe can be prepared up to one week ahead, covered tightly and refrigerated.

Makes 4 to 6.

Twice-Cooked Barbecue Chicken


  • 2 frying chickens (312 pound each), cut up

For the marinade:

  • 34 cup fresh orange juice
  • 14 cup red wine
  • 14 cup soy sauce
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 13 cup chile sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients. Taste for seasoning. Arrange the chicken pieces in a shallow, large nonaluminum dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Cover, refrigerate and marinate for 2 to 4 hours, turning several times.
  2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve the marinade in a small saucepan. Place the chicken in a large enough roasting pan to hold the chicken pieces comfortably. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 35 minutes or until juices run clear.
  3. Add the juices from the roasting pan to the marinade in the saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and boil for about 7 to 10 minutes or until the marinade is reduced to a glaze.
  4. Just before serving, heat a barbecue to medium-high for grilling. Place the chicken on the barbecue and grill, basting with the sauce, for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning once, or until the skin is crisp and brown. Serve with the remaining glaze.

Advance Preparation

Can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead through step 3, covered and refrigerated. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 12 an hour before grilling. The sauce may be refrigerated and then reheated just before grilling.

Serves 6 to 8.

Beef Carpaccio



  • 1 pound very fresh beef top sirloin, top round or strip steak, cut into 18-inch-thick slices (ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 12 cup arugula leaves
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 12 pitted black olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 14 cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese
  • 14 cup fruity olive oil or favorite balsamic vinaigrette
  • Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Pound the beef between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap until the beef is paper thin, being careful not to tear the meat. Cut into pieces that can be draped over one another.
  2. Carefully transfer 2 large pieces of meat to each of 6 individual serving plates.
  3. Evenly sprinkle arugula in the middle of each plate. Garnish the arugula evenly with the tomatoes, olives, walnuts and parmesan cheese.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil or vinaigrette over the arugula and beef, sprinkle pepper on top and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Pulled Pork



  • 16 Hawaiian bread buns or any soft bun


  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon minced dry onion or onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard, preferably Coleman’s
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • One 7-pound bone-in pork butt

Cider Vinegar Sauce:

  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce (your favorite)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Cayenne or Tabasco sauce (optional)


  1. To make the rub: In a small bowl, combine the ingredients and stir with a fork until the brown sugar is completely blended with the spices.
  2. Cut 2 pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil long enough to wrap the pork, and put them on a baking sheet. Place the pork butt in the middle of the foil. Sprinkle the top and sides with half of the rub and gently massage it in. Turn over the meat and massage in the remaining rub. Pull up the foil and carefully wrap the meat around it so that there are no holes or openings in the foil. Put the pork in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Transfer the pork package to a large Dutch oven and cover the pot. Bake for 5 hours without taking off the lid. After 5 hours, remove the lid. Open the foil and use a spatula to push the meat off as you pull with the other hand to lift out the foil. Return the meat to the oven and roast 1 hour more, or until the top has a crispy crust.
  4. Meanwhile, make the vinegar sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and whisk to combine. Place the pan on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Season to taste. To make it spicier, add some cayenne or Tabasco sauce.
  5. Remove the pork from the oven (leave the oven on). Place on a large baking sheet. Let rest for about 15 minutes. Degrease the Dutch oven and reserve. Using 2 forks, pull the meat apart. Return to the Dutch oven and pour 3 cups of the sauce over the pork. Mix together and cook for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat to meld the flavors.
  6. Warm the buns in the oven for about 8 minutes. For each serving, place a bun on a plate and, using an ice-cream scoop, scoop the pork onto the bottom half. Spoon on some additional sauce and cover with the top of the bun.

Party Prep

The pork may be prepared through step 5 up to 3 days ahead, and stored, covered, in a container in the refrigerator. Reheat the pork gently. You may need to add some water to moisten the pork. Leftovers may be frozen in lock-top plastic bags. Push out all of the air before you seal the bags. Defrost and reheat the pork gently. You may need to add water to moisten the pork.

Serves 16


Diane’s Fried Chicken


  • 31⁄2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
  • 11⁄2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon salt, divided
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika, divided
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 cups vegetable shortening or corn oil


  1. Begin the recipe at least 3 hours before you want to serve the fried chicken. Rinse and dry the chicken pieces with paper towels. In a large mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk with 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1⁄4 teaspoon each of the black pepper and paprika, and 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat evenly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, turning the pieces occasionally.
  2. When you are ready to cook the chicken, put the flour in a pie plate along with the remaining salt, pepper, paprika and the cayenne, and stir well with a fork.
  3. Place three layers of paper towels on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet in a spot close to the stove for easy access. Put the shortening or oil into a 10-inch to 12-inch cast-iron frying pan or Dutch oven. Over medium-high heat, heat the shortening until it registers 365 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer or (if you don’t have a thermometer) until a small cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in about 1 minute. You should have between 1 to 11⁄2 inches of oil, depending upon the size of your skillet.
  4. Remove the thighs from the marinade first, letting the excess marinade drain off over the bowl for a moment. Dredge in the flour mixture, turning to coat evenly. Shake off excess flour over the pie plate, then put the pieces skin side down in the center of the hot oil. Proceed to coat all the pieces in the same manner, removing any bits of flour clumps that accumulate in the pie plate and placing the other pieces around the thigh.
  5. Do not move the chicken until the coating is set and looks firm, for about 4 to 6 minutes. Check the underside by lifting with tongs. Rearrange the pieces when they are a deep golden brown. Fry on the other side until that side is also deep golden brown, rotating pieces as necessary. Remove from the heat when done (about 17 to 20 minutes for breasts and 20 to 25 minutes for the other pieces.) If you are not certain if a piece is done, pierce the thickest part of the piece with a sharp knife and the juices should run clear. Place on the prepared baking sheet to drain, and serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Chicken Cacciatore



  • 6 chicken breasts halves, about 1/2 pound each
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium-size onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 4 medium-size cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 can or bottle (28 ounces) of favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 can (28 ounces) fire roasted diced tomatoes with juice, pureed
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, kalamata or your choice
  • Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan large enough to fit the chicken. Saute the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes, turning to evenly brown. (You might have to do this in batches.) Remove to the bowl.
  2. Add the remaining oil, and saute the onions for 5 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and peppers, and saute for another 3 to 4 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Pour the red wine into a pan. Bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up the browned bits. Add the marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, herbs, and salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly and no wine taste remains.
  4. Add the reserved chicken and braise on medium heat for about 20 more minutes or until the chicken is opaque and cooked through. Add the balsamic vinegar and olives and cook for another 3 minutes or until the olives are heated through. Taste for seasoning. Place on a platter and serve with penne pasta or rice.

Makes 6 servings.

The Perfect Burger


  • 3 pounds ground chuck (15 percent fat or higher) or beef brisket, coarsely ground as for chili
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 onion rolls or soft hamburger rolls
  • Favorite cheese, such as crumbled blue or goat cheese or slices of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 leaves iceberg or lettuce leaves or cups
  • 6 thick slices tomato
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large yellow or Maui onions, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • Favorite condiments, such as ketchup, mustard and pickle relish


  1. Gently shape the burger meat into 6 thick patties with an indentation in the center of each one. Refrigerate until it’s time to grill.
  2. Prepare a barbecue for medium-high heat grilling. Just before grilling, season the patties with salt and pepper. Grill the burgers for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, and then flip over and cook for 4 to 6 minutes on the other side for medium rare or until desired doneness. (If topping with cheese, add it a couple of minutes before the burgers are done so the cheese can melt.) Grill the buns.
  3. Heat the oil in a large non-aluminum casserole over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for 10 to 15 minutes, or until well softened. Stir frequently.
  4. Add the wine, balsamic vinegar and sugar to the onions and simmer on low heat until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. The onions should be very tender and caramelized. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning
  5. To serve, place the burgers on toasted buns and top each burger with a tablespoon of caramelized onions. Place the lettuce and tomato on top, and finish with the top of the bun. Serve immediately. Arrange the condiments in a shallow basket to serve.


  • Figure about a half-pound per burger, and handle the meat lightly so it will be juicy. If the meat becomes very compact, the burger might resemble the texture of meatloaf more than a moist burger.
  • I put an indentation into the middle of each patty so that the final hamburger ends up flat rather than round.
  • It is also helpful if you are putting cheese on top. Just before cooking, sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Make sure the fire is medium-high heat, and not too high, because you can end up with a charred, but raw, burger. Turn the burgers after 3 to 4 minutes and not until they release easily from the grill — a sign they are ready to be turned. How long you cook them is up to you. While the burgers are finishing, place the roll halves on the grill to warm them and give them light grill marks.

Makes 6 servings.

Hoisin-Ginger Baby-Back Ribs

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  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup orange-blossom honey
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon spicy chili paste with garlic, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon rice-wine vinegar


  • 4 pounds pork-loin ribs cut Chinese style or baby-back ribs


  1. To prepare the marinade: Combine the marinade ingredients in a medium-size bowl, and blend well.
  2. To prepare the ribsPlace the ribs in a jumbo plastic-sealable bag. Add the marinade to the ribs and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
  3. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Place the ribs on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap tightly without any holes. Place the package in a large roasting pan and bake for 1[1/4] hours. Alternately, place the ribs in a roasting pan and cover well. The ribs should be tender when pierced with a fork.
  5. Remove the ribs from the oven. Remove the ribs from the foil, drain and reserve the juice and place in a dish.
  6. Prepare the barbecue for medium-heat grilling. Grill the ribs about 3 inches from the flame for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until they reach the desired doneness, basting occasionally with the remaining marinade, making sure they do not burn. Place on a serving platter and serve with the reserved juices, if desired.


  • When selecting ribs, I prefer the meaty and less fatty baby-back ribs, sometimes called loin ribs. They have a covering of meat over the bones and also between them that makes them leaner and meatier than spareribs. They are shorter and smaller than spareribs. They are a bit more costly than spareribs but well worth it.
  • Look for racks that have meat on the rack and not a lot of fat. It’s best to buy fresh ribs that have not been frozen.
  • Sometimes, you will find the smallest ribs cut up and called Chinese-style ribs. These are the small ribs from the end of the loin rack. You can substitute these individual ribs if you prefer; these make a great appetizer.
  • Use this marinade on pork tenderloin or chicken.
  • This might be prepared 1 day ahead through step 4, covered and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before grilling.

Serves 4 to 6