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Sunday, August 30, 2009

tasty fare for the waning days of summer

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As promised, this is the most amazing freaking salmon you will ever eat. I was so incredibly impressed with this - it's pretty much better than any salmon I've ever eaten in a snazzy restaurant, and it's such a healthy indulgence too. You can't go wrong with this. Assuming you actually eat salmon.

Grilled Salmon with Tuscan Beans and Heirloom Tomatoes
caveat: I did not, in fact, have heirloom tomatoes...sorry. Actually, I didn't have any tomatoes. My tomatoes, which I had been saving all week for this recipe, were rotten. I used green pepper and feta instead. Probably...okay, NOT AT ALL the same, but whatever. It was good.

from Clean Eating magazine, with lots of mods from DNM

1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 large red pepper, chopped
side of salmon
1/4 c dried dill (seems excessive but was yummy)
cooking spray
2 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
[1 green pepper, chopped]
[100 g feta, cubed]

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
2 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz capers, drained, rinsed well and chopped

1. Prepare marinade: in a measuring cup, whisk together oil, vinegar, shallots, garlic and capers. Set aside.


2. In a bowl, toss beans, onion and pepper[s and feta] with half the marinade. Set aside. Pour remaining marinade over salmon and sprinkle with dill. Let marinate at least 30 minutes, or up to a day (refrigerate if longer than 30 mins).



3. Cook salmon. I cooked mine on the barbecue, on an oiled veggie tray (best of both worlds - you get the pure utter deliciousness of grilled salmon, without the pain in the ass of flipping it, or having it stick). I cooked it until it was done (about 10 mins? maybe?) but didn't flip it. This kept all the super fabulous marinade and dill where it belonged....on my salmon....rather than in a burnt offering stuck to my grill). Transfer salmon to a platter and serve with chimichurri sauce (recipe below).


4. Toss tomatoes with bean salad and serve with salmon. I didn't have tomatoes. So I had a bean/feta/onion salad. It was awesome.


salad close-up:

Chimichurri sauce (makes waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much for one meal unless you plan to eat it as soup. I froze the rest, but consider halving the recipe)
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 bunches parsley, including stems, washed
2 T dried oregano
6-7 fresh basil leaves
1 small jalapeno pepper, chopped
6 T olive oil
6 T apple cider vinegar
juice of one lime
sea salt
[I added a good healthy shake of cumin and some smoked paprika to get a heartier, richer flavour]

1. Puree the whole mess in a food processor or blender. VOila. That's all there is to it.


This is a very intense, flavourful sauce. It was superlative with the salmon. in fact, probably the best combination of salmon-friendly flavours that I"ve ever eaten. The whole time we were eating this, I was actually moaning and groaning with pleasure. Hubs would have normally humoured me, except we were outside and have no fence....hehe. Apparently, I can be embarrassing in my culinary enthusiasm at times??? who knew...

Anyway, this salmon recipe was amazing. The very edges of my side of (skinless) salmon were just a bit crisp, but the whole of it was moist and juicy and decadent and flavourful. Considering this came from a healthy eating magazine....colour me impressed. DELICIOUS. Make it.

Thanks for reading. ;) And if the blog is too infrequently updated for your taste, follow me on twitter! I tweet all the time and it may satisfy your cravings for indulgent food-related snark.

when precooked frozen lobster is $3, buy some...

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...and ask questions later...


And this is what I did. I saw the lobster, I grabbed it....and then I got home, and didn't really know what to do with it. They were kinda weeny (obvy, at $3, they would be)...and frankly, the bag smelled a weeeeeeeeeee bit fishy. I tossed them in the freezer and decided to, in the manner of dear Scarlett, think about it another day.

A month passed, and the lobsters still weighed on my mind, having been joined by a rather large package of jumbo scallops.

And then my dad was coming to visit. Now, my dad lives in Thailand half the year, and is married to a lovely woman from whenever he comes to visit, I try to make something that is really NOT thai (because a) I have an inferiority complex and can't compete with his wife's spicy creations and b) I figure I will feed him something a little different from what he normally eats). Plus, my dad is generally a willing subject for culinary experimentation.

So I decided that I would turn these sub-par lobsters and giant scallops into risotto.

And that I would make lobster stock.

On a weeknight.

Right after returning to work after my year of mat leave.

Ill conceived? Perhaps. But it worked out just fine. That said, I think as far as risotto goes, I do prefer a good old mushroom risotto with rosemary. It's cheaper, fast, less of a paaaaaaaain in the ass with the whole making-your-own-stock idea, and I think I like it better. But the seafood risotto is good. And if you find yourself struggling with a destination for your frozen-pre-cooked only-vaguely-sketchy lobster...go for it. This recipe works.

Lobster Broth
2 lobsters
1 onion, couple of carrots, celery
bay leaf
salt, pepper

1. Crack and dismantle the unfortunate arthropods. I can't do this. I make hubs do it. The second my food stares at me, I become an avowed vegetarian for the next 15 minutes.

2. Put the shells in a pot, cover with water, add a quartered onion, couple of carrots, some celery, maybe some garlic, a bayleaf or two and some fresh parsley. There's no real science or recipe to it. If you have time to burn, consider roasting the shells in the oven for more flavour. (As above, it was a weeknight...therefore, quicker = better). Let it all bubble away for an hour or so. Add some salt and pepper. I found the broth a little week, so I also added a rounded spoonful of chicken bouillon (yes with it).


3. Strain the chunky bits out and keep the broth at a simmer (risotto works best with simmering stock).


5-6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 cups chopped veggies (I used summer squash and zucchini because I had a surfeit of both)
2 cups rice
1/2 cup white wine
6ish cups stock
1 teaspoon salt
Grated Parmesan cheese

1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy pan. When it is bubbling, add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes; do not allow the onion to brown.

2. Add the rice and the veggies and stir it well with a spatula; do not allow it to color. Be certain that the onion and rice are well coated with the butter.


3. Add the wine and let it almost cook away.

4. Start to add stock, a half cup at a time. Let each half cup of stock cook away before adding more. As the rice becomes tender, stir it keep it from sticking to the pan. You're going to be stirring for a solid half hour. I'm just warning you. It takes foooooorever.


5. Add salt. When the rice is done, stir in the remaining 2-3 tablespoons of butter and a little grated Parmesan cheese. Serve at once. Top with lobster and scallops

Definitely not the most photogenic dish I've ever made....

Seared Scallops
1 pound sea scallops
2 T each, olive oil and butter

1. Pat the scallops dry (the wetter they are, the less they will sear. Of course, if you have my $#&*#@@# stove, they won't really sear at all).

2. Heat the olive oil and butter over high heat. Season both sides of the scallops with sea salt and pepper.

3. Sear the scallops on both sides until they are nice and brown. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't necessary to completely utterly cook them into oblivion. A little translucency in the middle just makes them taste better. As with any food though, there is a certain level of risk with them being underdone. Doesn't stop me from eating sushi, or eating medium-rare meat....but it's important to assess your comfort level (Z certainly didn't have any of this dish!).


4. Remove the scallops from the pan. Add some white wine and scrape up the brown bits. Add a bit more butter. Turn off the heat. Return the scallops to the pan and add the lobster, heating through. Serve over the risotto.

This definitely garnered rave reviews from all involved. I liked it....but like I said, I like my mushroom risotto better. Hubs opinion? Good.

quinoa chicken and veggies...oh my!

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I'm not sure where you all live, but from my Ottawa-based perspective, summer has been a total write-off. Rain, rain and more rain. Cool weather (downright chilly yesterday, quite frankly). Miserable forecast, after miserable forecast. It has royally sucked. Blah.

BUT, that hasn't stopped hubs and I from enjoying yummy food from the grill (or food that tastes like it could maybe be from the grill). Though we've only had one alfresco meal this summer (a rotten record, I concur), we haven't starved yet.

I've got three yummy things for you today - a tasty grilled lemongrass chicken with quinoa (courtesy of epicurious), a DNM original seafood risotto, the best grilled side of salmon you'll ever eat in your life (courtesy of Clean Eating magazine).

We've been having a lot of fun introducing Z to all sorts of new foods. Thus far, the kid seems to have an undiscrimating palate. I could fool myself into thinking that she's a bit of a pint-sized gourmande, but I think she just eats everything, and asks questions later. She quite liked this lemongrass chicken recipe. I thought the chicken part of the recipe was five-star. It was juicy, flavourful and delicious. I loved the smokiness from the barbecue and the zip from the marinade and it was awesome afterward in wraps, salads, etc. The quinoa was a bit meh. I was initially excited by the idea of red quinoa, but this recipe just doesn't do it for me. I've discovered that quinoa is a real black hole for matter how much you add to it, it just soaks it while one might think that cooking in broth would result in a lot of really doesn't. I think you're better off tossing the quinoa with a little oil (to seal it off) and then a little something with acid and bit (like lime juice and chopped onion....or something like that).

Red Quinoa vs. regular quinoa:

The chicken is totally worth it. Also, it seemed a bit of a shame for me to throw out all that flavourful chicken marinade, so I used it to cook my veggies. DOn't worry though, I browned/cooked it THOROUGHLY before the veggies touched the pan. :)

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken with Red Quinoa and VegetablesSELF | July 2009

Yield: Serves 4
3 medium shallots, roughly chopped
2 stalks fresh lemongrass (tough outer leaves removed) (I could only get jarred was fine)
1 piece ginger (about 1 1/2 inches), peeled
1/4 cup plus 5 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander

4 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each)
3/4 cup red quinoa

1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or stock)

Vegetable oil cooking spray

1 pound fresh sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1. Marinade: Puree shallots, lemongrass, ginger, 1/4 cup oil, lime juice, tamari, sugar, sea salt, pepper, and coriander in a blender until smooth.

2. Place chicken in a baking dish and spoon on marinade, rubbing it on all sides. Cover; chill 1/2 to 2 hours.


3. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook quinoa until toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until quinoa absorbs liquid, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat; let sit, covered, until ready to serve.

4. Heat a grill pan or skillet over high heat; coat with cooking spray. Cook chicken, turning once, for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, turning once, until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove chicken; let rest two minutes. (I cooked mine on the barbecue - highly recommended if you have one!!!!)


5. Slice each breast on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces.

6. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (I added the leftover marinade). Cook sugar peas and peppers until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat. Add mint and toss. Divide quinoa among 4 plates. Top each with 1 sliced chicken breast and 1/4 of the vegetables.


Our plates looked liked this:


Z's was a little different....she did like it though! Gobbled up the chicken like there was no tomorrow.


I'm putting the other two recipes in their own posts! Thanks for reading and enjoy the tasty eats........mmmmmmmm...........grilled chicken.....

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