salmon with asian-style glaze

glazed salmonI really love Asian flavors ~ the combination of sweet and savory is wonderful and can be interpreted in so many ways.

When it comes to baked salmon, although I’ve always liked the classic creamy-dill type sauce, after I tried it with an Asian flair I knew that was a perfect match for me!

This recipe is quick to put together and simple to bake off ~ you’ll have enough glaze for 3 pounds of fish.

ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or microplaned
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or microplaned
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup apricot and/or peach preserves
  • 1/4 cup fig and/or date preserves
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • about 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
  • pinch or so of pepper
Asian glaze

key flavors for a sweet & salty Asian sauce

directions:

  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter; add the garlic and ginger and saute for a few minutes
  • Transfer the garlic-ginger mixture to a ramekin; set aside
  • Combine the remaining ingredients in saucepan, stirring until blended and heated through; add the garlic-ginger mixture and stir until incorporated
  • Take off heat, cover pan and set aside; leave the glaze to sit, preferably for a few hours

If you don’t have {or don’t care for} peach, fig or the other preserves mentioned, I’m sure many other fruit or berry jams would work just fine.

salmon fillet

atlantic salmon is delicious & nutritious

When you’re ready to bake the salmon, preheat oven to 400F.  Place fillets on a baking sheet that’s been covered with a long piece of aluminum foil.  Brush or spoon the glaze over the salmon, then pull up all sides of the foil;  take a second sheet of foil as a “lid” and, crimping it securely to the edges of the base foil, create a well-sealed packet so the fish steams while it’s in the oven.

Place on center rack and immediately turn the oven down to 350F.  Bake for 20 minutes, then turn off the oven and allow the radiant heat to continue baking the salmon for another 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

The salmon will be tender and juicy ~ an option after this is to spoon a bit of the glaze back over the fillets and place them under the broiler for a few minutes to caramelize.

Enjoy!

thankful on thanksgiving

lobster tail

Thanksgiving Day for me is the perfect transition to the holiday season ~ being thankful today builds a foundation for the coming days and weeks.  Trimming the tree, lighting the lights, I guess it all starts today.

I’m so grateful for abundance when it does arrive.  I’ve had not-so-abundant times in the past and know what it’s like to go without.  This year we have been fortunate and decided that lobster tails were going to be a special purchase.  After recently becoming non-turkey-eaters, this seemed like a holiday entree extraordinaire.

Talk about festive ~ broiled lobster tails!  I made a cornbread topping ~ you could use homemade that’s been dried or go with good old Pepperidge Farm Cornbread stuffing mix, which is what I did today.

It made a perfect topping for the lobster ~ with a crimini mushroom gravy and some mashed yukon golds, it was a truly great meal and a great day with loved ones.

a grilling lesson {and great eats} for me

grilled swordfish

Well it was quite a culinary day ~ one of collaboration as I watched a grill master at work and took notes {and photos}.  I know gas grills have their place and with little grilling experience I’m not the one to make comparisons.  But there’s something about food off a charcoal grill that tastes really good!  And a chimney is essential to get your fire burning just right.

The first step, I have just learned, is to set a ring of newspaper on the bottom of the chimney.

charcoal grilling with a chimney

Little Honey here approves of this technique.  It wasn’t long before Chester wanted to inspect and give his seal of approval, too.

grilling with a chimney

They also approve of the smells coming from real hardwood charcoal and I couldn’t agree more.

grilling with lump hardwood charcoal

Now that the chimney is set up it’s time to light it.

light charcoal with a chimney

After the newspaper is alight, the chimney does the rest ~ in about 15 minutes the coals are white and hot, ready for grilling.

grilling chimney

Maybe it’s my imagination but to me the great thing about non-gas grilling is the food seems to retain more moisture.  Certainly the swordfish steaks came out succulent and amazing ~ with a honey Asian style marinade.

grilled swordfish

After the grilling lesson the eating commenced.  Accompaniments included steamed corn on the cob {one inch of boiling water in a big pot, drop them for 2 minutes and they’re done perfectly}

steamed corn on the cob

…and a quick panzanella type salad with chunks of beefsteak tomato and mozzarella cheese, some pickled cukes & red onion, a handful of torn basil and cubes of bread leftover from the boule loaf I’d used the other day .  I supplemented the cuke’s pickle juice {made from this recipe} with additions of red wine vinegar, olive oil, a splash of lemon juice and s&p.  Yummy.

panzanella salad

On a final note, a friend of a friend passed on this tip for not-fine wine.  Decanting can only go so far if the wine isn’t great, and if oxygenation is the key then why not hyperventilate it?  Enter the hand blender.

two buck chuck

This photo was taken after we’d served ourselves ~ so just fill up a tall container and give it a buzz ~ it really works!

po’boy muffuletta melt ~ part two

shrimp po'boy muffuletta

Hi folks!  It’s the day after experimenting with a rather large sandwich in my previous post.  When I woke up and checked on the status of its squashing factor, I realized that adjustments needed to be made ~ and will be made to the directions in yesterday’s entry.

Basically I found that the sandwich compresses better without the foil, with only the plastic wrap ~ or at least in the second stage of squashing, the foil is best removed to maximize squash.  Clear as mud, right?

muffuletta po'boy

But a picture is worth a thousand words here ~ notice how much thinner the sandwich is as opposed to when it began:

muffuletta sandwich

When I woke in the morning it just hadn’t gone down enough.  So off the foil came, I re-wrapped it into plastic, flipped it over, put the weight back on and a few hours later ~ amazing transformation!  And it tastes pretty amazing, too.   Next time I’m going to measure the before and after size of this incredible technique.

Between the vinegar from the marinades, the fried fish of your choice and the layers of cheese, this sandwich is a delicious treat for a pot luck or family picnic.  It will serve at least 8 or more ~ the slice in the top photo is 1/8 of the boule and would satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.

po’boy muffuletta melt ~ part one

muffaletta olive mix

Another first here in my kitchen:  the muffuletta sandwich.  I’m sure if you like sandwiches, deli meats and vinegar-y things you have heard of the New Orleans classic.

Chances are you’ve also heard of an oyster or shrimp po’boy.  So this muffuletta recipe, rather than using salami, adds in the greatness of fried shrimp {or oysters if you prefer} and is loaded with cheese and other flavors.  I purchased the muffuletta olive mix from a nearby gourmet shop but if you’re feeling ambitious you could make it yourself.

ingredients:

  • 1 large boule, cut in half and with half of the bread on each side scooped out
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup honey mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 cups muffuletta olive mix with juices
  • 1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts with juice
  • about 1/4 pound each of sliced provolone, swiss, mozzarella, fontina and any other desired cheeses
  • about 1/2  a large jar roasted red peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 6-8 fried shrimp or oysters

Preheat oven to 400F. In a medium bowl combine the mayonnaise, honey mustard, honey and soy sauce, stirring until well blended.

Place the scooped out boule halves onto a large sheet of foil on counter.

po'boy muffuletta

Spread each half of boule with 1/3 of the mayo mixture, reserving a third for later.  Spoon the muffuletta olive mix onto each half, letting juices soak into bread, then add the artichoke hearts with marinade on each side as well.

Place layers of the different cheeses on each half of boule, reserving a few slices for later.  If you can’t find sliced fontina in your area, just get a wedge and slice it as best you can like I did here.  The flavor is worth it.

meatless muffuletta sandwich

Place the roasted red peppers followed by the rest of the cheeses onto each half.  Spread the remaining mayonnaise mixture on each half.  In the center of bottom half only, place the fried shrimp or oysters {again I purchased these at a local gourmet shop}.

Carefully close the sandwich, wrap generously and snugly in foil ~ a second generous piece coming over the top, too ~ and bake at 400F for 25 minutes.

Allow to cool, then wrap in plastic wrap and weigh down with a stable, centered object.  {updated }

po'boy muffuletta

Place in a cool spot ~ yes folks, it is supposed to be that tall at first ~ wow!  After several hours flip the sandwich, place the weight centered on top again and leave it overnight.

Part 2 coming very soon… {and please check part 2 for updates on recommendations}

seared scallops italian style

seared scallops italian style

This was my first attempt ~ that I can recall ~ at searing scallops and I am happy with how they turned out.  Scallops are so delicate that I’ve been intimidated by them in the kitchen, thinking I’d overcook them and have such a pricey treat go into the garbage.

Today I decided to go for it, keeping them in the pan for only a minute on each side and then placing them in the oven for another minute or two and that’s it.  A simple sauce came together in no time as did the capellini.  I had roasted up some zucchini, grape tomatoes and garlic cloves earlier in the day so they made a lovely accompaniment to the Italian flavor of the sauce.

ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, microplaned
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • s&p
  • splash white wine
  • 1 pound dry pack bay scallops
  • olive oil and butter for frying
  • splash lemon juice
  • grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large skillet, heat the 1/2 stick butter and 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat; add the garlic and a generous pinch of s&p.  After cooking the garlic for a few minutes, add the tomato paste.

tomato white wine sauce Stir well to incorporate the paste and let it cook for about 5 minutes, then add the wine.  Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, turning down the heat if the butter is foaming too much, then transfer the sauce to a bowl.  Stir in the splash of lemon juice and set aside.

In the same skillet, add a bit of oil and butter and turn up the heat to medium-high.  When the pan is good and hot again, add the scallops and lightly sprinkle each with a bit of s&p.  Turn them over after about a minute or so, then only keep them on for another minute.

seared scallops

Take them off the heat immediately and add the sauce back to the pan.  This will slow the cooking down and keep moisture in while you get ready to put them in the oven.  I just make a foil pack shaped like a bowl on a baking sheet, with double foil so the sauce won’t leak out.

seared scallops italian style

Gently place the scallops in the foil then pour the sauce over them; sprinkle each scallop with a bit of the parmesan and place the sheet with foil open into the oven for about two minutes.

That’s it!  The sauce is light enough to allow the delicate scallops to shine, but complex enough to make things interesting.  Serve with your favorite pasta and some roasted veggies and you’ve got a fancy meal that takes barely any time to whip up.

peel n’ eat shrimp ~ finger lickin’ good

peel and eat shrimp cocktailShrimp cocktail has to be one of my favorite foods ~ little pink morsels nestled in a bed of ice, a bowl of spicy cocktail sauce at the ready for dipping.

Today rather than the usual boil I decided to go for a quick marinate-and-roast shrimp cocktail, nothing radically different but just sealing in a bit more moisture and tenderness into each bite.

Here’s what I did for a pound of shrimp that was prepped and deveined at the fish market.  In a large bowl I combined 1/4 cup olive oil with 3 tablespoons lemon juice and a pinch of allspice.  I tossed in the shrimp and got them well coated, then placed them on a lined baking sheet into a 350 degree oven.  You could also let them marinate for a while in the fridge if desired before roasting.

 

peel and eat shrimpAfter about 5 minutes in the oven give them a turn with some tongs, then keep your oven light on if possible and watch them carefully ~ they’ll be done when they are just barely pink.  Pull them out and set on the counter, let the radiant heat take care of the rest.  Chill them before serving ~ in the meantime, whip up a batch of cocktail sauce with some ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice and a dash of salt ~ enjoy!

smoked salmon & avocado cheesy croissanwich

smoked salmon croissant sandwich

It’s been a week of low maintenance meals, but even those can turn out to be special.  I’ve always been a big fan of croissants and am lucky to live near a great bakery.  Buttery flaky goodness, it takes a regular sandwich to another level, especially when combined with some of my favorite ingredients.

Although I don’t usually cook with a lot of prepared foods, there are some on the market that are perfect and hard to duplicate.  Boursin cheese is a fine example.  It goes phenomenally well with so many things, one of them being smoked salmon.  Add a few other key ingredients and it becomes nothing short of a gourmet dish.

Here’s what I did for a dinner for two; it could be served with a side of grapes or a green salad with vinaigrette.  Don’t let the size fool you ~ this sandwich is a full meal.

ingredients:

  • 2 butter croissants, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 package Boursin cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 to 8 slices smoked salmon, to taste
  • tomato, thinly sliced crosswise {about 4 slices}
  • 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced or made into a paste
  • 2 slices deli cheese such as swiss or provolone

directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • In a small bowl, combine the Boursin with the mayonnaise
  • Spread Boursin mixture generously on both sides of each croissant
  • Add a layer of the smoked salmon to the bottom side of each croissant, followed by the tomato and avocado slices
  • Top with a slice of the cheese, tearing into strips if needed so there’s not too much overhang
  • Wrap each sandwich loosely in aluminum foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes

cheesy croissant sandwich

This is a seriously yummy sandwich with barely any prep or cooking required.  It doesn’t have to be baked, and either way would be nice with a glass of white wine.  There are so many additions or substitutions that would work here.  It’s a croissant after all ~ what could go wrong?