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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Nicoise Inspired Chopped Salad

This is one of those dinners that was thrown together with what was in the fridge and because it "looked pretty" according to my hubby, I took a picture. And thinking that more people should do likewise in using up odds and ends from the frig, it has now become a blog post.

Nicoise inspired because there is fish on it (that would be leftover cooked salmon and anchovies), boiled potatoes and eggs, but the sauted zucchini, avocado and feta is just what was available and looked tasty. This is one big satisfying salad, and I have made it with canned sardines, cooked asparagus, radishes and cucumbers. Make it with whatever is in the pantry to bulk up your meal. Try it, you'll like it!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sockeye Salmon with Green Sauce

Salmon is truly one of life's great pleasures, at least from my perspective. And having it so readily available in our fish counter at the North Coast Co-op has surely spoiled me, but that is just fine and dandy with me!

Finding new ways to prepare salmon aside from my usual favorites is a fun pastime, and this version from David Tanis of the New York Times (and Chez Panisse) never fails to please. It is more of a summery version, all fresh green herbs and lemon juice.

French in origin, it pairs wonderfully well with mashed potatoes (of course, to my hubby and I, everything goes with mashed potatoes! especially Indian food, really, you'll love it!) But it also is great with boiled new potatoes, steamed green beans or asparagus, or some other spring/summer like veggie.

My version relies heavily on the fresh tarragon, but that's just me. Use chervil if you can find it/grow it. This is my go-to salmon dish when there isn't any creme fraiche brewing for this version. But only make it with fresh tarragon. Either way, prepare for a repeater; it's easy and scrumptious!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Zucchini Crust Pizza

Unless you have only been cooking from cookbooks (and if so, bully for you!) but everyone else should have undoubtedly heard of the cauliflower crust pizza. This is even better, trust me!

It is like a giant zucchini fritter with pizza on top, sooooo amazingly good! Feed it to your skeptical diners, they will reward your with praise! Even my hubby, who couldn't believe his eyes, actually said it might be better than real pizza crust! It was good enough that I planted extra zucchini plants to freeze shredded zucchini to have through the winter!

I have to admit that I have not been able to achieve the "crisp" crust that so many of the bloggers brag about, even though I bought a silicon baking mat specifically for that purpose. But it still tastes delicious!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Herb Crusted Baked Halibut

Although my diet has technically been pescatarian for most of my adult life, cooking fish was not a standard of my repertoire until I relocated to the North Coast of California. Not to brag too much, but the abundance of locally caught (often line caught!) cod and salmon is truly astounding and awe-inspiring. Cooking fish well, like doing most anything, comes from practice, and learning a few simple tips.

Always buy fish the day you want to cook it!!

Almost all fish, unless you bought it off the boat in your local port or harbor, came to where it is sold on ice or most likely frozen. It is then defrosted and sold. As it defrosts, it loses textural integrity and gets mushy: totally unappetizing.

Like cuts of meat, fish needs to rest and will continue to cook off the heat.

Most fish gets overcooked because cooks are afraid of it not being done in the center and overcook to compensate. You can stick a knife in the center of a thick steak (salmon, halibut, swordfish) to check its doneness. But it really will continue to cook as it rests.

Also similar to cuts of meat, the flesh becomes noticeably firmer once it is cooked.

All fish (and scallops and shrimp/prawns) will become more opaque as they cook, and the flesh becomes firmer. Notice how raw fish feels, because the flesh tightens up when it cooks, and often forms dense flakes of fish flesh.

Keeping these tips in mind will lead to beautifully cooked fish and happy diners! Add this super easy creamy garlic herb topping to any fish and they will be ecstatic!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Linguine Alfredo with Crispy Morel Mushrooms

Yes! It's morel mushroom season again! Go, pick, find them now at your farmers market (or natural food store if you're lucky!) Or forage for them yourself if you are fortunate to know of the secret growing places that people guard with their lives (at least some of them!)

Morels are tasty morsels and though they look expensive ($20 plus a pound) you can buy plenty and not spend more than $5 and have a feast with them! Here I simply fried them in olive oil until they were crispy and then added them to a classic Alfredo sauce. What a total delight!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cucumber and Radish Salsa

While I know little about Ayurvedic food preparations, it doesn't take that kind of specialized knowledge to know that cooling fresh salads or salsas are necessary to balance out the spicy richness of certain dishes. I created this one for the tofu peanut satay featured in last week's post. And it was a match made in heaven, even for those who think they don't like radishes!

While basil is the herb featured here, feel free to substitute cilantro or parsley or Thai basil if you can find it.

Cutting the vegetables in different shapes was an aesthetic call; some people might go for all the same shape just for ease of slicing.

The dressing on this is really up to you; add more vinegar if you like or more sesame oil. What is listed is really just my preferences.