Monday, October 2, 2017

Salmon with Easy Cilantro Sauce

Holding on to Summer

Last night we bbq-ed with friends at the beach. It was the first day of October and slightly chilly. But with the sand beneath our bare feet, the descending sun throwing pink into the water, the kids catching crabs, and rosé in our hands, it sure felt like it was still summer. In fact it was better than summer, because the kids were going to school the next day, and the beach felt secluded and all our own.

I made this sauce for some frozen salmon filets one night this summer when my mother-in-law was visiting. I de-seeded the jalapenos (even though the original recipe does not say to do so) because my mil does not like hot food... the sauce was still divine. The next time I make it I might be daring and leave all the seeds in, because we love hot food. But I feel it might tamper with the delicate taste of the cilantro. So please, experiment and taste as you go till you get the perfect sauce. The best part of this sauce is that all of the ingredients are supermarket staples year-round, so make this sauce in the dead of winter and conjure up some beach-y vibes. You'll feel like you're still holding on to summer.

Salmon with Cilantro Sauce
adapted from the June 2017 issue of Sunset Magazine

1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 or 2 medium de-seeded jalapenos, chopped (set seeds aside in case you want to make your sauce spicier)
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp french mustard
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup whole-milk greek yogurt (optional if you prefer a vegan sauce)
3 tbsp lime juice
4 wild salmon filets

In a food processor pulse together the first six ingredients until smooth. Add the coconut milk and the lime juice. Taste the sauce and adjust any seasonings. Add back in any jalapeno seeds if you want a spicier sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Grill or pan-fry salmon filets until just done, about 3 minutes per side on medium heat for 1 inch thick filets. (If you are unsure, take them off the heat and test a center section - over-cooking salmon is an unjustifiable waste of delicious omega-3s - don't do it!)

Plate the salmon (with or without skin depending on your preference) and some rice, couscous, small potatoes or pasta and vegetables then spoon plentiful amounts of the sauce over everything. Enjoy summer on a plate.

Monday, August 28, 2017

ONE POT! whole wheat spaghetti with tomato and basil

This pasta is just magical. I gather from instagram that this is a new food trend - one-pot, no-drain, one-dish pastas that is - and, although I generally dislike food trends, "love love love" is all I have to sing after making and eating this.

And, fellow moms in my life! This pasta is revolutionary. Not only is it very quick, healthy, easy and delicious, but your kids will actually eat it! I can't think of another dish I make for dinner that is quite like it.

After having spent a full afternoon at Legoland (in a Westchester shopping center it is just a glorified Lego shop with two church-parking-lot type rides) this recipe was a joy to cook. Everything was in the pantry and it took - literally - 15 minutes to make, and my kids ate it. OMG. (Almost) better than ordering Chinese.

Enjoy people.

One-Pot Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Basil
adapted from A beautiful mess blog
One package of whole wheat spaghetti 
1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes in tomato juice 
2 large cloves of garlic, pressed through a garlic press, or minced
3 large leaves of basil, chopped (or used dried basil)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (omit or reduce to 1/8 of a teaspoon if serving spice-sensitive kids)
2 tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
grated Parmesan for serving
In a large lidded saucepan combine the tomatoes with juices, garlic, chopped basil, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Break the pasta in half (to ensure it fits in the pot) then add to the boiling mixture and stir to ensure that all pieces of pasta are submerged in liquid. Immediately cover and reduce the heat to low and cook for 9-12 minutes (starting tasting after 9). Once the pasta has taste-tested as al dente, remove the cover and cook for one additional minute to reduce the liquid (if any). Don't worry if the pasta seems to liquidy... don't over-cook the pasta, the sauce will thicken up as you serve it. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with lots of grated parmesan.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring loin lamb chops with artichoke

Unexpected Success

Spring is a time of rebirth. And, since I made an excellent dinner tonight that took less than 20 minutes of active cooking, tasted quite good, was ingested without complaint by one of my two children, and was enough of a detour to be considered my own recipe - well then, that warrants a rebirth of my periphrastic blogging career.

Spring is also a time of cleaning. And here is where I start with the admittedly unappetizing conceit of this dish. I was cleaning out the freezer and found a half-pack of loin lamb chops from Costco, a half-carton of beef stock, and a package of quartered artichoke hearts. Uncharacteristically, I also found a half-bottle of sauvignon blanc, lanquishing forgotten behind a ketchup bottle. With fresh rosemary left over from Easter, I knew I had the makings of culinary sufficiency, sans trip to the grocery store. This in of itself is success. But true triumph was taking 15 minutes to make the dish and setting it to simmer, leaving for the playground for 2 hours, coming home to do the finishing touches, and having it taste.... GREAT! Even little G-man agreed. (Big G-man refuses point-blank to ingest any meat product that is not in sausage form, but that is a post for another day.)

Being a mother has taught me to make use of any available ingredient when preparing dinner. Anyone who has ever been to a grocery store with a toddler can attest to the  desirability necessity of avoiding ever taking a toddler to a grocery store. While you might not have the ingredients on hand to make this dish right this second, I do hope this encourages you to take a cooking technique you know and love (for me - in this instance - braising), raid your freezer and fridge and cook something unexpected! It might just amaze you.

Spring lamb chops with artichoke

Use loin lamb chops (the kind that look like triangles - NOT the kind with stick-like bone, which is a much more expensive cut of lamb and should be cooked rare or medium rare on the grill). My husband and I don't eat a lot of meat and only eat 1 chop each, but I would say a traditional American-size serving would be 2 chops per person, hence the variation in serving size.

2-4 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 lamb loin chops
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups beef or chicken stock
4 loin lamb chops
1 package frozen quartered artichoke hearts (Trader Joes brand preferred)

Take the artichoke hearts out of the freezer and leave on the counter whilst you prepare the lamb. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed medium fry-pan until shimmering. Pat dry the lamb chops and season with salt and pepper. Add the chops to the pan and until browned, about 2 minutes, then flip and brown on the other side, another 2 minutes. Remove the chops to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Add more olive oil if necessary. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion softens and sweats, about 7 minutes. Add the rosemary or thyme, then add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits. Turn the heat to high and bring the wine to a boil, then add the stock and bring that to a boil. Add the lamb chops, make sure that the chops are almost completely submerged in the liquid so that they braise properly and turn the heat to low. Cover, and simmer on lowest heat for 2 hours, turning the chops over half-way through. When the meat is fork-tender (about 2 hours), remove the chops and put them on a plate and cover to keep warm. Rinse the frozen artichoke hearts with water in a colander, then add them to the broth. Turn the heat to medium, cover and cook for about 10 more minutes, or until the artichokes are cooked.

To serve place a lamp chop or two on each plate then ladle plenty of broth and artichokes over it. Serve with good bread or buttered noodles; a crisp, unfussy, green salad; and plenty of dry white wine, light-bodied red wine, or pilsner.