Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Foodie Fights 2010

Foodie Fights is back! After waiting a very long 4 months (or was it 5?) the guys at Foodie Fights have launched a fancy new site, and are ready for battles! I'm sooooo excited (in case you couldn't tell). I had so much fun in the three battles I fought last year: there was Grilled Pork and Cantaloupe with Spicy Balsamic Glaze for fight #4, Battle Melon and Red Pepper Flake, Chicken and Peach Picatta for fight #10, Battle Peach and Tarragon, and Italian Pomegranate-Lime and Cheese Sweet Bread for fight #12, Battle Semolina Flour and Pomegranate. My sweet bread earned me the coveted status of Foodie Fights Winner, and the opportunity to be a judge for the next fight. It was all awesome and I can't wait to compete again!

Thanks guys, for such a great time!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Grilled Sweet & Sour Salmon

Almost two weeks ago I had my friend, Rochelle, over for dinner. Though I've known her for years (22 years--gasp!), we don't get to see each other often, so it was very exciting to have her over. It took me a long time to decide what to make and finally settled on Grilled Sweet & Sour Salmon, Bean Sprout Salad (recipe coming), Steamed Rice, and Sauteed Broccoli. For dessert I made an Apple Upside-Down Cake and Mint Brownies (recipes coming). The food was yum and my friend's company was delightful. It was a very good day :)

The sweet & sour sauce is what makes this salmon so good. It's from The Gas Grill Gourmet by A. Cort Sinnes. I've used it on pork, chicken, meatballs, and salmon, always with perfect results. The actual recipe is a pork recipe and the sauce is a marinade. I usually double the recipe and use half as a marinade and half as a finishing sauce or glaze. I don't include the oil; I've made it both with and without and can't tell the difference. As is, the sauce is very thin. When I've wanted it thicker--like as a glaze on my meatballs--I whisk 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch for each batch, depending on how thick I want it to be, and then simmer it until it's thickened, about 5 minutes.

Note: I did not marinate the salmon. I simply grilled it and then brushed it with the sauce, allowing it to caramelize slightly while on the grill. I also did not double the sauce this time.

Grilled Sweet & Sour Salmon (Adapted from The Gas Grill Gourmet)
Printable Recipe

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 cloves garlic, pressed

6 2-inch wide salmon fillets (about 6 oz each)

sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion for garnish

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl (I use a 2-cup glass measure) and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

2. Brush the grate of a gas grill with a wire brush to remove any residue from the last time you grilled. Heat the grill over high heat until it's smoking hot, 450-500 deg., and brush the grate again. Use long tongs to wipe the grate with vegetable oil-soaked paper towels and immediately place the salmon, skin-side up (if they have skin), on the grate.

3. Grill the fillets for 4-6 minutes--don't try to move them yet. You'll know when it's time to flip them when they release easily from the grate with a gentle horizontal jiggle (go with the bars of the grate, and don't try to pick them straight up off the grate). Flip the fillets skin-side down, leaving one burner empty.

3. Once the fillets are flipped, turn the burner(s) with the fillets to low, and leave the empty one on high. Brush the tops of the salmon with the sauce, close the grill lid, and continue to grill until the salmon is cooked almost all the way through, 6-8 minutes (the salmon will continue to cook after you take it off the grill), and the sauce has slightly caramelized. Brush the fillets with more glaze before removing them from the grill, and once more before serving. Garnish with the sesame seeds and green onion if you like.

Ingredient note: You'll find hoisin sauce in the Asian section of your grocery store.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bean Sprout Salad

I lived in Wuerzburg, Germany for almost three years back in the late 1990's (my first husband was in the Army). There was a Chinese restaurant in town that we loved to go to. Well, I loved to go there. We ate there a lot because it was one of the only things I wanted while I was pregnant with my first baby, so I think there was a point when he was really sick of it. But I loved it. The food was good and the people very nice, but I think it had more to do with being familiar to me in a place that was very unfamiliar.

The restaurant served a bean sprout salad. I don't remember eating it, but it was one of his favorite dishes. I've thought of it often over the years, and decided to try to make something similar. My first few tries were lackluster, at best. Then I came across a recipe from Rena Gray that she had posted on her blog. She, too, loved bean sprout salad, and tried recipe after recipe trying to find the perfect dressing. She ended up combining a couple different recipes to get the right combination of flavors. I was thrilled! I like to experiment, but why do it if someone has already figured it out?

I don't know if this is close to the bean sprout salad my Wuerzburg Chinese restaurant served, but it is so delicious and full of flavor. I recently served this with Grilled Sweet & Sour Salmon and it was a perfect accompaniment. Thanks, Rena!

Note: Rena encourages you to experiment with the amounts of vinegar and soy sauce. I did decrease the vinegar a bit because I'm a little vinegar-sensitive ;)

Bean Sprout Salad (adapted from Rena Gray)
Printable Recipe

1 tablespoons sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (original recipe-2 TBL)
1 pound bean sprouts, rinsed and blotted on paper towels

Combine the sesame seed oil, soy sauce, garlic, honey, and vinegar in a medium bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the bean sprouts and toss gently with tongs. Serve immediately.

Makes about 6 servings.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Carrot and Zucchini Ribbons

Carrot and Zucchini Ribbons. Sounds as pretty as it looks, doesn't it? This is less a recipe and more me sharing an idea I've seen floating around the web recently. What I love about making carrots and zucchini this way (besides how pretty it looks on my plate) is that the carrots cook in the same time as the zucchini. And because they are sliced so thin, that cooking time is fast.

I use a veggie peeler to make the carrot ribbons and a mandolin to make the zucchini ribbons. The veggie peeler didn't work well for me for the zucchini (could be the type of peeler I have), but you can try it if you don't have a mandolin. If using a mandolin, you want to use a very thin setting. When making the carrot strips, rotate the carrot a quarter turn every 1 or 2 strips so that you end up making a square around the core of the carrot. Stop when all that's left is the core.

And, of course, a little Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top makes all the difference.

Note: I've found yellow (like crook-neck) squash has too many seeds and too much moisture to work well when cut in thin strips. This summer I'll use yellow zucchini for a beautiful 3-color dish.

Carrot and Zucchini Ribbons
Printable Recipe

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 large carrots, scraped and made into strips
4 small zucchini, sliced very thin
kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for serving

Heat a large (12-inch) non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the oil and heat for 10 seconds. Add the carrots and zucchini, and cook, stirring and tossing often with tongs, until the vegetables are al dente, 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with Parmesan, and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fisherman's Stew

Fisherman's Stew is one of our favorite 2-fers. Whenever I fix salmon I make sure there is some extra so we can have this soup the next day. Of course, you can--and I sometimes do--make it with fresh, not-left-over salmon.

I first had fisherman's stew back in 2002. We were in Utah looking for a house and stopped at a restaurant called McGrath's Fish House for lunch. I was 3 months pregnant and just coming out of the sick-as-a-dog stage, and wanted to go easy on my stomach. After looking at the menu I settled on bread and a bowl of "fisherman's stew", whatever that was. I was richly rewarded for my choice. It was so delicious--veggies, potato, tomato-y broth, and big chunks of fish. After finally moving to Utah we ate at McGrath's several times, and each time I had a bowl of fisherman's stew with my meal. I kept thinking, "I bet I can make this. I bet I can figure this out." I spent the next 6 months working on a recipe and then I nailed it. We've been back to the restaurant since, and know what? My soup is better. Yeah, that's right...

I served this soup with buttermilk biscuits made with my homemade Buttermilk Pancake Mix (don't you love the flower shape?). I'll post the recipe soon.

Fisherman's Stew
Printable Recipe

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 lb. yellow or red potatoes (about 3 med.), cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 8-oz bottle clam juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 6 to 8-oz fillet salmon

1. Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat until hot; reduce the heat to medium. Add the oil and heat it for 10 seconds. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add the potato, wine, tomatoes, clam juice, tomato paste, chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, and salt. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until the potato is almost tender.

3. Add the parsley and salmon and cook, stirring to break up the fillet, until it's fully cooked and broken into bite-size pieces.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Note: To use left-over salmon, simply add the cooked salmon at the end with the parsley and heat through.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I will bake a difference!

Now that I have a firm location, I can finally announce the bake sale I'm holding as part of Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale! I am so excited to take part in this very important cause!

Share Our Strength is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to end childhood hunger in America by providing healthy, nutritious food to children who would otherwise not have access to it. The Great American Bake Sale is just one of Share Our Strength's 5 programs. During the bake-sale season of March 1-October 31, 2010, volunteers all over the country will hold bake sales in an effort to help Share Our Strength reach their goal this year of $1.8 million. It sounds like a lot of money to be raised by selling cookies, but since Share Our Strength was started in 2003, they've raised almost $6 million through the bake sales.

My team's name is Herriman Against Hunger, and our bake sale will be May 22, from 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Our local Goldenwest Credit Union branch has graciously agreed to let us take over part of their parking lot so we'll have some great exposure on one of our main streets. It's going to be such a great experience! I'll keep you updated on the fun--and crazy, I'm sure--plans :)

If you'd like to make a donation to my teams efforts, you can click on the Great American Bake Sale graphic at the top-left of the page which will take you to my page on the Share our Strength website. Thanks!
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