Sunday, May 6, 2007

Poached Salmon, Cinnamon Rolls, and Strawberry Mojitos!

Quite the range of recipe categories, don't you think?

During this writing, I’m going to attempt to cover the span of at least three days.

I have found that my original intention of writing a page every two or three days on my blog has been difficult, to say the least, to keep up. Not enough interesting things happen to me on a daily basis to warrant this type of record-keeping. It also takes a long time to, instead of throwing dinner together, actually measure ingredients and write directions (or, if following a recipe, keep track of the inevitable changes). And, of course, now that spring is here I have the garden and the flower beds and home improvement things to take up my time. Some evenings, after dinner is over and the kitchen cleaned, I will turn on the computer fully, intending to write, and find myself staring blankly at the screen. Not much happens during those “blank times”!

This past Wednesday we went to our lake house in West Virginia for a few days. Jack bought a boat lift last fall, upon which to lift his new pontoon boat out and away from less-than-pristine water and damaging wakes. Unloading the lift pieces from the trailer into the garage was a painful experience last fall, and I absolutely did not relish the thought of assembling it in the water this spring. Friends offered to help but, as always seems to happen, none were available on the particular day that Jack just had to assemble this thing. So it was up to the two of us on Thursday. The three main pieces were 10’ x 12’ welded aluminum frames which we couldn’t carry directly to the dock since the path is rocky and narrow, so we had to carry these down the driveway to our neighbor’s boat launch, then along shore (in shallow water, thankfully), back to our dock. The other pieces were smaller, and able to be taken to the dock easily. Jack and I spent Thursday putting together the main frame. Friends came over in early evening for a brainstorming session—we needed to assemble the lift in shallow water but it had to then be moved to a deeper location. How? Sheer brute strength was suggested and agreed upon. 10am on Saturday morning.

This is Jack working on the lift, for those who have no idea what I'm talking about. When the whole thing is put together and the boat is actually on it, I will post a photo.

Meals on this Thursday were very simple ones. I’ve had a lot of comments from readers of this blog about the yummy-sounding dinners and how lucky Jack is. Well, on those particular yummy-sounding-dinner days, yes, he’s a lucky guy. Lunch on this Thursday was tuna sandwiches, dinner was spaghetti. To be honest, that was more than I thought I could do since it felt as though there was a knife stuck in my lower back. A soak in the whirlpool and a good sleep (assisted by a big ol’ ibuprofen) worked wonders and on Friday I was ready, kind of, for the next phase.

Not a bad day, really. Jack did most of the work (why doesn’t he have the rotten back? What is his secret, I wonder?). No help from the manufacturer who supplied some of the worst directions that we’ve ever had to work with. And parts that didn’t quite fit and needed adjustments. But, by the end of the day we completed all we had to for the “moving” the next morning. I wanted to make something for the guys to eat when they came to help, and since I only bring enough food to get us through our stay, I had to go to the local grocery store for eggs and (gasp!!!) butter. Every time I visit this store I am reminded of why I go to the trouble to prepare menus and lists and haul food supplies from home. But there were butter and eggs. :)

I had found a recipe in Canadian Living’s May issue for Poached Salmon with Green Peppercorn Tarragon Sauce and brought down those ingredients. I put together some biscotti and baked these before starting dinner. While I made dinner, then, I also made cinnamon-roll dough. It rose while we ate, then I rolled out the dough, made the rolls, and placed them in the refrigerator where they would stay until morning.

The salmon was excellent. Since it was poached, I didn’t have to watch it too closely and allowed it to cool to room temperature while I kneaded dough. The sauce was light sour cream, light mayo, lemon, tarragon, etc. Very good, although I may decrease the amount of sour cream next time since it lent a too-dominant flavor. Served with oven-roasted Yukon gold potatoes and steamed asparagus with lemon, it was a quick but delicious dinner.

I apologize. I had planned to copy-and-paste the recipe from the Canadian Living website, but the current month's recipes aren't available. I will type and post this soon because it's now late and I am having difficulty concentrating. ;)

I used wild salmon and I have to say that, since I’ve been using this type of salmon a lot lately, I don’t think that I will buy farmed salmon again. Aside from the health benefits of wild vs. farm-raised, the wild salmon tastes better and doesn’t leave as strong, lingering odor after cooking as the farmed seems to do.

On Friday, I heard a local weather forecast for the following day. Partly sunny, chance of rain later in the day. So we woke at 7am on Saturday to the sound of a steady drumming of rain on the roof! But, as one of our helpers said “we’re going to get wet, anyway”, so the Great Boat Lift Relocation was on. I baked the cinnamon rolls, and they were quite good. When Frankie and Don arrived, I had coffee and oj, cinnamon rolls, and toasted almond biscotti (both with and without chopped dark chocolate) ready. The skies, which had actually seemed to brighten for a few minutes, suddenly darkened again and the rain poured. The fittings on the lift frame were greased, the entire thing taken via brute strength to its new location; the cable strung, pulleys and winch made operational, and it was done. More coffee was drunk, and each of our wonderful friends were sent home with extra goodies (like I needed these rolls around to constantly tempt me).

The cinnamon rolls. I tried to lighten them as much as I could, but you really do need butter for the flavor. I added yogurt to the dough to keep it moist and tender, and also some white whole wheat for a bit of nutrition (hey, if I can’t make them healthy, I could at least make them not totally unhealthy!!). They were very good—gooey and cinnamon-y with just enough, but not too much, icing. They are on the small side, about 2-1/2" in diameter, but the perfect size for serving with other treats. I also had enough to take a half-dozen to the neighbors who are so nice and allow us to borrow tools when we find that we don’t have exactly what is needed. Which, it turns out, is often.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Refrigerator Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe By:Vicci
Servings: 24

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
3/4 cup lowfat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk
4 tablespoons butter -- melted
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 large eggs -- room temperature
2 large egg whites -- room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups bread flour -- approximately
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter -- melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon skim milk -- approximately
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Mix yogurt, melted butter, and milk in a small bowl. Heat slowly in a microwave until the mixture is about 110F (if it comes to a boil the yogurt will curdle).

Dissolve yeast in yogurt mixture and allow to stand for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and egg whites then mix in sugar until dissolved. Add the yogurt mixture and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, mix the white whole wheat flour, 1 cup of the bread flour, and salt. Add to the yeast mixture and stir well. Add the additional bread flour, one half cup at a time, until the dough is kneadable. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes until smooth and satiny. Place in an oiled bowl, oil top, and cover with plastic. Allow to rise for 1-1/2 hours, or until doubled.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon is a small bowl Have the butter melted and ready.

Deflate dough and divide in half. Roll each half into 7" x 11" rectangle. Brush each half with the melted butter. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and sprinkle the remaining mixture on both of the dough rectangles, keeping cinnamon-sugar from about 1" of one long side furthest from you

Starting at the long side closest to you, roll each of the dough rectangles into a very tight cylinder. When you get to the opposite side, pinch the dough seam well to seal. Roll each log a bit until it's about 12" long. Keep the seam on the bottom. Use a very sharp knife and slice each log into 12 1" slices.

Line a large (11" x 17") baking sheet with parchment. Arrange the slices on the sheet in four rows of 6 rolls each. Sprinkle the tops with the 2 remaining tablespoons of cinnamon-sugar, spray the top surfaces with cooking spray, and cover with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours (up to 18). Remove from the refrigerator 1- 1 1/2 hours before baking. When ready to bake, the rolls will have risen enough to almost touch each other. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 25-28 minutes.

Remove from pan to cool on a wire rack. Mix vanilla through skim milk in a small bowl. Add the powdered sugar until mixture is "drizzlable". Pour into a small plastic sandwich bag (to keep it steady, place the bag, one bottom corner down, in a coffee mug), twist and tie the top, snip a small piece off the corner of the bag, and drizzle over the warm rolls.

"24 2 1/2 " rolls"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 204 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat; (17% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 36g Carbohydrate; 24mg Cholesterol; 47mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates

The biscotti have been posted before and are here.

We did our usual thorough cleaning of the lake house before leaving,
packed up, and drove back to the farm. It hadn’t rained a drop and the plants which I relocated last week all desperately needed to be watered. Figures-- an hour drive south and it was raining buckets!

Now this brings us to Cinco de Mayo dinner!!!

Fortunately for me, the fact that I took such an awful photo of the Beer-Marinated Chicken Tacos is good since I won’t have to take the time to post this recipe now. But I do make these frequently in the summer, so look for the post soon.

And why, you may ask, did I take such an awful photo?

Well, lots of guacamole & chips and


For 4 servings (or 2, depending on how much you like these)

Place 10 grams fresh mint leaves, 1/3 cup sugar, ¾ cup fresh lime juice in a small pitcher. Mash this mixture to release the mint flavor and dissolve the sugar (I use a wooden utensil that was meant to be a meat-tenderizer, but I also use the end of a one-piece rolling pin or the handle of a thick wooden spoon).

Add 6 ounces chopped strawberries and mash until berries are, well, mashed. Stir in ½ cup good-quality white rum, then add ¾ cup club soda.

Serve over ice (yes, all of the mashed stuff goes in the glass, too) with extra mint to garnish. A short straw helps to drink these easily (perhaps too easily!). Also have some spoons on hand to eat the mashed strawberry- rum mixture. Don’t want to waste it!

Remember, don’t drink and photograph!!!

That’s my update for now, let’s see if I can get back here soon. :)