Thursday, October 21, 2010

Grilled Salmon with Melted Tomatoes

We are still avoiding that “first frost”, and I am still harvesting tomatoes from my garden.

Another beautiful fall day here, and I spent the whole day outside cleaning the birdbaths and other miscellaneous garden statuary and putting things away for the winter. I bought a salmon fillet the other day and decided that we should have it for dinner. There were some beautiful tomatoes finishing ripening on the patio table, and I remembered a recipe which I have wanted to try but hadn’t, yet.

I came across this recipe from Food and Wine while flipping through their August issue recently. It seems as though I didn’t have a lot of time this summer to look at my magazines, since there is a rather large pile of them waiting to be read. I should be reading about Thanksgiving recipes, though, so I have to start reading faster I suppose. :)

I first noticed the recipe because of the photo—a large salmon fillet on top of a bed of cooked tomatoes and covered with jalapeno slices. It was beautiful. I have a ton of jalapeno peppers in the garden, lost of fresh tomatoes, and a salmon fillet just waiting to be turned into something wonderful. Sounded like a perfect idea for dinner!

Salmon and tomatoes are a great combination, and this recipe did not disappoint. I did expect much more heat from the jalapenos, but I figure that I took out too many seeds (actually, I took out all of the seeds!). Next time, I will remove maybe half of the seeds and see how that turns out.

And a note to anyone out there who do not like tomato skins (and you know who you are!!!), this is not the recipe for you unless you take the time to skin the tomatoes first. The slow simmering of the tomato chunks separated many of the skins and although I don’t mind the texture it didn’t look particularly appetizing (I picked some out before I took the photo below. Jack is so patient!).

I served with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans (alas, not from the garden).

* Exported from MasterCook *

Grilled Salmon with Melted Tomatoes

Recipe By : adapted slightly from Marcia Kiesel
Serving Size : 5

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 whole jalapenos
2 pounds red ripe tomatoes -- coarsely chopped
32 ounces salmon fillet -- cut into two pieces

Remove stem from jalapenos and slice thinly. For a mild dish, remove all seeds and transfer the pepper "circles" to a plate. The more seeds that are left with the peppers, the hotter the finished dish will be.

In a large, deep skillet heat olive oil. Add the jalapenos in a single layer and cook over moderately low heat without stirring until softened, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the jalapenos to a small plate and set aside.

Preheat a grill or grill pan.

Add the chopped tomatoes to the skillet and cook over high heat until they release their juices, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer the tomatoes to a bowl, the boil the remaining tomato juices in the pan over high heat or until thickened, adding any additional accumulated juices from the bowl. * Return the tomatoes to the skillet and season with salt.

Rub the salmon on both sides with olive oil, and grill over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, turn carefully with a wide spatula, season with s & p and continue to grill until the salmon is opaque in the center (3-6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish).

Toward the end of the grilling time, reheat the tomatoes gently in the pan. Spoon the tomatoes and their juices onto a serving platter, place the salmon fillets on top, and cover the fish with the jalapenos.

"Food & Wine, August 2010"

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Per serving: 321 Calories (kcal); 15g Total Fat (2g Saturated); (42% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 94mg Cholesterol; 137mg Sodium

NOTES : *- I must have used "meatier" tomatoes than the person who developed the recipe because I didn't have a lot of excess tomato juices. The was so little that I decided that they would probably burn in the pan if I tried to reduce them. So I killed that entire step of removing the tomatoes from the pan and reducing the excess juices.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Prosciutto-Wrapped Tilapia with Fresh Sage

I normally wouldn’t have given this recipe a second glance. We don’t eat red meat, so if my eyes saw “proscuitto” my brain might not have even registered it. And it honestly didn’t even sound appealing to me-- Proscuitto-Wrapped Tilapia with Fresh Sage. But a friend recommended it to me and I am so glad that she did.

Of course, I didn’t use proscuitto. I did use my favorite turkey bacon. Although the turkey bacon that I’ve bought in grocery stores is adequate, none of those brands can hold a candle to what I buy in Sam’s Club. A couple of years ago, while shopping there, I was given a sample of turkey bacon. I usually avoid these sample carts, but the bacon smelled so good and I probably was hungry to begin with (it seems as though I am always hungry). It was delicious. Thick sliced and smoky, I remember that I took at least a second sample. Then I bought a 2 pound package.

The brand name at the time was Kutztown. However, a few months ago it was no longer in the case. I finally wrote to the company and was told that Sam’s Club is still using their bacon, but it’s now being sold under the Member’s Mark brand. I bought a package and, yay!, it’s the same.

This is what I used in place of the proscuitto in the following recipe. The fish was positively delicious.

In addition, the tilapia fillets were thin, so I sandwiched two fillets together and wrapped the turkey bacon around, sliding a fresh sage leaf under each side.

And do not toss that sage leaf. We both discovered that eating a tiny bit of the crisp sage with the tender fish and smoky bacon was the best way to enjoy this. I sauteed potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and onion as a side.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Tilapia with Fresh Sage

Recipe By : Cuisine at Home “Fresh & Fabulous”
Servings: 4

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese -- shredded
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
18 ounces fish fillets
8 leaves sage -- fresh
4 slices prosciutto (I used thick-cut turkey bacon)
4 teaspoons olive oil -- divided

Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush grill grate with oil.

Stir together lemon juice, Parmesan, 1 T oil, honey, salt, and pepper flakes for the topping; set aside.

Pat fillets dry with paper towels. Place 2 sage leaves on each fillet. Wrap 1 slice of prosciutto (or turkey bacon) around sage and fillets. Secure with toothpicks.

(I had small, thin fillets, so I sandwiched two together, wrapped the turkey bacon around, and slid a sage leaf under the bacon on each side)

Spray the fillets liberally with cooking spray and grill fillets, covered, until cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove toothpicks. Drizzle with the lemon-Parm sauce.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Garden Musings

I planted my garden late this year, and it is still producing lots of tomatoes and peppers. According to my calendar, last year our first frost was on October 19th. That’s only 3 days away, and even if the temps overnight stay above 40F for the next couple of weeks, I’m worrying about if all of the green tomatoes will ripen by then.

These are my favorite tomatoes, although they have not been as prolific this year as they have been in years past. My Dad’s cousin brought the seeds over from Italy years ago and a nursery grows plants (for Dad and also to sell) every year.

They are large (each well over a pound), with a full tomato flavor and few seeds.

I will longingly look at these photos in December, January, February, March…well, you get the idea. I don’t often buy fresh tomatoes in winter, and it’s because I know all too well what they taste like at the end of summer.

And as long as I’m posting photos, rather than recipes, here’s another. I broke down and bought a garden flag a few weeks ago because I loved the design (wonder why?). Of course, then I had to buy a flag holder, too. :) I placed it in our flower bed that I see easily from the kitchen window, and set a large pail of mums next to it. Then Spooky came by to look picturesque, so I complied…

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grilled Chicken Flatbread Pizza

It’s autumn. I’ve been trying to deny it for the last few weeks, but I no longer can. The writing’s on the wall—winter is coming.

The nice, warmish days are now being spent outside. The garden is still producing, and I spent yesterday clearing and straightening up the flower beds. These chores always take longer than I had planned, and by the time I accomplished what needed to be done then went out for a quick run, it was very late. The only television show which I watch (Burn Report, a cable show being rerun on a local station) was on at 8, so I scrambled to get dinner on the table.

I had met my friend Jenni in the Strip District on Tuesday. For those who don’t know, this is an area of Pittsburgh that is filled with food shops, restaurants, and other interesting places to wile away an afternoon. Before we met for lunch I did some shopping and picked up a package of my favorite pocketless pita breads. It was this that I saw when I opened the refrigerator door last evening at 6:45pm, and my inspiration for a very quick dinner.

No recipe, though. How do you follow a recipe when you want to get dinner on the table asap? Who has time to measure (and read)???

I did think ahead and put a large chicken breast half in the microwave to thaw before I went to take my shower so it was ready.

I lit the grill, mixed up some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh oregano, minced garlic, and s&p in a small cut. I brushed the chicken with some of this and grilled it, then also brushed slices of zucchini and onion and grilled those as well. While these cooked, I chopped a tomato and drained it on paper towels for a few minutes.

I removed the chicken and veggies from the grill, turned the heat down and lowered the lid, and chopped the chicken and vegetables. I placed the pocketless pitas on the bottom of a baking sheet (to easily slide the pitas onto the grill) and arranged the onion and zucchini, then the tomatoes and chicken, sprinkled oregano and the rest of the olive oil mix, and crumbled feta over all. The pitas were slid onto the grill and the lid closed. Each one took about 4 minutes (I turned each 45 degrees halfway through), just enough to warm everything and crisp the bottom.

Quick, delicious, and endlessly adaptable to whatever you should have on hand. This might be the last time we have these until next spring (as I only use my grill in the warm months) and I am already anticipating what veggie and cheese mixture I will be able to use then. Spring… asparagus? And pecorino romano? I have 5 months to ponder on this, alas… ;)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thai Ground Turkey Stir Fry

There were 5 pounds of ground turkey in the refrigerator and, after portioning and wrapping for the freezer, I had an odd amount (7 ounces) left over for dinner. I wanted to make stuffed peppers, but it was pouring rain and I didn’t feel like venturing into the garden to harvest (that is a much better experience when done on a nice, sunny, warm day!). I looked at what was in the fridge, then asked Jack what type of food he would like. He asked for some sort of stir-fry, and back to the kitchen I went.

I decided on Thai because I just happened to look outside and saw my large pot of Thai basil flourishing. Even though I will freeze the leaves before frost kills the plant, fresh just tastes so much better. I thought for a minute, made a couple of notes on back of a magazine subscription card that was lying on the table, and started to cook.

What resulted was a very easy, quite delicious dinner.

Jack got up from the table halfway through our meal to pour more wine (we found that it’s not a good idea to keep the bottle on the table while we eat…). After he sat down, he looked at me and said this exact quote:

“I swear to God, if you tell me that you’re going to leave me and will only make me 10 more meals before you do, this would have to be one of those.”

Um… where am I going?

(Honey, thanks for the compliment. I think.)

Anyway, this was really good. And quick. Just for color, I'll use red bell pepper next time.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Thai Ground Turkey Stir Fry

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings : 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

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

3/4 cup red curry paste

3/4 cup canned diced tomato -- undrained

1/4 cup light coconut milk

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil

6 ounces ground turkey

3/4 cup sliced onion

2/3 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 teaspoon minced garlic

4 ounces Morningstar Farms Recipe Crumbles

4 ounces canned waterchestnuts -- diced

hot, cooked jasmine rice

1 tablespoon chopped peanuts

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (Thai basil preferred), or cilantro

Mix the diced tomatoes and curry powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix the coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce in another small bowl and set aside.

Heat a wok over high flame, add oil, swirl to coat, then add the ground turkey. Stir fry until the meat is no longer pink. Add onion and peppers and stir fry until the peppers just starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, stir, add burger crumbles and continue to stir fry for another minute.

Add tomato/curry mix to wok and continue to stir fry for a minute. Add water chestnuts, stirring. Stir in the coconut milk mixture and continue to mix for another minute or two until mixture is hot.

Serve over hot cooked rice, garnish with cilantro and peanuts.

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Per serving: 412 Calories (kcal); 20g Total Fat (4g Saturated); (42% calories from fat); 29g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 67mg Cholesterol; 1460mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 2 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Curried Red Lentil Soup

It has been cool and rainy outside and I finally needed to turn the on the furnace. I guess that summer really is over, now. I still have lots of tomatoes in the garden and hope that frost stays away for a couple of more weeks so more of them can ripen. Spooky insisted on hanging out outdoors for a few hours this afternoon, huddled under the eaves of the porch. When he came into the house he walked through the kitchen, into the dining room, and stopped short. He turned, walked toward the now-warm radiator, rubbed his face on it for a few seconds, then in one motion he jumped up onto the cushion, turned around, and curled into a ball.

Yes, there is a cushion on the radiator. There are actually cushions on all of our radiators. Custom made by Vicci years ago in case a cat needed a warm place to nap on a cold day.

It was our chilliest day yet this fall, and I wanted to make something nice and hot for lunch.

Jack is not a big fan of soup, and he claims to dislike lentils, but he does enjoy Indian food so I have put together a curried lentil soup that he likes very much. I do, too.

Finely chopped vegetables are sautéed, then some flour is added (to thicken the broth), water and broth are then mixed in and then spices and lentils and fresh tomatoes. Simmered until thickened, this is a very flavorful soup and perfect for a cool day. I served it with TJ’s naan, heated in the toaster oven until hot and crispy. Yum.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Curried Red Lentil Soup

Recipe By : Vicci

Servings : 8

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

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

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups finely chopped onion

2 cups finely chopped celery

2 cups finely chopped carrots

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 quarts low-sodium vegetable stock

4 cups water

3 cups lentils -- red

2 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

2 teaspoons gound cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes -- canned ok

3 tablespoons lime juice -- or lemon juice

chopped fresh cilantro -- as desired for garnish

plain lowfat yogurt -- as desired for garnish

In a large pot or Dutch oven (at least 6 quart capacity), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and sauté for 3 minutes, then add the onion and celery and continue to cook for at least 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and stir for an additional minute.

Sprinkle the flour on the mixture and stir with a heavy spoon for 2 minutes (the mixture will become stiff and a bit pasty).

Remove the pot from the heat and add the water slowly, stirring quickly to get the flour incorporated into the liquid. Then add the stock, stirring well.

Replace the pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent sticking as the liquid thickens. Rinse the lentils and add to the pot, stirring well. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the spices and tomatoes, stir, and cook for an additional 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently.

Season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir in lime or lemon juice. Garnish individual servings with chopped fresh cilantro and yogurt as desired.


"5 quarts"

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Per serving: 356 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat; (13% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 100mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Note: after trying the soup with and without the yogurt garnish, I have to say that this is actually an “essential” not an “optional” addition.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gnoochi Mac and Cheese

I love gnocchi. One of my very earliest memories is watching my grandmother making piles of these for our Christmas Eve dinner. She peeled a mountain of white potatoes, boiled and mashed them, mixed in eggs and flour, then rolled very long ropes of the dough. It was so fun to watch, especially her cutting the ropes into 1” pieces, then each one she would indent with the side of her thumb and, in the same motion, toss it into a cloth-lined basket. They were so delicious, tender and light, smothered in homemade marinara… *whimper* ;

When I was in college my Mom started make gnocchi with instant potato flakes. Those worked, and was a lot less work. Now you can get them in the grocery store, refrigerated or in shelf-stable packaging, and they are not bad at all. Not my grandmother’s, or my Mom’s (although she has been buying them for years now), but pretty good.

I’ve never made gnocchi well. They always seem to be tough and I know that’s because I overwork the dough, but I can’t get around it. I did try to make pumpkin gnocchi a few years ago and failed. So I sent up the white flag.

I was flipping through my newest Cuisine at Home magazine a few weeks ago and Jack happened to see the photo of Gnocchi Mac & Cheese. He loves macaroni and cheese, and the mere thought of subbing gnocchi for the pasta made him positively giddy. :) Every couple of days he asked about making it, so finally I gave in.

The accompanying recipe for gnocchi was disregarded as I had a packaged of DeLallo’s brand in the pantry. We had friends visit last weekend and I had a good bit of cheese left, so I subbed the light Jarlsberg for Gruyere and sharp cheddar for fontina. And as good as the photo looked of the brown crust over the cheesy surface of the baked gnocchi, I decided that tomatoes would be a wonderful taste with the cheese so I sliced one and placed the slices on the surface of the casserole before baking.

Near the end of the baking time, Jack came into the kitchen. “Everything smells like cheese, even in my office” he announced happily. I need to find a cheese-scented candle for that man.

Anyway, here is my variation on the recipe. The CAH recipe is for 6 servings, and I roughly halved it to make 3, but we ate it all… I told myself that I had lightened the recipe, so it was okay.

(not the best photo, but someone was standing beside me, fork in hand...)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home issue #83

Servings: 3

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

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

16 ounces potato gnocchi

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small garlic clove -- crushed

2 teaspoons flour

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 ounce lite Jarlsberg cheese

1/2 ounce sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper -- optional, adjust as desired

1 large tomato -- sliced into 6-8 1/4" thick slices

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese -- shaved or coarsely grated

In a small nonstick saucepan, sauté the garlic in olive oil for a minute, then sprinkle in the flour and whisk until smooth and bubbly. Whisk in the milk and Dijon and continue to cook and whisk until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.

Turn down heat and add the Jarlsberg and cheddar cheeses, a little at a time, whisking until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Add chipotle if desired and stir in.

Coat a shallow 1 quart baking dish with cooking spray and lay the cooked gnocchi in a single layer. Pour the sauce over, spreading to cover the surface. Lay the tomato slices on the surface of the gnocchi and spray with cooking spray.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley or basil and serve.

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Per serving: 364 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat; (16% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 51g Carbohydrate; 11mg Cholesterol; 1178mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Not really 3 servings for us...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Multigrain Pancake Mix

It’s October 2nd and here in southwestern Pennsylvania the days are cool, the nights cooler, and the leaves on the trees are just beginning to turn color.

Yesterday, I said farewell to my sandals and flip-flops. It was sad. I cleaned and rubbed some mink oil into the leather; scrubbed and dried the others in the bright sunshine, and wrapped them all in paper to store in boxes until next May or so.

Plastic boxes were brought down from the attic and I folded all of my sleeveless tops and capris and packed them away. The summer purses were cleaned and boxed, too. It’s a ritual I perform every first of October as I very, very reluctantly say goodbye to summer and once again start to wear long jeans, socks, and sneakers (my feet are not at all happy).

Jack, on the other hand, has no such aspirations to give summer a wave. He is still wearing shorts and sandals and will do so until he is too cold to stand it. Oh, by the way, this is the same man who never owned a pair of shorts or a pair of sandals until a few years ago, preferring to wear jeans and sneakers year round. Sometimes I wonder just who he is…\

Last night hit a low of 40F, the lowest it has been for months. When I let Spooky out this morning, I could see my breath. He wasn’t happy, either, and I had to place a folded towel on the patio table (the portion of it that was in full sun) because there was dew covering everything. Pampered pet? Well of course! :)

My kitchen this morning, however, is nice and warm. I turned on the big-stove-griddle and made apple-walnut pancakes which was quite appropriate. I’ve been working on a multigrain pancake recipe for a while now and think I have it where I like it. The recipe below makes 17 cups, so it’s great to make and have on hand. It’s makes a nice, hearty pancake which is not overly grainy. I added a finely chopped (unpeeled) apple and about 2 tablespoons of toasted, chopped walnuts. I would have liked to make a spiced apple compote for on top of the pancakes, but I didn't want to take the time-- I had just returned from a run and I was starving! It might have been too "apple-y" of a breakfast, anyway.

I made apple turkey sausage last weekend and we had a couple of patties today. I used a pound of premade turkey breakfast sausage and added a peeled, shredded apple plus about a tablespoon of minced fresh sage; then formed the mixture into patties, and froze. These were very good, the apple gave a nice flavor and moisture, and the taste of sage went quite well with the apple and turkey.

Multigrain Pancake Mix

Recipe By :Vicci

Amount Measure Ingredient Preparation Method

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

2 cups regular oats

6 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups white whole wheat flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 1/4 cups wheat bran -- or 1 cup of oat bran*

1 cup soy protein powder -- (optional)

2/3 cup toasted wheat germ

3/4 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons baking powder

1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients well. Store in a tightly-covered container in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months (or, in the summer months, in the refrigerator).

To make 5 5” Pancakes:

beat 1 large egg until fluffy

whisk in 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 cup plain lowfat yogurt + 2/3 cup skim milk OR 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk, and 1/2 teas vanilla extract

add about 1 cup mix, stir just until the ingredients are mixed, and allow to stand for about 10 minutes

NOTES : *- if using oat bran, be sure to allow the batter to rest for at least 10 minutes for the oat bran to soften.