Thursday, September 18, 2014

Herb Crusted Salmon

As I’ve mentioned before, Mr. O-P is the fish cooker in the house.  But these days, as old age catches painfully up with him, I have taken over all of the cooking duties, and that includes delving into the unknown world of salmon cooking.  Prior to our getting together way back in 1993, I had never eaten a piece of salmon.  Now I love it and am always on the lookout for fresh new ways in which to serve this healthy dish.

As the summer draws to a close I find myself out on the deck, gathering herbs and using them in as many ways as possible.  This recipe is the result of my daily gatherings.

Herb Crusted Salmon

tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, finely minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely minced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely minced
Two 8-ounce pieces salmon fillet
Fresh Herb Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large skillet over moderate heat, melt butter.  Stir in lime juice, zest, Old Bay seasoning, bread crumbs, and garlic. Sauté mixture over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until bread crumbs are crisp and golden. Remove skillet from heat.  Allow to cool slightly, and then stir in scallions, parsley, and basil.

Season salmon with salt and pepper, and coat all sides evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Place salmon on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Serve topped with a dollop of fresh herb sauce, and a sprig of basil.

Fresh Herb Sauce

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
Inch of Kosher Salt

In a small bowl whisk together herb sauce ingredients until smooth.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Multitasking with Rosemary

I recently read a report that claimed that inhaling the scent of Rosemary could actually improve memory. To what degree it didn't say, but it does give a whole new meaning to the phrase Rosemary for Remembrance, one that I always viewed romantically. 

I also recently read that hanging a bundle of fresh rosemary in the shower would give off a heady aroma that, mixed in with the steam, was supposed to have calming effects. Memory I have in spades, being calm is about as foreign to me as a Greek soldier on leave (now, ya see, I'm thinking romantically again).  

To make a long story, less long, I tried the bundled rosemary thing. I clipped about six sprigs of rosemary from my plant, secured them with a green twist tie (classy, huh, but wait, it gets classier) and then secured the, well, I might as well say it, bread tie, to a rubber band and hung it over the shower head. I then turned on the shower to get the room very steamy and prepared myself to be soothed. Nothing. Not even the tiniest whiff. (Insert heavy, disappointed sigh.) 

Back into the shower this morning (I am nothing if not squeaky clean), and there was the rosemary from yesterday, mocking me. So, I wrung its little neck compressed the stems and leaves to allow release of the oils, and turned on the shower. It worked!  I felt as if I were showering in the woods. So heady, so calming, and improving my memory at the same time. What a productive way to start the day. I mean, how often can one multitask in the shower?

Just a relaxing little midweek tip for you.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kicked-Up Hatch Chile Pepper Soup

 It was forty four degrees when I got up this morning. Forty four. Degrees. Fahrenheit.  And do you know what?  I LOVED IT!  I'd left the window open before I went to bed, and in the wee hours found myself reaching for the denim comforter that I had laundered and placed, folded, on a nearby chair. The calendar may say mid-September, but in my heart of hearts, it is deep into fall. Hallelujah!

When fall comes it means that I shift into soup and stew mode. Thick, hearty, warm-you-from-the-inside-out soups, stews, and don't forget those hot loaves of bread fresh from the oven. The apple (Ooh! Another sign of fall!) didn't fall far from the tree when it came to my number two son, Andrew (whom you have to thank for the Fried Rice and Cherry Limeade Bars recipes), who loves to whip up a hot bowl of hearty goodness in the fall as much as I do. Because he is my pepper roasting buddy, I shared a portion of them with him, and he made this delicious Hatch Chile Soup. He had me taste it before he told me what was in it, and I couldn't get enough. It does warm from the inside out due to the spice content -- the Chile Mash in particular -- but, surprisingly, it was not too hot for a mild-to-medium-heat kind of girl like me. 

Hatch Chile Pepper Soup

1 lb. ground sirloin
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red onion, diced
2 cups of Melissa's Hatch chiles roasted* and chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
2-3 ears of fresh sweet corn, cut off the cob
1 14-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 32-oz. container of beef stock
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons freshly ground coriander
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon Melissa’s Red Savina Chile Mash

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
For serving:
Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
Diced avocado
Sour cream
Chopped parsley
Brown the ground sirloin in a large stockpot.  Pour off the fat, if any, and return meat to pot. Add butter, garlic, onion, roasted Hatch chiles, sweet potato, corn, and tomatoes. Stir together.  Add stock, give it another stir, and then add seasonings, to taste.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 3-4 hours, tasting for further seasoning.

Depending upon how thick you like your soups you may want to use a roux to thicken. 

*A tutorial on how to roast chile peppers can be found here.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Napkin Folding 101 - Bishop's Mitre

I'm working on a new table setting, and so have this napkin fold to share with you. I am not quite ready to set my table for fall, so decided on a transitional table that gives no seasonal feeling, just one of peace and tranquility, and isn't that always a feeling to be embraced?!

This napkin fold is so easy, like all that I've shown thus far (and if you missed them, you can find the Iris fold
here, and the Rose & Leaf fold here), and requires a relatively sturdy napkin. My go-to napkins come from Pier One (watch for special offers and sales).  No, they do not pay me to say this, nor do they send me cases of napkins. Not that I'd say no, mind you, I just really happen to love their napkins, and once you start working with these folds, you will love them too. I tend to stick with neutral colors that blend nicely with a lot of different color schemes; this gray napkin is particularly versatile. 

Fire up your irons ladies, and let's get started.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Candleholder to Coffee Station Conversion

I'll tell you what, this has been one thrilling culinary week; I can hardly contain my excitement. What with the news of the Great Chefs series of postage stamps about to be released, and now this recent discovery at a local shop that has set the wheels turning in my brain, I can tell you. This, in my opinion, is nothing short of brilliant!  Oh, that I would have had the outrageous amount of cash in my pocket to treat myself to this candle holder cum coffee station from one of the toniest shops in the area. But, alas, I didn't, so the search is on (and, really, isn't the most fun of anything in the hunt?) for a pillar candle holder to turn into a clever coffee station. 
 The photos are not great because it was really dark in the shop, and I was trying to be discreet.  Hopefully, though, you’ll get the idea and love it as much as I do.
I am an absolute fiend for coffee (The best part of waking up... and all that.), and I love the whole idea of a coffee station. I've tried creating one a number of times, but was never particularly pleased with the outcome. This one really sends me. I love the dual purposing of things, as has been done here, and that there are just so many options.  Think of how much fun it would be to change ingredients for the holidays -- Warm spices for the fall, cocoa and peppermint for the winter, maybe some pastel sprinkles or marshmallows for the spring. The choices are endless. Which ingredients would you choose?  Do you have a coffee station in your home?  Tell me about it, and I want details!

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