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Archive for the ‘Cook More’ Category

Six-Minute Salmon Supper

Last Friday, I was down and out with a stomach bug and found myself lounging in front of the Food Channel.

I know. Stomach bug and Food Channel? I don’t get it either.

Anyway, my favorite tele-chef, Ina Garten, came on to teach me how to make a delish sandwich with salmon, bacon, guac, and arugula on ciabatta bread. What was really cool about the recipe (beyond the fact that some of my favorite foods in the world were smushed between two pieces of toasty grilled bread) was the super fast way she cooked the salmon. I usually drown it in some marinade that takes away all the yummy salmon flavor and then bake it for 30-40 minutes.

I know. I’m clearly doing something wrong.

So here’s how she did it:

Take 2-4 salmon fillets, brush ’em with olive oil on both sides, then salt and pepper them on both sides.

SeasonedSalmon

Place ’em, skin-side up, in a pan (she used a dry cast iron, I used a dry All-Clad) that has been sitting on medium heat.

Cook ’em for two minutes exactly.

Flip ’em.

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Cook ’em for two minutes exactly again.

Transfer the pan to a preheated 400 degree oven.

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Cook ’em for two minutes one last time.

Done.

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While my six-minute salmon was cooking tonight, I microwaved a bagged grain and veggie combo (4 minutes 30 seconds), and made a simple salad of baby greens and balsamic dressing (45 seconds).

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I, along with my eight-year-old, scarfed it down in six minutes flat.

I’m still working on my six-year-old.

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Last Wednesday, as my husband and I were prepping Thursday night’s meal, I stared at the pile of red potatoes that were sprouting offspring on my counter and reached for my cookbook shelf to come up with a solution to save them.  Ever since we (ok, I) committed to cooking more, we’re trying to be much more intentional about planning and prepping meals so we don’t get home in a flurry and serve a quick all-beige dinner (pasta, bread, milk).  So as I perused my cookbooks, I was immediately drawn to Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, one of the books my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday two weeks ago that I hadn’t yet cracked.

I knew roughly what I was looking for, but when I landed on Alice’s Potato Gratin recipe, I realized I didn’t have the exact ingredients or tools needed (gratin dish? really?), but decided to wing it anyway.  That’s the new kind of confidence this crazy experient has infused in me.  Cook something, using a recipe as inspiration only?  HUGE.  So here’s how it went down.

Spreadable butter (butter/canola oil blend; clearly regular butter would be the better option here, but I had run out — poor planning)

Garlic clove

5 sprouting red potatoes, scrubbed, with eyes removed

Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper

Fresh thyme (leftover from a pork tenderloin I whipped up over the weekend)

Whole milk

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.

BUTTER dish and rub a smushed garlic clove all over the insides.  I used a round shallow casserole.

THINLY SLICE the potatoes, skin and all.  I used a handheld mandoline that my mom gave me for Christmas.  If you don’t own a mandoline, check out this one — inexpensive and does the job perfectly.

OVERLAP potatoes in layers, seasoning each layer with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

POUR enough milk in dish to touch the bottom of the top layer of potatoes.

PLACE dots of butter (or butter blend in my case) all over the top layer.

BAKE dish until bubbly and top is browned, about an hour and ten minutes for me.

The end result was a dish that I would qualify as “gentle” — not a standout, but a simple, flavorful side that was an excellent accompaniment to the London Broil we grilled the next night.  And certainly better than throwing the potatoes in the disposal.

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So before I launch into my weekly recipe review, I want to acknowledge that this here blog is starting to look a teency-weency bit like it’s completely focused on food (with a little bit of self-deprication thrown in here and there).  I didn’t plan it this way, but it turns out that of all the areas of creation on which I am focusing this year, cooking is certainly the most accessible and immediate.  I mean, we all have to eat, right?  I might as well try to make it good.

So, just bear with me good readers (all ten of you)…I promise there will be some non-cooking stuff coming before the end of January.  Bon appetit!

This past Monday, I cracked open Family Meals again to look for a good seafood recipe.  We don’t eat nearly enough seafood in our house, and I want to make sure I capitalize on my 5-year-old’s new-found love of shrimp (I’m making a leap here, hoping that if he likes shrimp he’ll like other things from the sea).  After a couple of minutes perusing the seafood chapter, I started to salivate when I landed on the recipe for Panfried Sole with Lemon-Caper Sauce.  My grocery store didn’t have any sole in stock, so I substituted tilapia (as recommended by author Maria Helm Sinskey).

Serves 4-6

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I had attempted to make bread earlier in the day and had some leftover white flour/wheat flour blend, so as not to waste, that’s what I used)  

6 sole or tilapia fillets (I bought 3 large fillets)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 heaping tablespoon drained capers

1/4 cup dry white wine (I realized halfway through cooking that our bottle of dry white wine had been polished off during the weekend, so I substituted chicken stock)

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

{I served this dish with avocado slices drizzled with lemon juice and seasoned with salt and pepper}

PUT the flour in a shallow bowl or pie pan.  Season a piece of fish on both sides with salt and pepper, and then coat on both sides with the flour, tapping off the excess.  Set aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining fish.

HEAT a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the butter.  When the butter begins to brown, add the fish and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and opaque throughout, 2-3 minutes on each side.  If the flour begins to burn, reduce the heat slightly.  Transfer to a platter and keep warm.

ADD 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan over medium-high heat.  When it begins to brown, add the shallot and capers and saute until the shallot is lightly browned, 1-2 minutes.  Add the wine and the lemon zest and juice and bring to a boil, stirring to dislodge any browned bits from the bottom.  Boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining 5 tablespoons butter.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon the sauce over the fish and serve right away.

This dish was AMAZING.  It was so easy to make and totally delectable.  In fact, the reason there are no pictures (once again), is that we downed the whole thing in five minutes flat.

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When it comes to the sweet/salty debate, I fall wholly on the side of Sodium Chloride. So last week when I tried making the Turkey Saltimbocca from Family Meals (a gorgeous cookbook I got for Christmas from my wonderful godsister Jen), I knew I was going to like it.  With prosciutto as a main ingredient, what’s not to love?

Serves 4-6

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

6 turkey cutlets, about 1/4 pound each and no more than 1/2-inch thick

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into narrow strips

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1/2 cup dry white wine

{I served the dish with easy-peasy roasted petite brussel sprouts}

PREHEAT the oven to 350 degrees. Put the flour in a shallow bowl. Season the cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper, and then coat both sides with the flour and tap off the excess.  Place on a plate.

HEAT a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When it begins to brown, add the oil and then add the cutlets. Cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a warmed platter. (I did this step twice — only four cutlets fit in my pan at one time.)

PLACE the pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter begins to brown, add the prosciutto and chopped sage and sauté until the prosciutto is puckered and golden, about 2 minutes.  Add the wine, bring to a boil, stir, and boil for 1-2 minutes to reduce slightly. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter off the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the cutlets and serve right away.

The verdict for this dish lies squarely in the reaction from our 5-year-old picky eater (who loves bacon, doesn’t eat chicken unless we call it turkey, and hasn’t eaten anything green except for pesto pasta since he was 12 months old): upon his first bite, he proclaimed “OH MOMMY!  This is SOOOO good!”

Made this non-chef smile ear-to-ear.

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One of the things I find so challenging about cooking healthfully in the fall and winter is that my go-to veggies of tomatoes, cukes, peppers and lettuces (boring, I know) are mealy and out of season.  And the produce that is in season?  I just can’t get into it.  Kale looks like something you should use to make a shelter roof in the jungle, not cook up and eat.  

It turns out that I’m not the only one that is winter produce-challenged, so to help us sad souls, Cameron of Cottage Industrialist has designed a fabulous series of free, printable and completely awesome calendars that list the veggies-of-the-month with coordinating printable recipes using said veggies cooked up by Heather over at Home Ec 101.  How cool is that?

Check out Cameron’s calendars here and Heather’s recipes here.  Thanks, ladies!

Image credit: Cottage Industrialist

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It’s Week 1, Day 2, so let’s start with a bang, shall we?  Monday will probably be a good day for me to try new recipes, since it’s one of the days I’m home with my kiddos and not rushing home from work with two starving beasts.  I had ripped out this recipe from Real Simple long ago (March 2008, to be exact), but had never tried it.  So after a quick run to the grocery store, buying only the essentials (like shrimp, for example), I tried it last night.  It was delicious and ridiculously easy to prepare, with the exception of peeling and deveining 1 pound of shrimp — an activity I abhor.

So here it is, copied straight from my olive oil-stained page:

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (I substituted 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary)

Kosher salt and pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 clove garlic, chopped (I substituted 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic from a jar)

1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (I used a 15-ounce can)

2 bunches of arugula, trimmed (my grocery store was out of arugula, so I substituted with a small head of red leaf lettuce, chopped in ribbons)

HEAT oven to 400 degrees F.

MIX the breadcrumbs, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large bowl.  Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Transfer shrimp and any excess crumbs to a baking sheet.

Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and the bread crumbs are crispy, 10 to 12 minutes.

HEAT the remaining oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.  Add the beans, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, add the arugula (or red leaf lettuce) and toss to combine.

DIVIDE the beans among individual plates and serve with the shrimp.  Sprinkle any bread crumbs from the pan over the top. (I served the beans/greens combination in one bowl and the shrimp from a platter…we do it family style in my house). 

The verdict? Easy, fast (20 minutes after 45 f-ing minutes dealing with the shrimp process) and delish.  Likely to become a staple in my very limited dinner repertoire.

{I promise to take pictures next time, but it was all gone before I remembered…}

Recipe credit: Real Simple, March 2008

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