Saturday, September 3, 2011

Grilled Salmon with homemade tomato salsa

Trying not to let this blog completely die away... let me tell you about what we had for dinner tonight: Salmon fillet marinated in lime/garlic/jalapeno (baked, though it was supposed to be grilled, but lots of rain adjusted those plans) topped with homemade tomato salsa!

This is a perfect summer meal!

I'm feeling a little too lazy to get off the couch and give you exact measurements, besides, it's flexible, so here's how to make it:

Take 1-2 jalapenos and 5 cloves of garlic (UNpeeled) and heat in a dry skillet until black and blistered on the sides. Let cool. Peel the garlic, and stem the jalapeno. **Depending on how hot your jalapenos are, you may want to seed them, too. If we get them from the store, we usually leave the seeds in one of them at least, but today's were from the farmer's market and we suspected they would be hotter and so seeded both - it was still plenty hot for our 'medium' salsa-loving tastes.**

Using a blender, pulverize the garlic and jalapenos with 1/3 c. lime juice until completely liquid.

Put your salmon fillet (we used 1.3 lb for two people - the girls don't like it, which gave very generous servings and ~one serving left-over) in a greased glass pan (if you're going to bake it) or an ungreased glass pan if you're not baking it, and pour over some of the pulverized liquid to cover it with just a little. **Make sure you save the rest because it's what makes the salsa awesome!

Set the salmon aside to marinade for just a short time while you make the salsa.

Finely chop ~1/2 a red onion (we actually didn't have this and used a shallot instead this time, but usually make with the red onion) and rinse the onion in a strainer under running water. Let drain and add to salsa bowl. Then cut up as many tomatoes as you want - the more varieties and colors the better! We love it with some yellow cherry tomatoes (Lemon drop!) and some other red varieties. This is a great use for heirloom tomatoes and all sorts of new varieties from the farmer's market or your garden! I don't really know how many tomatoes to tell you... we maybe used ~5 smaller red tomatoes and ~3/4 pint of small yellow cherry tomatoes.

Mix, add salt to taste (takes more than you might guess ~3/4 t??), and chopped cilantro (how much looks good to you!).

Then, add in some of the pulverized garlic/pepper/lime juice mixture that was left over (not from the raw fish pan!!) Start with very little and taste - it can get hot quickly, depending on how hot your peppers were.

Cook the salmon on the grill (best option) or oven until done to your taste.

Serve with the homemade salsa piled on the salmon and with tortilla chips to eat up the rest of the salsa! (Like most fresh tomato salsas this one doesn't last very well beyond this first day, so don't make it ahead of time and be prepared to eat it all - not usually a problem in our house!)

We did try to take a picture, though because of the rain outside the light isn't the greatest. We also had biscuits and salads to round out the meal.

This is one of my favorite summer meals and is adapted from a Rick Bayless recipe from this book:

(side note: Aaron, have you been to his restaurant in Chicago??? I really want to go sometime!)

(another note: not my beer in the picture above! but I heard it was a good pairing - Leinnie's Sunset Wheat)

Friday, March 11, 2011


Sometimes a girl just needs to eat something warm with minimal mess and effort...thank you grilled cheese sandwich. And like any true born and bred American, a large part of my diet revolves around peanut butter, and a large part of my time is spent thinking of new ways to incorporate peanut butter into my diet.
For a while now, I've been wanting to combine two of my favorite things-the warm toasty goodness of grilled cheese, and peanut butter. Although there are endless varieties of peanut butter sandwiches, the native voyage of my grilled peanut butter sandwich had be my classic, my favorite, my go to peanut butter sandwich...peanut butter and strawberry jam. I thought about it a lot in France, most of the key ingredients were available. France is home to delicious and cheap bread, butter that stands on its own (SO good you could eat it plain, not that I ever would...ahem), and jars of strawberry jam sold everywhere from huge supermarket chains to Sunday morning markets and all were amazing. The only thing missing was the peanut butter. Long before moving to France, I was introduced to French "peanut butter" by a David Sedaris story. This "peanut butter" is sold in a CAN, with a fat smiling kid on it, leading one to believe the French think peanut butter is something to be opened and eaten in one sitting. Mr. Sedaris did not fabricate anything. I saw those cans of peanut butter. I always meant to buy one, but I never did. I shouldn't judge something I've never eaten, but I knew that my grilled peanut butter sandwich could not be made using canned peanut butter.
Fast forward to Korea. Skippy PB (creamy or crunchy!) is widely available. However, the Korean butter is not so much creamy goodness, but rather more of an oily spread with an almost neon yellow color and the taste of slightly old dairy. And the bread is simply a flavorless vessel for whatever you want to put on it to get to your mouth. But my grilled peanut butter sandwich idea had waited long enough. So on my last trip to the grocery store, I got my ingredients. The next night, I buttered one side of the bread. I peanut buttered and jammed the other side. I buttered the top bread, and turned my stove down as low as it would go (and given the poor quality of my kitchen appliances, that is not actually low, but I've gotten quite good at balancing the pans mostly off the burner), put the lid on to ensure adequate peanut butter melting, and waited. And even with the less than mediocre Korean bread and butter, YUM! I am anxious to make it with good bread and actual butter. I am also anxious to expand and try a grilled peanut butter and banana, or peanut butter and honey, or peanut butter and pickle (my friend swears these are delicious).
I googled my sandwich, and found scores of recipes. My idea had been done before. I am not the culinary pioneer I thought I was. But that doesn't make me love it any less. I would have taken pictures, but it looked pretty unappetizing...and I'm lazy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili


A friend made this for me last winter. I hate myself for what I'm about to type, but seriously: love at first bite. Cast-iron cornbread on the side and everything is right with the world.

The fact that the chili and cornbread go from ingredients to dinner in about half an hour only improves an already exciting weeknight. Obviously, this is chili - so add, subtract, substitute away.

  • 2 oranges
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 c chopped onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed/minced
  • 4 t chili powder
  • 4 t ground cumin
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 3 15.5 oz cans seasoned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes in juice, not drained
  • Hot sauce, sour cream/yogurt, cilantro
  • Cornbread (Seriously. I don't mean to sound like something bad will happen if you don't have this with cornbread, but do you really want to take that chance?)


Zest the oranges, then juice them.

Heat oil in heavy pan, then add the onions. Saute, don't brown, til soft, about 5 min.

Add spices, stir around to bloom and get the onions coated. Add the garlic, stir till fragrant.

Add the beans, tomatoes, and half the orange juice. Stir to combine.

Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally, for about 15 minutes.

Add additional orange juice, zest, hot sauce, salt, pepper.

Serve, topping with yogurt and cilantro. Cornbread goes on the side.