April 2014

cedar-plank-salmon-with-sweet-mustard

Have you ever wondered what all the cedar plank salmon hype was about? Did you know there was cedar plank salmon hype? Well, there is, and I found out why this weekend.  IT IS AMAZING.  It infuses the salmon with so much flavor and keeps it so moist, and when you take it off the grill it sort of smells like a brand new house. Yes, a house. From the wood.

I bought my planks at Whole Foods.  I actually never really planned on making cedar plank salmon, but they sell the planks right next to the seafood section and they are only $2. Well done, Whole Foods. Nice product placement.

This might be the easiest dinner on the planet. I can’t be sure about Mars or Venus.

  1. Soak the planks in salted water
  2. Heat the grill to medium
  3. Drizzle each salmon with olive oil, then S&P
  4. Top each salmon with 1 tablespoon each of Dijon mustard and brown sugar
  5. Place salmon on the plank
  6. Grill for 15-20 minutes

You could also grill over indirect heat for 20-30 minutes, if you want a more slow roasted salmon.

That’s all I’ve got for now, have a good week!

Charred Corn Salsa

charred-corn-salsa

It’s grilling season in Texas, and it’s almost over.  Once summer rolls in it is almost impossible to keep your grill at a normal temperature, so now is the time to actually enjoy some time at the grill without scorching your food and having heat stroke. Actually, I had a hard time keeping my grill below 600 even this weekend. It was 93. 93 in April!!!  Too early Texas, too early.

This charred corn salsa was everything I’d hoped for.  A little spicy, a little smokey, and lots of flavor.  I served it with grilled cedar plank salmon (recipe to come), and it will become a go-to side. I keep thinking about it in a taco, or alongside some grilled chicken, or on top of nachos.

 Recipe

  • 5-6 ears corn
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 4 jalapenos, seeded
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from one small lime
  • Several dashes hot sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Fresh ground pepper

Grill the corn until perfectly charred. Meanwhile, cut the vegetables into large chunks, toss in olive oil, then grill until fork tender.  Dice the veggies into small pieces, and cut the kernels off the cob using a serrated knife.  Toss all ingredients with olive oil, lime juice, hot sauce, and spices. Serve warm or room temp.

 

risotto-balsamico-with-grilled-chicken

Do you like that name? Risotto Balsamico? It just sounded right, and was more fun than calling it risotto with balsamic glaze.  I want to purse my lips and roll my tongue when I say it.  I want to make this again. Now. It was inspired by my husband’s favorite dish at the italian restaurant Taverna in Dallas, and is shockingly easy and fancy at the same time.  In fact, my husband didn’t want it at first because ‘chicken is too boring for a Sunday.’  What? What was he expecting? Pork belly?

Actually I really want to make pork belly soon. Maybe this Sunday.

Turned out, he said it’s his new favorite dinner.  This recipe is really simple. I made my risotto recipe here, but without the mushrooms.  Then I marinated a few boneless skinless chicken breasts in a cup of balsamic salad dressing (I used Newman’s Own), a quarter cup of olive oil, S&P, and some herbs from our garden (a few pinches of minced rosemary and thyme).  Only for an hour or two because that’s all the time I had. Then we grilled it, and put it on top of the risotto and topped it with lots of balsamic glaze (store bought).

I’m telling you guys, make this.  And limit your simultaneous italian bread intake to a normal amount so you don’t end up in a carb coma like myself.

pasta-with-asparagus-and-lemon-butter

Did you think I quit? I didn’t. I have just been in a bit of a rut.  A rut of every kind, actually.  A cooking rut (lack of time and motivation), an exercise rut (something very bad is happening to my feet), and a work rut (the deal I am working on is quickly going south and my commute is killing me). Luckily I’ve had several fun social events that are getting me through, but unfortunately they are wedged tightly in between an intense travel schedule  so I show up to most things looking like I’m recovering from mono and in desperate need of a facial. Anyway.

I have two good posts for this week though.  This one, which is a great weeknight meal that I think you should make tomorrow, and a balsamic risotto that I will post later this week that you should make for your dinner party this weekend. If you’re having one.

This was an awesome side dish to our perfectly blackened salmon last week – very quick and a good way to get some veggies.  The pasta was just very lightly sauced, though you could certainly double the sauce recipe to make it a bit heartier if you wanted.  You could also serve it as a the main dish and add in some grilled chicken or shrimp. Oy! I will do that next time.

Recipe

  • ~1lb spaghetti or linguine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 3-4 tablespoons grated parmesan

Start by steaming the asparagus in the microwave for about 2.5 minutes (covered microwave safe dish with a pinch of water).  Drain water, then add cold water and ice cubes (to retain the bright green color). Set aside.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water until el dente. Drain.  In a sauce pan, melt the butter and add the olive oil, then lemon juice, and slowly whisk in the half and half. Bring to a low boil to thicken for a minute or two.  Mix in the pasta, then stir in the grated parmesan.  Add the asparagus, and serve with fresh Parmesan. Lots of it.

Cream of Jalapeno Soup

cream-of-jalapeno-soup

Years ago,  John introduced me to the cream of jalapeno soup at one of our favorite restaurants, Half Shells. Being a relatively new Texan, I thought this sounded weird, gross, and unnecessary.  Why add those spicy things to a soup that tastes perfectly delicious with plain things like potatoes and corn?  Well, it turns out there are a lot of reasons.  For one, the spiciness is a perfect complement to the rich creaminess. For two, it’s a fun change from the norm. And for three, it clears up your sinuses. Yep, your sinuses. I don’t have that problem, but my husband does.  So when he was practically bed-ridden with a terrible allergy attack last weekend I decided to try the cream of jalapeno soup at home.  And it’s easy! And it’s delicious! Make it!

Recipe

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded/finely diced carrots
  • 1/2 onion
  • 5 jalapenos
  • 1/4 heaping cup corn flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 3 cups shredded  Monterey Jack
  • 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan
  • S&P
  • 3 more tablespoons of butter***

Finely chop the carrot, onion, and jalapenos (you will want to remove most of the seeds and veins to reduce the heat, but if you want some good spice I would leave the seeds of one jalapeno in there).  Add each into a food processor one by one to chop into very fine pieces (do not turn into a paste).  Add the vegetables and 1 tablespoon of butter and olive oil into a large saucepan.  Saute to soften for a few minutes, adding salt and pepper to season, then transfer to a bowl.

In the same pan, add the remaining 3 T butter to melt.  Whisk in a heaping 1/4 cup of corn flour (or regular flour), to create a roux.  Slowly add in the chicken broth, using a whisk to remove any chunks. Whisk in 2 tablespoons corn starch.  Pour in the half and half (you could use heavy cream for a richer soup), and bring mixture to a low simmer. Stir in the cheese to melt, then add back in the vegetables.  Season with fresh cracked pepper, and about 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cover and cook for at least 30 minutes.

***Note: you are at a decision point here. Continue on with this relatively light (I said relatively) creamy soup, or add 3 more tablespoons of butter here before serving. I did it. I added more butter. It was Sunday and I just wanted a touch more indulgence…and the butter did the trick. But I would have been totally happy without it, so you be the judge.

Oh, and we topped with a pinch of shredded cheddar.