I am once again about to head out on the road for a bit to San Francisco, DC, San Diego and Belgium, so I decided that last night I wanted to actually spend sometime in the kitchen cooking a nice farewell dinner for my mom. I had to cook a meal to hold her over for a month or two of my cooking. I needed to make something that was not super time intensive, but also didn't want it to be too easy. I like to exercise my skills in the kitchen just the same as any other skills. I had enough things rattling around in my brain however that I was not able to go strictly original recipes. Instead, I thumbed through the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2009 and selected a few for inspiration. Turned out that I only actually followed one recipe strictly, one similar but using a few exchanges and one using elements from several different dishes from the massive 440 page compendium.
It was truly a beautiful spring day yesterday. Like most years, Seattle went from the dark murky depths of winter to a bright brilliant spring, practically overnight. I swear it was snowing last week (ok maybe two weeks ago) and now the sun is shining, the birds are chirping happily outside my window in the morning and the sun comes up early, early, early. Spring makes me carve light and fresh ingredients. Spring makes you lighten up, I always can tell when spring is coming as I stop craving winter veggies and heartier preparations. The roast vegetables of yesterday become the steamed crisp veggies of today. For my salad course, I decided to make Food and Wine's Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Tarragon Dressing. I halved the recipe actually, though I found it entertaining that that still made a supposed 6 servings. I guess I forget that I eat about 10x more vegetables than the general population. 1 serving under that auspice would have amounted to about 3 green beans, 4 cherry tomatoes and a 1/2 tsp dressing. Ok maybe I am exaggerating but still. I made the 6 servings and that was the perfect amount of food for two people with the rest of the items I prepared. To accompany the salad I also made a Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Crisps, which is a vegan soup (without the cheddar crisps of course) and is incredibly light. The creaminess comes from pureeing instead of cream, so the soup itself is very healthy and light. Even the Cheddar Crisps are surprisingly light and pack a huge amount of flavor in a small package, so you get an intense (and crunchy) cheddar flavor in the soup, without infinitely decreasingly the health value. I made the Broccoli Soup recipe very much my own, but kept the Cheddar Crisps as Food and Wine suggested. Though admittedly, it is hard to change a recipe that has 1 ingredient! Finally, I made a Dijon & Horseradish encrusted Salmon, which was tangy and moist. The soup was definitely the favorite item of the meal and I am looking forward to the leftovers today.
All in all, it felt so great to be in the kitchen. I miss it, I miss my kitchen, my tools. I love spending a good 4 hours a day in the kitchen, thoughtfully making each of my meals, but it is just not a reality right now for my day to day life. Someday, when my job is to cook, write, eat, share and enjoy (and run, of course) then perhaps I will have that opportunity. I hope that happens, I plan on making it so somehow! In the meantime, enjoy these recipes and happy Spring!
Dijon-Horseradish Encrusted Salmon
- 2 6-ounce Salmon Filets.
- 1/2 cup prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoons kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon dried italian herbs
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- Preheat the broiler and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the oven rack 4-5 inches from the broiler.
- In a small bowl, blend the horseradish with the salt, Dijon mustard, italian herbs, ground pepper, sugar and sherry vinegar to form a paste. Slather the paste all over the top of the salmon filets and place skin side down on the foil covered baking sheet.
- Broil salmon for 6-8 minutes, until the top starts to get golden. Turn the oven down to 375 and bake for an additional 6-8 minutes until the salmon is opaque.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 3 small celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into florets
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- Cheddar Crisps, for serving
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks, celery and garlic and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.
- Add the broccoli and stock to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender and puree until smooth. Season the soup with paprika, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and serve with the Cheddar Crisps.
- 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded (1/2 cup)
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle the cheese on the sheet in four 2-inch rounds. Bake for 18 minutes, until darkened slightly. Blot the crisps with paper towels and let cool on a paper towel. The majority of the oil from the cheese will be completely removed through the blotting and drying, leaving an incredible crisp "cracker". Makes 4 crisps. Crisps courtesy Food and Wine Magazine.
Green Bean–and–Tomato Salad with Tarragon Dressing
- TOTAL TIME: 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 12
- 2 pounds green and yellow string beans
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the beans until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the beans and spread them on a large baking sheet to cool. Pat dry.
- In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the shallots and tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Place the beans and tomatoes in a large bowl, add the dressing and toss well. Transfer to a platter and serve.
- The cooked beans and dressing can be refrigerated separately overnight. Bring to room temperature before tossing. Recipe from Food and Wine.