Archive | July, 2010

Saucy Salmon for Dinner

22 Jul

With blackberries hitting the peak of their season, I couldn’t resist going picking. It’s amazing how satisfying it is to pick your own produce and then cook with it. Unfortunately, as usual, I got carried away. I pick way too many berries and was on the verge of blackberry overload. Literally, the berries were overflowing out of the container. I managed to get them home, but now I had the challenge of making them into something even better than they already were.

Something that I love doing is pairing fruit and seafood. To me it seems like when you have to fresh things they are destined to be together. This dish was Walnut Crusted Roasted Salmon with Blackberry Sage Sauce. I know it sounds fancy, but it’s very simple. The flavor finds its perfection in the balance of sweet and savory.

Why does this dish work? The fat in the salmon is cooked down slowly, which means the fish won’t dry out, even if you overcook it. The walnuts add crunch and texture. If you’re not a fan of walnuts, sliced almonds would taste great as well. The sauce is the sweet part of the equation. It’s easy to over do when it comes to sweeter fruit sauces. You want to enhance the natural sweetness of the fruit without the sauce tasting like you just poured jelly on your fish. By adding in a woody herb, like sage, you can mellow the sweetness and accentuate the berry flavor with a contrasting earthy flavor.

Bake the salmon in a 350 degree oven with the walnuts on top of the fish. Use a light egg wash to get the walnuts to stick to the fish. Because of the lower temperature the fish will take 20-25 minutes cook to a temperature of medium. The sauce can be made ahead of time and held warm or reheated as necessary.

Blackberry Sage Sauce

1 cup blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
1 tablespoon butter

Combine all ingredients except for the butter in a sauce pan and cook on medium for 15 minutes. Right before serving, add in the butter and re-season with salt and pepper.

Keep in mind that salmon is full flavored fish that can standup to a big sauce. If you prefer a lighter white fish such as tilapia or cod, this sauce would overwhelm the fish. Depending on the season, you could serve the sauce with scallops, arctic char, or swordfish. If you are not a seafood lover, try the sauce on chicken or as a condiment to use on cheese.

Always thinking of the next meal,


Mac and Frank… the Culinary Mafiosa

19 Jul

Meet my friends Frank and Mac. They want you to know that they’ve seen you with the kraft box. They’ve seen you cheating on making a good dinner and settling for dehydrated cheese and powdered milk. They also want you to know that this is you’re warning. If they catch you again, they’re going to know and they won’t be gentle.

So yes, I realize that there are not too many things that are impressive about hot dogs and mac and cheese. It’s a silly meal for kids and kids at heart. It’s full of fat and calories and in general, it gets snuffed in the world of food. Truly, I think that mac and cheese does not get it’s due.

Yes, mac and cheese is not the healthiest of meals. But there are so many things in life we can’t indulge on, why not had a dinner that brings you pure inhibited joy. When you add in his buddy, Frank (hot dogs) the dish sings. It’s the culinary equivalent of a puppy wagging his tail. You can’t escape smiling whn you hear dinner is going to be hot dogs with mac and cheese. When you mix them together, the dish goes from happy meal to ecstatic meal.

My version ups the flavor ante by using bacon fat and beef stock in the cheese sauce. I’m not a huge hot dog lover, however, a Hebrew National, crispy on the outside, will do any day.

Mac and Frank

2 tablespoons bacon fat
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
1 cup beef stock
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup white cheddar, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound pasta, elbow, or other curly variety
8 hot dogs, cut into coins

1. Heat a sauté pan. Add in 1 teaspoon oil and the hotdogs. Sauté the hot dogs until golden brown and then set aside in a large mixing bowl

2. Make the cheese sauce. Melt the bacon fat in a sauce pan and then add in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes and then slowly wisk in the milk, being sure to stir out any lumps. Add in the stock and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cheeses a little at a time until all of the cheese is incorporated. Season and pour on top of the hot dogs. Stir to combine.

3. Cook pasta according to the instructions on the box

4. Drain the pasta and add it to the hot dog and cheese sauce mixture.

5. Serve

If you want to up the ante even more add some crispy bacon for garnish. Yes that’s right… bacon. Or, if you want to pretend that you’re being a little healthy, have a side salad. (Just don’t use ranch)

Always thinking of the next meal