Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime

The other day someone asked me, “What do I do to cover up the smell of fish?  I like it, but sometimes it just tastes and smells too strong.”

Pause.  Beat.  “Ahhh, okay, how ‘bout let’s talk about how to buy fresh fish first.”  Because it shouldn’t smell fishy at all.  The adjectives and phrases that should be coming to mind are something in the vicinity of briny, salty, like the sea, like an ocean breeze that travels across the water picking up moisture and the scent of it’s inhabitants.  NOT, whew!, dang, this stinks!, but maybe I’ll eat it any way.

This is as true for the taste of fish as well as the smell.  It should feel silky on your tongue and almost melt in your mouth.   It should suggest of the sea, not hit you over the head with a low-tide mouthful.

To buy fish well, you must ask to smell it before you buy it.  (See the above for what it should smell like.)  You must also look at it.  You want pieces that are full, firm, and shiny but not watery.  They shouldn’t be dry on the surface or be in anyway falling apart.  If you are buying whole fish, look at the eyes.  They should be clear, not opaque.  Don’t be afraid to offend the fish monger, the good ones understand.  Even the smell of the store is a hint.  It should be and smell clean and yes, with a hint of fish, because after all that’s what they are selling, but the scent of ocean is what you should come to mind when you walk in the door.

Be brave and ask questions.  Develop a relationship with your local fish monger.  Who knows, they might even grant you a fish story or two.

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime by Elizabeth Poisson

 

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime
2 pounds of salmon, skin removed and cut into 4 to 6 salmon fillets
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
several grinds fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh green beans, stem ends removed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
6 ounces spinach; about 8 cups lightly packed
zest from 1 lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice; about 1 lime
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
pinch of salt, if needed
wedges of lime for garnish
lime zest for garnish

In a deep dish platter, marinate the salmon with the vinegar, tamari, and pepper for 15 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Reserve the marinade.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the salmon, top side down, cover with a lid, and pan-sear for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the salmon and sear for another 2 minutes or until the salmon is still slightly darker pink in the center. Remove the salmon from the pan to a platter and return the pan to the heat. Add the green beans, garlic, ginger, and reserved marinade and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the beans are bright green and hot all the way through.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, zest, lime juice, pomegranate seeds and hot beans. Taste for salt. Transfer the greens mixture to individual plates or to a platter and serve the salmon on top. Garnish with lime wedges and lime zest.

Serves 4 to 6

 

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta

Kale, a humble vegetable, was all but unnoticed ten years ago except for by the most savvy of gourmands or those diehard back-to-the-landers. Those in the know were aware of what many have just recently discovered – that kale is not only super easy to grow, but it‘s also as delicious and versatile a vegetable as anyone might find.

Purple or green in color, Russian or Italian in variety, kale has become the academy award winner of vegetables – a virtual unknown thrown into the limelight by both it’s talent and the audience’s’ appetite for greens.

Because kale has so much “tooth,” meaning it has a hearty and chewy mouth feel, it can take center stage in place of meat. Only the staunchest of meat-eaters will be the wiser. As a green it is also what could be called an entry-level green – not so bitter or peppery for first-timers or kids with more sensitive palates.

We used to be more accepting of all things bitter, but as salt and sugar have become more prevalent in the American diet, our tolerance for the bitter flavors has waned.

Enter kale. Roast it with a little oil, puree it in pesto, whizz it in a smoothie and in general boost your iron; vitamins A, C and D; anti-oxidants and fiber. Go green!

kale, garbanzo bean, and polenta recipe

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced red onion; about 1 large onion
2 cups carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch by 1/2-inch sticks; about 2 carrots
1 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olive
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 1 large clove
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, juice included
8 ounces kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped; about 8 cups
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; about 1/2 cup lightly packed, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or stock pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots and olives and sauté until the onions begin to brown on the edges, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until heated through but the kale is still bright and chewy. Serve over polenta with grated Parmesan cheese. Use your favorite polenta recipe or find mine here.

Serves 4 to 6

Easy and Healthy Appetizers for Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday will surely see me on the couch with a wide perimeter given by my family (football viewing is an active sport for some).  Before the big day, though, I’ll do some prep work so that we can all snack and graze while I watch.  May the best team win!

Appetizer Menu for Super Bowl Sunday
Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
Baked Brie variations
Homemade Crackers
Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Tartlet
Potato Skins with Artichokes and Fontina
Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
Endive with Green Pea Hummus

healthy appetizers by Elizabeth Poisson

Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
When you trim artichokes immediately rubbing them with lemon juice can help keep them from turning brown.For those new to artichoke eating, break the leaves off of the artichoke and use your teeth to gently scrape the meat on the inside of the leaf. Discard the leaf. Once the leaves are gone, use a spoon to remove the choke (the fuzzy part) and enjoy the artichoke bottom.

2 artichokes, leaves and stems trimmed
1/2 lemon (plus extra for rubbing)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Cover 2 artichokes with water in a small saucepan or stockpot large enough to accommodate. Add the lemon and salt. Bring the water to a boil with the cover on and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain upside down. Serve warm or chilled with the Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip.

Serves 4

Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
The curry flavor will increase the longer you let it sit.

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (or less)
several pinches of kosher salt

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Makes 1 cup

Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Let’s have some fun rooting for our teams!  Go Pats!

Endive with Green Pea Hummus

Here’s a healthy appetizer for Super Bowl Sunday or a snack for any day that doesn’t have football in it.  Recently posted on Diane Atwood’s blog, Catching Health, this simple recipe for green pea hummus is packed with healthy vitamins.  Serve with endive, as in the recipe, or with all sorts of cut veggies to add color to your appetizer spread.

endive with green pea hummus by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Just remember, it’s only a game…

Thai Peanut Shrimp and Kale over Basmati Rice

Thump, thump, thump, clang, clatter annnnd done.  That’s the sound of me racing to the kitchen to make dinner at halftime last night.  Yes, the Patriots played and I was glued to my seat the entire game save a hurried trip to the kitchen.  Even though I grocery shopped last week, this weekend’s snow storm left us a little light on ingredients.  Rather than brave the roads and the storm (or leave the game for any reason), I rummaged in the pantry and dug into the freezer to find a group of ingredients that could make a quick dinner.

Halftimes and football games not withstanding, rummaging and digging for ingredients which then become a delicious meal is, without question, one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen.  It’s actually also a little calming.  Rather than having so many options with a wealth of ingredients, the restriction of “what’s on hand” actually makes the creation process easier, with only a few choices rather than unlimited options.

It’s also, for many, a different way to think about cooking.  Rather than planning a menu and shopping to that plan, which I also highly recommend, the rummage and dig method, or “freezer diving” as I like to call it, is a perfect way to reduce waste, use up what’s on hand, and spend a little less at the grocery store.

Hope you like this quick, healthy meal!

thai peanut shrimp and kale over basmati rice

Thai Peanut Shrimp and Baby Kale over Basmati Rice
Rice
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Shrimp and Kale
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup sliced onion; about 1 small onion
1/2 tablespoon minced lemon grass
1/2 Thai chili, seeds removed and julienned
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger: about 1/2 ginger root
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 3 cloves
4 cups light packed baby kale
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (16 to 20 count)
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Rice
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Meanwhile, rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Add to the boiling water, cover and remove from heat after 15 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.  Meanwhile, prepare the shrimp and kale.

Shrimp and Kale
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and then the onion and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the lemon grass, chili, ginger and garlic and sauté for another 1 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the kale and the rest of the ingredients except the shrimp. When everything is well incorporated and at a simmer, add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 4 minutes watching closely until the shrimp just turns pink all the way through. Serve over basmati rice with garnishes.

Serves 4 to 6

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts

Poached Salmon with Aspragus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts by Elizabeth Poisson

Last month I shared Lemon Poached Salmon with Horseradish and Caper Aioli and have another to share as a companion recipe.  This salad goes nicely with the salmon and is a good one for this time of year when we are all interested in fare that is light and healthy.   I mean, you haven’t jumped off the veggie wagon yet, right?  (Me either 🙂 )  I think I know what we are having for dinner tonight!

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts
There are two ways to prepare the orange sections for this recipe. One is simply to peel the orange and separate the sections. The second is to peel the orange with a knife, called supreme or supreming (I mean how does one actually spell this word?), by slicing off the top and bottom and running your knife between the flesh and the rind. You then run your knife along both sides of the section membranes to remove only the flesh. This is a nicer way to serve the orange, but also a bit more complicated. Choose whichever suits your comfort level..

3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for both sautéing and the salad)
2 cups asparagus thinly sliced on the diagonal, about 1 bunch or 15 to 20 stalks
3 cups lightly packed arugula
1 ounce shaved Romano cheese; about 1/4 cup
1 orange, sectioned, “carcass” reserved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice; about 1/2 lemon
2 pinches kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove to a platter and spread out to cool quickly. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Squeeze the “carcass” of the orange on top of the greens and toss gently with your hands. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Still on the veggie wagon

Seven Ways to Add More Greens to Your Diet

Now that we’ve all reveled and partied; socialized and entertained; and eaten and drunk possibly past the point of judicious reason on one or more occasions during the past holidays, it’s time for a more moderated approach. One with less. Of everything involving fat, carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and excess. The quickest and simplest way to find dietary equilibrium is by inserting more greens into our bowls and onto our plates.

healthy dinner ideas

Green vegetables of all kinds, as many of us know, are filled with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and fiber. What they aren’t filled with is the fore-mentioned excesses, unless we are talking portion size, and in that case, more is a good thing. I’m planning on getting my greens in any way I can over the next couple of months. Here are a few suggestions from my kitchen:

1. Add a salad to an already planned dinner. Easy, easy. This is something many of us already do; just make sure you have enough greens in the house and use a vinaigrette rather than a creamy dressing for a little while. When you dress your salad with lemon juice (and extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper) you have the added bonus of helping your body to absorb all of the nutrients in the greens.

healthy dinners

2. Salad as the main meal. Add protein of any kind and texture of any kind to create a meal rather than a side. Beans, avocado, nuts, dried fruit, cooked chicken or fish – really the sky is the limit.

3. Add another green vegetable to an already planned dinner. Steamed or sautéed is best for nutrient retention. With either, remove from heat when tender but still bright green.

4. Smoothies made with kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or collard greens. Or add a handful of greens to your already favorite breakfast smoothie. If you choose fruit or veggies that are light or green in color, your smoothie will also be bright green. If you love strawberries or other red or purple fruit in your smoothie, you’ll have to deal with dull green and brown. Get over it, they still taste great!

5. Add pureed greens to already prepared soups. For every soup that serves 4 people, heat 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock and puree with one cup lightly packed greens. Add to prepared soup right before serving and serve immediately. If not, the brilliant green becomes a dull avocado color.

6. Soups with greens as the main event.  Again, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or collard greens are the best go to’s.

Spinach Soup (with variations)
This soup is a gorgeous, brilliant green, and should be served immediately. If you would like to make it ahead, prepare everything just before adding the spinach. When you are ready to serve, heat the soup to a simmer and puree with spinach in the blender as per the directions.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
11/2 cups diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery; about 2 stalks
1 cup peeled and diced parsnips; about 2 parsnips
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 ounces spinach leaves, de-stemmed and well-washed; about 3 cups lightly packed
Garnish with minced chives or a swirl of creme frâiche

In a medium stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables, salt and pepper and sauté until they become soft and translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the stock and again bring to a boil.

Place the uncooked spinach leaves in the blender and pour the hot stock over the leaves. Puree in a blender and serve immediately.

Serves 4 (Makes 6 cups)

Soup Variations
Chicken and Cilantro Spinach Soup – add 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves with the spinach and 1 1/2 cups diced poached chicken.  Puree the greens with the stock or leave it rustic.
Cannellini Bean and Pesto Spinach Soup – add 4 tablespoons pesto with the spinach, puree, and then add 1 (15-ounce) can of cannellini beans.
Kale and Mushroom Soup – substitute kale for spinach, puree, and then add 1 cup sautéed mushrooms (3 cups raw and sliced).healthy soup

7. Substitute the pasta, potatoes, or rice for a bed of greens. For example, with beans and brown rice for dinner, just add a bed of sautéed kale, or even better, forgo the rice and just have the beans and kale with all the fixin’s. Instead of mashed potatoes, add roasted kale or collard greens to your plate. Toss spinach leaves with a hot vegetable pasta sauce and have a warm wilted salad for dinner without the pasta.

Annie
Vitamins rule

 

 

Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash with Poached Eggs and Steamed Asparagus

Because we have a thriving bed of asparagus, it’s on the menu much of the time right now – chilled with a shallot and lemon vinaigrette when it’s warm outside and served bright green and piping hot when it’s chilly. Snapping the fat tops off the green and purple-hued stalks was one of the daily “chores” for the girls, although they fought over who got to do it, rather than the more usual, “It’s not MY turn!”

Turkey Hash Photo Rocky Coast Photography

An asparagus bed is fairly maintenance free once the roots are in and settled. Just keeping it fed and weed-free is all it takes to produce enough sweet, grassy fronds until you almost tire of them and are looking forward to another vegetable to become your fascination. It takes three years before the plants are strong enough to handle a harvest. One can’t be greedy with an asparagus bed – clear cutting is a sure way to weaken a bed quickly. Some must always be left. These stalks then grow tall and fern like, with red berries dotting their fronds and are cut down in the fall.

When the bed first sprouts, the stalks are thick, the width of a strong man’s thumb and then, as the energy diminishes, they become thinner and easier to overcook. If there ever was a case to be made for al dente vegetables, asparagus is it. Err on the side of undercooked, if they are even a little over done they become unpleasantly mushy.

Enjoy the gray, chilly days of warm soups and bread, the days of hot kitchens will be here soon enough.

Turkey Hash Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Pork, Potato and Parsnip Hash with Poached Eggs and Asparagus
Hash is usually made with leftover meat or fish from a previous meal.  Feel free to substitute beef, pollock, or other flavorful fish in place of the pork.  This recipe was originally published in my cookbook, Sugar & Salt: The Orange Book.

1 1/2 cups diced parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch dice; about 2 parsnips
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onions; about 1 small onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic; about 1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
1 pound cooked pork shoulder or other tender pork meat, pulled apart with a fork into bite sized pieces
1 pound asparagus, ends cut or snapped off; about 1 bunch
8 large eggs
Herbed Salt (below)

Place the parsnips and potatoes in a wide saucepan and cover with salted water.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork.  Remove from water with a basket strainer or slotted spoon and set aside.  Keep the water hot for the asparagus.  In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and onions.  Sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add the potatoes, parsnips, salt, and pepper and cook until the potatoes begin to brown.  Add the pork and sauté until the pork is warm.  Remove from heat and cover.

Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute or until the asparagus is tender.  Timing will vary with the thickness of the stalks.  Remove from water with tongs, transfer to a platter and cover.   To the same pot of water, add the vinegar and poach the eggs ever so gently.  Plate the hash, asparagus, and poached eggs and sprinkle the eggs with a pinch of Herbed Salt.

Serves 4

Herbed Salt
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and set aside.

Makes about 2 tablespoons

 

Spring Tartlet

Galettes have become a staple in my kitchen. It’s easier than a pie and more elegant in some ways because it’s different, portable for taking to another’s for dinner without keeping track of your pie plate, and, well, fun! Needless to say, I’m a big fan. I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of savory combinations for a quick dinner, as these days we are all working at a vigorous clip to get the Riggin ready for the season.

A galette is essentially a rustic, loosely formed pie. They are beautiful and can be made large for 10 to 12 people, small for 4 to 6, or even individual. This crust has some cornmeal in it, which gives a nice texture, compliments the rustic style, and gives the crust a bit more form. For transporting, simply loosely surround them with parchment paper for a rustic wrapping.

While recipes have specific amounts, what I’ve found most useful about galettes, similar to pizza, is the ability to use up little bits of cheese and/or leftover grilled meat and vegetables. It therefore goes without saying that no galette in my house will every be the same, as we will never have the exact same combinations of leftovers. The recipe below is meant as a starting point to give you an idea of how much to use and in what combinations, but experiment away!

While these are savory, you can always use berries, a little flour, and some sugar for a dessert galette like the Raspberry Cinnamon Galette in my cookbook, Sugar and Salt: The Blue Book.

Galette Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the butter and either press with your thumbs or use a pastry knife to incorporate. The mixture should look like something between breadcrumbs and small peas. The smaller the pieces the more tender; the bigger, the flakier. Add the ice water and buttermilk. If you need more liquid, add 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture forms a ball. Divide into 2 equal rounds, cover well, and freeze for 30 minutes. Lightly flour the counter top and roll out each disc into an 11-inch circle. Place the ingredients in the center in the order listed, leaving a 2-inch perimeter without filling. Neatly fold over the 2-inch edge toward the center, pinching where needed. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center is hot and the pastry is golden brown. Cut into 4 to 6 pieces each. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 large serving 4 to 6 people

Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Galette
8 ounces grated Fontina cheese; about 4 cups lightly packed
20 cherry and orange tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh dill sprigs
zest from 1 lemon
pinch of salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Annie
Spring is a happy time