25 September 2012

Paleo Canned Salmon Salad

I try to eat fish at least once a week, favoring anything wild-caught.  And on top of that, salmon is my favorite fish.
This adventure started the way any culinary adventure does for me - I bought something I had never tried before, and had to figure out a way to use it.
I was a little unnerved to see so many bones when I emptied these cans, but after picking out the vertebra, I realized everything else was pretty easily disintegrated.
So the salmon was lightly shredded into my mixing bowl.
To that I added cucumbers, chopped into large pieces.
 Some avocado.
A diced tomato and some red onion.
The flavors are held gloriously together with some evoo and lime juice, and seasoned with some fresh dill.
Canned Salmon Salad (loosely based on a recipe here):
  • 2 cans (14 oz) wild salmon
  • 2 diced cucumbers
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 1 large diced tomato
  • 1 diced avocado
  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1.  Drain the salmon and lightly shred into a bowl, discarding any bones that aren't soft.
2.  Add the cucumber, onion, tomato and avocado.  Give it a light toss.
3.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir to evenly coat.

The flavors in this salad intensify overnight.  This can be used on sandwiches or wraps if desired.
This is my favorite kind of recipe - so many flavors packed into one recipe, yet working together to create something delicious.

21 September 2012

Lime Cheesecake with Toasted Coconut

The ability to make a good cheesecake should be in any budding cook's repertoire. 
This is a fairly simple cheesecake with a graham cracker crust.  It is topped with lime curd and toasted coconut.
The graham cracker crust is an easy mix of crushed graham crackers, sugar, butter and shredded coconut.  Bake for five minutes to set the crust.
The filling is a little more complicated.  I think a mixer would have helped, but my recipe told me that I could stir up three softened packages of cream cheese and sugar "until creamy."  I am going to tell you straight up that that did not happen.  And I'm fairly confident that my cream cheese met the "softened" parameter.  But after I started adding eggs, it smoothed right out.  I think a mixer would have helped with those last few chunks.  Oh, and rather than place it IN a pan of water while baking, I placed a pan of water underneath it in the oven.
Things might have gone slightly awry at the baking.  The recipe says to bake until the center is set and the edges are just beginning to brown.  Those things did not happen simultaneously for me.  The whole top was very brown by the time the center set.
Oh, and there was a big bubble in it.  I planned on adding topping anyway, so the bubble got cut out and that wasn't a problem at all.  I really do like how the green cheesecake is peeking out from under the browned top.
Topping!  I made lime curd to top my cheesecake.  I was worried about it being over-limey, but in the end, the cheesecake had only a hint of lime so the lime curd was perfect.
Oh, and I must mention this spring-form pan - I found it for a dollar at a thrift store the morning I made this cheesecake.  I was planning on making it in a pie plate, because that's how fancy I am.  But then this spring-form pan practically jumped into my arms!
Okay, so then the toasted shaved coconut.  True story, this is how I toast coconut:  I turn on the broiler and then place the pan of shaved coconut under it.  As soon as I can smell the coconut, it comes out and there are a few burnt pieces I have to pick out.  It toasts pretty quickly, probably under 5 minutes.  I've never timed it.  If you don't want to burn any, then just keep an eye on it.
The crust was nicely browned and curled inward.
Overall, this cheesecake got great reviews (including someone questioning if it was store-bought).  So I'm going to go ahead and call this one a success!


Cheese filling - I added three drops of green food coloring for visual effect.

Lime curd - I halved the recipe and used all of what I made for the cheesecake.  I would not have minded making the whole recipe and using the excess lime curd for other things, as previously mentioned.

Toasted shaved coconut - toast under a broiler for under five minutes, keeping a close eye on it.

18 September 2012

Weekend Happenings

Summer was so busy.  I was almost looking forward to the weather cooling off so that that things might calm down just a smidge.  Yeah, right.
My aunt - the same one who gave me tomatillos for the Grilled Salsa Verde post - gifted me with a bag full of tomatillos (about 2 gallons of them).  And since I really can't let a good tomatillo go to waste, I canned a little salsa.
I roasted five pans of tomatillos, one pan of onions/garlic, and two pans of peppers for this recipe.  I canned 22 pints of salsa.  I was up until 11pm canning on a school night!  I mean work.  That's what adults do.  Work.  All the time.

22 sealed pints!  And some very spicy, tasty salsa.  Kyle needed a haircut and Mom needed some wine bottled, so we brought a pint over to test out the post-canning flavor.  Fantastic.
The rhubarb wine with a hint of strawberry was pretty delicious, too.  And speaking of delicious things, look forward to a recipe for this fantastic lime cheesecake, topped with lime curd and roasted coconut shavings.
The lime curd was totally my favorite!  I would love to use it between cake layers, or to mix with a fruit salad, or even over pudding.  Or...let's not lie...I could eat it with a spoon.  Expect to see the recipe this Friday :)

14 September 2012

Steak Sauce

Smitten kitchen sucked me in.  Again.  I couldn't resist making this steak sauce for our last camping trip.  Since we had bought a bunch of steaks to feed everyone...it just seemed like the perfect match.
Deb waxed poetic about the merits of this steak sauce:
"You cook this mixture for 15 minutes, you pour it on steak and then after that, you throw away every bottled condiment in your fridge because they had a good run. You appreciate their years of service. You hope they’ll find their new digs suitable and understand that it wasn’t them and it wasn’t you either. It was this punchy rust-colored jar of unparalleled steak awesomeness that put them out of business, and it’s really not sorry."
You know me...I'm such a sucka for anything roasted or broiled.  That blackened skin just lets me know that there are layers upon layers of flavor in this sauce.  And when you add in some home-grown tomatoes...well, things get kicked up a notch.  And that's my kind of recipe.
The other ingredients are equally intriguing.  Orange juice?  Molasses?  Ginger?  Allspice?  Yes.
Everything gets thrown in the food processor, and then simmered for fifteen minutes.
But the real key is to put it through the food processor again after simmering.  That's where you really get some smoothness to this sauce.
Absolutely tasty.  I highly recommend using a real plate for steak - paper just doesn't work.

Recipe from smitten kitchen.

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 2/3 cup fresh chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1.  Cut the pepper in half and put it in the broiler, skin side up, for 6-8 minutes until the skin starts getting black.
2.  Put the pepper and the rest of the ingredients in the food processor.
3.  Transfer to a small sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes.  I was watching TV so I'm sure I simmered it for longer.  Really you're just trying to thicken it to your desired sauce consistency.
4.  Return mixture to the food processor and process until smooth.

11 September 2012

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Way back in August of 2011, Good Morning America viewers voted the Sleeping Bear Dunes as the most beautiful place in America.  I was going to link you to it but they force you to watch a stupid ad. Consider yourself warned:  GMA SBD
It's funny how when you grow up near landmarks, they feel like "normal" sights rather than "tourist destinations."
Click for full size
Climbing dunes and hiking to Lake Michigan was something I did frequently growing up.
Going back as an adult left me with a different perspective.
A blue moon rising over the waters of Lake Michigan was just icing on the cake.
As always, good friends make everything 10x better.
Even better is when those same good friends know of lookout points that GMA must not have covered in their segment.
I wonder if all these outsiders know how to look for Petoskey stones?
Sleeping Bear Dunes.  Hit it up if you're in the area - you won't regret it.

07 September 2012

Basil Pesto

All the lovely basil in my garden gave itself to one final, worthy cause.
Garden basil makes me extremely happy...
And look at what a pile it made when I picked it!
Clean the basil and pick off the nice looking leaves.
Then toast some walnuts (med-high heat for about 10 minutes until lightly browned).
 Throw your ingredients (toasted walnuts, oil, garlic, basil) in a food processor.  Chop to desired texture.
Now the fun part.  Since I made a crapload of pesto, I froze it in serving sizes.
Don't worry about the color when it freezes.  Normally oil starts to look milky when frozen.
Pop the cubes out and put them in a bag.  These will keep for a few months in the freezer.  Use pesto with spaghetti noodles (or squash), or for meats - especially on the grill.  Use to add lots of flavor!

Basil Pesto

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
1.  Put everything in the food processor and process to desired consistency
2.  For storage for future use, fill an ice cube tray with pesto
3.  When frozen, pop out the cubes and put them in a freezer bag and return them to a freezer.