Saturday, January 26, 2013

Salmon Chowder with Tomato and Dill

I love soup.  I love salmon.  I also love tomatoes, but a "real" tomato up here is mealy, watery, and tastes no better than styrofoam (not that I have tested it, but that's what I imagine when biting into a tomato purchased up here).  I do not love dill all by itself, but I do love the hint of flavor it provides when incorporated correctly.  This brings us to......

........Salmon Chowder with Tomato and Dill.  YUM! 

Holy smokes, this soup was tasty.  I was even told that it was "gourmet restaurant worthy".  What I loved most was its uniqueness.  I have never had a tomato and dill chowder, let alone with salmon.  Hearty, healthy, full of flavor--it's delicious!

Salmon Chowder with Tomato and Dill:
Inspired from this recipe.
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3ish cups of chicken stock
  • 1-2 cans of no salt added diced tomatoes
  • fresh thyme, to taste (about a tablespoon)
  • fresh rosemary, to taste (also about a tablespoon)
  • fresh dill, to taste (somewhere between 1 and 2 tablespoons)
  • salt and pepper
  • a dash of lemon juice
  • 1 pound of Alaskan salmon
  1. Line your tagine with tinfoil (you only need to line it if the salmon has the skin on it).  Add a little olive oil and a dash or two of salt and pepper and a few dashes of dill.  Cook the salmon until it is done (but not overcooked!).    ***If you don't have a tagine, that's fine, just use whatever method you prefer to cook your salmon.
  2. While the salmon is cooking, add a few glugs of olive oil to a stock pot.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft and very fragrant.
  3. Add a can of tomatoes and the first two cups of chicken broth.
  4. Add all of the spices and the lemon juice.
  5. Cook for a few minutes to give the spices the chance marry with the tomatoes and broth.  
  6. Use an immersion blender to blend everything together.  Adjust for consistency with tomatoes and/or broth and blend again.
  7. Adjust for spices.
  8. Lightly flake the cooked salmon into the soup.  Delicately stir to incorporate. 
  9. Do a final taste check.
  10. ENJOY!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stuffed Parmesan and Artichoke Bread

My last post--Superbowl Lentil Chili--I discussed how important it is for me to bring healthy foods to the game day spread.  Well, this stuffed parmesan and artichoke bread is on the exact opposite side of the healthy spectrum (and will also be making an appearance for our Superbowl party).  Balance, people, balance.  That's what is needed for any good party buffet.

Healthy and delicious = lentil chili; unhealthy and delicious = stuffed parmesan and artichoke bread.  Together = heaven.

This stuffed bread is even better than the more traditional artichoke dip that graces many a game day table because it doesn't take any work!  No scooping, heaping, topping, or spreading is necessary because it is all baked together.  Ultimately, this means you don't have to distract your captivated eyeballs from the Destiny's Child halftime show that certainly cannot be worse than Madonna's disaster last year (although the slingline dude was awesome), but nothing like the Janet and JT wardrobe malfunction that still lives on in legacy.

Fresh sourdough, lots of cheese, green onions, and artichokes are all baked together into a wonderful boat of deliciousness.  (It was so good, it was consumed before I could take a photo of the final product--sorry.)  this bread is sure to be a hit at your superbowl party.

Stuffed Parmesan and Artichoke Bread:
  • 14ish ounces of marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
  • 2 green onions, white parts and light green parts diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 ounces of 1/3-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2ish cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/4ish cup parmesan, grated
  • a few shakes of Italian seasoning
  • 1 loaf of sourdough bread, sliced in half lengthwise
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the artichoke hearts, green onions, garlic, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, mozzarella, parmesan, and seasoning together.
  3. Using a cereal spoon, hollow half an inch out of the center of both halves of the bread.
  4. Scoop the mixture into the well in the bread.  Press in and spread, if needed.
  5. Bake covered in foil for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about 7ish minutes (watch closely).
  7. Wait until it cools slightly before cutting.
  8. Grab a piece and park your tail on the couch.
  9. ENJOY!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Superbowl Lentil Chili

I don't know about you, but I get equally excited to make food for the Superbowl as I am to watch it.  (OK, I get more excited about making the food, I confess.)  The regular foods in the spread tend to be hideously unhealthy (but delicious), namely nachos, jalapeno cheese dip, fried chicken, taquitos, some more cheese, some more fried stuff, and some more cheese.

In an effort to maintain the integrity of the Superbowl food line-up while also keeping things healthy, I created this lentil chili.  It is just like regular chili, which we all know I love, but with some lentil flare.  Then lentils enhance the flavors of the spices while also adding depth to the texture.  The tomatoes, onions, and ground turkey round out the dish to make it incredible.  Finally, this chili is incredible because it is so stinking healthy, particularly with the addition of the lentils.

Feel free to spice away to your liking.  In this house, we like things hot, so there is plenty of cayenne, but also plenty of cumin and chili powder to balance.  Garlic, thyme, and oregano are also some of my favorite spices in this dish.  In the future, I imagine we will play with adding cocoa powder and chipotle peppers.  The options are endless.

Make it for your Superbowl party, people.  We will be. 

Lentil Chili:
  • 1/2 of a very large sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1.25 pounds of ground turkey (you can certainly alter the amount--we just get the group of packaged turkey at Costco and that's what each individual package weighs)
  • 1 or 2 cans of no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 cups of lower sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of dry red lentils 
  • optional: canned green chiles or jalapenos
  • a whole bunch of spices, including but not limited to: chili powder, cayenne, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, black pepper, salt......the amount of each depends on your preference. 
  1. Add the onions to a large pot with a glug or two of olive oil.  Cook until soft. 
  2. Add the ground turkey and cook until done.  Break apart with a wooden spoon while it is cooking.
  3. Add 1 can of tomatoes and 1 cup of chicken broth.
  4. Add the lentils.  Let cook.  If needed and/or wanted, add more tomatoes and chicken broth.  It will take the lentils about 30 minutes to cook.
  5. Just after adding the lentils, add your first installment of spices.
  6. After 20 minutes or so, check for consistency and add more tomatoes or broth for more liquid if needed.  Also check for the done-ness of the lentils.  Finally adjust for spices.
  7. When the lentils are done, do your final spice adjustment check.
  8. Garnish with the cheese of your choice.
  9. Enjoy!  GO BRONCOS!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Toffee To Die For

Perfection.  That's what this toffee is.  Without a doubt, this stuff is world class.  I am positive that I could sell it in a candy store tomorrow and every last morsel would be gone.  In fact, I regularly ask myself why I am not selling it already and am hoping that next summer it will be coming to a Farmers' Market near you.  (That is, if you are fortunate enough to be in southcentral Alaska.)

The toffee is perfectly crunchy--not so much that is pulls out your fillings and works out your jaw, but also not so soft that it borderlines caramel.  It literally melts in your mouth.  This decadence, partnered with semisweet chocolate and topped with slivered almonds, is the perfect bite after a holiday meal.  It is so elegant and delicious it is almost romantic.

Speaking of romance, it is perfect for a date night because there is no chance of spilling!  (This is a constant concern of mine.)  If you aren't looking for cleanliness, you can chop the toffee into smaller pieces and sprinkle on top of ice cream or homemade frozen yogurt.  Delicious.

Regardless, you simply can't go wrong with this toffee.  Don't get scared of the boiling butter/sugar concoction and the necessity of a candy thermometer.  The trick is to get everything ready beforehand so as to alleviate any stress.

This toffee, my friends, is my favorite.

Toffee To Die For:
  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 heaping cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1ish cups of shaved almonds (I buy the kind that you put in salads and can find in the produce section)
  1. Line a large cookie sheet with nonstick tinfoil. Make sure it goes up all of the sides. (I use a larger than regular cookie sheet.)
  2. Measure your chocolate chips and have them ready to pour.
  3. Have your almonds handy.
  4. In a large skilled, combine the butter, sugar, and salt. Cook over medium, stirring with a rubber spatula until the butter is melted.
  5. Add the vanilla. Turn up the heat to medium/high (I cook mine between the 8 and 9 markers on our stove).
  6. Stirring constantly, bring the sugar/buttery mess to a boil and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached 285 degrees on your candy thermometer.
  7. As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet. Let it sit for a minute or two.
  8. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it set for another minute or two to soften.
  9. Using your rubber spatula, spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted.
  10. Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate, and press in slightly.
  11. Cool the toffee in the fridge or freezer (or on the porch--that's my favorite method), then break some apart and eat.
  12. I keep mine in the fridge until I am ready to serve it so that the chocolate stays cold and doesn't melt on people's fingers. Also, it is easier to break into pieces when it is cold.