Thursday, July 21, 2016

Salmon with Anchovy-Garlic Butter

Are you a lover of salmon?  I think this is one of those foods that elicits a strong either love it, or you hate it.  I happen to fall on the love side.  Mr. B?  Not so much.  This recipe changed his mind!

I've been making a similar recipe sans the anchovy for quite a while.  It involved melting butter directly in the pan in the oven, then adding the salmon, flesh side down on a bed of dill and baking until almost done.  Flip the fish over and finish baking.  Voila'!  Delish.  But then I ran across this Melissa Clark version and was like, "Damn" why didn't I think of anchovies???  

Ahhh anchovies. Another one of those love/hate foods.  My bestie's husband HATES them!  Or so he thinks.  I've been hiding them in dishes for bolognese, salad dressings, chili, etc. and he's been none the wiser.  And after reading this article I'll be doing it even more!  They add that umami, or extra savoriness, that makes a good dish great.  I like to smash them into a paste along with garlic and salt and add them early in the cooking process.....usually right after the oil/butter heats up.  Mellows out that "fishy" taste.  The anchovies will dissolve right into the fat and you'll never see them again!!

That's exactly what happens here.  

I've made this for just the Mr. and I, for family gatherings, dinner parties....EVERYONE raves.  It will become your go-to salmon.  I promise!!

Here's the recipe:

Salmon with Anchovy-Garlic Butter
Melissa Clark - NYTimes

(serves 4)

3 tablespoons butter (I use about 3/4 tbsp for each fillet)
4 anchovies (one per fillet)
1 fat clove of garlic (or 2 smaller ones)
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-8oz) skin on salmon fillets
2 tbsp drained capers, patted dry
1/2 lemon
Fresh, chopped parsley for serving

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mince the garlic and the anchovies, then together with the salt, with the side of your knife smash them all together into a paste.  (If you're not sure how to make paste, this video will help)  Season the salmon with freshly ground pepper.  (Don't add additional salt....along with the salt in the paste, the anchovies are also very salty)

Heat a large ovenproof skillet (I use cast-iron) over high heat until very hot.  Add the butter.  When melted and starting to brown, add the anchovy/garlic/salt paste.  After about 30 seconds, add the salmon - skin side down - and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the skin is nice and crispy.  Flip the fish to flesh side down and transfer the pan to the oven.  Roast until fish is just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.  During the last couple of minutes of cooking, add in the capers.

Remove the pan from the oven, place the salmon on plates, spooning a little of the melted butter and capers over each fillet.  Give each fillet a big squeeze of lemon and garnish with the parsley.  (The lemon is important here...salmon is rich on it's own and adding the anchovies and butter will only heighten that.  The acid in the lemon helps to cut through some of that richness.)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and Pesto

I ran across this video the other morning and it basically is a direct reflection of my own personal experience.   It turns out that exercise isn't the best way to lose weight.  I can see all you gym rats rolling your eyes.  Look, I've been a "big girl" all my life.  I've also worked out all my life.  And yes, I've lost weight exercising......when I was younger.  But now that fucking hot flashes rule my life, exercise does nothing for me as far as weight loss.  Love the way it makes me feel and I still work out 6 days a week, but that's not why I've finally started to lose weight.

I've always eaten relatively healthy, but changing how much I eat has been the most beneficial.  I never thought I was an overeater, but as Americans, our sense of how much food should be on our plate is seriously messed up.  Turns out we need a fraction of what we think.  

In May, hubs and I spent a week in beautiful Laguna Beach with our niece, Annie, who recently became pescatarian....vegetarian that eats fish.  So in solidarity, we joined her.  And we liked it!  So that's how we eat 90% of the time now.....Mostly fruits and vegetables with some fish occasionally thrown in.

Which reminds me of a funny story.....Right after we got back from Cali, my parents came for a visit. My mother had just had a bit of a health scare so she said she wanted to be more conscious of what she was eating.  My father pipes in...YES.  We should just be eating fruits and vegetables!!  He would so be on board for that!  I asked him if this meant he was going to give up his Bob Evans pancakes/eggs/bacon/waffles for breakfast with the guys every morning and his burgers/fries/etc for lunch after golf every afternoon.  Well, NO but he'd be happy to have fruits and vegetables for dinner!!  HA!

Also, can I just say how EASY it is to eat healthily in California.  Every restaurant, no matter the cuisine, always has fresh, healthy choices.  Alabama.....not so much!

So I don't know where I first saw this recipe (not claiming it as my own), but this Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and Pesto has become something I make a big batch of almost weekly.  It's delicious, satisfying, very filling because of the quinoa and extremely versatile.  It works with whatever vegetable you have on hand/that you enjoy/are in's accommodating!  

I typically use fennel, red onion, brussels sprouts, butternut squash or sweet potato, red or yellow peppers and kale.  I've also subbed out zucchini and squash this summer although I like to roast them separately because they cook a quicker that the heartier veggies.

I load up two sheet pans so I have plenty left over.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and roast them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes until they're knife tender but still have a bit of a bite to them, rotating the pans halfway through.

For the quinoa, I use a cup of rainbow quinoa (I like the different colors, but the white kind works just as well) cooked in a cup and a half of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed.

Combine the veggies and the quinoa in a large bowl, add a cup of pesto, salt to taste, stir everything together and serve!  I've made this with good quality store bought pesto in the winter and it's fine, but when I've got tons of basil in the garden in the summer making your own is worth the effort.

(Check this article out for everything you need to know about making your own pesto, and this one for some fun variations.)

I've served this to just about everyone that's graced my kitchen table and not a single person had just one serving.  It's a crown pleaser every time, even for the self-proclaimed veggie hater!  When that same niece that was with us in California came to visit us in Alabama, I packed up a large portion of this for her to eat on the 20 hour drive back home to Colorado.  She texted me the day she got home asking for the recipe so she could make it for dinner.  Boom!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Frittata

I had my girlfriends over for Breakfast at Wimbledon on Saturday morning and we may have actually watched a few points of the tennis.  Mostly we ate, drank champagne, laughed, drank tequila, laughed and drank wine.  Yeah.  Suffice it to say, Saturday morning turned into Saturday afternoon and drunkenly dragged into Saturday night. 

I didn't get out of my pajamas until Sunday night just to take a bath and get back into (different) pajamas and crawl into bed at 8:00pm.

I'm too old for that shit.  But I guarantee it'll probably happen again.  

Because of said champagne, tequila and wine, I didn't get a lot of quality pics but I wanted to share what I served because it was pretty damn good.  Humbly speaking, of course.

We started with this Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Frittata which I served in these adorable individual cast iron skillets.  Aren't they fabulous?!  Well, they used to be.  My amazing husband was nice enough to clean up the kitchen for his drunken wife and her friends and loaded those CAST IRON skillets into the ole dishwasher.  He sure did.  I'm sure I can bring them back to life.....they're in the oven right now loaded down with oil and salt to try and GET ALL THAT RUST OFF.  Ugh.  But I still appreciate that you cleaned up, Honey!!

I also made these Blueberry Coconut Muffins served with a Maple Blueberry Butter and this Bahama Mama Banana Rum Cake with Rum Glaze that is the second most popular recipe on the blog.  That's a well deserved honor.  It's slap your mama good.

We also tried out the new hot trend in drinks, which consists of dropping a popsicle into alcohol and letting them fuse together.  Meh....we were all a little lukewarm on this.  

We tried raspberry in Champagne....don't be like me and do this with Veuve....use a cheaper champs.  It frankly just ruined my already perfect Veuve but this is a cute idea to maybe do at a bridal brunch, or something.  I suggest letting the popsicles soften for a bit in the glass before adding the champs so they can meld together.  I put mine in directly from the freezer and it took forever to melt.

We also experimented with lime popsicles, tequila and club soda.  Again, the popsicles need to be a little soft for this to work.  Ours were frozen and we were pretty much just drinking straight Casa Migos (truly the best tequila.....I think it's actually just the tears of George Clooney, but...) so learn from my mistakes.

Things were starting to get sloppy at this point and this was the best picture I was capable of taking.....

So that was my Saturday.  Congrats to Serena and Andy and my apologies to Serena for not actually watching much of her record tying win.  And can I just tell the media to get off Steffi Graf's jock for calling Angelique Kerber to wish her luck and not calling Serena.  Steffi is GERMAN you idiots and she called her fellow GERMAN.  I'm sure Chrissy called Serena.  GTF over yourselves.  That's all.

Click on the links above for all the recipes.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Marinated Tomatoes

Oh hey, y'all.  And by "y'all" I mean all two of you that are left actually following me!  So yeah....6 months no bloggy!  6 months no bloggy passion.  6 months not cooking much that inspired me to tell you about.  Sorry.  

However, I've recently been feeling the "bug", so I'm back.  I've got a few great recipes to tell you about plus we're about to hit the road for a three-week trip to the Rockies to escape the fucking Alabama heat and I know I'll need to post about THAT!

Speaking of the heat.....It's 99 degrees today, and this girl doesn't like to turn on the oven/stove/grill on days like this unless it's absolutely necessary.  So marinated tomatoes for dinner it is....

I saw this as a sub-recipe (is that even a thing?) to a recipe for Grilled Cheese with Marinated Tomatoes in the weekly LATimes food newsletter.  (If you're not subscribed to that, do it.) and while I'll def make the grilled cheese someday, I thought the tomatoes sounded delish to serve by themselves with a big loaf of crusty bread to sop up every last bit of the marinade.

I know, right?  Perfect, simple, sweltering-summer-day dinner.  I could also see adding some bocconcini to this, chopping it up and topping some bruschetta or tossing into some pasta for a summer pasta salad.  The possibilities are endless, I say!!

Here's the recipe:

Marinated Tomatoes

1/2 cup olive oil 
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley 
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme 
Pinch red pepper flakes, more to taste 
1 teaspoon salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced lengthwise 
10 large basil leaves, very thinly sliced 
2 tablespoons capers, drained and crushed 
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced 
2 pounds very ripe large tomatoes, cut into ½-inch-thick slices 

In a bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, parsley, thyme, pepper flakes, salt and several grinds of black pepper. Stir in the onion, basil, capers, and garlic. Spread a little of the marinade on the bottom of a large baking dish. Top with a layer of tomatoes. Spread over a little more marinade, then another layer of tomatoes. Top with the remaining marinade, cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. The marinated tomatoes will keep up to 2 days.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Weekend Stuff and NOLA!!

We went to New Orleans last week and it kicked our ass.  Which is why I didn't get this posted yesterday.  We got home Saturday afternoon and, yeah, I was still not forming complete sentences until this morning!!  It was our first time there (I know, I know) and I have to admit I had really low expectations because, Bourbon Street.  Friends.....I was wrong.  Not about Bourbon Street.  It's the petri dish that you think it is....don't go unless you're under the age of 25.  Seriously.  It stinks.

But the rest of the city?  Completely charming and the food and alcohol is amazing.  Choices for days.  Seriously......anything you are craving, you'll find it there, but can I suggest for your first trip that you, at least, get in the New Orleans staples.

Like gumbo........

and muffuletta

and oysters.....omg get the oysters at Peche and Felix's

Let's not forget the beignets.  If you want to avoid the lines at Cafe DuMonde, check out Morning Call in City Park.  Beautiful place to sit outside if the weather is nice.

Sorry I took the picture pre-powdered sugar.  Once they were doused, they didn't last long!  Oh and have the Cafe au Lait, even if you think you don't like it!

The only thing I really wanted to try but physically ran out of room for was a Po Boy.  Next time.  

Exclusive Resorts has partnered with The Windsor Court hotel, so that's where we stayed.  The hotel is old and beautiful and very New Orleans....the bartender mixes a fabulous drink.....but I wouldn't say the room was "Exclusive Resort" value.  If you're a member,  you know exactly what that "value" should be on a daily basis.  So there was that.  Not a trip-ruining experience, but something that needs to be noted.  Moving on.  Directly across the street from the hotel sat John Besh's flagship Restaurant August so that's where we went Wednesday evening.  As expected, it was fabulous.  Beautiful high ceilings, gorgeous woodwork, white tablecloths.....perfect.  Plan on having a drink at the bar before dinner and leave room for dessert!!  Great experience.

The next morning we went on a three-hour city tour with Al as our guide.  Oh, Al.  Quintessential New Orleans' character.  He knows every celebrity in town.....they exchange New Year's texts.....or so Al believes.  Actually, I believed him!  So fun.  Has lived in New Orleans his whole life, evacuated his family before Katrina hit but lost his business, all his money and the flood waters were up to the second story of his beautiful home which was not far from where the levees broke.  He doesn't blame the levees for the devastation, however, and has a theory that involves the long-ago destruction of New Orleans wetlands.  He may be right.  Very informative and I feel like it was essential to the trip.  It was a driving tour, so the only disappointment was not getting to take a lot of pics.....of say, his good friends' Sandy Bullock's and John Goodman's homes.  He could have at least introduced us......

After that, off to a late lunch at Peche.  Very cool place and I loved the relaxed interior and vibe.  Fabulous cocktail that involved Gin, Ginger and Cucumber to start and then we ordered and dozen oysters (Ed anointed them the best he's ever had) and about 6 different tapas.......

.....and then my mind was blown when they brought the dessert menu that had liquor pairings, y'all.  If you don't try the pineapple rum cake with dulce de leche ice cream and the El Dorado rum pairing, I'll find you and slap you. 

Our favorite tapas were the fish sticks, the spicy ground shrimp and noodles and the brussels sprouts.  

After that, back to the hotel for a quick nap then off to the evenings mixology lesson with Daniel Victory of Victory Nola who was named one of the Top 5 bartenders internationally by GQ Magazine and traveled the world as Bombay Sapphire's international ambassador before settling back in NOLA and opening Victory.

Above the bar is his private "classroom" where he gives private mixology lessons either for a group, or in our case, just Mr. B and myself.  We learned to make the perfect Sazerac, The Original Hurricane and Ramos Gin Fizz.  Daniel is really great at what he does, is personally engaging, has great stories and continued to entertain us the rest of the evening at his beautiful bar downstairs.  His wife was even kind enough to call us a much needed (first ever) Uber at the end of the night.  If you're taking a group to New Orleans for something special, say a bachelor or bachelorette party, birthdays, etc., this is a really fun, personal and private experience.  And the food pairings they serve with each cocktail you make are not a mere afterthought.  This is just a great place.

This is a really bad pic of Daniel.  Sorry.

OMG we had to get up the next morning and start all over again at 11:00am with an all day food and cocktail tour of the French Quarter.  We were both still full and probably, technically drunk from the night before, but we put our big girl (and boy) panties (pants) and soldiered on!  The first stop was at Felix's for oysters.  You've got to come here when you're in town.  They've been doing this for over 70 years and were absolutely the nicest, most genuine people we met.  We bellied up to the bar, ordered a little hair-o-the-dog Bloody Mary and the oysters started appearing one by eat one, they shuck you another one....over and over.....until you cry uncle!  Such fun.   Maybe the largest oysters I've ever seen.

Next stop was the French Market for a muffuletta.  Hubs claimed they were delicious but since I'm not a fan of olives, I left this one up to him.  The locals don't like to say this aloud, but apparently the French Market was one of the casualties of Katrina that turned out to be a blessing.  The reincarnation   is a better, more diversified product.  

Then it was on to gumbo, shrimp and grits, and crab cakes at Cafe Amelie which is in the historic 150-year-old Princess of Monaco Courtyard and Carriage House on Royal Street.  Absolutely the most beautiful setting of the day and the weather was perfect for sitting outside.  The food was also amazing.  At this point, we were STUFFED and luckily this was the end of the food portion.

The FUN portion was just getting revved up, however, as the first parade of Mardi Gras started at 3:00pm with the Krewe of Cork.  And since they're all about everything wine, we had to go watch.  Oh lawd.........

Then we did what you do in New Orleans.......walk around the French Quarter and bar hop and people watch!  It was everything you've imagined!

We drove home Saturday morning in a fog (not the weather....our heads) just as Mardi Gras was really getting started.  I only saw a tiny portion of what happens there during the next few weeks.  It was enough!!  Y'all enjoy without me.

I can't say enough about our concierge, Claudette, of Nouvelle Orleans Concierge LLC, who arranged all of our activities and hung with us the entire time......eating and drinking our way through the city.  It would not have been the same without her guidance and vast knowledge.  What an interesting life she's led!

I feel like I need to offer up at least one recipe of my time there, so I'll leave you with the perfect Sazerac.  According to Daniel, how it should be made....

1 serving

1 1/2 ounce rye whiskey
1 sugar cube
splash of water
4 dashes peychaud's bitters
splash of herbsaint

Fill an old fashioned glass with ice and a splash of hersait and set aside.  In a separate mixing glass, muddle sugar cube and splash of water.  Add remaining ingredients over ice and then stir.  Discard ice and any excess herbsait from the previously prepared old-fashioned glass and strain cocktail into it.  Garnish with lemon peel.


Other things that caught my eye the past week...........

We're finally getting the "official" election year started today.  It's gonna be a long 10 months people. No matter what side you fall on.  What are the Iowa Caucuses?  And how are they different from other primaries.  Here's everything you need to know.  And what, exactly, is it like to live in Iowa the week before the Caucuses.

Hollywood's cutest couple, Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, posted this little ditty this week and the internet loved it.  This pales in comparison to my favorite Kristen Bell internet moment.  I cry right along with her the entire video.  For different reasons.

My brother and I were texting about Idris Elba the other day and he mentioned the series Luther.  I'd never heard of it so I binge watched the first four episodes of the first season on our way home from New Orleans.  Elba is fabulous, but this series is fucking intense.  I don't watch a lot of "crime" series, so I don't have much to compare it to, but are all the criminals this horrific??  That said, I can't stop watching.

I also downloaded this series after Al, our tour guide, mentioned that it was his favorite series set in NOLA.  I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but I'll let you know.

This caught my eye after a conversation with our two guides on Friday.  One has already been to Cuba and has three future trips already planned guiding groups.  Claudette, our concierge, said that she deffinitely wanted to see the country in it's current, pre-americanized glory.  Sounds like she'll need to get there soon.

Discovered this recently and love her voice.  Reminds me of Sade.

Last, but not least, this cauliflower recipe is happening tonight!

Enjoy the rest of your week!
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