Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bread Can Be Good For You!

Here is my Mom!

It seems bread has gotten a bad reputation these days and although I don't eat much plain old white bread, I do make some yummy whole grain breads, muffins, and scones.  My Mom used to make white bread nearly every day. After she retired, she did a lot of baking and was one of the best bakers I have ever known. She was also a good cook, but her baking skills were matched by none; especially pie crust...but that is a story for another blog. I am going to start today with my Mom's recipe for white bread. This is a simple, straightforward recipe and if you are going to eat refined white flour, the bread might as well be delicious! I love the fact that I have this recipe written out in my mothers hand. I am guessing she wrote out this recipe about 40 years ago when I was leaving the "nest".  It makes 2 beautiful big loves.


Baking time: 50 minutes
6 cups white flour
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cup water
1 pkg. yeast (can use 2 for faster rising)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. shortening (I use butter; Mom used Crisco)

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
Combine yeast with 1/4 cup lukewarm water and 1 tsp. sugar--let soften 5 minutes in a small bowl. The warm water and sugar activate the yeast and it will start to bubble up. This is how you know the yeast is "good". If no bubbling; start over. Your yeast is dead. This is called "proofing" the yeast.
Add shortening to milk and scald until shortening melts. Put hot milk into large bowl, add salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. Then add 1 cup cold water. When this mixture becomes lukewarm, add the softened yeast and stir well. Then add about 1/2 of the flour and beat with an electric mixer if you have one; otherwise stir well. Continue to add remaining flour and keep mixing well.
Turn out onto floured bread board and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile wash and grease the large bowl.  Knead dough well.  Put dough back into large, buttered bowl and roll it around so all sides get buttered. Let rise until DOUBLE in bulk. Punch down and knead again slightly and form into 2 loaves and bake. Bake for 50 minutes until crust is golden brown.

I recently made these rolls for my woman's club luncheon. The recipe calls for making 28 rolls, but I made mine a bit large and came out with 24. They are light and delicious and special enough for a holiday.

2 1/4 cup water plus 1/4 cup for proofing yeast
1 cup oats
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. yeast
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached white flour

Preheat oven to 350 degreees.
Bring water to a boil and add oats and butter. Let set until is has cooled to lukewarm. In a mixer bowl combine 1 1/4 cup water, oat mixture, yeast, brown sugar, and salt. (I always proof the yeast before adding as described above. It is rare for yeast NOT to rise, but why take a chance.) Stir well. Add whole wheat flour and mix. Add remaining unbleached flour until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl and you have a nice soft dough.  Cover with a clean dish towel (to keep out drafts) and let this rest for about an hour.
Punch down and divide the dough into 24 pieces. Roll each piece and place in two 9x13" pans that have been sprayed with PAM or any cooking oil.
Let them rise until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes depending on how warm your kitchen is. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

This is also a recipe my Mom made often. They are dense and substantial and one muffin will serve you well for breakfast. I also have this recipe written out by Mom on an index card and the ink is fading so you know how long ago she wrote this one!
2 cups flour (I use 1 cup each whole wheat/white)
1 1/4 cup sugar (I cut that down to about 3/4 cup sugar)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 cup raisons
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup coconut

1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the grated carrots, raisons, nuts, coconut and apple. Beat together eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into well-greased muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
My husband is my biggest fan!  Thanks Jerry!
He really is not going to eat 3 muffins!

Nancy is one of my "gym" ladies and she shared this wonderful recipe for scones. I am going to write it out just as she gave it to me. The key here is to have fun and  IMPROVISE!

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup ground flax seed
2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking power
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter

1 cup blueberries, dried cranberries, dates, cherries, etc.

1 cup walnts, chopped

1/3 cup Plain 0 fat yogurt (I like to use the Greek style.)
2/3 cup milk

Mix dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar. Fold in wet ingredients. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Here's a tip: Of course, you will preheat the oven. Spray a cookie sheet with PAM or cooking oil and drop about 2 large Tbsp. batter per scone onto the sheet.


Here is another recipe where you can play with the seasoning. Focaccio is similar in texture to pizza dough, but I think it is much better. It is wonderful right from the oven and dipped into a saucer of Olive Oil mixed with herbs, garlic, roasted red pepper, parmesan or other herbs or spices.  I made this for the first time in Ireland. I have a healthy little herb garden outside my kitchen so added a liberal amount of fresh, chopped rosemary and a clove of garlic right into the dough. I think it would also be delicious with sun-dried tomatoes and chopped basil. The key is to use a fancy salt on the top, like Fleur de Sel, which is a French sea salt, but any course-ground salt works.

2 cups flour, divided
1 tsp. sugar (for proofing yeast)
1 pkg. dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Kalamata Olives
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp.+, course ground salt, like Fleur de Sel or Himalayan sea salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On my little stove in Spiddal that would be somewhere between 6 and 7 on the temperature dial. This may be helpful to you if you find yourself baking in Ireland or England.

In a large bowl dissolve sugar and yeast in 2/3 cup warm water. Let stand 5 minutes.
Combine 1 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, (this is where I added the extra clove of garlic and about 3 Tbsp. chopped rosemary), Mix well.  Add flour mixture and 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil to yeast mixture. Stir to combine.  Fold in Kalamata Olives. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic-5-7 minutes.  Add flour as necessary.  Place dough in a large greased bowl.  Cover and let rise until double-about 1 hour.
Press dough into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.  Brush (or use your fingers) remaining Olive oil over top of dough. Add 4 Tbsp. slivered garlic and rosemary or other herb. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden.






Thursday, June 21, 2012


I am not generally a dessert person. My idea of the best way to complete a meal is a cheese tray and glass of fine port, or possibly an after dinner cognac, but lately I have been having so many dinner parties that I feel compelled to complete the meal with a sweet. I am going to share some of my favorites and hope you enjoy them, too for a special occasion or an any-night treat!

First, I will start with a complicated dessert I made a couple months ago as the finale to a very special Czech meal I put together for a very special Czech lady visiting us from Chicago. Helen was born in Czechoslavakia in 1926 and this was the first time in our home so I wanted to pull out all the stops. I created a multi-course lavish Czech meal and even printed the menu in Czech.

The dessert I selected to end this meal was not necessarily Czech, although the Czech's do love their baked treats, but Helen's husband was a baker so I thought she would enjoy this ending to a fun and festive Sunday dinner.

This recipe has several steps, but is not really hard to make. I was a  bit apprehensive as I am NOT an expert baker and Helen's husband was a professional baker, but I gave it my best shot and they came out pretty good. I served them with a Czech flag thinking if they didn't taste that great at least I
would score some points with the "cute" factor.
This is her son, Dennis (and my good friend!) serving his Mom
 Choux Paste (pate a choux)
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (8Tbsp. butter), unsalted
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Eggs

Combine the water, milk, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil. Stir in the flour and while mixing, cook another minute or 2 to eliminate excess moisture. Transfer to a bowl and let cool 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Beat in one egg at a time. When they have all been beaten in and the paste is smooth and shiny, set aside to cool completely. The paste may be used immediately or covered and refrigerated for later use. (That is what I did as I had so many other things to prepare for this meal, making the pastry in the morning helped with the timing of things.)

Pastry Cream (Creme Patissiere)
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. white flour
3 Tbsp. corn starch
4 egg yolks
1 1/3 cups milk
3/4 tsp. vanilla

Combine the sugar, flour, corn starch, and egg yolks in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until mixture is thick and pale yellow.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Gradually pour the milk into the egg mixture, stirring it as you do so. When fully combined, pour all of it into the saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in vanilla and set aside to cool.

Press plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment on surface of cream to prevent a skin from forming. This cream may also be made in advance, and kept in fridge, covered with plastic wrap for a day.

Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz. good quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Heat the cream. Stir in the chocolate and continue heating and stirring until all of the chocolate is melted.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Form small logs (about 1 1/2 inches across and 4 inches long) out of the Choux paste on a baking sheet. If you have a pastry bag with a large tip, you can squeeze them out neatly or just form the logs using a spoon and your fingers. They do not have to be perfect.

Bake the pastries for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees and bake for another 10-30 minutes depending on the size of your eclairs.

When they are golden brown, turn the oven off. Poke a hold in the small end of the eclair and place them back in the oven for another 10 minutes to dry out. Remove the eclairs from the oven and let them cool.

To fill the eclairs, either use a pastry bag and squirt in the pastry cream (which is what I did) or you can slice the eclairs lengthwise and scoopy the filling inside and place the top half back on top. This kind of defeats the purpose of the fun puff pastry which when baked creates a very convenient cavity for filling.

For the topping, dip or dribble the eclairs in the chocolate ganache.

Side story about Eclairs:
My friend Aggie loved Eclairs. She used to go to her annual neighborhood block party in Boston with a big tray of Eclairs, which everyone raved over. She would get up early, go to Stop & Shop, buy fresh baked Eclairs at their bakery, bring them home, re-plate them. She never actually CLAIMED they were her own homemade treats, but did not deny it either. She graciously accepted all compliments!

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of this gorgeous bread pudding, but believe me it is as moist and delicious as it is beautiful. I got the recipe several years ago from my friend Francine and usually make it around the holidays when you can easily get the Panetone, but you don't have to wait until Christmas to make it. It is good all year round! The Amaretto gives it a nice, nutty flavor and elevates a traditional bread pudding into something quite special.

1 Panetone (about 1 lb.) cut into1" pieces
1 Qt. Half & Half
3 Eggs (4 if they are not super large)
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. Almond extract (or use Amaretto is you don't have the extract)

Preheat broiler. Arrange bread pieces on 2 baking sheets and toast on both sides until lightly browned. Set aside for an hour.

Place the toasted Panetone in a large bowl. Pour Half & Half over the bread making sure all pieces are moistened. Set aside for 1 hour until all liquid is absorbed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generouslly butter bottom and sides of a 9x13x2" baking dish (I like to use a decorative baking dish so it can be served right from this container.) In a medium bowl whisk eggs with sugar, vanilla and almond (or Amaretto). Stir into soaked bread and transfer to baking dish. Bake in middle of oven for 1 hr. until pudding is just set and top is golden brown. Cool.

Amaretto Sauce
1 stick Butter, cut in pieces
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup Amaretto*
3 Egg Yolks

Melt butter gently. Whisk in sugar until creamy. Add Amaretto and then egg yolks, one at a time. 
Cook, whisking constantly until consistency of honey; about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Just before serving, preheat broiler. Spoon Amaretto sauce  over the pudding and broil 3-4" from heat until just browned. The sauce can "catch" quickly so make sure you don't over-broil.

Serve with a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream. Do not add vanilla or sugar to the cream for a nice off-set to this sweet pudding. It is also delicious served with a tiny glass of Amaretto!

*Did you know that 1 nip of booze equals 1/4 cup? This is handy if you don't want to buy a whole bottle and need just a bit for flavoring.

I LOVE cheesecake. It is one of my all-time favorite desserts. It is so versatile, easy to make, and usually better after it sits a day, so falls into my make-ahead category of simplifying fancy meals. When cheesecake sits overnight it becomes more dense so if you prefer it lighter and fluffier, bake and eat same day. I made this dessert for our Easter celebration this year.  Here is the Carrot Cheesecake still in its springform pan, decorated and ready to plate.

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium carrots, peeled, finely grated
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
4 large Eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (or the stuff out of the bottle)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger (need the real thing here)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup toasted pecans
8 graham crackres, finely ground
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp, salt

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse pecans in a food processor (or other blender type) until finely ground. Place in a medium bowl with graham crackers, and stir in melted butter, sugar and salt. Wrap the outside and bottom of 9 inch spring-form pan in 2 layers of foil. Press crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges and firm; about 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack. Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees.

Make the Cheesecake: Melt butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add carrots and 1/2 cup sugar and cook, stirring often, until carrots are soft, 3-4 minutes. Transfer with pan juices to a bowl and let cool.

Beat the cream cheese and remaining cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add carrots and pan juices, nutmeg cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Pour into crust.

Set springform pan in a large roasting pan. Fill roasting pan carefully with enough water to reach halfway up the sides of springform pan. Bake cheesecake until set, but still slightly wobbly in center, 80-90 minutes.

Lift springform pan out of roasting pan and place on a rack, remove foil. Let cool. Refrigerate uncovered at least 6 hours or overnight. Run a hot knife around edges of cheesecake to loosen, then remove sides of pan. Decorate with marzipan carrots just before serving.

I cheated on the marzipan. The original recipe (a Martha Stewart) called for what sounded like a fairly complicated way to make this decoration. I simply bought a tube of marzipan paste at the grocery store. Made the little carrots by pulling off a small piece of marzipan and forming with my fingers and then rolled the "carrots" in orange sugar. Since the marzipan (almond paste) is not real sweet, the colored sugar added just the right touch. I then decorated the tops with small pieces of mint and added a few jelly beans in the center just for fun! Here is the cake on its serving platter.

Next, I'm going to tell you about my Nanna's Lemon Sponge Pie, which is really a pie/cake/pudding combination all in one. I wish I had a picture of this pie, but don't. I usually decorate the top of the pie with small violets or pansies whose color (and flavor!) contrast nicely with the deep yellow of the pie. I like almost anything lemon and this pie dressed up with flowers is a lovely dessert for company. It is also very yummy served with an ice cold small glass of Limoncello.


1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. butter
Yolks of 2 large Eggs, save the whites
Beat these 3 ingredients together.

Add juice and zest (make sure to grate only the yellow part of the lemon rind; the inner white layer can be bitter) of one large lemmon, and 3 Tbsp. flour. Mix all together. Fold in the beaten whites of the 3 Eggs and pour into a pie crust. I sometimes cheat here and buy a prepared, raw, ready to bake crust. Of course it is not as good as homemade, but this frozen version is often better than my I said earlier, baking is not my strong suit! Bake 3/4 of an hour in a slow oven; just make sure the crust is nice and brown. As the pie cools, a pudding-type consistency forms on the top and the bottom of the pie is cakier because of the addition of flour. Interesting texture!

Don't you love the old recipes. They say things like 'slow oven' instead of 325 degrees; or measure butter by saying, 'add butter the size of an egg'.  Nanna often served this pie on Sunday when our whole family each week would gather for a big noon-time meal with Nanna and Grampa. We loved these visits!

The last recipe I will share today I made recently for my dear friends, Dennis and Diana on the 24th anniversary of their first date. I had never made it before, but will definitely make it again. Happy Anniversary Love-Birds!

For the Tart Dough:
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups white flour, plus more for dusting work surface
2/3 cup confectioners suger
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Pastry Cream:
2 cups Half & Half
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
5 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
4Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Topping:
2 large kiwis, peeled, sliced
1 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries
Or any fruit you choose

To make the tart shell, whisk together the egg yolk, cream and vanilla in small bowl; set aside. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Process briefly to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; process to cut the butter into the flour (this can also be done the old-fashioned way by drawing 2 butter knives through the butter/flour mixture until the butter is about the size of small peas--the food processor is much easier!) until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15, one-second pulses. With the machine running, add the egg mixture and process until the dough just comes together, about 12 seconds. Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6" dish. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 48.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Let stand at room temp until malleable (I like that word!). Unwrap and roll the dough out lightly on floured surface to a 13 inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9 inch tart pan and remove the excess off the top. Set the dough-lined tart pan on a large plate and freeze for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375. Set the dough-lined tart pan on a baking sheet, press a 12 inch square of foil into the frozen shell and over the edge, and fill with pie weights. I used a 1# bag of dry beans which did the trick. All you are trying to accomplish here it to keep the dough from bubbling up as it bakes. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halway through the baking time. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 5-8 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make the pastry cream, heat the Half & Half, 6 tbsl. of the sugar, and the salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Combine the egg yolks and remaining 2 tbsp. sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until the sugar has begin to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.

When the Half & Half mixture has reached a simmer, slowly add it to the egg yolk mixture to temper (you don't want to scramble those eggs), whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine sieve set over a medium bowl. (You can skip this step, but it does make the cream finer, more velvety.) Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

To assemble the tart, spread the cold pastry cream evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange the fruit on top of the pastry cream as desired.

Happy Anniversary D&D...may you enjoy another 24 happy years together!

My teeth are starting to ache with all these sweets and I think I have gained 5 lbs. writing this. When we were kids, our hot-lunch lady, Mrs. Hayes, used to tell us she got fat on the smell of the food she cooked. I think I just got fat writing about it!

Desserts can and should be enjoyed; just not every day. When you do have them, I recommend you NEVER feel guilty as that spoils the flavor!



Saturday, June 2, 2012

Let's Go Fishing!

I love salmon! It is one of my favorite fish and the good news is that it is good for least the wild salmon. I am going to share with you a couple simple ways to cook salmon. First, we'll discuss Poached Salmon, both wild and farm raised.
Wild Coho Salmon ready to poach

You can poach salmon in just about any liquid with herbs or spices that you like, but a very simple recipe follows:

Salmon filets, about 6 oz. per person
(This time I will poach 4 filets.)
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
(Yes, this is the holy trinity commonly known as Mirepoix!)
3 slices lemon per filet, 2 go under the salmon and 1 on top
Several sprigs of parsley
3 bay leaves (1 per filet)
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon blanc works well and is nice to sip on while you are poaching.)
Juice of 1 lemon; lemon zest*

Cut the salmon filets if necessary. Make sure there are no pin bones in the filet. Run your hand over the filet, especially along the edges, and if you feel any little bones they must be removed. Either use tweezers or grasp firmly with a paring knife against your thumb and pull them out.

Place the carrot, celery, onion, lemon, parsley and bay leaves in a large skillet.

Add the salmon filets skin side down, cold water to cover, Salt/Pepper (I like to use white pepper which is very finely ground and a little more spicy.), the wine, and the lemon juice and half of the lemon zest. Bring the water to a boil, uncovered.

Adjust heat to simmer and let fish cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the fish undisturbed (covered) for 10 minutes. then remove it carefully to a serving platter. As you remove the filet from the pan, the skin should come right off. Top with remaining lemon zest. The salmon will be perfectly done. It is delicious served either hot or cold or at room temp.
* I use a micro plane to zest lemons. Make sure you do not go deeper than the yellow color of the rind. The underlying white layer can be bitter.

Wild salmon is much firmer in texture than farm raised salmon. I actually like farm raised better for poaching as it stays very moist, whereas the wild is a bit more firm and almost dry in texture. Both cook for the same amount of time. To enhance the Wild Poached Salmon, serve with SAUCE! I am sometimes known as the 'Sauce Queen' and I like to put  sauces on just about everything. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Salmon lends itself to many different sauces so the choices are nearly endless. I like a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce with salmon. Red peppers are easy to roast. Here's how...

Roasted Red Peppers
Heat broiler to high. Place peppers on a baking sheet lined with foil and put under broiler. Broil until they become blackened. Keep turning to blacken all sides. When all sides of pepper have been charred, wrap up in the foil and set aside and let them cool. Once cool, strip off the skin. This comes off very easily by grabbing a corner of skin with a paring knife and pulling the skin to release; just make sure you remove all the blackened skin. Split the pepper open (the pepper will probably split as you are skinning) and remove seeds, stem and membrane. Put peppers into a blender or mini-max or my new favorite little blender, the Ninja!, and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste, about 3 Tbsp. cream cheese (for 4 peppers), 4 Tbsp. sour cream or non-fat Greek-style yogurt and blend until smooth. If the red pepper sauce is too thick, thin it with more yogurt/sour cream.

This is the basic red pepper sauce. From here, you can add fresh chopped basil, finely minced garlic, hot pepper flakes or other herbs and spices. I like to keep it fairly pure for the salmon saucing.

Here is a salad plate of farm raised poached salmon (notice how much paler it is than the wild salmon). I have served it here on a bed of micro-greens lightly dressed with viniagrette, peeled and steamed asparagus tossed in EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), salt and a hint of balsamic vinegar, hard cooked eggs with smoked paprika garnished with the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.  I got a little carried away with the red pepper garnish....this is a case where LESS is definitely MORE!, but I liked making the little blobs of sauce so just kept doing it! I think I should've used a bit more restraint! (Not my strong suit!)

I served this dish for a special birthday luncheon I put together for my friend Kim, who helped me by assembling the plates! Happy Birthday all over again, Kim!

Another very delicious sauce for poached salmon is:

3/4 cup Olive Oil
4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 5 ears)
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large avocados, peeled and seeded
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
4 Poblano chilies, roasted (just as you would the red peppers above), peeled, seeded
4 scallions, white and light green thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Cilantro garnish, optional

Heat 1/2 cup of the Olive Oil in a larger skillet over medium heat.
Saute the corn with the salt/pepper about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
Cut the avocados, bell pepper, roasted Poblano into 1/4 inch dice.
Add to the sauteed corn along with the scallions, red wine vinegar, and the remaining 1/4 cup Olive Oil.
Mix well and let sit 20-30 minutes to blend flavors. (Also can be made 2-3 days ahead; stored in tightly covered container in the fridge. If you are making in advance, DO NOT add the avocado in advance. Add it just before serving.)
Serve at room temp.

A final sauce suggestion for Poached or Broiled Salmon...


Add to blender: 1/2 cup mayonaise with 3 Tbsp. finely diced garlic and a dash of Tumeric, This sauce, aka Aoili, is absolutely delicious on Poached Salmon! Tumeric is not a traditional addition to Aoili, but I love the taste and really like how it give the mayo a deep yellowish color.

Another very simple preparation for Salmon is to broil it. I like to serve Broiled Salmon on a bed of greens, like spinach or kale. Use about a 6 oz. filet (wild or farm raised) per person. Check for the pin bones and remove if necessary. Rub filets with Olive Oil, sprinkle with salt/pepper and that's it! Place skin side down on an oiled baking sheet and pop into a hot broiler and broil for about 5 minutes per inch.
If you are not using Aoili, another nice way to sauce or garnish Broiled Salmon is with a little Compound Butter (not shown in this picture.).

Compound Butter does not have to be a big production, Here is a very simple way to make it:

1 lb. butter
3-4 Tbsp. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed and diced fine

Chop the butter into uniform chunks using a sharp knife and place in a bowl.
Place the EVOO into a food processor; add chives. Process until the chives are finely chopped. Add the remaining herbs and blend until the herbs have colored the oil. Keep blending until the texture of the oil softens and lightens-about 5 minutes.
Add the butter to the herb oil and blend for another 2 minutes until oil is fully incorporated.
Spoon the herb/oil/butter mixture onto waxed paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a tight log and chill for 2 hours. Try to get all the creases out of the paper so exterior of butter log is smooth.
When ready to serve slice into 1/4 inch pieces and place on top of hot Broiled Salmon.

Compound Butter is good on just about everything: veggies, bread, rice, meats (especially if you add blue or other cheese)...use your imagination!

Wild Alaskan Salmon Cakes
If you are not able to get good fresh salmon, Wild Alaskan canned Salmon is also very good for you and delicious! Here is my recipe for Salmon Cakes.

1 can Wild Alaskan Salmon
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs (I like to use a combination of whole grain crumbs that I keep in the freezer at all times.)
1 Scallion, green and white parts, sliced thin
1 Smashed and diced garlic clove
1 tsp. drained capers
1 Egg
2 Tbsp. Mayonaise
Dash of hot sauce
Dash of Worchester sauce
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil for frying

Many canned salmons now come completely cleaned (no bones or skin). If that is the case, just mix all ingredients and form into patties. Let sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes to get the right consistency before frying.
Add oil to a skillet. Get oil hot and saute Salmon Cakes for about 3-4 minutes per side, depending on how thick you make your cakes. The Cakes should have a nice brown finish and be firm.
I like to serve these with mashed avocado under the Salmon Cake and either Aioli or Roasted Red Pepper or both!
Salmon is versatile, easy to work with and yummy! Hope you enjoy these recipes or become inspired to create some new twists of your own. Please let me know what you concoct with Salmon!

See you in the kitchen again soon!

May your creative juices keep flowing, spirits remain high, and joy of cooking continue!