We watched a marathon of New Scandinavian Cooking with Tina Nordström on PBS this weekend, which was pretty much wall-to-wall seafood with the occasional moose steak thrown in. All of Tina’s salmon dishes reminded me of some salmon chowder I made a while ago, so I dug up an old issue of Gourmet Magazine and made their quick and tasty recipe:
Salmon Chowder with Dill
- 4 bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped coarsly
- 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 lb boiling potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 lb salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon butter
Cook the bacon pieces in a 3-quart saucepan, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove bacon to some paper towels to drain.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the saucepan and add onion, celery, potatoes, salt, and pepper and cook until the onion is softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are just about tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the milk and simmer uncovered for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the salmon pieces, dill, and butter and simmer until the salmon is just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Serve sprinkled with the bacon pieces.
I occasionally get in the mood to chop up vegetables. The best way I’ve found to quell the urge is to whip up a batch of vegetable soup, the first step of which is to make some vegetable stock.
The following vegetable stock recipe is from 3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery, a book I bought when my wife (at the time, my girlfriend) was a vegetarian and I wanted to cook for her. The recipe is versatile; I use it for vegetable soup, french onion soup, and even brining my Thanksgiving turkey.
Basic Vegetable Stock
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 3 large celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 head of garlic, sliced horizontally
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 6 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
After chopping up the vegetables, place them in a large pot. Add the olive oil and toss the vegetables to coat. Spread the vegetables out on a large baking sheet and roast them for 10 minutes. Stir and roast for 5 more minutes, but don’t brown them.
Put the vegetables back in the pot and add the bay leaves and 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Let the stock stand for 10 minutes and then strain and discard the solids. Use the vegetable stock as directed in your recipe.
My wife Carol and I decided that for this Christmas we’d only get each other one present. She got a treadmill and I got a bread knife. They’re not exactly equivalent price-wise, but both of us use both of them, so it all works out.
My new knife is a 10 1/2 inch MAC Bread/Roast knife, purchased from The Epicurean Edge. Carol works with a guy that buys so many knives that he’s on a first name basis with the people who run the Epicurean Edge. Knowing that Carol was looking for a new bread knife, he called them up and they suggested the MAC.
It’s a great knife: sharp, well-balanced, and it cuts through a loaf of bread like, well, a hot knife through butter. Our old bread knife–part of a set of cheap Farberware knives that I bought from Target when I moved into my first apartment–was not a great knife. Cutting through a crusty loaf of the Macrina Bakery’s Guiseppe bread we pick up at the Metropolitan Market would require considerable and rather forceful sawing, resulting in a crushed, misshapen bread slice. The new knife practically cuts the loaf just by looking at it, intimidating the bread into falling into even slices. I like it.
Since this is a blog about food, I decided that I should get better aquainted with the food blogs that are out there. There are many. I found a nice list of some good ones in a posting at >tastingmenu:
One of my favorite pieces of cookware in my kitchen is my red Le Crueset cast-iron round oven. It’s heavy as heck, but it sure can make a great pot of stew. This past weekend I made a big batch of chili–I’ll post the recipe soon–and my heavy red pot did its job nicely, evenly heating the chili with a constant low heat. It’s a great size, too, especially for just the two of us. We’ve been eating left-over chili for three days now. If you don’t have one of these things, you should pick one up. They’re not cheap, but it’s something that could stay in your family for generations.
The best part of carving a jack-o-lantern for Halloween is the pumpkin seeds. My wife and I carved our pumpkins yesterday and ended up with three cups of big and plump pumpkin seeds. Probably non-coincidentally, my Joy of Cooking daily calendar had a recipe for preparing winter squash seeds. Based on that, here’s how I prepared my pumpkin seeds:
Separate the seeds from the pumpkin innards and rinse, if desired. Toss the seeds with 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil per each cup of seeds. Spread the seeds out over a baking sheet and bake in a 250° F oven for about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.
Once the seeds are dried out, you can either allow to cool and eat them or season them further and toast them in the oven at 350°.
The combination of this weekend’s temperature drop and the start of the football season means that if fall’s not here yet, it will be soon. Around our kitchen, fall means the reappearance of dishes like stews and casseroles. One of our favorite quick casserole-like dishes is baked macaroni and cheese. We made that today, based on the recipe we found years ago on the back of a box of Mueller’s elbow macaroni. We’ve tried a number of other recipes, but we always come back to this one.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese (with Broccoli)
- 2 cups of uncooked macaroni
- 2 tablespoons of corn starch
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups of milk
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup of bread crumbs
- 1 cup of broccoli, cut into small pieces (optional)
Cook the macaroni for 7 minutes and drain.
While the macaroni is cooking, combine the corn starch, salt, mustard, and pepper in a small saucepan. Stir in the milk and add the butter. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Stir in all but a big handful of the cheese and the broccoli. Stir in the macaroni. Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour the macaroni and cheese into the dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and top with the bread crumbs.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Here’s the simple (and tasty) meal we made with the first ripe tomato that came from our backyard garden:
Capellini with Tomato and Basil
- Capellini (angel hair) pasta for two
- 1 medium tomato cut into bite-sized pieces
- Small handful of fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- Grated parmagiano-reggiano cheese
- 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
Cook the pasta according to directions and drain. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Crush the garlic clove with the side of a knife, remove the peel, and place in the heating olive oil. This will infuse the oil with garlicky goodness, but be sure to turn the garlic before it gets too dark. Remove the garlic when it is browned on all sides.
Add the red pepper flakes to the olive oil and a short time later add the tomato. Allow the tomato to cook for a minute or two and then add the basil. Stir to heat up the basil, then add the cooked pasta. Allow to cook for another minute or two and then remove from the heat and plate it up. Sprinkle a good amount of grated parmagiano-reggiano cheese over the top. Serve and enjoy!
There’s something about a nice picture of food that’s really pleasing to my eye. I’m not sure how, but every once in a while I’ve been able to take a nice one food photo myself. The photo here is of a simple salad, one made with precut bagged lettuce, sliced up cucumber and roma tomato, almond slivers, and some store-bought pesto italian dressing. The white salad bowl adds a bit of simple style to the dish. It was taken with a Sony DSC-F717 digital camera.
On the weekends, when we don’t get our standard muffin-and-coffee breakfast at the local coffee shop, I sometimes make hard-boiled eggs. Only, I don’t boil them. I’m not sure where I saw it (Good Eats, perhaps), but a TV-chef recommended steaming the eggs rather than boiling. That method has worked great for us, so here’s how I do it.
Add about an inch of water to your steamer pot. We use a 12-inch diameter pot and a serendipitously sized colander that fits nicely in the top, leaving about 3 inches for water below the basket. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat a bit to keep it a gentle boil. Put all of your eggs in one basket. (Rather, gently place your eggs in the steamer basket). Put the basket in the pot and cover, allowing the eggs to steam for 12 minutes.
Remove the eggs once they’re done cooking and place in a bowl of ice-water to cool them down for safer handling. Tap the eggs repeated on the counter to crack the shells and peel. Cut them up with a fork, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.