Search This Blog

Friday, August 31, 2012

Great for Labor Day--Grilled Salmon on a Cedar Plank

My local Whole Foods has a display of wooden boards for grilling fish set up in front of their seafood counter. You can choose a cedar, maple, or cherry board and then pair it with a compatible fish. The friendly merchant confessed that she was crazy about the cherry plank, but I chose cedar since it matches up admirably with salmon, the fish I am planning to use.

Whatever your selection, when fish is set atop a wooden plank, then placed on a grill (whether charcoal or gas), the wood imparts a lovely smokiness to the seafood. What, I thought, could be better to grill on this long holiday weekend than marinated salmon fillets on a cedar plank. For my recipe (a favorite I created several years ago) I use a simple, yet distinctive marinade of maple syrup, lime juice, soy sauce, and fresh ginger. The ingredients provide, respectively, sweet, tart, salty, and spicy notes that complement the scent of smoked wood.

While the fish is marinating, I’ll soak the cedar plank in water. Then after preparing the grill, I’ll heat the plank for a few minutes, place the salmon on it, and put down the lid. In about 15 minutes, the cedar will have imparted a smoky scent to the fish, which turns a light mahogany color. I plan to serve the fillets right on the plank, with a garnish of chopped cilantro and green onions sprinkled over each. Corn on the cob and a bracing slaw would make fine sides.
Happy Labor Day weekend to all of you!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Farmers’ Market Peach Smoothie

Saturday mornings from May to October, I can’t wait to drive to the center of our New England town to the Farmers’ Market. There on a short block that dissects the town common, local growers present their weekly harvest under canopied stands. Ours is not a large, sprawling market, but what it lacks in quantity, it certainly makes up for in quality.

Proud farmers display bins of gorgeous vegetables and fruits (mostly organic), and are eager to discuss what varieties they’ve grown. Want a Green Zebra or a Cherokee Purple  tomato. No problem—our vendors offer those and countless other heirlooms. 

There’s a stand that sells superb grass-fed lamb, butchered and packaged in frozen bundles. Bakers set out baguettes and French peasant loaves as well as flax, sourdough, and olive breads. Others sell exquisite seasonal flowers picked that morning, and a few tempt shoppers with local maple syrup and homemade soaps.

Recently, as I ambled by the different stalls, I stopped at the local yogurt stand where a merchant was selling smoothies made with her maple/vanilla yogurt and fresh chopped peaches. Unable to resist, I purchased one of the icy cold drinks and downed it in seconds. The tart yogurt was balanced by a hint of maple syrup and a dash of vanilla, while the peaches provided a subtle, fruited accent. I’ve included the recipe, and hope you’ll enjoy this “market” smoothie as much as I did.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

BLTs Make Great Summer Appetizers!

In late July I traveled to York, Maine, to give weekend cooking classes at the beautiful Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School. My courses, held in the morning, ended at 1 PM, so afterwards I was anxious to try the Café in the large retail complex. A true foodie, I asked the staff at the school what I should order. “Get the BLT with avocados,” they all replied!

At the counter of the bustling café, my husband and I asked for iced tea and sandwiches. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much because today’s BLTs never seem to be exceptional, but after one bite of the Stonewall Kitchen version, I changed my mind. The secret lay in the perfect summer ingredients used to craft the sandwiches. The tomatoes were crimson, ripe, and sweet, while the bacon was wood smoked and perfectly crisp. The avocado slices were silken smooth, and the white bread was high quality and toasted lightly. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Celebrating Julia! She’d be 100 this week!

Courtesy of the Smith College Archives
 Yes, that headline is correct. If Julia Child were alive today, she’d be a hundred years old on August 15th! America’s first lady of cooking was well into her thirties when she moved to France, became passionate about French food, and took cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu.

Julia mastered the techniques of her adopted cuisine, but it wasn’t her French knife skills that made her famous once she returned to America. It was her personality and her joie de vivre that we all loved.

Over 6 feet tall, she towered above her cook top in her first television series, and with that high, proper voice, gave amusing commentary while turning out omelets and whipping up soufflés with boundless enthusiasm. Viewers adored her because she was so down to earth, and had a willingness to make fun of herself when something didn’t come out right.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer Peaches Are Not Just for Desserts—Try Them in Salsas!

This past week, while teaching two cooking classes, one in Massachusetts and the other in Maine, I featured cumin-scented pork tenderloins topped with fresh peach salsa from Sunday Roasts as the centerpiece for each menu. My students loved the refreshing taste of peaches used in a savory instead of a sweet role.

For the salsa, diced peaches are combined with chopped red onions, minced jalapeno peppers, and both lime juice and zest. Some chopped cilantro adds more color and rounds out the flavors. The pork tenderloins are rubbed with a mixture of ground cumin, coarse salt, and pepper, and then roasted for a mere 20 minutes.