A lightning-fast dinner to prepare, your best friend on a busy weeknight! At first, I wanted to call it “Healthy Salmon Dinner” or something along those lines, but I am a bit tired of the constant labeling of recipes as “healthy” or “good for you.”  Anything can be good for you if approached the right way.   A slice of apple pie?  No problem.  A slice of apple pie with two scoops of vanilla ice cream drenched in caramel sauce, after a dinner of fried chicken with biscuits and gravy?  Well, not your best option, but if you do it only once in a blue moon, even that is not a crime!  Eat sensibly and enjoy your food…  😉

For this dish, I combined two different recipes, one from Fine Cooking, another  from Food and Wine. As you may have noticed, I cook often from both publications, love them!  Joining salmon, spinach, kalamatas, and raisins might seem like a stretch, but we were both swooning over our plates. Since a little starch never hurt anyone, I made some orzo perfumed with lemon zest as a side dish. Awesome dinner!

(adapted from Fine Cooking & Food and Wine magazines)

4 salmon filets, skin on
1/4 cup honey
4 tsp soy sauce
1 + 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
3 bunches of spinach (16 to 18 oz)
1 shallot, diced
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, halved or diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the honey, soy, and five-spice powder in a small bowl, mixing it all well. Put the pieces of salmon, skin side down, on a plate or baking dish just large enough to hold them side by side.  Pour the honey mixture over the salmon, flip them over, so that the skin is now up.   Let them sit in this honey glaze for 15 minutes as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Meanwhile, turn your oven broiler on.

Place a colander over a bowl or plate near your stove top. Pour a little water on a large non-stick skillet set on medium-high heat.  When the water is very hot, add half of the spinach leaves, and move them around quickly using tongs until they start to wilt.  Transfer them to the colander, and wilt the rest of the spinach leaves the same way. Add them to the colander, and wipe the skillet dry.

Start broiling the salmon.  Place the pieces skin side down on a baking dish lined with foil and slightly coated with a spray of olive oil to prevent sticking.  Brush the top of the salmon with a little of the honey glaze, saving the rest in a small bowl.  Total broiling time will be 5 to 6 minutes, depending on how thick your filets are, and how you like them cooked.

Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in the skillet, when the oil is very hot add the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the kalamata olives, the raisins, stir them all together for a minute or so. Add the spinach, toss around to warm up, squeeze a little lemon juice all over, and season with salt and pepper.  Remove the spinach mixture to a serving platter, add another squeeze of lemon juice to the honey glaze in the small bowl, add to the skillet over medium heat, until it bubbles and heats through.   Place the broiled salmon over the bed of spinach, drizzle with the honey marinade, and serve.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  You know those bags of baby spinach that sell in the grocery store for 4 bucks (or more), and you must cook at least two bags to feed you and your partner?  You don’t need those.  😉  Recently, a remark by  Rachael Ray in one of her shows perked my interest.  She said that those humble looking spinach bundles, tied together with a  nasty metal string, will work nicely in many preparations.

I got three of those – each for $1.30 – and was very pleased by how they wilted but kept some structure and a more intense taste than their organic baby cousins.   Simply use a large knife and cut them above the string very close to the leaves, to get rid of all the stem part (compost those, if you can).  Drop the leaves in a large bowl (or sink) full of water, swirl them around a few times, and dry in a salad spinner.  They are ready to use.

The salmon – my first time oven-broiling it, by the way – cooked to perfection, the honey in the marinade giving it that irresistible copper tone, and the spinach combined with the olives and raisins, raised the bar of this meal quite a bit.  If you are watching your carbs intake, you can always omit the orzo.

ONE YEAR AGO: Butterscotch Brownies

TWO YEARS AGO: Vegetable Autumn Soup

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As the proud owner of too many cookbooks,  I try to give them priority when searching for culinary inspiration, but every once in a while a blogger’s recipe blows away the competition, I won’t rest until I make it.   A beautiful photography is sure nice, but I am primarily taken by the writing along the recipe, especially if it conveys more than just cooking.

The moment I read Rosa’s write up on this post while listening to the beautiful song in the background, I knew I was going to make – and love – those noodles.  The few ingredients come together in what seems like an almost austere preparation, but refrain from the temptation of adding more stuff to it.  Accept its  Zen flow, and keep it simple.

(adapted from Rosa’s Yummy Yums blog)

2 bundles of buckwheat noodles (approximately 80 g each)
4 Tbs soy sauce (preferably Kikkoman)
1 + 1/2 Tbs dark sesame oil
2 + 1/2 Tbs rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1 + 1/2 Tsp Wasabi paste
3 Tsps fresh ginger, chopped
2  + 1/2 Tbs sesame seeds, roasted
2 medium carrots, cut into thin matchtsicks
1/2 medium cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks

In a large pan, bring salted water to boil, add the noodles, and simmer for about 4 minutes, or according to the package directions.  When the noodles are cooked, drain and immediately run cold water over them. Transfer the noodles to a bowl as you finish preparing the other ingredients.

Make the dressing by whisking together in a small bowl the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, wasabi, and ginger.  Add to the noodles, tossing to combine.  Add the toasted sesame seeds, and mix gently. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, add the carrot and cucumber, mix gently, sprinkle with more sesame seeds if you so desire.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: To cut the veggies I used one of these small  gadgets that work very well and are simple to wash.  It makes long ribbons that mimic the shape of the noodles, perfect for this dish.

This recipe will be part of our regular rotation from now on.  Leftovers were delicious next day, although the cucumber and the carrots lose their crispness after being in the dressing overnight.  It didn’t bother me at all, but you can always cut a little more of the veggies and add to your plate.   Buckwheat noodles seem to perform a little magic: they satisfy but never make you feel too full.  My favorite type of noodles, hands down.

Rosa, a big thank you for inspiring me with your “Lesson in Zen”    😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Griddle-Fried Filet of Petrale Sole

TWO YEARS AGO: Barm Bread (a must-bake bread!)

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I got the inspiration for this recipe from two sources: this blog post over at Kalyn’s Kitchen, and a recent Anne Burrel show on Food TV, in which she featured turkey burgers.  Ground turkey is a great basic ingredient to play with because it’s naturally low in fat, but exactly what makes it good has the potential of creating trouble.  As Anne herself said in the show, she’s had plenty of bad turkey burgers in he lifetime, and so have I.  The trick is to season the meat well, and increase its overall moisture.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 + 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 Tbs Sriracha sauce
2 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped fine
1 egg, beaten
2 green onions, white and light green parts, minced
about 2 Tbs water
a few Tbs bread crumbs, if needed
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the bread crumbs, try not to overwork the mixture or the patties will be too tough.  This won’t be like a regular beef hamburger type mixture, the goal is to end up with more moisture.  Once all is combined, if the mixture is too loose to form as a patty, sprinkle breadcrumbs and mix again.   Form 4 patties, and place them over parchment paper on a baking sheet, place them in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up slightly.

Cook them on a hot griddle smeared with a little olive oil until golden brown and completely cooked through.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I doubled the recipe to have enough patties to freeze for lunches during the week,  but I’m giving you the amounts for 4 patties only.  These cannot be made on a grill, they are too delicate and work much better on a griddle or a non-stick frying pan.

They are very flavorful and moist, the ginger is a prominent flavor, I thought the Sriracha could be increased, but Phil has less fondness for it than myself, so I decided to use a light hand with it.  Feel free to add more.  They can be enjoyed by themselves, with a salad, or as a regular burger with toppings of your choice.  I made some sauteed mushrooms that were a great match, and we added juicy tomato and avocado slices.   A substantial, but not over-the-top weeknight dinner.  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Sourdough English Muffins

TWO YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

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It’s hard to find a simpler recipe that ranks as high in the taste department as this one.   Either place the meat in the yogurt mixture  an hour before cooking, or do as I did, and prepare it in the morning for a stress-free dinner later.   A yogurt-based marinade with the right spices  does wonders for chicken and pork, as this dish deliciously confirms.

A friend pointed me to this recipe, one of her favorites of 2009.  It’s  from Steven Raichlen,  in Bon Appetit. You can read about it here.


(adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2009)

1 1/2 Tbs Aleppo pepper
1 cup yogurt
3 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 lemon, unpeeled, thinly sliced
2.5  pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in large cubes
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes before using

Place the Aleppo pepper in a bowl an add 1 Tbs of warm water, letting it stand for a few minutes to form a paste.  Add the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, tomato paste, salt and pepper, whisking to blend.  Stir in the garlic and lemon slices, add the chicken and mix enough to coat all the pieces.  Leave the chicken in the fridge at least an hour, up to overnight.

Thread the chicken pieces onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers, sprinkle with salt, and grill until golden brown, turning once.  For chicken breasts, about 8 to 10 minutes total.

Serve with lemon wedges.


to print the recipe, click here

(receita em portugues na pagina seguinte)

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