Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday dinner: Salmon with polenta, mushrooms, and green beans

Made a variation on this recipe in Epicurious, which I found after searching for "coho salmon" and "polenta."


  • soak a 1oz container of porcini mushrooms, two smashed cloves garlic, and four pepper cloves in water then simmer for an hour until liquid reduced by half. Strain through fine mesh sieve and set aside. (dried porcinis $3)
  • slice 1 lb crimini mushrooms, sauté in butter with 1 leek (slice lengthwise then 1/2" slices) and two cloves garlic (dice), add s&p to taste. top with some chopped parsley. (crimini $6/lb, leeks $2/lb)
  • bring 2c water to a boil, whisk in 1c polenta and 1tsp salt on med-low heat (I used porcini himalayan salt to tie the flavors together). Whisk until thick then add 1 c milk and 2T butter. turn heat to low and whisk occasionally until desired consistency is reached. Right before serving add 1/2 to 1c grated parmesan.
Green Beans
  • trim and cut in half to roughly 2" lengths (I did enough to serve 2 people, but cook more or less accordingly). dice 3 cloves garlic. heat evoo in cast iron pan on med heat. add green beans and spread in even layer. stir after a couple of minutes and redistribute in even layer. when green beans are slightly blistered and black/brown in spots, add garlic, 2T water, and cover with lid. Reduce heat to med-low. cook salmon in the meantime. (green beans $1/lb)
  • 1 lb wild caught coho salmon fillets cut into 4 equal portions. ($12/lb)
  • *I'm really not sure that I like the recipe linked above's method for cooking salmon. It was kind of boring and led to really unevenly cooked salmon (overdone exterior and thin part of fillet, raw interior/thick part of fillet). I could see this meal working with salmon cooked in different ways (steamed, baked, sautéed on one or both sides). In any case. I partially followed the recipe. I cut the salmon into 2" strips and put the strips skin side down in 1/4" boiling water in a cast iron skillet (I don't have a baking dish that's okay to use on a burner). After 2 minutes the thin parts of the fillets looked well done so I flipped them and cooked the top for another 1-2 minutes and then pulled the fillets out. The interior of the thick part of the fillet was pretty much raw (as the recipe indicated) and the exterior was cooked. I thought the level of salt and pepper called for was a bit high and overall the fish was pretty bland. 
  • Plate everything but the green beans according to the linked recipe above. I spooned two ladles of polenta onto the center of the plate and gently ladled the mushroom broth around the polenta. Then I topped with a fillet of salmon, topped the salmon with a perpendicular strip of mushrooms and garnished with parsley. I served the green beans on a separate plate so they wouldn't sit in the mushroom broth. 
Notes: a slightly pricey dish in terms of the mushrooms and salmon but cheap in terms of polenta and veggies. It also made enough to serve four, so there were plenty of leftovers and could have easily been two dinners for us instead of one. The coho salmon was good but not as salmon-y flavored as I'm used to. It was on sale but not sure if it's worth the price. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday dinner

Roast Chicken and root vegetables with quinoa

Roast Chicken with lemon and thyme

  • 1 whole fryer chicken (WF air chilled, 3lbs @ 2.49/lb)
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, 1" chunks
  • 1 parsnip, 1" chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled whole
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinley sliced
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 T butter, softened
  • olive oil, s & p
Toss lemons, vegetables, and 4 sprigs thyme with olive oil, s&p in baking dish. Strip thyme from 2 twigs, add to softened butter along with more s&p. Snip spine from chicken with kitchen scissors, press down on breast to butterfly. Pat both sides of chicken dry with paper towels. Rub chicken with butter mixture, sliding butter and sliced garlic under skin. Put the chicken on top of the vegetables and roast at 450 degrees. Remove when thermometer reads 160 degrees at a couple of points in the chicken.

Roasted root vegetables with quinoa
  • 1 c quinoa (or barley, millet, wheat berries, etc)
  • 2 c water
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • a couple dozen brussel sprouts
  • 1 leek
  • olive oil, s&p
After chicken is in the oven put 1 c quinoa on to cook (rice cooker or pot, 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water). Dice root vegetables, trim and quarter brussel sprouts, peel garlic cloves, cut leek into half length wise and then into 1/2" strips. Toss all with olive oil & s&p. Spread on baking sheet and roast in oven next to or under chicken. Stir everything up once or twice in 15 minutes until veggies are done. Mix the roasted veggies with the quinoa (when the quinoa is finished cooking) and add more olive oil s&p to taste. 

Enough chicken and quinoa salad left over for another meal and/or lunches the next day.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

epic holiday bread baking

This year for xmas I made my family bread, lots of bread. 7 sourdough loaves, 2 stollen, 32 butter rolls, and 6 pizzas (which sort of counts as bread).

First on the agenda was Rose Levy Beranbaum's butter dinner rolls from The Bread Bible. I made a dozen for Thanksgiving and everyone loved them, so I doubled the batch and made them a bit smaller so I could distribute them to more folks.

I had some trouble adjusting to my parents' electric oven and the rolls came out darker than I would have liked, but no one else seemed to notice.

Next up I made a double batch of bread mostly following Susan's recipe for Norwich Sourdough. I made boules and stuffed them with various things (as per my siblings' requests). I made 6 loaves in all, one with caraway, one with cheddar cheese inside and on top, and the rest with varying combinations of roasted garlic paste, kalamata olives, rosemary, and thyme.

I make the stuffed boules by rough shaping into a ball, then gently flattening the ball (seam side up), placing the ingredients inside about an inch from the edge, then folding the edges in like a letter on one side, rotating, and doing the same for the other, then gathering it up again into a ball and letting it rise seam side down. You have to be careful about slashing too deep, because if you hit the "pocket" of ingredients they ooze out everywhere.

This one has roasted garlic paste, olives, and rosemary.

I cut everyone's initial into the top to try to keep them all separate.

Here's the spread!

All wrapped and ready to go!

Then I made another favorite from last year, stollen. I followed Reinhart's recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice, using raisins, apricots, and cranberries for the dried fruit (I always use dried instead of candied fruit).

Shaping the "blanket" folds.

Finished loaves.

Generously dusted with powdered sugar!

Everyone seemed to like the bread, so I guess it was a hit despite leaving my scale at home and using a strange oven! A little late but happy holidays everyone!

easy savory bread pudding

I've made this for breakfast a couple of times but it could easily be a lunch or dinner. It's quick and easy to make, simple but still tasty, and very filling! It's also a great way to use up stale bread, although fresher bread works too.
You'll need:
1-3 slices of bread cut into cubes (depends on the size of the slices, I often use the heels)
1c milk
2 eggs (you could probably use just one although I haven't tried it)
a bit of grated cheese (I usually use about a tablespoon of cheddar or gruyere)
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
pinch of your favorite herb (I use whatever's on hand, usually thyme or sage)

Put the milk in a microwave safe bowl, add the bread, heat for 2 minutes or long enough for the milk to get hot and soak into the bread (alternately, leave it soak at room temp, but this takes longer). Whisk two eggs in a (cold) small cast iron skillet (or other stove top/oven safe dish). Add pinch of salt, pepper, nutmeg, herbs to eggs. Mix bread into egg mixture, stirring well. On the stove top cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the bottom is solid but the top is still uncooked. Top with cheese then switch to broiler for another ~5 minutes. Check frequently to avoid burning. It's done as soon as it's cooked through/not wet in the middle. I like to eat is right out of the pan!


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Monday, December 20, 2010


I picked up an oyster mushroom grow kit two weekends ago from Easy Grow Mushrooms at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market. I've been interested in trying an indoor mushroom kit for a few years now, after living in a house that had shiitake mushroom logs in Massachusetts. The logs were really cool but they only produce when the weather allows for it and I tend to use mushrooms year round. After ogling the kits at the farmer's market for several months, I finally got one. We put the bag in our bathroom, since it's the most humid place in the house. The bag exploded about a week after we bought it!

This is the first batch I picked weighing in at 550g.

We're trying to remember to weigh what we pick, just for curiosity's sake. My housemate and I buy heaps of mushrooms, so I'd like to see if it's more or less cost effective to buy these kits or to get them at the grocery store. If we get more than we can use, I think I'm going to try drying them out. The bag is supposed to keep going for a couple of months, and then we're going to spread it over some compost. We'll see how it goes!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Sourdough Survives!

When I first drove out to the Midwest from the East Coast in June I forgot my sourdough starter. Gasp! I know, how could I? It's like a pet and I was very upset about leaving it and worried it would die before I could get back to MA to get it. Luckily for me I have a very good friend (and former roommate) who was kind enough to feed it for me. About three months later it made the 12 hour trip with me in a cooler in my car in the August heat. I had fed it a few times before leaving MA and lo and behold if it didn't perk right up! The long period of dormancy doesn't seem to have harmed it much. The first time I used it here in MI it doubled on the first feeding and more than doubled with the next. It smells a little different, so perhaps some of the microbes etc have died out. I'll have to make a few batches of bread to see if it tastes or behaves differently.

For my first sourdough loaf in the new place I made a seeded whole wheat sourdough from The Bread Bible. It was a really hearty loaf with a great texture and nutty flavour. I think I'm going to convert my starter to whole wheat next time so I can get even more whole wheat flour in it (I think the recipe is about 50% whole wheat).

I actually let the loaves proof for too long because I was ready to bake them but then had to put them in the fridge at the last minute (alas, life comes before bread), but they seemed to turn out okay anyway. I could detect some off flavours maybe from the dead yeast/overfermenting but my roommate couldn't tell. Overall it turned out well.

homemade pasta

My roommate visited a friend recently who had a pasta maker and loved making pasta so much that she bought one of her own! Needless to say, I was very excited by this decision. I had never made pasta before with a proper pasta roller and as much as I love the hearty thick egg noodles I can make with just a rolling pin, they're not really appropriate for most pasta dishes.

So this is the pasta machine from Italy. It's a hand crank pasta maker, which means it's much easier for two people to make the pasta than just one. D's working on the dough here.

We don't have a drying rack for the freshly made pasta, but hangers work fine for now. D made lasagna noodles first (and made some amazing lasagna the next day).

And then we switched to fettuccine. My involvement at this point consisted of turning the crank. After just a couple pasta making sessions, D's become quite good at getting a feel for the dough in terms of moisture content and thickness. I haven't tried my hand at it yet but I plan to soon.

We let the pasta dry then packed in in ziplocs and put it in the cupboard. It'll keep for a while this way, which is great.

For dinner one night my housemate made this incredible ragout. She grilled eggplant (we had some trouble getting the charcoal hot enough) and then cubed it and added garlic, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes and fresh herbs (I think that's everything). The eggplant had this incredible charred flavor and was really meaty without being tough or rubbery. I'm still learning to cook eggplant well and have had my share of mess ups.

Here's the fresh fettuccine in some boiling water. It took longer to cook than either of us expected, but that could have been in part the pot we were using.

We put the ragout on the pasta, added some grated parmesan, and a Bell's Oberon for an incredible summer meal!