Archive for ‘Meat and Seafood’

July 6, 2012

Broiled Salmon and Thoughts on Oregon Cuisine

Last week, as we were frantically packing up our lives in Boston, I kept telling myself that it was all going to be temporary.  That this craze was going to end, and suddenly we would find ourselves on the back deck in Oregon, under the oak trees enjoying a salmon dinner and a beautiful sunset.


It took a few days after our arrival home for this dream to come true, but finally today it was sunny and warm enough.  And the salmon was delicious.

As we had prepped for our trip, friends who knew our love of food kept asking us what Oregon cuisine was like.  I kept going back to one opinion I’ve recently come across.  At a conference I attended a couple weeks ago, I met a Portland-based consultant for food and sustainability, Ron Paul.  Paul argues that Oregon cuisine is not so much about the dishes and method of cooking, as it is about letting the “pristine flavors of [...] regional ingredients [...] emerge.” He continues that this focus on the taste of ingredients over recipes and methods is what makes it possible for professional chefs and home cooking enthusiasts to be on even footing.  Therefore, a smoked salmon dip is just as Oregonian as a salmon filet with soy glaze and shaved Thai basil topping. I like this way of thinking, but want to explore it more in relation to other theories of cuisine.

Nevertheless, using Paul’s theory of Oregon cuisine, Oregon’s bounty of U-Pick produce farms, farm stands, and now CSA’s is an example of what we can do to promote our regional cuisine.  In short: if Oregon’s cuisine relies on its ingredients, then we need to make sure that those ingredients are available to both chefs and the public.  Paul is promoting the James Beard Public Market in downtown Portland precisely to encourage this farm-to-table, regional Oregon food system.


With this definition of Oregon cuisine in mind, through a truly Oregonian method, my parents recently acquired a beautiful, freshly-caught Chinook salmon.  Fishermen of the Yakama, Warm Springs, Nez Perce, Umatilla, and Chinook tribes in the mid 19th century signed a treaty with the US government so that they could maintain their right to fish their traditional waters for salmon and other fish.  Today, this fish is sold in parking lots up and down the Columbia River, most often at Cascade Locks under the Bridge of the Gods.

The ten-pound fish was too much for my parents to eat in one go, so they portioned it and froze filets. To our delight, David and I now get to benefit from them.  Tonight, on the back deck, we enjoyed broiled salmon, lightly seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper and crispy brown on the edges.  I served it with sauteed zucchini and onion slices and some boiled potatoes tossed in butter and dill.  For the occasion, we opened a bottle of Hogue Cabernet Sauvignon, so you could argue that the majority of our meal came straight from the Columbia River Gorge.  It doesn’t get much more Oregonian than that!


Broiled Salmon Filet

Note: When picking out a salmon fillet at the fish counter, you want one preferably from the head (wider) section of the fish, which has more fat and therefore more flavor. Look for a fillet with thick white stripes of fat in between the pink flesh.  The pinker doesn’t necessarily mean better – most farmed salmon gets feed with pink food coloring in it.  Look for wild salmon if you can get it, which often will have a lighter-pink color compared to the farmed.

1 8 to 10-ounce fillet of salmon
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the broiler to high and place the rack in the middle of the oven. (Note: if you’re not sure how hot your broiler is, heat it to low – you can always turn it up if need be)

2. Wash the fillet and pat it dry with paper towels.

3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or tin foil.  Place the salmon skin-side up and coat with half the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

4. Place in the heated oven for three minutes.  Check to see how it’s doing after a minute and a half and adjust the heat as necessary.  If after three minutes it looks half-way cooked and the skin is nice and crisp, flip it over.  Coat with the remaining olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper.  Cook for three more minutes.  Check to see if it’s done.  If not, adjust the heat if necessary and return to the oven to finish cooking.

5. Serve immediately.  If you don’t like the skin, you can easily lift the cooked salmon off and leave the skin on the parchment.  Otherwise, serve the salmon with the skin (which is very healthy and delicious).

Guten Appetit!

November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: The Roundup, Schedule, & Shopping List

And here we are – it’s Thanksgiving Week!  Here is the roundup of recipes we’ve gone over this month in preparation:

Thanksgiving Menu

Apple Martinis

Butternut Squash Soup
Roast Chicken & Stuffing
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Dinner Rolls (goes to King Arthur site with step-by-step picture instructions)

Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pielets

For those who still need or want to make turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce, my sister shared with me this fantastic video by Mary Risley, a woman after my own heart.  Here’s everything you’ll need to know on these dishes:


Schedule & Shopping

Now, grab a glass of wine/beer/apple martini and relax.  Here’s a shopping list and schedule for you. The shopping list is based on one times each of the recipes, which will make a dinner for 4-6. You can edit both to fit your needs.

Thanksgiving Shopping List
Thanksgiving Timeline

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of happiness, laughter, cooking, and fun.  May the conversation at your table never be awkward, may your kitchen mishaps create funny stories, and may your family and friends enjoy health, love, and joy this year!

November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: Roast Turkey


Today we’re going to focus on what most people consider to be the centerpiece of Thanksgiving: the turkey.  Now, there’s something you need to know about me: I don’t cook turkey well.  I’ve burnt it, I’ve had it take so long that we had to eat the rest of the dinner first, then the turkey for a first dessert before pie – basically, I’ve had more mishaps with turkey than I have had it go right.  So, why should you listen to me?  Well, because I have a secret for making the best turkey ever.

July 2, 2010

Gremolata: Or how to make the world’s best condiment

When I first learned about this herb seasoning in culinary school three years ago, two questions immediately came to mind: 1) Why have I not heard of this amazing combination before? and 2) Why does something that good, with only three ingredients, have such a bizarre name?

Gremolata is a condiment of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic that is traditionally used in Italian Ossobuco and other dishes.  It is one of the most simple ways to add zest to almost any dish.  Really, your imagination here is the limit.

I’ve been experimenting a bit with my semi-new camera, and last night I finally set up my desk lamp with a filter to light up my depressingly dim work space in the kitchen.  I think I have to get a brighter lamp though, because things still look a little orange/yellow. Stay tuned for more!


1/2 cup parsley
2 large cloves garlic
1 lemon

Finely chop parsley and garlic.  Zest the lemon, being careful only to avoid the bitter white pith just beneath the skin.  Mix the ingredients together – and you’re done!

My favorite use is on top of briefly steamed (or blanched) green beans – cook them just until they have a little bit of a snap left, then toss them with the gremolata.

You can also use it top salmon, chicken, or pork for added flavor.  Add olive oil and stick in a jar in your fridge and it will last about a week – this makes a great healthy alternative to the herbed butter steak topping (I’m thinking grilling options here).  I mixed some of it into a cream sauce last night with excellent results.

Guten Appetit!

June 20, 2007

Linguine with Date Pesto, Lamb Filet, and Radicchio

I know I have already declared my love of dates on this blog, but they’re so good I want to revisit this declaration. I love dates of all kinds: first dates, dates with longtime friends, romantic dates to dinner and a movie, and not to forget first dates with a future good friend at Ikea (you know who you are). It may seem depressing, but I get more exposure to, and I especially like, sweet edible dates that come from desert regions. Do not despair though, my number of dates I will go on will jump up dramatically as David is coming tomorrow!

But, back to the sweet dates at hand. When Nathan and Sarah visited this past week, having dates in the house was an obvious choice. We decided we would cook dinner together, and looking through my cookbooks found a recipe one of my teachers at school had given me. It seems sort of “Neue Deutsche Küche,” Germany’s fusion cooking of sorts. It combined lamb with radicchio and a date pesto made of parsley, pine nuts, and various seasonings. While the pesto took a bit to prepare (we doubled the recipe and had no cuisinart) it was worth it: the sweetness of the dates played with the bitter radicchio leaves, and the flavor of lamb went along perfectly. We tossed it all together with linguine and since we made so much of it, I have frozen a good portion for the next time I’m invited to bring something to a potluck with my friends.

Linguine with Date Pesto, Lamb Filet, and Radicchio

500g linguine
1 clove garlic
60g pine nuts
125ml vegetable broth
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp parmesan
1 Tbsp fresh, chopped oregano
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
6 dates
½ tsp cumin
dash of sweet paprika powder
1 small radicchio*
500g lamb filet
salt and pepper

Cook linguine in saltwater until al dente. Peel garlic and chop together with pine nuts (cuisinart is ideal, but chopping by hand is also an option). Add broth, olive oil, parmesan, oregano, and parsley. Remove pits from the dates and chop coarsely. Stir into pesto and add cumin and paprika to taste.

Wash the radicchio, removing it from the stalk. Cut the leaves into strips. Wash the lamb in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and sauté in olive oil about six minutes each side. Slice the lamb into strips. Toss the noodles with radicchio and pesto and lamb.

Serves: 4 people

Time: ca. 25 min (with cuisinart)

*Note: This may seem like a lot of radicchio, but the bitterness is needed, and disappears a bit, to offset the sweetness of the dates.