The Secret Recipe Club may be over, but the Fantastical Food Fight is just beginning! Instead of being assigned a blog, secret Santa style, we are given a theme (similar to the Improv Cooking Challenge that I also participate in). For our first month, the theme was deviled eggs - yum!
I knew that I wanted to do a fun take, and while I looked at Caesar Salad, Curry, Mexican Street Corn, and Crab Rangoon variations, I was really drawn to a Smoked Salmon idea. Filled with the flavors of a traditional Lox bagel, this twist is as delicious as it is pretty.
Earlier this week, I posted about homemade Seeded Peasant Bread. Well, what goes better with homemade bread than homemade jam? This jam, made with Rainier cherries and Amaretto, is the perfect compliment.
Rainier cherries are so beautifully colored, I just love them. Start by pitting and chopping (I was lazy and just quartered mine, and the chunks were a bit too large).
Combine with sugar, bring to a boil, and cook down for a bit.
A friend of mine asked if I could put together a week of meals that are healthy, easy, and cost effective for a single working mother. I thought that sounded like a great idea! But I definitely underestimated how much work it would be. It's hard to make food for just two people without having a ton of leftovers - so to get a different meal in each night, I had to figure out how to use ingredients in multiple dishes. And I wanted to make sure that they were healthy, had a bit of variety, and took 30 minutes or less to put together. It's a tall order, but I think I managed. Each recipe is sized for two adults, and there is a shopping list included at the bottom of the post.
First up - Broiled Salmon with Mustard Butter and Boiled Potatoes and Green Beans. This meal is healthy, easy, and comes together in under 30 minutes. I am so in love with this mustard butter (that I discovered making this recipe), I make it all the time now. There are no grains in this dinner, and as far as starchy potatoes go, baby red-skinned are relatively low on the glycemic index. Plus - by cooking more salmon and vegetables than you need, you will already have the ingredients you need for dinner the next night. This meal comes first because fish needs to be cooked the same night that it is purchased for best quality.
The salmon is going to be one of the more expensive proteins for the week, but it is worth it because it is so good for you (not to mention delicious). Gotta get those Omega-3's! However, I do not recommend buying farm-raised Atlantic salmon as it is full of chemicals and pollutants. Instead, I recommend buying wild Alaskan or farmed Norwegian. The Norwegian salmon is pretty great and I can get it here in NoVA for around $15/lb, and coho goes for $13/lb (versus $29/lb for king salmon, yikes!). If you absolutely cannot swing Alaskan or Norwegian salmon, buy another type of fish instead (cod, halibut, or tilapia would be good).
For our second dinner, we use the extra ingredients from the previous night, plus a few more, to make Salmon Nicoise Salad. The only thing you have to cook for this dinner is hard boiled eggs, and you can do those in advance if you like. Boil more than you need, because we will use some in another dish. Like the previous night, this meal is grain-free and loaded with healthy fats. You can see how big one serving is in this photo - I ate the whole thing, Jasper only ate half of his. So if this is too much food for you, plan to set aside half of it for lunch the next day. It should travel well, just keep the dressing separate.
This is actually the most expensive meal of the week (if it is making 2 servings, and not 4), so the kind of greens you use will matter. I used mache or lamb's lettuce, which I think is really delicious. But there are definitely cheaper lettuces/greens out there. A note on olives - nicoise olives are traditional, but expensive, so feel free to sub kalamatas, which taste very similar. You could even buy jarred kalamatas to save even more.
Remember last week when I posted about the Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza? And I told you that I had leftover kale? Well, here's what became of it. I massaged with raw kale with a homemade dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper) and let it sit for 15 minutes to break down and lose the bitterness. Then I topped it with some burrata cheese, more olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Simple and delicious.
I served the salad as an appetizer, and for dinner we had steak (here's my method) and orzo with broccoli pesto. I actually like this version of broccoli pasta sauce better than the other version I've made, and it has a lot less fat!
I saw these guys at the Farmers Market and though, "What the heck are those?" So out came the phone and Google searching commenced. Garlic Scapes, as it turns out, are a shoot that grows out of the top of the garlic plant. They need to be removed so that the plant can focus on growing the bulb instead of flowering. This is fortunate, because the also happen to be insanely delicious. They taste like garlic, but without the bite, and can be used like scallions.
I bought myself a big handful and set about looking up recipes. The most common way to use them is in a pesto, so of course I did not make that... because I'm weird.
Instead, I made carbonara - with guanciale (cuz I'm legit) and peas (which put an end to my legit-ness, but I don't care cuz I love peas). You are probably wondering what the heck I am talking about, I don't blame you. Here is a link to a great article about the do's and dont's of real carbonara. TLDR (too long, didn't read for all you non-techies) - while bacon and pancetta are acceptable, guanciale is the best; peas are a definite don't.
I also made biscuits - with garlic scapes, Gruyere, and goat butter (another new obsession of mine).