Seared Salmon with Salsa Verde and a Spinach, Farro and Orange Salad

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This one is a Blue Apron meal. I am finding with the Blue Apron meals that I am often tweaking the meals to reduce the fat. I up the aromatics to preserve the flavors. On this meal, there were enough new things that I cooked the meal as suggested by Blue Apron.

I had never had a salsa verde and it was really a great flavor addition to the salmon which really does not need any assistance.  The salsa verde was made with garlic paste, almonds, capers and parsley. The garlic was surprisingly pungent and tasty. The almonds added a bit of crunch. The capers added a bit of sour and the parsley freshened the overall taste. Adding olive oil made the salsa a paste.  It brightens the salmon considerably.

I have now had Farro a couple of times and it is a wonderful grain. It is remarkably filling with a lovely nutty flavor. The Farro was warm when I added the pickled shallots, spinach, orange zest and orange pieces.  Even with seasoning, the flavor was not quite bright enough for me. The orange was too sweet for my taste so I added a bit of rice vinegar.

It was an extremely satisfying meal.

Not My Mama’s Catfish……

 

Spiced catfish, braised greens and cheesy grits with poblano pepper.

There are some foods in my life that I don’t eat because of past experience, poor expectations or dietary sensitivity. Cat fish falls I to the poor expectations category.

During World War II, my father was stationed in Ft. Leonardwood, MO and my mother was there. I remember during my childhood my mother talking about her experiences there. She talked about going to the farmers market and buying catfish. It was alive when she took it home in a bucket. She talked about how it was a bottom feeder and had the flavor of the muddy Mississippr river. We never had it when I was a child.

So, it was a shock when I liked it. Granted, I didn’t have to kill or filet the fish.  I think it was farm raised and the muddy taste was not there.  The grits had cheddar cheese and cooked poblano pepper added. The collard greens were braised.  The meal was above average. I do thank Blue Apron for introducing me to another new food.

Near Miss Dinner – Spiced Pork Chops

 

Spiced Pork Chops with Charred Poblano Salsa and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This Blue Apron dinner was a near miss with me. All the components were good but just didn’t work well together. This one also tasted better on the second day as leftovers.

The salsa was the ingredient that was something I normally would not have added to the dinner and I can see using it again with some minor alterations. I tend to follow the recipe the first time and alter things the s cond time around. The reason it taste better to me on the second day was that the heat from the roasted poblano pepper came through. The salsa was a roasted poblano pepper and two roasted scallion bottoms. It also had a fresh Granny Smith apple, the green tops of the scallions, chopped cilantro and the juice of a lime. In this case, I think I will hav less apple in the future so the heat of the poblano can be more prominent.

It was a refreshing addition to he pork chops which had been rubbed with chili powders, cumin and coriander and seared. The other component as mashed sweet potatoes. They were really good. They were quite sweet and did not meld with the pork chops and salsa.

I have to say that before getting food from Blue Apron, any potato I tried to mash  was a disaster both white and sweet. I am so grateful that I can finally add mashed to my cooking  repertoire.

Dinner Winner: Carmelized Meyer Lemon Spaghetti 

 

Carmelized Meyer Lemon Spaghetti

This is one of the dinners I got from Blue Apron this week.  In the past, I have not paid attention to vegetarian dishes. There have been so many past potlucks where I have eaten vegetarian dishes that have been tasteless.  As I am learning, anyone can produce tasteless food but to me it was more obvious in what I have eaten of vegetarian food in the past.

First, this dish was easy to make. Secondly, the taste was fantastic. It was normal spaghetti but the layers of flavor added to the spaghetti made it something to remember and put it into the food I will make again file.  Meyer lemons are in season in the winter and have a sweeter, more vivid taste than normal lemons. After deseeding  the quartered lemon, it was marinated with some sugar and cut into eight pieces. I had zested the rind for two teaspoons of zest.

The base of the dish was cooking the marinated lemon, three cloves of garlic,  a thinly sliced shallot and some crushed red pepper for just a bit of heat.  The smell coming up from the pan made my mouth water. The recipe called for toasting some panko breadcrumbs with a garlic clove.  I added the cooked pasta to the lemon mixture with some butter, the lemon zest and some pasta water and mixed it all up.

When I added it to the plated dish, I topped it with the toasted bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. It was like music in my mouth.  The lemony pasta with a hint of sugar and garlic topped with the crunchy toasted breadcrumbs.  The Parmesan added especially to the great smell and the parsley added a note of a fresh flavor.  This one is definitely one I will do again.

My New Take on Winter Vegetables

 

Celariac (Celery Root)

I have always enjoyed cooking. But somehow, over time, my cooking got stuck. I wasn’t doing anything new. I changed things. I tweaked things. But, they were all variations on a theme.

This last May, I just was not in the mood to cook or even eat. So, I took the drastic action of ordering Blue Apron which is a food subscription service. I get three meals for two each week. So, I figured I would have dinner for six days a week.  At this point, I don’t get the shipment every week.

It has changed the way I cook and think about cooking. I have been introduced to seasonal veggies in a big way. I’m using spices, veggies, proteins and more that I have not tried before. It opened a new world. And I’m trying things I never would have attempted. I’m learning a lot.

Last week, I got some celeriac or celery root. I checked and it is in my grocery store and was just one of those things I didn’t notice.  I had seen it on restaurant menus as celeriac purée and never tried it.

The meal I prepared was chicken meatballs, braised kale and spiced cleariac mash. So I cooked it. My first day was not all that successful. I didn’t use all of the spices given to me for the chicken meatballs and they turned out to be really under-seasoned. The kale had a bit of vinegar added to it so it was not bitter and really was good. I mashed the celariac and it was a just not mashed enough.

Chicken meatballs, braised kale and spiced mashed celariac

 

The leftovers deserved a makeover. The kale was gone so I added steamed spinach. I really mashed the celariac and added a little butter, salt and pepper. I added a dipping sauce of soy glaze and rice wine vinegar for the tasteless meatballs. I also sautéed some parsnips.

 

Chicken meatballs, spinach, sautéed parsnips, mashed celariac and soy dipping sauce

This was really good. Both celariac and parsnips have not been a part of my cooking in the past. I’m glad I found them. The best part is learning how to raise a failed meal to a place where it is enjoyable eating.

Tale of Two Dogs

 

Bonnie 5/5/2015


On May 8, 2015, I put my animal companion, Bonnie, to sleep. She had been by my side for over 15 years. In 2014 her health began to fail. The failures were slow at first and by the beginning of 2015 the failures were obvious. She could no longer jump up on the bed. She began to have more accidents in the house. I have been feeding her a special diet since 2006 because of her digestive problems. She was no longer eating well. In February 2015 I took her to the vet and the vet told me that I would know the time when I would have to stop her pain.

I was still seeing the very young dog in my mind that was living with me years ago.

Bonnie on the run, 2004

I took her for her last walk in the park before going to the vet. On the way home, I thought no more dogs. I spent the afternoon cleaning the house of doggy paraphernalia. I vacuumed and tidied up to make sure there were no signs of a dog. I no longer had to cook a special diet. I didn’t have to run some places to be home to make sure she was OK. I was more or less free of responsibilities for anyone other than myself.

I slept in the morning and stayed out later at night. After a while I realized that sleeping later in the morning was because it was hard to get out of bed in the morning. The summer of my freedom was the most depressing summer I’ve ever had. I was able to visit my son out of state with more ease. I spent more time cooking for myself that I did for the dog. And the freedom wasn’t as great as I thought it would be.

In August, the owner of the kennel, Stacy where I usually boarded Bonnie called to ask if Bonnie was OK since she hadn’t heard from me. I gave her my sad news about Bonnie. She had known Bonnie since Bonnie was a puppy and she was genuinely sad.

In early September, Stacy called me and said she knew of a dog that needed a home. The original owner had to go to assisted living. Her son took the dog but did not like the dog and renamed the dog Oscar.  The dogs’real name was MissyLu. I hadn’t planned on another dog but my life without a dog was not very happy. I agreed to go take a look at this dog. So I went to a home in another suburb to take a look at MissyLu. She was a quiet, sweet senior dog. The people who had her said their infant grandchild made her nervous.

After looking at her papers I realized she was 11. I thought I may have gotten something I really hadn’t planned on. MissyLu turned out to be a real surprise. She is not your average 11-year-old dog.

Missy Lu Sept 2015

She reminded me of my first dog, Holly.

 

Holly and Marsha 1950s

Missy Lou is all terrier. I took her home and she made her self  quite at ease. We both adapted very quickly. She loves my backyard and all the squirrels.

 

  
 

Meet MissyLu, my wonder dog, and a new joy.

MissyLu Nov 2015