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.

MissyLu: Squirrel Stalker

Several times a day, MissyLu and various squirrels have a run in the yard. At this point, the squirrels know she is coming and MissyLu has her chase routine down pat. 

 

MissyLu’s intended victim..squirrel eating seeds

 
Yesterday, I saw the squirrel and knew Missy was in the yard and wondered why the squirrel was still eating a quiet breakfast.  Missy was watching and moving slowly across the deck. She was doing a hog version of stalking….moving slowly and quietly.

 

Quietly stalking dog

 
And then the squirrel heard and was up the tree with Missy chasing.

 

Squirrel, i see you ….

 
 

Squirrel, i still see you…

 
As the squirrel goes from tree to tree MissyLu follows until the squirrel leaves the yard leaping from tree to tree. Then, MissyLu secures the yard perimeter.  A job well done….until

 

I’m back….

 
When I got MissyLu, I was told that she was a quiet dog who never barked.   MissyLu has found her voice both inside and outside our home.  

Disaster, Despair, Redemption and Reveling: Chicken Tortilla Soup

 

Spicy Chicken Soup

This was supposed to be chicken tortilla soup. Things started well and then just went awry. This was a Blue Apron offering and I ended up changing it quite a bit.

As you can see, there are no tortillas slices. I burnt them.  They would have added a layer that would have cut down on the spicy flavor of the broth.  When I tasted the broth, it was just too spicy for me. I didn’t like the flavor. The broth was not thickening probably because I rinsed the cannellini beans too much. The chicken was good.  The rainbow chard and beans were good.

I ended up adding a tablespoon of tomato paste which made it less spicy. It did really change the soup.  I also added a spoonful of crème fraîche to ease the spiciness as well.

So, I have no idea how this was supposed to taste but I liked the flavors after I made my unexpected alterations.

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.

A Cooking Experiment for Hannukuhq

Last Sunday, I decided to cook some food that might be a part of a Hannukuh dinner. There are so many possibililities to celebrate the food traditions of diverse ethnic and religious holidays that this year I am going to try to incorporate some of foods into my life.

I have known about latkes as long as I can remember and had never had them.  With as assist from Blue Apron, I had a menu which included roast chicken, cabbage, celeriac and apple chutney and latkes. I bought a chicken breast to add to the chicken thighs sent by Blue Apron. I have learned from Blue Apron that the recipes they send is a suggestion and have learned to change the recipe if desired. One the past, my rule had been to follow the recipes the first time and then adjust the recipe for my taste.i will say that I am learning a lot of new technique and how to use spices to enhance my cooking.
The meal was both a failure and a success. The food tasted good. The presentation was sad. It was a meal without color.

Roast Chicken, diced celariac with onion, latkes and roast cabbage with apple chutney

I did learn I have a tendency to cook foods at a lower heat than the optimum. I suppose it is fear of burning. It means that the color on food does not have a chance to develop. I also had some apple chutney on the side for the latkes. My Blue Apron cooking project was specifically for me to learn how to cook better food. I can still say I am learning. I can also say my food is so much better.

Adopting and Adapting….

I heard from the people who had Missy Lou for the four months preceding my adoption of her that she was a nervous dog.  On the outside of their house, she was calm. Inside, she paced and panted.

When I brought her home, she was a little scared and apprehensive.  It was her fourth home in less than a year

Missy Lu…Day 1 at home

She was one relaxed dog by the third day in my home.

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Missy Lu on the third day in my home..

 

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.

Visiting my Home Town…..

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My Grandmother’s dressing table and my inadvertent selfie.
I have lived in and around Detroit for so long that I am now a Detroiter. I haven’t visited my hometown of Minneapolis and environs since my Mother’s funeral. My Aunt Betty has been asking me to come for quite for some time and I finally decided to go for a short family only visit. My brother, Bruce, is living with Aunt Betty. He is a chef and I wanted to taste his food again.

When I walked into the room where I would be sleeping, a rush of memories came back. The room was furnished with my Grandmother’s furniture. In the picture above, it is my Grandmother’s dressing table. I lived in her house for a some time and can remember seeing her at the table putting on her makeup. The picture came flashing back. Aunt Betty reminded me that she kept gum in the top left drawer to freshen her breath. And I remembered that I carefully removed some of the gum on occasion.

There was also a dresser, rocking chair and a reading lamp with an adjustable height so Grandfather could read in bed without disturbing anyone. I used the lamp to read at night. As I used it, I remembered it.

Although I haven’t talked about it much, I am a quilter. I am doing a Grandma’s Flower Garden quilt. I have seen so many of that pattern and none of them have seemed quite right. My Greatgrandma’s quilt was on the bed and it was just right.

20140814-102324-37404047.jpgthe best part of seeing it for me was that it was so well done. It shows a beautiful color sensibility and exquisite quilting. I can only hope that my version will be half as nice.

Palmer Woods Music in Homes, Detroit, MI,

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On Saturday, June 21, 2014, I went to the finale of the Music in Homes series in Palmer park in Detroit. The event came I with a tour of the first two floors of the home, a catered dinner and on this evening a jazz program.

It was a beautiful evening in a older Detroit neighborhood with winding roads. Rounding each curve offers a new view of an elegant home. Most of the homes are derived from Medieval English architecture. The home for this concert was a Dutch Revival home built in 1928 by architect Robert O. Derrick. It is almost 7,000 square feet.

During the recent recession, the bank foreclosed on the house and it was left standing empty for three years before the new owner bought the house. They are in the midst of restoring the house to some of the original features where possible. We got to see the first and second floors. The house has four beautiful fire places including one with the original Delft tiles surrounding the fire place.

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This is one of the many interesting furnishings around the house.

20140714-133154-48714525.jpgThis was a view across the street from the second floor. The house was still in an unfinished state but it was easy to see the care and attention of the new owners and how dazzling it will be when it is finished. Perhaps Music in Homes will be invited back when the renovation is complete.

The jazz was performed under a large tent and after touring the house and socializing a bit, I went to the tent to get a good seat. The musicians were Kamau Kenyatta(keys), Spencer Barefield(gtr), Marion Hayden(bass) Djallo Djakate(drums) and Shahida Nurullah as the vocalist. We got a printed program with ten different numbers listed. Perfect for two sets. They played the first set and then took a break.

We went back into the house for the catered dinner by Potts Style Catering. We had Jerk Chicken, Jamaican Rice and Beans, Summer Citrus Salad with Peach Cobbler for dessert. The chicken was quite spicy, of course. It was not too spicy for my taste. The rice and beans had a way of bringing the spiciness down a bit. The salad was not as much citrus as the name suggested. And the peach cobbler was really very sweet. This was catered and they did a great job considering how long they had to hold the meal. Since I was at the end of the line, maybe the citrus was just gone by the time I got there.

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There was quite a line for the dinner.

After eating and getting settled, the second set began. Over the two set, the song I liked best were “In Walked Bud” by Thelonious Monk, “Mr. Kenyatta” by Lee Morgan. Shahida sang with such depth and passion that it reminds that there are vocalists whose voice is truly an instrument.

It was a really nice evening and I will go back when they resume in the fall.

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Left to Right:Kamau Kenyatta on keys, Marion Hayden on bass, Shahida Nurullah on vocals and Djallo Djakate on drums Spencer Barefield on guitar(hidden).