Salmon steaks

My husband is hitting the gym more often these days, thanks to a better schedule with his new job. This is good for lots of reasons, including that on gym nights, we fend for ourselves with dinner, which means I am cooking more fish (which he doesn’t eat). I’ve been on a salmon kick lately and have been cooking salmon filets, but this weekend, wild salmon steaks were on sale at the HT. So I decided to try a new recipe: Martha Stewart’s soy-glazed salmon steaks.

I had made a spicy asian dressing last night with some of the same ingredients (but also some fiery sesame oil giving it much more spice than sweetness) – so I tossed some kale in the spicy dressing and then put the hot salmon steak right on top. The sweetness of the salmon glaze was a good balance for the dressing, and the warm, wilted kale was great with the salmon. I was skipping the carbs tonight thanks to a large chocolate chip cookie I had after lunch – but next time, I might add some sushi rice to round it out. This is one I will definitely make again – even if I’m the only one to eat it!

Fried Rice

Yesterday ended a great visit from my sister and her family, which included lots of meals at home, since eating out with three kids 5 and under can be a challenge. While we did enjoy one lunch at Old Glory, we mostly cooked. And while we went through plenty of food, I found myself with several leftovers yesterday, at a loss as to what I wanted to eat. The choice was mine alone, since George was away for a night and Charlie was in the mood for (surprise, surprise) chicken nuggets.

Luckily, I started thinking about dinner at lunchtime (not unusual) and decided the best use of the leftover pork tenderloin would be to try my hand at pork fried rice. I’ve tried to make fried rice before and have liked different recipes fine, but haven’t found one that really nailed the delicious pork fried rice we get at our favorite Asian restaurant in DC. It was worth trying something new. So I cooked some rice at lunch and then let it cool in the fridge until dinnertime, and started searching for good fried rice recipes.

A Google search landed me on this recipe, as well as on a great blog that is now a favorite, “Dinner: A Love Story”.  It is mostly a recipe/cooking website, but with book suggestions/discussion thrown in – eating and reading, two of my favorite things!

If you know me, you know I don’t like peas AT ALL, IN ANYTHING – so I left those out, and added a couple of diced carrots instead. I also added some shallots, because I didn’t have as many green onions as the recipe called for and I like onions a lot.

The result was delicious. I had to cook the rice longer than she did, probably because mine wasn’t day old takeout rice but cold rice I’d cooked mid-day. It took a little longer to develop the crisp-ness I wanted.  I also didn’t do a great job of scrambling the eggs before mixing them into the rice, so my rice didn’t have the pieces of egg in it that I would have liked. But it was still the closest I’ve come to takeout fried rice yet. And it was a great use for the leftover pork tenderloin that probably otherwise wouldn’t have been eaten.

While we’re on the topic of eggs, another one of my favorite cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen, taught me how to poach eggs this morning! I was in Richmond for a night last weekend and met up with a good college friend I hadn’t seen in several years. He took me to a delicious brunch spot, where I had salmon eggs benedict that was fabulous. It made me wonder why I’d never tried to poach eggs at home. So when I found this: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/08/how-to-poach-an-egg-smitten-kitchen-style/ I figured I should give it a try.

The first round didn’t work at all. I got overzealous with the swirling of the water step, and when I slid my egg in, the white split into dozens of stringy pieces on the top of the water, and the yolk sunk. Yuck. Luckily, though, I decided to try again – because the next egg came out perfectly poached. I swirled the water gently and then SLOWLY eased my egg into the turning water – and voila, most of it stayed together in a perfect little cloud of egg. It sunk to the bottom of the pan, but I followed her instructions and eased my spatula under it after about 30 seconds, and the egg slid gently across the bottom of the pot. And when I lifted it out 3.5 minutes later, it was cooked perfectly. Success!

Orange Peel Beef

Sorry for the lag – we were on spring break last week, and I was only cooking things that required very few ingredients in our ill-equipped rental house. This week, however, I got back to the recipe adventures with quick and easy chinese beef from one of my favorite food websites, Our Best Bites.

I’m just going to go ahead and say that this recipe was not a big hit at my house. I was actually really surprised at how much it resembled (a healthier version of the) orange peel beef we have ordered at Chinese restaurants in the past. But I think the husband was expecting it to be crispy (i.e., fried) – which it was not. And the kid is basically only a fan of chicken nuggets, Ritz crackers, yogurt, and bell peppers with dip these days (thank goodness something in that list is healthy) and would only have a couple of bites.

So too bad for me, since I liked it – but not enough to make it again just for myself. But I would recommend it if you like orange beef (and not just for the crunch!).

Cheating

So I said I was going to try a new recipe each week, and post about them. I certainly haven’t kept to the 1 recipe a week thing, but I’ve been remaking some of the things I posted about, which is a good sign!

Tonight, I’m making my mom’s tried and true Garlic Roasted Chicken recipe.  It is one of my favorites, because you cook the chicken and potatoes in a single pan, which means while the chicken roasts, I just have to toss a salad and warm some bread, and we have dinner. And to answer the question, “Is bread really necessary when you’re already having potatoes?”, I will say YES, with this recipe bread is mandatory, because you have to have something to spread your roasted cloves of garlic on. YUM.

Anyway, usually I just serve a green salad with it with my mom’s grandmother’s dressing or a quick tossed together oil and vinegar (anything is better than salad dressing out of a bottle, in my opinion), but a few months ago, I found 2 things that have turned me into a salad LOVER.  I like salads a lot when all of the ingredients are super fresh and interesting (add some blue cheese and/or nuts and/or crunchy raw veggies and I’m a fan) – but the problem with buying lettuce is that it just doesn’t stay fresh very long in my fridge. And once it’s even slightly dark on the edges or limp, I have no use for it. I just can’t get excited about a salad with wilted greens (unless they’re wilted under some warm bacon dressing, of course!).

But not too long ago, one of the food blogs I read mentioned broccoli slaw.  I wasn’t familiar with broccoli slaw, but the recipe was for an asian salad, and since I generally love asian flavors and it said it was an easy thing to toss together, I decided to give it a try. Well, since then, I am rarely without a bag of broccoli slaw in my crisper. Little shoestrings of carrots, broccoli, and red cabbage – healthy as can be, and CRUNCHY.  I like to add some combination of chow mein noodles, toasted almonds, fresh mint or basil (whatever I have in the garden at the time), and/or toasted sesame seeds. And what this post is all about, really, is this “recipe” I found for Asian Peanut Dressing. I use the term “recipe” loosely, because I don’t measure any of the ingredients and they vary depending on what I have on hand. But no matter what the combination, it is always SO good!  One thing I always do is add a little more canola oil after I mix all the other ingredients together – because while I love the flavor of sesame oil, I don’t like to use too much of it. And the recipe doesn’t really make enough to save if I don’t add a little more oil at the end. It makes the dressing a bit thinner than maybe intended, but I don’t mind a thin dressing, especially when that means I can get a few more servings out of it. I usually use maple syrup as my sweetener since I figure it’s a little healthier than white sugar, and adds another interesting flavor to the mix.

So there it is – my cheater post about a recipe I stumbled upon before I started this blog. I just didn’t think it would be fair to keep such a good thing under wraps. Enjoy!

Martha Knows Chicken

Martha Stewart has a sizeable deck of chicken recipes on her website – approx 120, if I remember correctly from my scrolling last night. This is a blessing for someone like me, who almost always has chicken breasts in the fridge but doesn’t always have a great idea for what to do with them.

Last night I was looking for something simple but warm. I got diagnosed with strep throat yesterday, and Charlie came home from therapy pretty out of sorts (we just got back from the pediatrician – surprise, surprise, he has strep too) so I didn’t want anything elaborate.

I found this: chicken with ginger and it fit the bill – not too many ingredients (and all ones I had on hand), easy prep, flavors I figured the family would like. I was right – it was a success!  I made the full recipe of sauce even though I didn’t quite have 1.5 lbs chicken, and I only used half an onion since my husband likes them in moderation. I served the chicken over steamed sushi rice with a mixed green salad. Even Charlie ate every piece of chicken I put on his plate, which is no small feat since lately the only chicken he wants is in nugget form.

This dish reminded us of a non-spicy General Tso’s chicken (at one of the Chinese restaurants that doesn’t bread it to death). Next time, I think I’ll make more sauce and steam some broccoli tops too, and toss them in at the end – I think they would be good in the sweet, gingery sauce.