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June 13, 2009 in main course1 comment

asian salmon on quinoa

asian salmon on quinoa

After several years as an ovo-lacto vegetarian, I came back to fish. I love fish, particularly salmon. It’s pretty, delicious, and full of protein and omega-3s. There are a few things to watch out for when purchasing salmon, though, if you’re being conscious of where your food comes from and how it impacts our environment.

There’s “good” salmon and there’s “bad” salmon. This refers not to freshness but to whether it’s farmed or wild. Alaska has robust wild salmon fisheries and that is the kind of salmon to look for. Look for the terms “wild” or “Alaskan” when buying fresh or frozen salmon.

“Bad” salmon is farmed. They’re treated with pesticides and antibiotics, are low in omega-3s due to their diet, pollute their local environment due to so many being raised in a small area (sewage), and reduce the supply of other fish — salmon are carnivorous, and it takes 3 pounds of other fish to raise 1 pound of salmon. Farmed salmon will often say it is farmed, but usually more prominently displayed is “Atlantic.” If your’e buying Atlantic salmon, you’re buying farmed salmon.

Buy wild and/or Alaskan salmon. It’s no more expensive than farmed, and it’s much better for you and everyone else.

Right now is sockeye salmon season — it usually shows up fresh in markets in June. Sockeye eats only plankton, which gives it a richer taste than other salmons, and a deep reddish pink color. If you see sockeye at your market, snap it up.

This salmon recipe puts filets in an soy sauce-tinged, slightly sweet marinade for an hour, then on the grill or under the broiler. It’s my go-to recipe when I want really flavorful salmon. Served on a bed of broth-infused quinoa, it’s even pretty enough to serve to other people. Read more on asian salmon on quinoa…

October 4, 2009 in main course, sandwiches, shameless plug6 comments

basil-garlic mayonnaise on a blt

blt with basil-garlic mayonnaise

Neat, this made Foodie Views of the day! They gave me a pretty button to go with it:

Have I ever mentioned that the last thing I gave up when going vegetarian was bacon? Beef: I never liked it anyway. Nearly the same with chicken. Fish: next to last. I like me some canned tuna.

yes, that is bacon. used in a perfectly normal, bacony way. dammit.

I’m not going to wax poetic about bacon, though. That’s so 2008. Are you as tired as I am of candied bacon, bacon smoothies, bacon popcorn, and bacon ice cream? I’m sure they’re wonderful, but all of the swooning over bacon is becoming a tad unseemly. Let’s be seemly, shall we?

an even closer look. that sandwich is gonna bite you.

Suffice to say

But have you ever had one with basil-garlic mayonnaise?

basil-garlic mayonnaise on toast, ready for bacon

It elevates the humble BLT to a thing of beauty. The fresh basil complements the tomato, the garlic enhances the bacon, and a few drops of hot pepper sauce add little heat but a lot of flavor.

ooh, free bread!

Now, the nice people at Nature’s Pride sent me a couple loaves of bread: 12-grain and 100% whole wheat. Since they sent me free stuff, I’m likely to say nice things about it, so be forewarned. They make their bread with all natural ingredients and no HFCS, which is a big plus for me. When my cousin and I were making the sandwiches, he asked what kind of bread I had, and stipulated, “No whole wheat.” I gacked, because I don’t keep anything but whole wheat around. He had to get whole grains anyway, in the form of the 12-grain loaf.

He survived, and said the 12-grain was really good. Whether he was being polite or not I’m not sure. Either way, I don’t care. My sandwich got validation. Read more on basil-garlic mayonnaise on a blt…

black bean and couscous salad

black bean and couscous salad

Ohnoes. A pantry meal — in June!

It may be spring — almost summer — but the garden’s getting a slow start around here. A very wet spring kept us from planting until late May. We’ve already burned past the asparagus and rhubarb, and strawberries are due any day now, but normally at this time we’d have lettuce and radishes at the very least.

But it was not to be. The radishes are just about big enough to snack on, but there just isn’t a lot going on yet. I’m not in the mood for hot, heavy, stick-to-your ribs food now, though, so I turned to a main-course salad and dug out this black bean and couscous salad recipe.

Couscous is one of my favorite pastas/grains. I like whole-wheat couscous (obviously!) and it’s one of the whole-grain products that doesn’t seem any different from non-whole-grain variety. It isn’t even prepared differently; perhaps a touch more water or broth when making it, but it turns out fine without such watchfulness. Couscous also pairs amazingly with beans, and I’m partial to black beans. A lot of which goes to explain why I enjoy this salad so much. Read more on black bean and couscous salad…

April 15, 2010 in main course, vegetarian1 comment

cheesy baked penne with fake italian sausage

cheesy baked penne with fake italian sausage

This baked penne recipe is entirely vegetarian, yet it’ll keep carnivores happy with its fennel-scented tomato sauce and meatless Italian sausage crumbles.

And it’s “baked penne” because I’ve never been able to replicate Italian restaurants’ baked ziti. I suspect their secret is oil and cheese in much more copious amounts than one can bear to consider under home kitchen conditions. Maybe it’s a hotter oven, or a shove under the broiler when it’s done. You know, if anybody knows the reason, inform me. I’m mostly pretty bumbling when it comes to reverse engineering.

cook some damn celery and mushrooms, already

But I’m zen about it, because the approximations to restaurant baked ziti are pretty good on their own. They might be missing the goat dandruff secret ingredient or whatever, but it’s hard to go wrong with pasta, mozzarella, a rich tomato sauce, mushrooms, and fake Italian sausage crumbles. Read more on cheesy baked penne with fake italian sausage…

February 19, 2011 in main course, vegan, vegetarian2 comments

Dazed and Confused Sesame Peanut Stir Fry, with Bonus Babylon 5 Reference

sesamebroccolistirfry.jpg

Ever run into a recipe that is so easy and so tasty that you are dazed under its spell, obeying its command to make it again, and again, and again, until two weeks later you blink and say to yourself, “Damn, that was good.”

Read more on Dazed and Confused Sesame Peanut Stir Fry, with Bonus Babylon 5 Reference…

foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: rhubarb — it’s not just for pie anymore

rhubarb salsa

Rhubarb with caramelized onions? Rhubarb salsa? Rhubarb and lentil potage? I can hear you now, the ornery ones of you that is: What the hell, woman…rhubarb’s for pie. Crisps. Crunches.

prepping peppers, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro for the rhubarb salsa

For April’s Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event, I decided to explore the savory side of rhubarb, since there’s a ton of it growing about 50 feet from my front door. As rhubarb is technically a vegetable/herb, why not try some recipes that utilize rhubarb as a vegetable?

chop the rhubarb for the salsa finely. you don't wanna crunch into a big honkin' piece of this stuff.

Hey, salsa has a tangy bite. I bet rhubarb could work in salsa. So I tracked down a viable candidate in The Joy of Rhubarb: The Versatile Summer Delight. It’s a classic Mexican salsa, with fresh cilantro, green onion (which made me happy; I can’t stand regular onions raw), lime juice, jalapeño for a bit of bite, barely-blanched rhubarb, and lots of sweet peppers and more sugar than salsa normally would have, to counteract the rhubarb’s bite.

colorful rhubarb salsa ingredients :)

Dad’s verdict? “It would be great on hamburgers. By the way, we’re having hamburgers tonight….” Subtle hint there, Dad. ;-) Yeah, he went home with some rhubarb salsa. Linda thought it had a bit of a bitter rhubarb taste to it and suggested more sweetener. I loved it. Fresh, crisp, clean salsa taste with the rhubarb adding uniqueness without overpowering it.

Overall verdict for rhubarb salsa: Two snaps up. Read more on foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: rhubarb — it’s not just for pie anymore…

September 29, 2010 in main course, soup / chili, vegan, vegetarian3 comments

gazpacho sevillano

gazpacho sevillano

Breakfast in Spain is unsubstantial, to my taste: a toasted and buttered bolillo (a large roll) and café con leche, Spain’s rich and tasty version of the latte. (I don’t like coffee or even lattes particularly, but I’ll take a café con leche any day.) Supper, as well, is fairly insubstantial: fried finger foods or a light platter of leftovers, served at 11 p.m., midnight, or even later, depending on the night-owlishness of your household. Read more on gazpacho sevillano…

July 11, 2009 in main course, vegetarian2 comments

green fried rice

green fried rice

Hey, look, another super simple recipe that is super yummy.

I know. Fried rice is intended as a leftover-user. Day-old rice? Make fried rice with it! Unfortunately for the rice, fried rice is so good on its own that it gets made a lot on purpose here and never makes it to day-old status.

In fact, I make it so much it seems I’ve begun doing that thing where you tweak. I’d heard of this, where people don’t follow recipes directly and instead, like, change them. How odd.

What finally made this tweak awesome was green onions and sesame oil. Oh, hay (sorry, got horses on the brain), there are green bunching onions in the garden! Look:

green onions growing in the garden

The green in this fried rice is the green onion, peas, and broccoli. I always use frozen for the peas and broccoli, though I’m sure fresh would be delicious. Fried rice just doesn’t seem the place to be putting garden fresh peas and broccoli, though, you know what I mean? Fresh broccoli is meant for raw crunching, or light steaming, or broccoli salad. Fresh peas are meant for chomping right out of the pod, or quick cooking with a teeny bit of butter melted in at the end, and maybe some chives. But frozen? Go to town in the grocery’s freezer section. Inexpensive and more nutritious than in the produce department and will keep forever. Well, forever-ish.

umami — what?

The green onions added that umami the fried rice was needing. And I figured out a while back that fried rice must have sesame oil in it. If you don’t drizzle some sesame oil into the mix, it’s going to taste bland, no matter what you do.

And apparently, technically green onions don’t have umami flavor. I don’t care. I’m proclaiming umami to be a generic term for “makes it taste awesomer.”

the fried rice trick

I don’t know the right way to make fried rice. I’m sure there’s some proper method that I’m too lazy to discover.

So here’s the trick I developed: Read more on green fried rice…

Off to Iraq! Falafel Sandwich with Tahini Sauce

falafel sandwich

Helen: Hmm, Pita. Well, I don’t know about food from the Middle East. Isn’t that whole area a little iffy?
Hostess: [laughs] Hey, I’m no geographer. You and I — why don’t we call it pocket bread, huh?
Maude: [reading the ingredients list] Umm, what’s tahini?
Hostess: Flavor sauce.
Edna: And falafel?
Hostess: Crunch patties. Read more on Off to Iraq! Falafel Sandwich with Tahini Sauce…

Read more on Off to Iraq! Falafel Sandwich with Tahini Sauce…

roasted red pepper and kalamata olive pasta sauce

nom nom nom

Sis and Mom were thrilled with the dinner party. “You can do this anytime,” they cooed conspiratorially, and they began plotting holiday schedules. “Thanksgiving, Christmas…no, Mom will still do Christmas…Easter….”

calm before the PARTY STORM

I hadn’t hosted an event of this magnitude before. A bit over a month ago my sponsor, Foodbuzz, contacted me with the offer to host a pasta and wine-pairing dinner party using free coupons supplied by Buitoni Riserva. That shit’s expensive, so I jumped at the chance. Read more on roasted red pepper and kalamata olive pasta sauce…

July 28, 2009 in main course, salad2 comments

spring tuna wraps

spring tuna wraps

ohnoes, shrinkage!Shrinkage. It’s not just for George Costanza anymore. Thanks to rising costs and a disinclination towards outwardly raising prices, food manufacturers are selling less for the same price. Everything comes in a smaller package these days, and not all of it is due to chilly swimming pools.

And in the process, mucking up loads and loads of recipes. Jerks.

But I’ve got a present for you. Spring tuna wraps uses 5 ounce cans of tuna, yay! Well, that’s because I sort of just wrote down the precise measurements today, but you didn’t read that, did you?

But it’s not spring anymore, I hear you complaining. Too bad. Up here in Michigan, it’s been a cruel cool cool summer, and peas, lettuce, radishes, and green onions are still going strong in the garden. Confession: my peas are sugar snaps, so I use frozen in this recipe, shh. Don’t tell anyone!

gah, someone get this cat off my countertop

Oh, wait. Hold up. My dad’s cat, who likes to come in my house at night, keeps jumping up on the counter to lick the measuring cup that had mayonnaise in it.

So annoying. I hate getting hints that it’s time to wash the damn dishes.

Okay, tossed the cat outside, now back to the wraps. I’ve always liked canned tuna, and missed it when I eschewed fish in the strict vegetarian phase. Even as a kid, a tuna sandwich was always a special treat and change from the normal peanut butter and jelly sack lunch. I would have had it in every lunch if I could. As a grownup, I finally found out how tuna is supposed to taste, via tuna steaks in good restaurants, but canned tuna still holds a special place. I don’t know why, because it bears about as much resemblance to tuna the fish as canned salmon does to salmon the fish, and I hate canned salmon.

gresh parsley and chopped green onion

Now, updated for grownups: brighten up tuna salad with tangy lemon, sweet peas, and crunchy bits of radish. Toss in some toasted almonds, splash on a bit of Thai chili sauce, tuck it all into whole wheat tortillas with leafy lettuce. Yes, there’s still mayo in here, and celery, and some green onions and…you get the point. A melange of springy vegetables ready for sandwich noshing.

Oh wow. Even at six servings, each tuna wrap is 242 calories apiece! Sounds pretty good to me. Read more on spring tuna wraps…

February 2, 2011 in main course, vegetarian1 comment

Step 1: Open a Bag of Fritos

In honor of Snowpocalypse 2011, try this quick to assemble Mexican-style dish made from ingredients that are probably already in your pantry. Makes a yummy Super Bowl treat too!

frito pie, i reckon. mm hmm.

Do you ever read something, get entirely the wrong impression, and walk around carrying that impression, like a treasured memento or a nursed wound, for ages before realizing you were mistaken? Read more on Step 1: Open a Bag of Fritos…

January 6, 2010 in main course, soup / chili, vegan, vegetarian3 comments

winter soup of carrots, lentils, apple, and sweet potato

How about a nice bowl of cheery orange-colored soup to warm your tummy on a cold winter night? I only recently began to appreciate soup, having been too lazy to properly appreciate it in the past — soup isn’t often stick-to-your-ribs fare and I’m pretty side-dish impaired, as far as getting out bread or making a salad to go with the soup. Read more on winter soup of carrots, lentils, apple, and sweet potato…

December 13, 2011 in main course, sandwiches, vegetarian1 comment

Yummy Black Bean Burgers

black bean burgers

“Naw, I don’t need anything,” I said.

Linda and I were in Panini’s Deli, a sandwich shop right in the middle of the Discount Health Foods store. I’d link you but, you know, they’re too cool to have a website. We were eating the best sandwiches you can find in this godforsaken restaurant desert of a town, but that doesn’t do them justice. These sandwiches are the bomb, made with fresh, semi-trendy ingredients like red pepper alioli or basil pesto mayo, with several vegetarian sandwiches that — surprise! — aren’t all variations of “avocado, tomato and bean sprouts.” Read more on Yummy Black Bean Burgers…