Cedar-grilled salmon with cilantro mustard

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: Entrees

It’s spring, and that means grillin’ time! (OK, so, it’s grillin’ time so long as there’s not an active hurricane or tornado directly on top of my grill, but I digress)

Tonight, I needed something quick yet tasty. I had at my disposal some salmon, some fresh herbs, and the usual complement of kitchen supplies. It felt like Iron Chef:Ian’s House. Except that I wasn’t competing against anyone. If it turned out badly, it was still dinner.

Soak a cedar grilling plank in water for about 20-30 minutes. While it’s soaking, make up the mustard. If you’re using frozen salmon fillets (Costco!), place the wrapped fillets in the water with the plank. By the time the fish has thawed, the plank is ready.

I mixed up some homemade mustard with:

2 tsp lemon juice (I use the good organic Sicilian stuff I get at Costco)
2 tsp sherry (if using cooking sherry, don’t bother with salt)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp powdered ginger

Toss this into a small food processor with enough mustard powder to make it somewhat pasty. This is your mustard. Depending on the mustard powder you use, this could be pretty spicy – fear not, it doesn’t make the fish spicy. It also makes a tasty salad dressing when mixed with some balsamic vinegar.

If you grill with gas, this would be a good time to fire up the grill. Get it to about 350 degrees (medium-low). If you’re grilling with charcoal, you should have started it a while ago :).

Let the mustard sit while the plank finishes soaking. When you pull the plank out of the water, drizzle some sherry on the fish side of the plank and let it sit for a few minutes to soak in. Place the salmon on the plank and use a basting brush to coat the fish with mustard. Don’t go too crazy with the mustard or you’ll lose the flavor of the fish.

Place the fish/mustard/cedar assembly on the grill and cook until the fish is medium to medium well.

I served this with a salad of baby greens and bell peppers (red and orange) with some baked potato on the side.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: soup

It’s been cold and icy for a few days. This weather calls for soup. Thick, rich soup that sticks to your ribs. I give you this:

chop 2 lbs potatoes and boil for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. If you time it right, they should be done about the time you finish the next step.

Take 1 lb bacon, partially frozen, and slice across the strips in 1/4″ pieces, and slice again in the other direction about 3/4″ apart, and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon bits to a bowl lined with a paper towel and keep the fat in the pan. Add chopped garlic and chopped onions and saute. When the onions and garlic are cooked, add 2/3 cup flour and make a roux. Add 4 cups chicken broth and 2 cups milk. stir until smooth and heat until it begins to thicken. Add chopped green onions and/or chives and stir. Add the potatoes and bacon and 1/2 lb grated cheddar. Stir until smooth and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until ready to eat. Stir in 1 cup sour cream before serving.

This stuff ends up pretty gloopy, so it helps to add milk when reheating the leftovers.

Note: The cooking method above for the bacon also works well for making bacon crumbles for salads and other recipes.

Marriage Proposal Cheesecake 3.0: Renewal Of Vows

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: dessert

It was getting increasingly difficult to improve on the Marriage Proposal Cheesecake. Amazingly enough, I did.

Quite simply, drown it in a really good ganache. The key to a good ganache is to use top-shelf chocolate. In this case, I used a hunk of Callebaut bittersweet from Whole Foods.

Sweet potato salad

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: salad, side dish

Got this one from Margit and modified slightly, as I was making some for my friend Blaine who is on a very restricted diet at the moment as he battles a brain tumor. The diet is very rich in fresh vegetables, and this salad is a great fit (and tasty too!)

Take about 3 lbs of sweet potatoes (or just one, see my previous post) and cut into approximately 3/4″ cubes. Plop them in a large pot of boiling water and boil until tender but firm (8 minutes was a little too long and they ended up a little soft). Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to cool for a while (in the fridge if you have room).

Slice two or three sweet peppers of various colors (1 red, one purple in this case) and one purple onion into thin strips and chop a handful of basil as finely as you can (but don’t go overboard!)

Make a dressing consisting of 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic. Add 1/2 tablespoon honey (raw if you can get it) or a comparable amount of stevia and shake well. The original recipe for this calls for tossing it with a french-type dressing. I’m rather partial to Annie’s Naturals Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette (which is good on all kinds of things), but had to get creative this go around since Blaine’s food plan specifically says no canola oil.
Add the chopped stuff to the cubed sweet potatoes and toss with the dressing. Let it mellow for a little while in the fridge, and then enjoy with a friend or several.

Update: Sadly, Blaine lost his battle with cancer shortly before Thanksgiving of 2007. He is deeply missed by all who knew him.

I yam what I yam..

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: Uncategorized

We went out to my dad’s place yesterday for some food and family while my grandmother was in town. Yummy buffalo burgers and salmon burgers. We came home with a bag of these:

Yes, that’s a foot-long, three-pound sweet potato, and not a prop from a gastroenterology lecture. (that’s what y’all in the South would call a “big-ass yam”)

My dad grew a 25-foot experimental plot for possible commercial production. He got 80 lbs from that little bed, these were some of the larger ones. He sent us home with 10 lbs of them, which worked out to 4 potatotes. My dad tells me this works out to about a 30,000 lb/acre yield.

Margit made some yummy sweet potato salad (and I’ll share the recipe as soon as it’s declassified)

We also got to pick raspberries:

Most of them ended up inside her belly.

And, a gratuitously cute picture:

Green Bean Scampi

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: Entrees

This was a spur-of-the-moment creation, with a given set of ingredients. Kinda like Iron Chef. 🙂

The key was to have some shrimp, and use up some of the fresh veggies from the CSA. We’d had squash for a few nights in a row, sautéed in olive oil with fresh basil, so tonight was a good night to use up some fresh green beans.

In a large nonstick skillet, put in 2 tablespoons of olive oil on high heat. When the oil is hot, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup minced garlic (depending on taste) and sauté for a minute or so. Add 1 lb of medium shrimp (30-40 count) and 1 lb fresh green beans. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh if possible) and continue to sauté until shrimp is cooked. Add a splash of white wine or mirin and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Continue cooking until liquid has evaporated.

Chicken Teriyaki Noodles V2.0

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: Entrees

Previous incarnations of this were made with Kikkoman’s prefab teriyaki sauce. This one is made from a homemade sauce.


1 cup shoyu or tamari soy sauce
4 or 5 cloves of garlic (or 2 Tbsp garlic paste)
2 tbsp. ginger or ginger paste
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. Mirin (rice wine) or dry sherry
drained syrup from a can of mandarin oranges
1 Tbsp oil

Mix well and add 2 lbs chopped chicken breasts, and marinate for approximately an hour.

In the last 15 minutes or so, reconstitute 1.5 to 2 cups of dried shiitake mushrooms by putting them in 1.5 cups boiling water. (you can also used sliced button mushrooms)

Drain and reserve marinade from chicken pieces and saute in a large skillet with 2 Tbsp oil until cooked. Drain the liquid from the mushrooms and add to the marinade. Add the mushrooms to the chicken. While you’re doing this, cook a pound of noodles (farfalle or rotini work well, although any noodle will do).

When the chicken is done, remove from the pan, leaving remaining liquid behind. Add reserved marinade and bring to a boil – reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Mix:

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 c water

and add it to the mixture, stirring until thick. Once thickened, set aside the sauce and add some more oil to the pan, and toss in the cooked chicken and diced bell peppers (preferably of mixed colors). Saute until the chicken starts to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the noodles and toss until well mixed, and then add the sauce, toss, and serve. Makes great leftovers and is tasty with Sriracha “rooster” sauce.

Perfect Margarita

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: drinks

This came about as the result of some kitchen chemistry experimentation after my lovely wife had a particularly frazzling day at the hands of our two toddlers. In her words, it “goes down way too easily”.

By popular request, here it is:

1 part tequila
1 part lime juice
1 part triple sec
1 part orange juice (this was my wife’s contribution, it added that last little bit that it needed – you could substitute any number of tropical juices for a little variety)
1 part water
1/2 part sugar (It’s best if you can make the water lukewarm and dissolve the sugar in it first)

In this particular case, each part was 1oz (2 tablespoons). One average-sized lime is about 1 oz of juice.

shake with ice and serve.

Beware, however – if serving this to large groups of margarita addicts, it’s probably best to make this a frozen margarita (1 part liquid, 2 parts ice), because otherwise they’ll be on the floor and wondering why they’re having trouble getting up again. The liquid part is roughly 13% ABV, and it goes down smooth enough that you don’t realize you’ve just had two threesix of them.

Marriage Proposal Cheesecake

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: dessert

This is a rich chocolate cheesecake with a chocolate shortbread crust and is a favourite of mine (and all my friends) that is a frequent request both for the recipe and the end product.

It has, in fact, garnered me a few marriage proposals (and at least one parental blessing – as well as a few retroactive ones). It has also received a seal of approval from several pregnant women (including my lovely wife – hi, honey!) It is also substantially cheaper and more enjoyable (and possibly more effective) than Prozac. Also makes a good peace offering.

Recently, my grandmother stopped by to get some photos, and I offered her some, having made yet another one…

She had this look of utter bliss on her face once she took a bite. Said something about her two favourite things rolled into one, and it had never occurred to her to combine the two. (the chocoholic part of my genes runs DEEP) She asked me if I was willing to share the recipe. Asked me where I found it, and was visibly proud when I said it was my own creation, a distillation of several recipes. She also mentioned something about this going over really well at church suppers.

Most people rave about their grandmother’s recipes… I’ve got a grandmother who will happily rave about her grandson’s recipes…


Soften 1/2 cup butter to room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F

Cream the butter until it’s soft and fluffy. Beat in 1/2 cup icing sugar.

Stir in a pinch of salt, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and 3/4 cup flour and mix well. If the dough is too soft, chill in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. Line a springform pan with the dough, bake for 10 minutes and set it aside while you make the filling.


Soften 3 bricks (24 oz) of cream cheese. Combine with 1.5 cups sugar and 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract. Mix (at medium speed if using an electric mixer) until it’s smooth and creamy. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.

stir 1 cup cocoa powder and blend until smooth and uniform.

Pour the filling into crust (be sure to leave enough in the bowl for licking!) and bake it for about 40 minutes above a 9″x13″ pan with 1/2″ water (this helps prevents cracking). When done (cheesecake should be reasonably firm), open the oven door and let the cheesecake cool down slowly with the oven. When the cake has cooled, chill in the refrigerator.

Serve with a tall glass of milk or several 🙂

Stewed Tomato Salmon

Posted by: Site Administrator  :  Category: Entrees

This one’s from the archives…

This is yummy on a cold night… My 3-year-old daughter ate an adult portion.

3 T Olive oil
2 t chopped garlic
2 pounds salmon fillets
2 T chopped onion
2 cans diced tomatoes
1/4 C dry sherry
1 T dried parsley (or 2T chopped fresh)
1/2 T dried basil (or 1T chopped fresh)
1 t salt

Heat oil and sauté garlic, and then fry salmon fillets for a minute on each side. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.