Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ginger-Maple Salmon

With summer - finally - approaching, my tastes lean away from hearty, slow cooked meals that have sustained me through the long winter; and slowly I begin working fresh vegetables, herbs, and seafood back into my daily diet. Decadent red wines are replaced with crisp, refreshing whites. (Side note: Notice all the buzz lately about the Portuguese wine called vinho verde? I've been drinking it for the past few summers and am madly in love with it's relatively low alcohol content, bright zing, and slight fizz.)

Monday's dinner - a ginger and maple-glazed salmon fillet atop a salad - was a quick and easy way to use some of the produce that filled this week's grocery cart. The sugar snap peas in the salad were actually a last minute addition, but I'm glad I added them in; they provided a jewel-like pop of green color and just the right amount of sweetness and crunch. I dressed the salad in a bit of maple-tamari vinaigrette, and voila! Dinner was on the table in about 15 minutes.  A note:  Don't be intimidated by the seemingly long list of ingredients - many of the ingredients used twice - once in the glaze and once in the vinaigrette. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Planning ahead: Meals for the week

My new year's resolution was to waste less food and cook more meals at home.  Some people may consider this two resolutions, but in fact by cooking more, I would inevitably end up wasting less.  Lamentably, I haven't done as well as I'd hoped in this first half of the year.  Now that summer is approaching and my work hours are shortening (I seem to be fortunate in that summers are almost always relatively quiet in my office), I intend to get back on the cook-more, waste-less bandwagon.

To that end, I'm planning my dinner meals ahead of time so that the more perishable ingredients can be used first, while the pantry workhorses can be used later in the week.  I hear household gurus and budgeting mavens say constantly to plan your menu for the week, and make a shopping list around that.  Personally, I like to do just the opposite:  Go to the market; pick up whatever looks fresh, local, and/or within my budget; then come home and plan my menu.  Sure, I might end up with an odd piece of ginger that I have to find a creative use for -- perhaps a Ginger Simple Syrup to be used in drinks and on fruit? -- but that's the fun part!  If I went to the market with a set menu in mind, would I have ever made this? Or this?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bacon, Scallion, & Tomato Pasta Salad

If my coworkers know anything about me, they know I love bacon.  And, really, can you blame me?  A small piece cooked and crumbled can infuse an entire dish with a smoky, salty, meaty goodness that's hard to obtain otherwise.  I remember my paternal grandmother cooking bacon in her well-used cast iron pan, and then frying up a few eggs in a bit of the leftover drippings.  Add a slice of toast to soak up the yolk once the egg has been cut and a cup of strong coffee, and you have the absolute best breakfast ever.  

In any case, as I grew up, my love of bacon grew with me.  I partially credit the BLT sandwich with teaching me to actually enjoy eating tomatoes.  So naturally, when I was staring at the tomatoes in my windowsill that would over-ripen at any second,  I thought to myself "Do I have bacon?  Of course I do; that's a stupid question."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Caramel and Pecan Turtle Squares

I don't have a big sweet tooth, but every once in awhile the craving strikes.  These little caramel and chocolate squares do the trick.  Coming together fairly quickly and cut into 1-inch squares, I almost always have enough to both satisfy my sugar lust while still leaving several to bring to work or gathering of friends.

No long post this week - the sun is shining and I fully intend to take advantage of it!  See you soon!