Summer Salmon and Couscous Salad

As the weather warms up thoughts turn towards picnics. Yeah, picnic season is upon us and I’ve been working on a couscous and salmon salad just right for bringing to a spread out blanket. This is still early in the development stage. It combines a Moroccan style French couscous with an Israeli Tune Couscous salad. But for what it’s worth let head down to the lab and see what’s on the slab…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped shallots3 cups water
  • 2 cups of couscous
  • 14 oz can of salmon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted, oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped (3 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, medium-diced (4 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 cup chopped scallions (6-8 scallions)
  • 1/4 cup julienned fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add the couscous and reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pot and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until the couscous is just tender. (I pull the pot halfway off the heat.) Drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, combine the salmon, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, olives, red peppers, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in a large bowl. Pour the hot couscous into the mixture and stir well. Cover and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, stir in the scallions, basil, juice of the 1/2 lime, and 1 more teaspoon of salt. Taste for seasonings and serve warm or at room temperature.

I like to garnish this with wedges if lime, so you might as well serve this with tequila coolers!

couscous01

Tomatoes Stuffed with Crab

Hazy Hot and Humid… So, yesterday I mentioned making a chicken salad stuffed tomato. Well, I decided to stop off at the fish shop on the way home and got a great deal on crab meat. So, instead of chicken salad stuffed tomatoes, I made crab salad for them. I like to make these easy meal items that go straight from the fridge to the plate on these hazy, hot, humid days.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 fist sized ‘slicing’ tomatoes
  • 1 pound crab meat
  • 1 lime
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 rib celery
  • 2 spring leeks
  • two tablespoons mayo
  • sea salt and pepper

Start by cutting the crab meat into modest chunks. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over the crab meat. Take a butter knife and shave off some of the lime pulp into the crab meat. Combine this thoroughly. Then add the minced celery and onion, then cut the leeks lengthwise and chiffonade and add the shreds to the crab. Now, add the mayo and mix thoroughly.

Take each tomato and hollow them out. I usually fine that one of those serrated grapefruit spoons works well for this task. Save the innards for making salsa, or chunked into a side salad. Now, stuff the crab salad into the tomato and store them in the fridge till you are ready to serve them up.

Tomato Stuffed with Crab

Fresh Fruit with Fresh Lime Dipping Sauce

Hazy Hot and Humid… just a perfect day for a platter full of fresh juicy fruit to snack on. You’ll find this platter to be delicious, refreshing and a healthy alternative to salty, high fat snacks. Serve this along with the chicken salad stuffed tomatoes (tomorrow’s post) for a cool lunch with which to beat the heat. Oh, did I mention that Western Beef had a great sale on limes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 Granny smith apples peeled, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into wedges
  • 1 Honey dew melon, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges 2 to 3 inches wide
  • 2 pounds watermelon, rind removed, and fruit cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges 2 to 3 inches wide
  • 1 small pineapple, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into wedges
  • 1 ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and sliced crosswise
  • Creamy Lime Dipping Sauce

Creamy Lime Dipping Sauce

  • 1 container (6 ounces) vanilla fat-free yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 jalapeño pepper minced

To make the Creamy Lime Dipping Sauce combine all ingredients in small bowl; mix well to combine. The important thing to remember is to remove ALL of the white pith and seeds from the jalapeno. Nearly all the capsaicin, the acidic source of the pepper’s heat, comes from the rind. The rind, once the pith is removed has a strong fruity flavor.

So make a patio picnic of it and whip up a couple mojitos

Mojito

2 oz White Rum
.75 oz Simple Syrup
.75 oz Lime Juice
Fresh Mint
Soda

Take the leaves off of one of the sprigs of mint and put them in your mixing tin along with the simple syrup and the lime juice.  Muddle the mint gently.  Add the rum and some ice and shake well.  Strain (you should double-strain) into a glass filled with cracked ice.  Top with soda, garnish with the remaining mint.

mojito ingredients – combine with caution

Apple and Celery Root Slaw

Picnics are a perfect time to perfect those chilled salads and slaws that remind us that it’s too warm for hot food. So, with picnics in mind I put together two great tastes that should go well together and blended them with a variation of the creamy coleslaw dressing I like to whip up. So lets try the Apple and Celery Root slaw.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons chopped tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 bulbs (about 1 pound) celery root , peeled and cut into small matchsticks
  • 2  sweet apples (I use Macintosh) apples, cored and cut into small matchsticks
  • 1 large egg, hardboiled and finely chopped

Combine the mayonnaise, tarragon, lemon zest, salt, and horseradish in a medium bowl. Toss the lemon juice, celery root, and apples together in a large bowl and stir in the mayonnaise mixture and egg. Let sit at least 45 minutes before serving.

Post Memorial Day Waldorf Salad Variant

I know it’s a day after Memorial Day, but I’m still not done. Another great summer treat is Waldorf salad. We are working on a variation on a theme and I think the theme is picnic food. I like light, easy, pack-n-go salads for picnics. This particular salad is vegan friendly, but I will check with my vegan friends and confirm this. I do know that no animals were present in the making of this treat.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

 

  • 3 granny smith apples
  • 3  tablespoons of cider vinegar
  • 1 cup mayo
  • Sea salt and Pepper
  • 2 ribs of celery
  • 2 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ of a small red onion shredded
  • Boston lettuce

Chop three apples granny smith, cause I like granny smith apples, into small chunks. Then wash them in 3 tablespoons cider vinegar. This prevents browning. Then fold these into one cup of good quality mayo, add a pinch of seal salt and a grind or two of pepper. This is the basis, a well balanced basis of the salad.

Now, for the variation, add to this base; 1 cup raisins, 2 tea spoons of curry powder, 2 ribs of celery, and ½ of a red onion shredded. Fold each item into the salad till its well mixed. Finish with a garnish of chiffonaded mint leaves and you are certainly good to go.

The waldorf salad is traditionally served on lettuce leaves, and for this I have a personal preference for Boston lettuce leaves as they are particularly ‘bowl-like’ in shape.

Braised Red Cabbage w Bacon

This side goes well with the crock-pot pulled pork. A nice head of red cabbage and good thick cut bacon are the real stars of this dish. As always, I highly recommend the thick cut bacon from Western Beef (now where’s my check for product placement!). This is also one of the sides that’s great a room temperature, even if that room is outside. The weather is fantastic way are you not picnicking.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium red cabbage shredded
  • 6 rashers of bacon chopped
  • 1 medium red onion diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Duck Walk red wine
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp caraway or rye seeds

In your cast iron pot, brown the bacon  then saute the onion. Te crispiness of the bacon is up to you, i tend to prefer mine non-crispy more chewy. Add the cabbage and the caraway, or rye, seeds and season with a little salt and pepper ‘to taste’.

Toss this until the cabbage wilts down, about four minutes or so. Then add the water and wine, cover and turn the heat to low. Let this simmer about 15 minutes.

Add the vinegar, cover and cook until the cabbage is tender. As this is a personal test for done-ness, I prefer firmer, crunchier cabbage so I only cook this for an additional five minutes or so.

Extract the cabbage with a slotted spoon and pack it for your picnic.

 

Simple Seared Scallops w German Coleslaw

The fresher the scallop, the more I prefer the simple sear cooking. I picked up some very nice large sea scallops and, as Best Yet market was running a sale on red cabbage, I figured that I would keep things simple, and use up the bacon I had left over in the fridge. Now, I know, most people would reflexively wrap the scallops in the bacon and grill them up, but I would rather add the bacon to flavor the coleslaw and leave the freshness of the scallop alone.

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the scallops –

  • 1 to 1 1/4 pounds dry sea scallops, approximately 16
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the scallop, remove the small side muscle, rinse with cold water, and pat dry thouroughly.

In a nice 12 inch non-stick sauté pan add the butter and oil. Turn the burner on high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the butter/oil begins to smoke, gently add the scallops. This ensures that the oil is indeed hot and the scallops will sear on the oil and not stick to the pan (if you’re not using a non-stick pan). Make sure they are not touching each other, or they will stick to each other. Sear the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center.

For the coleslaw –

  • 1 red cabbage
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 rashers thick cut bacon, diced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2/3 cup beef stock
  • 1/3 cup duck walk red wine
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and black pepper

Remove outer leaves from cabbage. Cut into quarters, cut out white trunk. Slice cabbage into very thin shreds.

Set large heavy pan over medium-high heat. Melt butter and add the bacon and caraway seeds. Cook until the bacon starts to brown. Add sugar and onion, cook until softened and translucent. Add cabbage, stir to coat well with the fat then add the salt.

Next, add the beef stock and red wine. Cover and bring liquid to a boil, cook for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and add the vinegar, stir well, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the scallops and serve with a refreshing beverage…

As an option for you picnickers out there… You can let this refrigerate this slaw for a couple of hours and serve this cold, or room temperature.

Curried Crab Salad

I was working in the lab late one night when my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab began to rise and suddenly to my surprise…

the curried crab salad wasn’t half bad. I did the mash… I did the curry mash… oh well.

I’ve been going through some ideas to get ready for ‘picnic’ month.. another name for May. I swapped out the chicken for crab in a curried salad that I enjoyed last year and I really enjoyed it… I’ll bring a curried crab salad to the next picnic and see what the friends say…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  •  1/2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/3 c. plain yogurt
  • 1 c. chopped crabmeat
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped salted cashew nuts
  • 1/2 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped scallions

Heat oil in a small pan, add curry powder and cook for about 30 seconds. That makes the curry powder taste less raw.

Mix curry powder and oil with yogurt, then combine with remaining ingredients, reserving 2 tablespoons of the scallions to garnish the top of the salad.