Saturday, June 25, 2011

Artichoke Prep

I think I've already spoken to my affection for artichokes. There are a number of ways to cook them, but this is an easy way prepare them.

Cut the bottom stem to 1" of the base. Remove the isolated baby leaves on the bottom. With a serrated knife cut the top off of the plant as seen here. Next, with a pair of sharp scissors, cut each leaf top that has a sharp barb (as shown). Steam for 45 minutes. Serve with your favorite side......butter with lemon, butter with worsestershire, mayo, butter and garlic....whatever floats your boat.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tacos de Pescado a.k.a. Fish Tacos

Hunky hubby and I went on a fabulous excursion to Mexico in 1987. We took the scenic route...a jackrabbit bus from Juarez to Chihuahua. We sat right behind the driver who played chicken with everyone on the road as the real live chickens clucked in their cages in the back. Someone tried to break into our room and there was a car crash under our window in the middle of the night. The next day we took a train to Los Mochis. On the way we stopped to let passengers off and passengers on and I noticed the federales with machine guns...oh yeah, I feel safe. Once in Los Mochis we agreed to share a cab with a Canadian couple who, after 5 minutes into the drive was convinced that the cab was going to take us out into the desert, rob and kill us. We had a great time in Los Mochis and celebrated their Independence Day in the park drinking beer, listening to good music and eating great food. Then we flew to La Paz where I think we had cat tacos from a street vendor. We stayed a few days there and took the bus to Cabo San Lucas. It was there on a romantic evening on the beach I had my first experience with fish tacos.

Unlike the deep-fried fish that is placed in a tortilla with some cabbage, avocados, tomatoes and salsa here in the U.S., this was different. The whitefish was steamed or poached and served in a soft corn tortilla simply with some avocado and cilantro. This recipe speaks for itself and does not need to be disguised with fats. It was fabulous! Since 1987, I have been making fish tacos in this way....the way hunky hubby and I love them best. It is a multi-step process but a no-brainer and it goes fairly quick. You must first marry the flavors of the brine you are about to poach the fish in and this takes about 35 minutes. Simmering the fish in the brine is about 10 minutes....only long enough for the fish to begin to flake. Here are the real instructions and this is what you need to poach the fish.

Poached Fish:

1 qt. water
1/2 medium onion sliced into thin slices
6 whole black peppercorns
3 whole allspice
3 TBSP lemon juice
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dry white wine

Combine all these ingredients in a large non-stick skillet or saute pan. (you may need to double the recipe to make sure your fish is covered during poaching) Simmer these ingredients for 30 minutes then add the fish. DO NOT boil the only needs to simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes or until flaky. Lift the cooked fish from the pan and drain. Throw out the brining mix.

Next up is making your key ingredients. This is what you need:

Fish Tacos:

1 1b. poached fish
1 TBSP. oil
1 small onion, diced
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
2 small jalapeno peppers, diced
1/2 tsp. salt

8 corn tortillas
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup sour cream
handful of cilantro leaves to garnish
*if you want a little extra crunch, add thin sliced cabbage

Saute onion in oil until soft. Stir in tomato sauce, peppers and salt. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in flaked fish and heat through, remove from heat but keep warm. In another pan, soften corn tortillas in hot oil and drain on paper towel. Spoon a small amount of fish mixture into tortillas, top with avocado and sour cream.

Dos Cervezas Por Favor!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You Gotta Be Kidding Me! Perfect Pie Crust

So, I have always chided myself that I cannot create a pie crust that is edible. This recipe was hastily written down from me by a chef who was giving out free cookbooks at Sam's Club. I jokingly but honestly laughed that I can't make a decent crust. He quickly penned a recipe and I put it aside for a few months. This crust I will do FOREVER! Don't tell me to use ice-water, don't tell me to use 1/2 and 1/2 and 1/2...don't tell me to mix and fridge....THIS worked!

1 Cup Flour
1 stick butter
1/4 cup boiling water easy is that? I found it easier to push directly into the pie plate with plastic wrap between you fingers to get the shape and etc you want.

The crust was fabulous! Thanks "unknown chef" at Sams.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Ummmm...two words that simply speak volumes. Pastrami and smoked. Lovely language. My brain immediately wants to shift gears to the saurkraut waiting on the shelves from years past and to swiss cheese and rye bread. My mom used to make the best rueben sands with catalina dressing, swiss cheese and rye bread. These are kind of sandwiches that melt in your mouth and leave you salivating for more, more, more.....Will Bodle shared his smoking pastrami recipe with me and I tweaked it just a tiny bit to include some color and a little more flavor...I'm keeping the beer idea...meat should be moist, not dry.

One 3-4 lb. corned beef, rinsed well and patted dry with paper toweling (throw away the spices included in the bag—you don’t want them)

Mix together the dry rub ingredients:

1/3 cup Kosher salt
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup black pepper
¼ cup paprika
2 TBSP onion powder
2 TBSP granulated garlic
2 TBSP yellow mustard seeds
2 TBSP ground coriander
(*Note: If you have access to a spice mill, you may want to semi-process 1 TBSP coriander seeds to add to the above—the smell will bring a smile to your lips!)

Completely coat the entire piece of meat with seasoning mix on all sides. I massage this dry rub in for a about 4 minutes. Use ALL or most of the dry rub seasoning mix, it will seem like a lot, but it is not.

Place meat, fat side up in a smoker and smoke for 6-8 hours. Will has a fancy-pants smoker that can control the heat at 175. I do not, so I am smoking mine for twice as long as he recommended. DO NOT use mesquite to smoke--Will said this imparts a bitter taste to your meat. Use any or mix of cherry, apple, oak or alder woods to smoke. Bring meat inside and double wrap in aluminum foil with a ½ can of beer. Bake in the oven at 300 degrees F for 2 hours. Let cool, then slice and serve with provolone or swiss and stone ground mustard on rye with saurkraut.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chicken Satay

I made a lovely lunch yesterday for my friend Kat H. of chicken satay, fried rice, and cucumber slices. This was an easy, yet elegant dish that requires only a few ingredients and takes very little time to prepare. The recipe comes from this book:

Look for a copy at Gulliver's Books here in Fairbanks first, but if you can't find a copy here you can order one from

Here is what you will need for this fabulous dish:

1 lb. chicken breast sliced lengthwise, 1" wide strips (thin and long)

1/3 cup coconut cream
1 tsp. ground coriander
3 TBSP. brown sugar
1 TBSP. yellow curry powder
6 TBSP. fish sauce
1 TBSP. canola oil

Garnish with: Cucumbers, lettuce and sliced tomatoes.

Thinly slice the chicken breast. In a large bowl, combine marinade ingredients. Dip each piece of chicken in the marinade to coat both sides.

Let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Weave each strip on a bamboo skewer lengthwise. There are many ways to cook the skewers.

Broil or grill for 5 minutes on each side or pan fry in a non stick skillet. Brush marinade on the sides as you turn them.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Curried Salmon Mousse

Still looking for recipes to clean out the freezer before fishing or dipnetting for salmon? Although this recipe is a little time consuming, it is well worth the effort. This is an elegant appetizer or a stand-alone Sunday-we got up late and just want to chill on the deck kind of food. I buy my curry paste at the Asian Market near the Aurora Subdivision behind Randy Smith on Danby. The market has the yellow, green and red pastes and all are excellent! Great products at great prices and really nice people.

This is what you will need for this recipe:

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc or a Fume Blanc--it works best with strong fish like salmon)
2 tsp. salt divided in the recipe
1 lb king or sockeye salmon fillet (boned)
1 TBSP. canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 TBSP chopped garlic
1 TBSP chopped ginger
1/2 tsp. red curry paste
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
chives to garnish

Boil 2 cups water, wine and 1 tsp. salt. Add salmon and simmer for 10 minutes or until flaky. Drain, cool, skin and flake.

Soften onions, garlic and ginger over medium heat. Stir in red curry paste and cook until blended (about a minute).

Food process the coconut milk, cream cheese, sugar and salt until smooth. Add fish and lime juice. Process again until smooth. Transfer to a pretty dish, top with chives and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve cold with crackers to your hungry guests with a glass of Grenache Blanc.