Monthly Archives: April 2013

Grilled Steelhead Trout

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGrilled Steelhead Trout

Now that the spring in Southern Oregon is in full force and the weather is warm, I prefer to prepare many of our meals outside on the backyard barbecue.  Our barbecue sits out on the back deck only a few short steps from the kitchen.  When barbecuing meals for our family, I simply roll the barbecue in front of the sliding glass door so I can easily keep an eye on the grill temperature and quickly deal with any flare ups as they may occur.

During the work week, I often cook fish for dinner for Bruce and myself.  I love to cook fish because it is quick, easy, healthy and most importantly, we both enjoy it.  What I enjoy about living in Southern Oregon is that we have access to some really great species of fish. For local fish, Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, bass and steelhead top the list. If we take a short drive west to the Oregon Coast, we have access to ling cod, tuna, and snapper fresh from the ocean.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABear Creek earlier this spring….

Bear Creek is a tributary of the Rogue River here in Southern Oregon.  Bear Creek runs through the middle of the Rogue Valley and during certain times of the year, you can actually see salmon and steelhead making their journey back from the ocean to their spawning grounds a few miles upstream.  Bear Creek is home to many species of plants and animals including otters, beavers, ducks, and turtles.

Of all the fish that I cook for my family, steelhead is one of my favorite fish to prepare.  Steelhead trout lead a different lifestyle as compared to the other species of trout that inhabit our local creeks, lakes and reservoirs.  It’s an anadromous fish and that means it is born in the fresh water, spends most of its life in the salt water ocean and returns later in life back to the fresh water stream where it was born to spawn.

My Grilled Steelhead Trout is simple to prepare and perfect for a busy weekday meal.  Steelhead trout is similar in texture and taste to salmon.  Just marinate the fresh fillets in a homemade teriyaki sauce, toss on the grill and within minutes dinner is done. Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 12-16 ounce steelhead fillet (use salmon if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (see recipe below)
  • toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Wash and skin the steelhead fillet. Cut the fish into large serving sized pieces.  Marinate the fish in teriyaki sauce for at least 1/2 hour.  Heat up the barbecue and lightly oil the grates.  Place fillets on hot barbecue.  If you don’t have a barbecue, that’s okay…  Feel free to prepare the fish on a grill pan on your stove or broil it in your oven. Cook for only a few minutes, flipping fish only once.  Fish is done when it begins to flake with a fork.  Be sure to not over cook.  Remove from heat, drizzle with teriyaki sauce and serve.  Makes 2 – 3 servings.

Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 Tbs cornstarch

In a medium sized saucepan whisk together soy sauce, sugar, mirin, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch.  On medium low, cook mixture stirring occasionally for a half an hour or so until mixture has thickened.  Let cool.  Any leftover teriyaki sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.

 

Herb Salt

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Herb Salt

It’s spring in Southern Oregon.  The perennial herbs and plants have pushed through the soil and the chives are ready to bloom.  Lately, I’ve been experimenting with making my own flavored salts.  Last week it was a Serrano salt made with some leftover Serrano peppers that I had sitting in the fridge.  I liked the flavor but it did not have as much heat as I had hoped.  I will try again.  Next time with triple the amount of Serrano peppers.  I like heat and lots of it.  So, I look at it this way.  What is the point of Serrano salt if it does not set your taste buds on fire?

Early yesterday afternoon as I was tending to my pots of herbs on the back patio, I was inspired to make my own Herb Salt.  Buying pre-made flavored or herb salts can be ridiculously expensive and there was is no reason that I could not make it myself.  So I did just that.  I made my own Herb Salt.  My Herb Salt is a simple mixture of fresh picked sage, oregano, rosemary and kosher salt.  That’s it…

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Purple Sage

I just love the color of this sage.  Any variety of sage will do in the recipe for Herb Salt.  Just be sure to pick only the leaves and rinse and dry the leaves well.

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Rosemary

I use lots of rosemary in my kitchen.  It’s readily available for I have a large bush growing on the side of my home.  I pick fresh rosemary all year long and I use it many Mediterranean inspired dishes.   The needles of the Rosemary plant went into the salt mixture…

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Oregano

And finally, oregano…  I have plenty of fresh oregano growing in one of the big pots on my patio.  It’s now starting to take over and beginning to compete with the other herbs in the pot.  It may be time to start transplanting it or even giving some away to friends and neighbors.  Fresh picked oregano tastes fabulous in marinara sauces and other Italian dishes.  It also lends a nice flavor to my Herb Salt.

My Herb Salt is easy to make and can easliy adapted using other types of herbs.  I chose to use rosemary, sage and oregano this time.  I also have parsley, basil, thyme and tarragon that needs to be experimented with.  That’s for another day…

Sprinkle Herb Salt instead of plain sea salt on pork tenderloin, lamb chops or chicken before tossing on the barbecue or grill for a delicious flavor.  It can also be used in soups, stews and sauces.  So the next time you have some fresh herbs that need to to be snipped, be sure to make some Herb Salt.  Enjoy!  Tessa

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kosher salt (coarse)
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed rosemary
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed oregano
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed sage leaves

Note:  You can use more or less herbs if you choose.  You can also change up the types and ratios if you want.

Begin by washing and drying the rosemary, oregano and sage.  Be sure to use only the leaves and not the stems.  Add salt and herbs to a food processor.  Pulse and then spread onto a small cookie sheet.  Bake in a 225 degree oven for about 35 minutes or until the herbs are dry.  Stir occasionally. Remove herb salt from oven and let cool.  Add herb and salt mixture back to food processor and pulse lightly until desired consistency.  I kept my herb salt a little coarse rather than fine. Store Herb Salt in tightly covered container in a dry place.  Makes about 1 cup of herb salt.

And a final note.  Be sure to save your leftover spice jars.  They can be washed, reused and filled again.  Just peel off the label, wash and dry well, fill with your new spice blend creation, and add a new label!

Chicken Pak Choi Stir Fry

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Chicken Pak Choi Stir Fry

I was so thrilled to have my son come home from school to visit last weekend.  I don’t see him too often but we do skype or email to keep in touch. I like using skype because I can actually see him while we talk but sometimes the quality of the connection can be poor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining…  I simply prefer talk to someone in person than use technology to do it.  Good or bad, having a face to face conversation beats a phone or email converstation hands down.

Whenever my son is home he can always bet on home cooked meals surrounded by friends and family.  No sandwiches, pizza, frozen dinners or anything that bears the slightest resemblance of college student food.  I can’t say that I blame him.  I would feel the exact same way.  I know because, I walked in those same shoes many years ago.

I made my Chicken Pak Choi Stir Fry for a quick lunch as my son was packing his bags to go back up to the University.  It’s made with chicken, ramen noodles and a large handful of chopped pak choi fresh picked from my garden.  Pak choi is an Asian variety of green leaf vegetable similar to cabbage or turnips.  It cooks quickly and lends a wonderful flavor and texture to many Asian dishes.

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Pak Choi growing in my garden.  I planted two varieties of this Asian leafy vegetable, a small purple leaf Pak Choi and a large white Bok Choy.

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Bok choy.  This grows more than twice the size of the pac choi.  It is also slower to bolt.

Pak choi or bok choy can be found in many grocery stores and at farmer’s markets.  It’s a cool weather crop so it’s more likely to be found in the fall, winter and spring months.  My Chicken Pak Choi Stir Fry takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.  What I like about it is that It’s inexpensive and a great option for a quick lunch or weekday dinner.  My son liked it and I hope that you do too!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ramen noodles
  • 1 cup cooked chicken
  • 1/4 onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 large handful of Pak Choi (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 Tbs Indonesian soy sauce or Kecap Manis
  • 1 tsp canola oil

Begin by boiling 2 cups of water in a sauce pan.  Add ramen noodles.  Save the seasoning packet for another day.  Cook ramen for only for three minutes.  Remove from heat, drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, bring a wok or large fry pan to medium high heat.  Add canola oil.  Now add the onion and bell pepper and cook until the onion is transluscent (about a minute or two).  Add cooked chicken, ramen noodles, pak choi and Indonesian soy sauce.  Cook another few minutes until the chicken has heated through and the pak choi has wilted.  Don’t over cook.   Remove from flame and serve.  Makes one serving.

Sriracha Egg Salad

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Sriracha Egg Salad

During the work week, I am notorious for eating lunch at my desk.  Some people may frown upon it but I don’t.  I consider it being efficient and a form of multi-tasking…

For those who do not know what Sriracha is. It’s an Asian chili sauce that you may be able to find in the Asian section of your favorite grocery store.  It’s a little bit spicy and in my opinion, tastes wonderful in so many dishes that you may want to add a little heat to.  It’s a staple in my kitchen and I use it all the time in soups, stews, sauces, eggs, stir fries and even on pizza.  

My Sriracha Egg Salad is one of those dishes that I can easily prepare the night before and have it ready in my lunch bag before I leave for work the next morning.  I just grab a handful of crackers, maybe a piece of fruit, some sparkling water and lunch is done. My Sriracha Egg Salad is a riff on a traditional egg salad but with light mayonnaise and spicy Sriracha sauce. Next time you are in the mood for egg salad, add a bit of Sriracha to liven it up.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs relish
  • 1 green onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Sriracha or to taste (I like to use more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garnish with fresh chopped chives and pinch of smoked paprika

Peel and chop your hard boiled eggs.  Add to a medium sized bowl.  Add light mayonnaise, celery, relish, green onion, dijon mustard, sriracha, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Spread on your favorite bread or crackers.  Keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Makes 4 servings.

Mexican Style Pickled Vegetables

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Mexican Style Pickled Vegetables

If you love hot and spicy food, you are in for a real treat.  This unassuming little dish of pickled vegetables will fire up your taste buds.  My Mexican Style Pickled Vegetables is a wonderful combination of marinated bright orange carrots, crunchy cauliflower and smoking hot Serrano peppers.  I like to serve my Mexican Style Pickled Vegetables whenever I make homemade tacos, burritos or enchiladas.

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Serrano Peppers.  Use gloves when slicing these little bad boys…  Also, be sure to not touch your eyes or nose after working with these peppers.  Wash your hands well after working with the peppers.  Trust me.  You will not like what they will do to you.  I made that mistake once.  If you can’t handle the heat from the Serranos in the dish, you can dial it down by simply adding milder peppers instead.

My Mexican Style Pickled Vegetables is not only easy to make but vegan too.  Next time you serve Mexican cuisine at your home, be sure to make a batch of these pickled vegetables to serve along side your favorite dishes.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 pound cauliflower
  • 3 Serrano peppers
  • 1 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic

Begin by washing and peeling the carrots.  Slice diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces.  Set aside.  Wash and cut the cauliflower into bite sized florets and set aside with the carrots.  Trim the tops of the peppers and cut into 1/2 inch sized pieces.  In a non reactive pan, add vinegar, water, sugar, bay leaves, salt and black peppercorns.  Bring vinegar mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.  Add garlic, Serrano peppers, carrots and cauliflower.  Cook for an additional 3 – 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Be sure to let the vegetables sit in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving.  The longer it sits in the refrigerator, the spicier it gets.  This makes a pretty good sized batch, so feel free to cut the recipe in half.  Makes about a quart and a half of spicy pickled vegetables.