Easy Salmon Rice Soup (from leftovers!)

Using leftover salmon and rice from Christmas dinner, I created this impromptu soup, which was surprisingly excellent!

Pick apart the leftover cooked salmon, pulling out bones/skin and placing small chunks in a large saucepan. Add several cups of pre-made veggie broth (Trader Joes sells broth without MSG!) and a splash (couple TB) of soy sauce. You can either cook rice or use leftover; when it is cooked, add several cups of cooked rice to the soup. Heat and stir the soup.

After it is bubbling a little bit, lower the heat. Slowly add about 3 TB of mellow/white/yellow miso paste (available at New Seasons for example), stirring to dissolve. You don’t want to boil the soup after adding the miso, because it destroys the healthy stuff in miso… or something like that.

Serve with a couple thin strips of nori (dried seaweed, the stuff sushi is wrapped in, you can cut it with scissors).

Veggie Pasta with Marscapone Cheese Sauce

Digging through the cupboards, I concocted a very delicious dinner! Imagine mac & cheese, but grown up and somewhat healthy with the addition of vegetables.

First, cook some pasta. Then drain, rinse with cool water, and leave in the sink to use later.

In the hot pan (from the pasta- I don’t like to do dishes!), add some olive oil and swizzle it around to coat the bottom of the pan. Then add a couple spoonfuls of minced garlic, stirring constantly over the heat to prevent scorching the garlic. Add rosemary and whatever other herbs you like, stirring for a couple minutes.

Then add some veggies (medium finely chopped) and stir into the oil. You can really use any kind of veggie: I like yellow or Mexican grey squash, but broccoli in small bits would be good too.

To the veggies/garlic/oil mix, add some lemon juice and ¼ to ½ cup dry white wine (sauvingon blanc is good, my bottle cost $3.98), stir.

Close the lid and let the veggies steam/sauté, check frequently to check doneness. When the veggies are tender and soft-to-your-liking, add ¼ to 1/3 cup marscapone cheese (Italian cream cheese, a bit spendy, but worth it!). Stir this around to melt down the cheese. Gradually add ½ to ¾ cup grated cheese—I used what I had in the fridge—asiago and fontina, which melt nicely. This will get sticky and look like natto (the Japanese staple), but luckily it smells much better!

When the stuff in the pan is liquidy, add back in the rinsed noodles and stir. You probably want to add a little salt (approximately ½ tea (?)), ground black pepper, and a slight pinch of something hot like paprika or cayenne.

Heat until warm throughout, then serve!


Miso-Broiled Salmon

I made this as the non-turkey protein for Christmas dinner, and everyone raved! The miso glaze provides a sweet/tangy/full-bodied flavor. You can buy the mellow or light colored miso (fermeted soy bean) at natural food stores, like New Seasons. I find the darker kind ("hatcho"from Nagoya is excellent) at an Asian market. Basically, you want a mixture of the dark and light miso (more light than dark) to get that full-bodied flavor. I make many sauces (for steak, sauteed veggies...) using miso.

First, mix up the glaze:
2 tea. apple cider vinegar (or a little less, to taste)
1/4 C packed brown sugar
2 TB soy sauce

1.5 TB light colored miso (white, yellow, red, or "mellow")
1/2 TB dark colored miso (kuro, black, dark red, "hatcho")
2 TB hot water
(this dissolves the miso without over-heating it)
1/2 tea. powdered ginger
pinch of something spicy, like chili paste

Lay out your salmon fillets, skin side down, on a baking sheet with sides. Then slab about half of the miso stuff on it, trying to cover all of the exposed salmon surfaces. Let sit for maybe 5 minutes.

Set the salmon on the top rack near the broiler and set on "low" for 3 minutes. Then set the broiler to "high" and cook for 3 more minutes. Pull out the salmon to re-slab the remaining glaze over it, particularly hitting the burnt spots. Broil again on high for 2-4 minutes, but watch carefully to prevent overcooking (salmon cooks quite fast under the broiler).


Wafu Seared Tuna

I love tuna. I love wafu (Japanese style) tastes. I love sushi.

Those three things combined is this dish: marinated and quickly seared tuna!

I adapted this recipe from http://culinary.jwu.edu/content1590.html.

Buy sushi grade tuna from your grocer, I recently saw some at Trader Joes. I usually get one or two stakes, which is usually under a pound.

Create the marinade (mix in bowl):
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of finely minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons of soy sauce or tamari
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Let the tuna marinate for 20-40 minutes in the fridge. Unlike beef, you don't need to beat up your meat or poke it, just set it in the marinade and spoon some over the top.

Start cooking your rice, steaming your veggies, whatever-- the tuna will cook up quickly!

When you are about 5-7 minutes away from "go-time" with your side dishes, heat a pan on high heat. When the pan is hot, you can add a small dab of canola/veggie oil (not olive or butter, they will burn at high heat) and swirl it around.

Pull the tuna out of the fridge. When you take the steak(s) out of the marinade, you can optionally sprinkle wasabi powder on for a little spicy kick.

Get out your timer! With a stopwatch set for 1 minute 30 seconds, stick the tuna into the hot pan with oil-- careful, it will sizzle and spatter. When the timer goes off, use a fork to turn the steak(s) and reset your timer for another 1 minute 30 seconds. You can sear it for longer if you want your tuna well-done, but I like it a little raw in the middle (it's sushi grade :).

Promptly take the tuna out and let it rest on a plate. Now you get to use the left over marinade! Dump the marinade into the hot pan, but be VERY CAREFUL because it will spatter and sizzle and generally try to burn you. Let the marinade boil down into a thick-ish sauce, at which point you can drizzle it over the tuna and/or your veggies. YUM!

Chocolate Covered English Toffee

So I was craving toffee, and teaching myself the art of the candy thermometer, and decided to make this! I referenced this website and made my own adjustments:

• I toasted about a ¼ cup of almonds in my mini toaster for a couple minutes—until you hear them pop. After cooling, chop them up.
• Prepare your stuff, namely finding a big cookie sheet (the recipe says 12 x 16), covering it in tin foil and spraying/buttering it
• Then combine 2 cups butter, 2.6 cups white sugar, 1/3 cup water, and ¼ cup light corn syrup over medium heat in heavy saucepan with a candy thermometer. You need a heavy pan to evenly distribute the heat.
• Stir constantly and scrape the bottom of the pan. This prevents black crispy gook on the bottom. Eww!
• Watch the candy thermometer: when it hits soft crack stage ( ???) add a portion of the chopped almonds. Keep stirring and watching. When it registers 300 degrees (F) (hard crack stage), promptly take the pan off the heat.
• Pour (carefully!) into the pan (from above). You might need someone to help hold the pot while you scrape out the goop. Then spread the candy to fill the corners of your pan. (PS you don't want to spill this on your skin.... believe me)
• After it has set up a little bit, take a sharp paring knife and score lines—this makes it possible to cut straight lines after the toffee has set.
• Later, when your toffee is cool, gently melt some dark chocolate in a double boiler. Break the toffee apart along the scored lines with a knife. Dip the toffee pieces in the chocolate, I had to use a spatula to spread the chocolate around. Then dip the chocolate part in whatever you want (the remaining chopped almonds, cinnamon, finely ground espresso... all are quite delicious!)