Sunday, June 28, 2009

Succulant Smoked Salmon and There is a Winner in Pay It Forward!!

It is Saturday afternoon and I am busy preparing for a day of "family" birthday celebrations. In my family we usually lump birthdays together and have a big day of celebration. Of course, the day is all about the food and the cake.

Today's celebration is a "little" special because we are adding a new teenager to the mix.

Jake's (my nephew) birthday is very special for two reasons. The number one reason is obvious, he is now a teenager! The number two reason is that thirteen years ago Jake entered the world weighing barely two pounds. Jake was a preemie. It is hard to believe now that he had such a shaky start, because he is growing like a weed grows in my garden, FAST!!

Of course, I have to mention Nick, my now ten year old nephew.

Nick now lives each day in the double digits (10) has he likes to say. Nick is the sweetest and smartest ten year old boy that I know. Ok, I know he is my nephew and I might be a little partial to him!

Thanks to my brother-in-law, I have a freezer of fresh wild caught Salmon!

Rob just got back from a very successful Alaskan fishing trip which brings me to my Smoked Salmon.

I am taking a big platter of homemade smoked salmon to the birthday celebration.

Word of warning!! This smoked salmon is fresh with rich smoked flavor. You will need a charcoal grill to to get that rich smokey flavor.

Gin's Smoked Salmon

1 salmon fillet, 2 to 3 pounds

2 cups rum

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup Chardonnay Oak Smoked Sea Salt

1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

(1) Rinse salmon and pat dry. Put salmon in baking dish and cover with rum. Let marinate in rum for 45 minutes. Drain salmon and pat dry. (2) Mix brown sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. This is your cure. Put salmon in baking dish and cover salmon with cure. Cover with plastic wrap and put in to refrigerator for 4 hours. (3) Soak 3 cups of your favorite wood chips in water for 1 hour. (4) Prepare charcoal grill for indirect heat. (5) Rinse the cure off the salmon with cold water and blot dry. Brush your grill grate with oil and place salmon in the center of grate. Add drained wood chips to hot coals and cover grill. (6) Smoked Salmon for approximately 20 minutes or until it flakes easily. (7) Cool and ENJOY!

I served the Smoked Salmon on a big platter with capers, red onion, chopped hard boiled egg, cucumbers, lemons and pumpernickel bread! Delicious! This salmon will save for three to four days in the refrigerator, so you can enjoy it with your morning bagels if you so do choose.

On to Pay It Forward. I put every body's name in a hat and picked a winner the old fashion way. I wish I could show you the process, but once again I have a dead camera battery! (So AGGRAVATING!) DRUM ROLL PLEASE. . . . . . . THE WINNER IS. . . . . KIM FROM the Ungourmet!! Kim has a great blog and if you haven't had a chance to check it out, head there now! Kim drop me an email with your address and I will send a package your way.

Have a great week!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

And the secret ingredient is. . . . GREENS!

Before you say gross, let me explain.

Girlichef is hosting the BSI (Blogger Secret Ingredient) and I just couldn't resist participating in this. First, Dar is the absolute best and if you don't believe just grab my badge! That is right! You can grab my badge because Dar created it for me. THANKS A MILLION TIMES OVER FOR THAT DAR. Second, I love greens.

I also love all kinds of pesto. As a matter of fact, I am kind of a pesto expert. I always have frozen homemade pesto cubes in my freezer. I am always making new pesto recipes. Pesto is what I order, if it is on the menu, when we go out to eat. Which brings me to my Mustard Greens Pesto recipe.

A couple of months ago we were in Tampa, Florida at a local seafood restaurant where I ordered fresh fish with pesto and pasta. It was delicious. The pesto had such an unique taste that I asked to speak to the Chef.

"Chef, may I inquire about this delicious pesto," I asked?

"Yes you may. It is Mustard Greens Pesto but I can not give away my recipe. It is my signature item."

When I got home, I went to work on my own mustard greens pesto recipe.

Gin's Mustard Greens Fresh Pesto

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup almonds

2 garlic cloves, roasted

3 tablespoons raspberry balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons honey

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cups coarsely chopped mustard greens

salt and pepper to taste

(1) Blend 1/2 cup olive oil, almonds, and garlic in a processor until finely chopped. (2) Add vinegar, Parmesan cheese and thoroughly blend. Add mustard greens with remaining oil. Season with honey,cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste. (3) ENJOY!

There you have, my entry into this week's BSI. Let me tell you what I like about this pesto. First of all, it really has a kick in the flavor department. It is relatively cheap to make. It is off the chart in the versatility of uses.

I hope that everybody is have a great summer and a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Summer is passing by with Swedish Meatballs, Fishing and Pay It Forward

I would like to take this quick opportunity to tell my blogging friends that summer is getting in the way of my blogging AND more importantly reading all my favorite blogs! Between a triathlon, a son coming home from college, another son running around like there is no tomorrow AND MY LOVE FOR

FISHING, the summer already feels like it is speeding by. YIKES!! Anyway, I would like to say that I am always happy when I get a chance to read all my favorite blogs and if I don't visit for awhile it is only because of all that is going on in my little world. The great thing is, everything that is going on, is good, and for that I am grateful!

Ever since I went to Ikea to shop for my "new" kitchen and stumbled upon their Swedish Meatballs, I have been on a hyper quest to create my own recipe. Ikea serves their meatballs with freshly boiled potatoes and a huge heaping of lingonberry jam. They are DELICIOUS!!

The thing is, I knew that I could do better. The only reason I knew I could do better is that I could use fresh and more healthy ingredients for the meatballs.

Gin's Swedish Meatballs

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 sleeve of saltine crackers,
1 1/2 cup fat free half-n-half, divided
1 egg

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon onion powder
salt & pepper to taste
3 cups beef broth less sodium

1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoon flour
4 tablespoons water
2 egg yolks
dash lemon juice

(1) Add meat, crackers, 1/2 cup half-n-half, egg, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, salt/pepper and roll into small meatballs. (2) Gently brown in a nonstick pan . (3) Move meatballs to pot with beef broth and simmer for 45 minutes. (4) Remove meatballs. (5) Add to a jar flour, water, wine and lemon juice. Shake until flour is dissolved and add the beef broth. Stir constantly until thicken. (6) Remove a cup of gravy. Mix egg yolks. Slowly add gravy to egg yolks to temper and not scramble! (7) Add mixture back to gravy and continue to stir until well mixed. (8) Add meatballs to gravy and simmer until ready to serve. (9) ENJOY!

I served these meatballs with fresh boiled potatoes and a large slice of 9 grain bread from the farmers market. I skipped the lingonberry jam, not because I didn't like it with the meatballs when I ate them at Ikea, it was because I didn't have any. AND honey would rather not have his dinner served with jam (go figure?)

I realize that these meatballs are a comfort food that you would serve more during the cold winter months. If you get tired of grilling (which whoever would) give these a try. I have to tell you that the Swedish are on to something by putting cream into their meatballs. It makes the texture of the meatballs so moist and rich. They practically melt in your mouth.

On to Pay it Forward or PIF for short. I was so lucky to be the winner of Dar's Pay It Forward. In short, to be a part of PIF all you have to do is make a comment on this blog post. On June 28, I will make a random draw of a winner to receive a gift of some sort from me. According to the rules, I have 365 days to send the gift, but I can guarantee you that it won't take me that long. If you are the winner of PIF, you then will host a PIF on your blog where you get to send a gift! FUN!!

I hope that everyone has a wonderful summer full of family, friends and fun!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Sunday Triathlon and a Devil of a Cupcake

Male-Female Division KEN AND GIN 3:34:26 3:42:23 = 7:16:49

So, there are the results of our second Triathlon that we participated in yesterday! We improved our score by over forty minutes from our first Triathlon. Obviously, we are extremely pleased with our performance, and we are still speaking to each other. The day was beautiful and "most" of the other participants were extremely nice and fun to be around. What more could you ask for? Well, maybe to be a little less sore today, but I am not complaining.

When I crossed the finish line I did a little dance. I think that the onlookers thought that I might be delirious, and questioned my behavior. That was until they heard my song that went with my dance!

"Oh yes, oh yes, I am officially retired from Triathlons! Oh yes, oh yes, I am never doing another Triathlon! LA DE DA, LA DE DA!"

If I even mention doing the October Triathlon, I would really appreciate someone bringing me to my senses. I would like to thank you in advance for telling me, "GIN, DON'T DO THE OCTOBER TRIATHLON!"

The one benefit, among many, from doing a Triathlon is that you can treat yourself to some goodies without guilt. When you are training for it, you are burning extra calories, and race day brings a huge calorie burn.

This Devil's Food Cupcake comes from Martha Stewart's new book. I have never been a fan of Martha Stewart. It isn't because I don't think she is awesome, because I do. Her way of entertaining and mine are bipolar opposite. I haven't used my good china in the entire twenty three years that I have been married! I have always admired people who entertain with a perfectly set table and good china, it just isn't me.

The cookbook is awesome and is filled with 175 different cupcakes. The photos are incredible and the recipes are amazing. I think I need to practice making my Chocolate Ganache Frosting. Mine didn't quite turn out like Martha's. I am not exactly sure what I did wrong, but the taste was still rich and delicious. The book is definitely worth the price if you are a baker of any kind. I think that cupcakes are the "perfect" treat. They travel well, make great gifts, an awesome birthday treat, and are the right size.

Now, I need to go soak in a very hot tub to heal these sore muscles. I hope that everybody has a great week!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Tangy Grilled Lime Turkey Burger and the Review of "Cult" Condiment #2

A wise man recently asked me, "Is there anyway you can shorten your blog posts?"

"Hmmm. . . let me give it a try," I replied.

What moves this delectable moist grilled Turkey Burger out of the mainstream is Patak's hot Lime Relish.

This is "Cult" condiment review #2. Refer here to information on "Cult" condiments.

This is probably one of the most unique relishes that has ever graced my palate. There is enough zip in this relish to satisfy your "spice" tooth and then some. The lime gives it a fresh tang second to nothing I have ever tasted. A little goes a long way. I see the uses for this relish has unlimited when fueled by your culinary creativity.

Tangy Grilled Lime Turkey Burger

1 lb fresh ground turkey

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

1 cup cilantro, finely chopped

2 tablespoons Patak's Hot Lime Relish

1 egg

2 cups Panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar

(1) Combine all ingredients for burger except turkey in a food processor. Add Turkey and gently form into five small thick patties. (2) Spray burgers with cooking spray and grill four to five minutes on each side. (3) Serve on homemade buns with lettuce, fresh tomatoes and a slight dab of Kewpie Mayonnaise. (4) ENJOY!!!

In closing this "short" blog post, Patak's Lime Relish is definitely worth a try. It is worth the search to add to your pantry.

PS I now ask the wise man "How is this for a "short" blog post?"