Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pumpernickel with Olive and Walnut Spread Tea Sandwiches

I think it was a need to do something other than sit at the computer working on taxes and financial aid applications and look out at the grey skies and snowy landscape that led me to issue an open invitation to my bookgroup buddies and their daughters to come have a girly tea party. We ended up with 22 of us, and with everyone's contributions, we had a pretty impressive spread of assorted tea sandwiches, scones, mini muffins, cupcakes, fresh fruit and other goodies. We had a decent showing of tiaras and fancy dresses, too. And, really, I had a lot more fun than it looks like from this photo. It was a good party, and the sun even came out briefly! Thanks, everyone, for coming and cheering me up!

I made my favorite celebratory sandwiches from the original Moosewood Cookbook.

Here's my easy version:

3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup black olives
8 oz. cream cheese
1 scallion stem, chopped
1 red bell pepper
mesclun greens or spinach leaves, washed
cucumber (optional)
1 loaf pumpernickel bread

Toast the walnuts in the microwave for 3 minutes. Pulse to chop in the food processor. Remove to bowl. Pulse black olives to lightly chop. Add the cream cheese and chopped scallion and walnuts and pulse until blended but not too pureed. Spread on pumpernickel, top with red bell pepper (I diced it first, but slices work fine), greens and optional cucumber. Cut as desired. (I cut off the crusts and cut them in triangles).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Five-Spice Salmon and Sesame Green Beans

I thought I had about the best honey/lime/soy glazed salmon recipe ever, but this new recipe made all of us question that. It's a healthy meal served with brown rice, and really, when you find your family picking at the bits of crusty salmon left on the serving plate and rubbing their green beans against the salmon skin hoping to get a bit more sauce on them (that kind of grossed me out a little), you know it's good. This one is from Fine Cooking, issue 107.

This is fast and easy, and it's great that you do it all in one pan. Don't make the mistake I did and forget to start the rice until after you put the salmon in the oven, or you'll end up eating all the salmon and having none left to eat with your plain brown rice. Start the rice first. And if you happen to substitute frozen green beans, thaw them first or start them before the salmon. Another note is that I found the salmon needed more time to cook through, and using the broiling method meant that the top was over-done before the fish was opaque. I might switch to a high oven temp to finish it next time. Oh - and I'd make a little extra sauce to set aside and drizzle over it after it's cooked to avoid that whole practically licking the salmon skin thing.

Five-Spice Glazed Salmon and Sesame Green Beans

1/4 cup honey
4 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1-1/2 tsp. five-spice powder
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Four 6-oz. skin-on salmon fillets (preferably wild), pin bones and scales removed
Nonstick cooking spray
1 lb. slender green beans, trimmed
2 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp. lemon juice

In a small bowl, whisk the honey, soy sauce, five-spice powder, and garlic. Put the salmon skin side down on a large plate and pour the honey mixture over it. Flip the fillets so they are skin side up. Let the fish marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Position a rack 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, toss the green beans with the canola and sesame oils. Arrange the beans on one half of the prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the salmon skin side down on the other half of the baking sheet. Brush the salmon with any remaining marinade from the plate.

Broil the salmon and green beans for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, toss the green beans with tongs, and reposition the salmon pieces as needed so that they cook evenly. Continue to broil until the salmon is just cooked through and the beans are crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Toss the green beans with the sesame seeds and lemon juice and serve.