Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Summer Into Fall: Salmon Chowder

It was the last week of summer, and we wanted to make Northwest salmon on the grill one last time, before the cooler weather and rain arrived. I prepared a huge side of wild-caught salmon, using my favorite cedar plank salmon recipe. We enjoyed it, but it was way too much food for just the four of us.

Leftover salmon is good on a crisp salad, in a pasta dish, or just re-heated. But the forecast predicted the beginnings of fall weather. Salmon chowder, I thought, was the way to go. I've made chowders before, but never with great results, so I looked for a new recipe. I found one that looked promising, which actually called for canned salmon, but of course, I was looking for a way to use our leftovers, so I made that substitution and a few other changes. I wasn't sure about the idea of using creamed corn, but decided to give it shot. The chowder turned out delicious and just in time for the first cool, drizzly day we've had in months. Perfect!

My recipe is below. If you decide to try it with canned salmon, let me know how it turns out. I'm a little curious.


3 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves - minced
2 cups diced red potatoes
2 carrots - diced
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dill weed
15 oz can creamed corn
12 oz can low-fat evaporated milk
1 Lb (at least) cooked salmon - broken into small pieces
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional)

1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, celery, and garlic for a few minutes, until onions are tender.

2. Stir in potatoes, carrots, broth, salt, pepper, and dill weed. Bring to a boil; then cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

3. Add corn, evaporated milk, salmon, and cheese to the pot. Stir often, until heated through. Ladle chowder into individual bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Avocado Love: A Salad

When buying avocados, I always get an extra and give a half to my six-year-old daughter. She loves scooping the fruit out of the peel with a spoon and eating it up. She's determined to grow an avocado tree, and there are a number of pits buried in our backyard in random locations. Unfortunately, I've never heard of an avocado tree growing in Oregon.

If you love avocados too, you'll enjoy this salad. It's super simple and quite delicious. It can be a nice alternative for those who like Caesar salad. It's made with tender butter lettuce, lime citrus instead of lemon, red onion for bite, and avocado for creamy richness.

Salad with Avocado, Onion, and Lime Dressing  PRINTABLE RECIPE

1 cup thin slivers of red onion (about half an onion)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups torn butter lettuce
1 cup sliced avocado (about 1 avocado)

Combine the onion, olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a salad bowl. Let stand at least 10 minutes. Add lettuce and avocado and toss gently.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cleaned-Up (Vegetarian) Dirty Rice

Here's a little something for you, for Meatless Monday. Be sure to check out the Meatless Monday website if you haven't already heard about this movement.

I got the latest special issue of Cooking Light recently, called Dinner Tonight! (Yes, there's an exclamation point in the title.) And dinner the other night was Cooking Light all the way, except that I made slight modifications to, I think, yes, all the recipes: blackened chicken, dirty rice, and salad.

My husband kept asking me, "What is dirty rice anyway?" Well, I've always thought of it as a leftover rice dish rice, dirtied up with Cajun seasonings, onion, celery, and bell pepper. But I googled it, and Wikipedia explains: "Dirty rice is a traditional Cajun dish made from white rice cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, which give it a dark ('dirty') color and a mild but distinctive flavor. Similar to a pilaf, it also includes green bell pepper, celery and onion...."

So, I didn't exactly make dirty rice, because in addition to using a mixture of leftover brown and wild rice, instead of white rice, I also omitted what turns out be the defining ingredient of dirty rice: the chicken livers. Another thing I did was to use smoked hot paprika (instead of standard paprika), which definitely added some heat and, of course, smokiness. Lastly, I kept the hot sauce on the side, thinking it would make the dish too spicy for the kids, but it was too much for them anyway. Maybe our dirty rice wasn't technically correct (shall we say it was clean dirty rice?), but it was flavorful and we really enjoyed it.

The chicken was quite good too, even though, mainly by accident, I altered that recipe a bit too and forgot to make the sauce at the end (we were hungry)!

The best of all, however, was the salad with lettuce, onion, avocado, and lime dressing. Again, accidentally, I altered the original recipe. But my only mistake was to use double the lime juice it called for nothing major and we really liked the limeyness (? liminess? limyness?). Anyway, we liked all the lime flavor especially good with the avocado and onion.

Following is the recipe for my cleaned-up version of dirty rice perfect for Meatless Monday. Watch for the salad recipe later this week.

Jen's (Vegetarian) Dirty Rice  PRINTABLE RECIPE

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 garlic cloves - minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
3 cups pre-cooked (leftover) rice (any kind - white or brown, with a little wild rice mixed in if you like)
2 tsp smoked hot paprika
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
kosher salt
hot pepper sauce (like Tobasco)
2 green onions - thinly sliced

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper and sauté about 4 minutes.

2. Add garlic, thyme, then rice, paprika, and crushed red pepper and stir together. Stir rice occasionally over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until rice is warmed through. Season with salt and hot pepper sauce to taste.

3. Keep rice over low heat until ready to serve. Stir in green onions just before serving.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stick to the Specials: Sawatdee Thai Cuisine

I visited my local Thai restaurant again yesterday. The only one in the town of Sherwood, the one where I haven't had the best luck overall, but where I've tried a couple very good dishes.

Today, I picked the first item on the specials board, Yum Apple, and got it to go (as you can see in the photo). This salad is not on their regular menu, so it's a real special, not just on special. It was made of tart green apple slices, lettuce, shredded carrots, shallots, mint leaves, cilantro, toasted coconut, and a nice lime dressing with, I'd guess, a little fish sauce. It was quite delicious!

I've had good luck with other specials at this place too. The one that comes to mind is some sort of crispy papaya salad I tried over the summer. It was great! Because their specials seem to be better than their regular menu items, and because it'll keep me trying new things, I think my strategy with this place, from now on, will be to stick to the items featured on the specials board.

In case your wondering, the place is Sawatdee Thai Cuisine. The people are friendly and polite, and they seem to really care about the food presentation is always lovely. Be sure to try something from the specials board outside the front door. I think you'll find the best selections there.