Sunday, August 29, 2010

Salmon and other welcome house guests

We recently had a house full. I mean the house was literally bursting at the seems. Mornings looked like left overs from a raging college party... bodies every where. We are used to that here. Living on the lake, summertime brings all of our friends and family to us for a much deserved vacation on their part. We joke that we open a Bed and Breakfast every summer. Entertaining guests with a few days in between to clean, flip sheets, and prepare for the next round.

What I have come to understand is that with house guests comes work, chaos, laughter, and sometimes when we are really really lucky... special treats.  This last three weeks we have entertained my cousin Jim from Alaska. To say he is a handful is an understatement, but he always comes bearing gifts. This time he came with beautiful Alaskan Jade earrings (shaped like eagles no less), widdled Diamond willow, and a bountiful supply of fresh caught Alaskan salmon. 

We struck gold and we knew it. He knew it would guarantee that we wouldn't kick him out too. He is a smart man.. family after all. We have spent the last three weeks concocting all sorts of delicious treasures with this salmon. The recipes that follow are mouth-wateringly delicious if I don't say so myself. All of the recipes start with a simple recipe for Grilled Salmon and go from there. 

The Pesto Cream Sauce was the perfect marriage with the grilled salmon and the Lemon Dill Sauce my dad now wants to start putting on everything... including breakfast cereal. And I made an entire meal out of the Smoked Salmon Dip and a glass of wine. It was just that good.

Now I sit in a still house. Just me, my boyfriend, and Frankie (our one kitty circus). The weather has turned bringing a cold rain and fog that blanket us for day. I am still recovering from the house guests, but today is a good day with the quiet hum of the heater, the sounds of my cat wanting my attention, and Scott sipping his morning coffee. Life is Good.
Not to mention, I still have leftover salmon that my cousin thoughtfully left behind just for me... Ssshhhh. Don't tell anyone where I live! I am locking the door!

Alaskan Salmon Cream Cheese Dip

 1 cup low fat sour cream
8 ounces low fat cream cheese
1 tbsp. lemon grass (we use the Nature's Garden in the tube)
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh chives
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups smoked salmon (reserve 1/2 cup)

1. Combine the sour cream, cream cheese, lemon grass, lemon juice, garlic, dill, chives, salt, and 1 1/2 cup smoked salmon in the food processor. Process for 30 second pulses until smooth and ingredients incorporated.
2. Transfer to a large bowl and roughly chop the remaining half cup of the salmon and stir in. This will leave delicious chunks in the dip.

3. Serve with pita chips, fresh pea pods, and sliced cheese and pears for a delightful light lunch or snack before dinner. A little apertif!

Grilled Fresh Salmon
2 pounds fresh Alaskan salmon
1 lemon; sliced thinly
Handful of fresh dill sprigs
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cracked pepper

1. Place the salmon fillets on a foil lined cookie sheet with the skin side down. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place the fresh dill sprigs and lemon slices on the flesh of each fillet.

2. Heat the grill to 350 degrees. Once hot, place the foil on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes depending on how thick the fillets are. You will know they are done with the skin begins to sweat white beads. This tells you that the fish is done!

3. Remove from the grill and serve alongside the Lemon Dill Sauce (recipe below)!

Cream Lemon Dill Sauce
 1 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup fresh dill
Juice of one lemon
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Combine the sour cream, dill, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and process until ingredients have been combined and are smooth.

2. Transfer to a bowl and serve alongside grilled salmon. 

Fresh From the Garden Pesto

1 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Combine the basil, walnuts, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. That's it! It's really that easy and delicious.

Pesto Cream Sauce
1. Use the fresh from the garden pesto from recipe above. Place the pesto in a sauce pan and add 1/2 cup fat free half and half! Heat over medium heat for 10 minutes stirring with a whisk until it is hot and bubbly. That's IT!

Serve over the top of the salmon and add a few diced sun dried tomatoes (optional) for an added punch. You will be licking your plate.. well, I'm pretty sure anyway!

Alaskan Thai Chowder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion; diced
6 cloves garlic; minced
1 cup carrots; diced
1 cup zucchini; diced
1 can (12 ounces) sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon red curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fresh minced or dried ginger
1 tablespoon lemon grass (we use the bottle of Gourmet Gardens)
1 can (14 ounces) lite coconut milk
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 can (16 ounces) sweet corn
l lb. cooked salmon; chunked (use the leftovers from the grilled recipe above)
2 cups fresh snow peas
3 tablespoons fresh Thai basil

1. In a large skillet drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes or until the onions begin to blonde and become translucent. Add the carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms. Continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.

 2. Transfer the vegetables to a large soup or stock pot and continue cooking over high heat. Add the red curry powder, turmeric, cumin, ginger, lemon grass, coconut milk, chicken broth, and sweet corn to the pot. Continue cooking over low heat for 30 minutes. The flavors will fill the house with an intoxicating aroma!

3. After 30 minutes, add the fresh snow peas, salmon chunks, and Thai basil to the pot and continue cooking for 5-7 minutes just to heat the peas and salmon through. 

4. Serve in a low with organic grown Indian Basmati rice (we follow the directions on the package, but use low sodium chicken broth instead of water to enhance flavors). Top with fresh cilantro and serve with soft bread for dipping up the soup's delicious juices.

Mental Health Tip: Okay. Here is the skinny on dealing with crazy house guests and relatives. Love them no matter what and embrace their idiosyncrasies. Life is good, but only when there is diversity, new ideas, and people to laugh and share with. I don't care how crazy your family is.. love them because of this. I call it the good kind of crazy! And when all else fails,  get some salmon and start cooking. Good, healthy food cures everything! Even frazzled nerves!

Bringing you fresh fish, omega-3's and healthy back to school blessings!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in recovery!

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