Monday, August 2, 2010

Walk the Plank? Why thank you for the offer!

My uncle Stu visited a few weeks ago. He is another foodie. Has been a lot longer than me and he is someone I grew up around in the kitchen. Naturally, when he visits he brings cooking equipment. Sometimes it's precious spices he can only find in Chicago and sometimes its planks. Yep, you guessed it. This time he brought wooden planks to grill salmon on. I have never tried this, but those who know me know I am willing to try anything and am pretty go with the flow. Which is important when there are three chefs in the kitchen. It is one thing when it's just mom and I. And believe me we step on each others toes a little (okay a lot), but insert another cook in the kitchen and we all have to agree who's going to be in charge of what. 

Some of you may relate to this in bill paying, cleaning, remote controlling, or any other aspects of daily life in which you revere yourself as the expert. When Stu's around I prefer to let him be the teacher and I play the diligent student, it just works better this way. Even if I already know, I let him teach me. And he did, he taught me how to grill using a wooden plank and it is my pleasure to pass on this little cooking jewel to you in this blog entry. To go with the Walk the Plank Salmon, I prepared some Spicy Mountain Veggie Hash, and I made delicious Quick and Easy Quinoa. Another really healthy substitute for rice that is packed with folate, iron, B vitamins, and is considered a perfect protein, much like milk.

But because this is my blog, I do have another little tid bit to share. I read somewhere that people say you eat the fear of the animal at the time of it's death. That's it the reason some choose to be vegetarians. However, I am of a different line of thinking. I believe you eat the love and the growth that each animal has developed through their life. The gift of their nourishment and vitamins. Just like my Uncle Stu's gift of teaching so is the salmon's gift of Omega-3s, lean protein, and selenium. All components that make this one of the healthiest foods to feed our families. How could there not be love in this fish. Not to mention all of the tender loving care we in home chefs take in preparing it. 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it anyway. I believe that the most loving gesture you can do for someone is to feed them healthy and satisfying meals. And once you do it, it kind of becomes addicting. You like the process of cooking as well as the positive reactions you (hopefully) get from others. Enough talk... Let's get cookin'!

To prepare the plank:

~Soak the plank in water for at least an hour, but you can do this longer and even over night. We chose to fill up the sink and hold the planks underwater using local Lambeth Honey. 

~The planks Stu brought are the ones I found on amazon to the left. They worked great and are small enough to store in a drawer. I recommend them!

~Using a plank is a whole different ball game. It adds flavor, smokiness, and when cooking it you now have another element to heat before the fish starts cooking. This is what leads to the longer cooking time as you will see in the recipe. The plank, the process, and the longer cooking time are all definitely worth it!

Walk the Plank Salmon
1.4 pounds wild Atlantic salmon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chicken rub (we love Szeged)
Juice from half a lime
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1. Rub the flesh of the salmon with 1 tablespoon olive oil. 

2. Then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon chicken rub and 1/2 teaspoon coarse rough rub. Squeeze the juice from half a lime and sprinkle with black pepper. Allow to sit on the board for 20 minutes before cooking.

3. Heat your grill to 300 degrees. Place the wet board with the seasoned salmon on the grill. Cook for 15-17 minutes with the lid closed. You will know the salmon is ready to eat when little beads of white 'sweat' escape from the top layer of flesh. 

4. Remove the salmon and the plank from the grill and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove the salmon from the plank. The great think about this is the skin will stick to the plank making it easier for you to remove the skin and have the perfect piece of salmon!

Mountain Spicy Hash
16 ounces frozen edemame
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 jalapeno; minced
1 white onion; minced
1 tablespoon garlic; minced
1/4 cup roasted red peppers
1 tbsp. cherry peppers; diced and HOT
1 can (15 ounces) reduced sodium black beans; rinsed
1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chilies

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Pour in edemame and boil for 3-5 minutes. They will cook partially and soften slightly. 

2. Drain and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process.

3. Heat large skillet with olive oil and add the onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Saute for 3-5 minutes or until onions blond. Then add the roasted red peppers, hot cherry peppers, black beans, diced tomatoes and edemame. Continue to cook until all is heated through, about 10-12 minutes. Then turn heat off and allow to cool to room temperature.

Quick and Easy Quinoa

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 tsp. hot chili peppers; minced
1 tsp. garlic; minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro; minced

1. In a large sauce pot, combine the water quinoa, chili peppers, garlic, and olive oil.  Bring water to a boil and turn to low heat. Simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

2. The quinoa will essentially 'sprout' and increase in volume much like rice. Once all of the water has been absorbed, add the minced cilantro and toss with a fork to incorporate. 

Mental Health Benefit: This meal is one of the most nutritious that you can feed your family and friends and it is relatively easy. Even I can't screw this up. There is high protein and omega-3's from the salmon, and soy, fiber, isoflavones, and amino acids, and not to mention the complete protein from the sprouted perfect quinoa. If you don't know what all that means. Here is the skinny, the components in this meal are low in fat, high in protein and fiber which help raise good cholesterol and assists in lowering cholesterol. Seems like a no brainer right? Well, I think so too!

Health and wellness from our kitchen to yours!

~"Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

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