Alaskan Cod, Mediterranean Style

Alaskan Cod, Mediterranean Style

Alaskan Cod, Mediterranean Style

Wild-Caught Cod, Cherry Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives
Artichoke Hearts, Onion, Lemon
White Wine, Olive Oil, Oregano

Sitting in a waiting room, flipping through Martha Stewart Living, I came across a recipe for a one-skillet fish dinner. I didn’t have time to read the recipe,  but I quickly took a photo of the description with my camera phone. This dish is my interpretation of that description.

And it just so happens that my friends over at Food Network are featuring “frozen treats” this week. Being a savory kind of gal, I am not really drawn to sweet icy desserts, but this dish, made by cooking frozen Wild-Caught Alaskan Cod is included in the event, because hey, it was frozen, and it is most definitely a treat! Try it with fluffy white rice or crusty French bread for sopping up the juices.

Alaskan Cod, Mediterranean Style Recipe

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Un-boring Oatmeal

oatmeal toasted quinoa
Oatmeal Topped with Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
Toasted Quinoa, Dried Blueberries, Sunflower Seeds, Blue Agave Nectar

Would you rather eat farm fresh poached eggs and thick smoky bacon? Me too. But part of my heart-healthy regimen includes oatmeal for breakfast several times a week. And that gets boring. Quite. Boring. In looking for healthy ways to jazz it up, I put together this combination of toppings – tangy yogurt, toasty quinoa, nutty sunflower seeds, intense wild berries, and mildly sweet blue agave nectar. It was a delightful way start to the day.

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Griddled Chicken, Saffron Tangelo Syrup, Fennel Herb Salad

ottolenghi saffron chicken

Griddled Chicken Breast, Saffron Tangelo Wedges with Syrup
Fennel , Cilantro, Basil, Mint with Lime Vinaigrette

minneola tangelo image, tangelo recipe

Minneola Tangelo Branch of Citrus Salad Tree

Planted in 2008, my Citrus Salad Tree is now bursting with ripe fruits. This is a citrus tree that has 5 varieties of fruit grafted onto one trunk; Persian Lime, Valencia Orange, Honey Mandarin, Late Lane Navel Orange, and Minneola Tangelo. The juicy bell-shaped tangelo, also called a honeybell, has a very sweet flavor with a thin peel. The Minneola is a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine, developed by the USDA in 1931.

I adapted this bright colorful chicken dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “saffron chicken & herb salad” featured in the cookbook, Jerusalem, to incorporate tangelos and limes from my tree. Ottolenghi blitzes his orange syrup into a paste, using a food processor. I thought the tangelo wedges added texture and color to the dish, so I left them intact. The sunny citrusy honey saffron flavors shine, either way…

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roasted japanese eggplant with pomegranate, pistachio, garlicky cream sauce

japanese eggplant pomegranate pistachio
roasted japanese eggplant with fresh thyme
garlicky yogurt cream sauce
pomegranate & pistachio

I wasn’t shopping for another cookbook. I was actually at Anthropologie shopping for some kind of platform or stools on which to display some my overflowing unruly cookbook collection. But there on the shelf along with some darling Morrocan tea glasses and heavenly spiced candles was PLENTY, Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. On the cover, a bejeweled eggplant dish…I was smitten.

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swordfish belly, hot smoky pineapple glaze

swordfish belly, chile de arbol
pan-fried swordfish belly, hot smoky pineapple glaze
brown rice, temptation melon, cilantro, peanut
chile de arbol garnish

The fishmonger called it “swordfish bacon.” He had the whole fish there, which was locally caught right off the coast here in Southern California. The steaks looked fabulous, but then there was this esoteric belly meat kept off to the side, unsliced, and sold only to those who asked specifically…

While the belly of the swordfish is particularly fatty, it is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fats. Its melt-in-the-mouth texture and buttery flavor make for a special treat. Due to the richness and high fat content, my serving size here is only about 5 0z. per plate.

Dried chipotle chiles turn the spicy pineapple glaze into an extraordinary sauce. Tangy sweet pineapple juice is reduced to a syrup while becoming infused with the heat and smoke from chipotle peppers. Jalapeño brings a another spicy dimension and green vegetal flavors. Cilantro and scallion are introduced at the very end, adding a lively fresh component to the glaze.

The fish is served with fluffy brown rice, diced temptation melon, cilantro, and peanuts. Temptation melon, also known as orange flesh honeydew, is a cross between honeydew and cantaloupe. The melon flesh has a sweet heady aroma and complex flavor. Finally, the dish is brightened with fresh cilantro leaves while chopped peanuts lend crunch to balance the silky fish texture.

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Quite Possibly The Best Salmon Ever?

Morro Bay King Salmon, troll-caught hook and line

Crispy-Skin Morro Bay King Salmon, Miso-Braised Buna-Shimeji
Diced Daikon Sautéed in Sesame Oil, Vietnamese Herbs, Bonito Flakes, Dashi Broth

Being a salmon aficionado and curious about the unusually complex rich flavors of this particular fish, I called the fishmonger at Bristol Farms. Salmon from Morro Bay, just like her famous Northern sister, the Copper River King, has unique qualities that come from “lifestyle” – the environment where they hatch, what they feed on, the temperature and strength of the currents they swim in and against, and finally how they are harvested and brought to market.

LL: “I purchased Wild California King Salmon from you yesterday. Can you tell me more about it?”

FM: “Oh yes! They are troll fishing for King Salmon in Morro Bay right now, using hook and line, bringing one fish at a time on board the boats. The fish are handled with the utmost care.”

LL: “I think it is quite possibly the best salmon I’ve ever had.”

FM: “We think so too. It’s extraordinary.”

Morro Bay King Salmon is the star of this dish. All the other components play a supporting role while creating an ethereal experience. Unlike the super-fatty Copper River chinooks, the Morro Bay is perhaps more balanced? While Morro Bay kings are still very rich in the omega-3 fats, there is also a depth and complexity of flavor that is unmatched by any salmon I’ve ever enjoyed. Unwittingly, I chose a light preparation for the dish, so glad I didn’t overshadow the bright character of the fish with heavy sauces or competing ingredients.

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Spring Bliss: Sugar Snap Pea, Avocado, Tomato, Mint

spring bliss soup, sugar snap pea soup, chilled pea and mint soup

Chilled Sugar Snap Pea & Mint Soup
Mashed Avocado with Lime, Tomato Concassé with Shallot
Fresh Mint, Chili Oil & Creme Fraiche Garnish

A vendor at the Farmers’ Market was handing out samples of fresh-from-the-vine sugar snap peas. Telling people just to eat them as is, no cooking necessary. They were sweet & exploding with flavor, crunchy, the color of spring. Few of us could pass up buying a basket or two. Once home, I turned to my favorite vegetable cookbook Charlie Trotter’s Vegetables for inspiration: Sugar Snap Pea Soup. A simple and refreshing chilled soup. With avocado for richness, tomato for sweet acidity, mint for brightness. Spring. Bliss.

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Linguini, Smoky Avocado Sauce, Black Beans, Lime

avocado pasta

Linguini, Grilled Avocado Sauce with Lime & Cilantro
Topped with Black Beans, Red Onion & Serrano

Been seeing the avocado puréed, and used as a sauce or dressing a lot lately? I sure have. With pasta, as a substitute for mayonnaise in tuna salad, as a substitute for hollandaise with fresh fish or vegetables. Great heart-healthy ideas all!

Here, I take flavors that pair well with avocado such as lime, green chile, red onion, cilantro, black beans…and re-mix them into a refreshing green pasta dish. And by adding one more layer of flavor – smoke – the silky sauce takes on another dimension. Lime juice keeps it bright, and serrano kicks up the heat. It’s a healthy pasta fiesta!

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A Quinoa Meatball Landscape

meatballs, quinoa meatballs, meatball landscape, five star cooking group
Evolution of the Creation/
A Quinoa Meatball Landscape

Meatballs. Swedish meatballs. New Nordic Cuisine. Landscape design. Bed head. Tousled. Meatballs. Vegetarian. Quinoa. Fundamental naturalism. Foraging. Windy. Wavy. Ruffled. Native. Tasty. Satisfying. Elemental. Pickled. Fresh. Healthful. Tumbled. Unordered. Artfully disheveled. Meatballs…

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Sweet, Spicy, Savory Kale Salad

kale salad
Organic Kale with Dried Cherries & Shirataki Noodles
Garlicky Chili Lime Dressing

I’m not usually a fan of those free food samples at the supermarket. Seen too many “grazers” with poor manners and questionable hygiene, I suppose. But every once in a while, when there is a conscientious host passing out tastes of a unique offering, I might give it a try, as was the case this past weekend at Whole Foods.

A charming older woman was enthusiastically portioning out little cups of this interesting raw kale salad. It turned out to be an outrageous combination of flavors and textures, so fresh and bright, with an unexpected umami note. I put a bag of her shirataki noodles in my cart, and went home to create a salad inspired by that sample.

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