Easy baked salmon with tons of flavor

We try to eat fish at least once a week and salmon is usually on the menu. I buy it frozen in individually wrapped packages at Costco, and just pull out the servings I need. This recipe is a keeper. It’s probably good as is, but I put my own twist on it. Biggest change: adding more vegetables and baking in the oven, rather than on the stove.

First I carmelized red onion. I sprinkled salt, pepper, brown sugar and a dash of balsamic. I had some baby spinach so I threw that in there too. About half a bag. It cooks down to nothing.

Then I made the glaze for the salmon. I didn’t marinade it as the recipe suggests. I just placed the cooked vegetables in the bottom of my casserole dish and poured the glaze over the salmon. I felt the need for a splash of balsamic vinegar. It was just calling my name. This is how it looked before I popped it in the oven.

This is how it looks after about 10-15 minutes in the oven at 450 degrees. I use a thermopen to make sure the fish reaches about 145 degrees. I’m happy with it a little under. Better less cooked than over, in my opinion.

(I highly recommend this thermometer. Yes, it’s expensive, but well worth the investment. I use it on everything.)

One quick looked at the finished dish on the plate before I tore into it. It was absolutely delicious.

If you have any left over, simply flake the salmon with a fork and chop the onions and spinach. Add some sriracha and mayonnaise – not too much. — Pile it on some artisan whole wheat bread topped with arugula and you have the perfect salmon salad for lunch the next day.

Let me know if you try this. You won’t be sorry!


Simple gravlax recipe

I was at Monuts in Durham recently, where I had a delicious sandwich featuring house cured gravlax, creamy cucumbers, and pickled radishes (I think). I really wasn’t sure what gravlax was, but I knew it was something akin to smoked salmon — we always called it lox in my house.

Something in the back of my mind said, maybe I could do this. So I gave it a try. After analyzing dozens of gravlax and smoked salmon recipes on the internet, I ended up using this 1998 version from The New York Times. The title of the article said it all, “Gravlax Without Fear: A Stunning Dish Just Looks Hard.”

What I’ve come to find out about gravlax is there are a lot of ways to approach this piece of fish that is not cooked, but instead, is cured with sugar and salt. I went out of my way to purchase a good piece of salmon (about 1 pound) at Publix, and started the process. After I got my piece ready, I read some recipes that suggested freezing the fish first to kill any parasites that might be lurking inside. Yuk. And too late. Well, I eat a lot of sushi so I figured I’d be okay. (So far I am.)

I read you have to press the fish while it cures with a board topped by cans or something similar to weigh the fish down and help it release its moisture. I read that you cut the fish in half and press the two halves together so the skin side is up on both sides with the sugar/salt mixture in between. I read that you have to turn it several times during the curing process, which could last from two to five days. You can add vodka, herbs, etc, or you could keep it simple.

I chose to forego the pressing, the turning, and the varied ingredients (and the freezing, which I just might do for safety’s sake next time). I coated the flesh side of the fish (which I did not cut in half, by the way) with A LOT of sugar and salt and chopped, fresh dill. Then I wrapped it in plastic, and left it alone for about 48 hours. I didn’t turn it (although I probably would next time). A lot of rather thick liquid, almost like a gel, came out of the fish and into the casserole dish I was using to house it while in the fridge.

Once I rinsed off the sugar and salt, I sliced it thinly. I slathered vegetable cream cheese on a ritz cracker and laid some salmon on top. It was delicious. I ate it every morning for breakfast on a whole wheat english muffin with some capers.

If you like Nova, lox, smoked salmon, or whatever you want to call it, you have to try it.  I will definitely be making this again. However, next time I won’t be so thorough about the rinsing because it would have been a little more salty and dill-like. I’ll also layer on the dill first, then add the sugar and salt. I might even experiment with brown sugar instead of white, or sprinkling a little vodka on the fish first like they do in Norway. So many new things to try!

Chorizo and black bean enchiladas

Enjoy chorizo, black bean and cheese enchiladas at home.

I’ve been wanting enchiladas for weeks now, and came up with the perfect way to satisfy my craving. These chorizo, black bean and cheese enchiladas were a hit in my house last night. It’s the perfect way to get some veggie and beans into my meat-loving family’s bodies while still delivering the savory spiciness of chorizo sausage.

The recipe is simple. I sauteed the chorizo (drain the oil if you see a lot in your pan; I didn’t have enough to drain), chop the onions and peppers and add to pan after the chorizo is cooked. Then add the beans. I used a can of black beans. Any beans will do the trick.

20140505-075349.jpgOnce your mixture is cooked (about 10 minutes or even less), set it aside. I used flour tortillas, but you can use corn. After putting together the enchiladas, bake for 20 minutes. I topped them with sliced olives, and mexican crema. Have you tried that? It is absolutely delicioso! It’s like a very creamy sour cream with a slightly sweet flavor.

If your family is more adventurous than mine, you could top the enchiladas with chopped cilantro, or chopped green scallions. If I had jalapenos, I would have topped my dish off with them. We’re a medium spicy family.

Here’s the recipe. Let me know how you do!

Chorizo and black bean enchiladas

  • 3 chorizo sausage links (casings removed)
  • 1/4 large vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper (I used yellow, any color will do)
  • 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 16 oz. can enchilada sauce
  • 8oz (or more) shredded mexican cheese blend
  • Flour tortillas (I bought the soft taco size and used 6 – smaller corn tortillas would work well too but you will definitely need more than 10)
  • Mexican crema
  • 8 oz. can of sliced black olives

Optional: jalapeno slices, chopped green onions, chopped cilantro for garnish

Directions. Take the chorizo out of the casing and saute the ground meat. Drain the oil. Add the chopped peppers and onions. Saute until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the can of drained black beans. Cook until heated through. Remove from heat. Add about a tablespoon of the enchilada sauce to the meat and bean mixture.

Use spray oil to coat the bottom of your oven-safe pan. (I used a rectangle glas oven pan). Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Pour 2 tablespoons into a fry pan (large enough to fit your tortillas) and heat on low. Add more sauce as needed. Sip tortillas so that each side is covered by the warm sauce. Add about 3 tablespoons of meat mixture to tortilla. Cover meat mixture with cheese. Roll up and place in pan. Repeat until all mixture is used. Cover with remaining sauce and cheese.

Cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. After it comes out of the oven, drizzle with the crema, top with olives and anything else you decide to add.


4 generous servings.


Pork Banh Mi

I have wanted to eat a pork sandwich that combines French and Vietnamese influences ever since I saw it on the Great American Food Truck Race.But every recipe looks way too complicated. I have no fear of brining, which many recipes call for, but I just didn’t have the time. Then I found this recipe on Food52. It’ offered a simple and fast way to marinate and grill the pork. The recipe for the pickled radishes and onions scared me a little since it looked like way too much liquid. Instead, I cooked down 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, 4 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let me tell you, the sweet and savory crunch of the radishes, combined with the salty, sweet pork, was absolutely divine. Slather some good mayonaise on your French bread, pile on the pork, radishes, fresh jalapenos, sliced cucumbers and cilantro leaves.

We took these sandwiches to the beach to celebrate Father’s Day and they were a hit! Let me know if you try it.