Grain-Free Salmon Cakes

Posted by: on Sep 20, 2012 | 2 Comments

Grain-Free Salmon Cakes

These delicate salmon cakes are grain-free, flavorful and healthy. They are a great alternative to crab cakes. Unlike heavier fish cakes, these are really delicate. They are perfect served with a salad or you can go against the whole grain free thing and eat them on a sandwich like J did. I love salmon broiled simply with olive oil, salt and pepper. However, J isn’t such a fan of plain salmon, but he will eat it if it is dressed up a bit. He really loved these, and they are a great use of my leftover plain salmon. That makes this recipe pretty perfect in my book.

Grain-Free Salmon Cakes
Adapted from Balanced Bites

8-10 oz. salmon fillet, cooled and flaked
1/4 onion, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 egg
1 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp finely chopped chives (Dill or parsley would also work well.)
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper

Enough oil for shallow frying (sunflower, coconut or any high heat oil you prefer)

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Shape the cakes into portions of about 2 tablespoons each using your hands. They will be delicate and can be arranged on a plate prior to cooking. Heat a pan over medium high heat and add enough oil to fully cover the bottom. Once the pan is heated, gently add the cakes without crowding them. When they are brown on one side, carefully flip them. Once cooked, serve immediately. I think they are great with fresh lemon and a light sprinkling of sea salt.


Easy Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Posted by: on Aug 2, 2012 | One Comment

Easy Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

My Italian grandmother used to make the best Eggplant Parmesan. She would fry delicate slices of eggplant and bake the layers covered in cheese and sauce. This is not that dish. In fact, she would probably shudder at this quick version. But, that’s okay because it’s really delicious and a perfect quick weeknight meal. Roasting the eggplant prior to adding the sauce eliminates the need to fry it and makes for a much less messy process.

I feel like a need to add a quick word about vegan ‘cheese’…most of it is awful. Sorry, it just is. I think you just need to try a few kinds and see what tastes best to you. I don’t eat it often and only serve it melted. If you eat dairy, it would also be great with regular mozzarella cheese!

I always like to top baked dishes like this with fresh herbs. When I made this I had some fresh oregano on hand. It is also great topped with chopped fresh basil or parsley.



Vegan Eggplant ‘Parmesan’

8 Japanese Eggplant
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups vegan or regular mozzarella
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil or oregano for serving

Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick rounds and top with salt, pepper, oregano, garlic and olive oil, arrange in a single layer in a baking dish or individual heatproof dishes, bake 450 for twenty minutes, remove from the oven and add sauce and cheese and bake for another 20 minutes Raise the heat to broil and bake two additional minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Allow to cool for about five minutes prior to serving. Top with freshly chopped herbs.


Italian Pot Roast

Posted by: on Jun 2, 2012 | No Comments

Italian Pot Roast

When we moved nearly a year ago, we decided not to get cable. It was partly to save money and partly to be all sanctimonious about not watching much television. I am mostly kidding about the second part. Having access to Real Housewives of Wherever wasn’t much of a loss, but I did miss the Food Network. Even though I would complain about the quality and general lameness of most of the shows, bad cooking shows were better than no cooking shows at all. Then, I realized they show cooking shows most Saturday mornings on PBS. This began my obsession with America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s County episodes. J will even watch it with me and discuss the food science stuff.

This recipe for Italian Pot Roast is slightly adapted from the recipe on the show. I generally don’t use tomato paste and replace it with anchovy paste. I know you don’t like anchovies. But, you probably do. I promise they don’t taste fishy in tomato sauces. Just try my lasagna. The most important step in this recipe is to make sure to really sear the meat on all sides (maillard reaction for fans of the show!). This will make a huge difference in flavor when the roast is done.

Italian Pot Roast
Adapted from Cook’s County

Pot Roast Step 1

3 1/2-4 Pounds of Chuck Roast (you can ask your butcher to truss it for you)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 pound sliced cremini mushrooms
2 tsp anchovy paste
1 14.5 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
1 cup of tomato juice
1 cup of red wine, divided into 1/2 cups, (I used a Zinfandel)
1 head of garlic, remove the outer skins and slice it in half
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 spring of fresh rosemary
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and season generously with kosher salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large cast iron dutch oven. Brown the roast on all sides, this will take about 8-12 minutes. This will also smoke so open some windows! It should look something like this:


Remove the meat from the pan and allow to rest. Sautee the onion, celery and mushrooms in the rendered fat and oil for about 8 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup of wine, garlic, thyme, tomatoes and tomato juice. Bring to a simmer of medium high and add the roast back to the pan. Cover the top of the pot with foil and then the lid, and place it in the oven. Flip the roast every hour or so. Cook until fork tender. My roast was just under four pounds and cooked in about four hours. You can skim the fat off the top as necessary. I waited until then end of cooking. (Note: If you are not going to serve it the same day, this is a great time to let it cool and store it before the final steps.)

Remove the roast from the pan and cover loosely with foil. Remove the garlic and thyme from the pot. Discard the thyme and squeeze the garlic cloves from the skins. Bring the sauce to a boil and add the second 1/2 cup of red wine. Add the mashed garlic and rosemary and simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove the rosemary and taste for salt and pepper.

After removing the twine, slice the roast again the grain. It will likely be just about falling apart. Serve with additional sauce.

Other people have had great results with this recipe too! Check them out:
Italian Pot Roast @ Making Life Delicious
Italian Pot Roast @ Follow Your Bliss 



Pink Bean and Vegetable Stew

Posted by: on Oct 13, 2011 | No Comments

Pink Bean and Vegetable Stew

I love a good deal, and this stew is a bargain in terms of ingredients. When we went on a big grocery shopping trip after moving into our new place, I bought..oh, over ten pounds of various dried beans and lentils.  They were on sale thus making it completely necessary for our house of two. I really like these pink beans, but you could easily use navy or any other variety. I know that many people profess to hate anchovies. Me, I am a lover of all small fish.  Anchovies add a deep richness to this simple stew, and I promise that you will not taste fishiness in the end result. Even my tiny fish phobic husband agrees. This is the perfect soup to make on a lazy afternoon when you have time to let it simmer. The beans will still take several hours to cook and for the flavors to come together.

This makes a fairly huge amount of stew. For us, that means plenty of leftovers. I like keeping some in the fridge and adding some freshly steamed vegetables to the top as the week goes on.  The fresh parsley is a really nice counterpoint to the richness of the broth and beans, but I feel the need to put fresh herbs on just about everything.

Bouquet Garni

Pink Bean and Vegetable Stew

1 Pound dried pink beans (soaked overnight)
1 large onion
6 large carrots chopped
6 celery stalks chopped
1 2 oz tin of anchovies packed in olive oil, drained
5 cloves of garlic
1 16 oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp salt (more to taste, depending on stock)
1 tsp pepper
1 bouquet garni (1 sprig rosemary, several sprigs of marjoram, oregano and thyme)
I quart chicken stock
1 1/2 quarts water
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup fresh parsley

Heat olive oil over medium heat and sautee, chopped onions, carrots and celery until the onions are slightly translucent. Add the drained anchovies and stir, they will melt into the oil. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute.  Pour in the chicken stock, tomatoes, water and rinsed beans.  Tightly tie together the herbs using kitchen twine and add to pot with bay leaf. Bring to a boil and add salt and pepper. After it has come to a rolling boil, allow to simmer on low for at least three to four hours. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Optionally, stir in 1/2 cup fresh parsley.


Ginger Garlic Turkey Burgers

Posted by: on Oct 7, 2011 | 2 Comments

Ginger Garlic Turkey Burgers

Honestly, turkey burgers can be really boring.  Usually, I go the veggie burger route over turkey.  Although I really like red meat burgers to be simple with only salt and pepper, with turkey I like to up the spice.  Adding a generous bit of ginger was originally J’s idea, and it was a good one. The onions help keep these from being dry and the ginger is the perfect punch of flavor. I used a double dose of fresh and ground because the flavors really are different. I love to keep fresh ginger in the freezer and grate it as needed with a microplane or zester.

We had this with a hodgepodge of leftover roasted vegetables from this weekend’s farmer markets.  I just added garlic, onions, turkey bacon, olive oil, salt and pepper and broiled to done. We decided to forgo the bread and served this with a dollop of basil mayo for an easy weeknight meal.

Roasted Farmer's Market Veg

Garlic Ginger Turkey Burgers

1 Pound Ground Turkey
1/4 large onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp salt

Combine ingredients well so the onions, garlic, ginger and spices are well incorporated. Divide into four evenly sized burgers, and cook over medium high heat in a cast iron skillet.  Since turkey meat is generally lean, I add a small amount of olive oil to the skillet. Allow to brown on each side being sure to cook through completely.


Bison Steak Burritos with Guacamole

Posted by: on Jun 12, 2011 | One Comment

Bison Burritos

My mother in law had four perfectly ripe avocados, and I was happy to take half of them off her hands and share my guacamole recipe with her.  Good guacamole should be all about perfectly ripe avocados.  Fortunately, avocados ripen well on the counter so can buy them under ripe and wait a day or two. This can be made a day in advance if you make sure the top is coated with lime juice otherwise it will oxidize and turn brown.


4 ripe avocados
juice of one lime
2 tsp of kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
splash of Tabasco sauce
2 tbsp finely chopped onions
1 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)

Mash the avocados gently with a fork with the onions and lime. Add the  salt, pepper, tabasco sauce and optional cilantro. Squeeze additional lime over the top.


Burritos with a few ingredients are a staple in our house. I love spelt tortillas.  They fold easily and have a mild flavor. Cooking the bison steaks can be a little tricky, and they are best cooked to medium in a cast iron pan. They are leaner than beef, and I imagine overcooking would make them borderline inedible.  I made sure they were dry with a paper towel and brought them to room temperature (so they wouldn’t curl in the pan). I added a little oil to a cast iron pan over medium/high heat. You will want to generously add salt and pepper into each side and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side. It is key to allow the steaks to rest before slicing them. I recommend slicing the bison quite thinly to prevent them from being tough.  This dinner comes together really quickly and looks bright and fresh served with tomatoes and fresh limes.



Simple Roast Chicken and Crispy Potatoes

Posted by: on Jun 5, 2011 | One Comment


When I pull into my driveway these allium are the first thing I see, and they couldn’t make me happier.  I love that the simple row of purple globes have such a great geometric impact. Sometimes simple is best.  For years, I resisted making roast chicken at home. It was fine when other people made it but never my favorite thing. It wasn’t until I used this ultra simple Thomas Keller method that I really appreciated it.  I actually like his recipe best with just (Kosher) salt and (freshly ground) pepper. Of course, it is important to buy the best chicken available as it will make a tremendous difference in flavor.  I use the pan drippings for the potatoes and they wind up crispy and soak up the chicken flavor.  We have ever so creatively dubbed them ‘Chicken Potatoes’. This is about as simple a preparation as possible, and it comes out perfectly every time. Don’t be afraid of the high oven temperatures (450 degrees). I promise the chicken will not burn.


Roast Chicken Recipe by Thomas Keller available at Epicurious.


Crispy Chicken Potatoes

5-6 medium yukon gold potatoes

1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper

Parsley (or other fresh herb)

Slice the potatoes into 1/2 inch think sticks and pat dry. Remove the roast chicken from the pan and allow to rest lightly covered with foil. If there is excess fat in the pan it make be skimmed off, but you will need enough to coat the potatoes. Use a spatula to fully coat them with the dripping and add salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes and use heat proof spatula to flip them bake for another 10-15 minutes. I like to turn the oven to broil for the last two minutes, but you will have to watch them carefully to be certain they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and add additional salt and pepper and a handful of chopped parsley.


Orange Beef with Broccoli

Posted by: on Feb 19, 2010 | 5 Comments

So, I decided to take a break from blogging.  I didn’t think it would be months in between posting but I just wasn’t feeling it.  Since this is something I do for fun, I decided to just wait until I was inspired again.  I think I will be back to my normal sporadic posting with maybe a few changes.

Anyway, this Orange Beef with Broccoli is really so good and simple to quickly put together.  The sauce is light, but the orange flavor is very pronounced.  I used a top round steak but the cut of beef doesn’t really matter.   I always buy organic beef and this cut is always inexpensive at my grocery store.  The trick to cooking a thin steak is a very hot cast iron pan.  It makes such a difference in terms of even cooking.  I like my steak more to the rare side (although I think it looks more rare in the photos than it actually was).  I dry it with a paper towel, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.  It will only take a few minutes to cook on each side.  I allowed it to rest while the sauce reduced over low heat.  I  am still on a New Year’s healthy eating kick so I served this with brown rice and steamed broccoli.

2 Oranges
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
splash of soy sauce

Sesame seeds and scallions for topping

In a small sauce pan over low heat zest 1/2 of one of the oranges, juice the oranges, add the honey, ginger, soy sauce. Allow the sauce to reduce slightly.  After the steak has rested for 5 minutes slice and top with the sauce and sesame seeds and scallions


Spaghetti and Meatballs

Posted by: on Jun 21, 2009 | 5 Comments

I wanted to post this recipe in honor of Father’s Day.  My father taught me his secrets to making really good meatballs: you have to add Parmesan cheese, don’t over do it with bread crumbs, and always brown the meatballs.  This recipe is somewhat different from the ingredients my dad would use, but I still always use those three tips.

1 pound ground bison or beef
1/2 to 3/4 cup of bread crumbs (I use panko)
1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 egg

Combine the ingredients by hand until the mixture is evenly combined.  I like to make the meatballs with about 2 tablespoons of meat so they are on the small side.  Heat a pan with about a 1/4 inch of olive oil.  Add the meatballs in batches and brown on each side.  They will fully cook when they are added to the sauce.

I like to serve this with a really simple sauce: 3 cloves garlic sauted in olive oil, 1 large cal on crushed tomatoes and 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil.   Add the meatballs to the sauce and heat through and toss with spaghetti.


Daring Bakers:Lasagne of Emilia Romagna

Posted by: on Mar 29, 2009 | 11 Comments

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I was expecting something sweet for this month’s Daring Bakers, and I have to admit that I put off making this lasagna until the last possible moment.  Between being overloaded with work, going to conferences and reading the Twilight books, my free time has been  pretty limited.  I wasn’t in the mood for meat and I decided to make a mushroom ‘ragu’.  I am always in the mood for mushrooms.  Shitake mushrooms have become on of my favorite things over the last year.  I thought that the mushrooms went really well with the delicate spinach pasta.  I used a pasta machine, and found this dough to be really easy to roll out.  My husband helped, and we had long green noodles draped over the kitchen drying.  It looked a little nuts like green snakeskins…yum.  The whole project was well worth it.  In the end, this was a really delicious dish that I will make again.

Thanks so much to this month’s hosts: Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande! You can find the complete recipe for the pasta and lasagne assembling on their blogs.  Check out the other Daring Bakers’ creations on the fabulous brand new site or the blogroll!

Mushroom Ragu
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups diced portobello mushrooms
3 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
3 cups sliced button mushrooms
1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground pepper
1/4  tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 cup whole milk

Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add the spices, tomatoes and milk and bring to a low simmer, partially covered for at least an hour.