Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Chipotle-Rubbed Salmon Tacos

June 28, 2010

Now that I have a tortilla press (actually, I have two – the first one turned out to be a little too small for flour tortillas, so we ordered the next size up), I am always looking for new, yummy taco recipes.  This one had been calling out to me for a while, since it involved heart-healthy salmon and a decent amount of fruits and veggies.

This dish would be great even with store-bought tortillas.  The flavors and textures are awesome – you get spice, you get citrus, you get creamy, you get crunchy.  There is a fair amount of chopping involved, so prep takes a little bit of time, but the end result is definitely worth it.  Try this on your next taco night!

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 pound skinless wild Alaskan salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 tortillas
  • Salt
  • 1 Hass avocado, mashed
  • Apple-Cucumber Salsa (see recipe below)
  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the lime juice. In another small bowl, combine the chipotle powder with the orange zest and sugar. Rub each piece of salmon with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and then with the chipotle–orange zest mixture. Let stand for 5 minutes.

    Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake for about 8 minutes, until they are softened and heated through.

    Meanwhile, heat a grill pan. Season the salmon with salt and grill over high heat until nicely browned and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

    Gently break each piece of salmon in half. Spread the mashed avocado on the warm tortillas and top with the salmon, Apple-Cucumber Salsa and the cabbage. Drizzle each taco with the lime mayonnaise and serve right away.

    For the apple-cucumber salsa, combine the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 1 Granny Smith apple—peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 cucumber—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt to taste

  • Initial thoughts on Top Chef D.C.

    June 25, 2010

    Due to my recent travel and some DVR snafus, I just last night watched the first two episodes of Season 7 of Top Chef.  If you want recaps, I highly suggest visiting John Kessler and Jordan Baker – they are my go-to sources for witty, snarktastic TC commentary.  I’ll start recapping next week, but for now, here are some knee-jerk reactions…

    * Padma’s boobs are frickin’ enormous.  Gail must be upset to have been dethroned as the bustiest judge.

    * I love that this season is in D.C., as I have mad love for my previous city of residence, but the “beauty shots” of all the monuments are going to get old.  There is more to Washington than the Mall, people!

    * “Hail to the chef”?  “Bipartisandwich”?  Are the puns going to be this terrible for the whole season???

    * Props to the chefs for completing a challenge on the roof of the Newseum.  The views are spectacular, but it is windy as all hell up there.

    * I do not like Angelo.  Within the first 5 minutes, he was name-dropping like whoa.  It only got worse from there.

    * Kenny really likes the word “irrelevant.”

    * Can I please have that rowhouse when y’all are done with it?

    * Sam Kass is hot.  I wish he was a contestant instead of Angelo.

    * I am really sad that the hippie from Michigan screwed the pooch and got sent home first.  I think he would have made things interesting (with soundbites if not cooking).  But, as usual, dessert is the kiss of death, and these chefs should know that if they have EVER watched Top Chef before.

    * Speaking of which, didn’t Hector try to deep-fry a steak last season?  Seriously, people, watch the reruns and figure out the major no-nos.

    * I know that alcohol cooks off in most instances.  But sherry-braised chicken?  For a school lunch?  At the expense, literally, of a good dessert?  I think Amanda should have gotten the boot.

    * If middle school cafeterias served lunches like Kelly’s team’s, I would happily go back to the sixth grade.

    * I am so glad that Eric Ripert is a more permanent fixture.  I hope the contestants cook lots of “feesh” for him to critique.

    * Did I mention that Padma’s boobs are HUGE???

    As usual, there are way too many contestants at this point for me to pick my favorites.  There was a fair amount of whining and cattiness and general bitchery going on, so I imagine it will be easier to pick out who I do NOT like.  Time will tell…

    Recipe: Grilled Chicken with Cucumber-Melon Salsa

    June 24, 2010
    1 Comment

    A couple of weeks ago, I wanted a dish that screamed “summer.”  Even though the first day of my favorite season (yes, I love summer, despite the oppressive heat and humidity) hadn’t actually occurred, schools were out and the weather was warming, and I was definitely in the mood for something that was light and flavorful and that made me think of vacation, outdoor BBQs, longer days, and lounging by the pool.

    This Cooking Light recipe did the trick.  It was quick and easy and took advantage of the beautiful fresh melons that were calling to me from the produce section.  The only minor snafu was that the jalapeno was REALLY hot – not a problem for me, since I enjoy the heat, but it made leftovers practically inedible for the rest of my family (the salsa was even hotter after it marinated in the fridge overnight).  I don’t know why I can’t get my green masala to be that spicy, but whatever…

  • 1  cup  (1/2-inch) cubed honeydew melon
  • 1  cup  (1/2-inch) cubed cantaloupe
  • 1/2  cup  diced peeled English cucumber
  • 1/2  cup  diced red onion
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh mint
  • 1  teaspoon  grated lime rind
  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
  • 2  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2  teaspoons  minced jalapeño pepper
  • 1  teaspoon  light agave nectar
  • 3/4  teaspoon  kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 6  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • Mint sprigs (optional)
  • Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

    Combine first 10 ingredients; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, tossing well to combine.

    Sprinkle chicken evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Coat chicken with cooking spray. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with salsa; garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

    Recipe: Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken

    June 9, 2010

    I have been a bad, bad blogger, I know.  And I’m about to be even worse, since I am leaving for Charleston tomorrow (yay, McCrady’s!!!) and then heading to DC on Sunday (yay, Dino!!! and Vidalia!!! and Palena!!!).  But, before I ride off into the sunset, I wanted to share a great recipe from a recent Cooking Light magazine.

    I was skeptical about this chicken from the start, since “oven frying” seems to frequently disappoint, both in flavor and in texture.  But this version was outstanding – lots of flavor from the coating (the rosemary and walnuts played nicely together, and the parmesan contributed a nice salty note), and I think the pre-bake soak in the buttermilk and mustard kept the chicken tender and moist.  Note: don’t skip the step where you toast the panko.  It’s worth the extra couple of minutes!

    • 1/4  cup  low-fat buttermilk
    • 2  tablespoons  Dijon mustard
    • 4  (6-ounce) chicken cutlets
    • 1/3  cup  panko
    • 1/3  cup  finely chopped walnuts
    • 2  tablespoons  grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
    • 3/4  teaspoon  minced fresh rosemary
    • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
    • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
    • Cooking spray

    Preheat oven to 425°.

    Combine buttermilk and mustard in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken to buttermilk mixture, turning to coat.

    Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko to pan; cook 3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Combine panko, nuts, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture; discard buttermilk mixture. Dredge chicken in panko mixture.

    Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on rack; coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 13 minutes or until chicken is done. Garnish with rosemary leaves, if desired.

    Recipe: Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Cilantro-Lime Mayo

    June 2, 2010

    I am always looking for new and interesting ways to get fish into my husband’s diet.  He doesn’t like whole fish, or even skin-on filets – basically, he doesn’t want any reminders that the fish was once alive.  With few exceptions, the better disguised the fish is, the more he enjoys the dish.

    These salmon cakes aren’t as healthy as steamed fish, of course, but they sure are tasty.  I used light mayo and sour cream to better manage the calories and fat, and no one noticed a difference.  The cakes were so moist and flavorful, with a nice crust on the outside from a quick pan-fry.  You could probably substitute another oily fish if salmon isn’t your thing or isn’t available, but I think it worked really well.  This is a delicious way to get those omega-3 fatty acids!

    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon grated zest and 4 teaspoons juice from 1 lime
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
    • 1 pound skinless salmon filet, chopped fine
    • 1 4-ounce can whole green chiles, drained and chopped fine
    • 2 scallions, sliced thin
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

    Whisk mayo, sour cream, lime zest, line juice, and cilantro in small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

    Place 3/4 cup panko in shallow dish.  Combine salmon, chiles, scallions, 3 tablespoons mayo mixture, remaining panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl.  Form salmon mixture into four 3 1/2 inch patties.  Dredge patties in panko, pressing to adhere.

    Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add patties to skillet and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  Serve with remaining mayo mixture.

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