Friday, May 29, 2009

Wild Salmon Salad with Tzaziki

Wild salmon has reappeared in the seafood markets and this makes me really happy. Best to avoid the farmed stuff as it wreaks havoc among the natural fish population, and the salmon itself, is far less nutritious than it's wild counterpart. Here is a very simple and adaptable salad which features poached wild salmon. Everything else can be adjusted to your liking. I am writing this recipe loosely - all you need to do is poach the salmon, make the sauce and throw together a simple salad. I guess you could say it's as easy as 1 - 2 - 3 ....

To poach salmon, place fish (with skin side down) in a deep saute pan (at least 2") and add enough water, plus a about 1 cup of dry white wine in a large sauce pan, covering fish about 3/4. Add a bay leaf, salt and a few peppercorns. Bring water to a slow simmer, then cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. (Fish cooks at about 8 minutes per inch of thickness - so adjust your cooking time accordingly). I turn heat off and leave covered for another few minutes. The salmon will flake when it is cooked all the way through. Place salmon in fridge to cool completely - should take about an hour. ( The meat will easily pull away from the skin, discard it. Or give it to your doggie, he will be very excited).

While salmon cools, make tzaziki sauce:

Tzaziki Sauce (Yogurt/Cucumber Sauce)

1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1/2 hot house seeded cucumber, diced
1 small shallot, diced
1 TBLS chopped fresh dill or mint
squeeze of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate.

To assemble the salad, I like to have a mixture of lettuces, (I am in love with this combo: butter, mache and watercress at the moment). Add fresh dill sprigs and thinly sliced cucumber, radish and celery. Top with crumbled salmon and tzaziki. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of a lemon.

Salmon on Foodista

Monday, May 25, 2009

Green Tea

I have a few vices, some are good and others, not so much... However, one I would like to pass to you is my daily ritual of drinking green tea. I'm kind of addicted to it - which, luckily, is a really good thing!

The Chinese have been drinking green tea for 4,000 years - and many other Eastern countries have adapted this tradition; Japan and Thailand, among them. All teas are made from the leaves of the plant, camellia senensis. What sets green tea apart from other teas, such as oolong and black tea, is that green tea leaves are steamed, rather than fermented, which lowers the caffeine content and prevents oxidation. This process prevents the EGCG compound, (a powerful antioxidant), from being destroyed. This amazing compound is responsible for inhibiting growth of cancer cells and killing harmful cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. It's also attributed to lowering LDL cholesterol levels and inhibiting the formation of blood clots. But the health benefits go on and on...

- reduces inflammation, i.e. arthritis symptoms
- protects the liver from toxins, such as alcohol
- boosts metabolism
- controls blood sugar levels. May prevent development of type 1 diabetes
- prevents tooth decay
- aids in auto immune dysfunctions

Studies show that drinking 3 - 5 cups of green tea a day is necessary to reap the full benefits. (Space your tea times out throughout the day, ending around 4pm). Since the caffeine content is much lower than other teas, drinking this many cups of tea will not make you feel like you need to grab the ladder and repaint the whole house. There are, however, decaffeinated green teas available. Your grocery store might only carry teas labeled simply, "green tea". I recommend you to branch out and find an Asian market and sample the many different types of green teas available. Here are some of the most common/popular:

Sencha - the most popular, slightly astringent, sweet flavor.
Dragon Well - (lung ching), the ultimate green tea - bright green and brisk. More expensive.
Macha - used in traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Ground into a powder and usually whisked. Light and sweet.
Gunpowder - leaves are rolled into little balls, resembling gun powder. Grassy flavor.
Genmaicha - (pictured below), blend of sencha and toasted brown rice.
Jasmine - a blend of green tea and jasmine leaves. Very light and fragrant.

The most common mistake people make when brewing tea is the temperature of the hot water.
The recommended temperature to add to your tea is about 180 - 190. This is just before the boiling point. (If you don't catch the teapot in time and find yourself with an angry whistle, allow the water to cool slightly before adding the tea to it.) Boiling water will destroy it's beneficial compounds and will leave you with a bitter flavor. Steep tea for about 3 minutes. The longer you steep, the stronger and more bitter your tea will taste. Finally, store your tea in an airtight container, out of the sunlight.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chop Chop

Making a chopped salad requires little more than imagination and a good ole knife.  There are no rules, no expectations, other than having everything chopped just so - to justify the name.  I like to always include avocado and hard boiled eggs - the rest varies depending on what's in the fridge or new at the market.  Consider a vegetarian version by using baked tofu or tempeh. Please, use this as inspiration for a summer time salad and get to choppin!

Chopped Salad
serves  4

2 heads Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup Persian cucumbers, peeled and chopped in 1/2" dice
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
1 cup grilled or steamed corn
2 ripe avocados, cut into 1/2" dice
2 cups cooked Organic, free range chicken
1/2 cup cooked nitrate free bacon pieces ( I like Niman Ranch)
scallions, thinly sliced for garnish

In a large bowl, add romaine.  Place each component into a s
ection of the bowl.  Top with chicken and then bacon bits - garnish with scallions.  Toss with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing.

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Organic plain yogurt
3 TBLS white wine vinegar
2 TBLS Dijon mustard
pinch salt and pepper
1/2 thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (Roquefort is the best).

Combine first 5 ingredients.  Add scallions and cheese.