Baked Lobster Mac and Cheese

Baked Lobster Mac and CheeseOscar The Grouch
The 92nd Academy Awards are this Sunday…and I am not sure if I am excited about it or not. My plan to see all of the nominated movies fizzled. I’ve only seen one, though I might try to sneak one or two more in during the next couple of days. We’ll see how that goes!

I just have this overall feeling of indifference. Maybe it’s political fatigue. Maybe it’s the hangover from the Super Bowl loss. Or maybe I just need my blanket and a nap.

In my opinion there just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of hype for the Oscars this year. So, it’s possible I’m not the only one feeling this way. It might be that our attention is elsewhere (considering everything that’s been going on here and abroad). It makes a night of big dresses, big diamonds, and big winners seem somewhat trivial even if, for some, it’s the biggest night of their careers. Or perhaps a night of silliness, heavy satin, and escape is just what the doctor ordered.

So what does one eat for a night of escapism? Good question. You could follow the lead of the Hollywood Foreign press as well as the Academy and go all plant-based. Or you could take one for the team of attendees who didn’t eat anything so they could fit in their dress and go the cheeseburger route. It’s always one of my favorite plays.

After last weekend, I’m burned out on finger foods. I’m thinking the best thing to do is combine everything I am feeling into one satisfying dish. So here goes…

Lobster Mac and Cheese is the perfect solution! It has the glamour of the lobster, heartiness for the hungry, and the comfort food factor to help those of us who are wondering what the world is coming to. Plus it goes well with some lovely champagne and bubbles will always lift your spirits…

Baked Lobster Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Ina Garten and the Food Network
Yields 6 to 8 servings Read more…

Summer Salmon Pasta

Summer Salmon PastaPasta Problemo
Pasta for dinner is a lifesaver. It IS quite frankly the easiest thing you can make besides a phone call to your favorite takeout place. Here’s the thing with pasta, on a hot night it can feel kind of heavy if you go the traditional red sauce and meatball route.

Summer pasta definitely needs to be light pasta either with a little pesto or some grated lemon zest with olive oil and parmesan—and don’t forget the tomatoes! All of these can be go-to options for a quick bite at the end of the day. But, sometimes you just want to do something different for a change of pace.

This recipe for Summer Salmon Pasta is my current obsession. It’s light but hearty enough for those nights you need just a little bit more.

Summer Salmon Pasta 
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Pan-Fried Trout with Lemon Butter Sauce

Pan-Fried Trout with Lemon Butter SauceGone Fishin’
For whatever reason, I have always associated Father’s Day with camping or living in the mountains. I have no idea why. I guess dads and camping kinda go hand in hand? Growing up we didn’t do a lot of camping and the only mountain living we did was in a condo at Tahoe. Perhaps I have seen too many movies, read too many books or looked at too many L.L. Bean catalogs but the picture of frying fresh rainbow trout by the side of a river in a cast iron skillet over a campfire is what I see when I think of Father’s Day.

I have the perfect skillet for it too; My grandfather’s vintage 9-inch cast iron skillet that he would take with him on camping trips building trails in the early days of the Sierra Club. That skillet has seen a lot of miles. On a whim, I pulled it out not too long ago and pan-fried for dinner some of the excellent trout we have in our meat case. Trout is not usually something I make often—mainly because it just seems so much better eating it on the banks of the river you just pulled it from but that night it hit the spot.

We all over-ate.

Trout is best prepared simply. You can dredge it in a little flour or cornmeal to give it a little crunch or, like I did, heat a little butter and olive oil in the pan and fry it up as is. Squeeze a little lemon on it and it’s heaven on a plate.

We are hoping to get away and do a little camping as a family this summer though unfortunately, it won’t be for Father’s Day this year. If you find yourself with the time and the inclination, I encourage you to grab a tent and your fishing pole and find your own A River Runs Through it moment…just don’t forget the pan.

Pan-Fried Trout with Lemon Butter Sauce
Yields 4 servings 

Read more…

Gravlax

GravlaxHomeland
Not too long ago I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown that was filmed in Copenhagen and I found myself glued to the seat fascinated by what I was watching on the screen. My mother’s side of the family is Danish — and I don’t mean mostly Danish with a little bit of “other” thrown in. I mean, “one hundred percent my ancestors wore breastplates and rode in boats to raid your shores” Danish.

Copenhagen, and Denmark in general, have always been on my bucket list of places to visit, mainly because I want to know more about where my family is from. It never occurred to me to go because of the food. But, as I sat there watching this show, it was a revelation. Because, more often than not, when I think of Scandinavian food I am transported back to the nights my grandmother would make red cabbage. (The smell when we entered the house was horrendous. But, Gam and Mom loved it.) Other times it makes me think of the herring in cream sauce we sell here at the store. Apparently, it’s delicious. I…just…can’t…even. I’ll sell it but I don’t have to eat it.

What I was seeing on the tv screen, however, was something completely different. And, it made me hungry. To be fair, Smørrebrød is not new and, in fact, it makes a perfect lunch. But, watching the chef create classic Scandinavian dishes in a way that made the old ways new again was energizing. His emphasis on ingredients that could be grown and used sustainably was icing on the cake. Now, he did use moss that he gathered off the trees in his backyard.(Foraging is big in Denmark.) Not sure I’m ready to go there yet. But, it did get me fired up about my garden again.

If you look really closely, on the menus of the nicer restaurants around us you will notice more and more chefs creating dishes with Scandinavian influences. (Akvavit comes to mind.) I started noticing it before my virtual trip to Copenhagen and even more so since. If those sixty minutes have done anything they have made me seek those places and recipes out.

In the meantime, as I thumb through some recent cookbook purchases, I am content to make myself a little bit of Smørrebrød for snacking. And, if it includes a little homemade Gravlax, so much the better….

Gravlax
Adapted from The Spruce
Gravlax is salmon that has been cold-cured with sugar, salt, and fresh dill. Modern gravlax has a fresh, delicate flavor and is delicious served either as an elegant appetizer or as a topping for smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches). Read more…

Slow-Roasted Salmon

Slow-Roasted Salmon We eat a lot of Salmon for dinner. Sometimes I grill it and sometimes I roast it in butter. It can be poached and it can be pan seared. But, I recently came across another way to cook it, Slow-Roasted Salmon, and it blew my mind.

Cooking salmon is not hard. But, one does tend to worry about over-cooking it, especially because of the price tag. Nothing worse than ruining an expensive piece of fish (or meat for that matter) by over cooking it.

Good News! This newest method I found is foolproof.

I was thumbing through my new favorite cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid Heat and came across this recipe for Slow-Roasted Salmon. It is a very simple, straightforward method of cooking your salmon and the result is a buttery-textured salmon that literally melts in your mouth. It’s fantastic!

Next time you have a big piece of really nice salmon, give this a try. You’ll never go back to your old method…

Slow-Roasted Salmon
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…