Arctic Char with Charmoula

Much of the flavor in this fast and easy dish comes from the charmoula (also spelled chermoula.) Charmoula is a North African sauce made of herbs, garlic, oil, and spices, frequently used to flavor fish. If it sounds intimidating to make, it isn’t! It’s not much different from a pesto, pistou, or chimichurri sauce. This recipe starts by toasting some unpeeled garlic cloves in a dry skillet until the skins begin to blacken. Then use a food processor or blender to combine the (peeled) toasted garlic, fresh herbs, spices, olives, lemon juice, and olive oil into a paste. Add some salt and set aside while you prepare the fish.

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I used marinated green olives for a little extra flavor

The fish—I used salmon—should be seasoned with salt and pepper before placing it in the skillet. I generally like to roast my fish, but the filets only take 3-4 minutes per side on the stovetop and the end result was delicious. The fish should be fairly easy to flip once it’s cooked because the heat renders fat and pulls it to the surface. You can read all you’ve ever wanted to know about techniques for perfectly pan fried salmon at Serious Eats.

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Toast the garlic in its skin, then let cool and peel

By the time you’ve steamed a side of broccoli, this meal is ready! It’s quick to prepare, and full of nutrition and flavor. Enjoy!

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Arctic Char with Charmoula

Food and Wine            August 2014

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Pineapple-Glazed Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa

I recently went on a trip to Kauai, and returned with a lingering hunger for tropical flavors. The pineapple salsa in this dish made it the perfect recipe to satisfy my craving. I tweak this recipe ever so slightly, but it truly is a happy combination of sweet, spicy, and savory.

fruit stand in kauai

fruit stand in kauai

First things first, this recipe can be made with any cut of chicken. I typically just use bone-in and roast until the meat thermometer hits 160. This time I chose all bone-in chicken breasts and set the oven at 375 instead of 400. Although the light char on broiled or grilled chicken can enhance flavor, the glaze is delicate enough that I prefer a simple roasted version for this recipe.

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The glaze is light and makes a delicious sauce for after the chicken is cooked, so I tend to make two to three times the amount of glaze called for in the recipe. I like to use canned pineapple for the salsa, which means I end up with about ¾ cup of pineapple juice anyway. Since pineapple juice is already so sweet, I cut the amount of brown sugar down just a little. With ¾ cup of pineapple juice, I used 4 tablespoons of dark brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of yellow mustard. The lower sugar content means it’s necessary to boil the glaze for a few extra minutes to get it to thicken, but the consistency isn’t as important as the flavor. Just remember to salt and pepper your chicken and your glaze before they go into the oven!

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The salsa is easy to prepare, so you’ll have plenty of time to put it together once the chicken is in the oven. This time I used a fresh jalapeño, and you can even use fresh Serrano peppers if you like a little more heat. As is, this salsa tastes fresh and sweet, with just a little tang and heat from the red onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Again, adding salt and pepper to the final salsa is key.

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I serve this dish with some steamed green beans on the side. It’s bright, colorful, summery, and delicious!

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Pineapple-Glazed Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa

Bon Appétit            March 2010

Chicken Thigh Kebabs with Chile-Yogurt Sauce

Summer isn’t over yet! I wanted to get at least one more meal on the grill before Autumn hits, and Labor Day seemed like the perfect opportunity. Since it was just me and my husband Ben, we kept things simple and tried this recipe for grilled chicken with chile-yogurt sauce.

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a 15 minute marinade keeps this recipe quick and easy

I’ve made yogurt-marinated chicken before, and although it keeps the meat tender, all of the flavor is lost in the cooking. Instead, this recipe marinates the chicken in spices and keeps the yogurt on the side as a flavorful sauce. You only need to let the chicken marinate for 15 minutes, making this dish a possibility even on a weeknight. The sauce is a mix of Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and spices. I added a little extra lemon to give the mixture a tanginess I enjoy. I was out of crushed red pepper, so I daringly used my Uncle Carl Buck’s “Bucking Hot Sauce” instead. If you don’t mind some heat, and you have a favorite dried pepper blend, feel free to substitute. I used a little less than was called for and the sauce still had some lingering heat.

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Instead of skewers, I used bone-in thighs and legs, increasing the grill time to about 18 minutes on our mesquite charcoal grill. The chicken was good, but the sauce really made the dish. Grilled zucchini was a fantastic accompaniment. This was a delicious and easy way to close out the summer. Happy grilling!

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Chicken Thigh Kebabs with Chile-Yogurt Sauce
Food and Wine September 2014