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

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

Lemon Posset

I have these lovely friends, a couple, who are pretty much good at everything. One is a doctor, the other a nurse. They volunteer in a hospital in Haiti a couple of times a year. They renovated their home, deconstructing the chimney and building skylights with their own hands. They garden, and of course, they cook. And let me be clear—when I say “cook,” I mean one of them trained under a French chef. So when they invite me over for dinner, I always say yes. Then I have a brief moment of panic while I try to decide what to contribute to the meal.

Life has been busy lately, so I decided not to over think it and just make a chocolate espresso pudding I’ve made a few times before. It’s quick, it’s easy, and who doesn’t love chocolate? Sadly, I attempted to make the pudding while I was preparing dinner. My impatience meant that the pudding never thickened properly, and remained a soupy mess even after a full night in the fridge.

Meyer lemons are sweeter and milder than other lemons. Much of the lemon flavor comes from the oils in the skin.

Meyer lemons are sweeter than other lemons. Much of the lemon flavor comes from the oils in the peel.

That’s when I decided to take the risk of making a recipe that had caught my eye—lemon posset. Historically, posset refers to a drink of warm milk curdled with ale or wine, then spiced. Thought to have healing properties, this drink was enjoyed as a cold remedy in medieval England. Today posset more commonly refers to a custard-like dessert. The original recipe has only three ingredients: heavy cream, sugar, and lemon juice. With a recipe this simple I couldn’t resist adding my own little twist. First, I decided to use Meyer lemons. Since Meyer lemons have a more delicate flavor, adding a teaspoon of zest seemed like the best way to ensure the lemon taste would shine through. I also love the combination of lemon and lavender, so I decided to sprinkle the posset with dried lavender flowers just before chilling. I added raspberries just before serving, because it just felt right to incorporate the first local berries of the summer.

let the cream come all the way to a boil, but keep your eye on it so it doesn't boil over

let the cream come all the way to a boil, but keep your eye on it so it doesn’t boil over

This was so delicious that one of my friends licked the bowl! It was a success that bears repeating, except next time I plan to use fresh Oregon blueberries as a complement to the floral note of the lavender. This was the perfect dessert for an early summer dinner with such dear friends. Enjoy!

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Lemon Posset via Food 52

By Mrs. Larkin

Baby Lettuces with Feta, Strawberries, and Almonds

This strawberry salad made a lovely contribution to my book group’s brunch this month. I wanted to make a salad that tasted summery and looked beautiful, and this recipe did the trick!

sweet strawberries and tender baby greens make up the heart of this summer salad

sweet strawberries and tender baby greens make up the heart of this summer salad

For the greens, I went with a mix of baby spring greens. The strawberries I used were rather large, so I sliced them instead of quartering them. I’m loyal to a mild goat’s milk feta that I love. Goat’s milk is also easier to digest than cow’s milk, so it’s a great alternative for people with sensitivities. (Note: this is not the same as lactose-free, it’s just generally easier to digest.) If you’re nervous about using shallots in the dressing—don’t be. The sharpness of shallots adds a needed contrast to the sweetness of the strawberries. As long as they’re properly minced, you’ll be glad you used them. Soaking sliced shallots in ice water for 10 minutes before mincing them will also lower the intensity if you prefer a milder flavor.

salty-sweet marcona almonds

salty-sweet marcona almonds

Surprisingly, my local grocery store was out of smoked almonds, so after considering my options I decided to go with Marcona almonds. These Spanish almonds are soft and sweet, and typically fried and heavily salted. They added the crunchiness and saltiness that the smoked almonds would have, but I prefer their mildness to the heavy smoky flavor of smoked almonds. They’re also soft enough that my lazy-self didn’t need to chop them first.

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This salad was a cinch to make and good the next day, as long as you keep the dressing on the side until serving. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Baby Lettuces with Feta, Strawberries, and Almonds by Jeff Banker

Food and Wine            June 2012

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

I love pork tenderloin. It’s an easy cut of meat to prepare and pairs well with a wide variety of flavors. It’s also possible to cook quickly and still end up with tender, juicy meat. Because there are only two tenderloins per pig, it can be difficult to source this cut from an ethical ranch. That’s why I was delighted to find some at New Seasons, our local grocery market. This recipe was a great way to celebrate!

the timing of toasting spices depends on their oil content

the timing of toasting spices depends on their oil content

Although the recipe doesn’t call for toasting the coriander seeds and peppercorns, I know that the flavor of spices is significantly enhanced by taking this extra step. It only takes a few minutes in a hot, dry pan to create fragrant whole spices. I ground the spices with a mortar and pestle, then rubbed them into the dijon mustard on the tenderloin. This recipe follows a pretty standard preparation of browning the meat in a skillet and finishing it in the oven. My one amendment to the recipe is to take the pork out of the oven when the internal temperature reaches 145 F. If you wait until it reaches 155, it will be well done and possibly quite tough.

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I served this with a side of kale, which I quickly blanched and then sautéed with onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper, and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before serving. It felt like a weekday feast, without the fuss. Enjoy!

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin by Ellie Krieger

Fine Cooking            Issue 102

Smoky Beans and Greens

This dish is a great way to say goodbye to winter. It’s simple and healthy, but almost achieves the heartiness of a rich winter stew. The trick is in the smoked paprika—a couple of teaspoons bring a complex smoky flavor to the whole pot. I add spicy Italian chicken sausage while I’m sautéing the onions, which is delicious but entirely optional. Kale, cannellini beans, and tomatoes are a common combination in Italian cuisine, and they rarely disappoint. This recipe is no exception!

flavor-filled ingredients

flavor-filled ingredients

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To make this vegan, simply leave out/substitute the cheese. To ramp up the flavor, add extra garlic, red pepper flakes, and use fire-roasted tomatoes. Good on its own, this recipe can also handle a fair amount of improvisation—so if you come up with a brilliant twist, please share!

pictured here with a quinoa corn muffin

pictured here with a quinoa corn and cheddar muffin

Smoky Beans and Greens via Epicurious

Bon Appétit            November 2009

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles

This dish is beautiful! It is an excellent way to prepare salmon for company because it comes together quickly and looks impressive. I used a meyer lemon and a blood orange to play up the contrast in colors, and because I like the sweetness of these varieties. The prep takes about ten minutes, and then the whole dish finishes off in the oven. I used a mandolin to slice everything—including the jalapeno. Be sure to wear gloves if you’re working with a hot pepper! It only takes one incident with capsaicin to discover why this step is so important.

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Since I wasn’t cooking for company, I purchased one pound of salmon fillets and altered my cooking time accordingly. I wanted the fennel to roast to its fullest sweetness, and the rinds of the citrus to lose some of their bitterness, so I roasted them for about 15 minutes before adding the salmon. I let the salmon filets cook for about 25 minutes, which meant they were cooked to medium rather than medium-rare. The end result was delicate and delicious, but next time I will roast the fennel mixture even longer for a sweeter, caramelized fennel result.

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Citrus and dill are natural complements to fish. Citrus flavors and brightens the fish without overpowering it, and dill is an herb delicate enough to pair well. The fennel and chile make this meal a little more interesting and fun. Enjoy!

served with a side of sauteed chard and capers

served with a side of sauteed chard and capers

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles

Bon Appétit

Cod Mare Chiaro

This delightful dish was my first experience cooking cod. Cod is a white, flaky fish that can hold up to frying, but  also turns out beautifully in this roasted recipe. Technically this dish takes about 45 minutes to prepare, but all of the work really happens in the first 20 minutes, while the potatoes are roasting.

roast potatoes and saute the vegetables at the same time

roast potatoes and saute the vegetables at the same time

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Since it’s winter and tomatoes aren’t their best, I purchased a colorful assortment of cherry tomatoes, which are still a bit sweet. They were small enough that I only needed to slice them in half rather than chop them, and the mix of red, yellow, and orange tomatoes was stunning. The flavor combinations are undeniably Italian—oregano and basil, olives, capers, and tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. There is nothing surprising about the recipe, but it’s pleasing and healthy in that good-fats, Mediterranean-diet sort of way. I added a side of sautéed kale just for something green, but this could easily be a one-pot meal.

add cod and pan sauce to roasting dish

add cod and pan sauce to roasting dish

oh, the vibrant green of kale

oh, the vibrant green of kale

There are no tricks—it’s fast and easy to prepare. In the summer with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden I bet it would be salivatingly delicious. Even in February, this recipe is a reminder that a few good ingredients can result in a satisfying, memorable meal.

mangia!

mangia!

Cod Mare Chiaro via Food 52

By Giulia Melucci            July 2009