Garlic Scape and Mustard Green Chimichurri

When I was in San Francisco I participated in a CSA box, which I quite enjoyed. It helped me stay seasonally relevant in my cooking and explore some new and different items that I wouldn’t have necessarily picked up on my own in the grocery store.

I’ve struggled to find similar programs with quality contributions in Colorado (though to be fair, I haven’t searched far and wide), but I finally did come across an organization I enjoy that supplies a weekly food box!

The GrowHaus is located in North Denver and supports the one of the most polluted communities in the city with fresh food options. They grow their own aquaponic and hydroponic lettuces on site, and have a fresh food market where one can shop for needed ingredients. They vary prices based on income and are bringing so much to the community with the access to resources and local events. I even bought most of my starter plants there this year – tomatoes, kale, peppers and herbs!

About 1/3-1/2 of my box ingredients are locally sourced or made including 6 eggs each week, a loaf of bread or bag of corn tortillas, and of course, lettuces grown right at the GrowHaus. A few weeks ago the box included garlic scapes, which I had never cooked with and mustard greens, also a new ingredient. If there are more exotic contents they usually provide a recipe, and this one was for garlic scape and mustard green chimichurri.

It turned out SO good! The garlic scapes pack a garlicy punch, and the mustard greens are just slightly bitter while the herbs brighten the whole thing up. They suggested just using only cilantro, but I hate cilantro and decided to just use an assortment of herbs from my garden, which tasted great too. I ultimately served if over salmon, though it would be great with chicken, steak, or maybe mixed in with some potatoes to make a light potato salad. Definitely a great combo to use as a base for so many things!

Click here for more information on how to get your own GrowHaus food box!

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Video: Shrimp Tacos + Cardamom Margaritas

Sometimes dreams come true. Craftsy has started an employee appreciation effort where they try to make random dreams come true. Someone had a dream to ride the zamboni at an Avalanche game, someone else a dream to learn to breakdance, and I had a dream to make my own cooking show episode. Obviously Craftsy has the production resources to make this happen, and I’m so grateful that they decided to spend those resources on me!

It was awesome. I got to see all the ins and outs of what goes into doing a cooking lesson on camera. Balancing looking at the camera and cooking, coming up with the right things to say (I winged it!), taking the right pauses before making no go back moves, only to mention a few – it was just so cool to be a part of.

While it’s definitely not perfect, I like to think it’s still pretty good for a first timer and that all these years of watching cooking shows finally came to some good use! So without further ado, my first cooking video… Shrimp Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa and Cardamom Margaritas!

And some stills of behind the scenes and the set:IMG_0529IMG_0479

Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Mango Salsa

Shrimp

  • 1 lb peeled devained shrimp
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Lowrey’s seasoning salt, or salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • ground pepper to taste
  • pinch cayenne pepper, to taste

Salsa

  • 1 large mango
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 taco sized corn tortillas (corn/flour mix with jalapeños, if you can find them)

Directions:

Mix shrimp with garlic and spices, making sure all shrimp are covered. Set aside to marinate while you make the salsa.

Salsa: Peel mango, remove fruit from the pith and chop it into 1/4 in.-1/2 in. pieces. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, score the fruit into 1/4 in.-1/2 in. pieces in the skin, then remove the fruit with a spoon. Mix the mango, avocado, jalapeño, onion and lime juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside salsa and cook shrimp.

Heat a couple of teaspoons of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When hot, lay the shrimp in the pan in one layer. Cook on one side for about 2-3 min until opaque half way through, curled and pink. Flip shrimp until just cooked through, about another 2-3 min.

If you have a gas stove, heat the tortillas over a flame, using tongs to continually rotate the tortilla. Heat on both sides. Another option is to head in the bottom of a dry pan until browned and heated through.

Cardamom Margaritas (makes two large margaritas)

  • 3/4 cup tequilla
  • 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cardamom simple syrup, recipe below

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to cool ingredients. Distribute between two glasses with ice.

Cadamom simple syrup

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp cardamom pods, lightly crushed

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissove sugar and continue to heat until simmering. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove cardamom pods and seeds.

Monterey Bay & Fresh Crab

I hate to brag, but I think my weekend was better than your weekend. I found myself down in Monterey Bay for a couple of nights; out of the hustle and bustle of SF, enjoying a weekend of relaxation, good eating, and the best company. I loved sleeping in, stopping by the aquarium to see the stunning jellyfish display, and cooking some amazing meals. Since we were stowed away in a condo, I got to try my hand at cooking (and cleaning) a live crab! Picked up fresh from the ocean that day, we went with the recommendation of our crab guy and cooked it in sea water. Literally. Water from the waves outside the condo. The meal was delicious and oh so fun, as was the entire weekend. I’m always amazed at how just a few nights away can make the world of difference.

Tips for your Dungeness season:

  • Cook in ocean water! It helps keep the meat moist and sweet. If you don’t have the good fortune to be staying by the ocean, uncomfortably over salted water will do.
  • Keep your crab on/in ice so it’s sedated for the drop into scalding water.
  • Boil a pot of water first and cook crab for no more than 15 min.
  • When it’s done take off the shell, gills, yellow stuff, brown stuff (there’s a lot of stuff… just get it out)
  • Get cracking! Serve with garlic butter and lemon – the fresher it is, the simpler the preparation.

Tips for Monterey Bay:

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must
  • If you have time, take a trip to Carmel-By-The-Sea
  • Eat seafood! Whether you cook it yourself or not
  • Walk on the beach, look for shells, watch the sunset – you know, all that good stuff

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Bastille Day: Moules à la Marinière

Happy Bastille Day! I know it seems a bit odd of a holiday to be celebrating, but this day will always hold a special place in my heart because it is my parents’ wedding anniversary. 33 years (that’s right, 33 years!) ago today, my parents tied the knot, which was just the beginning of a long-lasting, loving relationship and inspiration.

Billie Jean and Russell back in the day

My mom is a high school librarian and my dad is retired, so they have the pleasure of taking an immense summer vacation every year. The typically road trip. Through Spain, through the south east US, and this year, through eastern Canada. With stops in Montreal, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. PEI is very well known for their mussels and I was a bit disappointed when my dad said he didn’t have any there. While I’m not the hugest shellfish fan, I have developed a love for these little suckers over the years.

So with Bastille Day, my parents’ trip to PEI, and my upcoming trip to France later this summer as the inspiration for my weekend feast with my sister, I turned to Julia Child and the book I shamefully have never cooked from. I wanted something simple, light and easy for our mid-day meal, so when my eyes fell on Moules à la Marinière (mussels steamed in wine and herbs) I knew I’d found it. A one pot meal oh so appropriate for the holiday, the anniversary and my vacation day dreams.

This recipe was amazingly easy and super delicious. I couldn’t believe that when I opened the pot after just five minutes I had actually created mussels, that they actually opened, and that they actually tasted like they would in a restaurant. The flavorings are simple and let the shellfish shine through, and the serving liquid (a combination of white wine and mussel juices) was divine. I highly recommend giving this a try because I know you will be just as pleasantly surprised as I was at the results.

Moules à la Marinière* (serves 2)

  • 1.5-2 lbs fresh mussels**
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 4 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tbsp butter

Melt the butter in a large pot, add the shallots and garlic, cook for a few minutes to soften. Add herbs and pepper cook for 30 seconds or so to release flavors. Add wine and bring to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes to cook off the alcohol and reduce volume slightly.

Add mussels and cover tightly. Boil over high heat for about 5 minutes until shells are open and mussels are done. During the five minute cooking time, frequently (every minute or so) grasp the pot, thumbs clamped to hold on lid and give a quick toss to mussels, up and down motion, so they change levels and cook evenly.

When done, ladle mussels into shallow soup bowls, and ladle liquid over. You can let the liquid settle for a minute, if you are worried about sand (the sand will settle on the bottom while resting). Enjoy!

** Scrub mussel thoroughly and remove and ‘beards’ between the shell halves. Soak them in water for 1-2 hours  so they will disgorge sand and lose a bit of the saltiness. FYI floaters are ok – about half of my mussels floated in the soaking water, while the others sank. They were all tightly closed still, but opened up while cooking. Discard and open non-cooked mussels, or any non-opened cooked mussel, as these are bad.

* recipe slightly adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Coconut Poached Salmon

Something amazing happened last week. I didn’t buy lunch (and only dinner once) at all! Aren’t you proud of me?!?! I am. It’s quite a feat between my social calendar, general laziness on a work night, sometimes it a struggle to find the time to bring or make food. I have a couple of weekend trips coming up in May (yay!) that I need to self-fund by cutting back in some other places, aka going out to eat. Hi my name is Emily and I’m a planner, by profession and personal attitude.

So along with the berry roasted pork tenderloin I made a saag, which you’ve already heard about, and salmon poached in coconut milk. I had used some of the coconut milk for my saag and wanted to get fancy with the rest of it, and did I ever. I loaded up a poaching liquid with coconut, lime and basil, yielding a flavor akin to a green Thai curry, to make some luscious salmon. I used leftover milk and broth to make a very flavorful rice and steamed snow peas fresh from my dad’s garden. It was a light yet satisfying dish that lasted me a whole three meals.

The dish was really coconutty, but not sweet at all, which actually made the coconut seem a little more tame than when it’s used in sweet applications. And the sharpness of the lime was a great contrast to the creamy smoothness of the milk. I think it would be great with a little lemon grass or ginger thrown in next time. It’s also mild enough, that you could use other fish too. Unfortunately my grocer only had fresh salmon on hand, but I had really been looking for a halibut or other substantial white fish. The whole thing only took maybe 20 min, making this an easy weeknight meal within your reach.

Coconut Poached Salmon* seves 2

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 lime – to yield one big strip of peel and 2 tsp of juice, and lime wedge for serving
  • 4 basil leaves torn in half
  • 2 salmon filets
  • snow peas, for 2
  • rice, for 2

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a small-ish pan. Let reduce by half, abt 15 min. Reduce heat and add coconut milk, lime peel, lime juice, and basil. Return liquid to low simmer and place salmon skin side up in liquid. Cover and poach 10 min or until opaque and cooked through. Remove salmon, bring liquid to boil and season liquid with salt and pepper to taste (remove basil and lime peel before serving).

Meanwhile cook rice per its instructions substituting leftover chicken broth and some coconut milk for the water. Steam snow peas in separate pot, or place on top of rice for last 5 minutes of cooking/resting for steaming.

Serve salmon, rice and pease in a bowl with poaching sauce. Garnish with basil and additional lime.

*slightly adapted from Rachel Ray, original recipe available here

Salmon in Bengali Sauce

So I’ve never actually heard of ‘Bengali sauce’, but when Elle published this recipe in their March 2012 issue it struck my ‘cook more international foods this year’ chord and I was anxious to try it. And while I don’t normally turn to Elle for recipes, this was part of an article about a party thrown by Rebecca Minkoff and the whole spread was so enticing I decided to give it a go.

The sauce has turmeric, cayenne, mustard and cumin making it an Indian-ish sauce loaded with curry-ish flavors and spice. Being the bold fish that salmon is, I really enjoyed how it stood up to the sauce and heat, and how the flavors worked so well together. Yum! This dish was also quick and easy – I would love to entertain with it. I’m pretty sure you could brown the salmon ahead of time and finish it off in the sauce before you serve. Whether it’s for one, two or a crowd, you’re sure to love this dish.

Salmon in Bengali Sauce*

  • 1-1.5 lb salmon, skin removed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 scant tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp coarse mustard (or 1 tbsp crushed yellow mustard seeds + 1 tsp brown mustard seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

Cut salmon into desired serving size pieces. Rub with half of the salt, turmeric and cayenne. Cover and chill for 30 min. Combine remaining salt, turmeric, cayenne with mustard, and cumin. Add 8 tbsp water. Heat some oil in a non-stick skillet, add salmon and cook for about 2 minutes on each side to brown. Remove salmon. Add mustard mixture and cream to pan, bring to a simmer then add back fish. Continue to cook salmon until cooked through or to desired doneness, about 5 min or so. Serve with rice and spoon sauce over the top.

* Adapted slightly from Elle, March 2012. Serves about 3-6.

Brussels Sprouts with Walnut Vinaigrette

I never had brussels sprouts growing up. To this day when I try to convince my dad they’re actually good, he scoffs and says no way! I tell him they taste kinda like broccoli & good cabbage so long as you don’t over cook them. I even tell him you can cook them with bacon or pancetta, which makes everything (especially these green nuggets) so much better. Again, disbelief. But they are good, and so worth giving a shot if you have not already. I was not scarred by poor sprout preparation as a child and can now enjoy them for all the positives they are.

While I normally roast them, I made this recipe last night, which proved to be tasty then and today at lunch. It’s more of a brussels sprout salad with radicchio and a fresh vinaigrette of shallots, walnuts and dijon. I have to admit that I didn’t spring for a whole jar of walnut oil when the recipe called for only a tablespoon, BUT it was still flavorful and nutty. It is a tangy dressing, with just a touch of sweetness. The rest of the salad just works. The brussels sprouts remain crisp after a quick blanch and the radicchio is bitter against the sweeter vinaigrette, finished with fresh lemon zest and creamy parm, I really enjoyed this new take on a classic veggie.

Since this woman can not live on greens alone, I wanted some fish to keep the meal light and fresh. I was craving halibut, but there was none to be found at the store, so I picked up a trout. Yes! Another one! While this preparation was great, I wanted to lighten it up, so I employed this cooking method and steamed it with some fresh lemon and butter. So amazing! I added more liquid this time, the juice of a whole lemon and a splash of water, and the fish remained moist and flakey, with lemon noted that tied back to my sprout salad. All in all a nice fresh meal to get me back on track after that past few indulgent weeks.