Friday, August 24, 2007

Seafood & Salad Week -Updated

Holy golden plums Batman! It's Friday again!

All of a sudden I had an overstuffed social calendar. Speaking of overstuffed, look what I did to a salmon last weekend:

I picked up 4 lb salmon from the local fish store. Wild, local salmon, of course. Pretty much any type of salmon works well for this dish. I cleaned and plopped it onto a bed of thinly sliced onions and lemons. Other bedding can include dill, fennel and/or fennel fronds.

I stuffed its cavity with herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, lemon verbana) from my garden. Tarragon, sage, rosemary are other herbs that can be stuffed into the salmon belly too. Thinly sliced onions and lemons were also packed into there.

With a sharp knife, I sliced 3 slashes into the side and stuffed the cuts with sliced garlic from my garden, and more herbs.
A few pinches of salt and pepper also went into the cavity and slashes.

I covered the whole pan with tin foil and threw it into a 400F oven for 40 minutes and out came this:

We had a few friends over that evening and we barely made a dent into the salmon. We've been slowly picking away at it all week long. It's been great in salads, with quick stir fries, or simply topping a piece of baguette and a couple slices of cucumber.
The following night, we continued our seafood theme and had ourselves some Saltspring Island mussels in white wine sauce:

This is one of my favorite seafood dishes. It's also one of the easiest dishes to make. I can have it ready on the table in under 15 minutes.

Here's my Fast & Dirty Mussels in White Wine Sauce recipe:
2 lbs local fresh mussels (really, don't even bother with with frozen imports)
Olive oil
1 small onion or 2 shallots - diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon sambal oelek or similar hot sauce
1 cup good white wine (I used Cherry Point's Ortega)

Options: Other veggies like brocolli, corn, green beans, carrots, potatoes. I usually just dump in leftover already cooked veggies. This time I threw in some corn, potatoes, green beans and fresh tomatoes that I had from the previous night's dinner. If you're using raw veggies, blanch them first if needed. There is only a short cooking time for this dish.

1- Clean and debeard the mussels. Pick out any mussels that won't close tightly.
2- In a big wide bottom pot, heat up a couple of glugs of olive oil over medium high heat.
3- Saute the onions and garlic until the onions are just translucent. Don't let the garlic brown.
4- Toss in the sambal oelek
5-Toss in the mussels and white wine sauce. Close the lid.
6- Let the mussels cook for 7-8 minutes or until they've opened.
7- If you're using leftover veggies, add them at the 5 minute mark so they'll have a chance to heat up.
8- Discard any mussels that haven't opened up.
9- Enjoy!

If you think they cook up fast, they get eaten almost as fast too!
These mussels shells get cleaned and tossed into the garden. They work partly as a mulch and ground cover. Over time, they also break down and feed the soil.

Then the following night, our friends Pete and Nat came prancing into town and we all headed out to the Longwood Pub for burgers and beer.
Longwood runs it's own brewery. They have wide selection of beers from light lagers to stouts. I found the stouts a bit too sweet for my taste but the IPA was a winner.
Also, for 100 mile diet minded eaters, according to the menu, the Longwood burger uses Vancouver Island beef. I didn't ask if anything else was 100 mile diet worthy. I was too busy drinking beer :P

The next night, we drove out to Port Alberni for Nat's going away potluck party. Little Miss Superstar is off to get work on her Masters degree in Superstarness in Sweden. I miss her already :(
It was grand to see all our old Port Alberni friends again.

For the potluck, I made a grilled veggie pasta salad. It's nothing more than a bunch of local veggies grilled on the BBQ tossed with some pasta and tossed in a lemon pesto dressing.

When I say lemon pesto dressing, I mean simply 2 parts pesto and 1 part freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed well. I used homemade pesto (recipe at bottom of entry) made with basil from my garden.

I used zucchinis, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic all from either with weekly CSA produce box, farmers market or from my own garden.

For Nat the Superstar, I made a Chocolate Cake with Blueberry Filling made with locally milled flour, local eggs, butter and blueberries.

The going away potluck was hosted by the fabulous friends, Chris and Shar, at the Fat Salmon Backpackers hostel in Port Alberni.

Then Wednesday, my wonderful in-laws came by for an overnight visit. Armed with a bagful of goodies from True Grain bakery and Hilary's cheese shop, the proceeded to completely spoil us rotten by taking DH and I out for dinner at The Wesley Street Cafe.
My in-laws and I enjoyed some lovely local halibut that was prepared perfectly and DH is still swooning over their duck confit perogies which came with his free ranged chicken breast. They do make an effort to bring in local veggies and other items. However, I was a tad disappointed to hear that their lamb is from Australia. Oh, pooh!

Oh a brighter 100 Mile Diet note, I just got an email from the folks at Mermaid's Mug Cafe, a very cool coffee lounge, just down the street from Wesley Street cafe in the Old City Quarter. They've embarked on a 100 mile diet journey and also showcase lots of local musical talent!

Today, I managed to finish the last of the roasted salmon. We had it for lunch as part of a salad roll.
I love salad rolls. They are the perfect way to enjoy fresh greens and they're a great way to use up leftover chicken, pork, fish, prawns, shrimp or other seafood. I don't bother with the noodles, I just use more salad! With a big bag of ready-to-go organic salad greens in our produce box each week, we have plenty of salad.

I serve them with a homemade peanut dipping sauce which is nothing more than a tablespoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon of "Thai it up" sauce (recipe at middle of entry).

So, now I'm going to chill out with a glass of iced mint tea and finish up my socks. Have a great weekend everybody!
ETA: The socks are finished. Check out my the back story and the finished project on my knitting blog.


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