Friday, January 21, 2011

Farmers' Market: Salmon Scramble

Breakfast for dinner! It's a great American tradition. Well, I meant to have this for an actual breakfast, but didn't have time before my Pilates class. So I was going to have it for lunch, but after an hour of Pilates, 25 minutes on the stationary bike (with actual resistance! yea! a new feat for my post-surgical ankle), half an hour in the pool (also new today), and walking at least a mile (fairly new for my ankle, but not a first), my recovery-reduced stamina gave out and I hit my exhaustion point. Unable to move from the couch for a good while, my scramble just had to wait for dinner.

But you're not here to read about my life of physical therapy. You're here to read about fooooooood. More specifically, the food that is called the smoked salmon. *drool* You've already seen the elegant pasta and the stunning canapes, and you just couldn't help coming back for more! Right? Right? I knew it!

Today's dish is just as simple and delicious. With such a great ingredient as quality smoked salmon, you just don't need to get complicated.

Smoked Salmon Scramble
Serves 1

1 whole egg
2 egg whites
2 splashes milk
Fresh dill
Salt & pepper to taste
2 oz. hot smoked salmon, loosely shredded
4 bocconcini fresh mozzarella balls, sliced
1 T shredded parmesan

Spray nonstick pan and preheat to medium. Combine eggs, milk, a healthy amount of fresh dill (just snip it straight from the sprig into the dish), and fresh ground salt and pepper to taste - remember the saltiness of the salmon (and the pepperiness, if it's cracked pepper flavored, like I used). Beat well with a fork. Pour into preheated pan and walk away for a minute or so - a little trick I learned from Kavalier & Clay. After the eggs have had a chance to set some, toss them a little with a spatula. Add salmon and mozzarella. Continue to toss until mozzarella has just started to melt and the eggs have fully set. Transfer to plate and sprinkle with parmesan, more dill, and additional salt & pepper, if desired. Et voila!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Farmers' Market: Salmon Canapes

I made these canapes for breakfast instead of the traditional lox bagel, but they'd make a great platter for a party. Maybe for the Oscar party I'm thinking of throwing?

I spread Big Wheat Thins with low fat cream cheese, then topped them with cold smoke salmon (lox), red onion slivers, capers, and sliced cherry tomatoes. Slicing cherry tomatoes is really easy with a good, sharp tomato knife - one of my favorite wedding gifts. I used lemon pepper salmon, but if you use regular, you might want to add a dusting of fresh ground black pepper. Easy, beautiful, and tasty.

P.S. Not a fan of bagel thins. Maybe I bought the wrong flavor or brand, but blech. Flavorless with an odd, not bagely texture. I'll stick to sandwich thins, thank you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Farmers' Market: Salmon Orzo

Have y'all tried Google Hot Pot, yet? Oh man, it's fun. It's where I've been doing all my food writing the last few weeks. You can find my new slate of reviews there; my Hot Pot nickname is "vhamster." Anyway, for the most of you who haven't yet heard about it, Hot Pot is a new recommendation engine. You can rate and review places (especially restaurants, in my case), and Google works its algorithmic magic and recommends other places you'll love, like Netflix does with movies. The more you rate, the more accurate the results. If you do the whole social networking thing, you can see what your friends like and have that factored into your recommendations, too. That's really helpful when you want to see, say, what sushi places in Berkeley your friends recommend. Or say you have that one friend who's a pizza expert. You can check out his reviews when you get a hankering for some cornmeal crust. As a major bonus, the UI is so much super fun. I can rate and review like 25 places in the time it takes me to do 5 on Yelp. And you get 10 "BEST EVERS" to distribute how you like, which I've been super stingy about using so far. Anyway, I can go on and on about it. The husband man is one of the lead software developers on the project, so I know way more about it than the average user. They've only had a soft release so far, so you can get onboard as an early adopter. I'm totally hooked.

But, awesome as Hot Pot is, it can't keep me from my blog forever! The JCC had one of it's random farmers' markets today, so I have INSPIRATION. Of course, they never really advertise these markets, which only happen every three months or so, so I'm always caught without cash and bags. Too bad, because it's been a long time since I could walk to a farmers' market. I decided to focus the limited resources in my wallet on some smoked salmon, one package cold smoked lemon pepper and one brick hot smoked cracked pepper. My mind is reeling with all the fun stuff I'm going to do with them, but for tonight I made a tried and true recipe I invented years ago, my famous Salmon and Vegetable Orzo. The recipe is very simple and lets the flavors of all the ingredients really sing. It's a great way to showcase quality salmon and veggies. Sweet, ripe tomatoes and fresh spinach perfectly compliment the smoky salmon and mild bocconcini.

Salmon & Vegetable Orzo
Serves 2

4 oz. orzo pasta
half a small or medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2-3 very large handfuls fresh baby spinach
Salt & pepper to taste
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes (I like Sweet 100s), halved
2-3 T chopped black olives
4 oz. cooked salmon (I love the smoky, salty flavor of hot smoked salmon in this, but you can use any cooked salmon), loosely shredded with a fork (the pieces will break down further as you stir it all together, so don't make the shreds too small)
half a dozen or so bocconcini fresh mozzarella balls (I like the marinated ones for this so I can use the oil, but you can use ones packed in water), quartered
2 T shredded parmesan
1/2-1 T oil from the marinated bocconcini, or olive oil 

Cook orzo in salted water according to package directions. Meanwhile, preheat skillet sprayed with Pam to medium heat. Sauté onion for a few minutes. Add garlic and sauté about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add spinach and continue to sauté. Add fresh ground salt and pepper as the spinach wilts. After spinach has wilted most of the way, add tomatoes, olives, and salmon. Heat until just hot. Add drained orzo, bocconcini, parmesan, and oil. Toss over heat until bocconcini begins to melt. Salt and pepper to taste.