Friday, February 19, 2010

Semi-homemade Salmon Burgers

I haven't been writing much lately, as most spare time at the computer has been dedicated to putting finishing touches on the grad school process (i.e. financial aid and professor meet-n-greets).

But I have still been eating.

One recent success was semi-homemade (though no relation to Sandra Lee) Salmon Burgers. The patties themselves were pre-prepared at Whole Foods; we just picked up 2, bought some toppings and brought them home. And while, yes, Whole Foods is no Bargain Basement, you can still get a fine dinner for two out of $20.

For extra flavor, I made a marinade from BBQ sauce, beer (equal parts), and maple syrup (just a few teaspoons) to coat the salmon patties in while we baked up some thick russet potato fries.

I wanted to grill the burgers out on our patio (which has nice ambiant lighting from the annual Sparkle Party), but there was no charcoal to be found, so we did them on top of the stove.

The fries were seasoned with sea salt, the burgers were DIY with toppings, and everything was scrumptious!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cocottes and Loaves

One of the pleasures of cooking is when attempting new things results in a successful meal, versus the ambitious projects that end up as duds (check back in the future for the Quinoa Cookie Failure).

Steve wanted to try making something in his new Mini Stoneware Cocottes from Sur La Table, which appear to be ramekins with mini handles and lids.

I wanted to try baking bread on the new baking stone.

Both projects turned out well, though the timing was a little off (or a little European), as we dined on salad and cocotte casseroles with pine nuts and basil, then desserted with freshly baked bread and cheese an hour later.


As this was my first attempt with yeast-rising breads, I tried to start off with a very basic (generic) recipe from the Fresh Loaf tutorial.

I amended the recipe slightly along the way, substituting half of the flour with oats and adding honey.

Overall, a successful venture, albeit on the dense and salty side. I will definitely need to pursue this recipe to see if I can't make it more perfectly fit my palate.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cran-Winter Salad

Ok, so it's not specifically a winter salad, as all of the ingredients can be easily procured year-round, but there's something about the nutty/cheesy/dried fruit combination that evokes the bleaker months for me. On the other hand, this could also be an excellent summer salad with some avocado tossed in the mix.


- red-leaf lettuce (or preferred mixed greens)
- pecans (toasted on top of the stove or in oven and coarsely chopped)
- manchego cheese (thinly sliced/slivered)


- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/8 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste


In a small saucepan, bring water, honey and dried cranberries to a simmer over low heat. Add a dash of salt and pepper (about 1/8-1/4 tsp. each). Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid begins to turn rose in color. Add the white wine vinegar, and continue to simmer another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, combine olive oil with the juice of 1/2 lemon. Add the liquid from the saucepan to bowl (leave cranberries aside; they will be added to salad separately). Whisk together. Add salt and pepper to taste. At this point, one can add more lemon juice, vinegar, or olive oil depending on the desired ration of sweet:acidic:oily.

I prefer to plate the salads individually rather than toss in a large bowl to avoid all of the "goodies" sifting to the bottom, but this may depend on the number of people being served.

Truffles Update

After my last truffle adventure I had plenty of leftover ganache, so I decided to make up the rest of the batch for a work pot-luck. Once the ganache is already made, truffle assembly takes almost no time at all.

At this point, I was low on the honey-balsamic toffee, so I decided to crush it together with some almonds in the food processor. If I were to make these truffles again, I would absolutely use almonds in the original recipe, as it produces more praline and is easier to work with (less sticky). Also, using a food processor for this part (versus hammer and parchment) is an incredible time-saver.


Combine equal parts almonds and honey-balsamic toffee in a food processor until mixed evenly and finely ground. Empty praline mixture into a small bowl. Drop ganache balls into praline bowl and roll to coat, pressing in as much praline as possible. Refrigerate until serving.