July 27, 2005
orichiette with slow-roasted salmon
Last week, Derrick had me thinking about slow-roasted salmon (reeeaaaaallly slow). Russell's in crunch mode at work right now - lots of dinners delivered to work, and not so many shared at home together of late. Sunday he was home for dinner, and I wanted to make him something nice but unfussy. He called for pasta. I wanted to make sure he ate something green. I puttered around the herb garden and the kitchen, and what came out was a plate of orichiette tossed with a bit of butter, fresh rosemary, chile flakes, steamed broccoli, leeks melted in butter, and fried garlicy breadcrumbs, with roasted salmon piled atop. Mission accomplished, with good results.

For the salmon:
My oven goes much lower than Derrick's - down to 150. I rubbed my salmon with salt and minced fresh rosemary, put it on a silpat, and I started roasting my salmon at 150. After 30 minutes I was getting fairly hungry, and it was clear it was going to take a lot longer than I wanted to finish the fish at 150. I turned up the temp to 175 for the next 20 minutes, and flipped on the convection fan for the last 8 or 10 minutes of that. Overall, the salmon took about 50 minutes to cook.

For the pasta:
Mise - You can do this while you're cooking the salmon, if your oven goes as low as mine!
Cut broccoli into small florets. Dice leeks into smallish pieces - mine were a half inch by 3/4" of an inch or so. Slice a clove of garlic as thinly as you possibly can. Shred a piece of bread into small bread crumbs. Cut some fresh rosemary - soft new leaves, not pinier hard leaves, and mince it. Boil some pasta water.

Put the leeks in the bottom of a heavy saucepan with a bit of water, a small knob of butter, and some salt. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low, cover and let the leeks melt for 10-20 minutes. They'll soften up beautifully, melting without carmelizing. (If you make green garlic soup or leek soup, this is how I start both of those, as well.)

Add a tablespoon of chile flakes to the minced rosemary, add a knob of butter; reserve.

Toast a few pine nuts.

Warm the garlic slices in a knob of butter with a touch of olive oil over medium-low heat. Don't fry the garlic, just let them infuse the oil. Turn up the heat after 5 minutes, and fry the garlic until golden. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Add the breadcrumbs, salt & pepper to taste, and fry until the bread is crispy. Remove to the same paper towel.

Putting it together
Time your pasta to finish around the same time the salmon does (I used about a cup and a half of dry orichiette for 3 servings). When you have 10 minutes to perfection on the salmon, steam the broccoli. When your pasta is cooked to your liking, reserve a bit of your liquid, drain, and toss back in the pot. Toss in the leeks, the butter, the rosemary/chile mix, and salt to taste. Stir well to combine. Toss in the broccoli. Pile pasta in a bowl, scatter with the breadcrumbs and pine nuts. Balance the salmon atop.

Find better kitchen lighting for nighttime food photos.

Posted by shock on July 27, 2005
July 06, 2005

Originally uploaded by Jenblossom.

Growing up, one thing my brother and I always looked forward to at family gatherings was my Grandma's "Drunken Beans", or Borrachos. They get their name from the addition of beer, which adds a nice richness and the slightest hint of sweetness to balance the saltiness of the pork and zing of pickled jalapenos. These humble beans are super easy to make, and taste even better the next day - they're a great addition to any summer menu, but are hearty enough to carry you through the winter months, too.


16 oz. dried pinto beans
6 cups water
1 baseball-sized red or Spanish onion, diced
About 1/2 package salt pork, cut into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch chunks (about 1 to 1.5 cups total)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small jar pickled jalapenos
12-14 oz. chopped/diced tomatoes with juice (1 can or 1/2 box POMI)
1 tbsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
1 bottle amber or dark beer
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pick over the beans to remove any stones or dirt, and place them in a large pot, covering them with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand, undrained, for an hour.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, begin browning salt pork. Add onion and cook until softened and golden. Add garlic cloves and cook until fragrant. Add the beans with their cooking water, the tomatoes, the beer, the oregano, and the juice from the jar of jalapenos (along with as many peppers as you like depending on your preference for spiciness!). Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine, and cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least one hour these beans can really go all day, and are even better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to really blend.

Serve in bowls (they should be soupy!) these go great alongside burgers, hot dogs, sausage, or grilled chicken, or make a wonderful meal on their own with warmed fresh tortillas.

Posted by jenblossom on July 06, 2005
July 03, 2005
Menu for a luau

Aloha! I'm planning a menu for about 10-20 adults/kids/family this month in honor of my daughter's 1st birthday. A traditional menu would look something like this: assorted pupu (appetizers), Kalua Pig, Poi, Sweet potatoes, Luau or laulau (pork or chicken and fish wrapped in taro leaves), a chicken dish, Lomi salmon (cold tomato-salmon dish), macaroni salad, fruit (pineapple, mango and papaya), Haupia (coconut pudding), and fruity beverages. I'm going to bend tradition a bit to accomodate my 40+ hour work weeks and motherhood; the goal is stick to the theme but make as much of the food ahead of time as possible.

My Birthday Luau Menu
Ahi Poke
Mango salsa, thai banana salsa
BBQ pork, tofu, teriyaki beef, veggie kebobs
Jasmine rice
Hawaiian bread
Macaroni Salad
Sweet potato fries
Tropical Fruit
Birthday Cupcakes (organic white cake and white frosting!)
Banana or coconut cream pie

Posted by rebecca on July 03, 2005