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the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Quick and Easy Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

I love salmon and Brussels sprouts.  Separately, they are good, but together, they are amazing!  Here’s my quick, easy, foolproof method for preparing both.  I had dinner on the table in under 25 minutes, start to finish.  That’s a win in my book.

Last night we had our salmon and Brussels sprouts with coleslaw from our fish market.  They make the best coleslaw, it’s hard to pass up when we go buy fresh fish.  I suppose this meal would be better with a nice rice pilaf or fingerling potatoes, but it’s good with coleslaw, too.

The salmon couldn’t be easier to cook.  I used to be totally intimidated by cooking fish, but then I discovered this method.  Rub olive oil on both sides of salmon, put on a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Here’s the key:  put in a cold oven then set the oven temperature to 400 degrees.  In about 20-25 minutes (depending on the size and thickness of the fish) it’s done!   I have never overcooked our salmon using this method.  A-maz-ing.

While the salmon is cooking, chop up some Brussels sprouts.  I usually quarter them, unless they’re really big, then I cut a little more.  It’s not a science.

Heat up some olive oil over medium/ medium-high heat and throw in the sprouts.  Stir occasionally while you get your relish ready for the salmon.  It usually takes 10-15 minutes total to cook the sprouts.  Turn the heat down if it seems like they are browning too quickly.  Throw some pepper in, if you feel like it.  Or some herbs.  I put herbes de Provence in pretty much everything, but you don’t have to.  Again, it’s not a science.

I love this relish, because it tastes like a summer day.  Seriously.  It’s seriously easy, too.  Chop up some herbs.  Last night I used parsley and chives because that’s what I have growing right now.  I’ve also used dill and cilantro.  Use whatever you like.  Throw in some capers, some olive oil and the juice of a small lemon.  Add pepper, but not salt (the capers have enough salt!).  Taste a little and see if you like it.  If you don’t, add more of whatever you think would make it better.  Not a science (do you sense a theme yet?).

When the sprouts are almost done, pour in a little balsamic.  Yum.  Stir it all together until the vinegar has reduced and everything looks good and done.

Take the salmon out of the oven, put it on plates, add some of the relish on top, throw some sprouts on the plate and whatever else.  Done!  So quick!  So easy!  So yummy!

Salmon

  • Fresh salmon (about a half pound per person)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Relish

  • Quarter cup of chopped herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro, chives, whatever)
  • Juice of a small lemon
  • Quarter cup capers
  • Tablespoon or so olive oil
  • Pepper to taste

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

  • Brussels sprouts (about a half pound per person?  Cut up however much you think you would eat)
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Pepper
  • 1/8th – 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (just pour it in and see how it looks)

Monday Menu (on Tuesday … again)

Monday:  Fried Rice

Tuesday:  Chicken Strips

Wednesday: Pork Verde

Thursday: Thai Beef

Friday:  Grilled Cheese

Saturday: Ravioli

Monday Menu (on Tuesday)

Monday:  Grilled Cheese on homemade bread and tomato soup

Tuesday:  Out with friends for soup (I had a root canal today… yuck)

Wednesday: Fried rice

Thursday:Ravioli or chicken noodle soup

Friday:  Spaghetti at a friend’s house, we’re taking salad

Saturday:  Lasagna at a friend’s house, we’re taking another salad

Novruz Preparation – Making Plov and Dovga

When I lived in Azerbaijan, I got to try a lot of the traditional foods.  I guested at a lot of people’s houses, but I have to say my host mother was the greatest cook of them all.  When we left, Jesse and I made sure we got some of Bibi’s recipes.  Two that I make every Novruz are her plov and her dovga.  Plov is a rice pilaf with chicken, dried fruit and saffron.  Dovga is a warm yogurt soup with greens.  Yum.

While I have to admit that my plov doesn’t hold a candle to Bibi’s, I think it gets better every year.  I think the key (that I have somewhat neglected in the past) is copious amounts of butter.  It just doesn’t get that true Azeri flavor if you skimp on the butter.  This year we used a lot, and it was much better!

While my plov doesn’t measure up, my dovga is awesome!  Dovga is one of the things that volunteers either loved or hated.  I hated it.  Until I tried Bibi’s.  Seriously, I could barely get dovga down most times, but when Bibi made it, I couldn’t get enough!  I don’t know what it was, but I’m so glad she shared her recipe with me!

Jesse also made cutlet, which you can see in the following photo.  This isn’t really a traditional Novruz food, but it’s an American pleaser since it’s just ground beef, lamb, herbs and onions pan fried in patties.  Good stuff!

Bibi’s Plov:

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 1 – 2 hours

  • 4 Chicken pieces
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 pound white rice
  • chestnuts (I can never find this, and the canned ones are gross, so I leave chestnuts out)
  • 1/2 cup yellow raisins
  • Dried fruit: apricots, plums, etc
  • Butter – a couple sticks
  • Saffron 10-15 strands
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup yogurt

Prepare rice like normal.  While rice is cooking, prepare the chicken in a frying pan.  When rice is almost done,   strain, put in a bowl, add 2 ounces butter and set aside.  Mix eggs and yogurt in a bowl and spread on the bottom of a large pot.  Sprinkle with about a cup of the rice.  Pour chicken juices over the rice, arrange the chicken in a single layer.  Put onion slices over the chicken and top with remaining rice.  In a small bowl, dissolve the saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water.  Pour this over the rice.  Cut 1 or 2 sticks of butter over the rice.  Seal the pot tightly with a towel, put pot over low heat for 1-2 hours.  Add raisins and dried fruit 5-10 minutes before plov is done cooking.

Bibi’s Dovga:

Prep time/ cook time: 30 minutes

  • 1 quart plain yogurt
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 bunch spinach
  • 1 small bunch dill

Cut up greens and set aside.  In a small bowl, mix rice and egg.  In a large bowl mix yogurt, water and flour.  Add rice to yogurt mixture and put on stove.  Bring to a bowl, stirring constantly.  When rice is soft, add greens and keep stirring.  When greens are soft serve in small bowls or glasses, with or without spoons.

Oh my gosh, my mouth is watering!

Monday Menu Planning

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week:

Monday: Leftover chilli and cornbread.  I made a huge pot of chilli a couple weeks ago and froze what we didn’t eat.  Yum!

Tuesday: Chicken strips and green beans (frozen from my garden)

Wednesday: Fried rice and pot stickers

Thursday: Soft tacos with friends

Friday: Chicago Style deep dish pizza

Saturday: Dinner at a friend’s house

Sunday: Eggs Benedict brunch for Easter

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