Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Hangover

Seared Salmon on Baby Greens with Shallot and Pomegranate Sauce

I really do love the holidays- parties, spending time with friends and family, and the general holiday cheer is a welcomed way to break up the gloomy chill of these months in the Northwest. I am sure, however, that I'm not alone in craving a lighter meal in the midst of heavy red meat dinners and rich, creamy desserts. Surveying my cupboards and freezer this week I stumbled across several ingredients (tangy cranberries, buttery Marcona almonds, and a couple of thick salmon fillets) I thought would hit just the right notes to ease my holiday hangover and help me kick start the new year with a healthy dose of antioxidants, fiber, Omega-3s, and (as always) good taste! This meal also incorporates my new favorite ingredient- pomegranate molasses. So tangy! So delicious!

- 2 7 oz. salmon fillets, seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper
- 4 shallots, peeled and sliced
- 5 oz. mixed baby greens
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 1/4 c. dried cranberries
- 1/4 c. Marcona almonds
- 1/4. c crumbled feta cheese
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 4 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses, divided
- salt and pepper

In a small non-stick skillet heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium. Add shallots and sauté until softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. While shallots brown, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add salmon fillets and cook 4-5 minutes per side. When salmon is cooked through, remove from heat and tent in foil.

Add two Tbsp. water and 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses to small skillet with shallots. Simmer over medium until sauce reduces and thickens, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses, red wine vinegar, and 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide greens, avocado, feta, cranberries, and almonds among two plates and dress with vinaigrette. Top each salad with salmon fillet and then divide pomegranate shallot sauce evenly and top fillets. Eat! It's good stuff and good for you!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's Greek to Me!

Super-Tasty Lamb Casserole in Phyllo Dough

Lately I've been a bit obsessed with lamb. I can't help myself- it's so good. I have also been craving delicious Greek food. In my current city of residence, however, I have yet to find anything even resembling the most mediocre of Greek food. With that in mind, I wanted to put together a recipe that combined some of my favorite Greek flavors. This dish is basically a twist on a traditional Greek moussaka. But rather than topping it the lamb and eggplant with
béchamel sauce, I decided to give a nod to one of my other favorite Greek noshes, spanakopita, by topping it with a sauteed spinach and feta mixture covered with a golden-baked phyllo dough. This is a great one-dish meal- full of veggies and general deliciousness.


- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/4" disks
- 2 lbs. baby spinach, rinsed
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 handful chopped curly parsley
- 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes in their juices
- 1/4 c. dry red wine
- 8 oz. crumbled feta
- 1 tsp. dried mint
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. died oregano
- thawed frozen phyllo dough
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. melted butter
- 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and arrange eggplant slices on sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Roast eggplant slices in oven for 10-15 minutes until eggplant begins to soften and turn slightly brown. Remove from oven, but leave heat on to bake casserole.

As eggplant roasts, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet oven medium heat. Add onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add ground lamb and cook over medium heat, breaking up meat with wooden spoon. When lamb is cooked through, about 5 minutes, add red wine, tomatoes in their juices, dried herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes for juices to thicken.

While the lamb mixture simmers, heat 2 Tbsp. in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add half the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally until spinach begins to wilt. Add the remaining spinach and parsley and cook, stirring, until cooked through. Season spinach with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, add feta, and stir to allow cheese to melt into the spinach.

Layer casserole ingredients in a 13x9" baking dish. Put lamb mixture on bottom, top with roasted eggplant slices, top with spinach and cheese mixture (spreading evenly). Unroll defrosted phyllo dough and top casserole with 10 thin sheets of pastry. Brush top of phyllo dough with melted butter. Bake in oven for 30 minutes until phyllo dough begins to puff up and turn brown. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Tea Time

Beth's Scones
The British get the tea-time ritual just right- who wouldn't want to take a moment of pause in the midst of a hectic day with a hot cup of Earl Grey and a snack? In the spirit of Oscar Wilde and everything British we're having a tea party tomorrow as part of our read-through to kick off rehearsals for An Ideal Husband. I've been whipping up tea-party treats all day (finger sandwiches, shortbread, and an apple and caramelized onion tart to name a few). No tea party would be complete without scones slathered in clotted cream and strawberry jam.

My friend Beth gave me this recipe. The scones are buttery and delicious and a snap to whip up. You can find clotted cream at fancy grocery stores- I've had the best luck at Cost Plus World Market. It's friggin' delicious!


- 2 c. flour
- 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 6 Tbsp. butter (cold)
- 1 egg
- milk

Preheat oven to 400˚ F. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, powdered sugar, and baking powder. Cut in butter. In a measuring cup, mix together egg and enough milk to make 3/4 c. liquid. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Mix lightly with a fork or pastry blender until it forms into a sticky dough. Knead briefly. Pat out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1" thick. Cut into eight wedges. Bake on parchment-lined baking sheet 9-12 minutes. Serve with tea, clotted cream, strawberry jam, and your best British dialect. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Spicy Meatball!

Spaghetti and Mega-Meatballs

As far as comfort food goes . . . is there anything heartier and more comforting than spaghetti and meatballs? Today the sun was out, but the air was crisp and cold- it was a delightful December 1st. I wore my mittens as I walked the dog this morning and thought of a warm and filling dinner to enjoy later with a friend who would be joining me.

I put up my holiday decorations today and was definitely in the mood to have a tomato-based sauce simmering on the stove-top for over an hour. "What ever shall I do with all this marinara sauce?" I asked myself. The answer was, of course, obvious. Save some for later and use the rest tonight for a filling cold-weather meal. Classic spaghetti and meatballs came instantly to my mind.

You can throw these meatballs into any old marinara sauce you have handy. I used my Simple and Delicious Marinara Sauce (see "Feelin' Saucy"- September 27, 2009 for recipe) for these babies and it was a delightful dinner. I call them "Mega-Meatballs" due to the mixture of beef and pork. The ground pork sausage adds to a richer flavor and a delicious twist on an old classic and the red pepper flakes gives it just the right amount of bite to differentiate it from the same-ol' spaghetti and meatball rut.


- 1 lb. ground beef
- l lb ground sweet Italian pork sausage
- 1/2 c. plain toasted breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 large handful chopped Italian parsley
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
- 6 c. marinara sauce
- 1 lb. cooked pasta

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spritz a 9x13" glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a large mixing bow, combine all ingredients. Work together with hands until all ingredients are well combined.

Form into 15 2"-sized round meatballs and place in prepared baking dish. Bake in oven for 30 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Toss together with 1 lb. cooked pasta and 6 c. warmed marinara sauce. It makes for a very filling meal, but I think it's something you'll enjoy on a chilly evening.

Top with extra grated Parmesan cheese. Eat! Enjoy! It's a cold-weather classic . . . and so freakin' tasty! I think you'll love it. This recipe makes enough to feed an army. Seriously . . . it will easily feed four . . . probably six- plus leftovers!