Life vs. Art (or vice versa)

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Aristotle, Plato, Coleridge, and Freud (et al.) theorized that art imitates life. (Mimesis.) In contrast, Oscar Wilde asserted that life imitates art. (Anti-mimesis.) Whichever view you ascribe to, I’m tickled  when the two converge unexpectedly.

(Or, I may have way too much time to “think” in between, lol.)

Take lobster for breakfast and the ensuing sunset later that day.

 

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No matter in which order they appeared (truthfully lobster did first; it was on my proposed holiday menu), both were delights. Later as the subsequent color schemes became apparent, I was astounded for obvious reasons. I love when that happens!

Earlier I posted that I was enjoying New Year’s food ideas “after the fact” for necessary reasons. Hooray for recipes with no expiration date! Incredibly — not to mention tastily — I was blessed to make this repast a few days hence for breakfast, followed by a skyline that echoed my JOY at the end o’ the day. No coincidence, I “think”.

Many thanks to Buffalo Gals Antiques for the blue-speckled cornbread baker you blessed me with earlier this year; it’s been versatile beyond that and then some! And, to Ally (Boho gal pal) for the plethora of personal and kitchen playthings you bestowed upon moi, xo.

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God has been (IS) so good to me this New Year, on my stove and on my plate. Talk about Comfort Food. (Click on the link for more.) I’m blessed to make dinner — or breakfast — and look out our windows at His grandeur. Tickled to share it with YOU too,  xo.

Enjoying life, lobster at whim, art (food or otherwise), philosophy, and sunsets,

~ Kim

Simple Shrimp Boil

Old Bay mug

Most shrimp boil recipes include corn and potatoes (and sometimes sausage), plus they make enough to feed an army. But, I was cooking for one (that’d be me) and I just wanted the “flavor.” The simpler, the better.

Recently I acquired this Old Bay mug (don’t ya love finds like that?) and I knew all I wanted to fill it with were shrimp and rice. (I’ll save the corn and potatoes for company dinner.)

In the time it took to cook the rice, the shrimp were prepped, simmered, and done — nothin’ else to do except spoon a dollop of each into my mug and eat!

Simple Shrimp Boil

(adapted from recipe #262 in 365 Ways to Cook Fish & Seafood by Charles Pierce… and Old Bay, of course)

3 sprigs fresh parsley (save some for garnish)

2 bay leaves

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half

2 strips lemon peel

1/2 tsp. black peppercorns

1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

1 cup water

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 lb. large shrimp in the shell, deveined with tails intact

1 cup cooked jasmine rice (prepared per package directions)

1-2 green onions, including tops, thinly sliced

Place parsley, bay leaves, garlic, lemon peel, peppercorns, and Old Bay seasoning in a piece of cheesecloth (hint: I used a coffee filter) and tie with kitchen twine.

Bring water, wine, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add seasoning “bag”; reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

Add shrimp; cook until pink and just beginning to “bend.” (Beware of cooking them until they curl into an “O” — it stands for overdone!) Drain well and discard seasoning bag.

Serve shrimp atop cooked rice. Garnish with green onions and parsley. Feel free to add a salad or steamed veggies and warm French bread for a complete meal.

Old Bay seasoning

FYI, I peeled the shrimp before serving and shared half with my hubby. (They made a flavorful shrimp fettuccine Alfredo, but he ate the evidence!)

‘Twas the least I could do after he constructed this to make my life easier.

Simplicity reigns at the lake. Ahhhhh…

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Enjoying shortcuts to happiness,

~ Kim

Cookware Debut

Fish Poached in White Wine 1

Humor me and hover over the photos…

 

I didn’t realize how dependent I was on my cookware until I had to use somebody else’s… a conflagration of pots and pans with mismatched lids. Gotta love ‘cabin’ cooking!

Since last November every meal has been a challenge and I’ve been doing my best trying to maintain normal life (and meals) with the implements at hand.

This feast, however, was accomplished in my newly arrived stainless steel cookware (with lids that match!) and I couldn’t help but debut it with something spectacular.

Fish Poached in White Wine 2

Who else to turn to but Julia Child?

Fish poached in white wine… ahhhhh, yes… life (and eating) is good.

I love her technique for “napping” the fish with the reduced stock — in this case thickened with cornstarch (due to my gluten issues) rather than a beurre manié.

Nap Time

The best way to share ‘how to’ is for you to check out Mastering The Art of French Cooking from your local library — if you don’t already own a copy — and turn to pages 208-211. (I don’t want to plagarize.)

All I can say was that it was fantastic… and, what a blessing it was to finally have the ‘right’ pan to cook with.

Some things are worth waiting for.

Enjoying reading, new recipes — and cookware!

~ Kim

Salmon Cakes with Lentils & Creamed Peas

I looked at my calendar wrong!!!  (Ever do that?)  My musical endeavors don’t start until next week.  Sigh…

At the risk of hitting you up with three posts in a row (with sincere admiration to those who post every day), here’s “one last one” before radio silence… plus, it happens to be “Fish Recipe Friday” and I thought you might like this.

Fishing has been pretty slow lately and sometimes a girl’s just gotta have salmon.  (Not that there are salmon in our lake — don’t I wish?!)

But with just two of us in the household (and only one who will eat salmon), I often end up with leftovers — even after a single-serving indulgence.  I quickly turned to Food Network for inspiration, whereby I discovered salmon cakes.

I’ve made tuna cakes and, my favorite — Maryland crab cakes — but never salmon.  Unfortunately, my first attempt turned out more like patties than cakes.

Patty cake, patty cake?

(Please disregard the gulley in Cake 2; I taste tested pre-photo)

The original recipe didn’t call for breading, but I rather liked the crunch it added.  (Both versions were delish, by the way!)  After honing my “patting” skills, I pondered what else to serve.

Since we had leftover lentils in the fridge (and only one of us will eat lentils…), I figured toasted pine nuts and almonds would add crunch, too.  Bear in mind, I rarely serve the same dish the same way twice — just call me the Queen of Leftover Conversions. :)

Still, it needed something…

The Salmon Cake and Lentil Tower

Crunchy, meet creamy!

Reminiscent of the tuna hotdish with peas that I consumed by the truckload as a child (and still love to this day), here’s my “grown up” interpretation.  Plus, one can never consume enough legumes. :)

Salmon Cakes with Lentils & Creamed Peas

(Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe on Food Network)

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

1/4 c. green bell pepper, diced

1/4 c. red bell pepper, diced (I used jarred roasted red peppers)

1/2 Tbsp. capers, drained

1 egg, beaten

1/4 c. mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes (fresh is better, but I was out)

1/8 tsp. hot sauce

1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

3/4 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

3 to 4 oz. cooked salmon, flaked

3/4 c. toasted bread crumbs, divided (I used whole wheat crumbs)

In a large skillet, sauté the peppers and capers in 1 tablespoon of butter until softened; remove from heat and set aside.

Combine egg, mayonnaise, and seasonings in a bowl.  Add salmon, sautéed vegetables, and enough bread crumbs to bind the mixture; stir gently.  (Reserve remaining crumbs for coating.)

Cover salmon mixture; chill for 30 minutes.

Form mixture into cakes.  Dip into reserved crumbs.  Refrain from patting, unless you want “patties”…

Melt remaining butter in a skillet.  Fry cakes until golden, about 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels; keep warm in the oven.

When ready to serve, plate the cakes with lentils and creamed peas or whatever else your lil’ ol’ heart desires (or the “leftover stash” in your fridge yields.)

For each portion, press 1/2 cup prepared lentils into a ring.  (I used a biscuit cutter — whatever works!)  Invert onto serving plates.

Top “lentil towers” with salmon cakes; drizzle with creamed peas.

Salmon Cakes drizzled with Creamed Peas

Guess what?!

I still ended up with leftovers… oh well.

Thanks for bearing with me and see ya next weekend!

Enjoying the exponential properties of salmon,

~ Kimby

Bending The Rules (Lemon Parmesan Pasta with Grilled Salmon)

I am (and always will be) rule-oriented.  I can’t help it; it’s in my DNA.

(The Man Of Few Words teases me about it occasionally — he nicknamed me “Miss OSHA.”)

Life (for me) feels better when I follow the rules.  Except when I’m in the kitchen.

There, all rules (real or imaginary) begin to relax a little — bend a little — and I find myself embracing rebellion.

“It’s a no-no to serve fish with cheese.”  Really?

(Profuse apologies to Scott Conant, whom I admire very much.)

At my dinner table, cheese periodically finds its way onto the same plate as a creature of the sea.  Gasp!

Call me food-rule-disrespectful, but it tastes good!  Of course, I’m mindful of “which cheese” with “what fish,” so as not to overwhelm the delicate flavor of said fish (my fellow “rule followers” will appreciate the amount of research behind that statement…) and when push comes to shove, I’ll serve it on the side, like I did this Lemon Pasta.

Laced with lemon juice and laden with shredded Parmesan (cheese…), it was the perfect accompaniment for a hot-off-the-grill slab of salmon, if I do say so myself.  (Actually, I couldn’t say so myself — my mouth was too busy enjoying the flavor.)

A quick note about my pale-looking asparagus, though… I forgot to dunk it in ice water after I blanched it.  Gasp!  (tee hee)  Maybe my DNA is restructuring.  I feel more relaxed about “rules” already.

Bending the rules (or forgetting them altogether) still makes for a mighty tasty meal.

Lemon Parmesan Pasta with Grilled Salmon

(pasta recipe adapted from a very old issue of Bon Appetit)

1 salmon filet per person, grilled until fish flakes easily with a fork

2 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 c. pine nuts

1 large onion, chopped

1 T. finely minced garlic

1/2 t. red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1/4 t. Kosher salt

1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 c. chopped Kalamata olives

2 T. capers, rinsed and drained

1 lb. pasta noodles (your choice), cooked and drained

1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese (reserve some for garnish)

Juice of 1 large lemon

1/4 t. ground thyme (or 1 tsp. finely minced fresh thyme)

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute pine nuts in 1 tablespoon olive oil until lightly browned; remove and set aside.

Add remaining oil to skillet; increase heat to medium-high.  Add onion; cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, olives and capers; cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Add cooked pasta, pine nuts, Parmesan, lemon juice, and thyme; toss to coat.  Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.  And fish.

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Enjoying bending the rules now and then,

~ Kim

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Poor Man’s Lobster

When I think of the first Thanksgiving, I have nothing but respect and admiration for those first cooks.  No electricity.  No appliances.  No 24-hour supermarket to run to for that missed item.  Can you imagine?  It makes me entirely grateful to prepare a meal amidst “modern day” comforts.

That alone is reason to give thanks!

But, three things we have in common with our ancestors are love, gratitude and celebration — and I don’t know of one food blogger who isn’t enthusiastic and thankful to share a meal prepared with love for their loved ones.

Thinking about humble beginnings also made me recall my roots (and how much I miss home…) — Minnesota was where I learned to fish.  Although I don’t cast a line as often as I used to, there’s something about a simple fish dinner that makes me thankful.

The following recipe is one I’ve modified over the years, from a delightful cookbook called “Great Northwoods Cooking.”  (I don’t even know if it’s in print anymore —  you’d have to contact the Walker, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.)  Resort owners from around the lakes compiled their “best of the best,” and isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?

Poor Man’s Lobster

4 fish fillets (I used good ol’ Oklahoma bass, courtesy of The Man Of Few Words)

2 quarts water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 T. sea salt (or to taste)

1/2 medium onion, quartered

1 bay leaf

Several sprigs of fresh parsley

Melted butter

Bring water, salt and lemon juice to a boil.  Add onion, bay leaf and parsley.  Cover and allow to steep for a few minutes.

Add fish fillets; bring to a boil again.  Reduce heat and simmer until fish is cooked — about 10 minutes depending on the size of your fillets.

With a slotted spoon, remove fish to a broiler pan.  (I cover mine with foil for easy clean-up — another reason to be thankful!)

Pat fillets dry with a paper towel, then broil for 3 to 5 minutes until slightly crisp.  Serve with melted butter.

(Recipe originally submitted by Betty Reese, Bay Shore Resort.)

Happy Thanksgiving!  Now go … COOK … and be sure to hug everybody twice.

Enjoying life with a little butter on it (for which I’m truly thankful),

~ Kim