Saturday, November 14, 2009

Clean Plate Club - Baked Salmon

Hellooooo! Inch by inch, hand over hand, I’m summitting the mountain above the valley of the various viruses. Thanks for your warm wishes and messages during my blogging absence. All of my children officially rejoined the land of the living today, having recovered either from the dreaded H1N1 virus or nasty sinus infections. Recovery has been complicated by the resurfacing of my man-child’s seizures. He’s hanging in there, and so are we. Man-child? What's that, you ask? That’s what we call my 14 year old ... the man-child. Not only is he tall and handsome, he also looks much older than he is. He’s had a rough couple of weeks, but let me tell you, that kid has amazing strength of character. He’s the real deal, folks; an amazing young man. So say some prayers or send your positive thoughts his way.

I’m recovering as well. I managed to skirt the flu, but ended up experiencing the thrills of having a cracked molar extracted. Which promptly became infected. Then fate decided to bestow a dry socket on my healing crater. And just for grins, I got to relish the joys of having a bone stick through my gum which of course required another trip to the dentist to get filed down. As you can see, it’s been a festival here at Gouda central.Nevertheless, it’s not been all bad. I’m always telling my kids to try to look for the good in every situation. Here’s my good ... my clothes are much looser on me these days. Being restricted to liquids for a couple of weeks has that effect. Perfect timing before the holidays if you ask me!

Last night, my growling stomach cried out for something a bit more substantial than pureed mush, so I thought a nice, flavorful salmon fillet would be perfect. Now, I typically grill my salmon, however, last night I thought I’d fire up the oven to do double duty ... cook my meal as well as heat up the house. Like Alton Brown, I love multi-taskers!The results were terrific. After dinner, every single plate in my household was completely and totally clean. I mean they all but picked up their plates and licked them. My son, the man-child, had thirds and still wanted more. I served this with amazing oven browned, mashed potato croquettes and also some creamed spinach (only I had the spinach). I guess I’ll be making this again.

The trick to baking salmon is to not over-do it. The rule of thumb for baking time is 10 minutes per inch. Well, most salmon fillets that I’m familiar with are never more than an inch, so 10 minutes at 375 is all that's needed to provide you with a moist, tender, flaky result. You know how salmon fillets tend to be thick on one side and thin on the other? Well, this baking preparation does not require you to trim your pieces according to thickness. In fact, I just cut mine into hand sized pieces without trying to cut/sort by thickness. Now, preparing your salmon this way will not bless you with the crispy skin or edges that you get on the grill (which are so yummy); however, this perfectly prepared salmon is a great way to quickly get your meal on the table and definitely still provide a “wow” taste-bud factor.

Quick and easy is the name of the game, here. No marinades, no basting, no saucing, and no flipping. When I said easy, I meant E.A.S.Y.! In fact, the potatoes and spinach I made required more prep work and took longer to make than the fish did. Here we go ...

Baked Salmon
Fresh salmon fillet, skin on one side, cut into hand sized pieces. (I used 1-1/2 filets for 5 people)
Canola Oil
Softened butter, about a heaping teaspoon per number of fish pieces
Herbs to season the butter. I used season salt, ginger, old bay seasoning, garlic salt, onion powder, and Spike.

Heat your oven to 375 degrees, and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Rub oil on both sides of your fish, and season the skin side with salt and pepper. Place skin side down on the foil. Prepare your seasoned butter by mixing your favorite herbs and spices with the softened butter. Smear a heaping teaspoon on top of each piece of fish. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and let sit for a couple minutes before plating.Take a bite. Mmm, mmm, mmm! See how beautiful it looks. Isn’t it perfect? Just the right blend of spice, salt, and butter. Plus, it's gluten free, too. Baked salmon is now one of my favorites, and reigns supreme in the clean plate club category. Yum! So tell me, what recipes do you make that qualify for the clean plate club?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Plot Thickens

First of all, I want to thank everyone one of you for your encouraging comments here as well as your kind email messages. My daughter has recovered from H1N1 virus, and returned to school yesterday. While she does have quite a bit of school work to catch up on, it's not too, too bad because soooo many kids are out with H1N1 that the teachers have slowed down their instruction pace.

Did you ever see the old Peanut's (Charlie Brown) cartoons where the character Pig Pen always has a cloud of dusty dirt floating around him? That's how I picture this virus ... it's just a nasty cloud gleefully dusting it's parasite particles all over everything.

On second thought, it's more like a tornado. Strikes here and there with intense ferocity, causes more damage in some areas than others, and leaves a huge mess in it's wake. I suggest we change the name to Tornado Flu. I'm just sayin' ...

Anyway, my blogging friends, the plot thickens. My youngest daughter is home sick with a sinus infection, and I'm watching her carefully for signs that, in her weakened state, it does not progress into H1N1. My son woke up at 12:15 am this morning with a raging fever and all the symptoms of H1N1. Not one to be left out, my husband is also home sick. I'm doing my best to personally boost the stock price of Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and Lysol.

Plus, I'm putting all chickens on alert ... my stew pot is ready to make another batch of the golden elixir ... and I thank you for your service.

So ... it will be a few more days before I'm back to blogging. The good news is that I'll have so much fun catching up on reading all of your past posts!

Looking forward to seeing you soon .... xoxo, Paula

PS: Did I mention that in the midst of all this I cracked a molar (my back tooth) in half vertically? And I mean the sucker is completely split open like a hot dog bun. Yeah, I like to go for the gusto like that. Luckily, the tooth was already root canaled, so the pain isn't off the charts. The dentist won't touch it, and the tooth specialist can't see me until Thursday. My cup of joy runneth over. :-)