Lemon Butter Baked Salmon

I can’t believe August is just around the corner!  July is flying by and we are savoring every minute of the hot and humid Chicago summer, which is already short to begin with.  With not much of an appetite in this heat, or the time to cook, the last few weeks we have been living mostly on green smoothies, fruit, lots of fresh salads and simply prepared proteins.  My family loves this minimal-ingredient and maximum-taste salmon dish!  I’m especially a fan of the minimal prep, cook and clean up time.  I paired the salmon with some sautéed kale from our garden patch, but honestly, there is nothing this salmon would not go well with.  

I prefer to start with a room temperate fillet, so take the salmon out of the refrigerator about 1 hour prior to cooking.  Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet.  The goal is for the salmon to cook through, yet still remain moist.  

1 fillet of salmon (wild caught, sockeye preferred)
½ cup butter
6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Lemon slices

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Melt butter over medium heat; whisk in the lemon juice, sea salt and pepper.  
Pour or brush butter mixture over salmon fillet; arrange lemon slices on top.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until just opaque in center.  
Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Steamed Fish with Lemon Butter Wine Sauce

I love this quick and light recipe for warmer weather days.  It works really well with any mild, white-fleshed fish such as sole, cod, halibut or striped bass.  You can also try a more flavorful fish such as salmon or trout.  Just make sure to start with the freshest fish available and choose varieties that are wild caught.  Please see my previous post on why it’s important to consume wild caught fish.  

Steaming is an ideal way to cook delicate fish that might otherwise fall apart or dry out if sautéed, grilled or baked.  It also allows flavors to remain inside the fish, instead of escaping into the cooking water, as in the case of poaching.

I like to pair this light dish with veggies such as the roasted asparagus I previously posted.

4 fish fillets
¼ cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Season fillets with salt and pepper.
Heat white wine in a sauté pan over high heat until it begins to steam.  
Whisk in one tablespoon butter.  
Quickly add the fish to the pan in a single layer and cover.  
Simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until fish is opaque.  Remove fillets.  
Wisk in the remaining butter, lemon juice and parsley into the pan liquid.
When sauce begins to bubble, remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste.  
To serve, spoon sauce over fillets. 

Roasted Leg of Lamb

We like to reserve eating lamb for special occasions and I can’t think of a better one than Easter!  This year it’s quite early and at this point in time, less than two weeks away!  Here is an easy recipe for a tender and delicious leg of lamb.  It takes some time to cook but it will be worth the wait.

Lamb contains high-quality protein and is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals. The most abundant ones are vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, niacin, phosphorus and iron.

3 ½ - 4 lb lamb leg, boneless, rolled and tied
5 garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. In a bowl, combine the garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, sea salt, mustard, olive oil and pepper.
3. Mix well and rub all over the lamb.
4. Place the lamb on a roasting rack.
5. As soon as you place it in the oven, close the door and turn down the heat to 350 F.  
6. Roast for 3 hours.
7. Remove the lamb and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. Enjoy!

Have a blessed Easter, everyone!

Garam Masala Chicken

We really like our Indian cuisine, well the kids maybe not so much, but the husband and I definitely do!  After a recent meal at an Indian restaurant I decided to try to cook a dish myself.  Chicken masala is one of my favorites, so naturally this was the first recipe I attempted.  I looked up a few variations, but in the end, melded them together to make my own.  I kept it fairly mild to make it more palatable for the children, but feel free to add some cayenne pepper if you like extra heat.  I served this dish over yellow turmeric rice and it was perfect!

Garam masala, the dishes' key ingredient, is an aromatic blend of ground spices used extensively in Indian cooking.  It translates from Hindi as “hot spice mix.”  The mixture of spices varies from region to region and household to household, but commonly includes cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, coriander, nutmeg and bay leaf.  It can be purchased from an international market or just about any grocery store with a decent spice selection.

Apart from adding flavor, garam masala also has many health benefits.  The spices offer powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-oxidant properties which can improve cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar levels, improve memory, aid in digestion and enhance metabolism.

1 ½ - 2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast or thighs
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
4 Tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp garam masala
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground ginger or 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cups tomato sauce
½ cup water
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

1. Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, cumin and coriander.  
2. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Fry the chicken until cooked through, turning once or twice.  Remove chicken and set aside.  
3. In the same pot, melt the remaining butter and cook the garlic for about 1 minute, until fragrant.  
4. Add the garam masala, turmeric, and ginger.  Cook for an additional minute.  
5. Add the tomato sauce and water.  Let sauce come to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes.  Adjust sauce for salt.  For extra heat, add cayenne pepper to taste.  
6. While sauce is cooking, shred or cut up the chicken into bite size pieces.  
7. Add the chicken to the sauce, mix well, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

Grilled Whole Fish

Whole grilled fish is one of the most delightful meals, especially on a hot summer day when you don’t want to do any cooking in the house, besides throwing together a quick salad to accompany the meal.  Grilling fish whole enhances its flavor and juiciness because the skin and a thin layer of fat beneath it are left intact; these serve to insulate the meat (muscle tissues? doesn't sound that great, but meat is not the right word either) during cooking.  Any whole fish will do, but you generally want it small, about 10 inches or so.  Our favorite is the mild, white-fleshed Mediterranean sea bass also called branzino or branzini.  It has relatively few bones which are simple to remove.  Make sure your fish is scaled and gutted prior to cooking.  I used fresh dill and parsley for seasoning; you may also try cilantro and basil.  Recipe adopted from Martha Stewart Living.

2 whole fish, cleaned, heads and tails intact
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh dill

1 lime, thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh parsley 

Preheat grill to medium-high.  Drizzle cavity of each fish with olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Stuff one fish with lemon slices and dill, the other with lime slices and parsley.  Make long ¼ inch-deep diagonal slits on both sides of the fish to insure even cooking and to allow the seasonings to penetrate the fish.  Rub both sides with additional olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Brush hot grill with oil and place fish directly on the grill or you may also use a grilling basket, like we did.  Cook uncovered about 5 to 7 minutes.  Flip fish over and grill on the other side for another 5 to 7 minutes or until cooked through and opaque.  Serve fish with lemon and lime wedges, and a favorite salad for a light and oh-so-satisfying meal!