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.

Lemon Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Here is a very simple, yet super tasty way to prepare the superstar of vegetables -- broccoli!  I found this recipe on Pinterest a long time ago and it has been a frequent favorite ever since.  It has been referred to as "the best broccoli of your life.”

Broccoli is the leading member of the family of cruciferous vegetables.  It is a great source of vitamins K, A and C, as well as fiber, potassium, folate and lutein.  According to Dr. Mercola, it is one of the best health-boosting foods around, with research proving its effectiveness against arthritis, cancer, and blood pressure. Broccoli has also been known to support kidney health, anti-aging, immunity and heart health.

4 – 5 cups broccoli, cut into florets
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 – 4 Tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Juice of ½ lemon
Zest of ½ lemon
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 F.
Wash and thoroughly dry the broccoli.  In a large bowl combine the broccoli, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Lay out on a cookie sheet, avoiding overcrowding.  Roast for 20 – 25 minutes, until tender-crisp.  Remove from oven, drizzle with lemon juice and an additional tablespoon of olive oil.  Sprinkle with lemon zest and Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately!

Lemon (Goat Cheese) Cheesecake

I hope you’re not too disappointed to see me post a dessert.  Let's admit it, life wouldn’t be fun without the a little indulgence.  For most of my adult life I avoided baking.  Don’t misunderstand, I would still partake in the occasional dessert, either store-bought or lovingly prepare by a family member.  However, as I became more health-conscious I wanted to ensure that the desserts I and my family ate were made of the best quality ingredients possible, without partially hydrogenated oils, processed sugars, and artificial colors or flavors, which are commonly found in commercially-prepared desserts.  Even though I still don’t bake on a regular basis, I have learned to make a handful of (relatively healthy and most importantly) delicious desserts.  Normally I try to avoid using wheat and/or flour.  On the rare occasion that I do, I opt for organic spelt flour.  Spelt is an ancient grain which, unlike modern wheat, remains pure of cross-breeding, hybridization and genetic modification.

You will soon notice that some of my favorite desserts are made with some type of cheese.  My only hesitation with the majority of the cheese-based recipes I encounter is that they call for cream cheese, which I am not a fan of.  I do happen to love goat cheese, so when I came across this recipe I had to try it.

This wonderful recipe is adapted from Paris to Provence.  I modified the recipe to meet my personal preferences.  I cut the sugar in half, made my own gluten-free crust and separated the eggs in order to produce a more delicate texture.  If you have a trusted crust recipe of your own, use it instead.  You can even omit the crust altogether.  Also if you prefer a denser cake, do not separate the eggs.

Crust
1 cup almond flour or almond meal
1 cup cashew meal
2 Tbsp. butter (room temperature)
1 egg

Filling
15 oz. soft goat cheese
16 oz. mascarpone
3 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
4 large eggs (separated)
½ cup sugar (organic, unrefined)
½ tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

To make the crust, combine the almond flour, cashew meal, butter and egg in large bowl and mix well.  Place the crust dough in the center of a 9 or 10 inch spring-form pan.  Using your fingertips, gently press the dough evenly over the bottom and two-thirds up the sides of the pan.  Bake the crust for about 15 minutes. 

In the meantime, process the goat cheese, mascarpone, lemon zest, 4 yolks, sugar, and salt in a food processor (or with a hand mixer) until smooth and creamy.  Whisk 4 eggs whites with a mixer until they form peaks, then fold into the cheese mixture. 

Pour the filling into the crust and bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip, about 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature or transfer to the refrigerator to cool for at least 1 hour.  When completely cool, release the sides of the spring-form pan and transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate.  Cut into slices and serve chilled or at room temperature.