Almost every year since moving out of Alaska I have returned for a week or two in the summer to visit with friends and go fishing. This year was one of the few years when my crew of three, (wife, brother and sister) went somewhere other than the Kenai Peninsula. We decided a change in scenery would be good and the fishing better.
Fishing the Kenai River we have it good and easy. We stay at the same cabins or next door on most of our trips there in the last twelve years. It’s an easy walk to the river that takes one minute and the town of Soldotna is just five minute’s drive from the cabins when we need groceries or fishing gear. The fishing is usually good but in the last four years the once mighty runs of king salmon have diminished in a big way. Without the kings to fish for it has been easier to divert from our usual location.
This year we went way off the grid and picked a lodge in the Inside Passage area of Alaska. With the nearest town a thirty minute boat ride from the lodge we got away from it all. That is except for the numerous Humpback Whales, sea otters, seals, sea lions and seabirds too numerous to count. Fish Alaska magazine had spotlighted the area we were heading to in their May issue saying that it is hard to go fishless in the Gustavus area. While we were not in Gustavus our lodge was a mere hour away by boat and many of the fishing spots mentioned in the article were near our lodge. We figured on this being one of the best fishing trips ever.
On our first day we arrived around 11:30 in the morning and were eager to get started. As soon our briefing was concluded we were shown the boat that would be ours for six days. I was to be our guide on this self-guided adventure in this new and exciting wilderness hotspot. Now all I had to do was find fish in an area where there were no other fishing boats to lead us. Off we went in search of halibut that can get up to 900 pounds!
On our first try we were hampered by big tides that kept our anchor slipping and our bait floating up from the bottom a hundred yards off the back of the boat. Not a way to catch halibut. Digging into my memory of fishing in Seward I tried jigging in deeper water for the hidden halibut by Lemesuier Island two miles from our lodge. There I at least managed to get a bite that proved to be the one and only bite of the day. Going fishless the first day was not what I expected but I was undaunted as we headed back to the lodge for more information, dinner and some much needed rest. Our plane leaving Baltimore for an overnight stopover in Seattle was delayed five hours which left us with two hours rest in our hotel. We had hoped to get seven hours of sleep before the flight to Alaska the next morning. It’s tough being sharp after a four hour time change and two hours of sleep when running a boat in tricky Alaska waters.
The first full day dawned blue and sunny as my wife and I headed out just after dawn to catch halibut. I had seen a spot from the flight from our floatplane that I figured would yield halibut. We motored out for fifteen minutes on calm blue-green seas to this promising spot. All the way seeing Humpback Whales, and many otters for our wilderness entertainment. After anchoring up we didn’t have to wait but about fifteen minutes when my wife said, “I’m getting a bite”. I had just enough time to look at her rod tip before it went down hard. I quickly reeled up mine and grabbed her rod to fight this express train heading south and knew we had a big fish.
When I got it up to the boat we were both thrilled to see it was a nice eighty pounder and knew we were going home with plenty of fish on this trip. We caught four more, throwing two of the little ones back before heading to the lodge to get my sleepy siblings for the next fishing session. Over the next four days we caught over four hundred pounds of halibut, but released the biggest, a 170 pound monster, before finishing the week. We all came back with about forty-five pounds of halibut filets each.
The best parts of the trip other than the fishing were meeting and having meals with the other few guests at this lodge that takes on no more than eight guests per week. Seeing a big part of Alaska where we never had another boat closer than two miles from us except once was great too. The wildlife was fantastic! We got charmed by the calls of the baby sea otters squealing what sounded like a three year old human saying, “Mom”! over and over again as they begged for food and attention. Seeing and hearing the mighty Humpback Whales was exciting too, and we saw them every day. Curious seals would approach our boat while we were anchored up fishing halibut looking at us with their big brown eyes and comical whiskered faces from as little as twenty feet away.
The food was very good and while not fancy was delicious and plentiful. We ate king salmon, Coonstriped shrimp, and halibut all caught nearby. Peggy, one of the owners made several dishes I wanted to re-create when I got home including a cabbage slaw with Japanese rice wine vinegar, mayonnaise, and ground cumin that was excellent. She also made a fresh pie made from blueberries picked in and around our cabins. There was a hot bean dip with tortilla chips served just after we returned from hours of fishing one day that was delicious. I figured it was just canned refried beans with a little something added, but wanted to make my own creation when I got home, similar but better.
Since it’s hot in our area with the peak of summer upon us I love cooking in a slow cooker. My bean dip recipe is so easy it just takes five minutes to get it going and when done cooking just a few more minutes to mash the beans and top with cheese for a side dish or a dip. Using the mild Oaxaca dried chilies I bought from Melissa’s Produce the flavor is amazing. It has a rich smoky aroma that pairs wells with shredded Asiago cheese or medium sharp cheddar on top. To get these great dried Oaxaca chilies most of us need to order online, but it’s well worth it. Try this bean dip with a cool glass of sangria for a nice pairing.
In the near future I plan on cooking up some halibut tacos and serve these mashed beans on the side. With a freezer full of halibut I’ll post a new recipe or two in the coming weeks, I hope you give the beans a try and please share this tasty and healthy dish with family and friends.
Slow Cooker Bean Dip
2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
6 cups water
3/4 cups diced yellow or white onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 dried Oaxaca chili peppers, or 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 t salt
Cook all ingredients in a slow cooker for 8 hours on low.
Strain liquid and reserve.
Mash beans with a potato masher, adding back some of the liquid until desired consistency is reached.
Serve with grated cheese on top.
This stores well in the fridge for up to a week. Just reheat in oven, stove top, or microwave adding a little water if needed.
You can mash all or half of the beans and use the remaining whole beans in chili or serve as a side dish.
To order Melissa’s Oaxaca peppers click on this link:
Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad
2 cups fresh cauliflower cut in bite size florets
2 cups fresh broccoli cut in bite size florets*
1 carrot peeled and sliced julienne stye diagonally into 1/4 inch slices
1 small red,yellow or green bell pepper diced
1/2 cup prepared Italian salad dressing
In a large bowl mix the vegetables then add dressing and mix all ingredients well and refrigerate for 20 minutes or more.
Can be served immediately, but will have a better flavor if allowed some extra time to chill.
If giving it more than 30 minutes chill time it helps to stir it one more time to distribute the dressing that gravitates to the bottom.
Note: I like a jalapeño or some other hot pepper to spice this up.
I usually add some of the broccoli stems, but chop them first.
In celebration of asparagus season I decided to develop an asparagus rice pilaf recipe for you asparagus lovers out there. I have been eating asparagus almost every day for over two weeks and still am not tired of it. I usually only buy locally grown so I expect the season around here is going to be over in about two weeks and I’ll be done with fresh asparagus until next year. I admit to buying the South American asparagus occasionally when I just have to have it, but I never said I was 100% locavore!
Asparagus is so versatile you can put it in salads in its raw, grilled, or blanched form. To grill asparagus on over charcoal with a bit of olive oil, herbs and spices is true summer bliss. It goes great with Asian foods like a chicken and asparagus stir fry or even a hot sour soup with asparagus. In soups it really shines whether hot or cold. I love the recipe I developed two years ago for a chilled asparagus soup using almond milk. You can find it here:http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/category/soups/page/2/ The problem with most hot asparagus soups when dining out it the amount of heavy cream restaurants like to use.
What I had in mind was a rice dish using asparagus that would pair well with fresh Alaska salmon that is just showing up in local grocery stores and Costco. I served a nice salmon burger, and a side of stir fried bokchoy and Thai basil with the asparagus rice pilaf last night with great results. This rice dish would go well with grilled chicken, pork chops or shrimp. It’s fast, easy and healthy like almost every recipe I develop and hope you will give it a try and leave a comment on how it turned out. And by all means pair it with a hunk of grilled Alaska salmon and a chilled Pinot Gris, or Pinot Noir for a winning combination.
Asparagus Rice Pilaf
2 cups Uncle Ben’s Converted rice, or other similar rice
4 cups water
1 1/2- 2 cups asparagus*
1/2 cup minced yellow or white onion
1/2 cup fresh celery chopped
1/3 cup diced fresh carrots
1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon chicken base
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1/2 t turmeric, optional
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper, optional
In a 2 1/2 quart pot on high heat bring water, onion, celery, butter and chicken base to a boil.
Add carrots and rice and return to a boil.
Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook covered for 8 minutes.
Add asparagus and stir in well.
Lower heat a bit and cook 5 to 10 more minutes or until most water is absorbed.
Let sit for 5 minutes covered or serve right a way.
*About a half pound of asparagus yields 1 1/2 cups of one inch pieces after trimming away the tough 2-3 inches from the bottom of the stalks.
Alaska has been a big part of my life ever since 1974 when I first set foot on Kodiak Island. I wasn’t sold at the beginning but that first step planted the seed. What really did it was moving to the Kenai Peninsula in 1984, and learning how to catch salmon.
Back then the Kenai Peninsula was a wonderland of all things wild. There were moose in our yard all year long nibbling on just about anything green. Wolves followed their ancient ways in the nearby mountains and hills. Salmon crowded the Kenai River in numbers that blew my mind, and the Cook Inlet waters yielded monster sized halibut and tasty cod for my freezer. I no longer call the Great Land my home but I manage to get back at every opportunity. Since 1995, when I moved to Colorado, I have hardly missed a fishing trip to that magical place.
If I had $5,000 – $10,000 to spare, I’d just go to one of the fishing lodges where they do everything for you except hook and reel in the fish, but the lottery did not smile on me this year so that trip will have to wait. For six days this summer my family and I will head up to Alaska for a week at a DIY fishing camp. We will pursue the mighty King Salmon, halibut, rockfish, and lingcod to bring back for a year’s worth of the best seafood you can imagine.
I am so lucky to be able to afford and tolerate the rigors of a fishing vacation in Alaska year after year. It’s a lot of physical work to captain an 18 foot skiff in the open ocean or rivers in Alaska, and I’m not quite as strong as I used to be. Strength is important when fighting a 50 pound salmon or a halibut weighing over 200 pounds!
I hope we are spared the six foot seas on this trip, tough. If you have never been in an 18 foot skiff in rough Alaskan seas, you are missing some serious adrenaline! My brother and I barely made it around Danger Point near Angoon, Alaska on our last self-guided fishing adventure back in 2002.
This year, I expect to shoot hundreds of pictures and have my brother video parts of the trip. Watch for postings about this wilderness paradise of the Inside Passage, either on this blog or in travel media.
While I wait for the first fresh Alaskan Salmon to hit the local stores, canned salmon is a good thing to have in the pantry. Pure Alaska Salmon Company is as good as anything I have tried and it’s ultra-convenient to pop open a can for salmon cakes of salmon salad sandwiches. Pure Alaska’s salmon is processed just hours after being caught, and provides a lot of flavor and nutrition. It tastes as good as the last of my catch from last year, now frozen for ten months. athttp://www.purealaskasalmon.com/our-story-pure-alaska-salmon-company.
If you try their salmon, please let me know if you agree this is the best canned salmon out there, and please share this salmon salad recipe with friends and family. If you have not left a comment to enter last week’s post on Aztec Turkey you can still get in as the drawing is tonight for the box of hot pepper goodies from Melissa’s Produce!
Canned Salmon Salad
1 7.5 oz. can of red salmon, or 8 oz. fresh cooked salmon
1/4 cup chopped celery
2-3 tablespoon diced dill pickles
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Spike seasoning salt
1 minced jalapeño, optional
In a 2 quart mixing bowl break up salmon into flakes, and remove bones if desired -I leave them in when using canned salmon.
In a small bowl mix mayonnaise, Spike, and jalapeño.
Pour over salmon.
Add celery and dill pickles.
Mix well and chill for an hour if you have the time to do so.
Serve over salad greens, on bread with some lettuce, or wrapped in a tortilla with salad greens.
Serves two but is easily doubled.
Even though Pure Alaska Salmon Company gifted me some of their canned salmon my opinions are my own.
I have been reading award winning Precious Cargo by Dave DeWitt about how foods brought back from the New World by the Spanish and other explorers changed the way Europeans ate. I already knew how popular turkey is in the United States, but was amazed to read how much is consumed in modern Europe. The top five turkey consuming countries are: U.S.A., Canada, European Union, Brazil, and Mexico.
Before reading Precious Cargo, I didn’t think the French liked turkey at all. DeWitt writes of French recipes for truffle-stuffed turkey, and if you know how expensive truffles are you know this is one pricey dish! The English bought about ten million turkeys for their Christmas feasts in 2008, according to Precious Cargo. Italy is the fifth largest producer of turkey meat in the world with France and Germany coming in second and third. Who knew?
Precious Cargo has totally changed my perspective on the versatile turkey. I have started testing recipes using ingredients found by European explorers in Mexico. The experiments are going very well and I love the taste of slow cooked turkey with tomatoes and dried chilies. But, just so you know, there are so many varieties of chilies it will take a long time to test and compile all the recipes!
Since I’m all about fast, healthful and easy cooking, what could be easier that putting a turkey thigh or drumsticks in a slow cooker with tomatoes, potatoes, chilies, onions, garlic and herbs? It is wonderful to come home and open the door to this exotic fragrance wafting from the kitchen and enveloping you. With a few tortillas on the side you have a delicious meal ready to eat that took no more than ten minutes to toss in the slow cooker.
If you don’t like the heat from dried peppers there are a few not as hot varieties available like: Anaheim (California), anchos, guajillo, mulatto, or Oaxaca. If you can’t find these in your local grocery store, they are available online. My favorite online place to find dried peppers is Melissa’s www.Melissa’s.com. Once you taste turkey with dried peppers and tomatoes, you will be hooked. Melissa’s has a hard to find mild dried pepper – the Oaxaca, full of rich smoky flavor that makes the turkey taste like it was cooked in a smoker or on a BBQ grill. To support your chili explorations, Melissa’s is providing a box of goodies including “The Great Pepper Cookbook”, and an assortment of their pepper products to one lucky reader. If you don’t like the hot ones, don’t worry – they can send you hot or not-so-hot products. Just leave a comment on this post to be entered. For an extra chance at winning, leave a comment on my Facebook fan page about this post or peppers https://www.facebook.com/FastAndFuriousCook .
Get started with this turkey treat and see for yourself that it can be enjoyed year round and in ways you never thought of. Please let me know what you think of this recipe by leaving your comments, and please share with family and friends.
Aztec Slow Cooker Turkey
1 turkey thigh or leg about 1 1/2 pounds*
1 cup diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 clove fresh garlic, minced, about 1 teaspoon
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 oz. dried Oaxaca chili peppers, broken into one inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon Hatch™ chili powder, or regular chili powder
1 pound potatoes cut into one inch cubes*
1 cup frozen corn, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except turkey and potatoes.
Put about 1/4 of the mixture on the bottom of the Crockpot™.
Pour the rest of the ingredients over the potatoes.
Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
Serves 4 to 6
•I don’t skin or bone the turkey before cooking, but do remove skin and bone before serving. I also skim the grease off the top just before serving as the skin does leave a fair amount of fat.
•I keep the skin on organic potatoes, but peel them if they are non-organic.
Even though Melissa’s Produce gifted me some of their products to try my opinions are my own.
Back in the 1990s, there was a great little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant in Boulder, Colorado that served one of my favorite dishes. For $3.95, they served a lunch special simply called Grilled Chicken. They would marinate, then grill boneless chicken, getting just the right amount of flame to brown it perfectly. The chicken was served it on top of rice noodles with bean sprouts and gobs of cilantro, making it hard to beat. They went out of business after a three year run, but I have never forgotten how much I liked that combination.
That taste memory came back when I was in Orlando recently, and had a tofu noodle bowl at the hotel café. When I got back home, I worked up a great noodle bowl idea for a fast and healthy lunch or dinner.
You can make it less work if you are firing up the grill the night before – just add a couple of boneless chicken thighs or breasts to the grill, then refrigerate overnight. The next day all you have to do is boil some rice noodles for two minutes and chill them with cold running water. After the noodles are drained put them in the bottom of a bowl and top with shredded cabbage (green or Napa), shredded carrots, bean sprouts and cilantro. Cut up the cooked chicken and put it on top of the noodles, and veggies. Then top this with an Asian salad dressing (Annie’s Shiitake Vinaigrette is a good choice), and you have a winner.
This recipe of noodles and vegetables is versatile and works well with grilled shrimp, beef, pork, duck, chicken or tofu. For the final touch the noodle bowl can be topped with scallions, toasted sesame seeds or dried bonito flakes (katsobushi). If you like it hot, try kicking it up with Sriracha hot sauce or jalapeno slices.
With the heat of summer not far off, this will shorten your time in the kitchen without sacrificing flavor or healthfulness. It is a low-fat, gluten-free dish that makes a good packed lunch or sit down meal for a hot summer’s day. As always please leave comments and forward this on to friends and family.
Asian Noodle Bowl
4 oz dry rice noodles, the thin type
2 cups fresh cabbage shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded or in long threads
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced thin longways
2 stalks celery sliced at an angle 1/4 inch thin
2 cups tofu, or cooked chicken*
Cook rice noodles per package instructions, about 2 minutes then rinse with cold water and drain well.
Place half of the noodles in each bowl, or plate.
Top with half the shredded cabbage.
Top with carrots and celery.
Arrange cilantro on one side and red bell peppers on the other leaving a space in the middle for the meat.
Add tofu or chicken.
Serve with your favorite Asian style salad dressing.*
Serves two as an entree or four as a starter salad.
*Grilled chicken, beef or pork hot off the grill goes well on top of this dish. Even though the veggies and noodles are cold or at room temperature the hot meat doesn’t adversely affect its quality.
If you want a cold or room temperature dish use chilled tofu or chilled chicken.
*For this recipe I like Annies Shitake Vinaigrette salad dressing or try my Asian dressing recipe at:http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/spring-greens-great-salad-dressing-recipe/
In late March, I attended the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) meeting in Washington DC. While the theme was “Happy Birthday” to founding member Chef Jaques Pepin, the DC host team assembled a great list of local sponsors, tours, and three days of panels, seminars and workshops. Attendees went home with bags and minds full of goodies, information, and ideas.
The National Geographic presentation, derived from the National Geographic’s Food 2014 issue, gave me much food for thought. The image that sticks in my mind is an illustration of the amount of food an American family of four wastes each year. The piles of veggies behind the family and the meats in front forming a parade of waste is truly shocking, and disturbing. The article states that on average a typical American family of four tosses out 1,160 pounds of vegetables, dairy products, and meats in just a year!
This has to stop.
Modern American refrigerators are large, and some of the food we buy gets lost and goes bad by the time we rediscover it deep in the bins and shelves. A quick twice a week survey of every bin and shelf in our fridges could cut out plenty of waste. Making a grocery list and sticking to it helps cut out overbuying, and waste as well.
Using leftovers efficiently and creatively helps eliminate waste. A common restaurant term is “cream of walk-in soup” – a soup made from scavenging the walk-in cooler for vegetables and other foods that need to be used before they go bad.
A website like recipekey.com can help the home cook use what they have on hand. You enter what you have and the site shows recipes using those ingredients by percentage. With tools like these you can use instead of lose foods to spoilage in your fridge and pantry.
As an example, the other day I had a few spears of asparagus, a nice bit of fresh cilantro, lemons, broccoli stems, celery, and some Melissa’s fire roasted red bell peppers in my fridge. There were some lentils in the pantry from Melissa’s Produce, so I decided a lentil vegetable salad was in the works. After a bit of chopping and mixing I had a great looking healthful salad for lunch. Without the lemon, and adding vegetable stock it could have been made as a soup. As for the amount of each ingredient you can vary the amount of broccoli, asparagus, bell pepper and celery significantly and still come up with a great tasting salad. This is a use-your-leftovers type of salad so feel free to experiment, and substitute ingredients as needed.
Lentil Asparagus Salad
1 1/2 to 2 Cups cooked lentils*
2-4 broccoli stems, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
1 Cup chopped fresh cilantro*
1-2 stalks of celery, about ½ cup sliced thin
1/2 to 1 Cup chopped fresh red bell pepper, or fire roasted
½ pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths
1/4 Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped green onions, optional
1 jalapeño chopped, optional
salt to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except lemon and oil.
In a small bowl whisk oil and lemon juice together for ten-seconds or so, and pour over the salad.
Mix salad with spoon or toss with hands to incorporate the dressing. Ready to serve right away or refrigerate for 2-8 hours.
Serves 4 to 6.
*Red beans may be substituted for lentils
*Parsley may be substituted for cilantro.
Even though Melissa’s Produce gifted me some of their products to try my opinions are my own.
Easter Sunday was pretty mellow this year. My wife and I went to see and sniff the lilies at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, then came home to a lovely dinner of homemade pita bread and baba ganoush for an appetizer, followed by quinoa topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers. On the side were pan braised Brussel sprouts in garlic infused olive oil and a special Californian red wine to round it out.
After our fine dinner it seemed only natural to watch Julie and Julia- since I had recorded it on the dvr. I saw the movie only once when it came out, and it was the inspiration for my own food blog. What impressed me most about the movie is how Julia Child overcame such odds to get Mastering The Art of French Cooking, one of the most important cookbooks in America for the last hundred years, published! I was so impressed that she stuck with the project after all the problems with one of her two co-authors, and the disappointment that editors and publishers didn’t see the importance of this bold new book for American cooks. Lucky for Julia and for all of us that editor Judith Jones at Knopf saw the book for what it was worth!
Once this amazing cookbook was in their hands, American cooks confidently graduated from beef stew to Beef Bourguignon, and Raspberry Bavarian Cream took the place of raspberry pudding. Mastering the Art of French Cooking stepped up the game for home cooks and fostered an age of creativity in home and commercial kitchens.
I’m always learning new techniques and exploring new cuisines. Recently, I have been experimenting with potato-thickened soups. This can make a soup gluten-free, and it simplifies the time and effort it takes to make a homemade soup.
This week’s recipe shows off broccoli, one of my favorite vegetables. With asparagus season near, this could easily be cream of potato asparagus soup, too. Don’t be afraid to be creative and tweak it your way. I found the leftover soup to be excellent and topped with sautéed maitake mushrooms for a nice variation. White mushrooms would work well too since Maitake are not widely available. Either way I hope you try this cream of broccoli and potato soup and let me know how yours turned out.
As Julia would say,”Bon Appetite” and don’t forget to enter the giveaway from the good folks at Melissa’s. They will bestow upon one lucky reader a box of mixed produce from their 280,000 square foot warehouse in California.
Follow this link to enter by leaving your comment on my last post about Oven Roasted Dutch Yellow Potatoes, and good luck!
1 3/4 pounds fresh broccoli
1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock*
1 3/4 cups 2% milk
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt, optional
Wash potatoes, peel and cut into 1 inch cubes. Hold potatoes in a bowl of cool water until ready to cook.
Wash and trim leaves off the broccoli.
Cut stems off below the crown.
Peel the stems and cut into 1/2 inch slices and set aside.
Cut the crown into golf ball sized florets then cut the floret stems into 1/2 inch slices.
Cut the florets into the size of a grape and set aside.
In a 3 quart pot add vegetable stock and potatoes. Cook on high, covered, until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cooking for 7 minutes.
Add broccoli, cover and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer cooking for another 7-10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Remove from heat and add milk.
If using a tabletop blender put soup in blender in two batches mixing until it is smooth, about 1 minute.
If using an immersion blender you can keep the pot on the stove, turn heat to low, add milk and blend until smooth.
Add more milk to thin, if necessary.
Makes about 10 one cup servings.
* Rapunzel vegetable bouillon cubes can be used, instead of vegetable stock. Chicken stock would also work well.
Through a series of events that I had not intended I ended up at the International Association of Culinary Professionals annual meeting in Washington DC. I was invited on a “press pass” to write about, photograph and enjoy this gathering of food writers, food photographers, food stylists, chefs and other foodie folks. Funny thing is I had never even heard of this organization that has been around for thirty seven years. The meeting was to be held in Washington DC this year making it an easy commute from my home. I went online and investigated their website for info on the organization and this year’s meeting.
I was introduced to Robert Shueller at Melissa’s produce before the event to test some of their products. I was sent a box with potatoes, Hatch salsa, shallots, pearl onions and other veggie delights. I also received their “Great Peppers Cookbook” and a cookbook on using Dutch Yellow Potatoes. I had used Melissa’s products for years but had no idea they had such a large product line. They have more fruits and veggies that you can imagine. Well over half of my meals at home and at restaurants are vegetarian so I appreciate companies like Melissa’s bringing us a wide variety of vegetables and fruits.
One of the most memorable moments for me was the keynote address by José Andrés where he spoke of the need to reduce our meat consumption and eat more vegetables. Here’s a professional cook like myself who has transitioned from a diet heavy in meat to a more vegetarian-like diet. He also spoke of his work in Haiti bringing clean efficient gas stoves to the locals who have been suffering from the toxic fumes of cooking with charcoal. José also spoke of the environmental damage inflicted on the island of Haiti from cutting down most of the islands trees to make charcoal for cooking. With a lack of trees to hold back the rains the farmer’s fields were susceptible to damaging erosion which then led to more particulates in the surrounding ocean damaging the coral reefs. This also led to less fish available to the local’s diets compounding the problem of feeding a family even further. Jose is one amazing human being!
On Friday I arrived in Washington, DC and picked up my pass. For the next four days it would be a blur of meeting food photographers, food stylists, chefs and bloggers to discuss our respective food worlds with. Sitting in on numerous sessions I learned a ton of new information to take my blog to the next level and hopefully bring you better quality photographs, as well as better written recipes. The professional food photographers generously shared tips with us mere mortals on how to step up our game. I will now be using natural light more often to see if I can get a clearer picture thanks to the help from the professional photographers. The last day of the event I sat in on a session aimed at writing better recipes and expect my recipes to be improved thanks to that session.
This week’s post bring a new and appropriate giveaway. Melissa’s has generously agreed to send one lucky winner a box of products similar to what I received. You can’t imagine the variety of their product line, and if you are the lucky winner you will get a glimpse of it in your home. To be entered just submit a comment on this post. For an extra chance in the drawing comment on any of my Facebook posts over the week following the publishing of this post, and you will double your chances to win.
For this week’s recipe I want to share one of my kitchen secrets. I eat steak maybe twice a year, but have in my kitchen two or more steak seasoning spice blends that work wonders in many vegetable recipes. Here is one of my original recipes using McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning on potatoes. Warning, they are addictive!
Roasted Dutch Yellow Potatoes with Steak Seasoning
1 1/2 pound Mellisa’s Dutch yellow potatoes, or other type
2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil, or plain olive oil
3-4 teaspoons steak seasoning*
Preheat oven to 350°
Scrub and wash potatoes then dry.
Cut lengthwise so you have 4 wedges.
Put wedges on cookie sheet pan and drizzle garlic infused olive oil over them.
Sprinkle half of the steak seasoning then mix well. Add the rest of the steak seasoning and mix well again to coat the wedges.
Bake for 20 minutes at 350°.
Remove from oven, stir potatoes then return to oven increase heat to 400° and cook for 20 more minutes or until lightly brown and tender.
*I use one of 3 steak seasonings. Either Urban Accents-Chicago Steak and Chop, McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning, or Kent Rathburn’s Steak and Chop Salt. All of them work well but I think McCormick’s is my favorite as it has more black pepper.