Salmon on Toast with Honey Tarragon Cream Sauce

Salmon on ToastA few days ago, I needed to go to Rex’s Seafood to ask a few questions about their hot smoked salmon. I wondered how I could also turn a chunk of their delicious salmon into dinner. The short answer is, “Unwrap it and eat it, dummy.” It is that good. You don’t need to do anything to it or with it. Yet, I found another way to use it that suited my family quite well.

That is what I do when the world is spinning quickly; I rely on help from really wonderful prepared foods. I love cold smoked salmon. And, I love hot smoked salmon. The difference, in a tiny nutshell, is that one is smoked at cold temperatures (or without heat…just smoke) and one is smoked at hot temperatures. The result is that one type looks raw (cold smoked) and one looks cooked (hot smoked). Both are smoked, and both are great. I’ve eaten a lot of cold smoked salmon lately and I wanted to jump over to hot smoked. I need to learn how to hot smoke salmon myself. It appears to be a simple matter. However, in the meantime, if you have a shop that makes great hot smoked salmon, you can rely on them for a quick meal or a stunning appetizer spread.

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Quick Bolognese Sauce

OK…perhaps “more quickly prepared” is more accurate. Bolognese sauce is a very traditional, long-simmering, meat sauce for pasta. My method capitalizes on the “quick cooking” aspect rather than the traditional aspect and may give a true Italian pause. But, I love it. Would that I had veal and pork to add to the sauce and 3 hours to slowly simmer it. That would be lovely. But, I do not. I have about an hour these days. This is with homework flying past me, and requests that I jump on the trampoline. I like being asked to jump on the trampoline. I can still do a flip (or flippish-like thing…it is not quite what it used to be).

To make this fast, I have cut a major corner, the exactitude with which I dice my vegetables. I have seen these sauces with simply perfect little cubed dices of carrots. They were awe inspiring. But I am not a chef, nor am I anything of a professional cooking grade. No one yells at me for the quality of my knife work because if they did they would be sent to bed without dinner. So, here, I dispense with the illusion that I am something that I am not and throw my carrots, celery and onion into the food processor for 15 pulses or so. This gives a nice even-ish preparation which is in the pot sweating over melted butter and oil in about 2 minutes. That part alone would take me significantly longer by hand.

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Roasted Cranberry Sauce

Ah, Thanksgiving. It is that time of year when I come face to face with the fact that I really don’t like cranberry sauce all that much. In fact, I think it is fair to say that I make cranberry sauce for others, meaning that I never spent much time really tasting it and coming to terms with it. As it turns out, I have a sweet tooth. Nooooo, you say. Yes, I do. And, it appears that this extends to cranberry sauce. So this year, I just kept adding it and adding it, and finally, I like cranberry sauce.

Also adding to my desire for more sugar is the use of the orange zest. Orange zest can be a bit bitter, as it is in orange marmalade. Cranberries are a bit bitter to start with. So, for me, a full ¾ cup brown sugar was necessary to bring it all into harmony. But you should taste and adjust as you like.

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Old dog, New tricks: Learning Barbecue

I awoke at five in the morning on Friday to take a slab of meat the size of a newborn out of the refrigerator. I went back to bed for one hour. There was a time when an hour like that would be lost to the stresses of the upcoming day. This time I fell back asleep and had frantic dreams about some of my favorite men who have been known to smoke a brisket or two. In my dream I was having a family BBQ and alongside our smoker, my uncle Harry had parked his big smoker. And, then my dad pulled up looking five minutes fresh from deer camp, ready to start cooking. In the dream, Pitts had already built the fire for me. I awoke again at six to find Pitts snoozing happily right beside me, and the fire was mine to start. I far prefer having dreams about getting started on a brisket to that dream where I forgot to answer discovery in a timely fashion, or the one where I show up to court and can’t speak.

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Creamy Avocado Dip

photo of bowl of avocado dipThis is a five minute recipe, at most. But it yields a creamy, decadent dip. If you love avocados, this is perfect for you. At the same time, it is not too heavy on the avocado. Guacamole junkies…try this. It is nice enough for any occasion, yet perfect for slouching on the sofa for a football game. Yes, I’m serving mine with plain Doritos. The mood doesn’t strike me often, but clearly I’m in a football-on-the-couch mode. I’ve also served it with water crackers, and it was great that way, too.

You can “heat” this up as much as you like by adding more jalapenos, but I would do it incrementally after one or two, so you can judge as you go. My jalapenos were tiny, but very potent. Yours could be large and boring. Start with a little and work your way up slowly.

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