Friday, June 17, 2016

Knock His Socks Off with Copper River Salmon!

Father's Day is Sunday, and there is no better way to celebrate our guys than with Wild Copper River Salmon, just arriving in stores NOW! The Copper River or Ahtna River is located in South-Central Alaska. The Copper River derives its name from the rich copper deposits found along it's riverbanks. This massive body of water has 13 major tributaries, is a mile wide, and runs at 7 miles per hour. It is the 10th largest river in the United States, and is the source of some of the most prized salmon in the world!

Chinook Salmon (or King Salmon) is available from mid-May through mid-June, Sockeye Salmon (or Red Salmon) is available from mid-May through mid-August, and Coho Salmon (or Silver Salmon) is available from mid-August through late-September. It is an incredible source of high-quality protein, extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and is low in cholesterol and saturated fats. It is so good for you, that you won't believe how fantastic it tastes! It may be expensive, but it's worth every penny! This recipe for "Plank-Grilled Salmon with Dill Sauce," is divine and a personal favorite! The salmon is grilled on cedar planks, brushed with a bourbon-maple glaze, and served with lemon wedges and a goat cheese dill sauce! All that is needed is some boiled red potatoes, a crusty baguette, a bottle of Pinot Noir, and your done! Try it! He'll love it! You can thank me later!

Plank-Grilled Salmon with Dill Sauce

Serves 6-8 

For the Dill Sauce
1/4 lb (125g) fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (8 fl oz/250ml) sour cream
1/4 cup (1/3 oz/10g) chopped fresh dill
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and white pepper, to taste

For the Bourbon-Maple Glaze
1/2 cup (5 1/2 oz/170g) pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
White pepper, to taste

For the Salmon
1 skin-on salmon fillet, about 3 lbs (1.5kg), deboned (I use small pliers), I used Sockeye here!
1 untreated cedar plank, soaked in water to cover for 4 hours or up to overnight and drained)
Lemon wedges

For the Dill Sauce
In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, sour cream, dill, garlic, and salt and white pepper to taste and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

For the Bourbon-Maple Glaze
In a bowl, stir together the maple syrup, bourbon, and white pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the Salmon
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling (meaning directly on top of the coals) over medium-high heat (375 degrees F or 190 degrees C). Brush the salmon thickly on both sides with the glaze. Center the salmon, skin side down, on the plank, using additional planks, if necessary.

Cover the grill and cook, brushing occasionally with the remaining glaze, until the fish is opaque throughout and flakes when prodded with a fork, about 8-12 minutes. The plank will char slightly. Using heavy-duty pot holders, remove the salmon, still on the plank, from the grill and set it on a serving platter or cutting board. Serve the salmon hot or warm. To serve, cut the salmon through the flesh into individual portions. Pass the dill sauce and lemon wedges at the table.

Recipe from Essentials of Grilling, by Williams-Sonoma. For additional information about Copper River Salmon, go to

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Invite Sherry Vinegar to Your Next Barbecue!

Sherry vinegar is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated ingredients in the American kitchen. I know this, because it is very hard to locate in my neighborhood, which is graced with Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Straub's; but, it was World Market that saved the day and allowed me to make this spectacular recipe for "Grilled Portobello Mushrooms Stacked with Spinach and Shaved Manchego Cheese!" Not only does this recipe get it's exquisite roots from Spain's legendary Sherry production, it is a vegetarian's dream (or at least a lacto-vegetarian), the perfect entree or first course when cooking outdoors.

Depending on the size of portobellos you buy, which can vary enormously, construct your stacks accordingly. For instance, if you can only find the gigantic mushrooms, just serve one, topped with Manchego, spinach, and the Sherry vinaigrette. Or, if you use medium sized ones, like I did here, stack two. It's very forgiving. I've been making this recipe for years, and even now I am still amazed from the first to last bite! Save money on a steak, you'll be surprised! 

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms Stacked with Fresh Spinach and Shaved Manchego Cheese

Serves 4 as an entree

For the Sherry vinaigrette
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup Sherry vinegar (the original recipe recommends balsamic vinegar as an alternate, but don't do it, the Sherry vinegar is what truly makes it shine!)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

For the mushroom stacks
12 medium-sized portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean (no stems)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound baby spinach, washed and dried
4 ounces Manchego cheese, thinly sliced into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish

For the Sherry vinaigrette
Add all the ingredients into a mason jar and shake until emulsified, or whisk in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to use.

For the mushroom stacks
Heat grill to high. Brush the mushroom caps on both sides with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, cap side down, until slightly charred, about 4-5 minutes. (Don't let them burn!) Turn the mushrooms over and continue grilling until just cooked through and starting to soften, about 3-4 minutes longer.

Stack the ingredients on each of 4 salad plates starting with a mushroom cap (cap-side up, making a "bowl"), a slice of cheese, some spinach, and a drizzle of Sherry vinaigrette. Add another mushroom cap, another slice of cheese, spinach, and another drizzle of the vinaigrette. Place a third mushroom cap on top and finish by drizzling with additional vinaigrette and garnish with the chopped chives.

How beautiful!

Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay.