Sauteed Herbed Salmon w/Creamy Leeks & Bacon

I have our second bedroom dedicated to my cook’s library where I store all my cookbooks. It’s such a great place because all of my the cooking & baking resources are at my fingertips. Sometimes surfing the web for recipes can be a bit mundane and I find pleasure in flipping through actual books. Tonight I decided to prepare a recipe from Rachel Ray’s Express Meals cookbook. I’m not much of a Rachel Ray fan but I do love her creativeness in some of the dishes she has.

** I’ve also chosen to submit this recipe to the Bookmarked Recipes blogging event, hosted by Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments every Monday. **

Super Herbed Sauteed Salmon with Creamy Leeks & Bacon

(a mouthful of the actual title in the book)
recipe is found on page 96 of Rachel Ray’s Express Meals cookbook
(written as found in the book)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
3 large leeks, superdark green parts & roots discarded
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (eyeball it)
1 large pinch of red pepper flakes
salt & black pepper
3/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup half & half or heavy cream
4 6oz portions salmon fillet, skin removed
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 sprigs fresh dill, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
crusty bread to pass at the table

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of the EVOO once around the pan. Add the chopped bacon and cook, stirring, about 2 to 3 minutes. While the bacon is getting crisp, get the leeks ready.

To clean the leeks, cut each in half lengthwise, then thinly slice each half into half moons. Fill a large bowl with cold water, transfer the sliced leeks to the water and swoosh the leeks around in the water, and then let them sit without messing with them for a minute. Using your hands, skin the leeks from the water without disturbing the grunge that has settled to the bottom. Drain the leeks thoroughly, feeling them for grit. If you feel some, repeat the cleaning profess with a clean bowl of water. Don’t forget to thoroughly wipe off your cutting board after chopping the leeks, otherwise the next thing you chop on the board will have sand and grit in it.

Once the bacon is crisp, remove it from the skillet to a paper-towel-lined plate and reserve. Don’t wipe the skill out; there is lots of bacon flavor in there. Return the skillet to the stovetop over medium heat and add the leeks, half teh garlic, the thyme, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper and cook, stirring occassionally for 3 minutes. Add the white wine and cook for 1 minute, then add the chicken stock and half and half or heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then turn down the heat to medium low. Simmer the mixture for about 10 to 12 minutes, until tender and creamy.

While the leeks are cooking, start the salmon. Season the salmon on all sides with some salt & pepper. On a plate, combine the parsley, dill, the remaining garlic, and the lemon zest. Preheat a medium or large nonstick skillet over medium heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO. Once the oil is hot, add the salmon fillets herb side down. Cook the salmon about 2 to 3 minutes on the herb side, then turn the heat up to medium high, flip the salmon, and continue to sook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until cooked through.

Add the reserved crispy bacon to the leeks and stir to continue. Divide the leeks among 4 serving plates. Top each pile of leeks with a portion of the salmon. Cut the lemon into wedges and squeeze the juice over the fish. Service with some crusty bread on the side.

I served this with some goat cheese herbed mashed potatoes…

Goat Cheese Herbed Mashed Potatoes
original Joelen recipe

2 large yukon gold potatoes
2 oz. goat cheese
1/2 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 sprig fresh dill, chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon rind
1/4 cup heavy cream or half & half, heated until warm

In a saucepan, add potatoes and cover with water. Boil potatoes until tender.
While potatoes are boiling, combine the goat cheese, parsley, dill and lemon rind in a bowl.
Mix everything in the bowl until fully combined.
Drain potatoes when tender and place back in sauce pan.
Add the goat cheese mixture and warmed cream/half & half to the potatoes.
Mash and stir until combined and slightly chunky.
You can add salt & pepper to taste, but I found it to be fine just from the saltiness of the goat cheese.

France’s yellow split pea soup

This soup was made for my Soup & Sandwich Swap event, which you can read about HERE for more recipes and pictures.

France’s yellow split pea soup

1 lb dried yellow or green split peas
1 lb cubed turkey ham diced (ham and ham bone can also be used)
1 1/2 cup carrots peeled diced
1 1/2 cup potatoes peeled and diced
1 large onion diced
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Bay leaves
Salt and Pepper

Rinse and soak the peas overnight according to the package directions.

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high 6-8 hours on low.

Stir occasionally. Additional broth may be necessary if the soup becomes too thick.

Remove bay leaves and allspice and serve.

Smashed potato soup

This soup was made for my Soup & Sandwich Swap event, which you can read about HERE for more recipes and pictures.

Tricia’s smashed potato soup

3-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1/2 cup chopped yellow and/or red sweet pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons bottled roasted garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream, half-and-half, or light cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Sliced green onions (optional)

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine potatoes, sweet pepper, garlic, and black pepper. Pour broth over all.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

Mash potatoes slightly with a potato masher. Stir in whipping cream, cheddar cheese, and the 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions. If desired, top individual servings with additional sliced green onions. Makes 8 servings.

Spicy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Spicy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
original Joelen recipe

1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally
olive oil for drizzling
salt & pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons spice garlic & onion seasoning
2-3 large Russet baking potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup half & half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Tear off a sheet of foil (about 8×12 inches).
Place garlic halves onto the foil.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper.
Wrap the garlic & jalepenos into a foil packet and place in preheated oven.
Bake for 30 – 45 minutes; set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, boil a pot of water and add chopped potatoes.
Cook potatoes until softened and drain.
Place potatoes into a large bowl.
Add butter, half & half, salt & pepper to taste.
When cooled, squeeze garlic out of paper wrappings and place into large bowl.
Mash potatoes with all ingredients until you reach your desired consistency.
Add more butter/half & half if preferred.
Garnish with chopped chives before serving.

Potato Galette

The following recipe was prepared during my International Chefs Dinner. You can read about it and check out the other recipes that were made for the event HERE.

Potato Galette
shared at the event by Joelen
recipe courtesy of Jacques Pepin

1/2 recipe pâte brisée (or prepared pie crust dough) 1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound potatoes, peeled, cut into very thin slices, washed, and dried
1/2 cup heavy cream

Roll out the dough as indicated for the Apple Galette, about 1/16-inch thick and in a 1 3-inch circle. Place on a large cookie sheet.

Melt the butter in a skillet and add the oil. Add the potato slices and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes on high heat until the slices start to look transparent and a few are slightly browned. Let cool a few minutes and spread the potatoes on the dough. Fold over the border of the dough as for Apple Galette.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for approximately 45 minutes, until it is nicely browned. Spread the cream on top and bake for another 15 minutes. Serve lukewarm in wedges.

German BBQ Potato Salad

I made the following for my Oktoberfest event. You can read and get other recipes from the event HERE.

Joelen’s German BBQ Potato Salad
recipe adapted from HERE

6 large potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 cup Bermuda onions, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup salad oil
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 egg
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Thoroughly wash potatoes and boil with the skins on until tender (about 25 minutes). Remove potatoes from pan and drain the water. Return the potatoes to the pot and place over a low heat shaking constantly to dry the potatoes. Peel and chop potatoes into 1/4-inch pieces. Place potato pieces in a large bowl and toss with onions, parsley, salt and pepper. Set aside. Meanwhile combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Whisk egg in a bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over top while stirring. Add salad oil and stir. Pour this mixture over potatoes and place in a large skillet or pot over a low heat. Cook until evenly heated. Top with crumbled bacon.

Patatas Bravas

The following recipe was made and shared at my Tapas party. You can read about the event and view links to the other recipes shared HERE.

Patatas Bravas

shared at the event by Tricia
recipe from here

3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 large Russet potatoes, peeled, and cut to 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz) Ketchup
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz) mayonnaise
Chopped parsley, to garnish
1 cup (8 fl. oz) olive oil, for frying

The brava sauce
In a saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft. Turn off the heat, and add the paprika, Tabasco sauce, and thyme, stirring well. Transfer to a bowl and add the ketchup and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

The potatoes
Sprinkle the potatoes lightly with salt and black pepper. In a large skillet fry the potatoes in 1 cup (8 fl. oz) olive oil until cooked through and golden-brown, stirring occasionally. (Take care when adding the potatoes to the saucepan because the oil will splatter due to the salt). Drain the potatoes on paper towels, check the seasoning, add more salt if necessary, and set it aside.

Getting it all together
Mix the potatoes with the sauce inmediately before serving to ensure that the potatos retain their crispness. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve warm.

Spanish Omelette

The following recipe was made and shared at my Tapas party. You can read about the event and view links to the other recipes shared HERE.

Spanish Omelette
shared at the event by Ruby
recipe adapted from here

1/2 pint of olive oil
5 medium (40 oz each) baking potatoes, peeled, sliced and lightly sprinkled with salt
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 eggs
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Heat the olive oil in a 9-inch skillet and add the potato slices carefully, because the salt will make the oil splatter. Try to keep the potato slices separated so they will not stick together. Cook, turning occasionally, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain into a colander, leaving about 3 tablespoons of oil in the skillet.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt. Add the potatoes, and stir to coat with the egg. Add the egg-coated potatoes to the very hot oil in the skillet, spreading them evenly to completely cover the base of the skillet. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook, shaking the pan frequently, until mixture is half set.

Use a plate to cover the skillet and invert the omelette away from the hand holding the plate (so as not to burn your hand with any escaping oil). Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and slide the omelette back into the skillet on its uncooked side. Cook until completely set. Allow the omelette to cool, and then cut it into wedges. Season it with salt and sprinkle with lemon juice to taste (optional). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasting a Chicken… or Two

Freeze space is a hot commodity in my kitchen. I had 2 large whole chickens staring at me when I opened up my freezer and decided to make room in my freezer by roasting them both. What I’m going to do with 2 roast chickens, I’m not sure… but the possibilities are endless. I’ve deboned the chickens and will probably use the meat in various ways for when I’m short on time.

For lunch today, we just enjoyed the legs with some roasted jalepeno potatoes and corn on the cob. Simple. Satisfying. As for the recipes, I kept it as effortless as possible:
Here’s my recipe for roast chicken:

1 whole chicken
1-2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
2-4 tablespoons spice/rub seasoning of your choice
(today I used Montreal Chicken Seasoning)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Rinse and pat dry your chicken.
Drizzle oil over the chicken.
Sprinkle the seasoning all over the chicken until you have it completely covered. Add more seasoning if needed.
Place your chicken on a rack, set inside a roaster pan.
Bake for 1 hour and 3o minutes, or shorter/longer depending on size of your chicken. Bake until juices run clear.

** You could also stuff the cavity with lemons, limes, onions, garlic, etc… just use your preference for additional aromatics. I chose not to stuff the cavity since I didn’t want additional flavor into the chicken. I haven’t yet decided how I want to use the chicken so keeping it neutral and simple was my intent.

Here’s my recipe for rosemary jalepeno diced potatoes:

1-2 potatoes, diced
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
salt & pepper to taste
1 jalepeno, seeded & finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drizzle oil on a baking sheet.
Place potatoes on a single layer and toss in the oil.
Sprinkle the rosemary, salt & pepper & toss to coat.
Add jalepeno and toss.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until browned & crispy.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

The following recipe was shared during my Chef Spotlight Dinner highlighting recipes of Chef Wolfgang Puck. You can view other recipes and pictures of the event HERE.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
shared at the event by Teresa
Original recipe here

2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into same size chunks
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream, brought to a boil
1/2 cup pureed Roasted Whole Garlic
Freshly ground white pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1. In a saucepan, cook the potatoes and raw garlic in lightly salted water to cover, until tender. Drain well.

2. Mash the potatoes through a food mill, or with a potato masher, into a stainless steel bowl.

3. In a small saucepan, heat butter and cream until butter has melted. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.