Day 306–Poached Salmon in Apple Cider

English: Flesh of an Atlantic Salmon.

Typically, we buy our seafood only from North Carolina fisherman through a local vendor Locals Seafood. The fish, scallops and shrimp we have had are so fresh and delicious that we haven’t looked elsewhere. A recent Tweet from Whole Foods, however, encouraged me to veer off course and pick up some sustainable, Scottish salmon that was on sale. I hadn’t had salmon this year except for occasional restaurant meals, and it is sooooooo good for you that I just couldn’t resist. Salmon is low in bad fats, but high in Omega 3 fatty acids, protein and vitamin D.  I’m so glad I listened to my inner foodie, because that salmon was some of the best I’ve had in a very long time.

Buying a 2 lb. fillet of salmon required some quick thinking on my part. I hadn’t planned it into our meals for the week and needed a quick and healthy preparation that would allow the true flavor of the salmon to come through. I’m also on a budget, so I needed to keep extra expenses to a minimum. So necessity being the mother of invention, I decided to poach my salmon fillet using what I had on hand, which was fresh, local apple cider. I’ve only poached with white wine before, so I wasn’t sure how this would work. In the end, it was simply delicious. The salmon was moist with just a hint of apple sweetness. Now I’m wishing I had really splurged and bought two fillets!

Poached Salmon in Apple Cider

  • 1 large salmon fillet
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. fresh apple cider
  • Aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil that is large enough to wrap completely around your fillet without any additional seams. Lay the foil on a rimmed baking sheet.

Lay your fillet on the foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Make a foil packet for your fillet by folding the two long sides of foil over your fish, creating a little “tent”  and crimping the edges (this will keep the steam in your foil tent).

Seal the short ends by folding them over several times. Before you seal the final short edge, pour the cider into your packet, then seal the last edge.

Pop the baking sheet into your prepared oven and bake/steam for about 25 minutes (a larger fillet like the one we had, took 40 minutes). When the fish is just opaque, it is done.

We served our salmon with local kale and local potatoes!

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Day 221–Fresh Fish with Cherry Tomatoes

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We have the most amazing heirloom cherry tomatoes in our produce box this week. They are by far the best we have had all summer–soooo full of flavor! In fact, they are my snack at work because I cannot stop eating them.

I found some lovely, fresh Spanish Mackerel from Locals Seafood on Wednesday and made this Italian dish last night. Spanish mackerel is a local fish that has a good flavor, but is not as fishy as king mackerel. We thought it was pretty spectacular, but I would only make this with super good tomatoes. If you don’t have good tomatoes, make something else because the flavor really depends on them. We served this with roasted okra and sautéed summer squash and onions, all from our produce box. Locavore summer magic! Enjoy!

Fish with Cherry Tomatoes

  • 1-2 fish fillets (we used Spanish mackerel, but you could use almost anything)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • 3-4 tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper
  • White wine
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes per serving
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  1. Add olive oil to a saute pan that is big enough to handle the fish. Heat to medium low.
  2. Add the whole garlic cloves and saute for about 3 minutes, just to infuse the olive oil. Remove cloves.
  3. Turn heat up to medium. Sprinkle salt and pepper on fish fillets.
  4. Add fillets to the oil and over pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Do not turn the fish.
  5. Remove lid and add a splash of white wine and the tomatoes. Cover and cook until the fish is flaky and cooked through (unless you are using a very thick fish like tuna, this will probably be another 2 minutes).
  6. Remove from heat, add chopped parsley and serve.

Day 57–Starting Week 9–Budget and Menu

English: Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. ...

We had settled into a good routine for market shopping and ordering from local farmers. Until this week. With a sick child and busy work week, it was difficult to make time for the farmer’s market and I was tempted to just bag it and do my shopping at the grocery store. But, I didn’t. Can’t say I shopped with a glad heart this weekend, but I know I’ll be glad once we start cooking. We have lots of great eats this week. Our NC fishermen were catching a lot of swordfish, so we’re trying that along with NC scallops. Lettuce is making a strong comeback, so we will also be having more green salads with fresh lettuce and cucumbers. As for our budget we hit right at the mark this week, just four dollars over our $100 goal. Some items like flour will cover us for several weeks, so that’s good. Here’s how it broke out:

  • Farmhand food (meatbox pork tenderloin): $15
  • Locals Seafood (swordfish steaks and scallops): $40
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (Greek yogurt, pimento chevre): $8.00
  • Coon Rock Farm (egg): $4.00
  • Misc. farmers market (lettuce, tomato, cucumber): $8.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen fruit, organic whole wheat flour, organic buttermilk, butter, lemons, white wine): 29.19
  • Great Harvest Bread Company (honey whole wheat): free with coupon

Total budget for week 9: $104.19

So, what are we having for all this? Here is our menu for the week:

  • Sunday: grilled swordfish with rosemary/white wine sauce, risotto, sautéed kale from garden
  • Monday: Cheese quiche with garden salad [Meatless Monday]
  • Tuesday: Grilled pimento cheese and Mae Farm bacon sandwiches, salad
  • Wednesday: Whole wheat pasta with scallops and lemon
  • Thursday: Soyaki pork tenderloin with stir fried greens and leftover veggies
  • Friday: Leftovers
  • Saturday: Out–dinner and symphony date night

I am seriously looking forward to the grilled pimento cheese and bacon sandwiches this week. That may be a blog post in itself! Here is to wishing you a happy and healthy week ahead!

Day 49–This Week at the Farmer’s Market

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We have certainly been graced with good weather this winter, and today was no exception. My trip to the Western Wake Farmers Market this morning was even more enjoyable because it was 53 degrees and sunny! Tomorrow it will be cold and maybe snowy, so I am appreciating this fine day knowing I’ll be hunkered down and cooking tomorrow!

If your weather is tolerable, try visiting a farmers market this weekend. You are likely to find greens, potatoes, squash, eggs, carrots and maybe greenhouse tomatoes. Here in NC, I am finding lettuce, broccoli, swiss chard, turnips, beets, parsnips, potatoes, carrots, collards, kale and spring onions!

Happy shopping! Happy eating!

Day 48–Pasta Con Sarde

Sardines

I am still perplexed as to why Eat Italian Food Day is not Eat Italian Food Month, but whatevs. We are not beholden to whoever makes those decisions. So in open rebellion of the “food of the day” policy makers, here is another recipe that we will be making this weekend. It takes advantage of Italy’s coastal waters as well as its love of the tomato. I am planning to buy fresh pasta at the farmer’s market tomorrow and I’m excited about that, but when left to my own devices, I like whole wheat angel hair pasta for this dish. Pasta con sarde is high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids and relatively low in fat. Basically, this is a fast, healthy and very inexpensive dish that is perfect for weeknights when you really don’t feel like cooking.

What? You don’t like sardines? My suggestion would be to have an open mind and try sardines that are packaged boneless and skinless as they have a milder taste to them. Trader Joes carries these for about $2 a can. And indeed, this dish would be better with fresh sardines rather than canned, but until global warming really kicks in, I don’t know that sardines will be swimming off the shores of North Carolina. If you are (like my child) absolutely resolute in your dislike of sardines, you could use cooked salmon or tuna and you would need very little (6 oz), just increase the amount of olive oil you use or the sauce will be dry. This is a great dish for stretching out what you have. And who doesn’t want to do that these days?

  • 1 package whole wheat angel hair pasta (16 oz.)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 (4 oz) cans sardines packed in olive oil
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (about 3-5 slices bread toasted and run through food processor)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced + 1 Tbsp. grated zest
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions for al dente pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook about 2 minutes until soft. Add the minced garlic and cook about 1 minute more.
  3. Stir in sardines with their olive oil and tomato sauce and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When sardines are heated through, add bread crumbs and stir. Remove from heat.
  5. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water for the sauce.
  6. Add drained pasta to the sauce in the skillet and combine. If the sauce is too dry, add pasta water 1/2 cup at a time until you get the consistency you like. The sauce should cling to the pasta.
  7. Add lemon juice and lemon zest to the pasta, stir and serve with parmesan cheese.

Buon appetito!

Day 38–Fresh Fish Tacos

Fish taco stand

It took me years to wrap my brain around the concept of a fish taco. First, the control freak in me despises crunchy taco shells–they shatter and make a mess. In my mind, if I’m going to eat a taco with a fork, it may as well be a salad. Second, the tacos of my childhood were pretty typical 70s fare: seasoned ground beef in an El Paso taco shell topped with Kraft cheese and maybe some baked beans on the side. Yes, Boston baked beans. Hey, don’t judge–that was “ethnic” food in 1970s suburbia. So in my mind, taco = ground beef. NOT fish. That was just unnatural.

Then, on one particularly inspired day, I visited a local restaurant and threw caution to the wind. I ordered the fish tacos. They were amazing. Warm, soft (soft!) tortillas filled with grilled catfish and a spicy cabbage slaw, they were delicious and (at least for me) revolutionary. I have been hooked ever since.

Armed with a pound of freshly caught NC catfish, I took the next culinary step this week and made fish tacos for my family. I had a recipe for a great sounding marinade that involved a lot of spices, but arrived home too late and too tired to put a great deal of effort into it. So, I ditched the recipe and made a few substitutions. In the end, it was still delicious, although I wish I had taken the time to make a chipotle cabbage slaw. The ‘tween in my house loved the tacos and I liked it a lot. My husband, who is way too nice to criticize my cooking, probably would have preferred more stuff in the taco than just fish (not a fan of avocado), but said it was good. Note to self: pack more yummy stuff in the tacos.

Here is my after-work-get-dinner-on-the-table-quick version of fish tacos. I’m including the chipotle slaw recipe, too. Next time, I’ll make this the night before so it’s ready quickly, because I think it would really be delicious.

Chipotle Cabbage Slaw

  • 3 c. chopped or shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 c. organic mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. (or more to taste) of chipotle adobo sauce

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Quick Fish Tacos

  • 12 small corn tortillas (about 3 per person)
  • 1 lb. locally caught mild white fish (cod, tilapia, catfish)
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix (we used Trader Joe’s taco seasoning packet)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup queso fresco or organic sour cream
  1. In a glass bowl, mix canola oil and taco seasoning together. Add fish, turn several times to coat, and let marinade for about 20 minutes.
  2. While fish is marinading, cube avocado and reserve in a bowl.
  3. Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Put some olive oil on a paper towel and wipe the pan with oil. Add tortillas, one at a time, and warm them in the pan, turning once. Keep the tortillas warm in a piece of foil or wrapped in a warm tea towel. You could also microwave them, but I think they taste better warmed in a pan.
  4. When tortillas are warmed, increase the heat to the pan a bit. When pan is hot, add fish fillets to the pan. The marinade on the fish will serve as the oil, so you will not need to add more.
  5. Pan sear  fish until browned, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Fish is done when it flakes easily. Flake fish in the pan with the remaining marinade.
  6. Plate the dish by filling each tortilla with a few pieces of fish and cabbage slaw. Serve with avocado and queso fresco.

Day 28–Locals Seafood

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Ryan Speckman and Lin Peterson are ready for your seafood questions!

“Our fish are so fresh we have to slap their little faces.”

Ok, this isn’t the actual sign on the booth of Locals Seafood, but it could be. We visited Locals Seafood at the Western Wake Farmers Market in Morrisville and picked up NC shrimp for this week’s menu. All of the fish, shrimp, oysters and scallops sold by Locals Seafood is caught on NC waters in the area around Manteo. Ryan was great at explaining their protocol to me and suggesting some fish options for fish tacos.

Because their fish is all local caught, the selection varies from week to week, but their website (www.localsseafood.com) lists their weekly catch. I love that you can text your order in advance and pick it up at the farmers market (great for menu planners like me).

Locals also sells at the Wednesday downtown Raleigh farmers market, which starts up again in April. So glad to have found a great source for NC seafood!