Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Moroccan Salmon and The Garden of Eatin'

We motored down to the venerable American Royal to attend an event that signals the much-anticipated arrival of spring...The Home and Garden Show. Held in the Royal's vast event spaces, this show celebrates all things home and to Keith's particular delight; gardening. Powell Gardens, our local botanical gardens, featured The Garden of Eatin', an immense display on growing our food. Rows of lettuces, herbs, tomatoes and other edible goodness filled the space and the aromas were incredibly enticing. I loved the deep colors of the purple cabbage and the Merlot lettuce and dug the contorted hazelnut tree. We bought a really terrific indoor composter as well and that thrilled me to no end. Seem like an odd thing to be thrilled by? Keith is an intrepid composter but our composting area is behind the shed in our back yard and as the snow piled up back there, so did our composting. Inside. In Bowls and Cannisters. Get the smelly picture? This indoor composter is huge, sealed and hidden away and it breaks down the food itself and that makes for far less hikes to the shed. Exxxxcccelllent.

We strolled the beautiful orchid displays and enticing food tasting booths and I stared longingly at the landscape displays with stunning outdoor kitchens; wishing and hoping for the future. I also geeked out to the Tornado Chaser's Tankmobile at left....I so wanna go on a chase. Eventually, we settled into the cooking demo area and watched Chef Linda of the Price Chopper grocery chain work her culinary magic. Linda prepared some healthy dishes in partnership with Fit KC and I got to try them all. She made Frittata Muffins, her twist on Waldorf Salad (which was the first time I really enjoyed Waldorf Salad) and Cornmeal Apple Cinnamon Pancakes. All were very good and I can't wait to try the muffins. When I do, I'll share the recipe.

Finally, I returned to the Cookbook Challenge where I consulted an unlikely resource. The purpose of the Cookbook Challenge, as I've written, is to cook one recipe from every cookbook we own in a year's time and we own over 80 cookbooks. I've discovered one that neither of us realized we had and don't remember buying. Its the Mary Englebreit cookbook that celebrates the artist and well, neither of us are exactly fans of the artist so we are not sure of how we came to own it. If someone reading this gifted us with this cookbook, forgive us, we don't seem to remember how we received it but since we do, it's in the challenge. So be it.

I dug out the remainder of the snow on the deck thanks to the Big Melt and busted out the grill for its 2011 debut. I chose the Charmoula Grilled Salmon recipe that featured a zesty Moroccan sauce to marinate the salmon in. The sauce is wonderful....as the cookbook says, "it's spicy heat tempered by lemon juice and a generous amount of cilantro". As the cookbook suggested, we served it with couscous that we kicked up with some fresh Parmesan and garlic. The salmon was wonderful and the sauce was delicious on the salmon without overwhelming the fish.

The garden show and the grilled salmon were the perfect early kickoff to a hopefully early spring. The recipe follows and this is Cookbook Challenge #25...

Charmoula

1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teas. ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 tablesp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Ingredients

8 5-6 oz. skinless salmon filets (frankly, we only grilled 2 and still made the same amount of charmoula.....to use for other marinades)

Coarse or kosher salt
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Directions

1. Make the charmoula: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the container as necessary. (The charmoula can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.)

2. Put the salmon in a shallow baking dish and pour the charmoula evenly over the fillets, turning to coat. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to an hour, turning the salmon once or twice.

3. Preheat the grill to high and oil the grill rack.

4. Sprinkle the salmon with coarse salt. Place the fillets skinned side up on the grill, turning once, until just opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes. Garnish and serve immediately.

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