Monday, April 28, 2008

Eating Healthy

Roasted Salmon Salad with Red Chili Raspberry Vinaigrette and Walnuts

For the Salmon: I followed a method I found in the March 2008 copy of Cook's Illustrated. Basically, their method for roasting salmon involves heating the oven and a sheet pan to 500ºF while prepping the fish. Usually, you would portion the side of salmon into individual fillets and cook it in batches according to size, but I was lazy and just roasted the whole side which meant that the "shallower" end would be well done when the large end was medium rare. The next step is to score the salmon skin in a large crosshatch pattern being careful not to cut into the flesh. A sharp knife is essential here.

I seasoned the salmon with salt and pepper before rubbing on a nice coat of spicy brown mustard, followed by a thin layer of dark brown sugar. I pulled the hot sheet pan from the oven and placed the salmon on it skin-side down. I placed it back in the oven on the bottom rack and immediately lowered the temperature to about 275ºF. I roasted for about 8-9 minutes. The salmon should be medium rare; cook a few minutes longer for well done - which is okay if you prefer your salmon dry and "sticky" (I'm referring to the tendency of overcooked meats to stick to your teeth, momentarily gluing them together while chewing).

Caution: Using my method with the brown sugar will most likely set off the smoke alarm when the sugar melts onto the sheet pan. Omitting the sugar will make for an easier cleanup. An old restaurant trick is to place the salmon onto an unlubricated pan causing the skin to adhere, and using a spatula to separate the meat from the skin for a nice presentation. However, it's a bit tricky to remove the skin from the pan during cleanup.

For the Vinaigrette: Place one tablespoon of Chili Raspberry Jam into a large mixing bowl (you can substitute any preserves you have). Add about a table spoon of Rice Wine Vinegar (or other mild white vinegar) and whisk thoroughly. Whisk in about two tablespoons of decent olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. As with all vinaigrettes, add a bit more vinegar if it's not tangy enough, or add a bit more oil to tame the vinegar bite. This last step is very important; it's the key to a good vinaigrette.

To Assemble the Salad: Chop, rinse, and dry about half a head of green leaf lettuce. Place it in the mixing bowl atop the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Toss with the vinaigrette until evenly coated and place on a chilled plate achieving as much height as possible. Gently place several slices of salmon on the greens and garnish with walnuts. Sprinkle the rim of the plate with habanero powder or cayenne pepper.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Tonight, I put together a few leftovers that I had: Some Prime Rib, Fingerling Potatoes, Italian Bread, Horseradish, Cabernet Sauvignon, Onion, Garlic, and Domestic Parmesan.

Now, what's for dessert?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Milk, Old School.

It's been quite some time since I've had Oberweis milk, but now I'm considering buying it on a regular basis. It's not a decision that I am entirely comfortable with, but I think it's the right thing for now. It's the juggling of politics, environmental awareness, and taste that I struggle with when trying to be a good consumer.

Let me be clear, Oberweis is damn good milk. Period. But I thought that I would publicly express some of my concerns and praises for this product.

1. Fresh, clean, natural flavor. Oberweis milk is pasteurized at 173ºF instead of 185ºF (according to their website), which helps to prevent a cooked milk flavor.
2. Oberweis gets its milk from small to medium sized dairies.
3. Oberweis does not allow the use of rBGH growth hormones.
4. The glass containers do not impart any off flavors to the milk.
5. The glass bottles can be reused - the ultimate form of recycling. I really, really like products that you don't have to throw away or melt down to recycle.
6. Glass is

1. I strongly disagree with Jim Oberweis's politics. Namely, his "21st Century Energy Policy" which focuses on oil drilling in Alaska, ethanol, and nuclear power.
2. It's more expensive than the most brands - about a penny more per ounce than Prairie Farms for the same quantity.
3. Oberweis milk is not organic. They claim the only thing keeping it from being certified organic is using non-organic cow feed. They also assert that the quality of their milk is better than cows that have been fed organic food.
4. They don't indicate exactly where they get their milk, so there is no way of telling how far the milk travels to reach my grocery store. I can say with some certainty that it travels at least from North Aurora, IL.

At this point, I'm not sure if the good outweighs the bad. I really would like to support local agriculture and purchase organic milk. If anyone knows of a local dairy that packages in glass, let me know. I would even consider purchasing local organic milk that is packaged in cardboard if the taste is not significantly altered and the price point is reasonable. But as far as I'm concerned, nothing beats glass.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Oh, Buddy...

Sometimes Buddy likes to make faces.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Old Stock Ale

My buddy Ben brought me a hand-picked four pack of North Coast beers for Christmas; one of which was a 2004 Old Stock Ale. I was super appreciative since I requested that all my gifts be perishable last year, and this beer is fairly difficult to obtain (not to mention pricey). And they have been resting quietly inside my chill chest for months.

The Old Stock Ale packs a whopping 13.25% ABV, which is quite apparent in the first sip. I detected a heavy caramel character countered by smooth bourbon tones. I have not tried any of the newer models, but the 2004 seems to have a more mellow characteristic than I would expect a younger version to have. To revel in a pint of four year old ale is not something one does daily, but I strongly recommend the experience!

Nothing like relaxing with this beer as the sun falls...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Grilling Season Is Here!

I know, I know, you can grill in the winter, but it's just not as fun.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Breakfast at 2:00pm

Leftover potatoes from grilling last night, onions, garlic, organic eggs, brown ale, and plenty of habanero sauce.

Rock Island Trail

Josh and I hit the trail yesterday after I purchased a new inner tube for my rear bike tire and installed it at the trailhead. The weather was outstanding for riding, and I'm not the least bit sore today. We only rode about six miles due to some off-road riding that left us exhausted. The ground is much too soft for that kind of nonsense. Also, I've got some severe shifting problems with my bike that I was unable to fix while riding (eg. adjusting the cable tension). This was most prominent when my bike wouldn't downshift while riding through the grass - it's definitely time for a tune up.

I did manage to snap a few good shots, but I wish it were closer to dusk. For fear of a ticket, we made sure that we were back before then; plus there were flat iron steaks to grill and beer to drink.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Putman Park

Today was a bit chilly, but offered decent enough weather for a trip to a park where I spent a lot of time as a youth. I took Buddy along for an early evening walk and caught a nice photo of him stopping by the edge of a lake for a drink. As far as wildlife goes, we saw two geese, three deer, one hawk, and a variety of songbirds.

To see the rest of this set, visit my flickr page.