Chicken and Leek Pie

I haven’t found a new recipe to add to our family dinner menu rotation in a long time.  Recently I made a recipe that I was going to make with the butter it called for, but at the last-minute decided to try our usual dairy substitutions.   Sometimes these cooking adventures turn out just ok, but this endeavor turned out DELICIOUS.

The recipe is a Chicken and Leek pie recipe from Williams Sonoma.   I saw this recipe originally in the Williams Sonoma book, The Weeknight Cook, which I love.   I always saw the pretty picture of this dish and then skipped it because the topping looked like puff pastry to me and I figured that butter would be pretty crucial to the dish.  (Really I should have just read the recipe.)

One night I decided to stop skipping this recipe and make it mainly for my husband and myself (with butter), but my husband challenged me to give it a go with our Earth Balance Soy Free Spread and rice milk (vanilla is all I had on hand!)   I was dubious.  I also didn’t realize the chicken was supposed to be cooked and shredded ahead, so we cut raw chicken into small pieces and cooked it in the pan before actually starting the recipe.  (I didn’t shred it)

The result was a delicious, creamy dinner that reminded me a LOT of chicken pot pie.  It’s flavor was a little different though, without the carrots that usually show up in a pot pie.  The topping was not at all like puff pastry but more like a dumpling or biscuit.  It was fluffy, browned on top and just a bit moist on the bottom, not at all soggy.   leek pie 1

We were amazed, especially because I had used vanilla rice milk, and also really happy to find a creamy dish that was dairy free.  We all fought over the leftovers that week.  It will definitely be one to make again and again this winter.

If you aren’t too familiar with leeks, they are in the same family as onions and garlic but their flavor is very mild.  In the raw state they are very fibrous but if you cut the main bottom section (white and light green tube-shaped part) thinly so they are thin rings, they cook easily and become very soft.  So soft my kids didn’t realize there were leeks in the meal.   Well they probably did know, because my husband feels compelled to make “leek/leak” puns for hours by putting the leeks tops on things like the faucet and yelling “Kids! The faucet is leaking!”  (ahhh Dad jokes!)

So check out the original recipe Here or see my dairy free substitutions below.  And if you are worried about your milk substitute, be adventurous!  Our vanilla rice milk worked fine!

*I am not affiliated with Williams Sonoma or Earth Balance in any way, nor receiving any compensation from them. Not that I would mind …… 🙂

Chicken and Leek Pie

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons neutral oil like Olive oil or Canola Oil
  • 5 tablespoons Butter Substitute -I use Earth Balance Soy Free Spread
  • 2 large leeks (or 3 medium) white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken, homemade or purchased
  • 1 cup baby peas
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk substitute – I used rice milk

Directions
Preheat an oven to 375ºF.

In a large ovenproof fry pan over medium-high heat, add 4 tablespoons of oil.  Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and peas, and season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups flour, the baking powder and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in 5 tablespoons of butter replacer until the mixture forms coarse crumbs about the size of peas. Add the rice milk (or your substitute) and, using a rubber spatula, stir until evenly moistened. Place heaping spoonfuls of the batter evenly over the chicken filling.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

 

 

 

Delicious Dairy Free Appetizer

So it has been a long while since I posted but I am back to writing now that both kids have settled into a school routine.   My youngest is now in preschool a few days so I have a little time to sit down at a computer before trying to get a bunch of stuff done around the house.  Better type fast!

As far as food goes, Colin still doesn’t eat dairy, soy proteins or chocolate.  I don’t know if he will grow out of it but we’ve accepted it, built accommodations into our life and don’t worry about it too much.  We had another milk trial this summer but it didn’t go well, especially after a few days of eating small bites of it.  His reactions are 24-48 hours later and really show themselves at nighttime.  He stops sleeping and cries all night.  He also usually has an eczema flair up and GI symptoms.   As a family we are used to this lifestyle and don’t feel as limited or concerned as we once did.  Colin can have soybean oil so that makes our life a lot easier since everything outside the house seems to contain it.   Although he has moments he feels he misses out, like ice cream at parties, for the most part we have yummy substitutions ready for him and we try to always make meals that he can eat.   Colin is growing and gaining weight well.  He has come a long way and we have become less stressed about food over time.

Although we have a good collection of dairy and soy free recipes to choose from, I am a recipe hunter.  I am always on the lookout for something new to make.   With tomatoes in season here, I am sharing one of my favorite summer appetizers.   It’s great when the tomatoes are ripe and have real flavor, but if you can’t get great tomatoes that is okay too.  The recipe is DOUBLE tomato- meaning it has sundried tomatoes in it that really pack a punch of intense tomato flavor which can help overcome lackluster fresh tomatoes.

The original recipe for this bruschetta had cheese on top of it but the one time I tried it, the cheese was really unnecessary.  It think the appetizer is better without it! I use roma tomatoes if they look good at the grocery store but if you use another type that is very watery/seedy, scoop some of the seeds out before you add them to your bowl of ingredients.   Also any balsamic vinegar will work but if you get some sweet aged balsamic, like a 25 year aged bottle where it is thick and sweet,  it is even better.   Lastly you can serve this bruschetta on top of bread or serve it in a nice bowl with bread around for guests to top it themselves so it doesn’t get soggy.

 

DOUBLE TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients

6 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped  (or other tasty tomatoes in season)

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive or canola oil  – chopped or julienned

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped finely

1/4 teaspoon salt  (I use kosher salt)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 loaf French bread

Directions

Preheat oven to broil setting.

Combine the chopped roma tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper.  Allow it to sit 10 minutes for flavors to mingle.

Cut your French bread into 3/4 inch slices.   Place them on a baking sheet in a single flat layer.   Broil for 1-2 minutes until toasted. Remove from the oven.

Spoon the tomato mixture on the top of the toasted side of the bread.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

You Won’t Miss The Cheese Stromboli

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It has been way too long since my last post.  I used to write once a week when Colin took two naps a day.  Now my goal is one a month. Colin has taken to skipping naps if there is anything interesting going on and when Hannah is home, his nap hour is our dedicated read-together time.   It is really tough to find an hour or so in the evening to sit at the computer. With both kiddos doing some sort of school in the fall, I know this crazy time will pass and I will miss being so busy with them.  So although I’m paring back a bit, I’m not disappearing. Bear with me!

Speaking of days when I had more time:  Before Colin was born I used to go to one of those meal making places where in one hour I could make 12 meals for my family and fill my freezer.   It was such a time saver but these days it just doesn’t work for our diet needs.  A few months ago I tried to make my own “Freezer Meals” but I just couldn’t find a lot of recipes that didn’t involve Cream of Something soup or lots of cheese.   It wasn’t a total failure though.  I did find a stromboli recipe that we love at a site called Freezer Friends, written by a group of girls who work together to make freezer meals each month.  Genius!  I would love to do this someday.

Anyway, at first I made two different stromboli, a cheesy one for my husband and daughter, and a cheeseless for Colin and I, but after trying our dairy-less version, my husband said to just make the dairy-free version in the future.  He didn’t miss the cheese.  That is a HUGE win in our house.

I think the key to this stromboli is the egg yolk and herb mixture that is spread on the dough before the rest of the toppings.  It brings the fat, richness and moisture to the party that keeps us from missing cheese.

The original recipe called for 1lb defrosted bread dough.  I couldn’t find any soy free varieties so I always use fresh dough.  I’ve tried various things and usually use either the olive oil dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day (the recipe is down a bit in their post) or I use Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust yeast and follow the directions on the back of the yeast packet.    The olive oil dough you have to make a few hours in advance.  The Fleischmann’s dough you can whip up and use in 5 minutes.

I tend to stick to the meat and veggie ingredients in the recipe below, for no other reason than we like it.  When I find something that works, I go with it.  Feel free to swap things out, just try to not to overload the dough with filling or with extremely wet ingredients or you might run into trouble sealing the dough.  If yours starts to have a life of its own, don’t panic.  In the past I’ve had ugly, patched up and messy looking stromboli going into the oven but they bake up delicious.

Stromboli

Adapted from Stromboli By Jackie

Ingredients

1 lb defrosted frozen bread dough or fresh pizza dough (my favorite way is using this yeast)

12 oz. italian pork sausage (we use mild, light turkey sausage)

1/2 onion, diced

2 egg yolks, save the whites

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil

2 oz. turkey pepperoni

Italian Seasoning

Directions  (photos below to help with construction)

Have dough defrosted/ready to use.  Place the pork sausage and onion in a medium-sized pan and cook over medium-high heat, chopping sausage into small crumbles while cooking.  Cook until sausage is cooked through and onion is translucent. Turn off heat and set meat mixture aside.  In a small bowl beat the egg yolks and combine with the next four spices and the 2 tablespoons oil.  Next, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or a Silpat mat or just grease your cookie sheet generously.  Use a rolling pin to roll your dough into a large rectangle (about 8×12).   Spread the egg yolk mixture on the dough but leave a half-inch border on the sides a 1 inch border at the bottom with nothing on it.   Now add toppings: spoon the sausage mixture over the egg yolk and herbs, again leaving the sides and one inch border at the bottom empty.  Spread pepperoni evenly over the sausage mixture.  Using two hands start at the top (where it is covered with toppings)  and roll the dough in on itself until it reaches the bottom.  Roll up that bottom 1 inch and stop, so that the seam is on the bottom of the stromboli.  Gently beat the egg whites in a bowl and then give the stromboli a light brushing of egg white.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.  Cut into slices.  Serve with warmed marinara or spaghetti sauce for dipping.

 

Spread the herb mixture over the dough

Spread the herb mixture over the dough

Add toppings

Add toppings everywhere but the bottom 1 inch.  I put the pepperoni on first on this one.  As long as the egg mixture is down first it doesn’t matter.

 

Roll up from the long edge- use both hands to roll evenly

Roll up from the long edge- use both hands to roll evenly

Finish rolling seam side down. Tuck ends in and bake.

Finish rolling seam side down. Tuck the ends in. 

Slice and serve with marinara

After baking, slice and serve with marinara

 

 

 

Eggo Dillema

It can be tough having children with very different dietary needs and preferences. When we are planning meals/snacks/treats we are always trying to balance nutrition, convenience, cost, allergens, and feelings.   Most of the time we buy and cook things that everyone in our house can eat.  Cooking “Colin Friendly” saves time but I also like to think it keeps Colin from feeling “left out” more than he has to.  He is definitely aware of what he can and can’t have, and is also aware of what his sister is eating.   If Colin had been our first child, we’d always have been eating the Colin Diet and Hannah wouldn’t even know what we are NOT eating.  But she was born first and knows what is missing from the table.

For the longest time after Colin was born, I held out on purchasing those Oh So Convenient Eggo brand Nutri-Grain wheat waffles, even when Hannah asked for the 100th time if we could buy them.  I don’t know why she loves them but she does.  Is it that they are circles? Who knows.  I was making homemade waffles and enjoying our lack of processed foods.  But as time has gone by, the kids appetites have increased and time seems to be decreasing.   I finally gave in and bought Hannah her frozen waffles.  I won’t lie- they make the before school breakfast debate a lot easier.  I top them with a smear of peanut butter, chopped fruit or even a slice of Canadian bacon for a quick breakfast sandwich and she is good to go.

So Hannah was happy with her waffles but Colin wanted in on the Eggo fun so I needed to have something quick on hand for him.  Why not freeze our Colin-safe waffles in individual potions?  So I began making a full batch of waffles once a month on a Sunday morning.  Whatever we don’t eat get’s quartered and frozen.   These frozen waffles are “Colin’s Eggos.”  I pop a frozen quarter into the toaster and then breakfast is ready in a jiffy.   Our toaster has a “Frozen Food” setting that works well but if I forget, I just toast it twice on a very light setting.

It is so nice to have another “Go-To” breakfast option for Colin. Colin is happy with his waffle, Hannah is happy with her Eggo, and we get through our morning rush with a little less drama.  That makes me extra happy.

This old waffle iron has cranked out a lot of waffles in her day.

This old waffle iron has cranked out a lot of waffles in her day.

 

Dairy Free Waffles

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Ingredients

1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour  (*see note about alternate flours)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups rice milk (others will work, rice is our favorite)

1/2 cup canola oil or other neutral oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

1.   Preheat your waffle maker.  Spray with oil/grease with canola oil if needed.

2.   Combine the dry goods-   In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3.   Combine the wet goods-  In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.

4.   Mix it all up –  Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.

5.   Pour waffle mix into waffle maker.   Check with your waffle maker instructions/use a little trial and error.  Mine takes a hefty 1/3 cup of batter.   Cook according to your waffle maker’s directions.   If waffle top and bottom separates try cooking it slightly longer or thicken batter with 2 -4 tablespoons flour.

** Using alternate flours:   I love to use 3/4 cup almond flour in place of 3/4 cup AP flour. The end result is even crispier.  Sometimes I have to add 2-3 tablespoons of extra AP flour to thicken the batter when using almond flour.   I’ve used also made it with whole wheat pastry flour, using half of the AP flour and half whole wheat pastry flour.   I have to be better about greasing my waffle maker with these alternate flours, especially almond flour.

Beef Daube Provencal

I bought a copy of Eating Light magazine recently and found a number of new recipe ideas.  Due to the magazine’s focus on healthier eating, there are a lot of recipes without butter/cheese and many other recipes that are easy to change to fit our dietary needs.

The first recipe I tried was Beef Daube Provencal.  It was in their “Top 25 Favorites” list and I can see why.  It was delicious, pretty easy to throw together and a definite hit all around the dinner table.

Are you wondering what a “daube” is like I was?  Well the good old internet taught me it is a French word for a stew made of braised meat, vegetables, herbs and spices.  Yep- that about sums up the recipe!  When we ate it we said it tasted like a fancier beef stew with great depth of flavor.

The recipe can be made in a slow cooker or in the oven.  I chose the slow cooker route since I love “fix it and forget it” cooking.  I chopped my veggies the night before, adding in a handful of mushrooms that I needed to use up.   In the morning I browned the beef  and made the sauce before throwing it all in my slow cooker.  (I skipped the cloves, since I am either out of them or they are winning in the hide and seek game happening in my spice rack.)   I cooked it on low for most of the day and by dinnertime the meat was really really tender and our house smelled fantastic.

The first night I served it with some nice crusty bread to mop it up with. The second night I served it over egg noodles.   Both nights I used scissors to cut up the meat into tiny pieces for my kids.  Had I served chunks they probably would have balked, but with the meat blending into the veggies and sauce, they gobbled it up.

Here is the recipe for Beef Daube Provencal and a picture of it.   I swear I took a photo of ours but it too is hiding somewhere.   I swear I’m losing my mind this month!

Need an easy bread side to serve it with?   Pepperidge Farm Stone Baked Artisan Rolls are frozen bread rolls that you don’t need thaw.   Just remove from the freezer and bake.  (Nice to have something simple in an MSPI house!)   I found them in the freezer section and there are several types you can buy.  The variety we had,  French bread, was dairy and soy free.  Here are the ingredients for the French Bread rolls:   Unbromated Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Water, Contains 2 Percent or Less of: Salt, White Rice Flour, Malt Syrup, Yeast and Sesame Seed Meal.

A Dinner Winner- Crispy Fish with Dill Sauce

The cover of the Cooking Light magazine (October edition) caught my eye recently in the grocery store checkout lane.  It had 25 of their best recipes so I decided to splurge on a copy.  I’ve found Cooking Light has a lot of dairy/soy free friendly recipes or ones that are easy to adapt.  This month’s copy has a lot of things I think we can eat.  This last week we tried Crispy Fish with Dill sauce.

This fish dinner was a hit with everyone at our dinner table, which is a huge win!   The fish was tasty and although not as crispy as a fried piece of fish, it wasn’t mushy like it usually is when I make it.  The dill sauce is basically a much better version of a store-bought tartar sauce.  I don’t think you’ll ever try to go back to store-bought tartar sauce once you’ve tried it fresh at home.

I didn’t have to make any adjustments to this recipe.  It even calls for canola mayonnaise, which is a soy free version I already use!  We used cod like the recipe called for, but I will try it again with other fish, whatever I find on sale.

Since I didn’t change a thing (and Colin is waking up), instead of typing it all out  I’m just leaving the link below:

Crispy Fish with Dill Sauce

Hope it is a winner at your dinner table!

Pasta with Broccoli

Pasta with broccoli is easy weeknight recipe that is a big hit in our house.  I would probably call it a side dish, but I’ve definitely served it as a meatless main dish with some other supporting sides.

My recipe is a dairy free adaptation of Giada De Laurentiis’ Farfalle with Broccoli.  The recipe I make is not much different from Giada’s, just removing some dairy and keeping it extra kid friendly.  The original recipe was finished with parmesan cheese, which is easy to leave out.  You can add a little salt if you think your pasta needs it.  I also use more olive oil in place of the butter.  The last change I often make is to omit the red pepper flakes when my kids are eating it.  Somehow the kids seem to find all the red pepper flakes.  The pasta is really tasty with the red pepper flake, adding a very subtle heat, so if your kids can handle the spice, give it a try.

When you read the recipe, please don’t recoil in terror when you see the anchovy paste. I dislike anchovies myself and couldn’t imagine how such an ingredient could be good until I tried this recipe. The anchovy adds saltiness and depth of flavor. It really makes a difference. I promise you though that your kids won’t take a bite and say, “Yuck. This is Fishy!” It is barely there, similar to anchovy in a great caesar dressing. I buy the paste instead of the fish in tins so I don’t have to waste any leftovers. The internet consensus is that 1/2 teaspoon of anchovy paste is equal to 1 anchovy fillet but check the box your tube of paste comes in. It will often tell you the conversion based on the potency of the paste.

Giada’s recipe is for farfalle, which is bow tie pasta. Barilla brand pasta now makes mini bow ties which are great for little fingers and mouths. If you don’t have bow ties or your kids like something else, pick another pasta shape!  Just make a note of the cooking time on the box and subtract four minutes.  At the end of the shortened cooking time, add the broccoli to the boiling water and cook another 4 minutes so your broccoli and pasta will be done perfectly at the same time.  The times in my recipe are for regular size farfalle.

Lastly this may seem like a lot of olive oil, but this is basically an olive oil sauce. The 1/2 cup of oil is for the full pound of pasta so don’t skimp!

Pasta with Broccoli

Ingredients

1 pound farfalle (bow tie pasta)

2 heads broccoli  (Equal to about 4 cups broccoli florets)

1/2 cup olive oil

3 garlic cloves chopped (I often use the equivalent in jarred chopped garlic in olive oil to save time)

5 anchovy fillets diced or 2 1/2 teaspoons of anchovy paste

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

DIrections

Start boiling a large pot of water.  While waiting for it to come to a boil, chop the broccoli into medium-sized florets (so they will be bite sized after cooking).   Lightly salt the pasta water and then add the pasta.  Stir gently.  Cook the pasta for 5 minutes and then add the broccoli.  Cook for another 4 minutes.  Check the broccoli and pasta and if it done to your liking, remove one cup of pasta water and set aside.  Drain pasta and broccoli.

Meanwhile, start the sauce in a large skillet. Heat the olive oil and add the garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flake.  Cook for one minute.  Add the broccoli and the pasta.  Stir to combine and season with the salt and pepper, adding more if needed.  If pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.  Enjoy!

Avocado and White Bean Dip

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Missing creamy dips because you live dairy free? Definitely give this quick dip a try!

Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network calls this one “Avocado Hummus with Crispy Pita Chips” but I think “Avocado and White Bean Dip” is a more accurate title.  When I hear hummus I think chickpeas and this is chickpea-free.  Also, homemade hummus that I’ve had usually has a slightly rougher texture while this dip is very creamy and smooth due to the avocado.  This dip was one of the foods on my Easter Menu– yes, I’m just now getting to writing it up.  Time just keeps getting away from me.  It’s good- we are busy- but I wish I had more time to blog lately.  Speaking of short on time, this dip is great when you need an appetizer in a hurry.

The dip part of this recipe is dead simple.  Throw everything but the olive oil in the food processor, process a good bit and then start adding olive oil until it reaches the smoothness and consistency you like.   The result is a beautiful green delicious dip.

The pita chips in the recipe are good, nothing beats a warm toasted pita,  but if you are in a time crunch use Stacy’s pita chips or bagel chips.  If you need safe pita bread, try Kangaroo brand pitas.

NOTE:   This dip does have beans in it.  I usually stay away from bean recipes since beans are in the legume family – same family as soybeans.  So if you have soy concerns just be aware.  Some soy intolerant people can eat other legumes and some can’t.    I didn’t feed this dip to Colin since we haven’t  trialed beans in a long time but I ate some of it and he was fine.

Click here for the dip recipe!

Dairy Free Side Dish- Rice Pilaf

So to go with my last recipe post, delicious Magic Salmon, I thought I’d post a side dish recipe for rice pilaf that is always a hit.  It is very simple. You might even call it bland if you are used to eating flavored box mixes like Rice-a-roni, but it is a winner in our house.  It is a good complement/balance for a very flavorful main dish and is great if you have noodle/rice loving kids like mine.  The recipe calls for orzo, which I would recommend since the shape fits well with the rice, but if you can’t find orzo look for another very very small pasta like Stelline (itty bitty stars).   The recipe calls for minced garlic and I used to mince my own all the time, but now with two kids to watch while also making dinner I love to use the pre-minced garlic in a jar for an application such as this.  It saves time, mess and the smell on my hands.  I use a brand that is just minced garlic in extra virgin olive oil.

Simple Rice Pilaf

adapted from Sarah’s Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup dry orzo pasta

1/2 cup diced onion or shallot

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup dry rice

2 cups chicken broth (veggie broth would work too- this is for flavor so use water here if you have to)

Directions

Get out a medium stockpot that has a good lid.  Heat the pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and the orzo.  Cook the orzo, stirring regularly, until it is just slightly browned and add the diced onion.  Cook the onion until slightly soft and then add the garlic.  Cook for 1 minute more.   Mix in the rice and the chicken broth.  Cover and turn the heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 25 minutes without removing the lid.  Turn off the heat and let the pilaf sit for 5 minutes. Remove lid and fluff the pilaf with a fork.

Enjoy!

Magic Salmon

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Welcome 2013! You’ve been a rough one so far, but hopefully many better days ahead! The kids and I are all finally on the mend and we are getting back to eating food again.

I thought I would start out 2013 with a recipe that is for sure my favorite dairy/soy- free dinner: Magic Salmon.  It is delicious and wonderfully easy.

The inspiration for this recipe came from salmon my dad makes in the summer with the fresh salmon he catches in Lake Michigan.  He liberally sprinkles fresh salmon steaks with Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Salmon Seasoning and grills them on cedar planks.   The Magic Salmon Seasoning, which you can get in the spice aisle of many grocery stores or here at amazon.com, is just a spice blend that is amazing on fish.

Magic Salmon Seasoning

I’ve made my dad’s recipe many times, but one night I decided to add a coating of mustard to the salmon before the Magic Seasoning.  The result was fantastic!  We now make this recipe whenever good salmon fits into the grocery budget.

You don’t like salmon you say?  Well, don’t blame your taste buds just yet.  It may be the salmon you are buying.  Some of the fishiest salmon with the worst texture I ever had was a frozen package I bought at my grocery store.  It was so different from fresh salmon that I couldn’t believe it. If you can’t get high quality fish at your grocery store, I highly recommend finding a fish market.  The best salmon I’ve found, outside of freshly caught, is salmon from a great seafood shop nearby that just does seafood.  The next best I can buy is from Whole Foods.  At both locations the people working there can tell me where the fish was caught, when it was caught, and how the variety I am buying compares in taste to other varieties.   We often buy Scottish salmon, which to my taste is very fatty and rich.  It picks up the flavors of the cedar planks and grill smoke beautifully, but it does make for a rich meal. Also, it is pricey.  No doubt about it.  But like a nice steak, it is not something we have every week and it is definitely worth the cost.

If you can, don’t skip the cedar planks.  They really are an important part of the recipe, adding lots of flavor to the fish and protecting the fish from the direct heat of the grill.  I’ve found them for sale in the seafood section of many grocery stores but they are also easy to find online.  (The cedar planks in my pictures are from Woot.com.)  The trick with cedar planks is to remember to soak them in water for at least an hour before you use them.

This recipe is really easy, with minimal prep work so don’t overthink it.  I’ve given rough measurements for the dijon mustard and seasonings but don’t feel like you have to get out the measuring spoons, I don’t unless I’m trying to write down recipes to share.  I literally just smear mustard all over the salmon fillets until they look coated on all sides (except the skin) and then sprinkle the salmon seasoning VERY liberally on all the fleshy sides.  Quick and easy!

Magic Salmon

Ingredients

4 Salmon Fillets, 1/2 pound each (skin on is fine)

about 4 tablespoons Dijon Mustard, divided

about 4 teaspoons Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Salmon Magic Seasoning, divided

2 Cedar Planks for grilling, soaked in water for 1 hour

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Directions

First make sure your cedar planks have been soaked and are ready to go.  Then get your grill going.  (I use a charcoal grill.  I start the charcoal in a chimney style lighter and after the coals are lit/ashed over,  I spread them evenly over the bottom of the grill.  Then I place the grate on the grill, put the lid on and let the grill heat up for about 5 minutes.)

Prepare the fish:   Place the salmon fillets skin side down on the cedar planks, two fillets per plank.  Smear about 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard over each fillet, more if needed.

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Then sprinkle 1 teaspoon of Salmon Magic Seasoning over each fillet, using more if needed.

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Place the cedar planks on the grill and put the cover on the grill.  Cook the salmon for 20-30 minutes.  I check the fish at 15 minutes with a probe thermometer.   Take the fish off when it reaches 135 degrees F.   I use a big cookie sheet to lay the planks on to carry the fish into the house.

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As you take the fish off the cedar plank, usually the skin stays behind, making it perfectly ready to serve and eat!

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