Monday, October 6, 2014

Alaskan Summer: Nancy's Broiled Salmon Fillets

When the sun shines, Alaska is an amazing place.  We started a month-long Northern tour with a six-day stop in Alaska this July.  We met my parents in Anchorage and proceeded to the Kenai peninsula.  Our first stop was the Taylor Fish Camp, where our family friend Nancy runs a set-net fishing operation.  We wandered the beach, watched the coming and going of fishing boats, and enjoyed endless sunshine.

the cook shack:

woodfire pizza oven on the beach:

Then we headed further south to Homer, where we met up with Megan, Katie, and Grant.  We had a lovely evening in Homer (return to the Mermaid Cafe, now called Little Mermaid), and then caught a ride with Bob and Barbara across Kachemak Bay to the Humpy Point Yurt.  We spent 2 nights yurt-ing, fishing, hiking to the Grengwik glacier and enjoying each other's company.

yurt life:

Our last nights in AK were spent back at the fish camp, eating the day's catch.  We ate plenty of good food in Alaska, but I thought I would share Nancy's preferred technique for salmon.  You can see pictures from our winter trip to AK in 2013 and my typical salmon cooking method here.

dinner with the crew:

Nancy cooks for the crew and along with a genius invention of lime popsicles dipped in tequila, we were treated to wood-fired pizza, curry, and this meal of freshly caught salmon.

When I asked Nancy what she put on the fish, her response was "salad dressing," meaning oil, acid, salt, pepper and a little bit of spice.

Nancy's Broiled Salmon Fillets

  • 1-2 large Salmon Fillets (depending on how big your "crew" is, about 3-4 oz/person)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2  teaspoon or more chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • sea salt

  1. Pre-heat broiler to high and oven to 350.
  2. Whisk together oil and lemon juice and pour over fillets
  3. Sprinkle spices over top and rub in with your fingers
  4. Place under broiler and broil until medium or the flesh just pulls apart along the natural separation with a fork, about 5 minutes for medium thickness
  5. If the top gets too dark, transfer the fish to the oven and finish.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Upgrade and Seared Scallops with Herb Butter Sauce

We moved.  Saturday March 15 we packed up our little 400 square foot carriage house in the West End and loaded all of our belongings into a borrowed school bus and a friend's small storage space.  Three days later we signed the papers and closed on our first place to call our own.  We are now 3 miles outside of town but have increased to 1100 square feet.  We miss our little home and being able to walk to town, but are quickly adapting to more space and the ability to make it our own.

One of the first big meals I made here was Seared Scallops. Paired with salad, fresh peas, bread and delicious Chardonnay they made quite the treat.  As with most seafood, the quality of the scallops is key to a stellar dish.

Seared Scallops with Herb Butter Sauce
Adapted from Fine Cooking

Seared Scallops

  • 5-6 Jumbo Scallops per person (about 1 pound for 2 people)
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Herb Butter Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup finely diced fresh herbs (I used flat leaf parsley and chives)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Remove muscle from shell and rinse under cold water.  Thoroughly pat dry and season with salt.  
  2. Heat a large, very heavy pan over medium-high heat 1-2 minutes.  I used a cast-iron skillet. 
  3. Add butter and oil to pan and heat until fat just begins to smoke.
  4. Place scallops in a single layer, ensuring that they do not touch each other.  
  5. Allow to sear 2-3 minutes on the first side.  Do not move or disturb scallops.
  6. Scallops are ready to flip when they easily release from the pan with a metal spatula.  
  7. Flip and sear 2-3 more minutes.  
  8. Remove pan from heat and transfer scallops to a plate.  Keep in a warm area.
  9. Allow the pan to cool a bit, and then return to medium heat.
  10. Add 1/2-tablespoon butter to the pan and cook the shallot until translucent (1-2 minutes).
  11. Add the white wine and simmer until reduced by half.  
  12. Add herbs and lemon zest.
  13. Reduce heat to low and add rest of butter, whisking constantly to work into a smooth sauce.
  14. Return scallops to pan and turn to coat.  Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedges as garnish.
and some pics of the new place:
(this is absolutely a work in progress...)

Living Area:


Dining and Bar:

 Master Bed and Bath:

 2nd Bedroom (2nd bath not pictured...):

 Front (we are bottom right):

And our lovely deck with this awesome view: 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ecuador and Arroz con Camarones

Over Thanksgiving I spent 2 weeks in Ecuador, 1 with the hubby to make a foursome and 1 more with our friends Matt & Mackenzie.

We started the trip in Quito, wandering, riding the gondola, climbing church spires, and eating lovely food. Quito, especially the "new town" area of la mariscal is full of international cuisine as well as classic
Ecuadorian. My recipe for Arroz con Camarones is at the end of the post.

The rest of our trip was filled with adventure and activity, and we seemed to be always hungry.  Arroz con Pollo or Arroz con Camerones (my favorite) became a staple for the evenings or afternoons when we returned from adventures starving.  My rendition can be found below.

When Matt and Mackenzie arrived, we headed south to Latacunga, and then caught a bus to Guingopana Pass where we began our hike of the Quilotoa loop. We wandered 2 hours downhill to Isinlivi and the Llullu Llama hostel. There is a trail, but we simply walked the quiet road due to the heavy fog and confusion about the start of the path. The next day we awoke to blue skies and walked the 5 hours to Chugchilan and the Black Sheep Inn.  After a relaxing afternoon of yoga and quiet, we awoke the next morning and made the 4 hour uphill ascent to the rim of Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador's crater lake, and walked the rim into town to catch a terrifying truck ride back to Latacunga.

In the morning we caught a flight to Coca in the Ecuadorian Amazon and took a 3 hour motorized canoe ride downriver to Sani Lodge.  We spent the next 4 days sleeping in tents in the jungle, hiking, and boating.  The heat and bugs were challenging, but the views and experiences with the local culture were wonderful.


After the Amazon we said goodbye to Steven and headed south to Cuenca.  Much more appealing than Quito, Cuenca is a small city filled with colonel architecture, art and artisans, and the famous Panama Hat factory.  From Cuenca we spent a day hiking in the Cajas National Park before heading north. We hiked to the high refuge on Chimborazo (~16,000 ft), and rode quads/motos around the waterfall route in Banos.
(most of the rest of these pics are from Kenz)

Our final goal was to summit the 19,347 ft Cotopaxi volcano. This second highest peak in Ecuador is only moderately technical and can be summited by most fit, acclimatized people with a guide. We went with Veloz Exepiditions based out of Riobamba, and were thrilled with the value and professionalism. The guides even cooked us a multi-course dinner at the refugio. We all summited successfully and were thankful for the beautiful weather and lack of (major) altitude sickness.

Arroz con Camarones
adapted from Laylita's

Serves 6-8
  • 2 lbs raw shrimp, shells on, deveined
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tbs butter or canola oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and seeded, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • ½ cup of white wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbs parsley, finely chopped, plus more to garnish
  • Sides:
  • Tomato and avocado
  • Aji criollo hot sauce

  1. Marinate the shrimp with salt, pepper, 1 tsp of cumin, and the crushed garlic, let rest for an hour.
  2. Remove the shells and tails from the shrimp; leave the tails on a few of the shrimp that will be used as a garnish.
  3. Boil 3 cups of water with the shrimp shells for 10 minutes, then set aside.
  4. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan; add the onions, peppers, tomatoes, ground chili, coriander, salt, pepper, and remaining 2 tsp of cumin. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Add the minced garlic, cook for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
  6. Add the shrimp and rice and stir until rice is translucent.  Add the white wine and stir until absorbed scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add the shrimp shell water. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low cover and cook until rice is tender
  8. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Stir in 3 Tbs parsley.
  9. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and garnish with shrimp with tails on.
  10. Serve with avocado and tomato slices, lime slices, and of course some good aji or hot sauce.