June 11, 2017 Carrot Top Pesto

Spring is an ideal time for planting root vegetables like turnips, beets and carrots. They especially love the cooler temperatures that we have been blessed with this spring. We try to be frugal with seeds, so the ones that aren’t planted are saved from season to season. I catalog them alphabetically like a card file in clamshell plastic containers that in a previous life held spinach or lettuce from a big box store. I use 3×5 cards to separate them into specific categories, beets, cucumbers, fennel etc. This year I even did a little clean up, getting rid of all packets before 2013.

Last year a friend gave Joe quite a few packets of carrot seeds he purchased on sale. Some were planted but most went into storage in the fridge over the winter. He wasn’t certain how many of them would germinate this season so he planted them very densely. As luck would have it, every carrot seed germinated.  Now it was time for some serious thinning.

Thinning is a necessary step in vegetable gardening if you want to have mature healthy plants. This can be done in stages. Armed with my Cutco scissors, I did the first thinning when the plants were about four inches tall. Pulling out the unwanted seedlings can often pull out the ones you wanted to leave growing. I snipped the plants at the soil line. With a colander full of the lacy feathery tops I thought about how I could use them. I remembered that parsley and carrots are related so I tasted a few of them. They have an herbaceous flavor, that to me was reminiscent of parsley.

I have made pesto with basil and arugula, why not carrot tops? I used a basic formula that I have used to make other types of pesto, herbs or a green, in this case carrot tops, garlic, nuts, a hard cheese and olive oil. Baby carrot greens are more delicate in flavor and are a special reward for the gardener. Organically grown full-sized carrot greens can be used too, eliminating any thick stems. I used my pesto as a topping for roasted salmon. It would work with chicken breasts and of course, roasted carrots.

Time to thin the carrots.
The first thinning of carrot greens.

Carrot Top Pesto

Makes about a cup


  • 3 cups lightly packed carrot tops
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 T pine nuts
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil, more if needed to make a paste
  • ¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the carrot tops, garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Pulse until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add olive oil until a paste forms. Add cheese and pulse several times to combine.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

April 1, 2017 Mayan Citrus Salsa (Xec) with Salmon

A vibrant combination of juicy grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime sections, accented with fragrant and spicy habanero pepper, the Yucatan peninsula is home to this colorful and healthy salsa. The Mayan name for this dish is Xec, pronounced, shek which roughly translates, “mixed”. It is an easy to prepare dish, all of the fruit is cut vertically and sectioned, the way you would cut into your morning grapefruit. If you prefer, the citrus could also be cut into supremes or segments.

The salsa gets its heat from habanero chiles. Lantern shaped and bright red, orange or yellow in color, the habanero is the hottest chile available in grocery stores. For perspective, a habanero registers in at 300,000 to 475,000 units on the Scoville scale, the standard for measuring the heat of a chili pepper, the jalapeno only 2,500 to 10,000 units. Treat all hot peppers with a certain amount of caution, wear gloves when working with them and keep your hands away from your face. It is best to add a little bit of chili pepper to see what your heat tolerance is before ruining a dish with too much at once.

I am fortunate to have a supply of NuMex Suave Orange peppers from the garden to add to the salsa. NuMex Suaves have the citrusy flavor that most people miss in the habanero, without the numbing heat. I like this salsa with fish, but it would pair with chicken or pork as well.

Mayan Citrus Salsa (Xec)

Makes four servings


  • 1 large orange
  • 1 medium grapefruit
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 1 lime
  • Finely chopped habanero pepper (according to your heat tolerance)
  • 1 NuMex suave pepper
  • ½ c finely chopped cilantro
  • Salt to taste
A combination of sweet, tart and sour citrus, habanero and cilantro are the ingredients for xec.
Section all the citrus the way you would a grapefruit.


  1. Cut orange in half horizontally and section it as you would a grapefruit. Do this over a bowl to capture all the juice. Remove the seeds and combine flesh and juice in a bowl. Repeat with the grapefruit, lemon and  lime. Stir in habanero, NuMex suave and cilantro. Season with salt.

March 13, 2016 Salmon “Bulgogi” with Bok Choy and Mushrooms

DSC_6398aI am always on the look out for new and interesting recipes. I have a large collection of notebooks containing them, with recipes I have tried or hope to try in the future. Some recipes I try once, others, a couple of times and there are the ones that become regulars in the dinner rotation. Salmon bulgogi is a recipe I found many years ago in Bon Appetit, and one I make quite often. A very flavorful combination of spicy, salty and sweet, it delivers maximum flavor and requires minimal effort.

Bul means fire and gogi means meat in Korean and refers to cooking marinated meat over an open flame, typically thinly sliced beef. In this recipe, heart healthy salmon replaces the beef.

Since we have an extensive Asian pantry I usually have most of the marinade components on hand. The eight ingredients, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, fresh ginger, sugar, sesame oil and chili garlic sauce are blended in a mini processor and spooned over the salmon. The original marinade was too salty for my taste so I cut the amount of soy sauce in half. Look for dark sesame oil when making this recipe. Pressed from deeply toasted seeds, it has a very concentrated flavor and a little goes a long way. A common ingredient in the bulgogi marinade, Asian pear, is used to tenderize the beef but not necessary for the salmon.

Don’t confuse chili garlic sauce with sriracha. Chili garlic sauce is chunky, not smooth and has a more pronounced garlicky flavor. Sambal oelek, a common table condiment in Asian restaurants, looks the same as chili garlic sauce. Sambal oelek is made from chilis preserved with vinegar and salt and does not contain garlic. Now that it is more widely available, it might be interesting to substitute gochujang, the Korean hot sauce made from chile peppers, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt.

Marinade the fish for five minutes, I have left it on for up to a half hour. The original recipe calls for skinless fillets, we prefer to leave the skin on. Leaving the skin on makes for an easy transfer from pan to plate, plus Joe likes the crispy salmon skin. Scrape off as much of the marinade as you can and transfer the fish to a baking dish. In a small saucepan, bring the marinade to a boil and set aside. It’s not so much a glaze, it’s a bit chunky which is fine, unless you prefer to strain it and discard the solids. While the fish is roasting, stir fry the bok choy and mushrooms. The original recipe just adds a little pressed garlic to the mix, this time Joe added a little of my homemade sriracha sauce and a dash of yuzu juice to brighten the flavors. In season we will use baby bok choy or another Asian green from the garden. Divide the vegetables between the plates and top with salmon. Spoon the marinade over the fish and serve.

Salmon Bulgogi with Bok Choy and Mushrooms

Serves four


  • Two large garlic cloves, peeled and divided
  • 1/3 c chopped green onions
  • 2-3 T low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry
  • 1 ¾-inch cube peeled ginger
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1 t Asian sesame oil
  • 1 t chili garlic sauce
  • 4 6 oz center cut salmon fillets
  • 1 T peanut oil
  • 1 large bok choy, cut crosswise into ½ inch wide strips (about 7 cups)
  • 4 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and caps sliced
The marinade ingredients, minus the soy sauce.
The marinade ingredients, minus the soy sauce.
A mini processor makes it easy to combine the marinade ingredients.
A mini processor makes it easy to combine the marinade ingredients.
Five minutes is all it takes to marinade the fish.


  1. In a mini processor, blend one clove of garlic with the next 7 ingredients. Arrange salmon in a baking dish and spoon marinade over the fish. Let marinade for 5 minute and up to one half hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Arrange the fish with some of the marinade still clinging in a shallow baking dish. Transfer the marinade from the first dish to a small saucepan. Roast fish according to the Canadian fisheries method, which equates about one inch of the thickest part of the fish to 10 minutes of cooking time.
  3. Bring marinade to a boil; set aside and reserve for glaze.
  4. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. Add bok choy and mushrooms, using a garlic press, press in one garlic clove. Stir fry until mushrooms are tender and the bok choy is wilted, about 4-5 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
  5. Divide vegetables among the plates. Top with salmon and brush with glaze.


December 6, 2015 Miso Marinated Salmon

DSC_5314aDuring this busy holiday season it’s good to have a few recipes you can pull out that are quick, easy and most important, delicious too.  Miso glazed salmon is one recipe that certainly fills that bill.
This is a Japanese technique that was used to preserve freshly caught fish for it’s journey to land. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa made the preparation famous with his black cod recipe and it has become a popular restaurant dish.  Just four ingredients, miso, mirin, sake and sugar make up the marinade. If you are not already familiar with any of these, here is a little background information on these important staples of Japanese cooking.

Miso is fermented soybean paste. It is made by steaming and crushing soybeans, then adding salt and koji, a culture cultivated from rice, barley or soybeans that triggers fermentation. The flavor of miso has been described as salty, earthy and rich in umami. Miso ranges in color from white to pale yellow to a deep chocolate brown. The lighter the color, the sweeter (less salty) it will be. A light miso paste is most likely made from rice and is best suited for fish and light sauces.
Sake, pronounced SAH-keh, not sa-kee, is quite often described as Japanese rice wine. It is actually more akin to beer than wine since it is made from a grain, rice, and not a fruit as wine usually is. Unlike wine, sake is produced by a brewing process similar to that of beer. The alcohol content of sake usually is from 15-20 percent, compared to wine’s 9-15 percent content.
Mirin, is a type of rice wine but with a higher sugar content and lower alcohol. It is golden in color and it’s syrupy sweetness contrasts nicely with the saltiness of soy or tamari sauce.
Miso is easy to find in organic markets and large supermarkets. I definitely would recommend the white or shiro miso for this recipe. My favorite brand is Miso Master Organic Mellow White. You can use it for soups, sauces and dressings too. It will keep in the refrigerator for nine months.  Mirin is an increasingly easier find, the Kikkoman brand seems to be prevalent in the Asian section of most supermarkets. If you don’t like the idea of purchasing a bottle of sake just for a few tablespoons used in the recipe, dry sherry or vermouth can fill in. Honey or another sweetener could possibly substitute for granulated sugar but I have not tried it this way. You could also cut the recipe in half if making for two.
Whisk the four ingredients together in a medium bowl. I use a fork to smooth in the miso before I attempt to whisk it.  Use a bowl or container that will hold the fish snugly. I pour enough of the marinade to coat the bottom of the container and place the fish in skin side down. Then I pour the rest of the marinade on top. Cover the container with plastic wrap and refrigerate until a half hour before you are ready to cook the fish. Preheat the oven to 450° F and measure the fillets using the Canadian Fisheries method to determine cooking time. Remove the fillets from the marinade, wiping off the excess and place leaving about an inch between each piece on a well oiled baking sheet or pan. I like to sprinkle the top with a sesame seed mixture, but it is fine without it too. Cook fish for the determined amount of time, between 10-12 minutes.The finished internal temperature of the fillet should be 125°F.  Since you are cooking in a very hot oven, I turn the oven to broil at the end to brown the top of the fish a little bit. Transfer fish to warmed plates or a serving dish and serve with lemon wedges.

Four ingredients make up the marinade.

Miso Marinated Salmon

Serves 4


  • ½c white miso paste
  • ¼c granulated sugar
  • 3T sake
  • 3T mirin
  • 4 6-8 ounce salmon fillets (skin-on)
  • Sesame seeds or sesame spice mixture
  • Lemon wedges


  1. Whisk miso, sugar, sake and mirin together in a medium bowl until sugar and miso are dissolved, the mixture will be thick.
  2. Pour some of the mixture into a container that will fit the fillets snugly. Place the fish on top and pour the rest of the mixture over the fish. Cover the container with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.
  3. A half hour before cooking bring the fish out to bring it to room temperature. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 450°F.
  4. Wiping excess marinade off the fillets, place on an oiled baking sheet or pan, leaving about an inch between each fillet. Sprinkle the tops of the fillets with the sesame seeds or sesame spice mixture.
  5. Timing is always a function of the thickness of your fish. Measure fish at the thickest part of the fillet with a ruler, one inch of thickness equals about 10 minutes of cooking time.
  6. Transfer cooked fish to a serving platter and serve with lemon wedges.



April 28, 2015 Salmon Piperade

DSC_2394aMy local big box store always has one bargain that I can never pass up, sweet peppers. Six in a bag, two each of red, yellow and orange, they usually cost about 6.49. Supermarket sweet red peppers occasionally are on sale at a 1.99 per pound but can go as high as 4.99 a pound in the off season. Orange and yellow ones never seem to go on sale. Since we only have access to local and peppers from our garden only two months out of the year, I don’t mind buying them.

The peppers are grown in greenhouses in Canada and have consistent good flavor and texture. I like using them in salads, stuffing them with chili and cooking them on the grill. We had a few left over recently that weren’t grilled and was looking for a way to use them in the next several days. Then I remembered piperade.

Classic piperade originates from the Basque country in the southwest region of France. It is a versatile preparation that compliments everything from eggs to chicken to fish dishes.  A simple saute of bell peppers, onion and tomato, piperade is enlivened by the addition of piment d’espelette. Piment d’espelette is a pepper native to France in the Basque country. The flavor is fresh and fruity with just a hint of smoky heat.

Piment d’Espelette has AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) status. This is a protective designation of origin and means the pepper only comes from a 22 square kilometer region around the town of Espelette. The peppers are harvest by hand, air dried and finished in a kiln. They are sold dried, whole or pulverized into a flaky powder. Since we are not in tomato season I used diced canned tomatoes for this recipe. The once 16 ounce can has shrunk to 14.5 ounces, when will this madness stop? I used Hunts because Cooks Illustrated put them on top of their most recent testing. Their flavor was reported to be fresh, bright and sweet-tart. Sounds good to me.

Espelette pepper is sold by specialty grocers and can easily be found on line if you are an intrepid spice hunter like me. If not, substitute smoky paprika or Aleppo pepper with a dash of cayenne pepper. The piperade comes together easily. Saute an onion until translucent, add garlic, peppers and piment d’Espelette. Cook another minute until fragrant then add the tomatoes and their juice. Bring the mixture to a boil, season well and cook slowly for about 45 minutes or until the juices have thickened. Keep piperade warm while you cook the fish. Serve salmon on a bed of piperade and garnish with parsley. Serve leftover piperade with poached or scrambled eggs the next day.

I used finely chopped peppers and onion in my preparation.
Piment d’Espelette is a protected designation meaning the peppers can only be grown in a specific location.


Salmon Piperade

Serves two


  • 1T olive oil, plus 2t for cooking salmon
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 1T finely chopped garlic
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced (about ¾cup)
  • 1 red pepper, diced (about ¾cup)
  • 1 orange pepper, diced (about ¾cup)
  • 1t or to taste, piment d’Espelette, substitute smoky paprika and a dash of cayenne if necessary, additional to sprinkle on fish before baking
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 6-ounce boneless skinless salmon fillets
  • 1-2T chopped parsley


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently until the onion is translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, peppers and piment d’Espelette. Cook, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices, season well with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook slowly for about 45 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  3. Brush salmon fillets with olive oil, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and piment d’Espelette. Cook fish according to your favorite method, this is how we bake our fish. Spoon warm piperade on serving dish, nestle cooked fish on the piperade. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.


April 2, 2015 Roasted Salmon with Ginger Shiitake Glaze



Salmon is on our dinner menu once a week and I am always looking for new and interesting ways to prepare it. Always a healthy dinner choice, salmon is a good source of protein, potassium, selenium, B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. This recipe from Fine Cooking magazine , salmon with ginger and shiitakes has become a new favorite for us.

The original recipe called for broiling the salmon but I have adapted it for the way we cook salmon most of the time in non grill months, roasting. The fish is seasoned simply with salt, pepper and  ground coriander, you can use whatever seasoning blend you choose that compliments the recipe. What makes this recipe special is the topping, a marriage of a glaze and chunky vegetable mix that is spooned right before the fish is done. A flavorful combination of red pepper, shiitake mushrooms, ginger and scallions is seasoned with honey, ginger, rice vinegar, soy and sriracha. The topping is easy to do and  can even be made several hours in advance,

I substituted tamari for the low sodium soy sauce that was called for in the original recipe. Maybe you have seen tamari on you supermarket shelf next to the soy sauce and wondered what makes it different. Tamari and soy are both the by-products of fermented soybeans.Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce and is thicker, less salty with an umami quality to it.  It is made by collecting the liquid that drains from miso, fermented soybean paste. Since it is brewed only from soybeans, water and salt, it is gluten free. Sriracha, once a product I could only find in Asian markets is commonplace in supermarkets today. Add Sriracha to your own liking, if you don’t have it, another hot sauce or a few pepper flakes can stand in.  In case you didn’t know, sriracha is a Thai hot sauce made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. I recommend the Huy Fong brand that has a rooster on the label. I plan to make my own version from the large collection of hot peppers we have in the near future.

Roasted Salmon with Ginger Shiitake Glaze

Serves four


  • 1 1/2lbs salmon filet
  • 2T canola oil
  • 1/4t ground coriander
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3c finely diced red pepper
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 2T finely chopped ginger
  • 1c shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into fine dice
  • 1/4c honey
  • 3T rice vinegar
  • 1T Tamari style soy sauce
  • 1t Sriracha (or to taste)
  • 1t cornstarch mixed with 1t of water




  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut salmon into individual servings and salt and pepper lightly (kosher or sea salt) and sprinkle with ground coriander. Let the fish sit at room temperature while you prepare the sauce.
  2. In a 12″ skillet over medium heat,  cook the red pepper, scallion whites and ginger in 2 tablespoons of canola oil.
  3. Stir occasionally until the pepper and scallions start to soften and brown, about 3 minutes.
  4. Raise the heat to medium high and add the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Cook stirring until they soften and brown, about three minutes.
  5. Add the honey, vinegar, tamari, chili sauce and a 1/4c water. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Whisk the cornstarch and water together and stir this into the glaze. Return to a simmer and cook until the glaze thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  7. Coat a pan that will hold the filets comfortably with 1T canola oil or non stick spray. Measure thickest part of filet with a ruler (every 10th of an inch equals 1 minute of cooking time at 450° F.)
  8. At 1 minute prior to calculated time of completion, raise oven temperature to broil,  remove fish from oven and coat evenly with the glaze. Return the salmon to the oven to broil the topping, this could take 1-2 minutes. Watch this step carefully.
  9. Serve immediately or be sure to remove from baking pan immediately (so that the fish does not continue to cook.)
  10. For a more translucent preparation decrease cooking time by 1-2 minutes.
  11. Serve fish on warmed plates.