Thursday, February 28, 2013

Maple soy glazed salmon with rice and zesty sautéed spinach

Another Friday is approaching, so here's another fish recipe for you. This recipe is one of my favorites to make because it is pretty easy to make and is super flavorful. This recipe is for two-- for you and a special friend. But feel free to increase the recipe to suit how many people you are cooking for.  This recipe will be a crowd favorite for sure. Make sure to add a little Foodgasmic fish dish to your Friday nights!

Maple soy glazed salmon with rice and zesty sautéed spinach
Serves 2

2 salmon filets, rinsed and patted dry
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon scallions (green parts chopped in little rings, for garnish)

1 bag (6oz) baby spinach
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
Juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
Dash salt
Dash fresh cracked pepper

2 cups cooked rice (I recommend Jasmine or Basmati)

  • Pour the soy sauce and maple syrup into a bowl. 
  • Marinate the salmon filets in the liquids for at least 30 minutes (longer is fine too) in the refrigerator. 
  • While you’re doing this, prepare the rice to the package directions. I prefer to use Jasmine or Basmati, since they are so aromatic and flavorful. To make 2 cups of cooked rice, you will need to use 1 cup uncooked rice.
  • Chop scallions and set aside.
  •  Once the salmon is done marinating. Put the liquid in a pot and cook down until it reduces to a thicker consistency. It should reduce down about three times. You don’t really need to stir it much, just simmer it over medium to medium-low heat. This will be the glaze for on top of the salmon. Set aside when done.
  • To cook the salmon, you can do so by grilling it or sautéing it. If in a sauté pan, make sure to spray it with cooking spray or use a little olive oil so it will not stick. If grilling, make sure to oil the grill well before you put down the filets. Depending upon the thickness and how done you like it; you should cook it 2-4 minutes for each side.
  •  Take the salmon off the heat and put on a plate and cover with tin foil, as you prepare the spinach.
  • Heat up a large sauté pan at medium to medium-high heat and add in the butter or oil.
  • Put in all the spinach all at once. Squeeze or add in lemon juice and season with salt.
  • With tongs or fork, flip spinach around a few times over the heat, until it just starts to wilt (only a minute or two at most). Take it out before it’s fully wilted, as the carryover cooking will continue.
  • For plating, put down the rice (you can spray a little cup or bowl with cooking spray, fill it with rice and use that for a form if you want. Then just invert it on the plate and take off the cup/bowl). Put salmon on top or to the side of the rice and drizzle with the marinade. Then sprinkle the scallions on top for garnish. Put the spinach next to the salmon and viola, you have a fanatic looking meal.
Try this recipe. You're going to love it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Slurpily Good

One of my absolute favorite Disney movies of all time has to be Lady and the Tramp. You’re probably familiar with the 1955 animated classic about an upper class Cocker Spaniel named Lady who falls in love with a street mutt called Tramp. There are several memorable moments throughout the film, but one scene stands out from all the rest.
It’s the infamous spaghetti and meatball scene! Who knew Italian chefs catered to stray dogs in alleys? I should start hanging out in alleys—I’d never have to spend my hard earned money on spaghetti and meatballs again. Lady and the Tramp’s romantic first date sadly exceeds some of the first dates I’ve had!
After the Tramp escorts Lady to the zoo, they frolic leash-free and end up outside of Tony’s restaurant. Tramp scratches at the back door and the most stereotypical Italian man I have ever seen (Tony) pops his head out. Tony sets the table and speaks broken English to the dogs, “What a-you gonna-a have?” “Bark bark.” Obviously, “bark bark” means they decided on spaghetti and meatballs…duh.
As the two pups slurp up noodles, Tony and his sous chef, Joe decide to serenade them to, “Bella Notte.” The dogs end up sharing a noodle and kiss. Lady looks away bashfully while Tramp nudges the last meatball her way. Wow, so adorable it’s disgusting.

I used to watch Lady and the Tramp twice a week, at least. After re-watching the five-minute YouTube clip as an adult it’s slightly comical. I mean, clearly the stray dogs that don’t pay or tip are far more important than the customers in the restaurant. Ha! Bananas. Regardless it remains one of the most endearing and heartfelt scenes in Disney history. Salute!
So when was the last time you slurp down a spaghetti noodle? Or do you cut, or twirl?

By Marlena Riddell

Marlena markets and promotes independent film projects in the Chicago area. In her free time she blogs about indie entertainment news for ChicagoNow

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Never Run Out of Roasted Garlic

Mmmm. Who doesn’t love the smell and flavor of roasted garlic

Well for me, it is love. I want to share an easy way to make it ahead and have it on hand for easy use in all your everyday cooking and recipes.  With this quick recipe, you can make a nice large batch of both roasted garlic and roasted garlic oil. 

The “naked” or skinless garlic cloves are slow roasted in the oven covered in olive oil. You can then store the garlic cloves and oil in the fridge in a container to pull out and use anytime. With this simple recipe, you’ll be able to ahead a little roasted garlic love to just about anything.   

Here are some ideas on how to use the garlic and oil: to sauté vegetables, throw in soups, put in a vinaigrette, make a roasted garlic mayonnaise, in hummus and much, much more.

                  Roasted Garlic and Roasted Garlic Oil
               Makes 2-3 cups oil and roasted garlic cloves

1 lb peeled garlic cloves
2-3 cups olive oil

·      Preheat oven to 250 F.
·      Put garlic cloves and olive oil in glass baking dish (make sure oil completely covers the garlic cloves).
·      Cook until the garlic is golden and soft to the touch (about 20-30 minutes).
·      Let cool.
·      Store in sealed glass jar in refrigerator (glass is best, but a sturdy plastic container will work as well).
·      Take out garlic bulbs and/or use oil as needed (The oil may firm up slightly in the refrigerator).

Try this and let me know how you use your roasted garlic.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fish for Friday

It's Friday. Besides the fact that it signals the start of the weekend, it may also mean the time to avoid meet. Now people opt for eating fish instead of meat for a number of reasons, from religious ones (yes, it's the Lenten season),  to dietary reasons (3 ounces of orange roughy  equals 89 calories compared to 3 ounces of lean steak, 159 calories), to a commitment to starting to eat lower on the food chain (complicated issue here, if you are looking at environmental issues, beef vs. fish).

But how to eat fish? Fish and chips? Fried fish sandwich? Grilled fish? Baked fish?

Lots of ways to prepare it, but here is a way that is both really tasty, and not heavy of fat. The fish for this dish is tuna.

Here's chef Ashley Simone's version of Nicoise Salad.

Why not try this?  The recipe is not too complicated. Check it out from a previous blog post.

A little aside: the recipe calls for pesto coated potatoes and haricort verts (green beans). To make this a little easier, you can use store-bought pesto for this step.

Try this dinner salad. It's delicious. Combine a fresh baguette with this and your tummy will be very happy. And your taste buds . . . well, you try it and let us know.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What's in YOUR Refrigerator?

There's no denying: this scene makes you understand where the term foodgasm comes from.

The movie is 9 1/2 Weeks, from 1986, with stars Kim Basinger and Mickey Rooney. The film, which starts with two strangers encountering each other in a Chinese grocery store and ends up in . . . bed? Well, not necessarily, as this scene demonstrates.

The film caused a stir, when it was released, for its explicitness.

And the foods selected by John (Rooney), who feeds them to Elizabeth (Basinger ) who sits in anticipation with closed eyes. An olive. Maraschino cherries. Cherry tomato. Strawberries. (Hmm-a red theme going on there.) Pasta. Jalapeno pepper. Oh there's liquid too. Champagne. Cough syrup (??) Honey. Milk. And . . . jello!

This scene clearly is among the sexiest food scenes in a movie. If you had been the director, what other foods would you have added to this scene?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Heart Beets for You

Yep. It’s beet, not beats.
Here’s a wonderful creamy roasted beet soup, that premiered at Soup and Bread, on February 13, 2013. This is just a perfect light start to a romantic dinner. (But yes, you can make it after Valentine’s Day is over.)

Creamy Roasted Beet Soup
Vegetarian   Gluten-Free
Makes 4-6 servings

2 large beets (about 1 ½ lbs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped leeks
½ cup chopped celery
½ teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon allspice
1 bay leaf
5 -6 cups vegetable broth
½ cup whipping cream
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons agave syrup (or honey)
1-2 tablespoons kosher salt
1-2 tablespoons fresh cracked pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wrap beets in foil and roast until tender when pierced with fork, about 1 hour. Cool. Peel beets. Cut beets into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

In large pot put in the olive oil and butter, sauté onions, leeks and celery over medium heat till soft and slightly browned (about 10 minutes). Make sure to season* the vegetables. Stir in ginger, allspice, white pepper, and chopped beets. Cook until vegetables begin to stick to bottom of pot, stirring frequently (about 7 minutes).  Add in the vegetable broth and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are very tender (about 25 minutes). Set aside and remove bay leaf. Easiest way is to use an immersion blender to blend the soup till creamy. If not, let the soup cool and working in batches, blend in a blender. Put everything back in the pot. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, agave and cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche (or sour cream) and fresh chopped dill.

*I like to season (add salt and pepper) in stages as I cook. This helps to build the flavor in layers as the food cooks. You can do a final season at the end to make sure it suits your tastes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Do You Speak Shellfish?

Here’s another memorable moment from a movie that focuses on food. It’s from the Woodie Allen movie titled “Annie Hall,” starring Allen and Diane Keaton.  The film came out in 1977 and garnered several Academy Awards, including Best Director for Allen and Best Actress for Keaton.

Keaton places Annie Hall and Allen plays Alvy Singer. He’s trying to understand why the relationship didn’t work with Annie Hall.

An interesting note: the scene that follows was the very first scene shot when the film went into production on May 19, 1976, on the South Fork of Long Island

Have you had any too close encounters with lobsters? Or do you find it just too daunting, like Diane Keaton's character who says "I can't put a live thing in hot water."

Here's a tip. If you are preparing live lobsters for a delightful feast, make it a little easier on yourself (and the lobsters). Stick them in the freezer for 20 minutes or so before you pop them in the pot.  This numbs them.  And it's less traumatic for both of you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Beets are an under-appreciated vegetable that is super delicious and full of nutrients. They are like having two vegetables in one, with the tasty beet greens on top and the plump root vegetable on the bottom. These are in season from the summer to the winter. There are endless ways to cook and prepare this healthy, tasty vegetable. They're also low in calories.

Some of the health benefits:
  •     Great for cardiovascular health
  •    Help lower cholesterol 
  •      Have anti-aging proprieties 
  •      An antioxidant
  •     Has anti-inflammatory properties
  •     Rich source of B-complex vitamins
  •     Great source of potassium
I know most people think of beets as those crinkle cut slices that come in cans. That is so boring and bland. But cooking and preparing beets from the fresh vegetable is so much more flavorful and nutritious. Raw beets contain more vitamins and nutrients than cooked beets.There are so many ways to enjoy this sexy and nutritious vegetable.

Some ways to enjoy beets:
  •      Raw in salads
  •      Pickled and canned
  •      As fresh beet juice (or combined with other fresh juices)
  •      Roasted in the oven and served as a side dish
  •      Steamed (this is the best way to preserve most the of nutrients in it)
  •     The beet greens can be sautéed or steamed.
  •     Prepared in a soup called borscht
I also love the bright red color of the beets; it reminds me of love and passion and is perfect for the upcoming Valentines Day! But beets come in a few other colors and varieties such as; gold or yellow beets, Chioggia (an Italian heirloom beet) that looks like a bulls eye with white and red circles, and sugar beets which are white and are processed to make table sugar.

Beets, beets and more beets please. This vegetable is so much fun to make, delicious to eat and so very healthy. I hope you try some beets today and have a Beet-riffic Foodgasm!

Recently, I appeared on "You and Me This Morning" and WCIU preparing a beet appetizer. If you missed the episode, you can watch it here.  I posted the recipe for Roasted Beet Napoleans in an earlier blog post.

Also, here's a beet soup from another post.

So what is your favorite way to have beets?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chef Simone is into Soups!

If you want to see Chef Ashley Simone is person and sample some of her food, you're in luck. If you're in the Chicago area.

Chef Simone serves her soup at a 2012 Soup and Bread.
 She'll be appearing next Wednesday night, February 13th, at Soup and Bread, at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago. The event goes from 5:50 to 7:30 pm and it's free!

Yes, she'll be there with bright red hair and fancy apron and she's bringing soup.

Soup and Bread  is on its fifth year of providing free soup and bread, in exchange for contributions that support the Greater Chicago Food Depositories and other charities that deal with hunger issues. Founded 5 years ago by Martha Bayne, this is a weekly event at the Hideout from January through April.

Chef Simone is appearing with not one but two soups on Wednesday, February 13th, when the focus of the food will be Love, Lust and Hate.

Come out and see what kinds of soups she brings.  But don't worry. If you can't make it, we'll put the recipes on the blog so you can make the soups yourself. 

What is it about soups in winter--they always seem so comforting!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Watch those meatballs!

Food in the movies. Well, maybe for some of you that means what you buy at the concession stand. Pretty sure that doesn’t produce foodgasms!

But food in the movies: in previous posts we’ve looked at wonderful feasts. Like the incredible spread in Babette’s Feast. Or the incredible dish and the heart incorporated in that, in Big Night.

Well here’s a very different look at food in the movies, that may not focus on the foodgasm, but the lack of it.

Consider the 1960 movie “The Apartment” starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.  (Especially at a minute and 11 seconds into this trailer.)

Well, most definitely we don’t recommend tennis rackets as colanders! But we will continue to make recommendations of kitchen items we can’t live without! As in a recent post.

Spaghetti is a basic dish that even a fledgling cook can attempt to make.  Have you made a spaghetti sauce that is worth remembering? Or one you hope will be forgotten?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lighter Game Day Fare: Red Quinoa Sliders

With the big game day tomorrow, you may need a tasty appetizer to help fuel the Football fans. Here’s a nice vegan variation for the traditional hamburger sliders. These are made with red quinoa and are packed full of flavor and protein. These sliders are so tasty that you’ll never miss the meat. These can be made ahead of time and just re-heated in the oven right before your game day crowd arrives. 

Go ahead and wow your friends with a little vegan treat, some Red Quinoa Sliders. Go team!!!

               Red Quinoa Sliders
              (Vegan, can be gluten-free)
                      Makes 8-10 sliders

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups roughly chopped button mushrooms
½ teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup chopped shallots
dash salt and pepper
1 ½ cups cooked garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
(Optional) ¼ to ½ cup chickpea flour  (if needed)
1 ½ Tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
1 ½ teaspoon tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup scallion tops thinly sliced (green parts)

Bring to boil 2 cups vegetable broth and then add one cup red quinoa. (If using your own unsalted stock, add ¼ teaspoon salt.) Add quinoa to the stock and then bring it down to a simmer. Cover and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (Quinoa is done when the spiral–like germ is visible.) While quinoa is cooking, chop button mushrooms. Sauté over medium-high heat in olive oil until soft and lightly browned.  Then set aside.

Add quinoa to a food processor along with shallots, garlic and garbanzo beans. Pulse until nicely creamy and combined. (Add chick pea flour if it seems too thin.) In a large bowl, add mushrooms to the mixture.  Add tarragon, along with tamari, salt, pepper, and scallions. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Form into little balls (about ½ cup of the mixture for each).  Refrigerate for ½ hour or longer, if possible. Sauté in a frying pan with a dash of olive oil until browned and crispy on both sides.

Serving suggestions
Put on your favorite mini roll with a spicy mustard and sharp cheddar cheese.  If making vegan, top with a vegan pesto mayonnaise or hummus.  

If you like this slider, you might also want to try my Spicy Black Bean Slider as well.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Spice Up Your Big Game Drinking

Tired of the same old stuff?

It's the big game. You're having friends over. You've stocked up on beer and wine.

How would you like to have something to serve a half time that takes your guest's attention off the screen and focuses it on a spectacular drink?

Well, this is it. A Spicy Sangria for what promises to be an exciting game.

This is a drink you can make ahead of time and have ready for your fellow football fans. Here's the recipe

Don't worry if it's too cold to go out to your grill. You can grill the fruit for this recipe indoors on a grill pan as well.

A dash of Cholula! Will this spice up your Super Bowl watching?

Something Sweet for the Big Game?

Will you be part of the more than 100 million people who watch the Super Bowl this Sunday?

If you are part of that 100 million, undoubtedly food and drink will be part of the equation.

Are you having people over to watch? Or are you going to a friend's house? Either way, we've got some suggestions to make it an exceptional evening, no matter who wins.

How about something sweet? Chef Ashley Simone's signature dessert, the triple threat brownies, would be a GREAT addition to any big game party.

Well, we wanted to rename them the Super Bowl Brownies, but there's trademark issues, so we have renamed them for the occasion Super Brownies for the Big Game.

And you can watch the preparation here:

Looking at them may be enough incentive for you to get out a pot, turn on the stove and ... Well, here's the recipe!

Want to make them even more decadent? Add a caramel buttercream frosting. And yes, the recipe is on a previous blogpost.

You may not be happy with the results of Sunday's game, but you and your fellow fans will be certain to come away cheering for these brownies!  Try them, and let us know what you think.