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Salmon with Couscous

August 6th, 2013

 

I feel like asparagus is a severely underrated vegetable. Sure, if you buy it off-season, it can be pricey but it’s such a great nutritious, easy to prepare veggie. Wikipedia tells me, ” It is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fibre, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.” I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that.

I often buy a stalk of asparagus, cut off the bottom inch and a half, throw them in boiling water for less than a minute, and then drain it in the sink. I don’t even wash it, really, since I figure it’s because sanitized in the boiling water but if I shouldn’t be doing that, please feel free to let me know. The whole process takes just a few minutes and I usually dip them in ketchup and eat them like fries. Another great way to eat asparagus is to roast them in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how thick they are. To prep, just pre-heat oven, line a baking sheet with foil, put trimmed asparagus on the baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil, salt, and pepper and throw them in the oven. If you’re super fancy, you can put some parmesan cheese on it before you put it in the oven.

But I digress, since this is my salmon couscous recipe…

I won’t tell you how I heard about it since it requires me divulging my obsession with a certain celebrity, but it’s a Jamie Oliver recipe that I adapted to my own a bit. I have to admit, even though I really enjoyed watching a few episodes of Food Revolution, I never tried any of his recipes. In my mind, British food meant canned beans on toast. But I saw this and thought that it sounded like the perfect summer meal – full of color and nutrition!

Ingredients:

2 servings of couscous (I used 3/4 cup dried whole wheat couscous and made it per the box, which amounted to almost 2 cups which was too much)
1/2 pound salmon fillet, skin on, scaled and de-boned
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced into thin strips
5-6 small stalks of asparagus
crushed red pepper
1 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
juice of ½ lemon
1 small handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Directions:

Cook up your couscous per the instructions on the box. It usually takes about five minutes and it super easy.

Cut up asparagus into bite-sized pieces as well as the zucchini.

 

 

The salmon that you get should be deboned and without scales but with the skin on for maximum flavor. Unfortunately, my salmon skin had scales so instead of taking the time to remove them, I just cut off the skin. But how beautiful is this salmon?!

There was a huge sale at Whole Foods (this salmon was originally $30 a pound and was on sale for $20 a pound). I’m sure I wasted it by putting it in the frying pan (sorry, Mommy!) as you probably could’ve eaten it as sashimi. In any case, any kind of salmon at any quality will do since you’re really jazzing it up with all the other ingredients. In fact, you can also use frozen  salmon for this dish.

So take your salmon and cut it into bite-sized strips.

Once you’ve done that, put some olive oil in a pan at medium high heat and throw in the salmon. After about a minute, throw in the asparagus and zucchini as well. Season with some salt and pepper. This step takes less than 5 minutes.

At some point (and you can do this before you cook up the salmon), you’re going to take your couscous and dump it into a huge bowl. Add the tomatoes, parsley, and lemon juice and mix it up.

By now your salmon should be done cooking (if you made your couscous as you were saute-ing the salmon) and should look something like this:


And you’re done! Seriously! So easy!! Put some of your couscous in a bowl and spoon some salmon and veggies on top. Oh, and don’t forget to add a generous serving of red pepper flakes if spice is your thing. There isn’t a lot of salt and other flavoring in this dish so the red pepper flakes and the freshness of the veggies MAKES the meal. If you’re not into spice, you may want to add a touch more salt. Jamie Oliver says you can put some plain Greek yogurt on top but mine was just fine without.

A colorful, quick, nutritious and delicious meal! This is great to make in the summer because you’re only using your stove for a few minutes. AND because you’re only cooking your veggies for a minimal amount of time, they still taste fresh and delicious. I hate soggy vegetables.

Give this refreshing meal a try! You’ll feel so good about yourself after you eat it, I promise you.

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Hello, are you still here?

June 29th, 2013

Hi, friends. Remember me? Shion? From Shi’s Eating? Have you forsaken me? Am I talking to myself? (pardon the weirdness, it is 1:30 am on a Friday night and I had a restless night of sleep)

Anyway, I’m baaaaaaaaaack. I know – you never thought you would see the day. I know I have some ‘splaining to do. Here’s the thing, folks. I’ve been very lazy. By the time I come home at night on a weekday, it’s usually after 8pm, and really, WHO wants to cook an elaborate meal after a hard day’s work? Not me. So… the past year has been full of chicken sausage, omelettes, and Seamless. It has also been filled with a little extra cushioning in the love handle area, if you know what I mean. So, I’m going to get back on track and start cooking my own meals, free of preservatives and chock full o’ vegetables if I can help it. Let’s see what happens, shall we?

Last weekend, I helped throw a baby shower for one of my best friends, Kim. My fellow planner and I decided to go with an English Tea Party theme. If I haven’t already discussed this on the blog, I am convinced that I was British in another life. And this isn’t because of my fondness for Kate Middleton. My love for all things British runs much deeper than that. My sister calls it “obsessive”  but I prefer the term “passionate” or “inevitable since I was British in another life” or even “if you’ve ever heard a British accent you will understand.” In fact, perhaps this is a good time to introduce you to my future husband: Richard Armitage. Enough said.

But back to this baby shower. I made two types of tea sandwiches (btw tea sandwiches are my jam – I also made them for my sister’s bridal shower way back when) cucumber and smoked salmon. I chose them because they are so easy to make and it allowed me to focus on other things, like party favors and decor:

Most of the decorations were provided by my fellow planner but I did pick out napkins and paper plates, so… there is that.

For the smoked salmon sandwiches, all you need is whole wheat/9 grain/rye bread, smoked salmon, cream cheese, and whatever herbs you’re into.

I bought two loafs of freshly baked bread (so they were probably smaller than store bought bread), two containers of 8 ounce cream cheeses, one ginormous bag of smoked salmon, and chives, mint, and parsley. Make sure the cream cheese is softened to room temp (if you’ve forgotten to leave them out in the morning just nuke it for about 15 seconds) and then add in chopped herbs. I used about 1/4 cup of chives, 2 Tablespoons of mint and 2 Tablespoons of parsley. Mix mix mix and then spread it on BOTH sides of the bread. Place salmon on one of the slices, put it together, and cut off the crusts. Always remember to cut off the crusts because as we all know, sandwiches were always un-crusted in Jane Austen books.

It’s important to put the cream cheese spread on both sides because you don’t want the bread to get soggy from the smoked salmon.

For the cucumber sandwiches, it’s even easier. I have been using this recipe since high school, when my English class read Oscar Wilde and the Bronte sisters and wrapped up the semester with a tea party. For this sandwich, you’ll want to use white bread, sliced cucumbers, softened UNSALTED butter, and mayo.

First, you want to slice up the cucumbers, put it in a collander, add some salt and let it sweat for at least half an hour. After you’ve done that, use paper towels to squeeze out the moisture so you don’t have soggy sandwiches. Obviously I am deathly afraid of sogginess. Lay out your pieces of bread and spread a thin layer of softened butter on one side and mayo on the other. Lay the cucumber slices on one of the pieces of bread, assembly, and CUT OFF THE CRUSTS!

When you’re cutting these sandwiches, make sure you have a very sharp bread knife, otherwise you’ll crush them as you’re cutting off the crusts.

And that’s it! I know neither of the recipes are very involved, but I’m easing into it!

For favors, I found some tea bag shortbread cookies on Pinterest so I made those and some sugar cookies shaped like tea cups and tea pots.

I’m still waiting for that call from Martha Stewart, asking me to be her COO/muse. Let me know if it accidentally got misdirected to you.

Hurricane Sandy

November 2nd, 2012

Since this blog is about Big Apple eats, I feel compelled to address Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.

From Sunday evening to Thursday night, I spent most of my time (save maybe 3 hours I spent at the gym) in my comfortable midtown high-rise with my roommate, who I’ve known for over 10 years now. We overly prepared on Sunday night and even packed go-bags that we stowed near the door in case one of our windows blew out and it got too cold or dangerous. For a while on Monday afternoon, we got really freaked out because the wind was rattling our windows but besides a few flickers of light, we didn’t lose power. I complained to my friend Kim that I was bored and started to clean my iHome stereo with a toothpick and reorganized my closet since I really had nothing else to do and was tired of watching the news. It wasn’t until I finally left my apartment today and saw the condition of the rest of the City that I realized how fortunate I was.

On Monday morning, I dropped and broke my homemade butter dish. After the initial shock wore off, I was actually really upset that the butter dish I had used almost every day and made  with my own two hands was gone. I would never get it back. I thought about re-creating the same butter dish but knew it wouldn’t make up for the real thing (but really, where would I find another cow stencil?).

I painted it with love with my good friend Beth who has since moved out of the city. It’s one of my vivid “City” memories with her before she moved to the ‘burbs and became a mama!

I decided to go to work this morning mostly because I was going stir-crazy. I took a bus from 54th and Lex that dropped me off almost literally in front of my office door. We traveled south to the Manhattan Bridge while going through the darkened and quiet downtown.  It was eerie. The traffic lights were obviously off and there were at least 2 police officers at every intersection, directing traffic. I couldn’t help but think of the  selfless NYPD who most likely haven’t had much of a break and were probably shivering from the early morning chill. Once I got to work, we heard that some of our students, who didn’t have much to begin with, had lost everything in Staten Island and Queens. All of their belongings – clothes, photo albums, furniture – were gone. Not only are they mourning the loss of sentimental possessions but some families don’t even have the means to replace a lot of what they lost. Here I was, upset about my butter dish when just a few miles away, fellow New Yorkers were losing everything.

The commute home was even scarier. Parts of the city were completely in the dark. Living in the city for so long and so near Times Square, I forget what pitch darkness is like. The city, usually so bustling, seemed completely desolate.

I still can’t fully comprehend the devastation some people experienced and continue to experience because of the hurricane. Everything they’ve owned and known are gone. Childhood memories, adult memories, future hopes of memories being built in the home they grew up in, the home they just bought with their life savings, the home they just started to make their own – gone.

I know that these challenges aren’t unique in any way and people go through this almost often around the world but living in the northeast for most of my life and not being exposed to extreme weather like tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis; I never thought it would happen in my own backyard – so to speak.

So, wherever you are in the world, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to appreciate the things you have and the positive and loving people who surround you. You just never know what tomorrow will bring. And I also hope you’ll consider donating to the Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/) who, like many other organizations (like the IRC, UNICEF, and Salvation Army) do great work all around the world.

I will say, though, after 10+ years living in one of the greatest cities on earth, I know that New Yorkers will pick themselves right up and rebuild. And rebuild with style. We are resilient.

I also want to end this post by thanking all of my family and friends from as close as Union Square to as far away as New Hampshire (clearly, my friends aren’t far flung) for checking in on me. My parents in Jersey are fine, though still without power and most likely sore from clearing away all the branches that fell in their yard; and my sister and brother-in-law in Westchester are building a fire, as I type, in their new home to keep warm. My brother, who is also in this fine city, is pretty unscathed as well. I am grateful.

 

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