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Just finished a quirky book, Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong. She’s a new writer (newly published, I guess I should say) and this story is about Ruth, a 30+ something, trying to readjust to life without her fiance, who’s dumped her. She goes back home to help with the care of her father, who has Alzheimer’s. Written in a diary style, it jumps all over about her life, her mother, the funny, poignant things her father says on good days, and the nutty stuff he does on not-so-good days, her ex-, and her very quirky friends, too. Then a woman flits through who had had an affair with her father –  you get to observe all the angst from the mom about that. Mostly it’s about her father, as he’s relatively “together” early in the book, but then he disintegrates. Reading that part isn’t fun, although the author is able to lean some humor into it. I’m not sure I recommend the book exactly – I read it through – and felt sad. It doesn’t tie up loose ends – if you want that kind of book – you may not want to read this one.

Also finished Julian Fellowes’s Belgravia. You know Julian Fellowes, the producer and writer of Downton Abbey? He lends his mind to a story about a family or two from the similar time period as Downton, who live in London. There’s some amount of intrigue, romance, observations from within the halls of wealthy Londoners and moderately well off tradesmen and their families. There’s affairs, shady business dealings, an illegitimate child, the comings and goings of the “downstairs” staff too, etc. The characters were well done – I had no trouble keeping all of the people identified. The story is somewhat predictable, but it was interesting clear up to the end.

The Letter by Kathyrn Hughes. It’s a very intricate tale. At first it’s about Tina, a battered wife [at which point I paused and wondered if I wanted to read any further, but I’m glad I did]. She tries to get the courage to leave her husband. Then enters the letter she finds in a suit pocket in the thrift shop where she volunteers. It’s old – sealed and stamped, but never mailed. Then you learn about Crissie, decades earlier, a young pregnant girl who is sent off to Ireland to a distant relative by her father, then to a rigid (meaning horrible) convent [the book takes place mostly in Manchester, England and in rural Ireland]. The letter is addressed to her. Jump forward decades and William, the adopted child Crissie gave up, tries to find his birth mother. William meets Tina in Ireland [a serendipitous moment] as she’s trying to find the woman to whom the letter is addressed. This book is the #2 best seller on Amazon at the moment. It’s a riveting tale and I really enjoyed it.

The Muralist: A Novel by Shapiro. It tells the story of a young woman, an artist, who was part of the U.S.’s WPA mural project from the 1930s-40s (she is fiction, the WPA is not). As with so many artists, even today, they live in abject poverty through much of their lives. This woman, though, had family in France, desperately trying to escape before Hitler’s henchmen rousted them into concentration camps. The story, a bit of a mystery but not of the mystery-genre, is about Alizée Benoit, this young painter, who slightly captivates Eleanor Roosevelt’s help. It also skips into current time when the painter’s great-niece uncovers paintings she believes were painted by her aunt. The painter had disappeared into thin air in 1940, and her relative tries desperately to find out what happened to her. It’s a really good story including such Abstract Expressionist painters as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner well-woven into the narrative. It keeps you guessing right up to the end. A good read. The author also wrote The Art Forger: A Novel a few years ago.

Also recently read News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles. One of my book-reading friends said this is one of the best books she’s ever read in her life. That kind of praise required me to read it and I just LOVED it. It’s about an old man (a widower), who was a former military captain, during the 1800s, who goes from town to town to read out loud the current news of the world (yes, there WAS such a free-lance job.) Newspapers didn’t make it to small towns back then. By chance he’s asked to take a 10-year old girl to East Texas to reunite with relatives. The child had been captured by an Indian tribe as a baby (her family was killed in the raid), raised by the Kiowa and as was often the case of such children, she wants nothing to do with leaving. So the “hero” in this story has his hands full. And yet, they learn to trust each other on the journey. Reaching the destination, there are lots of complications (of course!). This book is truly a wonderful read – I didn’t want it to end. The author has a gift of description and the severe dangers and difficulties of an old (wild) west horse and wagon journey. The relationship is tender. Now I’ve got to investigate the author’s other books, of which there are many. Just read this one first!

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Fish, on July 20th, 2017.

chile_spice_rubbed_roasted_salmon

This recipe really needs to be titled “Citrus Marinated Roasted Salmon with Chili Powder and Other Spices.” But whew. Can’t call it that!

Originally this recipe was titled “Barbecue Roasted Salmon.” It’s an old recipe from Cooking Light (2001) but they totally misnamed this one. It’s not barbecued, nor does it contains typical “barbecue” spices. So I dubbed it Chili-Rubbed Roasted Salmon instead. You’ll see why shortly. And don’t let the Cooking Light source make you think this is  not all that good! It’s fabulous.

IMHO, the pineapple juice/lemon juice marinade is the secret to this recipe. It makes it SO very juicy and tender. It doesn’t need to be marinated all that long, either. Periodically I buy a 6-pack of pineapple juice in little baby cans. Sometimes they don’t last (the cans bulge and you know the juice has gone bad). I threw away 2 cans before I found one that was still okay. My recollection is that I can’t buy just one of those tiny cans of pineapple juice. I don’t drink it ever – it’s only used for cooking. But I certainly didn’t want to have to go grocery shopping in order to make this. Fortunately I had everything on hand.

Am sure I’ve mentioned it here before .. . . even though I’m a family of one now, I buy the big slabs of farm-raised salmon at Costco, cut them up into fillets and pack two to a bag and vacuum seal them for freezing. It takes less than an hour to defrost one of those bags and it gives me two meals.

salmon_foil_ready2bakeSo first, the salmon fillets went into a ziploc bag with the juices. Into the refrigerator they went for about an hour. It’s very possible that left in the marinade any longer the fish would have begun to disintegrate. Pineapple juice is a powerful marinade in that it contains enzymes that break down food. Which is why it’s often used in a meat marinade, to give it tenderness. This one, though, is really meant just for flavoring, I’m guessing, since salmon doesn’t need tenderizing! Pat it dry, then you put the brown sugar and spices (chili powder, lemon zest, ground cumin, salt and a pinch of ground cinnamon and salt) on the fish. I made a foil “tray” for the fish and roasted it in my toaster oven for only about 10-11 minutes (the fillets weren’t all that thick) and they were plu-perfect! Ideal cooked internal temperature of a salmon fillet is 135°F. I garnished with a lemon slice or two, more lemon zest and a sprinkling of mint, and onto my plate it went. In the background of the photo at top you can see the watermelon/feta/mint salad and some roasted vegetables I’d made a few days before. Wonderful dinner. And then I had the second fillet to re-heat a few nights later. It was still wonderful, although reheating it dried it out just a tad.

What’s GOOD: so very tender and juicy salmon – loved the spice combo on it. Very easy to make too. A winner of a recipe. I’ll be making this again. The calorie count for one serving is 235. Yea! And that assumes you’ve consumed (drunk) the pineapple and lemon juices, so it’s actually less than 235! This could easily be a company meal (it’s certainly fancy enough) but can also be an easy weeknight dinner too. Don’t marinate the fish more than an hour, though.

What’s NOT: Do use thicker salmon if you can – it will roast better with no tendency to dry out. No down side to this recipe at all.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chili-Rubbed Roasted Salmon

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Cooking Light, May 2001
Serving Size: 4

1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets — (6-ounce each)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Lemon slices (optional)
Chopped mint for garnish
Grated lemon zest for garnish

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally. (Don’t marinate longer or it will begin to break down the fish.)
2. Preheat oven to 400°.
3. Remove fish from bag; discard marinade. Pat dry the fish with paper towels. Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients (chili powder through cinnamon) in a bowl. Rub over fish; place in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lined with foil. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork (done internal temp should be 135°F). Serve immediately with lemon slices, and a sprinkling of fresh, chopped mint and lemon zest.
Per Serving: 235 Calories; 6g Fat (24.8% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 88mg Cholesterol; 408mg Sodium.

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  1. hddonna

    said on July 20th, 2017:

    Looks like another winner. My sister’s favorite seasoning for grilled salmon is just equal parts sugar and chili powder, if I remember right. This looks to be a bit more complex but not too time-consuming. I look forward to trying it.

    You’ll be pleased, I’m sure. The pineapple juice just does something to the taste. For the good, obviously . . . carolyn t

  2. hddonna

    said on July 21st, 2017:

    And I think I have some of those little cans on hand, too! (Just for cooking in my case, also.)

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