the rainy kitchen

cooking through the rain in southeast alaska

Category: seafood

a word on leftovers

We had a busy and fun weekend that included Sunday brunch to celebrate my dear sister’s birthday. She was not supposed to be in town so it was rather last minute and it turned into quite the unplanned feast with friends. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon!  So, last night I wanted to make a simple dinner, as I had dishes to wash, dogs to walk, and was kind of wiped out.  I had some leftover baked king salmon from dinner Friday night and more from the brunch. I also had some broccoli that needed to be used up. So, I made a quick and simple pasta sauce.  I think it’s great to make meals with leftovers. Meals using leftovers are generally simple to do and they feel good! You use up your leftovers and you don’t have to eat the same thing again and again. Perfect. What do you do to reinvent leftovers?

Pasta with Salmon and Broccoli

2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1 large broccoli flower
2 tbls capers
2 lemons
1 cup baked salmon
fresh thyme
olive oil
dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb pasta of your choice

This sauce only takes a short time to cook, so I would suggest putting your water on for the pasta when you start cooking the sauce. Coat a pan with olive oil and saute chopped garlic and olive oil. Meanwhile break the broccoli flower apart and cut the floret’s in half  or thirds length wise. Once the garlic and onion is translucent, add about a half a cup of dry white white wine. Let it cook for a few minutes before adding the broccoli. Add the capers and the juice of two lemons.  By now your water should be boiling, add the pasta. Right before straining the pasta, add a couple ladles full of pasta water to the sauce. Strain the pasta and drizzle with olive oil.  Add the leftover salmon to the sauce. Combine the pasta and the sauce, add the greens of a few sprigs of fresh thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together and serve.


a simple halibut dinner

It was a busy weekend for our household, entailing woodshed building and our little Chihuahua, Rosie’s first agility trial. We had plans to have a friend and son over for dinner on Saturday night. After a day of running Rosie in the rain and digging in the dirt with my husband, I wanted to make something simple. Thanks to my dad, we had some fresh halibut in the freezer. I decided to make this dish because I knew I had all the ingredients in the house and it wouldn’t require running to the store. Here’s what I did.

Mediterranean Halibut

2 lbs fresh halibut
olive oil
6 tbs butter
3-4 cloves garlic
.5 c kalamata olives
.5 c green olives
.75 c sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
2 lemons
handful of fresh basil
1 tbs crushed red pepper
sea salt and pepper
.25 c dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the halibut in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, making sure you get both sides. Place pads of butter on the halibut, leaving an inch or so between pads. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the fish. Add chopped garlic,  green and Kalamata olives as well as chopped sun dried tomatoes. Lay a slice of lemon over each pad of butter. Sprinkle crushed red pepper over the whole thing. Pour the white wine in the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover with aluminum foil and put in the preheated oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Take out when the fish is still a tiny bit translucent in the center. Remove, uncover and let finish cooking on the counter. Squeeze more fresh lemon juice over entire thing and serve.

grilling southeast style

When the sun comes out in Juneau, so do the grills, much like the rest of the US. Only around here, you’re likely to see a lot more fresh fish on the grill. One of my favorite things to grill is fresh King Salmon (otherwise known as Chinook Salmon). This is one of those meals that the first time you have it in the spring, after a long winter, you remember exactly why you live here. Friday was so gorgeous, that of course we wanted to grill in the yard. So we stopped and picked up some fresh King on the way home and invited my sister and her boyfriend over to join us. I had asparagus in the fridge, so we threw that on too and it was a perfect meal for a summer evening in the yard.

Grilled Salmon with Asparagus

1 filet of fresh king salmon, apx 2lbs (or other if you don’t have king)
sea salt
fresh thyme
1 lemon
as much asparagus as you want
extra virgin olive oil

Put the filet on a sheet of aluminum foil and fold up the edges. Sprinkle with sea salt, then the juice of one lemon. If you have fresh thyme use some! Put several sprigs of thyme on the fish. If you have lemon thyme, use that, it’s fantastic! I have been growing it in the summers and I recently discovered that it’s delicious on salmon. Add a few pads of butter, spread evenly across the filet. Close up the aluminum foil so the juices don’t all leak out while it cooks. Place on a medium to low heat grill, cook until the center still looks a touch raw.

For the asparagus, put in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put it on the grill with the fish and watch closely, moving constantly. Take off when it looks roasted, but not burned.

Serve both with fresh lemon. YUM!

A couple notes on the fish. When cooking fish, know that it’s not an exact science, or at least I don’t think it is. I have eaten in some pretty amazing restaurants and felt they overcooked my salmon. I have been cooking fresh fish for 20+ years and I still overcook it sometimes. My advice, if you think it’s ready to come off, but wonder if it could use another minute, just take it off. It will cook a little more while it sits. Fish is always better slightly under than slightly over. Also, I grill salmon in some variety of the above manner a lot. I often use dill or capers instead of thyme, and sometimes I use orange, lemon or even grapefruit instead of lemon. As you will hear me say a lot if you read this blog, I don’t think cooking something yummy at the end of the day should be stressful. If you don’t have one thing, try something else, and don’t get stuck always doing it the same way. Mix it up. It’s good for your brain, your body and your soul. Most importantly, enjoy it!

seafood puttanesca

I grew up eating pasta at least once or twice a week (fish or venison usually on the other nights). My dad is Italian and even in bush Alaska, the meals in our house generally had a Mediterranean flair. I love pasta. Now, in my adult life, we eat it about once a week. I can make pasta sauce out of just about anything. One of my favorites that I nearly always have the ingredients for in my pantry, is pasta puttanesca; tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, olives, capers, anchovies and crushed red pepper. Often though, I add fish and lemon to make seafood puttanesca, it’s a great way to add protein and mix it up a bit, also it’s an easy way to impress guests! The other day our local fish monger had some Ling Cod, which is great in red sauce and very affordable.  I bought some and used it in the pasta for dinner. Feel free to use other seafood, or a couple kinds, whatever you like!

Seafood Puttanesca

1 28oz can crushed tomatoes (I prefer organic and roasted)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil + some for drizzling on pasta
2 cloves garlic
2-3 cups fresh basil
1-2 tbs crushed red pepper
1 cup kalamata olives
1 cup good green olives (should be of a large variety)
4-6 anchovy fillets packed in oil
3 tbls capers
1 lb Ling Cod (or other; salmon, shrimp, or clams are very good)
1 lb linguine, spaghetti or rigatoni
juice of one lemon, extra for plating

Coat deep sauce pan with olive oil and turn on low heat.
Chop garlic and saute in olive oil.
Add can of tomatoes.
Rough chop fresh basil, add most of it to the tomatoes, keep out a small handful for later.
Add crushed red pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you like it) and let simmer.
Chop about half of the kalamata olives and cut the green olives in half and add them to the sauce.
Begin boiling water for pasta.
Cube fish into apx one inch pieces and set aside.
Add capers and leftover basil into the sauce.
Chop anchovy fillets and add them in too.
Let cook on medium heat while you cook your pasta.
Once pasta is cooked and strained, drizzle with olive oil and put in a large pasta bowl.
Now, turn the sauce down to low and put in the fish. Stir occasionally, and keep a close eye, it will cook fast. Should take about five minutes.
Meanwhile, cut one lemon into four wedges.
Once fish is cooked, turn off the sauce and add the juice of one lemon.
Pour sauce over pasta in bowl and serve with lemon wedges.

A couple of notes: I have found it’s important to put the anchovies in toward the end, otherwise, they seem to cook off and you don’t get that nice salty fish flavor that anchovies bring. Also, as I stated above, if you don’t have seafood on hand, you can make this entire meal and leave out the lemon and fish. Also, if you don’t have fresh basil on hand, you can use dried, just use lots of it! Enjoy!

Basil and Kalamata olives waiting for their home in the sauce.

easy saturday salad

One thing we generally have around the house is smoked salmon. It’s a great ingredient for pasta salads, among other things. Here is a quick and easy recipe, great for lunch or a side dish for a bigger meal.

Orzo with Smoked Salmon

1 cup orzo pasta
2 cups chopped baby kale
1 clove garlic
1 cup hot smoked salmon (I used king, but you can use whatever you have on hand)
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
juice of one lemon
two tbls capers
olive oil

Cook the orzo in lightly salted water. Drain when al dente and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Set aside.
While orzo is cooking, mince one clove garlic and saute in pan with olive oil.
Chop baby kale and ad to pan, sprinkle with a small pinch each of sea salt and large pinch of black pepper. Add crushed red pepper (apx 1 tsp of crushed red pepper, more or less depending on how much spice you like).
The kale will cook quick, once it has shrunken down to half its’ original size or so, combine with the orzo and mix well to keep it from all clumping together.
Add smoked salmon, should be broken up into small pieces, you can just crumble with your hands.
Add capers.
Add lemon juice.
Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.