Monday, September 14, 2009

Stay-cation Salmon & Grilled Peaches

Now on the "Stay-cation" side of our Vacation-Staycation, we decided that we would BBQ and enjoy the last bits of summer for each of the remaining four days of our untethered bliss. And, as weather permits, our dining would be al fresco. Before going into the all-important food aspect of this plan...our inspiration is derived from the first part of our adventure.

We traveled more than 1800 miles on the first half of our two-week hiatus -- a road-trip that would take us to Banff National Park and back through Seattle to home -- hiking pristine, spectacular landscapes and sustaining ourselves on exquisite cuisine..what more could you want?

If you've never traveled to this part of the world...add it to your list!

This is a shot of Lake Moraine, just outside of Lake Louise and about 35 minutes from Banff. While beautiful, it's just one of the many hikes that are possible in and around this area. Amazing!!

So...back to food. Given our desire to extend our experience, we decided that we'd continue our attempt to eat "in-the-manner-of-a-vacation" by BBQ-ing and eating outdoors for the duration of this week...knowing full well that this time will pass quickly. After visiting our local Whole Foods this afternoon, we zeroed in on Wild King Salmon at nearly half the price of its summer peak. We paired this with Garlic Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes and Sauteed Bok Choy. And for dessert...grilled white peaches!

I suppose the only real "recipe" here is my Bok Choy...surprisingly. (We all have our method of grilling or cooking salmon...and mashing I'll just give the general basics on these two.) This Bok Choy, however...though just a simple little truly one of our new favorites. I'd never cooked Bok Choy until about two years ago...after my regular Internist at the time recommended adding it to our diet. (While she was very current on medicine and nutrition, she was also one of those "over-bookers." After several waits stretching well beyond an hour, I arrived to one appointment to find she had installed a 60-inch flat screen TV in her waiting room and realized that the "wait" was going to be a factor I couldn't tolerate any longer. I am, however, grateful for her recommendation of Bok Choy.)

There are a lot of leafy greens that resemble Bok Choy but I think I really prefer this particular green due to its composition. It has great leafy green leaves, but it also has wonderful crisp stalks that cook up nicely but retain their crunchy nature. There's no fat or cholesterol in Bok Choy (the point my Internist was making at the time) and it is a great source of vitamin C and A. I particularly like pairing it with sliced cremini mushrooms and onions...along with some soy sauce and sesame oil for seasoning. It's truly so good you could eat it on its own, or pair it with salmon, chicken or beef, which we often do...well, not the beef part but I'm sure it would be tasty as well.

For our salmon, I simply seasoned it with some soy sauce, a sprinkle of sesame oil, kosher salt, and a dash of pepper. I started it out in a saute pan on the stove to sear both sides to a nice golden brown, then popped it into the oven at 400 degrees to finish it off. Depending on the thickness of the cut and whether you like it well-done or slightly rare, the oven time will take from five to ten minutes...more or less. (Oh yeah, I forget to mention that our BBQ-ing portion of this eve was quickly relegated to our on-stove grill and skillets due to a lack of fuel! We will rectify this blip in our plan to ensure our Stay-cation success for the remainder of our week). 

For the potatoes, I used Yukon gold potatoes and kept the skins on...wanting to get all the nutrients these little tubers offer. I just cut them up and popped them into a pot of water to boil up. After draining them, I then added some unsalted butter, a bit of milk, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and some kosher salt and pepper...then smashed them. Finish it off by a quick taste, and season to your liking.

In prepping the Bok Choy, I like to slice it and divide the "whites" and "greens" on my cutting board. This way, when proceeding with the saute process, you can add the "whites" first (as they are firmer and require a bit more cooking than the "greens"). 

Sauteed Bok Choy with Onions and Cremini Mushrooms
serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Bok Choy, sliced and divided into stalks and leaves
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced (and slices cut into halves)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (more if desired)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (more if desired)
kosher salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and saute until slightly translucent. 

2. Add cremini mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are just slightly browned. Add "white" portion of Bok Choy. Saute until just cooked through but still crisp, about 1 minute.

3. Add "green" portion of Bok Choy and cook through until wilted (about another minute or so). Add soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir until incorporated and add salt and pepper to taste.

I made the following dessert for two but found it surprisingly filling so I think you can serve a half peach or a whole peach, depending on your own preference (particularly if you serve it alongside this greek yogurt and amaretto-infused sauce). I also think it would be great to sprinkle the whole thing with some crumbled amaretti cookies...not in the pantry this time around, but maybe next time.

Grilled White Peaches with Amaretto Infused Greek Yogurt 
serves 2 to 4

2 large white peaches (halved with pits removed)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Amaretto liqueur
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 ounces greek-style peach yogurt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, if desired

1. Heat butter, brown sugar, Amaretto liqueur, and cinnamon in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir and cook until just melted and heated through. Remove from heat.

2. Heat grill (on stove or outdoors) and baste peaches with a bit of butter. Place cut-side down on grill and cook over medium heat until heated through and grill-marked. Turn peaches and cook another minute. Baste with a bit of the brown sugar mixture if desired. Remove from heat.

3. Stir yogurt with a tablespoon or two of amaretto/brown sugar mixture. Place a dollop of yogurt mixture on each serving plate, top with peach half(ves) and drizzle additional brown sugar/amaretto mixture over top. Garnish with fresh blueberries, if desired.