Roasted Salmon with Horseradish and Homemade Dill Creme Fraiche

All of the Safeway grocery stores in DC have an alliterative descriptor, ranging from the innocuous to the offensive.

There’s the Social Safeway up in Georgetown (also sometimes known as the Single Safeway), where it’s rumored you can pick up a date (it’s also just the closest Safeway to the Georgetown campus).  There’s the (former) Secret Safeway, which no one could ever find – (now a ridiculously delicious small-batch grocery store; if you visit DC, you must eat their kale slaw).  There’s the Senior Safeway, located by the Watergate, where some of our more…experienced citizens live.

And there’s the Safeway closest to us, not-so-affectionately known as the Soviet Safeway.  This nickname is based on two primary reasons: 1. its inability to stock fresh bread and anything but the most wilted of vegetables; and 2. its obscenely long lines.

All of this is a (very long) say of saying I don’t buy fresh fish often.  The Husband loves this, as he’s just not into fish.  As someone who negotiates with my sister for the last piece of lox, I feel differently.

This salmon (not from Safeway) was amazing – recipe based on Cooking Light‘s.  It takes a while – but none of it is hands-on; make it the night before, spend a few quick minutes before you leave for work in the morning, and it’s ready in 20 minutes after you get home.  I promise it will make for a very fiesta-y Friday.

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Roasted Salmon with Horseradish and Homemade Dill Creme Fraiche

**if you want enough creme fraiche to adequately feed more than 2 people, would suggest doubling the ingredients starting with heavy cream going through s&p**

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (about 3-4 sprigs)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2-3 big tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • about 1 pound salmon (this is enough for 2 people, with leftovers for lunch)
  1. Prepare creme fraiche: before you go to bed, combine cream, buttermilk and vinegar in a small bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature, about 8 hours.  When you wake up, add the dill, about 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Cover again and refrigerate, about 8-12 hours.  You’ll have a lovely, tangy sauce when you get home from work.
  2. Prepare horseradish “marinade:” combine a pinch of salt, pepper, horseradish, parsley, shallots, capers and olive oil in a small bowl.  Mix thoroughly, and then spread over the salmon fillets.  Cover and refrigerate, about 8-12 hours.
  3. Cook fish: preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place fish (skin side down) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Roast for about 12-15 minutes, or until done.  Serve with creme fraiche and a side of simple, roasted asparagus (which magically takes the same amount of time as the fish!).

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The Verdict:

The Husband cleaned his plate.  I nearly licked mine.  Pack any leftover fish with a bit of spinach and a dollop of the sauce, and have yourself a merry little lunch.  Also: when was the last (or any, in my case) time you made your own creme fraiche!?  There’s something that’s definitely not stocked at our Safeway.

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Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Sesame Crust

After a week of gorging on my mom’s amazing beef stew, I’ve gone back to my non-protein ways.

Sorry, Husband.

(Veggie) tarts are just so GOOD.  And sometimes, they’re even good for you.  Or at least not terrible.

Inspiration by Martha Stewart…and my friend Kate.

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Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Crust

for the crust

  • a little less than 1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • about 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a little more
  • about 1/3 cup water, plus a little more

for the filling

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds
  • about a cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked together
  • 1 can corn kernels, rinsed (Note: this would be SO much better with fresh corn, but sadly, we’re not quite to that season yet!)
  • 1 big handful grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In  medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, & sesame seeds; slowly pour in the water and olive, forming a large ball.  You may need to add a touch more water or olive oil to help it stick together.
  2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and press into an 8 or 9 inch pie shell.  Prick all over with a fork and then bake for about 10 minutes; remove and cover the crusts, so they don’t burn.  Reduce the heat to about 375 and bake another 10 minutes or so, until lightly golden brown.
  3. While the crust bakes, heat olive oil over medium low heat in a saute pan, add onion and shallot.  Add salt, pepper and crushed reds, and cook down – until golden and/or translucent.  Finally, add the corn and just give the whole thing a quick toss.
  4. When the crust is done pre-baking, sprinkle the bottom with a health layer of Parmesan cheese.  Add the onion/shallot/corn mixture, then top with the tomatoes.  Season with a little salt and pepper, lightly pour the egg mixture over it (this just helps it to stick together), and add the rest of the Parmesan to the top.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees; serve with a little Parsley and a light side salad.  Think about how awesome this will taste when you make it with New Jersey corn, straight from the roadside stand.

IMG_3231The Verdict:

The crust does take a little getting used to – it’s “healthy,” after all, and the taste of the olive oil shines through.  As with any dish, the fresher the veggies, the tastier it’ll be.  Still, it’s been a while since I joined the ladies (and a few good gentlemen) over at Fiesta Friday, but I think this is good enough to bring.  What’s more fiesta-y than corn?

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I officially became old about three or four Christmases ago, when I received an immersion blender.  When you open a carefully wrapped present and you’re excited to see Cuisinart peeking out at you, you know it’s all downhill from there.

On the positive side, if you own an immersion blender, you can make lots of delicious soups.  Which in my opinion, almost outweighs the fact that I now wear sneakers when I walk to work, knee braces when I run, and ear plugs when I go to the gym (that music is so LOUD!).

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

  • olive oil
  • 1-2 pounds diced & cubed butternut squash
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • fresh sage (about 8-10 leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • about 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy or sour cream
  • optional toppings: scallions, sour cream, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  On a large baking pan, toss the squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for about 35-40 minutes.  Midway through the roasting, take the squash out and give them another quick toss before sticking them back in the oven.
  2. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat and add the apple, onion and sage.  Cook these down gently, about 10 minutes.  Add a dash of apple cider vinegar and cook off before removing the mixture from the heat.
  3. When the squash is done roasting, add to the Dutch oven, pour the broth over the mixture and bring to a boil.  After it boils, reduce heat, cover and simmer 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, and blend using an immersion blender (or in a food processor or regular blender; just be careful to do it in batches).  Add the cream or sour cream and mix thoroughly.  Serve with your choice of topping – I love this with a little addition of sour cream.

Note: You can certainly make this healthier (and/or vegan) by swapping the butter for olive oil and using milk instead of cream or even coconut/almond/soy milk.  I’ll stick with the butter and cream, myself.

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The Verdict:

This soup has been a staple in our house for a while now and was inspired by my very first cookbook, which my mom bought for me before I ever owned a pot, much less an immersion blender, and way before I even thought to judge the people walking to work in sneakers, because they were just so OLD.  We’ve come full circle here.  Also, the Husband pronounced this particular version (there are so many!) the best he’s had.  That’s saying something – we’ve eaten this soup A LOT, so I’m bringing it to the party.

Asparagus Ricotta Parmesan Tart

A few weeks ago, as I was lugging home groceries, I saw this sign: thinkspring I’m not only thinking spring, I’m hoping and praying spring.  And for this bar (which is outdoor only) to reopen.  To help spring along (and to continue my quest to empty our refrigerator), I bought the spring-iest vegetable I know and turned it into a tart, inspired by my girl Martha.

Asparagus Ricotta Parmesan Tart

  • 1 premade puff pastry, thawed
  • about 1/3 cup ricotta cheese (full fat works best)
  • about 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • about 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds
  • olive oil (bonus if you can use an olive oil mister!)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  On a lightly floured surface, stretch & roll the puff pastry out a bit – be careful not to break it.  Using a sharp knife, lightly score the pastry dough about 1 inch out from the edge, all the way around.  Using a fork, lightly poke holes all over the dough and place on a large baking sheet.  Bake the dough until golden – about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the pastry shell and dot all over with ricotta cheese; lightly spread it about.  Top with a big handful of Parmesan, the sliced onion, and then line the asparagus across – alternating spear to tip.  Top with salt, pepper and some crushed reds.  Mist or brush some olive oil over the tart.  Pop the whole thing in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. If you’d like to increase the decadence, this would be delicious topped with a little truffle oil or a fried egg…
  4. Think spring, hard.
spring on a plate
spring on a plate

The Verdict:

This is such an easy meal and can be adapted so many ways, with so many different vegetables (and/or meats, if you like)- mushrooms and goat cheese? Corn and roasted tomato? Butternut squash and gruyere?  The possibilities are endless.  I will say – this is a meal that’s better for two, with some leftovers.  Or for four not-hungry people.  But who knows any of those? (Def not those ladies/gents over at Fiesta Friday.)

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

Fiesta Friday: Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Crispy Chickpeas

First off, a very, very happy first-ever block party to Angie and the crew over at The Novice Gardener! I am not a regular over there, more like a creepy neighbor, looking over the fence.  So this time, I’m actually bringing something.  And it’s delicious and totally not creepy.

We ate this recipe, inspired by the Smitten Kitchen, for dinner, but made with smaller eggplants, this is a delectable, decadent appetizer.  (As the Husband said, right after he finished his eggplant off, and right before he heated up some leftover pizza, “this might be too much veggie to be dinner.”)

all lined up.
all lined up.

Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Crispy Chickpeas

for the eggplant & chickpeas

  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry (really, you just need one can, but if you’re like me, you’ll eat so many of these as they’re coming out of the oven that if you want enough to actually eat with your eggplant, you should make two cans)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • generous handful each of smoked paprika and garlic powder
  • 1 or 2 large eggplants, or 3 small, Italian-style eggplants

for the sauce

  • 3 heaping tablespoons tahini
  • about 2/3 cup plain greek yogurt (I supplemented with a bit of light sour cream)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon, plus a bit of freshly grated zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & pepper, a touch of crushed reds, if you please
  • 3-4 tablespoons parsley, divided
these are the healthiest things you'll ever become addicted to.
these are the healthiest things you’ll ever become addicted to.
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, spread out the chickpeas, drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons olive oil all over.  Toss chickpeas evenly with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and garlic powder.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes; make sure to give them a toss at least once or twice so they don’t burn.  Dust with another quick pinch of salt as they come out of the oven.
  2. On another baking sheet, spread out another layer of aluminum foil, and spray with a bit of olive oil.  Cut the eggplants in half and spray both the tops and the bottoms with a bit of olive oil.  Arrange cut side up and season generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes and then flip.
  3. As the chickpeas and eggplant cook, make the sauce.  Whisk together the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, a few grinds of pepper, a tablespoon of parsley and a touch of crushed reds.
  4. Serve the eggplant, cut side up, topped with sauce, the crispy chickpeas, and a bit more parsley.
appetizer or dinner, it doesn't matter.  just eat it.
appetizer or dinner, it doesn’t matter. just eat it.

The Verdict

This. Was. Awesome.  As appetizers go, this IS a dish for which you will need a knife and a fork, but hey, that’s a small price to pay.  This does not reheat well, as the eggplant gets a bit mushy…so invite all your friends!  And thanks, Angie, for inviting us!