Monthly Archives: June 2012

5 Spice Salmon and Green Beans

I really try to avoid boiling vegetables. You lose so many nutrients and boiled vegetables tend to be so plain. (Peas and beans being the exception here). So, with all the green beans coming in now I’m challenged to find new ways to serve them. This is a Fine Cooking recipe that I especially like since it only uses 1 pan. The green beans here are from Signal Mountain Farm.

This recipe calls for Chinese 5 spice powder. You can certainly buy this at the store but I prefer to make it. You never know how long those spices have been sitting on the self losing flavor day by day. A spice grinder is really a must for the kitchen. Spices lose their flavor quickly so the more you can grind fresh, the better.

My 5 spice recipe came from this book: The book is gorgeous and has a wealth of information about every herb and spice. (trust me…you need this book!)

5 spice powder is fennel, star anise, cloves, red pepper, and cinnamon. Toss it all in a spice grinder and it’s done.

The marinade for this salmon is 5 spice powder, honey, soy sauce, and garlic. The best way to prepare garlic for a marinade is to grate the garlic. It creates a garlic pulp that basically disappears into the marinade. Also, the bits of garlic you get with chopping tend to burn when you cook your dish.

Measuring honey can be a pain trying to scrape all the sticky honey out of the measuring cup. This tool has been a life saver. You get every bit of honey out and you can measure several different liquids at the same time.

Marinate the salmon for about 15 minutes. While that is marinating, top and tail your beans and toss them with a bit of sesame oil and 5 spice powder. Spread them on a foil lined baking sheet and cook under the broiler for about 3 minutes.

Remove the pan, stir the beans and add the salmon to the pan, pouring any extra marinade over the fish. Place the pan back under the broiler for another 3 minutes then remove to stir the beans and adjust the fish if necessary to ensure even cooking. A final 3 minutes under the broiler should be enough but certainly check the fish and finish to your liking.

We served this with polenta to help soak up some of the yummy juice left on the pan.


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Roasted Cheddar Cauliflower

My grandfather swears that he went to school with 2 girls named Ellie Fant and Emma Tate. I’ve never quite been able to decide if he was teasing me or not. Surely not, I thought, but then I changed schools and there was a girl named Callie Flowers. Maybe people really don’t say names out loud before they sign the birth certificate.

Can you guess what vegetable we had for dinner this week? 🙂

I have terrible, nightmare inducing memories of being forced to eat a plate of cauliflower covered in melted velveeta cheese. I’m trying to repair my relationship with cauliflower but it just isn’t going so well. However, my husband says this was a great way to cook it so I’ll spare you my opinion since I’m apparently biased.

We got this cheddar cauliflower from Signal Mountain Farm. It doesn’t taste any different from the usual white variety but it is a bit prettier.

Toss the cauliflower with oil and salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet. Roast at 415 degrees for about 30 minutes (really, just roast to your liking). Quick and easy and, if you like cauliflower, I understand it’s delicious! 😉


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Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

Beets are one of those newly discovered vegetables for me. I’ve never really eaten them before the last few years but I have fallen hard for them. I especially like when I can get a vegetable in a variety of colors so when I saw these golden and red beets hanging out together at the market at the Signal Mountain Farm table I had to have them. As fate would have it the next booth I walked by was Bonnie Blue Farm where they have the best goat cheese (which, coincidentally, has also become an obsession this summer). The goat cheese made its way into my basket with thoughts of a beet and goat cheese salad floating through my head.

I’ve never actually made a beet and goat cheese salad but that’s why I have all those cooking apps on my phone, right? As is my usual recipe style, this is a hodge-podge of several recipes. I started by drizzling the (clean) beets with a bit of grape seed oil, wrapping them in foil, and roasting for about an hour at 425 degrees. Let them cool enough to handle and then peel and dice them. If you are using golden and red beets then you should try to keep them separate so the red beets don’t stain the golden. Red beets are awfully aggressive and your kitchen will be a great setting for a murder movie after you finish peeling and dicing.

Now, at this point you can just toss the beets with the goat cheese and chow down. However, one of the recipes I was using was a layered salad so I decided to fancy things up a bit. You need a mold about 2 inches wide and however tall you want the salad. Layer the beets and goat cheese, pressing down between layers to help it hold together.

You can certainly do as many layers as you like but the taller it gets, they harder time you will have keeping it upright. Slowly pull the mold off and there you have a stacked beet and goat cheese salad! If you’ve never had beets and goat cheese together I can assure you they were meant to be. Seriously good stuff.


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St Elmo Deli and Grill

We stopped by the St Elmo Deli and Grill for lunch last Saturday. This spot has been home to several different delis during it’s life. The St Elmo Deli and Grill has been open a few months now and just started opening on Saturday so this was our first real chance to give it a try.

It’s right next to the Incline Railway so I suspect they get a good bit of tourist traffic. We were a bit late for the lunch rush at 1:30 but there were still several occupied tables. You order at the counter and then seat yourself. We were getting take out so we browsed the books and magazines in the “library” where you can borrow a book to read during your meal and take it home with you if you like. Bring the book back when you can and bring in your old books to donate for others to read as well. What a nice idea!

There is limited parking in the front but you can pay $1 and park in the Incline parking lot. I understand that if you have to pay to park they’ll give you a free drink with your meal to make it up to you.

I  read a review several weeks ago that mentioned a smoked chicken salad so I had that on my mind before I even looked at the menu. There are several salads and a good variety of sandwiches. The Hawaiian Ham Wrap almost distracted me with its pineapple chutney but I stuck with the smoked chicken salad sandwich. Neal opted for the Real Man’s Pimento Cheese which was a grilled pimento cheese served with ham and bacon. Sandwiches come with homemade chips or you can opt for another side for a $1 more. They had a blue cheese slaw that sounded really interesting but I was feeling simple and I love homemade chips so I kept them as my side.

Our service was quick and very friendly. You can see directly into the kitchen area and things looked nice and clean.

I was really quite pleased with the chicken salad. It had a little bacon in it but not so much that it overwhelmed the chicken. It also had chopped red and yellow peppers which, in addition to being very tasty, made for a lovely presentation. I was very happy to see that they use real lettuce, not the dreaded shredded iceberg! The  chips were great! Very crispy and not at all salty (yea!). I didn’t try the pimento cheese but the report back was that it was good but the ham was a bit unnecessary.

I’m excited to have a quick sandwich option right here in the neighborhood!

Smoked Chicken Salad Sandwich


Real Man Pimento Cheese Sandwich



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I scream, you scream…

We all scream for ice cream! I spent the majority of last week running a small ice cream factory out of my kitchen. Every night a different flavor…

Ice cream for 70 people looks a little like this…(plus a quart of strawberries that didn’t make the picture)

America’s Test Kitchen has pretty perfect sorbet recipe that I used for both the peach and strawberry sorbet. My basic ice cream recipe is from Fine Cooking. It is a wonderful custard base that takes well to almost any flavor you want to add.

Individual cups make things a little more fun (and less messy than scooping ice cream in the hot sun!). If you ever need labels I highly recommend Davet Designs. Super easy to work with and when I needed a last minute rush order of strawberry sorbet labels she only charged me $5 for the rush work!

I got the cute little cups and spoons from The Party Fairy on etsy. They hold about 3 oz which turns out to be the perfect size to let you sample several flavors 😉

So happy I got to be a part of the graduation weekend and celebrate  my bestest friend!

Coffee ice cream, Peach sorbet, and Strawberry sorbet. There was Basil Walnut ice cream as well but apparently it got eaten too fast for the picture 🙂

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Sunday Market! 6-24

I would have done well to have had a grocery cart today! Lots of gorgeous, delicious meal inspiring produce today!

Cantaloupe and peaches – Hazelrig Farm

Orange and Red Beets, Blueberries, patty pan squash, zucchini, golden zucchini, Brussels sprouts, purple bell peppers and green beans – Signal Mountain Farm

Goat Cheese – Bonnie Blue Farm

Finn style Sausage – Link 41 Sausage


I received a reply from the market director addressing my concerns about a vendor that was rumored to be reselling produce. He said:

They are exclusively employees of Watsonia.  We also insist in producer only presence, but many of our vendors employ others to assist with the businesses.
As near as we can tell, it’s a qualified and legitimate relationship and they are eligible to vend at the market. 
Thanks for your note. We mulled over this issue for some time, but came to the realization that its no different than several other long-term vendors and there staff. 
 Feel free to continue to ask questions/etc – we are committed to maintaining our high-quality market
I’m still not sure how I feel about the situation. I don’t think it is the same as other vendors who have staff working for them. This produce is being grown 298 miles from Chattanooga which seems a pretty far stretch to be called local. They sell it to a man in Atlanta who then drives it up to Chattanooga. It just doesn’t sit well with me so I’m sticking with the produce that I know and enjoying my weekly chats with the farmers themselves who remember me and ask how the peach jam turned out.
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Cooking…in the car

Have you ever wished for a better option when traveling than a fast food restaurant? Well, I’ve discovered 2 new ways to cook meals that will be most helpful when you are traveling.

Our local food column reported an interesting method for roasting chicken the other day – in the crock pot in your car! There are adapters for the cigarette lighter in your car that allow you to plug-in a standard plug. One very hungry industrious reader said that she plugged in her crock pot and roasted a chicken on her last 6 hour car trip. I’d hate to be sitting next to the crock pot if the car was rear ended!

A mother wrote in to the Click and Clack show recently to inquire about more cost-effective ways to feed her son his favorite after school snack of quesadilla. They suggested wrapping them in aluminum foil and letting them cook on the engine on her way to pick him up.

Hmm…I’m a fan of ingenious ideas and I certainly try to avoid fast food but I’m not sure I’m on board with these ideas. They sound a bit more dangerous than  a greasy order of fries!



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Fajitas are delicious anytime but they are an especially great option when your in laws are visiting and you’ve spent the entire day kayaking and paddle boarding down the Tennessee River and you need a simple delicious meal to round out the day. Even better if you have freshly canned peach salsa that needs to be tested 🙂

Skirt steak has become our go to fajita meat. It is very thin and takes well to a quick sear in the cast iron. It usually comes in a long roll so you may have to cut it into 2 pieces to fit the skillet. Pat the meat dry first and then season with cumin, salt, and oregeno. Skirt steak only needs about 2 minutes per side and then a quick rest before slicing into thin slices.

I find this method works best for cooking the meat. We used to cut our meat first but you can create the best flavor cooking it whole and then slicing.

Great fajitas have great toppings. We cooked red bell peppers and onions in the skillet after the meat.

We also roasted a poblano pepper. To do this, put the peppers on a baking sheet and put under the broiler. Keep turning the peppers until they are blackened all over. Immediately transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This causes the pepper to steam and allows you to peel the skin right off.

Warm your tortillas and top with skirt steak, peppers and onions, roasted poblano, and peach salsa…yum!


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Shrimp and Green Beans

I love a dish that involves only 1 cooking pot and comes together in about 15 minutes. This shrimp and green bean dish is a winner on those counts.

This is a pretty modified version of a recipe I found in Fine Cooking last year.

Start by marinating your shrimp in soy sauce and rice vinegar. If your pantry is running low like mine was this week you’ll find that you can use half rice vinegar and half vermouth with no ill effects. Let the shrimp marinate for about an hour.

When you’re ready to cook start with your green beans in the wok with a bit of oil. Let them cook until they start to get a nice brownness on them. Add 1/4 of water and cover the pan to let the green beans steam. Steam them for about 5 minutes. (as I’m typing this I realized that shrimp stock would have been much better than water. Next time, I suppose!) When the beans are just about done to your liking, add ginger and garlic and stir around for about 30 seconds. Then, pour in the shrimp and the marinade. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are done and the marinade has begun to thicken up.

I wish we had made a bit of rice to help soak up the sauce but this is pretty great on its own.


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Spiced Okra

I’ve spent most of my life under the impression that okra can only be consumed fried. I thought I really wasn’t an okra fan but it turns out I’m just not a fan of fried okra. This is basically a stir fried okra that requires little prep and no frying.  And, let me go ahead and answer your next question…no, it is not slimy! I think that it gets slimier the more it gets cooked. This is a very quick cooking method that leaves the okra with a bit of crunch and no slime.

This okra came from the Sunday Market from a vendor who, unfortunately, does not have a named booth.

Simply cut off the top and slice the okra with a bias cut. I just did these in half but in hindsight, thirds might have been a better way to go.

In a wok or large skillet toast some mustard seeds. You will know when the mustard seeds are toasted because they begin to pop. Be warned, a warm just toasted mustard seed can pop clear across the kitchen! Add a bit of oil and the okra and let it cook for a few minutes. Add your spices next and stir to coat all the okra. We used curry powder but I think 5 spice powder would be really good as well. Cook until your desiredness. All in all this dish cooks about 10 minutes.


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