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Blackened Salmon

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Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 2

Inspired by: I can’t even remember the first time I had blackened fish, but it was one of the first ways that I enjoyed fish. This is so fast and easy and I love how crispy the outside of the fish gets, yet stays so moist inside. I also think this seasoning really enhances the flavors of salmon.

Supplies: Cast iron skillet

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound salmon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or avocado oil is a good choice for high heat cooking)
  • Approximately 2 teaspoons of Spice it Up …by Karen™

Preparation:

  • Heat your cast iron skillet so that it is searing hot (approximately 7 minutes over a gas stove). Make sure you have a powerful hood/fan or you might set off your smoke alarms and get a visit by the fire department!
  • Coat the fish lightly in olive oil and sprinkle on the spice.
  • Add olive oil to the hot skillet, let it heat up for about 30 seconds, and then place the salmon in the skillet.
  • Cooking time depends on the thickness and type of salmon (some are much more oily than other and more forgiving with the time). Sear each side for 4-5 minutes until blackened, crisp and just barely cooked through. Alternatively, my favorite method is to blacken each side for about 2 minutes and then finish off in a 350 degree oven.  Approximately 10-12 more minutes in the oven – and if you turn the pieces on their sides for baking, the top and bottom areas that were seared will stay crispy. For thiner cuts or wild salmon that is lean, cut baking time to 6-8 minutes.

Wine Suggestions: Red burgundy is typically my preference with salmon. But any medium bodied red with some good fruit and a bit of spice on it would be a perfect pairing with the spice.  For a fattier salmon, it could also hold up well to a softer Bordeaux blend or other bigger reds that have softened with some age.


Spicy Shrimp Salad

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Spicy Shrimp Salad

Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2 – 4

Inspired by: I love salad. I love pan fried or grilled shrimp. I love spice! This just happened one night and is something we now make fairly often. It’s not a recipe that needs documenting, other than having it here it helps me think of something to make when my brain has turned off for the day! I don’t keep a lot of extra food in the house, but salad stuff and a bag of shrimp in the freezer are the most common to have around. This one is using my super fast and easy spicy pan fried shrimp recipe, but I love this with spicy grilled shrimp as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shrimp (cleaned and with or without the shells – the shells actually have nutritional benefit and they are yummy to nibble on cooked this way!)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tablespoons Spice it Up …by Karen™
  • Use any salad ingredients you’d like – these are just suggestions below:
  • 4-8 cups spinach or torn romaine leaves (you could add some parsley leaves as well)
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1/2 english cucumber
  • 1/2 cup diced mango or papaya or tomato

Preparation:

  • Put your salad ingredients into a large bowl and toss with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and the lime juice. Then add a bit of the spice (to your liking) and toss again.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet or sauté pan and add the shrimp. Sprinkle with the spice (any amount to your liking – a small amount goes a pretty long way) and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. If you are including red bell peppers or other vegetables that you like cooked or hot – you can add them to the skillet as well. You might even want to start cooking them about 8-10 minutes before the shrimp if you like them charred (my favorite).
  • Top the salad with your pan fried shrimp and vegetables and serve.

Wine Suggestions: I love not having vinegar in salads – it is always more wine-friendly. This salad is fabulous with anything from a light red to a spicy or medium-bodied red. Our favorites are California Pinot Noir (especially if we add the papaya or mango because California wines tend to have much riper fruit than a Red Burgundy from France and will pair better with the sweeter flavors), or a Grenache-based blend from Southern Rhone or Spain, or even Bordeaux blend with a good portion of Merlot so that it is soft and not too tannic. If you prefer white, try a slightly off-dry white such as a Condrieu or Riesling or Chenin Blanc.


Baked Salmon all Spiced Up

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Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2 for a dinner main course

Inspired by: My love for eating a beautiful healthy meal even when I have minimal time to prepare something. I have even prepared this for a late breakfast/early lunch when I know I have a full day ahead and want a more substantial morning meal.

Ingredients:

Preparation: Preheat oven to 400 degrees or, if you can use a toaster oven, there is no need to preheat. Rub salmon lightly with olive oil, sprinkle spice over top. If you are cooking a fatty Atlantic Salmon, bake it for 12 minutes at 400 degrees and then broil for another 3-5 minutes to crisp the top. For a thin tail piece or for leaner Wild Salmon, drop the cooking time by several minutes.

Wine Suggestions: Red Burgundy is my favorite. A fattier salmon also holds up well to a medium bodied red as well such as as an aged Bordeaux, and of course any medium bodied spicy red such as a Grenache/Syrah blend or Syrah or Rioja – as long as it isn’t too big. I’ve also found that a high-acid white with beautiful aromatics such as a Condrieu, White Burgundy or Gruner Veltliner can be a nice combination with the salmon and spice.


Blackened Chicken

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Blackened Chicken

Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Inspired by: My love for spice and chicken that is cooked well, but still very juicy! I think this is one of the best ways to really sear in the juices and cook chicken fairly quickly.

Supplies: Cast iron skillet

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  • Heat your cast iron skillet so that it is searing hot (approximately 5 minutes).
  • Pre-heat oven to 375-400 or if you have a good toaster oven you can use that and skip the pre-heat.
  • Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise if they are too large for a single serving.
  • Coat the chicken in olive oil and roll it in the spice until it is completely covered.
  • Add olive oil to the hot skillet, heat for about 30 seconds, and place the chicken breasts in the skillet.
  • Sear each side for 3-5 minutes until blackened and crisp and juices are locked in.
  • Remove from skillet and place in oven.
  • Cook smaller breasts for approximately 15 minutes and larger ones for approximately 20.

Notes: Slice into strips and server over salad.

Wine Suggestions: A medium bodied red with some good fruit and a bit of spice on it would be perfect. We just had this last night with our friends Katie and Joe and drank a Southern Rhone blend – Chateau Pesquié Cotes du Ventoux Terrasses. It was fun because, coincidentally, they were at Chateau Pesquié last year. A spicier Rioja, Barolo or Zinfandel, or an off-dry white would be other great options.


Spicy Shrimp – Grilled

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Time: 5 minutes to make marinade, 20 minutes to sit in marinade, 4-8 minutes on the grill

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shrimp, cleaned but with shells
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Spice it Up …by Karen™ (as an alternative: 2 teaspoons paprika, ½teaspoon cayenne)
  • ½ teaspoon course salt

Preparation:

  • Wash and drain shrimp (leave shells on).
  • Mix all the other ingredients together.
  • Toss the shrimps into the mix and cover well for 20 minutes.
  • Heat the grill to about 400.
  • Skewer shrimps and grill for a approximately 2-4 minutes on each side depending on whether they are medium or jumbo in size.

Notes: The shells get salty and spicy and finger-licking good! If the shells are tender, they can be yummy to eat as well. These shrimps are so good healthy served over any salad. Try the mango-mint quinoa with them too!

Wine suggestions: Light to medium bodied spicy reds such as a spicier Grenache or Southern Rhone blend, or an off-dry aeromatic white such as a Riesling or Condrieu.


Chicken Vegetable Soup

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Time: 2 hours (Day 1), 1 hour (Day 2)

Serves: 15-20 cups

Inspired by: It’s winter. Everyone I know is sick this month. I wanted to create a soup with similar flavors to my delicious and hearty lentil vegetable soup, but with healing, homemade chicken stock and chicken, instead of the lentils. Experiment successful!

Ingredients for Broth:

  • 1 chicken, 3.5 – 5 pounds, with skin, cut up, remove innards
  • 3 stalks celery, with leaves, cut into chunks
  • 2 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1-2 dozen sprigs parsley
  • 1-2 dozen black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste

Ingredients for Soup:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2  medium yellow onions, diced
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt (+ add additional at the end to your desired taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 4-5 stalks celery with leaves chopped
  • 2-3 quarts chicken broth (made from above ingredient list)
  • 2, 28oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch collard greens with tough ribs removed, chopped
  • Juice of one Meyer lemon

Preparation Day 1:

  • Place broth ingredients (chicken, celery, carrots, onions, parsley, peppercorns, bay leaves and salt) into large soup pot and cover with water by 1-2 inches. Add a bit more for a more brothy soup.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a very low simmer. Cover and boil for 1 hour. Uncover and boil for another 30 minutes, until chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
  • When cool enough to handle, use tongs to transfer chicken from the pot to a container. Strain broth through a fine sieve (or colander lined with cheesecloth), into a separate container. Discard all solids from the strainer.
  • Refrigerate chicken and broth separately for at least 8 hours or until fat has risen to the top of the broth.

Preparation Day 2:

  • Remove fat from the top of the broth, and separate chicken meat from the bones and skin. Discard bones and skin. Use forks to shred or fingers to separate chicken into small pieces.
  • In large soup pot, heat olive oil. Sauté garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add onions, salt, pepper, cumin, thyme, and optional red pepper flakes. Sauté for another 5-8 minutes until soft and translucent.
  • Add the celery and carrots and sauté for another 10 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth and tomatoes with their juices.
  • Cover and bring to boil.
  • If you’d like the carrots and celery to stay a bit firm, turn off the heat. If you prefer them soft, boil for another 10 minutes and then turn off heat.
  • Add greens and let sit for 5-10 minutes until they  have softened.
  • Add the juice of one lemon and mix well.
  • Taste and add salt if necessary. For more than two quarts of broth, you may also want to add a bit more cumin, pepper and thyme.

Notes: This is a large batch, but it freezes well.


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