Eating better food for less and other tales from a no-moneymoon

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Other Thing Best Served Cold

When I was growing up, my mother was not only a pro at cooking delicious, quick dinners (faster than 30 Minutes, Ms. Ray, so there), but also at turning them out twice a night. My father often worked and, therefore, ate later in the evening, and my brother and I, being young, didn't. So she often cooked two dinners or made something that could easily heat up fast.

Me? I'm a bit lazier. So when Mr. Lemon was going to be out later than usual, but would still need dinner, I turned to dishes that could cool their heels, so to speak, until he was ready for them. Better yet this was a chance to make some dishes that actually improve off the heat and with time, but frequently don't get the chance with this hungry cook in charge. And with the return of the humid weather, dishes best served cold are not only handy, but refreshing.

So, cold poached salmon**, pesto orzo and cucumber salad were on the menu for dinner, whenever that happened.

Cold Poached Salmon
Salmon filet (any size fits this recipe)
1/2 lemon, sliced

In a saute pan fill almost to the top with water and lemon slices. Bring to a simmer--steaming, no bubbles--and then slide in the salmon filet. Turn back the heat to medium to keep from boiling. My filet always sticks out a bit so I do something that is probably verboten, but it works for me. When only the part sticking out is still bright pink, I turn over the filet and turn off the heat, but leave the salmon in to keep poaching about 3 minutes longer. This is a lovely and super easy way to have moist, just cooked salmon.

You can poach in leftover white wine, with bay leaves and peppercorns, and probably a dozen other possible ingredients, but really the lemon and water have always served me well. Plus, I always have lemons on hand, and the wine doesn't last long enough in these parts to be leftover.

Pesto Orzo
This dish does not really need a full recipe and is entirely forgiving, so add away.
[In a food processor: 10-12 leave basil + 2 cloves garlic + 3 Tablespoons olive oil] + 1/2 cup cooked orzo pasta + sliced tomatoes (from our little plant on the terrace.)

And here's another easy one:

Cucumber Salad with Basil
1 cucumber cut into 1-inch chunks + 5 basil leaves + 6 mint leaves + 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar + salt

**I don't always go into great detail here about cost (blame my upbringing), but as I've mentioned I keep the weekly expenditure to around $40 give or take. I really admire the creativity and thrift-inspiration of the folks at 30 Bucks a Week, and reading their fine grocery-cutting work got me revisiting my own grocery bills after I had already started this blog and aimed for $40. If they could do $30, my "challenge" of $40 certainly was in reach! We're not totally strict, and sometimes we go a little over when there's a good deal that I want to stock up on, or if a nicer staple needs to be refilled. This week, with about $23 going to our CSA for fruit and vegetables, the rest went to milk and eggs, pork chops, black beans (tonight), lemons. So in short, almost a 1/2 lb. of salmon at $9/lb was totally within reach.

Succulent salmon, but we're still on budget
Omega-3-rich meals make us Fat Resistance happy
Cold dish for a hot night meets cold dish for a late night

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