Summer Salad with Salmon

Blueberries, corn, peppers, tomato

Summer ingredients are perfect for light salads that are just right for the season’s hot afternoons. Fresh corn and blueberries pair especially well together, lending a slight sweetness and a taste that reminds me of childhood summers in South Georgia. This summer salad builds on this flavor combination and incorporated quinoa and salmon to make the salad a satisfying main course.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed
  • 2 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
  • 1 Cubanelle pepper, chopped
  • 3 small, sweet red peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 limes
  • Culantro (cilantro can be used as a substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 lb salmon
  • Olive oil
  • Mixed salad greens
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Cook a cup of quinoa according to the package directions. If buying bulk, add one cup of rinsed quinoa to two cups of water. Bring the water to a boil and turn the heat to low. Let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes, then drain  any remaining water. Once the quinoa is cooked, set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

While the quinoa cooks and cools, cut the kernels off of the cobs of both ears of corn. Toss the kernels of corn with the blueberries.  Mix in the Cubanelle, sweet red peppers, and tomatoes. Mix in the quinoa and set aside. Season to taste with salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon each).

Blueberries, corn, peppers, tomato
Blueberry, Corn, Quinoa mixture

To make a compound butter for the salmon, mix the butter, juice of half of a lime, and two teaspoons of chopped fresh culantro. Put the butter mixture into the refrigerator to cool.

Culantro-lime compound butter
Culantro-lime compound butter

While the butter mixture refrigerates, make a simple vinaigrette for the salad. In a small bowl, add the juice of the remaining lime and a half , the Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of chopped culantro, salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon each). Whisk in 1/4 cup of olive oil.

When the vinaigrette is ready, set aside and get the compound butter out of the refrigerator. Spread the compound butter evenly over the non-skin side of the salmon. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the salmon to the skillet, skin side down. Cook the salmon in the skillet for 3 minutes per side. Put a lid on the skillet and finish the salmon in the over for 10 minutes, or until cooked to the desired temperature.

Salmon with compound butter
Salmon with compound butter

Serve the blueberry-corn-quinoa mixture over mixed salad greens and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Top with salmon and serve.

Summer salad with salmon
Summer salad with salmon

Summer Pulled Pork – 2 Ways

Blueberry Cornbread

There is something about the heat of summer that gets me craving barbecue, especially pulled pork.  It also gets me craving fresh corn with my pulled pork. With these cravings stirring around in my mind, I decided to try a twist on the traditional summer barbecue.

Several months ago, I brewed my first batch of homebrew. It was a straightforward, uncomplicated ale. Still having a couple of bottles laying around, I wanted to incorporate it somehow.

Bottles of Homebrewed Ale
Bottles of Homebrew

I picked up a pork tenderloin from Earth Fare, put it in a slow cooker, and dusted it with a little garlic salt, paprika, chili powder, and cumin, roughly a 1/4 teaspoon of each.

Pulled Pork Seasonings
Seasonings for the Pork

I put then poured a bottle of homebrew in with the tenderloin. I let the tenderloin cook on low heat in the slow cooker for about 6 hours. I have only tried this with my homebrew, but I bet you could impart a variety of different flavors into the pork by using different styles of beer.

Pork in the Slow Cooker
Seasoned Pork in the Slow Cooker with the Homebrew

While the pork cooked, I threw together some blueberry cornbread in my cast iron skillet. To make blueberry cornbread, heat 1/3 cup of vegetable oil in the cast iron skillet as you preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups of self-rising cornmeal, 1 1/3 cup milk, 2 eggs, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Remove the skillet from the oven and carefully pour the hot oil into the cornbread mixture, stirring well to incorporate the oil. Pour the mixture into the hot skillet. Lightly dust 1/2 cup of blueberries with all purpose flour and drop them into the cornbread mixture. Return the skillet to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cornbread is a golden brown color. I always love cornbread, but I especially love the combination of blueberries and cornbread. I’ve tried this recipe with blackberries too, but the blueberries work better.

Blueberry Cornbread
Blueberry Cornbread

I also made some blueberry-corn salad by cutting the kernels off of two fresh ears of corn and mixing them with fresh blueberries and halved grape tomatoes. I did not measure the ingredients, but just added blueberries and tomatoes to the corn until the proportions looked good to me. I also lightly seasoned the salad with salt and pepper to taste.

Blueberry Corn Salad
Blueberry Corn Salad

For my barbecue dinner, I sliced a wedge of cornbread in half and topped it with pulled pork and blueberry-corn salad. I gave the food a light drizzle of Amy’s Organic Smokey Maple BBQ Sauce. Heavenly.

Pulled Pork Dinner
Pulled Pork Dinner

I ate more blueberry cornbread for breakfast the next morning, but for lunch the following day, I was thrilled to have some pulled pork left over. I piled some pork between sandwich thins, added some leftover salad, and topped with more of the BBQ sauce and some dill pickle slices for an incredible barbecue sandwich.

Pulled Pork Sandwich
Pulled Pork Sandwich

These two pulled pork dishes helped satisfy my cravings, at least temporarily. If you get adventurous and try experimenting with different beers to make pulled pork, please let me know how it turns out. Happy barbecuing.

Deconstructed Shortcake

Alternate title for this post: Red, White, and Blueberry Shortcake

A few weeks ago, we celebrated a life milestone for one of the people in my office. I signed up to bring a dessert. I was looking for something low-maintenance that I could easily transport to work and would capitalize on the delicious fresh berries that are currently in season.

Behold the deconstructed shortcake!

photo(5)This dessert could not have been easier to prepare. The secret – one store bought ingredient for convenience, one fresh/high-quality ingredient, and fresh/seasonal produce. And a pretty platter for serving.

The store bought ingredient was the Sara Lee pound cake. It was on sale at Publix – buy one, get one free. I defrosted the pound cake for about 10 minutes and then cut it into cubes.

The fresh/high-quality ingredient was the whipped cream. Using the whisk attachment on my mixer, I whisked a medium-sized carton of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks formed (careful not to let it go too long or you’ve have butter). I added a few teaspoons of sugar and a splash of vanilla at the very end to give the whipped cream a little bit of sweetness. Cool Whip and the artificial stuff in the cans have nothing on freshly whipped cream.

The fresh/seasonal produce was a carton of strawberries (rinsed, dried, and cut in quarters) and a pint of blueberries (rinsed and dried). Easy peasy. Blackberries would work well, too.

photo(4)Another option for this dessert would be to get small plastic cups and layer the ingredients to create individual parfaits – start with a layer of cake cubes, then berries, and then a few spoons of whipped cream. One more layer of each and top with a berry or two.

A berry delicious seasonal dessert that is easy to make, easy to transport, affordable, and a huge hit.

A Birthday Cupcake Tasting

Every year I typically try to do something fun for Jill’s birthday. It usually involves a small party with multiple variations on a type of food. One year I made three types of pizza from scratch, one year I made three different types of brownies, and one year I made four types of macaroni and cheese. Unfortunately, due to schedule conflicts, we did not have a party last year. Not wanting to let the opportunity pass un-celebrated this year, we decided to pick the tradition back up. This year Jill requested a cupcake tasting.

We ordered three 20 inch pizzas from Decent Pizza: a cheese pizza, a pizza with Bradley’s Sausage (a locally made sausage) and fresh mushrooms, and a pizza with eggplant and spinach. The pizza was served, of course, with a selection of Cupcake Vineyard wines, including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot.

Pizza
Decent Pizza makes delicious pizza

I made a spinach and blueberry salad with the most delicious spinach (grown in my parents garden), organic blueberries from New Leaf Market, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. My parents always grow this amazing, hearty, dark green spinach; it makes the spinach from the grocery store seem flat and tasteless.

A spinach salad
Garden fresh spinach, organic blueberries, and parmesan

Following the pizza and salad came the cupcakes. I made a selection of regular-sized and mini cupcakes in four flavors. The wildflower honey cupcakes were made with honey from the bees Jillian’s family used to keep to pollinate the orange groves. Sunflower seed butter cupcakes were a more subtly flavored spin on peanut butter cupcakes. Chai tea cupcakes were a boldly spiced cupcake to contrast the more delicately flavored wildflower honey and sunflower butter cupcakes. The red velvet cupcakes, a cupcake standard, were made with natural red food coloring made from beet and hibiscus extract. The natural food coloring did not give the cupcakes the same intensely red color traditional red velvet cupcakes have, but they tasted great. While we liked each of the cupcakes, Jill and I both agreed that the sunflower butter cupcakes were our favorite.

Happy Birthday, Jill!

Assortment of cupcakes
An assortment of cupcakes