Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps

Grilled halibut in cedar wrap with sweet corn and salad

A new and easy way to make halibut– Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps. A big thank you to Fire & Flavor for providing me with cedar wraps to experiment with for Cook Love Heal. This is the first recipe I’ve created using the wraps and I thought it was amazing. Cedar wraps are really easy to use and impart the most delicious flavor.

Here are the steps to making grilled halibut in cedar wraps.

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Place halibut on cedar wrap and season with vinaigrette.

 

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Tie wrap with kitchen twine (provided with cedar wraps).

 

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Place cedar wrapped halibut on grill and cook 4-5 minutes per side depending on thickness.
grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Remove from grill onto a clean plate and garnish with fresh basil.

 

Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Seafood
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 cedar wraps with kitchen twine (Fire & Flavor brand recommended)
  • 4 4 to 6-ounce halibut fillets
  • unrefined sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemongrass mint white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • a few sprigs Thai basil
Instructions
  1. Place cedar wraps in a glass baking dish or bowl and cover with water. Soak for 30 minutes or so.
  2. Preheat grill to about 350 degrees.
  3. Lightly rinse halibut fillets and pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Sprinkle fillets generously with sea salt.
  5. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together vinegar and oil with a pinch of salt.
  6. Place cedar wraps on a sheet pan or cutting board and wipe dry with a cloth. Place each fillet on a cedar wrap and drizzle each one with vinaigrette.
  7. Fold wrap over fish and tie closed with kitchen twine.
  8. Place wraps on the grill seam-side down first, and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side.
  9. Immediately transfer to a clean plate to catch the juices, which you can pour over the top after it is served.
Serving suggestions
  1. Serve with fresh corn on the cob and an arugula salad.

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Enjoy!

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass Mint Vinaigrette

baby arugula salad


I’m in love!

In mid-June, I started teaching kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars in Austin, TX and was transported into the world of amazing, high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars from Europe. A few weeks before my classes started I got a tour of the store and sampled a variety of their products. I fell head over heals with everything I tasted, and was especially taken with the white balsamics which are lighter in color and flavor than the dark varieties (which I also love). It was the Lemongrass Mint White Balsamic that I ended up using in this recipe.

Summer is a great time for salads

In summer, I do a lot less cooking, but still like to eat at home. The simple solution is making more salads and using the grill to avoid heating up the kitchen. This Baby Arugula Salad is great for either lunch or dinner with something like a creamy vegetable soup (try Creamy Broccoli Soup or Creamy Butternut Squash Soup) and some fresh bread with olive oil. Make the soup early one morning before it gets hot, and quickly heat it up for meals later in the day or serve chilled.

How to make arugula taste great

This salad took me by surprise. I made during the first week of kids’ cooking camp at Con’ Olio and EVERYONE liked it– even those children that swore up and down they didn’t like vegetables. The key to this salad is finding a dressing that balances the peppery flavor of the baby arugula and the tartness of the berries. On the recommendation of the manager at Con’ Olio (who is also a chef), I used a combination of a mild olive oil and their lemongrass-mint white balsamic vinegar for the dressing. It is just equal parts of each with a little sea salt and black pepper. It was unbelievably delicious! I look forward to trying some of their dark balsamics (like strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, or fig), maybe when the weather cools down a bit.

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass-Mint Vinaigrette
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese (optional), shaved
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup strawberries, sliced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Dressing
Instructions
  1. In a medium prep bowl, mix together arugula and spinach.
  2. Prepare dressing by whisking together olive oil and white balsamic vinegar with a few pinches sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small mixing bowl or glass measuring cup.
  3. Using a pair of tongs, toss salad greens and Pecorino Romano (if using) with dressing until evenly coated.
  4. Divide greens onto 4 salad plates. Top each salad with a variety of berries and sliced almonds.

baby arugula salad
Baby Arugula Salad from Kids’ Cooking Camp at Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars- June 2018

Baked Wild Salmon with Rosemary and Garlic

photo of baked wild salmon with rosemary and garlic

Baked Wild Salmon with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic is my go-to recipe for dinner parties and weeknight meals, as it is both easy to prepare and kind of gourmet. Make some basmati or jasmine rice, some vegetables and/or a salad to go with the salmon and you’ve got a complete meal! Besides being more flavorful and fresh-tasting than farm-raised varieties, wild salmon has a lot of health benefits because it contains vitamin B12, taurine, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, and is high in protein.

Bake wild salmon at lower temperature to avoid drying out

My favorite way to make wild-caught salmon (like Coho or Sockeye) is to drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, then bake it at low temperature (about 320° F) until just barely cooked through (about 10-12 minutes for a 1-lb fillet). Wild salmon is lower in fat than farm-raised salmon (such as Atlantic or Norwegian) and seems to stay moisture by baking at lower temperature rather than roasting or grilling.

Wild salmon keeps well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator

Make a little extra wild salmon so that you can use it the next few days to top salads or add to homemade sushi rolls. Store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator so that it will stay fresh. As long as the fish has been salted, it should stay fresh for up to 2-3 days depending on the temperature of your refrigerator. Just check the salmon before you use it to make sure it still smells fresh (should not be overly fishy or bad smelling).

Use different toppings on wild salmon for variety

This recipe tops the wild salmon with sautéed garlic, rosemary, maple syrup, and sea salt. Get creative and use different toppings the next time you make salmon. Try making a fresh basil pesto (I make mine without cheese) and spread on the wild salmon after it is baked. Another super delicious topping is a “sesame butter” from The New Basics Cookbook which has toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, unsalted butter, tamari or soy sauce, and scallion. What other toppings have you tried?

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Wild Salmon with Rosemary and Garlic
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Entrée
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Salmon
  • 1 lb. fillet wild-caught salmon (such as coho or sockeye)
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • unrefined sea salt
Topping
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
  • a few pinches unrefined sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 320° F.
  2. Prepare topping ingredients first so it can be cooked while salmon is baking.
  3. Keep skin on salmon. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Place salmon fillet in glass or metal baking dish.
  5. Coat both sides of salmon with a thin layer of olive oil, then sprinkle both sides with sea salt (about a teaspoon).
  6. Bake until white albumin protein show on the outside of the fish, or until cooked almost through when flaked with a fork.
  7. Remove from the oven and cover with foil until topping is ready.
  8. While salmon is baking, prepare topping.
  9. Heat up olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, small skillet or saucepan until shimmery. Turn to low and add garlic, rosemary, and sea salt. When garlic softens, turn off heat and add maple syrup. Whisk to combine and pour over cooked salmon. Return to the oven, if desired, for a minute or two or serve as is.

Watch this how-to video I made with Dr. Jonathan Shultz of Family First Chiropractic (Austin, TX) about making Baked Wild Salmon with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic:

Baked Salmon Video

 

Related recipes on my blog:

Crusted halibut with caper white wine sauce

 

Upcoming Classes and Workshops:

I’m teaching the kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars shop in the Arboretum (NW Austin) this summer! Please check out the schedule here.

For the schedule of classes at my home in SW Austin, click here.

For private and group classes, click here.

Corporate team building workshops centered around cooking and wellness:

Check out my web site for corporate team building and contact me if you have a group interested in doing a workshop with me!

Italian Chickpea Soup with Fusilli Pasta

Over the years, this Italian Chickpea Soup has been a family favorite and has always gone over well with children visiting our home.The addition of pasta makes the soup heartier, like a minestrone, and can definitely be considered a one-pot meal.

I recently had the opportunity to teach a cooking class at my daughter’s elementary classroom where I decided to serve the soup with pasta and bread, which was a real hit! An added bonus is how economical this recipe is. We made this recipe X4, which fed about 35 people, using all organic ingredients, for under $2 per person including soup, pasta, bread, and butter.

Day 1 of our cooking class involved walking to the grocery store, selecting our groceries, and carrying our groceries back in a wagon! When we got back to the classroom, we soaked the chickpeas so they would be ready to cook the following day.

Day 2 of our cooking class involved cooking the chickpeas in the pressure cooker, and slicing, dicing, and sautéing vegetables for the soup.

The secret to making this soup delicious is to make your chickpeas from scratch. Make your chickpeas in advance, as it takes a good 8-10 hours to rehydrate the dried chickpeas (I usually do this step overnight), and some more time to cook them. I use a pressure-cooker to make my chickpeas, but they can be made in a regular pot (it just takes longer). I recommend making a big batch of chickpeas and freezing some away in quart-sized freezer bags that you can use later on to make hummus or another batch of soup. Here is my recipe for Homemade Chickpeas.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Italian Chickpea Soup with Pasta
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 recipe Homemade Chickpeas or 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced into rounds or half moons
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into half or quarter moons
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 organic bay leaf
  • ½ cup fresh parsley or basil leaves, chopped, divided
  • 2 cups cooked pasta (such as farfalle, fusilli, twists, wheels, or shells)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (optional)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Follow instructions for making Homemade Chickpeas. Set chickpeas aside. Do not drain, as the chickpea cooking liquid will be used in the soup. If using canned chickpeas you will need to drain the liquid from the can.
  2. In 3- to 5-quart soup pot, sauté onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of sea salt for about 10 minutes over medium or medium-low heat. Add rosemary and stir to coat onions. Add another tablespoon olive oil, celery, carrot, and another pinch sea salt and sauté about 10 minutes more. Adjust heat if necessary to prevent burning. Add zucchini and sauté a minute more.
  3. Place chickpeas and chickpea cooking liquid into soup pot and add stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover, and simmer until zucchini is soft, about 8 minutes. Add half of fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve pasta in soup bowls and pour chickpea soup over the pasta.
  5. Garnish each bowl with remaining fresh herbs and/or grated cheese (if using).
Notes:
  1. Make this recipe gluten-free by using a gluten-free variety of pasta.
  2. If using canned chickpeas, add 3 cloves minced garlic along with carrots and celery.

By noon our cooking crew was ready to serve their homemade soup, pasta, and bread to the class.

Enjoy making soup on a cold winter day and share with some friends!

Winter Greens Salad with Golden Beets, Pomegranate, Pecans, and Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette

This special winter greens salad has been my go-to salad for holiday gatherings this year. It’s the perfect thing to make with winter greens that are plentiful this time of year. Bring this salad to a potluck, or serve it at your home with a nice soup and main dish on a cold winter’s evening. Below are a couple of meals I have served the salad with this holiday season.

Roasted salmon, asparagus, basmati rice, and winter greens salad (holiday meals with friends):

salmon-dinner

Beef tenderloin, roasted vegetables, and winter greens salad (Christmas Eve supper):

plate

Give yourself time to prepare this salad. It is a labor of love! You’ll be preparing the greens, various toppings and garnishes, and a warm dressing that gets tossed with the greens. Better to enlist some help to make it fun and less time consuming!

When you get home from the market, you can refresh your greens by trimming about 1-2 inches off the ends and putting them into cold water for about an hour before you start the recipe. This will make them perk up and the stems will be extra crisp and crunchy.

Getting ready to put the beets in the oven…

winter-salad-1

The greens become slightly wilted, but should still be bright and fresh. Beets, greens stems, pecans, and pomegranates are layered on top of the dressed greens. So beautiful!

winter-salad-3

5.0 from 1 reviews
Winter Greens Salad with Golden Beets, Pomegranate, Pecans, and Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
Roasted beets
  • 1 golden beet
  • 1 red beet
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Toasted pecans
  • ½ cup raw whole pecans
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • a few pinches sea salt
Salad greens
  • 1 bunch red or rainbow swiss chard
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
Warm dressing
  • 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice (about ½ orange)
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon unpasteurized tamari or shoyu
Garnishes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds (or dried cranberries)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line sheet pan with parchment paper (or grease pan with thin coating of oil).
  2. Peel beets and slice into ⅛-inch rounds. Place into medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt.Place beet rounds onto lined sheet pan in a single layer. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Beets can be turned over once to cook more evenly. Remove beets from oven and allow to cool.
  3. Turn oven down to 350°F. Toast pecans on small sheet pan for about 8 minutes. Toss halfway through to prevent burning. Place toasted pecans in a small bowl and drizzle with maple syrup and sea salt.
  4. Destem swiss chard, reserving stems. Tear leaves into bite sized pieces and place into bowl.
  5. Destem kale and slice leaves into bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Gently massage kale leaves with a few pinches of salt for about one minute. Slice chard stems into ½-inch lengths and kale stems into ¼-inch lengths and set a aside.
  6. Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and immediately add chard and kale stems with a pinch of salt. Sauté briefly, just until brightly colored. Remove to a small bowl.
  7. Add ¼ cup olive oil to pan and heat on medium until shimmery (this will probably only take a few seconds). Add red onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté until onion is soft and slightly browning. Turn heat to low and add balsamic vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, and tamari or shoyu.
  8. Turn heat off and add kale and chard greens to the pan, tossing constantly to coat with the warm dressing. When all leaves are evenly coated, remove greens to a platter. Top with roasted beets, chard and kale stems, toasted pecans, orange zest, and pomegranate seeds.

This version was made with toasted pepitas and rainbow chard (no beets).

winter-salad

 

 

Creamy Polenta with Sweet Corn

This is the first recipe in a series of Healthy Comfort Foods for the Holidays! Corn polenta is full of complex carbohydrates, which will help stave off sugar cravings during the holiday season.

This is a soft-cooked polenta recipe that calls for more liquid than the typical polenta recipe. The result is a very soft, sweet, and creamy dish (with no milk or cream added!) that is easy to digest and popular with children and adults. I use 5 cups water to 1 cup polenta. Many recipes only use 2-3 cups water, leaving the polenta undercooked and gritty.

I recommend using a flame tamer or heat diffuser to prevent burning. If you don’t have one, just be sure to use a heavy-bottomed pot (like an enamel-coated cast iron pot) on a very low flame.

serving-polenta

At home we often eat polenta for breakfast with a sprinkle of iron-rich shiso powder and a side of greens or miso soup. But we also have it for lunch and dinner, perhaps topped with pesto, or eaten with a side of beans and avocado. It is an easy, nutritious item for child’s lunchbox that you can keep warm in a thermos, and leftovers are great heated up the next day.

polenta
Polenta with sweet corn and broccoli sprinkled with shiso powder

To warm up leftover polenta, heat up enough water to cover a small saucepan until simmering. Add the amount you’d like to heat up, turn to low, cover, and steam for 2 or 3 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit until ready to eat. Stir to mix any remaining water in the bottom of the pan. For a greener variation, add some chopped broccoli or kale greens to the simmering water before adding the polenta.

polenta-broccoli
Isabel making polenta with chopped broccoli

corn polenta

I recently made this dish for a friend who is undergoing cancer treatment and needs foods that are nourishing and easy to digest. She loved it!

Creamy Polenta with Sweet Corn
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Grain
Cuisine: Macrobiotic
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry corn polenta
  • 5 cups spring or filtered water, divided
  • ½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt, or more to taste
  • kernels from 1 ear sweet corn or 1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or grass-fed butter (optional)
  • a few pinches shiso powder
Instructions
  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, whisk together polenta, 3 cups water, and sea salt.
  2. Turn heat to medium. Stir constantly while polenta comes to a boil to prevent sticking or clumping.
  3. Gradually add the remaining 2 cups of water and sweet corn, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to prevent polenta from splattering.
  4. Lower heat, cover, and simmer with a flame tamer beneath pot for 20-30 minutes, or until polenta is thick, soft, and creamy.
  5. Stir in olive oil or butter, if desired. Season with additional sea salt if needed.
  6. Serve with a sprinkle of shiso powder.
Variations
  1. Add finely chopped broccoli to the polenta during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  2. Serve with sautéed zucchini, mushrooms, or kale.
  3. Make in a pressure cooker by adding polenta, 5 cups water, sea salt, and corn all at once. Put pressure cooker lid on and bring up to pressure on medium heat. Turn to low and cook for 5 minutes more. Turn off heat and let come down from pressure naturally. Remove lid and stir in olive oil or butter, if desired.