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Loco for local August 21, 2009

Posted by Fritz in Food, Yachts and other things that float.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Grilled salmon in pesto with grilled eggplant and leeks

Grilled salmon in pesto with grilled eggplant and leeks

My creative juices have been flowing of late, probably a result of recent visits to some favorite blogs that always inspire and amaze.

Culinaria Eugenius is one such blog. The author, Jennifer Burns Levin, is an excellent writer and most likely an outstanding cook. Her posts include inspiring recipes focused on utilizing local products whenever possible.

In search of an inspiring idea for dinner one night this week I checked out her latest posts. Much of her latest writing has been about what is currently being cultivated in Eugene, OR right now. It seems berries are all the rage. I had to poke a little deeper to find some meatier stories. Along the way I learned much about Calphalon, bees, berries, pickling and the joys of eating local. A few older posts on grilling and visiting the Oregon coast and eating fresh local seafood got my mouth watering. I decided to head to my local fish market and check out the fare.

Captain Frank’s Seafood Market is the best around. While pricey, the seafood is always fresh and the selection, especially for local, non-commercially caught fish is excellent; except for today.

Captain Frank'd Seafood Market

Captain Frank's Seafood Market

Captain Frank’s is a family owned business, operating in what looks to be an old residential house just east of the freeway in Boynton Beach, FL. This year, like every year since they opened in 1998, they take a six-week vacation. The family members retreat to their New Jersey haunts and force us to settle for supermarket fare until they return. As I approached the front door a handwritten sign informed me the store would be closing on Saturday for their annual vacation. Once inside my heart began to sink. The usually full display cases were nothing but melting ice. Where there should have been row upon row of gorgeous filets of the finest the sea can produce, it was mostly shellfish. I had to walk down to the end of the display to finally find fish. The first was a pile of tilapia…sorry, I don’t do tilapia. Next were some good looking shark steaks…not in the mood. Then came the salmon; bright, fresh, moist filets. Hmmm, hadn’t been thinking about salmon but I didn’t have much of a choice now. I was really looking for locally caught fish like wahoo or cobia or even the Florida mainstay, grouper—none to be found. The really ironic thing was the sign stuck in the front filet announcing proudly the fish was Scottish salmon. OK, so sometimes buying local is harder to do; but hey, I’m ¼ Scottish. I wished them all a nice vacation and trotted out with a pound and a half of Scotland’s finest fish.

Uh oh....

Uh oh....

I was able to redeem myself with local fare in the vegetable department as I picked up some locally grown eggplant and leeks from a Farmer’s market down the street.

While it wasn’t exactly what I had intended to do, the end result was delicious and garnered raves from the wife and child, “You can sure make this again, Dad!”

They’ll just have to wait six more weeks.


Grilled Salmon in Pesto

½ cup roasted pine nuts
¾ cup chopped fresh mint
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 cloves garlic, peeled
2 green onions, trimmed and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chili sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¾  cup olive oil, divided use
6 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup white wine, divided use
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds salmon
½ cup whipping cream
¼ cup diced red bell pepper

Heat grill.
In a food processor, add pine nuts, mint, 1/2-cup Parmesan cheese, cilantro, garlic, green onions, basil, chili sauce and salt. Carefully pour 1/2-cup olive oil in while blending thoroughly; set aside.
In a large dish, combine ¼ cup olive oil, lemon juice, ¼ cup white wine and pepper. Add salmon and marinate 15 minutes. Grill the salmon until just flaking, about 12 minutes. Remove the skin before serving.
While the salmon is grilling, in a saucepan combine cream and ¼ cup white wine and bring to a boil; add the pesto mixture and serve over the salmon, Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and garnish with chopped red pepper.


Grilled Eggplant and Leeks with Cilantro Vinaigrette

3 baby eggplants or 1 very large eggplant peeled
1 large or two small leeks stem and top trimmed
6 tablespoons olive oil (+ 2 tablespoons for brushing)
½ teaspoons roasted cumin seeds
¼ cup fresh cilantro
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley
1 large garlic clove
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

If you are using baby eggplant, halve each one lengthwise. If you are using a large eggplant, cut it crosswise in ½ inch slices. Salt them and let them drain for about 20 minutes. Trim leek and blanch whole in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and plunge in ice bath. Once cooled, slice lengthwise in half.
Heat grill. (450º F)
Pat eggplant slices dry and brush them and the leeks with oil. Grill eggplant about 8 minutes each side, leeks about 4 minutes per side. Remove both from grill. Cut eggplant and leeks into 3 inch strips.
Blend the remaining ingredients along with the remaining olive oil in a blender or food processor until emulsified. Toss eggplants and leeks with the vinaigrette. Serve as bed for salmon.



1. Eugenia - September 4, 2009

So happy to read I’ve inspired you to make some great local dishes. (And hey, I understand about the salmon.) Yum!

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