No more sad salmon for you!


I'm fairly certain I hated fish until about the age of 13, because I thought the only way one could make it was either roasted in the oven with lemon or dill for about 5000 hours or from the stuff in a tin. A bit bleak, no?

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To be clear, this is not me hating on canned fish. In fact, I'll always have a soft spot for canned tuna, which very much makes me think of my southern grandmother. However, I do think fish (and salmon in particular) is super delicious when its pan-seared- and made even better when served with a creamy base of puréed parsnips and a bright blood orange and fennel slaw. Have I convinced you yet?!

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To make this dish, you can either sear the fish in a non-stick or cast iron pan--both methods work well, but be aware that you may need more oil when using a cast iron vs. a non-stick (le duh Isabelle, it's in the name). For this recipe, I used sockeye salmon, but Coho and Atlantic salmon work just as well. If you can't find blood orange, navel oranges are a perfectly good substitute. The fish doesn't need much prep besides a good pat down with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture, and a hefty sprinkle of salt and pepper. All and all this diner comes together in about 35 minutes or so, and is bound to impress family, friends, or perhaps pet roommates--considering that this is 2020 after all.

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Onto the recipe!

Seared Salmon with Parsnip Mash and Fennel Slaw~(serves 4-5)


Ingredients:

- 1.5 lbs salmon filet

- 2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp salt

- 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces

- 6 cups water

- zest of one lemon

- 2 cloves garlic, diced

-2 leaves of sage

- 1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly

- juice of one blood orange

- 1 tbsp grainy mustard

- 1 tbsp vinegar

- 1/4 cup olive oil

-2 tbsp neutral oil of choice

- 1 tbsp half and half (optional)

-black pepper to taste


Method:


To a large pot set over medium high heat, add 6 cups of water and a hefty pinch of salt, bringing the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and add the chopped parsnips. Cover and let cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove salmon from the fridge and cut horizontally into approximately 3 inch wide pieces, yielding about 4-5 pieces of salmon depending on the size of your filet. Pat dry with a paper towel and season liberally with the 2 tbsp of salt and black pepper as desired. Set aside. Place a large cast-iron or non-stick pan on your stovetop and warm over medium high heat for one minute. Add neutral oil to the pan and let warm until oil is lightly shimmering, about one to two minutes. Reduce heat to medium and place salmon skin side down in the pan. Cook for five minutes, flip and cook for another 4 minutes or so or until the internal temperature of the salmon reads 145°F. Set aside.

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Remove pan from heat and wipe down with a paper towel or kitchen towel, removing any residual pieces of salmon. Return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the garlic and sage and fry lightly until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. To a food processor or blender add the parsnips, olive oil/garlic and sage mixture, optional 1 tbsp of half and half, lemon zest, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Blend until smooth and set aside. To make the slaw combine the fennel, blood orange juice, vinegar, and grainy mustard and mix until the fennel is well coated. Plate by adding a dollop of the parsnip mash to a plate, and top with the salmon and the fennel slaw. Serve and enjoy!



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As t swift would say, tis the damn season!



Every Christmas, I like to joke about the mountain of pears my family is sent. They are a thoughtful gift from extended family and friends, but come December 20th we are left with approximately 5+ lbs of pears and no clue what to do with them. Until this year that is!

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As a former pear hater, I've come to love them in salads and baked goods through trial and error. And as per this bundt cake, the pears add just the right amount of moisture and sweetness that yields a delightfully complex cake. Ginger and allspice add just the right amount of spice, and a bit of almond flour lends a nutty and almost marzipan-like flavor.

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Test the recipe below and let me know what you think!




Pear and Ginger Bundt Cake~


Ingredients:


- 2 cups white whole wheat flour

-1 ½ sticks softened butter, unsalted

-1/2 cup almond flour

-1/2 cup light brown sugar

-4 room temperature eggs

-1/2 cup milk

-2 tsp baking powder

-3/4 tsp ginger

-1/4 tsp clove

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/8 tsp almond extract


Purée

-3-4 large pears, peeled and chopped

-juice of 1 lemon


Powdered Sugar Glaze


Method:


In a medium sized pot set over medium higher heat, add chopped pears and lemon juice and stir to combine. Cover with lid and once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat to low. Let cook for an hour until the pears have slightly reduced, removing the lid 30 minutes in. Set aside and let cool fully. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour your bundt pan, shaking off the excess flour. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, and spices and mix with a whisk or fork until combined. Add softened butter and brown sugar to a large bowl and mix with a stand mixer or hand mixer until lighter in color and slightly fluffy, about 5 minutes or so. Stop and scrape down the sides of your bowl and mix for another minute or until the mixture is smooth. While mixing on a medium-low speed, add eggs in one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add one cup of the cooled pear purée and mix once again on medium speed. Add half of the dry ingredients while mixing on a low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk and mix once more, then add the remaining dry ingredients. Pour batter into your bundt pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Place on the middle rack of your oven and let bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Invert onto a plate or cooling rack and let the cake cool for a remaining 20-30 minutes. Drizzle powdered sugar glaze over the top, and optionally adorn with a rosemary wreath. Serve and enjoy!

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More vegetarian/vegan dinner inspiration, courtesy of the Levant



It's pretty understandable that nearly 10? months into a pandemic and we're hitting a bit of a cooking slump. Well, to be honest kind of an everything slump-- it has been a tremendously difficult year, for a multitude of reasons. Keeping this fact in mind, I'm pulling on all of the things that I love to lift my spirit and hopefully that of others.

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For one, watching all of the horrendously dumb and yet all too irresistible lifetime Christmas movies has been a great source of joy. Add to that Taylor Swift's Evermore album (I'm very basic okay) and some bundled up winter walks and I'm pretty easy to spot (aka the crazy woman dancing down the street with her giant headphones).

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To my list of simple joys, I'm adding this falafel and pita situation. As a young girl, my grandparents would come to visit a few times a year and make dolmas, kibbeh, tabouleh, and the aforementioned falafel (my Grandpa was Lebanese). Though he's no longer with us, I've definitely come to love Lebanese and Levantine food over the years.

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Considering this fact, I also wanted to share a bit of background history on the dish, given its varied (and at times controversial) history. Though highly contested, Falafel is believed to have originated in Alexandria, Egypt sometime around the late 19th century. Originally made with fava beans, a widely grown crop at the time, Falafel quickly gained popularity and spread throughout different parts of the country. From there, it is believed that it spread to what is now present day Lebanon around the end of WWI as well as Yemen, Turkey, Libya, Palestine, and what is now Israel. Falafel was adapted to utilize the native crops of whatever region it was introduced to, explaining the use of chickpeas in areas of the Levant and even combinations of beef and beans in other countries. Due to it's widespread popularity, there is some contesting over who lays claim to the dish- notably with Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Yemen. This speaks to larger notions of national and cultural identity, a topic too lengthy and nuanced to break down in a paper, much less a simple blog post. Nonetheless, I find this intersection between food and peoples particularly of interest, and worth further exploration.


Onto the recipe!


Chickpea Falafel and Pita~


Ingredients:


Falafel-

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 bunch parsley

Zest of a lemon

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp zatar

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 red onion

1/3 cup chickpea flour

2 tbsp tahini


White Bean Spread-

-1 can white beans

-1/4 cup tahini

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp zatar

-1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

-juice and zest of one lemon

-1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, as needed


Quick Pickled Onions-

-1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

-1 cup apple cider vinegar

-1 cup water

-1/4 tsp sugar


-3 pitas (homemade or storebought)

-1 head of kohlrabi, sliced

-1 watermelon radish or bunch of radishes, sliced


Method:


Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, parsley, chickpea flour, red onion, tahini, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt, and zatar and blend on medium speed until a rough dough forms. Optionally refrigerate the falafel mixture for 20 minutes, then scoop golf ball sized amounts onto a sheet tray. Brush with a bit of olive oil or neutral oil of choice and place in oven for 20-25 minutes until falafel is golden brown and firm. Set aside. In your relatively clean food processor, combine the white beans, tahini, salt, zatar, red pepper flakes and lemon juice/zest. Blend on a medium high speed, then slowly stream in the olive oil as needed until the consistency of the spread is smooth and relatively fluffy. To quick pickle the onion, pour the vinegar, water, and sugar into a small saucepan set over medium high heat until simmering. Place onions in a glass or metal bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over the top. Let sit at room temperature until the mixture has cooled, then refrigerate until ready to use. To warm pita, place a sauté pan over medium heat until warm (about one to two minutes) and add a pita at a time- cooking each side for about a minute. To assemble, place a dollop of the white bean spread onto the pita, add the falafel, then top with the pickled onions, radish, and kohlrabi. Serve and enjoy!

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Specializing in food photography, the balanced apron focuses on seasonal ingredients and thoughtful storytelling through evocative imagery found on our portfolio and food blog.

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