Wild Alaska Halibut w/Lemon and Thyme Sauce

I would like to thank the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) for reaching out to me through Foodiddy. They offered to send me different kinds of fish to help me in my quest to explore different recipes and cooking methods. After a few emails back and forth,  I received  the most incredible box of wild Alaska seafood, I could hardly contain myself.

I was overwhelmed by the size of the box and the amazing selection of fish.

Wild Alaska Salmon was the only thing I had previously cooked. I rifled through a stack of recipe cards I had gotten at the last Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco and found the perfect recipe to try. Operation conquer my fear of cooking fish was once again underway.

Wild Alaska Seafood Quick Reference Guide

Alaska Seafood had a huge table at the Foodbuzz tasting pavilion event and I was able to sample quite a few things. I also picked up a quick reference guide that has a lot of nifty facts about the different species, cooking tips and harvesting information. We are towards the end of Wild Alaska Halibut season – it’s available fresh from March through mid November, but can be purchased frozen year-round. Are we really nearing November? Wow…

So back to the incredible wild caught Alaska Halibut…

Wild Alaska Halibut swim freely in Alaska’s pristine waters. Their abundance and sustainability is protected by law and the careful management practices of Alaska’s fishing families. Alaska Halibut is naturally lean and light, making it an excellent choice for me right now – I’ve been very conscious of the types of food I’ve been eating and trying to make the best choices to continue towards achieving an 80/20 healthy versus indulgent way of eating. I’ve given up on the idea that I need to be perfect.

The recipe I chose was Alaska Halibut with Lemon and Thyme Sauce – served on a bed of sauteed leeks, zucchini and spinach… and there just might have been some butter and wine in the mix. 80/20 people… 80/20. I made modifications to the recipe I found and those have been listed below in my ingredients and measurements.

Ingredients:

2 Wild Alaska Halibut Fillets – mine were between 7 and 8 oz.
2 Tablespoons Butter
Finely Grated Zest and Juice of 1 Large Lemon
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
6-8 sprigs of Fresh Thyme – the recipe called for lemon thyme, I already had regular
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Leeks – white and light green parts only
1 Zucchini
2-3 oz. Baby Spinach – could use more if you want
3-4 Tablespoons Dry White Wine – you could sub with vegetable broth/stock

Directions:

  • Heat broiler/oven to medium-high heat 450 degrees F.
  • Rinse any ice glaze from frozen halibut under cold water; pat dry with paper towel.
  • Arrange fillets on a spray coated or foil lined baking sheet
  • Broil 5 to 7 inches from the heat source for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove fish from oven, and place 1/2 tablespoon butter on top of each fillet. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper.
  • Return fish to oven and cook an additional 4-6 minutes for fresh, 7 to 10 minutes for frozen fillets.
  • Cook just until fish is opaque throughout.
  • While the fish is cooking, add remaining butter to saucepan with the lemon zest, remaining lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Medium heat, gently whisking until melted, then add the fresh thyme.
  • Heat olive oil in a wok or large pan, cook the leeks and zucchini over medium heat until softened. Add the spinach and wine, stirring until the leaves have wilted.
  • Serve the fish and vegetables, pouring the warm lemon and thyme sauce over the fillets.

The pieces of halibut were gorgeous! I defrosted them in the fridge overnight and used paper towels to pat them dry.

I knew the fish would require my attention during the short broiling time, so I started all of my prep work before cooking the fish. I washed and sliced my leeks. I forget how much I really enjoy leeks in a dish. Sure, they take some time to rinse properly, but they are worth it for sure.

I first wash the leeks in their whole state, then I re-rinse in a strainer once they’ve been cut into rings. It’s important to separate the rings, because the silky dirt likes to hide between the layers.

I measured out my Dijon mustard and it wasn’t until this photo that I realized my Dijon was “hot” – which was surprising, because I don’t normally like super spicy stuff… but apparently this brand’s “hot” is not so hot in a good way… and one of my favorites right now.

I zested and juiced my lemon… I swear I can’t zest a lemon anymore without thinking of Michael Symon’s method from The Chew. I rarely stick with DVR-ing daily TV shows – but I enjoy The Chew – it’s my lunch time escape and he sure makes zesting a lemon look sexy. Never thought I’d say those two words in the same sentence. Sexy lemon ,va va voom!

I preheated my oven to 450 degrees F. and then realized that I really wanted to broil the fish, instead of baking the fish – the recipe was a tad confusing. So I switched my oven to broil once it had already reached 450 degrees F. Once again my fear kicked in. What if I torch the fish? Is it too close to the broiler? Door open? Door closed? Yes… all of these thoughts went through my head. I placed my foil lined baking sheet into the oven and crossed my fingers.

After 5 minutes under the broiler, I pulled them out to coat them with butter. I used 1/2 tablespoon on each fillet. I then added a teaspoon of lemon juice and  freshly ground sea salt and ground pepper to each fillet.

While the fish was broiling for an additional 4-5 minutes, I got the sauce started – butter, lemon zest, remaining lemon juice, mustard and thyme. I also got my vegetables going in another pan. Juggling all of the pans and cooking time was a tad difficult, but I managed.The end result was nothing short of fabulous. I am in love with Wild Alaska Halibut now. I’m guessing that might be a pretty expensive habit to have. Probably not a frequent thing with my grocery budget, but I am going to splurge when I can fit it in.

 

The warm lemon and thyme sauce poured over the fillet was incredible.

Dare I even say cooking fish is pretty darn easy? I can’t even begin to express how happy I am that I have another 16 oz. piece of Wild Alaska Halibut in my freezer as I type. Who’s coming to dinner?

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Caramelized Onion Cornbread – Vegan Style

My second vegan picnic recipe Caramelized Onion Cornbread was adapted from a combination of recipes from allrecipes.com and Sweet Potato Soul.

I knew I wanted to use corn I had picked up at the farmer’s market and not very many recipes for cornbread actually use corn kernels. They all use cornmeal and I wanted to use a combination. I also only had vanilla soy milk and didn’t want to buy plain. My last substitution was using both agave and maple syrup. I didn’t realize that I was low on agave, so that substitution was out of necessity.

Cornbread Ingredients:

1 Cup Cornmeal
1 Cup Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Applesauce
1/2 Cup Caramelized Onions (see below)
2 Ears Fresh Sweet Corn Kernels (see below)
1 Cup Vanilla Soy Milk
1/4 Cup Agave Syrup – I used light
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
4 Tablespoons Canola Oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease baking dish. I used a 9×13 glass baking dish. You could also make muffins, the cooking time will just be less. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in applesauce, 1/2 of the caramelized onions, cooked corn kernels, Soy milk, agave and maple syrup. Slowly add the oil while stirring. I used my mixer on low.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish and gently drop the remaining caramelized onion on top of the batter. Bake in 350 degree F. preheated oven until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Mine took about 50 minutes.

Balsamic Caramelized Onions

2 Yellow Onions – cut lengthwise into thin strips
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
Salt to Taste
1 1/2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

In a large skillet heat the olive oil on high and tilt the pan to make sure the entire bottom is coated with the oil. Add the onion and stir to coat all onion pieces. Reduce heat to medium low. Add the sugar, salt and stir. Cover the onions for about 3 -5 minutes to speed the cooking process. Remove the lid and stir a bit. Continue to stir the uncovered onions about every 10 minutes. After about 35-40 minutes, you will have a pan of  golden brown onions. Move the onions to one side of the pan and pour in the balsamic vinegar. Scrape with the spatula/spoon to deglaze, then stir the onions into the glaze.

The corn prep…

While my onions were caramelizing, I used my pampered chef corn tool to easily remove the kernels from the cob. You could just use a knife, but man does that tool work wonders. I then poured a little bit of olive oil in the pan and sautéed the kernels until they softened a bit. – about 5 minutes. I really think the fresh corn added to the overall recipe.

The house smelled delicious and it was easy to transport to the picnic. I did bring butter for the non-vegans attending the picnic, but nobody needed it, the cornbread was super moist and still warm a few hours after coming out of the oven.

Thankfully there were a few pieces left to take photos of the next day. I think I will add caramelized onions to every cornbread dish I make from here on out. What an awesome addition.

Super moist and fluffy…

Cornbread and a mug of green tea, don’t mind if I do. The lace napkin in the background once belonged to my grandma Mimi. I love incorporating family heirlooms into my photos and everyday life. Makes me still feel so connected. I miss my grandparents on both sides dearly…  I find so much comfort in surrounding myself with items that tell a story. Sure, I still shop at HomeGoods and my story might be… I scored this killer deal… but the true pieces in my home that I absolutely adore have been passed down, re-finished, re-framed, re-purposed or just left as-is. I think my grandparents would be pretty proud of how my Mom, Dad, Brother, Aunt and cousins have incorporated family heirlooms into our homes.

So that’s it for my vegan recipes. They both turned out pretty amazing and I have every intention of making them both again for vegan and non-vegan friends and family.

 

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Raw Zucchini Salad w/Creamy Lemon & Dill Dressing

One of my dearest girlfriends recently decided to complete a 35 day juice cleanse, followed by transitioning to eating real food through a vegan diet. I was invited to her 40th birthday picnic on Treasure Island and wanted to make sure I brought something that she and her husband could enjoy – I decided on Raw Zucchini Pasta Salad w/Creamy Lemon & Dill Dressing.

I searched online and found Ashley’s recipe for Lemon Dill Pasta Salad on her blog Edible Perspective. I made ingredient changes – based on the fact that I knew there would already be a sweet potato lasagna at the picnic. I didn’t want to enter more noodles into the mix. I also subbed maple syrup for honey to make it vegan. I know not all vegan’s view honey as a “no” – and I wasn’t really sure what my newly vegan friend’s views were on the subject, so I just went with the syrup to be safe. I also changed a bunch of the measurements and have included them below.

Salad Ingredients:

4 Broccoli Crowns
1 Bunch Asparagus
3-4 Large Zucchini
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
1 Orange Bell Pepper
2 Cups Grape Tomatoes
1/2 Large Red Onion
3/4 Cup Raw Sunflower Seeds
3/4 Cup Raw Pepita Seeds

Lemon Dill Dressing Ingredients:

1 Large Avocado
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
2 Dorat Garlic Cubes – defrosted  or you could use 2 cloves minced
1 Teaspoon Salt –  plus more if needed.
1 Cup Dill – loosely packed.
2/3 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice – might dial this back a bit next time.
1 1/2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
Black Pepper to taste – I used about 10-15 grinds, I like my pepper.

I purchased as many organic items as I could possibly find between 3 different stores. I was excited to find live herbs in my search.

I got my avocado ready for the blender…

I added all of my dressing ingredients to the blender and let ‘er rip.

I then transferred the sauce into the fridge and got to work on my other veggie prep.

I steamed my asparagus and broccoli in the microwave for about 3 minutes and got them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. I prefer the thinner asparagus in salads. I find the thick stalks a little too woody.

I chopped up my bell peppers, halved my grape tomatoes, chopped up my red onion, measured out my seeds and spiral cut my zucchini pasta. I did end up cutting the zucchini noodles with kitchen shears – some of the pieces were easily over a foot long. I didn’t catch them all, one party goer got the bonus extra long noodle. 🙂

A cyclone hit my kitchen, leaving an artsy mess in my sink.. I really am a messy cook. I just chuck things into the sink, it drives the husband crazy. Think packaging, paper towels. He doesn’t understand why I can’t just open the cabinet door to put them in the trash. I try to explain… I’m an artist. When I’m in “create” mode, things fly everywhere. The same holds true to my desk at work. Designs hung on file cabinets, a million icons on my computer’s desktop… it’s how I roll. Messy Marvin for sure.

The next step was to add all of my veggies to a large mixing bowl. I spooned the dressing in a little at a time. I probably only used 1/2 the amount. I  didn’t want things to get too soggy, especially with the hour plus drive to Treasure Island. I did end up adding more fresh dill and salt and pepper to the final salad.

I really loved the raw seeds, it added just enough crunch and texture to the overall dish. I am a huge dill fan, you could easily sub for another herb like basil if you aren’t a fan. Ashley used quinoa spiral pasta for her salad and I might try that next time as well.

I think everyone liked the salad and it was a good compliment to the other green salad at the picnic and the sweet potato lasagna – which was delicious! I also made vegan cornbread, recipe coming soon.

I hadn’t been to Treasure Island since I was a kid. My girlfriend planned a photo scavenger hunt and we had a blast.

Cupcakes were also consumed. A very fun day surrounded by great friends, their family and lots of amazing vegan food.

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