Bear Makes Brunch: Spring Salmon and Potatoes

Hello again, Brunch with Bearees! Apologies for the unexpected hiatus; the spring semester always brings many midterms. However, with only a few weeks left before summer, I have had more time to devote to cooking again! Salmon is one of Bear’s favorite foods, and this easy is one I learned from my aunt. It takes very little time to prepare which is perfect when you’re crunched for studying time or when you can’t wait to run outside and frolic among all the daffodils and tulips that New York has to offer!

The ingredients are very simple, and, as always, available at Trader Joe’s: olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic. Use the olive oil and vinegar in a 5:2 ratio (five tablespoons oil to two tablespoons vinegar) and add the garlic to your liking. Crushed garlic is what I have in my refrigerator, but fresh minced garlic or garlic salt is definitely an option. Same with red wine vinegar; use the vinegar of your choice! Sometimes I like to add a little salad dressing (Italian or balsamic vinaigrette) or pepper too.

spring salmon (ingredients)

Use this mixture as a marinade for a salmon fillet; obviously, the bigger the filet, the more dressing you should make. You can just add it as a topping before baking or you can let it soak in overnight. Scoring the salmon and spreading the dressing around with a spoon will help infuse the filet with the flavor. I like to keep my salmon in a glass pan with a cover, because it can marinate, bake and keep all in the same pan.

spring salmon (salmon)

To make roasted potatoes, I like to use red skin potatoes because I don’t have to peel them. Trader Joe’s (and surely other grocery stores) will have them in mesh net bags. Just scrub and slice them into chunks, avoiding bruises and eyes (on both the potatoes and on yourself). Place foil on a pan and spray with cooking spray before adding the potatoes. Salt the potatoes, if you like, and drizzle the dressing/marinade over them.

spring salmon (potatoes) spring salmon (potatoes on pan)

With the oven set at 400°F, the salmon should cook within 15-20 minutes and the potatoes will take 20-30. However, all ovens are slightly different, so it’s good to take the pans out and poke with a fork to make sure things are not undercooked.

spring salmon (finished salmon) IMG_0517spring salmon (finished potatoes)

As you can see, I’ve rounded out the plate with broccoli, and other supplements such as salad or fruit add some nice color to the meal, and balance out all the food groups.

spring salmon (finished plate)

Bear and I anticipate making this more over the summer, which will be arriving quite soon. Only a few papers, a few exams, and a few weeks to go. Happy eating and happy spring!

Bear Makes Brunch: Pretty Pasta Dish

Hello again, Brunch with Bearees! I know, I know, I promised an update and then failed to deliver. However, now I am attempting to get out of the sophomore slump and I thought I should update again—with pictures! While we haven’t been brunching for a while, we did make a fancy but easy pasta dish a couple weeks ago. This pasta is something my aunt taught me how to make last summer, and while it’s a little time-consuming to cook, it’s really delicious and easy to customize.

Pasta is one of those dishes that heats up really well, so I tend to make a large amount and save some for the rest of the week. This particular pasta dish has garlic, mushrooms and parsley in it, and the sauce is olive-oil based. The fun begins when you choose your own pasta shape! My personal favorite for this particular recipe is rotini, or corkscrew pasta. Angel hair or penne also works well! As usual, I got all these ingredients at Trader Joe’s.

Before you start preparing everything else, make sure you get your water for the pasta boiling. Consult your pasta package about ratios, but filling up your pasta pot about halfway to two-thirds of the way is a good marker. I like to add a little salt to the water so that the pasta has more flavor. Keep an eye on the pot, as the cooking process requires a bit of multi-tasking and you don’t want the water to boil over.

While you’ve got that going, you can assemble the garlic, parsley and mushrooms. If you want to use fresh garlic, crush and mince eight cloves—or more, if you, like me, love garlic! If you are lazy and want to use pre-crushed garlic, consult the jar for the proportions of spoon-cloves. Also rinse and mince eight sprigs of parsley. If you like, you can also use a teaspoon of lemon zest. I personally am not a big fan of lemon in pasta, but we like to encourage creativity!

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Somewhere between mincing all the ingredients and putting them on a pan, the water that you previously set to boil will be boiling. Add your pasta, and be certain to stir a few times so that the noodles do not stick together. Set a timer so that the pasta will not overcook; the pasta should actually be a little firm—al dente—because it will be cooked more when added to the sauce. Consult the pasta package for the suggested cooking times.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a frying pan and add three tablespoons of olive oil. Tilt the pan so that the oil distributes evenly. When the oil is hot, carefully add the garlic and the parsley to infuse the oil with flavor. At this point, I like to add a handful of white mushrooms. With the Trader Joe’s pre-sliced mushrooms, about half the package is a good amount. Sauté the mushrooms until they begin to lose their pink color and start turning a little golden. You may need to add more olive oil to fully coat the mushrooms.

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By the time the mushrooms are beginning to brown, the pasta should be ready or nearly ready. Let the mushrooms stay on low heat and check the pasta. You may choose to taste-test a few pieces for consistency and texture. Reserve a cup of the starchy pasta water before removing the noodles from heat. This pasta water will be used later to create the sauce.

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When the pasta is finished cooking, drain the pot into a colander and rinse the noodles with cold water. Rinsing the noodles stops the noodles from sticking together.

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Add the pasta to the frying pan and stir to distribute the olive oil and mushrooms. Add the pasta water that you reserved previously and stir to combine. You can put a lid on the pan if you want the pasta to simmer a little. Keep stirring until all of the pasta is coated with the olive oil sauce.

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At this point, you may choose to add baby spinach, Italian sausage, or other finishing touches. As you can see, I have chosen to add grilled chicken to my pasta.

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This pasta is one of my favorite dishes to cook, and lends itself well to a variety of occasions. I often associate pasta with red sauces—which I love, but it’s nice to have a change every now and then. This a pasta that reheats well, either on the stove or in the microwave, which makes it the perfect dish to make on a Sunday night and eat for the rest of the week. It works a a snack, a side dish, a bed for salmon or chicken. The colors lend itself to entertaining and it can be a great starter dish for a pasta bar. Basically, this pasta is pretty perfect!