Recipe: Blackened wild salmon with lemon and rub

Blackened salmon

Also shown: Cauliflower Cous Cous

Like chicken, salmon is thankfully super easy and quick to cook. The only thing you have to be careful of is not to overcook the delicate flesh. I normally pull my salmon off the grill or pan while it’s still a little reddish-pink in the middle…  it continues to cook to a tender texture.

I’m also an advocate for wild salmon, and most are sourced from the Pacific Ocean. For flavor, texture, nutrients and color, king (or Chinook), sockeye and coho are all superior to any farmed salmon. But if that’s all you can find, don’t hold back. Here’s an informative NYT article about farmed versus wild salmon.

Peak season for wild salmon is late summer, so cash in and freeze some for later enjoyment. Like the waters it originates from, it handles the cold well.  Here’s a chart showing the seasonal availability for different species.

This recipe for Blackened Salmon feeds 4 people, takes about 20 minutes to prepare and is unbelievably simple to make. Serve with a chilled rosé wine or spicy red, such as Zinfandel. Read more »

In Season Now: Tomato recipes, how to choose, store and keep

Tomato Salad

Approaching September, tomatoes are coming on strong in the grocery stores and in home gardens across the nation. This crop is the #1 homegrown item since they’re pretty easy to grow and, well, homemade always tastes best. If you’re not a gardener, the rising popularity of farmer’s markets (finally!) also makes it easier to source delicious, vine-ripened tomatoes. Since these are my favorite veg… er.. fruit, I get a little excited about this. To choose the right ones and to keep these savory fruits fresh and scrumptious, here are a few tips plus some recipes to try with tomatoes.

Read more: In Season Now: Tomato recipes, how to choose, store and keep

Red wine review: 2013 Trivento Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza

Trivento 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

It’s not often that a whole group of knowledgeable wine drinkers gasps when a bottle is revealed during a blind tasting. That happened when this Trivento 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon peaked out of the brown bag. The reason for the shock and awe? It only costs a humble $12. Yep. And its quality to value ratio is pretty impressive. As are its landholdings.

Read more: Red wine review: 2013 Trivento Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza

Wine review: Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling Wine

Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling Wine

The market for sparkling wine has exploded like demand for Bradjolina’s sold out French rosé. I’m happily seeing more bubblies now than ever before, especially from the west coast of the U.S. There are a couple of reasons why. One is that people are demanding them — mostly millennials seeking the unique and the bubbly. And two, the advent of “custom crush” facilities, now equipped with sparkling wine production equipment (a completely different way of making wine), are making it easier and less expensive to make these fun, effervescent grogs. Oregon’s Sokol Blosser has jumped onto the sparkling bandwagon with a refreshing, slightly sweet sparkling wine made with nine different grape varieties.

Read more: Wine review: Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling Wine

Side Recipe: Roasted acorn squash tossed with spicy vinaigrette

Roasted Acorn Squash with Spicy Vinaigrette

Acorn squash is often a surprise “volunteer” arrival in my spring compost bin, when the scooped out seeds sprout with the warmth of the season. I’m able to grow a couple squashes before the plant realizes that summer heat is upon it and it goes dormant. Normally, acorn squash grows in winter but it’s available year-round. It’s a transplant from South America, where squash is abundant in the cooking and in the culture. Full of vitamins A, C, and B, they’re also rich with potassium, fiber and magnesium. This recipe takes a few more steps but it is well worth the effort. Eat the skin and all… it turns into a delicious, savory/sweet candy. The tart vinaigrette gives it a brightness that is not to be missed.

Read more: Side Recipe: Baked acorn squash tossed with spicy vinaigrette

Healthy eating substitutes: 8 ways to sneak in tasty nutrition

Turkey Sandwich with Avocado and Tomato

It ain’t easy getting healthy and losing weight. For on-the-go people, getting the required “5-a-Day” (now morphing into 8-a-Day) can be a challenge and seem impossibly harried. But a few small changes can have a big impact. These eight little things will provide some solace and introduce a little ray of yummy nutrition into your daily routine. And maybe a little weight loss.

Read more: Healthy eating: 8 ways to introduce delicious nutrition to your day

Wine reviews: Dry Creek Vineyard 2013 Sauvignon Blanc & 2013 Dry Chenin Blanc

Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

Up the road from where I live in California is a winery that continues to impress, vintage after vintage: Dry Creek Vineyard. I did a search on my website and I’ve written about them seven times in the past eight years. That’s a lot, considering the number of wineries on this earth I could be writing about. But I keep going back to them simply because their value remains outstanding. Family-owned and -operated, Dry Creek Vineyard was founded in 1972. Founder David Stare bravely hung his hat on California Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc — a not-so-glamorous grape originally from the Loire Valley (more about Chenin Blanc) — early on and embraced both grape varieties with a burly bear hug. At the time, other wineries in the area looked at him kinda funny but he soldiered on. David, a graduate of MIT, worked for railroads before he founded the winery in Dry Creek — where the winery stand today was nothing but plum (or “prunes”) orchards. Forty-two years later, the family owns 185 acres of grapevines and his daughter, Kim, heads up the company as President.

Read more: Two affordable wines: Dry Creek Vineyard 2013 Sauvignon Blanc & 2013 Dry Chenin Blanc

Vegetarian recipe: The best black bean burgers ever (really)

Black Bean Burgers

This recipe is for those who think they could never, ever actually enjoy a vegetarian “burger”. And, hey, at some point in my life, I would have said the same thing. And so would my meat-loving (obsessed?) husband. But he loves these quick, easy black bean “burgers”. [NB: I use the term burger loosely since these beauties are formed into patties and could be served on buns]. You really don’t miss the meat. At all. I could seriously eat these once per week and not get tired of them, so I share this recipe with full disclosure… addiction could ensue.

Read more: Vegetarian recipe: The best black bean burgers ever (really)