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Sunday, July 25, 2010

grilled salmon and zucchini with Turkish cucumber and yogurt salad


Meredith at the market

Yesterday was Meredith’s first full day at the farmers market—usually, she’s at her babysitter’s house on Saturday mornings, but Becky was busy this weekend. (More about fabulous Becky in a future post.) Since our other babysitters were out of town or otherwise engaged, we resigned ourselves to bringing five-year-old Meredith with us to the market. It seemed like a good idea to try it out, since when school starts in mid-August, our babysitters will be much busier with sports and other activities. Could we pull it off?

Dan and I sell our Rise & Shine Bakery bread at the market on summer Saturdays from 9am until 2pm. During the first few hours of the market, we’re pretty busy slicing samples and selling the bread as fast as we can—helping people decide what flavors will go best with their dinners that night, how many loaves to buy to freeze before that flavor comes around again, or what pan loaf their kids might like best to eat in sandwiches.

I thought the best chance of keeping Meredith happily occupied on her own during our busiest time was to provide:
1. plenty of fun snacks,
2. a nest to snuggle in (sleeping bag and pad in the back of the car, parked behind our bakery stand),
3. crayons, paper, and stickers,
4. Richard Scarry picture books,
5. copious snacks,
6. her bike and helmet to ride around the market, and
7. did I mention the snacks?

So on Saturday morning I got up early and packed a picnic bag for Meredith, including:
1. thick slice of our fruited almond sourdough bread (that was breakfast on the drive to the market),
2. thermos of hot chocolate with a separate little cup of marshmallows,
3. cup of cherries (the Rainier kind),
4. peanut butter & honey sandwich,
5. green beans,
6. cup of those awesome Kettle crinkly potato chips (!!). 

Her bike and helmet packed, her nest ready, Meredith slept longer than I can remember in years. I finally had to wake her up at 8:15 so we could drive down and meet Dan at the market, where he had set up our stand already.

When the market opened at 9:00, Meredith was zooming around on her bike, visiting the other vendors and doing little tasks like trading bread for cauliflower, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes. I was so pleased that she remained cheerful all morning—some of the time in her “nest” and sometimes biking around, doing laps. The mornings always fly by for us while we sell bread, and I was so glad I didn’t have to try and entertain her while waiting on customers.

Then, near the end of the market, our friend Terri came back by the market (she had bought her bread earlier) and asked if Meredith could come to the zoo with her! It was such a cool, cloudy day that her hiking partner for the day had backed out, and she wanted to go to the zoo…  but her kids are 19 and 22 and were not interested in joining her. And everyone knows that it’s more fun to take a kid to the zoo than to go alone! What a lovely surprise for Meredith, and for us! Thank you, Terri!

We took down our stand when we ran out of bread, and came home to unpack and have lunch. We started working on preparing the veggies and fish that Meredith had bartered bread for at the market, and by the time she got home from the zoo, we were relaxed and ready for our evening together. Terri had bought Meredith a treat at the zoo, but suggested that she only eat half of it, so she would still be hungry for supper. Meredith agreed, but assured Terri, “Don’t worry, I’m ALWAYS hungry!”

Like I said. Plenty of snacks. And like my mother always said: “It’s a wise mother who knows her own daughter.” And another appropriate old saw: “Like mother, like daughter.” Here’s the supper we made last night from the bounty at the farmers market, for which Meredith and I were, indeed, hungry.

grilled salmon and zucchini with cucumber & yogurt salad

Start the salad first, since the cucumbers, onions, and yogurt need to drain separately. Then grill the zucchini, which can happily sit while you set the table, mix the salad together, and grill the salmon.

Turkish cucumber & yogurt salad

This salad is based on one in a cookbook called Olive Trees and Honey, a book of Jewish vegetarian recipes from around the world. It’s a salad, but I think of it as a sauce to go alongside my grilled salmon—although it’s so flavorful and refreshing that I eat enough of it to be properly called a salad! I should probably call this whole meal “yogurt salad with salmon on the side.”

Salting the cucumber and draining the yogurt keeps the salad from getting watery, even if you use nonfat yogurt. If you use full-fat Greek yogurt, you won’t need to drain the yogurt.

1 large English cucumber
½ a medium red or yellow onion
2 teaspoons salt for sprinkling
1 to 2 cloves garlic
¼ teaspoon salt (if needed)
3 cups nonfat or lowfat yogurt
1 teaspoon dried dill, or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1. Put the yogurt into a sieve and let it stand over a bowl for an hour or two in the refrigerator to drain some of its liquid.
2. Halve the cucumber and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Slice each half into strips, then cut into small dice. Finely dice the onion. Put the cucumber and onion into a sieve or a colander, toss with the 2 teaspoons salt, and let stand at room temperature for at least an hour, or up to 3 hours. Drain, and press out the extra liquid.
3. Mash the garlic finely in a garlic press, or, lacking that, mash the garlic and salt together in the bottom of a bowl with a fork until it’s a paste. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. You can serve it immediately (that’s what I did), but it will develop more flavor if you let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. It will be good for a couple of days.

grilled zucchini

This recipe is so easy it’s sort of embarrassing to call it a recipe, but just in case you haven’t already discovered this method, I’ll describe it. We eat gallons of zucchini like this in the summertime! It’s great an as appetizer, in sandwiches, alongside soups, in salads, or just cold right out of the fridge, eaten with your fingers.

several small or medium zucchinis (buy more than you think you could possibly eat)
olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt

Heat a grill to very hot. Slice the zucchini lengthwise, into planks a little less than ¼” thick. Toss them with olive oil and salt. Turn the grill down to medium, and grill them about 3 minutes on each side, until they have grill marks and are nice and tender. Eat them right away or else eat them later at room temperature. Try not to eat them all right as they come off the grill, or the rest of your family will be annoyed.

grilled salmon

1 large filet salmon
dill fish rub (we love the Halibut Cove Dill rub from Summit Spice & Tea), or just use salt & fresh-ground pepper
canola oil (for the grill)

1. Skin the salmon filet and sprinkle it all over with the spice rub or salt & pepper, rubbing it on to cover all surfaces. 
2. Heat your grill on high heat, and when the grill racks are very hot, scrub them clean with your grill brush. Just before you’re going to grill the salmon, fold a paper towel into a 3” square, and soak this pad in a small dish of canola oil. Swab the grill racks thoroughly with the oil-soaked pad, then immediately set the filet on the hot, oiled rack with the skinned side up (pretty side down).
3. Turn the heat down to medium and cover the grill. Cook the salmon on that side until it has nice grill marks and will release from the grill without sticking, about 4 minutes.
4. Use the same paper towel to oil the nearby grill space, and then carefully flip the salmon onto the newly oiled patch. Cook for another couple of minutes until it’s done to your liking. We like it pretty rare, but keep in mind that the thinner tail section will cook faster than the thicker sections. You can either cut the tail off when it’s cooked and let the rest of the salmon cook a bit more, cut the tail section off before you grill it and cook it separately, or just let the tail part get more well-done than the rest of the filet for those in your family who prefer it that way.
5. Remove the salmon from the grill to a plate.


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