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Monday, March 29, 2010

Grilled Salmon

Now that the weather is changing it's time to start outdoor grilling. Usually I grill straight through the winter, but the snow this year was so overwhelming that I just stayed inside! One of my favorite grill foods is salmon because it's very forgiving. Some more delicate fish is easy to over cook on a grill, but salmon seems to stand up to the high heat and always turns out great. Here is a really good marinade that I use:

1/2 cup peanut oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons green onions, chopped
3 teaspoons brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wisk all of the ingredients together. Place salmon filet's in a zip lock bag and pour in the marinade. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

To cook, place filets on a hot grill and cook for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. I usually cook it for about 7 minutes with the skin side down and turn it over and cook the other side for just a couple of minutes.

A great side to this is grilled asparagus. Just place the trimmed spears on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and put on the grill for about 5 minutes. When you take it off the grill, I like to sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on top. Yum!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Harry's Pizza-One of the Best!

I've always loved pizza. I get it everywhere I go and always try to sample the local best whenever I'm out of town. Pizza is the kind of thing that is very personal...Ten different people will usually have ten different favorites. You always hear on TV that the two most popular styles of pizza are Chicago deep dish and New York style. In my opinion, those seem to be loved mostly by those that live or grew up in those city's, not so much by all of us in the rest of the country. Fat, chewy and stuffed like a calzone or thin, greasy, and limp just doesn't do it for me. The style that I prefer and I've discovered that many others do too is frequently referred to as Connecticut pizza...Usually referencing New Haven. This is where Harry's comes in.

Harry's is south of the city in a small shopping center near Donaldson's Crossroads in McMurry. The place is bright and clean. As you enter there is a bar to your left with tables and booths lining the wall to the right. While they have a bar, this is not really a drinking establishment. It's a nice bar if you are alone or just prefer to eat at a bar but I've never really seen more than one or two people sitting there.

The menu consists mainly of basic pizza's, speciality pizza's and salads. While the menu is somewhat limited, I like their approach. What they put on the menu they do very well. One of Stacy and my favorite meals there is to order and split a house salad, and a small pizza. The salad is only $5.50, but is plenty big as a side salad, and it is really good, not a bit of iceberg to be found! The pizza is really great. A thin crust, but crispy enough to pick up. While many people love the taste of brick oven pizza, this doesn't have the burnt bottom so common to that type of crust. The sauce and toppings are all very fresh and plentiful, and we have always been happy with the service.

While McMurry is a bit out of the way for most city dwellers, it's really worth an afternoon trip for something that's just not available here in town. Harry's is definitely one of my top three pizzas around Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gab 'n Eat, the best diner in Pittsburgh!

I love this place. Gab 'n Eat (yes, that's really the name) is on Washington Avenue (Route 50) in Carnegie, just a couple of minutes off the Parkway West. This place is a true greasy spoon. When you walk in there is a counter on the left with the grill behind it. Booths line the other side and fill the back. I usually sit at the counter because I love watching the cooks work their magic. The menu is typical diner fare but the food is exceptional and the portions are massive! They have a mixed grill that would feed a small army, and if you order "dippy" eggs they know what you mean. This is the kind of place where the coffee cups are all different, just like in my kitchen.

In addition to the breakfast menu, the hamburgers are one of the best anywhere in Pittsburgh, (and you know how I like Tessaro's!). They close in the mid afternoon on weekdays and around noon on the weekends and there is frequently a line, so be prepared to wait a few minutes. While the food is very good and plentiful the prices are low enough that I'd call this a bargain. As much as I love Pamela's, Deluca's and several other diners around town, Gab 'n Eat has always been my favorite.

Friday, March 5, 2010

One of my favorite party appetizers!

I love to cook and one of the most entertaining party ideas is to have an appetizer and wine tasting party. You just have everyone prepare some sort of unique appetizer and bring it along. If you have a small group, it's fun and educational to just prepare and cook each of them at the party. This way everyone that's interested can learn just how to make their favorite. It's a good idea to do this during a sporting event so that those that don't have the same passion for food (at least cooking it) can also enjoy themselves!

One of my favorites is a Broiled Salmon on an English Muffin. If you hate salmon, especially canned which this uses, DON'T BE AFRAID TO TRY THIS! I've had several salmon haters that love the taste of this recipe.

First, take a small can of salmon, (the size of a tuna can, whatever that is) and drain it thoroughly. Put it in a small mixing bowl and add about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and about a tablespoon of mayo. I actually use just a little more than a tablespoon, but use whatever you prefer. You can also add just a little bit of lemon juice, and sometimes I add just a small amount of diced onion.
Take six English muffin halves and toast them until they are just crispy. Spread some of the salmon mixture on top of each, and top each with some shredded mozzarella cheese. Put the muffins on a cookie sheet and place under a broiler, just long enough for the cheese to melt. Make sure you watch this! They will burn quickly. Before I serve, I like to garnish the top with a couple of slices of scallions, using just the green part sliced into about 1 inch pieces.

This has been a hit every time I've made them, even for those of you that don't like salmon.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What a beautiful city...

I just love the skyline of Pittsburgh. This picture was taken from my bedroom during the Mt. Washington house tour a couple of years ago. I just came across this and started to long for a nice sunny day. It seems as though we haven't seen the sun for months. On a sunny day, our city is really beautiful!