Trendy avocado toast makes for spendy snacking

Considering the golden slice of toast on my plate, my eyes stray a few feet to the kitchen fruit basket, cradling a ripe avocado.

But I just can’t do it. Not for breakfast, not with coffee. Not when my palate is craving anything sweet slathered or sprinkled on buttery toast.

I get it that mashed avocado is tantamount to vegan butter, and it’s “healthful” fat at that. (So is butter in my book.) Avocado, however, also is inimitably savory, and I rarely can stomach eggs or bacon before 10 a.m.

Yet its appeal at every meal must be part of what’s driving the avocado-toast craze, which has been mocked as an affectation of “bourgeois” millennials. It’s even been dubbed “the devil on toast” by

I had my own eye-rolling reaction to avocado toast when out for drinks last weekend at an Ashland hot spot. From the small-plates menu inspired by myriad cuisines, from the Mediterranean to Asia, the table next to ours selected avocado toast.

Really? I thought. Who pays top dollar in a restaurant for a snack that you can produce at home with a 79-cent avocado and a 15-cent slice of bread? Particularly when the presentation couldn’t have been more pedestrian: just mashed avocado spread onto sandwich bread; no dusting of spices, not even an herb garnish. Restaurants must be making a killing on this trend.

At least this eatery charges a mere $3.75 (not including Ashland meals tax) for avocado toast, compared with the $6.78 per pop that Square reports Americans on average are paying. That translates to $900,000 per month that Americans are spending on this green gimmick, up from $17,000 per month in 2014, according to Square data cited in Time magazine.

Despite exponential price increases in avocados over the past six months, everyone can keep more green in their wallets by making avocado toast at home. As the following recipe shows, preparation couldn’t be simpler. But at least test-kitchen cooks for the Kansas City Star suggested a variety of toppings that would go a long way toward making this dish restaurant-worthy.

End-of-season cherry tomatoes with ribbons of fresh basil would go well here. Although I still think I’d prefer a slice of fresh mozzarella.

Tribune News Service photo

Avocado Toast

1 ripe avocado, halved, seeded and peeled

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 slices country-style wheat bread, toasted

Using the tines of a fork, mash avocado in a bowl. Add lemon juice, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Stir to blend well. Divide between the two pieces of toast.

Serve as is or add a variation from below. Makes 2 servings.

Avocado Toast With Egg: Poach, scramble or hard cook an egg. Place egg on top of avocado toast and serve.

Bacon Avocado Toast: Top with a crisp turkey bacon slice that has been halved and crisscrossed across toast.

Tomato Basil Avocado Toast: Slice 4 cherry tomatoes and layer on avocado toast. Sprinkle with finely chopped basil.

Salsa Avocado Toast: Spread a tablespoon or two of salsa over toast.

Avocado Toast With Radishes: Thinly slice radishes and place on avocado toast. Add chopped chives.

Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast: Top avocado toast with thin slices of smoked salmon and sprinkle with minced fresh dill.

Strawberry Avocado Toast: Slice two or three strawberries and place on top of avocado toast.

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Chutney puts spice in pumpkin better than pie

It’s fall’s favorite flavor. But foods seasoned with “pumpkin-pie spice” (on my palate at least) usually prove sweeter than any pie and deficient in the spice department.

Not so with this chutney, strong on fresh chilies and ginger with an extra dose of cloves to go with the pumpkin-pie spice. White vinegar mitigates the sweetness of brown sugar.

Recipe testers for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette advocate this as a candidate for Thanksgiving favorite. Offer it as a dip for crackers or spread it on toast. Find more chutney recipes in this blog’s previous post and the current edition of A la Carte.

Tribune News Service photo

Spiced Pumpkin Chutney

2 1/2-pound pumpkin, peeled and seeded

2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped

2 small red chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

2 cups light-brown sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice

2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons peeled and minced, fresh ginger

2 1/2 cups white-wine vinegar

Dice the pumpkin. Place in a wide saucepan with remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Place pan over medium-high heat, bring to boil, then reduce to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until pumpkin is very tender and liquid has thickened, for 45 minutes to an hour. (If chutney thickens but pumpkin is not soft, partially cover and cook as needed.)

While chutney cooks, sterilize 2 (1-pint) canning jars and their lids in boiling water for several minutes. When chutney is ready, spoon it into jars, cover with lids and allow to cool. Can be stored unopened at room temperature for up to three months.

— Recipe from “Kitchen” by Nigella Lawson.

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Free-form chutneys commingle fruits, veggies

Forgiving. That’s how food-section columnist Jan Roberts-Dominguez described chutneys, those chunky, tangy, sweet-salty condiments that can contain all manner of fruits, vegetables and aromatics.

I’m ready for a forgiving form of preserving since helping a friend can whole and sauced tomatoes in an all-day marathon spent monitoring his additions of lemon juice. Then I was summoned to a brainstorming session with another friend who wanted to salvage a windfall of plums sans pectin. Anything that doesn’t require a recipe at this point is right up my alley.

Considering a bag of Comice pears that refuse to ripen, I think “chutney.” Ditto for my garden’s green tomatoes. Just about anything can constitute chutney given the right combination of seasonings.

Jan acknowledged that chutney is basically as vital to Indian cuisine as salsa is to Mexican. But her column didn’t chart chutney’s journey during the British colonial era across the Indian and Atlantic oceans to Europe. As a result, chutney recipes were modified somewhat with additions of vinegar to give them a longer shelf life. And ingredients were expanded to include the seasonal bounty of English orchards —apples, quince and damson plums — along with sweet, dried fruits such as raisins for added flavor.

That explanation came courtesy of a 2016 story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which also offered these tips for making your own chutneys.

•       Always start with the freshest ingredients. If the fruit has bruised spots, cut them out.

•       Cook the chutney in a nonreactive pan, such as stainless steel, glass or enamel-lined cast-iron. Aluminum and copper react with acidic foods, imparting a metallic taste.

•       Keep an eye on the cooking pot. Because it contains sugar, chutney can easily burn.

•       Cook the fruit down until it’s thick and fairly dry. You’ll know it’s done when the mixture sticks to the back of the spoon. It shouldn’t be runny.

•       Don’t be afraid to experiment with different fruits and spices. Something you’re not particularly fond of eating out of hand can be magically transformed when cooked with sugar and vinegar.

That’s how I feel about this recipe, which brightens carrots with fresh ginger, calling to mind really good versions of carrot cake. Golden raisins are a natural, given their pairing with shredded carrots in a classic salad.

This crunchy, spicy chutney can be served with feta, farmer’s cheese or any other salty pressed cheese. It’s also delicious with cold meats or on top of rice.

Tribune News Service photo

Spiced Carrot Chutney

1 pound medium carrots

1 small yellow onion

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 ounce fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 cup white-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Peel carrots and trim off tops and bottoms. Grate carrots on largest holes of a box grater. Yield will be about 3 cups. Set aside.

Peel the onion. Grate it on largest holes of box grater. Set aside.

In a blender jar, puree the garlic, ginger and vinegar, on high, for 2 minutes or until smooth.

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until most liquid is reduced.

Remove chutney from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 2 cups.

— Recipe from “Composing the Cheese Plate: Recipes, Pairings and Platings for the Inventive Cheese Course,” by Brian Keyser and Leigh Friend (Running Press, September 2016, $22).

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Fridge on the fritz brings food waste into focus

A new cooler purchased with the intent to expand our outdoor cooking proved indispensable when our refrigerator went on the fritz last week.

Summer camping left us with blocks of ice that just fit our Cabela’s cooler. Transferring those from the auxiliary freezer in our garage left plenty of room for our freezer cache from INSIDE the house.

Because I couldn’t fit the refrigerator’s entire contents into the cooler, I had to think logically and get choosy. Mindful of safe storage temperatures, I transferred fruits and veggies into our small beverage refrigerator on the other side of the kitchen. Tortillas, peanut butter, maple syrup, jam, oil and their ilk simply sat on the counter. And anything that was close to being tossed anyway — or hadn’t been used in a while — I abandoned in the malfunctioning refrigerator to await its ultimate fate.

I typically view our shelves of condiments with a jaundiced eye. But the detritus still littering our refrigerator convinced me more than ever that we were prone to purchasing plenty of nonessentials: sauces and seasonings that promise exciting flavor and convenience but ultimately aren’t worth their price tags. Not when we routinely make vinaigrette from a good inventory of flavored vinegars and barbecue sauce from tomato paste, molasses, still more vinegar, sugar and other seasonings.

It had never been clearer that the multicolored jars and bottles weren’t just a waste of money; they literally would go to waste. After confirming that the “best by” dates on bottles of Chinese oyster sauce and Hawaiian coconut syrup had elapsed years ago, I couldn’t conscience moving them into a fridge newer than they were.

Food waste has been a hot topic again in the news, with one story citing a source at the University of Pennsylvania, who estimates that the average American family of four wastes up to $2,200 per year. I’ve become convinced over the past year that keeping a flock of chickens may not be strictly economical, once you pencil out the cost per egg. But the birds’ appetites have noticeably reduced what ends up in our trash can. Even if it’s a monetary wash, the cycle of scraps into eggs is more satisfying than purchasing eggs outright.

Condiments may be my downfall. But I consider myself thrifty in other areas of the grocery store and already practice most of these tips for reducing food waste, courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency. “Rotating,” or putting older items in the front of the fridge where they get used first, is one of my particular obsessions.

Tips to be Thrifty

Be mindful that old ingredients and leftovers need to be used first.

Shop in your refrigerator first. Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.

Have produce that’s past its prime? It might still be fine for cooking. Think of making soups, casseroles, stir fries, sauces, baked goods, pancakes or smoothies.

Freeze, preserve or can surplus fruits and vegetables — especially when in abundance during the season.

Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the things needed for those meals.

Buy only what you need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.

Put older food items in the front in the refrigerator. This way you will end up using them first.

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Succotash won’t suffer for summer’s leftovers

Kernels of sweet corn, pulses of overgrown string beans. Both are the seeds of a meal that practically makes itself, or so I thought, putting away dinner’s leftover pork ribs, steamed beans and corn on the cob.

A meal in its own right, succotash also is a fitting repository for those odds and ends of the summer garden. It can accommodate that half of zucchini that wasn’t sauteed for pasta or frittata, that half of tomato sliced for sandwiches or burgers. Those sliced scallions and chilies that evaded one last taco.

And while I could happily fry up some bacon strips for this purpose, it’s also a perfect use for drippings, particularly rendered from high-quality meat, or so I recently persuaded a friend with a can of bacon grease on hand.

This recipe from the Chicago Tribune dispenses with slicing the kernels from the corn cobs, making a quick recipe that much speedier. The Tribune’s recipe testers suggest serving it over cooked rice, but I think quinoa or couscous would be a nice backdrop, too.

Tribune News Service photo

Corn and Bacon Succotash

Cook 6 strips of bacon in a skillet until crisp, for about 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate; crumble when cool.

To drippings in skillet, add 1 onion, peeled and chopped; cook, stirring, until lightly browned, for 7 minutes. Add 1/2 red bell pepper, cored and chopped; 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced; 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme; and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken broth; cook, stirring up any browned bits, for 2 minutes.

Add 4 ears corn, each cut into thirds, and 2 cups fresh lima beans; cook, turning corn often, until tender, for about 5 minutes. Stir in cooked bacon. Serve over cooked rice.

Makes 4 servings.

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Abundant eggs, peppers, tomatoes fill fall tart

It’s almost a surreal experience to eat a sun-ripened peach for breakfast while gazing out the window at a world turned chilly and rainy.

The change in the weather hasn’t yet brought about the garden’s demise. But it’s time to hustle, as my mother-in-law reminded me today. All those chilies that we’ve been waiting to ripen so they can be smoked won’t get much ruddier. And any tomato that’s blushing pink should be plucked and deposited indoors.

Our chickens seem to be making one final push, as well, producing more eggs than we can consume in our usual meals. So I offered to make a quiche for my mother-in-law, who hasn’t felt up to the task of cooking this week. I almost apologetically reminded her that it would start with store-bought pie crust. But as many garden veggies as I can cram into the pan will redeem the recipe.

If I had a bit more energy, myself, or more time in between spates of harvesting, I’d really wow her with this pastry that I’ve wanted to make for the past two summers. Studded with whole cumin seeds, it’s a slightly savory vehicle for this peppery, tomatoey filling that embraces several whole eggs. While she’d likely be impressed with homemade pastry, my mother-in-law might think the world had started turning in the opposite direction if I made a dish with her beloved green bell peppers, which I loathe.

Because the filling can be refrigerated for up to a week, I could pull off that and the pastry (which also can be premade) in separate stints in the kitchen. Our garden tomatoes, peeled and chopped, would be an ideal substitute for the canned ones in this recipe. The filling can go into tart shell cold before baking.

Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey

Mexican Tomato Tart With Cumin Pastry

2 cups flour, plus more for work surface

2 teaspoons cumin seed

8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped

28 ounces canned, no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

5 very fresh large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cumin seed, butter and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pulse until butter is reduced to pea-sized pieces. With processor motor running, dribble in the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough just starts to hold together. Add extra water as needed.

Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer dough to work surface; knead dough briefly, then shape it into a flat disc. Pastry dough can be refrigerated, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days; bring it to room temperature before rolling out and baking.

Use a rolling pin to roll it out to about 14 inches in diameter, then carefully transfer it to tart pan. Trim edges even with rim and prick bottom with a fork in several places, then cover it with parchment paper or aluminum foil and add dried beans or coins to weigh it down. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until pastry feels firm to the touch.

Remove paper or foil and weights; bake crust for 10 minutes, until bottom feels crisp. Remove from the oven; reduce temperature to 350 F.

Meanwhile, make tart filling: Pour the oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Once oil shimmers, add the onions and bell peppers. Cover and cook until vegetables begin to get tender, for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and crushed red-pepper flakes; cook, uncovered, until filling becomes quite thick, for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Remove from heat; taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Spread filling evenly in parbaked tart shell. Create a large well in center, for 1 of the eggs, then create 4 more, evenly spaced around edge. Crack eggs into depressions and season each lightly with salt and pepper.

Cover tart with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven until egg whites are set but yolks are still runny, for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe adapted by the Washington Post from “The Best of Rose Elliot: The Ultimate Vegetarian Collection” (Hamlyn, 2014).

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Wild-caught shrimp make sophisticated burger

More often than I determine my household’s menus, the food dictates what I’m serving.

This time of year, it’s our garden with its seasonal bounty that compels me to get creative with summer squash, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans until my repertoire is exhausted. After several repetitive weeks, it comes as no surprise when my husband steps in with his dinner wish list.

Most recently, Will’s requests included “enchiladas” composed with strips of zucchini instead of tortillas, chicken skewers that evoke Buffalo hot wings and a “good” burger. What qualifies the last in this list has much to do with the quality of the bun, some unexpected condiments and a patty composed of something other than run-of-the-mill beef. It could be fish, lamb, a turkey-miso-tofu blend or even a homemade bean-and-veggie substitute for meat.

I suggested these shrimp burgers prepared with the frozen, wild-caught Gulf shrimp that I’ve taken to keeping on hand. Even better that the Chicago Tribune’s recipe incorporates a variation on aioli, which Will can’t resist.

The method requires a bit more work than the average burger, but that’s precisely the reason to make these. With fresh herbs, juicy new cloves of garlic, heat from sun-warmed jalapenos and that perfect slice of garden tomato, these burst with flavor.

Tribune News Service photo

Shrimp Burgers With Jalapeno Mayonnaise

1 ½ pounds peeled, deveined uncooked shrimp

½ small onion, peeled and quartered

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 loosely packed cups brioche or white bread cubes

1 egg white

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh chives

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley

6 brioche burger buns, split

12 very thin slices ripe tomato

1 ½ cups fresh watercress or baby spinach leaves

Safflower, sunflower or expeller-pressed canola oil

Put about half of the shrimp into bowl of a food processor; pulse several times to chop coarsely. Transfer to a large bowl.

Without cleaning processor bowl, pulse the onion and garlic until finely chopped. Add remaining shrimp and the bread; pulse until shrimp is finely chopped. Add the egg white, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times until mixture is a coarse puree.

Add shrimp puree mixture to bowl with chopped shrimp. Fold in the chives and parsley. Divide mixture into 6 even mounds. Refrigerate up to a few hours if desired.

Split the buns and toast them lightly in a toaster oven or under broiler (watch carefully). Have the mayonnaise, tomato slices and watercress near cooking surface.

Heat a large, nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add a thin film of the oil. Once oil is shimmering hot, add a shrimp mixture mound. Use a spatula to press mound into a 1-inch-thick patty. Repeat with remaining shrimp mounds. Cook burgers over medium heat until bottoms are beautifully golden, for about 6 minutes. Flip carefully. Cook until golden on second side, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spread insides of buns generously with mayonnaise. Put a pile of watercress on bottom bun; top it with 2 tomato slices. Add a shrimp patty and top bun. Repeat and serve. Makes 6 servings.

JALAPENO MAYONNAISE: In a small, heavy skillet over medium heat, cook 1 medium-large jalapeno until charred on all sides, for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. When cool, remove stem. Cut in half and scrape out seeds. Chop flesh very finely and transfer to a small bowl. Add ½ cup mayonnaise and stir in 1 tablespoon each chopped, fresh chives and parsley; ½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest; and a pinch of salt. Refrigerate, covered, up to several days. Serve at room temperature.

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Cedar planks a foolproof fix for fish that sticks

Cooking salmon skin-side down without flipping it, as explained in this blog’s previous post, ensures moist, succulent flesh.

Another popular method both flavors the fish and makes for an eye-catching presentation. Cedar planks for use on gas and charcoal grills are sold at almost any big-box or hardware store, even many mainstream grocers.

Regardless of the recipe, about 10 minutes of cooking time per inch thickness of fish is the general rule of thumb. If in doubt, check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Remove fish from the grill when it reaches 130 F at let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Be certain to allow time for soaking cedar planks before grilling. And use them over indirect heat, instead of direct flame, which will burn even presoaked planks.

Find a variation on this sweet mustardy glaze with the story on salmon in this month’s Oregon Healthy Living magazine.

Tribune News Service photo

Cedar-Planked Salmon Fillets With Broccolini

1 untreated cedar plank, 12 to 15 inches long and about 7 inches wide

1 skin-on salmon fillet, about 1 1/2 pounds and 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 pound broccolini, stem ends trimmed and split lengthwise 1/2-inch below florets

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Soak cedar plank in water for at least several hours or overnight.

Prepare grill for medium heat, about 375 to 400 F.

Cut the salmon into 4 equal pieces and generously season with the salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, mix the mustard and brown sugar into a paste. Spread paste all over salmon. Toss the broccolini with the oil, salt and pepper to taste

Place soaked cedar plank over direct medium heat and close lid. After 5 to 10 minutes, when plank begins to smoke and char, turn plank over. Place fillets, skin-sides down, in a single layer on plank, leaving a little room between fillets. Place broccolini on grates surrounding plank.

Grill fillets and broccolini with lid closed until salmon is cooked to desired doneness and broccolini is crisp-tender, for about 12 to 15 minutes, turning vegetables and checking salmon for doneness every 5 minutes. Broccolini will char a little on floret ends.

Transfer salmon fillets to plates. In a bowl, toss broccolini with the orange zest and serve with salmon.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted by the Detroit Free Press from “Weber’s New Real Grilling,” by Jamie Purviance (Sunset, $24.95).

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Sussing out salmon’s origins safeguards nutrition

Salmon can have some fishy origins of which consumers may be hard-pressed to determine.

Such was the subtext of this month’s article on salmon in Oregon Healthy Living magazine. Farm-raised species, genetically modified organisms, even the spawn of local hatcheries all have nutritional drawbacks. Amid these concerns, wild Alaskan salmon — albeit frozen — emerges as the preferred choice of nutrition experts interviewed for my story.

I don’t gravitate toward salmon as a matter of course. There simply are other fish species that I prefer flavor-wise, and those often are more cost-conscious.

But when a friend showed up at our doorstep at 8 a.m. with not one, but two, fall chinook wrested from the Rogue River a mere mile upstream a scant hour ago, I was overjoyed. Despite a childhood spent trying our luck amid the spring and fall chinook runs, I’m rarely treated these days to salmon that’s same-day fresh.

We gratefully accepted a fillet and also salvaged the heads for stock. Those toothed maws are safely stashed in the freezer until the weather cools enough to warrant standing over a simmering pot. And until such time when the smell of roasting salmon bones won’t compete with the region’s stagnant, smoky air. Salmon stock, I discovered several years ago after the same friend shared his fish, makes a lovely bisque.

Preparing the fresh fish, I often favor notes of soy, citrus and ginger. It was easy to mix up a marinade of soy sauce, rice-wine vinegar and a splash of sherry with liberal amounts of fresh minced ginger and garlic.

I marinated the fish flesh-side down for about 30 minutes, then seared it skin-side down in a cast-iron skillet for five minutes. The very top layer of flesh finished cooking in another five minutes. I added some brown sugar to the marinade, boiled it for five minutes, then tossed it with some cubes of sautéed eggplant. A salad of quick-pickled cucumber and chili slices made a nice contrast.

The marinade in this recipe is similar, although it calls for ground ginger. Twice the quantity of fresh ginger could be substituted. Cutting the salmon into long, thin strips and skewering it makes for a fun presentation that also could facilitate cooking and eating it outdoors. You will need 4 wood skewers, 10 inches long.

Tribune News Service photo

Ginger Glazed Salmon on a Stick

1/2 pound fillet of king salmon (chinook salmon)

1 teaspoon kosher or Maldon salt

1/2 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons honey

1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Splash of apple-cider vinegar (optional)

2 tablespoons melted butter

Bring grill to medium-high heat.

Cut the salmon fillet into long, 1-inch-wide strips. Pat them dry and sprinkle them with the salt.

In a small saucepan over high heat, mix the orange juice, honey, soy sauce, ginger and vinegar. Simmer until reduced by one-third. If mixture becomes too thick, loosen it with another tablespoon vinegar.

Measure out 2 tablespoons glaze, reserving remainder to serve with fish. Mix the melted butter with 2 tablespoons glaze.

With salmon strips lying skin-sides down, brush flesh side of strips with butter-glaze mixture. Drive skewers lengthwise through salmon strips.

Grill skewers for 5 to 7 minutes total, rotating them continuously. Salmon is done when it just flakes. Serve with reserved glaze.

Makes 4 salmon sticks.

Recipe from “Grill Fire: 100 + Recipes & Techniques for Mastering the Flame,” by Lex Taylor (Sterling Epicure, $24.95).

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Asian-Latin fusion dishes transform sweet corn

A feast of sweet corn was this week’s food-section feature. Cooks who had their fill of munching corn from the cob found recipes in the newspaper’s e-edition for corn soup, soufflé and Mexican street corn, aka elotes.

A south-of-the-border staple, elotes has been bandied about in American food publications quite a bit over the past few summers. This blog posted two recipes last summer that riff on Mexico’s classic on-the-cob presentation. Esquites is essentially a corn salad that combines many of elotes’ flavors. Tuck those same seasonings into empanadas for yet another portable snack.

Years before elotes or esquites were on my radar, I was creating my own Asian-Latin-fusion dish for summertime picnics. In the same vein, the Chicago Tribune’s Leah Eskin shared her potluck-friendly version of fried rice that marries the flavors of elotes’ mayonnaise and chilies with soy sauce and Sriracha.

I think I’d up the ante with some products recently purchased at Medford’s remodeled Asia Grocery Market. Commonly sprinkled over noodle dishes, togarashi is Japan’s answer to Mexico’s Tajín seasoning. In lieu of Sriracha, I’ve been reaching for gochujang, Korea’s fermented red chili paste that packs an umami punch.

Tribune News Service

Elote Fried Rice

4 tablespoons fat (peanut or coconut oil, or lard)

2 thumb-size pieces ginger, peeled and sliced thick

3 garlic cloves, peeled and kept whole

2 ears corn, roasted, kernels sliced off cobs

4 cups cooked rice, cooled

2 tablespoons soy sauce

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 scallions, trimmed and sliced as thinly as possible

2 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferably Kewpie or Just Mayo

½ cup slightly crushed chicharron or roasted peanuts

½ cup cilantro, whole leaves and tender stems

¼ cup grated cotija cheese or nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon Tajín seasoning or ground chilies

Lime wedges, for serving

Sriracha or other hot sauce, for serving

Smoked salt (optional), to taste

Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat; add 2 tablespoons of the fat, carefully swirling to coat pan. Add the ginger and garlic; stir-fry until garlic is fragrant and barely browns, for about 10 seconds. Add corn; stir-fry just to coat with fat, for 30 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon remaining fat, carefully swirling. Add rice; stir-fry, carefully breaking up any clumps, until just coated and hot, for 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce around edge of rice; stir-fry to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining fat as needed.

Turn off heat; stir in the scallions quickly. Transfer to a big serving bowl. Remove ginger and garlic, if desired.

Garnish with squiggles of the mayo, then a shower of the chicharron, cilantro, cotija and Tajín to taste. Serve with the lime wedges, Sriracha and smoked salt on the side.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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