Homemade Maple-Bacon Crunch Ice Cream

July may be National Ice Cream Month, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best time to indulge yourself in one of America’s favorite pastimes. And that is especially true if it is August, the temperature is pushing 100 degrees and you’ve been standing outside watching youth baseball.

Without getting into too many specifics, I found myself slurping an ice cream cone today after watching my grandson’s team win its opening game in the Midwest Plains Regional Baseball Tournament for 13-year-olds. And as far as I’m concerned, anytime is a good time to eat an ice cream cone.

If you are like me, just about any kind of ice cream will do when it’s hot. But when you get right down to it, the best ice cream is homemade.

Here’s a recipe for some homemade ice cream that looks especially intriguing since it contains bacon brittle. (Who can resist bacon?) The recipe is adapted from one in Food Network magazine’s July/August 2012 issue.

Maple-Bacon Crunch Ice Cream
FOR ICE CREAM:
3 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup 2 percent or whole milk
1 cup maple syrup
2 cups heavy whipping cream
FOR BACON BRITTLE:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for the baking sheet
3 strips thick-sliced smoked bacon
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile powder or a pinch of cayenne pepper
To make the ice cream: In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a saucepan and whisk in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until almost simmering (the mixture should be thick enough to coat a spoon), about 5 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until very cold, about 30 to 45 minutes.
To make the bacon brittle: Butter a rimmed baking sheet. Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to paper towels to drain. Let the bacon cool, then finely chop.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it melts and turns golden, about 4 minutes. (If lumps form, remove from the heat and continue stirring until melted.) Continue to cook, stirring, until light amber, about 2 more minutes.
Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the butter. Carefully stir in the baking soda, then stir in the bacon and chile powder. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and let cool until set, about 10 to 15 minutes. Break into bite-size pieces, then smash about one-third of the brittle into shards with a meat mallet or heavy skillet. Reserve the remaining brittle in a container for up to 3 days.
Stir the cream into the chilled custard. Churn in an ice cream maker. Stir in the bacon brittle shards. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Serve sprinkled with some of the remaining bacon brittle, if desired.
Yield: About 1 quart.
Approximate nutritional analysis per ½ cup serving: 395 calories, 36 percent of calories from fat, 16 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 61 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 179 milligrams sodium, 127 milligrams cholesterol, no fiber.

Slow-Cooked Italian Chicken with Noodles

There’s no doubt that spices are a wonderful way to make food tastier. They can make even the blandest food desirable without adding fat, sugar or salt.

Of course, some foods don’t need any spices, but often, they can be made even tastier with a dash of this spice or that spice.

The following recipe, courtesy of McCormick, the spice people, is for slow cooker chicken that is enhanced with some thyme and oregano leaves. It’s a recipe that looks really good to me and one that I’m sure that everyone will love.

Slow-Cooked Italian Chicken with Noodles
1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
1½ teaspoons oregano leaves
1 14½-ounce can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1½ cups thinly sliced carrots
1 large onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
3 cups uncooked no yolk egg noodles
¾ cup frozen peas
Cut each chicken thigh into 4 pieces. Sprinkle with thyme and oregano.
Place chicken broth, tomatoes, carrots and onion slices in slow cooker. Top with chicken. Cover.
Cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Stir in noodles and peas. Cover. Cook 15 to 20 minutes on high or just until noodles are tender.
Tip: For best results, do not remove slow-cooker cover during cooking.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 325 calories, 9 grams fat, 33 grams carbohydrates, 76 milligrams cholesterol, 454 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber, 28 grams protein.

Spiced-Up Steak

One spice that I like a lot is cumin. For one thing, it’s an essential ingredient in my 10-Alarm Chili.

While cumin is know worldwide (the member of the parsley family is native from the east Mediterranean to East India), more and more people in the U.S. are starting to use the aromatic, somewhat bitter spice in their cooking.

I imagine the trend in this country started in the Southwest, where Mexican cuisine is prevalent. Cumin, or "comino" as its called south of the border, is an ingredient in virtually all Mexican meat and bean dishes. It’s also popular in European countries. For example, Swiss and Dutch cooks use cumin seed to flavor certain cheeses, while those in other countries flavor breads with cumin.

I recently came a cross an interesting recipe using cumin. It was among several that I received from McCormick, the spice people. It’s called Roasted Cumin-Crusted Grilled Steaks with Tomato Relish. (See the other recipes at www.mccormickgourmet.com.)

Since this is grilling season, I’m considering trying it out on some vacuumed-sealed elk steaks that we have in the freezer. After the steaks are grilled, they are served with a tomato relish. That’s the kind of meal that’s right up my alley.

Roasted Cumin-Crusted Grilled Steaks with Tomato Relish
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Roasted Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Oregano Leaves, Mediterranean
1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt
½ teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Garlic Powder
¼ teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Red Pepper, Ground Cayenne
1 pound boneless beef sirloin or New York strip steaks (about ¾-inch thick)
1 pint assorted colors cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 2 cups)
¼ cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Mix sugar, cumin, oregano, sea salt, garlic powder and red pepper in small bowl until well blended. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture. Brush steaks lightly with oil. Rub remaining spice mixture on both sides of steaks. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor.
Meanwhile, mix tomatoes, onion, oil, vinegar and reserved spice mixture in medium bowl. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Grill steaks over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Slice steak and serve with Tomato Relish.
Note: For maximum flavor, refrigerate steaks for 2 hours after rubbing with spice mixture. Tomato Relish also can be prepared earlier in the day and refrigerated until ready to serve.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 267 calories, 15 grams fat, 24 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 57 milligrams cholesterol 560 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

2010 Grilling Forecast

Several times during the year, I get a release from McCormick, the spice people, highlighting their “Flavor Forecast” for the season.

This year, they’ve turned out their first-ever Grilling Edition of their signature Flavor Forecast, identifying top sizzling pairings and summer flavor trends.

According to Kevan Vetter, executive chef at McCormick, “this season, expect to see backyard grillers experimenting with flavor layering — high-impact combinations of rubs, marinades, glazes and more — to boost flavor before, during and after grilling. Another exciting trend is taking cues from traditional cocktail flavors and ingredients — rediscovering them as inspiration on the grill.”

Here are McCormick’s top five grilling trends:

Backyard Bistro — The surging popularity of at-home entertaining continues as grillers recreate the foods and flavors from their favorite eateries.
Layer It On! — Grill masters are embracing creativity by merging marinades, rubs, brines, mops, sauces and more.
Fired Up Fruit — Grilled fruits are being skewered alongside meats, pureed to make tenderizing marinades, and chopped for salsas and relishes.
Ethnic Sizzle — Nearly every cuisine around the globe claims a place on the grill — especially current favorites like Caribbean, Latin, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian.
Shaken, Stirred and Grilled — Using flavorful spirits in place of vinegars or other liquids is paving the way for new combinations like mojito marinades and bourbon-spiked pork tenderloin.

These delicious driving forces will showcase flavors that combine everything from sweet and spicy to warm and smoky, according to Vetter. The experts at McCormick have identified these seven pairings:

Applewood and Plum — Juicy plums accent the smokiness of applewood and add adventurous flair to all-American barbecue.
Cilantro and Lime — Cutting across the diverse cuisines, this bright and zingy pair is a refreshing taste of summertime.
Rosemary and Fig — Figs are an unexpected and regionally inspired match for aromatic rosemary.
Chipotle and Maple — This culinary comingling delivers an updated take on smoky, spicy and sweet.
Brown Sugar and Bourbon — A versatile duo that brings a delicious dose of Southern charm to the patio.
Cinnamon and Coffee — Bold and confident — with just the right edge of bitterness.
Red Chili Sauce and Mango —The unmistakable flavor of mango takes hot or sweet red chili sauce far beyond mere “condiment status.”

For more on these grilling trends and flavors, visit www.flavorforecast.com. Recipes and grilling tips are available at www.grillmates.com and www.lawrys.com.

For a sneak peek, here are a couple of recipes that I thought looked pretty appealing.

Applewood Grilled Shrimp and Plum Salad with Cinnamon-Honey Dressing
6 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup plum jelly
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon McCormick Grill Mates Applewood Rub
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 pound extra large shrimp (16 to 20 count), peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 plums, quartered
4 cups spring mix salad greens
6 slices applewood bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
½ cup fresh raspberries
FOR THE CINNAMON HONEY DRESSING:
½ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt
½ teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Roasted Saigon Cinnamon
For the cinnamon honey dressing, mix lemon juice, honey, sea salt and roasted cinnamon in small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil. Set aside.
Mix plum jelly and water in small bowl. Mix Applewood Rub and lemon peel. Thread shrimp onto skewers. Brush with oil. Coat with Rub mixture.
Grill shrimp skewers over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes per side or just until shrimp turn pink, brushing occasionally with plum jelly mixture. Grill plums 1 to 2 minutes or until grill marks appear, turning frequently and brushing with 2 tablespoons of the Cinnamon Honey Dressing. Cut plums into slices.
To serve, divide salad greens among 6 plates. Top each with shrimp, plums, raspberries and bacon. Serve immediately with remaining Cinnamon Honey Dressing.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional information per serving: 335 calories, 19 grams fat, 15 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 120 milligrams cholesterol, 701 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Applewood-Rubbed Ribs with Daikon-Plum Slaw
RIBS:
3 to 4 pounds pork baby back ribs
6 to 8 tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Applewood Rub
½ cup plum preserves
SLAW:
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup plum preserves
¼ teaspoon Sea Salt from McCormick Sea Salt Grinder
1 daikon radish (1 pound), peeled, shredded and drained of excess liquid (3 cups)
½ medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced (½ cup)
½ cup shredded carrots
Pickled ginger (optional)
For the ribs, place ribs on foil-lined baking pan. Rub Applewood Rub evenly over both sides of ribs. Cover with foil. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven 1 hour or until meat starts to pull away from bones. Transfer ribs to grill. Stir plum preserves until smooth. Brush over ribs.
Grill ribs over medium-high heat 3 to 5 minutes per side or until evenly browned.
For the slaw, mix vinegar, plum preserves and sea salt in small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Toss radish, cucumber and carrots in large bowl. Divide evenly among 6 plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Garnish with pickled ginger, if desired. Serve with Applewood Ribs.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 638 calories, 38 grams fat, 40 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 148 milligrams cholesterol, 732 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Do The Jerk

As if people who love to grill using marinades and barbecue sauces need another reason to continue this popular pastime, researchers at the University of Western Ontario in London have obliged them.

A new study published recently in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis has found that sauces and marinades are a rich source of antioxidants (cancer-fighting agents) if they contain spices and herbs.

The Canadian researchers tested seven popular brands and flavors of marinade containing herbs and spices as the main ingredients. These included jerk sauce, garlic and herb, honey garlic, roasted red pepper, lemon pepper garlic, sesame ginger teriyaki and green seasoning.

The study found two varieties contained the most antioxidants. The jerk and sesame/ginger/teriyaki combination outperformed the other five sauces tested because they contain substantial quantities of ingredients such as hot peppers, allspice, sesame and ginger.

The researchers did offer one caveat, though: Marinating meat before cooking reduces antioxidant levels by 45 percent to 70 percent. But the lead study author says despite the antioxidant loss after marinating and cooking, the sauces still provide benefits.

The researchers offered a couple of ways to get around losing some of effects of the antioxidants — choosing sauces with the highest antioxidant levels before marinating and cooking, brushing the sauce on just before serving the meat or consuming it without cooking. They also said some marinades can be used as a salad dressing.

Besides their cancer-fighting properties, antioxidants also play a huge role in preventing cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, inflammation and problems associated with aging.

Following is a grilled chicken recipe that fits right in with study’s findings. And not a bad way to start the grilling season, I might add.

Grilled Island-Style Chicken
1½ cups Jerk Marinade (see recipe)
1 3½-pound) broiler fryer, cut into serving pieces (or 3 pounds breast, leg and thigh pieces)
Discard excess fat from chicken and put pieces in a large, self-sealing food storage bag. Pour on 1 cup marinade and rub it in, lifting the skin and pushing marinade under where possible. (If you have sensitive skin, wear rubber gloves.) Seal and refrigerate at least 2 hours and as long as 24 hours, turning occasionally.
Heat grill to medium-high; oil the grates. Lift chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off (discard marinade). Place on grill and cover. Cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is blackened in spots, about 10 minutes.
Move chicken to a cooler part of the grill. Grill, covered, basting from time to time with remaining ½ cup marinade, until chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 649 calories, 62 percent of calories from fat, 39 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 167 milligrams cholesterol, 40 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 420 milligrams sodium.

Jerk Marinade
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon dry leaf thyme (not powdered)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 inches fresh ginger, washed and cut into chunks
½ Scotch bonnet pepper or 3 or more jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small bunch scallions, trimmed and coarsely chopped
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: About 1½ cups.

Mediterranean Cooking

One of the nice things I like most about being a food writer is the access to so many good recipes. I have a number of sources, and the list keeps growing everyday.

One that is rapidly becoming a favorite is McCormick & Co., the spice people. Recently, a McCormick release centered on the Mediterranean Diet, which was introduced to the U.S. in the 1990s and since has attracted much attention.

It pointed out that the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, which was developed in 1993 by Oldways, a nonprofit food issues think tank, was updated to showcase the role of herbs and spices.

According to K. Dun Gifford, president of Oldways, updating the pryamid to emphasize herbs and spices was an easy choice, considering there is a growing body of research linking herbs and spices and their high levels of antioxidants with an array of promising health benefits.

But what I like most about the material sent by McCormick are the recipes, including the following one-pan supper that can be served simply with a fruit or vegetable salad.

Rosemary-Baked Chicken with Potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1½ teaspoons rosemary leaves, finely crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, coarsely round
½ teaspoon garlic powder
6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed (about 2 pounds)
1½ pounds small red potatoes, halved
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix oil, paprika, rosemary, sea salt, pepper and garlic powder in large bowl. Add chicken and potatoes; toss to coat well.
Arrange potatoes in single layer on foil-lined 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan sprayed with no stick cooking spray. Bake 15 minutes. Push potatoes to one side of pan. Place chicken on pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes longer or until the potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through, turning potatoes occasionally.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 264 calories, 12 grams fat, 20 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 64 milligrams cholesterol, 334 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Spice Up The Grill

Just about everyone I know loves food from the grill. And many of them are looking for ways to boost their health. 

So, can the two peacefully coexist? The answer is yes.

While grilling has gotten a bad name in some corners because cooking meat over intense heat can produce cancer-causing agents, there are several ways to make this form of preparing food healthy while keeping it a flavorful and fun way to cook.

One way is to choose foods that are low in fat (chicken, fish and lean red meats), high in nutrients and full in flavor. But perhaps a more novel approach is to incorporate herbs and spices into your grilling.

Used in marinades and rubs, antioxidant-rich herbs such as basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage and spices such as cinnamon, ground red pepper and ginger not only can enhance nutrition value and flavor, they also can reduce the formation of free radicals (bad stuff) when meat hits heat.

That goes right along with what author Wendy Bazilian suggests in "The Superfoods Rx Diet."

“People might be surprised to learn that one-half teaspoon of ground cinnamon has as many antioxidants as one-half cup of raspberries or strawberries, and just one-half teaspoon of oregano has as many antioxidants as 3 cups of fresh spinach,” Bazilian says.

Cinnamon and oregano are two of the seven Super Spices that the spice-maker McCormick is touting for their antioxidant activity.

And Bazilian notes that using spices is a convenient and good way to save money during these topsy-turvy economic times "because the Super Spices (also ginger, red pepper, yellow curry, rosemary and thyme) are commonly found in home pantries."

While I haven’t gotten my grill out of the garage yet (my Foreman has proved to be a too easy alternative), this might be just the excuse I’ve needed.

And if that isn’t enough, there are the following recipes, which look pretty tasty.

Cayenne-Cinnamon Ribs with Maple Glaze
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt from sea salt grinder
3 pounds pork baby back ribs
¼ cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix brown sugar and spices in small bowl. Rub spice mixture onto both sides of ribs. Place ribs in single layer in foil-lined roasting pan. Cover with foil.
Bake 1 hour or until meat starts to pull away from bones.
Preheat grill to medium heat. Brush ribs with maple syrup. Grill ribs 3 to 5 minutes per side or until browned.
Tip: Use ½ to 1 teaspoon ground red pepper in place of the crushed red pepper.
All Grilling Directions: Preheat grill to low heat. Rub ribs with spice mixture as directed. Wrap ribs with 2 to 3 layers of heavy duty aluminum foil, sealing ends tightly. Grill ribs 1 hour. Remove foil. Brush ribs with maple syrup. Grill ribs 3 to 5 minutes per side or until browned.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 343 calories, 23 grams fat, 15 grams carbohydrates, 92 milligrams cholesterol, 282 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber, 19 grams protein.
Source: McCormick’s.

Grilled Chicken with Red Pepper Harissa
1 4-ounce jar roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
½ teaspoon sugar
1¼ teaspoons garlic powder, divided
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon salt
1 medium yellow squash, halved crosswise and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices
1 medium zucchini, halved crosswise and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
For the Red Pepper Harissa, place roasted red peppers, 1 teaspoon each of the oil and vinegar, ½ teaspoon of the cumin, sugar, ¼ teaspoon of the garlic powder and crushed red pepper in blender or food processor; cover. Process or blend until a chunky sauce forms. (Do not puree.) Set aside.
Mix remaining 1 tablespoon each oil and vinegar, paprika, remaining 1 teaspoon garlic powder, remaining ½ teaspoon cumin and salt in small bowl. Place vegetables in large bowl. Add ½ of the spice mixture; toss to coat well. Place chicken in another bowl. Add remaining spice mixture; turn to coat well.
Grill chicken over medium heat 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Grill vegetables 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until tender-crisp. Serve 2 tablespoons Red Pepper Harissa with each serving of chicken and vegetables.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 208 calories, 8 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrates, 73 milligrams cholesterol, 397 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber, 28 grams protein.
Source: McCormick’s.

Herb It Up

Many of you probably are familiar with Mediterranean Diet. It’s the diet that is rich in cereals, wine, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains, fish and olive oil. It has been linked to longer life, less heart disease, and protection against some cancers. The diet’s main nutritional components include beta-carotene, vitamin C, tocopherols, polyphenols and essential minerals.

The original Mediterranean diet pyramid was developed by Oldways in 1993 after research showed that people who live in the Mediterraenean area lived long as the result of what they ate. 

Oldways, a widely-respected nonprofit "food issues think tank," now has come up with updated dietary recommendations to take into account a swathe of new studies that have demonstrated the benefits of the eating plan.

The three primary changes involve the prominence of all plant-based foods, increased recommendations for fish consumption and the addition of herbs and spices.

I find the third one most interesting. I’m a big fan of using herbs in cooking. It’s one of the ways I’ve been able to cut back on my consumption of red meat to once or twice a week at the most.

Oldways said it has included herbs and spices in the pyramid to reflect increased evidence of their health-promoting characteristics and the role they play in increasing the acceptability of foods.

We all know how good meat tastes, and many people feel that other foods are bland by comparison. But by cooking with herbs, you can immensely enhance the flavor of almost any meatless dish well beyond the point of palatability.

The following recipe for Oven-Baked Salmon hits on all three of Oldway’s suggestions for the updated diet — it has vegetables, fish and herbs.

I can’t wait to try it.

Oven-Baked Salmon with Sun-Dried Tomato and Salsa Mayonnaise
FOR SALMON:
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 (about 3 pounds) skinless, boneless salmon fillet, pin bones removed
1½ teaspoons salt, divided use
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided use
¼ cup hazelnuts
About 1 large slice country-style bread (enough to make ¾ cup fresh bread crumbs)
FOR SALSA MAYONNAISE:
4 ounces (about ¾ cup) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
¾ cup store-bought fresh or homemade salsa
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Garnish: 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs (mixture of parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil)
Prepare fish: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Oil oven-proof platter large enough to hold fish in single layer. Place salmon on platter and sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Turn salmon over and sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.
Place hazelnuts in food processor fitted with metal blade. Process until roughly ground. Tear bread into pieces and add. Pulse until bread is in medium crumbs. Scatter mixture over fish. Bake 40 to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare mayonnaise: Place sun-dried tomatoes and a little of their oil in food processor fitted with metal blade. Add salsa and process until smooth. Transfer to bowl and mix in salt, mayonnaise and chives.
When salmon is done, remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature accompanied with sun-dried tomato and salsa mayonnaise.
Yield: Serves 12.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving with 1 tablespoon salsa-mayonnaise: 290 calories (40 percent from fat), 13 grams fat (4.5 grams saturated), 11 grams protein, 33 grams carbohydrates, 1.3 grams fiber, 32 milligrams cholesterol, 750 milligrams sodium.