In the mood for a little salad?

Salmon Strips with Cream Sauce

Tom came up with this recipe years ago and uses it every time he fillets a fresh-caught salmon (sometimes forty pounds). There's always more meat left on the bones than he's willing to give to the cats. So he trims the meat off in thin strips and makes a wonderful appetizer that everyone enjoys. This can also be served as an entree. His cream sauce would also be good with any other seafood or meats.

Salmon filet, fresh (1 pound serves 4 to 8 people as appetizer)

1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons sugar

Optional: 1/4 cup diced cilantro leaves

Butter

Salt, pepper and paprika

Crackers (Ritz are great)

Cream Sauce

Garnishes (optional): Finely chopped red onion, green onion, parsley, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, red bell pepper or whatever you like.

Lay the salmon with skin side down on a cutting board. Slice 1/8-inch thick strips down to the skin but not all the way through the skin. Then turn blade of knife out to remove the strip from the skin. This will leave the skin on the cutting board in one piece for easier disposal.

To make marinade, stir together orange juice, sugar and cilantro. Place salmon strips in a glass bowl with enough marinade to cover. Cover and store in refrigerator up to 24 hours, depending on how much time you have.

Prepare the cream sauce before cooking the salmon as follows:

Cream Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise (good quality)

2 tablespoons extra-hot horseradish

1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh-squeezed

2 shakes Tabasco

Pinch of Kosher or sea salt

1/4 cup heavy cream

Put all ingredients into a round-bottomed bowl and using a wire whisk, whip until creamy. Refrigerate until ready for use.

Salmon Preparation: Heat about 2 tablespoons butter in a non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Remove salmon strips from the marinade and place on a plate and lightly season with salt, pepper and paprika.

Place six to eight salmon strips at a time in heated butter. Sauté strips quickly — 20 to 30 seconds each side — moving the pan until the strips caramelize and brown. When the butter burns or becomes black, wipe out the pan between batches with a paper towel and add fresh butter. Don't overcook, rare is best. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Plating for presentation: On a cutting board, place crackers in a single layer. Cover each cracker with cream sauce. Cut salmon strips in half and place two strips crossed or side by side on top. Top this with just a pinch of one of the garnishes per cracker. (You don't want to overpower the flavor of the salmon.) Place appetizers on your favorite platter and serve.

Smoked Tomato Soup

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Tom says, "This is a really a simple recipe and reading it will make your mouth water — pronounced with a French accent — something like 'wauteurh.' Once you taste the rich, robust flavor, you'll never want canned tomato soup again

"It's worth the time and a great way to use up tomatoes that are in season, especially those that have turned soft. Put them in the smoker peeled and whole, quartered or sliced — it doesn't matter. They will be pureed anyway after smoking. And save those tomato peels to make tomato roses to garnish another dish.

Use either a smoker or a gas or charcoal barbecue grill. Wood chips can be purchased from local retailers or use mesquite wood shavings if they are available to you. Other local woods may not be suitable.

4 to 5 large tomatoes, ripe, fresh, peeled and cut up

Garlic bulb, cut top off cloves and leave bottom of bulb intact

1 small onion, sliced

1/2 stalk celery, chopped

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 cup half and half or cream

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Homemade croutons and pate, optional (recipes follow)

Swiss cheese, 2 slices per serving

To prepare the vegetables: Place them on an old cookie sheet or disposable aluminum pan. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper.

Place in a smoker or use your barbecue grill as follows: Wrap about three handfuls of wood chips in a pouch made of aluminum foil. Perforate top every 1/2 inch to let the smoke out. Place pouch directly on top of rocks or coals and replace grill.

Once the pouch begins to smoke, place the pan of vegetables on the grill and close the lid. Allow to smoke for 20 to 30 minutes.

Puree vegetables and paprika in a blender or food processor. Remove to a large saucepan and simmer slowly for 30 minutes. Whisk in cream, add butter and paprika and continue to heat — don't boil.

Croutons: Cut slices of your favorite white bread to fit individual oven-proof serving bowls. Butter and toast each side of bread in a skillet, until browned. Set aside.

Pate: 1 cup cooked meat, as desired (he has used leftover pork roast, but beef roast, chicken, ham would be good as well)

2 teaspoons extra-hot horseradish

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley, chopped (fresh or dried)

Dice the meat and put into food processor with horseradish, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Process at high speed until pureed and add olive oil slowly through the tube until consistency is creamy. Add salt and pepper if necessary.

To Serve: Ladle hot soup into oven-proof serving bowls and place bowls on cookie sheet. Spread pate thickly on crouton and set on top of soup, pate side up. Top with two slices of cheese. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley to finish.

Kicked-Up Salsa Fruita

Tom had heard about fruit salsa but had never tried it until recently when he had some fruit that was very ripe. Instead of tossing it out, he came up with this recipe. Itís good as a dip for tortilla chips or as a relish for grilled meats.

1 fresh mango

1/2 cantaloupe

2 fresh peaches

2 fresh nectarines

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Juice of 2 limes

1/2 cup Tequila, or more to taste, optional

1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped, optional

Peel and chop all fruit in 1/2-inch pieces and place in a bowl. Add cilantro and sprinkle with sugar. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Remove and add remaining ingredients and stir well. Store in refrigerator. Makes 4 servings.

Pico de Gallo

This is a traditional Mexican dish that can be used as a relish or as a base for homemade salsa. Add this to your favorite purchased salsa to "kick it up a notch."

4 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

Juice of 2 fresh limes

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped, optional

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, optional

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy immediately. Or, the flavors will meld together after sitting overnight in the refrigerator.

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