Weekend Cooking in the Country: The Pumpkin, Chicken & Salmon experiment

I have been in a mood recently to try out recipes, and a long weekend in the country gave me a great opportunity to do some experimenting in the kitchen. I decided to real life test some more recipes from some of my favorite online food bloggers. There were 3 key themes of inspiration in what we did over the weekend: Chicken, Salmon and because I missed being in a country with Fall and it is October – Pumpkin! Of course all the recipes are gluten-free!

The recipes tried were: Pumpkin Ginger Soup, Butternut Squash Soup with Pear, Cider, and Vanilla Bean, Baked Mustard Chicken, Rosemary Lemon Chicken, Salmon and Berry Salad & Cayenne Flaked Salmon with salad.

Now onto the detail.

first up: Pumpkin…

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Orignal Picture

The original recipe from Elana’s Pantry

  • 3 cups roasted pumpkin
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ teaspoon stevia
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced

In a Vitamix, combine pumpkin, chicken stock and coconut milk and process on high until smooth. Blend in stevia, lemon juice and ginger. Place mixture in a pot and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes

My Thoughts & Process

This is one of the few recipes that I followed pretty much to the t, and it turned out great. The only change I made was adding a little bit more ginger. Instead of chicken stock (as I really can’t use ready-made chicken stock) I did a homemade vegetable and pieces of chicken stock. (how? leeks, onions, carrots and celery and chicken put to boil for 1 hour. )

The other thing is that this soup needs: salt. even though it is not in the recipe, a little bit of sea salt gave it a great final touch.

The Final Product 

Butternut Squash Soup with Pear, Cider, and Vanilla Bean

This is the Original picture

The Original Recipe from Seattlest.com

3 Tbs olive oil
1 2-lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (4 generous cups)
2 firm-ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup apple cider
4 cups good-quality chicken broth
½ tsp salt
½ cup half-and-half
1 vanilla bean, about 7 inches long
Fresh chives, finely chopped, for garnish

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or small stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the squash, pears, and onion, stir to coat with oil, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until the onion is soft and transparent and the pears are starting to fall apart.

Add the cider, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the mixture, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender.

Working in batches, carefully puree the mixture in a food processor or blender. Return the soup to the pot, and season it with salt. Continue to cook the soup over medium-low heat, uncovered, until it has reduced to about ½ to 1/3 of its original volume. Stir occasionally. The final consistency is up to you; when it reaches a thickness that seems right—not too thin, not too thick—it’s ready.

While the soup is reducing, put the half-and-half in a small saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise into two long strips. Using the back of your knife, scrape the tiny black seeds out of the bean. Scoop the seeds and the bean halves into the pan with the half-and-half, and put the pan over low heat. Warm the half-and-half until it is steaming, but not boiling. Remove it from the heat, remove and discard the vanilla bean halves, and whisk to break up any clumps of seeds in the half-and-half. Set aside.

When the soup has reduced to its desired thickness, stir in the half-and-half, taking care to not leave any little black seeds behind in the saucepan. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve, garnished with chives.

Yield: 4-5 servings

My  Thoughts & Cooking Process

What I changed for this recipe was the  milk and vanilla process. I didn’t want to use half and half and I couldn’t find vanilla beans. What did I do? I took a bit of skim milk and melted vanilla extract in it for 45 seconds over low heat. I added that at the end soup and it worked great. I have to say the hints of vanilla were the best part of this soup.

Pumpkins, Pears and Onions Cooking

I had no chives so to finish it off nicely I added some parsley.

The Final Product 

.. now for the chicken…

Baked Mustard Chicken

This is another recipe from Elena’s pantry. The Original picture:

The Recipe

  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  1. Combine lime juice, cilantro, mustard, olive oil, chili, salt and pepper in a food processor
  2. Pulse until ingredients are well combined
  3. Rinse chicken breasts, pat dry and place in a 7×11 inch Pyrex baking dish
  4. Pour marinade over chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 6 hours
  5. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes uncovered, or until an instant read thermometer reads 165°
  6. Serve with extra sauce spooned over to

My Thoughts & Cooking Process

This was probably the thing I liked the most of everything I cooked over the weekend. A great and easy chicken to make. The only thing I would change is that I would add a little bit less lemon to the marinade, because it overpowered a bit, but also because it would make the marinade less runny.

Making the Marinade (beautiful colors)
Marinated Chicken
Chicken in the Oven

we served it with an avocado and tomato salad and it was a great combination!

The Final Product  (in this one, we can say good food, bad pictures!)

Rosemary Lemon Chicken

Original Picture

The Recipe, again from Elena’s Pantry

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ cup fresh rosemary, minced
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt

  1. In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and salt
  2. Rinse chicken breasts, pat dry and place in an 7×11 inch Pyrex baking dish
  3. Pour marinade over chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 6 hours
  4. Heat grill and cook chicken for 5-7 minutes per side until browned and cooked in the center

My Thoughts & Cooking Process

The marinade was a bit lumpy for me so I decided to chop it in a food processor to get a better liquid to coat the chicken.

The Final Product 

… & to finish it off, the Salmon recipes

Salmon And Berry Salad 

Original Picture

The Original Recipe from Canelle et Vanille

Serves 2
8 ounces wild-caught salmon
2 cup mixed greens (frisee, baby romaine, watercress, arugula, parsley…)
1/4 cup yellow raspberries
1/4 cup blackberries
1/4 cup red currants
1 scallion, sliced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for salmon
salt and pepper

In a small saute pan, cook the salmon for 2 minutes (depending on the thickness) with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Flip over and finish cooking for another 2 minutes. Set aside.
In a bowl, toss together the greens and all the berries.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar and olive oil. Drizzle the vinaigrette over salad. Season with salt. Toss to combine and top with seared salmon pieces.

My Thoughts & my process

I made quite a few changes to this recipe, basically because I can’t find most of the ingredients here in Bogotá and because I wanted to  improve to what I like. I took inspiration and modified. What did I do?

The Salmon: Instead of pan searing the salmon I decided to poach it in olive oil. It gives it a great flavor, and allows for it to be perfectly flaked over the salad.


The greens: We used, two types of parsley (what they call here perejil crespo y liso), arugula and mint

The Berries: There were no blackberries, currants or raspberries in the market, so I improvised. I included blueberries and strawberries

The vinaigrette: This was one of the few things I left as is, however there was no apple cider vinegar. What I did is include regular vinegar and apple juice.

The Final Product 

Cayenne Flaked Salmon with Mixed Green Salad

for this one I didn’t use a recipe. We had lots of salad and Salmon so we decided to improvise.

For the salmon: I coated the salmon in a mix of equal parts, cayenne pepper, paprika and cumin, salt and pepper as below

Seasoned salmon

I cooked it in the oven, for a bit over 10 minutes. we wanted to combine it in the salad again and if it is to raw then the salmon does not flake as well.

cooked salmon, pre flaking

Once the salmon was cooked we flaked it to combine with the salad. For the salad we mixed all the greens we had in equal parts, without stems: two types of parsley, mint, arugula and spinach. We also added chopped tomatoes, avocado, cherry tomatoes and roasted asparagus.  For the sauce a quick vinaigrette with honey mustard.

the final product:

2 thoughts

  1. I love the salmon with the salad…You could probably slice very thinly with a knife if you wanted a bit more ‘raw’ consistency. The texture might be nice with the crunchiness of the greens.

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