Salmon with Apples, Cherries, & Hazelnuts

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I have saved this recipe for years since I first came across it on Epicurious. It’s a Bobby Flay recipe from his cookbook, Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction, which I do not own. The actual name of the recipe is Hot-Smoked Salmon with Apples, Dried Cherries, Hazelnuts, and Greens.

What I like about Epicurious is that the online publication has reviews and up to four “fork” ratings for their recipes. I like to read the reviews to get an idea of what the general cooking public liked or disliked about a recipe.

Sometimes reviewers don’t like the number of ingredients, or a more complicated recipe, which lowers the overall percentage of a recipe’s rating. In this case, it received 3 out of 4 forks, and only 71% would make it again.

I chose to ignore the ratings in the case of this recipe, because it seemed like few understood hot smoking. There’s nothing wrong with baking or sautéing the salmon, but the important part of this recipe is the hot-smoked salmon paired with the vinegary salad. Hot-smoked salmon is so smoky and rich that it almost requires a vinaigrette.


My Cameron hot-smoker is a handy part of my culinary appliance repertoire. It’s especially handy during months when you don’t want to be outside messing with a smoker. It actually uses real woods that are pulverized so that smoking is done quickly, which is important for thin salmon filets.



This salmon is special to me because it was caught by my husband on a recent fishing expedition in a remote part of Alaska. It wasn’t catch-and-release, so the fish was brought home on planes.

If you want the original recipe, please click on the link in the top paragraph. I’m not going to use Bobby Flay’s method for hot smoking the salmon, although I will use his rub and curing step. Make sure to remove the pin bones before proceeding with the recipe.

Hot-Smoked Salmon with Apples, Dried Cherries, Hazelnuts, and Greens

For the Salmon:
1/2 cup kosher salt (I used 1/4 cup because of the reviews)
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons crushed black peppercorns
1 – 3 to 3.5 pound piece center-cut salmon fillet, skin on, pin bones removed

Mix together the salt, sugar, brown sugar, and peppercorns in a medium bowl. Line a piece of extra-wide aluminum foil that’s a little longer than the length of the fish with an equally long layer of plastic wrap.

Sprinkle half of the rub on the wrap. Lay the salmon on the rub. Sprinkle the remaining rub on top of the salmon. Put the wrapped fish on a rimmed baking sheet and top with another baking sheet. Weigh down with a brick or two and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Unwrap the salmon and rinse off the cure mixture with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Bring the salmon to room temperature about two hours before you plan on serving it.

To use the stove-top smoker, set it over medium-high heat to get the smoke going, and then turn the heat down to low for 15 minutes. I prefer salmon cooked medium-rare.

The smoke can really get going when you use this gadget, so cover it up with wet dish towels. And, sometimes they catch on fire, so be prepared.

For the Salad:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
4 ounces organic baby greens
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 small white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and honey in a large bowl and seasonwith salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified.

Add the greens, apple, onion, cherries and hazelnuts to combine. Season with salt and pepper.


Place the salmon on a platter and arrange the salad on top.


Are you ready for this? This recipe is going on my Last Meal list! It’s that good!

The salmon is fabulous with the vinaigrette and the apples and cherries. The onions and hazelnuts are like icing on cake.


I didn’t taste much mustard from the vinaigrette, which is fine, but I added a few mustard seeds on top for fun.


I’ve never pressed raw salmon with weights, but it certainly didn’t ruin anything. The flesh was condensed, as you’d expect, but still moist and tender.

I’d barely finished photographing this dish before I began devouring it. I added more vinaigrette because the fish can take it, and by the end it was more like a salad with salmon on my plate. Nice and messy. And delicious.

Chutney

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I truly love condiments, especially those seasonally-based, like chutneys. And, because I love to “play” in the kitchen and use whatever ingredients I have on hand or am in the mood to use, I wanted to show how easy it is to make your own chutney sans recipe.

It’s about creating a chutney that you love, customizing the ingredients to your tastes, according to the seasons. Indulge. Chutneys are fabulous.

I have an actual recipe following this “primer” of chutney making below, but seriously once you make a chutney, you’ll see how creative you can be and how well they turn out. A recipe is not necessary.

Create Your Own Chutney

A chutney is about combining fruits – the sweet factor, and aromatics – the savory factor, and then adding seasoning and flavorings.

The sweet-savory ratio is important, however. I use about 2/3 fruit to 1/3 aromatics in my chutneys. You don’t want it all fruit, or it would be a jam.

I season the chutney according to my tastes and the time of year. There are spicy fall and winter chutneys, and there are light, vibrant chutneys you can make for spring and summer appearances as well. (Like my Strawberry Onion Chutney.) It’s all about seasonal ingredients.

Fruit:
You can use fresh fruit: apple, pear, mango, apricot, plum, cranberries, strawberries, peach, etc.
And you can use dried fruit: cranberries, cherries, figs, apricots, raisins, dates, blueberries, etc.
A combination of fresh and dried makes a nice consistency, like pear-dried fig, peach-raisin, apple-dried apricot. Using three fruits works really well, like apple-mango-dried cherry. Or cranberry-apple-date. You get the idea.

If you’re using dried fruits like raisins or cherries, you can soak them in port or fruit juice first to soften them and soak up the flavors, then use it all in the chutney-making process.

Aromatics:
I always use a combination of fresh onion, garlic, and sometimes shallots and fresh ginger. You definitely need onion; the rest is optional.

Sugar:
There is always a sweet component in chutney to balance the aromatics. If you’re using tart cranberries, you would definitely need more sugar than if you were using, say, ripe peaches or strawberries. You can use brown sugar, white sugar, turbinado sugar and so forth. Liquid forms of sugar don’t work well in chutney, because they’re too, well, liquid. A prepared chutney is soft, but not a pile of syrupy mush. But you can add a teaspoon of maple syrup or boiled cider.

Seasonings:
Except for salt, you don’t have to season a chutney at all, although I happen to love black pepper, white pepper, and cayenne.

For fall and winter chutneys, I like them full of flavor – especially when they’re going to be served alongside fairly bland meats. The choices are vast, depending what you want your chutney to taste like.

I, personally, love that what curry powder adds to a chutney. But separately, you can use cumin, cardamom, coriander, etc. A cinnamon stick adds flavor while the chutney is cooking, but ground cinnamon can be used as well. And nutmeg, cloves, and allspice are always yummy. Think of them in an apple-pear-dried fig chutney served with a pork loin. YUM.

Another fun ingredients are small pieces of crystallized ginger.

You can also add ground chile pepper, like ancho or even chipotle powders, to a chutney. And also adobo or adobo powder – especially if you’re making the chutney for a Southwestern-inspired meal.

Vinegar:
Any vinegar will work in a chutney. I love cider vinegar and red wine vinegar, but a white balsamic vinegar works well also. Nothing fancy is required.

Cranberry Apple Raisin Chutney

2 tablespoons grape seed oil
1 purple onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 12 ounce bag cranberries, rinsed, sorted
1 apple, peeled, cored, finely chopped
1 cup golden raisins, loosely packed
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cinnamon stick, optional
2 teaspoons vinegar

Add the oil to a hot stock pot and let it heat over medium. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, without allowing browning.

Give the garlic a stir into the onions, then add the cranberries, apple, and raisins. Stir together.

Allow to heat up, then add the sugar, cinnamon, curry powder, salt, and the cinnamon stick.


Stir well, then cover the pot, turn down the heat to a simmer, and let cook for at least 15 minutes. It will look like this.

Add a couple teaspoons of vinegar and stir in gently. Unless there’s excess liquid, remove the pot from the heat.

Let the chutney cool, remove the cinnamon stick, then store in sterilized jars.


It freezes well.

Not only does this chutney go beautifully with Thanksgiving turkey, but also with chicken and pork. Here I’ve served it with roasted pork and sweet potatoes.


As you can see, there’s a lot of leeway when creating a chutney. They can be simple or complicated from an ingredient standpoint, but they are very easy to prepare.

Chutney is also wonderful topping a baked Brie, and can be used in individual Brie and chutney bites.

Just remember to cook off any extra liquid over extremely low heat, and also don’t overstir. You want to see the beautiful pieces of fruit in your beautiful chutney!

Cran-Cherry Chutsauce

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As you might deduce, this recipe is a cross between a traditional cranberry sauce and a chutney, using a combination of fresh cranberries and dried cherries. My husband voted for chutsauce over sauceney…

Every November I make small batches of at least two different kinds of both cranberry sauces and fruit chutneys, because I love them so much. Sadly, I’m the only one who really enjoys them in my family, so I can’t make large batches. But to me, they’re so much fun to make, fun to experiment with, and just a good festive thing to do in the kitchen – with Christmas carols playing, of course.
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This chutney-sauce would be fabulous with turkey or pork or duck, but it would also be a pretty and delicious topping a slab of cream cheese.

The recipe that caught my eye was on Epicurious.com right here. I altered it quite a bit.
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Cranberry Cherry Chutney Sauce

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 purple onion, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed
1/4 cup white sugar
12 ounces clean, sorted cranberries

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7 ounces dried, pitted cherries*
3/4 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1/4 cup ruby port
1/4 cup water

Place the butter in a medium-sized enamel pot over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the onion and saute them for about 5 minutes, without any extreme browning.
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Add the salt, brown sugar, and white sugar. Stir together and cook until the sugar dissolves.


Add the cranberries, cherries, and the Chinese 5-spice powder. Give everything a stir.

Then add the port and water. Let everything cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat. It should take about 15 minutes until all of the cranberries have popped and the liquid is reduced.
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Remove from the stove and let cool completely.
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To store, place the chutney sauce in clean jars, cover, and refrigerate. Or, alternatively, freeze the chutsauce/sauceney until needed.
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* I used dried Rainier cherries, which are extremely large. The original recipe listed 1 cup of dried cherries, but didn’t indicate the size or kind of dried cherries, so I weighed mine instead of measuring out 1 cup. You can adjust according to what kind of dried cherries you use; dried cranberries can be substituted as well.

note: Instead of port or just water, which was in the original recipe, consider using a liqueur, like an orange liqueur, or just orange juice or pomegranate juice. It all works to help plump up the cherries and cook the cranberries. Orange zest could be included in this recipe as well.

Semifreddo

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Semi freddo means half frozen in Italian. It’s a pretty good description of this dessert, which stores in the freezer, but gets soft within a few minutes at room temperature. It’s really not like ice cream. It’s like a sabayon folded into whipped cream, but then slightly frozen. Is it worth it? Yes!!!

I’ve actually made this dessert three times before. Horrors. I know. I usually make something new when I have an excuse to make a dessert, like for company. But this semifreddo is so good that sometimes I need to make it just to be reminded how delicious it really is.

This version uses dried fruits and crystallized ginger, and is topped with a berry sauce for a pretty presentation. But I’ve also made a pumpkin version that was incredible. In fact, I should make that for Halloween… I could probably make one a month easily, using whatever is in season – think strawberry, cherry, cranberry, citrus, etc… Semifreddo of the month club!

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Anyway, this dessert is very easy although it does take time. Fortunately, it can be made the day before, and just taken out of the freezer before serving. If you’ve never made a semifreddo, it’s time you did!!! It’s delicious and elegant.

Semifreddo with dried fruits and crystallized ginger

2 3/4 cups heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup white wine, I used a Riesling
2/3 cups white sugar
Zest of one large orange
1 cup mixed dried fruits, I used plums and cranberries
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Whip the cream until firm peaks form. Then refrigerate until needed.
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Place plastic wrap going both directions in a large loaf pan, with plenty hanging over. My pan is 9″ long, but 6″ deep. And this recipe fills it up.
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Have the orange zest handy.
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And have the dried fruits and ginger handy as well.
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Place a large pot of water on the stove on simmer, large enough to create a bain marie for your mixing bowl.

Then place the egg yolks, wine, and sugar in your mixing bowl.

Beat the three ingredients until nice and smooth, then place the bowl over the simmering water.
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Continue beating.
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And beating.
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You will notice the mixture increase in volume, and also become lighter in color.

After about ten minutes of beating or so, depending on a few factors, it will thicken as well.

Test the mixture with a thermometer – it should reach 160 degrees Farenheit.

When this happens, remove the bowl from the water, but continue beating until it cools, which should taker 7 or 8 minutes, depending on a few factors. If you want, have a pan of icy water on hand to put the bowl in, like I did, to expedite the cooling of the sabayon.

After it has cooled off, beat in the orange zest.

When you are sure that the mixture isn’t warm anymore, begin folding the whipped cream into the sabayon.
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Gently but persistently fold in the remaining cream. You don’t want any streaks.

Then fold in the dried fruit and ginger.
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Place gently in the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
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Immediately place in the freezer. After about one hour, cover the loaf pan with the overhanging plastic wrap. I also add another layer of plastic wrap to insure that the semifreddo doesn’t absorb any off flavors from the freezer.

The semifreddo can be made up to 3 days ahead, but I always make it a day ahead. To serve, I unwrap the semifreddo and turn it out onto a flat serving platter. Let it warm up for a few minutes, then slice it into 1/2″ slices. You can always use a knife that is held under running hot water to make the slices, then wipe the knife after each slice and repeat.

Top with a nice amount of chilled berry sauce and serve. Additional berries are optional.

note: All kinds of different additions can be used in a semifreddo, but I stick with smaller pieces of dried fruits. Larger, dried cherries might interfere with the slicing process. Also, nuts like pistachios and chopped macadamias would be fabulous as well. It’s a very forgiving dessert!