Salmon with Apples, Cherries, & Hazelnuts

65 Comments

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.

Chops with Cherry Mustard

59 Comments

A hundred times I’ve written about how much I love condiments. If I listed all of those I’ve posted on, it would be too long of a list, but you can find them in the recipe link if you wish.

Recently I was flipping through a cookbook I’d forgotten about (ooops!) and opened up to a beautiful photograph of a pork chop on a plate with a schmear of magenta-colored cherry mustard. And I knew what I was making next.


The cookbook is Home Cooking with Jean-Georges, by Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Of course the man/chef is famous, but I’ve been a fan ever since he opened a restaurant J & G Grill at the St. Regis in Deer Valley, Utah. I’ve only been for lunch, but man do they do a great job. Here is a photo of my veal bolognese I had in April while dining at the restaurant. I had dreams of this meal for weeks!

Really, I couldn’t care much about the pork chops, I really wanted to make the mustard. So here’s the recipe – you just need fresh cherries!


Cherry Mustard

2 tablespoons Colman’s dry mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound Bing cherries, stemmed, pitted (3 cups packed)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup ruby port
2 tablespoons sugar

In a medium bowl, stir together the mustard and 1 tablespoon water until smooth. Let stand for 15 minutes. Stir in the salt until well combined.


Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, boil the cherries, red wine vinegar, port, and sugar over high heat, stirring occasionally, until syrupy, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. (If you want the mustard void of any bits, use a sieve to create a really smooth condiment.)

Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the consistency of ketchup, about 5 minutes.

(This took me about 5 hours.)

Stir the cherry mixture into the mustard mixture, a little at a time, until completely incorporated.

This mustard will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

I was just going to make pork chops in a traditional fashion, until I read through the recipe. And these chops were outstanding, and (not surprisingly) paired beautifully with the cherry mustard!

For the pork chops:
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cup honey
4 Berkshire pork chops

Heat a grill, if using, and oil the grate. In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, vinegar, and honey. Reserve 1 tablespoon in another bowl and use the rest to brush all over the pork. Let the pork stand for 5 minutes.


Grill the pork, turning every 45 seconds to cook evenly, until the center is still a little pink, about 8 minutes.

Remove from the grill, brush with the reserved honey mixture, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Serve with the cherry mustard.

I haven’t done this yet, but any leftover cherry mustard, if there is any, I’m going to combine with butter for a beautiful and tasty compound butter.

The mustard is fabulous. Not too mustardy, for one thing. Mustards made with Colman’s can be quite potent.

The mustard is also not vinegary, or sweet. Perfect for my palate.


Cherry mustard would be fabulous on a cheese platter, but I haven’t tried that yet.

Curry Ketchup

74 Comments

I’ve mentioned a few times that my eating life practically revolves around condiments. I love them all. Mustards, ketchups, chutneys, chimichurris, mayos, butters, you name it, I love them. I look at a condiment, and immediately know what food I’m pairing it with.

I’m so excited to have discovered a new condiment for my repertoire – curry ketchup. I was “shopping” on Amazon and somehow this popped up. I had to have it. German curry ketchup!

Shortly afterwards, I was on the blog called the Daring Gourmet, and there was Kimberly’s recipe for home-made curry ketchup, of German origin.

You can imagine how excited I was. Everything home-made is so much better than what you can buy.

Best German Curry Ketchup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 small clove garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons high-quality curry powder*
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup natural ketchup
1 tablespoon tomato paste
5 tablespoons vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper, optional

Heat the oil in a small saucepan and cook the onions just until soft and translucent. Do not brown them. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the curry powder, paprika, cloves and allspice and cook for 30 seconds.


Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and purée until smooth.


Let the mixture cool completely and then refrigerate for a day before using to allow time for the flavors to meld.

To use, Kimberly recommends serving the curry ketchup with prepared bratwurst (currywurst) and fries. She recommends sprinkling the brats with curry powder, just like in her photo, below, which I forgot to do.

I’m not a big French fry person, so I roasted some red potatoes instead.

This ketchup is magnificent. It’s multi-faceted, and not strong in any one way. And it’s nice and thick. I have no idea why mine isn’t as red in color as hers.

And, the ketchup is really good with the potatoes also.

I tried a bratwurst with the purchased curry ketchup, left, and my home-made version, on the right. There was truly no comparison. The purchased ketchup tasted anemic compared to home-made!

I can’t wait to make more curry ketchup, and next time I’m making a quadruple batch. Thanks for the recipe, Kimberly!

*When I want a prepared curry powder, I reach for Penzey’s sweet curry powder. To me, it’s a perfect blend when not using individual spices.

A Simple Winter Meal

32 Comments

To this day, my favorite thing to do in the kitchen when deciding what to cook for dinner, on the rare occasion that I have nothing planned, is to go to my refrigerator and create a meal. Now, it actually helps to have food in the refrigerator when doing this. Even an Iron Chef can’t create a meal with no ingredients.

Today I wanted something hearty and comforting. I happened to have chicken breasts and bacon, so those two items were the inspiration for this dish.

I’ve watched my fair share of cooking shows and competitions, and if a competitor ever chooses chicken with which to participate in a challenge, it’s like an automatic loss. Chicken just doesn’t have the magic that other meats do. Chicken breasts can be moist and lovely, but they must be cooked properly. Actually I can, and I have said that about all meats. But some meat can be slightly forgiving; chicken breasts are not.

Chicken is widely available in the U.S., and it’s fairly inexpensive, so it’s quite commonly used. Even better, if you’re watching your pennies, whole chickens are extremely inexpensive and can be easily broken down into breasts, thighs, and so forth.

I’ll show you what I do sometimes with chicken breasts to ensure a perfect cook, and present them in a way that’s perfect for a comforting winter meal. This dish isn’t fancy in any way, but if you’ve been dining on frozen pizza lately, you’ll think you’re dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant. I guarantee it!

Chicken Breasts with a Bacon Cream Sauce and Sautéed Apples
to serve 2

4 thick slices bacon
Splash of olive oil, if necessary
2 chicken breasts, close to room temperature
Salt
Pepper
3 shallots, diced
1/2 teaspoon chicken demi-glace
Reduced apple cider*, or apple juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Cream, about 1/3 cup
Thyme

Sautéed Apples

To begin, dry off the bacon with paper towels, if necessary. Then dice it.

Place the bacon in a hot skillet. Add a splash of olive oil if necessary. It depends how fatty your bacon is.

Cook the bacon until browned, then using a slotted spoon, place the bacon on paper towels to drain.

If there’s too much bacon grease in the skillet, remove some and save it for other purposes.

To prepare the chicken breasts, take a sharp knife and cut along each breast horizontally, to make two breast pieces that are more uniformly thick; one will be smaller and slightly thinner than the other. Pound any part of the chicken breast slices that are slightly thicker. Season with salt and pepper.

Place two of the chicken breasts in the skillet with the hot bacon grease. If you’re concerned about uneven cooking, cook the two same-sized breast pieces together. You can always use a thermometer to make sure that the internal temperature doesn’t go over 150 degrees.

Brown on both sides, and lower the heat slightly to cook the breasts completely, although properly. Place them on a plate and cover them loosely with foil.

Add the shallots and sauté them until soft and golden.
chick77
Meanwhile, add the demi glace to a small measuring cup or bowl and all a little water to cover. Microwave until the water is hot and whisk in the demi-glace until fully incorporated. Have this, the reduced cider (see below), the mustard, and the cream on hand.

When the shallots are golden, pour in the demi-glace mixture, add the mustard, and then pour in the cider reduction.

chick123

Stir well and cook for a minute. Then add cream. The amount of cream you use depends on how creamy you want your sauce. I kept mine slightly thick, but you could easily add twice as much as make a cream sauce.
chick234
Sprinkle in a little dried thyme, if using, and taste sauce for seasoning. Then add the bacon and stir in well. This just softens the bacon. If you prefer, save it to sprinkle on the top of each serving.

chick456

For each serving, I placed the larger and smaller chicken breasts on two plates.

chick2

I divided the bacon cream sauce between the two plates, and used steamed green beans as the side.
chick3

Just for fun, I sautéed a few apple slices, just to enhance the apple flavor in the sauce resulting from the reduced cider. Of course, this step is not necessary, it was just a fun addition.

If you do this, just a few apple slices is all you need.

So as you can see, a very delicious and hearty meal was created with the simplest of ingredients, namely chicken, bacon, shallots, apple cider, demi-glace, and cream. Onions could be substituted for the shallots, and broth could be substituted for the demi-glace. In the case of the apple cider, which in my case my hard cider, I have never come across a family that didn’t have some kind of apple juice in their refrigerator!

* A reduction, no matter what kind of liquid it is, is just that – a reduction of volume. Through a light simmer, you gently evaporate the liquid, which thickens it, and also creates a more concentrated flavor. Then it can be incorporated in a sauce, a vinaigrette, or a soup. It’s a simple technique, and one you should know.

I used a cider from Normandie which was a present from my mother; we happened to have about 2 cups leftover that would have gone flat. The Normandie region in France is famous for their apple-based booze, like Calvados.

From the 2 cups of cider, I ended up with about 1/4 cup of reduced cider, perfect to add to the above cream sauce.

Aillade Toulousaine

40 Comments

A while back when I was making the beet ravioli out of the cookbook Mange Tout, by Bruno Loubet, I checked out the other recipes that I had bookmarked. And this recipe really popped out at me, even though it’s not a dish per se, but a sauce.

Actually, this sauce is not really a pesto or a gremolata, and Mr. Loubet suggests serving it with roasted lamb. He unfortunately doesn’t give any history on this sauce, although from the name you can guess garlic and perhaps Toulouse?!!

I was quite intrigued by the ingredients – essentially walnuts, garlic, and herbs.

It’s not the prettiest sauce, but that will be forgiven as soon as you taste it. I made it to top a filet of salmon, but I can see myself spreading this stuff on just about everything.
sil3
One note: If you’re not fond of fresh garlic, cut the amount in half.

Aillade Toulousaine
from Mange Tout

100 grams walnuts
6 large garlic cloves
1/2 sage leaf
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons water
100 milliliters walnut oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Salt
Black pepper
sil6
Begin by placing the walnuts, garlic, and half of sage leaf in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth.
sil8

I honestly didn’t taste the sage because of the strong garlic flavor of this sauce, so I’d recommend using a whole sage leaf. My sage was still alive and thriving outside, but I’m also wondering if the flavor was subdued slightly being that it’s January.
_MG_0423
Add the mustard and water, then drizzle in the walnut and vegetable oils while the machine is on.
sil7
Once fully processed and saucy smooth, pulse in the parsley and chives.
sil9
I didn’t season the sauce until I tasted it. It definitely needed salt. I passed on the pepper.

I pan-fried the salmon in butter, and seasoned it well with salt and pepper. Then I placed the salmon over a bed of lightly-dressed lettuces.
sil1
Then came the sauce. It’s very fragrant of garlic and walnuts, and it just fabulous with the salmon. I can’t wait to have it with beef or lamb.
sil2

Heck, I could have this on roast chicken as well.
sil

Whatever you serve this room-temperature sauce with, have extra on hand. You will need it!
silfeature

Mustardy Veal

25 Comments

Veal is not a meat purchased by everyone, and I hope nobody thinks I haven’t a conscience. It’s just that if I actually focused on the whole idea of killing animals for human consumption, I wouldn’t eat meat at all. I of course believe in the most humane procedures in killing animals, but then, I could also argue that killing animals isn’t humane at all. So I really try not to think about it.

This veal was actually at my market today when I was shopping, and it’s something that rarely shows up, much like lamb, so I grabbed it. If this helps, I haven’t actually had veal in years. But I remembered a simple recipe that I used to make ages ago on the grill. It takes minutes to prepare, which made it perfect for when I worked full time.

There are two ingredients in this veal recipe besides the veal – butter and Dijon mustard. That’s it. You simply make a mustard butter, and then let it melt on top of the grilled veal. Easy and fast for summer grilling inside or out!

Veal Scallopini with Mustard Butter

2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Veal scallops, I had 7
Olive oil
Salt
A few grindings of black pepper

First, make the mustard butter. I used twice as much butter as mustard, but this is up to you.

Place the butter and mustard in a small bowl.
veal1
Beat the two until smooth. Then chill in the refrigerator, although this is optional. Another option is to make a roll of butter, much like you do with a compound butter, wrapped in plastic. Then it can simply be sliced after being refrigerated. I just made such a small amount that this wasn’t necessary.

veal

When you are ready to cook the veal, have it close to room temperature. Then dry it off on paper towels.
veal34

Pour a little olive oil on a dinner plate, place the veal on top, then drizzle a little more oil. Season with salt and pepper.
veal45

The veal will take 2 minutes to cook, so also have your mustard butter soft enough to scoop up. Also have your vegetables hot and ready to eat.

Heat up a grill over high heat. You can use a grill outside as well, but I wouldn’t waste the time it takes to prepare charcoal. These just take so little time it’s also not worth using the charcoal.

Place some of the scallops on the hot grill, being careful not to crowd them.
veal23

Cook for barely a minute, then flip them, and cook for another minute.
veal12

Serve the veal scallops topped with a scoop of the mustard butter, and let it melt away.


As an afterthought, I also sprinkled some chives over the veal. Basil would be good as well.

veal

This simple veal dish is as delicious as I remember it. Just make sure to not overcook the veal.

veal4