Slow-Baked Citrus Salmon

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This dish is adapted from Alison Roman’s recipe in the New York Times, called Slow Roasted Citrus Salmon with Herb Salad. My sister made it when we were both visiting our mother, and I loved it so much I had to make it myself.

The major adaptation is the change from 2 cups of herbs in the “salad,” as listed in the original printable recipe below, to sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary added to the salmon before slow roasting; parsley is sprinkled for serving.

From the author, “This is truly the best way to cook salmon. Slowly roasting an already fatty fish in an even more luxurious fat (here, olive oil) makes it nearly impossible to overcook. Plus, you can flavor that oil with whatever you fancy — spices, herbs, citrus, chiles — which, in turn, will flavor the fish.”

There is actually so much olive oil in the original recipe that the resulting salmon reminds me of a confit. I cut the 1 1/2 cups of oil to 1 cup, and used a regular lemon and orange for the citrus.

When my sister first told me about this recipe, I thought it would be perfect in the spring or summer. But I rethought it, and everybody needs some citrus in the winter to brighten their days! And, prevent scurvy.

Since I’m the only salmon lover in my immediate family, I only used two salmon filets.

Slow-Baked Citrus Salmon
Printable recipe below

4 salmon fillets, skin on or off, about 1 1/2 pounds
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 lemons, thinly sliced
1 orange, thinly sliced
Sprigs thyme and rosemary
1 cups olive oil
Chopped parsley, for serving
Flaky sea salt, for serving

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides.

Place in a large baking dish with sliced lemons and oranges, plus sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary.

Drizzle everything with olive oil and bake until salmon is just turning opaque at the edges and is nearly cooked through, 25 to 35 minutes. These filets were thin, so 20 minutes was perfect.

To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley and flaky salt.

Add some cayenne pepper flakes and/or coarsely ground multicolor peppercorns over the warm citrusy oil and serve with crusty bread.

I actually think dipping the bread in the citrussy oil with cayenne and salt was my favorite part of this meal!

The whole idea of salmon served with a salad is a good one, I just don’t want it to be only herbs. A favorite recipe I’ve made is Bobby Flay’s hot-smoked salmon with an apple, cherry, and hazelnut salad.


 

 

Ultimate Christmas Pudding

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We have a new member of our family – our British son-in-law. My daughter and he have been at our home for Thanksgiving the last two years, but because of the pandemic, they won’t be back in 2020. In fact, they married in Brighton, England, and of course we couldn’t attend. My daughter said I could include a wedding photo in this post. I just couldn’t pick one. Aren’t the pics beautiful!

I’ve been wanting to make a steamed Christmas pudding for years, not just now with a Brit in our family. Ironically, he doesn’t like Christmas pudding! (I’m actually trying to figure out who does!)

I don’t enjoy alcoholic desserts, but Christmas pudding isn’t similar to American fruitcakes, in that they’re not slogged with brandy or rum weekly before being served.

It’s recommended that one start a Christmas pudding up to 3 months in advance of serving, which I did. I chose Nigella Lawson’s Ultimate Christmas pudding from her book Nigella Christmas, which is my favorite book of hers, probably because I love Christmas so much. And I love Nigella.

This took me a while to understand, but desserts in England are called puddings, like sticky toffee pudding isn’t a pudding, nor is this Christmas pudding.

Nigella Lawson’s Ultimate Christmas Pudding
From Nigella Christmas

150 grams currants
150 grams sultanas
150 grams roughly chopped prunes
175 millilitres pedro ximenez sherry
100 grams plain flour
125 grams fresh breadcrumbs
150 grams suet
150 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
1 medium cooking apple (peeled and grated)
2 tablespoons honey
125 millilitres vodka (to flame the pudding)

You will need a 1.7 litre/3 pint/1½ quart heatproof plastic pudding basin with a lid, and also a sprig of holly to decorate.

Put the currants, sultanas and scissored prunes into a bowl with the Pedro Ximénez, swill the bowl a bit, then cover with clingfilm and leave to steep overnight or for up to 1 week.

When the fruits have had their steeping time, put a large pan of water on to boil, or heat some water in a conventional steamer, and butter your heatproof plastic pudding basin (or basins), remembering to grease the lid, too.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients (except the vodka), either in the traditional manner or just any old how; your chosen method of stirring, and who does it, probably won’t affect the outcome of your wishes or your Christmas.

Add the steeped fruits, scraping in every last drop of liquor with a rubber spatula, and mix to combine thoroughly, then fold in cola-cleaned coins or heirloom charms. If you are at all frightened about choking-induced fatalities at the table, do leave out the hardware.

Scrape and press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid.

Then wrap with a layer of foil (probably not necessary, but I do it as I once had a lid-popping and water-entering experience when steaming a pudding) so that the basin is watertight, then either put the basin in the pan of boiling water (to come halfway up the basin) or in the top of a lidded steamer (this size of basin happens to fit perfectly in the top of my all-purpose pot) and steam for 5 hours, checking every now and again that the water hasn’t bubbled away.

When it’s had its 5 hours, remove gingerly (you don’t want to burn yourself) and, when manageable, unwrap the foil, and put the pudding in its basin somewhere out of the way in the kitchen or, if you’re lucky enough, a larder, until Christmas Day.

On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its basin) in foil and steam again, this time for 3 hours. Eight hours combined cooking time might seem a faff, but it’s not as if you need to do anything to it in that time.

To serve, remove from the pan or steamer, take off the lid, put a plate on top, turn it upside down and give the plastic basin a little squeeze to help unmould the pudding. Then remove the basin – and voilà, the Massively Matriarchal Mono Mammary is revealed. (Did I forget to mention the Freudian lure of the pudding beyond its pagan and Christian heritage?)

Put the sprig of holly on top of the dark, mutely gleaming pudding, then heat the vodka in a small pan (I use my diddy copper butter-melting pan) and the minute it’s hot, but before it boils – you don’t want the alcohol to burn off before you attempt to flambé it – turn off the heat, strike a match, stand back and light the pan of vodka, then pour the flaming vodka over the pudding and take it as fast as you safely can to your guests.

If it feels less dangerous to you (I am a liability and you might well be wiser not to follow my devil-may-care instructions), pour the hot vodka over the pudding and then light the pudding. In either case, don’t worry if the holly catches alight; I have never known it to be anything but singed.

FREEZE AHEAD TIP: Make and freeze the Christmas pudding for up to 1 year ahead. Thaw overnight at room temperature and proceed as recipe on Christmas Day.

Maplev Bourbon vButter

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar bourbon, or your choice of liquor
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of allspice

With a mixer, beat the softened butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and mix while scraping the sides of the bowl, so the sugar and butter come together evenly. Add the vanilla, bourbon, and spices.

Mix, scraping the sides again, to combine. Spoon the sauce into a bowl.

This is brown sugar bourbon.

Serve warm or at room temperature, along with some of the maple bourbon butter.

Well, I do like Christmas pudding. And I really like this butter, which I adapted from Ms. Lawson. They’re a great combination.

Well, I liked it!

Festive Cumberland Sauce

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Cumberland sauce is, to me, a cross between what Americans know as a fruit compote and a fruit chutney. Mustard and shallots add savory elements to the sauce, plus I added cranberries to a traditional Cumberland sauce for the festive aspect! Cause I’m all about festiveness.

Cumberland sauce supposedly originated from Cumbria, in England, which also happens to be the home of sticky toffee pudding! If you’ve never been, it’s worth a visit, and definitely for more than the food.

You can purchase Cumberland sauce, this one sold by Harvey Nichols, (or Harvey Nic’s if you’re and Ab Fab fan!), but home-made is always best.

I included verjus in this recipe. It was the first time I’d opened the bottle. Really good stuff! I had to stop myself from sipping it. (It’s not alcoholic.)

Festive Cumberland Sauce
printable recipe below

1 lemon
2 oranges
2 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
1 teaspoon English mustard
3 ounces ruby port
8 ounces fresh, sorted cranberries
1/2 cup red currant jelly
1 tablespoon verjus

Zest the lemon and oranges and add the zest to a medium-sized saucepan of water that is boiling. Lower the heat to a simmer and remove from the heat after 5 minutes. Pour into a fine sieve and set the zest aside.

Return the saucepan to the stove. Squeeze the oranges and place juice in the saucepan, along with the shallots, mustard, port, and cranberries.

Gently bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the cranberries have burst.

After about 10-15 minutes, stir in the jelly, zest, and verjus.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

It’s truly a sauce, not thick like a compote or chutney, so I put it in a gravy boat.

This sauce is marvelous. You can taste all of the sweet, tart, and savory elements. It was definitely good with turkey, and I can’t wait to serve it with gammon.

note: I’ve seen Cumberland sauce with a demi-glace component, which sounds lovely. Also, one option is to prepare the sauce in a skillet where meat had been seared.

 

Mulled Wine

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When I think of mulled wine, I think of my daughter and I visiting my other daughter in December of 2010 in London. Everything was Christmassy, and it was cold, as expected. The first thing she did when we met up at her flat was to prepare mulled wine. It was so charming and thoughtful.

But I had no idea that mulled wine is so popular in London, at least during the cold months I presume. In fact, every single pub we visited, which was daily, served mulled wine.

Here is a special photo of us three gals at The Marylebone, after warming our spirits with mulled wine.

Those memories, of the beautiful quaint pubs, the Christmas markets, the mulled wine, fabulous meals, but mostly of being with my two daughters at a special time of year, were so important to me, that once home, I haven’t wanted to make mulled wine. I needed to preserve those memories some how. Until now.

Out of curiosity, I sought out recipes for mulled wine online, and they’re basically all straight forward. In fact, you can simply mull wine with purchased mulling spices! If you don’t know, the act of mulling is simmering or steeping the wine or cider.

I found a recipe on Epicurious along with a blurb written by Katherine Sachs that offered a bit more information when proceeding with mulled wine, with more options.

Katherine writes that “In Germany it’s called Glühwein and it’s occasionally made with with fruit wine; it’s Glögg in Scandinavia, and usually served with a spiced cookie or cake; in Quebec they mix in maple syrup and hard liquor and call it Caribou.”

I need to look into a Caribou. But on to mulled wine…

For a stronger pot, add some liquor, such as brandy or spiced rum. Mulled wine can also be made with white wine, such as a Riesling or Grüner Veltliner, if you prefer that style.

Mulled Wine
Serves 2, 3, 4…

1 bottle of good red wine, like a pinot noir
2 cups apple cider
1 cup ruby port
A couple slices of orange rind
4 cinnamon sticks
20 whole cloves
2 crushed allspice
Star anise and cinnamon sticks and orange slices for serving

Pour the wine, cider, and port into an enamel pot. Add the orange rinds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice.

Start heating slowly on a low-to-medium setting. You want to steep the wine, not boil or reduce it.

After about 30-40 minutes it will be done. Sieve the mixture if you don’t want the little spice bits.

Serve in cups with a cinnamon stick, star anise, and slices of orange.

I purposely didn’t shake the bottle of apple cider. I didn’t want the mulled wine to look murky.

This is especially important if you chose to serve the mulled wine in a glass cup. You want it pretty and burgundy, not brown and murky.

The mulled wine would work well in a carafe, so you don’t have to keep it on the stove. Just serve!

Hope you enjoy this recipe.

I have prepared mulled port before and that is slightly sweeter than mulled wine, but definitely still warming and flavorful. It was mulled with clementines.

Orange-Glazed Beets

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I happen to love beets. But I didn’t always. When I first tasted them, they tasted like dirt to me. Not that I really know what dirt tastes like, mind you. But they have a real earthiness to them that you almost have to force yourself to embrace, sort of like learning to love beer.

There’s nothing quite like the simplicity of roasted beets. They’re sweet and tender. But today I roasted them and then glazed them, with spectacular results.

The original recipe is from a cookbook called The New California Cook, by Diane Rossen Worthington, published in 2006.

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I’m basically a California girl at heart. I’ve lived many different places in my life, both growing up and since marrying. But there’s just something about California. And that’s what the recipes in this book are about. Here’s a quote from the introduction:

“You don’t have to live in California to be a California cook – what you do need is a California spirit.”

The recipe for orange-glazed beets caught my attention because as I said, I love beets. I’ve roasted them, and pickled them, but never glazed them, so I knew I had to try this. It’s a little more involved recipe, because I made it a little more difficult by adding an extra step. I wanted to roast the beets first, which after-the-fact, didn’t really make a difference.

Orange-Glazed Beets
Adapted from The New California Cook

3 medium-sized beets
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the stems of the beets. Place the beets in a foil-lined roasting pan. Two of the beets were larger than the third, so I sliced them in half, to make them more uniform in size.

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Drizzle them with a little olive oil, about 3 tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper.

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Cover the whole baking dish with foil, and bake the beets for about 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and roast the beets for 15-20 minutes. They’re not completely tender at this point, but I didn’t want them cooked thoroughly before I went through the glazing process, which cooks the beets further.

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Remove the beets from the oven and let them cool.

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Meanwhile, combine the chicken stock, orange juice and balsamic vinegar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a light boil, and let reduce for about 15 minutes or so.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the peels. I do this by rubbing the skins with paper towels. If all of the peel won’t come off, finish with a peeler. Some people wear gloves handling beets, because your fingers will turn red.

But it’s not permanent.

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Slice the beets into lengthwise wedges or, if you prefer, horizontal slices. It depends what shape you want.

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Place the beets into the liquid and maintain a soft simmer. Pour all of the remaining liquid from the roasted beets into the saucepan.

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Continue simmering, occasionally spooning the liquid over the beets, if they are not completely submerged. The liquid will reduce and become a glaze.

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Add the butter, stir in, then remove the saucepan from the stove.

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The original recipe calls for added chopped parsley, but I omitted that. You can taste for salt.

These beets are a lovely side dish. Today I paired them with a pesto-crusted pork tenderloin, and it was a perfect combination. The beets would also be lovely on a composed salad.

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verdict: Delicious! As I mentioned, I don’t think the roasting step improved the beets ultimate flavor and texture, so that step can easily be omitted. Simply peel and chop/slice the beets, and simmer them in liquid. You will have to double up on the liquid ingredients, however, since the whole process will take about 45 minutes before the raw beets become tender.

note: I will make these beets again in the fall, with some apple cider and maple syrup. They really are fabulous glazed!

Italian Orange Cake

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Sometimes I hang on to a cookbook just because there’s one perfect recipe in it. And this is one of those recipes, although fortunately, there are plenty of other recipes in this cookbook that I love. But I’d keep the book just for this cake. Here’s the book, by Patricia Wells, published in 1993:

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I never really wanted to like Patricia Wells, probably because her life is so enviable. She never owned a restaurant or worked as a chef. In fact, she started out as a food journalist, but fell in love with the foods of France, then Italy, and then wrote about them. It’s not like she’s a Hubert Keller or Eric Ripert, but boy has she published a lot of cookbooks. And I have to say, all of the ones I own are pretty fabulous.

I heard her speak at a demonstration at an Aspen Food and Wine festival many moons ago. She seemed really snobby. I think she’s been living in France too long, with homes in both Paris and Provence.

One of Ms. Wells’ cookbooks that I own is about her home in Provence. I really didn’t want to like this book, because it showed off her beautiful 18th century stone farmhouse, and to-die-for kitchen. With a wood-fired oven. It will make you so jealous that you don’t have a farmhouse in Provence. Unless you do.

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And then there’s this book she wrote featuring Joel Rebouchon and his recipes. It’s another beautiful cookbook that I refer to often.

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Then there’s her Bistro book, which is essentially the French version of the Trattoria cookbook, focusing on regional food prepared at neighborhood restaurants throughout France.

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But I love her Trattoria cookbook because it’s about simple Italian fare; the recipes aren’t pretentious. It’s all about “healthy, simple, robust fare inspired by the small family restaurants of Italy.” Thus, the title.

Speaking of trattorias, if you ever go to Italy, be prepared that there are many different kinds of eating and dining establishments there. And each one has limited menus are are only open at specific times. Make sure to look into this before you go, or you will end up at at what you thought was a restaurant, where no food is available, or at a bar with no drinks. Or, the establishment will be closed.

Some of the recipes in Trattoria might not be terribly inspiring to those expertly familiar with Italian cuisine, but the book certainly has its place, especially to home cooks like myself. There are many recipes in it to which I still use, like this cake, which is Tuscan in origin, according to Ms. Wells.

Here’s her website, in case you want to check her out. She’s really quite accomplished. I’m just a little jealous of her life!

Fragrant  Orange  and  Lemon  Cake
Torta di Arancio e Limone

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup whole milk
16 tablespoons, or 8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Evenly coat the interior of a 9″ springform pan with butter. Dust lightly with flour, shaking out the excess flour. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.

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Measure out the milk and place it in a small bowl. Add the orange juice and zest as well as the lemon juice and zest. Give it a little stir and set aside to “sour.”

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Place the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl.

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Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about two minutes.

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Crack each egg individually and place in a small bowl to avoid shells. Add the vanilla extract to the eggs.

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While beating, add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.

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Continue until the eggs are all gone.

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Then beat in about 1/3 of curdled milk mixture and then 1/3 of the sifted dry ingredients, alternating and just beating until smooth.

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The batter will be nice and smooth at this point.

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Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan.

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Bake for approximately 50 minutes; a cake tester should come out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.

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Remove the side of the pan, and let the cake cool for about 30 minutes. Then remove the bottom of the springform pan using a long knife held parallel to the bottom.

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Slice the cake in wedges when still warm, or at room temperature.

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I served mine with raspberries and slightly sweetened whipped cream.

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I also served this cake with Quady Red Electra, which is a red Moscato. It’s wonderful with desserts, but also perfect to sweeten sangria.

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But an Auslese, a port, sherry, or some Tuscan Vin Santo would pair nicely as well.

This cake is just as delicious as I remember it from the last time I made it about ten years ago. It’s not a dry cake, presuming it’s not overcooked. It’s dense, in fact, and has an interesting crumb to it. I could have sprinkled the cake with some confectioner’s sugar as well, but I like the fact that this cake has no icing, and doesn’t need any. It would also be fabulous for breakfast or brunch.

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note: There are two major differences between this recipe and the original one from the cookbook. First of all, Ms. Wells uses a 10″ Bundt pan for this recipe, cooking it at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes. Also, she uses vanilla sugar instead of white sugar – sugar in which a vanilla bean pod has been added. I simply added vanilla extract to the recipe.

Buttermilk could probably be substituted for the milk in this recipe, given the additions of lemon and orange juices, but I really like the idea of the milk mixing with the juices and zest for a time before being used in the recipe.