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.


 

 

Lemon Pappardelle with Nduja

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Up until now, I’ve only used nduja on charcuterie platters – the wonderful spread that is so good on warm bread. That is, until I saw this recipe online.

If you aren’t familiar with nduja, it’s a spreadable pork sausage from southern Italy, spiced with Calabrian chile peppers. Nduja can be made from scratch, and maybe some day I will, but it’s so easy just to buy a tube. How to pronounce? In-doo-ya.

I have seen nduja included in red sauces, but in this recipe the nduja flavor is right there, not masked by anything else.

The recipe that got my attention is from Delicious Magazine – a really posh British cooking magazine that is also online. The actual name of the recipe is Sicilian pappardelle with nduja and crunchy breadcrumbs. In it, Sicilian lemons are recommended, but alas, there none to be found in Oklahoma. However, I did use Castelvetrano olives in this pasta, to make it a bit more Sicilian!

I wanted to include broccolini in this pasta for something green, but there wasn’t any at my local store. Frozen peas would work, or asparagus in the spring.

Sicilian Lemon Pappardelle with Nduja and Crunchy Breadcrumbs
Slightly adapted

30g/1 ounce unsalted butter
4 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Zest and juice of 3 lemons, plus wedges to serve
50g/2 ounces nduja, crumbled
Bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying
50g/2 ounces fresh white breadcrumbs
400g fresh papardelle (I used dried)
1/3 cup heavy cream
40g/2 ounces Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
Castelvetrano olives, pitted, sliced lengthwise (optional)

Heat the butter in a large pan over a low heat and fry the shallots for 15 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, then cook for a minute.

Add the nduja and half the parsley, then fry for 1-2 minutes.

In a small frying pan, heat a glug of olive oil, add the breadcrumbs and fry over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until crisp. Set aside.

Cook the pappardelle according to package directions. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water, then add the pasta to the nduja mixture. Set over a medium heat, then toss with a splash of the pasta water, cream, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the Parmesan.

Season to taste and divide among bowls or place in large serving bowl. Add the olives, if using, then sprinkle with the crunchy breadcrumbs and remaining parsley.

Serve with lemon wedges and extra Parmesan.

I also served the pasta with the Calabrian peppers for some extra heat!

note: Not all of my grams to ounces calibrations are correct. The ounces are what I actually used.

BBQ and Blue Chicken Salad

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When I visit my daughter and her sweet family, about 1 1/2 hours away, I often stay with her to help with the kiddos. Plus, after their bedtime, we drink some wine and catch up. If I’m in the mood to cook, I do so, but there is a fabulous food delivery service called Postmates that services a whole range of great restaurants in Oklahoma City.

One restaurant we often order lunch from is Red Rock Canyon Grill. I’d call it an American grill – nothing fancy, but definitely quality food that’s consistently a pleasure to eat.

Normally, as is my way, I rarely order the same thing, with this restaurant’s menu being one exception. They have a rotisserie chicken salad there that is so good, that it’s always what I order via Postmates. Rotisserie Chicken Chop Salad.

It doesn’t look terribly appealing in the to-go container but it is delicious. What’s unique to me are the combination of dressings: actual barbecue sauce as well as a chipotle-blue cheese.

What really surprised me when I went to the restaurant’s website to make sure I got the name of the salad correct, is that this restaurant is a chain! There are Red Rocks from Texas to Kansas! Well, if all chains were as good as this one, America would be a better place to dine!

For this salad, I used my favorite bottled barbecue sauce. If I’m not making my own, I’m buying this brand.

Following is not a recipe, but a list of ingredients for this delicious salad. Make one serving or a huge salad. You’ll love it!

Southwestern Rotisserie Chicken Salad with BBQ Sauce and Chipotle-Bleu Cheese Dressing

Rotisserie or roast chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Romaine
Black beans, drained from can
Corn, fresh or drained from a can
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Cubes of avocado
Jicama, peeled, cubed
Hard-boiled eggs (optional)
Tortilla chips
BBQ sauce
Chipotle-bleu cheese dressing, recipe below

Chipotle-Bleu Cheese Dressing

4 ounces good blue cheese
4 ounces buttermilk
3 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 whole chipotle plus
1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove

Place all ingredients in a small blender jar and blend until smooth. Alternately, use only half of the cheese in the dressing, and save the remaining crumbled cheese for the salad.

Begin by preparing all of the ingredients. I roasted a chicken and chopped up mostly the white meat.

Then add lettuce to the salad bowl, then cover with the black beans and corn.

Then add the tomatoes, jicama, and avocado. I tossed my avocado pieces in lime juice before using.

Follow with the chicken, season with salt and pepper, then add any necessary remaining ingredients for a nice representation.

Drizzle the barbecue sauce and the chipotle blue cheese dressings over the salad and serve.

The restaurant’s salad has tortilla strips, but I found these, called horneadas, and thought they were fun! I don’t like feeling “forced” to eat things in a salad that I don’t love. Namely, tortilla strips.

Besides the wonderful flavors of this unique salad, the textures are lovely, especially because of jicama.

Jambon Persillé

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For this recipe, I referred to Glorious French Food, written by James Peterson, published in 2002. All of the following information is from his recipe. He is very serious about French food, as you can tell from the book’s title!

“While no two versions are exactly the same, jambon persillé is cooked ham that’s been layered in a terrine with chopped parsley and the gelatinous poaching liquid used for cooking the ham. Depending on whose recipe you follow, the terrine may consist of pieces of ham suspended in gelée or contain very little gelée at all, just enough to hold the terrine together.

An exact recipe for jambon persillé is hard to give because ham is one of the few things that aren’t made the same way in different parts of the country. How you make jambon persillé depends on the ham or ham shoulder you start out with and how ambitious you’re feeling. The traditional method consists of soaking a fully cured raw ham for several days to rid it of excess salt and then braising it for several hours in a wine-and-carrot-flavored court bouillon (vegetable stock) to soften it. The ham would probably be a jambon de Moruan in Burgundy, where jambon persillé originates, but prosciutto di Parma, or a less expensive domestic prosciutto, or Smithfield ham would make a good substitute. Split calves’ or pigs’ feet are simmered in the court bouillon with the ham to provide gelatin, which holds the finished jambon persillé together. The ham is cut into cubes or shredded and combined with freshly chopped parsley and the braising liquid in a terrine and allowed to set.

My own approach is somewhat different and takes a few days of forethought. I salt a fresh, raw ham and convert it into demi-sel, a trick that enhances its flavor, and then make stock with pigs’ or calves’ feet, reduce it, and add use it along with vegetables, herbs, and white wine to poach the ham instead of simmering the feet along with the ham in the way most recipes suggest. There are two reasons for making a separate jelly stock. First, this allows you to cook the stock for 10 hours instead of only 6 or so, to extract the maximum of natural gelatin. Second, jambon persillé needs a very gelatinous stock to hold it together, and making the stock in advance allows you to reduce it before you poach the ham.

While my own preference is for homemade demi-sel, you can make a jambon persillé out of just about any form of ham. If you have some decent cooked ham, you don’t need to cook it more. Just slice it, cut it into cubes, and layer it in the terrine with melted fonds gelée, clear stock with some extra gelatin added to hold it together. If you have a fully cured ham, soak a piece of it for 3 days in cold water, changing the water a couple of times a day, and then cook the piece as I describe in the recipe.”

Jambon Persillé
Ham in Aspic

6 quarts when melted fonds gelée
4 pounds [1.8 kg] boneless raw uncured fresh ham or shoulder (5 pounds [2.3 kg] if the bone is in), partially salted or left raw and uncured
4 medium-size carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch [2.5 cm] sections
2 large red onions, peeled, cut in half through the root end
3 cups [750 ml] dry white wine
1 medium-size bouquet garni
1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, large stems cut off and used in the bouquet garni

Bring the gelée to a gentle simmer on the stove and simmer about 2 hours to reduce it to 10 cups [2.5 l]. Skim.

To make the gelée, I simmered 5 cut up pigs feet in water and wine, with onions, leeks, parsley, thyme, chives, and bay leaves, plus a dried mixture of soup mix. I cooked, and skimmed, for about 6 hours.

Put the ham in a pot just large enough to hold it. Pour enough of the fonds gelée over the ham to cover it. Add the carrots, onions, wine, and bouquet garni, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Turn down to between low and medium heat to maintain a gentle simmer for 5 to 6 hours, until a knife slides easily in and out of the meat. Add water or more broth from time to time to make up for evaporation.

Transfer the ham to a cutting board and strain the poaching liquid into a clean container. Chop the parsley very fine.

Ladle ½ cup [125 ml] of poaching liquid into the bottom of a 1½-liter (6-cup) terrine and sprinkle over it about 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley. Pull the ham into shreds and put a layer on top of the parsley and poaching liquid. Pour just enough poaching liquid over the meat to barely cover it, sprinkle more parsley, and add another layer of meat.

Keep layering the terrine in this way, finishing it with a layer of broth and parsley. Refrigerate overnight.

I didn’t shred the ham; I preferred the look of the terrine with large pieces.

When you’re ready to serve, just cut slices right out of the terrine. Or, for a more dramatic effect, you can unmold the whole thing: put a platter upside down over the terrine, invert both together, and lift off the terrine.

If you like, serve with bread, mustard, and cornichons.

Instead of just slices, I roughly chopped the ham in aspic to make more of a salad – something I like to do when I make pigs’ feet.

I also made a caper and parsley vinaigrette for the salad.

Straight red wine vinegar is also good, plus a few capers.

Any size terrine can be used for jambon persillé. In fact, if you want the slices to fit on bread, a long, narrow terrine is best.

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps

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The other day I came across Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course on Amazon Prime. I happen to be a huge fan of his, so of course I watched.

I’ve already frantically written down two recipes from just the first episode, this being one of the two – Asian-inspired crispy beef and pork, served in lettuce leaves with a fabulous sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

Not surprisingly, all of his recipes on this show were lovely; there are 100 in all – “recipes to stake your life on.” A huge promise, but of course, he’s Chef Ramsay. According to Gordon, “I’m going to teach you amazing food you can cook standing on your head.”

The cookery series consists of ten episodes, originally aired in 2012. “Each episode concentrates on a different theme essential for the modern cook and is packed with useful tips and tricks to save time and money.”

And what’s truly amazing to me, is that Chef Ramsay can talk, non-stop, in his wonderful culinary prose, describing everything he’s doing, and the flavors and smells, all whilst cooking. As my family can attest, I cannot cook and talk. So that impresses me! And, he may not be everybody’s favorite chef, but darn, his passion shows!

Note: In the U.S., where I live, chile peppers cover the whole gamut of smoked, dried, and fresh peppers. They are spelled chile peppers, not chili peppers. Chili is an American meat dish.

However, in other countries like England, chile peppers are spelled chili peppers, and sometimes chilli peppers, or chilis or chillies. Until you know this, you may be confused!

So I’m honoring Chef Ramsay’s recipe name of Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps, named for the little red chile peppers he uses in the recipe!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps with Dipping Sauce
Printable recipe below

Olive oil, for frying
200g lean minced beef
200g minced pork
Toasted sesame oil, for frying
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1–2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
Zest of 1 lime, juice of 1/3 lime
3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 little gem lettuces, separated into leaves, to serve

Heat a large frying pan and add a little oil. Mix the minced beef and pork together. Season with salt and pepper and mix well to ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed. Fry the mince in the hot pan for 5–7 minutes until crisp and brown and broken down to a fine consistency. Drain the crisped mince in a sieve – this will help it stay crispy. Set aside.

Wipe out the pan and add a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Fry with a pinch of salt and the sugar for 2 minutes. Add the drained mince and stir to mix. Add the fish sauce and heat through. Stir in the lime zest and juice, then add the spring onions, stirring for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat.

Mix all the dressing ingredients together and adjust to taste.

To serve, spoon some of the mince mixture into the lettuce leaves, drizzle with a little dressing and serve.

Or, if you couldn’t find Little Gem lettuce and had to substitute butter lettuce, and it doesn’t work well for roll-ups, gently slice the lettuce, place on a platter, and cover with the beef mixture

I poured the remaining sauce over the top, and it was wonderful as a salad of sorts!

Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1-2 chillies, thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Chopped cilantro

Mix all of the ingredients together well. Pour into a small bowl and serve with the lettuce wraps.

 

 

Kedgeree

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A while back on someone’s blog I commented on their kedgeree post that I’d never seen it with salmon, only chicken. She responded that she’d never seen it with anything but salmon! Well that’s when I realized I was mixing up the words kedgeree and biriyani. Yes, nothing in common at all. I’ll blame it on being old.

Both Indian dishes are rice-based, and both are served with hard=boiled eggs… but yet, not really similar. How I could confuse the names is beyond me!

Kedgeree can be as simple as a curried rice topped with prepared salmon, but I wanted something a little more fun, so I reached for Gordon Ramsay’s Cooking for Friends, published in 2009.

His recipe includes salmon and shrimp, but also quail eggs, which I couldn’t get my hands on.

Gordon Ramsay’s Posh Kedgeree

2 3/4 cups chicken or fish stock (I used both)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Pinch of saffron strands
9 ounces skinless, lightly smoked salmon fillet
7 ounces large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
2 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
2 cups basmati rice
12 quail eggs, at room temperature ( used 4 eggs)
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
Lemon wedges for garnish

Put the stock, thyme, saffron, and a little salt and pepper into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then gently lower the salmon fillet into the stock and poach for 4 minutes. Lift the fish out with a slotted spatula onto a warm plate. Add the shrimp to the stock and poach just until they turn firm and opaque, about 2 minutes.

I had lightly smoked the salmon using my stove-top smoker before starting this recipe.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to the plate of salmon. Cover with foil and keep warm.

Strain the stock and discard the thyme; set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add the olive oil, shallots, and some seasoning. Fry, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft but not browned, 4–6 minutes. Add the butter and curry powder. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then tip in the rice. Stir and cook for 2 minutes longer, to toast the rice lightly.

Add a generous seasoning of salt and pepper and pour in the stock. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes. Without lifting the lid, remove the pan from the heat and let the rice stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the quail eggs in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Crack and peel off the skins, then cut each egg in half. I obviously used un-posh, medium-sized chicken eggs.

Fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit more butter if you wish. Break the salmon fillet into large flakes and add to the rice, along with the shrimp and most of the chopped parsley. Gently mix the ingredients through the rice. Pile onto warm plates and garnish with the quail eggs, remaining parsley, and lemon wedges.

Serve at once.

The salmon is so tender I might cook it this way in the future. And the slight smokiness is wonderful. Altogether a delightful set of flavors and textures.

Mine was not quite as posh as Chef Ramsay’s, without the quail eggs, but I don’t think I could have peeled a dozen quail eggs, either.

I’m happy with how this dish came out!

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

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Back in May when my strawberry plants were thriving, I thought about what to do with the berries, besides gorge on them! (And share.) There’s nothing quite like that just-ripened strawberry, picked from its plant.

Then I remembered a milk shake my mother made, maybe in 1968 or 1969. We lived on Long Island, New York, at the time, and where we lived wasn’t populated. We had the Long Island Sound in the front, hills behind us, a lovely creek, and lots of green space.

My mother’s idol was Euell Gibbons back then, and she foraged everything. At the time I wasn’t fond of a lot that she foraged, like mushrooms and watercress, but I loved when the local strawberries were in full force. She picked these little strawberries and blended them with good vanilla ice cream.

These particular strawberries are what I’d tasted before in France, thanks to my mother. They have a strong perfume as well as a strawberry goodness and they’re called fraises des bois, or strawberries of the woods. Below is a photo I found online of these strawberries, on the left. I had some in my garden in the early days, but the larger, more common variety of strawberry has taken over, sadly. They spread easily.

After thinking about a strawberry shake, it was a given that I’d make strawberry ice cream with my berries. I pulled out my book The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz, published in 2007; there’s an updated version published in 2018. Sure enough, I found a perfect recipe using fresh strawberries. It’s even a little boozy!

I ended up not having enough from my garden, thanks to some pests and too much rain, so most of the strawberries I used for this recipe are store-bought. But they were good ones.

Here’s the author’s description of the ice cream recipe: Brilliant pink fresh strawberry ice cream is a classic flavor and, along with chocolate and vanilla, is an American favorite. I’m a big fan of any kind of berries served with tangy sour cream, but I think strawberries are the most delicious, especially when frozen into a soft, rosy red scoop of ice cream. Macerating the strawberries beforehand magically transforms even so-so berries into fruits that are brilliantly red. Try to eat this ice cream soon after it’s been churned.

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/4 quarts
printable recipe below

1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vodka or kirsch (I used kirsch)*
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

Pulse the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until almost smooth but still slightly chunky.

Refrigerate for 1 hour then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

My Cuisinart ice cream maker has two bowls, which is handy. Especially if you’ve ever poured too much into one!

The ice cream is good. You can taste a little zing from the sour cream. But I think I prefer a full fat ice cream; all heavy cream.

The other thing is…. I think I’d prefer a fresh strawberry shake. What I didn’t like in the ice cream was the frozen strawberry bits. They were icy and cold to eat.

And I don’t freeze my ice cream hard. I like it on the softer side and creamy.

So I learned a lesson here. Overall it’s a great recipe, but one I won’t repeat. My mother had the right idea using the fraises des bois in a milk shake!

*If you don’t want alcohol in your ice cream, a tablespoon of grenadine would be nice, and pretty!

 

 

 

Eric Ripert’s Seafood Chowder

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The New York City restaurant, Le Bernardin, a seafood restaurant, is constantly on top of the world’s ten best restaurant lists. In May of 2021, the chef-owner Eric Ripert was proud to advertise his long-standing 3 Michelin star rating.

In 2010, when my daughter went to New York City for an interview, I volunteered to meet her there. Of course, I made reservations at some great restaurants, including Le Bernardin. I’m a good mom like that!

This is a photograph of the dining room, from the restaurant’s website. In person, that painting seemed like it was 100 feet wide!

We had the most helpful sommelier while we dined at Le Bernardin. It could have been because my daughter was 24 and gorgeous…

In any case, our meal was exceptional, not surprisingly. If you’ve watched or read anything about Eric Ripert, you are aware that he’s a perfectionist.

In 2009 I purchased his just published cookbook, “A Return to Cooking,” about Eric Ripert and his culinary passion and skills, written by Michael Ruhlman.

As an homage to Eric Ripert’s love and respect of seafood, I chose a seafood chowder to make from the cookbook. It was excellent, and could easily be enjoyed during warm months. The hardest part was cracking crab legs for the meat, but so worth it.

Salmon, Crab, and Scallop Chowder
Printable recipe below
Serves 6

2 slices double-smoked bacon, sliced crosswise into julienne
3/4 cup sliced leeks
1/2 cup dry wine
3 cups fish fumet*
1 cup water
1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon canola oil
One – 6 ounce salmon fillet, cut into 3/4” cubes
4 ounces crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage
6 large sea scallops, cut horizontally in half
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Cook the bacon julienne in a large pot over medium heat, until it has rendered its fat and is crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot. Add the leeks and sauté until limp and lightly caramelized, about 4 minutes.

Deglaze the pot with the white wine, stirring to incorporate the browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Return the bacon to the pot, cover with the fumet and water, and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat and boil gently until the potatoes are tender, 10 – 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the cream to the fumet and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat until ready to serve.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush it with the canola oil. Place the salmon, crab, and scallops on the sheet and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Place in the oven for 2 – 3 minutes, until just barely heated through. The salmon and scallops should still be quite rare.

Meanwhile, gently reheat the soup. Add the dill and lemon zest and stir to incorporate. Adjust the seasoning.

To serve, divide the warmed salmon, crab, and scallops among warmed bowls. (This is so French – my mother always heated dishes before serving!)

Ladle the soup over and serve immediately.

* From the notes of Michael Ruhlman: Fumet is very easy to make once you have good bones. The bones of the turbot are the best for fumet because of their high gelatin content, but generally any white bones from a non oily fish can be used. To make a fumet, you sweat sliced onion and fennel until they’re tender, add the bones and cook them gently, then add water to just cover and a bouquet garni and simmer very gently for 10 – 15 minutes. Let the fumet sit off the heat for another 15 minutes, then strain it through cheesecloth.

This is what I used, purchased at Amazon, of course. It was delicious; all you have to do is add it to water just like a demi-glace.

 

A Seasonal Risotto

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I love making dishes that I can add stuff to, like pancakes, yeasted breads, risottos, mashed potatoes… well I guess just about any home-cooked dish! It’s one thing I enjoy and am good at. I didn’t learn creativity in culinary school, since I didn’t attend any cooking school ever. It actually comes from being financially strapped and never wanting to waste anything. Got a carrot? Juice it and put it in a soup, grate it and put it in a meat loaf, purée it and add to potato mash… and so forth.

But also, since I grew up experiencing various cuisines, I figured out that it’s easy to be creative by turning any random dish into an inspired-by cuisine. Take a potato soup, for example. Add chorizo, chipotle, and fresh cilantro and you’ve got a Southwestern-inspired soup. Use ricotta in the potato soup and top it with a spoonful of basil pesto, and you’ve got an Italian-inspired soup. And so forth. Every week you can make a “different” potato soup!

So that’s how I have fun in my kitchen, when I’m not following specific recipes.

Which brings me to risotto. I was looking over old blog posts a while back, and I came upon my Paprika Cream Risotto. It’s just a “plain” risotto with the addition of paprika cream. Simple, yet fabulous. The photos could be updated, of course, but what caught my attention were my own notes on suggestions of seasonal risottos.

Spring: Lemony goat cheese risotto with salmon, peas, and basil

Summer: Tomato and tomatillo risotto with chorizo and cilantro

Fall: Brussels sprouts risotto topped with grilled sausages

Winter: Smoked gouda risotto topped with short ribs and pickled onions

Damn. Those are great ideas! The Italian purists wouldn’t appreciate these recipes, but I have no problem with this kind of inspired cooking. Especially when the outcome is so wonderful!

I decided to start with the spring version, cause it’s spring! Now, this combination isn’t unique for springtime flavors, but they are really good together! Begin with the salmon, then keep the filets warm while you prepare the risotto, then put the final dish together.

After receiving a gift of a variety of fish from my daughter at Christmas from Sitka Salmon Shares, it has become my source for fish; their salmon is perfection.

Easy Sautéed Salmon Filets
Serves 2

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 salmon filets, not steaks
Salt
Finely ground pepper

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it brown slightly.

Season the flesh sides of the filets, then place the filets in the skillet, flesh side up. Cook for about 2 minutes, then gently flip over.

Lower the heat slightly and cook the skin-up filets for a about 4 minutes. At this point you can easily remove the skins using a thin spatula.

Turn them over for one last time so the fish cooks under the skin more, about 2-3 minutes over the lowest heat. Place them on a plate and tent with foil to keep warm, then prepare risotto.

Lemon and Goat Cheese Risotto with Peas
Generously serves 2

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup Riesling or other non-dry white
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 or 4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup prepared green peas (or sliced steamed asparagus if you prefer)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the butter and let melt. Add the shallots and sauté for about 4-5 minutes; don’t allow much caramelization.

Add the rice to the pot and stir it around in the butter and shallots until all the grains are coated. Pour in the white wine. Stir as the rice cooks in the wine and it gradually gets absorbed.

Without letting the pot go completely dry, add some of the broth, about 1/3 cup at a time, and repeat the stirring process, without allowing any burning or sticking. Turn down the heat if you think the rice is cooking too fast; it’s always best to go slower. You can see the risotto is cooking but not ready quite yet.

When you’re down to the end of the broth, turn off the heat and gradually fold in 3 ounces of goat cheese until well distributed.

Add the salt and white pepper and taste for seasoning. If you’re satisfied, gently add the peas, lemon juice and zest, cover the pot, and set it aside.

Lemony Goat Cheese Risotto with Peas Served with Salmon

2 tablespoons goat cheese, at room temperature
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
A chiffonade of basil leaves

Strain the reserved butter in the skillet into a small bowl. There should be at least 1 tablespoon of melted browned butter. Add the 2 tablespoons of goat cheese into the butter by gently whisking until smooth. If you don’t like this idea, just put a small dollop of soft goat cheese on each filet before serving.

To serve, divide the risotto into two pasta bowls. Top each serving with a salmon filet. Divide the goat cheese-butter mixture between the filets.

Divide the lemon zest between both servings, and finish with the basil chiffonade.

I loved the goat cheese, lemon, and basil flavors together!

If you’re not familiar with the term salmon “filet,” here are photos of the two most common individual cuts – the thinner filet, and the thicker steak. Filets can be trimmed so their thickness is uniform. Save the scraps!

Thanks to Cooks Illustrated for these photos!

Stuffed Zucchini

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Many years ago I wrote the main food article of the food section for our local newspaper. My favorite articles to write were when I interviewed people who traveled the world to cook and eat.

One such woman I wrote about attended a cooking class with Lorenza dé Medici at her home, Badia a Coltibuono, an 11th Century monastery, estate, and winery, in Tuscany. (There is no longer a cooking school, just their wines and olive oils are sold from the website.)

If I remember correctly, she spent a quite a few days in the spacious kitchen learning Tuscan specialties, using ingredients purchased at the local market. What an experience.

In the evenings all of the attendees and the Signora enjoyed the prepared food and locally grown wine. And because of that experience, I was exposed to Lorenza dé Medici and her many cookbooks.

I’ve posted on one recipe by Lorenza dé Medici from her Antipasti cookbook – Crostini al Tonno – but this Stuffed Zucchini recipe is from The Villa Table, published in 1993.

This recipe was posted years ago, but I needed to re-do the photos!

Courgettes Stuffed with Ham
Zucchine Ripiene al Prosciutto

6 medium zucchini (I recommend only 3 medium)
3 eggs
5 tablespoons fine dry breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces cooked ham, chopped
Salt
Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Cut off and discard both ends of the zucchini. Using an apple corer, scoop out the pulp from the centers, leaving both ends intact, to make the hollow of the boat.

I also let the zucchini boats rest on paper towels to collect moisture.

In a bowl beat the eggs. Add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, butter, and chopped ham. Mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a small frying pan. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

Stuff the zucchini with the mixture. Pour the oil and 2 tablespoons of water into an ovenproof dish and arrange the zucchini in it.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

I sprinkled the stuffed zucchini with chopped Italian parsley and a little flaked salt.

Enjoy as a side, or as a meal!

And personally, I loved the white pepper instead of black!