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Backyard Garden Bowl

10 Nov

From earlier this summer, a bowl mostly picked from our little urban raised-bed garden: Armenian cucumber, tomatoes, blistered Padron peppers, sliced jalapeno (along with a soft-boiled egg and some sardines).

I wish I ate like this all the time.

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Smoked Trout, Homemade Bagels

8 Aug

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I threw a little brunch for friends, with homemade bagels, salmon and trout I smoked over alder wood, gravlax cured by H, dry farmed early girl tomatoes (so good…), salted cucumbers, and other accoutrements.

For the bagels, I mostly used the tried and true recipe, though I tried retarding the dough (letting it rise slowly in a cold place overnight) in both a typical 40°F fridge and a special 55°F fridge I had set up with a temperature controller for fermenting experiments. The 40° dough rose less, but then swelled up when baked (see left bagels below– perhaps I didn’t boil them long enough this time?) They still tasted good, like bagels– but the dough retarded at 55° had an especially nice crackling crust around a chewy bagel. I’ll keep playing around with rising times and temperatures…

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For the trout and salmon I followed a four day “hot smoke” process based on the Russell Smallwood / Naked Whiz recipe. This produces savory, rich, cooked salmon and trout with a bit of a chewy crust– not a smoked cold/raw salmon like lox.

Wednesday evening I made a plain salt brine (I wanted to start with the basics this time before getting into spices, herbs, or sugar) and immersed a thick 2lb block of salmon and 2lbs of cleaned trout fillets (both skin-on) in it under weights overnight.

Thursday morning before work I rinsed the brine off both and set them out uncovered in a fridge to air dry for 36 hours, in the hope of developing more of a skin/pellicle when smoked.

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Friday night I fired up the kamado-style ceramic grill/smoker with lump charcoal and a few chunks of alder wood and stabilized it at the low temperature of 180°F (this took some effort and required sealing every spare crack of inlet space with foil to control the airflow). After one false start when I closed down the vents so much that I snuffed the fire, I got a steady slow burn going and popped in the salmon and trout. I let them smoke until 2AM (about 6 hours), which led to a heavily cured toothy smoked trout with a great skin, and a moderately cured salmon that was fully cooked but still moist in the middle (the salmon was much thicker to start– but I didn’t want to be getting up all night to check on it– maybe next time I’ll try a 12-hour smoke).

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I chilled the fish overnight, and Saturday morning they were ready to go for brunch. Mmm.

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There were plenty of smoked fish leftovers (though not as many as I expected making 5 lbs of fish for 9 people), and mixing it in to scrambled eggs with feta is my favorite leftover use so far…

I think the trout turned out amazingly good and have been snacking on it for days– I wouldn’t change anything. The salmon was also very good, but next time I want to try some more herbs and spices in the brine and perhaps a little sugar– and try smoking a part of it even longer to see if I can get a bit more of a dry “salmon jerky” crust outside the moist interior.

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Swordfish, Arugula, Roasted Plums, Dill Butter

14 Jul

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Japanese Food Dinner Party

26 May

A few weeks ago I had friends over for some Japanese food (sushi rolls, as well as various dishes focused on a few simple ingredients, inspired by Japanese Farm Food).

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Boiled Edamame with Hickory-smoked Salt (from The Meadow)

Smashed Cucumber Pickles: Japanese cucumbers roughly crushed with a dowel and torn into irregular chunks, mixed with a whole stalk of sliced green garlic, sea salt, and a little ginger, and sealed in a ziploc bag in the fridge for two hours before dinner. Really good– one of my favorite new kinds of pickle.

Turnips and Leaves Pickled in Salt: sliced Tokyo turnips along with the freshest leaves, salt, young ginger, dry red chile (a little), an entire Meyer lemon’s worth of zest (in lieu of yuzu), and salt, also refrigerated in a bag for two hours, then rinsed in water to cut down on the salt.

Snap Peas: Fried sliced young ginger and red chiles in sesame oil, then added the snap peas for just three minutes, until they started to turn bright green. A bit oily but still quite good.

Fried Shishito Peppers: no recipe needed…

Cured Salmon Roe: Fresh salmon roe, rinsed several times until the water ran clear (very gently to avoid breaking them), mixed with a little sea salt, another meyer lemon’s worth of zest and juice, then let sit for a few hours. Served on top of a seared slab of salmon, topped with a little lemon-infused flake salt.

and of course, the team-effort sushi rolls: Dry sushi rice rinsed and drained 8 times until the water ran clear,  boiled with a strip of kombu, spread out on a board and drizzled with rice vinegar while vigorously fanning to rapidly cool it. Then rolled up in nori with some mix of maguro, toro, hamachi, salmon, shiso leaf, avocado, cucumber, and pickled ginger. With fresh-grated real wasabi root (a rare find, at Nijiya).

Great food and company, one of the best evenings in a while.

Not Quite Nicoise

29 Mar

tuna salad

Steamed nettles (I’m obsessed), eggs, tuna, roasted beets, and Cowgirl St Pat (nettle-wrapped spring cheese).

 

Salty Salmon, Poached Egg, Butter Spinach

18 Feb

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A quick, satisfying dinner during minimal-starch month (and after a weekend of salt-depleting exercise).

I’d shopped with Niçoise salad on the brain, but ended up making: salmon rubbed with salt, white pepper, and sesame seeds, broiled for 8 minutes skin-side-up, on a bed of butter-sauteed lettuce, celery, and black olives, topped with chopped up crispy salmon skin and a poached egg.

Sole, Brown Butter, Olives, Peas, Mint, Cherries?!

21 May

Between travel and work it hasn’t been a great few months for cooking. Trying to get back (on/off) the wagon, I went by Bi-Rite and picked up some sole and some newly-in-season vegetables and fruit. What can I make, while hungry, without a plan?

Sole filet– should I bread it? Fry it? It’s so thin… hmm. I peeked in The New Best Recipe and took their suggestion on cooking style, which worked well– salt and pepper on both sides, let the filets sit 5 minutes, heat 1 Tbsp oil and butter together to high heat (butter alone would burn), bring it down to medium-high once the butter melts and saute the fish (3 minutes on the non-skin side, then about 2 minutes on the skin side, until it flakes apart under a toothpick). Then I browned half a Tbsp of butter in the pan as a sauce, along with some minced up salt-cured olives. This was excellent.

To go with it, I improvised a ‘salad’ of steamed freshly-shelled peas, mint ricotta (heat a few mint leaves in a quart of milk, take them out, gently bring the milk to a boil, add 1 1/2 Tbsps of white vinegar, bring it down to low heat and stir for a few minutes, then strain out the cheese), and cherries. Hey, I figured, ricotta and mint could both go in a ravioli with peas, or in a dessert with cherries– maybe they could bridge the gap. No luck. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a great combination. (Edit: Who am I kidding? It was terrible). And the ricotta was too minty and wasn’t the smooth creamy texture I was hoping for (maybe I heated it too much? Maybe not including some cream was an issue? It seems fairly finicky).