Sunday, March 31, 2013

Salmon Rub

For Christmas Chris, Alex and Dan gave Ed and me Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, caught by friends of Alex and Dan --- sort of a CSA of fishing --- to be delivered this spring along with a some sugar rub made from a recipe on The Alaska Seafood Website.  Eager to try the rub even before the gift salmon arrived, we purchased some salmon.  Yummy! And particularly good served with grilled scallions. We went through Dan's batch of rub and made another.  Now we are eagerly waiting for our Christmas salmon to arrive.

The first step is to combine:

2 T sugar
1 T chili powder
1 t black pepper
1/2 T [1 1/2 t] ground cumin
1/2 T paprika
1/2 T salt [Dan and I both omitted]
1/4 t dry mustard
Dash of cinnamon [I used 1/16 t]
The recipe says this rub will  do 4 to 6 fillets, but does not specify the weight.  Dan just spreads a little olive oil on the fillet(s) then liberally applies the rub.  The Alaska Seafood Recipe calls for heating 2 T of canola oil in a large heavy pan over medium-high heat, carefully placing salmon fillets in the pan, seasoned side down, cooking about 2 minutes to sear then turning fillets over, reducing heat to medium and continuing to cook 6 to 8 minutes just until fish is opaque throughout.  For a good demonstration on applying a rub (albeit a different one) and pan cooking see Mark Bittman's video, Four Spice Salmon.

Ed grills the fish on a gas grill, on low heat with the cover down. He places the salmon on aluminum foil, skin-side down, rub-side up and cooks for ~10 minutes until the fish is ~120 degrees. After he removes the fish from the grill the tempertaure continues to rise to ~125 degrees. He previously cooked it, based on the "fish setting" on our thermometer to ~130 degrees (135 by the time it reached the table). We've recently gone rarer based on Harold McGee's recommendation in On Food and Cooking "In general, fish and shellfish are firm but still moist when cooked to 130 - 140 degrees F.... Some dense-fleshed fish, including tuna and salmon are especially succulent at 120 degrees F, when still slightly translucent and jelly-like. ...some fish, Atlantic salmon, for example - can develop an almost custard-like texture if heated gently to 120 degrees F...."* We have achieved this custard-like texture but so far only with King  Salmon.

* Pages 209 and 211

June 2013: This is an excellent rub for shrimp too!


Grilled Scallions 
Serves 2, scale accordingly

Wash, trim and dry
3 large or 6 small scallions.

If the scallions are large, slice then in half vertically.  Lightly coat with

olive oil

and grill until soft but not charred.





July 2013:  The salmon arrived and what a treat!  Better than the fresh sockeye we have been getting in the local market.



Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mushroom Barley Soup

My favorite place to eat when skiing on Aspen/Snowmass was Gretl's and is now Bonnie's. The soups are great; I hope for the Hungarian Mushroom Soup but am happy with the White Bean Chili.  One day this trip the special was Mushroom Barley Soup which I tried and really liked.  When I returned home I was delighted to find the recipe in Bonnie's at 1:00.  The cold spring weather prompted me to try this recipe immediately (my adaptions are in brackets)! GOOD? The only thing missing was a warm piece of  Apple Strudel to finish the lunch.

In a 3 quart saucepan, bring to a boil:

2 c vegetable stock [I make with Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base]
1 c barley

Cover and lower to a simmer.  Cook until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.  [Check at 20 and 25 minutes.  Barley will absorb most all of the water and begin to burn on bottom of pan if cooked too long!]

In a 5 - 6 quart kettle, saute:

4 T [1/4 c] vegetable oil [I use olive oil]
2 c yellow onions, chopped [~10.5 oz chopped, ~11.5 oz whole unpeeled onion(s)]
1 t salt [I omit - I think tamari sauce provides enough saltiness]
1 bay leaf [I omit - if used, remove before serving]

Add and simmer 5 minutes:

1 1/2 # mushrooms [cleaned  - OK to use water as well as brush], sliced [halve, then slice large mushrooms]

5 cloves garlic, sliced [I mince, ~2 T total]
1/4 t white pepper [I use black pepper]

Add the cooked barley to the mushroom mixture along with:

6 c vegetable stock
1/4 c tamari sauce
1/2 c sherry.

Simmer for about an hour.

"Garnish with fresh dill, grind a generous amount of black pepper into the soup bowls and serve immediateldy"*

I garnish with greens on hand - chopped parsley, sliced scallion greens......

* Page 83


Monday, March 25, 2013

Candy Cane Cookies

Christmas Cookies 2012*
"MERRY...

No one's hangin' stockin's up,
No one's bakin' pie,
No one's lookin' up to see
A new star in the sky.
No one's talkin' brotherhood,
No one's givin' gifts,
An no one loves a Christmas tree
On March the twenty-fifth." (1)



I guess one could add, "No one's buyin' candy canes / On March the twenty fifth."   However, this recipe came from Alex and Dan via Dan's late Grandmother who lived in Minnesota, and I did not want to post it until I had Dan's express permission. Just recently, he e-mailed the recipe. Unlike the once fresh Christmas tree, the recipe can be saved for next year.

The first Christmas Dan spent at our house, he arrived with a tin full of Christmas cookies his Grandmother had sent him.  I well remember the Candy Cane Cookies.  Last Christmas Alex and Dan decided they would try to make some.  Instead of red food coloring, as called for in the recipe, they made their own red coloring with beets.  They could not find naturally colored candy canes in our local market, but I later noticed some red and green candy canes in Whole Foods Market that were colored only with vegetable dyes. Next time....

This recicpe is adapted from Joy of Baking.com which includes a video.  Minutes 11:23 to 16:00 of this video, which demonstrate how to roll and form the cookie are particularly useful.  This recipe makes about 30 cookies.

MAKE THE COLORING

Alex and Dan washed and cut into 6 -  8 pieces

1 red beet

They then boiled it in water until the beet was soft, pureed it in a food processor and strained the juice.

Other techniques I have since found include (1 ) Puree a raw red beet in a food processor. Strain  the resulting pulp through cheese cloth, then use the strained liquid for coloring and the remaining beet for other uses. (2) Placing three washed large red beets, cut into bite size-chunks, in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until beets are tender and only a couple of tablespoons of water remain. Reserve the water to use as food coloring and save the beets for salad.

CRUSH THE CANDY CANE(S)

Between 2 sheets of waxed paper, parchment paper, or clear plastic wrap on a cutting board, place

1  -2 candy canes

Using a metal or wooden meat mallet/tenderiser, break the candy canes into small pieces.



MAKE THE COOKIES


In the bowl of your electric mixer (hand mixer, food processor) beat until creamy:

      1 c (227g/16 oz) unsalted butter,  at room temperature
      1 c (120g/4.2 oz) confectioners sugar

Add and beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed: 

      2 large egg yolks
      1 t pure vanilla extract
      1/2 t pure almond extract

Add gradually, slowing down mixer as needed to keep flour from flying out of the bowl, and beat into a smooth dough:

       2 1/2 c (325 g/11.46 oz) all-purpose flour
       1/4 t salt

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and divide into two equal parts, using scales if available. Return half of the dough to the mixing bowl and add, beating on low speed until well blended:

       Beet juice

Cookies will be pink not red and color will fade a bit with cooking, so color accordingly.

If dough is too soft it will crumble when making the cookies. If kitchen is warm, dough will probably need to be refrigerated for ~30 minutes to firm.  Remove dough from refrigerator and make several walnut sized (10 g/.35 oz) pieces of red dough and the same number of walnut sized pieces of white dough. Return remaining dough to the refrigerator. Separately, roll each color on a lightly floured surface, into a 4-5 inch (10-12.5 cm) long rope. Place the two ropes side by side, gently press together, and, holding ropes by the top and bottom, twist to form a spiral. Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) apart.  Shape each cookie into a cane shape by bending one end into a hook shape and smooth the edges to soften the line between red and white.Remove remaining dough from the refrigerator and repeat this process until baking sheet is full.  While preheating the oven to 375 degrees F, place the baking sheet and cookies in the refrigerator. Bake cookies about 8 - 10 minutes or until set and edges of cookies are just beginning to brown.

Do not over bake. While cookies are baking, start a second sheet of candy canes. Remove cookies from oven and while still warm sprinkle/roll in:

        Crushed candy cane

Cover and store in an airtight container for about a week. These cookies can be frozen.

1 Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends, page 164

*Christmas Cookies 2012
In jar:
Awesome Oatmeal Cookies
On tray from upper left hand corner, clockwise:
Chris's Brownies
Molasses Cookies/Ginger Snaps
Nut Puffs
Mexican Chocolate Meringues
Candy Cane Cookies