The Great Gravlax Experiment: The Final Chapter

I went through a bit of a gravlax obsession back in December and early January of this year. And I thought I was pretty much done, little did I know I would be making the silky, salty indulgence once again, a few months later. I call this the last chapter but maybe, don’t quote me. I thought the Fuggedaboutit method was pretty much the last of the experiments but here we are again. I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Food Network and forgive me but I don’t remember the restaurants’ name but it is Swedish and as the chef started to make the buried salmon, my eyes were glued. This is a bit modified, as on day 3 or 4, he flipped the fish and I chopped my dill, instead of keeping it whole and I didn’t add the customary akvavit, instead I added a shot of vodka and I added juniper berries. What allured me was he didn’t put a weight on it. Each time I made the gravlax, I put a big paver stone on top of layers of brown paper, with cling wrap underneath. It looked a little sad and less glamorous of a process that I think gravlax should be, lol. This method, ladies and gents is glamorous. No unglamorous paver stone or brick sitting in your refrigerator for days! And he used substantially less salt than I have. I was excited to try this new method, probably a real classic way to do it but it’s been fun experimenting and has brought us here. Enjoy and Happy Weekend!

DSC05703

  • 1 pound salmon, skin left on
  • kosher salt
  • 5 juniper berries
  • chopped dill, stems and all, a nice amount to coat the fish completely
  • a shot of vodka

In a non-reactive dish, lay the fish down, flesh side up and sprinkle the shot of vodka over it. Sprinkle kosher salt all over the fish but not going crazy, the way I was in previous experiments. I was literally burying the fish in salt. This is a nice sprinkling, covering it completely. Dot it with juniper berries and top with a generous amount of dill. Cover with two layers of plastic wrap and allow to sit for 4 days. I didn’t flip mine on the third day as the chef did, I left it and had pretty good results.

DSC05698

And this time, as per the chefs’ instructions, I didn’t rinse the salty dill mixture off, I just scrapped everything off with a spoon and I’m not sure if that made a difference but the dill flavor was outstanding. I really liked the way this came out. Hope you do too!

DSC05700Serve the gravlax with sour cream on top of crispy crackers, dotted with mustard. Or any glamorous way you fancy! Enjoy!

Fettuccine with Creamy Gravlax & Peas

So, you’ve made enough gravlax to impress yourself and your friends, you’ve had it with toast and eggs on Saturday, bagels and cream cheese on Saturday, tossed into your salad for lunch on Monday…and you still have some leftovers. I’ve got the recipe for you that will put a new spin on that gravlax. This recipe is creamy, a little salty, a little sweet and a touch, zesty. A perfect meal to share for two, on a blistery, snowy day, such as today. Enjoy!

  • 6 oz. fettuccine
  • 3 oz. thinly sliced gravlax
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • freshly ground course black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon country dijon mustard

Bring the fettuccine to a boil and add in the peas for the last 2-3 minutes of the remaining cooking time. In the meantime, melt the butter on low heat, increase the heat to high adding in the heavy cream, until the whole pan is filled with creamy bubbles, add in the gravlax and mustard until warmed through. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper. Set aside. Drain the fettuccine, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the fettuccine to the creamy salmon and pea mixture and give it a good toss. Add in a small ladle or two of pasta water to thin, if needed. Serves 2.

DSC05291

The Great Gravlax Experiment: Fuggedabouit Method

The easiest method with really yummy results. This method has no aromatics except for juniper berries, no alcohol or need to flip at a certain time. This is by far the easiest way to make gravlax, you fuggedabouit and there it is, beautiful, almost silky with minimal effort. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pound salmon filet with skin on
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 10 juniper berries, crushed

Divide the salt and juniper berries add the filet and cover with the rest of the salt and juniper berries. Cover with plastic wrap, about 3 layers. Top with either cardboard or a brown bag and top with a weight. I used a paver stone and a nice big rock. Fuggedabouit and allow to sit for a minimum of 2 days.

DSC05165Uncover and rinse off the salt, pat dry and cut into thin slices. Serve with thinly sliced bread, dried overnight, whipped cream cheese and capers.

DSC05206*The updated no-measure fuggedabouit method: I took a small non reactive pan to fit the piece of salmon and poured some salt on the bottom of it, along with a generous amount of juniper berries. I placed the salmon skin side up and covered it with more salt, ensuring that the sides are buried in salt. Cover with a few layers of plastic wrap, top with a paper bag and add your weights and wait it out. I waited a week with great results, although 2 days should do the trick. (Always use a little extra caution when eating raw fish.)

The Great Gravlax Experiment: Dill & Clementine

I haven’t been this excited in the kitchen in a long time. I’ve always wanted to make my own cured salmon. And the other night, I was looking through the Joy of Cooking and saw a recipe for gravlax – the basics, being salt and lots of it. I was excited! I was going to bury a raw piece of fish in salt and come out with something delicious! I could barely wait to try this out! My brother-in-law brought over some pickling salt, was I excited- thinking this would be the perfect salt to use. It’s from the Klodawa salt mine, in central Poland, something I would love to see one day. As odd as it may sound, the salt smells beautiful. Most larger Polish delis carry it, if not, no worries, just use kosher salt. And so the fun began. I took so many more pictures than I usually do,step-by-step, some of them a little dark – because they are taken in our kitchen at night- but as I said, I was excited, lol. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. It’s just in time for the holidays! Enjoy!

DSC05128         Ingredients needed:

  • 1 pound piece salmon, cut towards the head
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 clementine, cut into 8 slices
  • about 10 juniper berries
  • 1/4 cup cucumber vodka

In a non-reactive dish, place the dill on the bottom of the dish, top with clementine slices and half the juniper berries…

DSC05083Combine the salt and sugar and spread half of it over the layered dill, clementines and juniper berries…sprinkle with half of the vodka.

DSC05088Next, top with the salmon, skin side down, top with the clementines, juniper berries…

DSC05090Top with the remaining salt mixture and vodka…

DSC05092Add on that dill…

DSC05094Next, wrap with plastic wrap, about three times, allowing some give – pressing down onto the salmon. Top with a weight. I didn’t have a smaller dish, so I improvised…at least it made me laugh..place in the fridge for one day…

DSC05095After 24 hours, this is what it looks like. Set the topping aside and flip the salmon over, replacing the topping on the skin side of the salmon, rewrap with the plastic wrap and top with the weights.

DSC05101Allow to sit in fridge for one more day…I couldn’t wait to try it as planned, three days and tried it at the end of two days…and it was good…so good…Just wash off the salt and pat dry. Cut into thin silky slices…

DSC05103The next morning, more like afternoon- about 18 hours later and it tasted no different than the night before…meaning more gravlax….sooner than later…Pair with crispbread, bagels or a good crusty loaf of bread – shhhmeared with whipped cream cheese and adorned with capers, radish slices, thin onion rings with creamy sweet mustard on the side and you’ve got a great appetizer for the holidays or any special occasion.

DSC05108And so, that concludes the great gravlax experiment. Can’t wait for next time…

DSC05116

Pistachio & Panko Encrusted Grilled Salmon

I love pistachios and wish that they would come up with a grinder that holds pistachios, like they have for sea salt and cinnamon sugar. I hope someone is reading this from Everybody’s Nuts! or McCormick. They need to merge this idea! lol I would take my pistachio nut grinder everywhere! Okay, maybe not everyone feels the same passion towards pistachio nuts, that I do, but really, bite into one and savor all of its’ explosive flavor. They are delicious and I just love them! I’m gonna have to look into growing them in the front yard or something, lol. (Not sure how that’s gonna to work on the east coast.) So if you are a passionate pistachio lover and happen to like your pistachios as more than just a snack, this may be the dish for you! Serves 4.

  • 1 pound salmon, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons shelled pistachio nuts or more, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 6 tablespoons plain Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

In a heavy bottomed pan, combine the butter, oil and the shallot. Saute the shallot, until translucent, on low heat. Stir in the pistachio nuts, parsley and the Panko crumbs, stirring often so the crumbs don’t burn, but get light golden brown. Stir in the mayonnaise and combine well. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed. Heat up your grill too about 500 degrees. Cut your salmon into 4 pieces. Layer two sheets of aluminum foil down, big enough to fit the fish, and cup at the edges. I use the foil for easy clean up, but if you want, you can cook directly on the cast iron grill flat pan. Drizzle olive oil down, on either the foil or the pan and season the salmon skin with sea salt and fresh pepper. Lay the salmon, skin down, puzzling them back together, so it looks like one piece. Press the pistachio and Panko mixture onto the top of the salmon. Try to keep the crumbs on the fish, once they fall onto the pan, they burn quickly. Grill your fish for 10 minutes. I like my fish a little pink in the middle, so keep an eye on it, grilling to your liking, fifteen minutes and it should be cooked completely through. It depends on the thickness of the fish also. A great side to the salmon, is farm fresh corn, grilled in their husks. Trim the corn of any husks that are splaying, they will just burn. And also, trim the silk if too long. Run your husks under the water and grill along the fish, directly on the grates. I used to submerge the corn for an hour in water, but forgot to and ran them right under the water, before hitting the grill and it worked just as well! Grill the corn until the husks blacken, and inside you will find perfectly cooked corn. Enjoy!

Inside-Out Salmon Sushi Platter

This platter is so much fun to eat and different from the ordinary day in and day out dinner fare. I love going out for sushi. I love the whole experience from the green tea and miso soup at the start of the meal, to the beautiful sushi platter being brought to the table. Sometimes I feel bad eating it, as it looks like pure artwork on a plate. But I get over it fast (lol) and the delicateness and deliciousness of the meal takes over and I’m a happy girl! So I thought, why not try to make it at home and have something really fun for dinner? This is great because everyone can make their own hand rolls, as they like. Share this platter among four people. Serve with edamame for an appetizer and green tea ice cream for dessert! Enjoy!

  • 1 pound salmon
  • 1 oz. olive oil plus a little for cooking the rice
  • 1 tablespoon Ponzo sauce
  • five spice powder
  • 1 package sushi nori sheets, about 7″x8″, cut diagonally, creating triangles
  • 1 cup short grain brown or sushi rice
  • 2 cups water
  • sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons Gomasio (black & tan sesame seeds & sea salt)
  • 3 oz. enoki mushrooms, quickly blanched and rinsed with cold water
  • 2 1/2 inch piece of seedless cucumber
  • handful of radish sprouts
  • 1 small avocado
  • 1 small ball of wasabi
  • soy sauce
  • Sriracha sauce
  • mayonnaise

To start, cook the rice by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil. Toss in your rice, add a little sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir in the Gomasio and adjust the seasonings as needed. Pack into a pretty bowl, smoothing the top of it with the back of a spoon. While the rice is cooking, make the sauces. There are 3 different ones here, a wasabi soy, Sriracha mayo and a wasabi mayo. The only problem being, there are no measurements for the sauces because it depends on the wasabi and how hot you like your sauces and if you like them at all. I love spicy sauces and it makes every roll a little different. Ideally you want to fill a shot glass or more or find a small bowl you will use for the sauces and then go from there, really experimenting with the heat. For the wasabi soy, I combined 1/2 of the wasabi ball and added soy sauce. For the Sriracha mayo, start with about 2 to 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and add in the Sriracha sauce until it’s as hot as you like. For the wasabi mayo, I did the same, starting with mayonnaise and then adding in a little bit of the wasabi until it was just right and I topped it with some Gomasio. If you aren’t a fan of spicy sauces, just have soy sauce on the side. Next, julienne the cucumber and scoop out the avocado and cut as thin as you can. Prepare the salmon by heating up the grill to 500 degrees. I used aluminum foil, for easy clean up but you can cook the salmon directly on the cast iron flat pan. Combine the ounce of olive oil and the Ponzo sauce. If using foil, use two sheets and make a kind of bowl out of it, cupping the edges so the juices don’t pour out, while cooking. Season both sides of the salmon with five spice powder. Pour half of the oil mixture on the bottom of the foil. Place the fish on top, skin side down and then pour the remaining oil mixture on top. Place your fish in its’ foil on the cast iron flat top and grill for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. The great thing about this platter is, it’s great room temperature, so no real pressure of getting everything on the table at the same time. Arrange everything on a platter, including the remaining wasabi and enjoy! Serve with soy and  Ponzo sauces on the side. To make your hand roll, have the nori triangle with the point facing you and in the center place your rice, salmon, veggies and sauces, and slowly roll, keeping the point, so the goodies don’t fall out, but if they do, it’s okay, that’s what the chopsticks are for! Have fun! :)

Cedar Planked Salmon with Artichokes, Olives, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Roasted Red Peppers

Time is flying by and it’s hard to believe that Labor Day is this Monday, it’s the last unofficial weekend of summer. I know there will still be hot days (I hope) left and I have yet to go down the shore! I love it after the season, when the boardwalk is almost empty and the feeling of fall is in the air. Labor Day is always a little bittersweet but this meal will help the transition. ;) Enjoy this meal by candlelight, while relaxing outdoors as a late summer breeze passes by, as you savor the last bits of summertime. This is enough for 2 to 3 people to share. Have a great weekend and Labor Day! :)

  • 1 pound salmon, skin left on, in one piece
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke halves, *rinsed if needed
  • about 6 sun dried tomato halves, ripped into pieces
  • 1 heaping tablespoon pitted oil cured olives
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed and roughly minced
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fire roasted red pepper plus about about 1 pepper, cut into halves, about 3-4 pieces
  • a few leaves rosemary leaves, minced
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt
  • (1) 11×7 cedar plank, (one that will fit the salmon, usually they have them by the seafood dept)

To start, soak your cedar plank for over an hour. In the meantime, melt the butter and olive oil on low heat and add the garlic. Saute until the garlic is soft, add in the artichokes, olives, sun dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the red pepper and a few rosemary leaves minced, season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes until heated through and set aside, keeping them warm.  Heat up your grill to about 550 degrees, place your plank on the grill for about 3 minutes, pull it off and flip the plank. Drizzle a little olive oil on the grilled side and place your red pepper halves on it. On top of the red pepper place your salmon, skin side down and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place on the grill and grill for about 8 minutes. Keep an eye on it, as mine began to burn, so definitely keep a spray bottle nearby!    Please wear gloves to protect your hands and handle with a sturdy pair of tongs. The cooking time really depends on the thickness of the fish, so test with a fork to check for doneness. After the 8 minutes, top with half of the veggies and grill for another 7 minutes or so, keeping an eye on it. Once it’s done, add the rest of the veggies on top.

I served the salmon with corn grits but buttered garlicky orzo or polenta would be great with this also. To make the corn grits you need:

  • 1/2 cup stone ground white corn grits
  • 1 cup chicken stock, *water works fine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter  
  • sea salt 
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • minced fresh rosemary leaves

Bring the chicken stock, water, butter and sea salt to a boil on high heat. Slowly add in the grits and lower the heat stirring often, for about 8 minutes. The recommended cooking time is 15-20 minutes but found they cooked quickly, so test them. Once they are to your liking, add in the heavy cream, ground pepper and a few minced leaves of rosemary. Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves. Enjoy!

 

Grilled Salmon, Portabella Mushroom, Asparagus & Cannellini Beans with Plum Dressing

What a gorgeous day! It’s just beautiful out here on the east coast. It’s a day that something wonderful in your life should be celebrated. Anything, a job that you love, a wonderful spouse that makes you laugh, a good friend you can count on, your loyal pet, an outfit that makes you feel good, a deep understanding that you were seeking and found, that perfect eyeliner that makes your eyes sparkle…It’s a day to celebrate something wonderful, no matter how big or small. And I love celebrating with food and this is a salad that is delicious, light yet truly satisfying. Enjoy and celebrate something wonderful today! ;)

  • 2 pieces wild caught salmon, about 6 oz each
  • 1 small head of Boston lettuce, ripped up
  • 2 portabella mushrooms
  • 7 oz. cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons plum sauce
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pat of unsalted butter
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • five spice powder
  • 1/4 cup pear infused vinegar

This dish is easy but once I start explaining the directions, it can sound a little complicated. I used aluminum foil for easy clean up, if not you can cook directly on the flat cast iron pan. If using the foil, make three separate “bowls,” (using 2 sheets, cut to size, layered on top of each other, cupped at the edges to hold the juices) one to hold the asparagus, one for the cannellini beans and one for the salmon. The portabella mushrooms can be grilled directly on the grill. Just drizzle them with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. And grill for about 12 minutes at 500 degrees, just flip halfway through and set aside once done. Once they are cool, you can slice them. I find that they are like a steak and need to rest to collect their juices. For your cannellini beans, combine 1 teaspoon of the plum sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon honey and salt and pepper and mix with the beans, so they are well coated. For your asparagus, just season with salt, pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil. For the salmon, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon plum sauce, and season with salt, pepper and five spice powder to taste. Pour over the salmon and top with the pat of butter, broken up. Heat up your grill along with the flat cast iron pan. I have a big one that is about 18 inches long, it’s great! Once your grill is hot, place your “bowls” containing the salmon, the cannellini beans and the asparagus and grill for about 10 minutes. After about five minutes, the asparagus will be ready, if the stalks are tender. In the meantime, divide the lettuce between two plates. Add the mushrooms and asparagus to the plate. Remove the salmon from the “bowl” and reserve the cooking juices. Break up the salmon into bite size pieces and add to the plate. Top with the grilled cannellini beans. Into the reserved juices add in the vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon plum sauce. Season to taste with salt pepper and the five spice powder. Drizzle over your salads. Serves 2.

Potato Chip Platter

There is something about summertime that pulls me to chips and dip. And you can make the humble potato chip a little fancier when paired with super creamy sour cream, smoked Nova salmon, salty capers and specialty mustard. If your budget allows, add some caviar to this platter and you have got yourself a little fancy feast. This can be great to munch on while you sip on some Prosecco or beer on a Saturday night with some friends or as a little starter to a main course where you are serving fish for company. I made this once before but made the mistake to have the chips premade with dollops of sour cream and as it sat around, it got really mushy and no one really likes a mushy chip. So this is great where everyone can make their own little chip with all the fixins.

I use shot glasses for condiments all the time and this is one of the platters that could really use them. Great to hold the mustard, horseradish and capers. For this platter gather together:

  • 1 bag of hearty kettle cooked chips, about a 6 oz. bag
  • 3 oz. package of smoked Nova salmon
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • capers, I used two kinds, one in brine and one packed in salt
  • horseradish in a jar
  • baby dill pickles, cut lengthwise
  • any specialty mustard, I used champagne dill (found in the mustard aisle)
  • fresh dill

I love that this is so easy to make and so good! Combine the sour cream and the heavy cream and put in a bowl. Sprinkle the salted capers around the sour cream. Put the mustard, capers, drained from the brine and the horseradish in your shot glasses or any small bowls. Rip up the salmon into bite size pieces and put on a plate, spread some freshly chopped dill on the side. Arrange your platter with the bowl of sour cream, the salmon, condiments, and the pickles and chips. Spread out some cocktail knives and forks and enjoy!