Archive for May, 2012

May 26, 2012

Luxury | Copper River Gravlax

I’d been following the FB posts of Dorothy Lane Market and tracking when the Copper River salmon was coming in.  It was the king that was in the store Friday.  Its brief season is only May and June.  But it is so very, very worth making every effort to find and indulge in it the fleeting moments you can catch it.

This year, I did something I almost can’t believe I did with the costly pound I purchased.

I made gravlax.

Making true gravlax requires no smoking.  It is, in essence, the purest Scandinavian method of preserving fish.

Only the best salmon, lovely coarse sea salt, pounded peppercorns, sugar, a handful of backyard dill.  Wrapped tightly in clingfilm and flipped twice a day for two days.

The dry salt-sugar coat results in the fish giving up all its water content and producing a oceany brine that the fish luxuriates in for the duration of its cure.

Once removed from its bath, it is finely shaved and mounded on potatoes, or garden baby greens for the most precious of all culinary experiences.

But the most important aspect of all of this?  You can do it.  You don’t need any special equipment or know how.  Make it and enjoy it.  While it lasts.

Copper River Gravlax, made using the instructions from Rick Stein in Complete Seafood.  If you don’t have this book, I don’t know what else to tell you except that you have to get it.  You have to.

One pound Copper River King Salmon

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May 25, 2012

Simple Summer Snack | Strawberry Lemon Balm Paletas

There’s only so much jam you can make.  Sometimes, you just need to start eating those 16 or 17 pounds of strawberries you picked.  And maybe you need to enlist the kids, too.  Enter the world’s simplest way to do that: popsicles.

I, of course, can’t just let strawberries be strawberries.  Besides, Cherub loves too much to graze through the herbs in the garden, and she’s going to be eating the bulk of these paletas anyway.

For this first batch, I made a quick mix of strawberries and sugar, boiled it for five minutes and then just ever so slightly pulsed them in a blender for a half a second.  Then I added in a finely chopped bit of fresh lemon balm (but what’s your favorite? mint? lavender? coriander?), poured into molds and froze.

Voila!  The world’s most refreshing snack.  And a great breakfast if you’re feeling generous.  And it’s especially hot.

Paletas de Fresa y Melisa (Strawberry and Lemon Balm Popsicles), inspired by the post at The Parsley Thief.

1 qt strawberries, tops removed and quartered

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May 21, 2012

Unexpected Savory | Cumin Granola

Sometimes texture can be just as important to a dish as flavor. It’s harder to enjoy something that’s just a bowl of mush.  Ok, aside from perhaps enjoying a whole dinner of say, mashed potatoes with copious amounts of butter or oodles of macaroni and cheese.  I have those days, too.  But sometimes there are some things that need a little crunch.

Enter this delicious and surprising garnish for a ho-hum dinner in need of some oomph.  Consider moderating the spices based on your dish.  I think a curry granola or a chile scented granola would be equally tasty.  And if you’re local to Columbus, stop by North Market Spices to pick up one of their many spice blends (which are amazing) to use.

Savory Cumin Granola

1 c rolled oats

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May 20, 2012

Precious Little | Strawberry Peony Jam

It’s the time of year that it’s hard to pin me down.  I’m outside.  Busy in the backyard, planting, weeding, sitting, contemplating.  I just want to be outside.  Watching for the return of Chestnut.  Seeing if we have any new baby rabbits in the yard.  I just find so much peace there, that you’re hard pressed to get a post out of me.  I have better things to do.

Because of this I was there, in the backyard, when the peonies bloomed this year.  They are my absolute favorite flower: profuse, heavy blooms; heady fragrance.  I turned the confetti of abundant petals into syrup.  I did this last year, but not as adroitly.

Marry to this that I went strawberry picking with friends last week.  And 17 pounds picked meant there was certain to be some jamming.  Did there happen to be some master pastry chefs along?  Why yes, there were.  (Thanks, B.)  So I asked them how to incorporate my peony syrup into the jam that was sure to follow all that picking.   Add the syrup at the last minute, they said, to keep all the flower essence.   But of course.

Ten cups of strawberries

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May 6, 2012

Almost Effortless | Summer Picnic Slaw

This weekend’s weather made me gear back up in the garden, get back in the kitchen and get my groove back.  Warm weather is all about ease: barely putting a pot on the stove, most things cooked over the grill.  Who needs a mess when the back garden begs you to come and play?  A quick ten minutes of chopping and a quick simmer is all it takes to throw this big-enough-to-serve-a-crowd slaw together.

Summer Picnic Slaw for Friends, serves 6

1/2 c rice wine vinegar

1 T whole cumin seeds

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