Gravlax with a Twist

Blueberry & Coriander Gravlax with Quick Pickles

Gravlax is something I only think to make a couple of times a year, and then kick myself for not having it at least monthly. It’s incredibly simple to make — the only difficulty is leaving enough refrigerator space for a few days’ curing time — it keeps well and for much longer than you’re likely to have it around, and it’s impressive enough to serve at parties or holiday gatherings. I’m the only one in the house who’ll enjoy gravlax in its standard dill-heavy format, so when I came across a recipe for blueberry-and-coriander gravlax in my weekly Taste email, I jumped on the opportunity to share it with Gil (and with you as well, since I decided to break my blogging fast just to tell you about it).

It’s a treat in every way. I mean, just look at it. They say you eat first with your eyes, and that’s surely true here, especially if you like bold, lively color on your plate. The texture is firm and the flavor is subtly sweet with zesty pops from the coriander and lemon. I honestly can’t gush enough about it.

But wait, there’s more! Darcie Hunter of Gourmet Creative came over to style this up for the cuttingboard.com photo contest we’re entering (#cutthecheese2017, ya’ll!) and brought over some of her homemade pickles to pair with it. She also whipped up a quick horseradish-and-sour-cream topping, and the combo of the gravlax with the pickles and horseradish was outrageously good. Check out Darcie’s pickle recipe at her blog and our behind-the-scenes photo on my Instagram feed, showing off my new cucoloris baby.

If you’re looking for a new spin on an old classic, do give this gravlax recipe a try! You can find it here, and while you’re at it, sign up for their emails. You’ll be happy you did.

Tuna Tartare

After a few weeks of indulging in near-daily holiday sweets and rich goodies (an occupational hazard, if nothing else), I start to crave simple, clean foods with salty profiles. It’s when tuna tartare and the like step right into the spotlight, and they don’t leave until well after the new year.

Darcie’s recipe hits all the right notes — salty and nutty, with a little hit of acidity. I could eat this every day, and probably will once we’ve settled back into a normal routine. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Tuna Tartare | Amy Roth Photo

Tuna Tartare

Allergy Fish, Soy, Wheat
Meal type Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish, Starter
Misc Serve Cold

Ingredients

  • 1 Large tuna steak (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 teaspoons wasabi powder
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (plus more for garnish)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • endive leaves (for serving)

Note

Make this gluten-free by replacing the soy sauce with gluten-free tamari.

Directions

Tuna is easiest to chop while at least slightly frozen, so partially thaw hard-frozen tuna or freeze fresh tuna for about 1 hour until firm. Cut the tuna into slices, then finely dice.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together, then pour over the tuna and stir to coat. Try not to over-handle or over-mix the fish. Allow to sit briefly prior to serving, but not too long because the citrus will cook the tuna.
Rinse and trim the endive leaves, then top with the tuna tartare, garnish and serve.

Grilled Catfish Tacos with Avocado Remoulade

When you come from a town that celebrates catfish with its own annual festival, you develop a particular love for it that can be a little hard to explain to someone who just thinks of catfish as a bottom-feeder (and maybe has only eaten the imported stuff). The best fillets IMHO are small and fried, served with tartar sauce and maybe some fried oysters as well. You’re already eating a fully fried meal, after all — throw caution to the wind!

Whenever I visit my parents, they send me back with bags of frozen catfish fillets and shrimp — all local and all delicious. The only problem is that I hate frying; it’s funks up the house and then you have to worry about what to do with the oil, so the catfish tend to sit in my freezer for a while before I do anything with them. But earlier this week, just in time for Cinco de Mayo, I was craving fish tacos and thought I’d give catfish a whirl.

To avoid the issue of frying and having a fishy smell permeating our house, I took indoor cooking out of the equation altogether and fired up R2Eat2, our new gas grill. (Thanks to my sister-in-law’s mother for the fantastic name suggestion!) I marinated a pound of fish fillets in the juice of one lime, with a hefty four-fingered pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. After 15 minutes, I spread them out on a sheet of heavy-duty foil and sprinkled the tops with paprika for a little color and grilled them on the foil with the grill lid down till the fish flaked easily, around 10-12 minutes.

I like to keep accompaniments simple for fish tacos, so I sliced some Napa cabbage thinly and tossed it with baby arugula and more lime juice and salt. But the real star here was the remoulade I made instead of salsa.

Cajun Remoulade with Avocado | Minimally Invasive

Remoulade recipes vary a lot based on location; the original French versions are typically mayonnaise-based with lots of herbs while Cajun and Creole remoulades are shot through with heaps of minced vegetables and are more piquant, as you’d expect. They’re usually either mayonnaise- or oil-based, but wanting neither one, I thought that avocado might be a delicious and healthier alternative.

I based the remoulade on Emeril’s recipe, substituting an equal amount of avocado for the oil, and doubling the cayenne pepper because I like it spicy. I thought of adding some capers at the end, but decided against it because the remoulade was perfect just as it was. You can knock Emeril all you want, but I’ve never been disappointed with any of his recipes. I made the full amount of remoulade and we were left with a lot, but it goes well with all sorts of dishes, not just seafood. I grilled hamburgers the next day and topped them with a good slather of remoulade and it was a marriage made in heaven.

So even if you’re not in a fish taco mood, give this remoulade a try — you’ll love it.  I gar-on-tee.

As you can tell, I’m not always so active on this blog, but I am a fool for Instagram. Follow along with our daily exploits here.

 

Field to Feast: Dill

Fresh dill

When Kasha suggested dill as an ingredient for this week’s Field to Feast challenge, I was stumped. It doesn’t grow well on my deck, so I never have it around and therefore haven’t really experimented with it beyond the occasional pickles or recipes here and there that call for it. So perhaps this post is a little uninspired (salmon & dill? yaaaaawn), but I’ve really been wanting to make my own gravlax for a while and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

Gravlax | Minimally Invasive

I turned to the internet, as always, and most of the recipes I found were pretty similar — salt, sugar, dill and perhaps some spices to shake things up. Keeping with my preference of staying simple the first go-round, I chose to follow Mark Bittman’s recipe with a beautiful Copper River salmon filet I picked up at Fairway.

Gravlax | Minimally Invasive

I don’t know what scared me off of this for so many years because honestly, it couldn’t have been simpler to make. Removing the pin bones was the most tedious part, but with the help of a dedicated pair of tweezers, it took all of three minutes. Then I piled on the cure mix, sprinkled it with a little vodka, and packed on the chopped dill. After that, it’s just a matter of wrapping it in plastic, putting it in a dish covered with a flat surface (I used a tiny cutting board), and weighing it down with cans. And waiting. After two days, a lot of liquid had been extruded into the dish. I unwrapped the salmon, removed a little of the cure, and sliced off a few pieces to try. It was salmon flavor x10, lightly cured and silky on the tongue. I couldn’t be happier with the results of my first experiment. More to follow with added spices…

Gravlax | Minimally Invasive

 

Pucker Up

I’ve been behind the curve on many things in my life: growing hips, getting married, watching The Wire…just to name a few. Knowing this, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise (at least to me) that I’m only now discovering Meyer lemons, but it sort of is. Oh, it’s not that I haven’t tried to use them for the past couple of years; it’s that they were awfully elusive/sold out whenever I thought to look. But our local Whole Foods has had a good supply these past few weeks, so I’ve more than made up for lost time.

(For anyone else who suffers from the same predicament as me, you can find a good Meyer lemon disquisition here.)

It’s pretty easy to plan an entire meal around the Meyer lemon if you try just a little, so I dug around and found a simple, elegant pasta recipe at The Amateur Gourmet and put my own spin on it with smoked fish straight from my brand new Camerons Stovetop Smoker. (Thanks again for the birthday present, Naomi!) In that heady state of new toy-infatuation, I did two versions of the pasta — one with smoked salmon and one with smoked trout. I thought the salmon was delicious on its own, but too assertive for the rest of the flavors in the pasta. The trout, though, was perfection. It mingled nicely with the zest, crème fraîche and greens without overshadowing any of them.

Hard as it was to do, I saved a little room for dessert. Earlier in the day I found a recipe at Thursday Night Smackdown for a Meyer lemon curd so delicious it almost didn’t make it to the refrigerator. I put the leftover egg whites to good use and made pavlovas from Simply Recipes. So we ate, essentially, an upside-down lemon meringue pie, only I didn’t have to deal with the annoying crust.

Sweet lemon clouds. Heavenly.

Pizza, My Endless Love

smoked trout & roasted garlic vs. pepperoni & roasted red peppers

Most days, I’ll hit the gym at lunch if I have the time to spare at work. With my commute, it’s the only chance I ever have for a real workout and I always feel better when I manage to do it. But Friday, I just wasn’t feeling it, so I hiked over to Chelsea Market instead. I’ve read great things about the gluten-free offerings at Friedman’s Lunch and wanted to try out one of their sandwiches after picking up some pantry staples at Buon Italia. The reuben from Friedman’s came back to work with me, and it was really, truly delicious, so much so that I didn’t miss the “real” bread one bit. Of course, I was ready to nap within 15 minutes of finishing it, but what a happy food coma it was.

My heavenly sandwich notwithstanding, the best part of my shopping expedition was scoring The Last Package of sheep’s milk ricotta at Buon Italia. They were out the last few times I’ve been, so my search started to feel a little like Woody Harrelson’s eternal quest for Twinkies in Zombieland. But then that lone package appeared before me, like a cream-covered grail.

Ummm yeah, you could say I love the stuff.

Anyway, the wheels started spinning even before I left the building . . . pasta would be good, maybe with some butternut squash. My old standby — ravioli stuffed with ricotta and an egg yolk — wasn’t something I wanted to waste this precious bundle on during my first attempt at making a fresh gluten-free pasta, so that was out. But how about pizza? Gluten-Free Girl‘s pizza crust was just featured on Michael Ruhlman’s blog, so I could share the recipe. And from there, I was off, doing taste tests in my imagination, adding/rejecting toppings based on how they’d play with the ricotta. I finally settled upon a recipe that, while simple, worked perfectly, with roasted garlic, smoked trout, a touch of parmesan and baby arugula. The ingredients married well, without any one component overshadowing the others.

I went with bolder toppings for the second pizza, adding muenster cheese (we had no mozzarella), plum tomatoes, sliced pepperoni, roasted red peppers, more ricotta, parmesan, red pepper flakes and the few remaining leaves of basil from my plant on the deck. Neither Gil nor I could decide which pizza we liked more, even after taste testing until we nearly burst. The only thing I’d change for next time would be to roll out the crust as thin as possible, till it’s almost crackly, but that’s just a personal preference.

So remember, kids:
1. Friedman’s Lunch = awesome, but plan for a nap.
2. Try to take my sheep’s milk ricotta and you’ll lose a hand.

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “Pizza, My Endless Love”

Food, glorious food

090602_strawberries

The Ringwood Farmers’ Market has opened for the season, and I rejoice. Don’t ask me how, but I managed to restrain myself and only had to make two trips back to the car during shopping on opening weekend. It’s so wonderful to have gorgeous produce at my disposal again; it was an obscenely long winter.

090602_surf_turf

I’ve been cooking (mostly grilling) quite a bit, just not posting here. Over Memorial Day, we were housebound with our boy (who is doing very well these days — for the lot of updates, visit Gil at VM), so cooking outdoors was a way to alleviate boredom and still feel like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. From the bottom of the image: grilled porterhouse steak with red chimichurri sauce (which is possibly the most delicious thing I’ve put in my mouth in a long time), grilled sardines, and fiddlehead ferns and asparagus sautéed in a white wine and Dijon sauce. I loved the way the strong flavors all collided with each other, but don’t think I’ll be doing the sardines again. I don’t recall them being so very bony when I’ve had them in the past; was it just that the fishmonger didn’t clean them well enough or is it always the case?

090602_tacos

Porterhouse is a LOT of meat, so we had tacos with our very generous leftovers. Nothing fancy, just leftover steak and fish, romaine lettuce, thinly sliced radishes and more of that divine chimichurri. (Recipe will follow, just as soon as Gourmet gets around to posting it online.)

090602_omelette

’tis the season for morel mushrooms. Here, we had asparagus, shallots and morels sautéed in butter and hit with a touch of half and half. Most exciting about this omelette, though, is the fact that I tried Julia Child’s method of basically manhandling the eggs and it really worked for me!

090602_berry_cobbler

And because no Memorial Day weekend would be complete without a load of berries, we had raspberry, blueberry and rhubarb cobbler for dessert.

090602_strawberry_chiffon

Our friends Ian and Jess paid us a visit a couple of weekends ago. Luckily for us, Jess is a spectacular baker and thoughtful friend who brought plenty of treats to keep us happy over the weekend. Here you see my new favorite cake — banana chiffon (did you know such a thing was possible?) — topped with Greek yogurt and more of those juicysweet strawberries. (No picture of the rocky road brownies or chocolate biscotti, sorry. But I can vouch for them.)

090602_meat

I also didn’t take pictures of the kofta kebabs we had for lunch Saturday because I took pictures last time and it’s so not an appetizing-looking dish. No need to put myself (or you) through it again. Of course, this photo of grilled hanger steak, asparagus and oven fries won’t be featured in a retrospective anytime soon, but boy, were they good.

Your obligatory Rufus photo:

sweet dreams

Da posto

Time passed, and it was decreed that cook eat FRET needed a little root work, and thus made her pilgrimage to New York. She’s the outgoing sort who has food-blogger friends from all over the country (world, at this point?), so Gil and I met up with her, Zen Can Cook and Colloquial Cooking for dinner at Del Posto Friday night. Thursday Night Smackdown was unable to make it, so we feasted on her portion of the lardo that came around with the bread basket, and I’ll blame her when my skinny jeans no longer fit.

Our dinner companions were everything you could ask for — friendly, smart and talented, and honestly just lovely people, all-around. I’ll leave a review of the food to them, but must put in a plug for my dessert, the Sfera di Caprino, Celery & Fig Agrodolce & Celery Sorbetto, as the menu so mouthwateringly puts it. Delicious and unusual. Probably not something I’ll try to duplicate even in the slightest, but if someone out there would like to do the honors, I would not complain if you got back to me with your recipe.

Grazie!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

It has been brought to my attention (though it hadn’t really escaped my notice) that I don’t post often enough. But that’s not entirely true; just check my guest post at TNS for evidence.

090426_trout_raw

But I do have a couple of things from last weekend that are sitting in my drafts folder collecting pixel-dust, so maybe the criticism is justified. It’s really a shame, because this meal could only have been better if I’d caught the trout myself minutes before firing up the (brand new) grill. But without access to decent trout streams here, I thought Whole Foods would be an acceptable substitute. I stuffed the fish with thin lemon slices and sprigs of thyme just before grilling — simple preparations are perfect with fresh trout. Dinner was on the table about 15 minutes later, served with an avocado, tomato and red onion salad, and grilled asparagus on the side. It’s that time of year, after all.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Hey Cecily, you asked what I could do with limes…does this work?

090503_cookie

Cornmeal cookies with lime glaze, inspired by the same at Amy’s Bread. These were a little crispier and less cakey than the originals, but were still just my kind of cookie — crumbly, crunchy, sweet/tart and completely lacking in chocolate.

090426_cookiesbaked

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

And just for you, Claire — more Rufus pictures:

090426_ru_nose

The thing about a greyhound is, it’s really hard to get the nose and eyes in focus at the same time if your camera isn’t on a tripod.

090426_ru_eyes

But the boy really knows how to relax.

090426_ru_grimace

And I could learn a thing or two about patience from him.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Da posto”

Grilled salmon with blueberry salsa

“Your eyes are bigger than your stomach” was one of my dad’s favorite sayings — which never got old, by the way — when I was a kid. Of course, by the time I hit my teen years, that saying was defunct, as I became an eating machine and the “hollow leg” jokes started (which also never got old).

I still have issues with my eyes being too big, mostly when I visit the Ringwood Farmers’ Market on weekends. I know I won’t be cooking much during the week, but I just can’t help myself with all of that gorgeous summer produce on display. Surely I’ll find a way to use blueberries and cilantro and beets and tuscan kale (and about 10 other things) before next weekend, right?

Well, not always, or even usually. But last night I was determined to at least make a dent in last weekend’s haul, so I started researching recipes for salmon and blueberries and kept coming upon one that sounded promising and had the benefit of only requiring a quick stop at Garden of Eden for a jalapeno pepper and a grapefruit (both easily toted on the bus).

I gotta say, this salsa rawked! Assuming frozen blueberries were recommended for a reason, I used about 1/2 cup of frozen and supplemented with about a cup of fresh, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. I’d like to replace the grapefruit with pineapple next time to sweeten it up a bit more, but this version was so good Gil and I dug into the leftovers with a spoon.

I grilled the salmon (and the asparagus, now that I think about it) with nothing more than a slick of olive oil to keep them from sticking to the grate, but the blueberry salsa and a sprinkling of fleur de sel knocked ’em out of the park.

I’ll keep the fruit salsa solution in mind for this weekend. Pork loin with peach and basil salsa doesn’t sound half bad, and I think they’re still pretty good after only a week in the fridge…

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Grilled salmon with blueberry salsa”

Peas

This weekend, Gil and I made a quick and early excursion to the farmers’ market (Rufus overheats easily), but still managed to return home with bags bursting from the beautiful fruits and vegetables and pickles and pies and herbs on display. I was unable to resist much, so I’ll be doing a lot of cooking (for one) this week before the greens wilt and strawberries turn to mush.

The very first things I put to use from our haul were sugar snap peas and asparagus. I sautéed them lightly in butter and olive oil with garlic and reconstituted morels, then steamed them till tender with a little of the morel liquid. I topped the vegetables with chives and thyme from my herb garden and was very happy, indeed, until I had the bright idea to serve it with red snapper fresh from the freezer. And quelle surprise! the fish wasn’t so great, but it’s finally convinced me of the need to find a good fish market in the area. If anyone out there knows of a good one in Passaic or Bergen county, let me know.

Because I have real trouble letting anything go to waste, it was a happy day when I saw a recipe for chilled pea pod soup at Chocolate & Zucchini. I plan to make this until the market runs out of snap peas; it was light, delicious, and refreshing, especially topped with a spoonful of crème fraiche and more chives from my herb garden. Yum.