Tag Archives: sauce

Gravlax: A Lesson in Home-Curing Salmon

Lox ‘n’ bagels is kind of special occasion food in my family. It’s my dad’s way of saying “I love you” to my mom: “Happy birthday, dear. I got you schmear.”

The parents were actually here visiting this weekend—not for any special reason (I did get a new job this week, which I’m totally over-the-moon stoked about, so I guess that IS something). So I thought their visit as good a reason as any to try my hand at home-curing fish.

Anyway, I always thought there was some complex and almost magical process behind the making of lox. Ha—there isn’t! Impressive home gourmet doesn’t get any simpler than this: mix, spread, wrap and refrigerate.

The original recipe from Apples and Butter used a slightly different herb rub—I decided to add grated lemon zest to mine. It also says to refrigerate for 24 hours; I refrigerated for 36 for good measure and extra flavor.

If you’re wondering about whether to use fresh or previously frozen fish, I’d normally say fresh is always preferable. After doing a little online research on the subject, however, it looks like the frozen kind would work too. Actually, there was some discussion about freezing the fish in order to kill bacteria, so maybe previously frozen isn’t such a bad idea. In any case, I went with fresh; it looked prettier at the store.

Seriously incredible. I had my dad try it and he thought it was store-bought!! But way better! Can’t wait to try this out with other fish. In my family, we always serve this on bagels (or toast or crepe) smeared with cream cheese and topped with sliced avocado and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It’s divine.

Enjoy!

Gravlax (adapted from Apples and Butter)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. fillet salmon, skin removed

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp sugar

zest of 1 organic lemon, grated

1/2 bunch dill, including stems, finely chopped

1 tsp water

METHOD

  1. Coat salmon in chopped dill and lemon zest. Stir together salt, pepper, sugar and water.
  2. Place half the salt mixture on a piece of plastic wrap, place the salmon on top of the salt and coat the top and sides of the salmon with the remaining salt mixture.
  3. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and place in a rimmed baking dish (the salmon will give off a good amount of liquid). Place another dish on top of the salmon and weigh down with a few cans of food. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  4. Remove from the plastic wrap and wipe off the salt. Slice thinly and serve (in a salad or, as we do in my family, on a bagel, toast or crepe smeared with cream cheese, topped with avocado and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice).

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Honey Mustard Red Cabbage Salad with Sauteed Chicken, Eggplant and Zucchini

I’ve been eating a lot of red cabbage and cilantro these past few weeks. For two reasons: they’re totally budget-friendly (1 head of cabbage and 1 bunch of cilantro lasts me an entire week) as well as figure-friendly, or at least that’s what my mom and sister say. They both swear they’ve lost inches off their waistlines just by replacing lettuce with cabbage. Save money AND lose weight? Sounds good to me.

This salad was so awesome. Super crunchy from the red cabbage, kicky from the cilantro and sweet from the dressing. I made the dressing with non-fat greek-style yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and I sauteed the chicken thigh, eggplant and zucchini in only a drizzle of olive oil. So fat content is pretty minimal as well. You can of course play around with ingredient combination. I use canned tuna a lot or go completely vegetarian and use sweet potato instead.

Try this. It’s AMAZING.

Honey Mustard Red Cabbage Salad with Sauteed Chicken, Eggplant and Zucchini

Serves 1.

INGREDIENTS

Salad

1 chicken thigh, trimmed and patted dry with a paper towel

1/4 cup zucchini, sliced

1 round slice of eggplant, halved

a drizzle of olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced

1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1/8 cup red onion, finely chopped

1 oz blue cheese, crumbled

Honey Mustard Dressing

1 large tbsp non-fat greek-style yogurt

juice of 1/2 small lemon

1 tsp mustard (any style)

1 tsp sugar or honey

salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Put the sliced zucchini and eggplant in an unzipped Ziploc bag and microwave for 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
  2. In a pre-heated non-stick skillet, fry the chicken thigh in a little olive oil, ca. 2 min. Do not move or flip during this time. Grind salt and pepper over the top.
  3. Then, flip the chicken and push to the side. Put in the zucchini and eggplant. Grind a little salt and pepper over the vegetables and other side of the chicken. Fry for about 2 minutes, moving the vegetables around to ensure even browning.
  4. Turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes while you prepare the salad and dressing.
  5. In a medium-sized salad bowl, combine and mix together all dressing ingredients. Add the chopped onion, cabbage, cilantro and crumbled blue cheese and toss to coat.
  6. Slice the chicken at an angle. Put the salad on a large salad plate, topping with the sauteed veggies and sliced chicken. Grind a little more salt and pepper over top.

Peruvian Style Arroz con Mariscos with Papas a la Huancaina y Salsa de Cebolla Peruana

Traditional arroz con pollo is made with chicken—duh— but I adapted it for my two hungry Pescatarian girls at our monthly roommate dinner.

I have Dennis’ mom, Ana, to thank for the recipes and mi Guapito to thank for the translations!

For more Peruvian recipes, Yanuq is a great source. I found the recipe for the onion salsa there.

Note: The aji amarillo chiles used in these recipes are Peruvian yellow chiles. They should be pretty easy to find frozen in any Latin American grocery store. As for the choclo (large-grained white corn), I couldn’t find it fresh, but did find it dried. Worked OK here, but obviously fresh is best.

Arroz con Mariscos (Mixed Seafood Rice)

Recipes courtesy of Ana / Translated by Dennis

Serves 6.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 lbs mixed seafood (I had tilapia and shrimp at home, so that’s what I used.)

3 cups rice

1 large red onion

1 large clove garlic

6 aji amarillo chiles, deseeded, deveined and minced, divided

1 red bell pepper

1 large carrot, peeled

1 ear large-grained white maize (Peruvian corn / “choclo”), husk removed and kernels sliced off the cob

1/2 cup green peas, frozen or fresh

3 bunches fresh cilantro

3 1/2 cups water, divided

1 dark beer

salt and pepper, to taste

1 bay leaf

olive oil

4 limes (2 for juice, 2 sliced into wedges for serving)

METHOD

  1. Drain the seafood well and pat lightly with a paper towel to dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. And then in a hot skillet, lightly fry in a little olive oil until no longer translucent (about 1 minute). Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Dice the onion, pepper and carrots into roughly the same sized square pieces. Wash the rice. Set aside.
  3. In a blender, combine the cilantro, water and 1/2 the minced aji amarillo chiles. Mix until completely blended.
  4. In the same pot used to fry the seafood, fry the onions, garlic, remaining chiles and a little salt and pepper in olive oil. Pour in the cilantro mixture and allow to cook down for a few minutes before adding the entire bottle of beer.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, allowing the alcohol to evaporate.
  6. Add the seafood and a little more salt and pepper to the pot. Cover and cook for about 2 minutes (be careful not to overcook). The liquid should be a little salty.
  7. Once the seafood is just cooked through, remove it and in the same pot, add the rice, fried vegetables, corn and peas, plus 2 1/2 cups water.
  8. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  9. Squeeze in the lime juice. Serve with onion-lime salsa and huancaina sauce.

Papa a la Huancaina

Papa a la Huancaina Sauce (Potatoes with Aji Amarillo-Cheese Sauce)

Recipes courtesy of Ana Yi / Translated by Dennis Yi

Serves 6.

6 medium potatoes, scrubbed

6 aji amarillo chiles, deseeded, deveined and chopped finely

200 g queso fresco (Latin American fresh cheese), crumbled

1 medium purple onion

1 clove garlic

1/2 pkg saltine crackers

1/2 can evaporated milk

1/3 cup oil (I used olive oil)

salt and pepper to taste

the juice of 1 lime

boiled eggs, sliced into wedges, to serve

METHOD
  1. Boil the potatoes, skin on.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, fry the chiles, onion and garlic in a little oil until golden. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Put the cooled pan contents into a blender, along with the oil. Blend.
  4. With the mixer turned on, gradually add in the cheese and evaporated milk. Once combined, add in the saltines, salt and pepper and lime juice. Blend until thoroughly mixed. If too thick, add a little more milk.
  5. Peel the hot, cooked potatoes and then cut into thick slices. Place into serving dish and pour the sauce on top. Serve with sliced boiled eggs and fresh onion-lime salsa (see recipe below).


Fresh Onion Salsa (from Yanuq – Cooking in Peru)

INGREDIENTS

1 medium onion

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 aji amarillo, deseeded, deveined and minced finely

juice of 1/2 lime (or more, according to your taste)

salt

pepper

1/2 tbsp parsley, chopped

METHOD

  1. Finely slice the onion and quickly rinse with water.
  2. Put the onion in a bowl and combine with the remaining ingredients.

Delicious Peru

I’m back.

Ten glorious days of stuffing my face with as many Peruvian culinary delights as possible—now that is my idea of vacation. My body is a little mad at me (and was really pissed on the flight back home) for being such a glutton, but I don’t care. It was worth it.

I’ve posted pics of my favorite food memories. (Photo-quality was not my main priority when I took these—obviously.)

Papa a la Huancaina (Potatoes with Aji Amarillo Cheese Sauce)

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Pollo Relleno

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Ceviche Mixto

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Arroz con Mariscos

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Ceviche de Pejarreyes

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Tamal Verde

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Chicharronnes

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Choncholi y Rachi Rachi

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Lomo Saltado

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Pachamanca

(I realize that this post is REALLY LONG because of the photos, but I couldn’t get the pictures to appear next to each other. (Does anyone know how to do this???)

Fish Baked in Foil-Purses and Topped with Homemade Spinach Pesto

Last night was Melita’s birthday. So we three girls decided to celebrate the occasion with a mini-celebration at home. We started with fondue, which we ate standing over the stove :P. For the main course, I made this amazingly easy and healthy baked fish topped with homemade spinach pesto. And for dessert, leftover tres leches cake from dinner the night before and a lemon tart (recipe to follow).

I’m tired and want to go to bed, so I’m not going to say much about this recipe, except that it’s dead easy to prepare and super healthy and oh so delicious—especially with the pesto and goat cheese.

Enjoy!

Tomato, Spinach and Fish Baked in Foil-Purses with Homemade Spinach Pesto (adapted from this recipe found on Apartment Therapy The Kitchn)

Serves 3 hungry girls ;P

INGREDIENTS

Fish

3 filets of white fish (not sure what kind I used—tilapia probably)

3 large handfuls baby spinach

2 roma tomatoes

1/2 purple onion, sliced thinly

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

basil (I used dried.)

the juice of 1 lemon

olive oil

goat cheese, to top

Spinach Pesto

2 handfuls baby spinach

1 handful walnut halves

1/4 cup aged gouda, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic

juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. For the Fish: Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Prepare 3 large pieces of aluminum foil.
  2. Divide the spinach leaves among the three sheets, laying them close together in the middle. Lay one piece of fish on each bed of spinach. Season generously with salt, pepper and basil.
  3. Divide the garlic and tomato and onion slices between the three pieces of fish, laying them on top. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over each. Then sprinkle another pinch of salt and pepper over each. Then drizzle a little olive oil (ca. 1-2 tbsp) over each pile.
  4. Fold up the edges of the foil to create a closed foil-purse and bake, on a baking sheet, for about 20 minutes, just until the fish is opaque.
  5. Open the purses and put the oven on broil. Broil for 2-3 minutes.
  6. While the fish is baking, prepare the pesto: Combine all ingredients except the olive oil and lemon in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Then, while the machine is still on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix until combine. Taste and season with a little more salt and pepper. Set aside.
  7. Once finished baking, plate the fish and veggies, spooning the juice over each pile. Then top with a generous spoonful of pesto and a dollop of goat cheese. Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon.

Hangry-Five-Minute Pasta Sauce

I worked late yesterday. Which means by the time I left the office, I had missed yoga and was already deep into one of my scary “hangry” moods.

Actually, most of my bad moods are food-related (o_O”). When I was a little girl, if I was ever in a bad mood—which was often— my mom would ask, “Are you hungry?” This of course would make me even more mad and elicit a big, fat “NO!” reply from me—even if I she was right. (^_^#)

Anyway, lucky for me, I have all that home-made ravioli sitting in the freezer. And they take zip time to cook. So the only thing left to make then was a sauce and a salad to go with it.

The sauce I ended up making is one I saw Jamie Oliver make on his TV show Jamie at Home. It’s fast, requires minimal ingredients and still looks and taste better than anything store-bought.

Though this is a no-cook sauce, the acidity of the vinegar acts to break down the tomatoes and form a sauce; the addition of olives and olive oil at the same time balance the sharpness of the vinegar and tomatoes, giving the sauce a round, warm flavor.

Really yummy. And seriously good for all your hangry—and non-hangry—moments.

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Hangry-Five-Minute Pasta Sauce (adapted from a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef)

Serves 2.

INGREDIENTS

1 medium tomato, seeds scraped out and flesh roughly chopped (Too lazy—didn’t do this.)

1/2 clove fresh garlic, very finely minced

8-10 kalamata olives, stones removed and flesh roughly chopped; plus 1 tbsp olive “juice”

1 tsp dried basil (fresh is always better—if you have it)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

a squeeze of fresh lemon or a little grated lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients. Set aside, allowing flavors to combine and “marry”.
  2. Boil and cook your pasta. (I used my made-from-scratch ricotta-asiago ravioli, which took all of 3 minutes to cook.)
  3. Once pasta is cooked, turn off the stove and drain out the water from the pan. In the same warm pan, pour the sauce over the pasta. Toss until pasta is just coated.
  4. Plate and top with grated asiago or parmesan.

Creamy Saffron and Basil Pasta

This recipe is the first for my blog. Though I can no longer remember where I found the recipe (I have a feeling it is a Swiss recipe from the Canton of Tessin), I believe the original used zucchini blossoms instead of basil.

More than just a simple cream sauce, this sauce is made unique through the additions of saffron and generous amounts of fresh basil. It’s rich and warming, yet at the same time aromatic and fresh. One of the first dishes I ever adapted, it remains one of my all time favorites to make!

Serves 4.

Enjoy!

Creamy Saffron and Basil Pasta

Ingredients

1 cup water

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

olive oil, for frying

1-2 large handfuls basil, sliced chiffonade

a pinch of saffron

1 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper, to taste

16 oz pasta of your choice

grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Directions

1. Boil the water for the pasta.

2. Fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until lightly browned.

3. Pour in the water and allow to come to a simmer and reduce by one-third.

4. Add the basil and let cook down for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

5. Stir in the saffron.

6. Pour in the cream and then add a little salt and pepper to taste.

7. Allow to simmer slowly and thicken. (Tip: add a little grated parmesan to speed up the thickening process.)

8. Serve over pasta cooked al dente, and serve with grated parmesan cheese.