Stir, Taste, Adjust, Stir, Taste, Adjust . . .

Week of April 16 – April 22, 2018

grain bowl

Monday:                              Roasted-Mushroom-and-Broccoli Grain Bowls

salmon

Tuesday:                              Slow Roasted Salmon, Arugula Salad

horse doovers

Cheese, salumi and peppers – app for Tuesday

Wednesday:                      Caesar Salad, Leftover Chicken

fusilli

Thursday:                            Purple flowering broccoli with Fusillini

shrimp

Friday:                                  Shrimp with Fennel and Feta

Gratin from Sunday Dinner

Saturday:                             Takeout from Il Pizzaiolo – not bad

Sunday:                                Crudités with Vegetable Dip, Grilled Hanger Steak, Swiss Chard Gratin, Instant Orange Cake

Samin Nosrat’s great cookbook – SALT  FAT  ACID  HEAT [a great gift from Jimmy Kennedy]– has taught me much about the basics of cooking and reminded me of much more.  And let me now indulge in some apodicticism of my own and tell you – WHEN YOU COOK, SEASON AS YOU GO ALONG AND TASTE AND ADJUST AND STIR AND TASTE AND ADJUST AND STIR AND TASTE . . . sorry for the shouting, but this is important.

Every dinner we had last week was better for Samin’s advice.  The standouts were the grain bowl – two years ago I would have looked at you like you were a Buddhist dancing for change at the airport, if you had suggested eating a ‘grain bowl’ to me – the salmon and the shrimp.  We’re going to share the salmon and the Instant Orange Cake with you, because a good friend recently noted that many of the recipes we offer are ‘involved.’  Well these two are as simple and delicious as they come.  There is no possible excuse for not making them.

Warning:  Make sure that you have enough guests coming over for the cake.  Unless you have the self-control of a Zen monk, you will not be able to stop eating it.  (Actually, if you look at the popular statues of the Buddha, you might be forgiven for thinking that this happy boy has had more than his share of orange cake.  I can’t explain the plethora of Buddhist references in this blog.)

For the cake – buy some oranges, some mascarpone cheese, some orange marmalade and a pound cake from your local supermarket and you’re set.  It takes about 10 minutes to make.

For the salmon, you just need the fish and a good chili paste (Moroccan, Italian, Korean, etc.).  The salmon takes about 30 minutes to put on the table, most of that time simply cooking on its own.

These are simple recipes and the results are outstanding.  Here you go . .

SLOW-ROASTED SALMON

(adapted from bon appétit, April 2018) 

Timing:                                    25-35 minutes – Feeds 6

Ingredients:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup harissa paste (I couldn’t find any, so I used a Korean chili paste)
2 lb. of skinless center-cut salmon filet (one piece would be best, but not necessary)
1 lemon, halved
1 garlic clove, grated
Mixed herbs:  We used parsley, dill and chives – you could use cilantro, as well
Kosher salt

Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 275 F (we raised the temperature to 300F to finish ours in time)

Whisk the oil, harissa or other chili paste and garlic in a bowl.

Pour half of this mixture into a baking dish and swirl to coat the bottom.

Thinly slice a lemon half (remove all seeds) and scatter slices in the baking dish.

Now season the salmon on both sides with salt and place in the dish.

Pour the remaining oil mixture over the salmon and spread it evenly with a brush or spoon.

Cook:

Roast the salmon for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and baste with the oil that has collected, then return to the oven and roast 10-20 minutes – until it flakes apart easily with a spoon.  (Undercooking is better than overcooking with this dish.)

Break the salmon into irregular pieces and arrange it and the lemon slices on a platter.

Drizzle with the oil left in the baking dish, squeeze the remaining lemon half over it, scatter the herbs across it and serve.

INSTANT ORANGE CAKE

(adapted from Jacques Pépin, Heart and Soul in the Kitchen)

Timing:            10-15 minutes, depending on how proficient you are at sectioning oranges.

Jacques says that this feeds 4 – we think it gives 8 people a good slice of dessert.

Ingredients:

3 seedless oranges
½ cup mascarpone cheese (it really takes about ¾ cup – 1 ½ times the package amount available in most supermarkets)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 pound cake, brown edges trimmed off, cut lengthwise into ¾ inch slices (I slice it crosswise and do not trim – much easier, tastes even better with the slight texture of the brown surface.)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
½ cup orange marmalade
Fresh mint sprigs for decoration

Assemble the Cake:

Peel the oranges with a sharp knife (I.e., remove all of the skin and pith so that the flesh is exposed – you’ll cut away some of the flesh to do this completely).

Now cut between the membranes to remove the orange segments and squeeze the membranes over a bowl to extract the juice.

Mix the mascarpone with the sugar (if you’ve thought to leave the mascarpone out for an hour or so before making the cake, this will be easier).

Find a gratin dish, pie plate or glass platter about 9 inches across and 1 inch deep.  You’ll be serving from this dish, so make it presentable.

Arrange the pound cake slices in the bottom of the dish – cutting and pushing pieces together to fill the bottom.

Mix about half the reserved orange juice with the Grand Marnier and sprinkle it on the cake slices.  Now spread the mascarpone on top, then arrange the orange segments on top of the mascarpone.

Combine the rest of the orange juices with the marmalade (we microwaved our marmalade briefly to loosen it) and coat the orange segments with it.

Decorate with mint, if you have it, and serve the cake.