No-Knead Artisan Dinner Rolls

December 4, 2014

I wanted to make delicious dinner rolls for Thanksgiving, but wanted a recipe that would work within the tight oven schedule of Thanksgiving day. So for this special dinner I combined recipes and techniques from a few different breads that I have made in the past (see here, here and here). I included a biga for great depth of flavor; which I started on Monday night. On Tuesday night, I made a wet dough so that I wouldn’t have to knead it by hand, since my KitchenAid mixer broke a few years ago (see “Autolyse”). After a few hours rising, I refrigerated the dough to stop the yeast from rising. When dealing with a wet doughs they are much easier to handle when chilled. Because dinner rolls take a bit of handling, the 36-hours in the refrigerator made the shaping process easy. Overall, the rolls were delicious. However, the subtitles added by the biga are largely overpowered by the small amount of rye and wheat flour. 4-stars.

Delicious dinner rolls without kneading

Delicious dinner rolls without kneading

Because I was pulling this recipe from a lot of different places, I tested out the recipe a week prior to Thanksgiving. But the rolls were too small; perhaps because of beer, which I have noticed tends to retard rising. I abandon that recipe, and came up the this recipe to solve the problems that I had encountered.

Comment:

  1. Yay! I finally ordered a new KitchenAid standing mixer. It had gone on sale for $225 at Target.com. The difference between their Professional and Artisan series is the steel gears of the professional series are more durable when making a lot of dough.
  2. My test batch of dinner rolls from last week also reminded me how quickly they became hard; within just a few hours. Unless you are going to eat them right away, you must keep them wrapped in plastic.
  3. If using a separate container for rising, do not attempt to do the mixing and rising directly in the same container. It is impossible to properly mix the dough anyplace other than a regular bowl.
  4. The recipe yielded too much dough, so next time I will cut down on the recipe by about 15%.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $1.25 for 16 rolls.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 10:30AM pm Ready:  12:00.

The recipes from which I developed today’s bread are here, here and here. The final descriptions of how I prepared the bread are given below:

Biga Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1/2 cup water (4 ounces)

  1. Make the biga the night before baking the bread; combine flour, yeast, and water in medium bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir for 1 minute until the mix appears uniform.
  2. Use plastic wrap to cover and allow to stand overnight at room temperature. If you kitchen is much below 70-degrees, then you can use a slightly warmed oven (but turned off) which will ensure there is sufficient warmth.

Dough Ingredients:
2-cups water, preferably non-chlorinated spring water.
1 tablespoon granulated yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1-ounce rye flour
1-ounce whole wheat flour
3-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat 2-cups water to 100-degrees; about 45 seconds in the microwave. Add yeast and kosher salt to warm water, allowing it to hydrate while measuring out the flours.
  2. Add biga to a large bowl. Place bowl on a kitchen scale and zero out; you want to add a total of 22-3/4 ounces of flour. Add rye and whole wheat flour. Add all-purpose for a total of 22-3/4 ounces. Mix until combined, but without kneading. Empty the dough into a 4-quart container and let sit at room temperature until it has almost doubled in size; between 2 to 4 hours. Put container in refrigerator until ready to use. The dough is very wet, so allowing it to cool completely will make it easier to work with.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle evenly with a very thin coat of flour.
  4. Carefully remove dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half with a bench scrape or chef’s knife and carefully stretch each piece into a 24”-long cylinder. Cut each cylinder into quarters; then cut each piece into two (yielding a total of 16 evenly-sized pieces).
  5. If you slightly squished the cylinder as you made each cut, restore its roundness. Put 8 pieces of dough in each cake pan with the cut-side up; placing one piece of dough in the center and the other seven pieces like the spokes of a wheel.
  6. Set an oven rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 500-degrees. Cover pans with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise for about 30 minutes until they have double in size. You can also test it because the dough will spring back if you gently press with your finger.
  7. Discard plastic wrap and lightly spray the rolls with water. Bake for 10 minutes until the rolls are brown. Turn the oven down to 400-degrees. Remove rolls and turn them out onto a rimmed baking sheet. After 5 or 10 minutes the rolls will have cool enough to handle, pull them apart and place on baking sheet. Bake at 400-degrees for 10 to 15 minutes; rotating the pan half-way through baking. They should have a deeply golden crust, and sound hollow if you tap their bottoms.
  8. Allow to cook on a wire rack for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

Julia Child’s Deconstructed Turkey

November 29, 2014

When cooking chicken lately, I have been cooking and enjoying dark meat for its deeper flavor and more forgiving texture. Yet, one weakness of my usual turkey recipes is getting the breast to correctly cook (to 160-degrees) without sacrificing the dark meat. I rarely time the flip correctly. So when I saw this episode on America’s Test Kitchen last month, I was amazed and happy to see how it showcased the dark meat. By separating the turkey into three major pieces, some of the most fundamental Thanksgiving issues are solved. (1) Getting the dark meat cooked properly without overcooking the white meat. (2) getting real turkey drippings into the stuffing. As a bonus, this method cooks the turkey in about half the time, freeing up my oven to cook rolls, pies, and gravy the rest of the day. There are a few issues (discussed below), but overall this technique provides a delicious turkey. It was the best dark meat I’ve ever eaten. Chris Kimball agrees, saying “this is now my new, absolute favorite.” 4-1/2 stars. I hope you all had a delicious Thanksgiving.

Most beautiful dark meat ever

Most beautiful dark meat ever

Start the day/evening before, taking care of most of the prep work. Cut the turkey into three major parts, (1) breast/wings, then (2) cut off each leg/thigh quarter. I misread the instructions and started to cut off just the leg; not the entire leg quarter (i.e. including the thigh), but realized my mistake before I did any damage beyond the skin. The recipe only brines the breast/wings. It salts/seasons the leg quarters separately.

What makes this recipe truly unique is removing the thighbones, then trussing the thighs up using skewers and string. This step makes the dark meat the absolute best part of the entire evening. I was hesitant to break the tradition of roasting a whole turkey, but with my guests arriving just before dinner this year, it was a great opportunity to give this recipe a try. Mostly because Chris Kimball says it is based upon Julia Child’s recipe.

Issues / Comments:

  1. Cutting off leg quarters, not just legs. As I mentioned above, I almost cut off just the legs in step 2. The recipe calls for me to remove the “leg quarter”.
  2. Because the wings overhanged my 12″ skillet, the juices dripped down to the oven floor and filled the house with smoke. My solution is that I recommend putting a foil-lined baking sheet below the skillet to catch the juices. If it starts to smoke you can just swap it out for new foil. Fortunately, my guests had not yet arrived.
  3. I was surprised that it took me a full hour to deconstruct and prepare the turkey, most of the time was separating the leg quarters. The back was pretty easy to remove using kitchen shears.
  4. The recipe calls for a 12-to-15-pound turkey. I bought a 19-pounder because of the number of guests, but my turkey took double the time to cook than stated in the recipe. In the end, we ate an hour late, but only because I cut the resting time down (more than I should have).
  5. While Chris Kimball tries to have the white and dark meat ready at the same time, it was not the case. The dark meat took longer, but that gave the breast an extra 10-to-15 minutes to rest. The beautiful thing about this recipe is that I was able to remove the white meat while the dark meat came up to temperature.

Rating: 4-1/2 star.
Cost: $19.  ($10 of which was by 19-lb turkey)
How much work? Medium/High.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 1 PM. Dinner time 6 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here.  The recipe as I cooked it for this Thanksgiving is as follows:

The Eventing Before Thanksgiving:
12-to-15-pound turkey
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
Salt and pepper
Wooden skewers
1-1/2 pounds hearty white sandwich bread (e.g. Arnold’s or Pepperidge Farms)

  1. Remove the neck and giblets and set aside in a large Dutch oven, which will be used along with back and thigh bones to make the gravy.
  2. Put turkey breast-side-up on a cutting board. Tuck the wing back just to get it out-of-the-way. Remove the thighs/legs by cutting through the skin around the quarters where it attaches to breast. Cut away the top of the meat until your knife reaches the hip bone. Bend the entire leg quarter back so that the bone pops out of the hip socket, then you can continue to cut the meat away and remove entire quarter.
  3. To take out the thigh bone, use the tip of your knife to cut along the length of the thigh. Cut around the tip of the bone and work your knife underneath the bone to expose the joint between thigh and leg. Cut through the cartilage and remove thighbone; adding bones to your pot for the gravy. Repeat to remove the second leg quarter.
  4. Rub interior of each thigh with ½ teaspoon sage, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  5. Poke 2 or 3 skewers through skin/meat to close up the thigh where your removed the thigh bone. Wrap some kitchen twine around the wooden skewers to tightly close the thigh into a nice, round piece of boneless meat. Set on a large plate, cover, and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours until ready to cook.
  6. Trim away and discard any excess skin from around the neck.
  7. To remove the back bone from the breast, flip the turkey over breast-side-down. Use kitchen shears to cut through ribs (following vertical line of fat where breast meets back) until you can’t cut anymore. You’ve reach the bone near the wing joint. Repeat on other side of backbone.
  8. Use a little force to bend the back-section away from the breast, and the shoulder joint should pop out of the socket. Cut between the bonds to separate the back from the breast, and add the back to the pot for making gravy.
  9. Dissolve 3/4-cup salt into 6 quarts of cold water in a large container (I used a large stock pot). Submerge in brine, cover and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours until ready to cook.
  10. Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes (including the crust). Spread on-top 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake at 300-degrees from 25 to 30 minutes until it becomes dry and lightly browned. Stir a few times during baking and empty into the largest bowl you own.

Thanksgiving Day:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
3 onions, chopped fine
6 celery ribs, minced
1 cup dried cranberries
4 large eggs, beaten

  1. An hour before you are ready to start cooking turkey, begin baking the bones reserved gravy.
  2. Pre-heat oven temperature to 425-degrees, and set two over racks to the lowest and second lowest positions.
  3. Remove the breast from brine and pat dry using paper towels (leaving the leg quarters in refrigerator for now). Tuck the wings behind back.
  4. Finely chop 3 onions.
  5. Melt down butter in 12″ non-stick oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have softened and are just beginning to brown. Meanwhile, mince 2 tablespoons of fresh sage and 6 celery ribs.
  6. Add minced celery and sage to skillet, plus 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper. Continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes until celery is slightly softened. Empty vegetables into your large bowl with the bread cubes.
  7. Use paper towels to wipe out skillet. Brush surface of breast with 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and set turkey breast with the skin-side-down into skillet. Roast at 425-degrees for 30 minutes. Place a foil-lined baking sheet on the rack below turkey to catch any drippings.
  8. Meanwhile, add cranberries and beaten eggs to bread mixture and toss to combine (mixture will be dry). Empty stuffing to 16″x13″ roasting pan, then use a rubber spatula to form an even 12″x10″ rectangle. The turkey will be set on-top of stuffing to protect it and prevent it from burning.
  9. Remove the breast from the oven and use paper towels to pat up the hot juices from the top of the breast. Use wads to paper towels to flip over and set over two-thirds of stuffing.
  10. Brush leg quarters with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and arrange over the remaining stuffing. Lightly season lets and breasts with salt.
  11. Use your rubber spatula to tuck and exposed stuffing under the turkey, so that it is almost entire covered.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes at 425-degrees.
  13. Reduce oven to 350-degrees and continue cooking for between 40 minutes and 2 hours; until breast registers 160 to 165 degrees and  thighs registers 175 to 180 degrees.
  14. Empty onto a cutting board as each individual piece attains the proper temperature. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving. While turkey rests, use a spatula to stir stuffing and scrape up any browned bits. Evenly rearrange stuffing over the entire roasting pan and keep warm in the tured-off-oven.
  15. Before serving, adjust seasoning of the stuffing with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the stuffing in center of large serving platter.
  16. Remove skewers and twine from leg quarters. Carve and serve.
The breast also roasted up wonderfully moist.

The breast also roasted up wonderfully moist.


Thanksgiving Menu

November 22, 2014

Of all the holidays on our busy calendars, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite. I love the simplicity of the celebrations. There are no presents to buy or expectations to fulfill (other than a bountiful meal). It is simply a day to share and appreciate the important people in our lives; wonderful friends, our family, and the people we love. As a bonus, since I love to cook, it usually means that I have a crowd to cook for. Especially on Thanksgiving: the more the merrier.

Appetizers:

  • Ceviche.
  • Meat and Cheese plate: Salami, Ham. Boursin, Manchego, Jarlsberg.

Dinner Menu:

Beverages Menu:

  • Beer.
  • White Wine.
  • Red Wine; Malbec, from my time living in Argentina.
  • Sangria.

Dessert Menu:


Homemade Chocolate Syrup

November 21, 2014

I’m in the middle of my Thanksgiving preparations and don’t really have time to figure out how to make homemade chocolate syrup. But I have a few good reasons why I made time. First, my squeeze bottle of Hershey’s “Genuine Chocolate Flavored” syrup has been empty for a couple of weeks, and I feel bad because my son has been eating ice cream that clearly needed chocolate syrup. Second and more important, I had examined the ingredient list (in an effort to answer the question: what does “Genuine Chocolate Flavor” really mean?), and was very disappointed with Hershey’s choice of ingredients. It’s as if they had purposefully tried to use the worst possible ingredients. The first two ingredients are: (1) high fructose corn syrup, and (2) corn syrup. Really, using just regular corn syrup was too difficult. This homemade recipe uses regular sugar, and I omitted the other chemicals and artificial flavors. Finally, instead of using real vanilla Hersey’s uses “Vanillin”, so they are obviously using imitation vanilla made from a wood pulp waste product.

Delicious Ice Cream definitely needs chocolate syrup

Delicious Ice Cream definitely needs chocolate syrup

Comments:

  1. Hershey’s isn’t tricking us by calling it “Genuine Chocolate Flavor”, as I had assumed. Chocolate includes both Cocoa powder and Cocoa butter, whereas chocolate syrup includes only cocoa powder. It is a non-fat product (a good thing) and thus by excluding the Cocoa butter, Hershey’s cannot call it Chocolate. Hence the phrase “Genuine Chocolate Flavor”.
  2. Many people suggest using Dutch-processed cocoa, but I just used whatever I had in my kitchen, which was Hersey’s. Hershey’s is natural cocoa powder; not Dutch processed.
  3. This recipe yields 18-ounces of chocolate syrup. I re-used the same Hershey’s syrup squeeze bottle, but eventually I imagine that I will just use a regular squeeze bottle. Also you can use regular mason jars.
  4. The recipe continues to be non-fat, which means that there is no cocoa butter in any of the ingredients. That could change depending up what type of cocoa powder you use.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $1.15 for 18-ounces of syrup.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 5 PM. Dinner time 5:10 PM.

While Chris Kimball does have a recipe to make chocolate syrup, I wanted a replacement for Hershey’s that has a stable shelf life. Chris Kimball uses dairy (heavy cream and butter) which means that it must be used within a short period of time. Today’s recipe is based upon Alton Brown’s cocoa syrup recipe.

1 cups water
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cups cocoa powder (2-5/8 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Mix sugar, water, corn syrup, and kosher salt in medium-sized pot and bring up to a boil. Whisk in cocoa powder and continue mixing until it is dissolved. Boil for 1 minute, and remove from burner.
  2. Stir in vanilla extract. Allow to cool to room temperature. You can either strain into squeeze bottles: in case you have a lot of solids that could plug up your bottle.
  3. Store in refrigerator. While the recipe will appear to be too runny, it will thicken when it cools to refrigerator temperature.

Pre-Thanksgiving Preparation Timeline

November 18, 2014

It snuck up on me, but the time has come. Thanksgiving preparations begin now. I need a full week to fully defrost my big turkey (plus a day or two to prepare it).

Planning for the Thanksgiving

Planning for the Thanksgiving

Wednesday or Thursday Before Thanksgiving: Buy and Defrost your Turkey

When planning on what size Turkey to buy, a general guideline is to plan for 1-1/2 pounds per person (assuming you want leftovers). Without leftovers you can get away with 1 pound of turkey per person.  I’m planning for a crowd of between 12 and 14. So I need approximately 20-pounds.

If you are buying a frozen Turkey, it is essential that plan ahead. A large turkey will take a full week prior to Thanksgiving. In my case, my refrigerator seems to run a little cold. Every year I need an extra day or two to fully thaw my turkey. Thaw your turkey by keeping it in its original wrapping, placed on a rimmed sheet pan on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Thawing guidelines are generally 5 hours per pound, but I haven’t found those guidelines are accurate for large turkeys. Cooks Illustrated cites 1 day for every 4 pounds of turkey.

Turkey Weight Approx Thaw Time
10 to 14 lbs 4 days
14 to 18 lbs 5 days
18 to 22 lbs 6 days
22 to 26 lbs 7 days

Saturday or Sunday Before Thanksgiving: Take Inventory

With about 5 days to go you should have your menu planned, and you should have selected which recipes you will use. Different recipes will require different slightly different ingredient lists.

This weekend is when most people do a majority of their Thanksgiving grocery shopping, so go early in the day to try to beat the crowds. Ultimately, patience will be required no matter what time you go. Hopefully you can finish most of your major shopping early on Saturday, as the availability of key items diminishes.  Especially prone to selling out are items for pumpkin pie and fresh spices; especially thyme and sage.

  1. Cranberries. Ocean Spray supplies 75% of the total world-wide market of cranberries, but has a 100% monopoly on the supermarket supply of cranberries in my area. The lack of competition has resulted in inferior berries. I usually have to throw away up to 1/4 of the bag, because they sell unripe berries intermixed with ripe one. The monopoly means that I have no alternative.
  2. Russet Potatoes, 6 or 7 onions, 1 bunch of celery, a few carrots, garlic, sage, thyme, maybe parsley (but you can usually find parsley).
  3. Canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, pie dough, ground cloves (you can substitute whole cloves and grind them yourself, using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle).
  4. Bread Cubes or high-quality sandwich bread. While Pepperidge farms stuffing is ubiquitous, it’s just as easy to make your own using high-quality sandwich bread. Arnold Country Classics White Bread (24oz) is Cook’s Illustrated choice, but Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White Bread Celery was the runner up in the CI taste test.
  5. Chicken Stock. Make sure you have at least 4-cups for gravy and stuffing. I have already made a fresh batch of homemade chicken stock.  This year my gravy recipe alone calls for 3-1/2 cups. Actually, this year I used spare turkey bones to make turkey stock.
  6. Butter. Be sure you have at least a pound, but butter usually goes on sale around Thanksgiving. I usually pick up a few pounds of Land o Lakes for $2/lb, and freeze any extra. (This year it’s a little more expensive, and it seems like $3/lb is the lowest price).
  7. Heavy Cream For mashed potatoes and maybe whipped cream for pie. A few eggs (for stuffing).
  8. Any specialty items: White wine for gravy, Salt pork, sausage, kosher salt. This year I need 1 cup dried cranberries  for the stuffing.
  9. Snacks for Thanksgiving Day: Chips, Salsa, Cheeses, Sandwiches. These items don’t generally sell out, but it’s nice to know that you have one fewer thing to worry about.

Tuesday Before Thanksgiving (2 days before):

Take stock of the status of your turkey. Is it soft? Or is there any chance that the turkey’s interior is still frozen? If it’s still partially frozen, then you should thaw it in a clean bucket filled with cold water (leaving turkey pre-wrapped). I don’t have any buckets large enough for my 20-lb turkey, so I use a sink lined with a large trash bag. Depending upon how frozen your turkey is, it can be completely thawed in just a few hours.  Of course, don’t thaw using anything other than cold water at this point.

Wednesday Before Thanksgiving (the day before):

On Wednesday morning, assuming your turkey is thawed, brine or salt the turkey. Lately I’ve been salting because it leaves the skin more appealing.

There are also some things that you can optionally make ahead:

  1. Cranberry sauce.
  2. Pie dough.
  3. Mix the pumpkin pie filling, which will taste better if you mix the night before.

Thanksgiving Day:

Decide when you plan to bake your pumpkin pie. Your options are (1) early, an hour before the turkey goes in the oven, or (2) immediately upon taking the turkey out of the oven. I am going with option 1. Option 2 will require a little cooling time in the refrigerator so that it is cool enough to firm up. There is a school of people who make it the night before and leave it at room temperature until dessert the next day (I’d be too worried about potential bacteria to even consider this).


Sesame Seed Crusted Salmon with Sweet-and-Sour Chutney

November 17, 2014

About 6 months ago, I made this delicious, similar Sesame Crusted Salmon with Lime and Coriander, which was 4-1/2 stars. That success gave me high hopes for Today’s recipe, which is nearly 15 years old (the 4-1/2 star recipe was from March 2014). Unfortunately, today’s recipe was only 3 stars. Still edible, but just an average meal. Even considering the chutney, the recipe was too plain. The seasonings were generally warm, but I think that the vinegar in the recipe was a lackluster substitution for a more traditional citrus. The recipe lacked anything to brighten the dish. Part of the fault may lie in the age of this recipe; which is older than my 15-year-old son.

I am more than a little embarrassed by my “worst ever” cell phone picture, which makes this average meal appear sub-par. That’s the reason I’ve hidden it at the bottom of the post.

Comments:

  1. While it only takes a few minutes to make this chutney, prepare it before cooking the salmon (because the fish cooks so quickly). A little of this intensely flavored condiment goes a long way.
  2. Because I don’t have cardamom (and didn’t feel like buying a $10 bottle just for this recipe), I used equal parts cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Because the recipe only used 1/4 teaspoon I doubt that this substitution is to blame for the disappointing results.
  3. The recipe says to cook the salmon in Step 3 for 3 minutes for medium-rare and 3-1/2 minutes for medium.

Rating: 3 star.
Cost: $18.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 5 PM. Dinner time 6 PM.

The recipe for the Sweet-and-Sour Chutney with onions and warm spices is here. The recipe for the Pan Seared Salmon with Sesame Seed Crust is here. The descriptions of how I prepared both are given below:

Sweet-and-Sour Chutney Ingredients:
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

  1. In a small bowl, add 1 teaspoon fennel, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon table salt; mix and set aside. Finely chop 1/2 of a medium onion, which should yield about 1/2 cup.
  2. Set a medium-sized skillet over medium burner. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil, then sauté onion for 3 to 4 minutes until soft. Add spice mixture from step 1, and sauté for  1 minute until fragrant.
  3. Turn up burner to medium-high and add 1/4 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 2 tablespoons water. Cook 1-1/2 minutes until it reduces by one-third and attains a syrupy consistency. Stir in minced parsley, set aside until ready to serve salmon.

Sweet-and-Sour Chutney Ingredients:
1/4-cup sesame seeds
4 salmon fillets skin-on, about 6-oz each and 1″ to 1-1/4″ thick
3 teaspoons canola oil or vegetable oil

  1. Preheat a 12″ heavy-bottomed skillet for 3 minutes over high burner. Rub salmon fillets with 2 teaspoons canola oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread sesame seeds in a pie plate, and press flesh sides of fillets in sesame seeds to coat.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon to pre-heated pan; swirl to coat. When oil begins to shimmer (but is not smoking) add the fish with skin-side down. Without moving the fish, cook for 30 seconds until pan regains its heat, then reduce burner to medium-high. Continue cooking for 4-1/2 minutes until skin-side becomes well browned and bottom half of fillets turns opaque.
  3. Carefully flip fish and cook for 3-1/2 minutes, again without moving, until they are no longer translucent and have become firm, but not hard, when gently squeezed.
  4. Remove fish onto serving platter or individual serving plates, being careful not to break sesame crust. Allow to rest for 1 minute. Pat with paper towel to absorb excess any fat from surface
  5. Serve immediately with the chutney.
Horrible cell phone picture; ok tasting salmon

Horrible cell phone picture; ok tasting salmon


Ceviche

November 13, 2014

Ceviche is one of my favorite things about visiting the Caribbean (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here). Of course, ceviche is “cooked” in citrus juice rather than being thermally cooked. While its important to understand the potential risks about eating “raw” seafood (see here), I personally have never allowed the slight risks from stopping me from enjoying ceviche. I rely on my judgement to select the right restaurant (not-to-cheap-price, cleanliness). I’ve also made something similar but gently cooking the shrimp.

Delicious, but heavy on the veggies

Delicious ceviche, but a little too heavy on the veggies

Frozen seafood cannot match the flavor and texture of fresh, Caribbean seafood, but it still work making at home. This version has more peppers and vegetables that I generally get in the Caribbean. It is more like a citrus seafood salad. It is still delicious. 4-stars. I served it with this Pernil.

Issues:

  1. After waiting the 1 hour listed in my recipe, the ceviche still looked semi-raw. I wanted to wait until the entire exterior lost it’s brown, translucent appearance. Finally after 3 hours the shrimp appeared completely cooked.
  2. I exclusively used shrimp, but the recipe is written to also work with sea scallops, skinless fish fillets, or any combination. I believe that it would be important to cut them in very similar sized pieces, so that they will finish “cooking” at the same time.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $12.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time: 2:30 PM. Ready at: 6:00 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here.  The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound)
1 teaspoon grated lime zest from 1 lime
1/2 cup juice from 4 limes
1/2 cup juice from 4 lemons
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
1 jalapeño chile (small), stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
Salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions, sliced thin
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper

  1. If using shrimp, peel them completely, devein (if not already done), and use a paring knife to slice each shrimp in half lengthwise  (through the deveined groove in the shrimps back).
  2. If using scallops, remove the side tendon and cut into 1/3″-thick rounds.
  3. If using fish, remove any bones and cut into 1″ squares that are 1/3″-thick.
  4. Add the lime zest, lime juice, lemon juice, bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a medium bowl. Stir until combined.
  5. Gently stir in the seafood, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 60 minutes (it took mine 3 hours) until the seafood becomes firm, opaque, and it appears cooked. Stir halfway through the marinating time.
  6. Drain the mixture though a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the liquid. Leave it a little wet, and return to the bowl.
  7. Gently stir in the oil, scallions, cilantro, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

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