Friday, July 15, 2011

Citrus Marinated Salmon with Orange, Caviar, and Pea Shoots

Not in love with salmon, but I still eat it because I know its good for me. But this... I could eat it any day, any meals (the oranges even make it breakfast appropriate!).  This was seriously the best salmon I have ever eaten.  It turns out citrus gets rid of all of the fishy part of salmon that I don't like.  Who knew.  On the other hand, given that it is poached in oil, its probably not all that good for me... (then again, compared to the stick of butter in other things, maybe I should take that back).

First up, the citrus powder.  I zested different citrus - lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit:

Then dehydrated it in my oven.  Luckily, this did not take 3 tries like the tomato powder!

This is the fun part.... "grinding" it in my vitamix.  Woooo!!  See the awesome hurricane that it makes?  I sat and stared at it for the 3 minutes the mixer was going, just watching the air patterns (and no, I wasn't on anything.... but I bet it would be even more fascinating if I was)

Ta-da!  Citrus powder:

Now for the actual salmon part!  First, more zest.  Lots more zest, of all kinds.

So that I could make the citrus dry rub - zest, more zest, more zest, salt, and pepper:

All mashed together

After patting that only the giant slab of salmon that I had trimmed, I made orange confit.  This was basically oranges, sugar, and water (apparently the secret way to make salmon delicious)!

I sectioned all of the oranges, which took a while.  By the way, helpful hint for anyone that makes this: just get an extra orange, and don't worry about what you are wasting when you cut away the pith and skin.  Makes things SO much faster!

Finally, the pea coulis, which consisted of blanched pea shoots, blended with some water until it was a coulis.

At this point, I poached the salmon in olive oil... a very large amount of olive oil.  The temperature is supposed to be exactly 118 degrees, which I struggled with, since my oil got too hot, then too cold... then too hot.  I'm sure its user error, but i'm blaming this on my inconsistent burners until proven otherwise!  Because of the temperature variation, the salmon pieces weren't as 'bendy' as they should have been, I think.  I (wisely) determined that serving squares was a much better idea than breaking them up by trying to make circles with caviar in the middle.  I think it worked out ok.

No pea shoot coulis in the picture - I served it in the gravy boat like the book says - but oh my goodness, together, it was perfection.  Without any doubt, this is my favorite non-dessert course i've made so far.  And with salmon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Salad of Haricot Vert, Tomato, and Chive

After making this, all I can say is... I'm in love with tomato tartare.  Seriously, this was so unexpectedly amazing (I mean, how good can cold green beans and tomatoes be?), I was almost ready to trade my husband in for the ability to eat the whole thing.  Instead, I settled with the measly little bite of amazing tomato tartare.

Not only was this super tasty, it was rather easy.  I started with some roasted tomato petals (conveniently left over from the blini), balsamic, shallot, and chives

Chopped all up and combined... making "tomato tartare."

Next, green beans:

I trimmed, cut, blanched the green beans
Then plunged into ice water, where they sat until I was ready to plate.

Not pictured: right before serving, I whisked the heck out of some cream (and maybe creme fraiche?  Its been a while), and tossed the green beans in.  Because they were cold, it actually helped the whipped cream stay together.

Plating: a little chive oil, tomato, green beans, and dental floss... I mean frisee... with a little tomato powder down the side.

The result?  Nutritious AND delicious!  Seriously, its hard to believe vegetables can taste so good.  This makes me want to go eat some green beans (preferably tossed in cream) right this second, even though its only 8am.  Weird, yes.  But oh-so-good!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blini-fest 2011

My seventh dinner accomplished a pretty awesome milestone: with knocking out like six recipes in one meal, I am over one-third through the book.  And one third is almost half, and half means 'its all downhill from here' and... and (its a slippery slope, counting percentages.  Just like 'adjusting your budget' for kitchen remodeling)

The starter, blini-fest 2011!  Three recipes in one!  And all were actually pretty easy.

First up, Blini with Bottarga de-something-or-the-other and Confit of Tomato.  Not only was this amazingly delicious for something that was fairly easy to do, it was the first time i've really REALLY been sad about my tomato allergy/temped to eat it and suffer the consequences in years.

Tomatoes, pre-confit:

After blanching and peeling those beautiful tomatoes, I cut them into "petals," sprinkled with olive oil, salt, and put a thyme sprig on each, and stuck them in the oven for a bit.
I did not take pictures when they came out.... but they were peerrrty.  And smelled like all kinds of awesome.

After making roasted tomatoes, I made the real confit - basically, the chopped up tomatoes with some stock, a little more spices, and some more oil.

Chopped finely, it turned into the tastiest confit ever.

Oh, and with the inside pulp from the tomatoes, I rinsed it, squished it, chopped it into pieces, and spread on a cookie sheet.  I set the oven for its very lowest temperature - 175 - and propped the door open....
And after 4 attempts at this (each one ending up in severely burnt tomato, instead of "gently dehydrated tomato") - I had tomato powder!

Eggplant "Caviar" and Roasted Peppers
So, the tomato confit was easy... but I think the roasted peppers were even easier!

Chopped in half, spread a little olive oil:

And... that was pretty much it.  Except that I peeled the peppers after they came out of the oven, which was cake.

To make the actual "roasted peppers" part of the topping: 
Chopped red peppers, more stock, salt, and I was done!  (I don't know why the chives are there, I might have just had them sitting around)

Eggplant "caviar" was also pretty simple - just score some eggplant, sprinkle with salt:

Squish to get the icky juices out:

Roasted and scraped (at which point I realized I had way way less eggplant than I was supposed to).

This "drained" again overnight, except I got like 5 drops of bitter nastiness juice stuff out.  Possibly the fault of teacloth instead of cheesecake?

After this drained overnight, I threw it into the food processor:

So, remember how I said I didn't have enough eggplant?  I didn't.  AND THEN, knowing/forgetting this, I kept the other proportions (on mustard, oil, garlic) the same.  The eggplant was more like 'garlic' caviar.  Not that I minded this (no one else complained either).  But i'm fairly sure it wasn't quite the right texture.  Fail one for blini-fest. 

Blini: Obviously, the big missing part is the actual vessel for scooping the yummy sauces into your mouth!

I started by boiling some potatoes...

Then scraping them through a tamis.

To make the actual batter, I added some eggs, flour, creme fraiche, and those potatoes

And "whisked" them together.  I don't know how many people have tried to whisk potatoes... but i'm telling you: Chef Keller must have uncommon, superman strength.  Because my arms were killing me after like 2 minutes.

After surgery to reattach my arms, little spoonfuls of potato mix led to blini!

The final product:

Roasted Peppers with Eggplant Caviar

Confit (below the blini) with grated fish-stuff.

The tomato one was the hands-down favorite, even with the weird grated fishy stuff. I really really really wanted to eat the confit, but I wisely abstained. Everyone else enjoyed it immensely. All in all, this was a time-consuming canape in that you had to be around (since I won't leave my house with my stove on), but it didn't really take a lot of actual time. The blini are very "sensitive" to temperature, so it doesn't seem like something that would hold well. Because of this, I don't see it making it into a permanent repertoire list. But... I still have a few canapes left to make, so we'll see!