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Gravlax

Gravlax

I have prepared gravlax a thousand times over the years, starting at the beginning of the 70’s when I worked in  Torekov/Sweden  for the first time, and usually, it comes out perfect, or at least close to perfect. It is one of those dishes which actually require an effort to mess it up. So every time I prepare it, I am sure that the outcome Is a predictable “10” on a scale from 0 to 10. But then came this baby !!!
I had to increase the scale by another point to accommodate its level of excellence. It was so off the chart, in taste, texture, and color. Just a perfect “11” 🙂
It was probably a combination of the quality of the fish, the freshness, the amount and quality of the dill, the ratio of the ingredients of the brine and finally, the time I left the salmon in the brine to cure. Whatever it was, this gravlax is the one all future gravlax will be judged by.
But, I can not give you the EXACT amount of time or ingredients, only approximates. Like with most savory cooking, recipe-measurements and times can only serve as guidelines. Usually, there are too many variables to cook EXACTLY by a recipe. (I am sure you have often heard folks say “I followed the recipe to the dot, but it did not turn out to be like in the picture or in the book or the video?- well, that’s the reason why – too many variables. It is also the reason why a professional chef “interprets” a recipe because, with his/her experience over many years, he/she has learned to factor-in these variables and make the necessary adjustments accordingly.
To quote myself – “Cooking is easy – if you know how to do it !” 🙂
So here now is the recipe I used for this specific gravlax. Again, there are a million and one recipes out there. Every Scandinavian cook, housewife and home cook guards at least one gravlax recipe they swear by, and most of them are pretty awesome, just slightly different from each other.
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2 lbs raw salmon, skin on
2 cup kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 jigger vodka
1/2 cup sliced dill leaves plus 1/4 cup
1/2 cup red beet juice
2 tblsp dijon mustard
1 tblsp fresh-cracked>
black pepper
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Dill/Mustard Sauce
(Traditional condiment for gravlax)
Good quality mustard, white wine vinegar, kosher salt, neutral tasting oil, sugar, fresh dill leaves, pepper(optional), mix all ingredients well.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Gravlax

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Gravlax

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Gravlax

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add the salmon and onions (for a prettier presentation / restaurant presentation) put the egg and capers together with the onions on top of the salmon, however, the way I did it here will keep the capers and egg from rolling off when you eat the sandwich)

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Preparation :
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Pork Ribs And Lotus Roots In Tamarind Broth (Sinigang Na Baboy)

Pork Ribs And Lotus Roots In Tamarind Broth (Sinigang Na Baboy)

At least once a month it’s sinigang-time at my house. The protein I use most often is pork, but sometimes I use shrimp (Sinigáng na Hipon), fish (Sinigáng na Isdâ), beef (Sinigang na Baka) or chicken (Sinampalukang Manók). One can use any part of the pig for sinigang, but my personal favorite cuts are the ribs and/or tails. This morning I found fresh ribs at my butcher, which I turned into this not-so-ordinary sinigang (chard and lotus roots are not commonly used in sinigang).
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Pork Ribs And Lotus Roots In Tamarind Broth (Sinigang Na Baboy)

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Pork Ribs And Lotus Roots In Tamarind Broth (Sinigang Na Baboy)

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Preparation :
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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

 

Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

Here we have the perfect breakfast for dog owners (and everybody else who loves a great breakfast and can wait awhile before breakfast is ready,) 🙂
Once the prep has been done (you can do this the previous evening), just put the wrap into the oven (hot or cold), turn to 375F and walk your dog.
Make sure you are back before the hour is over and you will be rewarded with a perfect breakfast). Generally, the egg inside will take about 35 minutes for a “sunny side up” texture, while additional time spent in the heat will obviously take the egg to the next level of doneness. This doneness will depend on various factors, such as the thickness of the wrap, the thickness of the ham and tomato, the amount of cheese and /or other fillings, and so forth.
When I made this dish the first time a few years back, I took it out of the oven WAY too early, not realizing how much time the egg actually takes to cook inside all these layers. However, if you like this dish, take some notes about the time and temperature you use in order to get it right on future occasions.
Also, and this is even more important, chose a wrap which suits this preparation. If you select the wrong one, the shell will become dry and tough after it’s considerable time in the oven. But if you find the right one (see the pic below for an example), the wrap becomes wonderfully flaky, almost like a puff pastry, as is clearly visible in the pics of the cut wrap 🙂 . The reason why I use two wraps per pocket is that the (RIGHT) wraps add a great flakiness one would not get with a single layer (there is a lot of moisture inside).
I also like to emphasize the importance of the grated parmesan cheese between the moist layers to help keep a proper texture, (you don’t want a soggy mess !) and the importance of brushing the wrap generously with whole butter before baking, both for taste and texture.
As for the sauce, I love to serve this with sweet Thai chili sauce or a honey/herb yogurt. Again – serve it with whatever makes YOU happy ! 🙂
Of course, as with most of the food I publish on my blog,  I recommend using this dish as an inspiration for your very own variations of a baked wrap. I have prepared them with seafood, ground meat, chicken, veggies, with or without cheese, with or without eggs, etc. ( one of my favorites is tomato, onion, sauteed spinach, and brie). Also, although I have this usually for breakfast, it makes a great snack or meal any time during the day or evening.

Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Preparation :
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Spinach Tagliatelle With Crayfish In Garlic/Chili Butter

Spinach Tagliatelle With Crayfish In Garlic/Chili Butter

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Crayfish must be one of the most under-appreciated seafood on the market. I assume it has to do with the fact that it takes a while and a bit of practice to peel them efficiently. There is also the misconception that they are expensive, which, in my opinion, they are not. One pound costs about $ 5.00 and is enough for a generous portion).
Another sad fact is that outside of their harvesting areas and outside of harvesting season, it is not easy to come by great quality crayfish. The reason for this is mostly bad handling, so in order to ensure good quality, make sure the fishmonger lets you stick your nose into (or at least close to) 🙂 the ice box in which they are kept, and always ask to give you the bottom layer, closest to the ice.
This, of course, is an important step in buying any seafood, including frozen or “previously frozen”! Please remember – expertly flash-frozen seafood can be as good as fresh seafood, provided it is handled, stored and defrosted properly.
Much seafood which is labeled fresh or never frozen is, in fact, inferior to properly preserved seafood, due to the length of transport, lack of proper or inconsistent cooling and general lack of proper handling.
But as I wrote earlier, the smell test will easily reveal if you should buy or forget 🙂
Needless to say, the little beauties I used for this meal were fresh, yummy and pretty, so this dish was an all around success 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Spinach Tagliatelle With Crayfish In Garlic/Chili Butter

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Spinach Tagliatelle With Crayfish In Garlic/Chili Butter

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Spinach Tagliatelle With Crayfish In Garlic/Chili Butter

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Preparation :
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Crappy Weather Food – Beef, Beans And Other Stuff

Meanwhile, in Florida…….

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Hurricane season has finally arrived in Florida, and boy, has it ARRIVED 😦
While God has spared us a hurricane so far, we had constant rainstorms for the past two weeks, resulting in extensive flooding, turning many streets into rivers and parking lots into lakes.
Hearty food is the partial answer to that misery, making up for the fact that outside grilling and outside cooking in general, is suspended for the moment.
This beef stew with potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garbanzos, white beans, red beans and black beans is the perfect food to enjoy while looking out the window, watching the world drowning in rain and misery 😦
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Crappy Weather Food – Beef, Beans And Other Stuff

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Crappy Weather Food – Beef, Beans And Other Stuff

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Crappy Weather Food – Beef, Beans And Other Stuff

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Crappy Weather Food – Beef, Beans And Other Stuff

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Preparation :
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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil


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friend Peter came over for lunch today. Usually, he is a big fan of down to earth home cooking, never getting enough meatloaf, pasta, potatoes, stews, pigs feet, tripe, and other offal.
However, right now he is on a strict diet, so he asked me to prepare something gluten-free, starch-free and sugar-free. This tuna steak with salad was the result of his request, which made him happy and content (or so he said).
I, on the other hand, feasted on some left-over pork belly with potatoes, which made me happy and content 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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1 cup EVO, 2 ea garlic confit, 2 ea scallion, kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper to taste

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5 ea grape tomatoes, 1 ea quintisho chile, 3 slices lemon; simmer slowly on low heat while basting with the oil until tuna is cooked to your preferred temperature; serve with a salad of your choice

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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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For a long time, nobody around here would touch Pork belly with a ten-foot pole.
Pork belly was deemed to be inferior, unhealthy and fattening. However, during the past couple of years, secondary meat cuts (as well as offal) have become “IN”, so all of a sudden pork belly, almost always “Asian Glazed”, has popped up on every menu in town. While this could be a good development, the sad fact is that a tiny portion of pork belly now costs as much as a steak and most preparations leave a lot to be desired.
The smart solution? Cook it at home, naturally 🙂
I grew up with pork belly and most other secondary cuts, as well as offal, so I have been eating this stuff all my life and have a number of recipes for all of them.
Yesterday I prepared pork belly in one of the most simple yet also most delicious way:
Braised in red wine and veggies, served with mashed potatoes.
When I was a kid, my Mom used to mix the mashed potatoes with fresh cabbage to make a very hearty and tasty dish. Although I don’t remember the name of this dish, it stayed in my memory because my brother and I loved it, but my Dad hated it because in his opinion it was not traditional and therefore should not be served for a proper meal. This dish approximates the Italian “Lesso di Patate e Cavolo Verza” and the Irish “Colcannon”. Apparently, my Mom was right-on with her creation 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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ONE FOR THE KIDS # 4 – “Frozen Yogurt Bark”

ONE FOR THE KIDS # 4 – “Frozen Yogurt Bark”

“ONE FOR THE KIDS”  is a series of Goodies which are wonderful treats for kid’s of all ages and super easy to prepare, so you can ask your little ones to give you a helping hand in the production, which will make them proud and add even more happiness to a wonderful treat 🙂
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Bon Appétit !  Have Fun !
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P.S.
If you freeze the yogurt overnight, you might want to remove if from the freezer to room temperature about 10 minutes before consumption.
It’s great to hold the bark with a napkin to eat, or serve it on a plate with whipped cream and wafers 🙂
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P.P.S.
Let your and your kid’s fantasy run wild on what to use to add to the yogurt, both in the mix and on top before freezing.
For the “big kids”, if you are sure no kids get their hands on it, any kind of booze is another option 🙂
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ONE FOR THE KIDS # 4 – “Frozen Yogurt Bark”

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Frozen Yogurt Bark

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Frozen Yogurt Bark

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Frozen Yogurt Bark

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Preparation :
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Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice

Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice

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This is one of these dishes which, at least in my humble opinion, actually benefits from the usage of smaller shrimp, compared to the larger shrimp we usually prefer for a great dish. While you can make a perfectly wonderful fried rice with large shrimp, the smaller ones can be used in abundance for the same price as a few large ones will cost. The mouth-feel is just better when the ratio of shrimp to rice is 50/50 🙂
In the past, when the only shrimp available to me were large ones, I actually cut them into smaller pieces to get that specific mouth-feel. (For a more impressive presentation, you can always put a few uncut  biggies on the top) 🙂
I enjoyed today’s fried rice as my breakfast, although it is an appropriate meal for any time of the day. I love rice for breakfast, usually in the form of congee with whatever is available, a tasty rice bowl (with whatever is available) or, as today, fried rice (with whatever is available) 🙂
“Whatever is available” can range from meats, seafood, fresh or pickled vegetables, eggs of any type, or – you guessed it – whatever else is in the fridge, freezer or cupboard 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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to serve, sprinkle with more scallion, add fried shallots and pickled mild chillies

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Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice

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Preparation :
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Another Day, Another Wonderful Salad (Plus A Great Grilled Chicken Breast)

Grilled Chicken Breast With Red Beet/Broccoli Salad And Chimichurri

Grilled Chicken Breast With Red Beet/Broccoli Salad And Chimichurri

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In my ongoing (and admittedly, so far not very successful) quest for a more healthful lifestyle, I do eat a lot more vegetables and salads.
Unfortunately, most of the time when I choose a healthy dish for one meal, I offset the good effect with a not so healthy dish for the following meal. But, I keep trying………
Today’s lunch was a rather salubrious choice, grilled lean meat, accompanied by a delicious vegetable salad with olive oil dressing and, for a bit of extra zing, a few pickled chilies and a herb-laden chimichurri.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Grilled Chicken Breast With Red Beet/Broccoli Salad And Chimichurri

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Grilled Chicken Breast With Red Beet/Broccoli Salad And Chimichurri

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Red Beet/Broccoli Salad

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Preparation :
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