cooking

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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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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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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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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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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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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Knusprige Schweinshaxe Mit Rotkrautsalat (Roast Pork Knuckle With Red Cabbage Slaw)

Knusprige Schweinshaxe Mit Rotkrautsalat (Roast Pork Knuckle With Red Cabbage Slaw)

Pork knuckles are without a doubt one of the most loved comfort food by those in the know.
No matter if roasted, braised,  soused , served whole or cut-up in stew’s, prepared any which way – pork knuckles rock ! 🙂
The one featured today is probably the most simple, yet also the best version.
Seasoned with only kosher salt, then braised until very tender and finally roast until super crisp, it is a perfect example of how a great ingredient can easily be transformed into a world-class dish with just a little time and a lot of love 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Knusprige Schweinshaxe Mit Rotkrautsalat (Roast Pork Knuckle With Red Cabbage Slaw)

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Knusprige Schweinshaxe Mit Rotkrautsalat (Roast Pork Knuckle With Red Cabbage Slaw)

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Knusprige Schweinshaxe Mit Rotkrautsalat (Roast Pork Knuckle With Red Cabbage Slaw)

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Preparation :
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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS # 61 – Chocolate Buttermilk Waffles With Strawberries In Honey/Vanilla Cream

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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS # 61 – Chocolate Waffles With Strawberries In Honey And Vanilla Cream

Today was the first time that I remember getting up at 7.00pm without a reason other than trying this new lifestyle, where I get up early and go to sleep early (Midnight), without any compelling reason other than that’s the conventional thing to do.
Let’s see how long THAT last’s………
So, getting up that early and having nothing planned to do, I treated myself to this wonderful breakfast.  Before I retired fully (last Sunday), I only ever had a full breakfast on a day off, so this was breakfast virgin territory to me. I must say, with a good breakfast under the hood, the day turned out very different from what I am used to. No food-craving until the late afternoon (I did share a few grapes and cashews with Bella at around 2:00 pm), and only had a very small dinner at 8:00 pm. Feels very good and of course, I know that this is far healthier than my usual monstrously sized dinners after 10:00 pm 🙂
Let’s hope I can keep this up and become used to this healthier way of life, where the most important meal is breakfast and/or lunch and dinner is small, healthy and (mostly) sensible 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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More  Strawberries  on ChefsOpinion
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Waffle Batter :
Ingredients :
1. 1/3   cup flour, 4 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1. 3/4 cup buttermilk, two egg yolks (whisk the two egg whites to stiff peaks)
Method :
Mix dry ingredients well, add buttermilk, egg yolks and melted butter, fold in whisked egg whites
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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS # 61 – Chocolate Waffles With Strawberries In Honey And Vanilla Cream

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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS # 61 – Chocolate Waffles With Strawberries In Honey And Vanilla Cream

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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS # 61 – Chocolate Waffles With Strawberries In Honey And Vanilla Cream

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Preparation :
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Shrimp And Ricotta Ravioli With Pangrattato

Shrimp And Ricotta Ravioli With Pangrattato

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Preparing  your own ravioli might be a bit work-intensive, but if one put’s a little effort and love to the process, it’s well worth the trouble. The actual prep is not so bad, what takes the most time is the clean-up (at least for me, since my counter space is tiny and the flour usually goes everywhere where it is not supposed to).
But as I said, the delicious result makes up for the extra bit of time and effort 🙂
Also, if you frequently prep your own ravioli and/or vareniki,  it will be wise to invest a few dollars in a  ravioli mold/press/cutter,  which will cut down considerably on the time and mess it takes to prepare good-looking ravioli or vareniki. I have a bunch of them, and they always come in handy.
As for the filling, a general rule is usually not to combine cheese and seafood, but in this case, the ricotta goes perfectly with the shrimp (that’s why in cooking, the word “usually” is vital). We “usually” do things this way or that way, but………..
For my personal taste, a complicated or dominating sauce would take away from the delicate taste of the ravioli, so the richness of the butter and the crispness of the crumbs is all this dish needs to shine brightly.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Pasta Dough :
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Ingredients :
2 1cups A/P flour
3 -4 eggs (depending on size)
Kosher salt to taste
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Method :
Sift the flour onto the work surface, make a well in the center
Add the eggs, one at a time, add the salt.
Mix the eggs, then add a little flour at a time from the well, until all the flour has been used.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding flour if dough is too sticky.
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Filling :
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Ingredients :
1 cup ricotta cheese, softened
8 oz peeled, tailless cooked small shrimp
1 tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 whole egg, beaten
fresh-grated nutmeg, kosher salt and cayenne pepper to taste
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Method :
Coarsely chop the shrimp, add all other ingredients, mix well
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Shrimp Butter :
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Ingredients :
8 oz peeled, tailless cooked small shrimp
4 oz whole butter
1 tblsp chopped Italian parsley
garlic paste to taste
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Method :
Saute shrimp in butter until heated, remove from heat, add parsley, season with garlic paste, kosher salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
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Shrimp And Ricotta Ravioli With Pangrattato


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Shrimp And Ricotta Ravioli With Pangrattato


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Preparation :
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Torta De Camarones (Lonche) (Mexican Shrimp Sandwich)

Torta De Camarones (Lonche) (Mexican Shrimp Sandwich)

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While  in most parts of the world and in many languages “Torta” or “Torte” is generally understood to be a sweet concoction, it can also describe a sandwich, made with flatbread or a leavened bread, depending on the country/region of origin.
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Wiki excerpt:
Mexican Sandwich

In Mexico, a torta is a kind of sandwich, served on an oblong 15 cm firm, crusty white sandwich roll. Depending on the region, this is called a bolillo, telera, birote, or pan francés. Tortas can be eaten cold or hot, grilled or toasted in a press in the same manner as a Cuban sandwich.
Garnishes such as avocado, chili pepper (usually poblano or jalapeño), tomato, and onion are common. The dish is popular throughout Mexico, and is also available anywhere with a large number of Mexican immigrants. In Northern Mexico, the torta is very frequently called “lonche by the influence of the English “lunch“, as it may be eaten during lunch break.
The sandwich is normally named according to its main ingredient:

  • Torta de jamón, ham-filled torta
  • Torta de aguacate, avocado-filled torta
  • Torta de adobada, adobo meat-filled torta
  • Torta de huevo, scrambled eggs-filled torta
  • Torta de milanesa, milanesa meat-filled torta
  • Tortope, chicken sope-filled torta

Although the torta ahogada (meaning “drowned” torta) of Guadalajara is so called because it is smothered in a red sauce, different fillings are available and they may be mixed to create an original torta.
Due to the practicality of being hand-carried, tortas are sold at massive events, such as football matches, parades, and outdoor concerts, but they are also available for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at dedicated establishments or sold as street food by food carts.
In Mexico, the sweet cake is normally referred to as pastel, which is also used in other parts of Latin America with this meaning.
Origin:
The origin of the torta is unclear, but some claim it sprouted in Puebla due to Spanish-French interaction. Teleras (the bread usually used in tortas) were inspired by French baguettes ”
End of Wiki excerpt.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Torta De Camarones (Lonche) (Mexican Shrimp Sandwich)

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Torta De Camarones (Lonche) (Mexican Shrimp Sandwich)

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Torta De Camarones (Lonche) (Mexican Shrimp Sandwich)

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Preparation :
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Sauteed Flounder Fillet “Grenobloise”

 

Scholle Gebraten (Whole Sauteed Flounder)

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Decades  ago, when I was about 19 years old, working as a commis de cuisine on the German Seaboard (Ostsee), in Timmendorfer Strand,  Hotel Seeschlösschen), this dish was one of the all time favorites on restaurant menus, either the whole fish or, for the less adventurous, fillets like I have used here.
Usually served “Meuniere” or “Grenobloise”, accompanied by “Kartoffel Salat” (potato salad) or “Dill Kartoffeln” (dill potatoes), “Scholle” (flounder) was abundant and therefore one of the most economic and popular fresh fish one could order in a restaurant.
How times have changed…………
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Sauteed Flounder Fillet “Grenobloise”

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Sauteed Flounder Fillet “Grenobloise”

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Sauteed Flounder Fillet “Grenobloise”

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Preparation :
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