I hope you haven’t been thinking that I’ve forgotten about you!
Quite a few people have been asking me why I haven’t posted anything in a few weeks. I’d like to say that I’ve been doing something interesting, like vacationing in Hawaii, or shadowing the chef at Le Marais. The truth is, though, that I ran into quite a few speedbumps in my quest to complete some Alinea dishes.
For the first dish I had hoped to do, before the start of the nine days (where we can’t eat meat), I failed to notice that one of the components requires Teflon coated paper. No, not parchment paper, which is coated in silicon, or even a fancier Silpat. After doing a little bit of research, this was the only place I could find it. Yup, it’s in France. So no chance on getting that dish complete before the nine of no meat.
On to a backup plan.
So my next plan was to try a dairy dessert, and I had my eyes set on this–Hazelnut, apricot, curry scented granola. Even better, this post came up about it last week! But wait a minute! Carol followed the recipe down to a “t”, and it didn’t turn out quite right. Read the post yourself (and all the other ones on her blog, thank me later.)
Upon doing a little more research, I came across a few others trying to make their way through Alinea’s cookbook, each of them finding this recipe to not turn out quite right. So…. that got nixed as well, in favor of a week or so of some culinary laziness.
What shook me out of this food-related torpor, ultimately, was the arrival of this month’s issue of Cooks Illustrated. Therein I found a couple of very appealing recipes to try, which I will now gladly share with you. Salmon cakes with tartar sauce, Panzanella and roast chicken for dinner; Kosher by Design‘s now ubiquitous sesame noodles with sous vide barbecue London broil and orange and ginger stir-fried broccoli for lunch. All extremely easy, and all very delicious when made correctly.
For the salmon cakes–
We start with about a pound-and-a-half of fresh salmon filet, cut into 1″ chunks and processed, in batches, in my Cuisinart. The salmon must be chopped in batches, to ensure even pieces throughout. Also, if you make this at home, please don’t use canned salmon, as some “fancy” kosher restaurants I know of like to do. You’ll only be left with dry salmon hockey pucks.
After being chopped to bits, the salmon gets tossed together with this mixture–
That’s mayonnaise, shallot, scallion, cayenne pepper, Dijon mustard, fresh parsley, salt, pepper and Panko bread crumbs. Gently form the mixture into seven or eight 1″ tall patties, and lightly coat them with some more Panko crumbs.
The patties are then sautéed in a little canola or corn oil, two minutes per side on medium high, until they come out like this–
By the way, if you’re wondering why these pictures aren’t terribly good, it’s because my DSLR was not at home, and I had to resort to using the camera on my iPhone. But trust me, those salmon cakes were moist, flavorful and delicious (I snuck a couple of very noticeable bites!)
To go with these, I looked for a tartar sauce recipe, also on CooksIllustrated.com, which I found. The recipe called for cornichons, to which I said, “huh?” Turns out, cornichon is just a fancy word for “gherkin”. Go out and amaze your friends with your new-found, albeit useless and unimpressive bit of culinary knowledge!
Anyhoo… I’ve never actually been able to make mayonnaise properly without it breaking either immediately or soon after its creation. So I was pretty determined to get it right this time. I made sure my eggs were brought to room temperature, so they would play nicely with the oil. Also, because I don’t have any squirt bottles with which to drizzle the oil in nice and slow, I improvised and instead used a baby bottle. I know! I’m a genius! And yes, I sterilized it before and after, so calm down all you crunchy mothers out there. If you’ve never made homemade mayo, please break out your whisk and do so immediately. You will forever look down your nose at Hellman’s, which, in my opinion, is not a bad thing. In the end, my mayonnaise, and then tartar sauce did not break, and was delicious both with the salmon and slathered all over warm challah.
Next, the Panzanella, which apparently is Italian for “rustic tomato-bread salad”, or not, what do I know. Panzanella originated as a peasant dish, as a means to make use of stale bread. Here’s what you do–
Take about 1.5 lbs of summer ripened tomatoes, core, seed and cut them into 1″ chunks. Then toss with 1 tsp of salt and set in a strainer over a large bowl, letting some of the tomato’s water drain out.
Meanwhile, instead of buying some sad box of croutons from the store, grab a hearty loaf, and make some of your own! It’s super easy.
Just tear the thing into 1″ chunks, toss with some olive oil and salt, and toast at 400 for 15-20, or until golden brown.
The rest of the salad is super simple. Slice a seeded cucumber very thin, and a shallot too. Make around a quarter-cup chiffonade of basil. Into the now strained tomato water, whisk 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 6 tbsp olive oil and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper. Here’s the real good part. Take your now dried out bread chunks, and toss them into your tomato-olive vinaigrette. Let that whole business soak for 10 minutes, and the bread becomes chewy but not soft, slightly crunchy and full of flavor. Mix with the remaining ingredients and serve immediately.
That was a little tasting before Shabbos. Very tasty, full of flavor and super easy. Please, please make this yourself before tomatoes go out of season, and you won’t be able to find good specimens at your local farmer’s market.
I really don’t feel like boring you with the rest, as it’s all pretty self-explanatory. The one thing I will say, is that you do not, I repeat, do not need a fancy-pants appliance to cook a London broil sous vide. All you need is about an hour, a large pot of water, and an accurate thermometer. The temperature doesn’t have to be exactly on the mark, just be sure that it stays above 130 or so.
I am sorry that it has been waaaay too long. On the plus side, these just came in the mail–!
What’s that you say? You don’t read French?? So unsophisticated! Those are my sheets of Teflon paper, so I’ll be dehydrating some lime rocks at some point this week! Stay tuned!
If you haven’t done so already, check out the official review of the After40 dinner we threw last month, which can be found here.
If you’re wondering, I’ll be closing out the drawings for both cookbooks at the end of the month, even if I haven’t reached my original quota for both “like”s and comments. So if you haven’t done so already, get your name in!