Homemade Gravlax

I am back and with an amazing post no less.

I thought I would be very European and take the month of August off. Sometimes you just need some time to unwind, recharge and re-focus. I wish I could say I took it off from my real job as well but I will get a real European break in a few weeks – can’t wait!

The hubby thought he would take a little time to unwind, recharge and re-focus too with a guys fishing trip up to Northern British Columbia. So what do you do when you pick your hubby up from airport and he greets you with a smile and a 50lb box of Coho Salmon?

You give him a huge hug and a kiss then you . . .

(1) Clean out your  freezer so it looks like this:

(2) Read through every cook book you have looking for salmon recipes you always wanted to make but never did.

(3) Start finding any reason to entertain.

If there is one thing food wise I miss about the east coast, and probably more specifically NYC/NJ, its bagels. For some reason no one can figure out how to replicate the tri-state area bagel anywhere else in the US. I don’t know if it’s the water or just some secret recipe that no one will share but a bagel should have a slight crunch on the outside and be deliciously chewy on the inside. Anything else is just . . . bread with a hole.

My bagel obsession is that bad that I make sure to leave just enough room in my bags to smuggle back a dozen bagels every time I travel home to NJ to visit. The bagels immediately go in the freezer and then on ration to make sure they last until my next trip to NJ or our next NJ visitor. The hubby was originally skeptic of my bagel snobbery but I can say with 100% confidence that I have converted him as well.

So as we cleaned out our freezer, making space for all this beautiful fish we knew we also needed to keep space for our beloved bagels as well. That left us with two salmon fillets that had to find a use and quickly. Don’t get us wrong the hubby and I enjoy a great piece of Coho salmon but 5lbs worth – that was just aggressive!

So we did what any normal, yuppy, SF couple would do – invite your friends over for your fantasy football draft and rather than serve beer and pizza, put out the most ridiculous spread of fresh, house-cured salmon and accoutrements you can think of (well minus our stash of NJ bagels). We started curing the fish on Tuesday night and by Saturday morning we had homemade gravlax!

I know what you are thinking – this seems (1) totally ridiculous and (2) totally time-consuming. I had the same thoughts and it couldn’t have been easier. All you need is salmon, salt, sugar, white peppercorns, fennel seeds, dill, a few deep dishes, lots of heavy cans and several days to let it prepare. Oh and enough room in your fridge.

The gravlax was a huge hit, the hubby and I won the award for most ridiculous fantasy football draft spread ever, and we are 5 salmon filets down (2 for the gravlax and 3 as party favors). We will totally be making this again. You might want do to the cost analysis on buying pre-made lox / gravlax vs. buying fresh salmon to make it yourself. Typically this would never work out for us.

Homemade Gravlax (adapted from Ina Garten’s Gravlax recipe)

Serves 12

5 lbs of Salmon (we had Coho)

3/4 cup of kosher salt

3/4 cup of sugar

1 large bunch of dill

3 tbsp of whole white peppercorns, crushed

1 1/2 tbsp of whole fennel seeds, crushed

Combine in a bowl salt, sugar, pepper and fennel. Place one half of the salmon (either cut it in have or get to filets that are of equal size) in the bottom of a deep dish. Place the dill on to top of the salmon. Carefully pour the salt / sugar mixture on top of the dill. Place the other piece of salmon on top to create a salmon sandwich of sorts.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap. Place another dish (or combination of dishes on top) and weigh them with heavy cans.  The fish will compress over time so the dishes need to fit inside the larger dish. Place the dish in the refrigerator.

Leave it sit for at least 2 to 3 days, flipping every 12 hours and basting with juices. We let ours sit 3.5 days and it was delish.

When you are ready to serve, scrape the peppercorns, fennel and dill from the salmon. Using a long, thin knife carve the salmon into thin pieces.

Serve with rye bread, pumpernickel bread or bagels. For our spread we also had: swiss cheese, muenster cheese, sliced red onion, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, chives, capers, cream cheese, mustard and lettuce.

For the mustard – you can either use Dijon or an adapted version of Ina’s mustard sauce recipe:

Whisk together:

1/2 cup of Dijon mustard

2 tsp ground mustard

6 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup of vinegar

Slowly whisk in 1/3 cup of good olive oil. Serve with gravlax.

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Homemade Granola

 


The best summer’s I spent as a kid were at sleep away camp. My hubby and friends openly gasp when they hear that my parents shipped me off every summer for 8 weeks, but I loved it, and I am sure so did they. While there are so many things I loved about camp (I could go on and on) the one thing I will always remember is how excited I got when I received a white slip that said “you have a package.” I don’t want to brag, but my mom pulled together some pretty great care packages.

Well at least I thought they were cool, filled with my favorite comic books, magazines, and stickers. There might have also been a few sticks of gum hidden between the pages of those magazines. While my camp days are long behind me, my mom’s care package days are not. I still come home some days and find a little blue sticker – the adult equivalent to my little white package slip. The magazine and comic books have been replaced by newspaper articles, the stickers replaced by clothes, and the gum replaced with homemade granola. Yes it’s that good to ship across the country.

So when the hubby and I used up the last of our granola last week I knew it was time. Time to figure out how to create my mom’s amazing granola. She always told me it was pretty easy to make, but having recreated many of her recipes before I took her advice with a grain of salt. Could something so delicious be that ridiculously easy to make? The short – yes.

It took her many batches and lots of tweaking but the results are pure deliciousness. There are certain things you make in your kitchen that make you feel special. Recreating my mom’s granola recipe in my kitchen made me smile. What makes me smile even more? That she will be here in a few days to taste it herself.

Barefoot Contessa’s Cherry, Almond and Cinnamon Granola (seriously adapted)

2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup of shredded coconut

1 cup of sliced almonds

1/2 cup of dried cherries, chopped

1/4 cup of dried cranberries, chopped

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

2.5 tbsp of good honey

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

 

Preheat the oven to 350

 

Toss the oats, almonds, and coconut together in a large bowl. Pour the vegetable oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until the oat mixtures if fully coated with the liquids.

Spread the the mixture on a large cookie sheet and bake for roughly 1o minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is a light, golden brown. Remove from the oven and toss the cherries and dried cranberries into the mixture. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

We love enjoying it with some yogurt and fruit.

 

 

Weekend Wrap Up

It’s funny, you would think that I would do the majority of my cooking over the weekend.  But when it comes time for the weekend I go into total play mode and the last thing I want to do is cook, especially in the summer.  This week was no exception.

I did eat some delicious meals – some more memorable than others.  Here are the highlights.

Homemade Egg Scramble

Ok so I did cook something . . . brunch on Saturday morning.  You know how I was raving about the frozen chopped garlic from Trader Joes and I mentioned the frozen chopped basil as well.  Well it was the secret ingredient in taking my scramble from blah to nice.

This weekends scramble started with sauteeing chopped potatoes and onions until the potatoes were tender and the onions translucent.  Then adding two beat eggs and chopped cherry tomatoes.  Finally the cube of partially frozen basil.  Constantly move the eggs in the pan to ensure the basil disperses equally.  Cook to you desired doneness.  I served it with some leftover pumpkin chocolate chip muffins that we found in our freezer earlier this week.  A little freezer burned but overall not bad for 6 month old frozen muffins.

Gluten Free Peach Pie

You might remember a gluten free strawberry pie from my first post.  Well Roxanne, the baker of that delicious pie made round two this weekend for a BBQ at her house in the burbs.  (I told you our friends like to tempt us to move to the burbs.)

Well the spread that they put out for our little impromptu dinner party put out little indoor BBQ from Thursday to shame.  Homemade Hummus, deliciously juicy grilled chicken, grilled corn and salad.  Yum!  I couldn’t resist a picture of this pie.  This one was equally as delicious.

I have no idea where Roxanne gets her gluten-free crust recipe from but the filling was from Cooks Illustrated.  It was the perfect end to a summer evening in the burbs.  Thanks for dinner guys!

Breakfast Tuesdays

Working at a fairly corporate company I do spend some of my days wondering if I am stuck in a really bad episode of The Office.

There are certain things that just make me feel super uncomfortable.  Number one on that list is people randomly breaking out into song when they could say what they need to say (clearly I am not a big Glee fan).  But when it comes to work, forced fun is definitely up there.

So when the floor I worked on started Breakfast Tuesdays I was far from being all over it.  Like I said forced fun makes me uncomfortable and to me, this fell in that camp.  Everyone awkwardly standing around a small table eating breakfast that someone brought in from the donut shop did not equate to a good time in my head.  So I spent my Tuesday mornings strategically timing my arrival to sneak in just before the 9am start time and hide at my desk.

Then one morning I decided to stop being so anti-social and join in.  It might have also coincided with a trip to the gym that morning and no breakfast in my bag.  Anyway it wasn’t so bad.  I’ve turned into a Breakfast Tuesday regular and even brought in my own creation.

This week an intern had her friends set up a breakfast parfait buffet with their granola – San Franola Granola.  It was delicious and healthy!

You might be wondering where is the granola in that picture.  San Franola is not your typical granola.  The founders really wanted to create a great tasting granola that also was healthy.  Thank you!

Their granola is made using minimal sugar, flax seed ,whey protein, almonds and a bunch of other yummy, healthy ingredients.  It is one of the few granolas that is roasted so it has a dark color and a bit of a nutty taste.  They liken the process to coffee roasting.  It does give the granola a nice flavor and crunch.

I am all about supporting local businesses so check out their website www.sanfranolagranola.com to see where they are sold in the Bay Area or order a bag.

Note: They have no idea I have a blog and did not ask me to shamelessly promote their product for them.  I just really liked it and wanted to help support someone’s new business.