A girl's cooking blog? No way!

Additions to the cooking list

Macerated peaches! (http://www.food52.com/blog/2343_crooks_corners_green_peach_salad)


Bull pen: salmon and potatoes in a jar, part 1

To get warmed up for actually starting 30×30, I decided to go on and make Dorie Greenspan’s cured, jarred salmon and potatoes that I posted about the other day.

The recipe calls for skinless salmon, but I found lots of skin-on fillets on sale that were too good to pass on. However, the skin made the salmon hard to cut into curable chunks, so, deploy the trusty kitchen shears. These are definitely on my list of must-have kitchen tools. I snipped through the fillets lengthwise, and then into quarters or thirds to get nice bite sized chunks.

Snip it real good!

And now, my first experience with curing! Because I bought so much fish, I doubled the quantity of the 2:1 salt and sugar ratio, mixed those together, and plopped in the salmon. Not having coarse or kosher salt, I used regular Mortons, which I hope will do as good and thorough a job. It will probably be less flavorful, but the impending oil bath will deliver the majority of the flavor. A spoon would have been unwieldy, so I somewhat crudely smooshed the salmon bits around in the curing mix, making sure to coat each piece really well to get an even and thorough cure. Cure cure cure. There is no synonym, apparently.

Find a cure, find a cure for my life.

All dressed up, I packed and stacked the bits into a container that will be their home for the next 12 to 18 hours. I’m going with the longer period in the hope that the pieces will cure thoroughly, enough that I can pull the skin off. Soggy, oil soaked fish skin sounds particularly revolting. If the skin holds, I’ll have to punt on the jarring and opt for roasting. Happily, that ever considerate Greenspan provided tips on roasting cured salmon. It would be lovely with a big salad. And I can still make the potatoes while the salmon sits in airtight isolation in the fridge.

Here's your big salad.

Up next: Potatoes, jarring, and results!

Oh, and, don’t mind the pictures too much. I always have and always will be a remarkably bad photographer of even straightforward shots, and I have no pretense of producing anything even near food porn style shots with my phone’s camera. However, I will try to capture as many relevant elements for each step in each shot. Documenting can be artistic and beautiful. Just, not in my case.

Stealing a meme from Carol Blymire, maven of the French Laundry and Alinea at home blogs:

Music to cook by: Talk of the Nation on NPR. Man, Ken Rudin, the political junkie, is astonishing in his knowledge of political careers. And Haley Barbour is a huge gasbag.

Sources: Safeway. Nothing sexy to see here, folks.

Recipe: Dorie Greenspan’s salmon and potatoes in a jar, via Ruhlman.

Onward to potato procurement and buying a ton (i.e. 2 bottles) of olive oil.

Fresh fish (but not for long)

Ruhlman has collected a few Dorie Greenspan recipes that positively reek of summer and have set my mind to dreaming of a charming veranda with a beach view. Here, salmon and potatoes, a classic french bistro dish, that hardly even counts as cooking; and here, poached salmon with asparagus and delicious salads. Both would be perfect for an early afternoon meal with a nice crisp white wine. I think I’ve found what I’ll make for Beth to welcome her back from Europe in just a few short weeks.

While the amount of olive oil (4 cups!) is somewhat daunting, it can apparently be repurposed for mayonnaise, vinaigrettes and repeat curing.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to pick up Greenspan’s book, which will be a nice complement to my well-worn Provencal food porn+recipes book from high school.

It Starts!

Taking a page from Anna Gaz, I’m saddling up for 30×30: a project to cook 30 special, fantastic dishes or meals by the time I turn 30. That’s not ’til 2013, but it’s never too soon to find a reason to cook for my friends and family.

Everything will be made from scratch, only purchasing fresh (seasonal, local, sustainable, wokka) produce, meats, dairy, flour, herbs and spices… and I guess capers, liquor, beer, wine, sausage casings… i.e. items that are simply impractical or impossible to produce myself. Not that this list is ripe with practicality, but I’m saving the challenges for the core components of the dishes.

Like Anna’s list, many of these recipes aren’t uniquely challenging or demanding of special skills and equipment (though they are a nice excuse to buy some tools I’ve been coveting… mmm, mandoline). But, they are all delicious samples of my favorite foods, and things that I’d love to be able to cook for myself regularly.

To the dishes!

Saag paneer; tikka masala; aloo gobi; basmati rice; naan; kheer; chai! (Birthday feast 2013 with many test runs before hand) (skill points: paneer; naan!)

Tonkotsu ramen! (skill points: stock; noodles!)

Spaghetti carbonara! (skill points: bacon; pasta!)

French breakfast: Crepes with apricot preserves; crepes with “nutella”; pain au chocolat! (skill points: preserving; croissants!)

French lunch: Croque monsieurs; vichyssoise; Nicoise salad!

French dessert: tarte aux pommes; clafoutis!

Pizza feast! Pizza margherita; sausage pizza! (skill points: mozzarella; sausage!)

South Carolina pork BBQ; coleslaw; biscuits; peach pie; ice cream (skill points: ice cream!)

Jewish deli breakfast: Bagels; cream cheese; lox; challah (skill points: lye! cream cheese; curing!)

Jewish deli lunch: Corned beef; rye bread; coarse mustard; Susan Stamberg’s horseradish relish; sauerkraut (skill points: corning; pickling!) (bonus: NPR assist!)

Charcuterie! (tbd)

Beef jerky! (h/t Paolo!)

Chicken pot pies!

Savory bread pudding!

Cinnamon rolls!

Blinis with sour cream, caviar and tomato coulis!

Garlic chicken with wonton soup!

Tacos tacos tacos! Carinitas; carne asada; pico de gallo; sour cream; pickled red onion; cheddar cheese! (skill points: pickling; cheese!)

Lobster rolls

Japanese feast: Zaru udon; hiyashi wakame; unagi donburi; kobocha croquettes with egg; tamago; okonomiyaki; gyoza; mochi! (skill points: noodles; eel; mochi!) (Hanami 2012!)

Pad thai; green curry; spring rolls and peanut sauce; meekrob! (skill points: noodles!)

Kibbeh; shwarma; falafel; tabbouleh; tzatziki; pita; hummous; baklava! (skill points: yogurt; tahini; phyllo!)

Paella and gazpacho! (New Year’s Day 2013!)

Mushroom ragout with baked halibut!

Green chile; enchiladas; queso fresco! (skill points: cheese!)

Leg of lamb with mint jelly; spanikopita; wine-poached pears with ice cream! (skill points: preserving; phyllo!) (Birthday 2012!)

Pho; plum sauce; “sriracha”! (skill points: stock; noodles!)

Spinach lasagna with bolognese! (skill points: pasta; ricotta!)

New england clam chowder in a bread bowl!

Cream of walnut brioche bread pudding!

Goddamn. That’s a lot of food and I’m gonna need a lot of help eating it. That’s where you come in. Tasters welcome!

If I’m industrious, I’ll also cop another page from Anna and write-up the (hopeful) successes and lessons learned from each dish. And in the end, I’ll hopefully have amassed a sheaf of fabulous recipes to serve as a cookbook for the rest of my life.

To the kitchen!