Broiled Hoisin-Glazed Salmon Revisited

I first posted this recipe two years ago when I started writing this blog.  Making it now for the umpteenth time since then, I remembered that the accompanying photo was a repost from a website that sorta looked like what I’d made.

While prepping this for tonight’s dinner, I was reminded of that, and of a few other thoughts about salmon filet in general.  Firstly, I prefer farm-raised salmon to wild-caught – even the expensive king salmon at Whole Foods that sells for $20+ per pound when not on sale.  I find it too dry and, when cooked, too much like the canned Rubenstein’s sockeye salmon my mother use to buy.  That was fine for her salmon croquettes (which I also now make starting with fresh salmon, see blog post from 3/26/15), but as a salmon filet entrée it was wildly disappointing.

Regardless of whether you’re on the same page with me on farm-raised vs. wild-caught salmon, you must insist that your fish seller cut a center-cut piece from the thickest part of whatever filet is in the case.  Do not settle for anything at the narrow end, and resist, if possible, a piece with that skinny flap on the side.  A perfectly cut 1-lb. piece should look like this – no flaps, no skinny parts, a perfect rectangle:

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Now, to revisit the recipe.  If time permits, you can prepare your hoisin-based sauce and garnish in advance and leave it in the fridge until time for broiling.  It’s not necessary, it’s just convenient if you want to then put dinner together quickly later on.

Broiled Hoisin-Glazed Salmon

INGREDIENTS:

2 8-ounce pieces salmon filet

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 T orange juice & a bit of grated rind

2-1/2 t sesame oil divided

1 clove minced garlic

1-1/2 T minced ginger root divided

1/4 tsp Thai chili sauce or Sriracha

3 T thinly slice scallions, divided

1-1/2 t rice wine vinegar

2 t black or white sesame seeds, or a combination

PREPARATION:

Place a cast iron skillet on top rack of oven and preheat broiler. Combine 1/2 T of the ginger,  1 T of the scallions and the sesame seeds in a small bowl for garnish. In a shallow plate, brush the salmon filets all over with about 1/2 t of the sesame oil, then combine all other ingredients for your glaze and pour over the fish.

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Place the salmon on the hot skillet under the broiler, broil about 8-9 minutes, depending on thickness, brushing 2-3 times with the remaining sauce in the plate. Garnish with ginger/scallion/sesame seed blend and serve – goes nicely with jasmine rice and a simple green vegetable.   But if time permits, a salad with Asian dressing or stir-fried veggies make it truly an exceptional meal.

And done…IMG_0759

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Milk Street’s Tahini Swirl Brownies

This superb brownie is from the March/April issue of Milk Street Magazine, which I chose to subscribe to not only for its wisdom on the science behind each recipe, but also for its blessed lack of advertising.  Along with the NYT Cooking Site and Leite’s Culinaria, these are the primary published sources I rely on to enlarge my kitchen repertoire, and I highly recommend all three.

I have a love affair with almost anything containing sesame – sesame semolina bread and bagels, sesame shrimp, sesame candy, halvah; and that extends to tahini, a versatile pantry item for both savory and sweet outcomes.

After my happy experience with the NYT’s Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies last year, I stocked up on Reese’s Tahini in one-pound jars, and have been happily incorporating that into Middle Eastern sauces and baked goods whenever the mood strikes.

When this current issue of Milk Street arrived I wasted no time pulling out my staples to make these halvah-like brownies, which turned out beautifully marbled, moist, chewy, and   with just the right balance of chocolate-to-sesame flavor.

For chocolate, I almost always turn to Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar of 72% dark chocolate – perfect for any recipe calling for chocolate, and a satisfying little treat when you break off just one square to enjoy with coffee.

These come together easily in just 40 minutes.  The hardest part is waiting for them to cool, because all brownies should be cooled completely before cutting.  I used an 8″ square Emile Henry baking dish lined with foil, as directed, and held the family back from enjoyment for at least three hours before we all partook.  They were gone quickly.

MILK STREET’S TAHINI SWIRL BROWNIES

(reposted from their March/April issue)

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My New Favorite Meatloaf – Lamb & Veal

There are several recurrent themes to many of the recipes I’ve posted here – Middle Eastern, lamb, lemon zest, pine nuts, to name a few.  And meatloaf.  Totally adaptable and limited only by one’s imagination, starting with the choice of ground meat, through to the minced vegetables, choice of binder grain or starch, the moistener, and finally the herbs and spices.

This one is my new favorite, the culmination of many years of meatloaf experimentation, and drawing on a few tricks I’ve picked up from America’s Test Kitchen.

But first, a few of my hard and fast rules about meatloaf in general:

  1. Never bake a meatloaf in a loaf pan.  Everyone likes a bit of the crusty exterior, and you’ll never get that unless you bake it free and clear of walls.  Instead, line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and fill it with your mixture.  Then turn it out into your baking pan.
  2. Always make enough for leftovers.  Not only does it reheat nicely, but meatloaf sandwiches are so damn good, it’s enough reason just to make one in the first place.
  3. Never use ground sirloin – it will turn out dry.
  4. If you’re using turkey, it should be the freshly ground dark meat turkey from Whole Foods – they grind it coarsely so it’s got a nice texture.  All other packaged ground turkey is mush.
  5. Schmeer a coating of ketchup over the whole loaf for a nice glaze and criss-cross it with  2-4 bacon slices (2 for an ‘x’, 4 for a Union Jack, or Reebok logo if you prefer)

While I’ve written this recipe with a combination of lamb and veal, it could just as easily be done with any 2-pound combination of ground chuck, dark meat turkey (see rule #4), or ground beef & pork.  The Middle Eastern flavors will come shining through.

MIDDLE EASTERN LAMB & VEAL MEATLOAF

INGREDIENTS – A LONG LIST BUT WELL WORTH IT:

1 lb each ground lamb and ground veal

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk, or low-fat milk mixed with some half & half to make it richer

1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

1 cup minced sweet onion

1/2 cup minced red bell pepper

2 plump cloves garlic minced

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp Worcestershire

grated zest of 1/2 orange and 1/2 lemon (I always have lemons available but rarely oranges, so use 2 tsp dried orange zest)

1/2 cup pine nuts

1 cup golden raisins (and if you hate raisins like some people I know, sorry – they’re an essential to balancing the flavors; maybe try dried chopped apricots, but I won’t vouch for the results)

1 tsp each allspice, thyme, and unflavored gelatin (the latter guarantees a moist loaf)

2 tsp each dried mint and ras al hanout

1-1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

2-3 tbsp organic ketchup

2-4 strips bacon

PREPARATION:

If you have the time, this is best put together and refrigerated a few hours before baking.

In a large bowl mix together the meats with your hands.  In a separate medium or large bowl, beat the eggs and combine with all other ingredients except the ketchup and bacon.  Then pour this into the bowl with the meat and use your hands to get it all mixed together.  It will feel very wet at first but will come together as you work it with your hands.

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Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, with about 6″ of overhang at each end.  Fill it to the top with the meat mixture, patting down to make sure you don’t leave any air pockets.  Fold the plastic wrap back over the top and chill until ready to bake.  I use a Le Creuset loaf pan, but choose any one that will accommodate this as shown.

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When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 on convect (countertop Breville works like a charm for this).  Pull back the plastic wrap from the top and carefully invert the loaf over a lightly greased baking pan large enough to allow some room around the sides.  Schmeer all over with the ketchup and lay your bacon strips on top.

IMG_0752Bake for 1-1/4 hours and allow to rest about 5 minutes before cutting into generous thick portions.  Enjoy with mashed potatoes or pilaf and a nice green vegetable or salad.  And look forward to sandwiches!IMG_0753

Six-Spice Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal.  I crave it hot on a wintry morning, made with milk and a touch of maple syrup.  I use it in lieu of breadcrumbs in one of my meatloaf recipes, and pulverize it into flour for my favorite banana bread.  But best of all, I love a chewy oatmeal cookie bursting with unexpected nuances of flavor.

My search for the ultimate oatmeal cookie was rewarded several months ago when I stumbled upon a 20-year-old recipe posted on the Epicurious website by Diane Elizabeth Brown.  With only a few adaptations, such as the substitution of dried cranberries for half the raisins, and a little dried coconut, I’ve followed her ingredients list exactly.   Also, I increased the size and baking time to produce 36 respectably-sized cookies rather than 60 or so smaller ones.

The six spices in these cookies – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cumin, clove and cayenne – are truly an inspired combination that launched these onto my all-star list.  A favorite with the family, and sure to be a real company or crowd-pleaser the next time you’re entertaining or asked to bring something to a potluck.

DIANE-INSPIRED SIX-SPICE OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES

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Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and cumin

1 pinch each ground cloves and cayenne

1/2 tsp each baking soda and kosher salt

2 sticks unsalted butter softened

1 cup each dark brown sugar and granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup each golden raisins and dried cranberries

1/4 cup dried unsweetened grated coconut (optional)

Equipment:

2 cookie sheets; medium bowl; stand mixer with large bowl and paddle attachment; 2 cookie sheets; cooling racks

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine flour with the spices, baking soda and salt.

With paddle attachment of stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and somehwat fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  With mixer speed on ‘stir’, add in the rolled oats and everything else, and stir just until well combined.

Using a 1-1/2 tbsp measure, scoop out portions of the cookie dough and scoop them out of the measuring spoon with a table knife onto your cookie sheet, spacing the cookies about 2″ apart.  12 per batch will fit nicely.  Bake for about 13 minutes, until golden in color, let cool one minute on the cookie sheet, and then transfer to rack to cool completely.  This recipe will produce 3 batches of 12.  Photo shows only 33, as my husband stole 3 of them before I got to photograph.