GINGER-DILL SALMON

I get disappointed when pictures do not do justice to a recipe. You will have to trust me, this salmon was like an explosion of flavors and textures, even if it looks a bit “messy” on the plate. It is actually supposed to be just like that. The husband found the recipe in The New York Times, in an article highlighting favorites of their food editors. I can see why.

OVEN-ROASTED GINGER-DILL SALMON
(slightly modified from The New York Times)

1 salmon fillet, skin-on 
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 tablespoons finely chopped dill
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, scrubbed and finely grated  
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 blood orange (or additional regular orange)
2 oranges
6 small radishes, cut into thin wedges
1 avocado
Flaky sea salt, for finishing (optional)

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a sheet pan with non-stick aluminum foil.  Pat the salmon dry, then place on the tray skin-side down and season with salt and pepper.


In a medium bowl, stir together the dill, ginger and olive oil until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Spread half of the dill-ginger mixture over the top of the salmon. (Reserve the remaining dill-ginger mixture.) Bake until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.  

As the salmon cooks, cut off the top and bottom of the two types of oranges and remove the segments. Squeeze the peels into the remaining dill-ginger mixture to get out any juice.  Transfer the fruit and any juice on the cutting board to the bowl. Add the radishes, season generously with salt, and stir gently to combine.


Break the salmon into large pieces, and divide across plates with the citrus salad. Peel and pit the avocado, then quarter lengthwise and add to plates. Season with salt. Spoon the juices from the bowl over top, and season with black pepper, another drizzle of olive oil, and flaky sea salt, if using.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The husband is the seafood cook in our home, but every once in a while I venture into his domain. This was quite spectacular, even if I say so myself. We loved the contrast of the hot salmon with the cold citric salad. Perfect for a warm Summer evening. I highly, highly recommend it.

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BRAZILIAN PAO DE MEL

In case you’ve missed my big announcement:
12 days to showtime!

Want to say it as a native? Pay attention to the nasal sound of PÃO… and repeat after me…

Pão de mel translates literally as “honey bread.” However, it is definitely not a bread, and honey might not be the first flavor that comes to mind once you take your first bite. I admit the name is misleading, but I am thrilled to share this recipe with you, because it is a real classic in my home country. It has flavors I adore (that ginger, spicy thing), enclosed in a nice chocolate shell. The ones I grew up with were a bit on the dense side. My family had no tradition of baking, so I only had pão de mel that you get in stores, wrapped in plastic for who knows how long. This version is so good, very soft, tender, sweet and spicy. I made two kinds, the traditional, covered with a shell of chocolate, and a little departure from the classic, in bundt shape. You decide which one you like best.

PÃO DE MEL
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

1 egg
250mL whole milk
90 g  sugar
270 g honey
30 g butter, melted and cooled
240 g all purpose flour
7 g baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (Dutch process is fine)

for the filling;
dulce de leche (store bought or homemade)

for covering:
tempered bittersweet chocolate, about 500 g

Mix the egg with milk, sugar, honey and butter in a large bowl. Whisk well. In another bowl, stir in the remaining dry ingredients and sift them slowly over the egg mixture in three portions, stirring well after each addition until a smooth, homogeneous mixture is formed.  Place batter in fridge for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, turn the oven on at 360 F. If using non-stick mini cake pans, you don’t need to do anything. Otherwise grease and flour the pans lightly.  Ideally you need a 6 cm round tin (a bit less than 2.5 inches). Pour the batter halfway through the tin, do not fill more than half.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Unmold the still warm rolls and let them cool completely on a rack. Cut them in half and stuff each with the dulce de leche.

Temper chocolate and cover each little pao de mel.

Alternatively, bake the batter in mini bundt pans, fill the central hole with dulce de leche and decorate with a drizzle of tempered chocolate. Mini bundt pans will take slightly longer to bake. Cool them in the mold before unmolding.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you want to make your own dulce de leche, there are many methods to do so. Pressure cooker, slow oven, even the microwave. I opted for sous-vide and must say it was perfect. Simply pour the contents of 1 can of condensed milk into a bag, seal it and cook it at 185F for 12 to 16 hours. When the time is up, simply cut the bag and pour the contents into a container. Into the fridge ready for any dulce de leche emergency.

Homemade dulce de leche is a real treat, I highly recommend you give it a try, but of course, the canned product will work well too. Pão de mel can be frozen for a couple of months without the filling and chocolate covering. You can also simplify the process and skip the filling. The simplified version is actually more common to buy in Brazil. But normally, when people make them at home, they go the extra mile. A very sweet mile, if you ask me.

Which version was better, classic or mini-bundt? I honestly have a hard time deciding. The mini-bundt is a lot easier to make because once you un-mold the little cakes the hard work is done. You can conceivably even get by without tempering chocolate, just melting it gently and drizzling it all over. But of course, the traditional version is the one that brings fond memories of my past. It’s your turn now, make both and let me know what you think…

For those interested:  this is the pan I used to bake the cakes. I love it!

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STEAM-ROASTED INDIAN-SPICED CAULIFLOWER

Recently I blogged about a new way to roast veggies that stole my heart. At that time, carrots were the star of the show. Now, I share my second experiment with the method, following a recipe from the same issue in Fine Cooking, applied to cauliflower. A couple of tips are important for maximal deliciousness. First, do not cut the florets too small, keep them a bit chunky. Second, make sure to leave a flat, large side when you cut them. That will provide better browning during roasting.  The roasted cauliflower is finished with a mixture containing a lot of ginger and other Indian spices. Read my thoughts about it in the comments.

steam-roasted-cauliflower

STEAM-ROASTED INDIAN-SPICED CAULIFLOWER
(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine)

1 large head cauliflower cut into very large florets, florets halved lengthwise to make flat surfaces
5 Tbs. vegetable oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower and garlic with 3 Tbs. of the oil, 3/4 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Arrange the florets flat side down in a single layer. Cover tightly with foil and transfer to the oven to steam for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil, rotate the baking sheet, and roast until the bottom side is nicely browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Flip the cauliflower and continue roasting until just tender and deeply browned, 10 to 12 minutes more.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander, turmeric, and cayenne. Swirl in the lemon juice.

Transfer the roasted cauliflower to a serving bowl. Add the spice mixture, and toss gently. Season to taste with more salt, if needed, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

caulicomp

Comments: Once again I found the method wonderful to deliver perfectly roasted cauliflower florets. Now, about that spice mixture. I notice quite often these days that many recipes follow what I like to call The Ottolenghi Path:  they call for the addition of many spices and herbs to a dish, often in unexpected combinations. That is not necessarily a bad thing, he is for sure a gastronomic genius, but there is also something to be said about a simply roasted veggie, with a smidgen of olive oil, salt, pepper, and perhaps a single added spice. Of course, cookbooks, magazines, cooking shows, they all need to come up with clever, exotic ways to make food, otherwise, why would we bother paying attention to them, right?  Anyway, in this particular recipe I felt that the addition of the sautéed spices plus the lemon juice messed up slightly the texture of the roasted cauliflower, and also overpowered its flavor a bit. Granted, it made the dish feel more festive. But, if you are in the mood for a classic approach, omit it all, roast it, and serve it as it is. You won’t be disappointed. I will be steam-roasting cauliflower again and again, either in its natural state, or using this recipe with the following modifications: cut the ginger by half, keep the turmeric and coriander, add some lemon zest, and omit the lemon juice and cayenne. That might be a real winner for me.

steam-roasted-cauliflower-from-bewitching-kitchen

 

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SILKY GINGERED ZUCCHINI SOUP

For the last couple of months I became interested in the Paleo nutritional system, as most people who follow it appear to be very fit. It got me curious. It also did not hurt that Dr. Loren Cordain,  the man behind the Paleo approach is now part of our extended family: Phil’s sister recently married his uncle-in-law. Small world! Anyway, fully aware of my self-inflicted moratorium on cookbooks in 2015, I did what a sensible food blogger would do and bought some Paleo-oriented publications last November. As you can see, I have an amazing ability to outsmart myself.  If you have any interest in the subject, I highly recommend Well Fed2, The Frugal Paleo Cookbook, and Nom Nom Paleo Food for Humans. Don’t worry, the Bewitching won’t turn into a Low-carb, Paleo, Vegan, or “insert any diet system here” blog.  There will be bread, pasta, rice, couscous, a lot of meat, and sweets. Omnivore, and loving it! –  has always been my motto, and that isn’t changing. But the truth is that one can cook a ton of tasty stuff under the Paleo approach. Plus, it’s all reasonably low in carbohydrates and high in protein, a kind of eating I’ve favored for the past 4 or 5 years. This soup is a perfect example of deliciousness that is low in fat, low in carbs, and keeps me satisfied from lunch until dinner.  As you may notice,  I included a cheese crisp that would not be blessed by Paleo folks.  It would make this version Primal, I suppose. Still hanging around caves, but with a little more pizzazz, sipping the occasional wine from a coconut shell.

ZucchiniSoup

 

SILKY GINGERED ZUCCHINI SOUP OVERVIEW

The secret for this smooth and delicious soup is the use of ginger and coriander as background spices. The soup starts with a simple saute of onion and garlic, then ginger and coriander in powdered form are added, releasing their flavors in the hot oil. Next, zucchini pieces join the party, and the whole thing will be simmered for about one hour in your favorite type of broth (chicken, veggie, or beef).  When the zucchini is super tender, the soup is blended and ready to be enjoyed.

You can find the recipe in Melissa’s site with a click here.
It is also in her cookbook Well Fed2.

simmering

I’ve made this soup almost as many times as I made Mike’s Creamy Broccoli Soup. Sometimes I used chicken broth, sometimes a mixture of chicken broth and water.  A squirt of lemon juice right before serving is a nice touch too. Cheese crisps pair very well with the zucchini. To make them I followed the method that Mike described in his original post for the broccoli soup.  On the first photo of this post, I used a Cheddar type cheese, and in the photo below I went with Parmigiano-Reggiano.  I like Parmigiano better, because it releases less oil as it bakes, and has that unique sharpness that contrasts very well with the silky soup.

unnamed-5

I confess I was afraid of making the crisps from scratch, due to traumatic experiences of a distant past. At that time I tried making them on a non-stick skillet on the stove top, and ended up with a complete mess, pretty much inedible.

But preparing them in the oven was a totally different experience. First, place parchment paper over a baking sheet (or use Silpat).  Then add small amounts of shredded cheese of your choice separated by about 1-inch.  They won’t spread too much, but better safe than sorry.

cheese

Watch them carefully, because they will go from perfect to burned in a matter of seconds….

crisps

Carefully transfer them to a rack, so that they get crisp. You can use them right away, or store for later.
crisps_rack

You will find all sorts of uses for these crisps… This beautiful Mexican-Caprese was made by my beloved husband…  and embellished by the crisps…

TexMexCapreseDressing was avocado oil infused with basil (he used the handy cubes from Dorot), a little lemon juice for good measure.

But back to the zucchini soup: a real winner of a recipe. I normally make a batch in the weekend, and it becomes my lunch for three days in the following week. If I don’t  have cheese crisps I top it with toasted almonds, or a diced hard-boiled egg. Simple, and quite nutritious.

Before I leave you, I want to share the best text I’ve seen in a long time concerning healthy-eating. It is a well-written satire on the state of nutritional advice these days. Hilarious, but unfortunately quite close to our reality these days.  Enjoy it with a click here. A little quote as a teaser:

The ONLY way to eat is seasonally, locally and sustainably.  If you live in a place where snow falls and kills crops and animals starve you should eat snow and only snow.  To do anything else will cause immediate and untimely death”.  
(from Sarah Yates, A Little House in the Hills).

🙂

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SUPERNOVA MEETS WOK

My wok is 18 years old, it was one of the first gifts I received when I moved from France to the US, back in 1995.  Thank you, dear friend, you know who you are…  😉  I used it a lot in Oklahoma, even though our stove was not powerful enough to bring the best in stir-frying.  The wok patiently waited for me inside a box when we traveled for two sabbaticals, and into the box it went again when we moved to the Little Apple and co-existed with an electric stove that even Benjamin Franklin would consider sub-par.  Once Supernova was installed, I went to the basement to retrieve my old friend, apologized for the neglect inflicted upon him, and said his loyalty would be compensated: he would meet a superstar and they would live happily ever after…   Happy to report that it was love at first flame!

wok1

HOISIN CHICKEN WITH CASHEWS
(inspired by Fine Cooking magazine & Barbara Tropp)

2 Tbs peanut oil
1 medium shallot,  sliced
2 Piquillo peppers, sliced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch chunks and velveted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. snow peas, trimmed
Crushed red chile flakes
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup hoisin sauce diluted with 2 Tbs water
1/3 cup roasted cashews

The day before or a few hours before your meal, velvet the chicken using this method. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the shallot slices and cook for 2 to 3 min. Add the Piquillo peppers  (I buy them jarred) and cook until both the pepper and onion are browned around the edges. Remove the vegetables from the skillet; set aside. Pour the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in the skillet. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, add it to the oil, and cook, stirring frequently, so that all sides brown, 2 to 3 min. Stir in the snow peas and sprinkle in some red chile flakes. Add the ginger. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir in the thinned hoisin sauce. Simmer for 1 min. to wilt the snow peas and finish cooking the chicken.  Sprinkle with the cashews and serve over rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

served2Comments:  Velveting the chicken makes this type of stir-fry so much better that it’s worth investing the small amount of work to do it.  Since the chicken can stay in the egg white mixture for up to 24 hours, you could conceivably do it the evening before you intend to make it for dinner.  I prefer to do this preparation either when I wake up, or if time allows, at lunch time. Piquillo peppers are from Spain, so their use in this dish qualifies as “fusion-cooking”.  In reality, I had an open jar in my fridge and wanted to use it up.  So there. 😉

What I love the most about this recipe is the simplicity of the finishing sauce, a mixture of hoisin and water, no cornstarch to deal with.  The snow peas barely got in touch with any heat, so they stayed bright green and with a little crunch that was perfect to add that extra something to the dish.  A real keeper for a weeknight, there were only three little pieces of chicken left, which made for a super light lunch next day. But, at least I did not have to share…

Hoisin Chicken with Cashews

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