Got an email the other day from a friend who was bitching at me that my blog, which used to be mostly personal, now reads like some sort of Photo marketing site. I had to admit that it’s actually true. So, in the spirit of "Justuff" I’m inaugurating Foodie Friday. (Mainly because I couldn’t think of anything better to call this).
Most of my friends know I’m an incurable food-a-holic. I don’t just like to eat though, I love to cook! Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at it. So, for Foodie Friday I’ll share a fun, easy (or not so easy) recipe and from time to time a wine pairing or a story about a winery to go along with it.
I know that a lot of my photographer buddies also love to cook, so I’ll be doing some guest postings and even some more fun stuff along the way.
A really important safety tip is that I don’t measure much when I’m cooking. I cook by taste, keeping a small stack of tasting spoons nearby. My rule? If it tastes good in the pan it’s probably going to taste good on the plate.
So, here we go: Foodie Friday take one. A really simple recipe that’s kind of a go-to for a night when Ang and I want something good, fast, and not too expensive:
Salmon with Maple, Balsamic Glaze.
Ok - I promise, this is really easy. Here are the ingredients:
Salmon. (as much as you want to buy for as many people as are eating). I like to buy good fish from a local fish market rather than the stuff you get from the grocery store, but this will work either way.
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar. If you have a Trader Joes nearby, buy this and Olive Oil there. (oh - if you're cooking for more than four just double the sauce recipe. )
One lemon, halved.
1/3 Cup Good Maple Syrup. (not Mrs Butterworth’s, Log Cabin, Aunt J-uh-howeveryouspellit but a good real Maple Syrup with an ingredient list that says something like, Maple Syrup!)
1/2 stick butter. (not margarine). You’re not going to get more than a tablespoon per serving and you’re going to want this. Substitutes have water and oil in them and they tend to burn. I don't like that so I use butter. I don't care if it's salted or not. Frankly I can't taste the difference!
Salt and Pepper (to taste). (I buy the bagged medium grind sea salt at Whole Foods or trader joes and keep in in a salt box by my stove. I feel like I control the salt better when I’m picking it up between my fingers than if I have to try to get it out of a shaker).
Preheat your oven to 400 Degrees (if using the indoor method).
OK. Ready? Start by combining the balsamic, water and the juice of half of the lemon in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the volume is about half. (I don’t measure much.) Important safety tip. Keep an eye on this! If it goes too long it will turn into a sticky mess in the pan and you’ll be starting all over. When it’s about the consistency of maple syrup, add your maple syrup and stir to combine, then add your half stick of butter and combine. Taste. It should taste good. If it doesn’t add more of the ingredient you’re taste buds are missing in tiny little amounts until you like it. Take this off of the heat, but keep warm. (Put the lid on the pot).
It’s time to cook the Salmon.
Most people overcook Salmon and it turns out dry. I don’t like dry Salmon so I cook it to about medium. (which means the fish is just slightly firm to the touch). Oh! I use my fingers a lot when I’m cooking. If that grosses you out, then buy a Salmon cook book and learn what it says about cooking time... If not, poke the Salmon with your fingertip and if it feels right, it’s probably done!
You can either grill the Salmon or cook it indoors. Be forewarned that if you cook it indoors your house is going to smell like fish. That’s just the way it is. Get over it. A lot of times I will grill my salmon in an iron skillet on the grill. That’s kind of the best of both worlds because it can be cooked hot enough to get good and crispy. Here’s the way to cook it indoors. (or outside on your grill in a skillet). (If you're outside, just heat the skillet in the grill to hot and when the recipe says, transfer to the oven just close the lid. You may need a little more time because the grill will let out a little heat. Not too much though! Don't kill the fish!)
Cut the salmon into serving sized pieces. I don’t know how big your servings are so I’m not going to try to tell you a weight. Rinse off the salmon and then pat dry with a paper towel. Squeeze the other half of the lemon over the Salmon and then salt and pepper both sides of the fish. If you have a little garlic powder you can use this too. (For the record, I keep a large jar of “Trinidad” seasoning from Penzey’s on hand www.penzeys.com for this purpose).If there is skin on the fish take a knife and slash the skin at about one inch intervals. This lets the steam out from underneath the skin and then it will get crispy. (Hint - Crispy = Yummy!) If there’s no skin, no worries, your fish will cook just a little faster though so watch out!
Get your pan good and hot. Hot enough that if you drop a drop of water in it sizzles right off. Make sure you’re using a pan that can transfer into the oven! When the pan is “singing hot” take about 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil and pour it into the pan (go fast or it will really smoke!), lay the Salmon down on top of the olive oil top down (Skin side up). Let it go for no more than one minute. Turn it over onto its Skin (or other side) and transfer the pan into your pre-heated oven (or close the lid on your barbecue). The time it takes to cook will depend on the thickness of the fish. If it’s thinner than an inch, it’ll be done in less than 3 minutes. If it’s thicker, not more than five minutes. (you can always add a little heat if it’s underdone - but if you over cook it you’re going to be bummed!).
When the Salmon is slightly firm to the touch it’s ready. Serve immediately. I like to plate, so I put a little of the sauce on the bottom of a dish, then place the Salmon top down on the sauce (skin side up if there is skin). I drizzle a little more of the sauce over the Salmon. I usually serve this with an easy brown rice and sauteed spinach. (which is also super-super simple!)