Scallion-and-ginger-crusted salmon

Scallion and ginger crusted salmon Scallion and ginger crusted Salmon Green onions

How do recipes become heirloom recipes? We all have our go-to meals that we cook over and over. Our families and friends love them even after having them a million times. We cooks like them because we have the recipes burnt into our brains. The grocery cart finds its way to the key ingredients in aisles 2, 3, and 8 with GPS-guided precision. And finally, we can put the whole thing together in minutes, for what is reliably a picture-perfect outcome. My scallion-and-ginger-crusted salmon is just such an heirloom recipe.

I have fond memories cooking this meal with good friends in Santa Barbara during my first year in the US. I’d had limited success convincing these American friends on the virtues of sauerkraut, dumplings and bratwurst. Nein!  So I brought out the ginger and scallions. This was twenty years ago and, at the time, ginger was still quite exotic. But I was taken by the sharp yet refreshing taste of the ginger root. Decades later I still roast salmon fillets with this marinade of ginger, scallions and garlic, enhanced all the more by soy sauce and olive oil.

The original recipe calls for marinating the fish for about 30 minutes with all these ingredients. That gives you a very intense soy and garlic flavor—an overwhelming taste that maybe feels a little too low-budget-Thai for me. I prefer to top the fillets with the marinade and broil them right away. You’ll want to turn the broiler to its highest setting, and place the top of the fish 4 inches from the coils. The ginger-scallion mixture will thereby brown and cook nicely, while not overcooking the salmon. I measure the temperature of the salmon and pull out the pan when it reaches 110 degrees.

Fresh snap peas are a perfect complement to this fish, and only require a few minutes to prepare. While keeping one eye on the salmon, follow the recipe below. The only problem? These peas are really good—like me, you’ll end up wishing you’d prepared more than 5 pieces per plate….

Guten Appetit!

Scallion-and-ginger-crusted salmon
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 to 5 oz thick salmon fillet per person (4 oz seems to be the portion preferred by skinny New Yorkers), so 1 to 1.5 lb for 4 eaters
  • 1 bunch of scallions, neatly chopped
  • 2 oz of ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb of fresh snap peas
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
Instructions
  1. Put your broiler on high
  2. By hand or in a mini food processor, finely chop the garlic and the ginger
  3. Mix with the sliced scallions, add soy sauce and olive oil
  4. Season, but be careful with salt as the soy sauce typically has adequate sodium (like, enough to make your arteries explode). But add some pepper
  5. Remove the skin from the salmon fillets and arrange on a baking sheet
  6. Top generously with your marinade
  7. Broil until the top is nicely browned and cooked, and the inside of the salmon reaches 110 degrees
  8. While the salmon is broiling, heat your sauté pan with the butter and a couple tablespoons of water. Sauté the peas over medium to medium-hot heat. They cook in just a few minutes: if you time it right, the water will have evaporated right as the peas are done. By this method, they will retain a little bit of crunchiness. Season with salt and pepper
  9. Plate and serve all this fabulousness right away

Scallion and ginger crusted salmon Salmon roasting in the oven Scallion and ginger crusted salmon

Baked sweet potato fries

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Pressping sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes are not very well known in Germany. I remember my first American Thanksgiving, eating a sweet and heavily marsh-mellowed sweet potato puree. My skilled tongue could still identify, underneath all that sugary stuff, the true flavor of the sweet potato. That something-something between potato and carrot, I thought, is one worthy of a more prominent role. A one-man show, even. This recipe brings us back to the true flavor of the sweet potato, a simple and healthy celebration that I love: Roasted Sweet Potato Fries. It’s become the perfect partner for a popular oops-I-forgot-to-plan-dinner dish in my house, pan-roasted chicken thighs. Add a fresh green salad and we are in weeknight dinner heaven.

Baked sweet potato fries
 
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Enjoy this healthy and easy preparation as part of a standard weeknight dinner. Baked at a high temperature, these fries come out of the oven just the way I like them: crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 sweet potato per person, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. The high temperature is the key here. If not, the potatoes will cook on the inside before they brown on the outside, and the fries will turn out soggy.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into fries (a precision slicer like me doesn't use a french fry cutter, but you can)
  3. In a bowl coat the fries with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Even coating is important, as it will help the fries brown more evenly
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Aim for 30 min in the oven. The fries will be done when you like the browning you see on them.

Pan-roasted chicken thighs with sweet potato fries

Sunchoke Soup with Watercress Puree and Pickled Radishes

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Watercress Puree and Pickled Radishes

Sunchoke Soup

Pouring delicious sunchoke soup at the dinner table

This Sunchoke Soup (or, if you like, Jerusalem Artichoke Soup) is an elegant opening course for a festive Winter Dinner with your friends. The overall dish with its three components requires a little planning and diligent execution in order to achieve the desired outcome. In other words: this is not a last-minute endeavor and does not qualify for semi-homemade. Preparing and cooking the soup is pretty straight-forward.  The Pickled Radishes are prepared using a technique called Sous Vide. This is a fancy term for simmering food in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag at a pretty precise temperature. I think you will enjoy this little sous vide experiment as an excellent entry to this popular cooking technique. And finally: The Watercress Puree is also  a pretty simple fare. All together this is quite a few components to juggle. To achieve success it is best to divide and conquer. Start with the pickled radishes, then prepare the soup, and finally create the puree. You can keep the components warm for a little while—say, up to an hour. At dinner time it is good fun to assemble the course and I can assure you that the results are very elegant and rewarding.

The acclaimed chef Thomas Keller created a version of this recipe in his beautiful book, Under pressure: Cooking Sous Vide. His cooking is very sophisticated and a great inspiration that pushes my own aspirations. The Sunchoke Soup is the simplest recipe in the book. A good place at which to start on your ‘sous vide adventure.’

When it comes to serving the soup, I pour the heated soup from a carafe into the soup plate at the dinner table. All three components together really form a trifetta of flavors that work beautifully together. The richness of the sunchoke soup, the slight sharpness of the watercress puree and the wonderfully light sweet-sourness of the pickled radish make this soup a special event, one that your guests will not forget.

Let’s get started with the Pickled Radishes:

Pickled Radishes Vacuum sealed radishes

Pickled Radishes
 
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Your easy starter dish cooking sous vide
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • one bunch of beautiful, fresh radishes
  • ½ cup of regular vinegar
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of water
Instructions
  1. Start combining sugar, vinegar, and water in a pan. Bring to a simmer and dissolve the sugar. This mixture will form your pickling liquid.
  2. We will quick-pickle our radishes under vacuum in a hot water bath. This cooking method is called sous vide. It allows for a very careful cooking of the food in a controlled environment. I like the results very much.
  3. You cut the radishes to your liking. I cut the big ones in quarters, some in slices. If you would like to be fancy you use a mellon baller for perfect little drops of radish.
  4. In they go to a plastic bag, then add some pickling liquid. Avoid the urge to use too much liquid; just a modest amount is needed.
  5. Suck the air out of your plastic bag with a vacuum sealer and seal the bag. Cook the radishes in a 185-degree hot water bath for, let's say 40 minutes. I used my sous vide hot water bath, which holds its temperature very precisely. But I would venture to guess that these radishes are pretty hardy and so, if you keep an eye on the thermometer, you pretty much can do it also in a good old pot.
  6. Once they're done, pour the bag into a bowl and let cool.

Sunchoke Soup

I discovered Sunchokes only recently. Their flavor is quite subtle, but very unique. It is easy to find them at the supermarket, living the final moments of their life in an under-appreciated corner of the veggie isle. Try to find the ones that are looking fresh and plump, pieces of good size and not the shriveled up ones seeming to be on their last breath. Peeling these morsels is a little pain in the you-know-what, but with a vegetable peeler this will be done in no time.

 

Sunchoke Soup
 
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This soup recipes allows to create a wonderfully velvety soup that highlights the unique flavor of the sunchoke.
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Half a stick of butter
  • One medium yellow or Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • One pound of sunchokes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • Half a cup of heavy cream (yes, we must!)
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. In a heavy-bottom pot melt the butter and sauté the sliced onion without allowing any sign of browning. The sliced onions should be shiny and soft. I challenge you to avoid browning them! Medium heat is best.
  2. Add the sunchokes, chicken stock, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 to 20 min. The sunchokes should be completely soft. The chicken stock will reduce a little bit.
  3. Add the cream and bring to a simmer.
  4. Puree the whole thing in your trusty VitaMix.
  5. Back into the cleaned pot. Season with salt.
  6. You can keep the soup refrigerated for a while, reheating at dinner time.

 

The Watercress Puree

In his original recipe, Keller pairs the soup with an Arugula Puree. I modified the puree by using watercress. Watercress has a nice bitter aroma that provides contrast to the richness of the sunchoke soup. You need:

Watercress Puree
 
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You need a total of approximately 300 grams of green leaves, which is a little less then a pound.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
  • 2 sprigs of thyme leaves, stems removed
  • 2 bunches of watercress, cleaned, no stems
  • 1 bunch of spinach, cleaned, no stems
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Half a cup of chicken stock
  • Half a cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour, kneaded together to 2 tablespoons of Beurre Manié
  • 1 egg yolk
Instructions
  1. Blanch the greens in a big pot of salted and boiling water for about 30 to 40 seconds. Dump the leaves in an ice bath and then drain on a towel, removing as much water as you can. Wringing out that water keeps your puree from being too saucy.
  2. Put the hot watercress and spinach into the VitaMix with 3 ice cubes and puree. This will stop the cooking and preserve the beautiful green color of the mixture. Set aside.
  3. In a sauce pan gently sauté the shallots with a tablespoon of grape seed oil until soft. Again, no browning. It should take about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the thyme leaves and cook for another few minutes. Still no browning, please!
  5. Add the chicken stock; cook for another 3 minutes. The shallots are now very soft.
  6. Add the cream and season with salt. What you've created should look somewhat like a white sauce. Strain and put aside.
  7. To assemble, mix the white sauce with a tablespoon of Beurre Manié and bring to a simmer, cook for 10 mins to remove any flour taste. This should now look like a think white sauce.
  8. Take off the heat and whisk in the egg yolk. Now you have a slightly more yellow think sauce.
  9. --Take a breather, we're almost there.--
  10. Mix two parts green puree with one part yellowish white sauce and reheat carefully over a small flame. Season again with salt and maybe a touch of pepper. This completes our puree. You can compare the consistency of the puree with the one in the photo. In my early attempts I created more of a green soup. If this happens, don't despair: it will still taste really good.

The assembly of this dish is fun: I line up all my plates in a row. Place the radishes, and then a spoonful of puree into each plate. Then, once the plates are set at the dinner table, I pour the beautiful, velvelty soup carefully into each.

 

Strawberries and Yoghurt Foam

Dessert with Strawberries and Yohurt Fresh Strawberries Ingredients for Strawberries and Yoghurt Foam

Here in New York we are experiencing what we hope are the last days of winter. After this long, cold season with all its rich and comforting foods, I am starting to long for dishes on the lighter side: a fresh salad, maybe some crunchy early-season vegetables. But my strongest urge at the moment is for fresh berries. Our local berries won’t ripen until June, but I can always find some strawberries in the fruit aisle of my trusty food purveyor.

This Strawberries and Yoghurt Foam dessert strikes a nice balance: fresh berries as early ambassadors of spring, yoghurt foam corresponding perfectly with the berries. The light acidity of the yoghurt is enriched by an itsy bitsy tiny amount of heavy cream. And this innovative preparation can be made utilizing your whipped cream maker—but don’t worry if you don’t own one of these; I’ll provide an alternate preparation method.

Strawberries and Yogurt Foam
 
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A fresh and elegant strawberry dessert that's easy to make. The foam gives this a distinct modern feel that will impress your guests.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 1 lb strawberries
  • 8 oz plain yoghurt
  • 2 oz heavy cream
  • 2 tbls sugar
Instructions
  1. Clean and quarter the strawberries
  2. Mix the yoghurt, cream, and sugar in a bowl
  3. Fill the mixture into the whipped cream maker and load with 2 nitrous cartridges
  4. Cool in refrigerator for about 2 hours
  5. Shake well and dopple generously upon the fruit

In case you don’t own one of these fancy, gleaming, stainless steel, German-engineered iSi whipped cream makers, don’t despair… much. Instead, roll up your sleeves, get out the balloon whisk, and whip away. It won’t be as fluffy, and it won’t be as much fun as my yoghurt foam extravaganza, but the delightful taste will be the same.

The famous Spanish chef Adrian Faran was the inspiration for this wonderful recipe.

Guten Appetit!
Assembling the Strawberry and Yogurt Foam

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