I lived in Alaska on and off for years and one of the best ingredients there was the incredible salmon and crab. Almost everyday, all summer long I would come into work and fillet at least 2 big king or sockeye salmon. Fish can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be.
Salmon is great, it has it’s own distinct flavor, yet it’s light and takes on other flavors well too. Stay away from pink or chum salmon. I used chum salmon for bait and pink salmon for smoking. They don’t have the most pleasant and clean flavor you want out of a salmon. King salmon, or Chinook depending on what you call them where you live, are nice and large. King salmon to me has a little bit of a generic flavor compared to sockeye. Chinook is so popular, because of their large size. Sockeye is flavorsome and contains the least amount of mercury. The fillets that come off of a sockeye salmon have a very bright and distinct color. Coho salmon is also pretty nice. It’s similar to the taste of a king salmon, just a bit smaller.
I always prefer fillets over steaks. I think steaks don’t look as nice and they’re more of a pain to eat. Usually in super markets salmon comes fillet and with the pin bones already removed. Also I find salmon cooks more evenly cut into fillet portions rather than steaks.
Look at the label in the case. Wild caught is always better. Farmed fish isn’t good. They feed it corn pellets and something to make the flesh look kind of how it’s supposed to. The flesh should look bright, not washed out or faded. Look for salmon that hasn’t been frozen. Previously frozen salmon will almost always end up being dry and it makes it harder to cook, because it’ll be falling apart more. This will also drain it of a lot of its flavor.
Try cooking it skin on. A nice crispy skin can be nice on A salmon. I prefer it myself. If you don’t like the skin and don’t want to ruin your fillet by trying to skin it, cook it skin on and it’ll just come right off with your fingers.
When it comes to cooking your salmon I prefer to pan sear, bake or eat it raw. Salmon is nice on sushi and in poke if it’s fresh and fatty. When I sear mine I just heat a pan up with some oil in it and put it skin side down in the pan. Let it cook about 70 percent the way on the skin and flip it. It will finish soon after. You can see it when you cook your salmon in a pan how cooked it is by looking at the side. Salmon is nice medium rare. When you bake it just season it and put it skin side down in a oven around 350 degrees until it’s done. It really is that simple.
Beef Wellington was an intimidating dish for me to cook at first. It seemed difficult, but making a few for dinner is really an easy thing to do. A beautiful fillet mignon in puff pastry. What you’ll need:
Stone ground mustard
First of all you’ll cut your fillet into about 4 inch long rounds. This makes them look nicer and cook more quickly. Sear your fillet until nice and brown on all sides. While still hot rub your mustard on it. Lightly coast it. The beef will absorb a lot more mustard flavor while it’s hot.
Blitz your mushrooms and herbs in a blender. Add this to a sautee pan with no oil and cook out all the moisture from the mushrooms.
Set your prosciutto out on plastic wrap. Enough that it’ll wrap all the way around the beef. Place your mushroom mixture on top of the prosciutto in a thin even layer. Place your fillet down now and wrap around tight.
Now you can wrap it in your puff pastry coated in eggwash. Pinch the seems tight and score the top of the puff pastry. Place on your baking sheet seem down and bake until your desired tempature is reached. I reccomend using a digital thermometer. You won’t be able to feel the beef for doneness so this takes the guess work out of It.
When it’s done, rest it for around 8 minutes and slice into thick slices. I like to slice mine around 1 inch thick.
Pizza is one of the most popular food items in the United States and other places in the world. So many kinds, so many variations. The debates they create like does pineapple belong on a Pizza, thick vs thin crust and how much sauce and cheese is too much? I’m here to give you some tips for making and ordering a better pizza.
First of all my number 1 pizza tip especially when your making it is this. Make every component equal. Make a decent crust, make a tomato sauce like the one i wrote a recipe for in a previous blog and don’t go overboard on the toppings. You want a pizza where every component comes together to make it a great pie, not just a little crust with toms of sauce and cheese and toppings.
The crust is very important. I like to go with a medium thickness. Too thin and it will lack that texture you want. You want a little crunch a little bite. Too thick and it’s too bready and the pizza will just be unbalanced. Also a medium crust is good for cook time.
The sauce is important. I have a recipe for a good tomato sauce in a previous blog post that can be easily modified for the purpose of a pizza. I never reccomend using a pasta tomato sauce. It never tastes right. You can also use a white sauce, pesto, or even just olive oil with some salt and pepper. Choose what sauce you’re going to select by what toppings and cheese is going on top of it. Be careful not to oversauce your pizza. This is very common and it will overpower the other components and make your crust soggy faster.
Most of the cheese used for pizzas are mozzarella or provolone. I suggest using a mix. Mozzarella and provolone melt easy and have a nice mild flavor, this is why I always add parmesan or Asiago to give it some salty sharpness. Smoked cheeses are also a nice touch. Baratta is a stuffed mozzarella that’s nice to finish a pizza with as a topping too.
This is where most of the debates begin. I personally really dislike pineapple on a pizza, but if that’s what you like go for it. As far as toppings go, keep it simple. Don’t just throw things on. Pick 3 or 4 things that go really well together and put those on proportionally. Try mixing some different textured ingredients. A little crunch, smooth and soft go well together. Maybe try something salty, something mildly spicy and something creamy. Maybe pancetta, pickled peppers and baratta. Balance is key when making a pizza.
This is one of my favorite things to eat. A simple mushrooms on toast with an egg. It’s so easy to do, delisuous and fast. Some tips before we get going, use good bread, herbs and determine how you want your egg. I prefer a nice rustic sourdough bread myself. The sour does really well with the egg and mushrooms rather than over power it or not add anything to it. Make sure your herbs are fresh and when chopping herbs always roll your knife through it rather than smash it down on them. Be gentle with your herbs. I prefer my egg soft poached or Sunnyside up. I love how the yolk tastes when it mixes with the mushrooms a bit. Sunnyside up is nice, because you can more easily season it and the buttery element is nice. What you’ll need:
Slice of rustic bread
First of all get your bread toasting. What up your pan and add a generous amount of butter. When this is hot and melted. Add your mixed mushrooms and sautee. You should season at this point. Mushrooms will soak up all the fat and then release it again after they’ve cooked more. Be careful not to add anymore butter even though it’ll look like it needs it you want it delisuous and buttery, but not dripping with butter.
At this point you can add your chopped garlic. Let this toast. It’ll take the bitterness out of the garlic and make it much more pleasant. Add a dash of white wine and let reduce to almost nothing. Take your mushrooms off the heat and finish with your chopped herbs.
Now we assemble. Get your rustic toast and add a generous amount of the mushroom mix. Place your egg, cooked how you choose, on top and serve.
Alfredo by nature is an incredibly easy thing to cook. Your basic Alfredo consists of just butter, garlic, cream, pasta and salt. This makes for an easy great dish, however it is pretty boring that way. Prawns with a relatively strong, mildly sweet flavor does well with the richness of the cream. What you’ll need:
First of all you’ll heat your butter and add your garlic. Let this toast for a second and add your shrimp. Add a little white wine and simmer. Season and add your Italian seasoning.
When the white wine is almost gone add your pasta and heavy cream and reduce. Once your cream has reduced add your shaved Asiago cheese and stir off the heat. Never stir in your cheese on the heat, it’ll give it an off texture and become gummy. Finish with parsley and stir.
I use linguini pasta for my shrimp Alfredo. It’s relatively thick and stands up to the heavy cream sauce better than a thinner pasta.
Polenta is one of the most versatile sides I’ve come across. It’s not even limited to side dishes, I’ve made it into an appetizer and a dessert as well. Easy to cook and inexpensive. Polenta is a ground corn meal that’s usually cooked with water, or cream. Simmered until it’s cooked and finished with cheese and butter. Creamy polenta can be served with almost any protein.
As an appetizer polenta is nice, because it can take on so many forms. I like to make polenta cakes. I make my polenta and put it in a dish and chill it. Then I can cut shapes out of It once it solidifies and toast them. Toasted polenta cake with a bell pepper, onion and mushroom gravy is a breakfast dish I made for myself all the time in the past. A good appetizer is toasted polenta cakes with sauteed mushrooms and a sunny side up egg, finished with basil and oregano.
As a side polenta cakes are nice too. With a chicken dish try using chicken stock. With shrimp use a shrimp stock. Asiago cheese is very nice inside a polenta cake and creamy polenta. Asiago goes well with all sorts of stock too. Creamy polenta is a nice side too. It’s smooth and creamy with a nice neutral texture. Try it with maybe a braised lamb shank or ox tail.
Dessert polenta was an idea I had in culinary school. We had to make a dish out of polenta, but that wasn’t really challenging enough for me so I decided to make a dessert polenta. I used orange juice and heavy cream as my liquid. I chilled it and cut it into rounds. I toasted it and cut orange Supremes. Fanning them out over top of the cake and dusting it with sugar and took a blow torch to it like a creme brulee. It came out pretty nice and I’ve been meaning to do it again with lemons.
Ceviche is, in my opinion, the perfect summertime dish. It’s light, it’s refreshing and you don’t even have to cook it. This is a recipe where having really nice fresh ingredients is the key. Ceviche pairs well with crisp, fruity white wines or summery cocktails. The only down side to this dish is you have to eat it the day you make it or the day after. The acid in the lime juice will turn the tomatoes mushy after a few days. What you’ll need:
Halibut or some other white fish
First of all you’ll dice your fish and Prawns into the desired size. About a medium size is what you’ll want. If you cut your fish too small the fish will taste too acidic. Cover just slightly with lime juice and season. The acid will actually almost cook the fish
Then you’ll want to dice your tomatoes, red onion and avocado. Mix with olive oil, salt, pepper and jalapeno peppers. At this point you can mix with your fish and lime juice mixture. Finish with chopped cilantro. Serve with chips.
For a nice touch try making plantain chips. Slice a plantain into quarter inch slices and deep fry. When they come out of the fryer, smash them flat. It’s crispy in the outside and fluffy on the inside. This is a fun and different alternative for a tortilla chip.
Risotto is a simple Italian rice dish. It’s almost like a blank slate of flavors. You can take it in many directions. One of my favorites started as an experiment. It’s now a common weekday dish I cook for my fiance and I. This is a simple recipe and very tasty, Cajun risotto with prawns and sausage. What you’ll need:
Spicy andoulie sausage
First of all you’ll hear your butter and sweat your onions, mushrooms and bell peppers. Season and add your diced sausage, chicken and whole prawns. Sautee until meat is cooked, then add your rice.
Add water and stir. At this point adr your cajun seasoming. Continue to add water and stir. The dish will be cooked and thicker when it’s done. This usually takes about 35 minutes.
I love Indian food, the smell of the spices and the simplicity. Curried lentils I eat probably once a week. It’s very simple to make and there’s no fuss to it. It’s also extremely tasty and smells incredible. What you’ll need:
First off, I’ll get my butter nice and hot in a sautee pan, add your curry paste and lightly toast. I always prefer curry paste over powder. I think curry powder tends to be a little flat myself. Add your sliced onions, leeks and celery and sweat until translucent.
At this point I’ll go ahead and add my diced chicken and sliced mushrooms. Make sure you sautee these a minute before asking everything. The mushrooms cook much better that way. When your mushrooms are cooked add your lentils. Then add water or stock. I think water works just fine. Season and simmer until lentils are soft making sure to keep stirring and adding water as it runs out.
When your lentils are soft add your chopped cilantro and parsley and serve over rice.
An American staple, the hamburger. Burgers can take many forms. Every component is equally important to make the burger something really special. The bun, the sauce, the burger and the toppings. I’m going to give you some tips can that can make burgers go from good to great.
First let’s start with the bun. You can bake a really nice burger bun. It’s relatively easy and they hold well. I usually opt to buy mine. You can find good ones in most bakeries. I always make sure to toast my buns. This helps the bun not to go soggy and it gives it a little more flavor.
The sauce is important too. Mayo works just fine, however I prefer to either make my own special mayonnaise, or add to mayonias to give it a little something. The sauce is important, because its mostly made of fat and creates a thin protective layer on the bottom bun and it prevents it from going soggy. The sauce should be relatively neutral so the burger patty and toppings can define the burger. The patty and toppings being the main casts and the bun and sauce being the ensemble.
The burger patty should be kept simple. Try adding some sauteed onions or mushrooms to your beef before you mix it. I like to sautee mushrooms and add it to my beef with blue cheese. This helps keep the burger moist, flavorsome and less messy when you eat it. Another burger I really enjoy making and eating of course is a burger with thyme, basil, sauteed onion and grated parmesaean cheese. Adding aromatic herbs is a really nice touch. Don’t overwork your beef mixture. Keeping your mixture cold and not working it too much will prevent a chewy and dry burger. Be mindful of how you cook your burger. I always reccomend medium for a burger. Cooked, a little pink and juicy. It makes for a much more pleasurable eating experiance.
Lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. The toppings almost every burger comes with. Boring. I really enjoy bacon, or super thin salami. Try cheeses that aren’t cheddar or Swiss. Try super thin Asiago, goat cheese, or mozzarella. Pickled vegetables are really nice on a burger too. Pickled watermelon radishes or peppers are interesting additions. My last tip is try lightly dressed greens like arugala or frisse.