Category: Snack

Smoked Salmon

smoked salmon

Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon should be one of the wonders of the world. I often refer to this recipe as “salmon bacon” because that is close to what you will be making. Smoky, salty, intensely rich and complex, this salmon doesn’t last long in my house (even my picky children can’t get enough). It may be a little more time consuming that some of the other Gatehouse Gourmet recipes, but it is well worth the effort. I generally make a lot of this at once and eat it over the next few days (it should last 10 days in the refrigerator, or 6 months if frozen).

The Brine
The process begins with creating the brine in which the salmon will marinate for about a day (a minimum of 8 hours, and no longer than two days if you really want, however overnight is usually perfect).

Ingredients for the brine
6 cups water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3  cup kosher salt (kosher salt dissolves much more easily than table salt)
4 bay leaves
1/2 a medium sized onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, pressed (crushed)
1/2 cup fennel, chopped
1 stalk of celery

You will need:
2 lbs salmon fillet(s), pin bones removed

Mix all the above ingredients together and marinate the fish in a non-reactive container (glass, Tupperware, etc) for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator. Overnight seems to work best. The fish will cure in the brine, which will draw out some of the moisture, concentrating the flavor. It will also allow salt to penetrate the meat, which will also enhance the flavor of the fish.

Drying the Fish
Remove the fish from the brine and lay it on a rack in a cool area, allowing air to circulate over the top and bottom if the fish. Allow the fish to dry for 2-3 hours, and the fish will form what is called a ‘pellicle’ on its surface, which is a thin, hard layer of protein that will both seal the fish, and allow the smoky flavor to adhere later.

Smoking the Fish
This dish calls for “hot smoking” which is smoking in a heated environment, rather than a cool one, which will also somewhat cook the fish. In your smoker, feel free to add any type of wood that you prefer, Apple, Oak, Hickory, etc. The fish should be smoked at about 140 degrees for approximately 2 hours, more or less depending on the thickness of the fillets (tail sections may take as little as 1 hour, while the thickest fillets shouldn’t take much longer than 2.5 hours). When the internal temperature of the fish reaches 140 degrees, it is done (a meat thermometer is very handy here). You can also tell it is done by checking to see when the meat flakes easily. The more you do this, the better your instincts will be to determine doneness.

I will often double this recipe and make up to 5 pounds of salmon at a time since I can’t keep it around long enough to enjoy it. My suggestion… Hide it so you don’t have to share.

 

Guacamole

Guacamole

Guacamole

This guacamole recipe has a great citrus taste with a hint of garlic. The key to a great texture is to use avocados that are semi-ripe instead of using ones that are very ripe. This way they retain some of their texture and create guacamole with some texture, instead of making wallpaper paste. If you can find them, the addition of Campari tomatoes add sweetness without much acidity, and the tomatoes retain their texture in the mixing, making this guacamole something special (of course any tomatoes will taste great, use what you can). In the image above you will see the peaks and valleys that indicate the rough texture of the guacamole, which is achieved by using avocados of the proper ripeness, which means no more searching in vain for the softest, ripest avocados. I can often make guacamole with avocados I buy the very same day.

Ingredients
5 semi-ripe Hass avocados

4 medium Campari tomatoes (or other medium sized tomato if you don’t have Campari)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 medium red onion
3 limes
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
1 tsp salt

Directions
1. Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the fruit (yes, avocado is a fruit) and place into a bowl.

2. Juice the limes and pour juice into the bowl with the avocado. Limes will juice more easily if you roll them against a flat surface first with the palm of your hand, pressing down firmly while you roll for a few seconds.

3. Dice the onion and add to the bowl.

4. Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds with your fingers. Cut the tomatoes into a small dice and add to the bowl.

5. Using a garlic press, press the garlic cloves into the bowl.

6. Cut the cilantro leaves into small pieces and add to the bowl.

7. Add salt.

8. To achieve a well textured guacamole, the method for the best result is to take a regular steak knife and rip through the avocado pieces continuously, cutting the halves into smaller and smaller pieces in the bowl. This will let you mix all the ingredients together without mashing the avocado into a paste. Use a fork to finish the mixing by folding in the rest of the ingredients. Garnish with diced tomato and a sprig of cilantro leaves if desired.

Serve with tortilla chips to about 8-10 people.

Tip summary
Tip #1 – Use semi-ripe avocados, not fully ripe ones for great texture. Over-ripe avocados can have a musty flavor that some people don’t like anyway.
Tip #2 – If you can find them, Campari tomatoes will retain their shape instead of breaking down into mush. Their low acidity helps the dish retain a nice balance of taste and sweetness.
Tip #3 – Cut the avocado instead of mashing it. This will result in a nice, chunky guacamole instead of paste.

Updated Black Beans and Rice

Black Beans & Rice

Black Beans & Rice

This is a variation of the classic black beans and rice dish which is a favorite of my family. While I have never been a big fan of beans, for some reason I can’t keep myself away from this particular dish, so I make sure to cook plenty as it only gets better as the leftovers sit. For those who want to limit the fat content, the rice can easily be made without the coconut milk and this dish is just as good.

Ingredients for the beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 16 oz can black beans (or 1 1 lb 13 oz can)
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 cube of chicken bouillon (for a vegetarian version vegetable bouillon can be used)

Ingredients for the rice
1 cup uncooked white rice ( I prefer Basmati, but any rice will do)
1 can of coconut milk (approx 13 oz)
water (usually 2x the amount of rice)

Directions for the beans
1. Cut the onion and garlic into small pieces and saute at a low heat until the onion is translucent. The garlic can be pressed if desired instead of cut.  This will impart a more spicy garlic flavor.

2. When the onion is translucent, add the beans including the liquid in the can (a lot of protein has leached out into the liquid and this will add to the creamy mouth feel of the dish if it is included).

3. Add the bouillon cube and simmer the beans at low to medium heat for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer as they will get softer the more they cook. There is no need to cook them more than an hour, though. As they cook, periodically stir the beans, and crush a few of them against the side of the pot if you wish to impart more creaminess to the dish. When the beans are done to your satisfaction, remove from the heat and serve over rice.

Directions for the rice
1. The key here is to replace some of the water with the coconut milk, so check the instructions for your rice and if you require 2 cups of water for 1 cup of uncooked rice, add the coconut milk to a measuring cup and top off with water to reach the desired volume of liquid. If you would prefer to not use coconut milk for any reason, just use the required amount of water instead.

2. If you have a rice cooker, put rice and liquid in and turn on. If you are using a pot, bring the liquid to a boil and then stir in the rice.

3. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer (very low boil), and let cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

4. When the rice is done, fluff it with a fork and let sit covered, in the pot for 5 minutes. If you can’t wait to eat because the beans look so good, feel free to put the rice on a plate or a bowl anyway and cover with beans and eat.

In most cases this will serve four people. However, in my house, two of us manage to eat this all in one sitting. You can easily double or triple the recipe with no modifications.