Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cedar Smoked Salmon with Lemon Thyme

On Monday I mentioned that I had made some smoked salmon on the weekend. This is based around how my Dad cooks planked salmon by bonfire. That is a much lengthier process, but will almost undoubtedly find it's way on here eventually. It's pretty simple but it is by far the best way to cook salmon (planking that is) this recipe is a close second though.

Start off by coating the salmon in salt, all kinds of salt. Salt out the WAZOO. We're talking dead sea salty here okay? I used some Cyprus Mediterranean finishing salt. Maybe this wasn't the right application for it since it is a finishing salt and I used it first. I just really like the way the crystals look, I mean, common!
It's like you are in Egypt with all those little pyramids.

Now that you have a nice salty fish you are going to want to let that sit in the sun for a few hours or days, with a fan to circulate the air above it, that's what keeps it fresh. Actually, an even better idea would be to refrigerate the salmon, covering it with a lid, parchment paper, a baby, saran wrap, anything moderately airtight really.  

After an hour or two or more, Dad wasn't really specific on this part, wash the salt off. Obviously, the longer you wait the saltier it gets. I washed my fish after an hour which left it not very salty. This was good because it let the lemon thyme really shine through, but I do like a pretty salty planked salmon every now and again.

I've always like smoked salmon with a bit of lemon. Lemon thyme just seemed like a natural fit. Especially since I just happened to have some in my new herb garden. For some reason the slugs have shown a particular interest in the lemon thyme. Looks like I'll have to pour a beer out for my homies in the garden. Anyhow, back to the lemon thyme, I chopped up five springs, about 7cm long approximately. I rubbed this and about equal parts garlic and fresh ground pepper. One big clove or garlic, fresh ground red, white, green and black peppercorns.

Massage this into the salmon ever so gently. Play soft sounds of the rain forest to ease the salmon into a relaxed state. 

Let the salmon rest while you skewer some shrimp. I'm sorry to bring this about so abruptly, but it was a last minute thing. We had some shrimps and some skewers, the coals were ready, smoked shrimp are delicious, just too many reasons not to do it. It's important that you let the skewers soak in water for at least 30 minutes if they are wooden. If they are metal this isn't as important, or necessary at all. I didn't do anything to the shrimp other than lay them on the salmon after they were skewered. You really don't need to, the smoke gives them a great flavor. Someday, I will smoke some spiced up shrimp for you guys though, someday...

At this point my camera aka cellphone decided to run out of battery power as it so often does when I need it. There really isn't much else to see though. Once the coals are good and hot, I'm assuming here that anyone that reads this can use a charcoal grill. Honestly, I've only used mine like 9 times so I might not be spot on about how to set it up. Rest assured, that post is coming too. 

The coals are lit, the salmon is relaxed, the shrimp is skewered, there's just one thing missing. The smoke! Cedar and salmon are a match made in heaven I think. throw some cedar chips on the hot coals and let them flare up. then, lay the salmon, skin side down, on top of the grill. place the shrimpies on then close the lid. Let this smoke for about 20 minutes. larger fish will take longer. After 20 the coals will probably need some oxygen to keep burning so take off the lid to let the coals breathe. If the salmon is flaky and pink throughout (a different pink than when you started) it's done! It coals even be a bit yellow or brown from the smoke. You might even want to remove the salmon before it is fully cooked as it will cook while resting. 

So that's how you smoke a delicious salmon with lemon thyme. Now here is a picture I drew of a Bearded Fish.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie with Ancho Chilies and Honey

Before I get into this recipe I would just like to mention that this is the first time I have ever tempted to make a mousse. It definitely didn't turn out as moussey as it should have, but it still tasted great. That's all that really matter though right? All in all this was a pretty great pie. I'd also like to mention that this is my first entry in an online cook off. So if you like it you should definitely vote for me.  Just go here and select "vote for Kuribo's kitchen" and submit. It's THAT easy. The rules are pretty simple, there are two ingredients, honey and ancho peppers this week, make food, blog it, compete! I came up with this idea while I was thinking what to make for dessert on Sunday just as I fell asleep one night last week.

I should also mention that I made this pie for my Dad on Father's day. Happy Father's Day Dad, and Happy Father's Day to all the other Dad's that may or may not be reading this blog! Now on to the pie!

I wanted a graham crust with a nice honey flavor. Since I've always loved Honey Teddy Grahams I figured they would be perfect.

I smashed up 225g of these little guys in a big bag with a rolling pin.. It ended being about the whole bag, minus a few casualties. I could have just left them in the bag for the smashing, but then you wouldn't be able to see the carnage.

Once all their delicious little bodies have been crushed beyond recognition dump them into a bowl. Add about 3 tablespoons of butter and mix it up till the crumbs form little balls. You want this to be nice and mold-able to line your pie plate. I'm not sure how big this one is, probably 12 or 14 inches.

Roll it, pat it, mark it with a B, put in the over for ba- erp, just bake it in the oven at 375 deg F for about 8-10 minutes. It will look pretty much the same, golden brown, but crispier. Marking it with a B is optional.

You can start making the mousse while the crust is cooking. I basically followed this recipe here. I changed it around a bit though. Instead of using mild red chillies I used ancho chillies, as per the contest rules, I didn't add chocolate liquor and I used brown sugar instead of castor sugar. This could be one reason the mousse was a little flat, the egg whites  seemed to fluff up nicely though, so maybe not. 

One other change I made was that was completely necessary: I had 250ml of cream where the recipe calls for200ml. Thinking it would be used directly in the mousse and not thinking I would use it again (I planned on using cool whip on top) I decided the best idea would be to increase all the ingredients by 10%. As I mentioned early, I've never made mousse before, nor had I read the recipe in its entirety. So I add 62.5g butter, 1.25 tablespoons of crushed anchos (I added more later, probably about 2 tbsp in total), 3.75 egg yolks/whites, etc. So I finish the mousse and realize the cream was for the whipped topping. I didn't need to add 10% extra of each ingredient after all. Awesome! Oh well, I ended up using the whipping cream to make whipped cream to which I added about 3 tbsp of honey. This was definitely a better topping than cool whip. So, how about some tasty pics now?

Some delicious ancho peppers. This is the first time I've ever used/tasted ancho peppers so I'm glad they went well with the dark chocolate. This recipe consisted of a lot of firsts for me; I'm glad it didn't blow up.

Ancho butter going it the Belgium dark chocolate. I'm not sure what the cocoa content was, but it was probably at least 70%, it was quite "dark" tasting.

The egg whites were very happy to be whipped with the sugar. Kind of looks like the Sugar Smacks frog... Kind of... 

This is from just before I put the whipped cream on. If I was sure the whole pie was going to be eaten I would completely cover it in the honey whipped cream to full up the shell a bit. There were only four of us eating the pie and we had already feasted on steak, ribs, smoked shrimp, and smoked salmon (more on that later this week), so I figured whip on individual pieces would be best.We might have had some vegetables too, but I got a little delusional from all the meat. 

The final result!

I've always been a big fan of chocolate pies, this one did not disappoint! The chilies and the dark chocolate were a perfect match. The filling was pretty rich but the lightness of the honey whipped cream and Teddy Graham crust evened it out. 

So that's how you make a delicious Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie with Ancho Chilies and Honey. Now here is a picture of a Mexican frog. Don't forget to vote!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Spinach Salad with Raspberries

Pretend I posted this on Friday.

Starting today I'm going to try to update this beast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Pretty standard for blog updates I think. I really wanted to make some kind of Mexican dish for this post since I am going to a Mexican themed party tonight. Unfortunately, the party is in Halifax and I am on the train to Halifax. Instead I will be buying thirty $0.89 tacos at Taco Bell and this post will be about the spinach salad I've had just about everyday this week for lunch.

I never really thought I liked salad. Then I made a salad and realized I just don't like boring salads with iceberg lettuce. If you want a good hearty salad you have to use spinach. Spinach is where it's at when it comes to salads. Aside from being tasteless, iceburg lettuce is basically just water. There isn't much nutritional value there. With spinach you get great flavor and lots of nutrients, like iron. Popeye was all over the spinach and he's the strongest guy I know.

Back to spinach salad. I'd like to cover the three most important parts of a salad. You gotta have croûtons, dressing, and the vegetable part. I'll start with the croutons since you can toast them while you make the salad to save time.

A lot of salads I've had used those crummy store bought croutons. You know the kind. They are hard and have no taste.If you want a good croûtons you have to make them yourself with fresh bread.

I'm a big fan of the miscellaneous bread bag offered at many grocery stores. Usually you need to go to the market about 30 minutes before closing. This is when they empty the fresh bread bins and sell it at a discount. Sometimes you can get these doughy tresure troves during the day but I wouldn't count on it. Also, I should mention that these are a big ticket item for university students. Many times I have gone to get a sack of bread and found my classmates making the same purchase.

For these croutons I selected the infamous white bun that is common to almost all bread sacks. Multigrain buns would be great too though, any discount bread really. You are going to want to dice this bread into bite size pieces and throw it in a bowl. Give it a little splash of oil and toss it around. I normally use olive oil for this, however, when I was getting my herbs the other day I found a bottle of oil that looked interesting. It's a mixture of red palm oil and canola. Apparently it's healthier than olive oil. I just like the colour so I picked it up. For croutons I found that I prefer olive oil though. Crush a nice garlic clove and add it to the oiled bread chunks. Throw some basil, oregano, salt and pepper into the mix and you are good to go.

I know, this is the only the seond post and its back to basil and oregano AGAIN. I've got some exciting things lined up for this weekend so hold your horses. This is an application where I actually prefer dried herbs as opposed to fresh. Since you are going to bake the croutons the fresh herbs would just dry up anyways.

Pop these bad boys into a preheated oven to like 4oo degrees. By the time you are done chopping up your veggies they should be done. Don't toast them too much, just lightly brown like so.

This way they are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. They wont disintegrate when you stab them with your fork like most store bought croutons and they will be packed with flavor!

The dressing for this salad is pretty simple. Its just the same red palm oil I used for the croutons and balsamic vinegar. At first I used a 50/50 ratio but this was too vinegary for me. I found 2/3 palm oil, 1/3 vinegar worked well. I really liked thered palm oil here, the coulour and taste are both great. a dash of salt and pepper is nice to add. I tadded some garlic but you don't really need too. I just really like garlic.

Time for the salad. most people make salad in a large bowl. I think this is part of the reason I don't really like most salads. most of the good bits, huddle up at the bottom of the bowl. I like to make my salad on a plate, much like a pizza. I start off with the spinach and add all the ingredients from there.

Leave a little bit of space for a piece of Hickory Smoked Mac & Cheese and you have a meal to rival Chef Lonely Heart's Soup for One.

Dang this salad was tasty. Its like I have a new lease on life... for salads... I really like how the sweetness of the raspberries adds to this salad. The crunch from the almonds is pretty great too. But don't take my word for it... (READING RAINBOW REFERENCE). So that's how you make a delicious spinach salad with raspberry dressing. Now here is a picture I made of the raspberry sailors (and a story!).

After their narrow escape from Banantes, the most feared pirate/banana to ever sail the 7 seas, the rasberry sailors thought they were home free. Unfortunately the nefarious radish shark and his gang of tomato cohorts decided to show up to terrorize the SS. Pepper!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Yesterday I decided that if I want to get serious with my eats that I would require an herb garden. I just happened to decide this whilst walking by some herbs for sale. How convenient!

Am I ever glad I live close to the Sobeys. Driving home with this thing on my bicycle was not a good time. Its kind of hard to tell what's in there, I'll get into that later.

There seemed to be what used to be a garden in my backyard. With a little bit of TLC this place should do the trick.

I picked up some high quality tools at the Dollarama for a grand totally of about five bucks. The rake really came in handy as I found several pieces of broken glass, some rusty nails, a large rusty hunk of metal and some other miscellaneous bits of trash buried in the mud. I'm not sure what the previous owners of this garden were trying to grow, but I don't think I'd want to eat it.

I tilled the soil and rearranged the outer rocks. It started to look pretty good.

I was able to rustle up a few chives from a walking path at work. One was behind a fence so I had to bust it out from the other side. Being on the inside all it's life must have toughened it up. The stalks were pretty woody. I'll probably have to get some tender ones from my Mom's garden.

Now that I have all the pieces to my herb garden puzzle it's time to get planting. I ended up having to make an expansion to fit the chives in. It might take them a little while to adjust to their new habitat. There was something already planted in the garden but I don't know what it was. Maybe some kind of parsley. I left it in just encase it turns out to be something good. I also had pineapple I was trying to grow in a pot so that went in too. When I pulled the pineapple out of the pot his onion friend came out too. I couldn't bear to split them up so I planted it. The other stuff I got at Sobeys. There was supposed to be hot and spicy oregano and regular oregano but it tasted more like one was bitter and the other was sweet. I just realized I've been spelling Oregano wrong for some time. Oh well!

So that's my friendly little herb garden. Now here is a picture I drew of the Mud Man.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hickory Smoked Mac & Cheese

I've been thinking a lot about Mac & Cheese lately. Far too much for any healthy human being. Finally, while in the grocery store yesterday I broke down and bought the necessary ingredients:

Mild Italian Sausage
Chipotle Hot Sauce
Balderson Heritage Cheddar, Aged 3 Years
Tre Stelle DELUXE Mozzerella
Lumaconi Noodles
Panko Breadcrumbs
Hickory Wood Chips

You may notice that I did not include any measurements. I don't usually measure anything while cooking unless I'm baking. Also, you may notice there aren't actually and macaroni noodles in this mac & cheese. I opted for lumaconi which is basically a giant shell. I wanted to add some left over sausage bits so I thought they might like to nestle up in the lumaconi beds. I bet now you would probably like to see some pictures of this delicious casserole and maybe learn how to make make it. So lets do that now...

Dice an onion and toss it in a sauce pan with a nice hunk of butter, about 1cm thick.

When it looks and smells delicious add your sausage - I used 4 sausages from a weekend BBQ, garlic - 3 big cloves, basil and oregano - I would have preferred fresh but I haven't had time to get my herb garden from Halifax to Truro yet, salt and pepper to taste - less salt as there is lots in the sausages. Save some sausage bits for later.

Throw in a splash (or eight) of Chipotle Hot Sauce - I used some stuff my Mom got me in Mexico but Super Store has some stuff that is pretty good. The shark sticker is a message to my room mates warning them to not use this hot sauce under any circumstances.

Next you are going to want to add some milk - about 2-3 cups depending on how many noodles you are cooking. Oh, I should mention, you should be boiling the noodles by now. After the milk is nice and warm add the shredded cheeses. I used about 200 grams of each. Depends on how cheesey you want it. The Balderson is pretty strong, but the Mozzarella calms it down a bit. Save some cheese and sausage bits for later.

Let this simmer for a bit while the noodles finish cooking. It should look like this:

Then drain the noodles. I like to wash them a bit too to get the starch off. Add the sauce and try not to eat it all. It's pretty good now but the smoke flavor really kicks it up a notch.

Remember those extra sausage bits and cheese scraps? Mix those in a bowl with hardy pile of bread crumbs or cracker crumbs or some combination. As long as it is crunchy. I used panko bread crumbs since that's what I had in the cupboard.

Ever so gently scoop the noodles and cheese into some kind of fire proof vessel. I used Dollarama foil pans for easy clean up. Fire and cheese do not make for an easy clean up job. Cover the casserole with the cheese, sausage, crumb mix and fire it onto the grill.

Hmm... The grill... I should probably talk about that since it is pretty important... To get a nice smoke flavor you are going to want to use a charcoal BBQ and some hickory wood chips. I like to throw the dry chips right on the hot coals and let them ignite.

Looks good, throw the casserole on and close the lid. This picture is pretty bad. I tried to doctor it up with some photo magic but it was useless. I hope to bet a better camera than my cell phone soon. Maybe for my birthday... *hint hint*

Now put the lid on leaving only the bottom vents open. This smothers the fire and fills the grill with smoke.

After 15 minutes or so I opened the lid a bit to let some oxygen in. This allows the coals to burn better. I was really surprised how toasty the top became. I thought I would have to broil it a bit but it turned out great.

The above photo really doesn't do this dish justice. The topping was really smokey and the innards were gooey with cheesy goodness. I ate a whole casserole for dinner. I'll definitely have to make this again.

I hope you enjoyed this first creation. I can't be sure when I the next idea will come out, but it will be soon as these guys aren't going to last long. So that's how you make delicious Mac & Cheese. Now here is a picture I drew of a cheese with a mustache.