Today I decided to make salmon and carrots using up some ingredients that I already had in the refrigerator, I wanted to clear out some items from the kitchen that are not often used. There are two components of this meal – the maple glazed carrots and the salmon fillets which I had seasoned with salt, pepper and dill. I already had the maple, salt, pepper, and dill in the kitchen so the only items I got at the store was the carrots and the salmon. I got Scottish Atlantic Salmon, there was wild Alaskan King Salmon available too at the store however those had not been de-boned and I really wasn’t prepared to pull small bones out of 1.5 pounds of salmon so I opted for the farm raised Scottish Salmon. The Scottish Salmon of course being farm raised was also far less expensive than the wild Alaskan Salmon. As for the carrots I purchased baby carrots that had already had the stems and leaves cut off. Baby carrots need little attention before cooking, as they don’t need to be peeled or cut like the larger carrots.
First I will discuss the salmon since that is the first item I cooked. I preheated a pan with about three tablespoons of olive oil on high. While the pan was heating up I lightly seasoned both sides of each fillet with salt, pepper and crushed dill. Once the oil on the pan began to smoke I placed the salmon fillets in the pan. I left the fillets cook on one side for about eight minutes with the skin side up. No particular reason for that, it just happened to be the side which I had put the first fillet onto the pan. After about eight minutes I filled the fillets with some tongs onto the other side. I will only flip these fillets twice. The side that was touching the pan formed a crust with the spices I had applied on the salmon before putting on the pan. I left the salmon in the pan slightly longer than I would have liked (about ten minutes at most) thus overcooking one side of the fish. That side of the fish turned out far too crispy for my liking so next time I will make sure not too cook either side for that long.
After taking the salmon out of the pan I proceeded to make the sauce for my fish. Maintaining the oil and juices from the salmon in the pan I added in the juice from one lemon and about two tablespoons of heavy whipping cream – turns out though that the cream really didn’t add much to the sauce though. I thought of this sauce mixture impromptu so I did not put too much thought into this part of the dish. In a previous post I remarked that I should be more improvisational with my cooking, I am trying to do that with this sauce. After mixing in salt and pepper with a little bit of ground dill I allowed the sauce mixture to reduce for a few minutes. Once the mixture was reduced to only slightly coating the bottom of the pan I added about three tablespoons of olive oil. I reduced the heat on the pan to low and allowed to heat while I prepared the carrots.
The other part of my meal was the maple glazed carrots which I adapted from this website. Instead of 1.5 pounds of baby carrots I instead just added 2 pounds of carrots. It would be pointless to use half of one package of carrots. In one pot I added the carrots and filled the pot with water until the water was just above the carrots. After that I added a little more than a teaspoon of salt. Than I added three tablespoons of maple syrup, real maple syrup – not that Aunt Jamima stuff please! I also added about three tablespoons of butter to the mixture. The next step is to boil the pot and bring down the heat to a simmer for about 7 to 8 minutes to let the carrots soften up. After 8 minutes had elapsed I checked one carrot for softness and found them to my liking. I then turned off the heat on the carrots.
Taking out a plate I combined the carrots and the salmon fillet together. I spooned some of the lemon sauce that I just made on the salmon and placed six carrots beside it. The salmon was slightly too crispy for my liking. One side of the salmon was almost too hard to cut it had such a thick crust. I certainly needed to cook the salmon for far less than the time I gave it. The lemon sauce was slightly tart and oily but because I put so little on my salmon it really didn’t make much of an impact on the overall taste of the dish. The carrots turned out good – I’d probably add more maple syrup though. The maple taste didn’t really translate to maple flavor on the carrots other than a bit more sweetness.
Bottom line, I needed to cook my salmon fillets less. With the sauce I needed to add less lemon, olive oil, cream and add more maple syrup to the carrots. With that being said I overall enjoyed this dish. This recipe was simple to prepare, healthy and very tasty. I recommend you try this in your home.
The maple carrots before boiling in a pot.
The seasoning I used for the salmon fillets
The salmon fillets once added to the pan
After flipping the fillets notice the crust that formed on the fillets
The sauce for the salmon fillets
The meal finished and plated
I decided to cook some steak tonight for dinner. I know it is not the most exciting thing to cook compared to what I have prepared in the past however a good steak does require some skill to be done right. I got thinking about steaks today from watching a video on youtube by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay on how to cook, you guessed it, a steak. In that particular video I believe he was cooking a Steak Diane which is a lot smaller steak than what I was using so to get an idea for how long I needed to cook each side of the steak I used a calculator which I found online here. This link will give you an idea for how long you should cook your steak, you just plug in the thickness of your steak and how well you want it cooked. In case you are wondering the steak which I was cooking was about an inch and a quarter and was a rib eye cut.
After coming home from the grocery store where I had got my steaks I simply let the steaks rest and be brought to room temperature. This way when the steaks are room temperature they will cook quicker and the center of the steaks would not cook as unevenly as it were if I were to cook the steaks right after taking them out of the refrigerator. After letting the steaks sit about a half hour in their packaging I took them out and seasoned them with salt.
At this stage I got the pan ready by coating the pan with extra virgin olive oil and allowed the oil to smoke a bit before cooking the steaks. Since the pan is already pre-heated it will sear the steaks instead of placing the steaks on a stone cold pan, which will not sear the steaks, plus it will cook a lot quicker. When the oil started to smoke a bit I placed the steaks on the pan. I will only flip these steaks twice, first for about 6 minutes and on the 2nd side about 4 minutes because I was going for a medium-rare done steak. To calculate about how long your steak should cook click here. I should mention as well that I was using a grill pan, which is the next best thing to using a grill because it will at lease give you those distinctive grilling marks on your meat.
After flipping the steaks once I waited until about a minute to when the steaks would be finished on the pan and hit the pan with some butter and basted the steaks a little bit. This will create a nice sauce to accompany the steaks and it is certainly not too hard to do. Next I took off the steaks when they were finished and let them rest on a place for about 10 minutes off the pan. This is an often-overlooked step in cooking beef. This allows the steaks to cook inside making the flavors more intense. Also when the hot butter sauce that we just made is poured on top of the steaks it will cook the exterior of the steak as well and it adds extra flavor, which is never a bad thing.
The steak turned out great, if not slightly more done than I would have liked. Next time I will simply cook the steaks for less time. Cooking is of course not an exact science!
This is the last post for my series on making Żurek or Sour Rye Soup. I have been fermenting my zakwas for four days in a glass jar in the kitchen. I have decided today I will be stopping the fermentation process of the zakwas and making the rest of the soup.
Simmering the Żurek
Starting the second process of the soup I started first of creating a fatty base, in my case I used bacon but you could also use a lard instead if you like. After the bacon had been cooked thoroughly, released grease into the pot I had removed the bacon and I added chopped onions. The bacon quickly quickly absorbed the bacon grease as they became transparent. After the onions became translucent I added a sausage that had been pricked and about four cups of water (more than the recipe required as make more soup) and waited for the mixture to boil than simmered for a little more than a half hour.
During the time I simmered the pot I tried straining the zakwas into a small bowl to remove the oats and the garlic but the strainer got clogged with the wet rye flour so I than resorted to manually picking out the oats from the zakwas mixture. After the pot simmered for a little more than a half hour I added the zakwas mixture without the oats and the garlic. I took out the sausage and cut it into one-inch pieces, smaller than the original recipe called because I was afraid the size pieces it called for was far too big, and added it back into the pot. After that I added marjoram and a couple shakes of salt and pepper. I also added some cream with a tablespoon of flour mixed in as to thicken the soup in the pot a bit.
After I added the cream with the flour I simmered again for about ten minutes and than tried a bowl of my soup. Unfortunately I had added too much water so the soup tasted watered down and the sourness that did exist in the soup was far too sour. Also I had cut the sausage too finely. The sausage that was in the pot during the simmering process had broken apart and dispersed throughout the soup. I would have preferred it be more intact.
Next time I will ferment the zakwas for three days, one day less than I had fermented it for this soup. I will add less water and I shall cut the sausage in the soup into larger pieces. I should also try to follow the directions on the recipe more closely and try less to improvise.
Decided to do an update on the zakwas that I am making for use in my Żurek (Sour Rye Soup). It has been about two days since I had prepared the zakwas and it has noticeably changed in color and appearance. The flour and water have seemed to come together for the most part. There are no longer any separation of each substance like there was the first day and there is a bubbling up inside the jar.
The zakwas after about two days
I had to remove the crusts I had added when I was preparing the zakwas because after about two days the bread crusts would go moldy. When I unscrewed the jar I was hit by a waft of pungent garlic smell. After picking out the larger bits of rye crust with tongs I quickly closed the jar again. I am not a huge fan of how the zakwas smell. The zakwas still does not look particularly appetizing either, I hope in preparing the rest of the soup the pungent garlic smell will largely go away when all the other ingredients are added in.
My next post will cover actually making the soup. Stay tuned.
I decided to chronicle some of my culinary adventures on my blog. To kick off this section of my blog I decided to make a soup I had when I was in Poland last week called Żurek also commonly referred to simply as sour rye soup. It is a savory and rye tasting soup with a bit of marjoram herb. I am following a recipe I had found on an online forum here. I was able to get most of the ingredients for my soup at my local grocery store however – I had to get the white sausage (białej kiełbasie) from a Polish market in Orange, CA (Polka Deli). Essentially there are two processes in making this soup. The first process is to make the sour rye (zakwas). Only after the zakwas has been fermented for about 4 to 5 days depending on how sour you want the soup to be you can you start preparing the rest of the soup. I will get into more detail about the second process of this soup near the end of the week.
The ingredients that make up the zakwas
Today I started the zakwas. In a 57 ounce jar I added thinly sliced garlic cloves, rye flour, oats and water. I used filtered water because I read the chlorine that is added to the tap water could have adverse effects on the fermentation process of the zakwas. Once all these ingredients were added in the jar and mixed as to expose all the flour and oats to the water I added 2 crusts of rye bread to speed up the fermentation process. The mixture must sit in the jar for 4 to 5 days. In a day or so I must remove the crusts as they will eventually get moldy. I have to admit at this stage the zakwas does not look very appetizing. It looks like a beige liquid with sediment at the bottom of the jar.
Over the course of writing this blog entry I have noticed the contents of the jar of zakwas change appearance from a largely mixed mixture to one where each ingredient looks separated. According to the recipe I should start seeing the zakwas bubble after about a day or so. Stay tuned.