Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Maple-Ginger Salmon

Another Mother's Day dish. This was actually meant to be cedar-planked, but that turned out to be a no-go (for various reasons). Also, we had to use frozen salmon fillets! I could not find any fresh salmon! I suppose I went to the store(s) too late. There was a lot that was compromised about preparation of this recipe. The fillets did not thoroughly thaw before we wanted to bake them, and to compensate, we baked them longer. I think this was a bad idea, because in my opinion, they were overdone and dry.

But we did in fact like the condiment! I would like to try it again and cook the fish better. If I do ever really cedar-plank a salmon, I might delete this post and put up a report of that. I think I would use this recipe, because I did like this yummy maple-ginger-scallion glaze. It tested Asian-fusion and modern. I'd like to spread it in some maki rolls.

The recipe comes from Epicurious; but I didn't make everything in the recipe and I obviously didn't plank it, so there you have it. I give you what I made.

Maple-Ginger Salmon

1 c maple syrup
2 T finely grated peeled fresh gingerroot
4 T lemon juice
3 T soy sauce
1 1/2 t minced garlic
2 1/2 lbs salmon fillet
greens from 1 bunch scallions

In a small heavy saucepan, simmer condiment ingredients. Simmer until reduced to about 1 c (about 30 minutes). Salt and pepper, if desired, to taste.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a baking pan. Arrange scallion greens in a layer in the pan. Put salmon, skin-side down, on scallions. Brush on about half the glaze. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the middle oven until just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve with additional warm sauce.

Lemon Curd Pavlova

For Mother's Day this year my bros. and I made dinner for Mom. There were some crises, some of which were dramatic. Dinner was late, but at least everything was finished pretty much at the same time. I think that we had fun; I know I enjoyed spending this time with my brothers as friends and peers. Thank you, brothers, for your patience, hard work, and good humor! I can see that you are your mother's sons.

Anyway. We made salmon with a maple-ginger glaze; a salad of spinach, grapefruit, and avocado; ginger ale Jell-O (an homage to Mommy cuisine past); a pistachio rice pilaf; and lemon curd pavlova.

Pavlova will not supplant a good cake or pie for deliciousness to me, but I did think it made a fun party dessert. Bang for the buck. Pretty, different, yummy. Nice textural contrasts. Although I'm told some people like their pavlova to sit and turn marshmallow, at first experience, I would suggest eating all your pavlova right away.

The idea for the pavlova came pretty much all from my brain, but my brain of course has zeitgeist influences, and Epicurious had a pavlova recipe which is exactly what I'd dreamed up: lemon curd and berries. I used their meringue, but not their lemon curd, which reviewers complained about. I got that from, but were I too make it again, I'd try harder to find a recipe that used just yolks (to balance using the whites for the meringue). Then I just sugared some raspberries and strawberries and plunked them on top.

Lemon Curd Pavlova


1 c sugar
1 T cornstarch
3 large egg whites, ideally held at room temperature for 30 minutes
3 T cold water
t t vinegar (recipe said distilled white; I used apple cider and liked the flavor)

Preheat oven to 300°F with rack in middle.
Whisk together sugar, cornstarch. Beat whites with a little salt at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add water (whites will loosen); beat until they hold soft peaks again.
Increase speed to medium high and add sugar/starch 1 T at a time. After it's all added, beat 1 minute more.
Add vinegar; beat at high speed until glossy and holding stiff peaks, about 5 minutes or more.
Spread meringue on parchment on a baking sheet; make a nice circle with its edge slightly higher than the center.
Bake until pale golden and with a crust, about 45 minutes.
Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool in oven 1 hour.

Lemon Curd

3 eggs
1 c sugar
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
1/4 c melted butter
1 T grated lemon peel

In the top of a double boiler, beat eggs and sugar. Add lemon juice, butter, and zest. Cook, stirring, over simmering water 15 minutes or until thickened.

Final Assembly:
Spoon (at least partially cooled) curd into the crater of the cooled meringue. Sugar about 4 c of berries and put them on top.

Victory Ice Cream

Mom has made ice cream since I can remember. A few days ago we were browsing an edition of Family Letters from 1984-1988, and there were a couple of discussions about the ice cream of the past. Back in those days, Mom experimented with different flavors and kinds of ice cream. Of particular note in the letters were "Malt Ball" and a perfect raspberry sherbet. I have heard Mom lament many times since that she can't make her raspberry sherbet anymore because nobody sells 100% raspberry juice. I regret that I was too young then to remember now the perfect flavor of that sherbet. I do remember her making sherbet and ice cream, though. I loved ice cream days. I liked scooping the remnant ice cream off of the dasher. When I think of that process, the flavor-memory is unique because sometimes a bit of rock salt would get in my spoon, too.

Anyway, some years ago, Mom got a smaller ice cream maker, so she can make a batch of ice cream just the right size for one meal's dessert, with perhaps a little leftover. Also some years ago, she inherited a couple of her Aunt Carol's cookbooks. In one of these she found a recipe for ice cream that has now (with adaptation) become her standard, and it is very creamy and delicious and good. The cookbook in question is The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book: Wartime Edition, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, which I imagine had a much simpler title in more peaceful times. This old blue cooktome, whose first page is a large portrait of General Douglas MacArthur, is a lot of fun to browse. Some of the recipes seem hopelessly outdated, and it's easy to dwell on how much tastes seem to have changed. But it's recipes like this one, which I am only calling "Victory" ice cream for fun, which make me realize that things haven't changed that much. Whoever made the recipe sure knew what yummy meant, even back then.

Mommy's Victory Ice Cream

2 T flour
3/4 c sugar
1 c 1% milk
2 egg yolks
1 c half & half
1 c heavy cream
1 t vanilla OR 2 t lemon extract

Stir flour in with sugar. Blend yolks with milk thoroughly with a handheld blender. Mix yolk/milk mixture with flour/sugar. Stir in half & half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, till it reaches a boil/is thickened. Remove from heat and add the cream and flavoring of choice. Cool and freeze.