Salmon Croûte, Brussels Sprouts in Cream and Wild Rice with Mushrooms and White Truffle Oil

Dried oyster, trumpet and morchella mushrooms, shallot, wild rice, (real) white truffle oil, Brussels sprouts, heavy cream, butter, whole nutmeg, black sea salt, white peppercorns, wild Alaskan salmon and a blend of dried onion, garlic, carrot, red pepper, tomato, orange peel, parsley, bay, thyme, basil, celery, lemon peel, oregano, savory, mustard seed, cumin, marjoram, coriander, cayenne and rosemary.

Rinse and begin cooking the wild rice according to package directions.

Moisten a salmon filet with olive oil and season with the spice blend, sea salt and white pepper. Place fish onto an oiled skillet, wrap in a sheet of water-soaked red cedar paper and tie with kitchen string.

About 20 minutes before the rice is done, brown the trimmed and split Brussels sprouts in a little butter until browned.  Add heavy cream and simmer partially covered until almost tender, about 10 minutes.

While the vegetables are simmering, saute minced shallot and sliced mushrooms in butter and truffle oil, stirring frequently until just done, about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside.

Place the salmon in a 350 degree oven and cook about 10-12 minutes.

Uncover the vegetables and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Add the mushrooms and shallots to the rice and fluff with a fork.

Assemble the plate, topping the Brussels sprouts with seasoned, toasted bread crumbs.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Chicken Soup with Basil Pesto Pasta

Made from ingredients that were on hand rather than from a recipe.

Dried pasta filled with basil pesto, celery, onions and carrots, olive oil, home made chicken stock (see previous post), rapini, Italian herbs with red and black pepper, some of our previously put by dried tomatoes, garlic and 1/2 roast chicken.  Mise en place.

Pull the meat and skin from the bones. Toss the bones into the cannister along with the onion and celery ends and freeze as stock-starter for next time.

Cut the meat into spoon sized pieces.  I prefer to use both white and dark meat in chicken soup.

Bring the stock to a slow boil and skim away any scum with the edge of a ladle.

Add the chopped, dried tomatoes first, as they need a full 30 minutes to reclaim their previously toothsome goodness.

After about 10 minutes, add the pasta which needs an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the vegetables and herbs in olive oil until just underdone.  Cooking the vegetables first ensures that they will stay suspended in the stock rather than all floating to the top. Transfer the vegetables to the soup pot and simmer until done, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the chicken and rapini and simmer until chicken is heated throughout and rapini is tender, about 5 more minutes.

Serve topped with a little Italian cheese if you like.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Chicken Stock

The carcass of yesterday’s roast chicken, celery, onion, carrot, parsley, thyme, bay, peppercorns and garlic.

Begin by cooking the chicken and vegetables in a Dutch oven until it begins to brown a little.  This will help to give the stock a rich color.

Add the herbs, peppercorns and enough cold water to cover. Cook over high heat until it just begins to boil, then turn the heat down and let simmer for 1 hour, skimming the scum about once every 15 minutes.

Simmer an additional 8 hours, skimming occasionally and adding a little hot water as needed to keep the ingredients submerged.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container and immediately cool that in a sink full of ice water. The goal is to cool the stock below the bacterial level of 38 degrees as quickly as possible.

Done correctly, the stock will safely keep in the refrigerator for at least three days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.

‘Putting by’

Buying “fresh” produce from halfway around the world in the dead of winter (or any time of year for that matter) is problematic for a number of reasons.  Our great grandparents understood that certain foods were simply not not available out-of-season.

“Putting food by” or preserving, can be accomplished by several methods, including root cellaring, salting, canning, pickling, curing and drying.

1 dozen large fresh jalapenos, cored, split and seeded.

Into the stove-top smoker over medium heat; close the lid just as the wood chips begin to smoke. Do you see the wisps of smoke coming from both ends of the pan?

Don’t want to cook them too much, just long enough that they begin to brown around the edges.

Straight into a pre-heated dehydrator.  Those are tomatoes drying on the rack below.

Here are the smoked, dried peppers after about 24 hours. You can store them just like this in an airtight container, or pulverize and store in a spice jar.

In either case, watch the jars closely for a couple of days to make sure there isn’t any moisture present.  At the first sign of condensation, you must immediately re-dry the goods or risk spoilage.  If everything looks good after a few days, the peppers will keep indefinitely.

Lots of things are suitable for drying, including tomatoes and herbs.