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Indonesian Grilled Salmon

I’m sorry, I realize this is the same photo from a few posts back, but I wanted to share with you the absolutely delicious Indonesian marinade that I used on this salmon.  Last night, we had dinner so late I didn’t have time to take pictures, so you’ll have to make do with an old one.

I could tell that this was a really good recipe because in the middle of dinner, Chris stopped eating, looked at me and said, “This is SO good.”  He’s usually pretty supportive of my kitchen adventures, but the degree of sincerity with which he enjoyed last night’s fish was out-of-the-ordinary.

Ina Garten makes this marinade with swordfish but there’s no way I can afford that for a weeknight meal!  It’s just as good with salmon, and according to the other reviewers, the marinade is also excellent on chicken or pork.  Soy sauce, lemon zest, mustard, ginger and garlic somehow combine to form more than the sum of their parts in this savory, tangy sauce.

I loved how quick it was to stir together, and how quickly dinner was finished on the grill.  We had it with a big green salad and homemade zucchini pickles, though it is also great with the sweet corn salsa you see in the picture above.

Indonesian Grilled Salmon
Barefoot Contessa

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
zest from 2 lemons
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped ginger root (I actually substituted 1/4 tsp dried ginger and it worked fine)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp dijon mustard (I used whole grain mustard)

1 salmon fillet (about 1.5 pounds)

Mix all the ingredients together. Pour half of the marinade into a shallow baking dish. Lay the salmon over the marinade, and pour the rest of the marinade over top of salmon. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Preheat the BBQ, then turn heat down to medium-low. Place marinated salmon on a piece of aluminum foil, folding edges up to catch any juices. Place foil on grill and cook, covered, for about 8 minutes or until salmon is opaque throughout.

Aebelskivers – Danish Pancake Balls

Aren’t these the cutest things?

If you’ve heard of Aebelskivers, also known as ebelskivers, you may have also heard of Solvang, California, a Danish village located on the Central Coast.  Danish colonists founded the village in 1911, which has retained a Scandinavian flair ever since.  My sister and I drove down there a couple months ago to check out the windmills, cheese shops and year-round Christmas stores, and took the time to enjoy a plate of these delicious pancake balls with raspberry jam.  Aebelskivers are kind of like a cross between a pancake and a doughnut.  When fresh, they have a delightfully crispy exterior and a slightly sweet interior, and are served sprinkled with powdered sugar.  You can also fill the balls with jam, Nutella, fruit, and other fillings.

Chris grew up with Aebelskivers, not because he has Danish heritage, but because through visiting Solvang several decades ago, his grandmother acquired an aebelskiver pan, and started a tradition of making the pancake balls on family camping trips.  So when Chris found a cast-iron aebelskiver pan at the local Goodwill, he snapped it up immediately.

This weekend, instead of our usual Saturday-morning pancakes, we made a batch of aebelskivers.  And they were not just exciting as a novelty, but really good as well.  The crust is crisp and golden, and the insides are fluffy and flavorful.

The recipe we used has the pancake balls subtly spiced with cardamom, which gives them a slightly lemony, nutmeggy flavor.  To turn the balls, use a skewer to loosen the batter around the sides.  Poke it through the middle of the batter right down to the bottom, and turn the entire pancake ball gently 1/4 turn.  The center of the pancake ball should still be runny and the batter will run out, filling the extra space.  After a minute or so, turn the ball 1/4 turn again so that the original bottom of the ball is now on the top.

You can get your own aebelskiver pan on Amazon – here’s an aebelskiver pan from Lodge and a rather cheaper pan from Norpro.

My husband reminded me that these are a lot like the takoyaki balls we enjoyed in Japan (we also had the opportunity to cook them at a Japanese inn).  They are indeed made in a very similar way, but the aebelskivers are rather larger and fluffier.  And they don’t have octopus in them, or shaved fish flakes, mayo and soy sauce drizzled over top.  Takoyaki are very good too…but very very different.

Aebelskivers – Danish Pancake Balls
Adapted from Sunset

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp melted butter plus extra

Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl (dry ingredients). Then mix together the next 5 ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry flour mixture and stir until incorporated.

Heat cast-iron aebelskiver pan over medium heat until it sizzles when a bit of water is dropped onto pan. Turn heat down to medium-low. Grease holes in pan by brushing melted butter on with a pastry brush. Fill holes with batter, being careful not to over-fill them, as batter will puff up slightly as it cooks.

Once a crust has formed (about 1 min), loosen the batter from the sides of the holes with a skewer. Poke the skewer into the center of the batter right down to the pan, then pull skewer up the side of the hole, turning the entire ball 1/4 turn. Batter will spill out to fill the hole in the pan. When the crust is set, turn once again to form a complete ball. Cook for a minute or two until entire ball is golden-brown all over. Using the skewer, remove from pan. Repeat with the rest of the batter, greasing the holes with butter between each batch.

Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar and a dollop of raspberry jam.

Strawberry Focaccia with Balsamic Onions

Weird?  Exciting?  Delicious?  Strawberries and onions?  Together?  On bread?

I usually like sweet and savory things together, so this recipe that came to my inbox from intrigued me.  I sometimes make a rosemary focaccia that is pretty easy, so I figured this recipe wouldn’t be too difficult.  And it’s not.  If you’re intimidated by yeast breads, focaccia is a great place to start.  The dough only has to rise for an hour or so, so it’s quite doable even on a weeknight.  Once you’ve got the dough ready, it’s just a matter of slicing the strawberries and caramelizing the onions with balsamic vinegar.

While the original recipe called for maple syrup, I just used honey and it turned out fine.  I didn’t even caramelize the onions as long as the recipe suggested – 5 minutes was enough to get my onions browned, and then a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and honey into the hot pan made them sweet-tart and caramel-colored.

The hubs said, “What, this isn’t dessert?”.  Then, “It’s…interesting.”

He asked me to pack him a piece in his lunchbox though, so he must have liked it after all.

Me, I like anything to do with bread.

Strawberry Focaccia with Honey-Balsamic Onions
Adapted from Saveur

For Bread:
1 tbsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water (100-110F)
1 tsp honey
2 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup strong/bread flour and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra

For Topping:
1 medium sweet onion, quartered and sliced thin
2 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
8-10 basil leaves, sliced (I used rosemary instead, but basil is probably better)
sea salt
extra olive oil

Mix yeast, warm water, and honey together. Set aside until foamy, then add olive oil. Mix together flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast/oil mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough pulls together (it will be sticky). Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Grease a bowl with olive oil and put the dough back into the bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm location, until doubled, about 1 hour.

Grease a 9×13 baking sheet with olive oil. Press dough into pan, making indentations with fingers. Brush with another tbsp olive oil and let rise another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450F.

Meanwhile, heat a tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook gently until browned and caramelized (10 minutes or so). Add balsamic vinegar and honey to onions and continue to cook until most of liquid has evaporated and onions are sticky and deep brown.

Scatter strawberries, onions, and basil over unbaked focaccia. Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt. Bake for 20 minutes until top of focaccia is browned.

Grilled Sweet Corn Salsa

I love grilling.  Oh, I don’t grill, myself.  But it’s one of the only ways to get my husband to do the cooking.

That’s not the only reason I like it though.  Everything tastes better after it’s been on the barbecue.  The smoky, caramelized flavor that comes from food cooked on a direct flame is so summery and redolent of the great outdoors.  And cooking outdoors (and eating on the balcony) makes me feel like I’m channeling Ina Garten, strangely.  Speaking of whom, did you all see the last episode of this season’s 30 Rock and Ina Garten’s cameo?  LOVED it.

I’ve been trying to cook with more variety on the grill, so that cooking on the barbecue isn’t just a meat-fest with burgers and sausages.  So last night I decided to grill a piece of wild salmon, and since white corn is in season, I bought a few ears to grill alongside.

While I personally like corn-on-the-cob, I always get stuff stuck between my teeth when I’m trying to tear off those corn kernels, so I decided to cut the kernels off and toss it with some avocados, tomatoes, onion, cilantro and lime juice.  The resulting salsa?  Phenomenal.  Absolutely better than I thought it would be.  The sweetness of the white corn marries perfectly with the tartness of the lime juice, with the avocados giving it some creaminess.  We had it on top of the salmon, but I could have sat there and eaten the whole bowl of corn salsa by itself.  I loved the hint of smokiness imparted by grilling, but you could make this salsa with boiled corn too with great results.

We tried grilling 2 ears of corn with husks on, and 1 ear of corn without the husks, and we both liked the corn grilled in the husk.  The husks seemed to protect the corn kernels from drying out too much, leaving them plump even after grilling, and the corn still got those lovely grill marks through the husk.  It gets a bit messy when you’re trying to pull the charred husks off the corn though, so you might want to do it outside.  Alternatively, you could boil the corn first, and then finish the ears on the grill.

Grilled Corn Salsa

3 large ears sweet white corn
1 avocado (ripe but not mushy), diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1 juicy lime (or two not-so-juicy limes)

Preheat the grill on medium. Pull off all of the corn husks except for 2 layers next to the corn kernels. Be sure to remove all of the corn silk (this will catch fire). Place corn on grill. Cover and cook on medium to medium-low (depending on your barbecue) for 10-15 minutes, turning frequently, until kernels are soft and husks are charred. Check frequently to ensure husks aren’t catching fire, and keep a spray bottle on hand for flare-ups.

When cooked, remove corn from grill. Cool a few minutes, then use a sharp knife to slice off the kernels into a bowl. Combine with avocado, tomato, cilantro, jalapeno, onion and lime juice. Season with salt to taste.

Serve warm, or let cool to room temperature before serving.

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Pie

Strawberry season!  It’s strawberry season!  Whoohoo!

Can you tell how excited I am?  I mean, amazingly sweet, luscious strawberries are at the market for $0.97 a basket.  WOWEEE!

We’ve been eating them on our pancakes, over yogurt, drizzled with vinegar in green salads, and neat.  And today, a strawberry pie was my goal.

Yes, I know that most people don’t cook up the strawberries when they make strawberry pies.  Most of the recipes I’ve seen have been 1) Strawberry-rhubarb pies, 2) fresh strawberries piled in a pie shell and glazed, 3) gelatinous globs of jello in a pie shell, or something else.  I couldn’t for the life of me find a straight-up, cooked strawberry pie from a reputable source.  I don’t know why that is.  I agree that fresh strawberries are fantastic, but they’re so hard to eat when you stick them in a pie shell and then try to cut the pie into slices.  And honestly, I’d rather eat fresh strawberries sans the cornstarch-laced glaze.  If I have to eat cornstarch, I’d like it in a gooey berry-full pie filling, please.

Plus, I’ll take any excuse to make a lattice crust.  Isn’t there just something about a lattice crust that makes you think…pink gingham aprons, ruffled curtains, open windows, and a vintage ice cream truck pulling over in front of the house?  Anyone?

So here’s my version of an old-fashioned, straight up strawberry pie.  No rhubarb.  No jello.  Just delicious buttery pastry and juicy strawberry filling.

I have to say, I outdid myself on the crust this time.  It’s really flaky and flavorful.  I left larger chunks of butter this time before bringing the dough together with a bit of water, which helped a lot.  My strawberries were pretty ripe, so just 3/4 cup of light brown sugar was enough to make them sweet, but not too sweet.

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Pie

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, chilled and cubed
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup ice water (or more)

5 cups strawberries
3/4 cup golden brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp cornstarch
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a bowl place the flour, sugar, salt and cubes of chilled butter. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, until largest pieces are about pea-sized. Add ice water little by little while mixing dough. When dough holds together when you squeeze it, it’s ready. Gather into a ball. Divide into two equal balls, wrap in plastic, and chill in fridge while making filling.

Wash, halve, and hull the strawberries. Mix with rest of filling ingredients and place aside in a bowl.

Roll out the bottom crust and place it in a pie pan, trimming it about 1 inch over the edge. Place pie pan in freezer while you roll out the top crust.

Roll out the second ball of dough, and cut it into strips with a sharp knife. Remove the pie pan from freezer, and pour the strawberry filling into bottom crust. Place or weave the strips of dough into a lattice on top of the filling and trim strips 1/2 inch over edge. Fold bottom crust over lattice strips and crimp.

Bake 15 minutes at 400F, then lower oven temp to 350F for another hour, or until crust is browned and filling is bubbling. If crust is browning too fast, cover edges with strips of foil.

Let cool and serve!