Salmon with a Pomegranate Glaze

salmon-pomegranate

As you get to know Discovery Cooking, you’ll probably figure out that we don’t really emphasize quick cooking. That doesn’t mean every dish has to be a long, elaborate undertaking. Case in point: This quick, easy way to prepare a salmon filet.

The key ingredient is a pomegranate syrup that embodies a sweet-sour combination that’s perfect for grilled salmon. It’s easy to make in advance and can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Apricot Breakfast Cake

This apricot breakfast cake is a light, almost spongecake, breakfast or coffee cake that’s easy. The texture comes mostly from the technique rather than the ingredients.

Generally, the recipe is equal parts (by weight) butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Add apricots (canned are more than fine for this, or you can, as I did, saute fresh apricots with a bit of butter and sugar to taste) a pinch of salt, and baking powder. Some lemon juice and lemon zest make it complete.

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Ras El Hanout (Moroccan Spice Blend)

I’m told the translation of Ras El Hanout is “head of the shelf” or something like that. It’s a premium blend of spices found in North Africa. It’s not a set recipe. It’s supposed to be a blend of the best spices a spice shop has to offer and for each shop, the recipe varies a bit.

I haven’t yet found a local shop that sells Ras El Hanout, so for now, at least, I’ve blended my own, after reading a half-dozen variations on the web.

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Simple Sauteed Shrimp

Simple shrimp saute

Choosing the first  dish to write about seemed like it should be a momentous decision, but in the end, not so much. This is a long road, so one place is as good a place to start and any other.

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve thought seriously about food is that some of the most impressive and delicious meals consist of good ingredients prepared in a simple way, and that’s especially true of seafood.

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Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are a staple condiment in Moroccan cuisine and are frequently used in tagine recipes. They’re easy to make and they’re also very good on salads or with seafood. As you’ll find out, however, they are very salty, so a little goes a long way and think (or taste) twice before you add any salt to a recipe that has preserved lemons in it.

Here’s the how to:

  • Clean and sterilize a pint canning jar.
  • Wash five or more lemons (I like Meyer lemons, but any kind can be used).
  • Slice the lemons twice length-wise almost but not quite all the way through. They’ll be quartered and will open like a flower.
  • Thoroughly salt the split lemons on the inside using kosher salt and stuff them in the jar.
  • Add the juice from two more lemons and a couple of tablespoons more of kosher salt.
  • Fill the jar with water and screw on the lid.
  • Leave them at room temperature for five or six days, inverting the jar once each day.
  • Place in the refrigerator after the six days are up and leave them alone for 3-4 weeks.

After that, start cooking some Moroccan food!

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Off & Running

All Posts | May 29, 2014 | By

I thought I’d never retire. Then stuff happened. And now I’ve found myself with both the time and energy to pursue some long-neglected dreams. Discovery Cooking is one of them.

HPIM0898For four decades, I’ve been a writer, first as a journalist and later as a communications/PR guy. One of the unexpected benefits of that career is that I was exposed to an incredible variety of food (good and bad), from the small-town diners where I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, to banquets and hotel catering when I was a business and political journalist, to parties lavish and intimate.

I’ve traveled a lot over those decades, for business and pleasure. I’ve dined in New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Lyon, Dijon, Reims, Singapore, Cairo and a long list of other places less famous.

In the process, I came to appreciate food and wine, not for its nourishment alone (though that’s of course important) but for its ability to transform an everyday necessity into a memorable experience. I’ve long envied those lucky enough to write about food for their livelihood and admired the chefs who create those magnificent experiences I’ve enjoyed from time to time (along with the sous chefs, line cooks and others who get them to the table night after night).

And so, I’m embarking on a journey of discovery. The goal is simple: to learn what makes great food, to learn how to do it myself, and to write about it.

I hate to travel alone. So come join me on my journey…

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Branzino

Fish, Ingredients | May 29, 2014 | By

branzino

Branzino – Credit: Citron / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Branzino is a salt-water fish that can be foundĀ  in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Technically, it is the only member of the bass family native to the region. Highly regarded as a table fish, branzino is often marketed as Mediterranean seabass, loup de mer, robalo, lubina, spigola, branzini, bronzino, or bronzini. The Greek name is lavraki.

Branzino has a white flesh with a firm, light, flaky texture and mild flavor. It can grow as long as a meter (39 inches) but the typical ones found at a seafood market are 10-14 inches.

Like many fish, it is best-prepared simply by flash searing, steaming or poaching so as not to over-power its mild flavors.

There are sustainability issues with wild-caught branzino, so farm-raised fish are a better choice and actually, more easily found.

The nearest substitute might be mackerel or tilapia.

 

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