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Thoughts, observations, and introspections from an art student waiter/bartender in South Beach. Arcane humor ensues.
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:: Wednesday, July 09, 2008 ::

:: Cooking ::
Anyone who reads my blog knows I love to eat and from various posts you've probably figured out I love to cook. (If you love eating as much as I do and eat out all the time, you'd have to be rich or you'd go broke. I weigh over 200 pounds and that's not from eating out.) One of the cool quirks about working for restaurants is that you learn not just recipes, but how to match certain flavors.

(True story, of all the women I've dated - and there really hasn't that many - I've always been the better cook. Sad but true. I'm okay, but not great.) At my last job at Seafood Grille, I stole their recipe for Marsala sauce, which goes great with chicken, veal, or shrimp. I also made their shrimp scampi sauce, both of which I've made at home a few times. The Ex was very appreciative when I made these.

Now, while my cooking isn't so advanced that I can make some of the fancy stuff at Swanky Trendy Restaurant, learning their menu and the ingredients in the dishes inspired me to try and experiment. For example, we have fresh ceviché that's different each day of the week and I've made experimented with different sorts of ceviché (grouper, snapper, salmon, scallops) at home many times.

I'm not a good enough cook that I can replicate Swank's entrees but I'm decent enough that I don't worry about going hungry.

One recipe that I pulled out of my ass (not literally... that would be gross) is a cedar-planked salmon filet with an orange-rum reduction sauce that I whipped together. I like it enough to put it in my regular rotation and my bartender seemed intrigued enough to pester me for the recipe. I gave it to her, so I'll share it with you readers.

1 pound salmon fillets (cut into two pieces)
1 cedar plank (large enough to hold two filets)
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons brown sugar
Kosher salt, coriander, freshly cracked black pepper

Orange-Rum Sauce
2 medium to large oranges
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Fresh Pepper
Crushed red pepper
8 oz. light rum. (I used Bacardi)
4 pats of butter
1/4 cup heavy cream optional

(All measurements are estimates. I don't own measuring spoons or cups.)

First off, pour two ounces of the light rum. Mix with Cola, ice, and a lime wedge and enjoy the drink. If you have a bottle, repeat as needed.

Soak cedar plank in salted water for at least an hour. Overnight is good. Season the salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. (Don't be afraid of salt; salt is flavor.) Lay the salmon skin-side down on the cedar plank and spread the mustard over the top and sides. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the mustard.

This is probably better over a charcoal grill but I don't have one, so I did mine in an oven. Preheat the oven to 350º. I cook about 15 minutes since I like my meat medium rare or less. Adjust per your preferences.

While the salmon is cooking, prepare the sauce. Squeeze the juice out of the oranges straight into a non-stick saucepan (remove the seeds, but leave some of pulp... that's flavor) over medium-low heat. Add the Dijon, Worcestershire (a teaspoon worth, I think), and the pepper (less if you can't handle heat... wimp). Whisk the sauce briskly and constantly until it reduces somewhat (again, I did this by "feel" so your mileage - especially if you have an electric stovetop - will vary) after which you turn the heat up to medium, dump the remaining 6 oz. rum into the saucepan. Let the rum catch fire (again, gas stoves help) and keep whisking until the fire dies down.

When the fire is gone, remove from heat, add the butter (cream optional) and whisk into the sauce until the butter is melted.

When the salmon is done, you can serve it one the cedar planks or move the filets to plates, depending on how much cleaning you like to do. Pour the orange-rum sauce over the salmon and serve immediately. Accompany with mashed potatoes or roasted spring veggies. Compliment it with a dry American Pale Ale: or an I.P.A. or if you prefer wines, an earthy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (California versions can be too heavy and oakey) or a robust Gewürztraminer.

Try it and report back to me about how much you loved it. Or if you have any ideas that might make it better I'm open to suggestions.

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:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 1:22 AM [+] :: | 0 comments

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