I love it when everything just falls into place without extra planning or trips to the store. When a spontaneous idea and a refrigerator packed with leftover food from the holidays fit together perfectly like pieces in a puzzle. Today, as I stared into the obis of my stuffed refrigerator an idea for tonight’s dinner just fell into place. As my eyes traveled from the stacks of containers filled with rice to the other remains of our holiday meal it dawned on me, I could make fried rice. I have plenty of rice and salmon, now all I need is cabbage.
Searching through the maze of leftovers was like looking for a misplaced set of keys. “I know it’s in here somewhere”. That one missing thing which is usually right in front of your nose but, you can’t find it anywhere. Fortunately, without emptying my whole refrigerator I found what I was looking for staring right back at me, was a container full of roasted Brussels sprouts. Ah ha, Brussels sprouts are members of the cabbage family, right? Yes. Whoop whoop, no need to run to the store, I’ve got everything I need all in one place. A dinner of fried rice solves four problems at the same time: use up some of the rice, use up some of the Christmas Eve dinner leftovers, clear out space in my refrigerator, and make tonight’s dinner. Fried rice made with poached salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts for the win.
This recipe is lightly based on an old recipe in Silver Palette New Basics Cookbook, Fried Rice with Shrimp. I used it as a foundation along with one in Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee. My recipe builds on the concept of making a substantial meal from ingredients that by themselves are too small. One 8-ounce piece of salmon isn’t big enough to feed a family. However, when you combine it with ingredients like rice and vegetables, it makes a full meal with plenty to go around. My family loves fried rice and always orders it when we eat out for Chinese food. Why not make it at home and use up some of the leftovers? It is too good to save for takeout.
I made fried rice with salmon because that is what I have, but if you have tons of turkey, ham, pork, chicken, or goose from Christmas dinner you can’t go wrong mixing any of those foods with fried rice. You can also switch up the vegetables. Instead of cabbage or Brussels sprouts use, broccoli, asparagus, peas, sugar snap peas, kale, green beans, or Swiss chard. You can make it with prepared food, or entirely from scratch. Heat up, or cook each ingredient separately in a wok or skillet, then toss everything together with a soy sauce and sherry seasoning.
A nice garnish with the salmon fried rice is removing the skin off the salmon and frying it. You get very crispy salmon skin pieces to mix in with the soft rice. It is a nice contrast and tastes great. I cut the skin into strips then fried it in peanut oil. You could fry the skin whole then break it into smaller pieces if you wish. Just cook it till it is dark brown and very crispy then sprinkle some salt over the crackly skin when you are done.
Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts
- 5 TB peanut oil or canola oil divided
- 2- inch piece of fresh ginger root peeled and minced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/3 lb 8 large shrimp, cut into thirds (optional)
- Kosher Salt to taste
- 8 oz 201 g cooked salmon
- 1 onion thinly sliced into half-moon pieces
- 7 oz 201 g cooked Brussels sprouts, slivered (or 1/2 half a head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced)
- 1-2 medium carrots 2.25 oz / 61 g julienne
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 3 cups 14.5 oz / 412 g cooked rice
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sherry or vermouth
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 TB sherry vinegar
- Garnish with fried salmon skin or chopped peanuts, sliced scallions, or sesame seeds
Heat 2 TB peanut oil or canola oil in a large skillet, set at medium high. Add the half of the minced ginger and minced garlic and sauté until soft, but not brown. Add the prepared shrimp and cook until just done. The shrimp will no longer be translucent, and are tender when pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a plate and reserve. Add the salmon and sear on the top and bottom sides of the salmon of a couple of minutes. Remove the salmon and reserve.
Add 2 TB of peanut oil or canola oil to the pan and heat. When warm add sliced onion and cook until soften, but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and ginger and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrots and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the cooked Brussels sprouts (or fresh Napa cabbage) and cook until warmed through. If you are cooking fresh vegetables cook until soft but retains some of the bright green color, about 10 minutes. Season the vegetables with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
If using peas add them to the vegetables and cook until heated through. Remove the vegetables from the pan and keep warm.
Combine the soy sauce, vermouth or sherry, and hot sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Wipe out the pan and add the last tablespoon of oil and heat up. Add the rice and cook until warmed through.
Break apart the salmon to large flaky pieces and add to the rice. Add the vegetables, shrimp and soy/sherry or vermouth mixture and toss to coat. Cook until the rice mixture is hot.
Make a well in the center of the rice and pour the eggs into the well. Cook undisturbed for about one minute then stir the eggs with a fork to encourage the eggs to make small curds. Mix the eggs with rice and vegetables until cooked through.
Turn off the heat and add the sherry vinegar. Stir.
Garnish with your favorite garnishes, like sliced scallions, parsley, basil, chopped salted peanuts or pistachios, salmon skin cracklings, or sesame seeds.
To make the fried salmon skin, add 2-3 tablespoons of oil to a skillet or wok and heat on medium high. Add the skin to the hot skillet and cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes. Stir to cook the skin on all sides and not burn. When crisp and brown, remove the skin using a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Sprinkle with a small pinch of Kosher salt.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Most of us had, and possibly still have, foods we did not, or still won’t, eat. Currently, raw oysters are on my list of undesirable foods, but when I was a kid I disliked peas, mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. Honestly, it is a miracle I overcame any of my childhood food prejudices, especially vegetables. Mom only made frozen vegetables and she burnt them 8 times out of 10. Over time I grew to love all vegetables with Brussels sprouts being the last holdout.
About 15 years ago at a holiday celebration, a beautiful plate of Brussels sprouts was served with dinner. Up until then I did not give this cruciferous vegetable any thought or attention, but out of politeness and curiosity I put aside my childhood opinion and ate them. After one small spoonful of Brussels sprouts, my attitude changed forever. I cannot remember how my sister-in-law made them, but what I do remember was how surprisingly sweet they tasted. Even with the innate bitter components found in all types of cabbages, a tender and sweet flavor emerged. My sister-in-law’s meal tasted nothing like the Brussels sprouts of my childhood.
It is possible my attitude changed because now I tolerate bitter flavors. Whatever the reason, Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables during the fall and winter seasons. The key to delicious and sweeter tasting Brussels sprouts is cooking them properly. What I learned over the years is, they taste their best with fast cooking methods because the longer they cook the more bitter they taste. The cooking method that retains the most amount of nutritional benefits is steaming them. This is true for all vegetables. Yet, I like to sauté, braise or roast Brussels sprouts. Each technique creates a caramelized sear on the sprouts that add contrasting color and flavor. They are not as quick to prepare as green beans or asparagus,, but like most green vegetables they finish cooking within 20 minutes.
How to Cook Brussels Sprouts
This recipe uses two cooking methods. I first sear them in a hot skillet. Once they are nicely browned I add garlic, shallots and add some hot red pepper flakes then sauté them with the Brussels sprouts. For this recipe, I add the garlic after I sear the Brussels sprouts because I do not want the garlic to brown or burn. Then, I braise them in stock or water until they are just tender. I believe the steam from the liquid cooks them faster than they would if only sautéed. Plus the liquid gives the Brussels sprouts a nice coating for the pomegranate glaze to adhere to. Once they finish cooking, I add a glaze of butter and pomegranate molasses over the tender sprouts. It is just that simple.
The pomegranate molasses has a bitter-sweet taste adding just a touch of acid to brighten up the flavor. You can find pomegranate molasses at specialty markets, like Middle Eastern markets or Asian markets, or online. Or, you can make it. I recommend store-bought pomegranate molasses because it has a long shelf life. You can also use pomegranate molasses in a variety of recipes like, Muhammara.
There are so many variations for additions and garnishes for this meal. I added pomegranate seeds for a pop of color and compliment the pomegranate molasses. A touch of acid like lemon juice brightens the meal, but too much lemon juice, or any acid, will change the color to a drab green.
Other nice additions are crispy pancetta or fried prosciutto. Anything salty like cured meats or anchovies will cut out some of the bitter flavor. If you use anchovies, omit the pomegranate molasses.
Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Glaze
- 1.5 lbs (750 g) Brussels Sprouts
- 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt plus more to taste
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cloves shallots thinly sliced in half moons
- 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or dried red pepper flakes
- 1/2 - 2/3 cup (125 - 150 ml) chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
- 2 TB butter
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
- Fresh ground black pepper to Taste
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds or fried slices of prosciutto, or crispy pancetta (optional)
Wash and dry the Brussels sprouts. Cut off the bottom stem then slice the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise. Remove any loose outer leaves that are not in good shape.
Add 2 TB of extra virgin olive oil to a very large skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the olive oil starts to shimmer add the Brussels sprouts and lay them cut side down. Sear the Brussels Sprouts until golden about 2-3 minutes. Once seared to your desired color, stir them around then add the minced garlic and sliced shallots. Cook until the shallots start to soften, about 2 minutes.
Add the stock or water, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook until the Brussels sprouts are tender in the middle, when pierced with a fork. about 7-9 minutes.
When the Brussels Sprouts are tender, remove the lid and cook off any remaining liquid in the pan.
Once the pan is just dry, add the butter, or 1 TB olive oil for a vegan dish, and pomegranate molasses, stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with pomegranate molasses, lemon zest, and or crispy prosciutto.
If you are cooking for a large crowd, roasting Brussels sprouts is the easiest way to prepare them. Coat them in extra virgin olive oil and roast in a 400°F / 200°C oven for about 35 minutes on rimmed sheet pans. Turn them over from time to time during roasting. Add the pomegranate molasses immediately after they finish roasting with extra olive oil or melted butter and salt and pepper to taste.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
When I was a young child, Mom rarely made fish for dinner. It was just something we had now and then. That suited me just fine because the thought of eating fish made me cringe. When Mom did cook fish, it was usually sole drenched in Cream of Mushroom Soup, or baked with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs till it was all dried out. It’s odd to think about because Mom loved sole, especially sole made with the classic French butter and wine sauces, but she never made her favorite sole dishes at home. Fortunately, attitudes toward eating and preparing fish have changed since the 60’s, mine included. Now, I love fish and eat it at least once a week. When I want a change of pace, I make filet of sole for a special treat.
Sole is a common flat fish with tender white flesh filets. The meat has a subtle fish flavor and is very moist. The filets will easily break apart if cooked too long and requires gentle cooking methods. The only tricky part about cooking sole is making sure you don’t overcook it. I discovered from Cooks Illustrated, a great technique of rolling up each filet with a mixture of herbs, then cooking the filets in the oven. This method sways the odds in favor of getting perfectly cooked sole and one I use often.
One of my favorite ways to cook fish is to oven poach it with wine or fish stock, as in Salmon in Spinach Butter Sauce. This technique is not a true poaching method, but also creates steam to cook the fish. There is a layer of liquid in the bottom of the baking dish and a piece of parchment paper nestled over the fish. The parchment paper captures the steam rising from the liquid and cooks the fish. This technique never fails to produce moist and tender fish. It is a perfect method for cooking filet of sole wrapped in fresh herbs rolled up in a neat package.
Choose what herbs you like to fill each sole filet. I left that part of the recipe open-ended for you to make it your own. The herbs in a blend don’t need to be in equal amounts either, but it is nice to taste the presence of each herb and not have one herb dominate the rest. If you only want to use two herbs, parsley is a good foundation and either dill or tarragon are wonderful with fish. All the herbs listed have a prominent taste, so keep in mind the other herbs used in your accompanying side dishes.
It wasn’t until I read the cookbook, Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, that I got braver about combining more than one fresh herb in cooking. I learned from this book that a prominent characteristic in Middle Eastern Cuisine is the generous use of fresh herbs. All these fresh herbs create food that is fresh tasting and vibrant. A classic herb blend in the Middle East is parsley, cilantro, dill and mint and works well with sole. For a French twist use Fines Herbs, it is a mix of parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives. This blend of herbs inspired my Fresh Herb and Goat Cheese Omelet.
For special occasions I like to make a sauce with the pan juices. Unfortunately, the butter sauce I made was too rich and turned me off. So, I nixed it and am totally happy about it. This meal does not need it. There is enough flavor between the herbs and fish without adding the extra rich sauce and calories. Save some room for dessert like this Lemon Saffron Syrup Cake. The poaching liquid with the herbed sole keeps the filets moist and has a mild flavor of its own. Use the pan juices sparingly, as a time-saving and healthy alternative to butter sauce. If you want a butter sauce use the poaching liquid from the sole and make the spinach butter sauce linked in this post.
Helpful Kitchen Tools for Cooking Sole
Often, I stay away from specialty kitchen gadgets, especially one’s that only have one purpose. They are pricey and take up valuable space. However, a fish spatula, aka slotted offset spatula, is one I highly recommend. The good news is, fish spatulas are affordable and useful with other foods besides fish. This sturdy, thin and flexible spatula slips easily under fish without ripping at the fresh. Regular spatulas don’t have the same ease of use and flexibility as the fish spatula has. I use this spatula every day and often use it instead of tongs because it does not rip up the food. The best rated fish spatula is by Victorinox available on Amazon, and housewares stores. Not all fish spatulas are alike, so I recommend reading the article linked above to learn about the differences between the brands.
Oven-Poached Sole Wrapped in Fresh Herbs
- 8 filets grey sole about 4 - 6 oz (125 g -175 g) each
- 1 heaping cup (250 ml) 2-3 types of minced fresh herbs like parsley, dill, tarragon, cilantro, or basil. About 1 TB of minced herbs covers each filet of sole. An additional tablespoon of the minced herbs is used in the bread crumbs.
- Zest from 1 1/2 lemons
- 2 ½ TB butter divided
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) panko bread crumbs, or homemade
- 3/4 cup (185 ml) dry white wine, dry vermouth, fish or vegetable stock, or a combination of wine and stock.
- 8 half-moon slices of lemon about 1½ lemons
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C / Gas Mark 4
Butter the bottom of a baking dish large enough to just fit all rolled up sole filets.
Gather all the herbs you are using. Make sure they are washed as parsley and cilantro get very sandy. I used parsley, dill and tarragon but not in equal amounts. Another mix I also recommend is parsley, basil and tarragon, or parsley, dill and cilantro. Mince the fresh herbs and add to a small bowl. Add the grated lemon zest to the herbs and mix to combine.
Reserve all but a heaping tablespoon of the mixed herbs.
In a small bowl add the breadcrumbs and 1 TB of mixed herbs and stir to combine.
Toast the breadcrumbs. Add one tablespoon of butter into a skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the butter is melted, add the breadcrumbs and stir to coat them with the butter. Toast the breadcrumbs until they are golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
Pour the toasted breadcrumbs on a plate to stop cooking. Reserve.
Lay your sole filets, skin side down on a clean work surface and lightly sprinkle Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper over each filet. Evenly spread about a tablespoon of the herb and lemon zest mixture over each filet.
Start at the tail end, it looks pointed compared to the squared off head end, and roll up each filet. Place each filet of sole into the buttered baking dish seam side down, and arrange the half-moon slices of lemon between each filet. Arrange any extra lemon slices around the fish in the baking dish.
Cut up 1½ TB of butter into 8 pieces and place on top of each filet. Pour in the wine, or liquid of your choice. Add a sprig of one of the herbs you put in the herb mixtures into the wine. Lightly butter a piece of parchment paper large enough to fit inside the baking dish and cover the fish. Nestle the buttered piece of parchment paper into the baking dish so it completely covers the fish and creates a domed cover. Cover the baking dish with a piece of aluminum foil.
Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Peek at your filets to gauge how they are progressing. Continue to cook until and check every 3 minutes until the sole filets are done. Mine took about 15 minutes, but they could take up to 20 minutes. The filets are done when they look milky white. As the fish cooks the flesh will turn from translucent to opaque and easily spring back when touched. The fish should also look moist. If it flakes apart it is overcooked. You can remove the fish from the oven just shy of being done, and allow the residual heat to continue the cooking process.
Once done, arrange the filets with the lemon slices on a warm serving platter, or on individual plates. Pour some of the poaching liquid over the filets then sprinkle each filet with the bread crumbs and more minced herbs.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
As I anticipate my family being together for the holiday, my thoughts move toward their favorite meals. When we are all together I try to make an old family favorite like Spaghetti and Turkey Meat Sauce, Tortellini with Basil Pesto, and Pasta with Sausage and Brussels Sprouts, for dinner as well as something new. It is not surprising to see at the top of the list of favorite dinners are pasta meals. When the kids were home, pasta dinners were king, and nothing goes better with pasta than homemade garlic bread.
Joe’s Dough, my husband’s artisan homemade bread, is also a family favorite, so whenever there is a surplus of sourdough batards, I make garlic bread. What’s not to love about warm bread bathed in butter and garlic? The sweet buttery smell of garlic bread baking in the oven is enough to take me on a dream vacation to the Mediterranean.
As much as I love garlic, it also has a dark side and a reputation for repelling friends and foes away. Often, food made with raw garlic is harsh and sticks around like an uninvited guest who stays for the week. When I used to make garlic bread with raw garlic, my Mediterranean fantasy quickly vanished with each reminder of its’ lingering presence. I totally believe garlic can scare away vampires because after eating a loaf of garlic bread made with raw garlic, the whole family disappears desperately seeking some fresh air.
Everything changed once I learned about toasting garlic cloves. This simple technique of dry toasting garlic cloves in a skillet, softens garlic’s harsh bite and lingering presence. The garlic becomes mellow, sweet and nutty like roasted garlic but not as strong. Toasted garlic mixed with soft butter, Romano cheese and fresh herbs, makes delicious garlic bread. The flavor is buttery and garlicky without being overwhelming.
This recipe is adapted from Cooks Illustrated 1999 recipe for garlic bread. I scaled down the amount of butter and garlic, but the technique is the same. What I learned over the years, is depending on the size and type of bread you use, determines the amount of butter you need.
Most recipes call for a whole stick of butter per 1-pound loaf of bread. When I make garlic bread, I found that a whole stick, (113 g), of butter was too much and made the garlic bread very greasy. Usually, I use between 4 tablespoons to 6 tablespoons (56 g – 84 g) of butter. Upon reflection, the bread I use is homemade sourdough batard which is very airy and light. There is less surface area to cover then a denser loaf, like Italian bread. This type of bread may require more butter than my sourdough batard. I recommend starting out with the less amount of butter and as you spread it over the surface add more if needed. Too much butter is as unpleasant as too much garlic.
I do like the two-step cooking process for garlic bread though. First, I wrap the bread in foil and bake in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes. This allows the garlic butter to melt into all the nooks and crannies throughout the bread. Then I unwrap the foil and open the bread buttered side up to brown in the oven. I prefer my garlic bread on the soft side, but if you like your bread crispy, place the bread under the broiler. Keep an eye on it, or you will end up with extra crispy garlic bread like the garlic bread pictured in this post.
Spice up your garlic bread by adding any of these ingredients:
Lemon zest, before or after cooking
Cayenne Pepper, about 1/8 teaspoon or to taste
More cheese, or two types of cheese like Fontinella and Romano
Change the fresh herbs to compliment your main entrée: rosemary, sage, basil, cilantro
Garlic Bread with Fresh Herbs
- 1- 1 lb (453 g) loaf of good quality bread, like Italian bread, Seeded Italian Bread, or Sourdough batard
- 4-6 TB (56 - 84 g) butter at room temperature, more or less depending on your bread
- 6 medium garlic cloves with skins left on
- 3 TB (14 g) grated Romano Cheese
- Pinch of sweet paprika
- Small handful of Italian parsley minced
- 4 basil leaves minced (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F /176°C and place the rack in the middle position.
Place a small heavy bottom skillet on a burner and turn the heat to medium-high. Heat the skillet for 3 minutes then add the garlic cloves, with their peel still intact, to the skillet. Toast the garlic cloves turning them over from time to time so each side gets nicely browned and the cloves soften, about 5-10 minutes. Some garlic cloves will take longer than others to finish toasting. Remove each garlic clove when you see they are soft and browned.
Once the garlic is done, let them cool slightly until you can handle them. Peel away the skin and cut off the root end. Cut the garlic in half lengthwise and remove the green germ if present.
On a cutting board, group the garlic cloves together, then roughly mince them. Sprinkle a small pinch of Kosher salt over the minced cloves. With the side of your chef knife, press down on the cloves and smear it to the side to mash the garlic. Clean of the garlic paste off the knife blade and repeat, pressing down and smearing the garlic with the side of the knife until a smooth paste is made.
In a small bowl add the soft room temperature butter, the garlic paste, grated Romano cheese and mix until evenly combined. Add half of the minced herbs and mix.
Use a serrated knife and cut the loaf of bread in half down the length of the loaf. Open the bread like a book with the cut side of each half facing up.
Spread the garlic butter evenly over the cut sides of both halves of bread. Sprinkle a light dusting of sweet paprika over the buttered bread and add the remaining fresh herbs.
Place the top half of bread over the bottom piece of bread and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake the garlic bread in the oven for 15 minutes
Unwrap the foil then open the bread halves so both buttered sides are facing up. Bake until the edges start to brown, about 5 minutes.
Or place under the broiler until the edges are browned and crispy.
If you want cheesy garlic bread, add additional grated cheese after the bread has baked in the foil. Sprinkle the cheese over the buttered surface of each half, then place under the broiler and broil until the cheese has melted. If you are adding lemon zest, don't place the garlic bread under the broiler. It may burn and taste bitter.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.