miso salmon

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People. This is a friendly reminder that Mercury is in retrograde until the end of the month. This is why I haven’t been able to string more than two thoughts together in a coherent manner for weeks. This is why I referred to Whitney Houston’s voice as crystal glass on the way to Tahoe two weekends ago. This is why you might be feeling crazy right now. I know I’ve mentioned Mercury retrograde here in the past. But these are serious times. Anyway, don’t go signing any contracts until it’s over. And get out your crystals. Godspeed.

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Now, let’s talk salmon. I realized recently, while having dinner with a friend, that I almost never order salmon at restaurants. One of the few exceptions is salmon nigiri and sashimi, which I love. It’s not that I don’t like salmon, I just tend to think of it as something that can easily be prepared at home, which I do fairly often. 

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I discovered this gem while searching for new salmon recipes a few years back and have been making it on the reg ever since. It’s one of my go-tos. This is what I commonly refer to as real-life cooking. Unlike the cakes and cookies and other decadent goodies you can expect from us here, this is the type of dish you’ll find yourself making again and again, for dinner, for lunch, for yourself, for family and friends, any night of the week.

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This is a foolproof recipe. I love it because it’s easy enough to throw together after a long day of work, and requires just a handful of ingredients. And since it’s broiled, it cooks in a heartbeat. Aside from the simplicity factor, it’s a winner on many levels. The miso keeps the salmon moist and packs a ton of flavor. It’s rich in omega-3s, which is so much more enjoyable than popping those capsules. And it actually keeps well, which means you have lunch for tomorrow. I like it on top of a bed of romaine or greens, with a couple of slices of persian cucumber and avocado, a splash of tamari or Bragg’s, and a squeeze of lemon.

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miso salmon

from Eating Well

serves 4

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

2 tablespoons sweet white miso paste

2 tablespoons mirin, (Japanese rice wine)

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, or tamari 

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

A few drops hot pepper sauce

1 -1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions

2 – 4 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

2 – 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Position oven rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Line a baking pan with foil or parchment paper. If using foil, coat lightly with cooking spray.

Toast sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

Whisk miso, mirin, soy sauce (or tamari), ginger and hot pepper sauce in a small bowl until smooth.

Place salmon fillets, skin-side down, in the prepared pan. Brush generously with the miso mixture. Broil salmon, 3 to 4 inches from the heat source, until opaque in the center, 6 to 8 minutes.

Transfer the salmon to warmed plates and garnish with the reserved sesame seeds, scallions and cilantro.

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blood orange olive oil cake

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Is anyone else ready for a vacation? I want pool time and cocktails and sleeping in. All at once. Oh, the things I would do for a break right now. Even just for a weekend. I think we need to do some prioritizing around here to make this happen. I’m ready to bust out the resort wear.         

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The good news is we have cake. And this cake, my friends, is a keeper. For the past three years, I’ve been on a search for the perfect blood orange cake. I’m not even exaggerating. It has taken me years and lots of experimenting to find one I really like. Every winter, during the small window of time that is blood orange season, I try at least one blood orange cake recipe. I’ve tried at least four recipes, possibly more,  some more than once. One recipe called for orange segments, one recipe called for whole oranges, skin and all. Another was a sort of chiffon cake. A few of them were pretty good. None of them were outstanding.

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I’m happy to report that the search has finally come to an end. I’d been hoping to find a recipe that incorporated both oranges and olive oil. And out of practically nowhere, I found exactly what I had been looking for.

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Here’s what I love about this cake:

It has a pronounced orange flavor, both in the cake and the icing. The cake has the essence of blood orange from the grated zest and juice. And the icing, with it’s tart, berry-ness is perfection.  

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Thanks to the olive oil, it is incredibly moist and has a very distinct, almost savory flavor. 

It’s such a pretty thang. I’ve got a secret weakness for pink frosting, and the bold color of the blood orange juice produces an electric pink icing when added to a scoop of powdered sugar.  And it’s totally natural. AND we’re just in time for Valentine’s Day. A pink glazed cake is the perfect alternative to chocolate on V-Day. xoxo.

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blood orange olive oil cake

adapted from Leite’s Culinaria

serves 12-14

2 tablespoons unsalted butter for pan 

6-8  blood oranges

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

5 large eggs

2-3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 -1/2 cups mild extra-virgin olive oil

 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

4 tablespoons blood orange juice 

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Coat a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan with butter and dust with flour.  Set aside.

Finely grate the zest of 4 of the oranges, then squeeze 6 of them. You should have 1-1/2 cups of juice; if not, squeeze another orange. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the orange juice and zest and whirl for a few seconds to bring the batter together.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely. Place it in a covered cake stand and let it sit overnight.

In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons of blood orange juice. Whisk until completely smooth and has reached a thick but pourable consistency, similar to that of honey. Add more powdered sugar or juice if necessary. Pour the mixture over the cake and let set.

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