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The Dinner Party Collective – Full Spring Menu and Smoked Salmon Recipe

October 10, 2015 8 comments

TDPC Logo The Dinner Party CollectiveAs Fall settling in the most of the Northern Hemisphere (slowly, I have to admit – it is still very warm and green here in Connecticut), the Spring is coming to the people of Southern Hemisphere, who are I’m sure very happy to forget the cold and embrace the sun. With Spring comes The Dinner Party Collective Spring Menu (if you need more information about The Dinner Party Collective, please see one of my previous posts about TDPC, as we call it for short).

Our Spring Menu had been fully published, and I was very happy to pair all the delicious dishes the wines, as you will see below in the wine pairing suggestions post:

Spring Menu 2015

Wine Pairings – Spring Menu

Appetizer – Smoked Salmon Salad

Main course – Lemon Thyme Lamb Racks with Goat Cheese Aioli

Dessert – Lemon & Coconut Cheesecake with Strawberry Purée

I think all the dishes are absolutely spectacular, and I hope you are all already inviting your friends over for a delicious dinner (and let me know how the wine pairings would work).

This time around, I want to take a liberty to add a little trick, if you will, to one of the dishes on this menu – a Smoked Salmon Salad created by Margot from Gather and Graze. You see, my family loves smoked salmon in any shape and form – on the bagel, in the salad, in the appetizer, anywhere. When you buy smoked salmon from the store, there are couple of issues. First one is the taste and overall quality – sometimes it can be oversalted, dry or even rubbery. Second, the better quality smoked salmon is often quite expensive – Fairway store in Stamford charges $24 – $30 per pound of that smoked salmon. So instead of dealing with uncertain quality and high prices, you can make smoked salmon on your own – it is very easy – and you fully control the flavor profile. That’s right – when making smoked salmon on your own ( and you don’t have to make it taste “smoked” if you don’t like it), you can add any spices – dill, pepper, herbs – anything – and it is really easy to make.

Here is what you will need:

  • 3 lb fresh salmon fillet, preferably with the skin (make sure all the pin bones are removed)
  • 1 cup kosher salt (Kosher salt without iodine is a must for curing and brining)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I use “sugar in the raw”)
  • pepper – by your taste
  • liquid smoke (if you want to make “smoked salmon”)

Smoked Salmon RecipeAbove you see everything you need – please note the bottle of Liquid Smoke there  – available at most of the supermarkets or you can order it online. Few drops will impart smoke flavor on any dish you are making.

Prepare the mix of kosher salt, brown sugar and pepper – feel free to add any other spices here you would want to use, and mix it all up  – I do it right in the measuring glass:

Kosher Salt and Raw Sugar in the cupPut a very thin layer of the mix at the bottom of the large glass cooking dish (I’m sure you can use the foil tray as well, but I prefer using the glass tray), and put salmon filet on top:

Smoked Salmon - Step 1Now, completely cover the salmon with the mix, top and sides:

Smoked salmon - Step 2Cover with the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 24 hours. The next day, take it out of the fridge, and you will see something like that:

Smoked Salmon 24 hours markDrain the liquid (as much as you easily can, don’t strain it completely). Technically, salmon is now ready to eat – it is completely cured. From now on, I like to make it “smoked” so I add a few drops of Liquid Smoke all over salmon and around, cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for another 12 hours. Important note – the longer you will keep salmon with the salt, the drier and denser it will become, as it will lose more juice.

After 12 hours, your smoked salmon is fully ready – get it out of the fridge, wash it thoroughly to rid of any salt, and lay it to rest on the board – you can keep it there for an hour or even longer. This is how it will look like:

Smoked salmon  - doneI like to give it even longer rest time if I’m not too hungry, so I would typically wrap it completely into the plastic wrap and put it back in the fridge for a few hours. Salt dries the surface completely, so by letting the salmon rest, it will redistribute the juices so it will become all moist and delicious. Last step – slice and enjoy!

smoked salmon - slice and enjoy!I would typically slice it off the skin as needed, and keep the rest wrapped in the plastic wrap in the fridge. As it is cured, it will last for a pretty long time – between a week and two for sure. It is also very easy to freeze as it is, right in the plastic wrap – and it can be thawed quickly as needed.

There you have it my friends – a simple smoked salmon recipe. Yes, do that at home!

If you will decide to make it  – let me know how it will come out. Cheers!

 

 

The Dinner Party Collective – Full Fall/Autumn Menu

September 29, 2015 3 comments

TDPC Logo The Dinner Party CollectiveA quick update on the fun project I had been involved with – The Dinner Party Collective (TDPC for short). For those of you unfamiliar with TDPC – it is a collaborative project of food and wine bloggers, aimed at creating full dinner menus with focus on seasonal ingredients in both northern and southern hemispheres, and with all the dishes on the menu coming with suggested wine pairings. TDPC is a brain child of Margot from Gather and Graze, which started early in 2015. TDPC was mentioned in the WordPress article in July as one of the 4 food blogs to watch. Earlier in the year, we published a set of Winter and Summer menus.

Now the time has come for the Fall/Autumn and Spring menus. First, the Fall/Autumn menu was fully published, so here are all the links:

Autumn/Fall Menu Overview

Appetizer – Trio of Root Vegetable Dips

Main Course – Beef Bourguignon

Dessert – Blackberry Tart

All the recipes include wine pairing notes and suggestions from Stefano (Flora’s TableClicks & Corks).

Spring menu overview will be coming out tomorrow, with the wine pairings and all the dishes to follow. Happy cooking! Cheers!

The Dinner Party Collective – Full Winter Menu

June 24, 2015 4 comments

TDPC Logo The Dinner Party CollectiveLast week I presented to you a complete Summer Menu from The Dinner Party Collective project – and now the winter menu is published. Here are all the links for you in one place:

The Winter Menu | June 2015

Cremini Mushroom Soup | Winter Menu | Appetizer

Pan Fried Quail with Vincotto Glazed Grapes | Winter Menu | Main Course

Poached Pear Chocolate Puddings | Winter Menu | Dessert

Wine Pairings | Winter Menu | Southern Hemisphere | June 2015

Now we really need to hear from you, our readers – did you cook the full dinners or any of the separate dishes? If you did, how did you like it? Did you try the suggested wine pairings? If you did, what was your exact wine? Did the pairing work for you? Did you like the format of the menus? What would you change?

Bottom line – The Dinner Party Collective is a young project, and we need your feedback to help us grow, so get to it – set the date, call your friends and start cooking.

Meanwhile, I heard the season will change soon – and TDPC team is already back to the drawing board… Cheers!

The Dinner Party Collective – Full Summer Menu and Detailed Wine Notes

June 17, 2015 17 comments

TDPC Logo The Dinner Party CollectiveAs you might be aware, I was recently invited to join a group of food and wine bloggers to create full seasonal dinner menus with suggested wine pairings, to make it easy for the people to bring their friends and families together to have a great time, great meal and great conversation. The project was called The Dinner Party Collective, and after a few month of the hard work, we finally published the first menu, which we simply call a Summer Menu. As you can judge from the name, this is the suggested menu for the Northern Hemisphere, for those of us who are lucky (or not, if it is 90F and humid) to live through our summer season. The Winter menu will be published shortly.

I had a pleasure of pairing the Summer menu dishes with the wines. I don’t know how successful was that pairing, only you, dear readers, will be able to figure that out, hopefully after you will have the dinner based on those delicious recipes. I essentially created a long post, explaining the logic behind each suggested dish pairing, so I will not be repeating it here  – I will provide all the links for the Summer Menu at the end of this post, including the one on the pairing details. However, I still have a few wines to talk about here.

Salmon and Rosé

The main dish of the Summer Menu, Salmon Tikka, was not trivial for me to pair, due to the wide range of spices and the cooking method. I ended up cooking the dish, religiously following the recipe, and then invited a few friends to taste those potential pairings together, to find out what works and what doesn’t. Here are the wines which we tried, with the tasting notes:

2014 Famille Lançon La Solitude Côtes du Rhône, France (13% ABV, $14.99, 70% Grnache, 30% Syrah)
C: bright pink
N: strawberries, touch of lime
P: strawberries, good acidity, soft, delicate, medium-long finish
V: 7+
With Food: nicely complemented the fish, provided delicate backbone.

2013 Casas del Bosque Carménère Reserva DO Rapel Valley, Chile (14%ABV, $11.99, 100% Carménère)
C: Dark Garnet
N: Floral, mint, touch of chocolate, vegetative, hint of dark berries
P: dark spices, mint, smoke, tar, good acidity
V: 8-
With Food: was not universally good for all. The spices had a bit of a mismatch on the finish, but overall was not bad.

2011 Château de Brézé Saumur AOC, France (13% ABV, $17.99, 100% Cabernet Franc)
C: Dark ruby
N: Tobacco, blueberry, good intensity
P: minty, complex, layered, luscious, delicious overall
V: 8
With Food: excellent. Very good match with the wine been just a touch bigger than the food, adding nice sweet profile when consumed together.

2013 Bodegas San Valero Particular Garnacha Cariñena DO, Spain (13.5%mABV, $14.99, 100% Garnacha)
C: Dark Ruby
N: minty, herbal nose, green bell pepper
P: herbal dominated profile, but with a lot of fruit, dark chocolate, tobacco, earthy complexity
V: 8
With Food: worked very well, with wine adding some powerful notes to the combination of food and wine.

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The Château de Brézé Saumur was the favorite of all the wines and probably the best pairing – problem is that this was a unique shot, as it was absolutely atypical of Loire Cabernet Franc, hence the absence of the generic recommendation. Yes, I know that suggestion of the Grenache pairing with fish raises more than a few eyebrows, but based on the flavor profile of that dish, I stand by my recommendation.

That’s all I wanted to share with you today. I think we came up with a beautiful menu for a great family and friends dinner, so I hope you will feel inclined to make it – and then I really want to hear your feedback on the wine pairings (and the menu itself).

Here are all the links for the Summer Menu:

The Summer Menu | June 2015 – The menu itself, as you would expect it at a restaurant

Wine Pairings | Summer Menu | Northern Hemisphere | June 2015 – detailed explanation as to why and how the wines were chosen

Fresh Summer Salad with Tangy Buttermilk Lime Herb Dressing | Summer Menu | Appetizer

Salmon Tikka with Mint Chutney | Summer Menu | Main Course

Mango Tarte Tatin with Spiced Syrup| Summer Menu | Dessert

That’s all I have for you for today. I hope you are already following The Dinner Party Collective – if not,  you need to fix it right away, so you will not miss on lots of great recipes and lots of fun. Until the next time – cheers!

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