I often go off half cocked, culinarily speaking. What I mean is that I get it in my head that I should prepare a certain dish, but before really studying the process and ingredients, I just go make it. Sometimes that works just fine. Sometimes it is a disaster. Before I get to the simple thing, allow me to brag about my latest disaster.When I say disaster, I mean that what I produced is just this side of inedible. I decided that I wanted to make some smoked cod and salmon. I didn’t bother with a recipe. I had seen it done before, so why bother with a recipe, right? I mixed some kosher salt and sugar with ground black pepper, and divided that evenly between two bowls and then added different spices and herbs into each of the bowls depending upon the fish it was meant for. The cod received thyme, and the salmon got dill and juniper. I put each fillet in a glass pan, covered it in the respective cure mix, and then covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. I left it in the refrigerator for about 18 hours total. Then I rinsed the cured fillets, and put them on a drying rack and back into the refrigerator overnight.
The following day I smoked the fillets at about 180F for 2.5 hours on apple wood. The color was beautiful! The odor of apple wood smoke was enticing! I broke off a piece of the cod and juices burst out! I put the anticipated morsel in my mouth ready for paroxysms of delight. What I got was a salt bomb! What on earth did I do wrong? I had to find out. So I repositioned the cart behind the horse, where it belongs, and did some quick reading on the internet. I had the basic cure mix right. A 50/50 blend of salt and sugar is appropriate for curing fish. What I found in doing a little research is that I should have cured the fish for a maximum of eight hours. I did get the cook time about right at 180F for about 2.5 hours, but next time I will check the internal temperature several times during the smoking process because the fish shouldn’t go above an internal temperature of 160F.
Now the problem is: what to do with overly salted, smoked fish? I am thinking about making a smoked seafood chowder. Soup, in general, is a great way to get rid of leftovers. I’ll post the results here in a few weeks, when I’m not following my diet as strictly as I am now. That will give me time to research how to smoke shrimps and mussels or maybe clams.
On to the simple things in life! Eggs are probably one of the simplest things to cook, yet the most easily ruined. Today I decided that simple was best for lunch. I made an omelette! Better yet, I did not ruin it.
The keys to making a really great omelette lies in only filling with a few ingredients, any fillings that are raw should be cooked ahead of making the omelette, warming the eggs to room temperature before attempting to cook them, and getting the butter in the fry pan to the nutty brown stage (not burnt).
I put three eggs into a warm water bath. Then I chopped a third of a cup of onions and sliced four medium mushrooms. I sauteed the vegies in about one tablespoon of unsalted butter, and added a large pinch of kosher salt. While the vegies were cooking, I grated an ounce of extra aged Gouda cheese. Once the mushrooms and onions looked sufficiently cooked, I cracked the eggs into a bowl, added a tablespoon of cool water and lightly beat them with a fork. I added a tablespoon of unsalted butter to a hot skillet, and waited for it to get to the point of just starting to brown. I added the eggs and pulled the edges of the omelette in towards the center all around the omelette in order to aid in cooking it evenly.
Just before the egg is thoroughly cooked (it still looks a bit wet on the surface), I added the fillings along one third of the omelette, and then performed the customary tri-fold on it and slid it out onto a plate. It was literally the best omelette I’ve ever had. I do wish that I had a little fresh chervil or tarragon to sprinkle over it, but I live in a small town. Chervil and tarragon can be found in my garden in the summer, but never in our grocery store! And as you can see from the photo, I discovered some tarragon and chives growing in my garden!