Salmon and Potatoes in a Jar {FFwD}

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was, for me, a long time coming. Month after month, it appeared on the poll; and month after month, it got voted down. Finally, this month came around and, as fate would have it, there was no poll. Laurie (or fearless moderator) asked for suggestions for August recipes, and I jumped in with this one right away. My persistence finally paid off, and this week we are — finally — featuring cold cured salmon in a jar!

Even though it sounds kind of exotic, this is really a simple recipe. After curing salmon and boiling potatoes, you pack them in jars with herbs, spices, aromatics, and oil.

I began by tossing a few thick chunks of center cut salmon in salt and sugar, then packing them in a zipper seal bag and chilling them in the refrigerator for about 18 hours.

The next day I boiled some new potatoes in salted water until they were knife tender, then drained and sliced them. I rinsed the brine from the salmon and patted the pieces dry with paper towel.

I packed the salmon and potatoes in separate jars, layering them with coriander seeds, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, carrots, onion and, in the case of the potatoes, a little salt.

I filled both jars with olive oil, then topped the potatoes with a splash of vinegar.

I refrigerated the jars overnight, then served the salmon, potatoes, and vegetables for lunch the next day.

This was a delicious and surprisingly light lunch. The salmon and potatoes both picked up a lot of flavor from the herbs and spices without becoming overly oily. As the only one in my family to eat salmon, I enjoyed several lunches from this recipe.

I was really looking forward to trying this recipe, and it didn’t disappoint. Now I just need to find some adventurous friends to share it with!

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Family Food: Nanny Faye’s Hungarian Goulash {Recipe}

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Today is a special day for my friend, Cheryl Tan. After what I’m sure seems like an eternity, her book, A Tiger in the Kitchen, comes out today. Check it out on Amazon. You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s what Cheryl told me about this book and her inspiration for it:

  • A Tiger In The Kitchen,… is about a year that I spent traveling to Singapore to learn about my family by cooking with them. The book is filled with lessons (life, cooking and otherwise) learned in the kitchen, as well as a few recipes.”

To celebrate the release of Cheryl’s book, I would like to share a family recipe with you. This is far and away my favorite recipe from my maternal grandmother, Nanny Faye. Nan made a lot of great recipes. Her fried chicken was nothing short of sublime. But the dish we all looked forward to whenever she would visit was her Hungarian Goulash.

Nan said she was given this recipe by a Hungarian neighbor, and for years she would never share it with anyone. When I was 13 years old, Nan came to live with us for about a year while my mom was in nursing school. During that time, Nan and I started cooking together, and I would help her make goulash whenever it was on the menu for dinner. Eventually, I tried to write down the recipe as best I could from what I observed while we cooked. I showed my attempt to Nan, and without a word, she took it and began to make some corrections. Before long, I had the recipe that no one in my family thought possible to get in writing.

I grew up thinking this dish was fairly representative of Hungarian goulash. In later years, I found that what most people think of as “goulash” is quite different than Nan’s dish. Most other recipes are more like a soup than a stew and are served over spaetzle or some other kind of noodle. They also usually contain onions and green peppers. At some point, I began to question the authenticity of Nan’s goulash. But I eventually realized that goulash is to Hungary as red beans and rice are to New Orleans. That is to say, it’s a dish found in every kitchen, and every cook has her own way of preparing it. So even though this recipe may be different than what you think of when you hear the word “goulash”, if you try it, I am certain you will agree that it is delicious by any name.

The recipe presented below is largely the same as it was when I got it from Nanny Faye, with just a few changes. When Nan made goulash, she did the whole thing on the stovetop, cooking the beef in the sauce for about 45 minutes, then adding the carrots and cooking for another 45 minutes, and finally adding the potatoes and cooking until they were done, 45 minutes to an hour. I like to put the whole thing together and braise it in the oven. It’s easier, takes less attention, and comes out beautifully.

Nanny Faye’s Hungarian Goulash

 Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • Salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 18 oz. tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

 Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut beef into 1-inch cubes. Salt lightly. Melt butter in large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown beef on all sides in small batches. As pieces are well-browned, remove them to a bowl.
  3. While meat is browning, mix flour and paprika in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix tomato paste, 1 1/2 cups water, garlic, and a pinch of salt.
  4. After all the meat has browned, reduce heat to medium and return meat to the Dutch oven. Add flour mixture, tomato paste mixture, carrots, and potatoes, in order, stirring well after each addition. Cook until sauce begins to bubble.
  5. Cover Dutch oven and place on center rack of oven. Allow meat to braise for 1 hour. Remove pot from oven, uncover, and stir stew. Add water as necessary – mixture should be thick.
  6. Replace lid, return pot to oven, and cook 1 1/2 hours longer, until beef and vegetables are very tender.
  7. Serve immediately with crusty French bread, or chill overnight and reheat the next day. Like most stewed beef dishes, this goulash benefits from an overnight rest and will taste even better the next day.

Yield: 10-12 generous servings

Basque Potato Tortilla {FFwD}

When I saw the name of this recipe, I pictured a potato-filled quesadilla or some other Mexican-inspired dish. But in fact, this dish comes to France from Spain, where tortilla — translated “little cake” — refers to an egg dish similar to what we think of as an omelette.

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is in essence a baked omelette filled with potatoes and onions. Although in France and Spain it is generally served cold or at room temperature for lunch or dinner, I couldn’t imagine eating it any other way than fresh out of the oven for brunch.

I began by cooking the potatoes and onions in a small amount of olive oil. Because it was a busy week, I took a shortcut and bought a bag of Potatoes O’Brien. So in addition to the potatoes and onions, my tortilla also had a few green and red peppers in it. After the vegetables were cooked, I removed them to a bowl, washed the pan, and put the pan back on the heat with a little more olive oil.

When the oil had heated, I poured in beaten eggs and the potatoes and lowered the heat. After two minutes, I ran a spatula around the edge of the pan, then put the lid on the pan. I allowed the eggs to cook slowly, periodically using a rubber spatula to make sure the eggs weren’t sticking to the pan.

After the eggs were mostly cooked, with just a little uncooked egg glistening in the center of the tortilla, I placed the pan under the broiler to finish cooking.

This was a really good egg dish, although I still can’t envision eating it cold. We enjoyed it for brunch, and everyone agreed that, whatever the book calls it, it was a baked omelette. I could see making this again for breakfast or brunch when I have company, and changing up the ingredients for variety. And I would definitely add cheese the next time.

Leek and Potato Soup {FFwD}

This week for French Fridays with Dorie, I made Leek and Potato Soup. This soup is simple, delicious, versatile, and comforting. It’s easy to throw together — once you chop some onions, garlic, leeks, and a potato, all you have to do is put it all together. There are quite a few variations suggested in the recipe, and you could easily come up with many more, making this a great recipe to have in your repertoire, as the possibilities are endless.

This soup is perfect for wintry weather days, but it can also be served cold in the spring or summer. And it can be served chunky, smooth, or somewhere in between. If you can’t find a variation of this soup that you like, you don’t like soup.

To assemble the soup, I began by cooking onion, shallots (my addition), and garlic in butter over low heat. I added leeks, potato, thyme, sage, chicken broth, and milk, and seasoned with salt and white pepper.

I brought the soup to a boil, lowered the heat, covered the pan partway, and simmered the soup for 40 minutes, until the vegetables were soft. I decided to purée the soup in the pot with my immersion blender. I left a few chunks in it, but for the most part, it was smooth.

After ladling the soup into a bowl, I topped it with freshly ground black pepper and white truffle oil and served it with Irish brown bread made with Irish wholemeal flour from King Arthur Flour.

This soup is easy enough to make on a busy weeknight, versatile enough that you can probably make it with ingredients you have on hand, and so delicious that you will want to make it again and again.

Potato Gratin (Pommes Dauphinois) {FFwD}

My selection this week for French Fridays with Dorie was Potato Gratin. These aren’t your mother’s scalloped potatoes. No ham. No cheddar cheese sauce. No flour (I never understood why one would add starch to starchy potatoes). No, sir. These are simple, creamy, delicious potatoes. They’re easy to make and impossible to resist.

There aren’t many ingredients: potatoes, heavy cream, garlic, salt, pepper, Gruyère, and, if you’d like, a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary (I used both).

The cream is heated with the garlic until it simmers gently. The smell of garlic-infused cream was enough to convince me that this dish was worth making. After slicing the potatoes paper thin with the smallest blade on my mandoline slicer, I layered the potatoes with cream, salt, and pepper until all the potatoes and cream were used up and the dish was filled almost to the top.

Then I sprinkled the potatoes with thyme and rosemary and layered on the Gruyère.

After 45 interminable minutes in the oven, the potatoes were tender and the cheese well-browned. I let the dish set up in the oven with the door open and the oven turned off for about 10 minutes.

I served the potato gratin for dinner with turkey sausage, Modern Baker grissini, and Cabernet Sauvignon. As easy as this dish was to make, it was out of this world delicious. We all agreed that this is a recipe to keep close at hand and to make often for a simple, perfect supper.