Saturday, August 1, 2015

More Views From the Galley

August 2015
Welcome to my galley as we cruise in SE Alaska, most recently between Sitka and Petersburg. The views from the galley reflect change. Most noticeable is the change in weather, moving from unusually warm and sunny days to those more typical in SE Alaska - cool, gray and damp. There are some positive sides to this cooling trend. Many people and some small settlements rely on catchment for their water supply, and the recent dry stretch has been a challenging problem for them. Returning salmon require a substantial stream or river outflow before they will run upstream to spawn, so fish and fishermen alike welcome the rain. Myself, I don’t mind viewing the world through a misty filter, bathed in an amazing assortment of soft gray tones… for a week or two anyway. My camera isn’t quite so fond of the moisture.

Berry production certainly benefitted from Alaska’s long hours of summer daylight and several months of sunny weather. We ate berries by the handful, by the bowlful, by the bucketful; blackberries, multicolored salmon berries, huckleberries and blueberries. Here’s a caution to share before someone is tempted to nibble while berrypicking: huckleberries and blueberries may contain protein! I’ve learned to toss my harvested berries into a sink full of water after picking. Tiny green worms will wiggle and wriggle their way out of many of the ripe berries, making it easy to separate fruit from critters once they’re all submerged.

Our July onboard boat guest has flown home, but this photo of her scrumptious hostess gift remains. We ate all of the other chocolates before I remembered to grab a photo! Sinfully rich dark chocolate… toasted almonds… buttery caramel… oh my! Need I say more, other than “Thanks, Laci.”?!

Two other food gifts paired perfectly this month. This freshly-baked round of Adele’s Norwegian Rye Bread, flavored with orange zest and fennel, is our newest favorite loaf, scrumptious plain or toasted. Add a dollop of tangy, citrusy sweetness from Tanya’s homemade Yuma Orange Marmalade and it’s a heavenly slice. Alaskan Bread and Arizona Marmalade didn’t last long in this galley – I need these recipes, girlfriends. Thank you, Adele and Tanya, we loved every single bite!

Two people need all of those mugs? Well, yes we do. When friends visit the galley it helps to have different designs available to keep straight which mug belongs to which person… just don’t touch that blue salmon mug! It’s always mine -- I set the galley rules and some days I just don’t need one more challenge.  

A recent addition to boat cookware has performed admirably on the new cooktop. This heavy aluminum griddle heats more evenly than expected, nearly eliminating the hot spots and cold corners of previous skillets and electric fry pans. Fluffy sourdough pancakes and thin Swedish pancakes never looked or tasted better. An unexpected bonus has been the thawing feature; solidly frozen steaks, chops and fillets defrost in much less time when set atop the griddle instead of on the counter. Something about heat transfer, or rate of transfer, or temperature equalization… or maybe it’s just magic. Whatever the scientific explanation, I like it.

The herb garden fights for survival against heavy odds. Whiteflies took an early toll, wiping out indoor basil and mint and outdoor oregano and chives. Birds pecked away at something and uprooted the Italian parsley. Now the rains threaten to wash out sage, savory and replanted oregano. Rosemary continues to sulk, and remains the same size it was months ago. Only the heliotrope thrives in any weather, somehow repelling insects and destructive birds. Too bad the hummingbirds seem to have disappeared now that the rains have returned.    

Early in the morning, when I’m not cooking or baking or gazing out the galley windows, you might find me sipping a cup of Jasmine green tea and knitting away on the latest project. This month it has been colorful wool socks. With the current 50ish degree days, I won’t have to wait for winter to wear this latest pair!

I ‘m still working on new ways to cook our salmon catch. There’s always a batch of lox underway in the galley, but dinners invite more creativity. The latest new preparation was a savory Salmon roasted with Puttanesca Sauce and served on pasta. link It may be  is a weird-sounding combination but was actually quite delicious. The sauce and seafood pairing was tasty enough to try it again, with salmon and with halibut. Leftover salmon, sauce and pasta make a scrumptious frittata as well. Definition of scrumptious: the Capt. requested I make it again.

And… one last photo from this month that I couldn’t resist sharing… just because. Don’t you love the expression on this youngster, perhaps last year’s grizzly cub? Do you suppose he ever tires of salmon? He doesn’t look too eager to share his just-caught salmon, or to pose for the camera. (Safety note: I was safely distant, well up the bank on the opposite side of the stream, and used a long camera lens to get this shot and many others. link I don’t get too close to any bear, ever!)

Thanks for joining me for a peek In My Galley this month, and a big thank you to Celia at FigJamandLimeCordial who organizes this monthly roundup of visits to kitchens all over the globe. Drop by for a visit. You meet such interesting people in busy kitchens, and every month the cast of characters changes a bit.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Smoked Salmon on the Barbecue

Sometimes - when fishing has been good, when the weather cooperates, when the Capt. feels like manning the barbecue – we feast on Ron’s special Smoked Salmon with a Honey Lime Pepper Glaze. This delectable treat isn’t a quick, spur-of-the-moment preparation. While not difficult, it does require planning ahead to accommodate overnight brining and an hour or two of carefully tending the barbecue. It’s well worth the time spent monitoring, and taste-testing, the low-and-slow batch of smoked salmon. 

When smoking big batches of salmon ashore, I use multiple Little Chief smokers. These electric units  make it easier to regulate the temperature with minimal tending, but smoking aboard seems to add something special to the flavor. Either way, freshly smoked salmon has been a major hit with both crew and guests.

Kalinin Barbecue-Smoked Salmon

Brine: Makes 5 cups, enough to brine 4-5 pounds salmon
4 cups water
¼ cup kosher salt or other non-iodized salt
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon garlic granules or powder (not garlic salt)
1 tablespoon pickling spices, crushed
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground Indian coriander
3 or 4 splashes liquid smoke (optional)

4 to 5 pounds skin-on salmon, cut into 2-inch strips
Honey Lime Pepper Glaze (see recipe below)

Untreated wood boards, strips or sticks/branches soaked in water for at least one hour prior to use on the barbecue (alder preferred)

Add the brine ingredients to a large glass or other nonreactive container. Whisk together and microwave until the sugar dissolves. Chill thoroughly.

Place the salmon strips in the brine, one at a time so each piece is coated on all sides. When all of the salmon strips are in the container they should be completely immersed. If necessary, weight down the top surface with a plate to keep everything submerged and covered in brine. Cover and hold in the refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours.

When ready to smoke the salmon, remove the strips from the brine. Lightly rinse to remove the bits and pieces of pickling spice, dry with a paper towel and air dry on a baking rack for 3 hours. Air-drying sets up a dry finish and will encourage absorption of a smokey flavor. 

Preheat the barbecue grill to its lowest setting (85-120 degrees F), arrange the wet wood pieces across the grate, leaving small gaps between each piece for smoke and air flow. Place the brined-and-airdried salmon chunks on top of the wet wood, leaving a gap between each piece. Close the lid and let cook at the lowest temperature possible for 20-30 minutes.

After the salmon has cooked for 20-30 minutes, baste with the Honey Lime Pepper Glaze. Cover and continue smoking. Continue to baste and check for doneness frequently; for the thinner pieces check every 15-20 minutes and remove from the grill as they finish. RL likes to add one last coat of the honey/lime glaze as he takes each piece off the grill.

Sampling is the recommended best test for doneness. <grin> It may take several hours, up to 2 to 3 for thicker pieces of king salmon.

Serve immediately or cool and store covered in the refrigerator. Use as an appetizer, snack, or an amazingly tasty addition to soups, salads, or breakfast dishes.

Honey Lime Pepper Glaze:
Use a 4:3:1 ratio (by volume) to mix batches of this glaze, for example
4 ounces honey
3 ounces lime juice (fresh or bottled)
1 ounce freshly cracked black pepper

*Quick Cook Note: if I’m in a hurry or the weather is really crummy, I’ve brushed the fish with a few drops of liquid smoke diluted in some water, and slow-baked the racks over baking sheets in a 180 F or lower oven. It works, sort of. One step better is to partially cook on the barbecue grill and finish in the oven, but nothing is as flavorful as a total smoke on the barbecue (or in an electric smoker with wood chips).

*Canning Note: after the salmon cools I pack it into pint or half-pint jars and have to refer to a canning book or on-line link for the time and temp details. Smoked salmon takes as long as fresh salmon; some of the oil will come out of the fish, so I turn and up-end the jars every so often if I store it a long time.

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