06 November 2013

Like Salmon for Chocolate

One quick and easy but so satisfying thing I turn to often around now is a huge ole' piece of salmon.

Last winter I often picked up a cut on my way home from work when it was getting dark way too early, knowing it would take super little time to get on the table once I took off my coat. But on Saturday, I made it for lunch when this gorgeous light was breaking through the window and realized it was a good moment to share about it. 

Sophisticated and no-nonsense enough for a weeknight or weekend dinner, official enough for a big get-together,  served warm or allowed to cool a little for a flaking atop salads, it's pretty much my favorite...

A while back I troubled myself over how to make good salmon in a pan. What sauces- to marinate or not to-when is it done...etc. And then there was trying to make it in college in my tiny dorm kitchen on a ridiculous (but actually kinda decent) teeny tiny panini-maker-ish grill. What a nice smell that created...

Always trying to emulate restaurants, playing with the miso, the soy sauce, never quite nailing it.

Little did I know the best way I liked it was actually one of the simplest and most hands off. Moist, flakable, sea salt and pepper seasoned. No fancy shmance sauces.

And yet, even in the most foolproof situations, salmon can still have even a certain elusiveness, but nothing you have to be a pro to hack. Depending on the cut, temperature to the touch going into the oven, its last moments of cooking are largely connected to intuition.

For me, with this type of fish, reading recipes  doesn't always help. "Until cooked through... until just opaque in the center... after 20 minutes..."

My favorite formula lately: 425-ish oven 10-15 mins, generously seasoned salt and pepper, drizzle of oil, sprig of herb, couple lemon slices, and resting fish at room temperature while the oven heats. And then, the last minute or two: if the center was thick and the top is still a tad raw, broil setting for the last minute to hit the top. If the sides are slightly stiff and flakeable, and the center is pretty much opaque when a knife is inserted, after the 10-15 minutes, just rest it for a minute or two under a little foil tent. 

Either way, too, that final minute rest under foil is a good thing. Check that it is opaque, then flake.

And now for the chocolate part...

As I mentioned in the last post, we went to a friend's vegan eats evening last week. I toted along this tart for dessert. As karma has it, I've had my eye on making a straightforward non-gluten-free bittersweet chocolate tart  like this one for quite awhile, even managing to stock the heavy cream, whole wheat pastry flour, dark chocolate and brown sugar at the same moment, but something always supplanted it- like eating the chocolate I'd reserved for baking or using the cream for scones...and then, it was berry season.

And when I finally thought about it again, it had to be both vegan and paleo friendly. So it became pretty Pinteresting (couldn't help it!).

Lucklily I already had this one on my board, from Sylvie at Gourmande in the Kitchen.

Ever since incorporating almond flour into baking, I've been curious about how it fares in tart dough, but knowing it tends to lend more moisture and softness, didn't dive in. This is a good place to start. The maple syrup helps keep the crust snappy and the coconut oil is a good fat for short doughs. It also lends a nice perfume. The coconut milk and dark chocolate center sets up beautifully in the sturdy, pre-baked shortbread cookie-ish crust and the whole thing is topped with some toasted coconut and almonds (the original featured mac nuts but I wanted to keep the almond-coconut theme going).

One look and taste of this tart and you'd not even know at first it's gluten, grain-free and vegan. Now that's a triple whammy if I knew one.

Things that are brilliant about this little tart:

The shortbread crust perfumed with coconut.
Make it the day of a few hours ahead.
No rolling out dough.
Totally unrefined
Looks pretty and tastes incredibly rich.
It's not super-heavy and you're even getting quite a nutritional punch from almond flour, coconut oil, dark chocolate, etc.

Go check out the recipe here!

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