So, I originally wasn't going to make a blog post just for this salmon, especially because the photos I took are...not great. But I just had to tell you that I spent so much time de-scaling this piece of salmon, having the scales fly everywhere and making the sink all gross and fishy, only to end up with the salmon skin sticking to the foil! I don't know why I thought it wouldn't stick. I always buy salmon with skin on it, because I figured the skin would stick to the pan and I'd easily pull off the meat from it.
Well, at least I remembered to cook the salmon skin side down.
Two years ago, I had attempted to make this same salmon dish, and it was a complete failure. I must be getting better at this whole cooking thing, because I tried to make this again earlier this year, and it was so good and so easy. I didn't even have to measure anything! In the past, I wouldn't know what to do with just a list of ingredients, but I think I'm getting more comfortable with just sprinkling and pouring things and going by feel.
So, I wanted to take it up a notch by also de-scaling the salmon. Next time, I'll actually spray some oil or butter on the baking pan and hopefully it won't stick. And eventually I will post this recipe on the blog! But today's not that day.
I also made a salad using some leftover iceberg lettuce, and I even blended up some carrot ginger salad dressing. It was a very good meal despite some wasted efforts.
Last week, after a very exhausting 4 days of work, I was excited to have a Friday off so I could spend some time doing some slow and chill cooking. I had a few bay leaves in my freezer that I wanted to use up and the cold weather has made me want some beef stew. I've made beef stew in the past, and I've been pretty successful, but this time I wanted to kick it up a notch.
Kenji's beef stew recipe came up in my youtube feed, and even though the video itself is a whole 37 minutes and 54 seconds long, I decided to watch it and I decided to make it. The recipe states that it takes 3 hours 10 minutes, and at my pace, I need to double all recipe times, so I know this is going to be an all day affair.
Well, I woke up on a very, very cold Friday and saw that my power was out. 😧 I paced around my apartment, wondering what to do (I couldn't even make coffee!), but then...the power came back on. Okay, I'm making this beef stew.
(Had I known that the power would flicker off and on at least 20 more times during the day, I may have decided to do this a different day)
So in the video that I watched, Kenji cuts up all the veggies while his steaks are searing, and he still has time left over to just wait for it to finish searing. That was not my experience. I definitely should have cut up all the veggies in the beginning. I think it took me at least half an hour to cut them all up. Maybe an hour. I also should not have seared them on HIGH. My kitchen very quickly became a smoky mess.
And then when it came to blending up the broth, I realized that my little nutribullet is too small! (And I wasn't gonna use the food processor after what happened when I made those beef tacos) So I blended up a small amount of the chicken broth with the other ingredients and just mixed them all together in a saucepan. I attempted to add gelatin, but it all immediately clumped up. (Apparently I should have "bloomed" it first. Whatever that means)
Oh, but the worst part was dealing with the pearl onions. Kenji recommends just using frozen ones. I really should have listened to him, but I was at Whole Foods, and they only had fresh pearl onions, and I didn't feel like going to another store. So I'm standing at my counter, cutting off the nubs of the onions and peeling them and tears are streaming down my face.
Anyway, I got everything prepped and I figured the bulk of the actual cooking part would be easier. I threw some veggies in the pot, and I threw my cubed beef into the pot, and I threw in some wine, and...the power went out again 😑
Fortunately, that didn't last too long, maybe five or ten minutes. Unfortunately, this would happen at least twenty more times while my stew was cooking. I managed to eventually get it to a simmer and into the oven, but this was no set-it-and-forget-it experience. I had to sit in my living room the whole time, making sure I was aware every time the power went out so I could turn the oven back on 😣
But I did it. I let it cook for a while, and then I took the pot out of the stove, and it wasn't tender enough, so I let it cook for even longer, and eventually the meat got to a consistency I was happy enough with. I started prepping at about 1pm, and it was finally done around 6:30pm.
I was exhausted all over again. I was so exhausted I forgot to add the peas. And then I forgot to take a picture!
It did taste really good though. Was it worth it? Maybe. Would I try making this again? Honestly, I would. But only if I know I have stable electricity. And frozen onions.
I'm going to take a brief pause from my Teochew work to show you these tacos that I made last night.
They were so good. Also so much work. So so much work. I used this crispy braised chipotle beef taco recipe that I found on Half Baked Harvest (my co-workers rave about this site). I opted for the slow cooker version of this, which I think is less work than using the stove and oven, but it was still a lot.
I had planned to go play DDR that morning, but I wanted to get the beef cooking first, so I got up early and bought ingredients, prepped the sauce, and cut up the meat. The recipe says to use a blender to blend up the ingredients, but my only blender is a single serving size Nutribullet, which definitely was not big enough for this. I used my food processor instead, and it made me wonder why this recipe specifically called for using a blender.
Well, I hit the "LOW" button and suddenly a bunch of sauce spilled out of the container and went flying everywhere! 😱 And then when I went to pour the sauce into the slow cooker, it was splashing all over the place!
Okay, I guess that's why they say to blend liquids in a blender.
It all turned out well though. If I ever make this again, I'll want to use a fattier cut of meat, and I would probably forgo the blending altogether. Just dump everything in the slow cooker, and I'm sure it would taste just as good.
Whenever I need Thai basil for a dish, I always end up having some left over, so I end up making a stir fry dish using the rest of it. That was my plan with pho. But we actually went through so much basil while we were eating noodles, that I didn't have enough left for a stir fry!
Thai basil also goes bad really really fast, so by the time I wanted to make stir fry, I felt like it was already rotting. But I was committed to making this dish, so I had to buy another bag. I actually went to one of the nearby Asian grocery stores, and when I asked the person working there, they told me they didn't sell Thai basil and to "check Giant Eagle". What?! I know the local Giant Eagle doesn't stock Thai basil, and if they did, they would charge me an arm and a leg.
So I drove to the better Asian grocery store the next day. Okay. I finally had everything I needed.
This tasted pretty good, but it just seemed like way too much effort for the amount of food it produced. Pulling apart basil and mint leaves is SO tedious. It's worse than chopping!
And the worst part of it all was that I used a really hot red pepper. I think it was a red jalapeno! I didn't realize those could be red! I just thought, oh, this will add some nice color. Nope. Should have gone with a bell pepper. I deseeded the pepper with my bare hands, and then I popped a piece of beef jerky that I was snacking on into my mouth, and it started to BURN. I was still feeling the sting days later. I went to wash my face in the morning, and then my eyes felt it. I could even feel it burning my fingernails as I was trying to pluck my armpit hairs!
ANYWAY, back on to the topic of cooking. I was feeling way too lazy, so I only ended up using half of both bags of leaves. That meant I had enough to make the dish again!
Hey, I learned my lesson about the peppers. I had to make some adjustments:
Okay, this definitely could have used more basil/mint, but I wasn't about to go to the Asian store a fourth time. I liked that I made a larger amount of food this time. I might have added a little too much water, so I think the right amount would be just a single teaspoon added to the sauce mixture.
It was a very, very good meal.
Two years ago, back when this blog was in its infancy, I made a post on Greek turkey rice. This week, I had a few ingredients that would work well for this dish, so I decided to make it again. I remembered it being good and easy to make.
Well, I still don't disagree with that statement, but after a few chill meal-making sessions, I went back to flailing like crazy. There were flying pieces of rice, spinach, chicken broth, and lemon zest. This is why I gotta write down my recipes in advance.
(Throwback to when I took pictures of food right underneath the spotlight! Not as nice as the pictures my sister would take though.)
Also, I used ground turkey from a tube. I didn't realize you could buy ground meat in a tube, but the tube was cheaper than the non-tube form. I don't know if I'll ever do that again. I mean it tasted fine, but it was weird. Any time I tell my family I'm cooking ground turkey I know they'll respond with "TURKEY?!" and I can see them making a disgusted face that says "why would you ever do that".
Hey, I'm just following a recipe.
You know what else is in the ingredients list? A lemon. But this recipe doesn't even call for lemon, just lemon zest. Now I've got "Naked lemon slices" in my leftovers.
Unfortunately there were no sun-dried tomatoes in either Target or Trader Joe's, (I know, these are terrible places to grocery shop. But I was there for other reasons.) so I was missing that extra pop of color/flavor. I also didn't put the aesthetic lemon slices in the middle of the pan.
But that doesn't matter. It tasted good. That's what really counts.