Gravlax

After years of splurging on gravlax in specialty grocery stores and bagel shops, I decided to try to make it myself. I researched several recipes and made it a couple of times before settling on my favorite method, which really showcases the salmon’s natural flavor and has a butter soft texture.  Although it may seem a little intimidating, making gravlax is super easy and well worth it if you love it as much as I do.  Just imagine the possibilities: the classic gravlax bagel with sliced red onions, tomato, cream cheese and pungent little capers, gravlax with juicy springtime fruit, tomato and avocado salad with herbs and gravlax, gravlax with dill mustard on crackers, even slices by themselves!

Gravlax

  • One 2-3 lb salmon filet with skin on
  • zest of two limes
  • 4-6 tbsp kosher salt
  • 4-6 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp fresh dill

Place salmon filet on a cutting board and run your hands over every piece of flesh, pulling out any bones.  Use needlenose pliers for bones that are particularly stubborn.

Place salmon filet skin side down on a large piece of plastic wrap, twice or three times the length of the filet.

In a medium bowl, mix together the lime zest, kosher salt, brown sugar and dill.  Sniff the container after all is mixed.  For pleasure.

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Spread the mixture all over every inch of the salmon’s flesh.

Fold the filet in half, skin side out, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Once wrapped, wrap again with more plastic wrap.  wrap wrap wrap wrap. (what a weird word)

Place the wrapped filet in a container and place another, heavier container on top of it to keep an even weight compression.  Put it all together into the fridge and forget about it for 3-4 days.

After it has cured, the filet wrapper will be oily.  Unwrap the filet and pat dry with a paper towel if excessively oily.

With a very sharp knife, at an angle, carefully carve off thin slices, leaving the skin intact.

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You’ll end up with a much larger pile of salmon than $9 will buy you in any specialty shop.

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Sliced gravlax will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

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Food is not only for eating: Avocado, egg yolk and honey mask

This mask is super moisturizing. Avocados contain tons of minerals plus vitamins B and E, and honey helps reduce inflammation. After wearing the mask for a few minutes, the avocado oils begin to melt into your skin, making it feel supple.

Mix together 1 mashed avocado, 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon of honey.

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Spread over your face and neck and leave for 15-20 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water.

I <3 Frijoles

In my parents home there has never been an absence of beans.  Ever.  My mom would make a batch of pinto beans every few days and we would eat them as a side dish, in burritos or my favorite – by themselves with a little queso fresco sprinkled on top accompanied by a warm corn tortilla to soak up the rich broth.  Yumz. 

Dried Bean Guide 

1/3 cup dry beans = 1 cup cooked beans
1/2 cup dry beans = 1 1/2 cups cooked beans
2/3 cup dry beans = 2 cup cooked beans
1 cup dry beans = 3 cups cooked beans
2 cups (1 pound) dry beans = 6 cups cooked beans

Beans typically can be found in bags at the grocery store or sometimes in bulk bins.  They must be sorted very carefully because they are a natural product that came from a plant, therefore will sometimes have debris such as little stones, that can be camoflaged against the sea of beans.  Sort out any beans that are discolored, wrinkled, or broken, in addition to debris.  Rinse the sorted beans.

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Good beans on the left, bad beans on the right

Place the beans in a heavy pot or Dutch oven.  In order to reduce their “magical” abilities, soak them in cool water, about 2 inches above the top of the beans, for 6-8 hours.  Strain out the soaking liquid and replace with fresh water, about 4 inches above the top of the beans.  Bring to a boil over med-high heat, then cover and reduce to med-low heat and allow to cook for about 2 hours.  Check on them once in a while to be sure they still have ample water.  If they are beginning to dry out, add more water. 

You can tell the beans are done by squishing a few between two fingers.  They should be completely soft. 

Now that the beans are done, they are ready to season.  I like to add salt, a teaspoon at a time, mixing each addition in and tasting before adding more.  Then I add one chopped onion and one sliced jalapeno for a nice spicy kick.  Allow the beans to simmer until the onion and jalapeno are soft and enjoy!

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I put oatmeal on my face

I’m all about homemade skin and hair treatments and winter has played quite a number on my skin so today I decided to try a moisturizing oatmeal mask.  First thing in the morning, I went to the kitchen, peeled a ripe banana, added about a cup of plain instant oatmeal and about 1/2 cup of milk, then pulsed it in the food processor until smooth.   Then I spread that stuff all over my face and let it do its thing while catching up on Modern Family.  I had enough that I also spread it all over my hands and had my hubby use some on his hands too.  Thirty minutes later, I washed it all off and my skin felt smooth, soft and cool.  My hubby has dry, cracked hands and  he found a ton of relief after washing off the oatmeal mask.  I highly recommend this beauty treatment.  I’ve been feeling up on my cheeks all day long!   Do you have a favorite homemade beauty treatment to share?  I’d love to hear about it and try it out.

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Broiled Grapefruit with Spiced Brown Sugar

I hate grapefruit.  My husband claims to love it so much that he buys a 10 lb bag of them, then forgets about their existence until they rot and we throw them out, only to start the cycle all over again.  This has been ongoing for years.  Every time we go grocery shopping together, a bag of grapefruit magically appears in the cart and he swears each time that he will actually eat them and I let him buy them, knowing full well what their fate will be.  Today, I looked at his aging bag of grapefruit in disgust but then guilted myself into not wasting another bag, so I covered them in spiced sugar and put them under the broiler… and today I have a new favorite snack.  The best part of this snack is the juices you get to drink when you’re done scooping everything out of the fruit!  Plus, there are only about 155 calories in one fruit.

Broiled Grapefruit with Spiced Brown Sugar

  • 4 Ruby Red Grapefruits
  • 4 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon or if you’re lucky enough to have a Penzey’s nearby – Penzey’s Cake Spice (a combination of cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves)

Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Cut each grapefruit in half between the stem and end.  Remove any seeds and poke a knife into each section to loosen the flesh.

Place grapefruits on a foil lined baking sheet and spread the brown sugar mixture over each grapefruit.

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Place the baking sheet under the broiler on low until the sugar gets caramelized and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.  Watch closely, as my broiler may get the job done quicker or slower than yours.  

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Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little while.  Enjoy while warm.

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