eat in my kitchen

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Tag: juniper

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill, Black Pepper and Juniper

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper

If you’re still looking for a scrumptious but effortless main course for New Year’s Eve and if you like salmon fillet, this is your recipe. After festive days of rich, meaty treats I prefer to start the new year with a lighter dish, seafood, lots of vegetables, or Asian inspired recipes, preferably easy dishes refined with colourful aromas, spices and herbs. Salmon baked in salt crust came to mind, but not a whole fish – I want to keep it simple – only the fillets, sandwiched with a handful of dill, crushed juniper berries and black pepper. Sealed under a mixture of coarse sea salt, flour, cornstarch, egg white and water, it bakes in the oven soaking up all these wonderful flavours. After 50 minutes it was done, which I checked by following Martha Stewart’s tip: Insert a metal skewer, if it’s warm to the touch, the fish is ready to leave its crusty shell. You have to use a sharp bread knife to cut open the salty crust, this is the only part of this recipe that demands a bit of work. You could also break it but I wanted to open it like a lid – only for visual reasons. The result is perfectly flaky, firm with a subtle hint of sea salt, it can be a bit overpowering on the edges of the fillet but you can easily scratch this excess salt off. I used fleshy fillets tied together with a cotton string, it was enough for 3-4 people – depending on the amount of dishes you’re planning to serve. Two thick center pieces of roughly the same size are perfect, you could also fill them with other herbs or thin lemon or orange slices but I wanted to use the flavours which I use for my traditional gravad lax recipe: fresh dill, spicy pepper and fragrant juniper.

During the holidays, I cleaned the shelves in my kitchen, which were in a rather chaotic state, and to my surprise, I found far more packages of Mr. Cini’s sea salt than I had expected. They didn’t last very long, I needed 1 kg / 2 1/4 pounds to cover my salmon. Mr Cini’s salt comes from the Mediterranean Sea, from Gozo, where he harvests the white grains straight from the rocks together with his family. It tastes fantastic, it’s obviously salty but not in a harsh way, it has a distinct flavour, which you can recognize in the cooked fish. I recommend using high-quality salt for this recipe, although you will discard the crust, it effects the final result tremendously.

A very exciting year has almost come to an end. I look forward to 2016 and I hope it will be more peaceful and united than the year before. My kitchen will be as busy as ever and I can’t wait to share more recipes with you, here on the blog and in my first eat in my kitchen book, which will be published in September. I wish you a wonderful start to the New Year, don’t get intimidated by too many resolutions, just enjoy your life!

Meike xx

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper


Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill, Black Pepper and Juniper

Serves 3-4 (for more people you can use bigger fillets and leave them in the oven a little longer)

high-quality coarse sea salt 1 kg / 2 1/4 pounds
plain flour 100 g / 3 /4 cup
cornstarch 30 g / 1/4 cup
organic egg whites 2
water, cold, 75 ml / 1/3 cup
salmon fillet, 2 center pieces with skin (about 680 g / 1 1/2 pounds in total)
juniper berries, coarsely crushed in a mortar, 8
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, to taste
fresh dill, 1 small bunch plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (optional, for the topping)

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (conventional setting). Line a baking dish with parchment paper.

For the salt crust, combine the coarse sea salt, flour, cornstarch, egg whites, and water in a large bowl until combined, use your fingers or a spoon.

Spread a little of the salt mixture on the lined baking dish, lay 1 salmon fillet – skin side down – on top of the salt. Rub a little crushed pepper and half the juniper into the pink side of the salmon, then cover with the dill. Rub the second salmon fillet with pepper and the remaining juniper and lay it on top of the dill – skin side up. Tie the fillets together with a cotton string (see picture below), then cover the salmon with the remaining salt mixture until it’s completely covered (see 2nd picture), push the salt mixture together gently. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes or until a metal skewer, poked through the crust into the thickest part of the salmon, is warm to the touch when you pull it out of the salmon.

Let the crust cool for 1-2 minutes, then cut it open with a sharp bread knife. Cut the string open, divide the fish fillets in 3-4 portions, and serve immediately. Sprinkle with freshly chopped dill on the plates (optional).

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper


Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper


Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper





Roast Pheasant with Coppa di Parma, Juniper Berries, Sage and Cabbage

Baked Pheasant + Cabbage

I really enjoy oven dishes that combine meat and vegetables, be it roast, stewed or grilled. It’s very convenient, you pack everything in a baking dish, add your spices, herbs and flavours of choice, set the right time and then relax or watch your dinner getting done. I do that sometimes, I sit in front of my oven watching the meat and vegetables bubbling and turning golden brown, it’s better than television! In the meantime you could also cook some potatoes, polenta or spaetzle to soak the juices of your roast meat but sometimes a loaf of white bread cut into thick slices is just as good.

For this roast, my bird of choice is pheasant, strong in taste but difficult to cook evenly as the legs need longer than the breast. So, to avoid the meat becoming too dry, you can either carve it into pieces before you put it into the oven or you can cover (and protect) the breast with a layer of Coppa di Parma, which is how I did it here. This allows you to put a paste of spices and herbs under the prosciutto to infuse the meat. I went for sage leaves and a mixture of juniper berries, allspice, cloves and garlic. The pheasant roasted on a thick layer of chopped cabbage cooking in some white wine and the juices of the meat. It soaked the flavours and tasted wonderful, great together with the strong meat.

Baked Pheasant + Cabbage

Roast Pheasant with Coppa di Parma, Juniper Berries, Sage and Cabbage

For 3-4 people you need

1 pheasant of 1.3kg/ 3 pounds
Coppa di Parma 4 slices
sage 4 big leaves
juniper berries, ground in a mortar, 2 plus 4 whole berries for the cabbage
allspice, ground in a mortar, 1
clove, ground in a mortar, 1 plus 4 whole cloves for the cabbage
garlic, crushed, 3 cloves
cabbage, cut into thin strips, 400g / 14 ounces
onion, chopped, 1
white wine 150ml plus more for the roast
salt and pepper
olive oil

Set the oven to 175°C / 350°F.

For the spice paste, mix the juniper berries, allspice, clove and garlic.

Fry the the onion in some oil until golden and soft, mix it with the cabbage, the 4 juniper berries and the 4 cloves and put in a large roasting tin (big enough for the pheasant). Add the wine and put the bird on top, glazed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Spread the spice mixture on the breast, lay the sage leaves over it and cover with the Coppa di Parma.

Roast the pheasant for 1 hour, pouring some wine on top once in a while and turning the cabbage. When it’s done, check with a skewer to see that only clear juices come out. I kept it simple and had some slices of white bread on the side.

Gravad Lax with Dill and Spices

Gravad Lax

Yesterday Saveur Magazine added eat in my kitchen to their “Sites We Love” and I’m so happy and excited to be a part of this special list! It’s only been two months since I started sharing my personal kitchen moments here on my blog and I have been overwhelmed by the response and support, thank you!

Here is the link to the interview I did for Saveur Magazine:

So, back to food, a special day deserves a special meal! Coincidentally, today I’m writing about a very special, luxurious if not festive recipe, Gravad Lax!

Gravad Lax is very literally slow food as the cured salmon needs a few days in the fridge, pressed down with weights, looked after and turned once a day. It can take between 2 – 4 days to reach the right consistency, so you must be patient, but you can be sure you will be rewarded.

I cure mine with a marinade of dill, juniper and black pepper and the obligatory salt/sugar mixture. This, to me, is the best way to savor salmon by far. It’s an old family recipe made by many of my relatives, it’s always one of the starters when my family comes together at table. I have tried different recipes, with more spices and orange zest for example, but I always come back to this one. The dill, black pepper and the juniper just bring out the best in the salmon.

After a few days, when the salmon is done, I cut very thin slices off the fillet. I serve mine pure, with no dressing, just some white bread. That’s it, it doesn’t need anything else. Apart from a glass of white wine maybe, or Champagne even. It’s a luxurious meal so you might as well go all the way!

Gravad Lax

Gravad Lax

salmon, end or centre-cut, bones removed, skin on, cut into 2 pieces that fit on top of each other, around 700g / 24.5 ounces
sugar 100g / 3.5 ounces
coarse sea salt 80g / 3 ounces
black pepper, crushed roughly, 1 tablespoon
(measured before crushing)
juniper, crushed, 6 berries
fresh dill, chopped roughly, 2 small bunches

Combine the sugar, salt and spices.

Spread 1/4 of the dill on a flat dish big enough for the salmon. Place one half of the salmon on top (flesh-side up), rub the spice mixture gently into the flesh and cover with half of the dill. Place the other half of the fish on top (flesh-side down), press it down and cover with the rest of the dill. Cover with cling film, put a wooden board on top and place 2-3 (filled) tins on top, or anything else that is heavy enough to put some weight on the salmon. Place in the fridge and turn once a day. You might have to drain some liquid once in a while. Check after 2 days to see if the texture is already more firm. The salmon will start to look a big glassy. If so, slice it thinly (you must hold a large, sharp knife at a flat angle) – if not, be patient and check again tomorrow!

Gravad Lax

Salmon with a Crust of Winter Spices

Salmon with Winter Spices

Salmon is great to combine with strong flavours. Its own taste is so strong and unique but blends in perfectly with all kinds of herbs and spices, even exotic curry mixtures. When I saw this nice salmon steak at the fish counter I had to buy it. I didn’t even plan to cook fish but it looked too good to pass by.

At the moment, I use a lot of juniper, bay leaves and cloves, the typical winter spices. I decided to give them a try on the salmon as well – as a rough crust. They are very strong and aromatic spices, a bit sweet and smoky. It was more an experiment of sorts but I was really impressed by the result. We ate it with fresh bread and a salad on the side. Enjoy a glass of white wine with your meal and you will have a small dose of summer in January!

Salmon with Winter Spices

Salmon with a Crust of Bay Leaf, Juniper and Clove

For 2 people you need

salmon steak, around 2cm / 3/4″ thick, 1 big or 2 smaller steaks
olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon

For the crust

garlic, crushed, 1 clove
bay leaves, ground in a mortar, 2
juniper berries, ground in a mortar, 2
cloves, ground in a mortar, 2
black pepper, ground in a mortar, 6

Set your oven to 200°C / 390°F.

Grind all the ingredients for the crust in a mortar until you have a combined paste. Heat some oil in a non-stick pan (highest temperature). Rinse and dry the fish, season with salt and pepper and fry for 1 minute (on each side). Take the fish off the heat and spread the paste on the top side of the steak. Pour a bit of oil in a baking dish, mix with the lemon juice and place your  salmon steak on top. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes, when you can lift the fish from the bones it’s done.