Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

White Balsamic Melon Sorbet with Haleakala Ruby Sea Salt

Cantaloupe Sorbet with Haleakala Ruby Sea Salt

Once in a while salting is not about harmony.  Instead it’s about a gentle but jangling discord.  Haleakala Ruby is a luscious, warm Hawaiian sea salt that takes its color from the Haleakala volcano’s sacred alaea clay.  This is a salt that excels on fish and pork, where it seeks out and then embellishes the opulent undercurrents of flavors lurking in these subtler foods.  But it’s also good on fruit.  The salt shifts unexpectedly from meadows of sunny butter to coral reefs of revitalizing brine.  The less acidic the fruit, the more pronounced the oceanic freshness, as if the salt knows precisely how to respond to the needs of the food.  Start with a cantaloupe sweet as honeysuckle, trickle a little balsamic acidity for added complexity, stir in a pinch of fleur de sel to bring the flavors into crystal clarity, then serve with a sprinkle of Haleakala Ruby…  This is what it tastes like to have your heart skip a beat.

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Strawberries and Bitterman’s Chocolate Salt

So this morning I set out for Chelsea Market in New York City to buy some coffee beans and I had absolutely no intention of falling in love with another berry. But I stumbled across some great-looking stracchino cheese, and then moments later bumped into some luscious strawberries, and while I was fumbling for change to pay for the strawberries, what do I do but pull out but a pile of chocolate salt that had spilled from a jar in my pockets a few days earlier.  When this sort of thing happens it makes no sense to question fate.  I strolled out to the street, found one of those odd new middle-of-the-street tables they’re putting at the voids in intersections all over the city, and sat down for a little impromptu strawberry-stracchino-chocolate-salt breakfast in the morning coolness.  This was one of the first times I’ve used my own chocolate-infused salt on cheese—other than on cottage cheese and peaches, etc.  The pairing was a natural: Bitterman’s Chocolate Fleur de Sel (it’s the only salt at The Meadow we make ourselves, a secret infusion of chocolate and our house fleur de sel) brings a rich chocolate aroma to your senses even before you bite.  And the salt’s discrete nutty-mocha flavors are like a curtain through which emerge silvery spangles of mineral-fresh salt.  The impact of the salt in your mouth is incredible as it finds its way through the rich stracchino cheese mixing with the buoyant fruitiness of the strawberry: like one of those scenes in the movies when two lovers set eyes on one another from across a crowded train platform, and struggle ardently through the all those jostling people to reunite.

Cyprus Hardwood Salt Contemplation

I’m sitting on a black leather couch of a playwright whose West Village apartment I’m subletting, thinking about how I need to get outside to buy some more raspberries.  About to pop the last one into my mouth. But then I stop.  My last raspberry ils talking to me. (If you’ve ever seen those videos of the annoying talking orange, you have a pretty clear idea of what I’m talking about.)  The last raspberry was reminding me that I hadn’t actually paid that much attention to the first raspberry.  It suggested I go back and retroactively experience past raspberries, though it didn’t say how far past. So I sprinkled a little Cyprus Hardwood Smoked sea salt on my talking raspberry.  The salt sparked images of all the raspberries that had come before: childhood raspberries from my grandmother’s Connecticut brambles, later raspberries from beach parties crashed in the Vendée, more recent from the hands of my boy in Oregon.  The flash of Cyprus Hardwood Smoked–a bright sizzle suffused in a maple warmth–makes for your own personalized version of the raspberry eating experience.

Thai Snapper with The Meadow Flake Sea Salt

Broiled Thai Snapper with The Meadow Flake Sea Salt

A crispy tangy spicy red snapper: flavors singing in exotic Southeast Asian voices.  Restless nights preceded this recipe.  There was hand wringing.  Soul searching.  The dilemma of which salt.  Bali Rama, with its arrowhead tips of explosive freshness, was the seductive choice, a magnificent sea salt that seems never to steer me wrong.  Maldon sea salt would have been a convenient and more predictable choice, salt’s gold standard of unflappable, balanced crispness.  But the snapper wanted something more, something both melodic and taunting, like the sound of seashells raked by summer waves across a tropical reef.  The choice of salts became clear: The Meadow Flake, with its huge pyramidal crystals that seem nearly to tremble with oceanic vitality, a sea salt with the mathematical exactitude of music.

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Japanese Steak Salad with Shinkai Deep Sea Salt

Japanese Steak Salad with Shinkai Deep Sea Salt

Avert your eyes.  Blush.  Go ahead.  The steak salad is always a little embarrassing to look at. Nobody is to blame for this.  Like the pitterpat of a Geisha’s geta sandal across the parquet, the modesty of the salad is betrayed by its inescapable voluptuousness.  But this needs to be greeted in the spirit in which it is offered, which is to say, with deference and respect.

So often the architect of the steak salad indulges in the natural inclination to use the steak itself as the seasoning for the entire dish, salting the heck out of the steak–and in effect utilizing the steak in much the way we use bacon bits and gorgonzola on a cobb salad, or anchovies and parmesan on a Caesar salad—taking advantage of an ingredient’s natural saltiness to season for the dish.  This is a perfectly normal impulse.  After all, for millions of years we got most of the salt we ate from red meat, so if some part of our reptile mind still thinks of meat as salt, the modern steak salad maker can surely be excused for thinking of salt as meat.

But the missed opportunity to enlist a good salt with steak makes this confusion tragic nonetheless.  Shinkai Deep Sea Salt: taught, brilliant, bitter-sweet, immaculate.  Sprinkled over the steak on this Japanese steak salad, Shinkai Deep Sea Salt brings grace and definition to the meat, deliciously integrating its carnal succulence into the civilized bed of gleaming garden greens.

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Spinach-Shiitake Gratin with Maine Coast Sea Salt

Usually the thing to ask when using salt is: how can I make the most of the interplay between salt and food? There’s texture to consider, the mineral flavors of the salt itself, and the visual cues that sensuously salted food can provide to get the engines of your appetite revving.  A spinach gratin is a slightly difficult character in this regard. Gratin is incredibly delicious, easy to eat, and naturally accommodates a variety of dishes, but its nature is to avoid acting like the life of the party. Also, much of the salt comes from the cheese, and the general texture of the dish is so full and rich that it leaves little room for any but the most aggressive salt crystals to have an impact on the mouthfeel of the dish.  It takes an aggressive salt to shine against the backdrop of such a dish with sufficient luminosity to actually illuminate it without overwhelming it with saltiness. 

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