Friday, November 2, 2012

Restaurant Remake...Hurricane style!

Chef Apprenticeship, chez Jennifer Lublin (In Love At First Bite)
  Mediterranean Spiced Salmon with Toasted Couscous
and Cucumber Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette 

 I tried really hard to be reasonable when food shopping for 
Hurricane Sandy provisions this week.   
To some, the obvious essentials during a natural disaster are pretty basic:  
rice, beans, anything canned, pasta/sauce, protein bars, ramen, & bread for PB & J's.

 But of course somehow I justified that it made more sense to plan a phenomenal meal 
of culinary skills from scratch after putting in a full work-day with a horrid commute!  Typical.
"Hey, my ingredients are simple.  That counts as 'essential', right?", I thought shamelessly as I attempted to scavenger for the best ingredients one could find...
... in a rather ransacked NYC grocery store.

My theory was simple. If you cannot get to an open restaurant, 
why not bring one right to your home?

Citrus Grillhouse, Vero Beach, FL.  Italian & Mediterranian inspired.
For my inspiration for this dish, I must give proper credit for a dish that was created by a longtime friend and fantastic NYC-seasoned chef, Scott Varricchio, who now owns one of the top restaurants in Vero Beach (on the beach literally), Florida - Citrus Grillhouse.  

Alfresco dining @ Citrus Grillhouse
 Just the outcome itself and the refreshing, light Mediterranian flavors of this dish 
leave me wishing I were in Vero Beach dining alfresco @ Citrus, 
experiencing the food of Chef Varricchio once again....

Here is the unbeatable original (mine, a close second - Hey, I'm still learning!)

Executive Chef, Scott Varricchio's amazing creation
 However, I'm totally improvising on this one.   
I'll call this a Restaurant Re-make! Sorry Scott, couldn't resist.

Mediterranean Spiced Salmon with Toasted Couscous
and Cucumber Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette 

Recipe serves 2.  Preparation: 20 min.  Cooking time: 20 min.

(Two) 1/2 lb. wild salmon filets
1/2 cup (dry) Pearl Couscous it's more plump than regular couscous
English Cucumber (with skin intact)
2 tbsp Thyme for Vinaigrette + 1 tsp for Salmon Rub
1/4 cup Grapeseed or Olive Oil
1 lemon
2 tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
Spiced Salmon Rub  
**Chef Scott's version was more "mediterranian spice" based.  Here is my version:
2 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp Smoked (or regular) Paprika
Kosher Salt & Black Pepper to taste
1 tsp Thyme
**Hint: I used the Tom Douglas "Rub with Love" Salmon Rub which has all these ingredients above.   

Preparation & Cooking instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack placed in top 3rd of oven.
2. In a small saucepan, combine 3/4 cup of water with 1/2 cup couscous and bring to a boil. Add salt and butter (optional).  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 8-10 minutes.
3. For the Vinaigrette, in a food processor combine the Oil, Vinegar, 1/4 cup of chopped Cucumber, 2 tbsp of Thyme, and the Zest & Juice of a lemon.  Pulse all ingredients until blended to a puree. Set vinaigrette aside.
Thinly slice cucumbers for plating as well as grate lengthwise extra cucumbers for topping the Salmon.
4. In a small bowl, combine the Spiced Rub ingredients.  Rub all over the outside of the Salmon filets.  Very lightly brush the outside of the seasoned filets with a little bit of the oil.
5. Drain the couscous well once cooked and mix in a touch of oil to coat.
6. Place on a foil lined baking sheet the salmon filets to one side.  Also place on the baking sheet the couscous, spread evenly on the baking sheet.  Place in 450 degree oven until salmon is cooked medium rare - about 4 minutes each side.  After, turn oven on Broil and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until starting to brown.
7. Plate portion of the toasted couscous in the center of the plate, top with a Salmon filet and grated cucumbers.
Add sliced cucumbers around the plate and drizzle allover with the Vinaigrette.

This dish will be sure to impress! Enjoy!!

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