Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Salmon Fillets in Lemon-Garlic Butter

Perhaps you already know how to make this über-simple dish. Its name is the recipe! Before I get to that, I’d like to talk about tools and techniques - specifically, about tools that make your life simpler whenever you work with fresh garlic. From time to time, I hope to tell you not just about my favorite recipes, but also about my favorite kitchen tools - tools that make the job simpler, tools that come at a modest price, and tools that don’t take up a whole lot of space. I use three favorite tools when I work with garlic: A garlic peeler, a self-cleaning garlic press, and a beautiful little rough-sided dish I bought at a farmer’s market in France. 

I thought about those tools this evening, as I reached for a fresh garlic clove to prepare this recipe. The humble garlic clove, as you likely know, is a section of a garlic bulb. I was in no hurry to make dinner, so thought: “Why not?” and began to section and skin three large garlic bulbs - perhaps 40 cloves - on the premise that a few minutes’ work now would make things easier at some future moment when I needed a garlic clove and didn’t have as much time as I have right now. So here’s where my time-saving tools came in!

If I have just one or two garlic cloves to peel, I won’t bother getting out the peeler - but when I prepare garlic in bulk, it’s a really useful tool. A garlic peeler looks like a large, floppy cannelloni made of soft, flexible, rubberized material. There it is, in the first photo - and hey, there’s my hand, happily separating garlic cloves from their skins. The peeler hastens a tedious job and keeps your fingers free of garlic smells. Voilà! Buy one.

Do you have a garlic press? Uh-huh … So what’s it like? Uh-huh … Now let me tell you about mine.
My garlic press was not expensive. I paid $17 for it in a restaurant-supply house in Washington State - more than you’d pay for an “ordinary” garlic press of lesser quality, but less than I expected to pay for what I got. That’s my garlic press in the second photo. Unlike ordinary garlic presses (I sound like an Infomercial!), this heavy-duty press has two compartments - one to mince, one to slice - as well as two large hammers that bear down on the cloves and a small plastic press that cleans the garlic residue from each hole in the press. 
And here’s the mark of smart design: The plastic press tucks away into a small depression in the garlic press, so youll never misplace it. I’m very, very happy with this kitchen tool. When an accident left one of my hands permanently weaker than the other, I found my former garlic press required more strength than I have. With this heavy-duty press, a light squeeze does the job. The brand name on it is Amco Houseworks. (And now I sound like a shill!)

But what did you do with all that peeled, minced garlic, Nicole? I thought you’d never ask! There it is, in the jar in the third photo, and there’s my hand, pouring ½ c. of vegetable oil over it - just enough to cover and preserve the minced cloves. Approximately 1 tsp. of minced garlic equals one medium clove. 

One of my favorite kitchen tools is a labeler (I date and label everything! One morning, I stuck a label on Ron’s forehead as he slept. He didn’t discover it until he brushed his teeth an hour later. It told him he was RON). I labeled and dated my jar of minced garlic cloves. The fourth photo shows the labeled jar, ready when I need minced garlic. Stored in the fridge, the minced cloves will keep in vegetable oil for two months. Once they’re all used up, the remaining garlic-flavored oil makes a flavorful dip (with or without balsamic vinegar) for slices of baguette. 

My little plate from France - technically, a ceramic garlic grater -  is so sweet that my friend Alice bought me another! The word “ail” inscribed on the yellow plate means “garlic” in French. You’ll find my French plate and the red one Alice gave me in the fifth photo. The idea is to rub a peeled garlic clove over the rough part of the plate. Stir in a little soft butter, and you’ve got garlic butter. Frankly, I find this too much work, but I like the plates and use them for other purposes - like pouring in my garlic-infused oil for dipping that baguette! 

The garlicky oil also makes a great salad dressing, as well as adding flavor to oven-baked Crostini. If you don’t know what Crostini are, I'll explain tomorrow, as I pass along a wonderful and very easy Crostini recipe. Thank you for your patience, Dollinks! Time now for that salmon recipe! I prepared it for two servings. 

Salmon Fillets in Lemon-Garlic Butter:

2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 minced garlic clove, about 1 tsp. 
Two 4-to-6-oz. salmon filets

Melt butter in microwave or over low heat on stove. Add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon and stir in minced garlic clove. Brush generously over both sides of salmon filet. Sauté on medium high,  in the mixture that drips from the filets, approximately 3 min. per side. 

I would have included one more photo - the one of this delicious dish - but we were so hungry that we wolfed it down before Ron could grab his camera! No picture, Dollinks! Instead, what you have are the proverbial thousand words.

My garlic peeler, hard at work!

My heavy-duty garlic press

Pour olive oil over garlic cloves to store prepared 
 garlic or to make Garlic-Flavored Oil.

Cover, label, and store in refrigerator

My French ceramic garlic graters

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