Sometimes there is a book out there that catches your attention from the moment you hear about its impending publication. That was the case with Salt Sugar Smoke: How to preserve fruit, vegetables, meat and fish by Diane Henry. I pre-ordered the book about a week before it was written! In fact, I ordered it so long before it was published that I almost bought a second copy because I had forgotten I ordered it.
The book did not disappoint. It was one of those books that sat on the table a while because I didn't want reading it it be over so I was sad to even start reading. Since then, Sugar Salt Smoke has been like a favorite novel, read and re-read.
I know what you are thinking, there are tons of new preserving books out there and I don't need another one. I beg to differ -- you need Salt Sugar Smoke, trust me on this one.
My favorite recipe is for the Beet-Cured Gravlax. Stop buying smoked salmon and do it yourself. The beets impart a glorious red color to the salmon without a "beety" taste. Set out on a buffet this dish is a showstopper.
2 3/4 pound tail piece of salmon, cut into halves, filleted, but skin left on
1/3 cup vodka2/3 cup granulated sugar1/3 cup sea salt flakes2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepperlarge bunch of dill, roughly chopped5 raw beets, grated
Check the salmon for any bones your fish dealer might have missed (rubbing your hand along the flesh is the best way to find them). Remove any you find with tweezers.
Line a dish big enough to hold the salmon with a double layer of aluminum foil (I usually use a roasting pan). Put one of the pieces of salmon, skin down, on top. Rub it with half the vodka.
Mix together the sugar, salt, pepper, dill and beet and spread it over the salmon. Pour the rest of the vodka over the fish and put the other piece of salmon (skin up) on top.Pull the foil up around the fish, then put some weights on top (such as cans, jars or a heavy cutting board).
Refrigerate and let cure for two to four days, turning every so often. Liquid will seep out of the salmon in this time; just pour it off.
Remove the foil and scrape the cure off both pieces of fish. To serve, slice as you would smoked salmon (leave the skin behind). Use as needed and keep, wrapped, in the refrigerator for a week.
At thefoodiebugle.com they published this photo of Diane Henry's window filled with preserves.
Not to mention she has gigantic wall of cookbooks. If you have never read Diane Henry, I can't think of a better book to start with. Once you finish it, you will buy them all. And why do they always choose better covers for the British editions of books??
For more about Diane Henry, the Telegraph has a wonderful article about her life as a writer.