Spicy Gravlaks with Aquavit

Two 1-pound salmon fillets, skin on, any pinbones removed
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoons aniseed
5 juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or 1 small dried hot red chile pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons aquavit, brandy, eau-de-vie, or Scotch (Mock Aquavit)

Rinse the fillets in cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.

Crush the caraway seeds, aniseed, juniper berries, red pepper flakes, and black peppercorns using a mortar and pestle. Or place the spices on a cutting board or other hard surface and crush them with the underside of a heavy skillet. Combine with the salt, sugar, and dill.

Place one of the fillets skin side down in a deep dish just big enough to hold the fillets. Rub the fillet with half the spice and dill mixture. Rub the other fillet with the mixture and place it skin side up on top of the first. Pour the aquavit on top, cover the dish with plastic wrap, and place a heavy weight, such as two heavy plates or a saucepan, on top of the fish.

Refrigerate for 3 to 4 days, turning the fish every 12 hours and basting it with the brine that accumulates in the dish.

To serve, dust off some of the spices and slice the fish into thin slices with a sharp thin knife. The flesh from the tail will be leaner than the flesh from the belly. Serve with mustard sauce and dark rye bread, for open-faced sandwiches, or with mustard, pickles, and capers.

Serves 6 to 8

Bekith Brushed Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle / Spice Grinder / Molcajete


3 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cardamom (optional)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (see note)

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and, if desired, nutmeg or cardamom; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating until well mixed. (Dough will be soft and sticky.) Cover and chill at least 5 hours or overnight or freeze for 3 to 4 hours.

Divide dough in half; return half to the refrigerator. On a well-floured surface, roll into a 10×5-inch rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut rectangle into twenty 5×1/2-inch strips. Place half of the strips on a baking sheet or tray and place in the refrigerator while shaping and baking the first 10 strips. Roll each strip into a 10-inch-long rope. Shape each rope into a loop, crossing 1-1/2 inches from ends. Twist rope at crossing point. Lift loop over to touch ends and seal, forming a pretzel shape. (Or fold each 10-inch-long rope in half and twist 3 times; seal ends.)

Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake in a 425 F oven 5 to 7 minutes or until cookie bottoms are light brown (tops will be pale). Remove from cookie sheets and cool slightly on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough strips and dough.

Serve warm with softened butter, if desired or serve cool.

Makes 40 cookies.

Note: To make 1 cup sour milk, place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid; stir. Let stand for 5 minutes before using.

Hamilton Beach 6-Speed Classic Hand Mixer, Silver