contributed by Katy Morris
photos courtesy of Sugar and Olives
On an inconspicuous side street in Norwalk, CT, sits an eccentric French-inspired culinary “kitchen and lounge” that serves delicious, locally sourced, organic fare. Sugar & Olives, owned by Jennifer Balin, opened after she bought and transformed a former factory space into an open commercial kitchen and dining area using sustainable and recycled materials when possible.
She then crafted an impressive menu based on a “seasonal philosophy” filled with lots of vegetarian friendly options. Lucky for locals, Balin has launched her own “prep school” cooking classes so cooking enthusiasts can learn the secrets of some of her best techniques and culinary creations.
Kosher Like Me was recently invited to attend a Scrumptious Brunch class – very timely as I start to plan my New Year’s Day Brunch menu. The class was simply fantastic; very hands on, and intimate, and I was luckily able to ask all the questions I had directly to her and her French Chef, Luis.
They worked side by side with us to make a delish morning trifle with oatmeal cookie granola and lemon curd, eggs benedict served on a “johnny cake” (kind of like a heavenly biscuit), and house cured gravlax.
Jennifer made the gravlax since it had to sit for hours before. She was generous enough to share her easy recipe, below.
She recommends serving the gravlax alongside herbed goat cheese from Beltane Farm, one of our favorite sources for local cheese. Adding in a mix of fresh herbs, including thyme, dill, fronds (tops of fennel) and crushed pink peppercorns makes for a beautiful, festive, and delicious combination.
Serve with some flatbread or simple crackers to add some crunch. Or drape these tender slices over farm fresh greens for the perfect lunch. Of course, this gravlax will blow your guests away on New Year’s Eve or as a highlight of your first brunch of 2014.
Click on Sugar and Olives for the full menu and more deets on cooking classes.
NOTE: Sugar and Olives is extremely accommodating for diners with any type of food preferences or restrictions.
Breakfast and lunch: Tuesday – Friday from 8am – 3pm
Brunch: Saturdays and Sundays from 10am – 3pm
Dinner: Fridays and Saturdays starting at 6pm…reservations are highly recommended.
This recipe is non-dairy, PARVE
Curing Salmon is virtually effortless to make and will impress your guests.
It is perfect on crackers, bagels, or draped over a salad.
- 1 pint kosher salt
- 1 pint sugar
- zest of 2 lemons or limes
- 2 bunches dill
- 1 tablespoon white peppercorns
- 1 2-1lb center-cut loin of Scottish Salmon, or other farm raised Atlantic Salmon
- Combine kosher salt, sugar, and 1 ½ pints water with the lemon zest, dill, and white peppercorns. Place the mixture in a pot and bring it to a simmer, stirring occasionally until all the sugar and salt is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and let it sit until room temperature. Then, chill it in the fridge. (Note: this cure can be made a day ahead.)
- Submerge the Salmon in the curing liquid. Refrigerate for 4 hours, turning the fish each hour.
- Remove the Salmon loin from the cure and wash it under cold water. The Salmon should be bright pink in hue and look slightly dehydrated; when you cut through it, it shouldn’t leave a trail of fat on the knife. (Optional: wrap the fish in clean kitchen towel and cover in plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight to firm up the fish.)
- Using a shark knife, slice the fish into ¼-inch thick pieces.
- Serve with crackers or bread and mustard, and lemon segments.
This recipe is via Jennifer Balin, owner of Sugar and Olives in Norwalk, CT. Thanks, Jen!