It’s well beyond January and new year’s promises. Short grey days have turned into weeks knitted together by yarn-like thoughts of starting anew. I have doubted, questioned and wondered just how this year would be different from the last one long before I put up the Christmas lights.
So here it is, a short post; one that illustrates my love for simple things.
Almost every kind of cooking starts with salt. I adore the subtle fragrance that citrus zest infuses into something so basic. Since the bergamot is only available for a few short months of the year, I like to prolong its perfumed presence for as long as possible in my kitchen cupboard. This is my way of storing the good things about winter in a jar.
The making of bergamot-sea salt was inspired by the sight of preserved lemons in pots on the shelf of the local Moroccan grocers I visit so often. The Celtic salt I have chosen is grey-green and smells of the ocean. I find it at a spice shop close to home, but other sorts of sea salt will work well for this method as well.
- 500 grams of Celtic sea salt
- the zest of two Bergamot citrus fruits
- a handful of freshly dried mint (completely optional)
To make this cupboard essential I spread out the salt on a platter to let it dry, especially because this kind of salt is particularly damp. I make citrus curls from the washed and scrubbed bergamot, using an-old fashioned zester. I leave the zest to dry on the salt for a day or two on the kitchen table. I then funnel it into a clean glass jar, and store it with its lid on next to my homemade spice mixtures .The citrus salt keeps for months on end, but needs a week or so before its flavor mingles well enough to notice.
Whenever I feel inspired to add a lemony element to my cooking, I grab my jar of infused salt and grind it to desired consistency with a pestle and mortar.Adding mint is purely optional. It reminds me of summer at the beach and bowls of fresh salads. So if you wish to add it, just lay a few fresh sprigs of mint over the salt for a few days until they have dried. Crush them into the salt before spooning all the ingredients into a jar.
This is a salt that does wonders to raw vegetables, like orange and fennel salad or raw celery root in olive oil. I often use it when making a quick salted pickle with raw yellow beets as well.
Squeeze the zested bergamot used to make this salt into an equal amount of grassy new-harvest olive oil. Add a teaspoon of finely ground bergamot-salt and a dollop of Dijon mustard . . .and a beautiful vinaigrette is born. . .