A Salty Affection.
I may have a problem. I just cannot help myself, I just find salt so intriguing. Have you seen it? All the different types and varieties from exotic locations around the world? A wide range of specialty salts are showing up all over the place: red salt from Hawaii, black salt, Tuscan salt... and what is that on my counter?... today's purchase: Mediterranean salt.
Because who---walking down a grocery aisle, minding their own business---wouldn't stop in their tracks at the site of a salty jar with a label saying "crunchy, medium grain sea salt blended with garlic, lemon, lavender and other Mediterranean herbs, rosemary oil and basil oil"? Sign me up! I begin imagining these flavors tossed over roasted potatoes, or sprinkled on tomatoes, folded into a quick quiche or tucked in with lean slices of lamb on a toasted sandwich with big sprigs of arugula and olive oil... where am I again? Oh yes, the grocery store.
Here is a funny one: peppered salt. I know, why not just use salt and pepper? Because this salt from coastal goods reminded me of those really addictive salt and pepper Kettle chips and how great would it be to just toss this strong, ever-bold and timeless S&P duo onto more things than I usually do? Maybe when I roast carrots I will add this instead of the kosher salt with Italian herbs... Or put it into baked crackers instead of just the salt? And so your friend will ask: what is it that makes these so divine?
I also have Tuscan salt and kosher salt. Because today was the day I added a few salts to my repertoire and I find myself a little too giddy, it may be a safe to assume this is the beginning of a seriously salty affection. I just bought round two of Fleur de Sel, a 'high end' salt (which means it is expensive but the taste is amazing). My family does not have an affection for brussel sprouts: this salt changed that. I kid you not, I sliced a pile of brussel sprouts in half, lubed them in a bit of olive oil, sprinkled a little of this---apparently---magical salt, placed them cut side up in a baking dish and tossed them in the oven for around 25 minutes at 400. A tiny extra sprinkle of Fleur de Sel while en route from oven to plate and well, they disappeared. My fourth grader inhaled them---seriously. Nature's new candy?
One Christmas my friend made salt to give as gifts. It is a very fun gift, though if you do make salts and put them in decorative containers, consider adding a list of 'what to do with Red Hawaiian Salt' or 'great with roasted potatoes, poultry and your morning eggs.' I often just add in a few recipes, to make sure they have some ideas to start with!
Oh, and I am not the only one with a salty affection:
There is the Salt Institute and their quick lowdown on the History of Salt. There are serious salt purveyors such as the salt traders and my top shelf link to satisfy my growing affection: salt works. Don't forget to peek at salt manufacturing, a lovely, informative site.
And if you are a good friend and begin making salty gifts---or if your affection outgrows your pocketbook, like mine might, and making your own is a good way to support a spiraling-out-of-control habit---here is a simple recipe for herb salt:
Herb Salt 1 cup of mixed, dried herbs (dill, rosemary, chives, tarragon, thyme,oregano, basil) 1 cup sea salt (about 160 grams)
Mix the herbs and sea salt in a large bowl. Stir. Use mortar and pestle to pound mix or food processor to blend. Spread on a cookie sheet. Oven 200F/90C for 45 minutes to dry the salt mixture; stir frequently during drying to break up lumps. Cool the herb salts completely before storing them in clean jars.
But don't be fooled, salt goes beyond just herbs: Sher makes Citrus Salt, and here is a recipe for both Tuscan Salt and Herb-Scented Tuscan Pork Roast. Kate, a food blogger via Pie in the Sky, is taken with salt: her true love? Truffle Salt. Danielle at Habeas Brulee put truffle salt into Truffle Gruyere Risotto. Doesn't that sound divine?
So, if you are walking in the grocery store and find yourself enticed by a salty invitation, I suggest: stop. It will be well worth it. And if you come home and need quick inspiration for your new salt, don't forget to hop online to search for salt recipes. I just searched 'salt crusted' and found recipes for salt-crusted prime rib roast, salt-crusted duck breast, salt-crusted herbed-stuffed sea bass, salt-crusted potatoes... and the list goes on! It turns out my salty affection sometimes poses as inspiration to try new flavors and recipes... and thus my affection grows.