At-Home Chef: Think Pink
Farm-raised salmon from M spices up late summer
By Kimberly StolzPublished September 1, 2012
Life is busy, indeed. Between working and hitting the town to sample the wonders of Columbus, we don’t always have the time nor the energy to spend hours negotiating a difficult recipe. M Restaurant executive chef Olivia Giesler knows this better than most: in addition to long hours in the kitchen of one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the city, she also has an 8-month old daughter filling her Northside home with infectious baby giggles.
“This is an easy recipe – something I make at home a lot, and it doesn’t take long to prep,” Giesler said. “I have to be able to make it with one hand.”
Good farm-raised salmon is easy to find in our landlocked state and mastering the cooking of the pink-hued favorite is a must for any home chef. The flavor of salmon is best-enjoyed medium rare, as that temp keeps the meat moist and delicate, Giesler explained. The tasty black beans and chimichurri sauce take the fish on a quick cruise south of the border and is perfect to celebrate sunny flavors as fall whispers on the wind. Adding the South-American chimichurri to your condiment arsenal adds a lively shot of flavor to any meat or vegetable.
“I don’t know why … it’s just cilantro, lime, and garlic … but I just know I love it,” said Chef. “It’s bright and flavorful and it goes with a lot of things – steak, chicken, scallops.” For those who have an aversion to cilantro, Giesler suggests using a mix of parsley and the green part of a scallion instead.
While directing kitchen traffic at M, the young chef prefers the quiet. However, at home, Giesler cooks to the grooves of reggaeton, dancing around the kitchen, sautéing with one hand and holding her wee one with the other: a fitting soundtrack for this Latin-infused feast.
Salmon with Black Beans and Chimichurri Sauce
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp garlic cloves
½ cup olive/canola oil blend
1 tsp salt
pinch ground white pepper
1 ½ oz. fresh lime juice
Combine ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth and adjust seasoning. Reserve for later use.
Chili Garlic Black Beans
12 oz. black beans (canned)
½ cup white onion, small dice
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp chili garlic paste
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp honey
1 oz fresh lime juice
½ Tbsp olive/canola oil blend
½ tsp salt
Sauté onions with the oil in a pan until translucent. Add garlic and cook to light golden brown. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes on low heat. Adjust seasoning and keep warm.
Sautéed Red Pepper and Onions
½ cup julienne red bell peppers
¼ cup julienne white onion Julienne
1 tsp minced garlic minced
1 tsp olive/canola blend
Salt to taste
Begin with a hot sauté pan and add the oil. First add the onions and cook until translucent with a pinch of salt. Add the red bell peppers and garlic and continue cooking until the peppers are tender. Adjust seasoning and keep warm.
Pan Seared Salmon
2 6 oz salmon filets
pinch white pepper
1 tsp olive/canola oil blend
1 tsp butter
½ oz fresh lime juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season salmon with salt and white pepper. In a hot sauté pan, add the oil. Coat the pan with the oil and add the salmon. Turn the heat down to medium high. Continue cooking the salmon until light golden brown is creeping up the side. Place the sauté pan in oven for four minutes. Remove salmon from oven and flip salmon over. Add butter and lime juice to pan and spoon over salmon. Remove from pan and let rest before plating.
Place equal “piles” of the black beans and red pepper/onion mix on the plate. Gently lay the salmon filet over the two and spoon the chimichurri sauce around the plate. Garnish with a few pieces of sliced avocado and cilantro leaves.
Meet the Chef
Just one month into her new position as executive chef at M, Olivia Giesler is both full of passion and calm as a cucumber. While masterfully julienning red pepper, this daughter of Columbus recalled her youthful introduction to the magic of cooking.
“We grew up fending for ourselves,” said Giesler, referring to her twin sister and older brother. “Our parents were working and we would have breakfast for dinner, or pasta with marinara sauce.”
As the knife slices in rhythm, Chef goes back to her 18-year-old self, spending time on a high school “walkabout” in Costa Rica.
“My sister and I were working at an 11-room hotel and the family was from Spain,” she recalled. “It was when I first realized cooking could be a career – it was the first time I learned what pesto was, what ginger was … how to make a chicken croquette. It was all very exciting.” Also attractive to Giesler was the family environment of cooking together, and the joy of preparing food for others.
A passion ignited, Giesler returned home and walked, “scared out of my mind,” into Mitchell’s Ocean Club at Easton to ask for an internship. The teenager’s pitch of working for free in exchange for learning how kitchens work was a success. Since that day, Giesler has never left the Cameron Mitchell family.
“I learned how to hold a knife, what napa cabbage was,” she laughed. “Everything was brand new and it helped me get out of my shell. I was 18 years old in a kitchen with a bunch of guys playing around and joking, but we trusted each other, we took care of each other. Little did I know I would be with the company 10 years later.”
Something as simple as making a sauce left a huge impression on the young student.
“Making sauces is such a mystery,” she said. “You take chicken stock, some mushrooms and tomatoes and cook it down and it becomes a sauce! It was magical to me, it was so cool … I didn’t grow up with this stuff.”
Giesler has spent her entire career in the Cameron Mitchell family, learning both culinary and life lessons from mentors Brian Hinshaw and Ian Rough. She is looking to pay it forward now that she is at the helm.
“M is the flagship of Cameron’s restaurants and a training ground for chefs,” she explained. “Everyone on the line wants to be great and I love being able to teach … seeing the light in their eyes when they learn something is the best thing ever.”
The newly minted executive chef looks around the sparkling kitchen, a glistening pile of perfectly chopped red pepper on the cutting board before her.
“To be surrounded by passion – I just can’t help but be excited,” she smiled. “I take in every moment that I have and love it.”