• BLAKE HARTE once worked on the 39th floor of the Renaissance Center preparing lunches for 25 executives of a steel company, creating and executing daily menus, until the budget for such luxuries was cut. In 2003, he opened Café West in Trenton, taking over a former pizza parlor and transforming it into a fish-and-seafood restaurant. This recipe uses an apple-cider reduction that produces intense flavor, he says, especially when paired with cedar. He likes to use apples and cider from small local farms.
> Cedar Apple-Glazed Salmon
3 cups apple cider
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 8-ounce salmon filets (skin removed)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil (just enough to brush on filets)
4 cedar planks (4-by-6 inches)
1 gala apple, cored and sliced into half-moon shapes
Preheat oven broiler or outdoor grill (which is preferable) to approximately 500 degrees.
Begin by reducing the 3 cups of apple cider to about 1/4 cup. Once reduced, add in the 1/4 cup heavy cream and return to heat and reduce for a second time, to approximately 1/4 cup. Once the sauce is made, put it aside until it’s time to glaze the salmon. (A squeeze bottle is often used for that.)
Season the salmon with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil to prevent fish from sticking. Place the salmon filets and cedar planks separately on open grates for about 2 minutes, and then turn 90 degrees to cross-mark the fish for another 2 minutes. If cedar planks catch fire, place them between two foil sheets so that they can smolder but not burn. After the salmon is cross-marked on one side, flip and grill for another 3-4 minutes. The salmon should be almost completely cooked by this point. Place each piece of salmon on a cedar plank and drizzle with the apple cider and cream glaze that had been set aside and top with a few apple slices; finish cooking salmon on the upper shelf grates of the grill (or broiler, if cooking with a stove) until a light golden-brown crust forms. This will take approximately 4-6 minutes, depending on the grill. Watch closely if using an oven broiler, which can cook even faster. Serve on the cedar planks.