Review: Juniper

For our 2nd wedding anniversary, Sean and I decided to dine in (I made THIS: Bourbon Glazed Salmon) but a few days before we also celebrated with a nice dinner out on the town at Juniper in downtown Tulsa. Fantastic experience. I’d like to rave about our evening there for a jiffy. Even if you don’t live in Oklahoma, it hopefully provides a nice window into how on-point Tulsa’s culinary scene is.

Juniper

On my OpenTable online reservation I added a comment to share that it was our anniversary. I wasn’t sure if anyone would notice – sometimes restaurants appear too busy for that sort of thing.

Sean and I arrived around 8pm and were greeted at the front desk with a delightful “Happy Anniversary!” wished by Juniper’s owner, Chef Justin Thompson. Way to make us feel welcome, Chef – thank you so much! That set the mood for our evening beautifully. We ordered the pan fried sweetbreads for our appetizer; a dish that was a bit of a daring culinary adventure as neither of us ever tried sweetbreads before.

While we waited for our 1st course, Sean adorably decided to embarrass me by putting his napkin on top of his head. Very normal dining scene for us. He was successful in embarrassing me, by the way – I blushed and quickly looked around the room, nervously giggling as I saw diners looking our way.

“Mmhmmhmhm….sean……SEAN. Seriously. You’re adorable, but please take the napkin off your head. People are looking, and… I love you.” 🙂

SweetbreadsWe were really impressed with our appetizer (pictured on right). The sweetbreads were pan friend in a sage brown butter (helloooo…) and placed on top of a brilliantly seasoned butternut squash puree, accompanied by crispy kale and hazelnuts. It was a fabulous wintery dish that gave one last nod to autumn cuisine.

Our entree stopped us in conversation. Everything was perfect. The foodie nerd in me has grown to expect a high standard when its restaurant boasts such a thing. So…for me to not only say, “perfect” but also to italicize and bold it in this post is to deliver a heartfelt high five to Chef de Cuisine, Tim Slavin. Nicely done, Chef.

I had the scallops, perfectly seared and seasoned. I am a sucker for seared scallops paired with white beans. It reminds me of the first dish I ever tried at The Bocuse Restaurant on The Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park, NY campus when I first visited the campus. It’s absolutely one of my favorite combinations. I loved everything that accompanied this pairing at Juniper – the touch of truffle oil in the white beans, the elegantly ribboned carrots cooked in brown butter, and an added bit of interest from the fried sage leaves.

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Sean had the short ribs which had been beautifully braised in Marshall IPA, then placed overtop a jalapeño pepperjack polenta and roasted vegetables. He took a bite, closed his eyes, and let out a sigh: “…hhhmmmmm.” That’s his version of a “bravo.” He offered a taste, and it just melted apart as slowly cooked short rips should, having been tended to over just the right time and temp.

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Desert was an obvious choice.

“Can I interest you both in our Desert Menu toni….”

“YES!” – Sean and I both interrupted our server with a smile. We chose to split “Justin’s Favorite Chocolate Pie” which was as if chocolate’s “greatest hits” formed an album and this took the number one spot.  It’s a reunion of decadently delicate chocolate mousse, oreo crumb crust, chocolate ganache, and a nicely balanced whipped cream.

We talked and giggled forever. I love that about being married to + in love with your best friend. You can just talk about everything from politics to your future as a family, until suddenly you look up and you’re the last ones in the restaurant. Even the tipsy table of eight had already left. Thank you for making us feel welcome and un-rushed, dear Juniper staff. We appreciated that very much.

We will be back – you can guarantee it. I whole heartedly recommend this to anyone else interested in a fine-dining quality taste of Tulsa.

Happy dining!

Bourbon Glazed Salmon

BOURBON! Hope that go6O9C2353t your attention. Y’all, this bourbon glazed salmon dish is straight up heavenly. I’m so excited to share it! Sean and I love it so much that it was our choice for dinner on a recent Monday night. This wasn’t just any ol’ Monday – it was December 8th – our wedding anniversary. We went out in Tulsa for dinner the Saturday night before to celebrate, but for the actual night it seemed fitting to cook a nice dinner at home.

The combination of flavors leaves you wanting more: the sweetness of the brown sugar, sharpness from the soy sauce, the tangy spark to your tastebuds from the lime juice, the shy little heat from the pepper, and the not-so-shy burst of bourbon…ohhh that bourbon. It provides an amusing punch to the sauce that brings the whole thing together.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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2 or 3 skinless salmon filets

3 tablespoons of bourbon

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

3 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of lime juice

1 tablespoon of a ginger/garlic/sesame mix…or just ground ginger (…but that all in one stuff is awesome!)

3 tablespoons of sliced green onion

 

STEP 1

Once you’ve got your mis en place (everything in it’s place – ingredients ready for action!) ready, it’s crazy easy from here on out. Mix brown sugar, soy sauce, bourbon, garlic, lime juice, ginger mixture, and black pepper all together in a bowl.
Mixture/Glaze

STEP 2

Well that was easy! Give the liquid mixture a little taste…and I mean little…but beware of the hearty punch to your senses from the bourbon! A little goes a long way, and it cooks out…trust me. It’s the perfect amount when the dish all comes together. Lightly salt the salmon, then pour just half of the mixture over the salmon filets, resting patiently on a plate.

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STEP 3

Place the plate in the fridge to chill until you’re ready to cook. No longer than an hour in advance. When I cooked this, it was about 20/30 minutes early while I waited for Sean to come home and worked on desert. While that chills, Step 3 is really all about the other stuff (took everything in my not to say “all about that bass”…but I stayed strong!) like…oh I don’t know…pouring yourself a hella good glass of red wine? YEAH!

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Quick pause from the recipe to talk about this red blend. Ghost Pines‘ red blend came recommended by a staff member of our neighborhood liquor store, Kwenchers, which has quickly become our favorite place to get wine/beer/scotch (Sean’s a scotchy-scotch guy). I asked for “a nice red blend” and mentioned I usually love Apothic but wanted to try something different for our anniversary dinner. Kwenchers certainly knows good wine, because this recommendation was perfect. As I started to prepare dessert in advance, I took a sip…and it was like a Zack Morris style “time out” where the world stopped for a moment and let me savor its beautiful balance. Anyone else like a good red blend like me? It’s a medium bodied red, similar to Apothic, but slightly less sweet with a dryer finish. It’s absolutely perfect for this kind of dish. Just had to share!

STEP 4

Sides! Most any sides will do. I just threw together some small whole carrots and white rice. For the carrots, I sautéed them in a bit of a random mixure (but a personal favorite) of chicken broth and pumpkin pie spice. SUPER random sounding, right? But try it. Juuuuuuuuust try it 🙂 Be sure to let it simmer and roll around in the broth while covered. It’s our favorite easy way to cook carrots while also giving it a hint of spice. Nothing too fancy with the white rice. I always add a little butter, salt, and pepper to taste, then finish it with a little chopped parsley mixed in.

STEP 5

Cook the salmon in the pan for just a few minutes each side, depending on how thick your slices are. Our’s were thawed from frozen and on the thinner side, so about 3 to 4 minutes on one side, flip carefully, and 2 to 3 minutes on the other did the trick. After you flip the salmon, add the remaining glaze that you set aside originally and let it all come together just before it’s perfectly cooked; soaking in the fresh flavors at the last 2-3 minutes.

6O9C2380Sprinkle some chopped green onions over the dish (or a lot…like we did!) and ENJOY! I can’t wait to make this again. It’s a perfectly divine, perfectly easy recipe to make any night of the week. It was a classy compliment to our special night.

After dinner we decided to join the chilly Oklahoma evening outside for a fire in our fire pit. Jackets on, drinks refreshed, and a perfect night by the fire to laugh hysterically and catch up on life with my best friend, love of my life – my dear hubby. Love you so much, Sean.

Fire pit

 

Enjoy this dish for a special night, or for any ol’ day. We adore it. Hope you do too!

Happy cooking 🙂