Salmon and Mediterranean Potato Mash

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Food photography has always been my thing. Not in a professional way, obviously, but over the years I often documented meals when we traveled. Then I would get home post-vacation and wonder why in the world I was keeping photos of meals I’d enjoyed, and get rid of them, especially in the pre-digital era.

What I’ve missed out on are not beautiful photos of pretty or unique meals, but the inspiration that these meals can offer. And memories as well.

Case in point, in 2012 my husband and I landed in Edinborough before beginning a magical 3-week trip around Scotland. That first night, in Edinborough, we chose a restaurant after I’d perused many menus, and this was my dinner.

It was grilled salmon over an lovely mash of potatoes served over pesto. It was exquisite. Somehow, even though this photo is terrible, I kept it.

If you haven’t been to Scotland, it’s everything and more than you expect. The scenery, the people, the history, the food. The seafood!

So there’s nothing especially unique about this meal, but it’s fabulous!

Salmon with Mediterranean-Inspired Potato Mash and Pesto Sauce
Serves 2

2 medium peeled starchy potatoes
4 ounces butter, cut into four pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream, or more if necessary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt
Pepper
1 1/2 ounces chopped Kalamata olives, or to taste
1 ounce chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 uniform filets of salmon
Salt
Garlic pepper or pepper
2 ounces pesto
2 ounces milk

Cut each potato into somewhat uniform pieces and place in boiling salted water to cook. When tender, drain in a colander, then immediately place in a large bowl. Add the butter and let melt. Then stir in the cream, garlic, salt and pepper, and mash the potato mixture. Add more cream if the mixture is stiff. Cover and set aside. (I used a very good garlic and herb butter.)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 2 filets and cook until some good browning occurs. Turn the filets over and reduce the heat to allow cooking on the other side. Cover the skillet with a lid to ensure that the salmon cooks though. Remove the skin from the filets while they’re in the skillet so you can season both sides with salt and pepper and brown under the skin. Keep warm.

To prepare the sauce simply mix the pesto with milk until the sauce is smooth.

To serve, divide the sauce on each of 2 plates. Using a ring mold, form 2 cylinders of potato mash and place each on the sauce.

Place the salmon filets to the side.

If desired, top with fresh chopped parsley and/or basil.

The combination is just wonderful!

You can place an amount of pesto on the plate and warm it, instead of the creamy pesto sauce. It’s whatever you prefer.

Lemon Pappardelle with Nduja

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Up until now, I’ve only used nduja on charcuterie platters – the wonderful spread that is so good on warm bread. That is, until I saw this recipe online.

If you aren’t familiar with nduja, it’s a spreadable pork sausage from southern Italy, spiced with Calabrian chile peppers. Nduja can be made from scratch, and maybe some day I will, but it’s so easy just to buy a tube. How to pronounce? In-doo-ya.

I have seen nduja included in red sauces, but in this recipe the nduja flavor is right there, not masked by anything else.

The recipe that got my attention is from Delicious Magazine – a really posh British cooking magazine that is also online. The actual name of the recipe is Sicilian pappardelle with nduja and crunchy breadcrumbs. In it, Sicilian lemons are recommended, but alas, there none to be found in Oklahoma. However, I did use Castelvetrano olives in this pasta, to make it a bit more Sicilian!

I wanted to include broccolini in this pasta for something green, but there wasn’t any at my local store. Frozen peas would work, or asparagus in the spring.

Sicilian Lemon Pappardelle with Nduja and Crunchy Breadcrumbs
Slightly adapted

30g/1 ounce unsalted butter
4 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Zest and juice of 3 lemons, plus wedges to serve
50g/2 ounces nduja, crumbled
Bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying
50g/2 ounces fresh white breadcrumbs
400g fresh papardelle (I used dried)
1/3 cup heavy cream
40g/2 ounces Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
Castelvetrano olives, pitted, sliced lengthwise (optional)

Heat the butter in a large pan over a low heat and fry the shallots for 15 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, then cook for a minute.

Add the nduja and half the parsley, then fry for 1-2 minutes.

In a small frying pan, heat a glug of olive oil, add the breadcrumbs and fry over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until crisp. Set aside.

Cook the pappardelle according to package directions. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water, then add the pasta to the nduja mixture. Set over a medium heat, then toss with a splash of the pasta water, cream, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the Parmesan.

Season to taste and divide among bowls or place in large serving bowl. Add the olives, if using, then sprinkle with the crunchy breadcrumbs and remaining parsley.

Serve with lemon wedges and extra Parmesan.

I also served the pasta with the Calabrian peppers for some extra heat!

note: Not all of my grams to ounces calibrations are correct. The ounces are what I actually used.

Kedgeree

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A while back on someone’s blog I commented on their kedgeree post that I’d never seen it with salmon, only chicken. She responded that she’d never seen it with anything but salmon! Well that’s when I realized I was mixing up the words kedgeree and biriyani. Yes, nothing in common at all. I’ll blame it on being old.

Both Indian dishes are rice-based, and both are served with hard=boiled eggs… but yet, not really similar. How I could confuse the names is beyond me!

Kedgeree can be as simple as a curried rice topped with prepared salmon, but I wanted something a little more fun, so I reached for Gordon Ramsay’s Cooking for Friends, published in 2009.

His recipe includes salmon and shrimp, but also quail eggs, which I couldn’t get my hands on.

Gordon Ramsay’s Posh Kedgeree

2 3/4 cups chicken or fish stock (I used both)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Pinch of saffron strands
9 ounces skinless, lightly smoked salmon fillet
7 ounces large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
2 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
2 cups basmati rice
12 quail eggs, at room temperature ( used 4 eggs)
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
Lemon wedges for garnish

Put the stock, thyme, saffron, and a little salt and pepper into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then gently lower the salmon fillet into the stock and poach for 4 minutes. Lift the fish out with a slotted spatula onto a warm plate. Add the shrimp to the stock and poach just until they turn firm and opaque, about 2 minutes.

I had lightly smoked the salmon using my stove-top smoker before starting this recipe.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to the plate of salmon. Cover with foil and keep warm.

Strain the stock and discard the thyme; set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add the olive oil, shallots, and some seasoning. Fry, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft but not browned, 4–6 minutes. Add the butter and curry powder. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then tip in the rice. Stir and cook for 2 minutes longer, to toast the rice lightly.

Add a generous seasoning of salt and pepper and pour in the stock. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes. Without lifting the lid, remove the pan from the heat and let the rice stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the quail eggs in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Crack and peel off the skins, then cut each egg in half. I obviously used un-posh, medium-sized chicken eggs.

Fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit more butter if you wish. Break the salmon fillet into large flakes and add to the rice, along with the shrimp and most of the chopped parsley. Gently mix the ingredients through the rice. Pile onto warm plates and garnish with the quail eggs, remaining parsley, and lemon wedges.

Serve at once.

The salmon is so tender I might cook it this way in the future. And the slight smokiness is wonderful. Altogether a delightful set of flavors and textures.

Mine was not quite as posh as Chef Ramsay’s, without the quail eggs, but I don’t think I could have peeled a dozen quail eggs, either.

I’m happy with how this dish came out!

Eric Ripert’s Seafood Chowder

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The New York City restaurant, Le Bernardin, a seafood restaurant, is constantly on top of the world’s ten best restaurant lists. In May of 2021, the chef-owner Eric Ripert was proud to advertise his long-standing 3 Michelin star rating.

In 2010, when my daughter went to New York City for an interview, I volunteered to meet her there. Of course, I made reservations at some great restaurants, including Le Bernardin. I’m a good mom like that!

This is a photograph of the dining room, from the restaurant’s website. In person, that painting seemed like it was 100 feet wide!

We had the most helpful sommelier while we dined at Le Bernardin. It could have been because my daughter was 24 and gorgeous…

In any case, our meal was exceptional, not surprisingly. If you’ve watched or read anything about Eric Ripert, you are aware that he’s a perfectionist.

In 2009 I purchased his just published cookbook, “A Return to Cooking,” about Eric Ripert and his culinary passion and skills, written by Michael Ruhlman.

As an homage to Eric Ripert’s love and respect of seafood, I chose a seafood chowder to make from the cookbook. It was excellent, and could easily be enjoyed during warm months. The hardest part was cracking crab legs for the meat, but so worth it.

Salmon, Crab, and Scallop Chowder
Printable recipe below
Serves 6

2 slices double-smoked bacon, sliced crosswise into julienne
3/4 cup sliced leeks
1/2 cup dry wine
3 cups fish fumet*
1 cup water
1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon canola oil
One – 6 ounce salmon fillet, cut into 3/4” cubes
4 ounces crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage
6 large sea scallops, cut horizontally in half
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Cook the bacon julienne in a large pot over medium heat, until it has rendered its fat and is crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot. Add the leeks and sauté until limp and lightly caramelized, about 4 minutes.

Deglaze the pot with the white wine, stirring to incorporate the browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Return the bacon to the pot, cover with the fumet and water, and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat and boil gently until the potatoes are tender, 10 – 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the cream to the fumet and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat until ready to serve.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush it with the canola oil. Place the salmon, crab, and scallops on the sheet and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Place in the oven for 2 – 3 minutes, until just barely heated through. The salmon and scallops should still be quite rare.

Meanwhile, gently reheat the soup. Add the dill and lemon zest and stir to incorporate. Adjust the seasoning.

To serve, divide the warmed salmon, crab, and scallops among warmed bowls. (This is so French – my mother always heated dishes before serving!)

Ladle the soup over and serve immediately.

* From the notes of Michael Ruhlman: Fumet is very easy to make once you have good bones. The bones of the turbot are the best for fumet because of their high gelatin content, but generally any white bones from a non oily fish can be used. To make a fumet, you sweat sliced onion and fennel until they’re tender, add the bones and cook them gently, then add water to just cover and a bouquet garni and simmer very gently for 10 – 15 minutes. Let the fumet sit off the heat for another 15 minutes, then strain it through cheesecloth.

This is what I used, purchased at Amazon, of course. It was delicious; all you have to do is add it to water just like a demi-glace.

 

Chicken Biryani

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When I first made biryani a million years ago, or so it seems, it was a fun dish for me because it was a perfect vehicle for leftovers – leftover rice, leftover chicken, even a leftover curry. But one can also make it purposefully from scratch, creating a custom version of what you like.

Biryani is an Indian dish, with many variations, which is perfect for the way I like to cook. It’s basically rice and meat, and you can sprinkle the dish with cilantro or green onions, serve with sour cream. It’s fun and flavorful and filling.

I’m not using an actual recipe, simply so I can show you how to make it from scratch and how easy and straight forward biryani is. I’m using the basic Indian-inspired seasonings, basmati rice, and prepared chicken.

After I’d created the seasonings for this biryani, I discovered an actual biryani seasoning mixture that I bought a few years ago. I need to go through my spice drawers!

Chicken Biryani
Printable recipe below

3 tablespoons ghee or butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 – 1” piece of ginger, minced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups basmati rice, I’m using brown
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or to taste
Approximately 3 1/2 cups of good chicken broth
4 grilled chicken breasts
2 tablespoons ghee
1 red bell pepper, cut into slices
1 green bell pepper, cut into slices
4 hard-boiled eggs
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Melt the ghee in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Add the ginger and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, give it a stir, then pour in the rice followed by the spices.

Add the broth and give everything a stir. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for about 30 minutes. Brown rice takes a bit longer so test it. If your rice is done and there’s still some broth, give it a stir, keep the lid on, and give it about 10 minutes; the rice will absorb the liquid. Set aside and keep warm.

Cut up the cooked chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. I put sweet paprika on mine before cooking, which is why they’re red; paprika is not an Indian spice. Set the chicken aside.

In a skillet, heat the ghee over medium-high heat, and sauté the pepper slices for about 5 minutes, getting some good caramelization on them, turning once. You might have to do this in two batches. Set the slices on a plate.

Add the chicken pieces, turn off the heat, put on a lid, and let the chicken heat through.

Peel the hard-boiled eggs and slice in half; make sure they’re at room temperature.

To serve, place the aromatic rice on a serving platter, then cover with the peppers and chicken. If you prefer, you can mix the chicken with the rice instead.

Decorate the biryani with the egg halves, and sprinkle the dish with cilantro.

If you don’t want to grill chicken breasts, pick apart a rotisserie chicken and coarsely chop the meat.

If you want to use less chicken, include a can of drained chick peas to the rice.

Now you can see how you can come up with your own recipe for biryani. It’s fun and easy!

 

 

A Seasonal Risotto

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I love making dishes that I can add stuff to, like pancakes, yeasted breads, risottos, mashed potatoes… well I guess just about any home-cooked dish! It’s one thing I enjoy and am good at. I didn’t learn creativity in culinary school, since I didn’t attend any cooking school ever. It actually comes from being financially strapped and never wanting to waste anything. Got a carrot? Juice it and put it in a soup, grate it and put it in a meat loaf, purée it and add to potato mash… and so forth.

But also, since I grew up experiencing various cuisines, I figured out that it’s easy to be creative by turning any random dish into an inspired-by cuisine. Take a potato soup, for example. Add chorizo, chipotle, and fresh cilantro and you’ve got a Southwestern-inspired soup. Use ricotta in the potato soup and top it with a spoonful of basil pesto, and you’ve got an Italian-inspired soup. And so forth. Every week you can make a “different” potato soup!

So that’s how I have fun in my kitchen, when I’m not following specific recipes.

Which brings me to risotto. I was looking over old blog posts a while back, and I came upon my Paprika Cream Risotto. It’s just a “plain” risotto with the addition of paprika cream. Simple, yet fabulous. The photos could be updated, of course, but what caught my attention were my own notes on suggestions of seasonal risottos.

Spring: Lemony goat cheese risotto with salmon, peas, and basil

Summer: Tomato and tomatillo risotto with chorizo and cilantro

Fall: Brussels sprouts risotto topped with grilled sausages

Winter: Smoked gouda risotto topped with short ribs and pickled onions

Damn. Those are great ideas! The Italian purists wouldn’t appreciate these recipes, but I have no problem with this kind of inspired cooking. Especially when the outcome is so wonderful!

I decided to start with the spring version, cause it’s spring! Now, this combination isn’t unique for springtime flavors, but they are really good together! Begin with the salmon, then keep the filets warm while you prepare the risotto, then put the final dish together.

After receiving a gift of a variety of fish from my daughter at Christmas from Sitka Salmon Shares, it has become my source for fish; their salmon is perfection.

Easy Sautéed Salmon Filets
Serves 2

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 salmon filets, not steaks
Salt
Finely ground pepper

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it brown slightly.

Season the flesh sides of the filets, then place the filets in the skillet, flesh side up. Cook for about 2 minutes, then gently flip over.

Lower the heat slightly and cook the skin-up filets for a about 4 minutes. At this point you can easily remove the skins using a thin spatula.

Turn them over for one last time so the fish cooks under the skin more, about 2-3 minutes over the lowest heat. Place them on a plate and tent with foil to keep warm, then prepare risotto.

Lemon and Goat Cheese Risotto with Peas
Generously serves 2

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup Riesling or other non-dry white
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 or 4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup prepared green peas (or sliced steamed asparagus if you prefer)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the butter and let melt. Add the shallots and sauté for about 4-5 minutes; don’t allow much caramelization.

Add the rice to the pot and stir it around in the butter and shallots until all the grains are coated. Pour in the white wine. Stir as the rice cooks in the wine and it gradually gets absorbed.

Without letting the pot go completely dry, add some of the broth, about 1/3 cup at a time, and repeat the stirring process, without allowing any burning or sticking. Turn down the heat if you think the rice is cooking too fast; it’s always best to go slower. You can see the risotto is cooking but not ready quite yet.

When you’re down to the end of the broth, turn off the heat and gradually fold in 3 ounces of goat cheese until well distributed.

Add the salt and white pepper and taste for seasoning. If you’re satisfied, gently add the peas, lemon juice and zest, cover the pot, and set it aside.

Lemony Goat Cheese Risotto with Peas Served with Salmon

2 tablespoons goat cheese, at room temperature
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
A chiffonade of basil leaves

Strain the reserved butter in the skillet into a small bowl. There should be at least 1 tablespoon of melted browned butter. Add the 2 tablespoons of goat cheese into the butter by gently whisking until smooth. If you don’t like this idea, just put a small dollop of soft goat cheese on each filet before serving.

To serve, divide the risotto into two pasta bowls. Top each serving with a salmon filet. Divide the goat cheese-butter mixture between the filets.

Divide the lemon zest between both servings, and finish with the basil chiffonade.

I loved the goat cheese, lemon, and basil flavors together!

If you’re not familiar with the term salmon “filet,” here are photos of the two most common individual cuts – the thinner filet, and the thicker steak. Filets can be trimmed so their thickness is uniform. Save the scraps!

Thanks to Cooks Illustrated for these photos!

Salmon with Pickled Strawberries

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In July of 2020, my husband and I visited Glacier National Park in Montana. It was a dream trip that we considered cancelling because of the international pandemic. Cancelling would have involved losing money, but mostly, after not leaving the house for months, we just wanted and needed to get to Montana.

We stayed at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, in Whitefish, Montana. Because of the pandemic, our hotel experience wasn’t what we had anticipated, but we understood the issues with which the hotel dealt. On our first night at the hotel, we ate dinner at the hotel’s “fancier” restaurant, called the Boat Bar.

I ordered a salmon dish. It was described as “House-smoked salt-cured seared salmon over kohlrabi purée, charred asparagus, beets, fava beans, and pickled strawberry vinaigrette” on the menu, photographed below.

The combination of flavors and textures were so good, that on our last night in Montana we ate at the same restaurant and I ordered this same dish. That is not like me!

I have never seen fresh fava beans where I live, so earlier this year, my girlfriend with a greenhouse started some for me! It was so exciting!

Following is more of a guide I used in my attempt to recreate this meal. I couldn’t find kohlrabi, so I subbed potatoes.

Salmon with Pickled Strawberries, Roasted Asparagus, Beets, Fava Beans, over a Potato Puree, and a Creamy Strawberry Vinaigrette
Serves 2

For  the  Fava  Beans: Strip open the pods and remove the beans. Place them in boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and cool with ice water. Gently pinch off the peel.

For  the  Potato  Purée: Boil 2 peeled and chopped russet potatoes until tender, put them through a ricer, then add heavy cream until soft.

For  the  Salmon: Heat a little butter in a medium skillet, add 2 uniform thickness salmon filets, seasoned with salt and white pepper, and sautéed them until just cooked.

For  the  Beets: Because these weren’t treated any special way, I simply used canned beets, although at the store I could only find them already sliced. I cut them into little cubes as best I could, and placed them on paper towels to dry.

For  the  Asparagus: Slice about a dozen asparagus into small, uniform pieces, using mostly the tip end halves. Toss the pieces with salted olive oil, and roast them at 400 degrees until obvious browning appears.

For  the  Pickled  Strawberries: Slice about 6 large strawberries crosswise, place them in a jar, add 2 teaspoons of sugar and cover them completely with red wine vinegar. Shake gently and let the jar sit in the refrigerator overnight. Before using, remove them from the vinegar and let them sit on paper towels to dry.

For  the  Strawberry  Vinaigrette: Drain the pickled strawberries and reserved the vinegar in a small blender jar. Add about half of the pickled strawberries to the vinegar. Add olive oil, mayonnaise, about 1 teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth and taste.

I included some sunflower greens, and fresh flowers to use for the presentation.

To put it all together, make sure all of the elements are warm. Spread some potato purée on each plate (I made two servings) and top with the salmon.

Add the roasted asparagus, poached fava beans, beet cubes, and pickled strawberry slices.

Sprinkle the salmon with some flaked salt, if desired, and top with some microgreens of choice.

Taste the vinaigrette for flavor and seasoning before you use it. You don’t want it tart, but also not sweet. Serve extra on the side.

The vinaigrette is really good on the asparagus, beets, and favas. And I really enjoyed the backdrop of the potato purée.

And if you ever have a chance to see Glacier National Park and other parts of Montana, do go! Such spectacular scenery!

Salmon Rillettes

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There are many salmon recipes on this blog, because of all fish varieties, salmon is my favorite. It’s such a versatile protein – one that goes beyond basic grilling, poaching, or smoking.

A while back I had a dilemma facing me with two leftover salmon filets. And this is how my salmon rillettes recipe was created.


Salmon Rillettes
Makes about 24 ounces of rillettes

1 or 2 salmon filets, approximately 12 ounces total, pin bones removed
4 tablespoons butter, divided
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces soft goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
4 ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped
Fresh chopped parsley, about 3 tablespoons

Rinse and dry the salmon filet. Bring it to room temperature if it’s not already. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the salmon by browning it on the flesh side first. The browned butter will help color the salmon.

Turn it over, lower the heat, and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the salmon is medium rare, about 6 minutes total, depending on the thickness. Turn off the heat.

While the fish is still in the skillet remove the skin and discard. Using a spatula, chop up the salmon coarsely. Let cool slightly.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cream cheese, goat cheese, and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and white pepper. Beat until smooth.

Fold in the sautéed salmon, along with the butter from the skillet, as well as the smoked salmon. Try to keep some of the pieces of salmon in tact. At the last minute, add the parsley, gently “pushing” it into the salmon and cheese mixture.

Place in a jar or serving dish, and serve with bread or crackers.

These rillettes are definitely best just made, still slightly warm. If they must be refrigerated, bring them to room temperature before serving.

Rye crackers or bread are fabulous with anything salmon.


Rillettes of pork, or those made from duck or goose are almost purely meat, softly ground to make spreadable.

These salmon rillettes contain some cream cheese and goat cheese for creaminess. If you want “meatier” rillettes, cut back on the cream cheese. The important thing with rillettes is that they’re soft and spreadable.

Salmon Brandade

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This recipe comes from the 2018-published cookbook entitled Everyday Dorie, by Dorie Greenspan. I bought it recently after seeing quite a few bloggers share some of this book’s recipes on Instagram.

Personally, I’ve never gotten to “know” Ms. Greenspan. It’s probably because I first learned about her when the book, Baking with Julia, was published. Ms. Greenspan and Julia Childs were co-authors.

Well, I won’t bake with Julia, or anyone else, so I kind of ignored Dorie Greenspan and her award-wining books over the years, until now.

The book? Fairly straight forward, simple food. Her goal with the cookbook is to “turn out food that’s comforting, satisfying, inviting and so often surprising. I love when there’s something unexpected in a dish, especially when it’s in a dish we think we know well.

So, she added Dijon mustard to gougeres, to carrot and mustard rillettes, to honey-mustard salmon rillettes, and to a tomato tart with mustard and ricotta. And that’s just the appetizer chapter. I wasn’t really impressed with her “surprises,” but the photos of the food are really pretty.

I chose to make Ms. Greenspan’s salmon brandade, because I love traditional brandade, made with salt cod. If you’re interested HERE is a Jacques Pepin recipe for it.

According to Dorie Greenspan, “This brandade celebrates everything that’s warm and comforting about the original while adding a touch of luxe – it’s brandade for dinner parties. Serve with a salad and white wine. Maybe even Champagne.

The dish isn’t gorgeous, but it’s perfect comfort food, especially served during cold months. And for pescatarians.

It’s basically a salmon shepherd’s pie!

Salmon Brandade
Makes 6-8 servings

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 pound smoked salmon, or lox
2 – 2 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into medium chunks
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, plus 1/2 tablespoon butter
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped, rinsed, and patted dry
2 garlic cloves, germ removed, minced
6 – 8 ounces skinless salmon fillet, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup white wine or dry vermouth
2 – 3 tablespoons minced mixed fresh herbs, such as dill, chives, parsley, and/or tarragon
Plain dry bread crumbs, for finishing

Bring the milk just to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in half of the smoked salmon, turn off the heat and let steep while you make the potatoes.

Put the potatoes in a tall pot, cover generously with cold water, salt the water and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they’re so tender that you can easily crush them against the side of the pot with a fork, 15 – 20 minutes. Drain well.

The potatoes must be mashed, a job best done with a food mill or ricer, which produces fluffier potatoes. Mash them in a large bowl, and then, using a spatula, stir in the salmon-milk mixture, followed by the 6 pieces of butter.. The potatoes will be softer and looser than you might be used to. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9″ pie plate and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I used a small baking pan and two ramekins.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Toss in the onion and garlic and cook, stirring until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper – go light on the salt – and stir in the cubed fresh salmon.

Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine or vermouth and cook, stirring, until the wine almost evaporates, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the herbs and remaining smoked salmon.

Taste for salt and pepper and scrape the mixture into the buttered pan.

Top with the mashed potatoes, spreading them all the way to the edges of the pan. Dot with bits of the cold butter and sprinkle over the bread crumbs.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are hot all the way through, the juices from the onion and salmon are bubbling, and the top is golden brown. If you want the brandade to have more color, put it under the broiler.

Serve immmediately – the brandade is meant to be so hot that you’ve got to blow on every forkful. See the steam in this photo? Nah, I can’t either, but it was steaming hot.

The two layers are exceptionally good, especially the soft potatoes with the bits of salmon.

But the bread crumbs (I used panko) really add a fun crunch to each bite.

I would consider this recipe excellent, but salt the potatoes!

And, the individual brandade in the ramekins turned out perfectly as well.

If you enjoy the combination of salmon and potatoes, I made a similar but much easier recipe called smoked salmon potato bake, pictured here. (I need to re-do these photos!)

Wild Rice and Pecan Pancakes

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Savory pancakes are something I really enjoy creating, not just because they are so delicious, but more because you can incorporate just about anything and everything into the batter.

Just on this blog I’ve offered potato and halloumi pancakes, butternut squash and bacon pancakes, zucchini pancakes, and squash and corn pancakes. All different, all wonderfully satisfying.

My secret if to use very little flour; it’s all about the main ingredients. Sometimes it’s vegetables with herbs, sometimes vegetables and nuts, sometimes I mix in grains, cooked or not, for texture.

These pancakes are an autumnal offering, using wild rice and toasted pecans. If you are serving a Mexican or Southwestern-inspired meal, include cilantro in the pancakes, plus some ground cumin and dried oregano. If you want a more generic pancake, stick with some parsley for a fresh flavor, like I did here.

Wild rice is actually a seed, not a grain, and it can taste and feel like little sticks, so I prefer a mixture of rice, brown or white, and wild rice.

These can be served with any kind of protein, from a pork chop to salmon. They’re quite versatile.

Wild rice and Pecan Pancakes
Makes 15 pancakes

2 ounces pecans
4 ounces wild rice
1 cup cooked white or brown rice, cooled
2 eggs
4 ounces 1/2 & 1/2, evaporated milk, or other
1 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Approximately 1/4 finely chopped onions or shallots
Approximately 1/4 chopped parsley
1/2 cup flour plus a little more
Butter or olive oil

Toast the pecans in a cast-iron skillet and let cool.

Meanwhile, cook the wild rice in 2 cups of water just as you would rice, for about 50 minutes. You actually have the option to cook less or more, depending on how you like your wild rice. It softens more with more cooking, obviously, which is how I prefer it. If there’s leftover water in the pot you can drain it.

Place the leftover cooked white rice in a small bowl, then add the cooked wild rice and let cool.

In a larger bowl, combine the eggs and 1/2 & 1/2 and stir well. Add the garlic pepper and salt.

When the rice has cooled, add to the egg and milk mixture. Stir well, then add the onions and parsley.

When you are ready to cook the pancakes, add the pecans and stir in the flour.

When you stir the batter, you shouldn’t see any liquid (the egg and milk mixture). If you do, sprinkle a little more flour over the batter, only about one tablespoon at a time. If you add too much flour, the pancakes will be stiff and dry.

I used a large non-stick skillet to cook the pancakes. Start over medium-high heat. Add some butter to the skillet, and when it melts, add a spoonful of batter carefully, pressing it down to form a pancake.

After a minute, turn down the heat and let the pancakes cook for a few minutes. Turn them over carefully, and continue to cook a few more minutes. If you want more browning on the second side, raise the heat a bit.

Repeat with the remaining batter. Take your time, these are a bit more delicate than potato pancakes. The rices are cooked, but you still have to cook the batter slowly but thoroughly.

I served the pancakes as a side to a filet mignon.

I think a vegetarian would enjoy them as a meal, because they’re pretty hearty.

Speaking of non-vegetarians, these would also be good made with bacon.

If you feel extra decadent, serve sour cream with the pancakes.