Tag Archives: salmon

Old friends and new

blue jam

Blackberry-blueberry jam, an attempt to get the blackberry flavor with fewer seeds.

I MARKED THE 8TH ANNIVERSARY OF THIS BLOG, by picking a tub of wild blackberries and making a blackberry cobbler. The first post that I wrote here, in 2009, was about the culmination of eight blackberry cobblers (!) that I made that summer. Well, I only made one this summer, but I can report that the recipe still holds up well and is suitable for any kind of berry. Cobbler and Blueberry Boy Bait are old friends during berry season, recipes I can count on–so familiar I can almost make them by instinct.


Speaking of instinct, my dear friend Martha and I read a post touching on this subject in one of our favorite food blogs, Juls’ Kitchen, written by Giulia, a cook and writer in Tuscany (We read it in the Italian version first, as we’re studying the language and she writes so well.) She wrote about making a cake by instinct — and it made me think about the dishes that I make instinctively, or almost so.


Since it’s summer, and I’m enjoying my small crop of cherry tomatoes and basil, grown in pots, one of the simplest and best pasta dishes came to mind — an easy one to make by instinct. I cut the tomatoes in half, add some garlic and a dash of salt, and cook them down a bit to release their juices. Then I add a little of the cooking water from the pasta, toss in a good dose of chopped basil, stir the cooked, drained pasta into the skillet, and sprinkle with grated Parmeggiano or Pecorino Romano. Done. The best old friend of the late summer menu: I can never have too much of it.


Leftover wild salmon, leftover rice, chopped cucumber and cherry tomatoes, corn kernels, chopped green onion, cilantro and a dressing of lime juice with a little oil and salt.

Summer, with its bounty of vegetables, is also such a great time to compose salads. I don’t know if there is an art to this, but I think there is something of an instinct, developed over time, of putting foods together so they marry well. Contrasts of color, flavor and texture work well in a composed salad. Leftovers and seasonal specials are equally welcome. It’s not that my instinct is always so great–some salads I’ve made did not marry well — in fact, probably needed to divorce! But usually, my instincts are not too bad and the ingredients get along pretty well — even complementing each other.

Especially in the lazy days of summer, I tend to forget what I can put together for a simple meal, and I need inspiration from something I’ve seen or read, which I can then adapt to what I have.  The salad above that was like that — I was just reading about a lime-juice salad dressing, and then put this together from leftovers and farmers’ market produce.

Then, as I was sorting through photos for this post, I looked at the photo of this salad and realized I could make it again for today’s lunch, even though I was missing the rice and had more cucumber. Avocado would be nice in this salad too, or black beans, or red pepper.  You could make it vegan without the salmon. You could use parsley instead of cilantro if you are one of the 4-to-14 percent of the population that thinks cilantro tastes like soap. You could add some sesame seeds or nuts on top .  . .

There are as many salad variations as there are mathematical combinations of vegetables with grains, beans, protein, what have you. Here’s a post with some of my late-summer favorites from seasons past: https://tobykitchen.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/salads-salads-salads/.

Have fun, eat well and stay cool,

blackberry foccacia slice

Hmmmm, shall I make a blackberry focaccia as I did this time last year? https://tobykitchen.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/blackberry-supper/


Filed under baked goods, fruit, musings, Praise for other cooks, salad, summer, Uncategorized

Pleasures of summer


Yogurt and granola with freshly picked raspberries

Here are just some of the delights I’ve been enjoying this first week or so of July.

Salmon with lemon slices

Salmon with lemon slices

 Copper River salmon with blackened (caramelized) lemon slices. It’s nice to use a cast iron skillet for this. First, saute one (or two) thinly sliced lemon(s) in a bit of butter or olive oil until soft and starting to blacken; next, sear the salmon filet, then finish cooking in the oven at 300 or 325 degrees until the salmon is tender and flakes easily.


Beans and greens summer salad

The base is cooked or canned white beans. I used cannellini beans that I brined the night before and rinsed before cooking. (This is a great way to cook beans that I learned from Cook’s Illustrated.) Make a dressing of olive oil, plenty of fresh lemon juice (and some zest if you like), a little garlic and some salt. You can basically add any chopped vegetables and herbs you like: for this salad, I used chopped raw spinach, chopped broccoli rabe (cooked crisp-tender), chopped green onions, a little sweet yellow pepper and some minced parsley, mint and dill. A second variation omitted the spinach but had more broccoli rabe and some basil.

Pie cherries from the farmers market

Pie cherries from the farmers market

Pitting pie cherries

Pitting pie cherries

Cherry pie

Cherry pie

I only had enough cherries for a small pie — and I decided to make the top crust only. (We never missed the bottom crust or its calories. And I didn’t have to decide whether to pre-bake it or not.)

You’ll need some nice fresh pie cherries, which are not always easy to find — and some sugar and cornstarch or other thickener for the filling (How much? Epicurious has a good basic recipe and you can adjust it according to how big a pie you’re making, etc.) Also a little lemon juice and zest.

Some people like almond extract in a cherry pie, but I don’t care for almond extract anywhere, so of course it didn’t go in.


Later, that same day

I didn’t hear any complaints.

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Filed under dessert, fruit, summer, supper time, vegetables

Salmon and greens

It’s a wonderful combination, of both colors and flavors.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a thrill when the Copper River salmon comes in from Alaska.  I like to buy the leaner and less-costly sockeye, though king is wonderful too (but costs twice as much) — and we’re fortunate to have such a good fish store in town.  It’s always worth getting the freshest possible fish.

Grilled salmon is a great summer treat — but we don’t have a grill (and it’s one of many prohibitions our landlords have imposed). Fortunately, I discovered a new way of cooking the fish that keeps it moist and flavorful.

Actually, it’s not really my discovery, nor is it new. In fact, it seems as if nearly everybody’s been cooking salmon this way–but it’s new to me: the slow method, which I apply to so many other foods. In this case it’s the slow roast at a temperature I rarely use: 250 degrees. The low heat makes it that much harder to commit the cardinal sin of overcooking fish.

It’s done!

For a half-pound filet, just put on a light slick of oil on the fish (1/2 a teaspoon or so), some herbs (chopped thyme, chives, dill, basil, cilantro — really anything you like) and some lemon zest if you wish, salt and pepper. Then pop it in the oven, skin side down, until it’s flaky — 15 or 20 minutes or maybe more (start checking after 15 minutes). If you want to cut down the time a bit, you can start cooking in a skillet (skin side down) until the skin is crisped, then move it to the oven.  One thing about this way of cooking: the fish won’t be really hot when you serve it.  Cooked, yes, but hot, no.

There are so many choices for fresh greens this time of year.  I had a nice bunch of bok choy from Terra Verde farms and I cooked it up with some chopped garlic and ginger.

I was feeling so virtuous after I ate this healthful dish that I decided I could have dessert: a light version of lemon panna cotta I’d made the day before.

Want the recipe? Go to my lemon blog and click the page on top labeled ‘Sweets.’ I’ve posted both the full fat creamy version as well as the lighter virtuous version.

By the way, this is a good a time as ever to tell you that my forthcoming book, Lemon: A Global History, is now up on Amazon and my press’s website. It won’t be out till September but you can take a peek at the contents now.

Meanwhile,  if you have some salmon left over, and some nice fresh lettuce and arugula (or any other kind of salad greens), you can keep enjoying that  salmon/green theme.

Today’s lunch!

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Filed under dessert, salad, summer, supper time, Uncategorized, vegetables