Oh the crunchy salty, sweet and tangy, tender juiciness of it all!!! ~~Salmon dinner delivers FLAVOR explosion...
I believe you go big, or go home!!!! Right?
Well, I'm already at home I guess. So let's change it to 'Go Big or Leave The Kitchen!' How's that? It's completely appropriate to say if you're biting into this dinner, since it contains all your favorite flavors and textures. And since it was so, so, so easy to make, going big is more accessible than ever.
Salmon is such a versatile canvas. The sweet and tender texture of its flesh is so easy to pair with any flavor. And one of my favorites is the fruity and zingy sauce you see above. By taking a few Kadota figs and cooking them down with some sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh ginger and a bit of cranberry balsamic, you'll get a sweet/spicy combination that is both sophisticated and simple. A buttery braised stalk of bok choy is the perfect textural and flavorful accent along with the earthy flavor of black lentils, helping to complete this dish.
But the real star here, if you haven't looked closely, is that crispy, fatty thin skin that is still there on the salmon. Searing the fish in oil, butter and sea salt in a very hot pan creates a thin but crunchy topping. And if you've lost count for the number of flavors we've created so far, that's okay. You'll just realize it is everything you've ever loved. And it will be your new favorite!
Wow, this turned out even better than I thought it would. That beautiful fig sauce, the juicy and medium rare salmon, the crunchy skin, the hint of butter on the seared bok choy. I say go for it all.
Seared Salmon with a Lemon & Ginger Kodota Fig Sauce
4, 4 oz salmon filets, skins on
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
3 T sugar
1/4 C white wine, such as a Riesling or Pinot Gris (or use 1/3 C mild vegetable stock)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 C Kadota figs, sliced into small pieces
zest of 1 lemon
2 T lemon juice
1 T fresh grated ginger
1/4 C sweet balsamic, such as Cranberry
Add chopped figs, lemon zest, lemon juice, grated ginger and sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let cook on medium to medium low (don't let it burn!) until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the cranberry balsamic and let simmer for about 6-8 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn't dry out. If it does, add a little water a tablespoon at a time. When it has reduced and it starting to become syrupy, turn off heat and transfer sauce to a bowl. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, or cover and let sit on counter for up to three hours before dinner time. This allows the sauce to thicken a bit so it's prettier on the plate.
In another saucepan brought to high temperature, melt the butter and add the oil. Place the salmon filets, skin side down into the hot butter/oil. Sprinkle a little salt and just a bit of black pepper (you can use white pepper) on the side of the filet not searing. Let it sear for a few minutes until nice and browned. Turn the heat down to medium and turn it over when you see the opacity at about 1/3 of the way up the filet, which only takes about 3 minutes or so. Now, deglaze with the wine. Cook/braise the fish on this side until you still see some pink remaining only in the center. Remove to a plate, cover loosely with foil and let sit for 10 minutes. It will continue to cook through. Cook longer if you prefer your salmon more done. But seriously, eat it this way so you can discover how moist and sweet it is just like this!!
To serve 4, take 8, trimmed and cleaned stalks of bok choy and sear for about 2 minutes on each side in butter. Remove, sprinkle with sea salt, serve.
When they're on sale, you can't help but purchase at least 2 tubs. And so, I had to make at least 2 pies! Blueberries are just like tiny little planets. They're so intricate, perfect, and iridescent. And REALLY good when you add fresh grated ginger. It wakes up the berry, and blends perfectly with every morsel.
For these pies, I began with a tub of blueberries, about 3 cups. Then added 1/2 C sugar, zest from a lemon and about 2 T of fresh grated ginger. I took about a third of the blueberries and then added a cut up Fuji apple, and a handful of golden raisins, and then a scant 1/4 t of allspice and that became the second pie. (see photos below)
Each went into a small, 6 inch pie plate, and I did fun things with the crust. Bake them each at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes, with foil covering the pie the last 20.
Serve with your favorite cream expression; iced, whipped, or ladled on, and don't be shy about it.
For me, a Saturday is better if I visit a Farmer's Market. It just smells like the earth and the season and melds the goodness of life with food. I was feeling so proud of myself about the cherry preserves that I wondered if these beautiful nectarines, priced right, and heaped into the top of a barrel like Tiffany jewels, would behave just as nicely. Wrapping them up in my arms, we cooed to each other about being nestled in a gurgling bath of sugar and lemon juice, and they promised me sweetness.
You should know, though, that even though cherries and nectarines have a stone heart, they are not cousins. A nectarine is messier, smooshier, and less cooperative. (I can talk this way now without hurting their feelings since I cooked the ever living daylights out of them. And in their defense, they behaved just as they were programmed to: STICKY!)
I started with the same technique; cutting around the fruit with a sharp knife, intending to remove the pale, dimpled center in one graceful motion. And that worked for the first two. Then the third simply exploded on me, and juice went everywhere. (Guess this is where I caution you about wardrobe again.) But after we got to know each other, the task went quickly and soon I had 7 and a half cups of beautiful, golden sweet chunks. There is one caveat. You do NOT peel these little suckers. The pectin you need is in the skin, as well as the color, and the essence of what makes it so beautiful on your plate. So don't whine too loudly about it being high maintenance.)
Again, calculating the amounts of the next few ingredients was made through the collective genius of the online experts I accessed. You will be happy to note at the end of this saga that I guessed unbelievable correctly. And when the sugar and the lemon juice infused themselves into the fruit, the juices and softness of the mixture took on a glow that was beautiful. I almost felt bad I had to turn on the burner!
After bringing to a regular but tamed boil, and stirring with a wooden spatula most of the time, the mixture was frothy and looked like pale yellow foam; hints of rose etched into the bubbles letting me know the skins were beginning to do their job. After 30 minutes of cooking I could see we were still a bit away from success, but I added the flavorings and rum at that point. Cooking for another 10 minutes, I could see the foam was all but gone and the fruit looked like dark golden jewels in the thickening and rosy colored pool of syrup. Opting for the dish in the freezer technique again, I took it off the stove and placed a bit of the lovely drippings onto the plate and after three minutes (yes, I continued to stir the mixture at a slow, slow boil while waiting for the cold to share the secret of the pectin's magic), the nudge test was a success. As you will learn, this is something you do by feel.
Putting the lids on, and then later, after some cooling, affixing the labels I created, I was now able to share my treasures. Seemed like a fitting tribute to this smooth, sweet and soft spoken fruit. Le Vie en Rose lives on in my preserves!
Ethereal Nectarine Ginger Preserves
Wash fruit, cut and chop into half to one inch chunks, leaving the skins on. Place in large, oversized dutch oven pan with the sugar and lemon juice. Gradually add heat until mixture is boiling. Keep boil eager but not violent and stir often as you cook for 30 minutes. Don't worry about all the foam. It will subside. Don't try to stir the foam back in though, as it collects around the inside. That introduces sugar crystals. The mixture reduces, so just mess with what's reduced.
At the end of 30 minutes, add the spices and Rum and keep stirring for 10 more minutes. Perform the nudge test (see Pitifully Easy Cherry Preserves for technique) and keep cooking the mixture on a VERY low boil for the next three minutes while waiting.
When done, place into jars, seal but not tightly, and leave undisturbed on counter until you hear the lids pop in. Refrigerate if you're not doing a hot water bath. Can freeze as well.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.