February at the RGB. It’s starting to get pretty colorful around here; our Fleur des Lys (Dutch Irises) are back… the chickens are laying eggs like they’re supposed to, and the first of the ranunculus are up. Hard to believe it’s only February.
A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. Molly Wizenberg is the kind of storyteller I wish to be someday; relatable, charming, and full of life and joy. Every chapter starts with a story and end with a recipe. I appreciate that the collection isn’t so much about what the recipes are of as much as it’s about why the recipes are shared.
Someone once asked me why I shared my recipes. Why not keep it to myself? Weren’t there “secret ingredients” I wanted to covet? Wasn’t I afraid that someone might steal my stuff?
If I can share a passage from this book, it is this: Recipes are by nature derivative: rare is the recipe that springs, fully formed, from thin air, without the influence, wisdom, or inspiration of other prior dishes. Recipes were made to be shared. That’s how they improve, how they change, how new ideas are formed and older ones made ripe. The way I see it, sharing a recipe is how you pay back fate–in the karmic sense, if you believe in such things–for bringing you something so tasty in the first place. To stop a recipe in its tracks, to label it secret, just seems mean. And isn’t cooking about making people, on some level or another, feel good? It seems to me, then, that it only makes sense to give people the means to continue feeling good. By which I mean the recipe.
If I could add to Molly’s reasoning, this is what I’d say: Recipes are a two-dimensional part of a three-dimensional experience. Anyone can buy the right ingredients and follow the list of instructions. But to fully embrace a recipe, you must enjoy the journey of making the meal, having the meal, and cleaning up after the meal… preferably with someone you enjoy the company of. And this is something that cannot be plagiarized.
It’s rarely about how great a recipe sounds to eat. It’s about who I’m making the recipe with, or where I’m eating a meal. This is how a simple, mid-winter’s meal, with my husband in our kitchen, and my dogs on the floor, is enough to Rock. My. Freaking. World.
Am I right, or am I right?
Cider-Glazed Salmon with Cauliflower Puree and Pan-Braised Asparagus
King salmon fillets poached in apple cider, shallots and butter; then paired with a cider-cream reduction, alongside a cauliflower puree and pan-braised asparagus.
~ Serves 2 ~
- Cauliflower Puree: see recipe here
- Pan-Braised Asparagus:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 bunch asparagus, root cut off and cut into ½” pieces
- Cider-Glazed Salmon
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 2 cups fresh unfiltered apple cider
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 2 3-ounce salmon fillets
- ½ cup heavy cream
~ Preparation ~
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
- Make cauliflower puree, leaving out the sour cream. Keep warm.
- Make asparagus: melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over medium heat. Add thyme. Once butter is light and foamy, add 2 tablespoons water and cut asparagus. Cook over medium heat until bright green and tender, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- In a large, heavy skillet, combine the butter, shallot and cider. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes, then remove and discard the shallot.
- Place the fillets gently in the pan. Spoon a bit of the liquid over them, so that their tops begin to cook. Cover and simmer very gently. The fillets will cook for eight to 10 minutes per inch of thickness. To test for doneness, make a small slit with a paring knife in the thickest part of the fillet; all but the very center of each piece should be opaque. (It will keep cooking after you pull it from the heat.) Transfer the cooked salmon to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- To prepare the glaze, raise the heat under the pan to medium-high, add a pinch of salt, and simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced by about two-thirds. It should be slightly thickened and should just cover the bottom of the pan. Remove the shallots with a tong. Reduce the heat to medium and add the cream. With a whisk, stir well to combine. Boil, stirring frequently, for a few minutes, until the mixture darkens to a pale, golden caramel — like those Brach’s Milk Maid caramel candies, if that helps — and is reduced by one-third to one-half.
- Place the salmon fillets on four plates and top each with a spoonful of sauce. It should coat them like a thin, loose glaze. Serve immediately. Note: If you’d like to make this for only two people, halve the amount of salmon, but not the sauce quantities.
- Plate and serve immediately with cauliflower puree and pan-braised asparagus.
Source for Cider-Glazed Salmon: A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg. Slightly adapted as noted by the RGB.
RGB Reads is a collection of food-related books we’ve enjoyed. Click on this category to see what we’ve read.