panko-crusted salmon

I am back with another salmon recipe. My apologies for the lack of protein diversity, but we’ve been trying to eat more fish around here lately, and salmon is so versatile.

I don’t have any nostalgic stories associated with this recipe, and eating it for the first time wasn’t a life-altering experience, so I won’t extemporize on it at length. Panko tossed with lemon zest and parsley gives a nice crunch, and Dijon mustard adds some zing to keep things interesting. This salmon is tasty, simple, and perfect for a night when you are tired and need to get something fresh and healthy on the table in a hurry. Try it, and I bet it will go right into your weeknight rotation (it’s in mine!).

I do want to ramble a bit about search terms people use to find blogs. Search engines often do a good job helping people to find the information they’re looking for – lots of people have stumbled upon my blog by searching for sweet potato casserole, for example. Other times, people enter rather amusing/bizarre terms and somehow end up here. I’m not sure how much I help them. But below are some of my favorite examples.

1. “Can you use the same sauce on green beans that you would use on asparagus”. Probably? It depends on the sauce? But really, the green beans aren’t going to protest that no, you see, this sauce really only goes with asparagus and they’d prefer that you sauce them with something more appropriate. If it sounds good, try it – if it’s not so good, try something else next time.

2. “Has anyone eaten moldy hummus?” “What happens if you eat moldy hummus”. Please, no. Throw that moldy hummus away. I don’t even know if it will harm you, but it just sounds gross. I wonder if the second person typed this into a search bar after having consumed the moldy hummus, and then wanted to confirm that they weren’t going to be hospitalized. And did the first person hope to find someone else out there who had eaten moldy hummus and then proudly shared their tale with the internets? Just in case some other poor soul finds herself here searching for the same answer, I will state my opinion on this matter: just don’t do it.

3. “Crepes sweetened cocoa frugal student”. Was this person searching for a frugal student who had posted a recipe for crepes with cocoa? If so, they found what they were looking for, since I was indeed a frugal student when I posted chocolate crepe recipes. But what an oddly specific thing to look for! On the other hand, maybe this person was a frugal student looking for a chocolate crepe recipe that would fit their budget. And since I set my frugality aside to buy fancy cocoa, I probably wasn’t much help here.

4. “Exquisite dinner”. Hey Google, tell me what is the most exquisite dinner of all! I don’t know if my recipes satisfied this person’s demands, but I guess I’m amused/tickled that some search engine decided that my blog was an ideal provider of exquisite dinners.

That’s all for this installment of Curious Search Terms People Use to Find My Blog. On to the recipe!  Read the rest of this entry »

salmon en papillote

Ok, let me acknowledge right away that this is perhaps not the greatest looking photo I’ve ever posted on this site. Maybe my photography skills are to blame, or maybe we can peg this one on the salmon – I’ve posted two other salmon recipes, and I wasn’t super happy with either of those photos either, however much I liked the food itself. So salmon may not be the most photogenic fish in the sea/on your plate – that doesn’t mean you should pass it up for more attractive-looking proteins!

Enough about the photo, let’s talk about the fancy title for this recipe. “En papillote” may sound snooty and French, but it really just means that you cook the fish in a parchment paper packet. You can add all kinds of flavorings – here we will use lemon, garlic, and oregano – and any kind of fish. The fish steams in its packet, absorbing the flavors from whatever seasonings you’ve used. Back in the day, I baked salmon inside a tin foil packet, and while that was kind of easier, going the en papillote route sounds way more sophisticated and gives you that snooty French cred. Two things worth considering.

If you’re worried about calories, this is a much lighter way to cook fish than sauteing or frying, and more exciting than poaching (which always kind of grosses me out, though probably just because I haven’t done it properly yet). And if getting your fish into a fancy parchment package sounds tricky and stressful, not to worry, I have step-by-step photos to accompany this recipe!  Read the rest of this entry »

linguine with lemon cream sauce and salmon

This is not a great title for this recipe; I wanted to add “and seasonal vegetables” at the end, but that was getting too long. In the version I made tonight, I used zucchini and summer squash; when I make this in the spring, I like to use asparagus, and I imagine that fresh peas and even chopped green beans would also do nicely here. This recipe is something of an original; I found the sauce online, but it wasn’t intended to be a pasta sauce, and everything else was my own little invention. I think it’s a lovely spring/summer pasta that tastes light and fresh, and contains lots of things that are good for you (salmon, vegetables), to make up for the heavy cream.  Read the rest of this entry »

salmon and mango stuffed mushrooms

Many stuffed mushroom recipes are for little party canapes. Not these mushrooms. You fill portobello caps with a mixture of salmon, mango, coconut milk, soy sauce, garlic, and basil, bake until everything is juicy and tender, and serve over a bed of fluffy jasmine rice (which you’ve ideally cooked with the extra coconut milk from the can). It’s a burst of tropical flavor, which I promise tastes much better than it looks (and it looks better than this picture suggests, as I momentarily forgot what little I know about photography, and took this picture in a dumb way).

This recipe was originally invented by my friend Andrew, who is a rather more skilled cook than I am, and makes up his own recipes (I get a little freaked out without a clear set of instructions). I had these for the first time when we were doing a semester abroad at Oxford. We have the same birthday, and a lot of our friends from undergrad were visiting, so he came over to my house and made these for lunch. When I heard the list of ingredients I was a bit dubious (because I was picky and narrow-minded!), but when I ate them, I thought they were fantastic.  Read the rest of this entry »

Sole Meunière

I had asked my boyfriend for a copy of Julia Child’s My Life in France for my birthday this year, since I have been meaning to read it, and thought it would be nice to have some light, enjoyable reading during my “vacation”, before diving into exam reading. After reading Julia’s famous description of her first meal in France, sole meunière, which she calls a “morsel of perfection,” I was inspired to give this dish a try myself, and the results were lovely enough to (sort of) make up for having to spend my day wading through Hobbes.

Mark also gave me a little companion book, a biography of Julia Child, so that I could get multiple perspectives. It contains some wonderful gems from letters that are not quoted in My Life in France. I very much enjoy Julia’s moments of unapologetic snobbery towards awful examples of American cooking. One especially great letter was written to a friend who had sent her a church cookbook to see if she thought it worth trying to publish on a large scale. Julia thought it was not worthwhile at all:

“Page 75. Green beans with poppy seed dressing – canned green beans steeped in a mess of 1 1/2 cups sugar, mustard, salt, onion juice, vinegar and salad oil. Ugh. ‘Farewell to the departing minister’ is the title of this dinner, and one realizes why he left town…Page 133. Packaged lime gelatin mixed with water, melted marshmallows, canned pineapple, cottage cheese, whipping cream and nuts. This is a ghastly horrible disgraceful kind of dish that no one should hear of, even less eat. And to push this kind of food onto the American public should be considered a felony.”

I remember having dishes like these when I used to go to church dinners as a child, and they were every bit as vile as Julia makes them sound (especially the canned-fruit-suspended-in-creamy-jello desserts. ::Shudder::). Many of her early interactions with publishing houses when she was working on Mastering the Art of French Cooking involved lots of wrangling over the need (perceived by publishers, at least) to make meals quick and easy, involving lots of prepackaged, “convenient” foods, which was frustrating to someone who genuinely cared about food and wanted to show Americans how good it could be.

Cooking, of course, doesn’t have to be a trade-off between convenience and quality, and this is certainly true of sole meunière. It may have a fancy French name, but it is a very quick dinner using a grand total of six ingredients (not counting salt and pepper!). When I made it tonight, it took only half an hour to transform the pile of raw ingredients into a perfect, summery dinner of sauteed white fish with a brown butter and lemon sauce. Lemon and butter is a classic, and delicious, combination; what makes this version special is the extra step of browning the butter, which gives it a wonderful nutty flavor. It pairs very well with green vegetables like asparagus, peas, or green beans (not from a can, please!), and I recommend having some crusty bread on the side to sop up any leftover sauce.  Read the rest of this entry »