I have often considered January as my month of reprieve. The month to look inward. To self-reflect. The month where time slows down. A bit.
This doesn’t seem to be the case any longer.
January is just as high-paced as any other month and it feeds right into February which is missing a few days and that hardly seems fair since I’m counting on every single day to get things done.
Sometimes I want to blame this on the kids. Trying to keep up with their ever-increasingly crowded schedules. Driving them where they need to be. But is it really them?
Or is it that every January I set loftier and loftier goals for myself? Which on some level is a good thing. Right? Especially considering that my quote for 2011 is “A goal without a plan is just a dream.”
But how many goals are realistic? And when do those excess goals lead to “To Do lists” five pages long? And what does it say about me that one of those To Dos is: “Schedule afternoons in March to teach 5-year-old to ride a two-wheeler”?
And all of these goals and To Dos lead to craziness piggy-backing on more craziness.
Which in my case always leads to over-thinking…things, life, kids, goals, recipes.
As I was setting up my Recipe Index last week, I realized that not one recipe for salmon graced that list. Salmon. A staple my family eats at least every other week, if not once a week. A quick and delicious preparation, perfect for a weeknight, that I never give a thought about. I forget about it. It’s simplicity…in my rush to seemingly over-complicate my life.
And so this week, I leave you with a simple post. An effortless recipe for salmon. As well as an image of raindrops hanging heavy on winter branches which I forced myself to go outside and notice. And a picture of a pot of my new favorite tea I wish I could share with you. (Harney & Sons Paris Tea, of course.)
A Simple Preparation for Salmon: A Northwest Staple
I suppose it stems from spending all but a few years of my life living in the northwest…this salmon fetish I have. My childhood spent on boats in the Puget Sound fishing for salmon. Visions of my father always grilling salmon with onions and lemons. My mother laying out smoked salmon with cream cheese for appetizers. Parenthood spent feeding my children salmon. So now, at this point in my life, I am quite particular about my salmon. My favorite is sockeye. I think King is overrated. I’m leary about any salmon to which color has been added to give it a pink hue. And my preference is that it’s fresh or flash frozen on the boat that hauled it in. What can I say? I know what I like.
This is my fool-proof winter preparation for salmon. Even the Rooster likes it. He who grew up on the East Coast and doesn’t have quite the same love for salmon as I. During the summer, I always grill it. And I almost always serve it with a pot of rice and steamed broccoli. Sometimes I get a little crazy and make a little compote (i.e. sauteed shallots and tomatoes with thyme) to go on top but most times not. (Although, it does make for a nice picture, eh?)
4 8-oz center-cut salmon fillets, preferably with the skin removed
freshly ground pepper
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Heat a dry, oven-proof saute pan on the stove over high-heat until it’s piping hot. I love my cast iron pan for this.
Meanwhile, brush all sides of your salmon pieces with olive oil. Don’t be skimpy. Then, liberally season the tops with salt and pepper. Again, don’t be skimpy.
When your pan is piping hot, place the salmon fillets, seasoning side down, in your pan and let them cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Don’t move them. Don’t touch them. You want to sear the “tops” of your salmon so they are quite browned and have developed a nice crust. Then, carefully flip your fillets over, trying not to “break” the crust and pop the pan in the oven for 5-7 more minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork but it still moist. Remember that the salmon will continue to cook even when it’s out of the oven so better to pull it out a smidge early than too late.
Serve with rice and your favorite steamed veggies and voila…dinner is served. Enjoy.
Yield: 4-5 servings
Directions for Craziness Compote
Should you be feeling a little extra crazy, like me, here are the directions for the compote I will sometimes put on top of the salmon.
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 shallot, peeled and chopped
1 c of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed, stems discarded
Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the shallots and the salt and pepper and cook over low heat for 5-6 minutes or until the shallots are beginning to soften. Add your tomatoes and the thyme leaves and cook another 4-5 minutes until softened. Serve warm alongside your salmon.
Valentine’s Menu Ideas
Just in case you like to prepare a little something extra special for Valentine’s Day, here are some ideas:
Pita Pizzas with Caramelized Onions, Dried Cherries and Gruyere
Simmering Ragu over spaghetti, Caeser salad, fresh bakery bread
Rustic Pear Tart
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans and Dried Cherries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream
All right, I’m just going to come out with it. The “toy closet” organizing project isn’t, ahem, going too well. It’s still in its halfway done stage where I left it back here. I have instead been working on organizing my To Dos in Things. It’s heavenly. Doesn’t that count for something?
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2011