Boys in the Kitchen
This post goes out to Nick, you know, your personal NonChef over at In the Kitchen with Nick. His axiom is ‘Together we can make it simple’ ~ it should be, “I can make it better’.
Many, many years ago when my sister married, I found myself enjoying fellowship with a newfound friend, a brother-in-law. The bond was set in place instantly and ragtag camaraderie took form almost as though we knew each other from boyhood times. Skip to a few years later, summer days at the beach, beer bellies and eating all of the Gulf’s bounties. Somehow, after much funning, name-calling, a string or cord surfaced with a purpose solely of measuring the girth of our stomachs, his and mine. Now, over the years, the marks on the cord wore away, we both became confused over which markings were whose and later it was lost, purposely I’m sure, then it came down to more boyhood babblings to the point that it always ended in “well, I don’t think it would even fit around your gut now anyway…”
Nick, this story has nothing to do with you. Well, maybe that in the little time I have gotten to know you and in the time I have enjoyed reading your blog and encompassing your brilliant recipes, I sense one certain thing – there is a playful boy inside with an enormous sense of spark, one who steps into that kitchen and delivers us dazzling dishes. I'm talking of taking foods to imaginative levels, layers built upon layers of incredible flavors … dishes only a few of us boys and girls will ever rouse to create one day on our own. Somewhere, along the way, crossing into your kitchen, you have found a way to charm us with that boyish notion that everything we set our mind on is achievable and that every thing will not only be simpler communally, but better.
I posted this salmon recipe over a year ago with a ribbing challenge to my brother-in-law as in whose cedar plank recipe was the best. It took him a while, but he did try it and in his best southern manners, he conceded this one was truly superb. Thank you brother-in-law.
So Nick, in my best sporting solidarity I offer this one to you and to go along with it, I also stepped into my kitchen to whipped up a versatile compound butter that I many time use and a side dish to complement and finalize the combined flavors. Enjoy!
Lemon Paprika Butter
1/2 cup unsalted softened butter
2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Mustard Seed Potato Purée
I am still a die-hard when cooking potatoes for dishes like this by boiling, leaving the jackets intact. Some folks disagree saying this causes potatoes to take up excess water and the correct method in cooking is to bake or microwave until tender. Either way you prefer, using the standby potato masher or a fork works just fine. No reason to mess up appliances for this dish. There is one important thing to remember. In order for the elements of the puree to bind together later on, the process of mashing must be done while the potatoes are steaming hot and starchy.
About 2 pounds medium new red potatoes, unpeeled & washed
1 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/4 cup Mild & Creamy style Dijon mustard with wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, green parts only finely chopped
4 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced
Meanwhile, boil the cream in a saucepan until reduced by half, set aside.
Drain the potatoes well and place on a dishtowel gently removing the peelings. Cut into small pieces and place back into the pan. Place over the heat to dry out a bit over low heat. Using a masher, begin puréeing until no visible lumps appear. With a mixer, beat in the cream and slowly incorporate the butter into the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the both mustards, the scallions and parsley.
Check the seasoning. Spoon potatoes into a warmed dish and keep covered in a low oven for a few minutes before serving.
Note: If desired, wrap ramekins with greased foil about an inch high. Pile with the mixture and place on a baking sheet in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes. Run under a broiler to brown the topping. Add a dollop of Mascarpone for interest. Remove foil to serve.
Salmon Grilled on Cedar Plank
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried, grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 cedar barbecue grilling plank
1 -12 ounce salmon fillet, fresh or thawed, about 2 inches thick, skin removed
1 1/2 tablespoons Dry Rub Seasoning for Fish
1 lemon, quartered
Place the fillet on wax paper. Sprinkle both sides of the fish evenly with the dry rub. Press the seasoning into the flesh. Refrigerate the salmon, uncovered, for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
Place the salmon in the center of the cedar plank. Squeeze half of the lemon over the salmon. If using a gas grill, preheat on high then turn down to medium before placing the plank on the grill. If using a charcoal grill, wait until coals are covered with gray ash. Place the plank on a grill. Cover with a lid. There will be some crackling and heavy smoke. Keep a water bottle handy in case the plank begin to flame. If they do, spray plank edges lightly and cover again. Salmon should take 8 to 10 minutes to cook, depending on the thickness of the salmon and the heat of the grill. Remove when the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 120 to 125 degrees F.
Place remaining lemon on fillet and serve. We like this with roasted asparagus and a butter sauce.