Folks, we're now on our 4th sunny day in a row in Seattle...that must be some kind of record! On Mother's Day we hit 82 degrees...and the mister turned on the air! 82 is HOT for us! It was a beautiful day...the mister worked in the yard and I was able to keep track of where he was from the occasional expletives that sprang from his mouth...and I puttered around the house and yard until it was time to start on my Mother's Day dinner. I always cook on Mother's Day...well, if we want to eat well I do! And I wanted to eat well.
Let me tell you about the salad, in a word? Fabulous! Ramps, if you can find them, taste like a cross between an onion and garlic, and their leaves are edible, with a more mild taste than the bulb of the ramp, which looks like a scallion. Our salad consisted mainly of arugula, ramps and radishes - a decidedly peppery taste that was perfect with the fried feta and mozzarella rounds...fried cheese...right now everyone from Wisconsin is nodding their heads in agreement...it's the best thing ever!! It was tossed with a lemon vinaigrette...dang good! Back to the cheese, one of my daily reads is Smitten Kitchen, and when I read her post for "cheese croutons" I knew I had to make them. I chose to use different cheeses than she did, mainly because it's what I had on hand - and we loved the combination. I would make these again, in fact, every time we have salad for the rest of my life, I'm going to make them...they reminded us of France...ooh-la-la! Go to Smitten Kitchen, print out her recipe and make these...and if you want to use different cheese, try feta and mozzarella or swiss and blue...really, I cannot think of a combination that would not taste amazing!
Now let's talk salmon...there are a million ways to cook salmon, especially if you live in the Northwest...every Tom, Dick and Harry has their own tried-and-true salmon recipe. Since I paid more than I normally would for a nice piece of king salmon, (Costco vs. Pike Place Market!) I wanted it to be the best tasting salmon ever...so I called my neighbors, Steve and Becky Salmon. Okay, that's not really their last name, but when it comes to salmon, they know their stuff! Both Steve and Becky suggested I not "muck it up"...they suggested I do naked salmon. Which is not the same as doing salmon naked. I soaked a cedar plank for about an hour in water. I put the salmon on the wood, lightly seasoned it with salt and pepper and drizzled a little olive oil over the top. That's it. On the grill it went - lid down for about 12 minutes. And it wasn't flipped which drove the mister crazy. There was nothing for him to do except lift the lid and look at it.
But you know me, I don't do naked very well. So I made a compound butter to top the salmon. Finely chopped dill pickles with fresh tarragon, Dijon and butter...I could have slathered this stuff all over me! Instead, I put in onto a piece of plastic, rolled it up and put it back in the fridge to set. And let me tell you...this is amazing...naked salmon with a bit of butter...you'll be singing the praises of all those granola-eating-Birkenstock-wearing-soy-latte-sipping-tree-hugging-Prius-driving-Droid-using-environmentalists who's life mission is to SAVE! THE! SALMON! And with each bite, you'll be thanking them...yes indeed, SAVE THE SALMON!!
Seriously good. If you don't like dill pickle bits in the butter, you could use fresh dill or dried dill...either way, this butter made going naked so much better!
Grilled Salmon with Dill and Tarragon Butter - Adapted From Recipe Girl
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons finely diced dill pickles (or 1 tablespoon dried dill weed)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 salmon filet, enough for 4 servings, about 3 pounds
salt and pepper
1 cedar plank, soaked in water for one hour
In a small bowl, combine butter, dill pickles, tarragon, Dijon, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Scoop out butter onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic up and over the butter, forming a log about 2-inches in diameter. Fold ends over and put in refrigerator to set, about 20 minutes.
Soak cedar plank in water for one hour. Place salmon on plank, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place plank onto heated grill, cover with lid and try to keep temperature of the grill around 375 degrees. Do not flip salmon. Grill for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon and how done you like it but be careful not to overcook. Remove from grill and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Don't worry if salmon is still a little undercooked in the center, it will continue to cook as it sits. Put a slice or two of the butter on top each piece of salmon. Serves 4.
Last summer we ate outside about 3 times...we had a very cold and rainy summer...we've now passed last year's "dining alfresco" number...and we're hoping and praying our dry/hot spell continues! I used the china my dad bought for my mom when he was on leave while serving in Korea in 1952...I'm so happy I have it - I love the simple design of the bamboo. Eating off of mom's china was not the same as having her with us on Mother's Day...but it seemed to make everything taste just a little bit better. Thanks mom!