Monthly Archives: May 2010

Salmon with Cardamom-Peach Chutney

I can tell by my watch that it’s salmon season! Well, okay. Not exactly by my watch. But by the fact that the harbinger of the seasonal openings–Copper River–has launched and that means that commercial openings begin peppering the region, bringing in freshly-caught wild salmon from throughout the Northwest. What a happy time of year! I have yet to have my first bite of Copper River’s 2010 vintage but surely it won’t be long now…..

Another timely salmon note is that a sandwich I helped create for Burgerville has just launched in all 39 of their restaurants this week. The Grilled Wild Coho Sandwich will be on menus until July 5 (or as long as supplies last), the simple and tasty item sandwiches herb-sprinkled and grilled coho fillet on a Kaiser bun with lemon aïoli and frisée. They tell me it’s already selling “gangbusters”!! Which is GREAT because proceeds from each sandwich go to support eat.think.grow, a program in Portland that’s working to establish an edible garden at every school in the city. No small task! But one that I’m thrilled to support. I met the founding director Linda Colwell at the IACP conference in Portland last month, we both attended the highly inspiring Urban Farm Mini-Symposium. So glad to have met her there and learned about eat.think.grow, just in time to be able to support them through Burgerville’s generous program. And Linda and I discovered we both went to La Varenne too! Small world.

So the third confirmation of salmon season came this morning by way of email from a fan! She said that one of her favorite recipes of mine is the Grilled Salmon with Cardamom-Peach Chutney and she’s misplaced the recipe. And with salmon season upon us, wondered if I couldn’t share a copy of the recipe with her so she could recreate it a few more times this summer. Not only will I do that, but I’ll go ahead and share it with all of you! Hope you like it. And if you might be in the mood for grilling a whole salmon, here’s a post I did last year on that subject.

I seem to have a thing for chutney. At a book signing recently for my latest book, Gourmet Game Night, the folks at Metropolitan Markets had whipped up the Aged Cheddar with Dried Cherry-Almond Chutney recipe to entice passers-by. Everyone loved that chutney! So much so that every other person asked where they could buy it. (Sorry, ma’am, I’m just a cookbook author; you’ll have to make it yourself. Though now that you mention it….) And in that book, too, I made a rhubarb chutney that goes with sliced pork tenderloin for a little open-faced sandwich.

So this recipe below only proves that I may be in something of a rut when it comes to falling back on chutney as a complement in many of my recipes. But what’s not to love? I’m usually not a fan of fruit or sweet things meshing with savory, but chutney (the way I like it at least) has such distinctive savory tones with spices and onion and vinegar, that I’ll forego my savory-fruit prejudices. This recipe doesn’t actually come from my Salmon cookbook, but instead my Stone Fruit book. In fact, I bet this preparation would be delicious with any of the stone fruits. Mmmmm, plum in particular. I may have to try that one myself here soon.

Grilled Salmon with Cardamom-Peach Chutney

(from Stone Fruit in the Northwest Homegrown Cookbook Series)

4 salmon steaks or fillet pieces, 6 to 8 ounces each

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Cardamom-Peach Chutney

14 green or white cardamom pods

1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 large ripe but firm peaches

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/4 cup white vinegar

Pinch dried red pepper flakes

Salt

For the cardamom-peach chutney, combine 8 of the cardamom pods with the coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small, dry skillet and toast them over medium heat until lightly browned and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the spices to a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and finely grind or crush them (the cardamom pods are flavorless and are perfectly okay in the spice blend). Set the spices aside. Peel and pit the peaches, then cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the onion is beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the spices over and stir to evenly coat the onion. Add the peaches with the vinegar, red pepper flakes, and remaining 6 cardamom pods.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are tender and the chutney is thick and aromatic, 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t stir the chutney so much that the peaches become a purée; the pieces should hold their shape somewhat. Season the chutney to taste with salt and set aside to cool. The chutney may be made a few days in advance and refrigerated, but let it come to room temperature before serving.

Preheat an outdoor grill.

Rub the salmon pieces with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Lightly brush the grill grate with oil, set the salmon on the grill (flesh-side down first, if using fillet pieces), and cook until just a touch of translucent pink remains in the center, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish (or longer, to suit your taste). Set the salmon on individual warmed plates, spoon some of the peach chutney alongside, and sprinkle the cilantro over all. Serve right away.

Makes 4 servings

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A First Taste of Luc

I’m (kind of) sorry to say that I don’t have any photos of the food to show you from dinner at Luc on Sunday night. Only kind of sorry, because I was having such a great times with friends, enjoying the food and the conversation and getting into the groove of a brand new restaurant…I just got totally distracted anyway. I couldn’t wait to get in there and see what my old pal Thierry Rautureau had cooked up for Luc, his new more casual restaurant just a few paces from celebrated Rover’s restaurant.

What I do have to show for the evening is a copy of the menu complete with a smudge of brown in the top right corner. And I think that tells the story about as well as any photo could. Evidence of the chicken liver mousse with rhubarb gelee that we’d sampled in the first round of the night’s orders. Sorry to have wasted even that tiny smidgen of it on the menu.

Some of us started the evening toasting with one of Luc’s signature cocktails, the Mad Hat’n (think “Mad Hatter takes on Manhattan”), a touch of pear cognac the distinctly soignée twist on the classic. Delightful. From then on it was rosé all the way, an ideal night for it. A lazy, late Sunday supper. A few scatterings of Mother’s Day flowers at a couple tables around the room. Festive and warm and still lingering sun in the sky.

I was prepared to be proud of how well we did sampling our way through the menu. With six good eaters, we had opportunity to try a number of things. Grilled beef skewers with deviled egg topping. Old-school (and wonderful) boeuf bourguignon. Homemade grilled lamb sausages with braised cabbage. Fries with Luc’s aïoli (a dash of harissa added). Sautéed spinach. White bean stew with bacon and arugula. Pork should roast (the daily special for Sundays, served family-style), cheeses, butterscotch crème brûlée. And the chef sent out a grilled whole dorade, simple and delicious, the cavity stuffed with herbs. Oooh, que c’était bon!

Pretty good, huh?

But that’s just a fraction, maybe 1/4, of the menu. Lots of things to look forward to for our next trip. Like grilled asparagus with Champagne mousseline and a grilled beef burger. Saffron couscous with fennel confit and pickled mackerel with potato-onion salad. Whole trout almandine and potato gratin with comté cheese. With an obligatory stop on each evening of the week to try the different daily specials, such as pot-au-feu on Thursdays and leg of lamb on Fridays.

Bravo, chef!! What a great corner of convivial deliciousness you’ve added to the lucky Madison Valley neighborhood, with your jaunty hat gracing that cool retro sign hanging outside the door. What a wonderful tribute to your dad, the original Luc. A tribute that we can all enjoy.

Luc on Urbanspoon

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Dominoes and Treats at the Palace

It has been SO much fun spreading the word about the release of my latest book, Gourmet Game Night, because the basic premise of the book is all about having fun. I like to think that previous books I worked on had their merits: tasty reliable recipes, interesting stories and perspectives on foods and cooking. But this one is different. When I bring up games with folks, more often than not their eyes light up and they smile, telling me about the standing euchre date they have with neighbors every other Saturday. Or the on-going cribbage battles with their sister. Or the group of friends they’ve been playing poker with for the last few years.

It makes my job as an author doing gigs to promote the book a much more fun one than it ever has been in the past. Case in point: a mini domino tournament that the Tom Douglas gang is putting on for me at Palace Kitchen in downtown Seattle. Thursday evening May 13, part of the restaurant will be set aside for folks to play dominoes (likely the Mexican Train version of the game) while nibbling on samples of a few recipes from my cookbook (Green Pea and  Mint Spread with Crispy Pancetta, Herb Marinated Shrimp, and Lamb and Olive Kebabs). Plus they’ll be stirring up one of the cocktails from the book too, yummy Orange Negronis, available at the bar that night. Come join in the fun!! Tickets are $10 to cover the snacks, and books will be available that night as well, all the info you need is here. Of course, I’ll be happy to sign those books that night too. It’s going to be a really fun evening.

Many thanks to the folks from Blue Highway Games who will be on hand to run the tournament and provide their general game-playing expertise. That shop at the top of Queen Anne was part of the inspiration behind the book. I figured that if a couple guys who used to be in the electronic gaming industry were turning their attention to retail of old-school board games, there had to be something to this trend of unwinding with friends and family around the table, not electronics required. Hope to see you next week!

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