When I was much shorter I saw my mom had a couple cook books. I figured that (at that time) she wasn’t using them too much. She’d gone from using them alot, to some, to not at all. After I was out of highschool (other than special occasions) she would open a can of Campbells soup and pour it over whatever protein was on the menu for that night. It was actually pure genius and nothing could have been simpler than that.
The cookbooks she had were everything from good houskeeping cookbooks to “The Joy of Cooking”. I took one look at that book and decided that at that time I would have to defer that semblance of creativity and enthusiasm for another date and time. There were items in that cookbook I couldn’t pronounce, and even if I could, I didn’t know what they were.
The idea of me learning how to cook started when I worked at the French restaurant, The Caprice, in Tiburon, California. This overture into the unknown was the first interlude I had with fine dining and the desire to actually cook myself.
Fast forward to now and we are inundated with cooking shows. The formula of conflict, competition, or pre-prepared meals being magicaly pulled from an oven has run its course with me, especally having been in the business my whole life. Within the confines of our own home we can have the tools needed for the preperation of an exceptional meal. Those restaurants and cooking shows can never replicate the love that we have for those we care about and how that translates from the plate to the stomach.
Keeping food simple is the key to a duplicatable experience, and one that is much appreciated. There are several million options but I will focus on just a couple easy to prepare dishes that don’t take all day to prepare. First we have to pick the protein keeping in mind what preperation we will choose and the skill set we have to execute the dish.
Before we start keep in mind that the success of any dish depends on the ingredients we choose. Wild caught salmon versus farm raised, and organic vegetables versus greenhouse are important distinctions that will help elevate your dish from the ordinary to the sublime.
I will choose Salmon for this example. Of couse we could grill it, broil it, poach it, saute it, smoke it, or even cook it sous vide style. However in the spirit of keeping it simple we will grill it. Having said that, now comes the choice of what type of briquettes, flavored wood chips, or even hardwoods. Cedar plank has become popular but for my taste I prefer apricot wood to reveal other subtle flavors in the fish.
The fish should be properly cleaned and prepped prior to placing on the grill surface. Lightly salt and pepper the fish always placing the salmon on the grill skin down cooking the thickest part to 120 degrees for approximately 12-14 minutes. I like to place a little oil on the grill surface to make sure the fish doesn’t stick. Then upon retrieval from the grill let the salmon rest. After plating the salmon drizzle a little dill oil and lemon over the top.
Prior to “letting the Salmon rest” there is the starch and the vegetable to consider. Many restaurants prefer mashed potato to rice as an accompaniment to the protein. Not I. I prefer Jasmine rice with its nutty and floral character accentuated with a fluffy texture. Served with this would be several different vegetables that are easy to prepare and yet set a standard above the usual afterthought.
Poach brussel sprouts in boiling water with a little sea salt and pepper. Take out when they are lovely bundles of delicousness and place them in an alfredo sauce you have already prepared. The textures consisting of the salmon, rice, and vegetable morph into creamy and course, complimenting the flavors a reflection of salty, savory, and sweet.
The interesting mosaic of color paints the canvas with a landscape that creatively reflects the love and thought that went into this culinary expression.
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