July 27, 2016

Sockeye Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes and Tarragon Butter

Summertime Salmon
 On any given summer evening, Mr. B stands at the ready to fire up the grill and cook me anything my heart desires. And while I know he secretly pines for thick juicy steaks and chops, come summertime, I can't seem to think of anything other than perfectly grilled Sockeye Salmon.

Perhaps I'm drawn by the vivid color, a deeply hued red with the slightest aura of brilliant coral, or the tender, almost melt-in-your-mouth meatiness, or, maybe, the way it pairs perfectly with all of my summertime favorites--fresh corn, tomatoes, and tarragon, all plucked from the garden while nearby, the grill heats up.

Sockeye Salmon are much smaller than King, or Chinook Salmon, averaging only around 6 pounds and while the latter seem to always be in season, Sockeye season is brief, running from June to July, perfectly timed to take advantage of a few of my favorite seasonal eats. If I lived closer to where they were harvested, I'd more than likely live the entire duration of the Sockeye season stuffing myself into a euphoric intoxication, but since I don't, I'm happy to eat it as often as possible.

While it's incredible simply grilled and finished with a squeeze of lemon and sea salt, I love the way it pairs with the sweetness of roasted and caramelized cherry tomatoes, slightly browned butter, and the unmistakable notes of anise in the fresh tarragon. This dish is best enjoyed al fresco with a glass of Chardonnay.

July 13, 2016

The Ultimate Watermelon Salad

Salty, Sweet and Oh So Delicious
Right before our anniversary, Mr. B and I spent a weekend in Vegas and never once stepped foot outside the hotel. It was hot. Way too hot for either of us, so we stayed inside, mostly in our room where we could lower the thermostat to near freezing temperatures.

The Monday that we flew out was our anniversary and we were looking to get back home, enjoy a nice anniversary dinner and some cooler weather. But, as luck would have it, there was a fierce heatwave back at Casa de la Bryant and though we didn't know it as we were headed home, our anniversary dinner was going to be interrupted by a rolling brown out.

Let's forget the fact that temperatures climbed to 111 degrees that day, because while that's hot, it was even worse when it was still 104 degrees hot at 8 PM and there was no power. Mr. B had thick pork chops to grill, but the rest of our epicurean plans went south. Without electricity there was no way to cook anything else without heating up the house and for the first time in years, I realized how dependent I had become on both my toaster oven and my microwave in surviving summer dinner preparation.

I decided to make a watermelon salad and while I have a fabulous recipe, I couldn't stop thinking about how refreshing cucumbers would be added to the mix, or cilantro and basil and mint. So, that night, I threw together what turned out to be an amazingly delicious salad that both Mr. B and I raved over while dining by candle light.

Though the power came on late that evening, we continued to make the watermelon salad every night for almost a week straight, each time perfecting the recipe a little more by adding a few unconventional, but life changing ingredients--pistachios and capers--and subtracting others. By the weekend, we had a BBQ with friends and decided to tote along our new creation. Not surprisingly, the salad disappeared in moments and the crowd couldn't stop raving.

This is the ultimate watermelon salad. It's refreshing enough to cool you down on the hottest of days, get you through a rolling brown out, and even step in and elevate a special celebratory dinner. Candle light is optional, but I highly recommend it; it adds to the atmosphere and makes for a romantic evening.