Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cooking: Grilled Salmon with Olive Tapenade, Roasted Asparagus, and Blackberry Almond Clafoutis

We had my husband's parents over for dinner this evening. My mother-in-law is a fabuous cook--one of those women who doesn't use recipes, or at least does't really follow them. She often starts with one for inspiration but always improvises. I on the other hand am excellent at following directions and usually follow them precisely. I am starting to improvise more--in all areas creative really. It started with crochet, which I found more forgiving of experimentation, and now I am doing it more an more and loving it! But anyway, my mother-in-law's cooking makes me want to try to cook sans recipe more often. Tonight was one of those nights.

So here is an easy no-recipe Grilled Salmon with Olive Tapenade:
  • 1 whole fillet of wild salmon
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • pre-made or purchased olive tapenade (I used Martha Stewart's Olive Bruschetta for Costco--love the cipollini onions)

Preheat the grill on high heat. Rinse the salmon and pat dry. Oil a piece of aluminum foil and place the salmon on it. Lightly oil the fish and then season with kosher salt and pepper. Spread the tapenade over the fish (I probably used 1 cup of a fairly chunky tapenade). Reduce the grill to medium heat, place the fish (on foil) in the grill and close the cover. Grill for about 12 minutes (varies obviously based on size of fillet) until opaque in the middle. Serve with remaining tapenade.
The perfect accompaniment: Roasted Asparagus. Preheat oven to 425. Wash and break off the ends of a bunch of fresh asparagus. Place on baking sheet and coat lightly with olive oil and kosher salt. I roast in the oven for about 8 minutes. You could of course grill these just as easily but we had the oven on anyway for my husband's amazing sourdough bread and my mother-in-law's clafoutis.

This delicious Blackberry Almond Clafoutis was of course made without a recipe but my mother-in-law shared how she did it, so I can try to duplicate it sometime. I love her addition of almonds:

  • enough blackberries for a single layer in a 9" baking dish (about a pint)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal (ground blanched almonds)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • powdered sugar for dusting on top

Preheat oven to 325. Place blackberries in the dish and sprinkle with cornstarch and sugar. In a medium bowl mix the batter: eggs, milk, flour, almond meal, sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Pour over berries in dish. Bake in oven for about 60 minutes. Clafoutis should rise, be lightly browned, and set up in the middle. Allow to cool about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.

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