Preface: I’m a wee bit tired. I blame copious amounts of planes and jet lag and time zone changes (Philly! Indiana! Vegas! Newfoundland! New Zealand! Back to Vegas! Montreal!). In my off days I also chase a rather spirited toddler and wipe snot off the couch because that’s my other job. I am currently listening to him smack his soother against the walls of his crib and trying my best to ignore his non-napping because let’s face it: I need a moment.
All of our trips were awesome and amazing, particularly New Zealand, because it was two weeks of adventure and the Armageddon Expo team treated us like gold and tried to kill us in a very nice way with lots of extreme adventuring. I love that country with a passion, and if you haven’t been, what are you doingggg, stop reading this, GO.
One of our Vegas trips entailed attending the World Tea Expo to do some edumacating, schmoozing, and of course drink a shit ton of tea. I’m sure you already know, but my husband and I launched a new business recently called Tea Runners, which is a monthly tea subscription box where we deliver high end loose leaf teas straight to your door. (Disclaimer: we do not actually do the delivering. Like, it won’t be me in a cute UPS hat ringing your doorbell, brown aren’t my thing. Brown COATS, they’re another story.) We get to work with amazing growers and suppliers from all over the world and are having way too much fun selecting the best teas we can find to broaden our subscribers’ minds to the world of tea. Basically, if you’re a tea drinker, we got you. (tea runners.com plug plug plug)
We are getting on a plane tomorrow yet again to Montreal for another job, but before time gets away from me once more, I wanted to make good and share one of my old stand-by recipes with you. I love eating out, and man do I do it well, but when we’re at home, all I want to do is cook. Life is all about balance, so once I’m finished eating honey-glazed quail stuffed with duck and the butteriest mashed potatoes known to man at Joel Robuchon in Vegas (hi, death row meal), I need a little something less decadent. This dish still has some comfort food aspects to it, but it isn’t too over the top. The “bbq” sauce is a take on one of the very first meals I ever cooked out of a Rachael Ray cookbook (she is responsible for turning me from a girl who only makes reservations to an actual real live home cook. I love you, Rachael). The sauce goes with salmon perfectly, and contributes to a super crispy skin. And we all know salmon skin is delicious. Eat the skin. EAT IT.
“BBQ” Salmon with Mashed Sweet Potato and Fennel Slaw
2 6oz-ish salmon fillets, skin on (get good quality here, life is short)
1/4 small red onion, chopped finely
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 /2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp tomato paste
a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
a few shakes of curry powder
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bulb of fennel
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp butter
splash of milk
salt and pepper
Start the sauce for the salmon. To a small pot, add the onion, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, tomato paste, worcestershire, curry powder, and salt and pepper. Whisk well and bring it to a boil. Set it to simmer and let it reduce into a thick sauce, about 15-20 minutes.
Cover the sweet potatoes with water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender, about 10 minutes, drain, and mix with the butter, maple syrup, a good amount of salt and pepper, and a splash of milk. If they’re still too dry, add a bit more milk to taste. Mash well, keep a lid on the pot, and set over low heat to keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Cut the top off the fennel. Using a mandoline (you don’t have one? you crazy. Buy one on amazon right now. They’re amazing for cutting fruits and vegetables for salads and will change your life), shave the fennel into fine slices. Cut the orange in half, and quarter one half and discard the skin. Cut into small chunks and add to a bowl with the fennel. In a smaller bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, the juice from the remaining orange half, and the olive oil until it forms a vinaigrette. Season the fennel mixture with salt and pepper, but don’t dress the salad until everything else is done or it’ll get wilty and weird.
Salmon time! Heat an oven-safe frying pan over high heat. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the fish, skin side down. Let it sizzle for a minute or two, then carefully flip over, being careful not to tear the skin. Brush the “bbq” sauce liberally over the skin, coating the fish. Take it off the heat and pop the pan into the oven for 7 minutes max, no more. If you overcook your fish, I will be really mad at you.
Serve the mashed sweet potatoes on a plate topped with the salmon and the slaw alongside. This is so delicious, it’ll blow your mind.