Spring is salmon time

I know spring is here when the Winter King Salmon Tournament is held. My friends Charlie Edwards and Danny Donich were the fortunate skilled fishermen and boat captain this year. I am thrilled these Homer guys took home the loot, and a beautiful white king salmon. I can guess what was on their dinner menu last week, lucky fishermen!

To date there’s been plenty of frozen mud, gooey mud and disappearing snow and I am pretty sure I heard and saw a robin. Easter happened. The daylight and beautiful sunsets are wonderful to have returned. I am pretty thrilled my begonia bulbs survived the winter in their temporary home in my neighbors’ garage. Their little sprouts are reaching for daylight with everything they have. Those begonias will be huge, gorgeous and so colorful come July and I will be so happy they survived the winter and I remembered to bring them back into the light early enough to be blooming this summer.

Our life on the wintery, Alaskan frontier has evolved from dark, cold stillness and quiet. It’s time to enjoy a new season of Alaskan life and adventures.

We still have salmon in the freezer and potatoes in the root cellar. This is the time of year I am trying to cook salmon more often and always looking for new ways to prepare it, as soon it will be time to be out fishing for fresh fish! People in the lower ‘48 would die to have this sort of issue.

Grilling salmon is my preferred method of cooking it. The savory and classy butter sauce makes it special and it’s quick to prepare and easy. The sauce would be delicious on halibut, cod, shrimp and vegetables as well.

Grilled Salmon with Herbed Butter Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Herbed Butter Sauce:

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 minced garlic clove

1 tablespoon butter, plus 1/2 cup cold butter

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped tarragon leaves

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the sauce, in a small pan, sauté the shallots in 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the wine, vinegar, and lemon juice and simmer until reduced by half.

Stir in 3 tablespoons cream.

Add 1 tablespoon of the tarragon.

Whisk in the cold butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Strain butter mixture and return to saucepan.

Add remaining tarragon and chopped parsley.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover sauce pan to keep warm. Gently reheat if needed prior to serving.

Salmon fillets

About 1 pound cut in 4 filets (if desired, remove the bones)

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat a grill to medium -high heat. Alternately cook salmon in a hot grill pan on the stove top. Grill pans are my new favorite cooking pan, as they make tasty moose, fish and veggies. Brush the ridges with oil prior to placing your meat or veggies in it.

Season the fish with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Grill fish about 3 minutes per side per inch of thickness. Our red salmon filets are thin, and I like to remove the skin prior to cooking, so it takes less time to grill. Be careful; if it cooks too long, it will be dry.

If you are lucky enough to have fresh winter king, well, you are lucky enough and this meal will be elevated in taste 100 percent. The fish filets will also take more time to cook.

Transfer to a warmed platter and drizzle with a little warm herb butter sauce.

Purple potatoes are just fun to cook with and have a great flavor!

Purple Potato Salad

Serves six

1 ½ pounds purple potatoes

¼ cup white wine vinegar

¾ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 small red pepper, seeded and diced into small pieces

½ small yellow pepper, seeded and diced into small pieces

2 tablespoons red onion, diced fine

or alternately 2 green onions, sliced

1/3 cup cilantro

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Wash the potatoes and cook in salted water until fork-tender. Remove and cool slightly.

Remove skins and dice into 1- inch size pieces. Set aside in medium size bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil and Dijon mustard. Fold into the potatoes gently Fold in the peppers, onion, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Taste and if needed, as more mustard, salt and pepper if desired. Cool.

Strawberries are plentiful at the store and their bright red color is a welcome addition to our early spring menu. I am craving anything green and bright and love this sweet-tart dressing on our salad.

Strawberry Vinaigrette

½ cup fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped

¾ cup water

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¾ cup vegetable oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Honey

Balsamic vinegar

Lemon juice

Combine the strawberries and water in a medium size saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Reduce by half. Cool.

Put the red wine vinegar in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, add the oil in a thin, steady stream. Mix in the strawberry reduction. Season with salt and pepper. Taste.

Add honey, a tablespoon or two of balsamic to your taste and a healthy squeeze of lemon juice.

To enjoy this dressing on a salad I start with a variety of salad greens, then add candied nuts, usually candied sliced almonds, sliced strawberries, a little thinly sliced red onion and a handful of blue cheese or gorgonzola.

Have a wonderful week!

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