Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Father's Day Brunch with Native American-Style Salmon

One dish that's become a favorite for our Father's Day brunch is a Native American-style salmon that can be prepared in the oven or the grill. Perfect to serve with toast, cream cheese, red onions, and capers with a green salad, grilled vegetables, and a simple dessert of bread pudding or fresh fruit and cheese.

Whether you prepare the salmon on-the-day or the day-ahead, it should be served at room temperature to bring out the sweet flavors of the fish.

Brown Sugar Salmon

Yield 4-6 servings
Time 2 hours marinade or overnight; 30 minutes


3 pounds fresh salmon fillets with skin on, preferably wild not farm raised, washed
3 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika


Buy either fillets or the filleted side of a whole salmon. Carefully inspect the flesh to remove any bones that might have been missed. Pat dry.

Measure a piece of plastic wrap so that it is longer than each piece by several inches. Lay the plastic wrap on the cutting board.

Mix together the brown sugar, kosher salt, and paprika. Spread a thin layer of dry mix on the plastic wrap, lay a piece of salmon on top, then cover the salmon with another layer of dry mix. Fold over the ends of the plastic wrap so the salmon and dry mix are tightly wrapped together. Put the package into a plastic bag and seal.

The dry rub will become wet as the sugar-salt mixture pulls moisture out of the salmon. To prevent against spills, place the plastic bag on a baking sheet. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If using a grill, turn one side to high, leaving the other side "cold".

Remove the salmon from the bag and peel off the plastic wrap being careful to reserve all the liquid. Line a baking tray with a piece of aluminum foil, place a wire rack on top, and put the salmon on the rack.

Put the marinade into a small saucepan and simmer 5 minutes until reduced by half. Baste the salmon with the sauce.

If using a grill, place the pan with the rack and the salmon on the cold side. Cover and cook 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so the salmon cooks evenly. Baste, cover and cook another 10 minutes.

In the oven, bake 10 minutes, baste, cook another 10 minutes and remove. I like my salmon on the moist side. Check to see that these cooking times give you the texture you like.

Serve at room temperature with bagels or toast, cream cheese, chopped red onions, and capers.


Add 1 tablespoon grated ginger to the basting sauce and reduce.

Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne to the basting sauce and reduce.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Omelets for Father's Day or Any Day

When I was nine years old, my parents told me it would be fun if I made them breakfast in bed every Sunday. I was such a geek, I didn't know they were pulling a Tom Sawyer on me.

At first I practiced with something easy--scrambled eggs. I worked up to over-easy eggs and was very proud when I could plate the eggs without breaking or overcooking the yolk.

My sister, Barbara, didn't like to cook. She could be coaxed into helping me with some of the prep, but she wasn't happy about it.

In time my mother felt I was ready to take on the El Dorado of breakfasts: an omelet.

The first time I had one, I thought it was so great. The outer crispness contrasted with the custard-softness on the inside.

My mom taught me to use a big pat of butter to prevent the omelet from sticking to the pan. She made savory fillings, using a tasty piece of sausage, some mushrooms, spinach, and a bit of cheese. At times she'd switch gears and put something sweet inside, like fresh strawberries she'd cooked down into a compote.

For Father's Day one year she showed me how to make my dad's favorite filling: crisp bacon, sauteed potatoes, and cheddar cheese. Because he had an Eastern European sweet tooth, he liked his bacon dusted with sugar.

Over the years I refined what my mom had taught me. I found that sauteing the ingredients added layers of flavor and got rid of excess water.

On my limited student's budget in college, I learned how omelets could be a breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I could make the filling out of any favorite ingredients, even left-overs.

Sauteed sausages with potatoes and cheddar cheese. Steamed asparagus with herbed goat cheese. Sauteed spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, and roasted tomatoes with Gruyere. Sauteed chicken livers, caramelized onions, and mushrooms.

Chopped raw tomatoes, sauteed spinach, onions, and garlic make a delicious vegetarian filling, add sauteed ham and cheese and you'll make a carnivore happy. Even a simple omelet filled with sauteed parsley, shallots, and garlic with Parmesan cheese was elegant and delicious.

The combinations are limitless.

The only difficult part of omelet-making is flipping one half on top and then sliding it onto a plate so it looks plump and neat. Using a good non-stick pan makes that easy. I still add butter to the pan, but it's very little and strictly for flavor.

My Father's Favorite Omelet

Traditionally what's inside an omelet is hidden by the fold. Sometimes I make them that way, sometimes, I leave the filling where it can be seen.

My father didn't like surprises so I always left his open so he could see what he was eating.

Yield 1 serving
Time 20 minutes


2 bacon slices
1 small Yukon Gold potato or 2 small fingerling potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons yellow onion or shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, washed, mostly leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet butter
2 farm fresh eggs
1 tablespoon cream, half-and-half, milk, or skim milk
1/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese


Saute the bacon in a small frying pan (not the nonstick pan) until crisp, remove and drain on a paper towel. Set aside. Pour off the fat.

Add the olive oil to the pan, put on a medium flame and saute the potato, onions, and parsley until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

Put the eggs and milk into a mixing bowl. Using a fork or wisk, breat the eggs until they foam.

Melt the butter in the nonstick pan, pour in the beaten eggs. Let the eggs begin to set. Place the sauteed vegetables on one half of the omelet. Sprinkle the grated cheese and crumble the bacon on top of the vegetables.

Using a rubber spatula so you don't scratch the surface of the nonstick pan, flip the side that doesn't have the filling on top of the side that does.

Carefully slide the omelet onto a plate and serve.


Before serving dust the top of the omelet with finely chopped Italian parsley or crumbled crispy bacon or cayenne pepper

Spread a thin layer of strawberry jam or a fruit compote on the top of the omelet before serving

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