I just wanted to follow up on last week’s Skinny Margarita post to let you know that the picture of the drink that I posted to my Instagram is my most “liked” picture to date! And I do not believe that was based on the quality of the picture either, ha ha! Such a funny world we live in. If you made them, I hope you enjoyed!
This week marks the 3rd anniversary of The Kitchen Scout that I launched, intentionally, on Mother’s Day in 2014. For those of you who have joined the blog in the past year, you may not know that the blog was born during a time of great personal challenge for me as I learned how to live without my beloved mother who had recently passed away. The weekly discipline of research, cooking, photography, writing, repeat, was the key to my surviving a period of tremendous sadness, fear, guilt and a general sense of feeling completely undone.
Grief is the Alpha, impossible to dominate no matter how hard you try. Grief has its own schedule, and just when you think you are feeling good, it throws out a dart to remind you who is in charge. It can be a motivating and a debilitating force all in one.
I can only speak for myself to say that while I will never get over my losses, I have learned to live with them. I still have moments of sadness, knowing my parents didn’t see my daughters graduate from high school, won’t be with us next weekend when our first graduates from college and won’t be dancing at their weddings. As Mother’s Day approaches, I miss my mom’s advice and counsel, her laugh and enthusiasm for learning and life. I miss things too numerable to list, and I will think about her and my grandmothers a lot this coming Sunday.
But, here is another thing about grief. Eventually, I think it relaxes its hold on you. It’s not easy when it happens. There is a renewed wave of guilt that comes from allowing yourself to be let go. It happened for me just 2 months ago with a hallmark moment that I want to keep to myself, but that signaled to me that I had crossed a threshold. And then, another moment happened that strengthened the understanding that I had moved into a new space with my grieving.
Grief was letting up its hold on me, and you know what? I truly believe that my mother, a fierce champion of mine (and women in general as those who knew her know), would be happy and say to me, now go out there and live your life to the best of your ability!
If someone were preparing a Mother’s Day luncheon for me, or if I were sitting down with my mother, I think this Blackened Salmon Nicoise Salad would be just perfect. The recipe came from Dennis the Prescott who I follow on Instagram. I found the recipe when I went searching on his website for some inspiration. But I have subsequently checked out his first cookbook, Eat Delicious, from the library and learned a little bit more about him than he reveals on Insta. He is a musician who spent a number of years living in Nashville where he had a culinary awakening and taught himself to cook by checking out library books! He started an Instagram account to showcase the food he was cooking and when Nigella Lawson listed him as one of her top 20 favorite Instagram accounts, his following exploded overnight.
He now boasts 366,000 followers and posts the most mouth watering photographs. They are so packed to the brim with ingredients, yet are so cleverly arranged that they have appear organized and have incredible appeal. The recipes and photos in Eat Delicious are Dennis’s work and I am eager to start cooking from its pages.
Although the Blackened Salmon Nicoise Salad is largely Dennis’s recipe, I have tweaked it a little bit. Some tweaks were born out of necessity.
The blackened salmon is prepared by coating the fish with a mixture of spices before it’s pan fried. Dennis’s spice mixture called for cayenne pepper which I had run out of, so I substituted Aleppo pepper and a pinch of Marash pepper and voila! We loved it and didn’t want to change a thing. I wrote the recipe using just Aleppo pepper, but you can substitute with cayenne or adapt for any other chili pepper seasoning you might have.
I also prepared the dish the first time using skinless salmon although the recipe called for skin on. When I attempted it the second time with the skin on, I found I preferred the skinless version so that I could get the seasoning all over the flesh of the fish. Remember to ask for a center cut piece when you purchase your salmon.
Lastly, I don’t like boiled potatoes, so I roasted mine and I added some tomatoes that I roasted on the vine. I also added in some arugula.
What is lovely about this type of salad is that it appeals to just about everyone (assuming you like salmon) because you can pick and choose what you want and make the salad your own. You can even swap out some of the vegetables with others that you prefer if necessary. I made it first for my husband and me to enjoy and we loved it. Especially the salmon and the dressing which were delicious. I also made it for some friends who had been dealing with a health challenge. For them, I made the salmon without the salt and it still tasted good (although I would keep the salt). They loved it as did their young adult son!
There are a lot of steps, but trust me it is worth it. And if you don’t want to make the whole salad, then definitely make the blackened salmon. It really is fabulous.
Happy anniversary to The Kitchen Scout and the happiest of Mother’s Day to all the moms out there…
Some other Kitchen Scout recipes that I can recommend for your Mother’s Day menus…
Grilled Asparagus and Beet Salad
Farro, Citrus and Arugula Salad
Salmon with Orange Marmalade & Thyme
One-Step No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream
Check out the Recipe Index on The Kitchen Scout for more ideas!
See you next week…
The recipe is adaptly, ever so slightly, from Dennis the Prescott. The blackened salmon itself is so delicious that you may want to make that on its own too! The salad is great for entertaining and can easily be doubled for larger groups. Enjoy!
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 pound center cut salmon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or cayenne pepper)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons safflower oil
- 1 pound baby new potatoes, rinsed but not peeled
- 8 ounces haricots vert
- 8 ounces asparagus spears, ends trimmed
- 6 ounces fresh peas (you can use frozen)
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
- 12 ounces small tomatoes on the vine
- 4 large eggs, hard boiled
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Baby Arugula
- Broccoli sprouts of your choosing (you can substitute any other micro green here)
- Combine the garlic, shallot and mustard in a bowl. Slowly add in the olive oil, whisking constantly until the dressing is emulsified. Whisk in the lemon juice and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
- Combine the lemon zest, spices, sugar, salt and pepper in a small dish and mix. Rub the fish all over with the spice mixture. Set aside in the fridge while you prepare the remaining vegetables.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with two racks available. Toss the potatoes with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Drizzle tomatoes with more extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and place on a sheet pan (leave them on the vine). Add the pan with the tomatoes to the oven with the potatoes during the last 15 minutes of cooking time. You just want the tomatoes to start to burst and not completely fall apart.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. When the water boils, add the peas and boil for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in ice bath. Repeat with asparagus and beans, cooking them together for 3-4 minutes and removing to the ice bath. Drain and pat dry.
- Heat 3 Tablespoons of safflower oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron). When hot, add the salmon and fry for 2-3 minutes until blackened. Carefully flip the fish and continue cooking 4-5 minutes until the flesh easily flakes and is cooked to your liking (I like mine cooked through).
- On a large platter, place some arugula and broccoli sprouts. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, green vegetables, olives, hard boiled eggs and blackened salmon. Give the dressing a quick whisk and drizzle over the salad. Serve and enjoy!
The link to the apricot chicken caught my eye, so that’s what I made for dinner this evening. I served it with coconut rice and asparagus and it was a yummy meal. I had bought canned apricot halves in 100% apricot juice plus pear juice, and I thought, “what can I do with the juice?” So I asked Paul to conjure up a martini: one part peach vodka, one and half parts juice, 1/3 jigger simple syrup and a splash of lemoncello. Yum.
I took a photo but I have no clue how to paste it in here!
Oh that sounds wonderful, Gail! I am glad you enjoyed the meal and made good use of that juice!!!
I thoroughly enjoyed your post today Val. Happy Mothers Day to you!
Thank you so much, Sue!
Thank you Val for giving us three years of your heart, soul and yummy recipes. It truly is a gift to us all. 💝
Thank you, Sally! xo
What a lovely post, Val. The recipe looks great, and your comments about grief are so on point.
Thank you, Nicole! xo
Val, what a lovely tribute to your mother and an honest acknowledgement of your own emotions and journey from grief and sadness to peace. And this salad looks yummy– will try next week! Xoxo
Thank you, Dale! xoxo
Happy Anniversary Kitchen Scout! I look forward to more delicious recipes and wonderful words of inspiration.
Beautiful tribute to Joyce. She is undoubtedly proud and revealing in all you and the girls have achieved. You should read a book called “A Grace Disguised” a beautifully written book about grief. The grief never leaves you but you learn to live alongside it. Happy Mother’s Day!
err! spell check! Make that reveling
Thank you for that recommendation, Suze. I will check it out. xoxo
Thank you, Sarah!