I just got off an hour-long catching-up chat (CUC) with my friend Sarah from England. Sarah and her husband and kids spent two years living near Frascati about twenty years ago. Our children went to the same school and that’s how we met and became friends. We have been trying to have a proper CUC for literally months now and today was indeed a bit of a miracle, for both of us, that we succeeded. Life seems to have become unseasonably busy for those of us that are over a half-century old, and it is such a shame that we cannot devote more time and attention to people who bring joy to our fast-paced days. In the middle of our commiserating, one of the things I mentioned that I found a tad sad is the fact that I cook so relatively rarely these days – and that despite being a food blogger and loving being in the kitchen! I do cook nearly every day, yes, but it’s a case of the same ol’, same ol’, same ol’ and that can be gastronomically soul destroying after a while. Sarah agreed.
They are having people over for dinner this weekend and she was a bit at a loss as to what to prepare. I said I would be too, we haven’t had a party at our house for ages (I did organise an afternoon tea party for my mother when she was recuperating from pneumonia earlier this Spring – she stayed with us from Janury to mid April, and trying to feed her was quite an uphill battle, because she had lost her appetite and found so many foods distasteful, but that’s another food blog story). Cooking, like nearly all human ventures and adventures, benefits from regular practice.
Anyway, I told Sarah, who does eat fish but not meat, maybe I could give her an idea? As it happened, I got to spend a lonesome evening all to myself last Saturday in that my husband was away in the Marche visiting his parents.
After spending a really nice hour-and-a-half with my partner-in-crime friend Michelle, drinking our wine as the sun was bidding its adieu to the day, outside in one of Frascati’s oldest piazzas and gossiping to our heart’s content, I got home feeling that I owed it to myself to cook something “nice for me”. (These photos? They are of the Piazza San Rocco in Frascati, while Michelle and I were enjoying our aperitivo. I do love this time of year so much. Sigh.)
Now, the recipe I am proposing may not sound exactly gob-smackingly enticing but, bear with me, it actually turned out to be “very nice for me”. Sarah … do let me know what you think?
Plain mushrooms, garlic, butter, olive oil, 1 bayleaf, nutmeg, lemon zest, salmon, raspberries, chives
Slice the mushrooms and cook them with plenty of butter and olive oil and, if you like, a little bit of garlic. Add a bayleaf, a slither of lemon zest and a little bit of freshly grated nutmeg, as well as salt.
I can see some other green ‘bits’ in the photo on the left. Reckon that that’s a bit of marjoram.
I had a little fillet of salmon. Frozen salmon.
This was one portion – so, not a lot as you can imagine.
I did not take photos of the dish as I went my way cooking it. But I do remember removing the cooked mushrooms from the pan and then cooking the salmon in the same pan. Salmon takes hardly any time to cook so hey presto! I was plating up.
I lay the mushrooms on the plate like a mattress. And placed the salmon on top. I then added chives and a few raspberries.
A close-up. See? the salmon not overcooked.
I left the lemon zest on the plate. It paired well with the rest of the ingredients.
And the raspberries? They were literally staring at me in the fridge … so I had to use them up. There you go.
Somehow, it all made sense, it tasted nice, and I think I shall be tempted to make this dish again. It takes hardly any time and what would have been a somewhat sad, frozen fillet of salmon ended up being presented with some panache, dare I say. (Be careful with the nutmeg, grate a teensy bit at a time.)