Pan Seared Salmon

When prepping for this blog recipe, the intention was to grill the salmon. I woke up the morning of shooting it to a thick heavy blanket of snow! So, pan seared salmon it will be!!!

Don’t worry, there will be another grilled salmon attempt soon!

This dish is very simple with minimum ingredients. However, its all about technique. I was fortunate enough to work next to three bad ass women in the kitchen this past year who taught me (several times) how to properly cook fish!

Dill Cream Sauce

Dill Cream Sauce
Yield: 2c

1c sour cream
1c butter milk
1t garlic powder
2T fresh lime juice (1T if using juice from a bottle)
1/4c fresh chopped dill (make sure its chopped well or it will be stringy)
salt to taste (not pictured)

In a med mixing bowl, whisk sour cream and buttermilk until it comes together. If you desire a thicker sauce, continue whisking until the desired thickness. Sour cream and buttermilk have a high fat content and will thicken nicely!)

Add garlic powder, lime juice and chopped dill. Incorporate well.

Taste. Add salt. Taste.

Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until needed.

Shredded Green Slaw

Shredded Green Slaw
Yield: 4-6c (don’t worry, its super light and will be gone!)

1ea fennel bulb
1/4 green cabbage (grocery stores not carry the heads cut in quarters) approx: 3c when shredded
1ea shallot
2T fresh lime juice (1T if from bottle)
1/4c fennel fronds, rough chop
1t red pepper flakes
1T extra virgin olive oil (not pictured)

Shred fennel, cabbage and shallot of a mandolin paper thin (food processor works here as well or knife skills come in handy. However, mandolins are under $30 on Amazon and are super versatile)

Place shredded items, fennel fronds and red pepper flakes into a medium mixing bowl. Measure out lime juice and olive oil and set aside. This should be dressed right before serving.

Selecting Salmon

When selecting ANYTHING that has a specific, dedicated profession linked to it, its best to leave EVERYTHING to the professional. Find a grocer that has a fish monger or a fish monger. Don’t be intimidated, its like ordering top round beef… the butcher is who will be prepping it for me!

This is just under a pound of salmon filet, skin on, cut into two portions, pin bones removed. That is exactly how I would have asked my fish monger. However, I bought a side, portioned and removed the pin bones myself because I love cutting fish. If you do not have the experience or want things to be simple, order the bolded sentence!

Searing Salmon

Pictured: kosher salt, grapeseed oil (use a high temp cooking oil), salmon portions and 3T cut butter

Using a non stick pan, place on burner turned on high.

Stand by… the pan will need to be SMOKING hot. Wait and watch the pan, once smoke starts to raise, add oil.

Lightly salt the skin side of filet. Place salmon skin side down away from you. Turn heat down to about an 8 of 10.

Depending on how thick and large the filets are, determines the cooking time. When the skin becomes golden brown (I timed mine at around 4 min), gently flip and IMMEDIATELY add butter. Turn down heat to 4 of 10. Swirl the butter and oil combo around, be mindful not to spatter!

Once again, depending on the thickness of your salmon, will determine how long the other side will cook. This was about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and place on cooling rack.

Putting it all together

mmmm… this is soo good, just looking at this picture makes me want it for dinner again!

Mix the shredded green slaw with lime juice and olive oil. Taste and adjust with salt if needed.

Serve all together with dill cream sauce, salmon and shredded green slaw!

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Spring Pea Toast

This spring pea toast will be a hit in your home, office, brunch, midnight snack… you get it!

During a short visit last week to my parents home in Ohio, I wanted to take advantage of the natural light that pours into the house. I whipped up this simple spring pea toast simply because of the colors. Well, it ended up being a HUGE hit with my dad (who is a traditional meat and potato guy) as well as my mom and her crafting friends. This is a super simple, make ahead, substitutable, lovely toast!

Spring Pea Toast

Yield: 8-10 servings

Cream Cheese
1# (2 packages) ROOM TEMP cream cheese
1t hot pepper flakes (optional)
1/4c fresh chopped dill
1/4c fresh chopped fresh fennel fronds*
1T fresh lime juice (use 1t if from a bottle)
S&P to taste

*fennel fronds are the soft “dill” like wisps on the top of fresh fennel. Cut those babies off for this… no worries, there are many ways to use the fresh fennel bulb, it will not go to waste!
*chop the fennel fronds and fresh dill very small. If left long, the cream cheese mixture will be stringy.

Smashed Peas
16oz frozen spring peas – defrosted (if you are lucky enough to have fresh peas… know that I am jealous!)*
2T extra virgin olive oil
1T fresh lime juice (1t if from a bottle)
S&P to taste

*Peas, love them or hate them… this dish can still work for you. Substitute peas for frozen, SHELLED, edamame.

1 fresh sourdough or really good loaf of fresh bread from a bakery… I know this is vague but my bakery has different bread everyday, I go with a crusty crust and a dense squeeze!
1/2 stick butter…REAL butter

In a stand mixer (or hand mixer) add cream cheese and lime juice. Turn on Medium high and mix for 8-10 minutes until its light and fluffy. The mixer will incorporate air into the cream cheese making it fluffy!

While the cream cheese is going, place a pan on the stove on medium high. Let heat up for a few minutes.
Slice the bread into desired thickness.
When the pan is properly heated, 1/2T butter (follow measurements on the butter wrapper) in pan. place one slice of bread directly on top of butter and with hand move bread in circles until the butter is melted and distributed on bread.
Check the bread every few minutes. You should see it becoming GBD – Golden Brown & Delicious!
Flip bread over and repeat the same butter distribution and GBD method.
When toast is done, place on a cooling rack to let air properly circulate. If placed on a plate, moisture would accumulate creating soggy, sad toast.

When the cream cheese is fluffy and bright white, remove with rubber spatula and place in a mixing bowl. Add pepper flakes, fennel fronds and fresh dill. It should be light enough to whisk, incorporating evenly. add salt and pepper to taste… this means little at a time, taste, adjust and taste again!

Place the fresh defrosted peas into a mixing bowl. Smash with the back of a fork or my personal favorite, mash potato masher. Do not over smash into a paste, just enough to break them up and not roll around everywhere! Add EVOO and lime juice. Salt and pepper can be added to taste, adjust and taste again!

Smear cream cheese spread liberally onto toast. Sprinkle peas mix on top. Devour and enjoy!!

Remember to tag @jenncancook from Instagram and Twitter /jennthomas for Facebook.

Thank you for following! Happy Spring!

Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto

I love this dish because its simple to make and incredibly versatile! Try this VEGETARIAN (with VEGAN options) first, tell me what you think and then make it your own! Don’t forget to tag @jenncancook in your posts!

Skill Level: easy

Time: 35 min

Yield: 1.5 quart

Super simple mise en place (French for “everything in place”) This is super important when cooking but especially in this dish because it requires CONSTANT stirring.

1 c asparagus; washed and 1″ cut
2c mushroom (choose your favorite); washed and sliced
4c vegetable stock
1c arborio rice
4T butter; unsalted (VEGAN OPTION: high quality extra virgin olive oil)
1/2c fresh parmesan cheese (VEGAN OPTION: nutritional yeast)
2T cooking oil (not pictured)
Kosher salt – to taste (not pictured)

*Arborio Rice – this is short grain rice with a high starch content and can be found in your local grocery store.

1. In a medium size stock pot, heat up the stock. Careful not to bring to a boil, it will reduce the liquid needed for the dish.
2. In a large saute pan, being to a medium high heat (7 out of 10) adding the oil and mushrooms. Brown on one side then flip over. Add a little salt after the flip.
3. As the mushrooms are cooking, taste the stock for salt content. (I use unsalted stock to control flavor and salt content)
4. Remove the mushrooms after cooked – keep liquid in pan.

1. Saute the asparagus just until it turns bright green – DO NOT overcook. It should be crunchy at this stage!
2. Add a little salt for flavor
3. When done, remove and keep the liquid in pan
4. Be sure stock is still warm and not boiling!
1. With the seasoned liquid and oil still in the sauce pan, add all the rice and stir until liquid is all absorbed
This is called parching the rice
2. Turn heat DOWN to medium low (4 out of 10)
3. Constantly stir
1. Add 1/2c of warm stock to the rice
2. Constantly sir

My friend and Chef, Stephanie Paganini taught me to make this dish. She said it was awesome for a guest or a child who is wanting to help.. The only step is to literally stir! Smart woman!

The reason for having the heat on medium low is for the rice to slowly absorb the stock, too high and it absorbs to fast ending up with a crunchy core… yup, gross!

When the liquid is absorbed, add another 1/2c of stock and STIR STIR STIR repeating the process until its all used up.

The starches will begin to release showing off a beautiful texture
1. When all the liquid is absorbed remove from heat
2. Add mushroom and asparagus and stir
3. Add butter one cube at a time until melts (VEGAN OPTION – Add small amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

My favorite part of ANY DISH is adding the cheese! Throw it all in and stir! (VEGAN OPTION add nutritional yeast)

Now its time to adjust seasoning. The cheese adds salt to the dish. If seasoning is done before the cheese is added it may be too salty, which would be a huge bummer.

Taste and adjust and taste again!