Going away for a long weekend also means getting away from my kitchen. I spent this past weekend biking, walking, shopping and dining! Dining at interesting new places, finding the favorite spot the locals go to, feeling pampered with fabulous food presented to me and no dishes to wash!
I prefer to order small plates of foods; a few appetizers, salad and of course a dessert! And not necessarily at the same place. I order an appetizer at one restaurant; move to another for their specialty appetizer and end with a dessert or gelato somewhere else! So in one short weekend, I could basically hit a lot of restaurants!! The way I see it, I never get stuffed, and I’m excited and inspired by every dish I taste. Atmosphere is a big draw for me although a hole in the wall known for good food will bring me in too.
My dad would make us laugh as he would avoid restaurants with white tablecloths. In his view, white tablecloths meant the overly priced restaurant, the overstated menu, over the top wait staff and high priced wine lists! When I now see a white tablecloth, I am always reminded of him. I guess his view has influenced my choice in places to dine as I seek out well prepared, authentic food. Not trendy nor bland, but food with ‘personality’ and a place that allows me to leisurely enjoy good food, wine and conversation.
For lunch one day we stopped at a place I had seen before but never dined at. Located off the main strip, down the “basement” stairs to a Pub like atmosphere. We ordered a Salmon Panini. They prepare it with smoked lox, but we both agreed making this with grilled or roasted salmon was the way to go. And so of course, upon returning home, I’m ready to head back in my kitchen and re-create the favorites we ate. Leftover roasted or grilled salmon would make this an easy dish for using up the leftovers; however, starting from scratch I made a simple roasted salmon filet and whisked together a light dressing. One pound of salmon would make four generous Paninis.
Grilled Salmon and Brie Panini
For the salmon:
1 pound wild caught salmon, skin removed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice from one lemon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
To assemble the sandwich:
Grilled or Roasted Salmon
Thinly sliced red onion
Mixed lettuce greens
Thinly sliced tomato
Whole wheat bread or ciabatta
For the salmon: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place salmon on a lightly oiled roasting pan. Generously sprinkle the salmon with the lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast until just opaque in the center, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.
For the dressing: Whisk together the mayo, Dijon, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper and set aside.
To assemble the sandwidh: spread dressing on the bread, layer on mixed greens, salmon, thinly sliced onions, tomato and brie. Lightly brush outside of bread with olive oil and place on grill pan or Panini press. Grill until lightly browned and cheese has begun to melt. Slice in half and serve immediately.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.