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Monday, June 13, 2005

Monday Meals - The Father's Day Edition

So, I thought that today we would go ahead and do a delicious dish for Father's Day. I usually do something with chicken, but today we are going to do cedar-plank grilled salmon with lemon butter. Cedar planks for grilling are fairly cheap and can be gotten at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Williams Sonoma or even your local grocery store, depending on what it is. I thought this might be a good way to celebrate the summer and how wonderful a good father can be.

Despite our issues, which we are working through, Matt is simply the best daddy. He loves PQAL more than anything and it shows. She just adores him and rightly so. He is one heck of a great father to her and to Brian. Plain and simple - he cares. So here's an excellent Father's Day recipe to celebrate the fabulous fathers in your life. And doggonit, because I want this to be the absolute BEST meal it can be I am going to break down and give you the recipe for my famous mashed potatoes. These potates are so good, rich and creamy you don't need any gravy or anything extra on them.
Cedar-Planked Salmon with Seasoned Lemon Butter
Grilled on a cedar plank, this salmon is moist and succulent and imbued with delicious smoky flavor. It replicates a technique that was pioneered by Native Americans, who roasted fish and game on aromatic wood planks. Here, the fish is first seasoned with a rub, which adds even more layers of flavor.

8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 Tbs. poultry and fish grilling rub
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
3 to 4 lb. salmon fillet, skin intact
2 Tbs. potlatch seasoning (recipe below)
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater (preferrable if you have one), beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the grilling rub and lemon zest and beat until well blended, about 1 minute more. Spoon the butter mixture into a glass dish and cover with some type of saran or cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as 2 days.

Plank Preparation
Be sure to use untreated planks free of chemical preservatives.

Immerse the wood completely in a large bin or strong plastic bag filled with water and soak for 20 minutes to 4 hours. Prepare a medium fire in a grill. Place the plank on the grill, close the lid, and heat until the plank begins to smoke and crackle. The plank will smoke lightly, infusing the food with its distinctive sweet, woodsy flavor.

To add moisture and herbal notes, place a bed of fresh dill, fennel fronds, bay leaves or rosemary sprigs between the food and the plank before cooking.

Have ready a spray bottle of water to extinguish any flare-ups on the plank. Bring the seasoned butter to room temperature.

POTLATCH SEASONING: Combine 2 teaspoons salt; 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin; 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano,crushed; 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder; 1/4 teaspoon chili powder; and 1/8 teaspoon white pepper. Makes about 4 teaspoons

Seafood Preparation
Rub the salmon on the skinless side with the potlatch seasoning. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the plank and arrange the lemon slices on top of the fish. Close the lid and grill until the salmon is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the plank with the salmon to a heatproof platter, or carefully transfer the salmon directly to a warmed platter. Use a little melon balleror some sort of utinsel to scoop out and put as much of the seasoned butter as desired on the salmon, reserving any remaining butter for another use. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Ok, I am giving you my secret mashed potato recipe. It is extremely easy to make, but I have never failed to have someone ask for the recipe wherever I have brought it. The secret is in the taste. I personally no longer really measure, it is all by taste to me, but when I started out, I used this recipe. I originally got it from Martha Stewart and modified it to my tastes. (Mine tastes better!) This is NOT for the faint of heart as it is very generous with the calories. It also doesn't taste as good with anything less than what is here.

4 large peeled Russet baking potatoes
1 1/2 sticks salted butter - almost room temperature (BUTTER - NOT the fake Oleo or Margarine crap)
1/2 cup HEAVY whipping cream (regular will suffice for a sub if you can't find the heavy kind)
Salt and (Fine Ground Black)Pepper to taste (sometimes I add a little garlic powder to make "hint of garlic" mashed potatoes but I am not using that in today's recipe)

Cube potatoes and put in large pot with enough water to cover the potatoes and add some salt to the water. Not much, maybe 1 tbsp. This will hellp the potatoes absorb flavor during the cooking process.

When potatoes are fork tender (meaning you can pierce them easily with a fork), drain completely. Take an electric mixer with the paddle attachment if you have it (regualr attachment will work ok if you don't have a paddle attachment)and mix until most of the potatoes are mashed with only a few lumps left. You won't get all the lumps out in this step.

Add the butter and mix completely into the potatoes. Your potatoes should start to have a creamy consistency already and the lumps should be mostly out by now.

Next heat the HEAVY whipping cream until it is HOT - this is best in a pyrex measuring cup. Start by pouring in 1/4 cup of the cream and mixing completely. Taste the potatoes. If you feel like they are not creamy enough, add more of the cream and mix thoroughly again. Taste again and add more butter and/or cream if you want to.

Last, add salt and fine ground black pepper for taste.

Makes approx 6 servings.

This is an extremely easy mashed potato recipe, but the steps must be followed in order. I've found that for some reason it tastes different if you add everything together at the same time instead of in steps. These are suposed to be THICK, heavy and rich potatoes. Not whimpy, thin and tasteless. These potatoes are the staple of my meals for steaks, BBQ chicken, chicken friend steak, etc. You can never go wrong with these. I hope you enjoy them. Please let me know if you try them and what you thought.
I am a rhubarb purist and would actually make this dish with just rhubarb instead of mixing it with strawberries, however, most people tend to prefer the strawberry/rhubarb mix.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 40 min
Makes: 7 servings

2 cups sliced fresh rhubarb (about 1/2 inch thick)
2 cups halved strawberries
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 Tbsp. flour, divided
2 Tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter or margarine
3 cups POST HONEY BUNCHES OF OATS With Almonds Cereal, lightly crushed

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Toss rhubarb with strawberries, 3/4 cup brown sugar and 2 Tbsp. of the flour in large bowl. Place in ungreased 9-inch square baking dish.
MIX remaining 2 Tbsp. flour and 2 Tbsp. brown sugar in a separate large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cereal; stir until well blended. Sprinkle over fruit mixture.
BAKE 30 min. or until topping is lightly browned and rhubarb is tender.
I hope everyone has a fabulous Father's Day meal with these recipes, or an anytime meal for that matter. Bon Appetit, y'all!


Susie said...

1. You are too good to us.
2. Can you heat cream in the pyrex cup on the stove? (I use basically these ingredients, but have not heated the cream before putting it in. That makes a difference?)
3. How is it that you don't weigh 400 pounds?

Jean-Luc Picard said...

You really should be running a restaurant.

Duke_of_Earle said...

What time do you plan to serve? I'll be there early!


epiphany said...

Yum! My mouth is watering so much that I'm going to have to give this one a try this weekend.

greatwhitebear said...

Nic, it is amazing that you would bring up Cedar Planked Salmon, as it came up in discussion on one of my blogs today! (an X-files moment!)

As usual, your recipes sound wonderful, and as a dad, I can tell you that mashed potatoes are always a deal maker!

Bill said...


Have you ever tried this with Tuna steaks? Sounds like it would work just fine... I may give it a try this weekend and let you know.

(I have a freezer full of Tuna steak ya know)

Cindy said...

All the recipes sound absolutely delicious - I can't wait to try Nic's Famous Mashed Potatoes. The butter alone would be invitation itself, but add whipping cream - omg!

songstress7 said...

Mmm, these look wonderful! Have you considered submitting to the Carnival of the Recipes? :)

Nic said...

Songstress, I haven't heard of it. I'll have to look it up! I visit The Church Potluck on occasion, by greatwhitebear.

songstress7 said...

The Carnival of Recipes was created by Beth at She Who Will Be Obeyed and is posted every Friday on a different weblog. I hosted a couple of weeks ago... SarahK at Mountaineer Musings is hosting tomorrow. Check it out - we always love to get new people involved! :)

JV said...

Looks tasty. The only thing you're missing is some good ole mustard-based South Carolina barbecue sauce. :)

Nic said...

Well dear, if you could provide me the BBQ recip, I would be happy to post it here! :)