I’m writing this blog after a succession of recipe “fails” that has me wondering if I should be writing recipes at all. They weren’t epic fails, but when you botch a birthday cake, Christmas cookies and sugar cookies within a few weeks, it’s enough to shake your confidence. Then I think about why I started Love and Duck Fat in the first place. One of the reasons was to challenge myself to learn something new. When you challenge yourself, there are usually failures involved, or it wouldn’t be a challenge.
Baking (and dessert making in general) is hard for me. Why? It requires precision. I spent years as an artist learning to embrace happy accidents, paint drips, imprecise lines and sloppy paint. This is very hard to do when you are trained from childhood to color within the lines. I learned to love imprecision because it was more beautiful, wild and freeing. Even to the viewer’s eyes. That is what I wanted to aspire to in art, and I can’t say I ever got there, but I was close.
Baking is just the opposite. It requires exact measurements, precise cooking times and a perfectly steady hand if you want your decorating to look anything close to edible. So I challenge myself with chocolate pumpkin cakes, but I am the first to admit baking is not my forte.
I am embracing my fails as learning experiences and moving on, albeit in a direction I’m more comfortable: seafood.
I was able to get my hands on a gorgeous fillet of wild Sockeye salmon, and paired it with a creamy dill sauce, black Beluga lentils and sautéed leeks. I love the color of the salmon against the dramatic black of the lentils, similar to another recipe where I paired salmon with black rice. The Beluga lentils are a little more expensive and hard to find (buy them on Amazon). They are round in appearance and glisten like caviar, thus the name. You can substitute French green or brown lentils, and the taste will be just as good.
Salmon with dill sauce, Beluga lentils, sautéed leeks
- 1 cup Beluga lentils
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4-6 leeks, white and pale green parts only
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets (I prefer skin-on, you can prepare without)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 4 dill sprigs
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- handful fresh dill, chopped
- Salt and pepper
Bring the lentils, vegetable broth, and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Add the garlic clove and bay leaf. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender-firm. Drain and return to the pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Keep warm and covered.
While the lentils are cooking, prepare the leeks. I like to cut them in half crosswise, and then quarter them lengthwise, into strips. Wash them well in cold water to make sure all the sand is removed. Dry well before cooking.
Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the leeks and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or more, turning every few minutes. You want them to brown slightly and become very soft. Sprinkle with salt and taste.
Pat salmon dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil or butter on medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet. When hot, place the salmon in the skillet, skin-side-down. Place a sprig of dill on each piece. Cook the salmon for 4 minutes, then turn. Cook another 2-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of each piece, and how you prefer to serve. Remove to a plate.
Pour the white wine into the hot pan. Add the minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cream and cook for another 2-5 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and creamy. Add the chopped dill and lemon juice. Season with salt and fresh pepper to taste.
In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains an affiliate link to a product I purchased and used myself. I recommend this product. If you decide to buy any of these items, I may be able to buy a cheap cup of coffee someday from the commission I receive.