Amazing Everyday Salmon Spice Rub Recipe – One from the Vault

Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon

Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon

Happy day after Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it is my long-term love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day that caused me to ignore the day itself, but allow me to acknowledge it a day after. Having spent many a Valentine’s Day solo, I learned to downplay, even ignore it, long ago. And once Hubs came around (pre-Hubs moniker days), I was certainly pleased to have someone special to share the day with, but I still couldn’t get overly excited about it. After all, it’s the day-to-day that matters in life, right? So, Hubs and I started a Valentine’s Day tradition – select and prepare a menu together at home. No posh restaurant, no flowers (I wouldn’t turn them down, mind you), but a shared experience, maybe with some candlelight and a bottle of good wine. It has suited us just fine, and we have adapted over the years, too.

While I was researching our menu, I took a peak into the vault and decided to repeat a previous hit.  Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon: it’s a great recipe from either our first or second Valentine’s Day menu. And I love that I found it handwritten on paper, old school style. In fact, this recipe is so simple, I am amazed we thought this was a special occasion dish (guess I cooked a lot less back then than I do now). So, in honoring the love of the everyday, I am sharing this recipe with you now, post-holiday. Try it and let me know what you think

Spice-Rubbed Seared Salmon

  • 1 Tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 Tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 Tsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 salmon fillets (6-8 oz each) with skin intact
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil


Heat fry pan on medium heat. Add spices and toast 2-3 minutes. Grind spices in spice mill, or use mortar and pestle. Pour into small bowl and add brown sugar and kosher salt to make the rub. Place salmon on a plate and press rub into salmon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Spice-rubbed salmon searing

Spice-rubbed salmon searing

Preheat oven to 400F. Heat cast iron pan or other oven-proof pan and add olive oil. Heat until smoking, then place salmon skin side down on pan and sear for 4-5 minutes depending on thickness of fillet. Flip salmon gently using tongs (keep skin intact), and place pan in oven. Cook 4-6 minutes until cooked through.

Please don’t wait til next Valentine’s Day to try this!

Two Strikes Against Eggplant Curry

Combining the words Eggplant + Curry = guaranteed dish Hubs will never eat. Despite these two strikes, I forged ahead and gave From Scratch Club’s Eggplant Curry recipe a go.

Sauteed Eggplant with curry seasonings

I put “curry” into the category of dishes that I am better off eating outside of the home. Whenever I have thought about preparing a curry, I usually find that I am missing 1 or more of the spices. I was excited about this From Scratch Club recipe because I actually had all of the necessary spices on hand: tumeric, coriander, cumin and cheyenne. So, between my CSA pick-up and the pantry, I had all the required ingredients on hand. Ok, I was missing cilantro, but I didn’t let that stand in my way.

I sauteed the onions and shredded ginger as instructed, then added in the eggplant. The tumeric made it all turn a pretty pale yellow.  The thought that I don’t use tumeric enough in my cooking also came to mind. I fear I overdid it on the quantity of eggplant. I had hoped to use up 2 eggplants (sad that I’ve come to use that language after a long summer of cooking!), but after dicing up 1 1/2 eggplants, I realized I already had much more than I would ever consume. I knew Sam would help me, but still.

Sauteed Eggplant with fresh tomatoes simmering on the stove

I then added the chopped tomatoes, including a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes, too, simply because I had them on hand, and then added about 1/4 cup of tap water to ensure the mixture would not be too dry. I needn’t have worried because the tomatoes soon broke down and there were plenty of “juices.”

Conclusions: Yummy eggplant dish with mild spices and seasonings. I think I heavied up on the eggplant component and probably needed more spices and garlic to compensate for that. I would have liked a stronger curry flavor, but very tasty nonetheless. I had some for lunch today with crusty bread and loved it. Hubs doesn’t know what he’s missing. Thank you, From Scratch Club, for the inspiration!

Freekeh: The Best Grain You’ve Never Tasted

Who has tasted Freekeh? It is a very old grain, like farro, that is also very good for you (like farro). It is green wheat that has gone through a roasting process.   It is high in protein, insoluble fiber, has a low glycemic index and is tasty, to boot. Freekeh can be prepared like rice, or most other whole grains, and used in similar recipes. It has a nice bite to it, and slightly nutty taste. You can find it in the bin foods section of some grocery or health foods stores, or pre-packaged (harder to find, I think). What’s not to like, right?

I prepared the Freekeh on Saturday and we had it for lunch on Sunday.  I decided on a Freekeh Pilaf, which is a traditional preparation. I added cherry tomatoes  because I had picked up the sweetest, juiciest yellow cherry tomatoes EVER from Wolfe Spring Farm.

Cherry Tomatoes at Wolfe Spring Farm

They were like little jewels, so I used them as the “fruit” in this pilaf recipe to add sweetness and moisture. If you don’t have sweet tomatoes, no worries. Just add some chopped dried fruit. I riffed on this recipe from the This is How I Cook blog that I found over the weekend. This was a big crowd-pleaser.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion,  chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced and seeded
1 handful walnuts, chopped (or pistachios or almonds)
1c freekeh
2c vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2t cumin
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped  (optional)
Fresh parsley to garnish (or cilantro or mint)
Saute the onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper  in olive oil. When they start to sweat (about 5 min), stir in the nuts. Brown them just a little. Stir in the freekeh. Let cook a minute. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Cover. Check after about 20 minutes. It should be done but if you want it softer add a bit more liquid and cook a little longer.

Freekeh Pilaf

Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley (or cilantro or mint – whatever you have on hand). Add chopped tomatoes and/or dried apricots, if available. Think of this as any pilaf recipe because all you have to do is substitute the grain. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Why Beets are Great to Eat OUTSIDE the home…but Never Taste Quite as Good

Seriously, could one vegetable be more challenging to prepare than beets? Have you ever made beets at home? If so, you’ll know how easily they stain and how long they can take to cook. I wish I had taken a picture of my beet-juice splattered self from yesterday to share.

At any rate, if you do make the effort, you will be handsomely rewarded with jewel-colored, scrumptiously-sweet, vitamin-rich treats for your table. They even contain folate, which is super hard to find in other foods, and very, very good for you.  I prepared they beets from yesterday’s CSA pick up with mint after eating them at City Bakery near Union Square. I found an easy recipe for this tasty dish, and again, the toughest part is simply cooking the beets. I was quite unpopular when I turned on the oven for 1 hour 15 min on a 90 degree day. Whoops. And beets usually don’t taste good in salad bars and restaurants because they are from a can. Or overcooked.

The beets were ruby red and absolutely delicious, even prettier than the picture above from Epicurious. The mint complemented the beets both visually and on the palate. My guests  Josh Robertson and Milly Robertson loved them, but hubs still stayed far away. He was scarred as a child from eating canned beets. Friends don’t let friends…

Oh, and I steamed the beet tops separately. This was a first for me. They turned out great. I topped them with a little olive oil and salt, and they tasted similar to collard greens – the kind of thing that makes you feel healthy just because you’re eating them.

My friend Steve at Berkshire Bounty Farm even eats beets raw, but I haven’t been brave enough to try that yet. Maybe next week…