LCHF

oil-poached salmon with roasted beets and garlicky cauliflower puree

Image: Olaiya Land

Hello!

I landed in Glasgow a few hours ago and am now writing you from the the corner of a wood-paneled Scottish pub. I’ve crossed eight time zones on zero sleep--so I’m feeling simultaneously exhausted and hopped up--and I’m starting to wonder if chasing a huge coffee with a glass of red wine is as effective a jet lag cure as it seemed at the outset!

When I first arrive in a new city with no clue of how to get around or where to find a good meal or what to do with myself, I am beset by a panicky sense of dread. Right now, for example, I’m surrounded by gentlemen leafing through the local paper, sipping pints and speaking in a Glaswegian accent so thick I can barely make out what they’re saying. Not only do I feel like a crazy person from the jet lag, I feel completely out of my element. 

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

But, I think getting outside my comfort zone is important. 

I always come back with new ideas to incorporate into my Seattle life and new creative inspiration. Which is why I’ve been thinking a lot about how to incorporate a sense of exploration into my life even when I’m not traveling--how to experiment and take risks and step outside my comfort bubble at home. 

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with my photography, trying out new techniques to figure out what I find most compelling. Just like traveling, shooting this week’s recipe was uncomfortable at first. I felt overwhelmed and unsure of which direction to go. But once I started trying out different color schemes and compositions and lighting, it started to flow and feel more like an adventure than a nerve-racking foray into uncharted territory. 

Image: Olaiya Land

It’s a good reminder that taking risks and venturing into the unknown keeps me growing and moving forward, even when I fear I’m sticking out like a sore American thumb and want to slink back to the hotel for a nap.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

I’m heading to northern Scotland in a few days for my friend Natasha’s photography workshop. So I’ll be checking in with you next week from the Highlands. Until then, I hope you keep exploring--whether in your own living room or half-way around the globe.


Oil-Poached Salmon with Roasted Beets and Garlicky Cauliflower Puree

  • 1 lb wild salmon (I used king)
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil (amount will vary depending on the size of your pan)
  • 1 spring onion, halved lengthwise
  • 2-3 sprigs each parsley, tarragon and dill (feel free to substitute other herbs)
  • 4 1-inch strips lemon zest
  • 1 recipe Garlicky Cauliflower Puree (see below)
  • 1 recipe Roasted Beets (see below)
  • 2 tablespoon roughly chopped dill, to serve
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced scallion (green part only), to serve
  • 1 tablespoon, torn mint leaves, to serve

*Notes: This technique works well with any flaky fish. Cod and halibut are good choices if you prefer whitefish. Feel free to use whatever herbs you like.

Image: Olaiya Land

Place the salmon in a single layer in a deep saucepan or saute pan. Cover with olive oil and add the spring onion, herbs and lemon zest. Cover and cook on low heat until the salmon is just cooked through. Times will vary significantly depending on the thickness of your salmon, so start checking after 15 minutes or so. Remove the salmon from the oil and transfer to a large plate or platter. Salt generously and set aside to cool. Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids. (You can use the strained oil in the cauliflower puree and the roasted beets. Refrigerated, the oil will keep for a day or two. Freeze or discard any strained oil that you don’t use within this window.)

When you’re ready to serve, spread the cauliflower puree on a serving platter. Arrange the sliced beets and salmon over the puree. Sprinkle with salt and top with the dill, scallions and mint. Can be served warm or at room temperature. 

Makes 4-6 servings.


Garlicky Cauliflower Puree

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 lbs.), cut into ½-inch pieces 
  • 1 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (can be the strained olive oil leftover from poaching the salmon)
Image: Olaiya Land

Place the cauliflower and almonds in a stock pot and add ½ cup water. Bring the water to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is very tender, 30-35 minutes. Remove the lid in the last 5 or so minutes of cooking to allow any water in the bottom of the pot to evaporate.

Transfer the cauliflower and almonds to a blender or food processor along with a generous pinch of salt, 1 clove of garlic and the red wine vinegar. Process on high speed, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary, until very smooth. Taste and add the other garlic clove if your puree isn’t as garlicky as you’d like. With the motor running, drizzle the olive oil into the blender or food processor in a thin stream. Process until the oil is completely emulsified and the mixture is smooth. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Set aside.

Makes 4-6 servings.


Roasted Beets

  • 4-5 medium beets (1 to 1 ¼ lbs), greens removed
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
Image: Olaiya Land

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Place the beets in a non-reactive baking dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt. Place the cinnamon, allspice and garlic in the dish. Add the water and vinegar. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 45-60 minutes, until tender at the center when pierced with a paring knife. Set aside. Strain the cinnamon stick, allspice berries and garlic from the juices in the bottom of the baking dish. Discard the solids and keep the beet cooking liquid.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins (use latex gloves or paper towels to avoid staining your hands) and cut into quarters or large dice. Place the cut beets in a non-reactive bowl and toss with their cooking liquid. Adjust seasonings, adding more red wine vinegar, salt and olive oil to taste.

Makes 4-6 servings.

roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate and hazelnuts

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

For those of you in the US, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! Ours was much better than I expected. As I wrote in my last post, I had been having a hard time getting in the holiday spirit after the election. A few days before Thanksgiving (with no menu whatsoever in place) I happened upon this article, which gave me the idea to draw on Middle Eastern flavors for our holiday meal. The bright flavors of Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and Israel felt like just what I needed to lift me out of my funk.

So I decided to scrap the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce in favor of lemony leek meatballs; a basmati pilaf with chickpeas, currants and dill; homemade flatbread with za’atar; cucumber yogurt and a beautiful pink beet hummus. The star of the dinner, though, was this roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate and hazelnuts. 

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com
roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com
roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

The recipe comes from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi--one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. This salad is earthy, nutty, sweet and tart all at once. The silky texture of the roasted cauliflower is balanced by the crunch of raw celery and toasty hazelnuts. The fact that this salad sits at the unlikely intersection of so many contrasting flavors and textures is a large part of it’s appeal. The fact that it’s beautiful and healthy doesn’t hurt either.

After I made this for Thanksgiving, I realized how festive those jewel-toned colors are--perfect for adding a bright splash to your holiday table. Or a quick weeknight supper. Either way, you can’t go wrong. 

cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

And in case you’re wondering, my post-election blues seem to be fading. I’ve been talking to friends about meaningful ways to take action and stand up for what I believe in. And gathering around the table with loved ones as often as possible. Which, in my opinion, is the best ways to cure any sort of blues.


roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad

  • 5 tablespoons hazelnuts, raw or toasted
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 large stalks celery, cut on the bias into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup celery leaves
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves

*Note: I recommend toasting your own hazelnuts for this recipe so their dark, nutty flavor really comes through. But pre-roasted nuts will do in a pinch.

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

If you are using raw hazelnuts: preheat your oven to 325° F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and roast until the skins start to loosen and the nuts turn golden-brown and fragrant, 8-12 minutes  Transfer the hot hazelnuts to a clean tea towel. Gather the four corners of the towel and twist them together to form a parcel around the hazelnuts. Rub vigorously to remove as many skins as possible. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Increase the oven temperature to 475° F. Place the cauliflower on a parchment lined sheet pan, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss with a generous pinch of salt. Roast until browned in spots and tender, 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, sherry vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts and place them in a large bowl along with the cauliflower, pomegranate seeds, celery, celery leaves, parsley and the vinaigrette. Stir to coat, taste, and adjust seasonings.

Serve at room temperature.

Makes 3-4 side-dish servings.
Adapted slightly from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

home away from home soup

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Today has been one of those rare perfect days. 

I’m writing this from a picnic table in front of an old stone farmhouse in the Portuguese countryside. There’s a flawless blue sky overhead and a lazy breeze rocking the eucalyptus trees nearby. This morning, Beau and I walked to the beach where we watched the comings and goings of a flock of seagulls and listened to the waves roar in.

Later, we hopped in our rented station wagon and bobbed over country roads flanked by groves of cork oak trees. Our destination: a little restaurant housed in an old schoolhouse where we ordered a pile of fried fish and a bottle of crisp vinho verde to wash them down. Back at our guesthouse, I spent the afternoon lazing by the pool reading magazines and floating in and out of a delicious sleep. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

It’s days like today that keep me yearning to travel. To discover more serene beaches and locals-only restaurants nestled along country roads. 

But of course, travel is not always as idyllic as this sun-kissed day in the Portuguese countryside. I’ve been on the road for over three weeks now and it’s had its inevitable ups and downs. In Paris, I led a culinary tour with my friend Rachael that was fantastic. And exhilarating. And a lot of work. Navigating a group of ten through Paris traffic is not exactly a walk in the park. And pinning down tour logistics with the maddeningly noncommittal French has it’s own set of unique challenges. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

As soon as the tour ended, Beau and I headed to Porto and Lisbon to explore, see friends and do research for my next Portugal tour. Until today, this trip has been a whirlwind of seeing and doing and eating and trekking through different cities. Somewhere along the way, I started to feel pretty frazzled. There’s something about being away from the rituals of home, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, eating strange foods, navigating foreign languages, that leaves me a little unmoored. A few days after we arrived in Portugal, I started waking up in the middle of the night feeling disoriented and anxious and longing to book the next flight home.

Luckily, I know what to do when I feel the travel blues coming on. I make this soup.

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

It is decidedly un-fancy. A few humble vegetables cooked together in a bit of water to make a savory broth with some chicken and/or sausage thrown in for good measure. It’s restorative powers lie in this simplicity. After days (or weeks) of rich fare and exotic ingredients, it’s exactly what I want to eat.

I first made this soup a couple years ago while staying at an Airbnb rental in Paris. I’d just finished leading a culinary tour and couldn’t imagine eating one more eclair or croissant or charcuterie plate. I stopped in at the corner market beneath my apartment and threw this together with what I found there. A bowl of this simple, homey soup cured my malaise. Now it’s my go-to remedy when I’m traveling and feeling out of sorts. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Of course, you don’t need to be in a foreign country or fed up with French food to enjoy this soup. It will right your ship on a grey fall day or chill winter night. For me, this home-away-from-home soup (as I like to think of it) is a touchstone of sorts. A small ritual that anchors me when everything around me feels foreign. A brothy comfort that restores body and soul as only a warm bowl of homemade soup can.


Chilled Spring Greens Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

Home Away From Home Soup with Cabbage, Kuri Squash, Linguiça and Chicken

  • 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil + additional for drizzling
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green part only, halved lengthwise then sliced into half moons
  • Sea salt
  • ½ medium head savoy or green cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch ribbons
  • 1 medium kuri or kabocha squash, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces (no need to peel)
  • 2-3 small turnips, tops and tails removed and cut into ½-inch thick wedges
  • 6 medium tomatoes or 1 28-oz can peeled tomatoes (drained), roughly chopped
  • 6 oz linguiça or Portuguese-style cured chorizo, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise then sliced into half moons
  • 2 cups leftover roasted chicken

*Note: Pretty much everything in this soup is optional or adaptable. If you don’t have a leek, use a small onion. If you don’t like cabbage, use kale or another green you prefer. Sub potatoes for turnips if you want. Leave out the chicken and sausage (and maybe add a small handful of green lentils) for a vegan version. The version here is the one I first made and the one I always come back to. But feel free to experiment and make this soup your own.

- This was the first time I added sausage to the soup. In the past I've always made it with chicken. But since we're in Portugal, I threw in some sliced linguiça we had in the fridge. I think the smokiness of the sausage adds delicious depth of flavor the soup. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek and a sprinkle of salt and cook for a few minutes until the leek is starting to get soft. Add the cabbage, squash, turnips, tomatoes and sausage along with 4 cups of water. Salt to taste. Bring to the boil over high heat then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the red pepper and zucchini and cook for another 10 minutes or so. 

Add another cup or two of water if you like your soup on the brothy side like I do. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Continue to cook the soup until the vegetables are as tender as you like them. Sometimes I like them tender-crisp (this yields a prettier soup) and sometimes I like them super-soft (which is not as bright in color, but more comforting somehow).

Serve soup hot with a nice drizzle of olive oil over the top.

Makes 4-6 servings.