salmon

northwest niçoise salad

Image: Olaiya Land

A few weeks ago, I threw together this salad with my haul from the farmers market. I wasn’t aiming for anything in particular as I grabbed ingredients from the fridge, just a quick supper. But as it came together, I realized I had made a sort of a Pacific Northwest version of a Niçoise salad.

After I made the salad again a couple weeks later, my thoughts turned to the many little ways I’ve managed to weave pieces of my travels to France into my Seattle life.

Unlike the many books out there suggesting you can transform yourself into a Parisienne overnight with a little red lipstick and a few glasses of heart-healthy red wine, I don’t think the French mystique can be exported wholecloth to the other side of the globe. Let’s be honest, most Americans are not ready for 5 sinful weeks of paid vacation or multiple glasses of wine over lunch on a Tuesday. 

Image: Olaiya Land

Though it would be challenging, ridiculous even, to go full-on French here in the U.S. of A., I happen to think there’s a lot to be gained by folding cherished bits of another country’s way of life into our own. So I sat down and made a list of some of the Paris-inspired habits that have improved my life:

First up is walking. Seattle is not a particularly walkable city. It’s easy to get in your car for every little trip. In Paris, you walk. Once I started going everywhere on foot in Paris, I realized that those walks around the city gave rise to my best thinking. They created a space to disconnect and unfurl my thoughts in a way I can’t behind the wheel of a car or crammed against a stranger in the Metro. Now I walk everywhere I can. It’s helped me drop a dress size (while still eating croissants and cream puffs on my tours), shake stress more easily and come up with better ideas than I would otherwise. I've decided walking is one of the best (and easiest) things I can do for my body and my mind. 

Next, is the very French art of making yourself feel beautiful. It is no secret that Parisians don’t run around grocery shopping or dropping their kids at school in their sweats. In Paris, when you leave the house, you dress like an adult, preferably an attractive one.

Before traveling to Paris often, I was a bit more--shall we say, lackadaisical--in my get-out-the-door routine. Especially since, as someone who works from home, I don’t actually need to get out the door most days. But all-day pajama parties are a thing of the past! I may not be pulling on my sexiest heels for a trip to the butcher (though don’t put it past me), I have discovered that I feel more confident, competent and beautiful when I take the time to wear clothes I love, brush on a coat of mascara and apply a hint of my favorite perfume. 

Image: Olaiya Land

On a related note, I’ve decided to prioritize skincare over makeup. For the most part, French people have gorgeous skin. I have developed an elaborate, Beautiful-Mind sort of theory as to why this is the case. But the short version is that they seem less stressed than Americans and they learn to care for their skin at an early age. (It's a thing. If you have a French friend, ask them at what age their mother introduced them to a formal skin-care regime!) 

Having not been born into a culture that teaches its youth how to cultivate glowing skin, I've had to hack my own quasi-French skincare routine. It involves some fancy-sounding French cleansers and creams--and even a dramatic spritz of thermal water! But it works. My skin has never looked better, which means I spend almost no money on makeup and still get to feel like a total babe. 

Parisians are also great at turning a few stellar ingredients into an amazingly satisfying meal. I’m talking a plate of creamy burrata, fruity olive oil, some aged ham and a handful of Sicilian almonds. Or maybe a pint of perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, feta and dill spooned over a slice of toast or a pan-seared lamb chop. Or, a personal favorite: a whole steamed artichoke accompanied by a bright, lemony aioli. You get the idea--delicious, sophisticated flavors that come together in a flash. I’ve made it my mission to master this kind of weeknight dinner sorcery and I think you should, too. It’s creative, delicious and way more satisfying than grabbing take-out.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

This one has been the biggest game-changer for me: Sitting down at the table for all meals. No phones. No TV. No scarfing a burrito over the kitchen sink or shoveling a sandwich into my face while I drive. 

Eating a meal undistracted allows you to slow down and fully taste what’s going in your mouth. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s a pain in the ass; I want to grab something quick and run out the door. Or answer emails over lunch. But I am amazed at how much more delicious food has become since I started eating this way! The bonus side effect is that I need less food to feel satisfied. (Why has it taken me so long to figure this out?!?)

Last, and most certainly not least, is wine. Yup. Wine. Before Paris became a regular part of my life, I was more of a weekend drinker: maybe a cocktail with friends before dinner or glass of wine if we had a bottle on hand. Now we always have a bottle on hand! Not that we’ve turned into great lushes. But I’ve fallen in love with some of the natural wines I first tasted in France. And there's something magical about how a glass of wine with dinner serves as a marker of sorts, a signal that the work day is done and that things can become a touch looser, more fun. With friends, the best conversation always seems to start after a bottle of wine has been opened and everyone’s feeling buzzy and bright and a little more open than usual. (And then of course there's that whole heart-healthy thing.) So when it comes to pouring myself a glass or two, I'm most definitely a convert.

Image: Olaiya Land


There you have it, friends: Some of the things Paris has taught me about how to live a beautiful life. I hope this list encourages you to work the most inspiring elements from your own travels into your everyday life. Drop me a line in the comments below if you do--I’d love to hear what habits you're making your own!

XO,

Olaiya


To experience the best of Paris for yourself, join my September Paris Revelry culinary & culture tour! There are still 2 spots left. Click here to grab yours!


Northwest Niçoise Salad

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 1 lb. young wax beans (or green beans), stems removed
  • 1 cup shelled English peas (from 1 pound unshelled peas) or thawed frozen peas
  • 6 breakfast radishes, shaved lengthwise
  • 1 cup cherry or other small tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon mint, cut into chiffonade (thin strips)
  • 3 tablespoons whole cilantro leaves
  • 8 oz hot smoked wild salmon, broken into bite-size pieces

*Notes: If peas aren't your thing, try subbing in shelled fava beans or cooked chickpeas.

- The vegetables (except tomatoes), eggs and vinaigrette can all be prepped up to 2 days before serving. Store covered in the fridge and bring to room temperature before assembling the salad.

Image: Olaiya Land

Heat enough water to cover the egg in a small saucepan over high heat. When the water comes to the boil, add the eggs and cook for 10 minutes. Pour off the hot water and run cold water over the eggs until they are cool to the touch. Peel, halve and set aside.

On a separate burner, fill a large saucepan ⅔ full with water. Salt generously (it should taste like the ocean) and bring to the boil over high heat. (You’ll use this to blanch your vegetables in a moment.)

While the eggs are cooking, make the vinaigrette. In a medium bowl, combine the shallot, mustard, vinegar, a generous pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Adjust seasonings and set aside.

When the salted water has come to a rolling boil, add the fresh peas and cook for about 1 minute (no need to blanch if you're using thawed frozen peas). Remove with a slotted spoon or spider to a small bowl and cover with ice water. Add the beans to the pot and cook to your desired doneness (I like mine to remain a little snappy). When done, transfer the beans to a medium bowl and cove with ice water. When completely cool, pour off the water and dry the peas and beans well.

To assemble the salad, place the beans, peas, radishes, tomatoes, herbs and salmon in a large bowl along with the herbs. Salt lightly and toss with some of the vinaigrette. Add more vinaigrette to taste. Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates and arrange the eggs over the salad. Salt the eggs and pour a bit of the vinaigrette over them just before serving. 

Makes 4 servings.
 

Image: Olaiya Land

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.

simple suppers: salmon chowder with fennel and corn

salmon chowder with fennel and corn // millys-kitchen.com

We’ve arrived at the in-between season. In between light and dark. Sun dresses and sweaters. Breezy picnics and holiday roasts. It’s that precarious moment that floats at the intersection of summer and fall, characterized by morning fog and the afternoon shedding of layers. 

salmon chowder with fennel and corn // millys-kitchen.com

I am writing this from my kitchen table, listening to a gentle breeze rock the blinds. It’s warm and there’s a fan oscillating lazily in the corner. But something feels different. I know you feel it, too. The air is different. The light is different. The trees are gilded at their edges.

I like that this in-between season usually only lasts a handful of weeks, its brevity leading me to savor it all the more. To slip in a few more hours in the garden or one more afternoon of reading in the sun. 

salmon chowder with fennel and corn // millys-kitchen.com

So this week’s Simple Supper is dedicated to the in-between season. When you want your cooking to reflect the brightness of summer and the comfort of fall all at once. This Salmon Chowder with Fennel and Corn is substantial enough to stand on it’s own as a meal. But it’s lighter than most chowders. And I’ve added delicate, herbaceous fennel (bulb and seed); sweet summer corn and enough white wine to lift and brighten the whole affair. 

salmon chowder with fennel and corn // millys-kitchen.com

To me, this is what summer-into-fall cooking should feel like. And the whole thing comes together in under an hour. Which should leave you plenty of time for any end-of-summer frolicking you might want to take care of.

As always, I hope you’ll make this dish your own. Let me know in the comments, below, if you have any questions on substitutions or techniques and/or if you’re feeling these Simple Suppers recipes. I love to hear from you!

salmon chowder with fennel and corn // millys-kitchen.com

Salmon Chowder with Fennel and Corn

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • ½ medium fennel bulb, diced, fronds reserved for garnish
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika works, too)
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 1 ½ cups corn (from about 2 cobs of fresh corn or 1 14-oz. can)
  • ½ cup cream
  • ½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. wild salmon, skin and pin bones removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, to garnish
  • 3 tablespoons snipped chives, to garnish

*Notes: I originally developed this recipe to pair with Tieton Cider Works Wild Washington apple cider. It is delicous with cider and if you have access to Tieton Cider Works cider or another great dry or semi-dry apple cider, you should feel free to substitute it for the wine.

- I've made this chowder with king, sockeye and coho salmon. Surprisingly, I liked it best with the leanest of these of these, the coho. I think the milder flavor of coho works well with the delicate sweet corn and fennel. If you love big salmon flavor, try king or sockeye. I think white king would be especially nice.

- I learned the trick about adding the salmon off the heat from Becky Selengut. She's an amazing chef and a seafood guru. If you don't know her or her cookbooks, you should.

salmon chowder with fennel and corn // millys-kitchen.com

In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel seed and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the onion, fennel, carrots, smoked paprika and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the vegetables are translucent and have softened a bit, about 8 minutes. Do not brown.

Add the white wine and bay leaf and increase the heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Add the clam juice, milk, potato and corn. Bring the chowder to a bare simmer. (Do not let it boil or it will break; it will taste fine, but look curdled.) Continue to cook at a bare simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are quite tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and black pepper and bring the chowder back up to a bare simmer.

Remove the chowder from the heat and add the salmon. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes off the heat. This will cook the salmon through without overcooking it.

Serve the chowder garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fennel fronds, parsley, and chives.

Makes 4-6 servings.

salmon chowder with fennel and corn // millys-kitchen.com