Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Smoked Salmon Caesar Salad

I inherited a bread maker a few weeks ago, thanks to departing dear friends with good taste in the homemade. There’s nothing like waking to fresh bread smell in the morning, at the ease of clicking a button at bedtime. By the end of one week, I had many loaves laying around—perfect timing to make Fiddlehead’s Salad Croutons (page 215). They store up to a week, but I didn’t have to wait that long to use them on salad. I was invited to dinner the next day and put together Smoked Salmon Caesar Salad (page 39) using the Fiddlehead Vinaigrette (page 218). Three recipes in one!

The croutons are so delightfully buttery and flavorful that I admit to having reached to them for a snack here and there. Croutons were something we made left and right in chef class in high school, because they are so easy and delicious, and you always have the ingredients laying around: butter, spices, bread. The salad is just as simple. I assembled the salad onsite at the dinner party, carrying each topping—artichoke hearts, tomatoes, black olives, cucumber, and smoked king salmon – separately via tote across the bridge. All present seemed to enjoy the salad immensely, but there was such a strange occurrence in The Opening of the Artichoke Hearts Jar (TOAHJ) that I must take a moment to elaborate. TOAHJ was such a challenge, I cannot stress enough the enormous obstacle to salad making the aforementioned (and deservedly capitalized and acronymized) event turned out to be. It must have been an industrial machine with widgets and gadgets so overly tightened and tuned as to seal the jar this tightly to demand the mighty effort that we breathed and sweated into TOAHJ. Ok, I know you've had a stubborn jar before; we all have. We tried the usual wrist twisting, then added a second set of wrists, all to no avail. After plenty of grunting and face-reddening, a belt-leverage maneuver still felt short in the success of operation TOAHJ. And so, what happened in this novella of human exertion versus stubborn everyday jar? We poked a hole through the lid to pop the seal.

And now back to the salad at hand. After the dinner party, leftover salad packed very well into tupperware, to the end of the Juneau road, into my kayak, and out to Point Bridget State Park, where my boyfriend and I overnighted at Blue Mussel Cabin. We ate like wilderness kings after our evening paddle, crunching on crisp iceberg lettuce and baked garlicy croutons with a panorama of Lynn Canal, Berners’ Bay and Lion’s Head mountain. Humpback whales cruised by and eagles circled overhead under a setting sun that dashed its light down through the clouds in rays of artful magnificence over the landscape in front of our picnic table. Ah, delicious Alaska summer...

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