"Peace - that was the other name for home." ~Kathleen Norris
As is the case with the ebb and flow of life, some times are more stressful than others - and my life of late has had its share of stress.
Fortunately, though, the great Gods of snow opened the skies yesterday and blanketed my world in a comforting jacket of white.
Maybe it's because I grew up on the prairies where the winter skies are a brilliant blue and the snow glistens like shattered glass on the ground...
Or maybe it's because the long months of rain in the Pacific North West have a way of dampening the soul.
In any case, the snow provided a new vantage point, not only on my own front yard but on the way I've been looking at my life - thus providing an opportunity to turn things around.
Something we each have the power to do when life becomes overwhelming.
And how I turn things around is to look toward home.
To take the time to unwind at days end, celebrate the simple moments, and enjoy an atmosphere of peace.
Like a mid-week candle-lit dinner by the fire.
Some people like to go on outdoor adventures, others travel, and me - I get an incredible amount of excitement decorating, cooking, and creating a sense of abundance in the world around me.
My small cottage style home provides much opportunity to embrace the philosophy that "small is the new big" and I love the thrill of living sumptuously on reasonable means.
Pictured above is my place setting for this evening's dinner.
I used a set of antique dishes I bought years ago at a flea market and placed them on top of inexpensive resin charger plates.
"Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow." ~ Douglas Pagels
And for dinner...
I wanted something healthy, flavourful, warming, and rustic.
In other words, the perfect meal on a snowy evening when you're embracing home and shutting the rest of the world away.
Bringing me to another recent indulgence.
I have been wanting the cookbook Around My French Table by Dorrie Greenspan forever and as a special treat to myself, I bought it.
A treasure trove of personal stories, ideas, and wisdom about cooking in the simplest of ways, I have been beyond impressed with all this book has to offer and chose what turned out to be the perfect recipe for a snowy evening by the fire.
Roasted Salmon and Lentils
What surprised me the most about this dish was how much flavour came from such seemingly simple ingredients.
It was light, fresh, and filled with fibre and heart healthy omega 3's.
Better still, it was shared with my wonderful husband in a time of quiet when we were able to shut out the world and live in the beauty and flavour of a moment.
And what could be better than that?
Roasted Salmon and Lentils
Makes 4 servings
* 1 cup lentils du Puy (French green lentils)
* 1 clove
* 1 small onion
* 1 medium carrot, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 4–6 pieces
* 1 celery stalk, trimmed and cut into 4–6 pieces
* 1 bay leaf
* 3½ cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
* 1 1¼-pound piece salmon fillet, cut from the thick center portion, skin on, at room temperature
* Olive oil
* Freshly ground pepper
* Chopped fresh parsley and/or snipped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)
Put the lentils in a strainer, pick through them, and discard any bits of stone that might have escaped the packers; rinse under cold running water.
Turn the lentils into a medium saucepan, cover them with cold water, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes; drain the lentils in the strainer. Rinse the lentils again and rinse out the saucepan.
Press the clove into the onion and toss the onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf into the pan. Pour in the broth, stir in the lentils, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a steady simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender. As the lentils cook, skim off the dark foam that rises to the top.
Season with salt and cook until they’re tender, 5 to 10 minutes more.
While the lentils are cooking, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Place a strainer over a large measuring cup and drain the lentils, reserving the broth; set the pan aside. Pick out the vegetables and discard the clove and bay leaf; if you’d like to serve the carrots, celery, and onion with the lentils (I always do, although they are very soft), cut them into very small dice. Rinse out the saucepan.
Put the salmon on the foil-lined baking sheet, rub a little olive oil over the top, and season with salt and pepper. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast the salmon for about 12 minutes, or until it is firm on the outside and still pink and just the tiniest bit jiggly at the center (nick the thickest part with a slender knife to test). If the salmon is done before you’ve finished the lentils, cover it lightly with a foil tent and leave it on the counter to rest.
Meanwhile, put ¾ cup of the cooked lentils into a food processor (a mini-processor is fine) or blender and add ½ cup of the reserved broth. Whir for a minute or so, until the lentils are reduced to a puree, then scrape the puree and the remaining cooked lentils back into the saucepan. Pour in another ½ cup broth, add the diced vegetables, if you kept them, and season with salt and pepper as needed. (You can make the lentils to this point and keep them, covered, at room temperature for a few hours or in the refrigerator overnight.)
Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, stirring, only until the lentils are warmed through again.
Divide the lentils among four warm shallow soup plates. Slice the salmon into 4 portions and place a piece in the center of each plate. Drizzle the salmon and lentils very lightly with olive oil, dust the top of the fish with parsley and/or chives, if you’d like, and serve immediately.
This is a complete meal — and a very good one.
Any leftover salmon will be good at room temperature the next day. Should you have leftover lentils, keep them covered in the refrigerator, and reheat them gently in a saucepan on the stove or in a microwave oven; add some of the reserved broth, if you kept it, or water to the pan or bowl.
© 2010 Dorie Greenspan
—From Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
This blog is linked to:
Brenda's Canadian Kitchen: Culinary Smackdown, BATTLE SALMON!