Chatting with Laurie Noble from Noble Orchards this week, I learned that black bears like Pink Lady apples as much as you and I do. It’s hard to say whether it’s love of apples or lack of other food that’s sending bears into closer proximity with humans, but significant tree damage is causing the Nobles to fence their orchards to keep the bears out.
Not to diminish the seriousness of bears vs. apple trees, and bears mixing it up with people and pets, but I’ve always imagined that bears, particularly in the Pacific Northwest have kind of an enviable diet. You’ve seen the pictures – a mama bear and cubs standing knee-deep in a rushing steam catching salmon as they swim upstream to spawn. Bears seem to know where the best blueberry patches are, where to find honey, and the best place for an undisturbed 3-month nap. There is much to emulate in a successful bear’s life.
Give a bear an oven, and they would most likely whip out this luscious honey-glazed baked fillet of salmon.
Baked Salmon By Lauren Miyashiro
Ingredients: serves 4
1 large salmon fillet
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, thinly sliced
6 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tbsp. honey
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chopped thyme leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350° and line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Grease foil with nonstick cooking spray. To the center of the foil, lay lemon slices in an even layer.
Season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper and place on top of lemon slices.
In a small bowl, whisk together butter, honey, garlic, thyme, and oregano. Pour over salmon then scrunch up foil surrounding the salmon. Bake until the salmon is cooked through, about 12 minutes. Switch the oven to broil, and broil for 2 minutes, or until the butter mixture has thickened and glazed.
Garnish with parsley and serve warm.
I’ve never baked with blueberries, other than dropping a few in pancakes – growing up it seemed like blackberries were more available for things like cobblers. Blueberries are abundant now, and reasonable, so I gave this Chez Panisse cobbler recipe a try, and was deliciously surprised! Some of the berries keep their shape and burst when you bite into them, others soften into the juice. The flavor was great and it couldn’t be easier to prepare. You’ll want some good vanilla ice cream to go with this.
Chez Panisse’s Blueberry Cobbler by Molly O’Neil
This cobbler, which comes from the kitchens of Chez Panisse, prizes the berries above all, using only 1/3 cup of sugar. The dough rounds for the top are placed so they don’t cover all the berries, and the juice from the berries bubbles up around the dough.
4 ½ cups fresh blueberries
⅓ cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
¾ cup heavy cream, plus additional for serving, if desired
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To prepare the berries, place in a bowl and toss with the sugar and flour, lemon zest and juice. Set aside.
To make the dough, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and mix lightly, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Put the blueberries in a 1 1/2-quart gratin or baking dish. Make patties out of the dough, 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Arrange them over the top of the berries. Bake until the topping is brown and the juices bubble thickly around it, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Let cool slightly. Serve warm, with cream to pour on top, if desired.
Last Sunday was Fathers’ Day, which reminds me of foods Dads are famous for. Carl was king of the French toast and bacon breakfast after Molly and Hanna’s sleepovers, but in the bosom of the family it’s his BBQ baby back ribs that are most requested. Another Dad famous with his daughter for sleepover breakfast pancakes was Anthony Bourdain, chef, food journalist and insatiably curious world traveler that passed away on Friday. In his family cookbook, Appetites, 2016, he shares recipes that are imperfect memories of childhood favorites – “the kind of food memories I like to share with my daughter – along with a few greatest hits from my travels, and some boiled-down wisdom on subjects like breakfasts”.
Here is Bourdain’s take on plating an omelet from Appetites: The center of the omelet should still be moist and a tiny bit wet when you remove it from the heat –what the French call baveuse. Plating your omelet is a very important step, and while it looks tricky, it’s actually not. Using a towel to protect your hand from the heat, grasp the pan’s handle from underneath in a V grip with one hand. Lift it up. Holding your plate in the other hand, tilt the pan onto the plate like a closing door, flopping the omelet onto the plate so it folds shut on itself.
If it looks like a pile of crap, not to worry. Lay a clean paper towel over the omelet like a blanket – like you’re putting a child to bed. With hands together, almost like praying, shape the omelet into a neat crescent: fat in the center, narrower at both ends. This will also sop up any excess butter or oozing eggs.
He liked cooking bacon on a brown parchment-lined sheet pan in the oven at 350° – “resist the temptation to set it hotter. Bacon takes awhile, but when it starts going, it goes from raw to cooked to shit real quick”
Remove the bacon just prior to desired doneness. You can finish it, returning it to the oven if necessary, while your eggs or other items cook. Hold cooked bacon on the interior pages of the newspaper of record, which have been proven to be amongst the most hygienic, bacteria-free surfaces you can find anywhere. Really. If you ever need to deliver a baby unexpectedly, just reach for a nearby New York Times Styles section. You can be pretty sure nobody has touched that.
A deeper dive into the cookbook turned up this fresh-tasting side dish to accompany the salmon:
Garbanzos with Cherry Tomatoes
2 cups cooked or canned garbanzo beans, drained
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tablespoons
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1-pint ripe cherry tomatoes
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
In a medium-sized, nonreactive bowl, combine the beans, 1/3 cup oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and mix well. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 3 – 4 hours. (if letting marinate any longer, up to 24 hours, cover and refrigerate.)
Heat the oven to 350° F. (Ideally, you’re roasting some chicken thighs, or tonight’s salmon on the bottom rack of the oven and have room at the top for the tomatoes.) On a sheet pan, toss the tomatoes with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Place in the oven and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are warm and softening, but not yet bursting. Remove from the heat and stir into the garbanzo bean mixture, along with the parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serves 4-8 as a side dish or atop toast.
Happy belated Father’s Day to all the spectacular Dads out there – you know who you are!