I love routine. The start of a new school year every September or a new semester in college always threw me for a loop for the first couple of weeks, until I settled into a new schedule. When my daughter was born, I felt like I was going crazy by the time she was six weeks old because there was no predictable or dependable pattern to my days — she might nap for 15 minutes or three hours; I might get to have lunch and a shower, I might not. (The New Contented Little Baby Book was a lifesaver when I discovered it.) When I was in high school, I had the same lunch every day for four years — a sandwich, a carton of yogurt and an apple — and all my life, I only ever ate one kind of apple: Granny Smiths.
But earlier this autumn, I made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up a few snacks to take on an impromptu after-school trip to the beach and grabbed a bag of Pink Lady apples. And I liked them! Since then, I’ve been branching out into other varieties — Braeburn, Cox’s Orange Pippins, Bramleys, Galas — all of them good. For someone who likes to cook and try different things, I feel more than a little silly for stubbornly sticking with the same thing for so long.
This apple, potato and onion gratin is easy enough to make for an everyday meal, especially if you use a mandolin or the slicing blade of a food processor, but good enough to be a side dish at a holiday dinner like Thanksgiving.I used Pink Lady apples in it — you know, just to shake things up a little.
Salmon with Maple Mustard Sauce
adapted from Gourmet, January 2003
If you don’t have maple syrup, use honey instead, making this a honey mustard sauce that’s equally as good.
4 x 7‑oz (200‑g) pieces center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/4 inches thick), skinned
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or honey)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/4 cup chopped scallion greens
Pat the salmon dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over a moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute the salmon in 2 batches, starting with the skinned sides up and turning over once, until just cooked through, 6 to 9 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter and keep warm, covered.
Remove the skillet from the heat and cool for 1 minute. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the salmon and serve straightaway.
Apple, Potato, and Onion Gratin
adapted from Bon Appétit, February 2005
6 tablespoons (90 g) butter, divided
2 lb (900 g) onions, sliced
2 tablespoons (packed) chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
2/3 cup (160 ml) water
2/3 cup (160 ml) dry white wine
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 lb (1.1 kg) Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4‑inch-thick rounds (or use any waxy or red-skinned potato)
2 lb (900 g) tart apples (such as Granny Smith, Pippin, or Pink Lady), peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1/4‑inch-thick slices
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter a 13 x 9 x 2‑inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Melt half the butter in a large nonstick skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and saute until the onions are tender and begin to color, about 8 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Add the remaining butter and the water, wine, and sugar to the skillet, stirring and swirling the skillet to combine. Bring to the boil, then cool the onion mixture until it’s lukewarm.
Combine the potatoes, apples, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the onion mixture in a large bowl and toss gently to blend. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly. Cover the dish with parchment paper, then cover with foil, shiny side down. Bake the gratin until the potatoes are tender, about 55 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top browns and juices bubble thickly, about 15 to 20 minutes longer. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand uncovered at room temperature. Rewarm, loosely covered with foil, in 300°F (150°C) oven for 20 minutes.) Let the gratin stand for 15 minutes before serving.
from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten
2 lb (900 g) carrots
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or flat-leaf parsley
Peel the carrots and cut them diagonally in 1/4‑inch slices. Place the carrots, water, salt, and pepper in a large (10– to 12-inch) saute pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over a medium-low heat for 7 to 8 minutes, until the carrots are just cooked through. Add the butter and saute for another minute, until the water evaporates and the carrots are coated with butter. Off the heat, toss with the dill or parsley. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.