From the monthly archives:

September 2012

My daughter Ally was going to “test” me Chopped style but only came up with salmon, potatoes and pumpkin. She was just being lazy. And really she just wanted salmon and mashed potatoes for dinner. So as they say, she stacked the basket in her favor. The pumpkin was just a random request but a good one so here it is: Pan Seared Salmon with Butternut Squash Sauce

Ally pretty much always asks for the same thing; fish, sushi and fish. I guess that we are lucky. Nobody ever asks for chicken nuggets.

Back to the challenge at hand; practicing to cook in the impossibly short time. I’ll have to try that some other day. I doubt that I’ll ever see the competition though I did apply.

Not really a challenge after all, but a good dinner.

First you will need some tools; a really good filet or fish knife and large well-seasoned cast iron or heavy steel skillet. No plastic handles – the pan needs to go in a 350-degree oven.

I served this with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. This recipe is going to get long enough without my dissertation on potato cookery. So just make your own.


2 pounds salmon – cut into 4 even portions (or six)
2 cups fresh butternut squash – cut in 1-inch chunks
5 tablespoons butter divided
6 cloves garlic
½ medium onion
Fresh thyme
Fresh sage
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups white wine
Salt and fresh pepper

Vegetable of your choice


Divide the salmon into 4 even portions.

Use a filet knife to clean off the skin – the salmon is considerably cheaper if you can learn to do this. A good example is that salmon is $5.99 a pound as a skin on filet. But it is $4.99 for a six-ounce skin off piece.
Place the fish skin side down on a cutting board. Insert the knife under the fish and on top of the skin.
Slide the knife under the fish while keeping the knife pressed against the board.

Season each side with salt and pepper.
Set aside in the fridge.

Heat the oven to 350.
Peel and chop the Butternut squash.
Peel the garlic.
Chop the onion once or twice
Toss it all in a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 20 minutes until it all just starts to brown.
Remove from the oven and add to a sauce pot.
I would start the mashed potatoes and veggies now.

Add the stock, wine and herbs to taste and let simmer for ten minutes.
Take off the heat and let cool a bit.
Pour into a blender and pulse a few times.
Add back to the saucepan and set on low.
Stir occasionally.

Heat the skillet on medium high.
Add two tablespoons butter to the pan and add the fish.
Cook for five minutes and flip the filets.
Put it into the oven for the 10 minutes.

Put the remaining butter in the sauce and stir it in.

Pull the fish out of the oven and plate on the potatoes.
Drizzle the sauce all around and enjoy.

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Southern Tomato Pie – Summer Never Ends

by Michael on September 19, 2012 · 2 comments

in Uncategorized

I know, it’s late in the year for a tomato pie but I had these great tomatoes – probably the last two  – and a handful of basil. What was I to do? Had it been June, the family would have gone bonkers. In September, the response was, “Will it be good?”

It was. And still is. This is a leftover that does not last long.

So you have one or two weekends to get that early summer feeling with help from your local farmer’s market. Go for it; Summer never ends.

Southern Tomato Pie

This is for a standard 9-inch pie pan. Pyrex is preferred. I have to thank Laura Bunton and Maggie Handley for the introduction to the artform. Sorry for the diversions.

2-3 large tomatoes
½ cup chopped fresh basil
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 eggs
Pie dough (See recipe below – BUT DO IT FIRST)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 shots hot sauce
½ cup thin sliced onion (optional and not traditional).

Basic Pie Crust Dough

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
12 tablespoons cold butter (1½ sticks)
1/2 cup ice water

Directions for the crust:

Keep everything chilled!
Put flour, salt and sugar in a food processor or a bowl and us a pastry fork or cutter to mix.
Add the pieces of butter and process 10 times.

Dribble 1/2 of the water in while pulsing or mixing until dough holds together without being wet or sticky
if it’s still dry and crumble and a few drops and process once or twice. add more water until it just hangs together

Divide the dough into 1/3 balls. Combine two for the crust and the other is for the top.
Chill both for at least 1 hour.

Directions for the pie:

Make the dough and chill for 1 hour. This is important. Cold dough is flakey crust.

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Roll out 2/3 of the dough into a 11 inch round.
Set the dough over the pie pan and press down and lay the excess dough over the sides.
Pinch the edges over and cut off the excess.
Poke the bottom and perimeter with a fork.

Bake the pie shell for 12 minutes.


Slice Tomatoes ¼ inch thick.

Mix mayonnaise, cheese, basil, hot sauce and eggs.
Place a layer of tomatoes in pie shell.
Cover with a small amount of mixture – save at least ½ for the top.
Add another layer of tomatoes and mixture until you get to the top.
Cover with the rest of the cheese mixture.

Roll out the last 1/3 of the doug and slice into 1/2 nch strip.
Cover the pie in a lattice like the picture.

Bake for 40 minutes.
Continue cooking until top is brown.

Cool for 15 minutes on a rack and serve.