February 14, 2012

I had a birthday and it was wonderful. My good friend Gail Dosik, The Tough Cookie, made these awesome cookies for me. Can you believe her talent? I was amazed! Not only adorable, but delicious! I will not admit how many I have eaten.

We asked some friends over to help celebrate. Dennis conspired with the talented pastry-gals at @WhiskedDC, the ones who were profiled in the Washington Post food section. I knew they were genius pie bakers, but now I’m convinced they can do anything. Seriously, wow, look at this rendition of my childhood favorite cake – devils food with peanut butter frosting.

The morning after, I went off to the Cookbook Conference in New York. For three glorious days, I was educated, enlightened and engaged. I met so many people with whom I have had online connections. Sitting and chatting, getting a real live hug, looking into the warm, smiling eyes of someone I knew I liked so much already…  I’m thinking of YOU.

I spent most of 72 hours utterly star struck, as in Holy Guacamole I’m sitting in a room with Judith Jones, Madhur Jaffrey, Peter Kaminsky, Betty Fussell, Molly O’Neill, Rux Gordon, Rozanne Gold, Jane Lear, and then scattered through the audience, people with astonishing backstories. The author of dozens of corporate cookbooks for electric companies. Editors from my beloved Gourmet magazine. Chicago booksellers. Australian bookshop owners. A British editor who blogs about attempts to repair failed recipes. A Cape May trained chef teaching, writing, mothering and living a food-centric life.

And introductions to individuals with such personal dynamism that they changed the air in the room – the force of nature that is June Hersh. Her story, her book, Recipes Remembered, and how it came to be, was one of the most inspirational moments of the entire conference.

If you are blogging about food and hoping and wondering if you should embark upon a cookbook, don’t miss this conference next year. The organizers, Andrew Smith and the Harvard Common Press (shout out to Bruce Shaw) did a fantastic job covering each aspect of the world of the cookbook. My expectations were not only met, but far exceeded and I can’t recommend it enough.

Returning home from New York late Saturday night, cold, hungry and happy to see my husband, dog and cat, my intentions were honorable. I wanted to make a glorious complex meal. Light some candles, open the wine. To be honest, I was tempted to pour cereal in one bowl and wine in another bowl/er/glass, but, instead, made this dinner. It comes together in twenty minutes and tastes like you spent forever fussing.

Smoked salmon, pasta and peas
Serves two

Smoked salmon is always in my refrigerator or freezer. I pre-package 1/4 lb. packets so the salmon will be recipe ready, even right out of the freezer, in just a few minutes. Since Charcutepalooza, I’ve been home-smoking salmon, first salt curing, as with gravlax, then using the Bradley as a cold smoker. Alderwood is light and not too intrusive. This is a flaky salmon, not slicing, but rich and fatty and perfect for a world of uses.

1/2 lb. multigrain spaghetti
1/2 tsp salt

2 T butter
1/4 c shallot or onion, minced
1/2 c white wine
1/3 c creme fraiche or sour cream (I have also used cream cheese, heavy cream, yogurt – whatever is in the refrigerator)
1 c frozen petite peas
1/2 lb. smoked salmon, chopped or flaked
Parmesian, if you wish
Chopped chives, to garnish, only if you have them

Get a big pot of water boiling for the pasta. Add the salt.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter. When it begins to foam, add the shallot.
Cook the shallot until it is translucent.
Add the pasta to the boiling water.
Turn up the heat in the skillet, add the wine, and cook it down until reduced by half.
By now, hopefully the pasta is done. Scoop out half a cup or so of pasta water and set aside, then drain the noodles.
Add the spaghetti to the skillet with the shallots, add the creme fraiche, the pasta water and oss until the pasta is coated the everything is warmed through.
Add the peas and the salmon and stir gently.
Run the plates under hot water, dry well and serve the pasta on warmed plates. It really does make a difference.


Happy Valentines Day.

Dennis brought me flowers. I gave him a birdhouse shaped like a trailer.

27 Responses to “smoked salmon, pasta, and peas.”

  1. Carol Sacks

    I want that birdhouse! What a wonderful post, Cathy. I’m so glad that your birthday and the Cookbook conference were so wonderful. Happy Valentine’s to you and your Dennis!

  2. Gail

    How many cookies does the birdhouse cost? I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT!

    And, thank you for the sweetest shoutout!!!!!!!!!


  3. Beth (OMG! Yummy)

    I started following the cookbook conference tweets a little late but was enthralled immediately. Lucky (and smart) you for attending. Happy Birthday and look forward to seeing you in New York at IACP!

  4. Gail watson

    Happy belated bday!! And happy vday! Gail’s cookies are fantastic!

    So great to meet all of you. It really felt like an oasis of incredible people and talent.

    See you at IACP.

  5. Linda

    The birthday cookie and cake are both amazing! The conference sounded like a dream! Paint me green with envy. I wish more food events occurred on the northwest coast…

    Thanks for a terrifc post!

  6. Linda

    My bad! I left out the salmon dinner. It sounded delicious and I like how you use your Bradley smoker. I’m lucky that was my big Christmas present this year! I love mine as well and I can’t wait until summer to fish for trout for smoking.

    Last night I did something similar with leftover barbecued salmon. I told my husband, I should write a book called “Leftovers.” When just two people dine, as you know, it seems like there are always leftovers….

  7. Bill Woofter

    Happy Birthday.

    I am making the Smoked salmon, pasta and peas tonight. It looks looks great and I am sure it will be wonderful.

    Thanks and Have a Happy Week

    • Cathy

      I like a salmon that’s not too salty, and wild, not farmed. Otherwise, I shop for the best taste, and best price!

  8. Wendy Read - Sunchowder

    Happy Birthday Cathy 🙂 I missed the Cookbook Conference and will be missing IACP…jealous! Wish I could have been there, the panels looked fabulous. Maybe next year. Got to meet Bruce and IFBC, he’s really a great guy.

  9. Elycooks

    The cookies! The birdhouse! Such a charmed life. Happy birthday, happy Valentine’s Day. Xoxo E

  10. felice lim

    I use grilled salmon left-over,and flak them out and cook
    fried rice with minced garlic and grated carrots and sweet corns ..and garnish with chopped spring onions and some sesame oil..


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.