Smoked Salmon, Fennel, Grape, Blue Cheese and Pecan Salad
Been away from home for the past ten days and although I have had a wonderful time getting work done, seeing friends and meeting new people, I am always very much itching to get back home to my family. Both workshops in Kansas City went very well and this past week spent in Seattle for a shoot was just dreamy.
There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that you helped someone get more comfortable telling a story around food with their camera, light or that you contributed to making pretty images for someone’s cookbook. Photography is always the sum of many things that are equally important to me. Practice, creativity, partnerships and opening one’s mind to the unknown. The possibilities. I love seeing people let loose of their fear they can’t this or that.
Flying to Seattle was like a mini vacation. A grueling mini vacation of sixteen hour days but a time off nonetheless. One of the things that I love about Seattle is how comfortable it is to me. Great friends such as Clare and Jeanne do that. Those two have a knack for creating a homey environment everytime I come visit. Good food, great conversations and a serious amount of wine every night do keep me going for hours…
When traveling, even if I stay with friends, I make sure to eat good nutritious food as a send off and as a re-entry. Friends feed me. Restaurants too. I even bring food on location shoots. It’s me. I have a bad habit to go for a cup of strong coffee in the morning and pretty much nothing until 4pm rolls around. By then, my stomach sounds like a little green alien is forming battalion.
I am a big fan of salads and soups as means to set my internal clock right. They are food for the bones, body and soul. Just with like a photo you create, a simple bowl of salad you assemble can take on a gorgeous palette and tell the story of what your body is craving. Even in a hurry. Colors, textures, flavor combinations. It’s very much like assembling a picture to me. I always think of what I do as I put meals together the same way I do when I compose a shot.
The act of seating down and re-visiting my dish, now complete is very much like seeing the picture as I edit it. Sometimes, there is a bit too much salt, too many colors, flavors or the vinaigrette is off. Sometimes I like the salad so much, I want to keep it my immediate memory bank. Sometimes, I cringe when a shot I thought would work ends up being not seasoned the right way, so to speak. Sometimes I know I’ll revisit that set up many months later in a slightly different way because it worked great the first time.
Thing is, I do that photography-story telling bit with almost every food. Salads or not. Good thing I do this for a living, eh?! It’d be easy to get in a rut unless you shop for seasonal ingredients. Again, same goes with every foods.
Right before I left, you could tell a real transition up in the air and at the market. It was a bit touch and go but the arugula was still doing well. Grapes of all sorts were having a good times. White and purple scuppernongs, Champagne, big fat juicy seedless reds. The fennels had fronds longer than my arms. It was all starting to shape up in my head.
The couple of days before I left for my trip West, I loaded up on a salad comprised of arugula, raw fennel, grapes, blue cheese, smoked Coho salmon, pecans from our tree and a white balsamic vinaigrette. Easy. Nutritious. Good for the soul too.
This week that Fall produce is slowly making an appearance, my salad making days might change. And I am looking forward to them.
Smoked Salmon, Fennel, Grape, Blue Cheese and Pecan Salad:
In a large mixing bowl, mix the following ingredients:
– 4 oz smoked salmon (we like the thick slabs of Coho salmon)
– 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
– small handful of grapes, halved
– as much crumbled blue cheese as you would like or think reasonable (we do about one 2-inch piece per person)
– 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped pecans (or other nuts)
– 1 to 2 big handfuls of arugula
– as much or as little vinaigrette as desired
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked pepper
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard and shallot. Add the salt and pepper then the sherry. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Drizzle on top of the salad.