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Smoked Salmon, Fennel, Grape, Blue Cheese and Pecan Salad

Salmon, Fennel and Grape 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.

Cheese Board

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.

Champagne Grapes

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.

Autumn In Seattle

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.

Salmon, Fennel and Grape Salad

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:

For 2:

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.

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga October 24, 2011 um 6:42 am

Helene this looks awesome. I love fennel and grapes and with the salmon and cheese, mmm, good.

Also really digging that aqua/teal distressed wood underneath. So cool! Nice find!

And Bev told me you girls had a ball. I wish I could have been there! 🙂

Sara October 24, 2011 um 6:45 am

This salad looks absolutely delicious! Definitely need to give it a try – the flavors seem like they would pair so well together.

london bakes October 24, 2011 um 8:26 am

What a delicious sounding salad – I love the combination of flavours.

Magda October 24, 2011 um 9:02 am

That photograph of the leaves is stunning!

Vanessa October 24, 2011 um 9:59 am

Gorgeous as always. <3

Valérie (France) October 24, 2011 um 11:17 am

Une délicieuse assiette terre et mer
je te souhaite un beau lundi

Rachel Willen@FoodFix October 24, 2011 um 11:33 am

This looks very inviting after a weekend of family gatherings and too much heavy food. Light…and beautifully photographed!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) October 24, 2011 um 11:46 am

Gorgeous! I'm so envious of your pecan trees. Pecans are a precious commodity up here in New England.

Vicki Bensinger October 24, 2011 um 11:59 am

I love a salad like this that oozes the flavors of fall. You used Sherry vinegar I see instead of the White Balsamic. Both are delicious.

I'm sure it's great to be home and thrilling to know all the success your book has brought to your life and to those who read it.

angela@spinachtiger October 24, 2011 um 12:07 pm

This is more the way I eat daily, so I can then enjoy that occasional dessert or Italian feast. So healthy and beautiful. You can even make a salad shine on camera (and that's not always easy).

nonnapuffo October 24, 2011 um 1:02 pm

Piatti bellissimi anche soltanto a vedersi! Chi sa il sapore!!! Wow!
Un bacio!

Sneige October 24, 2011 um 3:14 pm

Aww, that's fantastic! 🙂 I have to make some soon!

BlondeBomber October 24, 2011 um 3:27 pm

yes, this post is delectable. I love a French cheese spread as a dessert option, as well. There is something so wonderful about ending a meal with fresh cheese, nuts, and fruit spreads. Yum, thanks!

Laurel October 24, 2011 um 3:40 pm

That looks amazing! I was just craving some bleu cheese and glazed pecans, but I wasn't sure what else would be involved! Now I know 😉

theFromagette October 24, 2011 um 3:43 pm

Mmm….pecans! Great flavor combo + gorgeous pics!

la domestique October 24, 2011 um 5:28 pm

I do love an autumn salad. Blue cheese is the ingredient of the week at la domestique, and I think it's great how you've used it here with such light and bright flavors instead of the classic bitter greens and endive combo. Yum!

Gen October 24, 2011 um 7:32 pm

Hum, un beau mélange des saveurs!

tania@mykitchenstories October 24, 2011 um 8:15 pm

The photos look delicious. I dont know how you squeeze in the time between traveling

Anonymous October 24, 2011 um 10:48 pm

Hi Helene!
Few days ago, I found nice food pictures on Flickr, so I asked to the user how can she take such a lovely food pictures. And she recommended me your flickr group, blog and book.

So I had a look your blog then became a regular visitor.It's awesome!! I love your pictures and stoytelling.

Also I just got your book a week ago. I can hardly put it down from my hands because it's very interesting and helpful!

I just wanna say thank you! Keep it up 😉
-Chloe from South Korea.

The Clever Pup October 25, 2011 um 2:19 am

Wow, I have all these ingredients at home right now, leftovers from a weekend party. I know what I'm making tomorrow!!

Sofie Dittmann AKA German Foodie October 25, 2011 um 2:55 am

Tried to leave a comment before but it didn't show up. I've admired your blog for a while, this post makes me go shopping. LOVE the photos.

Eléonora October 26, 2011 um 5:08 am

Bonjour Hélène…Je suis toujours admirative de tes mises en scènes. La recette est sympa et les feuilles sont superbes…tout simplement bravo, mais on ne le dira jamais assez….Bonne semaine !!!

Neil | Butterfield October 26, 2011 um 5:34 am

It sounds like you had a great time. It is nice when you are passionate about what you do.

Jill Riter October 26, 2011 um 8:51 am

great post and pictures!

Rachel October 26, 2011 um 5:06 pm

I cannot wait to make this! I've been feeling like I need to branch out and get creative with my salads recently and this sounds like the perfect slightly unusual salad for me to try!

Helene October 26, 2011 um 5:19 pm

Jill Riter: I just run my chefs knife along the squash and what I can't remove that way ends up being removed when I cut the squash in pieces with a smaller knife.

Unknown October 26, 2011 um 11:35 pm

The salad looks great.

Unknown October 28, 2011 um 3:17 pm

Wow that looks so fresh and delicious. Blue cheese and wild smoked salmon…2 of my favorite things!

Shelby October 28, 2011 um 4:09 pm

What a fresh and innovative combination of flavors, colors and textures… Looks delicious!

Christine @ Oatmeal in my Bowl October 28, 2011 um 9:01 pm

Helene, I just found out about aperture priority mode on my camera because of your book. Never knew it existed. LOL.
And I had fun practicing, too.
And realize that while I love my camera… what the expensive model has over mine. My aperture only goes from 3.5 – 8.0. 😉
Thank you. Plate to Pixel…great book!

Helene October 29, 2011 um 12:26 am

Christine: the aperture range you listed is not from your camera but from your lens. Lenses have different aperture ranges.

Barbara Claire October 29, 2011 um 12:31 pm

This salad is so beautiful and the description makes my mouth water just reading it! I am making it tonight for a welcome home dinner for my husband… sent it to my daughter in NOLA too.
Thank you for the graceful way you meld both your photography and gastronomic skills, Helene~

nectarean October 29, 2011 um 4:47 pm

I've made this salad twice this week. It's now on my favourites list. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous October 29, 2011 um 7:46 pm

I'm french, but your blog is so nice that i subscribed up right away your blog ! nice pictures!
congratulations Helene !

Anonymous October 29, 2011 um 7:47 pm

I'm french, but your blog is so nice that i subscribed up right away your blog ! nice pictures!
congratulations Helene !

Dmarie October 30, 2011 um 3:50 pm

oh, how gorgeous…a veritable still life!

Sarah November 2, 2011 um 10:55 pm

Those leaves are too beautiful to have fallen from the trees yet. Gorgeous shot, Helene.

Unknown November 5, 2011 um 1:52 am

Hi Helene. I love your blog! I was wondering where you got those beautiful bowls and plates from.

Juliane November 15, 2011 um 3:09 pm

Mmmm, I love fall salads! And this one looks divine! Love your blog! Xo's ~Juliane of

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