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Monday, June 27, 2011

All in a Summer's Day

Crostini Topping: Smoked Salmon, Asparagus and Artichokes

Summer. It has barely begun, yet I feel I am running from place to place as fast as I can. From the north woods to the north shore to Minneapolis and back again: business, errands, family. So much for those long leisurely days in the garden.

Todd Menton playing the bodhran

Last weekend seemed especially hectic for everyone I know. Friends Bob and Arlene Jones, owners of The Farm on St. Mathias, hosted the 3rd Annual Celtic Festival at their CSA; neighbors Kevin and Steve entertained their extended family of 60 at the Gull Lake Yacht Club; others were holding graduation parties, packing up for camping trips or attending another June wedding. 

3rd Annual Celtic Festival  

Reunion preparations at the Gull Lake Yacht Club

The weekend was also one of the few breaks in the weather we have had this spring. As anyone in the Upper Midwest can tell you, the rain here has been incessant, skipping over places like Oklahoma and Texas that desperately need it and 'gracing' us, up to our knees. But Saturday was a jewel; light breezes, bright sun and puffy marshmallow clouds giving just enough peek-a-boo shade to keep the day from feeling uncomfortably hot.

Sunday night came as a welcome rest after all that craziness. I snipped some peonies from the garden (putting my life at some risk climbing up a stone wall to do so), created a makeshift bouquet for the table and wandered inside.

Smoked Salmon from Morey's
 In town earlier in the day I was happy to remember that Morey's Seafood Market was open on Sunday and stopped in for inspiration. Smoked salmon? Yes, definitely. Hmm. I had asparagus at home from the farmers market...artichokes? Too warm outside to enjoy one of those steamy cheesy dips. What about a chunky crostini topping? I was on to something. I finished my shopping by adding a baguette to the mix and headed home to play in the kitchen. 

Meditrina from Sokol Blosser

I decided to 'call in backup' for the eating part of my little exercise, there being another week to go before my husband was home to take his place as taster, and called my neighbors. The evening was cloudy but the rumbling and the rain held off until after dark, giving us plenty of time to enjoy the loons calling across the lake while we sipped a pretty little blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir from Oregon.

As we sat on the deck overlooking Lake Margaret we talked about future travel plans, the puppies, the beautifully restored Chris Craft motoring past us on the lake; everything and nothing. After weeks of running it was a moment of quiet entertainment that one lives for in these woods.

Next week will be crazier than the last, with a quick trip to Minneapolis, then Bayfield with friends and back to the North Shore for work; another whirlwind of go-go-go. But just now I was enjoying the moment, the loon calls and the easiness of a summer evening shared with friends.

Salmon, Artichoke and Asparagus Crostini
Light, flavorful and quick. Perfect for a summer evening.

12 oz Smoked Wild Salmon
1 6oz jar quartered Marinated Artichokes, broken (reserve marinade)

2 TBSP Pure Olive Oil
½ Sweet Yellow Onion such as Vidalia, rough chopped
½ # fresh local Asparagus, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
½ tsp dried Thyme Leaves
½ tsp dried Dill Leaves
Kosher Salt and fresh ground Pepper
Shaved Parmesan, if desired

Clean salmon by removing skin, fat and bones. Break into large flakes.
Reserve 2 TBSP marinade from artichokes. Set aside.
Break artichokes into chunks and add to salmon in a medium bowl.
Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add onion and asparagus and saute until just softened.
Add herbs by rubbing them in your palms over the dish. Taste and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Add marinade from artichokes. Reduce liquid almost completely, remove mixture from heat and cool.
Toss lightly with flaked salmon and artichokes . Serve on toasted baguette slices & top with shaved parmesan. Serves 4

Recipe notes:
  • Rough chopping is just a way of saying 'chunky and irregular' vs. neatly and evenly cut. I think it suits this rustic dish.
  • This mix would be as at home in a frittata or as a topping for fresh greens as it is a topping for crostini.
  • I used a sweet yellow onion but sautéed, chunky-cut shallots would also be wonderful in this recipe.
  • Try adding chopped pepperoni or proscuitto, or roasted garlic, if you have it on hand.

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