My cooking isn’t only about blogging. Sometimes I just throw things together, and my Freestyle Kitchen series documents this casual style, usually with some pretty casual pictures too. No recipes, just the narrative and guidelines. So get comfy and enjoy the ride as I make it up as I go.
If ever there was a time for freestyle in the kitchen, this is it. I’ve taken possession of my new home (yay!) and am packing up my possessions (not so much yay) in anticipation of the move in a couple of weeks (yay! again) after all the tradespeople are done doing my bidding in exchange for my money (hmmm, sort-of yay). So, essentially I’m taking care of two houses and getting ready to move, which means there’s not a lot of time for fancy stuff in the kitchen.
Last week I was craving a good, home-cooked meal. I had the world’s most adorable celeriac root on hand. This little darling was somewhere between a hardball and a softball in size (did you notice the sports analogy? Not so many of those around here, but hey, baseball season is underway or will be soon — I don’t quite know). I’ve used celeriac in a killer soup before, and wanted to try it as a puree. I also wanted to retest a lemon honey glaze for salmon, something I’d been noodling around with. And, I had a nice fat bunch of asparagus because, well, it’s spring somewhere. I managed to pull all these ingredients together into dinner in about thirty minutes, using one pot and a baking tray. Bonus!
The salmon was rich, with a subtly sweet tang from the glaze, and the celeriac puree had a delicate celery flavour and creamy texture. Here’s the story of how this dinner came together.
Lemon Honey Salmon on Celeriac Puree
With the oven pre-heating to 400 ℉ and a parchment paper-lined baking tray at the ready, it was time to get cooking. The first step was to get the celeriac root under control: trim, peel, wash, cube, wash again. Into a small pot it went with water from a freshly boiled kettle to cover. I brought it to a boil again on the stove and then simmered the celeriac until fork tender. I drained off the water, threw in a knob of butter (I’ve always liked the sound of knob of butter, by the way) and started mashing. And mashing. I don’t know if this celeriac was especially tough or if maybe I didn’t cook it quite long enough, but it was one tough root vegetable. Along the way, I added some cream or milk (or maybe some of each; I can’t quite remember. I have a lot of other things on my mind, right?), a good grinding of pepper and a pinch or two of salt. I ended up using the immersion blender to tame it into submission and achieve a relatively smooth puree, adding more milk as required. I suppose I could have pressed it through a sieve for an even smoother result, but, really? On a Monday night, just for me? Nope.
With the celeriac cooking, I trimmed six or seven asparagus spears, placed them on half of the baking tray, drizzled over some olive oil and sprinkled with pepper and salt. A nice spritz of lemon juice (from an actual lemon) and they were ready to go. (Sometimes I put on the lemon juice after the asparagus has roasted and I read somewhere recently that’s the superior method. Oh well, I’m not too fussed about the order.)
Using another small piece of parchment paper, I folded up the edges to make a shallow paper tray that I set on the other half of the baking tray. I set my salmon fillet into it, skin side down. By the way, you could always use a separate parchment lined tray for the salmon if you’re not into origami.
I put about a tablespoon each of honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice into a small bowl and subjected it to a little whisking action with a fork. Over the salmon it went, along with the de rigueur sprinkling of pepper and salt. The whole tray went into the oven for about 20 minutes. Now, how long you cook your salmon depends on how thick it is and how you like it done. I’m just telling you what I did, but you can look up ‘roasting salmon’ on the good ol’ internet and learn more than you ever thought possible about this topic. Anyhow, after about 10 minutes, I turned over the asparagus and basted the salmon with the honey-lemon glaze. My paper tray is doing its job, so the glaze wasn’t running into the asparagus. Back into the oven, and I finished roasting the fish and asparagus.
For presentation, I put a big dollop of the celeriac puree on the plate, smeared it with the back of a large spoon, and topped it with the salmon from which I removed the skin. I got all decorative with the asparagus, then photographed, ate and enjoyed.