Summer brings many, many joys. One of the foremost for me is sitting on my deck with family and friends with the waning light of day filtering through the trees. And, of course, there’s a simple, delicious feast of fresh summer food. Tonight’s dinner of salmon with a citrus vinaigrette, little Northwest yellow potatoes, and sautéed snap peas was, more or less, the Platonic ideal of the summer dinner. The only thing missing was some sort of fruit crisp for desert. Blame that on my son, whose class had a musical performance this evening.
You’ll find this dinner, or one very much like it, a cinch to prepare. I picked up the snap peas at the farmers’ market two days ago and today bypassed the fresh Copper River salmon for some previously frozen wild sockeye. I mean, sure, I wanted to get the Copper River, but it was $6 more a pound, so that made my decision easier. And in the end, we all loved the salmon I made.
Our kitchen right now consists of two upper cabinets, a stove, a fridge, and a utility sink. Everything else is in piles and boxes in the living room and on the dining table. The 30-year old cabinets had never been a delight and the upper drawers created an ever greater supply of sawdust in the lower drawers. And in the pots and pans and utensils in those drawers. And the yellowish-brownish tiled countertops weren’t getting any prettier. Now they’re gone. In their place we’ll have some lovely light wood Ikea cabinets and (yippee!) Richlite countertops.
All of this means that cooking’s a bit tricky. The lack of kitchen requires simple dinners without much prep.
Here’s how it went:
String the snap peas.
Rinse the potatoes and one lemon and one orange in a big, thick-bottomed pot. You will both boil and pan fry the potatoes in this pot, then quickly sauté the peas in it, so pick something that can do all of those things.
Squeeze the juice of the lemon and half the orange into a small saucepan. Add a sprinkle (about 1 tsp) of sugar. Put the pan over a medium-high flame and reduce by half.
While the juices are reducing, cover the potatoes with water plus another inch or two, salt, and bring to a boil.
Mince one shallot. Put it into a bowl in which you can whisk a vinaigrette.
Pour the reduced juice over the shallot. Add ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Whisk two times the amount of olive oil as juice into the bowl.
Pour the potatoes into a strainer. Put the pan back onto the stove to dry while you rinse the tates and allow them to dry.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the potato pan and swirl it around the pan. Put on a medium heat and when the oil shimmers, add the potatoes.
Find a large non-stick frying pan or a cast iron skillet. Salt and pepper your salmon filets. Heat the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and when it shimmers, put the salmon into the oil, skin side up.