Fickle summer weather! It will be beautiful in the morning; I’ll wake up dreaming of lighting the grill, seasoning meat, pouring a glass of wine and cooking dinner outside while the kids run through the yard and the dog barks at the neighbor’s chickens, only to have the dream shattered mid-afternoon, when storms race in over the mountains and force us inside. Other days we wake up to a cool, cloudy drizzle and I think, there’s no way I could start the grill in weather like this. Only after I’ve panned a meal inside does the sun come out and the weather becomes perfect for grilling. The dichotomy of Colorado weather is that it can go from soggy to parched in a matter of hours, thanks to the elevation and the drying mountain winds. Sometimes we go weeks without even a drop of rain, and everything gets so dry that just the tiniest rogue spark from the grill’s coals could ignite a wildfire. On these days, all outdoor fires, including those in grills, are banned as a precaution. All of this poses a problem, because I’m a planner when it comes to cooking, and grilling so often must happen spontaneously. When the weather happens to be perfect, the stars align and I have all the essential ingredients to create a feast on the grill I have to seize the opportunity. That is, unless, I have something that works just as well on the grill as it does in the oven. That’s why I love this salmon. Each of these recipes can be made in either. Problem solved.
A few weeks ago Cedar Bay Grilling Company invited me to create three recipes for a recipe challenge: an appetizer, a grilling recipe, and an entrée. I was thrilled for two reasons: 1) Their gourmet salmon fillets are a product that I love and are a staple in my kitchen. Each 24 oz. fillet comes pre-seasoned, on its own cedar plank, ready to be cooked right out of the package. And 2) because the salmon can either be grilled or baked on the oven, I have options – and options are a planner’s best friend!
As I was thinking of recipes, I knew I had to include a Scandinavian recipe – a nod to my husband’s Norwegian heritage. His family was visiting from out of town and so one morning for brunch I put together a salmon breakfast board with bagels, whipped cream cheese, lingonberry confiture, caviar and dill. Of course, the star of the show was the salmon, which I served on the plank and simply flaked with a fork so that everyone could use it on their bagels.
The next day I mixed the remaining salmon with a purée of potatoes and served it in a lovely potato cup shaped like a flower. It’s my twist on a twice baked potato. For a burst of freshness I topped each flower cup with a bit of caviar, also left over from breakfast the day before. It sounds complicated, but it’s really very easy and makes an elegant appetizer which our guests raved about. The recipe was inspired by a dish that I had at an event in Tuscon as a child. It’s a food memory that has stuck with me ever since as it was the first time I had caviar as a child and, of course, I was hooked (love at first bite?).
Later in the week, after our guests had gone back home and the house was quiet again, the grilling stars did, in fact, aligned and we were blessed with several days of calm, beautiful weather. Pizza was on my mind. Specifically grilled pizza, topped with caramelized red onions, flakes of salmon, lemon and fresh herbs from the garden. It is so easy to cook pizza on the grill using a pizza stone and makes the perfect summertime feast.
These three recipes are my submissions for the Cedar Bay Grilling Company’s recipe contest. You can find more delicious salmon recipes and inspiration on their website, or by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
A few tips for cooking Cedar Bay Grilling Company’s cedar planked salmon:
- Defrost the salmon thoroughly before cooking.
- The cedar plank comes pre-soaked so no soaking is necessary.
- If cooking in the oven, line the lower shelf with foil or place a sheet pan beneath the salmon because it will drip as it’s cooking.
- On the grill, rotate the board halfway through cooking so that the salmon cooks evenly.
- When grilling, the cedar plank will char and smoke. Take advantage of the smoky flavour by cooking veggies or another piece of meat alongside the salmon.
Twice baked Potato Cups with Salmon
6 medium russet baking potatoes
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
1 Cedar Bay Grilling Co. 24 oz. Salmon Fillet, (Applewood with Orange and Ginger)*
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 TBSP butter, melted
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 cup finely grated sharp cheddar
1/3 cup minced green onion
2 oz. caviar, to top
*Cook the salmon on either the grill or in the oven according to the manufacturer’s directions. Cool slightly and flake with a fork. For this recipe you’ll use approximately 1/4 of the fillet. Set the flaked salmon aside and refrigerate the remaining salmon to use in another recipe.
Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with olive oil.
Slice 3 of the potatoes very thinly (almost paper thin) with a mandolin or by hand. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the potato slices in the water and blanch for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again, pat dry with paper towels and place the potato slices in a bowl. Toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Toss with your hands until the oil and seasonings are evenly distributed.
Place 5 potato slices around the edge of each muffin mold to look like the petals of a flower, then place one slice in the middle of each mold to create a flower-shaped cup. Place about 1 tablespoon of cheese in the bottom of each cup. The cheese will act like the glue that will hold the potato slices together. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven down to 375 F (190 C).
Meanwhile, peel the remaining 3 potatoes and cut into 1 inch cubes. Place them in a medium sauce pot and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 – 12 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Drain the potatoes and place in the basket of a food mill which has been fitted with a medium blade. Process the potatoes into a large mixing bowl. (Alternately, the potatoes can be mashed by hand.)
To the mashed potatoes, stir in the sour cream, milk, melted butter, 3/4 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoons pepper. Add the reserved flaked salmon, remaining cheddar and green onions. Fold gently so as to not break up the fish.
Spoon the mashed potato mixture into the potato cups. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 20 -25 minutes, until heated through and the tops and edges of the potatoes are beginning to brown. Watch them carefully so the edges don’t burn. Remove the pan from the oven. Allow the potato cups to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Gently lift the potato cups from the pan and place on a serving platter. Place approximately 1/2 teaspoon of caviar on top of each cup and serve.
Grilled Salmon Pizzas
(makes 2 pizzas)
1 (24 oz.) Cedar Bay Grilling Co. Cedar Plank Salmon (Sugar and Spice)
2 prepared pizza crusts
2 red onions, sliced thinly
2 TBSP butter
2 tsp olive oil (plus more for brushing on the crusts)
salt and pepper
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature, divided
cracked black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated mozzarella cheese
3 TBSP chopped parsley
1 tsp lemon zest
Prepare and preheat your grill. When the grill is hot, place the cedar plank salmon on the grill and cook, with the lid down, until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 150 F (approx 18 – 22 minutes). When the salmon is done, remove it from the grill and cover with foil. Place a pizza stone onto the grill grate to preheat.
Meanwhile, caramelize the onions: In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the sliced onions and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 – 35 minutes, until the onions are very soft, caramelized and jammy. If the pan becomes too dry, add a splash of water so that the onions don’t burn. Set the caramelized onions aside.
Use a fork to flake the grilled salmon.
Brush each crust with olive oil. Spread 4 ounces of cream cheese on each crust, leaving a 1 inch border around the edge of the crust. Spread the caramelized onions evenly over the cream cheese. Scatter the salmon over top and sprinkle with the grated mozzarella. Sprinkle the edges of the pizzas with freshly cracked black pepper.
Cook the pizzas one at a time. Carefully slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone on the grill. Close the lid and cook for 7 – 8 minutes. Until the crust is golden. Repeat with the second pizza.
Carefully transfer the pizzas to a large cutting board and allow to cool. Mix the parsley and lemon zest together in a small bowl. Just before cutting the pizzas, sprinkle the parsley mixture over top.
Cedar Plank Salmon Breakfast Board
This is my twist on traditional bagels with lox. It’s the kind of breakfast I love to put together when we have family or friends staying over. Cook once and let everyone serve themselves, buffet-style. The salmon can be made in the oven or on the grill and the rest of the ingredients can be assembled on the board while it cooks.
- Cedar Bay Grilling Company 24 oz. Salmon Fillet (I used Applewood with Orange and Ginger) – prepared according to the package directions
- plain bagels, toasted
- whipped cream cheese, see recipe below
- confiture of whole lingonberries (available in international markets; lingonberry jam can be used instead)
- fresh dill
- caviar – black capelin or whitefish
- red onion, thinly sliced
- steamed asparagus
- cherry tomatoes
Whipped cream cheese
1 eight-ounce block cream cheese, room temperature
3 TBSP whole milk
With an electric hand mixer, begin beating the cream cheese while gradually adding the milk. Beat until fluffy. Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with fresh dill.