Salmon with Diced Tomatoes

Our family was very small.  None of my mother’s siblings had survived the war, but my father had two brothers and a sister that lived close by.  His oldest brother, Uncle Jack, was the debonair one in the family, always beautiful dressed with his Homburg perched perfectly on his head.  Jack had emigrated to France as a young man, married and had three children.  In the 1950s, the three brothers and their families immigrated to the United States where I was born.  Uncle Jack was a furrier by trade but we all thought of him as an artist.  His manners were impeccable, he was bright, engaging, and always walked into our home carrying a clear square box , filled with pastel-colored chocolate mints.  As a child, I adored my uncle and his children, my older “French” cousins.  They had striking good looks, charm, a joie de vivre that was contagious, and spoke English with beautiful French accents.

At some point I began spending a week or so of each summer with my cousin Micheline who lived outside of Philadelphia.  She and her family lived on the Main Line, a lush, green suburb full of large trees and great expanses of lawn.  It was a wonderful break from the hot city streets of New York.  I would arrive at her home and it was if I walked into a different world.  Micheline painted, developed photographs in her dark room, knit, crocheted, did needlepoint, read voraciously and cooked incredibly delicious French dishes.  Every young child has someone who they want to be like when they grow up, I always wanted to be like Micheline.

Two weeks ago when we were visiting New York, Micheline drove in from Philadelphia to join us. The next day we headed back to her home in Villanova and that evening we were joined by the rest of the family for dinner. Micheline made us a wonderful meal that included a poached salmon covered in a light sauce of sautéed tomatoes.  Simple and delicious, served with grace and charm and ease.

Micheline’s Salmon with Tomatoes

Use your favorite method for cooking a side of salmon. This topping would work well on grilled, baked or poached salmon fillets.

8 Roma Tomatoes peeled, diced and seeded

2 large chopped onions

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in frying pan, add chopped onions and sautee for about 15 minutes or till golden.  Meanwhile peel tomatoes, cut in half, squeeze out seeds and then dice.  Add garlic and diced tomatoes to onions and season well with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10-15 minutes till tomatoes collapse.  Pour mixture over salmon and serve.

NOTE: Micheline served this with salad, a crusty French baguette and a small dish of dipping sauce that she prepared with olive oil, a very good bottle of balsamic vinegar and a few cloves of coarsely chopped fresh garlic. DELICIOUS!!

Enjoy,

Irene

Garlic Chicken

My mother made garlic chicken every Friday night for as long as I can remember.  She used the same rub on turkey, duck and Cornish hens, the only variation being the bigger the bird, the more garlic.
Bake the chicken in a large enough pan to hold quartered potatoes and baste chicken and potatoes with drippings.

Garlic Chicken
1 whole roasting chicken
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbs oil
1 whole head garlic, peeled and minced

Combine spices in a bowl. Add minced garlic and oil to spices and blend together until you have a paste-like consistency. Rub the garlic mixture on the inside and outside of chicken. Let marinate in fridge overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place chicken in baking dish, breast down, with about 1/2″ of water on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 30 minutes and then baste with liquid. Add more water to pan if necessary. When chicken is golden brown, turn chicken breast side up. Baste every 20 minutes or so.  Total baking time is about 1 1/2 hours.

Enjoy,
Irene

Calves’ Foot Jelly

This is for Charlie who requested a recipe for Calves’ Foot Jelly.  He is my son’s classmate and though we haven’t met, you have to admire someone who wants to make Ptcha.

Ptcha (Calves’ Foot Jelly)
2 calves’ feet
1 bay leaf
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Soak calves’ feet in cold water for about an hour and discard water.  Then place feet in pot, cover with cold water and bring to boil. Skim the surface.  Add a bay leaf and cook for several hours (2-3) until all meat, fat and gristle falls off the bone.  You may have to skim the top several times,

While feet are cooking, mince all the garlic and place in the bottom of 9 x 13 pan along with salt and pepper.

Remove meat (and all other bits) from pot, finely chop by hand (my Mom used a hackmesser) and place in pan.  Discard bay leaf and slowly add hot broth to meat mixture.  Broth should be very flavorful.  Add more garlic, salt and pepper as needed. Let dish cool on counter, and then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cut into squares and serve with lemon wedges.

Enjoy,
Irene