Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Northwest Evening

An ode to my husband’s stomping ground and the beautiful home of our courtship year…Whidbey Island, Washington.

Deception Pass, Whidbey Island, Washington
The salty-sea smell of the island, the familiar bustle of Oak Harbor and crisp breeze that drifts across the narrow strip of earth to kiss the waters on the other side…it’s a unique little place and it will always hold a comfy nook in my heart. 
One of the things Craig and I miss the most is crab and blackberry season.  There is nothing like coming in from a day of crabbing in the cove (although my complexion was usually a little greener than usual) and picking blackberries, fresh from the vines in the backyard, the crabs cooking in a huge boiling pot on the driveway, while Grandpa sits in his lawn chair, shooting the breeze with neighbors and telling stories from days of old.  It’s all so nostalgic, isn’t it?
Crab is more of a delicacy here in northern California.  It was often my birth day meal of choice growing up.  When it comes in season (and of course goes on sale) we savor every bite, being sure not to leave even a morsel in the shell.  But in Washington there is more abundance and they actually COOK with crab!  Like as an ingredient!  Crab pizza, crab potatoes, crab salad, crab omelets!  Culinary heaven for this crab lover.

As we miss those we love on the island and our mouths water for some fresh, sweet crab and berries, this recipe was born out of my longing and remembrances:
Salmon Stuffed Potatoes

Small red potatoes
½ can  of salmon (I use Trader Joe’s - $2.69 for a large can)…unless you have some crab
Homemade Mayonnaise, or plain yogurt
Lemon Juice
Avocado, sliced thin
Raw Cheese, shredded (of your choice)
Fresh cilantro, finely chopped (or herb of your choice)

Boil the potatoes under fork tender.  While they are cooking, gently fold salmon, mayonnaise, and lemon juice to your taste preference.  We like some chunks of salmon in the mix.  (Depending on your mayonnaise, you might want to add more salt too.)
Remove the potatoes from the water…and here’s my fancy trick I tried when I made this last night.  Pour out just enough water to set your steamer basket into the pot, then add your veggies (we had fresh green beans).  The water is already hot so they will cook in a flash!  (yes, I was pretty proud of this “light bulb” moment.)

Slice the potatoes in half and place each half, cut side up, on a muffin tray.  (You might want to butter/grease your pan.  I didn’t and Craig volunteered to wash dishes.  I’m not sure how long he spent scraping cheese out of the tins, but he stood at the sink for quite a long time.)  Top with salmon mixture, a few slices of avocado, and some shredded cheese.  Place under the broiler with the rack in the middle of the oven so the cheese will take a little longer to melt, giving the salmon some time to heat up a bit.

When the cheese is bubbly and the salmon is warm (around 10 minutes in my oven) remove the muffin tray and place on plates.  Sprinkle with cilantro (or the herb of your choice).  Don’t’ forget your steaming veggies.  ENJOY with a fresh green salad and taste of little of Whidbey Island!

To really go authentic “Washington”, you can serve a berry cobbler and vanilla yogurt for dessert.  Yum!

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