My daughter-in-law, Jami, pregnant with our granddaughter, hasn’t had much appetite. I said to her, “What sounds good?” She said, “I’m supposed to be eating more red meat, but I just don’t feel like eating. I loved that salmon you made last week.” So I made the salmon (or Dave did–on the grill) and also a couple of strip steaks. She loves cauliflower, so that, too was on the menu–steamed and topped with a generous grating of sharp cheddar. (No leftover cauliflower!) A pot of jasmine rice finished out the meal, as Jami is Gluten-Free.
Over the meal, which Jami ate if not with abandon, at least with appetite, we talked baby names. Samantha came up, as did Gwendolyn. Aileen was uttered. “What Celtic names do you know?” Well, I couldn’t think of many Celtic names, but I did tell her the names of our grandmothers, just for fun:
- Laura (pronounced Lara)
They of course already knew their own grandmother’s names, though I later realized that two of them shared the middle name Jean.
There are a few months left for the two of them to figure out a name, but in the meantime, there’s room for dreaming. To say I don’t care what the baby is named would be the absolute truth. But to enjoy a discussion is another thing; I’m all over that. Dave, Sean, Emily, and I once argued over our next dog’s name for a year before he was born; the breeders were planning a litter, but the female hadn’t even yet conceived. My own mom called all of my unborn children, as well as my sister’s, “Esmerelda” or “Taco,” because she just had to have a name and because it was a way to pass the time with a sense of light-hearted fun over the long months of waiting. (Oh that she were here to wait for this new baby.)
(below: Jami cooking with Dave in our one-butt kitchen)
Next day, there was just a bit of salmon and just a bit of steak. Some jasmine rice. I also was flush with fresh greens, goat cheese, and a tub of Fed Ex blueberries. Here’s what came up for dinner:
surf and turf salad with blueberries, goat cheese, and fennel with maple-orange vinaigrette
6 servings Includes sautéed fennel. You might begin with that.
- 8 cups fresh greens
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- kosher salt, fresh-ground pepper
- 4 ounces each cooked salmon and steak, slightly warmed and sliced
- 1/2 cup sliced, lightly sautéed fennel seasoned with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper
- 1/2 cup cooked haricots verts or green beans
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1/2 cup cooked jasmine rice, room temperature
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- maple-orange vinaigrette (recipe below)
In a very large bowl, mix the greens, the lemon juice, and an 1/8 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Add the salmon, steak, fennel, beans, cheese, rice, and blueberries. Toss carefully with clean hands. Drizzle on a generous amount of the vinaigrette, toss again, and serve cold or at room temperature. Serve with hefty hunks of country or corn bread and a little bit of butter to keep everyone happy.
cook’s note: No beef or salmon? Use grilled chicken or roasted pork tenderloin, or even shrimp.
I make my vinaigrette to taste, so these are approximate amounts:
- 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- generous pinch each kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a glass measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegars, salt, pepper, maple syrup, and mustard. Whisk in the oil, one tablespoon at a time, until the vinaigrette is totally combined or emulsified. Take a leaf or two of greens and dip them quickly in the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Sing a new song,