Since I write about food, people always joke that they’re nervous to cook for me, or apologize for something not being “fancy” enough, but the real story is that there is NOTHING I love more than being cooked for, and homey, non-fussy dishes are truly the way to this girl’s heart.
As evidenced by the true joy I felt while inhaling boxed macaroni & cheese with sliced apples for dinner a la Ben last night.
Anyways, that said I was overjoyed to eat and be totally spoiled by my Mother-in-Law’s cooking last week. In between enjoying homemade pasta bakes, roast turkey and mashed potatoes, breakfast casseroles, and lots of yummy treats, we also went out for a few meals while in DC.
One of the most memorable was an Autumn Salmon Salad I ordered from one of our favorite watering holes on Capitol Hill, the Corner Bar at Old Ebbitt Grill.
Before sitting down to dinner and drinks at Old Ebbitt, Ben’s parents took us all out to see A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theater a few blocks away. Ford’s theater is a wonderfully historic point of interest in DC – it’s where President Lincoln was tragically shot and killed while taking in a play on the night of April 14, 1865.
I had never seen the play (I know) and, even though it was a couple days past Christmas, I will never turn down an opportunity to see live theater. It always makes me wish I was more outgoing and could, well, act, because it looks like so much fun!
We arrived for the play a little early, and headed down to the basement of the theater to check out its museum, which displays the gun that John Wilkes Booth used to shoot President Lincoln. It was so surreal! I’m sure the gun is a facsimile, as most museum objects are in DC, but still - unsettling.
Soon the theater doors opened, and the crowds flooded in. The theater was much smaller than I thought it would be but very grand and, again, it was just so surreal knowing that our late President once sat no more than 50 yards away up in the balcony (which was blocked off – I went up and tried to peek in…!)
The play went off without a hitch, and I’m glad I finally got to see the whole thing – live, no less. The 2 hours went very quickly!
We filed out into the street, stopping to peek at the boarding house across the street where the President was taken after the shooting, and later died. After a pause we headed onwards – off to Old Ebbitt Grill!
Old Ebbitt Grill is yards away from the White House, and right across the street from the US Treasury Building. It’s a hot spot for tourists and locals alike, and has great energy (as does all of Capitol Hill, if you ask me. I’m obsessed.)
Right inside the doors is a fancy(er) dining room, but the past couple times we’ve been to Old Ebbitt, we’ve drank and dined at the Corner Bar within the restaurant. It’s dark wood paneling and decoy decor make it feel wonderfully cozy, and intimate. I didn’t get a good picture, but it was all done up for Christmas while we were there, making our experience feel extra festive! (photo)
Old Ebbitt, like many restaurants in DC, specializes in seafood – especially oysters. The table ordered a few on the half shell to share – I played photographer, rather than participant!
I know – LAME – it’s just that I have texture issues. It’s the unknown “PoP” of whatever it is (the head? brains?) that weirds me out – same with mussels. Regardless, I had to look up on my iPhone the proper way to eat an oyster for the boys, who eventually inhaled them.
First use the tiny fork that accompanies the oysters to make sure the oyster is not stuck to the shell. Then adorn your oyster with your toppings of choice – fresh lemon, cocktail sauce, vinegar, etc. Finally, slide the oyster into your mouth then give it a good chew or two, and swallow. BAAAHAHAHA I CAN’T EVEN!! Someday.
Luckily Old Ebbitt and I were on the same page regarding my dinner plans. I walked in craving a salmon salad, and guess what was listed first under entree salads? Autumn Salmon Salad. Yes!
Cold lettuce tossed with sweet apples, chewy dried cranberries, crunchy walnuts, and sliced beets, topped with seasoned, sauteed salmon. The. Best. I knew after licking every last drop off my plate that I’d be recreating at home, with a twist!
I kept the lettuce, salmon, dried cranberries, apples, and walnuts, then added crispy pear, and perfectly roasted red beets, which almost turned out like beet croutons. Then I drizzled homemade Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette over the whole thing. It was MAGIC.
Start the Autumn Salmon Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette with the roasted beets. Typically when roasting beets you wrap them in foil and roast whole.
I wanted a more caramelized texture and flavor for my beets though, so I peeled 3 medium-sized beets with a vegetable peeler then chopped them into 1/2″ cubes. You can wear gloves while doing this – my hands got a little pink, but only just a little.
Place the chopped beets onto a foil-lined, non stick-sprayed baking sheet, then toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for 40-50 minutes at 400 degrees, or until they’re tender and caramelized. These were honest to goodness the best beets I’ve ever had. Much better than the slightly slimy sliced version!
K. While the beets are doin’ their thang, get the homemade Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette ready. This dressing is so refreshing. I can’t wait to make it all summer long.
Start by combining 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a jar with a tight fitting lid, with 1/4 cup honey. TIP: use the same measuring device for the honey as you do the oil, which will coat it and cause the honey to slip right out.
Next add the juice of 1 lemon and 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar.
Finally, add a dash of onion powder, lots of salt and pepper, then shake to combine. YUM! Now set that aside.
Now turn your attention to the salmon. You’ll need one, 4oz filet per person. Brush both sides with extra virgin olive oil then season liberally with salt & pepper. This is the same way I season chicken breasts, and it is seriously the best.
Place the salmon skin side down in an oil-brushed skillet over medium-high heat then cook for 3-4 minutes.
Flip the salmon then peel off the skin and cook for 1-2 more minutes. This method of cooking the salmon skin then peeling it off is MUCH easier than trying to get it off while raw!
Once the beets and salmon are cooked, pile some lettuce onto a couple plates, then top with sliced apples and pears. Sprinkle with walnut pieces and dried cranberries, then top with the salmon and beets. Drizzle on the homemade dressing to your heart’s desire, and dig in!
Autumn Salmon Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette
2 large beets
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
2-4oz salmon filets
8 cups chopped lettuce
1 barlett pear, sliced
1 apple, sliced
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cups dried cranberries
For the Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
dash of onion powder
salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel then chop beets into 1/2″ cubes and place onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, and lots of salt and pepper, then roast for 40-50 minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, combine ingredients for Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette in a jar with a tight-fitting lid then shake to combine. Set aside. Brush salmon on both sides with extra virgin olive oil then season liberally with salt and pepper. Place in an olive oil-brushed skillet over medium-high heat, skin side down, then cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip, peel off skin, then cook for 1-2 more minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Divide lettuce, pear and apple slices, walnuts, and dried cranberries between two plates. Top each plate with cooked salmon and roasted beets then drizzle on dressing and serve.
Ahhh, filling, yet light, and super fresh! If you don’t love salmon, definitely make this with chicken, shrimp, or even pork.
And let’s not forget that homemade dressing, either. Say it with me now – spoon-drink worthy!
Ok friends – off to savor the final day of 2012! Are you doing anything fun tonight? Ben and I have dinner reservations, then we’re heading off to a friends house to cheers to 2013. HAPPY NEW YEAR! Have fun and be safe (in that order!)