Open-Faced Salmon BLT’s

It’s been a long time since I’ver posted, but trust that I’ve been both cooking and eating with my regular enthusiasm!  We recently went camping and were looking for something fresh and easy for dinner – who needs another hot dog on a stick, right?!  These open-faced salmon BLT’s were simple, delicious and easy to make with minimal mess.  Try them at home for a busy weeknight or as a wonderful weekend brunch.

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OPEN-FACED SALMON BLT’S

Ingredients

  • 1 Lbs. Fresh Salmon Filet
  • 4 Sliced Ciabatta Bread
  • 8 Slices Crisp Cooked Bacon
  • 2 Avocados
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
  • Fresh Bibb Lettuce
  • 2 Ripe Tomatoes, Sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tbs. Water
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh Chives, Chopped
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, dijon mustard, water, chives and a dash each of salt and pepper.  Stir until smooth and place in refrigerator.
  • Remove skin and pit from avocado.  Dice and place both avocados in a small bowl.  Add lime juice, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.  Smash together with fork until mixture is slightly lumpy.  Cover and place in refrigerator.
  • Salt and pepper the salmon filet.  Grill or pan sear until cooked through – about 5-7 minutes per side depending on thickness.
  • Remove salmon from grill and let rest.  Place ciabatta on grill and toast both sides for 30-45 seconds until browned.  You can also use a toaster here.
  • To assemble sandwiches:  smear each piece of toasted bread with 1/4 of the avocado mixture.  Add two slices of bacon per piece, then layer with tomato, Bibb lettuce and 1/4 of cooked salmon.
  • Drizzle each sandwich with dijon/mayo mixture and serve immediately.

I hope you love this easy dish as much as we did!  It could easily be doubled or tripled for a larger group, but still doesn’t require a ton of work.  Whether outdoors on the grill or made in your kitchen, you’ll add this to your summer meal rotation for sure.  Dig in!

Cold Smoked Salmon or Steelhead Trout

If I’m near a bagel shop, I’m hard-pressed to not snag a smoked salmon bagel.  There’s something about the melty salty salmon combined with onions, whipped cream cheese and capers that gets me every time!  Naturally, I said to myself recently, “I can do this at home”.  Sure enough, I figured out a great process to make my own smoked fish that’s fresher and tastier than anything I’ve had before.  This recent recipe was made with a steelhead trout fillet, but can be replicated with salmon as well.

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COLD SMOKED SALMON OR STEELHEAD TROUT

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Lbs. Salmon or Steelhead Fillet
  • 1 1/2 Cups Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp. Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Inspect your fish for any pin bones and remove.  Rinse fillet and dry completely with paper towels.
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Spread 1/3 of salt mixture in a glass baking dish to completely cover the bottom.
  • Place fish on the salt mixture, skin-side down.  Cover the fish with the remaining salt mixture and pat lightly to make sure it adheres.
  • Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
  • After curing, remove fish from fridge, take out of glass dish and rinse under cold water to remove salt mixture.
  • Dry completely and place on paper towel on a cookie sheet.  Put in fridge and allow to dry for 3-4 hours uncovered.  Flesh will be firm and slightly tacky.
  • Cold smoke fish with alder or another mild wood at 120 degrees for 90 minutes.  I smoke mine over a foil pan filled with ice to prevent the fish from cooking.  The goal is to impart the smoke flavor only.
  • Remove from smoker and refrigerate.  Slice thinly and serve.  It will remain fresh in a ziplock bag for 7-10 days.

I love when a recipe relies on just a few ingredients, but tastes like a million bucks.  The technique here isn’t difficult, but the result is delicious and better than most store-bought versions.  Imagine the oohs and ahhs when you serve your homemade smoked salmon for your next brunch!  Take the time and give it a try, I think you’ll love the process and I know you’ll love the end product.  Dig in!

Dante – Cleveland, OH

I wasn’t thrilled to be away from home on my birthday, but a scheduled dinner with clients at Dante in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland made it one for the ages!  Tucked into an old bank on a quiet street, this beautiful little spot is perfect for a special night, a business dinner or everyday night out.  The warm atmosphere is cozy and comfortable with plenty of seating and a short bar for cocktails and starters.

Being with a group, we were luck to sample a few things to start our evening.  The goat cheese tartlets with cranberry orange chutney were creamy and rich with the right balance of sweet.  Crispy calamari and shrimp were given a little kick tossed with spicy mayo.  It was a good take on traditional calamari you might find anywhere else.  The highlight was absolutely the charcuterie plate.  A huge portion of house-made salumi, terrine, mortadella, duck confit and chicken liver pate was accompanied by bacon onion jam and various chutneys and fruit.  You can take a look at their curing room in the old vault and see Chef Dante’s passion in the variety and beauty of his charcuterie.

The well-curated menu has a lovely selection of vegetables, meats, pasta and seafood.  Portion sizes are adjustable based on your preference, but we stuck to dinner portions for tonight.  Both the beef cheek and ribeye were beautifully cooked and came dressed with vegetables.  The salmon was a work of art worthy of praise for taste and presentation.  The creamy broccoli risotto was also noted as delicious.  My dinner was the venison osso bucco with celery root and an apple donut (apple ring battered and deep fried).  It was rich, tender and a wonderful balance of flavor and texture.  You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone cook venison better.

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Overall, it was a perfect dinner in every way.  With an ample wine list, craft cocktails and great beer selection (try the Italian peppercorn IPA) there is plenty to keep your interest throughout the night.  The friendly and knowledgeable staff also made it a great night out.  Compliments to Chef Dante Boccuzzi for creating this gem in Tremont.  And thank you for making my “birthday dinner” (that no one knew about) really special!  You can find out more about the location and view their full menu at dantetremont.com.