I’ve made my share of meals that were not “Keepers” as I call them. They were edible and ok to eat, but not something that we all loved and wanted to eat again and again. These dishes don’t make it to the blog. I only want to share dishes that I really love and am proud to write about and share with you. Hopefully some of my cooking flops give you a good laugh so I’ll share some of them with you. So if you’ve burnt dinner for the second time this week, poured sour milk on your child’s cereal and don’t realize it until they take a bite and notice it tastes funny (oh yes, that’s happened to me), made a sandwich , taken a big bite and then notice the little blueish green fuzz on the corner, it’s all good. We all have kitchen mishaps and mess ups and it’s ok. Laugh about it, learn, and move on. Some of the best life lessons come from the mistakes we make!
There’s this little restaurant about 20 minutes away from us that is tucked in a hill overlooking a river. It’s nestled in the trees and has some really great dishes. One of my favorite dishes that they serve is on their appetizer list. It’s this smoked salmon paired with soft goat cheese and toasted bread. You spread the goat cheese on the bread, top it with some salmon and ooooh la la yummy! I order it, along with a salad or fries (healthy, I know) and my meal is complete and my belly is happy!
I’ve wanted to make this at home for some time and knew it was fairly simple so I decided to give it a shot a few months ago. I’m not sure what my crazy brain was thinking, but I decided I would go ahead and make this on a weeknight. A few red flags should have warned me to just wait and make this another time, but I went ahead and gave it a try. It was a Wednesday. Wednesday evenings through the school year are when my girls go to their youth group at church. I normally keep Wednesday night meals fairly simple because we are rushed with time. I usually make a quick soup, crock pot meal, leftovers or hodge lodge as we call it. Sometimes we eat oatmeal and toast. Hey, after errands and homework are done, it’s crazy trying to get ready, eat dinner, and get out the door again to get to youth on time. So it was a Wednesday and I decided to give this a go anyway! That red flag was just a waiving away, but I was stubborn 🙂 Another little flag was the weather. It was cold and rainy out. I was not going to be grilling outside in this weather. “No problem,” says the crazy lady! I was going to somehow smoke this salmon on the stove. A few handy-dandy, Google searches and I learned I was not the only person who had thought of smoking some sort of meat indoors. So I must not be too off my rocker, right? Eh hmm!
I threw some soaked wood chips in a foil pouch and pierced it a few times and placed it in my large hot skillet. Then, I laid a wire rack over the wood chip pouch and placed my seasoned salmon on the rack. I knew it would need some sort of lid to kick up the heat and kickstart the smoke so I covered it with a lid, keeping a little bit of a vent on one side. It’s started smoking and soon the house smelled like a hickory scented campfire. The salmon started to cook up, but needed more heat so I cranked up the heat. That’s just about the time the smoke alarm started going off. I’m frantically waiving a dish towel in front of the alarm and hoping the smokey smell goes away. I opened all the windows downstairs, even though it was really chilly outside. The smoke alarm is still going off every chance it gets and I’m challenged in the height area, otherwise I would have ripped it off the wall. The dogs are freaking out. The girls are freaking out, saying how this was not a good idea. I told those backseat cooks to zip their lips and eat their sandwiches, or whatever I ended up making for them since now I was really out of time. The salmon was cooking, but not nearly enough and salmon shouldn’t take long to cook so I decided I would have to take the girls to church and deal with this fun once I returned home. I threw out the smokey foil packet since I think we had our share of smokey flavor. Every coat, scarf, and backpack hanging in the little hook area off of our kitchen carried a lovely smokey aroma that took a few days to air out. Once I returned home, I ended up just cooking the salmon in a skillet like I normally do and toasted the bread and assembled my supper. My wonderful idea supper. As I ate in the breezy dining room alone I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I texted my husband since he was at work and missed all the fun. The meal turned out tasty, but let’s just say I learned my lesson – Smoking meats should not be done indoors! No need to repeat it, I got it loud and clear! So, since I held off on posting that one, I decided I would give this dish another go sometime and this time do it right!
We ate at the restaurant on Mother’s Day and I noticed the smoked salmon and goat cheese small plate was missing from the menu. There is a fire roasted tomatoes and goat cheese small plate, but no lovely salmon. Oh where oh where has my smoked salmon and goat cheese gone? I knew I had to make this at home and share it with you! This time, I grilled the salmon outside on our gas grill, but I didn’t mess with smoking it. I was kind of rushed and hungry so I just skipped the wood chips in the foil pouch step. You can definitely add this in for a more smokey flavor if you like. The salmon that I bought had the skin on one side. I researched and found a method using a paper bag with the salmon on the grill to easily remove the skin. I gave it a try and it did work! I’m thankful of that since I just had one piece of fish to work with so I couldn’t test it first. But it did work so you can try it for yourself. I’m not a grill expert and definitely not a fish expert so if you have another method of grilling fish that you like, then do what you feel comfortable with. If your salmon doesn’t have the skin, then you could throw it in a safe little foil pouch and grill it that way. If the weather isn’t cooperating, or you don’t have access to a grill, you could always cook the salmon in a skillet and it would be fine too. I wouldn’t try the paper bag method in a skillet, though. I’d hate for you to start a fire in your kitchen! After I took my salmon off the grill and brought it inside, I noticed the center wasn’t cooked enough so I threw it in a hot oiled nonstick skillet for a couple of minutes and it worked out fine and tasted great. This recipe is great as an appetizer, but if you are like me, you can just make a meal out of it. Are you ready for the recipe details yet?
Grilled Salmon with Goat Cheese on Toasted Baguette
Salmon Filet with bones removed – mine had skin on one side, but skinless would be fine too.
Goat Cheese – I prefer plain for this dish
French Bread – cut into slices about 1 inch thick
1 lemon – cut into wedges
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Set your goat cheese out at room temperature to soften while you prepare and cook the dish.
Prepare the salmon:
If it is skinless, I would just place the fish in a foil pouch, drizzle lightly with a little olive oil, season lightly with basil, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.
If it has skin on one side, cut out a paper sack, just a little bigger than the size of the fish.
Place the fish skin side down on the paper. Drizzle fish lightly with olive oil and lightly season with basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Set the prepared fish aside while you prepare the bread.
Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and lightly brush the top side with olive oil. I used light olive oil on the bread.
Toast the bread in the oven around 425 degrees F for a few minutes until lightly toasted. Flip the bread over, brush the other side and return to the oven for a minute or two longer to toast the other side. Keep the bread warm while you cook the fish. I placed mine in a basket, covered with a towel and in the microwave.
Grill the Salmon. Preheat the grill on high heat and then place the salmon (either foil pouch or on the paper sack) directly on the grill grate.
Turn heat down to medium high and cook the salmon for 8-10 minutes until done. Salmon should be light pink and flaky when done.
Once the salmon is cooked, remove from grill. If using foil pouch, remove salmon from foil pouch and place onto serving plate(s) in pieces piled gently together.
If using the paper bag method, lay the salmon with skin and bag side up on a plate, and gently remove the bag and the skin should stick to the bag and come of with it. Mine didn’t stick to the bag, but the skin came right off. My dogs had a nice evening salmon skin treat! They are liking this meal so far! Just wait, there’s more!
Once the skin is removed, flip the salmon over so the pretty side is up.
Place salmon in a little mound on serving plate(s) in pieces.
Scoop some of the goat cheese onto the plate along with the toasted baguette slices.
Spread the goat cheese on the toasted bread, fork a little of the salmon on top, squeeze a little lemon on it if you like.
Mine was a meal so I paired it with broccoli.
I guess I’m not the only one in the family who likes the salmon and goat cheese combination. While we were eating, our youngest dog Zelda stole the remaining goat cheese off the counter and sucked it down before we could stop her. The three-ring circus is always in town at our house 🙂