Mexican hatsGravlox with Swedish mustard sauceGravlox with Swedish mustard sauce


Butterfly weed

Just the other day we hosted the board of directors of the state chapter of the Native Plant Society. There were forty or fifty people milling around in our backyard, admiring all of the native (and xeric) plants that my good wife has made so much effort to nurture in our drought-plagued high-desert environment. The butterfly weed had begun to fade, but its bright orange flowers created vivid contrasts with the yellows of the evening primroses and desert zinnias. The Mexican hats showed their jaunty heads all around the garden, and the giant blooms of Datura – one of the local “weeds” that Georgia O’Keeffe so favored in her paintings – gradually faded as the evening wore on. Penstemons and salvias attracted the black-chinned and broad-tail hummers even while human intruders marveled at their acrobatics.

Individual caprese with cherry tomatoes

Belgian endive stuffed with goat cheese and pecans

Nature aside, the other highlight of the evening was the food that the local planning committee brought to feed the multitude. I can’t describe them all, but there were beautiful platters of unusual crudités, Vietnamese spring rolls, Belgian endive leaves stuffed with goat cheese and pecans, and little individual capreses made with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves on a stick. My contributions were gravlox made from wild Alaska sockeye salmon, Swedish mustard sauce, and bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with pimentón-dusted marcona almonds. One person worried about possible infections from cured salmon. The risks seem minimal, and there is no consensus on what the risk actually is. Since almost all seafood in our local stores comes to us already frozen, there is probably no risk, but if you are really concerned, freeze it again. The recipe for mustard sauce comes from a dear friend from Sweden.



  • 3 to 4 pounds salmon, scaled with skin on (two filets)
  • 1 large bunch fresh dill, washed and shaken dry
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, lightly crushed

Gravlox with Swedish mustard sauce

Place  one filet, skin-side down in a deep glass bowl or pan. Cover with the dill. Then sprinkle with the salt, sugar, and pepper. Cover with the remaining salmon filet, skin-side up and cover with plastic wrap. Weight down with a heavy pan or several cans of food, and refrigerate. Turn the fish twice a day for three days. A liquid marinade will develop. Spoon this over the fish as you turn it. Then recover, replace the weights, and return to the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve, remove the salmon from the pan, scrape off the dill and peppercorns, and slice with a very sharp knife held almost flat against the surface of the fish. If you do this correctly, you should get very thin slices without cutting into the underlying skin. A special salmon slicer works best.

    • ½ cup prepared mustard
    • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • ¼ cup vinegar
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • ½ cup salad oil
    • 4 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
 Place mustards, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Add the oil in a thin stream, beating continuously. Stir in the chopped dill. Serve.

1 Comment

Filed under Food, Photography


  1. sarahwrich

    I love that mustard sauce!

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