Tag Archives: gravlax


The holidays of spring are nearly over, and I have been eyeing my bathroom scale with disbelief. My son and his family were in SoCal this past week because of a family situation that did not foster celebration. They’re back in the Bay Area with the plan to observe a family Seder last night. Carol invited us to her house for a feast on Sunday. And a feast it was! I spent several days making gravlax along with a Swedish dill-mustard sauce from a recipe of a dear, old-time friend. That, along with garlic crostini, deviled eggs (some stuffed with shrimp), and olives, made the appetizers for our Happy Hour on the patio while watching the sun go down over the ocean. Why wouldn’t you like Southern California?

But that was only a modest prelude to the meal that lay ahead. Here’s the menu:

  • roasted leg of lamb
  • stuffed mushrooms
  • rice pilaf with currents and hazelnuts
  • fresh green peas, snap peas, and watercress sprouts
  • Moroccan carrots

Susan made two contributions to the meal. First she made a batch of rolls from her mother’s recipe. Over the years we had had them at many meals on the farm when there weren’t biscuits. They were always popular – and delicious. She also made coconut cupcakes at the request of one of the young folks. Then they decorated them with frosting, shredded coconut and nerds (I lost points when that was the only candy I could find at the store, but they actually turned out to be a positive addition to the final version.)

Carol has a very large collection of cookbooks, and she is always looking for different versions of common foods along with unusual foods. Over the years she has gradually brought her whole family out of the doldrums of eating only meat and potatoes. She also always puts her own twist on the recipe.  I’m not sure of the source recipes of several of the dishes, but I know that the Moroccan carrots came from Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cookbook (W.W. Norton and Co, New York, 2010) The dish is delicious, and Carol used a mix of various colors of carrot to create a stunning visual effect. The same thing was true with a dish of fresh green peas and snap peas. The recipe called for pea tendrils, but my son-in-law struck out looking for them in several stores, and the farmers’ market was closed for Easter. Carol, always innovative, substituted watercress sprouts. IMHO the substitution improved the dish.

Kevin had bought some special wine for the occasion, and I contributed a bottle of Klinker Brick old vine zinfandel from last year’s visit to Lodi.

Needless to say, it was a very special and memorable family evening.

Here’s the recipe for Mom Mom’s homemade rolls.


Mom Mom’s Homemade Rolls


  • ½ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 6½ cups all-purpose flour


  1. Place sugar, shortening, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Scald milk and pour over ingredients in bowl. Stir until mixed, and let cool.
  3. Dissolve yeast in water.
  4. Beat eggs lightly and add to yeast mixture. Then add these ingredients to the cooled milk mixture.
  5. Beat in the flour to form a smooth dough. Allow to rise until doubled (about 2 hours) or refrigerate for later use.
  6. Shape into rolls and place in greased muffin pans. Let rise again until doubled.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes or until browned to your liking

Makes 36 medium rolls

Cook’s Note: The easiest shape is to cut out circles with a biscuit cutter and place them in the pans. You can make fancier shapes by rolling balls of dough between your palms; clover leaf rolls with three small balls dipped in melted butter and placed 3 to each cup; fan-tans with 5 or 6 layers of rolled-out dough separated with melted butter and cut into squares; Parker House with flattened balls of dough with an off-set crease cut across them, topped with melted butter, folded on the crease,  and baked on a greased cookie sheet.


Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes


After lots of travels round California and more problems than I wish to recount with a new wireless router, a laptop that expired without wrning, and many days in the shop for my desktop computer, I am finally back at my desk. This post has been sitting unedited since Christmas, but the food is not just for the holidays, and it’s not just for celebrations.

Two of my children and their families visited us during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Even though they returned home before New Year’s Day, we tried to have some of the family favorites from New Year’s Eve buffets of the past. Gravlax definitely made the cut, although our pregnant daughter opted out for health reasons.

The recipe for gravlax originally came from the volume, Cooking of Scandinavia, from the Time-Life series of Foods of the World published in 1968 and subsequently made it – with revisions – into our family cookbook, Let’s Cook! Let’s Eat!

The sauce is the recipe of a very old and dear friend from Sweden. We first had it as part of a lavish spread at her house celebrating Saint Lucia Day. We had it again years later when Elisabet and her husband visited us in Louisiana. She thought the sauce  would go well with the crawfish boil we prepared in their honor. She was right, and I was lucky enough to talk her out of the recipe. It goes well with many fish dishes, and it will keep for along time in the refrigerator.




  • 1 salmon filet, skin on (about 1½ to 2 pounds)
  • 1 large bunch fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sugar


  1. Make sure scales and fine bones have been removed. Just to be sure, rub your finger lightly over the fish. If you find tiny little white bones, remove them with tweezers or fine-nosed pliers. Cut the filet into two pieces of equal length.
  2. Arrange the wider filet, skin-side down,  in the bottom of a glass or ceramic dish that will hold the fish flat. Place the bunch of fresh dill on the filet. Cover with the other half of the fish, skin-side up.
  3. Crush the pepper in a zippered plastic bag, and then combine with the salt and sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over the salmon and dill. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and weight down with a heavy pan, brick or rock, or several cans of food. Place in the refrigerator
  4. Turn the fish two or three times a day for 3 days, replacing the plastic and weight each time before returning to the refrigerator.
  5. A liquid marinade will develop. Spoon over the fish each time that you turn it.
  6. When you are ready to serve, remove from dish and scrape off the dill and any remainders of the salt and peppercorns. Place the salmon on a carving board, skin-side down. With a very sharp, straight-edge knife, slice the salmon into very thin diagonal slices, detaching them from the skin.
  7. Serve with thin slices of rye bread and Elisabet’s mustard  and dill sauce.

Elisabet’s Mustard and Dill Sauce


  • ½ cup prepared mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup salad oil
  • finely chopped dill fronds, to taste


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustards, vinegar, and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved
  2. Whisk continuously while adding the oil gradually in a thin stream.
  3. Add chopped dill fronds to taste. The dill flavor will intensify as the sauce sits for a few minutes before serving.

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Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes