Now that we're in the guts of angling season - if you'll pardon the pun - the die-hards among you have already had the meal your mouths have been watering for since 2009.
If you're fortunate enough to have another bit of salmon in your fridge, it's time to think about less familiar flavours, maybe something so delicious it will become next year's first recipe of the season.
Although I haven't been on a river for years, I have good friends who think of me when their lines come up full. Then again, I am a good enough friend to offer my cooking services in exchange, so it evens out in the end, I think.
Of course, that which you catch yourself will taste better in all of these recipes, but for the rest of us the grocery store will do, because we non-anglers crave a taste of the season, too.
Pasta with salmon, mushrooms,
asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes
This is what you do with the tails that weren't the right shape for barbecuing or baking (or that were on sale at the store last week). The flavour of salmon - unlike cod or other delicate white fish - is so rich it holds up to the bold herbal hits in this spectacular pasta bowl.
Don't disappoint your salmon by substituting dried herbs, although if you can't find Italian parsley you can substitute curly, and if the store doesn't have oregano you can use marjoram. This is the one to go on a party buffet table or to take with you for a special outdoor family event.
Delicious from piping hot through cold the next day, it just tastes better and better. This amount serves 4 to 8, depending on whether it's the main course or one of several.
1-1/2 lbs. salmon, skinned, boned and cut into smallish cubes
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, minced with about 2 tbsp. of oil from the jar
2 tbsp. butter
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 small yellow (or white) onion, finely chopped
1 lb. asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces
2 green onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup each chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley and basil
leaves from 3 or 4 stalks of fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained (optional)
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
1 lb. uncooked bowtie pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Toss salmon and sun-dried tomatoes together and set aside. Place the oil from the tomatoes in a heavy frying pan along with the butter. When hot, add the mushrooms and yellow onion. Fry over medium-high until the mushrooms release their moisture and it all evaporates, and they are golden brown. Add asparagus and green onion and stir-fry briefly. Add garlic and cook a few seconds, just until you can smell it. Reduce heat to medium and add salmon and sun-dried tomatoes. Fry until the fish is nearly cooked through - maybe 3 or 4 minutes - then add the herbs, capers, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and heat through. Prepare bowties (or whatever pasta you like) according to package directions, reserving half a cup of the cooking water, and add pasta to the frying pan. If mixture seems dry add a splash of the pasta cooking water. Adjust the salt and pepper, drizzle with the very best olive oil you can find and serve.
Fresh salmon and red pepper Cheesecake
You know those bits and pieces you have left after you butcher the fish for its best parts?
Save them and spend the extra few minutes cleaning them for this dish - well worth the effort for this perfect tribute to the pink and the green.
There are plenty of smoked salmon cheesecake recipes but this one is lighter and more elegant, an impressive appetizer for a summer evening get-together or for lunch on Sunday with a green salad. If you use a mixer instead of a food processor for this recipe, be sure everything is finely minced before you start.
1 cup buttery cracker crumbs (Ritz, for example)
3 tbsp. melted unsalted butter (salted butter or margarine is OK in a pinch)
1 medium onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. butter or margarine
1 small jar roasted red pepper (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 lb. raw salmon bits and pieces, skinned and boned
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. each salt and white pepper
Stir together cracker crumbs and butter until well combined. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 325 F for 8 minutes; set aside. For the filling, fry onion and garlic in butter until soft but not brown. Cool and place in food processor along with red peppers and salmon. Process until very smooth - you don't want hunks of salmon or pimento. Add cream cheese and goat cheese and process until well mixed. Add eggs, whipping cream, herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper and process until mixture is smooth and has no streaks of colour - scrape down the sides several times. Pour into prepared crust and bake at 325 F about 45 minutes. It will puff up a little and the top will look dry. Cool on a rack and serve warm, at room temperature or chilled, either cut into soft, moussy slices or as a baked dip, with crackers or toasted pita triangles - this cake will go a long way. Garnish with slivered red peppers and more chopped fresh herbs for a dramatic look.
Today was all about the salmon, but stay tuned next week for trout treats.
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St.John's. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John's N.L., A1E 4N1.