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Friday: Afternoon Tea


Afternoon Tea


Ireland’s finest tea since 1901

Barry’s Tea, gold blend


Lemon Drizzle Cake

from River Cottage Every Day

What better way to end butter week at la domestique than baking a cake? Since we’re having cake I threw on my tea party dress and brewed a pot of tea too! As I’ve mentioned before I’m an American married to an Irishman and the ritual of tea is a big part of our daily life. I always get excited when the husband asks me to put on a pot of tea, because that means we’re going to sit down and chat! Since the husband also happens to be my best friend, I happily brew a pot of tea and we talk about things best friends talk about. Tea time is a sit down at the table sort of thing that can’t be rushed, and it’s always better with a little something to nibble on- like cake!


Storyboard: Butter

Butter Story Board

What is butter?


Butter is made by churning milk or cream. This act creates a water based emulsion in which fat is suspended. If you’re interested in learning more than you ever wanted to know about milk products, read Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages by Anne Mendelson. The book delves deeply into the science and history of milk and everything that comes from it. Anne Mendelson describes in detail what makes butter special, and the chemical reasons behind its inimitable flavor. I was fascinated to contemplate the fact that milk fat is the first taste experience of all mammals, and every species of mammal produces milk with a specific “lipid profile”. Ms. Mendelson describes it as a genetic cue by which mammals “recognize the milk of their own kind.” Basically, butter is our first means of getting nutrition. Compared to other fats, butter has a completely unique chemical makeup and so it behaves differently during cooking. Frying in butter is a delicate maneuver- the milk solids burn at a much lower temperature than oils. However, at lower temperatures butter caramelizes food and the resulting flavor is unlike any other fat.


Cook in the moment: Buttered Halibut

Halibut Roasted on a Bed of Leeks with Citrus Chive Butter serves 2 This recipe is elegant but also quick and easy to prepare on a weeknight. A beautifully simple roasted piece of halibut with spring leeks is delicious on it’s own, however the little bit of effort to make the citrus chive butter is well worth it. The bright orange flavor and fresh chive really take the sweet flavor of the halibut up a notch. Open up the windows, pour a glass of wine, and enjoy this lovely spring supper.


Citrus Chive Butter

This recipe is for two people, so I just eyeball the amount of herbs and tangelo zest with the aim of getting a nice visual impact from the orange and green color. A cross between tangerine and pomelo, Tangelo is a citrus fruit with the deepest orange color and easy to peel skin. I think tangelos have the most intense orange flavor, and their juice is so delicious.


3 tablespoons butter**, room temperature zest of 1 tangelo, the oranges with a little knob at the stem a handful of fresh chive Make compound butter by grating the zest of 1 tangelo atop the butter in a small bowl. Use scissors to snip chive into the butter and mix all together with a spatula. Chill in the fridge while you prepare the halibut. **Use best quality butter for this recipe, salted or unsalted is fine. If you choose unsalted butter, you may want to add a pinch of salt to this mixture for flavor.  

Halibut Roasted on a Bed of Leeks

I like to use a little Emile Henry ceramic dish for each person’s portion. This it’s a nice presentation and easy clean up by using one dish from oven to table.


1 bunch baby leeks, split lengthwise and rinsed of all grit about a tablespoon melted unsalted butter extra virgin olive oil 2 portions of halibut fillet, 1/3 pound each juice from 1 tangelo Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Fill the bottom of each ceramic dish with leeks, drizzle with olive oil and melted butter. Roast the leeks for 15 minutes. Remove the leeks from the oven and place each piece of halibut atop its own bed of leeks, drizzle with tangelo juice and a bit of extra virgin olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the halibut is cooked through and flakes with a fork. Remove halibut from oven and serve immediately with citrus chive butter on top.

10 Ways Tuesdays: Butter

I’ve come up with 10 ways to use butter in your spring pantry.

1.   Crudité

One of the simplest ways to use butter during spring is on a crudité platter. Unsalted butter sprinkled with fleur de sel and slathered on a peppery red radish has become the very symbol of spring.

2.  Sandwich

Butter and ham are a match made in heaven: salty porkiness and creamy sweetness united.  Buttered baguette with ham is great for a spring picnic lunch.

3.  Croutons

Need to use up stale bread? Make buttered croutons. Cube the bread and pour melted butter over it, then heat in a 350 degrees farenheit oven for a few minutes. I like the idea of a spring salad, heavy on the croutons. Toss herbed goat cheese with the croutons, roast beets, spring salad greens, and toasted hazelnuts.

4.  Compound butter & spring veg

Best used in a recipe with simple, fresh flavors, compound butters are perfect for delicate spring vegetables. Try spring peas and baby spinach topped with a garlic and chopped fresh herb butter. The salty, complex flavor of anchovy butter would be a great partner to broccoli. Maybe an orange zest and shallot compound butter for asparagus. How about making a honey-ginger butter for steamed carrots?


Ingredient of the Week: Butter

Ingredient Of The Week - Butter

This week we take a look at the workhorse of the pantry: butter. For many, butter is a daily staple and plays a part in almost every meal. Olive oil is just fine, but there are situations where only butter will do. I don’t consider myself having a sweet tooth, but rather a taste for butter flavor. I prefer a buttery pancake with a touch of sweetness, adore a plain croissant, and have been known to enjoy a bit of oatmeal with my butter in the morning. I grew up in the south where buttered, yeasty bread rolls were a special treat at suppertime. If I’m by myself, a meal of buttered noodles is my guilty pleasure. My Irish husband requires bread spread with butter and jam for his tea, and I happily oblige. All this butter love has barely scratched the surface of the important role butter plays in cooking and baking. How do we understand butter and it’s place in the pantry? By looking at technique.


Friday: Happy Hour


Celebrate the cocktail hour on a lovely spring afternoon


St. Germain Signature Cocktail Crab & Smoked Salmon Terrine

The inspiration for my happy hour menu was a recipe for “Crab & Smoked Salmon Terrine” from Stéphane Reynaud’s book, Terrine. I love the concept of a terrine: the layers of color and flavor, combination of textures, and the delight of unmolding something you’ve worked so carefully on- hoping it’s going to come out right. A terrine is meant to be shared with others, and serving one at the cocktail hour brings a spirit of conviviality to the occasion. Everyone will “ooh” and “ahhh” over your delicate handiwork, and you will feel right proud of yourself. The terrine is traditionally a humble and rustic dish, but any terrine using seafood is a delicate and sophisticated creation- like a ballerina. It’s perfect for a warm, sunny spring afternoon with an elderflower spritzer.

In the spirit of intuitive cooking I was inspired by Stéphane Reynaud’s recipe but chose not to follow it. Right now I’m craving the bright flavors of lemon and spring herbs rather than his cocktail sauce and sautéed spinach. Instead of using raw egg to bind the crab meat as Stéphane did, I made a honey mustard dressing. Another beautiful thing about this recipe is you don’t have to cook any of the ingredients with heat, just bring them all together, like making a salad.

Crab & Smoked Salmon Terrine

inspired by Stéphane Reynaud Ingredients 1 teaspoon dijon mustard 1 teaspoon honey 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 can (4 ounces) crab meat, drained and patted dry 2 ounces smoked salmon, diced 1 teaspoon minced shallot 2 teaspoons chopped parsley 1 teaspoon chopped dill 1 teaspoon chopped chive 2 teaspoons chopped mint 1/4 cup diced cucumber, peeled and seeded Make the honey mustard dressing by combining the dijon mustard, honey, and white wine vinegar in a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Taste for balance and adjust by adding what is needed: salt, vinegar, or more oil. Pour the dressing over the crab meat and gently toss to combine. Soak the shallot in a bit of white wine vinegar for a minute just to take off some of the heat. Then combine the shallot and the smoked salmon. Now it’s time to assemble the terrine.  I split the ingredients equally to between two 6 ounce ramekins lined with plastic wrap. First I pressed in a layer of smoked salmon, then I sprinkled in parsley, dill, and chive. Next I pressed in the cucumber followed by a sprinkling of mint and ending with the crab meat. I wrapped the plastic over the crab meat base and weighed the terrine down with a soda can. After chilling for one hour, the terrine may be removed from its mold and served to your friends with some tasty crackers. Serves 4 as a light snack

Storyboard: Smoked Salmon


Salmon spend most of their lives in the sea, but  are born in fresh water and return to the cold streams to lay their eggs and then die. Both the northern Pacific oceans of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon and the Atlantic Ocean are habitats of Salmon. For information on wild caught and farm raised salmon, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

Taste & Texture

rich, smoky, sweet, salty Cold smoked salmon carries smoky wood flavors from apple, cherry, oak, maple, and other woods. The sweet taste of honey, caramel, or maple results from ingredients in the cure as well as the woods used to smoke the fish. Smoke enhances flavor, but the real preserving of smoked salmon is achieved by a brine which gives cold smoked salmon a salty flavor. Any spices used in the cure will also impart flavor to the smoked salmon. The texture of cold smoked salmon is soft and delicate, creamy and moist. The smoking process also intensifies the bright red color of the salmon.

Flavor Combinations

Spring Produce The mildly pungent flavor of  green garlic in farmers markets right now is strong enough to stand up to the smoke of the salmon without being overpowering. Spicy spring greens like arugula are nice in a smoked salmon salad with mustard dressing. Citrus The bright acidity of citrus fruit cuts through the rich fatty salmon. Orange segments are refreshing in a salad of greens and smoked salmon. Lemon zest imparts delicate lemony flavor to smoked salmon and cannellini bean crostini. A squeeze of lemon juice brightens up a creamy smoked salmon pasta salad. Fresh Herbs Dill is a classic pairing with smoked salmon, but chive, mint, tarragon, and cilantro are also delicious and a great for spring. I love the idea of pairing delicate, floral lavender with the rich, smoky flavor of cold smoked salmon. Potato Cold smoked salmon and potatoes get along for many different reasons. The earthy flavor and creamy texture of boiled potatoes is a traditional pairing, but a crispy fried potato cake is a nice foil to the creamy texture of smoked salmon. Pickled Vegetables Another example of the beauty of  a palate cleanser with rich, creamy flavor of smoked salmon. The zesty, spicy tastes of pickled onions, capers, cucumbers, ginger, asparagus, carrots, or green beans are a great match for smoked salmon. Dairy The delicate texture and smoky flavor of the salmon is lovely with creamy scrambled eggs or incorporated into an omelette. The combination of creamy richness and tangy acidity in crème fraîche make for a delicious accompaniment to smoked salmon. I’m inspired by the thought of pairing the soft cow’s milk cheese, Burrata, with smoked salmon. Bread The humble pairing of good rye bread with Salmon is traditional but indisputable. I could be easily satisfied by bread and butter topped with a delicious slice of smoked salmon.  Give me a glass of sparkling wine and I’m in heaven.

What to drink?

St. Germain, German Riesling, Alsatian whites, Pilsner Beers When pairing drinks with smoked salmon during spring, my palate craves a light, bright, and refreshing beverage with citrus flavors and floral aromas. St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur, is a feminine juxtaposition to the masculine smokiness of smoked salmon. Just a few drops of St. Germain add an unbelievable floral aroma to sparkling wines, spritzers, and cocktails. For wine pairing, I go to German Rieslings for their balance of acidity and sweetness which makes them extremely food friendly. A young Riesling with citrus flavors and floral character are just what I need with the richness of the smoked salmon. Alsatian white wines have a reputation of floral aromas and vibrant acidity that would also pair well with smoked salmon this time of year. Lastly, I would certainly enjoy a crisp Pilsner beer with smoked salmon and fried potatoes while dining alfresco. Wouldn’t you?


Smoked salmon is a nice addition to your spring pantry because it pairs so well with the light dishes and bright flavors we crave after a long winter. The gorgeous red-orange color is an instant mood booster. As a pantry ingredient smoked salmon elevates our most humble meals, from scrambled eggs to potato cakes. A versatile ingredient, smoked salmon can be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Discover your own recipes and flavor combinations, and make sure to share the adventure here at!

Cook in the Moment: Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad Serve with a delicate salad of spring greens and an easy to peel tangerine

This recipe is inspired by “Salmon Roe, Smoked Salmon, & Pasta Salad” from the Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza & Calzone cookbook. My recipe is intended as an awesome gourmet lunchbox to break up the monotony of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Once chilled, the creamy sauce may be thicker than you would like. Feel free to stir in a couple tablespoons milk or lemon juice to thin it out.


5 ounces (2 cups) Fusili or other curly pasta
olive oil
4 stalks green garlic, sliced
half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 tablespoons crème fraîche
½ lemon, juice and zest
1 cup frozen peas, blanched
a generous 2 ounces diced smoked salmon
2 tablespoons snipped chive
2 tablespoons chopped mint

Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions, drain but do not rinse. Allow the pasta to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Heat a bit of olive oil in a small pan and toss in the green garlic for 1 minute, just to mellow it. Combine pasta, green garlic, and cucumber in a large bowl.


10 Ways Tuesdays: Smoked Salmon

You may already have several ways to prepare smoked salmon in your repertoire. It seems every cookbook has a recipe for blini with smoked salmon and the image of afternoon tea includes the ubiquitous smoked salmon and cucumber tea sandwich. Let’s see smoked salmon in a new way. Today I’m looking at smoked salmon through the lens of cultures all over the world. How would the Italians interpret smoked salmon? What would the bold flavors of Asia be like with smoked salmon? How does the elegant and refined cuisine of France interpret smoked salmon? The beauty of cooking from the pantry is opening the door to a whole world of cuisines and exploration without having to experience jet lag.

I’ve come up with 10 Ways to use smoked salmon in your spring pantry:


1. Pizza

My friend Rosemary loves to garnish pizza with smoked salmon and fennel. I would use lemon, capers and goat cheese too. Once baked it could be drizzled with a citrusy extra virgin Italian olive oil.


Ingredient of the Week: Smoked Salmon

Some people, like me, love the flavor of smoke in food. It’s a primal thing: fire, mystery, and umami. Smoking enhances color as well as flavor: for example, the vibrant red-orange color of our ingredient of the week, smoked salmon.

Many of smoked salmon’s friends are spring flavors: crème fraîche, citrus, and herbs like dill or chive. The rich, powerful flavor of fatty salmon needs the balance of bright, acidic ingredients. Pickled ingredients are a great partner to smoked salmon. I enjoy smoked salmon this time of year because it goes so well with delicate, floral white wines and crisp pilsners.

Smoked salmon is a good addition to your pantry because it can be used for everything from breakfast bagels to elegant hors d’oeuvres at a dinner party.  It goes well with humble pantry staples like eggs, pasta, potatoes, bread, and butter. I appreciate the long shelf life of smoked salmon and will spend a week working through a package.


About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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