I'VE BEEN ASKED HOW I come up with some of my recipe ideas. At any given time I have a whole bunch of ideas "marinating", shall we say, in my head. Usually, the source of their inspiration could be a random food item I happen across in the supermarket, a leftover ingredient in my fridge that I need to use before it goes, or an innocuous request of sorts from one of you! So was the case this morning. It was only a few Notes back that my good and longtime friend, Joel, asked in, in his comment, if I ever prepared fish. The seed was then planted.

The meal started to come to me in bits. First, I was thinking a nice white fish. Sea Bass, I thought, a bit too common and overdone. Maybe a monkfish; ugly, yes, but exquisite by every other culinary metric. And I would need to match that with foods of bright colors. I easily decide leeks since I feel I cook with scallions a little too often! And that would need some nice red sauce. Tomato, again, too easy; maybe I'll use red peppers.

That's how it all started a little over a week ago. Somehow, since then, this became a breakfast dish; perhaps in my small effort to eat a little healthier for all of my meals. As many of you have seen, I've been "porking it up" this summer (understandably so, it is summer...!), and the thought of another pork/beef dish with potatoes only reminded me why I had to buy a new, bigger pair of pants last week.

I would still use eggs, I thought. I'd poach them. But then my fish should not be white. I would use a richly colored salmon, dredge it in equal parts salt, fresh crecked pepper, sugar, and paprika, then let it stand for 15 minutes. In the meantime, I would slice one leek bulb lengthwise in quarters, separating the leaves, tossing them in some olive oil, salt and pepper, and throwing them in a casserole and into an oven at 350°.

Meanwhile, I would finely chop up half a red pepper and throw it in a blender with some cilantro, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and slowly emulsify with more olive oil.

The salmon goes into a hot pan, to caramelized the outsides and lock in all the moisture and flavor. The leeks come out of the oven and go onto a plate. The salmon slides out of the pan and onto the leeks. Two poached eggs go on top of the salmon. And the red pepper sauce gets lightly spooned on top and around the plate. I finished with a dusting of paprika.

For you, Joel...:






Yes, good to the last drop. The salmon was firm and flaky with a nice sweet-tangy glaze to it. The leeks were coolly aromatic and added a nice subtle bite. The red pepper sauce had the right amount of kick and clung to everything that it touched, which was a great compliment for the warm egg yolk that slowly oozed over the fish!

Making the meal even better was that fact that it is Monday, my one day off during the week, and that I didn't have to rush through eating while working!

For lunch—just to prove I'm not a food snob—Stouffer's French Bread Pizza, still my favorite lo-fi way to burn the top of my mouth!

Bun Apple Tea