Smoked salmon green bean rolls recipe

As a child, I learned about generosity through food. My
mother would cook simple things most days, but when we had company, when
friends came over for dinner, the meal in itself became a special occasion.

Growing up raised by a single working mother, with always a
bit of envy for other children who had large families (while they may have
longed for the solitude I enjoyed… because the grass is always greener on the
other side…), I placed tremendous value on having friends over for dinner. If
I didn’t have a large family of my own, I was determined to build one, a chosen
family. Nurturing, literally feeding those
friendships was of crucial importance to me.

 

And what better way to show gratitude and love, than a good meal?

Not
just a good meal, but the thought and effort that go into it. The true gift, is
the thoughtfulness of it.

I grew up learning that cooking a meal was a way to love,
and something to be loved for.

A way to say thank you. For being in my life.
For loving me.

I never ever take that for granted. It is too precious.

And how beautiful it is, to give a moment of pleasure to
those we love.

A scrumptious bite. A subtle flavor. A burst of sweet.

Preparing a meal for someone, is giving a bit of oneself.

It
is an act of love, of friendship. It’s a hand extended out. Open arms. And a
plate.

To this day, shared meals remain the cradle of our
friendships.  A way to cherish my loved
ones. To put my cooking where my heart is, if you will.

And I am thrilled Pablo is bathed in this. The kitchen, the
dinner table are such rewarding places to learn what generosity means. What
loving and sharing mean. They are what makes us feel full in life (pun intended). It goes so much further than sharing a
toy at the playground, doesn’t it? And what a thrilling, rich feeling it can
give us, this gift of self, this gift of good food.

So… since today is a celebration of love, like every day,
I will cook for my loved ones, so we may share a meal, yet another precious moment of
togetherness.

And for you… I have a simple, yet flavorful bouquet of sorts…

This easy recipe makes for a festive appetizer, and a fun finger foods for kids of all ages (Dipping is so fun it makes the food taste better in and of itself!) It’s a nice mix of textures and colors. You could even make them the night before and have a couple for lunch on the go.

Smoked salmon & green beans rolls, with a grapefruit dipping sauce

Adapted from Petit Larousse des Recettes des Légumes du Potager, by Valérie Lhomme

 

Serves 4

Prep time – 20 mn

Cook time – 5 mn

Age for babies – 10-12 months with very little dressing, baby can pull the roll apart and munch on the ingredients.

1/2 lb fresh green beans (the smaller haricots verts if you can find them)

8 small slices of smoked salmon or lox

A handful of sunflower sprouts (can be radish sprouts, or other sprouts of choice)

4 circles of rice paper / spring roll wrappers*

(*Note: You could use scissors before softening the rice paper to make squares instead of circles, which might make the rolls easier to roll and the end result more even and prettier to look at. Didn’t occur to me to do that until just now, so I winged it with the half circles)

 

Dressing:

Juice of half a grapefruit

Juice of half a lemon

5 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground ginger

1 drizzle of honey

Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the ends of the green beans, and plunge them in the boiling water for 5 minutes.

Drain them and pour ice cold water over them right away to stop the cooking. Set aside.

To soften the rice paper: Place one circle of rice paper over a damp towel or cloth, place another damp cloth over it, place the 2nd circle of rice paper on top, and another damp cloth on top, and so on with the 4 circles. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, until soft.

Cut the rice paper circles into half circles.

Place one half circle, round side up. Place one slice of smoked salmon along the edge. Place a few green beans (cut them in half if they are too long), and a few sunflower sprouts on top.

Then from the side, roll the rice paper wrapping the beans, like a spring roll. If you want very even ends, you can cut them off. Or crumple up the rice paper on one end like a little bouquet.

Repeat with all 8 rolls. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the dressing, combine all ingredients in the blender and mix to obtain a very smooth dipping sauce (it will be thin – if you have leftover, this also makes a great salad dressing for greens like mâche, baby spinach or watercress).

A French classic… Salmon with sorrel

When I was about four years old, my uncle had a community garden where he grew various vegetables. Memory works strangely, doesn’t it? I don’t have a linear recollection of the garden or the time I spent there, only flashes, experiential stills if you will. Unearthing radishes to be bit into with butter and salt. The sun hitting us and the soil. And the tangy taste of sorrel. He would let me pick it myself and chew on it, and I remember vividly its wonderful lemony flavor.

Sorrel isn’t very well-known here and can be hard to find. So when I found some planted sorrel at a farmer’s market a few months ago, I was very excited to plant some along with my other herbs, thrilled to have history repeat itself (in a good way in this case) and see the look on Pablo’s face while chewing on a sorrel leaf.  I guess that’s one of the things food can do for us. Help us come full circle, infuse some of who we are and our past, into our children, via their taste buds. It is such a visceral meaningful way for different generations to connect. In the garden, in the kitchen or at the table.

But moving on from the nostalgic, childhood, soulful part of this post to its practical side…
When I first started looking into baby food in the US, I was baffled at the lack of variety available in baby food jars in stores, even high-end stores. Hoping to find ready-made Brussels sprouts puree? Never mind… And those strange mixes of ingredients (how is baby supposed to get familiar with the subtle flavor of vegetables if they’re always overpowered by apricot, which seems to be sneaked into the ingredients of most baby food brands?), and the absence of fish. In any French supermarket, you will find baby jars with “Cod with spring vegetables”, “Salmon with green beans” (sans apricot), and many others. And it actually tastes good! This is one of the reasons why I knew I would have to cook everything myself for Pablo. Had I been living in France, I might not have… Necessity is the mother of invention, so yay for the apricot flavored veggies, because this adventure in cooking for baby has been so fulfilling and interesting!

Numerous nutritional books and experts will tell you the many health benefits of fish (especially the right kind, the smaller fish, low in mercury), it is rich in omega 3, DHA and all kinds of great nutrients and vitamins. Yet some ob/gyns advise against eating fish at all during pregnancy. I had a pediatrician tell me not to eat fish while nursing, and then some even say to avoid giving it to baby the first year. It has been shown that fetuses start “tasting” what mom eats around 21 weeks of pregnancy (interesting story on this at http://www.npr.org/2011/08/08/139033757/babys-palate-and-food-memories-shaped-before-birth). It’s hard to expect our children to like fish if we don’t try to expose them to its flavor early on (plus it’s so good for them!)

I started Pablo on fish and meat at the same time (one at a time, of course), around 8 months. I try to make sure he has it at least 2 to 3 times a week, and that he eats a good variety of fish (mostly I use salmon, Dover sole, cod, and sardines).

The tart sourish flavor of sorrel (which, by the way, is extremely high in vitamin C and A, as well as in iron and fiber) complements the fattiness and richness of salmon very nicely. (Salmon in a creamy sorrel sauce is a standard in most traditional French restaurants.) So give this very simple recipe a try and see if it wins over your child! Can’t wait to hear all about it 🙂

Salmon with Sorrel Puree

Age: Around 8 months depending on when you started solids, check with your pediatrician. (If your child hasn’t had salmon nor sorrel yet, you can start with a Salmon with Kale puree for example, provided you have given him kale puree by itself beforehand.)

This recipe makes approximately 4 x 2-oz jars, which you can then freeze and feed to your baby later.

1 salmon filet of approx 100 g / 3.5-4 oz** (I try go get Sockeye or Coho wild caught and fresh if possible. Even if you find it previously frozen, you can refreeze safely once it has been cooked)

Wash the sorrel (you can even leave the stems), peel the potatoes and cut them up.
Place the sorrel, potatoes and salmon fillet in your steamer and steam for about 12-15 mn, until the potatoes are cooked through. (I use the Babycook from Beaba, which steams and mixes. If you use that, it’s water level 3).

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor, with a bit of the cooking juice to obtain the desired consistency. You can make it very smooth or chunky depending on your baby’s taste and age. Enjoy! (Or freeze…)

*For an older toddler, you can make the sorrel potato puree (steam together and mix with a bit of the cooking juices to get the desired consistency), add pieces of salmon on top.

** A quick note on protein quantities: researching various French nutritional sites and literature for babies, I found it is usually recommended to start off with about 10-15 g (1/3 to 1/2 oz) of fish or meat per meal at 8 months, and then slowly work your way up to 25 g (0.8 to 1 oz) per meal at 12 months. Adjust the weight of the salmon fillet you use according to your baby’s age.

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Easy Cured Salmon Recipe

One of my favorites and so easy to make!

Cured salmon

Ingredients

  • 1 lb salmon fillet
  • 1 lb salt
  • 1 lb sugar
  • 1 handful black pepper corn
  • dill or fennel or your favorite aromatic herb

Directions

  1. Get a nice and clean salmon filet of about 1lb. Cut the fillet in half.
  2. Mix the salt, the sugar and the peppercorn and dish place 1/3 of the mixture in a deep dish to cover the bottom. Take the salmon and rub it with some of the mixture. Place one filet skin side down in the dish, cover the flesh with a tiny layer of the salt mixture and your aromatic herbs and cover with the second half of the fillet skin side up.
  3. Cover the  fillets with the remaining salt mixture.
  4. Place in the fridge for 1 to 3 days remembering to flip the fillets twice a day.
  5. When the curing time is up, clean out the salt using some paper towels and slice thinly. Serve with butter and pumpernickel bread.