usually i’m a birthday fanatic- which is a little self centered and i’m well aware. i love having a birthday week filled with events, so that i get the chance to spend a beautiful day or night with everyone i love. last year i had a big party with a ton of people and a hilarious birthday video made for me. but, this year i felt completely different. sure, i was excited for my day, but mostly because the guy had booked a dinner somewhere that he was keeping a secret (i have a love/hate relationship with surprises, but i trust his taste in restaurant picking so i was super excited). i didn’t try very hard to make any party plans, or get anyone together – i was just looking forward to having an entire day off of work.
it’s always crazy looking back on what you were doing and what kind of person you were on your last birthday. on one hand, now that i’m 24, i feel so much older being so close to 25. i feel like when you’re 23 it’s still acceptable to just party and work a job without much direction, but 24 sounds like it’s time to get your crap together. also, the older you get, the smaller your friends list gets – which is completely a good thing. last year something like 30 people showed up to my birthday, and this year i could count on two hands the people i really wanted to be with, and i am lucky to have those people in my life.
but… even though my excitment for a big party is diminishing with age, my exciment for presents is only growing. i got a ton of lovely, thoughtful gifts from friends and family that i am very, very excited about (these include an ice cream maker, a nutri-bullet, pizzel maker, other cute kitchen things and grocery store gift cards) – the people in my life really know how to shop for me!
my favourite gift comes from my boyfriend – i still can’t believe how thoughtful it was, everytime i walk by it in the kitchen i give it a loving pet: a handmade walnut cutting board with “less with bread” engraved. it is next level beautiful. made by his friend at grey north studios (so incredibly talented, they do furniture for the drake and the drake 150, beaconsfield, dog & bear, bellwoods barber etc check them out!)
this was the first dinner with the board as my backdrop, and i’m in love with how the photos turned out. the salad mix was also a gift by a very very lovely co-worker who knows my obsession with edible flowers (thank you again, CY!). the salad mix had swiss chard, assorted lettuce and these gorgeous yellow petals to which i added some fruits and veggies – i used a super light honey and fennel seed dressing since the salmon was full of bold flavours. i used maple and cardamom as a glaze on the salmon which was sweet and almost tangy – i’ve been reading a lot about cardamom lately – mostly in desserts (cardamom ice cream is next with the new ice cream maker), and added smoked paprika and chili and black pepper to even it out with a smokey spicy finish. there’s something about cardamom, i really love the way it envelops your taste buds (such a weird thing to say but true).
Maple Cardamom Salmon with Salad
*yields enough for two
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
fresh pepper and pink salt
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl combine maple syrup, cardamom, paprika, cayenne and a bit of freshly ground pepper. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Adjust to taste.
2. Toss two pieces of salmon in the bowl and coat salmon evenly. Place a large cast iron skillet into the oven and allow it to heat up for about five minutes while the salmon rests.
3. Place the salmon in the preheated skillet (scale-side down) and cook for about 5 minutes untouched, then flip for another 5 minutes. Brush more glaze onto the salmon and cook finish in the oven for an additional 3-5 minutes until the salmon is cooked to your liking.
Honey Fennel Dressing
*made enough to dress salad with leftover dressing that stores well in a jar in the fridge
1 tablespoon fresh mint
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
fresh salt and pepper
1. Grind mint, and fennel seeds with a motal and pestle (this is a kitchen tool i really want to start using more often!)
2. Combine remainder of ingredients in a small jar. Add mint/fennel seeds when finished grinding
3. Shake all ingredients vigorously.
4. Enjoy over mixed greens (I added snap peas, peaches, blackberries, figs and radishes)