Baked honey mustard salmon - My mother's recipes


 I have officially turned into my mother.

At some point in all our lives comes the poignant moment when our roles with our parents reverse. It doesn't of course happen overnight but there probably is an event or a specific time when it hits you. For me it was the moment I realised I was packing lemons, garlic cloves, chicken stock pots and onions in my suitcase. I wanted to make this nice Greek chicken and orzo bake for my parents while visiting over the weekend and thought how handy it would be if I took the ingredients with me and then just bought fresh chicken in Finland. They do have chicken there. 

When I first moved to London my parents used to come and visit me and mum would always have half the suitcase full of all sorts of ingredients so that she could cook for me. And not just reindeer or other Finnish specialties, but every day things you can actually buy in the UK like tinned tomatoes and peas. She once got into an agrument at airport security about cream cheese which she happened to have in her hand luggage. I will leave it to you dear reader to guess who won and whether the cream cheese made its way to the UK. I will just say my mum used to be a very forceful lady particularly when it came to the rights of her children, including their right to cream cheese from their homeland. 

On one of their visits my mum brought a massive chunk of moose, so we had to invite a distant relative who also lived in London at the time and his husband for dinner. I don't mean to be awful about those good people, but I had very little to do with them, I'm sure they are very nice but they are quite subdued. In Persian language  they would be described as bi namak. Without salt. She talks in a quiet falsetto voice and plaits her hair. He does long distance runs every night. I can see why.

They probably think I'm a lunatic, so I think we are even.

Nowadays I completely get why mum wanted to invite them: just to have more people to feed. It doesn't matter whether they are with or without salt, spicy or bland as long as they have teeth. Nowadays I'm constantly harassing people I barely know to come for dinner. But at the time I remember peeling and chopping onions (which she'd obviously brought from Finland) and thinking this is the stupidest way anyone could spend their time.

Now cooking with mum would be one of my most favourite things to do. It's quite sad how our cookery paths only met for a short period of time. A few years after I developed my first interest and subsequent deep love for cooking, my mum began to decline due to Alzheimers and she started losing more and more of her recipes. Today she's only got a few she does. And she does them amazingly, you'll never have a better moose meatball or pan-fried zander than hers, but we can't share ideas, recipes or compare notes. But I learned a lot from her cooking with her willingly as a child and not so willingly later on and then during those few precious years when we shared the passion. The least I can do is to feed her well when I visit, and she can keep me company chopping some onions for me. Probably a bit begrudgingly since she'd rather be playing solitaire or doing a crossword puzzle.

During my recent stay in Finland I raided mum's recipe stacks, there were print outs, hand written recipes and cut outs from magazines. I was photographing them until dad said to just take them with me. Which was sad because of what it means. All of this is lost to her. She will never rifle through them again. I found recipes paper clipped together with notes, she had been preparing a menu for a weekend visit of family or friends. Maybe her sister and her family. Starters, mains and desserts. Just like I do now. Quite heartbreaking really, a glimpse into a lost world. I took some of these precious stacks of notes with me and I maybe one day I will cook them.

Going through her recipes there were also print outs of emails from me and my sister sharing recipes that she's asked us to send her. There was a savoury pastry recipe from me. A herby bread roll recipe from my sister. But how much more we could have shared if she had stayed well.

In honour of the great cook that she was I will share some of her best recipes in my blog. There are some awesome retro ones that deserve a bit of a revival. But the first one I decided to share is a very simple but delicious baked salmon recipe. This is actually one of the first recipes that I cooked years ago when I slowly started to develop an interest in food.

Doing a search for mum's recipes in my own email account I found an old email from 10 years ago where I was explaining a dinner menu I had cooked for a couple of friends and my husband - then my boyfriend. The starter was a lovely provencal tomato soup, also my mum's recipe, which I have already shared in the blog, and garlic bread. Main was this honey salmon  served with a creme fraiche sauce, a mashed potato bake (sounds a bit interesting) and a salad. Dessert was a cream, quark and berry erm... concoction. Still, a solid menu, one of the first that I cooked without the help of M&S ready meals.

I remember the night, mum was on stand-by in case I needed to call her for help, I don't think I did. But I was so late that at one point I had to jump into the shower to get ready and then back to the kitchen stark naked to check the food. And then rushing between bathroom to put some make-up on and bedroom to get dressed. I actully managed to poke my eye during the rushed make-up process and cause a haemorrhage in my eye. But food was good and we had a fun evening.

This time I made the honey and mustard salmon as a healthy lunch and had it with a little rocket tabbouleh.

Honey and mustard salmon

Side of salmon 
1/2 dl vegetable oil (or a mix of olive and vegetable)
1/2 dl runny honey
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic (or 2 if you are fond of garlic, or you can leave out altogether)

Grate the garlic. Remove the bones from the fish. You can also remove the skin if you like.

Mix the honey, oil, mustard and garlic. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Cover the fish well in all sides with the mixture. Place in an oiled baking dish. Bake in 175 C oven for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon.

Serve with boiled potatoes and vegetables and a green salad. 

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