Holiday Prep and Skillet Salmon with Braised Mushrooms and Fennel

by Joanne on November 16, 2010

I love the holiday season. It’s approaching so quickly.  It seems with every year older I get, the faster the days speed past.  It’s not fair. In 10 years, I expect to close my eyes on January 1st and wake up sometime in December. 

With the holidays comes the family ritual of asking everyone what they would really like to receive from Santa Claus.  This gets tedious since Mum and Dad buy what they want, when they want.  To make matters worse, my dad’s birthday is on Christmas day so he’s a two-fer.  Mum’s birthday is January 2nd, so that’s not much easier on us.  Sue and Sam like gift certs….and the dilemma continues.

In spite of it being difficult to please everyone, I love shopping for gifts.


I love the act of giving.  It’s so much fun when you get a gift for someone that totally surprises them and a HUGE smile spreads across their face.  I love the atmosphere in the stores at Christmas time. The snow outside when you’re done shopping.  Returning home and lighting a nice fire in the fire place then nestling down all cozy like with your hubby.  When you can’t beat the season, embrace it.

Tuesdays run:  There was a shooting about 1/2 a mile down the road from us at 3 AM Sunday morning.  I was a bit nervous about setting out on my early morning run, to say the least. Even with Shane, the thoughts of hoods with guns is unsettling.  So I started my workout in the gym, working back and shoulders.  It was 35 minutes of really pumping iron.  Then I went outside with Shane, with the light on my head. My NEW Petzl Tikka Plus 2:

head lamp

It works pretty good. There are 4 settings:  Bright light. Not as bright light. Red light. Annoying flashing red light.  I needed this, not only so cars can see me when they TRY TO HIT ME (I swear they do!) but so I can be forewarned when approaching the pot holes, numerous on Utica roads. 

We ran: 6 miles today.  Iced the hamstring afterwards, followed by “the stick”. 

the stick

The stick is a good warm up tool but I like it as a massage following my run as well.   It massages deep into the muscle, breaking up lactic acid accumulation in the exercised muscle.

We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.
Sir Roger Bannister

Da FEESH… Recipe

This recipe is based on a delightful dish by Tom Colicchio.  His recipe is a bit more involved but in the way of Apple Crumbles, I changed some ingredients and made it a lot easier and quicker.

It was quite daring of me to mess with Tom’s recipe.  He is, after all, the recipient of 5 (FIVE!) James Beard Foundation medals for cooking accomplishments. He is the co-founder of Gramercy Tavern in NYC AND… this wonderful human being, was part of the volunteer staff serving food to the workers at Ground Zero after Sept. 11 attacks. 

Still, I messed with his recipe and this is what I got. 


This will serve 3 –4 people with a nice salad to start.


Ingredients for the mushrooms

· 2 TBS olive oil

· 1 fennel bulb – white part only chopped

· 1 green onion – chopped

· 1 carrot –peel and dice

· 1 celery stick – chop

· 1 tsp minced garlic

· 1 TBS balsamic vinegar

· 1/3 cup Vegetable broth

· 8 oz Mushrooms – sliced thick

Ingredients for the salmon and finishing the dish

· 2 TBS olive oil

· 1 ½ lbs salmon fillets

· salt and pepper to taste

· ¾ cup vegetable broth

· The Mushrooms from above

First, you need to prepare your mushrooms. *You can always do this before hand to save time.

In a large skillet, preheated with 2 TBS of olive oil, add the fennel/anise, green onion, carrot slices, chopped celery and cook for 8 minutes over medium heat.

Add the garlic and cook one more minute.

Add the balsamic vinegar and 1/3 cup veggie broth and mushrooms. Reduce heat to a simmer, stir occasionally, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside

Second, you prepare the salmon.

Add 2 TBS olive oil to the skillet over med-hi heat. Salt and pepper the salmon both sides. When the oil is hot, add the salmon to the skillet and cook (skin side up) for about 4 minutes. *Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the salmon. The 4 minutes pertains to a 1 1/2 inch thick piece.

Turn the salmon over and add the vegetable broth and the prepared mushrooms to the skillet over medium heat. Cover and continue cooking over medium heat for about 8 – 10 minutes or until desired doneness.


Those vegetables, fennel, green onion, carrot and celery work together perfectly in this dish. Amazing flavor but not over powering for the fish.  Take care to simply stick to 1 TBS of balsamic vinegar. It’s the perfect amount.


I can’t imagine why, but just in case you don’t like mushrooms, either leave them out or substitute one of your favorite vegetables.  Maybe large chunks of sweet bell pepper? 


So tender, moist, and OH! just look at that mushroom!

This week in cooking:  What’s going to make it on your plate?

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  • At 2010.11.16 07:47, Heather said:

    I LOVE giving presents, too. I put a lot of time and thought into any present I give!!
    I have a foam roller, but I’m considering getting the Stick, too. Not sure it would be worth having both??

    • At 2010.11.16 15:12, Joanne said:

      The stick gets deeper into the muscle. It’s also very good for lean muscles. Both have their advantages.

      • At 2010.11.16 10:16, Tammy said:

        I fall on the other side. I don’t enjoy shopping and giving presents. I know that makes me sound like a Scrooge but I find the whole process really stressful. Most of my family live away from us so we have no idea what they want or need and I end up spending $ just to get something. But I love your salmon dish. I can’t believe you say you messed it up. Tonight I’m doing an okra curry from Pranis Kitchen.

        • At 2010.11.16 15:13, Joanne said:

          Sounds interesting. I’ll have to check it out.

          • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Applecrumbles, Applecrumbles. Applecrumbles said: New blog post: – Holiday Prep and Skillet Salmon with Braised Mushrooms and Fennel […]

            • At 2010.11.16 20:08, Anabela said:

              My hubby and I love salmon…..that looks delicious, I will have to try that!

              • At 2010.11.17 01:27, Monet said:

                Salmon and mushrooms…two of my favorite foods! And I loved hearing about the joy you find in gift-giving. I also enjoy buying the perfect gift for all of my family and friends. I like to start early though! And unfortunately, I’m behind this year. Thank you for sharing. I hope the rest of your week is beautiful!

                • At 2010.11.17 10:59, Amanda @ bakingwithoutabox said:

                  Oh my gosh. A shooting. That’s so scary. (Ok, I live in Los Angeles and work in the law enforcement field but still…. I’d be scart) Love the light. I have to wear a light on my back when I run the Rose Bowl at night. In front it just bothers me and I have enough street light to see where I’m going. It’s more to deter the bicycles who try to do their own Tour de Rose Bowl. I once thought very briefly about getting a stick like that. Hmmm. Will have to think more on it now I see you use one.

                  • At 2010.11.17 15:28, dawn hutchins said:

                    Joanne, this salmon looks so delicious.

                    I agree, I love giving gifts too!

                    • At 2010.11.18 01:28, Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear said:

                      I love shopping for gifts too! I’m not a very Chrismassy person otherwise but buying and wrapping presents is so much fun 🙂

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