There is no question at all at this point. It is definitely fall. I'm hopeful we'll have a few more glimpses of summer - the last flowers of summer blooming on my hill, days that get warm enough in the afternoon to feel the sun heating your face, evenings that stay light a bit later than dinnertime. But, the air was different today - cool and crisp. The sky was an impossible blue, the shadows were long. The leaves on the maple across the street are not just turning, they're starting to fall. Down the street the bees are still working on the goldenrod, but the geese are flying overhead, too.
I hate to see summer end, because I'm a hot weather fanatic, I love getting a tan, and summer produce and fruit are some of my favorite foods in the world. I enjoy fall - if it were not followed by winter I could probably be one of those people who "loves" fall - but that is a bit of a stretch. My cooking at this time of year begins to metamorphasize along with the weather, and that is something I love in spite of the signal of winter that it brings. Root crops, apples, squash and pumpkin all start to take on more important roles in my cuisine. Taking advantage of the remains of summer's bountiful harvest and preparing it in a hot stove - less tolerable in summertime - is another change. It's cool enough out that a plate of roasted vegetables and fish doesn't overwhelm us with heat, but it's warm enough that it can still feel like a summer meal, paired with a crisp white and enjoyed with cricket song as our entertainment.
There are many versions of this classic approach to roasting fish. I first learned this technique from my brother, who I believe learned it from one of the Moosewood cookbooks. The beauty of this preparation, aside from the flavor, is its flexibility. There are literally endless variations to this approach. Take advantage of what you have on hand - herbs, vegetables, seasonings - and pair it with whatever beautiful piece of fresh fish you can find. I ventured outside of my locavore leanings tonight with a piece of wild Coho salmon, but mountain trout would be equally delicious here. I paired this with roasted and marinated green beans, crusty bread, a sliced apple, and white wine. Oh, and cricket song, of course.
salmon roasted in parchment with shallots and dill
1 3/4 pound salmon fillet
1 Tbs butter, sliced thin
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 - 2 Tbs fresh dill, finely chopped
1 - 2 Tbs white wine
2 wedges lemon
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 415. Place a rectangular piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet. Rinse salmon fillet and place lengthwise on parchment. Season with salt and pepper. Spread slices of butter over fish. Sprinkle with thinly sliced shallots and chopped fresh dill. Drizzle with white wine and squeeze two lemon wedges over fish. Bring two long sides of parchment together over fish and roll together to form a tube over the fish. Fold over each end a few times to seal off an envelope of parchment around fish. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.