Salmon Roasted in Butter

Salmon Roasted in ButterTop Ten Stranded On An Island Cookbooks
It happens to everyone at some point in our lives. You’re sitting with friends or family around a table sipping coffee, or on a log in front of a campfire and the question comes up: “If you were stranded on an island, what would you absolutely not be able to live without?” Of course, the first thing that comes to my one-track mind is, “What the heck are we gonna eat?” (Sad, ain’t it?) Next, I think, “How am I going to cook it?” This leads me to, “What cookbooks do I need?” ‘Cause I don’t always have the recipes in my head!

I thought about this when choosing my top ten cookbooks. It turns out to be a very hard choice to make. I can’t decide without breaking down my collection into different categories. This first list will be followed by specific groupings like baking, regional, celebrity chefs etc.

These are the books that I pull out almost daily. They are references, and technique refreshers, as well as collections of really good recipes. Here are my Top 10 Stranded On An Island Cookbooks, in no particular order:

1. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. This is a no brainer and if you don’t own a copy, it is a must have for your collection. No, I don’t cook out of it every day but it is the ultimate in classic technique.

2. The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells. No carnivore should be without this reference. I have literally made every recipe in this book. The Rack of Lamb with Herb and Breadcrumb Crust is a holiday favorite in our house.

3. Fish by Mark Bittman. So there you are in the meat department or the Farmer’s market or even down on the docks, looking at a really nice piece of fish or shellfish but don’t know what to do with it. This is the book you need. There are recipes for any fish from A to Z as well as descriptions and lists of substitutes. My favorite is the Salmon Roasted in Butter which is perfect when your Salmon is really fresh. I have attached the recipe below.

4. Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. Easy, yet sophisticated recipes for tasty food — even during the week. I have a few of Ina’s books and all of them are great but since I had to choose just one, this is it.

5. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond. I jumped on the Pioneer Woman chuck wagon five years ago when we moved into our new house. Her blog became daily reading for me. I love her easy to make recipes that balance city flavor with meat and potato classics. In addition to her blog, she now has a second cookbook, and has her own show on the Food Network. Seriously, you gotta make her cinnamon rolls…so incredibly good.

6. Mary Meade’s Country Cookbook by Ruth Ellen Church. This classic has been through multiple publications. You can pay as little as little as $10.92 or as much as $321.79 for it on Amazon. One of the books I inherited from my grandmother, it has all of the recipes I remember from my childhood like Southern Spoonbread. And it also has my hands down favorite recipe for banana bread.

7. The Cooks Country Cookbook by The Editors of Cooks Country Magazine. This cookbook is all about down home heirloom favorites. There are just so many good recipes to choose from.

8. Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis. As previously mentioned, my family eats a lot of pasta. I don’t think I have ever had a recipe from Giada that was not well received. I have a number of her cookbooks, but this is my fave.

9. Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer et. al. Like Mastering the Art of French Cooking, this is a book no one should be without. It has everything.

10. Rick Bayless’ Mexican Kitchen. I like Mexican food, a lot, which is why this one would have to go with me to the island. I have many other really fabulous Mexican cookbooks which will be part of my other lists but this is the one I would take. 

Salmon Roasted in Butter
From Fish by Mark Bittman
Makes 4 to 6 servings

If you make this with the most flavorful, beautiful fillet you can find—such as Alaskan sockeye in season, or a lovely side of farm-raised salmon—you will be stunned at the richness of flavor. There is nothing simpler, and few things better.

One 2- to 3-pound salmon fillet, skin on (but scaled) or off
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Minced fresh parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Melt the butter in a roasting pan-either on top of the stove or in the oven as it preheats-until the foam subsides. Place the salmon in the butter, flesh side down, and put the pan in the oven. Roast about 5 minutes, then turn over and roast 3 to 6 minutes longer, until the salmon is done (peek between the flakes with a thin-bladed knife). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley and serve immediately.

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