December 29, 2010

Why I Blog

...and Coulibiac of Salmon.

As a year comes to its end I always start reflecting on the past 12 months. What decisions did I make that effected myself and those around me for the better? What did I do that was a total bomb? What changes should I make in the next year???

A Spicy Perspective is still in it's baby stages...first birthday approaching. Of course, I have to consider this THING that has consumed so much of my time and energy in 2010.

Why AM I blogging?

I blog because its cheaper than therapy. It's helpful FUN to get feedback on your would-be journal entries. Comments either validate or void craziness. *smile*

I blog so I don't have to hand-write that recipe for a friend ONE MORE TIME.

I blog for friends who enjoy (or put up with) my ramblings and experimental dishes.

I blog to meet like-minded people who are as excited as I am when they stumble upon rosewater in their small-town grocery store; friends who are giddy at the thought of pickled cherries or winter-grown micro greens. 

But mostly I blog for the non-cook, for those who get queezy at the thought of stepping in front of a stove. I blog for those that have the desire to cook, but lack the CONFIDENCE. 

Confidence is such a beautiful thing when measured appropriately. We all have it to varied degrees in individual areas of life. Often people have too little or too much confidence. I've been on both ends of the spectrum at different moments. Usually to my own detriment. 

It seems that most of us simply wanted to be proud of what we feed our families. If my little webpage helps someone brim with pride at dinner time, I am a happy girl.

That being said, I believe that if something isn't growing, it's dying. That is the general trend through nature.

People that know me personally would tell you I am not needy for attention. I do not yearn to be the-life-of-the-party, actually I usally run from those occasions! This blog is not about popularity, becoming a Food Network celebrity, or winning awards. All those things are wonderful, but not my goal.

My goal is to grow my blog into a vast collection of tried-and-true recipes and tips that motivate/teach others to feel at home in their kitchens. And if I happen to get to put all those recipes into book-form at some point, that would be nice too! How's that for full disclosure!

So I want to thank those of you who have come along for the ride this first 11 months! I hope you feel INSPIRED, or at the very least, mildly entertained. I promise to continue offering my best from the kitchen and hope you'll have taste!


This recipe came from the beloved Asheville chef Joe Scully of The Corner Kitchen. He introduced me to Coulibiac of Salmon (kool-E-bee-ack) at a wine dinner and I immediately fell in love! One problem, this traditional Russian dish involves a layer of hard-boiled eggs, the ONLY food I simply can't stomach. (It's the sulfuric yolk odor. I can't explain it, but it makes me gag!) So I've substituted wilted spinach for the egg layer, it's a mild but colorful adjustment. I've also modified it for individual portions. It's easier to handle and bakes faster! (Preparing a whole fillet of salmon, large enough to fill a rectangular baking sheet, is traditional.)

This dish is a true show-stopper with a gorgeous golden crust and layers of yummy goodness inside! It's perfect for dinner parties or hosting the boss, and fairly easy to put together.  Enjoy!

Coulibiac of Salmon

2 sheets of thawed puff pastry
2 Tb. unsalted butter
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 cup cooked (leftover) rice
2 6-8 oz. pieces of salmon, cut in half for 4 square-ish pieces
1 box chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1 egg
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a skillet over medium heat.  Add the butter, sliced shallots and mushrooms. Saute for 5 minutes to brown the mushrooms. Then salt and pepper to taste and add the wine. Allow the mushrooms to simmer until the wine has completely reduced and the mushrooms are nearly dry--about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut one sheet of puff pastry into 4 squares and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Top each square with 1/4 cup of cooked rice--make sure to leave a border around the edges.

Squeeze the spinach to remove any excess liquid, then layer the spinach over the rice. Sprinkle the spinach with a touch of salt.

Once the mushrooms have cooked down, layer them on top of the spinach.

Now top each stack with a half-portion of salmon. Salt and pepper the Salmon and sprinkle with fresh dill.

Whisk the egg and brush it around the exposed puff pastry edges.

Roll the second piece of puff pastry out to a slightly larger square. Cut it into four smaller squares. Lay each square over a salmon stack. Gently seal the edges by crimping with a fork.

Brush the remaining egg over the tops. Cut a small vent in the top of each pastry.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until the tops are golden!

Makes 4 huge portions.

Coulibiac Of Salmon on Foodista


  1. And we are so glad you blog! I see a book!

  2. What an awesome recipe! Never tried it before but salmon n puff pastry sounds delish!
    Wish you a very happy new year!

  3. Those look delicious! Unfortunately, it's the only two ingredients my SO will not eat: cooked fish and mushrooms.

    Perhaps I'll just make them for me. :D

  4. what an incredible dish!! I have never seen that before, it is amazing! On another note, I am so glad that you did decide to blog, I love reading your posts, and it had been a pleasure meeting you and getting to know you. Thank you for all you do!

  5. lovely post Sommer puff pastry look fabulous we enjoy them with sweet and savoury
    happy new year I am glad we met blogging :)

  6. I am happy, too, that you decided to become a food blogger! Your posts are always fun and your recipes tasty. Keep on going!
    What a lovely dish. I have never heard about it either. I would have to leave out the mushrooms, eggs would be fine. Dishes like these are so hostess friendly, since they can be prepared in advance.

  7. I love this post. I love the recipe and the pictures but mostly I love the post. I so much identify myself in what you wrote. And I tend to do "end of year reflections too" let's see what I come out with this year. Happy (almost) new year!

  8. I think personal growth is a great reason to blog, as is inspiring people to cook, whether they are ardent cooks or beginners. Great post, and your salmon isn't too shabby either :)

  9. I love so much this post. I identify myself with what you wrote.
    The recipe sounds close to the french salmon en croute. your photos are so great.

    I wish You..
    12 Month of Happiness,
    52 Weeks of Fun,
    365 Days Success,
    8760 Hours Good Health,
    52600 Minutes Good Luck,
    3153600 Seconds of Joy

    Happy New Year

  10. Thanks very much for sharing why you blog. Mine is similar to yours in many ways...definitely work all the time we put into blogging :D Love your salmon puff...beautiful pictures, too. Wishing you a great 2011!

  11. I am so glad that you decided to blog, I always come here for mouthwatering dishes and lovely posts.
    This salmon puff looks divine! We're in a puff phaze :)

  12. Happy New Year to You and many years of successful blogging:)
    As regards the dish - it is also a traditional dish in the east of Poland and the name is "kulebiak"; the stuffing usually with meat, fish (soft water) rice or cabbage and mushrooms.
    Yours looks delicious:)

  13. This looks fabulous!!! I've made something similar this fall so I know this would be a hit in my home, too. Especially as you used mushrooms and my babies LOVES mushrooms!

    ANd I LOVE this post!!! I blog for the same.exact.reasons you do! Love this and I love your blog evn more, so happy to have discovered it! Sommer J II ;)

  14. Thank you for everything you put into this blog, it's truly appreciated. I wish you the very best for the New Year, may it be filled with joy and creativity.

  15. Great post Sommer. I would have to say that I mirror everything you said. I blog for the exact same reasons you do. I had Coulobiac at a Food and Wine festival in Oregon and It's on my list of things to make. It was Salmon and Halibut, did not have eggs, had a lobster cream sauce slathered over it and it was to die for. I must make it soon. I talked to the chef about the recipe so have a pretty good start on how to do it. Thanks for the inspiration and courage to put in on my "next up big dinner" list.

  16. I could not have said it better - I blog for the same reasons as you. Thanks for putting it into words :).

    I'd love to put my fork through that pastry and discover such a beautiful filling!

  17. Definitely a show stopper...gorgeous presentation!!

  18. To cut into that would be heaven, what a great meal - my friends would be so impressed. Happy New year.

  19. These are so gorgeous, I love them. And I love this post and the full disclosure that goes with it. Wouldn't we all love a book deal? I started my blog for the heck of it, no reason beyond reading other blogs and thinking "hey, I can do that!". But with the realization that I was probably prediabetic, it took on more purpose. When I come up with a new low carb recipe, I can share it with people who need or want help in that department. And it keeps me on track too, it keeps me motivated to eat low carb as well.

  20. Sommer, I am so glad to know a blog friend like you, kind, passionate and intelligent.
    The puff with rice, spinach and salmon is just splendid!
    Happy New Year!

  21. I think maybe a lot of us started our blogs for very similar reasons. Little did we know how much fun it would be or how much we would enjoy meeting each other. Yours is a blog I love to visit.

    That salmon. Wow. I love everything about it (including the fact that you eliminated the hard boiled egg!)

  22. You left off one: You blog because you're good at it!

  23. Definitely hope you keep at it! You should always blog for you, and I'm glad that you do! And this salmon dish... one word. Wow!

  24. Pastry and salmon...I want! These look beautiful.
    Great post and your reasons for blogging certainly shine through in your posts :)
    Happiest of New Years

  25. Lovely post! So nice to know more about you! Delicious dish too.

  26. keep on blogging girlie I want a salmon dish just like this reminds me to make it again hugs


  27. You certainly presented us with a unique and beautiful dish. Way to end a year, Sommer! Reasons for blogging seem to change as one becomes more knowing about the process. But it's always fun, isn't it?

  28. Those mini coulibiac look delicious! Yes, blogging is a lot cheaper than therapy and it works!

    Happy New Year!



  29. I like your substitution of spinach! The flaky pastry looks so insanely good! I'm so glad you started blogging - you obviously have a talent for it!

  30. What a lovely post. Thanks for sharing your reasons for blogging. I share many of the same reasons with you. I'm glad to have found your blog this year. And this recipe is amazing. It deserves a post all by its self. lol. Wow. I'm bookmarking it now. Delish.

    Happy New Year!

  31. Wow! This is truly spectacular. I can only imagine how impressed my family or friends would be if I served these at a dinner party. I loved reading about your goals and intentions too. Your blog is one of my favorite places to visit because you are so genuine and talented. I would be the first to buy your cookbook! Thank you for sharing this recipe with me. I wish you and yours a blessed weekend and new year!

  32. I also blog for so many reasonsd that you have stated here & because it is huge fun too!

    These salmon parcels are looking like real winners!!

    Must make them soon!

    A happy 2011 filled with joy, good health & good food!

  33. Great post! Have a happy new year!

  34. Wow, what a picture, i can guess how much delicious this food is..

    Nice Receipe.. I will do it.

    Delicious, You guys are rocking.

    +91 9829061228


  35. I pretty much echo your reasons for blogging. I particularly echo the part where I hope that I inspire people to cook and give them confidence to do some amazing cooking themselves. I like to cheer lead beginning cooks.

    These pockets look so good!

  36. Loved reading about your reasons for blogging. Yours is really one of my favorites! I like your sub of spinach in your coulibiac. Although I eat them, I also am not a huge fan of the smelly, dry yolkiness of hard-boiled eggs. Happy New Year, Sommer!

  37. I love coulibiac and also omit the hard boil eggs. A very Happy New Year to you and yours!

  38. Salmon and pastry!! Yum. Happy New Year!

  39. What a beautiful dish Sommer! Great post. Have a wonderful new year!

  40. So glad you blog, you have helped me build my confidence as a cook for sure! Can't wait to see all the new recipes in 2011.

  41. Such a wonderful article and the fact that YOU blog is all our gain. Wishing you year filled with a thousand flavors and more, Sommer :)


    Chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  42. That looks perfect for my next dinner party. Love the step by step photos.

  43. You said it so well... the part about blogging for the people who don't yet have the confidence. In a way that's why I do it, too... one of many reasons. I am so happy to have met you this year, and look forward to more blogging in 2011! Happy New Year!

  44. What beautiful puff pastry parcels!
    Love your blog, and looking forward to another year!

  45. I wish you the best this year and good for you to put it out there about your book! Keep it as your goal and it will happen! - xoxo Megs

  46. I love your blog's mission--to make people feel comfortable in their kitchens! Knowing your way around the kitchen, even if it's only with a few yummy staples, can be such a confidence-booster. You're doing a great job! Happy New Year as well! :D

  47. Sommer! Your tutorial is a work of art. Your reasons mirror many of mine for blogging. There are others, too... but I am too tired to try to write intelligibly. I am so delighted I have found you. Believe me... I know what kind of time it takes to build a great site. Mine started in August 2008 and I have a massive amount of information all so important to me there... and now, as more and more of my traditional recipes are posted, I have only just begun to be thinking about artistry. How can we do it all? Cook? Style? Photograph? Write and Sell our Brand? I just cook and try to inspire... and you inspire me.

  48. Hey Sommer, this is such a sweet post. I identify with what you said about confidence-homo sapiens have a way of almost never finding balance when it comes to this topic (smile). It seems like your'e either there or on your way to balance with this though if you even know enough to be able to so eloquently put that into words. Me always thinks that the idea of a balance in confidence has so much to do with how we treat ourselves as well as others-very important:)
    Oh, and your reason for blogging is quite nice and even motherly. Very nice...
    Hey, I hope you guys are having a wonderful start to your new year. Yes...!

  49. Ooh, your writing was so interesting that I forgot to tell you that these pockets look amazing!

  50. What a great post Sommer. I love your reasons for blogging. I also love this recipe. It's always fun seeing what you've created and reading your posts. I'm happy I recently came across your blog. I wish you a wonderful 2011 and can't wait to see what you have coming up here!( I'd buy your book;)

  51. Yes, you DO inspire us! To eat, to cook, to enjoy... I want your yummy pastry wrapped salmon right now!

  52. I love reading your reasons for blogging and I am sure your will only get betta and betta ya girl! it's true a little page does take so much time, but it is worth it in the end..a future book..I'll take two okay make it three, one for each of my


  53. Sommer, this is such an open comment on why you (and we) blog. For me, it's putting my favorite new and traditional recipes somewhere for posterity's sake. I do love visiting your blog and my one regret is that as I get further into blogging and 'follow' more and more blogs, it becomes impossible to be present on all of them as much as I would like. Keep up your good work! I think it's phenomenal what you've accomplished in such a short time! Happy New Year!

    Incidentally, these salmon pouches look just beautiful! Excellent photos showing us just how to do it! Sooo terrific!

  54. I'm only a week behind in my reading. Anyway, this looks amazing. I am very picky about liking salmon, and this looks like it can't be anything but great. Thanks for the recipe!


I love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for taking the time. If you have a question, I'll get back to you ASAP!