Honey & Dijon Baked Salmon

In Recipe by Sean33 Comments

Honey & Dijon Salmon

With Pecans & Dill

Consider this recipe an olive branch, meant to try bridging the gap between two very different online food communities.  It’s an adaptation (with a few slight modifications) of this fairly popular one found on All Recipes. It’s delicious, healthy, easy, and it looks great.  And that’s precisely why I hope it can help to bring together two deeply divided food cultures.

For a basic idea of what I’m talking about, I strongly encourage you to read this great Slate article.  At the risk of oversimplifying the issue, internet food culture is largely split between two different culinary camps. On one side, the complex, trendy, and highly visual world of ‘foodie’ culture.  On the other side, the home cooking that is actually happening in North American kitchens.  To quote the Slate article itself, it’s all about “[t]he gap between the food we cook and the food we talk about.”

As an educator, I’m deeply concerned about our highly visual but impractical food culture. We love watching TV shows about food, and we endlessly collect and curate recipes on Pinterest, and yet the gap between “that looks good” and “I’m going to make that” is, frankly, enormous. All Recipes has, for better or worse, taken an approach to food that encourages cooking rather than looking. The recipes are user-submitted, and the instructions favour simplicity and brevity.  The photography is also decidedly unglamourous, which is something I’ll be coming back in the section below.  As a food blogger, it’s not exactly the kind of stuff I get excited about. While there are many food bloggers who favour tried-and-true home cooking and simple recipes, there are also many who fall on the trendy, foodie side of the equation. Regardless, both sides will tell you that without good photography you’re more or less doomed. But All Recipes is doing something very important, and something that food bloggers everywhere need to remember – it’s getting people to actually cook. Sure, the food isn’t always phenomenal, and there are plenty of recipes with questionable nutritional merits, but it’s still getting people into the kitchen. And while I believe we should all challenge ourselves and explore food in a more meaningful way, I’d much rather have readers look at a recipe and think “I can do that” than “That’s so pretty/complex, I could never do that.”  You might wonder then why I run this site the way I do, rather than taking a short-and-sweet, simple approach to food and food writing. The truth is that I feel that the All Recipes approach, while useful in many ways, sells home cooks short.

To be clear (and fair), I think that simple, approachable meals are an essential gateway to good home cooking and to a healthier society. Someone who’s never made a pot of rice is probably not going to jump right into making risotto, and its unrealistic to expect a cooking novice to dive into a recipe if the instructions contain words like chiffonade, sous-vide, baton, or spatchcock. But I also think that home cooks are being sold a false narrative about their skills. I have the utmost respect for professional chefs, and I don’t mean to take anything away from them, but the line between talented home cook and talented chef is not as wide as you might think. We are all capable of so much more than we realize, and there’s no reason not to aim for greatness in the kitchen. And let me be perfectly clear about this – I am a home cook. I have plenty of formal education, but none of it is in cooking. I spent 8 years in University, and closest I came to an oven in that setting was when I had to sterilize glassware in an autoclave. In fact, I didn’t really start paying much attention to cooking until I was in my early 20s.  The label of ‘home cook’ should not be a limiting one. We have more information at our fingertips than ever before, and our abilities are more-or-less only limited by our drive and by the quality of the education we receive.

So what can food bloggers do? Push. Push gently, but push all the same. We can be the voices that drive culinary education forward, and encourage home cooks in new and exciting ways.  I put a lot of writing into my Recipe Notes not because the food is complicated, but because I want my readers to have the best possible shot at succeeding. I want my readers to look at the food I cook and think “Hey, I can do that.” Oddly enough, this is one of the places where All Recipes and its kin fall short. Because these sites aim to make food look extremely approachable, they often forgo a lot of the explanation and tips that would actually make cooking easier. We mistakenly equate short with easy, and the chances of disappointment or failure increase when we try to minimize instructions and ingredient lists. This is part of why most of us flock to the comments section when we read a recipe; instructions are often lacking, and the keys to success are frequently provided thanks to the trial-and-error of strangers.  Clear writing and good communication are key to encouraging readers, but food bloggers can do even more by remembering to communicate exactly what it is that drives them to cook and to create. Most of the people who get into food blogging do it because they possess an unbridled enthusiasm for the subject matter, but when we become preoccupied with social media, SEO, photography, statistics, and advertising, we often forget to share the excitement and joy that drove us to dive into this in the first place.  The world doesn’t need our recipes nearly as much as it needs our passion.

And what about everyone else?  What about the readers, home cooks, foodies, and culinary experimenters? First and foremost – never stop cooking.  If we’re not actually cooking then this is all just window-dressing.  Second, never stop trying to improve.  You are only limited by your culinary imagination, and with genuine desire and effort every meal (even the failures) can be a step towards greatness.  Third, understand that the work of others should be a point of inspiration and not intimidation.  Every one of the world’s greatest cooks had to boil a pot of water for the first time at some point. It’s a cliché, but it’s true.  Lastly, remember that this strange world of food is (or should be) a collaboration between reader and writer.  A food blog can say “Look what I can do” or it can say “Look what we can do.”  The more we encourage the latter, the better off we’re all going to be.

On Food Photography

I mentioned inspiration vs. intimidation earlier, and nowhere is that a bigger issue than food photography. I really enjoy presenting my food and making my photos appealing, and the visual impact food can have is undeniable. As the old adage goes, “first you eat with your eyes.” But when I think that readers might look at my food and think “Wow, that’s too fancy for me” I want to jump through the screen and shake them. Food photography is meant to draw you in and get you interested in the dish, but it’s not meant to leave you thinking that your food should look like the food on the screen. Let’s really look at what’s going on in this recipe for example. All I did here was carefully arrange some green beans, choose the nicest looking piece of salmon, and paint sauce on a plate with a basting brush. The end. Sure it looks fancy, but it would taste exactly the same if you put the salmon on the plate beside a messy pile of beans. The photography is meant to entice, but it’s not meant to distract you from the fact that this is, at its core, an easy and weeknight-friendly meal. The techniques are all wildly simple and the most complicated piece of equipment is a food processor, and even that you can work around (see the Recipe Notes for more on that). Sure, this dish is beautiful, but that has little (if anything) to do with how good it is.

Regular readers may have noted that I’m not normally so self-congratulatory about the appearance of a dish. It’s time to drop a bomb on you lovely folks (BRACE YOURSELVES): I didn’t even make this. My brother Jeff cooked this while he was here for a visit. The dill is his idea, as are the coarse bread crumbs and the more ‘rustic’ looking crust/topping (both of which are improvements on the original, in my opinion). Basically, he found this recipe, experimented with it, and made it his own. All I did was put the plate together and disappear to my garage to take photos. If you’ll forgive an artsy platitude, I didn’t make this dish great – I just found the best way to show of it’s greatness. But let’s not forget the important thing here – this honey and Dijon salmon is delicious, uncomplicated, and fast. My brother is a good cook, but even a relative novice in the kitchen could put this together quickly on a weeknight. So if you’re thinking ‘mine won’t look as good as that’ then you need to abandon that idea altogether, because it’s that kind of idea that keeps all of us from learning and growing as cooks. As for plates, backgrounds, cutlery, angles, and lighting? That’s all photography stuff, and it has nothing to do with how good the food actually tastes. And at the end of the day I can’t imagine there’s anyone who’d rather choose pretty food over tasty food.

Recipe Notes

Alright folks, I’ve spent a whole bunch of time talking about food blogging, food culture, and culinary education. If I haven’t already convinced you that this recipe is easy, allow me to do so now. In order to make this meal, you need to have mastered the following kitchen skills:

  1. Reading.
  2. Stirring.
  3. Melting butter.
  4. Stopping before things get burnt.

That’s it.  Sure I’ve got some tips and tricks designed to help you get the most out of your meal, but this is as easy as can be.

Salmon

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s hard to cook a great meal with mediocre ingredients. Salmon is the star here, and good salmon should get the chance to show off. If you’re on the West Coast (or close enough), coho and sockeye salmon are ideal choices for this. Other salmon species are fine too (especially if you know you enjoy them), but don’t settle. If you can’t get good salmon but you can get trout or Arctic char, use those.

When it comes to cooking the salmon, keep a close eye on it and don’t feel the need to cook it to light-pink perdition. Most salmon recipes instruct you to cook until the salmon is ‘flaky,’ and while that is somewhat true, salmon that easily flakes all the way through is actually overcooked and likely to be dry. You’re aiming for flaky on the outside but moist and medium-pink on the inside. Remember that salmon will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven, so don’t be afraid to err of the side of caution, and always check the thickest part of the fillet. You can always cook it a little longer, but you can’t uncook it.

Bread Crumb Crust

The original version of this recipe (via All Recipes) uses only parsley, rather than dill and parsley together. I am admittedly not the world’s biggest dill fan, but I think it works absolutely beautifully here and adds much needed character to the dish. Regardless of whether or not you choose to go with the dill, make sure you use a good, flavourful flat-leaf parsley. Parsley is so often left on the plate as an afterthought that we forget it’s supposed to taste like something.

The original recipe also simply calls for bread crumbs, and it’s one of those ingredients that’s worth considering carefully. Fine, store-bought bread crumbs are often quite stale and flavourless. If you’ve got the time to make your own, go for it. If not, get large/coarse bread crumbs (almost like croutons) and pulverize them all of the other ingredients in a food processor for better flavour and a nice crunchy texture.

If you’re pulverizing the mixture yourself, you can use pecan halves or pecan pieces. If you do buy pieces, make sure they’re fresh, as they tend to go stale or rancid faster than pecan halves.

Sauce

First things first, use good, tasty honey, and a nice Dijon mustard. Don’t substitute for a different mustard variety. And don’t use honey mustard.

Once you’ve mixed the ingredients, I recommend setting aside a portion (about 1/4 or so) before spreading it on the salmon. You can use this excess for fancy plating (as I’ve done) or just to drizzle over the finished salmon for a little extra flavour. Either way, it’s a nice way to finish the dish.

Green Beans

The green beans here are totally optional, but highly recommended. They are in essence, an entirely separate recipe from the salmon, but they cook quickly and easily while the salmon bakes, and they turn this into a complete meal. The key to good flavour is letting the melted butter brown slightly in the hot skillet before adding the beans. This creates a nice nutty flavour that works wonderfully with the salmon. You could also serve this with asparagus or even a good green salad.


Nutrition Facts
Honey & Dijon Baked Salmon
Amount Per Serving
Calories 435 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 38%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 128mg 43%
Sodium 327mg 14%
Potassium 272mg 8%
Total Carbohydrates 24g 8%
Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
Sugars 12g
Protein 27g 54%
Vitamin A 27%
Vitamin C 37%
Calcium 11%
Iron 11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional Summary

Note: The nutritional information includes both the salmon and the green beans.

GOOD NEWS:
High in protein, low in carbohydrates, and nutrient-dense, this is also very high in Omega-3 fatty acids thanks to the salmon.

BAD NEWS:
Melted butter in the sauce and with the beans makes for a fairly high level of saturated fat. If you’re looking to reduce that a little, saute the green beans in olive oil instead.

Ingredient Pages

No ingredient pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

Pantry Pages

No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

  • 30-minutes
  • Pescetarian

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Honey and Dijon Baked Salmon with Pecans and Dill - served here with pan-fried buttered green beans - Diversivore.com
Honey & Dijon Baked Salmon
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Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Honey and Dijon Baked Salmon with Pecans and Dill - served here with pan-fried buttered green beans - Diversivore.com
Honey & Dijon Baked Salmon
  • 1
  • 2
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  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Ingredients
Salmon
Green Beans (Optional)
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C).
  2. Combine the melted butter, mustard, and honey. Set aside.
  3. Combine the breadcrumbs, pecans, and herbs in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is well combined but still somewhat coarse. Set aside.
  4. (Note - if you want to garnish the salmon with extra honey-mustard, set a portion aside now to keep it out of contact with the raw salmon) Brush the surface of the salmon fillets with the honey/mustard mixture, then cover with a liberal amount of the bread crumb mixture.
  5. Bake the salmon on a baking tray for about 12 minutes, or until the salmon is relatively flaky but still dense, moist, and a little darker in the center.
  6. Garnish with a little salt and pepper and serve with lemon wedges. Serve over the sauteed green beans (see below) or any other side of your choosing. For a fancy looking presentation, brush plates with reserved honey-mustard sauce.
Green Beans (Optional)
  1. While the salmon is baking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the butter begins to brown slightly and take on a nutty aroma, add the beans to the pan and saute for about 4-5 minutes, or until the beans are tender and a deep, vibrant green. Garnish with salt and serve with the salmon.
Recipe Notes

SALMON NOTES

Use any salmon you like, but I personally recommend coho or sockeye salmon if you can get it. The fillets can be cooked skin on, or skin off. If you go with skin off, you might want to gently oil the baking sheet or lay down a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent sticking. If you leave the skin on, simply pull the cooked fillets free of it or very gently pry it away with a knife after the salmon comes out of the oven. There's a decent chance that the fillets will do this on their own if the skin sticks to the tray. Go with whatever makes you more comfortable, but do make sure to pull out any small pin bones.

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Comments

  1. Hey Sean,

    I couldn’t agree more on your “discussion” I could only hope people would get encouraged by what I bring. For me it’s all about sharing my own passion for food and photography (however I’m interested in styling it’s not my best part haha). So I try to make beautiful pictures to improve myself. Not everyone is a photographer or a top chef. I learned my way into the food world step by step by looking at people more experienced (and still do). It’s always nice to see or read people get inspired by what I like.

    Great article!
    Grtz,
    Simon.

    1. Author

      I think that sharing what inspires and drives us is vital. While it would be frightfully dull if we all did the same thing, I feel like enthusiasm is contagious, and it makes our recipes (whatever they may be and however they’re presented) much more approachable. You’re absolutely right – we’re not all top chefs of world class photographers, and frankly I believe we’re all working (all the time) on improving in both of those realms. That upward trajectory is what makes us better, and I think it keeps our work grounded. Never forget that while you’re looking up to the work of others, someone somewhere is looking up to your work too!

  2. Hey Sean! GREAT post. I totally agree with your observation about the gap between the food we talk about and photograph and the food we cook. I don’t know how many times I have cooked something that was tasty, easy, and nutritious, but that I knew wouldn’t photograph well so it never made it onto the blog, and I’m sure others can relate! Don’t even bother writing a post without solid photos! The truth is, day-to-day healthy eating isn’t glamorous for most of us and I think you make a great point about the barriers created by the way foodie culture portrays food. In support of good food education, it is not OK to make healthy eating appear unattainable. It’s kind of like the anti-photoshop/real beauty movement in the fashion world. The camp of food bloggers who chooses to promote their content and celebrate food with beautiful, stylized photos (myself included, admittedly) is contributing to this misrepresentation of what healthy eating really looks like. The food photos that make it up onto my blog do not represent what ends up on my plate three times a day, every day. The less pretty, more real, equally as healthy stuff never makes it up, but maybe it should.

    1. I totally agree Alida. I make way more food that doesn’t make the blog than does because I know it’s not as photogenic or the lighting isn’t quite right at the time. I flip-flop back and forth with using those types of images on Instagram to seem more approachable but then even there they don’t always seem to jive with the aesthetic I’m trying to convey. It’s tricky. I do think a movement towards attractive/real everyday cooking would appeal to many home cooks.

      1. Author

        It’s such a fine line, isn’t it Leslie-Anne? I mean, you want to look GOOD. That makes a difference, and there’s no sense in denying it. But I hate the idea of my work feeling unattainable. I mean, I do this because I love food, I want to share it, and I want to see people cooking and eating better. The teacher in me REALLY connects with the last part – as nice as it is when someone compliments my photo, it pales in comparison to the feeling I get when someone tells me they actually cooked and enjoyed something I’ve created!

    2. Author

      Hi Alida! I know exactly what you mean – good food, made well, but without any pizzazz, so it gets ignored. It’s a struggle, but part of me really wants to figure out how to add more glamour and excitement to those foods – after all, if the aim is to get people cooking more (and healthier), it can’t all be glamorous show-stoppers. Sites like All Recipes really do help fill that niche, but a LOT of what trends there (and attracts attention) isn’t very healthy. Instead of glamorous photography, people fall for the ultra-high-calorie stuff that appeals to the reward centers of our brains. So yeah, I have to agree with you – educational and encouraging food blogging has to be attainable… and yet it has to be appealing to the eye. It’s certainly a tough balance, and I know that I’m going to continue working on at least some arty, carefully plated meals… but I really want to drive myself towards approachable, relatable work a the same time.

      Thanks so much for your wonderful comment.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with all of it! I think somewhere out there is a middle ground of happiness. Like most people that blog (or I would like to think so), I have a passion for cooking. The other stuff has come to me long after the cooking. As for social media, I still haven’t cracked that aspect of it and still don’t know what SEO means??? But you are right, someone at home sees the beautiful photo and probably thinks “I can’t make that.” When in fact, quite often it is something as simple as french fries! Maybe All Recipes it right after all. You might remember the article from earlier in the year……
    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2016/05/allrecipes_reveals_the_enormous_gap_between_foodie_culture_and_what_americans.html

    All that aside, we have to do what we are passionate about. You blog is a true wealth of knowledge and I have learned so much about many different spices of plant life and other things that I never knew you could eat! So, keep up the fabulous work! Now go make something beautiful!

    1. Author

      I actually included that link above! (I don’t exactly draw a ton of attention to my links though, haha). It really got me thinking, and honestly I hope everyone will read it.

      I’m so happy you enjoy Diversivore Julia, and I’m glad you take things away from it. Honestly, I love good food (and attractive photos!), but sharing knowledge and enthusiasm for home cooking is what really drives me. Cheers!

  4. I love salmon, and this looks totally delicious. YES…I got into blogging because I LOVE cooking. Did I know I would have to be a master photographer, accomplished writer, social media guru? NO. Heck when I started I didn’t know anything about websites, SEO or any of that stuff. When people tell me cooking is hard, I just smile and say REALLY… try learning all the other stuff…. making this delicious salmon recipe here is MUCH easier….and MUCH more enjoyable!! So will I ever be a master of all trades, likely not…but I do know one thing…I still LOVE cooking. My saying is: “Food doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to taste good”.

    1. Author

      Yeah, the behind-the-scenes stuff is more work than any of us think it will be. And it’s tricky because you obviously want to reach as many people as possible (and to survive in the world, haha), but it’s easy to feel like food (and our passion for it) can be left in the dust at times while we slog through all the other stuff. I’ve had people say “Oh mine would never look as good as yours” and I just want to smile and say that it really doesn’t have too. The visuals are here to draw people in – but taste should be the ultimate guide when you’re worrying about the food you make for yourself and your loved ones!

  5. I definitely agree with your statements in this post, and I *really* relate to your first paragraph on food photography. I love visual stimulation and when I peruse food blogs, the ones that stick out always have the best food styling + photos as opposed to the ones that may look most “practical”. Whether or not they are practical is a secondary thought to me. But I’m usually perusing food blogs for inspo rather than recipes I’m going to follow line by line, and it’s important to keep that in mind when producing our own content. To a lot of people, gorgeous food is intimidating as hell. As a blogger and food photographer, finding a comfortable balance between “approachable” and “attractive” is crucial, but *really* challenging. And then to make people believe that they can make the gorgeous dish themselves? Yet another challenge. (Food bloggers = martyrs, obvi.)

    I’ve recently started using a lot of extra greens or bright ingredients in my photos to bring extra pops of color while still keeping things simple and allowing the dish to be approachable. That, or I try to do a table-top set-up, like in my latest (ravioli) post. My next post, which is scheduled to go live today I’m hoping, is a simple tofu rice dish — but I’ll admit it might seem complicated due to plating. I arranged the ingredients around the bowl to show them off in all of their beauty (because seriously, baby bok choy and oyster mushrooms are freaking stunning). Unfortunately, it may not encourage as many people to make it since it looks fancy dancy — whereas if I had just jumbled everything together like you would a regular ol’ rice + veg dish, it would seem more real and approachable, you know? But a photo of that won’t stop anyone in their tracks!

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. #TheStruggleIsReal

    I think simply being aware of this balance is a great place to be, though.

    1. Author

      I totally agree Dana. I spend a lot of time looking for inspiration rather than recipes I plan to cook as-is, so visuals are huge! But we forget sometimes that we’re confident in the kitchen, and we spend a lot of time (sometimes even getting paid!) to experiment and try stuff like this – meanwhile people who are new to cooking or who are trying to become comfortable see something pretty and can end up feeling like it’s not for them. The struggle for food bloggers IS real, but it’s a battle worth fighting! I think we can all do more to be visually appealing AND approachable.

      Your idea about greens is a really good one, and colour is so huge too. I think, in a sense, we need to be showing people what goes into plating attractively, and not just cooking. That way people can see the gap between the two aspects of our work. After all, it’s not like the plating makes it TASTE better! Maybe that’s something we should all do once in a while: teach and tutor on the visuals, even if it’s only to provide understanding and context.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to start a post on just that subject…. 😀

  6. I totally remember the article that Julia mentions in her comment here. About how even the sites, like All Recipes are posting recipes that are crap (to be frank). They don’t work for the average home cook and they’re full of non-nutritious ingredients like loads of butter, cheese, lard, and sugar (the most popular recipes are anyways). All this makes further sense when you find that one of the highest searched terms on Pinterest is “comfort food”. How many people are truly going to make mac and cheese when it’s incredibly convenient to open a box? Does this discourage me from blogging? Not really. I like sharing pretty photos of my simple an easy to create food. Do I need to lace it with cheese and butter to get more action? Perhaps, but I’m not going to. Great post Sean!

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      On the one hand I like All Recipes for it’s approachability, but it works so hard to achieve it that sacrifices get made that really annoy me. Instructions and even ingredients can be over-simplified to such a degree that some dishes become very difficult unless you’re already a very skilled home cook who knows how to fill in the blanks. This keeps things succinct, but it also means that people are going to have trouble achieving memorable results. It also means that people get driven towards fool-proof processed meals (like mac and cheese from the box), which is something I’d really like to see less of. I take a different approach – I give a LOT of information, which I try to keep organized and functional. I know that long lists and paragraphs can seem a little tl;dr but I think that people who are aiming to improve their cooking (and there are a LOT of them) feel that this approach resonates.

      Like you, I try not to get discouraged by the problems, and I certainly won’t let it stop me from creating the food I love. In fact, I prefer to take opportunities like this to make a dent in the problem and to engage my readers (and other bloggers!) in order to push for positive change.

      Thanks so much for commenting. Cheers.

  7. Hi Sean, well put. I can only speak for myself that I first eat with my eyes. If a dish is sloppy and looks slapped together with no passion or creativity I probably won’t east it. I believe that cooking involves first and foremost a love and passion for creating something that is beautiful and appealing, and then the scent of smell comes in which is the second enticer, third is the taste. Nicoletta and I are doing our blog to educate people that making beautiful dishes and great tasting food is very accessible if the passion and drive is there, we teach about picking your ingredients and being free to try new things that are out of the box and so if they turn out not the way you planned there is always an opportunity to tweak and experiment. I am a musician and when recording was always caught up being a one take wonder. Once and it had to be perfect!Then a great mentor told me to abandon the expectation and see what happens, wow was I surprised, no stress, some pretty incredible creations of harmony and rhythm and most of all the freedom to be human, and create what was coming through my soul. We have also found that some recipes look incredible in photographs, but when tasted were not very good. So who knows what the answer is. As far as we are concerned, we only create what we love to eat and if it doesn’t taste good then it is not on our roster. We will continue as you are to inspire people to open and find their own inner cook, and create their own beautiful tasty dishes, vive la renaissance!

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      You make a wonderful point Loreto. While I don’t want to make food seem difficult or unattainable, we are visual beings and the look of a dish matters. Visuals even impact the way our brains respond to food and hunger, so the look of a dish can have an actual physical effect on your enjoyment of it. Moreover, careful presentation speaks to the passion of the cook; a carefully plated dish says something about the cook’s passion and engagement, which in turn says something about the likelihood that they’ve crafted a well-thought out and delicious meal.

      But your comment about music says a lot about food too – I think our beautiful and carefully crafted dishes should be a testament to our engagement AND our practice – we do not suddenly become master chefs in one fell swoop. We sweat and toil, and sometimes we fall short of our expectations. Other times we defy them. And certainly we can’t become overly obsessed with the polish and presentation; as you say, it can’t come before the taste of the dish and the ingredients that go into it.

      You two are phenomenally inspiring cooks, and I hope more people will enjoy your work and your food. Your passion is evident, and that will always come across. Thanks so much for commenting, and for being a part of this little Diversivore corner of the internet.

  8. Wonderful recipe and thank you for sharing the article about trending foods vs. what we actually eat. I just sent it to a few foodies who will want to read it for sure. It’s so true that people become obsessed with these micro food trends online while we go home every day and continue to make the same safe meals that we know. All Recipes can be addicting in that way, but I agree it’s important to balance both.

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      Thanks for sharing it Amanda! I’m glad you mention those micro-food trends. I mean, look at avocado roses (which will no doubt sound like something I made up ten years from now) – suddenly they were EVERYWHERE and people couldn’t get enough of them, but they’re so much fluff and so little substance. Now they’re all but forgotten. Avocadoes are great, but do gimmicky, trendy little flowers get people eating differently, or are they just a distraction? I would love to see more food bloggers and food-lovers trying to DRIVE trends in a direction that encourages engagement, mindfulness, and participation, and not just jumping from on whatever the flavour-of-the-month (pun intended) happens to be.

  9. It’s been way too long since I’ve had salmon, and this recipe looks top notch Sean! Tell your brother that he did a great job. I was dreaming of this dish all day after seeing your Facebook post earlier this week. I haven’t yet sourced out where to buy good quality wild salmon since my move and I must do so asap!
    I agree with you that there are recipes galore available online and that as food bloggers what most needs to be infused into our writing and recipes is passion and excitement! Many of the patients I work with initially don’t cook, and one of the most important things I can do as their naturopathic doctor is to get them into their kitchen. Healthy, home cooked meals don’t need to be fancy but they need to be something that people get excited about cooking and don’t look at as simply a chore.
    Your passion shines through in your writing and through the time that you invest in each post. Keep it up! 🙂

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      Thank you Kimberley! I’ll be sure to let him know! And I’m very glad that you were able to come and check out the post after a busy week – I fully understand that struggle. I’m constantly opening up tabs and hoping I’ll able to find time to come back and read later. I hope you’ve managed to find a good fishmonger in the Okanagan too! It’s always tough to feel settled and to find good suppliers when you relocate.

      I’m glad the post resonated with you, and I’m glad you feel the same way about what we can bring to the table (man, I’m full of the semi-intentional puns today). My wife is a physician, and she hears a lot of similar comments about food and cooking and how people just don’t know where to start or what to make. Bloggers can do so much to reach out to this audience if we choose to be aware of how we interact and present our work. All Recipes has a lot of great recipes, but sometimes things get lost when brevity is such a key focus, and a recipe alone is rarely enough to build confidence in the kitchen. That’s not to say that All Recipes or its kin should be responsible for shouldering that burden – honestly, I think that’s where food bloggers can be the most relevant.

  10. What an interesting discussion! For myself, I’ve long since decided that I’ll leave the complicated recipes and techniques to the professional chefs, and I’ll enjoy their creations when I eat out. My goal with home cooking, and what I share on my blog, is healthful, approachable recipes that anyone can make. I do aim to improve my photography of these dishes to make them appear more appealing to a wider audience.

    I do appreciate what you’re doing, Sean, to bring great recipes to a wider audience.

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      I think that your approach (especially when it’s well-photographed) is a good one, and certainly one that can encourage people to cook more. I love simple, approachable food, but I also get really excited about more unusual, complex, or simply unfamiliar foods and techniques. Because my own passion drives me in that direction, I feel the my work often reflect that type of food. But the further I get into it, the more aware of this looking-vs-cooking schism. Frankly, some of the haute-cuisine fancy food out there is just simple home cooking in disguise, so it’s fun to share that kind of thing too. In any case, I’m glad you’re enjoying my work, and the discussion. Cheers!

  11. What a great prospective. The forethought of creating recipes that are obtainable and delicious for varying culinary skill levels is key. From ingredients to execution it needs to be plausible. Love, love, love.

  12. Great looking salmon! Love the pecan topping. I think it goes without saying that most food bloggers are great and passionate cooks, and photography is a very important component. Personally, I feel that the most important thing to is to always remember who your intended audience is and speak to them, and to what you are trying to accomplish as a blogger. You are doing a great job in your niche of educating people about “weird” food (to quote your About page :-)) and your passion really shows. Never deviate from what you love, just to gain more traffic. All Recipes is there for a different audience. Keep up the great work.

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      Thanks Colleen! Honestly as much as I love the discussion about food blogging and food culture, it is worth saying that it’s a REALLY tasty recipe! Haha.

      And I agree with you – while I aim for a broad audience, I try to let my passion speak for itself. I think that food writing that aims to ride trends or optimize traffic is doomed to feel rather inauthentic.

  13. Great read (as always!), this is definitely a challenging topic, which calls on us food bloggers for some self reflection – much like Melissa’s post on Facebook last week(end?) about traffic as a motivator.
    For me I eat with my eyes and I visually respond – to an extent… However, at my core I am a writer, and blogs that are well written and engaging are the ones that keep me coming back. For example I love smitten kitchen and Deb’s photograph is classic, simple and not over done, her words are brilliant, engaging and story telling at its finest. She welcomes her readers into her kitchen and home, to me that is what a great blog is.
    Full props to the bloggers out there who are perfectly staging their photographs, and have parsley scattered just so, but that isn’t me and it is never doing to be. There was a period where I attempted to do this and the joy of blogging was lost to me.
    Now in the true contradiction, I never look on AllRecipes because the photography of most is missing or just not great.
    I suppose like all good things, every thing in moderation…

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      Thank you Meaghan. When I did my teaching degree, we were constantly reminded to reflect on our own work, and while it got tedious at times, it became an important motivating factor in my life. While it’s great to create for yourself, it’s always worth examining what you do and the message you’re communicating. You stop looking at your content as a product and instead start to see it as something of a narrative – and hopefully one with a distinct and positive trajectory.

      I think we all eat with our eyes at first. After all, this is a visual medium. A text-only blog with incredible recipes would most likely be doomed to failure. But you’re quite right – it’s that engaging, authentic interaction that we come to crave. The visual memory fades and we’re left with the ideas and feelings we’ve absorbed (assuming they’re there on the page in the first place!).

      I think your feelings about photography are something a lot of us encounter – we grimace at slapped-together and unpleasant presentation, but we balk at the idea of creating overly-staged and nitpicky presentations. I’ve struggled with that idea too. I feel that I’ve personally ended up in a position where I choose to view my plating and my photography as extensions of my personality. I’m not trying to achieve a certain high-brow aesthetic; instead I’m trying to achieve a form of artistry that I personally enjoy both producing and consuming. With that being said, I still concern myself with approachability and education, as this post (and these comments) have hopefully show in spades. Moderation, as you say. Thanks for coming by and for your thoughts.

  14. Sean, I totally devoured this post along with my lunch earlier this week and have been thinking about it ever since. I think every single one of us that creates, blogs and uses photography as a means to showcase our work struggles with the dichotomy of exactly what you said — making our work look interesting but yet approachable. Since I’m an art director and stylist by profession I use my blog as a way to showcase my creative work — it’s basically a portfolio with a more personal spin. But one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place is because I was always asked for recipes — so the blog is a way for me to merge my passions of making things look good, creating really delicious food and inspiring people to live a healthy lifestyle that’s attainable. I do strive to make my recipes simple, fresh and seasonal, because that’s the type of food I like to eat. Each time I create a new recipe I try to strike a balance of all these elements, and sometimes I’m more successful than others.

    This is my favourite post you’ve published and look forward to keeping up with Diversivore — both for the delicious, artfully created and beautifully photographed recipes, but also for the thoughtful conversation!

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      Justine I’ve always been amazed by your ability to walk the line. Your work is spectacularly well put together and always beautiful, and yet it never feels haughty or unattainable. I suppose that’s my way of saying that you do your job very, very well. 🙂

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed this. Honestly, as much as I try to make my recipes broadly appealing, it’s great to reach out to the blogging community and to start a dialogue, especially when that dialogue brings voices like yours to the table. All the best.

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