Baked salmon fillets with smashed olives, flat leaf parsley and garlic



Apologies – things have been a little manic here at Cooksister HQ lately, what with the go-live date for the H2Ope for Haiti charity raffle looming this Sunday while I am still trying to collate the master prize list; and getting the word out about the first ever South African Food Blogger Conference in Cape Town next month where I will be speaking.  Oh, and all the normal stuff that takes up my time like doing my day job, maintaining a social life, hosting a Valentine’s lunch, and preventing my house from disappearing under a mountain of laundry!!

So firgive my if I have been a little quiet, and if this post is a little frazzled.

Hands up – who ever feels inadequate as a food blogger? I read things on other blogs like “I never make the same meal twice!”.  Ummm…. really??  How lovely for you. I find myself returning over and over to the same aisles of the supermarket, buying the same things and preparing them in the same way because, frankly, after a day’s work and 45 minutes commute each way, I just do not have the energy to whip up something innovative in the kitchen while my husband impatiently gnaws off his own hand in hunger.

I have also discovered that the room I was planning to use as my properly lit photo studio (the conservatory) is so ridiculously cold in winter that any food placed in there throws out such clouds of steam that you can’t take a decent photo.  Besides, after a minute in there my hands are so frozen that I struggle to operate the camera, and I end up with the ambient light of the kitchen and my best friend Photoshop.  Which in turn makes the inscrutable folk at Tastespotting send me little curt rejection notes like “lighting”.  Thanks for that, people, but not all of us lead a life where we can photograph in natural daylight all the time!  More than once I’ve had to resist the urge to post a pic of brown goop on a plate under yellowish light which they have deemed fit to post, next to my rejected pic and asking readers to guess which one was accepted and which one not.

Yes, it’s been one of those weeks. Sorry.

Anyhooo.  On Wednesday night I got home determined to make something I hadn’t tried before and attempt to redeem my food blogging street cred.  In my head I had a vision of olives and fish, and in my freezer I had some wild Alaskan salmon fillets.  From such little acorns, great oaks grow.

I can’t recommend the end result highly enough.  I’m not sure why, but smashing the olives imparts a burst of flavour that the same olives whole, or neatly sliced, simply do not possess – just do it.  Even Nick, who usually has to be coaxed like a reluctant witness at a Mafia trial to tell me what he thinks of a dish, was effusive and lavish with his praise.

Take that, Tastespotting! :o)




2 portions of salmon fillet, skin on (or you can use other firm-fleshed fish)
about a dozed pitted green olives
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp butter, melted
lemon pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 180C.  Prepare two parcels out of aluminium foil or baking paper.  Lightly grease the base with a little olive oil.

Using a pestle and mortar, lightly crush the olives – you want them chunky rather than a paste.  Add the chopped parsley, garlic and melted butter and mix well, season to taste with a little lemon pepper.

Place a piece of salmon in the centre of each foil parcel, skin side down.  Spoon half the olive mix over each piece of fish and seal each parcel by folding the edges together over the top of the fish.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Serve on fluffy couscous and green vegetables (I made savoy cabbage, runner bean and courgette stir-fry).

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  1. says

    If it makes you feel any better Jeanne, who has time to go on Tastespotting and oogle other bloggers photos. If I have time I visist other peoples blogs before I am headed out the door once again. Delicious dish by the way and certainly a winning combination!

  2. says

    I can taste it despite the kitchen lighting and it’s the words that do that – far better than a glossy perfect photo any day! Most of my photos are struggling with camera shake as I try to snap the food inside in low light before everyone gobbles it up, without the flash. There’s no way that I’d get a tripod set up to shoot with, in the few momnets before completion and family devouring the meal!

  3. says

    Love it: “take that tastespotting!” True although great photography is fantastic I always wonder how many fantastic recipes/dishes get lost because someone didn’t like the photo!
    I had salmon hier soir… nothing like this though! I’m gonna make this ASAP!

  4. says

    I hear you! In “real life” not all our meals are taken at the precise hour of day when the daylight slants in just so through my window! And there are great recipes that have not (yet) seen blog time because they weren’t made at an opportune “photo time”.
    This looks delicious…I can almost taste it! I don’t have any salmon but I do have some dory fillets :) And some olives and fresh parsley :) Hooray!

  5. says

    Did Tastespotting publish the picture? I’ve given up with them, the rejection emails are just too much for my fragile ego!
    Have you looked into a light and reflector? We’ve had ours for a couple of years now and it’s been really useful. I can’t remember exactly how much we paid for it but buying online was cheaper. Doesn’t always help my pictures to get published on Tastespotting though :)

  6. says

    not make the same dish twice? huh! where is comfort and weeknight food? I could eat a LOT of things everyday:-) .. Love the flavors.
    I can take pictures only when there is light, so whatever gets cooked at night does not see the daylight of the blog.

  7. says

    I make the same recipes over and over. And yes I feel like an inadequate food blogger when I look around and see all the amazing food other poeple make. Then I feel like an inadequate photographer when I see everyone else’s photos. But I’ve devoted this year to being a better photographer. Many of my photos are taken outside on the patio, but at least it isn’t cold. I never photograph at night, but maybe I might as part of my learning curve.
    A lovely salmon dish. So quick and easy too.My kinda cooking Jeanne.

  8. says

    This is a delicious recipe Jeanne…definitely one for the recipe file..and am I glad to hear you don’t eat gourmet meals every night..we are into “quick” meals more often than I would like to admit!
    I had to catch up on SO much going on here at Cooksister! You are a busy woman…Lurpak, ad agencies, baking muffcakes, visiting SA and Plett, organizing events in sunny SA, and then even more events on internet for Haiti, joining in on a new hemisphere photo blog..Listen: I can only bow before you in admiration! Wonderfully inspiring!! Congrats on all your achievements and of course your wonderful blog and its great recipes and inspiring content…now who on Tastespotting or the likes can top that? Chapeau!!
    Ronelle xx

  9. says

    Hahaha – I share your tastespotting frustrations! Mine almost always has the “lighting” issues. And yes, then you look at some of the pics that do get published and it’s like: “Really??” Anywhoo, your pics always look superb to me, and those smashed olives sound fabulous.

  10. says

    I am truly rolling on the floor laughing! You’ve said it all so perfectly! And I’m with you, sister! I never believe when people say they don’t make the same thing twice nor do I really believe that when there is a new cake or pastry up on their blog every single day of the week that people are eating it all or that their own family isn’t running from the kitchen in horror like mine does. And something new every night? Whew boy! No way! It’s often banana, bread and cheese for my man. Lunch and dinner!
    I did see this post briefly just after you posted it and funny enough the evening before I had eaten fish with olives in the sauce at a restaurant and I had thought “olives are fabulous with fish! I must try this!” and there you are. Great recipe (I’m always saying that here) and one I must make for my hand (on one of those evenings when he doesn’t come home ravenously starved!).