Friday, February 2, 2018

Lesson of the Hazelnut and Brigids Hazelnut Crusted Salmon Recipe

I've been a flamekeeper to honor the Irish Goddess Brigid for a few years now with a group called Bridgis Mantle. I keep an altar to her all year.  Flamekeepers light and tend a flame, usually a candle from sundown on their day until the sundown the following day. Flamekeeping groups usually have 19 members, and each takes a shift on different days the 20th day the flame is kept by the Goddess Brigid herself, as per tradition. There are many ways to honor her during flamekeeping. Writing, making or listening to music, artistic projects, caring for your animals, blessing your home, and healing work are among the many activities sacred to Brigid. Among her many attributes, Brigid is a Goddess of the hearth, and in a modern home, that's often the oven and stove, she is also a Goddess that feeds the hungry, so I love to make a special meal on my flamekeeping days.

Imbolc (circa February 2) is also Brigids feast day, it's another day when I light candles in her honor, blessing my home.  I also like to make a special meal on Imbolc so I decided to make hazelnut crusted salmon for dinner and a dessert of blackberry strudel topped with vanilla bean ice cream, all are foods associated with the Goddess Herself.

I lit my candles at sundown on my Brigid altar, Once I lit the candles on my altar,  next, I needed to get dinner going, I had been so busy throughout the day I hadn't cracked those hazelnuts yet, so I needed to get on it.

I found a recipe online to use as a guideline. (here is the original) Being a pretty creative kitchen witch and often changing things as I go, I knew I would do the same with this recipe and make it my own.  The one ingredient I knew would not be altered was hazelnuts, and I knew of a store in town where I could get them in the shell.

Just one problem...I couldn't find my nutcracker. Not anywhere! Dan and I tore apart the kitchen and the dining room but to no avail. Everything was put away from Yule and that was the last time we had nuts to crack, so I finally gave up on the nutcracker.  As far as the hazelnuts though, I would not be undone! I grabbed a couple bowls and a hammer and marched undaunted to the concrete front porch. I'm sure the joggers passing by thought I was nuts, no pun intended.

I went forward with my hammer (a tool of Brigid's forge incidentally) and one by one I not only cracked those nuts, but I did it with more speed than I probably could have with the nutcracker. As I worked I figured out the best way to do it, and after crushing a couple, I found the optimal way to do it removing the shell and freeing the meat within with the greatest of ease! The hazel is a Celtic tree that represents inspiration, wisdom, and creative energy, and it occurred to me as I worked that creativity is the problem solving ability that has helped mankind survive and prosper since the beginning of time! How to crack a nut, make a weapon for hunting from bone, flint, and wood, making fire, and every invention since from the printing press to the smart phone was worked out by a creative mind. We think of the term "creativity" in connection with the arts, painting, music, writing, but in fact, humans use the power of creativity in every aspect of life every time we look at a problem from a new perspective. So I listened to the lesson of the hazelnut as it taught me the best way to get my family fed in style, and thus the lesson of the Goddess Brigid as well as she whispered to me on my porch on Imbolc evening, did she plant the idea in my head? "Try turning it point side up, resting on the flat side. one blow with the hammer and it just might work." And it did, just about every time! More about the Celtic hazel tree wisdom here!
I balanced the flat top side of the hazelnut on the concrete and delivered one quick blow with the hammer. The shell popped right off pieces shooting to the sides and leaving the meat of the nut right where it sat and most were in one piece!
Pow! It worked again! Perfect!

I chopped the nuts up for my recipe.
Salmon on parchment lined baking sheet, covered with the mayo and Dijon mustard mix, sprinkled with salt and pepper. Now top with crushed hazelnuts!
Orange zest! Here's what my orange looked like when I was done, if yours does too, you did it right!
Hot from the oven!

I served it up with tiny potatoes, beans and carrots.
It was delish!

Want my version of the recipe? Here you go! I hope your family loves it as much as mine did and I hope it inspires some inspiration!

Hazelnut Crusted Salmon

2 lbs salmon fillets, boneless with skin on, I used Aldi brand 
1/2 cup olive oil mayonaise
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups chopped hazelnuts
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (or dried rosemary ground)
1 tsp. fresh thyme (or dried)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 400 degrees f. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. mix the mayo and dijon together. Put the salmon on the baking sheet skin side down. Brush or spread the dijon/mayo mixture over all the fillets. Top with the chopped hazelnuts. Sprinkle the herbs over the tops of each piece of salmon then top with orange zest. Bake about 15 minutes.

Blessed Be!