Good looks, intelligence, ambition and a sense of humor are characteristics most women look for in their future husband. But Julie Seabolt's future husband had extra appeal. He was a great cook.
Julie and Scot Seabolt met through a mutual friend. Although they dined out most of the time they were dating, Mr. Seabolt has done most of the cooking during their 10-year marriage.
A bachelor for several years before meeting his wife, Mr. Seabolt liked dining in fine restaurants. "I started trying to re-create what I had eaten at home."
His interest in cooking started when he was growing up.
"I used to help my mother cook," he says, "especially on holidays."
Although his style of cooking now has a decidedly gourmet flair, he left home able to cook old-fashioned meals of fried chicken, rice and gravy and homemade biscuits. Mr. Seabolt can whip up a batch of biscuits the way Southerners have for eons, by "feel" rather than from a recipe. A scoop of self-rising flour, some shortening and buttermilk, mixed with your hands until the dough feels just right.
"Cooking relaxes me after a long day at work," says Mr. Seabolt, an account executive for TV station WJBF (Channel 6) and an avid boater and golfer. He moved to Augusta in 1981 after graduating from Western Carolina University in his home state of North Carolina. He has been in TV advertising sales since graduation.
Mr. Seabolt enjoys grilling and preparing pasta dishes for his family. "I try to meet the adult tastes with the preferences of my 6- and 7-year-old children," he said.
This week I'm sharing Mr. Seabolt's recipe for crumb-and-herb-crusted baked salmon. It's the perfect entree to serve the night before the big turkey feast on Thanksgiving.
The skin is removed from salmon fillets, and the fillets are coated in olive oil, then with a chiffonade of basil and finally crushed herbed stuffing.
Removing the skin from a salmon fillet is simple if you have a good sharp knife. I follow the procedure outlined by Mark Bitman in How to Cook Everything. Place a fillet skin-side down on a cutting board. Take the knife and cut a small piece from one end, exposing the skin. "Grasp the exposed piece of skin and insert the knife between the skin and flesh, angled slightly toward the skin. Run the knife up the entire length of the fish."
Mr. Seabolt's recipe also calls for a chiffonade of basil, a process of stacking the leaves in a pile, rolling them up like a cigar, then slicing the "cigar" into thin slices that look like ribbons. Repeat until the whole bunch of basil is used.
If you have extra basil, Mr. Seabolt recommends chiffonading it, then placing it in a zip-top plastic bag and sticking it in the freezer for another time.
Once the fillets are rubbed in olive oil, sprinkled with garlic powder, salt and black pepper and are coated with the basil, Mr. Seabolt presses them into crushed Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing. The dry stuffing is easily crushed. Simply place the desired amount in a plastic bag, then crush with a rolling pin.
Or place the stuffing in a food processor and pulse until the crumbs are fine. "Sometimes I like to add some grated Parmesan cheese to the crumbs for a different flavor," Mr. Seabolt says.
If you have trouble finding fresh basil in your supermarket, Mr. Seabolt recommends another variation of the dish. He omits the olive oil, basil and seasonings and rubs the fillets with honey mustard before coating with the stuffing crumbs.
Both versions are tasty ways to prepare boneless, skinless chicken breasts or pork chops, Mr. Seabolt says. Simply increase the baking time accordingly.
When the salmon fillets are coated with the stuffing crumbs, Mr. Seabolt tucks the thinner ends under. This allows the fillets to cook evenly. He places the fillets on a cooling rack, then on a baking sheet. They bake for 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven.
Mr. Seabolt serves his salmon with packaged rice pilaf and steamed broccoli, his children's favorite vegetable.
4 salmon fillets, skin removed
1 bunch fresh basil, washed, stems removed and cut into a chiffonade
Salt, ground black pepper and garlic powder to taste
1 cup Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing, finely crushed
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle fillets on both sides with olive oil and rub in with your hands. Using your hands, pat basil chiffonade onto fillets. Place stuffing crumbs on a plate and press both sides of fillets into crumbs, coating well. Tuck thin ends of fillets under and place fillets on a cooling rack on a baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrient analysis is provided by registered dietitians of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send an e-mail to email@example.com.