Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

What would the perfect New Year's Eve celebration be?

  • ...intimate with time to catchup with each guest while sharing the prep (with lots of laughter, of course)?
  • ...seasonal, sophisticated, yet simple?
  • ...candlelight and scents of bayberry?
  • ...local greens as swags looping the railing and wreaths perking up the mantle?
  • ...a menu composed of some local food from each guest where ever their home post?

With Sockeye salmon personally caught and carried in a cooler directly from Alaska, homemade apple sauce from farmers market apples, the spice rub infused with rich coffee hailing from The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up (and that’s local) and ham from the southern region, a taste of many regions was in store.

A lush perky salad fulfilled the leafy green repertoire while fresh green beans played the standard part of that classic green bean casserole. The refreshing homemade applesauce and crunchy bread all made a melange of textures.

The kaleidoscope of cookies and candy stayed close at hand while games and laughter were the final act.


Loaded Fresh Salad-Butter lettuce, Blackberries, Avocado, Red Bell, Cheese

Garlic Roasted Mixed Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole-get ye to Trader Joe’s for can-free soup

Cedar Plank Grilled & Rubbed fresh Alaskan Sock Eye Salmon (give rub recipe) w/ Cranberry Tangelo Salsa-give recipe

Brown Sugar Crusted Ham

Homemade ‘local’ Apple Sauce

Kalamata Olive bread, baguettes

Potluck Homemade Cookies

Bubbly (this crowd adores Prosecco)



Cedar Plank Grilled and Rubbed Fresh Alaskan Sock Eye Salmon

Serves 8-10

Use a very reputable fish market to get the freshest wild salmon available. The flavor was incredibly clean from this ‘a la moment’ transported wild Alaskan salmon. The spice rub-or mop adds a rich robust essence.

Java Spice Rub

  • 4 tablespoons finely ground dark-roast coffee beans
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or other large-flake salt
  • 1 teaspoon bottled hot sauce
  • 2 untreated cedar plank (6 by 14 inches)
  • 2 salmon fillets (about 3-4 pounds total)

Prepare the spice rub by mixing the ingredients. (Any extra may be frozen in an airtight container).

Soak cedar plank in salted water for 2 hours, then drain.

Remove skin from salmon fillet. Remove any remaining bones. Rinse the salmon under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season both sides with the rub.

Set up the grill for direct grilling on medium-high.

When ready to grill, place both planks on the hot grate and leave it until you see a bit  of smoke-about 3 minutes.

Turn the plank over and place the fish on top. Repeat for the second fish filet. Cover the grill and cook until firm but not dry-about 30 minutes depending on thickness of fillets. Check frequently and have a water mister handy if the edges start to catch fire.


Cranberry CLementine Salsa 

Makes about 3 cups

Colorful and tangy, this fresh salsa heightens the smoky flavor of grilled seafood.

  •  4 Clementines, peeled and sectioned
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

Cut clementine sections in small pieces. Combine all ingredients; cover and let stand 1 hour to season.

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