Salmon Recipe and a Delicious Holiday Tradition

Reader Contribution by John D. Ivanko and Inn Serendipity

We might be joining others in a Yuletide Tradition.  Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and The Osthoff Resort provide a Christmas past, present and future.  My son and I took a break from our wood-chopping and winter preparations last year to savor a feast of flavors and experiences at one of Wisconsin’s greener accommodations, The Osthoff Resert, touched upon in my earlier ecotourism-related escape to the area during the warmer months

This shares a few of our festive highlights as we head toward the Winter Solstice, featuring a recipe for Salmon en Papillote with Grand Marnier Orange Beurre Blanc, straight from our five-course traditional French Christmas Dinner at the L’ecole de la Maison cooking school at the Osthoff Resort.  The cooking school is a memorable treat for any farmstead chef and the dish is perfect for a holiday meal with family or friends.

Cooking at L’ecole de la Maison

Upon arriving to the spacious, state-of-the-art kitchen with a large center island, our small group of nine foodies made a quick study at the L’ecole de la Maison Cooking School under the calm guidance of The Osthoff Resort’s Executive Chef Scott Baker.  Different parts of the made-from-scratch meals were gathered in each work area with proportioned ingredients, any tools needed to get the job done and an instruction sheet and recipe.  Some of the ingredients actually came from The Osthoff Resort’s own growing fields on the property.

We reviewed the notes for our prep station, then received some tips and coaching from Chef Baker or two of his attentive staff.  Then they turned us loose on dicing, slicing, shredding, mixing and blending.  From duck stock to clarified butter, we embraced our farm-to-table experience, looking to hone our skills and have a delicious time doing so.

For the first few hours, we worked in amazement as the different elements of the elaborate holiday meal came together.  Consomme with profiteroles.  Arugula salad with roasted beets and hazelnut crusted chevre.  Coquilles St. Jacques au gratin.  Roast goose with clementines and madeira sauce.  Garlic potato duchess.  While our group ranged in age and cooking experience, no task was out of reach or couldn’t be done with a few pointers from the pros.

With the enticing smells overwhelming us at times, we were eventually invited to grab a seat about three hours into the cooking session at a long white linen-covered table, take a sip of wine and enjoy our first course.  Seeing how the many different parts of the meal came together without having to prepare each one was a treat.  We took turns sharing what we did and how we did it.  By the second and third courses, the wine was flowing as readily as the conversations.  Our meal was on par with the finest of 5-star restaurants.  Perhaps better, since we did it ourselves.

Getting in the Holiday Spirit

While the L’ecole de la Maison Cooking School was my favorite way to usher in the season, it wasn’t the only way to do so.  Reminiscent of Nuremburg’s Christkindlesmarkt, we browsed the aisles of specialty shops overflowing with nutcrackers, glass ornaments and handmade jewelry at the Old World Christmas Market set up in a spacious, heated outdoor tent.  We savored German Nuremberg bratwurst and chatted it up with Old Saint Nick.    

Not to miss is the Christmas celebration hosted by The Wade House located along Highway 23 just outside town (first two weekends in December).  For some homesteaders, cooking over the wood-fired hearth and riding on the horse-drawn wagon over to the sawmill and 1850s Wade House Stagecoach Inn may be quite familiar.  But being greeted by carolers in the New Wade House Visitor Center, a Travel Green Wisconsin certified Wisconsin Historic Site, does put you in the mood, especially as we later sipped warmed cider and sampled Christmas pudding at the end of a guided tour of the Wade House.  We even enjoyed the lighting of a freshly cut and decorated tree, flickering with hand-lit candles.

Back at The Osthoff Resort, on weekends, families with kids can also join the brunch with Santa, where everything, including the hot cocoa and pancake bars, is served from three-foot-high tables, perfect for the young ones.  For the grown-ups looking to unwind before the holidays, treat yourself to a holistic and organic treatment at Aspira Spa.

Now this is a tradition worth starting.

Salmon en Papillote with Fennel and Orange Recipe

From L’ecole de la Maison Cooking School at The Osthoff Resort

Yield: serves 8


• 2 tbsp butter, unsalted, softened
• 8 sheets parchment paper cut in heart shape
• 8 each, 5 oz. salmon fillets, boneless, skinless
• 3 tbsp butter, unsalted
• 1 each, fennel bulb, thin julienne
• 3 each, carrots, thin julienne
• 1 each, leek, thin julienne
• 3 each, plum tomato, peeled, seeded, julienne
• 2 tbsp fennel fronds
• 2 tbsp orange zest
• to taste sea salt
• to taste black pepper

Grand Marnier Orange Beurre Blanc (following recipe)


1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.

2. Prepare parchment by rubbing soft butter on the center of the parchment hearts, leaving about 3 inches around the outside.

3. Heat a saute pan with straight sides, add 3 T. of butter, when foaming add the fennel, carrot and leeks. Cook stirring until softened (about 5 minutes).  Let the vegetables cool, then add the julienne tomato.

4. Divide vegetables evenly between each of the parchment sheets, placing them onto the right side of the heart.

5. Season both sides of the salmon with salt, pepper, orange zest and fennel fronds.

6. Place salmon fillets onto the vegetables.

7. Close the parchment, seal tight and place on a sheet plan.

8. At service time, bake in the oven until pouch is golden and puffed (about 6 to 8 minutes).

9. Remove and carefully cut open pouch (steam will be released).

10. Transfer the fish and vegetables from the pouch to serving plates and finish with Grand Marnier orange beurre blanc.

Grand Marnier Orange Beurre Blanc Recipe

From L’ecole de la Maison Cooking School at The Osthoff Resort

Yield: 1 cup


• 1 tbsp shallot, minced
• ½ c. dry white wine
• 1 tbsp lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
½ c. orange juice (fresh squeezed)
• 2 tbsp Grand Marnier
• 1 tbsp heavy cream
• ½ lb. butter, unsalted, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 2 tsp parsley, minced
• to taste sea salt
• to taste ground white pepper


1. Combine shallots, white wine, lemon juice and orange juice in a saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce almost dry and syrupy.

2. Add Grand Marnier and heavy cream.

3. Start whisking in butter cubes on a medium-low flame.

4. Add one or two butter cubes at a time, managing the heat by pulling the pan on and off the heat as needed.

5. Whisking constantly, incorporate all of the butter, maintaining a creamy sauce consistency (the sauce should not look clarified or separated).

6. Add the parsley, then taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

7. Use immediately or hold in a warm place until ready.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authoredRural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winningECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chefalong with operatingInn Serendipity B&Band Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are regular speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer andphotographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently,9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of John’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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