Sunday, September 18, 2011

Roasted Salmon with Creamed Fennel and Onions

This recipe is simple, delicious, very elegant, and great for dinner parties. You can substitute the salmon with halibut or monkfish. Remember to buy wild fish only.

2 pieces of salmon 5-6 oz each
1 small fennel bulb, with root removed and thinly sliced
1 small-medium onion, thinly sliced
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled, sliced, and julienned (thin strips)
2 oz ginger liquor, I like to use Domaine de Canton -- they make the prettiest little 50mL bottles, drink what's left, use it as a vase
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 oz good quality chicken broth 
2 oz heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and start preparing your vegetables. Salt and pepper both sides of salmon, some people like the skin, some don't; have your fish monger remove it if you don't. Place in a saute pan, non stick is ok and place in heated oven in center rack while you do your creamed fennel. The skin will cook without having to sear it. Salmon will take about 15-20 minutes; if you like salmon on the rarer side, check it after 15 minutes. You can remove the skin after salmon is cooked as well.

Heat oil on medium-high in a non-stick pan and add sliced fennel, onion, and ginger with a generous pinch of salt. Lower heat to medium and sweat for approximately 7-10 minutes. Adjust heat if it starts to brown. "Sweating" is to soften the vegetables without adding color. Add the ginger liquor, cook for a minute or two and then add the 4 oz of chicken stock, stir, cover, and continue to soften the vegetables over medium heat. This only takes about 5 minutes or so. You can judge by tasting a piece of fennel and if it is soft or has a bite, adjust your cooking time. Stir occasionally until stock is almost absorbed and vegetables are soft. 

When veggies are softened, the salmon should be just about done. Test the temperature with your handy dandy digital thermometer or pinch the salmon with your fingers; there should be some spring to it, meaning it will be about medium. Remember less time for medium rare. Remove from oven and tent with tin foil while you finish your fennel.

Add 2 oz of the heavy cream to the fennel, salt and pepper to taste, stir to incorporate. Place desired portion in center of plate and place 1 piece of salmon on top. Accompaniments can be rice, roasted potatoes, and a salad.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shrimp in Tomato Sauce Infused with Tomato Oil

Sprinkle chopped parsley on top and serve with a side of simple plain rice, a salad and a piece of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

10 jumbo shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
6 large garlic cloves (chopped)
6 large plum tomatoes (chopped)
Parsley for garnish
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For tomato basil oil:
3-4 oz sundried tomatoes in oil
10 large basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil

First, make your tomato basil oil. In a small food processor, pulse the basil leaves and sundried tomatoes until it is coarsely mixed. With your food processor set to puree, slowly drizzle enough olive oil to form a loose paste. Then put in a fine mesh strainer lined with one layer of cheese cloth. Place over a bowl and let the oil drip to separate the oil from the solids. You will end up with a small amount of tomato basil oil -- enough for 3-4 servings.

Quarter and seed the tomatoes. Discard the pulp, and then slice the tomatoes into three strips and evenly dice. Repeat for the rest of the tomatoes. Saute diced tomatoes and chopped garlic over medium heat in 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil until the tomatoes soften. Add tomato basil oil, as little or as much as you want, then add the shrimp and saute until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Do not overcook.

Goat Cheese Quiche

This quiche is easy to make and elegant. You can add bacon or ham if you want something more rubust. I serve it with salad and garlic toast.

1 store bought 9-inch deep dish pie shell (you can make your own dough, but for you busy bees out there store bought is completely acceptable)
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
Pinch of nutmeg
1 large onion (diced)
3/4 cup heavy cream (if you want to reduce calories use light cream or even whole milk or a combination)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 oz of good quality goat cheese
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven. Saute onions and a pinch of salt in olive oil over medium heat until almost soft. Then, turn heat to medium-high to caramelize the onions. Adjust your heat if you have to -- don't burn them.

Spread onions over the bottom of the pie shell, distribute goat cheese in chunks over the onions and prepare the custard. Mix the eggs, heavy cream, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste and thoroughly whisk to incorporate. I dip my finger in to taste the custard to make sure the seasoning is correct. If you have an issue with raw egg, don't taste it and you will learn what the tart needs or doesn't need when it's done.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes and until center is set. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Marinated Flank Steak with Curried Couscous Salad

1 small flank steak (it's more than enough for 2 people)
2 sprigs rosemary
6 sprigs thyme
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Couscous (1 box -- just make the whole damn box...SOMEONE will eat it the next day)
Chicken broth (instead of water when you prepare the couscous)
1 large carrot (peeled and diced)
12 grape tomatoes (cut in half)
1/2 zucchini (diced)
1/2 red bell pepper (diced)
1/4 cup peas (freshly blanched or frozen)
1/4 cup red onion (diced)
3 scallions (chopped)
2 tbsp currants (you can use more if you'd like)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for 2 servings; adjust for the whole box)
4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp curry powder
Salt and freshly 

Combine marinade ingredients for flank steak in a blender or small food processor and process until slightly chunky. Put the meat in a bowl large enough to hold it and pour the marinade over it. 

Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight. When ready for use, bring to room temperature. Remove the meat from marinade and blot on paper towels and hold until ready to cook. While your meat is coming to room temperature, make your couscous. Meanwhile, either heat up your grill or broiler in preparation to cook the meat.

Follow the couscous directions on the box. Use chicken broth instead of water. Fluff up with a fork and transfer to a bowl to cool. Keep fluffing up so it is not lumpy because the couscous should be room temperature before you add your vegetables.

When couscous is cool enough to handle, add all your diced vegetables and parsley, stir until incorporated. Make your vinagrette. The couscous soaks up a lot of vinagrette, so be prepared to make more just in case and taste as you go. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature. 

Grill or broil your flank steak for 6-8 minutes on each side but remember to check after 4 minutes on one side. This will give you medium rare meat. Let meat sit for at least 15 minutes before you slice.