Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Salmon with Beurre Blanc

This was tonight's dinner. I made a citrus ginger beurre blanc, and a huge mess. I had the white wine in the little saucepan on the stove and I was using a reamer to squeeze the orange juice over top. My hand slipped and the saucepan flipped and sent the mixture ALL over the kitchen. I was wiping orange pulp and white wine off of cupboards, the floor, the fridge and the microwave. And then I had to start all over again. But it was delicious - citrusy, not sweet, with a hint of ginger and a wonderful smoothness that made me want to eat it all with a spoon.

I plated the salmon on a bed of just barely sauteed fresh spinach, and served garlic smashed potatoes, carrots and pan-seared cherry tomatoes alongside. The potatoes, carrots and tomatoes all came from our garden. No matter how hard I try I cannot make spinach grow. It sprouts and then just sort of sits there, green and stunted. I think next year I'll just skip trying.

Beurre Blanc

1 Tablespoon minced red onion
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup white wine
juice of 1/2 orange
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup butter, in 1 inch cubes

In a small saucepan, combine the onion, ginger, white wine, orange juice and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over high heat and let boil until the mixture is reduced to about 2 Tablespoons. Lower the heat to minimum and add the cubes of butter, one at a time, whisking briskly. Make sure that each cube melts before adding the next one. Don't let the mixture get too hot or it will break and the butter will separate.
Keep warm until ready to serve.

I just salted and peppered salmon fillets, heated olive oil and a bit of butter until hot, then quickly pan-fried the salmon, adding the cherry tomatoes after turning the salmon. Serve the beurre blanc over the salmon.
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Cream of Broccoli Soup

Now that fall is here soup is on the menu more often. I could eat soup every day - there are so many ways to make it and serve it. Soup and sandwiches, soup and salad, soup and bread - the perfect pairing. On Sunday our youngest daughter and her boyfriend came for lunch before she had to fly to Alaska on her first business trip. I made this Cream of Broccoli Soup, a Roasted Tomato Tart and a Green Salad, with berries and white chocolate sauce for dessert.

Making soup from scratch doesn't take much time at all and tastes so much better than even the best packaged soup, be in from a can or a tetra pack. What made this soup special is that I sprinkled a little crumbled blue cheese on top just before serving and it melted into creaminess that blended perfectly with the fresh broccoli.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
Serves 4

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 cups broccoli, very coarsely chopped (not really chopped, in florets, with the stem in one-inch chunks)
3-4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade, or low-sodium
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons heavy cream (whipping cream)
1/4 - 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Heat oil in medium saucepan. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, but not brown. Add broccoli and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until broccoli is very tender. Let cool slightly, then puree, either with a stick blender, or regular blender. Adjust seasonings. Just before serving, stir in the cream. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle 1-2 Tablespoons of blue cheese over bowl.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Roasted Tomatoes

This is a basic recipe that can be used so many ways. I like to freeze these in containers and pull them out in the dead of winter for a taste of summer.

Wash fresh tomatoes, core them and cut them in half. Arrange the halves cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Chop one onion and sprinkle over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh thyme and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt and a twist of freshly ground black pepper over each tomato half. Place in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours. The tomatoes will release all their juices, then as the juice is reduced, a lovely caramelizing effect takes place. You will think the tomatoes are beginning to burn from the scent. Keep checking them. When done the edges should be browned and caramelized.

Try not to eat them all straight off the pan. They are as sweet as candy!

Uses for roasted tomatoes:

1.  Roasted tomato soup - Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add roasted tomatoes (about 3 halves per serving) and some chicken or vegetable broth. Simmer 15 minutes or so. Purée and finish with some heavy cream. Season to taste.

2.  Roasted tomato tart - Roll out puff pastry, partially bake and then cover with roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese or crumbled feta cheese. Toss a few fresh herbs on top - oregano, thyme, marjoram - and bake at 400 degrees until the pastry is done, about 20 minutes.

3.  Roasted tomato, green bean and shrimp salad - seen here.

4.  Use them as a side dish with roasted or grilled chicken or steak.

Roasted Tomato & Shrimp Salad, Sunshine Dessert

Tomatoes and green beans are what's most plentiful in my garden these days. I've been roasting tomatoes and freezing them, but last night used some in this delicious salad. It's based on a recipe I picked up at our local market, but I seriously changed it. I created the dressing on my own, and added shrimp to the top for a wonderful late summer dinner.

We don't have the level of cable that gives us Food TV - so sad. However, I get Foodtv.ca's newsletters and this week, they gave links to some online shows. Yeah! I watched Laura Calder with French Food at Home and was inspired to adapt what I had on hand to her recipe for summer fruit. The program was called Mediterranean Sun and there are a number of recipes from it that I scribbled down to try. This one, fresh summer peaches and prune plums drizzled with an orange flavoured honey syrup and sprinkled with pistachios was the perfect end to our late summer dinner.

Roasted Tomato, Green Bean and Shrimp Salad

8 roasted tomato halves (see recipe here)
green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 inch lengths (or leave them long)
shrimp (I used one package of frozen raw shrimp - about 30 medium shrimp)
2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
salad greens
Dressing (recipe follows)

The roasted tomatoes should be warm or at least at room temperature. Simmer the green beans for about 3 minutes in a small saucepan. Drain and plunge into an icewater bath to stop the cooking. Mix the beans with about half of the dressing (depending on how many people you are feeding, and how many beans you have, you may need the entire amount.) Keep at room temperature. Peel the shrimp (unless already done for you.) Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat and quickly add the garlic and shrimp, stirring for about 2-3 minutes until the shrimp are nicely pink. Don't overcook them.

Pile salad greens onto plates, arrange four roasted tomato halves on one side, a mound of dressed green beans on the other and the hot shrimp on top.

Dressing Recipe:

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp old style mustard, or Dijon mustard
juice of 1 orange (1/4 - 1/3 cup)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together.

Sunshine Fruit Dessert

Peaches, one per person
Prune Plums, two to three per person (or use apricots as Laura Calder did in her program)
1 Tablespoon toasted pistachio nuts per person
Honey syrup to drizzle on top (recipe follows)

Peel the peaches (immerse them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, slip them into an icewater bath and the skin will slip off easily.) Cut them in half, take out the pit and slice them into wedges. Arrange on a plate. Wash the prune plums, cut in half, pit and arrange on top of the peaches. Drizzle each plate with 1-2 Tablespoons honey syrup and sprinkle with pistachio nuts. Laura recommended a bit of crème fraîche on the side, but I didn't have any and it was delicious without.

Honey Syrup

2 T white sugar
2 T honey
1/2 cup water

Simmer until sugar is dissolved, 1 -2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon grated orange rind. Let cool. (Note: Laura's recipe suggested orange flower water, just a few drops, instead of the orange zest. Again, I used what I had on hand.)
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