Sunday, November 8, 2009

A fall-inspired Sunday dinner for 2

Yup, it is dinner for 2. Regardless, I like to do it as if our table is an empty canvas to be filled with sensually appealing colors, flavors and textures. Tonight, I went with what is available in the farmer's market: broccolini sprouts, arugula and romaine mix, wild salmon and jumbo shrimps. And of course, baguette from our favorite bakery's La Maison du Pain.


Salmon and Shrimps with Olive Oil and Garlic ( I want to call it vampire shrimps and salmon, because I use lots of garlic, a whole bulb enough to kill a vampire. ) I have no scientific proof for that, only old wives' tales.

olive oil, 3 tablespoons
butter, one tablespoon
goya adobo seasoning
a whole bulb of garlic, skinned and macerated cloves

Heat up the cast iron pan. When fully hot ( unable to touch, but the heat can be felt three inches high from the pan ), add olive oil and butter, and quickly, the macerated garlic. Add the shrimps, when they turn pink in their shells and the meat inside is no longer raw, about 3 minutes ( do not overcook ), they are ready. Set them aside.

Take the salmon fillet and apply generously Goya adobo seasoning on both sides of the fillet. I chose wild salmon, the preferred in our family, and luckily they were available at the Farmer's market. I took it home, with a bag of ice, as fish is a perishable product, that needs to be refrigerated. In lieu of refrigeration, a bag of ice is an alternative. Well, that also goes for the shrimps..., with bagged ice as its partner in transport.

Sear the salmon, skin first, over medium heat, in the cast iron pan with olive oil and butter. Folks ask me why the combination - because by itself, butter will burn, so will olive oil and the worst taste is burnt oil. But the combination allows a higher temperature to be attained without burnt oil taste. Searing is done when you can move the salmon with a tong with ease and it can be turned over and ever so gently please so as not to ruin the fillet. Sear the other side.

Observe the sides of the fillet, you will see a change in translucency. Why is that observation important? It will be the visual indicator of how fish cooks, without overcooking it. Observe the raw salmon's color, and notice the color of the fish as it cooks, just before the sides of the fish turn white, remove the pan from the stove.

Pre-heat oven to 350 F, and finish cooking only long enough until the salmon flakes off. Turn off the oven. Why? Residual heat from the pan and the oven's give the fish additional cooking time. It would be enough to finish the cooking of the fish, without the risk of overcooking.

My hubby of course complimented the salmon as done just right! I do not live for his compliments, but it is nice to hear it especially since I try to make a masterpiece of my cooking each night, well sometimes, I only manage colors and textures, and flavors will be off. That happens when I am in a foul mood. So, when I am in that funky mood, I do not like to cook.

Garlic Parmesan Bread

Baguette from La Maison du Pain
Three cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of butter or more, if needed
Parmesan cheese ( two thick slices )

Use a small processor, a 4 cup size. Add mashed garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 slices of parmesan cheese and grind into a paste. Break open the baguette and apply the paste. Place in a pre-heated oven at 375 F for 5 minutes, enough to melt the butter. This cheese is not mozarella, so it will not melt completely, and there will be bits and pieces when you bite into the baguette. But, this is just the yummiest garlic bread you would have tasted.

How do I know?

Well, Steve came up with this recipe, we watched him melt the butter, add the garlic and grated parmesan cheese as he prepared the garlic bread to go with the gumbo. I decided to tweak his recipe and not melt the butter, and just allow it to happen when the bread is heated in the oven with garlic, butter and parmesan cheese paste. My hunch was right, and I saved myself an extra step of melting butter in the microwave. And it is so good!


Arugula and Romaine Mix
Jicama, skinned and cut up into pieces
Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced
Persimmons, peeled and cut into quarters
Broccolini Sprouts, raw ( a handful )

Dressing: Use a processor and mix in 12 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon seasoned, gourmet rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar with raisin syrup, salt and pepper. If a bit sour, add a teaspoon of sugar. It is slightly sweet, citrusy, light dressing. Add the dressing to the salad mix.

We decided our dessert is either cinnamon/lemongrass tea ( which my hubby makes from scratch, using lemon grass from the backyard and cinnamon sticks - he has a precise formula that after boiling them together, a very tasty tea that is not too sweet and slightly lemony in taste) or brewed colombian coffee.

The entire meal took me 20 minutes to cook, including preparation time. It was gone in less than 10 minutes.

I wish sometimes for the European way of eating, three hours at the table, prolonged conversations, so much laughter and of course two glasses of wine at dinner time.

Except, for me, only my hosts get to drink, as I am allergic to wine!

Ha, ha, I am actually okay with the American efficient way of eating, I get to blog afterwards and feel like I am preserving the family's recipes for the next generation.

Actually, I love blogging what I cook and what I create. It keeps me motivated, particularly when readers stop me at events and tell me they read the blog. I just wish they leave the comments on this blog instead.

Bon Appetit, till the next one!!


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