Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Valentine's Dinner

All opinions of Valentine's Day aside, it still provides a good excuse to cook a slightly nicer dinner. Mylo had his choice of menus for the evening. Beef, fish, or lamb. He chose fish, so I prepared a salmon stuffed with three kinds of mushrooms, wrapped and sauteed in rice paper, and served atop a bed of mixed greens that covered a small bunch of asparagus and a flattened mound of garlic fingerling mashed potatoes. I do not typically follow recipes (like my mother or her mother or her mother's mother, etc.), but I prefer to go by taste, usually my taste.

The stuffed fish is a variation on a dish that I learned at Hip Cooks (a fun, simple, and tasty cooking class offered near downtown Los Angeles by a fun, wacky, and affable teacher, Chef Monika; it focuses on fundamentals and easier recipes that are beginner-cook-friendly; I highly recommend Hip Cooks as a social outing among a group of girlfriends; http://www.hipcooks.com/). The periphery (micro greens, asparagus, and mashed potatoes) I added myself.

Stuff Salmon with Three Kinds of Mushroom
4 individual serving salmon filets, skinned and boned
6 ozs. each of button, cremini, and oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, yellow or white, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 T. unsalted butter
4 T. olive oil, preferably extra virgin (EVOO)
4 large rice paper (spring roll) wrappers
chives
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large sauce pan, saute the mushrooms, garlic, and onion with 2 T. each of the butter and oil, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cut the salmon filets length-wise, horizontally, to the middle. Soak the rice paper in hot water, one at a time, until soft. When the mushrooms are softened, spoon a large portion into the salmon filet. Put 2-3 chives on top of the stuffed salmon filet lengthwise (this is more decorative than for taste). Carefully wrap the stuffed filet with the softened rice paper, especially the stuffed portion of the filet. Saute all sides evenly in the remaining 2 T. of butter and oil (add more if you need to) until the salmon is no longer translucent, but a healthy thick pink.

From here, I laid the salmon on top of a bed of mixed (or micro) greens drizzled with EVOO and flavored with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Underneath the mixed greens, I placed a flattened portion of multi-colored fingerling mashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus. Approximates below.

Sauteed Asparagus
1 bunch of asparagus
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. EVOO
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Either shave the asparagus stalks (using a vegetable peeler, remove the outer layer of the asparagus skin from the middle of the stalk to the bottom) or cut them (bend one of the stalks until it breaks; where it breaks, line up the rest of the bunch to this stalk, and cut the bunch to the same length). This ensures that you are using the tenderest part of the asparagus stalks. Heat a sauce pan with the butter and EVOO. Add the garlic and asparagus and saute until carmelization starts (e.g., it browns).

Fingerling Mashed Potatoes
(I used a mixed array of colored potatoes, but the mashed potatoes looked too much like Play-Do, so stick with one color of potatoes)
1 bag of fingerling potatoes (they usually come in small bags)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 T. EVOO
4 T. unsalted butter
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Wash the potatoes and put them in a pot of cold water (make sure they are all covered in the water). Bring the water to a boil with the potatoes in the pot. When they are fork-tender, remove them from the water, and mash them (skins and all) with the garlic, EVOO, and unsalted butter. Add oil, butter, salt and/or pepper as needed (remember to taste along the way).

Plating the Dish
Place a healthy portion of the mashed potatoes in the center of a plate (preferably a white plate) and flatten. Place 4 of the asparagus stalks on top of the potatoes. Put a bunch of mixed greens on top and drizzle with EVOO, adding salt and pepper to taste. Place the salmon (chives side up) on top of the mixed greens. Serve immediately and enjoy!

1 comment:

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