If you happen to have a nice, sushi-grade wild caught sockeye salmon, try this dish as a delicious and refreshing amuse bouche.
I know I've not updated in quite some time, but seeing as how summer is in full swing here in Dallas, my only excuse is that it's hot. Really hot. So, in weekends past we've had friends in town, gone to see Lady Gaga, trolled McKinney Square for some good breakfast, and reserved "boardroom - sized" private rooms for birthday parties of 6. W and I have been making an honest effort at eating more healthy recently, and part of that is including some fish in our weekly repertoire. One of my favourite recent discoveries is that we have a Gordon Biersch less than 10 minutes from our house. One of the meals that always makes me smile is their Cedar Plank Seared Salmon with a Creamy Dill Sauce. I tried to make an attempt at that slightly sweet, very tangy, herb filled sauce, and while it's not a direct copy, I think the flavour profile inspiration is there. Try this dish and let me know what you think!
Since returning from our vacation last month, I haven't really been incredibly motivated to cook. But, now that we've been home for a few weeks, the creativity is starting to return. As we haven't had risotto in a while, I decided to empty the pantry one night by making a dish that included leeks, carrots, and peas and tie it all together with some saffron and good quality balsamic vinegar. Pairing the risotto with some chicken sausages makes for a nice homey weeknight meal.
And then we made it to Paris. What an amazingly lovely city on the Seine, rich with history and culture . . . and FOOD! I'd wanted to go to Paris for at least the last 10 years. With our fourth anniversary approaching, Weston and I decided France would be our anniversary gift to each other. So, arriving in Paris was interesting. We again rented a flat through VRBO, and although it lacked the charming owners of Villa Margarita, it had its own appeal. At 123 Rue Saint Honore, it was so close to the Louvre that we were able to walk the grounds ever day. We were also above a very highly rated patisserie (that appeared in our Paris Insight eating guide) and every morning we were greeted with the smell of baking bread.
I know, I know. It's been a long time coming. Since about October, W and I have been excitedly awaiting our trip to the Cote D'Azur and Paris. The culmination of every birthday and holiday since last October. We skipped a big vacation last year to finally upgrade our backyard and get our garden started. This. This was the trip I'd been waiting for since our amazing experience in Italy and the Amalfi Coast. It did not disappoint. If Italy was the trip that broadened my horizons when it came to food, this was the vacation that validated my love of simple, local, and extremely fresh ingredients, and that although presumably biased, the Michelin star actually means something, from the level of food preparation to the flourish of presentation. Our first visit to a Michelin starred restaurant was Melisse in Santa Monica, CA in October, and after that experience, we committed to making an attempt at visiting a Michelin star in France.
My husband is Garfield. I don't mean to imply he really is a large orange cat famous for his affection for lasagne, but my husband does love lasagne. And he had a large orange cat when we met, so perhaps there may be something to that. We had a very busy day of cooking over W's birthday this weekend. One of our friends who was coming over to help celebrate is a vegetarian, so along with the homemade pizzas we were planning on baking, I wanted to try something a bit different. Something that was a departure from the bechamel, bolognese, and pasta that I'm used to. Something without any meat. The answer was found in a lovely roasted butternut squash filling that had an assortment of vegetables and cannelini beans. Fresh pasta is the key to this dish, so I highly recommend rolling out your own. It's well worth it, and so incredibly easy to do, you'll wonder why you haven't been doing it all along!
I very rarely make breakfast, except for when the occasion calls for it. Yesterday was my dear husband's birthday, so I decided to make an attempt at some baked eggs. Since I love spinach so much, I decided that combine the two to create an easy and delicious breakfast! This dish was simple enough; saute some spinach in a small amount of butter and heavy cream, season according to taste, and drop in a couple of eggs. Simple, right? Well, you would think that, but this was my first ever attempt at baking eggs rather than cooking them on a range, and frankly, I'm not so great at moderating temperature when I can't see the eggs. I cooked my eggs for far too long, as my whites seemed to never firm up. Just keep checking on them, and if you have to, touch them to assure the whites are done. The drizzle of cream over the top makes the whites appear runnier than they are, so as long as you keep that in mind, you should be much more successful at this dish than I was, though it was still exceptionally tasty!
I absolutely love when Spring is in full bloom here in Texas. The weather is a nearly perfect 75 degrees for about 3 weeks, with slight breezes and very minimal rain. This weekend, my husband and I drove to Houston to see my brand new nephew and to visit my in-laws. On the way home from a lovely weekend of family fun and delicious food, including BBQ country ribs grilled by my father-in-law, and an indulgent late lunch at my in-law's restaurant, Fat Mikes at the Market in Spring, my husband and I stopped to play in the bluebonnets. Seeing as how I'd never taken part in the traditional Texan ceremony of taking photos in the bluebonnets, my husband and I decided to pull over at an enormous hill full of them - between mile marker 169 and 170 heading north on 75. It's unreal. I'd never seen so many in one place before, so I happily hiked up the hill to get our pictures taken. Now, onto the food. It's spring. It's grilling weather. I really, really wanted to grill something different, but simple. Because flank steak is tougher than other cuts, I might suggest a flat iron steak as an option if you're constrained for time. I added too much olive oil (or too few herbs) to the Chimichurri Sauce, but I've written the recipe so that it should turn out to be a somewhat chunkier sauce. Also, I think it would make a delicious dressing for pasta, so I may try that in a future post once our garden really gets going.
Every single time I suggest making a fish dish, Weston sort of turns up his nose and suggests something else, often beef, lamb, or pork based. However, Alton Brown is a complete genius and I owe him a debt of gratitude for opening W's eyes to the beauty of fresh fish! While watching Alton's The Pouch Principle this past week, my dear, normally fish-isct husband suggested that he might actually eat Alton's Red Snapper en Papillote. Excited that I might be able to change his mind about fish in much the same way I was able to change his mind about pumpkin based dishes, we set out to gather the freshest and best ingredients we could find. One thing we did notice, is that often an entire fish is much less expensive per pound than a comparable fish filet ($19.99/lb. of filet, and our entire 2.8 lb whole snapper was $24.99 total), so if you don't mind a few bones, baking a whole fish in an envelope of parchment paper is probably a much more low cost option for a significant payoff! This dish is certainly impressive once the envelope is cut open and the lovely smells waft your way. I guarantee, if you have a fish hater in your house, they will surely change their tune if you offer this delectable buttery fish dish to them! I'm so glad we tried it, because you'll be much more likely to see more fresh dish on my blog from this point forward. Yay! :)
I wanted to post something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. For nearly a year, in fact. Last June, my sister married my husband's best friend in Lake Tahoe. This was their wedding cake. Pure, wedding cake bliss. I went on a mission today to see if I could locate the recipe, and found this one by Bobby Flay. It looks pretty close, but I'm sure Leah will correct me if I've sourced it from the wrong place.