SALMON A LA WELLINGTON, REVISITED


You know you’ve been blogging for a while when you got more than one recipe for Salmon Wellington… My previous take is pretty much our default method, because using phyllo dough considerably reduces the richness of the dish.  We make it regularly. It is interesting how once you keep making a recipe that seems quite involved at first, it becomes so easy to prepare you act as if it’s just like grilling a steak. First weekend of the year (with Salmon Wellington in my mind), I asked Phil if he had any particular recipe he’d been craving. I could not believe my ears when he picked it, almost instantaneously.  That’s when fate worked against us. We could no find phyllo dough at our store. Only phyllo cups. Drove to store number 2. No luck. Plenty of boxes of phyllo cups, empty shelf where the sheets would be. In despair, drove to Wal-Mart, a place I almost never visit. No cigar. Once you have a craving, you have a craving. Puff pastry it would be.  And since we started messing up with our classic, I changed a few more things and here I am to share this new version with you. It turned out excellent, and it might take the default spot for a while… An extra session of aerobics and we’ll be fine.

SALMON WELLINGTON
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

3 pieces of salmon filet, about 6 ounces each)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil
1 large stalk celery, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup cooked crab meat, shredded (from 2 small crab legs)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
1/2 block cream cheese, at room temperature
minced fresh cilantro, to taste
1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge for several hours
flour to roll out the pastry
egg wash made with 1 egg, 1 tsp water and a pinch of salt

Heat oven to 375 F (see notes).

Prepare the topping by sauteing the celery and shallot pieces in olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. When all soft and translucent, transfer to a small bowl to cool down slightly. Add the cream cheese, lemon juice, shredded crab meat and fresh cilantro, mix all gently but well and reserve.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Roll out the puff pastry over a counter top lightly dusted with flour. Try to get it really thin, ideally one sheet should be enough to wrap three small salmon filets. Place the salmon filet over it, make sure it is dry, blot it with paper towels if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper. Place a good portion of cream cheese mixture on top. Wrap the filets with the dough. I actually found it easier to flip the pieces after the photo was taken, so that the filling is on top, and the edges of the pastry meet at the bottom of the parcel.

Cut a slit in the center of the packages. Brush with egg wash. Bake for about 22 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Let it cool slightly and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: A few pointers for success. First, if your pieces of salmon are not uniform in thickness, simply fold the thinner part underneath the piece, to prevent it from getting over-cooked and dry.  Second, roll the puff pastry as thin as you can without tearing it or making it too hard to wrap around the filets. One sheet of puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm in the brand I got) will be enough to wrap three small filets of fish.  Third, do not bake for more than 25 minutes, so that your salmon will still be moist and flavorful. With the pastry rolled thin, it will be long enough to fully bake it. The fish will be perfect inside, protected by the nice layer of crab and cream cheese mixture.

We enjoyed two of these babies at dinner, and next day shared the third one for lunch. I am very picky about eating leftover salmon, rarely find it tasty. This time was an exception, we placed it in the microwave for 2 minutes, to jump-start heating from the center, then immediately transferred it to our small oven at 400F. Worked great, the meat was still perfectly cooked and moist.

This would be a perfect dish for entertaining, as you can assemble it all in advance. When it’s time to eat, place in the oven and get the side dishes ready. Your guests will be impressed, I am sure… And let’s not even forget that Valentine’s Day is coming up fast… Salmon Wellington followed by a little chocolate lava cake sounds like a dream come true. Although we all know that real dreams are made of macarons…

NOTE ADDED AFTER PUBLICATION: A reader made this recipe and found that cooking at 400F works better because the puff pastry will benefit from it. If you shorten the time to 21 minutes in the oven, you won’t have over-cooked salmon and the puff pastry will be gorgeous.  So consider that change.  Thanks blackbird for the feedback…

Dinner is served!
Salmon Wellington, buttered asparagus, fresh oysters, a little Caesar salad…

ONE YEAR AGO: The Unbearable Unfairness of Cake Baking

TWO YEARS AGO: Hermit Cookies

THREE YEARS AGO: Cremini Mushroom Meatloaf

FOUR YEARS AGO: Ottolenghi & Tamimi’s Roast Chicken with Clementines

FIVE YEARS AGO: Eight-Ball Zucchini: The Missing Files

SIX YEARS AGO: Grilling Ribbons

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Peppery Cashew Crunch

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ossobuco Milanese: an Italian Classic

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

RIO OLYMPICS 2016: A GOLD MEDAL MENU

Corcovado_statue01_2005-03-14By Klaus with K – CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1970179

Olympic games are going at full speed, these are two exciting weeks! So much to follow, we tend to stay up late trying to catch up with the events we enjoy the most: swimming, running, track and field, synchronized diving, gymnastics, volleyball, beach volleyball, soccer, and this time even golf  is keeping us glued to the TV screen… Three words for you: Simone Biles rocks. 

41XPB6v6T9L

In this post I share a full menu with Brazilian goodies published in previous years, but first I offer a new take on Shrimp Moqueca, adapted in honor of the games.

 

ShrimpMoquecaGolden

SALLY’S GOLDEN SHRIMP MOQUECA
(from Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or dendê oil, if available)
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Serrano pepper, minced
salt and pepper
roasted bell pepper, cut in large squares (preferably yellow)
2 cans (15 ounce) yellow tomatoes, drained, briefly processed in blender
a lot of cilantro (a lot)
about 1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat, please)
lemon juice to taste
hot sauce to taste

Squirt a little lemon juice all over the shrimp and reserve.

Heat the coconut oil in a large saute pan with a lid. Add the onions and cook until golden and fragrant. Add the Serrano pepper and roasted bell pepper, cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic, cook for about 30 seconds, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Now pour the processed yellow tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, a dash or two of the hot sauce of your choice. Cover the pan and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes in very low heat.

Add the shrimp, simmer until cooked, just for a few minutes, then add coconut milk and cilantro to the pan, stirring until warm. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more hot sauce to taste.  If you’d like, sprinkle fresh lemon juice right before serving. Perfect over white rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

If you don’t have canned yellow tomatoes, use red.  I like to process them to have a smoother sauce. Yellow bell peppers would reinforce the golden color of the dish, but our store did not have any this time.

41XPB6v6T9L

A BRAZILIAN MENU TO CELEBRATE THE OLYMPIC GAMES

Let’s get a trio of appetizers going, starting with Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread).  This is a very easy recipe using a blender and a few minutes of your time. If you’ve never had Pão de Queijo, don’t blink. Make them right now!  They were born gluten-free, which is an added bonus to many.

cheesebread12

For the recipe, click follow this link.

Another great, traditional option,  Pastéis (a bit like empanadas, but fried).

pasteis1

for the recipe, follow this link.

And perhaps my favorite, the one that gets the Golden Medal of Appetizers,
Mandioca Frita (Fried Yucca Root)

mandiocafrita1For the recipe, follow this link. 

To serve with the Golden Moqueca I recommend basic white rice and a nice helping of Brazilian Farofa, to help soak up the flavorful tomato-coconut sauce.

farofa

For the recipe, follow this link.

 

You definitely need the Brazilian national drink to get into the Olympic spirit!

caipirinha1

recipe for Caipirinhas can be found here.

Finally, for dessert, let’s share a triple round of goodies, starting with Brigadeiros,
because how could you not have brigadeiros during a Brazilian feast?

ready12

For the recipe, click here

But it’s hard to beat the level of deliciousness of Cocada de Forno (Baked Coconut)

img_0129

to get the recipe for Cocada de Forno, jump here.

 

And perhaps my favorite of all, as Brazilian as Brazilian gets, Mangas Flambadas, served  comme il faut, with vanilla ice cream (but if you use Dulce de Leche it won’t hurt my feelings at all).

mango2

For the recipe, click here.

Top the meal with what my Dad used to call um cafezinho esperto (a smart coffee), and dream with Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals around the neck of your favorite athletes.
Let’s keep in mind that medals are great but the effort each athlete puts into being there to compete, that’s what impresses me the most. Imagine the personal ordeals they go through to finally be part of the Olympic team.  Commitment, hard work, mental and physical struggles most of us could never face.

Quoting a great phrase from an advertisement for Under Armour: 

Untitled
Watch the video in full here. It is moving, truly mesmerizing.

Golden Shrimp Moqueca, from Bewitching Kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Tomato Tatin

TWO YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado! 

THREE YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

FOUR  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

FIVE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

SIX YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

RIO2016

Save

Save

Save

CITRUS CRUSTED TILAPIA FILETS

Citrus and fish, unbeatable combo!  Until now, I accepted the idea that one of my favorite preparations for delicate fish filets came with a small tax to pay for the fat used to fry it. But, when I saw this recipe on How Sweet It Is, I hoped it would be my ticket to a lighter version of the classic.  To be completely honest, I had my doubts, because not too long ago I tried a similar method for pork schnitzel  (from Everyday Food) and it was a huge disappointment.   I am glad to report NO disappointment here, quite the contrary, this recipe is a keeper!

CITRUS CRUSTED TILAPIA
(adapted from How Sweet It Is)

4 fresh (or thawed) tilapia filets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
zest of 2 oranges, 1 lime and 1 lemon
2 egg whites, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the wire rack with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, add bread crumbs, flour, citrus zest and a pinch of salt. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg whites, add a teaspoon of water to make it looser.

Season each piece of tilapia with salt and pepper. Dip each piece of fish in the beaten egg whites, allow the excess to drip, then coat with your mixture of breadcrumbs, pressing well to adhere. Place on the wire rack and spray lightly with olive oil spray.

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden. Depending on how thick your filets are, it could take slightly longer.  Test with a knife to see if the fish flakes easily, then it’s done.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Jessica  served her fish filets with a beautiful blood orange salsa,  perfect complement to the dish, but this time I took a more austere route, went with white rice and stove top blasted broccoli (a favorite side dish of ours).

This recipe was a breeze to put together, the fish turned out moist, perfectly cooked, with the crust delivering a burst of citric flavor.  The secret for success is spraying the olive oil over the coating before baking the filets.  That ensures just the right amount of fat to moisten the crumb layer and give it a hint of color.   Much lighter than the usual method with a frying pan, but without skimping on flavor.  I am not at all interested in reducing calories if it will hurt my food.   This is  a perfect example of a make-over that is worth adding to your repertoire of meals.

I highly recommend you stop by How Sweet It Is to get her full recipe, including the blood orange salsa.  It will be on our table next time, all I need is to find that elusive orange for sale.  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Bran Muffins: not just for hippies!

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Flourless Cake

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

GAMBERETTI CON RUCOLA E POMODORI

Nope, this recipe didn’t come from an Italian cookbook.  I hope Martha Stewart won’t mind that I took some liberties with the title for her creation,   but it just sounds too lovely in the language of Dante: “… Gamberetti… Rucola… Pomodori,”  …just beautiful!

This year I insist on “quick and easy dinners,” because life is awfully busy for us here in LA.  It’s now our final month at UCLA, so this type of recipe is a life-saver.  Cook some pasta (we used cappellini, that’s ready in five minutes),  grab some lettuce for a simple salad, and all of a sudden you’ll have a meal from a trattoria by the Mediterranean Sea.

SAUTEED SHRIMP WITH ARUGULA AND TOMATOES
(adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, June 2010)

1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove, lightly smashed
1 pound large shrimp
4 cups baby arugula leaves
salt and pepper
juice of half a lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the garlic and sautee for a couple of minutes in gentle heat, until it gets fragrant and starts to develop some color.  Remove the garlic and discard it.  Add the tomatoes, season with a little salt and pepper, increase the heat, and cook, stirring often, until they blister and release some liquid.

Add the shrimp and cook until opaque, not more than 4 minutes. Add the arugula leaves, a little more salt, and toss until wilted.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the pan, and toss to combine.   Adjust seasoning, and serve over pasta or white rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  My preference for arugula or spinach is always changing.  Sometimes I settle on spinach, for its mellowness and delicate taste.   Then, my mood switches and I grab bag after bag of arugula at the store and bring it home.  Its leaves are sturdier, it wilts with dignity.  😉 And the peppery bite, no spinach can match it.  As you might guess, I’m going through the arugula phase right now.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Grissini

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

SHRIMP MOQUECA

brazilflag

It’s time for me to post something typically Brazilian.  For those who are not familiar with Brazilian cooking, this dish is a great introduction.  It originates from Bahia, a very beautiful Brazilian state, where Summer never ends.  Most dishes from Bahia, or as we say “comida baiana”, are very spicy, just like in other hot places of the world.   The warm climate  goes hand in hand with a ton of pepper, which helps get the sweat going…

The only exotic ingredients for moqueca are coconut milk and dende (a kind of palm oil).  These days one can find coconut milk rather easily – I advise you to buy brands from Thailand and make sure it is NOT the sweetened version.  I feel a bit queasy just imagining a moqueca made with sweet coconut milk.

At the risk of receiving hate mail from Brazilians, I will share with you my recipe for shrimp moqueca, which does not include dende oil, for two reasons:  first,  I am never able to find Brazilian dende here.   Second, I actually do not mind a moqueca made without it. With this last phrase, I’ve infuriated the whole population of Bahia (more than 14 million people), and 95% of all other Brazilians (about 168 million folks).

If you are still with me, allow me to show you a slightly unconventional, but delicious moqueca recipe… And, by the way, if you want to listen to the correct pronunciation of the word, click here to listen to the very writer of this blog saying it in native Brazilian portuguese   😉

moqueca1

SHRIMP MOQUECA a la Sally
(receita em portugues ao final da proxima pagina)

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil (or a mixture of dende oil and olive oil)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
1  14.5oz can diced tomatoes (I like to use fire roasted, they work very well in this dish)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup coconut milk
hot pepper sauce (Tabasco, Sriracha)
fresh cilantro to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare a mild brining solution mixing 1 quart water with 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar, plus the juice of half a lemon. Submerge the shrimp in the solution for about 15 minutes (see my comments). Remove shrimp from brine, rinse briefly and dry on paper towels.

Saute the onion in olive oil until it starts to turn golden, add the red bell pepper, garlic and fresh cilantro and saute for a few minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes with their juices, cook for 5 to 10 minutes to marry the flavors, and add the shrimp. Cook just until it turns opaque, add the coconut milk, reduce the heat to low, and cook until everything is heated through and the sauce is smooth. Do not let the coconut milk boil too much or it may separate (it will still taste delicious, but it will look  curdled).   Add hot pepper sauce, taste, adjust seasoning and right before serving add more fresh cilantro and the juice of the other half of the lemon.

Serve right away over white rice.

Bom apetite! 😉

for comments and more photos, click here