Sunday, December 19, 2010

Last Night's Dinner: Salmon, Leeks, Mashed Potatoes, PBM Squares

Sometimes I spend all day on a Sunday dinner. Other times, I got like an hour. I like making dinners from scratch - I don't remember the last time I made a frozen meal. Actually I do, and it was a microwavable lunch in junior high. I don't like tasting freezer in my food. I don't like reading a 50-line ingredient list 90% of which I don't understand.

You only get one body, you might as well take a care of it, right? Don't get me wrong, I'm in no way perfect in taking care of my body. I make my mistakes, overindulge once in a while, get super lazy a lot.. a... lot. I really try though! When I have an opportunity to try and do something good for my body, I take it. Like trying to include veggies in my meals. Trying not to eat fast food. Trying not to eat canned/preserved foods. Chocolate bars. Oh man, it's amazing what some people eat on a regular basis. Anyways...

So fresh food it is. Just my personal choices, not trying to preach to anyone.

Last night my lovely brought me some salmon, white wine, chicken broth, fresh thyme. I had some enormous leeks from Spud - an organic/local food delivery service. I get a veggie delivery every 2 weeks, extremely convenient!

Here's the result

[Salmon with Onions, Tomatoes and Tarragon]+[Mashed Potatoes]
Leeks Braised with Wine and Garlic]+[Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares]

Everything turned out pretty damn good! The potates and peanut butter marshmallow squares were left over from a few days before.

Salmon with Onions, Tomatoes and Tarragon
Serves 4

1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 4 tbsp.
2 large yellow onions
4 medium tomatoes
16 cloves garlic, smashed
10 sprigs each of fresh thyme and oregano,
plus 1⁄2 tbsp. each of fresh thyme
and fresh oregano, roughly chopped (I used mix of dry and fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 10-oz. pieces of salmon (could be steaks, fillets, whatever salmon you got)
4 thin slices of lemon
2 tbsp. fresh tarragon
2 tbsp. Pernod (I used Sambuca licorice liquor)

1. Heat oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with some olive oil so the veggies don't stick (suggested 1/4 cup oil). Cut onions into 1/4" rings, and tomatoes into 1/2" slices. Arrange over the olive oil on the baking sheet, drizzle with about 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Tuck garlic and sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano between the veggies, or if using dry spices, sprinkle over veggies, about 1 tsp each oregano and thyme. Roast veggies until soft and juicy, about 25 mins. 25 minutes was too long for me, my tomatoes were a little dried out and the edges of some onions got burnt. Watch out for that!

2. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Move the oven rack 3" from the broiler element. Turn oven to broil and heat setting. Arrange salmon on top of the roasted veggies, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place 1 slice of lemon on each salmon steak and sprinkle chopped thyme and oregano over the fish. I just used fresh thyme. Broil the salmon until lightly browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes. 5 minutes is what the original recipe recommends. I did 10 minutes in the upper middle of the oven, and a few minutes close to the broiler. All ovens are different so you have to make sure not to burn.

3. Sprinkle cooked salmon with tarragon, liquor, and 2 tbsp olive oil.

Notes: Ingredients like onions, tomatoes, garlic and lemon are flexible. If you want more or less, it's up to you. Changing the amount won't really ruin the recipe.

Leeks Braised with Wine and Garlic

4 big leeks, well-washed and patted dry
4 big cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
6 tbsp butter
2 wineglasses of white wine (I used 1 cup of white wine, but I only had 1 enormous leek)
1 cup chicken stock (I used chicken broth)
Half a lemon, sliced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1. Trim dry and ragged parts of the leeks and separate white bulbs from green ends. Thinly slice the green parts and put aside. Tear away first few layers from white bulbs, and chop into 1 inch pieces.

2. Have a square baking pan ready. I lined mine with foil just because.

3. In a large shallow frying pan melt the butter over medium heat. Slowly cook the garlic in the butter with the dark green leek tops until the garlic is softened but not colored. This will infuse butter with the garlic.

4. Add the pieces of white leek and toss them in the flavoured butter. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss as well. Pour the contents of the frying pan into the baking pan, squeeze the lemon over and toss it in, then pour the wine and stock in and cover with a square of baking parchment. I covered with foil.

5. Bake in the oven at 350°F for 35 minutes or until tender.

Notes: I found that the broth turned out a little too buttery for me. The original recipe also suggests that this could be served over pasta.

Mashed Potatoes

5 yellow potatoes
1 onion, finely chopped(you can use more or less, to taste)
2 sprigs of green onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2/3-3/4 cup half-n-half, heated in the microwave until hot, about 1 minute (for lower fat, use milk; for higher fat, use cream :D)
1/2 cup butter (use more or less, depending on how buttery you like the potates!)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring enough water to cover the potatoes to a boil. When boiling, you can salt the water if you'd like. I honestly never know how much salt to put in the water... Peel the potatoes and place in boiling water. Lower the heat and boil for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes feel tender when you poke a knife through them - that's how I test. If you like the mashed result a little chunkier, drain the potatoes while they're still a little tough in the middle.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, melt 1/4 cup butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the first onion garlic, and saute until onion is translucent. Add the green onions and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you'd like, you can brown the onion a little.

3. When the potatoes are done, put them in a large bowl, add half the liquid, the cooked onion mixture and the rest of the butter. Mash everything together, adding more liquid then the mixture gets too dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste If you add too much liquid, try quickly cooking another potato and adding it.

Notes: Sometimes I mix in grated cheese while I'm mashing. Makes cheesy mashed potates! Try emmenthal, Swiss, Parmesan or whatever kind of cheese you like best.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

1/2 cup butter
1 (11 ounce) package butterscotch chips
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows (I should have used more)

1. In the lower pot of a double boiler, add water halfway to top and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. In the top of a double boiler, heat butter, butterscotch chips, and peanut butter until melted. Remove from heat.

2. Stir in coconut, walnuts, and marshmallows.

3. Pour mixture in buttered pan. Refrigerate and cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes: Some users recommended pouring mixture over some marshmallows already in the pan. I didn't follow that advice, and all marshmallows turned out to be on top, and the bottom was pretty much only the buttery mixture. This recipe took no time at all. I made it right before dinner, put it in the fridge for maybe an hour, and it was good to go after dinner. The boyfriend liked it.

BF's Verdict: Delish dinner.

Original Recipes: Salmon: Saveur, Leeks: The Kitchn, PBM Squares: All Recipes

PS: here's a picture of a potato that looks like a butt.

Take care,

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