Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Romantic Dinner for Two

Scupper had a sleepover at Grandma's the other night, but I decided to stay in and enjoy a quiet (ahhhh!) evening at home. Aren't grandmas the best!?

A special dinner for sweetie and me -

Baby Greens with Gorgonzola, Caramelized Pecans, and Dried Cranberries , Cedar Planked Salmon in a Honey Balsamic Glaze, and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes


Baby Greens with Gorgonzola, Caramelized Pecans, and Dried Cranberries

  • 4 c mixed baby greens, washed and dried
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1/2 c gorgonzola cheese crumbles
  • 1/2 c pecan halves
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated orange zest
  • 4-6 tbsp of My Grandma's Vinaigrette
to make the pecans:
  • melt 1/2 tbsp butter in a small skillet over medium heat. add sugar and nuts and stir constantly for about 5 minutes or until sugar is caramelized and the nuts are evenly coated. transfer nuts onto a piece of waxed paper or aluminum foil, dust with a little fresh ground black pepper, some salt, the cranberries, and the orange zest and let cool for 20 minutes.
to plate the salad:
  • add the lettuces and chives to a large bowl and toss evenly with the vinaigrette (suit amount of dressing to taste) and evenly distribute the dressed greens onto two small plates.
  • attractively top each salad plate with half of the cheese and nut mixture

soaking the planks

Cedar Planked Salmon in a Honey Balsamic Glaze

this recipe was adapted from Micael Chiarello's, Easy Entertaining - I just love his ideas for food.
  • 2 (6-ounce) skinless wild salmon fillet portions
  • 1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 commercial cedar planks, soaked in water according to directions or overnight
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
preheat the broiler

  • slice about 8 angled slits into each fillet
  • in a small bowl mix the salt, pepper, and mustard
  • in another small bowl, heat the honey in the microwave for 30 seconds to liquefy. remove from the microwave and mix in balsamic vinegar. brush the top of the salmon fillets (not the skin side) with the melted butter. season the fish with the spice mixture. brush with the honey-balsamic mixture, reserving some for later.
  • put the soaked planks under the hot broiler, about 5 inches from the heat, until the wood is browned on top, about 3 minutes. carefully remove the planks from the oven.
  • immediately brush the planks with olive oil and put a seasoned salmon fillet on each.
  • put a flat baking pan in the oven below where the planks will go to catch any run off. put the planks under the broiler and cook the fish for 5 minutes. baste again with remaining honey-balsamic glaze and place in oven at 350. cook to your taste, about 15 minutes or more for very well done.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic, unseparated if possible
  • 2 medium white potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c - 3/4 c milk (depending on size of potatoes used)
  • 2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped herb/s of choice (I used parsley this time)
for the roasted garlic:
  • preheat oven to 350
  • cut off the very tops of 6 cloves of garlic and place it, cut side up, in a very small oven safe dish or ramekin. add 1 or 2 tbsp of water to the bottom of the dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 30-40 minutes until soft and golden.
  • cool slightly and then gently squeeze the roasted garlic to remove from jackets and set aside.
for potatoes:
  • bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil on the range of the stove
  • meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into cubes
  • add the cubes to the boiling water and cook until tender 8-10 minutes and strain in a colander, keeping the burner on
  • return the potatoes to the pot and shake them in the pan over the hot burner for about 30 seconds to remove excess moisture (this will keep potatoes from becoming too starchy)
  • remove from heat and either keep potatoes in the pot or transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • add the butter, roasted garlic, cheese, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. slowly begin adding the milk while mixing everything with a hand held electric mixer on medium until the potatoes become silky and fluffy and almost uniform in texture.

roasted garlic smells so so yummy when it's being cooked. it has a deeper, sweeter and nuttier flavor than fresh garlic. try it on toasted baguette slices with with a little drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper as an alternative to garlic bread. mmmhmmm.

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