Sunday, January 30, 2011

Salmon in Phyllo with Dilled Hollandaise

I've become quite spoiled with cooking salmon on the smoker that I find I don't enjoy it prepared many other ways, so I decided to get creative and come up with a recipe that was non-smoker prepared. 

I deteremined employing the use of phyllo would be perfect as it's easy, elegant, and I love anything starchy.  To top it off I also prepared a dill-hollandaise sauce, because you just can't go wrong with a sauce, especially a butter based one like hollandaise. 

This was fantastic.  The crispy phyllo was an excellent texture blend with the salmon.  The salmon's fresh flavour came through and the sauce added extra flavour.  We liked it so much we made it for a group of 20 we had over a few days later and it proved to be a great make-ahead. 

Salmon in Phyllo with Dilled Hollandaise

1 salmon filet without any skin or bones
1 package phyllo pastry
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Cut the salmon into approximately 3" wide x 2" pieces.  For the thinner ends of the fillet, you may want to double up the pieces to make them thicker.

Remove the phylllo from the package and lay flat on the counter.  Cut in half lengthwise to make long strips approximately 6" wide.  Cover the phyllo with a damp tea towel so that it doesn't dry out. 

To prepare each piece of salmon: 
  • Take two of the phyllo strip and place them on the counter (remember to cover up your remaining phyllo with the damp tea towel. 
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the entire piece of phyllo with melted butter. 
  • Place the salmon at the top end of the pastry, making sure it's centered.  Gently roll it in the phyllo two times toward you. 
  • Turn the sides of the pastry in to form a packet, then finish rolling.
  • Lay on a cookie sheet and brush all over with butter. 
  • Finish rolling each piece of salmon this way.  I usually do about 4 pieces at a time, you don't want to do too many at one as the pastry will dry out. 
At this point, you can refrigerate the salmon until ready to make. 

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400F.  Bake the salmon for about 20 minutes until golden brown.  Top with dilled hollandaise sauce.

For the dilled hollandaise sauce, prepare your favourit hollandaise recipe (my favourite is Julia Child's) and add 2 tbsp dried dill.  The packaged kind will also work.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Open Faced Scallop Ravioli with Saffron Cream

I'm not quite sure who came up with the notion of open-faced ravioli, but I like it.  It amuses me as it's just stuff on a piece of pasta, but I guess calling it open-faced ravioli makes it sound more refined.

I concoted this recipe as a first course for an elegant meal.  I knew I wanted something a bit different and I had scallops on hand and the rest just came together.  Although for company it is very nice looking, it is something you can't make ahead as the pasta and scallops need to be done just before.  So I wouldn't make this for a large crowd, or when you have a lot of other dishes that require on-time preparation for the meal.  

The result is a very elegant first course/appetizer that's not too big.  Although the sauce is cream based, the dish comes off quite light. 

Open Faced Scallop Ravioli with Saffron Cream

2 tbsp butter
pinch saffron
3/4 cup cream

1 sheet, lasagna pasta (not the ruffled edged kind you buy in a grocery, but a flat sheet that you can make 3-4" squares from)
4 large scallops
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare your Saffron cream by melting the butter in a small saucepan.  Add the saffron and cream and stir.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  This can be made 1-2 hours ahead and reheated. 

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta sheet as directed.  When done, cut the pasta into 4 squares.  Meanwhile heat up a small frying pan on medium-high heat and.  Dry the scallops with a paper towlel and season with salt and pepper.  Add the scallops to the hot pan and sear on both sides to cook (2-3 minutes per side).  Don't overcook as they scallopes will get rubbery. 

To assemble the dish, spoon a bit of the saffron cream onto the serving plate.  Place a pasta square in the center.  Top with a scallop followed with a bit more saffron cream.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chicken Cacciatora

With the holiday season in full swing, and winter all settled in, comfort food becomes the style of the day.  I have  a bit of time off work right now, so I'm try to catch up on all sorts of things that have been neglected, including this blog.  I'm also trying to seek out recipes I haven't tried before in an effort to use up some of the frozen foods I have in my deep freeze. 

This evening's dish, is Chicken Cacciatora (I've also seen it spelled Cacciatore).  I looked through several books and it appears, that like so many recipes, this one has numerous version.  Two distince version reign  - a non-tomato, white wine based version which seems to be from Northern Italy and a soutern version that I have to presume is southern Italy. 

I've provided the way I prepared the recipe below, so I won't go into detail here.  I opted for a version with tomatoes, and took some liberties based on the various recipes I gandered at.  It's a lovely dish that smells great cooking, and as it simmers fills your house withe warmth in its own right.  The taste is incredible - with tangy tomatos, a slight heat, and moist chicken. 

I served over homemade tagiatelle which was an extra special treat.

Chicken Cacciatora

2 tsp olive oil
5-6 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
1/2 red pepper diced
1/2 large onion diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
28 oz can San Marzano tomaotes
Fresh ground pepper
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or less for less heat)
2 tsp sugar

Heat the oil on the cooktop in a medium-size pot or casserole dish.  Add the chicken and saute for 5-10 minutes until browned.  Add the red pepper, onion and mushroom and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. 

Add the wine and saute 5 minutes. 
Add the stock and tomatoes (if using whole tomatoes, crush them with your hand).  Add the seasonsings and let simmer for 30-60 minutes.