Recipes

Enjoy Italian Cooking at Home

01

Jun 2016

Crispy Salmon in Fraiche Sauce with Spinach

Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog, Recipes, WCSH6 /

I love the flesh color, the high oil content, the delicate taste and texture of Alaskan King Salmon. The cost of the wild fish is high right now since the season has just begun. Two weeks ago this fantastic salmon cost a whopping $29.99 per pound at Sanders Fish Market in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Then I noticed that Harbor Fish in Portland, Maine offered the Copper River King as a Memorial Day Week-end special at $20.00 per pound. Not a bad price, relatively speaking, so I splurged and prepared a special spring dinner: crispy salmon with a sauce made of butter, white wine, lemon and creme fraiche.

The sauce was inspired by a Pierre Troisgros classic that includes fish fumet, but the sauce is delicious and much faster to prepare without the splash of fish stock. Troisgros also used sorrel in his sauce. This lemony green is lovely with salmon, but if, like me, your sorrel supplier is nowhere in site, you can substitute baby spinach. Spinach is everywhere.

Valerie, my darling guinea pig, is not enamored with the smell of sizzling salmon and she had never eaten crisped salmon skin before I presented it to her–so to see her lapping up the sauce and enjoying the crackling skin gave me a thrill. The recipe I present to you does not require that you use Alaskan King Salmon. A responsibly raised, antibiotic free Scottish Salmon will do. In fact, some people prefer the taste of farmed salmon. Here are a few important tips to remember when making this dish:

1. Crispy skin is easy to create if you have an extemely sharp knife and are willing to score the skin of your fish. Remember to create parrallel and superficial slashes in your skin. Then your seasoning will really penetrate your fish and the fish skin will not curl. Be very careful not to cut too deeply into the delicate flesh!

2 .Make sure you use a lightly oiled nonstick pan and get the pan smoking hot before you add your fish, skin side-down. Once the fish is in the pan, turn the heat down to medium and don’t touch the fish until three-quarters of the fish has turned white. Then gently flip the fish onto the fleshy side and let it cook for another minute or so. Refrain from overcooking your fish.

3. While the fish is resting, create your sauce. If you let most of the wine evaporate and allow the sauce to thicken slightly it will be luxurious.

4. Creme fraiche is richer, fatter, more buttery tasting than sour cream. It also will not curdle when you raise the heat.

5. Most experts agree that a refreshing Sancerre is the perfect wine for salmon. Use some in the sauce and then serve it with your meal. 

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19

Apr 2016

Intensely Chocolate Flourless Cake for Passover

Posted by / in Holidays, Into the Fire Blog, Recipes, WCSH6 /

My sister-in-law, Joanne, recently posted on my Facebook page that she would rather “pass over” the Passover meal  and head straight for my chocolate dessert.  It’s true that the Seder can be a long, drawn out affair, and particularly lengthy if the leader of the Seder insists on having everyone at the table take turns reading from the Haggadah in English and, when possible, in Hebrew. When I was a child, we used to drink a good amount of Manischewitz, lean to the left, wash our hands, and dip our karpas into salty water, but my father was one of the most considerate conductors of this ritual and, like Moses, he knew how to keep things moving and get us to the promised land: my mother’s feast.

I loved this dinner and, no wonder! My mother made everything from scratch, including the richest chicken stock for her matzo ball soup. She bought fresh ground carp and pike and whitefish for her delicate gefilte fish ovals and served the cold first course with a side of horseradish dressing. She grated the horseradish by hand and I witnessed firsthand the tears that flowed. The piece de la resistance, though, was her dessert: a sponge-like chocolate flourless cake, filled with whipped cream, powdered with cocoa and drizzled with  homemade hot fudge sauce.  Oh, what a sweet memory… It takes a lot of time to prepare this old fashioned feast and, today, most people are looking for delicious and reliable shortcuts. Fortunately, I know a great one for dessert. This intense chocolate cake takes very little time to prepare, does not need a frosting and, because it is flourless, is perfect for Passover. You can serve a small slice of this cake with a dollop of whipped cream and a side of fresh raspberries and everyone will think you slaved (pardon the expression) over it!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making and serving this cake:

1. Use a reliable 9×2 cake pan. I love my pan by “Doughmakers.” Make sure you prep the pan according to the recipe directions and allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before flipping it over on your baking rack. Then ease the cake carefully onto your cake plate. 

2. This cake should bake for 40 minutes  at 300 degrees. You want the cake to be moist in the center. To be sure, insert your toothpick into the center and if it does not come out perfectly clean, be happy.  This is a good sign. 

3. It’s especially wonderful if you make it in the morning and serve it at room temperature later in the day. Don’t forget to sprinkle it with sifted confectioners sugar just before you bring it to the table.

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23

Nov 2015

Bittersweet Chocolate Chocolate Tart

Posted by / in Holidays, Into the Fire Blog, Recipes, WCSH6 /

In 1968 I flew all alone to Paris. To this day, I don’t know how my favorite Aunt who had recently married a French man named Alain Darmon, convinced my overprotective parents to allow me, an eleven-year-old with extremely limited life experience, to board a jet, let alone travel overseas, but miraculously, my Aunt prevailed. I had sundaes before, but never accented with crisp meringues. I knew what French fries were, but had no idea that they tasted even better when you dipped them into a sauce made of mussel juice, garlic and butter. And who, I wanted to know, was the genius who decided to marry buttery crisp bread with chocolate logs? I confess, that although I now spend much of my time cooking delicious rustic Italian food, my palate was first awakened by French chefs and Paris holds a special place in my heart. I stole the filling for this bittersweet chocolate tart recipe from the famed French chef Joel Robuchon and the crust from acclaimed French born chef Alain Ducasse. The technique of rolling out the chocolate crust before it is cold is not difficult to do if you sandwich the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and then freeze the dough for ten minutes before trying to release it into your tart pan with the removable bottom. Since you must blind bake this pie, I like to do this the day before Thanksgiving. The filling is a cinch to make and since the pie should be eaten warm or at room temperature, you can make the filling quickly and then bake it off just before your guests arrive. You should use a chocolate that is between 65-70% cocoa and my favorite chocolate to use for this recipe is Valrhona. I also use a serrated bread knife to shave the chocolate before I toss it in the warm milk/cream mixture. What an amazing, decadent little tart this is. After your guests bite into it, they will probably murmur: “Vive la France!” which is an especially moving sentence to say out loud this Thanksgiving.

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