Friday, July 20, 2012

FFwD: Salmon with Basil Tapenade

Salmon with Basil Tapenade
Anyone who knows me, and even any one who has read this blog knows that fish and I just don't get along.  I don't mean from a cooking standpoint, I mean I just can't seem to find fish that I like the taste of.  It always, or nearly always, tastes, well-fishy.  I don't know how else to describe it.  Over the years I have managed to find out that I like crab and lobster, but even shrimp are a no-go.  That one is primarily due to my 10th grade biology teacher who lovingly called them the "cockroaches of the sea".  Scarred for life, I tell you.   Perhaps it is also the fact that my father tortured me (Dad, I say this with love) with long days of fishing any chance he got in the summer, and some times even ice fishing on Lake St. Clair in winter.  I think it would have been fine if we had ever caught anything, but inevitably we would come home empty handed.  I think about friends of mine with children and their constantly shifting attention spans and wonder how I ever survived these episodes from my own childhood. 

 Anyway, my husband really likes salmon, so when a friend of ours was coming over for dinner the other night I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to serve something different from the usual chicken or beef or pasta entrees we usually serve.  Both of them loved this.  I have to say, cooking it was a breeze.  I did use a store-bought tapenade that had a healthy dose of garlic rather than making it myself.  I served the salmon on a bed of spinach and grape tomatoes sauteed with some olive oil, garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper.  Stuffing the tapenade in to the fish was a bit of a challenge mainly because I had never done this before, and I am still not sure I followed the directions properly but it all seemed to go well, regardless.  

Our friend Nikki thought the flavors were unexpected, mainly because she thought the tapenade would be overly salty.  Not so, apparently, and she and Edmund both loved the sauce.  Edmund was particularly surprised by this because he is not a huge fan of olives.  I used a combination of fresh mint (growing in vast quantities in the flower bed on the side of our house) and fresh basil (growing in pots just outside the kitchen door), and both of my guinea pigs really enjoyed the blend of flavors.  The mint apparently cut the saltiness of the olives quite nicely, and overall the dish seemed well-seasoned.  I think this could become a "do something nice for the ball and chain" type of meal in the months to come. 

Hope you all have a great weekend.  See you next week.  Up next for French Fridays-lemon barley pilaf. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

FFwD-Blueberry-Mascarpone Roulade

Blueberry-Marscapone Roulade
Bonjour, mes amis!  It's been so long.  My one week vacation turned in to a hiatus of sorts, though unintentional.  Between just a busy life and a brutal heat wave where the last thing in the world I wanted to do was turn on an oven, I just could not seem to find the time to post (even this one is a day late).  I did manage to make last week's gingery pickles (yum) but was not able to get a post up.  Oh well, I am back at it now, and just in time for this yummy roulade. 
Blueberries soaking in simple syrup
A simple sheet cake made largely of merigue is baked and cooled after rolling in a towel.  The mascarpone, whipped cream and blueberry filling is then spread over the unrolled cake, rolled up again, chilled and sprinkled with powdered sugar before serving.  As you can see from the photo below, my cake did crack as I was rolling it, so note to self to be cautious next time.
The assembled and plated roulade
Oh, and speaking of next time, this recipe is crying out for lemon zest, lemon juice, something.  Don't get me wrong it was delicious as is and won raves at the work potluck I brought it to, but I think the lemon blueberry combo is a classic and both flavors compliment each other so well that this recipe would be all the better with lemon. 

Anyway, I will leave you with a review of sorts of The French Laundry, Thomas Keller's uber-famous restaurant in Yountville, CA.  I was in Napa recently for the wedding of some dear friends.  The concierge at the soon-to-be-married couple's resort was able to score a reservation for us-which if you know anything about reserving here is a feat unto itself.   The dinner was impressive, but perhaps my palate is not yet refined enough to have appreciated all that was served.  And by all, I mean 11 courses over 5 hours!  I enjoyed the meal very much (the company more), but for such a well-respected restaurant (Anthony Bourdain called it the best restaurant in the world) I was expecting to be overwhelmed by delicious flavors.  The food was very good, the service attentive, and some courses amazing, but overall I could not help but feel a bit disappointed in the experience.  That many courses and the time we were there was just a bit much.  I know that my friend who joined me on the trip agreed with me. 

My husband is very much looking forward to next week's recipe, Salmon with Basil Tapenade.  Until then, hope you all have a wonderful week.