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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Let's Wrap It Up: Valentine's Day Menu Part 3!

One thing before I FINALLY (I know, it's March already) finish my Valentine's Day post.  E and my anniversary is coming up, you best belieeeeve (in my best Santana-from-Glee voice) I'll be cooking up something good for that.  Good thing I am finishing this up now!

But, before I begin, I have to share this little doll of a cupcake I found on Bake It In A Cake.  Things like this make me yearn to bake:

Rainy-Day Cupcakes!  I mean, how amazing, right?!  Click the link above to find out how they're made.  Love 'em. 

Okay here we go: Wrapping it up!  Literally!  We had the prosciutto wrapped asparagus with the puff-pastry wrapped salmon together, and then had a decadent and romantic (and typically hilarious) dessert with the chocolate and peanut butter dipped strawberries.  Enjoy!  Everything was definitely amazing and I recommend the entire menu.

The salmon recipe I found while flipping through TV the day before V-Day and stopped on Food Network.  Sunny Anderson, host of Cooking For Real, was making this.  PS, Food Network is what HD TVs were made for.  Not sports, not movies.. but Food Network.

Baked Salmon in Puff Pastry, stuffed with Baby Spinach and Shiitake Mushrooms

  • 3 (6-ounce) center cut (nice n thick) salmon fillets, skin removed (have your fish-monger do that for you, it's really a pain to do yourself).. you'll have an extra one for tomorrow, if you're making this for two.
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Sea (or kosher) salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons veggie oil, divided
  • 1/2 small Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded (the stems may seem fine but they get all woody).. or use whatever mushrooms you like.
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh or dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bag washed, dried, and loosely packed fresh baby spinach
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 frozen puff pastry sheet, defrosted (I let them sit on my counter for about 45 minutes)
Preheat the oven to 375*F.

Brush both sides of the salmon with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Warm 2 tablespoons oil in 2 separate skillets over medium-high heat. Yes, two active skillets at once!  You can do it!  Add half of the onion and half the garlic to each pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the mushrooms and thyme into 1 pan and the spinach, lemon zest and remain lemon juice in the other pan. Stir the spinach until it wilts, then transfer it to a bowl and set aside. Saute the mushrooms until they are reduced and tender, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream. Set aside.

Trim the thinner ends of the salmon fillet so you have 3 pieces of even thickness. Unroll a pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Pass a rolling pin lightly over 2 or 3 times to seal the seams and lengthen slightly. Cut the pastry sheet into 3 equal strips, using the natural seams as a guide.

Lightly prick the 3 strips with a fork. Put 1 heaping spoonful of mushroom mixture on 1 half of each pastry, top with salmon, then layer with a heaping spoonful of spinach mixture.

Wet the edges of the pastry with water and fold over the other half, pressing lightly and folding to seal the edges. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling. Cut 2 or 3 vents on the top of each pastry packet and arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake until the pastry is golden and fish is just opaque in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes.

There is a short video here of this exact recipe!  This is what I watched; feel free to use it because it's really helpful to see it being done and not just read it.

Followed by...

Hand-Dipped Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Peanut Butter Drizzle
Tell me these don't look amazinggggg.  Messy, yes, but delicious nonetheless.  and LOTS of fun.
  • A box of the tastiest, most beautiful strawberries you can get your hands on
  • A bag of chocolate morsels - milk or dark will do just fine
  • A bag of Reeses peanut butter morsels
If you have a double-boiler, awesome.  If not, make your own (E helped me with this part bc I did not have a clue what I was doing): take a saucepan and fill it 1/3 of the way with water.  Let it boil, then take a slightly smaller saucepan and put it above the boiling water (not touching).  Then throw your chocolate morsels in the smaller saucepan and stir til melted.

The reason to melt chocolate this way is to prevent it from scorching.  Plus, if the chocolate gets too hot, it develops this weird consistency that makes it lumpy and impossible to dunk.  Many people suggest putting in a tbsp of shortening like butter or veggie oil to keep the chocolate behaving, but I think this alters the taste too much, and in a bad way.

Then, get to dipping!  Dip your berries in as deep as you dare, covering all sides, then set down on some wax paper or parchment paper.  Let cool, then do the same with the peanut butter.  Put in your fridge to set about a half hour, then eat away.

PS, meet Emo Hipster Spoon.  His bangs are always in his face.

Alright, I'm caught up with the holidays!  Finally!  Talk to everyone soon :)

Cheers, C (and Hipster Spoon)

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