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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wild Salmon with Citrus Ginger Sauce

I often recommend that my patients eat more salmon and they often ask me for new ways to cook it. So here is one of my most requested recipes, popular because it is easy to prepare and full of fresh flavors. If you don’t have tangerines, substitute other citrus fruit like oranges, mandarins or clementines.

In the winter, wild salmon isn’t available fresh and frozen fish can turn out dry. I have two strategies to ensure that the finished dish is moist and tender: I use a grill pan to minimize contact with the hot surface and residual heat to finish cooking the salmon through.

If you have enough tangerines, make extra sauce and turn what is leftover into a citrus vinaigrette: whisk in white wine vinegar (or other vinegar) and extra virgin olive oil to taste and toss with your favorite salad greens.

-1 cup fresh squeezed juice from 2 to 3 tangerines
-1 tsp freshly grated ginger
-Sea salt to taste
-Ground peppercorn
-Extra virgin olive oil
-1 pound wild salmon fillets or steaks at room temperature, cut into individual (4 oz) portions

Add the tangerine juice, grated ginger, and a small pinch of ground peppercorn to a small saucepan. Warm the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced to approximately 1/3 cup, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with sea salt to taste.

While the sauce reduces, preheat the grill pan over medium heat until hot. Brush the salmon with olive oil and season it with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Place the fish, seasoned-side down, on the grill pan. Brush the other side with olive oil and season with sea salt and peppercorn.

Cook until brown grill marks appear, about 5 minutes. Turn the fish over. Cook for one more minute, then turn off the heat. Cover and allow the fish to finish cooking with residual heat, about 5 more minutes (depending on the thickness of the salmon) until flaky and just cooked through. Do not overcook.

Serve the salmon immediately with the sauce.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Magret de Canard a la Sauce Frambroise / Duck Breast with Raspberry Sauce


Share this sexy dish with someone special. One duck breast is the perfect amount for two when paired with an appetizer and followed by salad and dessert.

For such a simple recipe and only a handful of ingredients, it’s an unbelievably rich and delicious dish. Consider the menu that follows for a Valentine’s Day dinner you will never forget.

I use frozen raspberries not only because fresh ones are out of season in February, but also because they exude a rich and flavorful juice as they thaw. (Allow them to come to room temperature in a dish to catch the juices.)

If you make this recipe in the summer, you can use fresh berries, but you’ll have to mash them to release their juices. Save some whole berries to garnish the finished dish.

1 duck breast, about a pound, give or take a few ounces
Sea salt
Ground peppercorn
1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Season the flesh side of the duck breast generously with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Place it in a cold, dry skillet, skin-side down, and warm it over low heat. Allow the fat to render slowly, pouring it off occasionally into a clean glass jar through a fine-mesh strainer. The fat you pour off should be clear and slightly yellow, not brown. If the liquefied fat becomes brown, lower the heat.

This will take some time, about 30 minutes, but it is an essential step in getting the skin perfectly crisp and reducing the fat to a soft and creamy layer. It also gives you time to prepare the rest of the meal.

Stir together the thawed raspberries with their juices, the balsamic vinegar and a small pinch each of sea salt and ground peppercorn. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set aside.

After approximately 30 minutes, the skin should be crisp and brown and you should have collected a fair amount of fat, a third of a cup or more. Allow the fat to cool, then cover and keep it in the fridge for future use. (Because duck fat is stable at high temperatures, it is a good choice for sautéing over high heat.)

Increase the heat to medium. Once the skillet is very hot, turn the duck breast over and sear the flesh side for approximately five minutes. If it smells like it is getting too hot, reduce the heat to medium-low.

Do not overcook the duck breast. When it feels firm yet slightly tender in the center (like the tip of your nose) and the flesh side is browned, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a plate, skin-side up. Cover it to keep it warm, allowing a small space for steam to escape so the skin doesn’t become soggy.

Allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then thinly slice the duck breast into 8 or 10 pieces. Properly cooked, the meat should be tender and still pink in the middle.

Serve it as soon as you slice it, with the raspberry balsamic sauce. Don’t drown the meat in sauce; use it sparingly to enhance the flavor of the duck.

You’ll have more sauce than you’ll need. Use what is leftover to make a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette: Whisk in some olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste, then drizzle it over salad greens.

Five-Course Valentine’s Day Dinner:

Carrot Ginger Soup
See 1/23/10 post. Make this ahead.

Duck Breast with Raspberry Sauce

Salad of Mixed Greens with Red Wine Vinaigrette
Whisk together 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and a pinch each of sea salt and ground peppercorn. Once combined, drizzle in 2 to 3 tablespoons of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Toss it with arugula, torn lettuce leaves, thinly sliced red onion and carrot shavings (use a vegetable peeler).

Cheese plate
Select a variety of tastes and textures. Consider brie, goat cheese, blue cheese and cubes of a firm aged variety, like a mild and nutty Swiss or Elemental. It never hurts to add some grapes to the fruit plate. Green grapes are fine but red ones are especially festive on Valentine’s Day.

Dark Chocolate Fondue
See 2/7/10 post.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dark Chocolate Fondue

I consider dark chocolate to be a healthy food, in moderation (1 to 2 ounces per day). It is low in sugar and full of antioxidants.

This recipe calls mostly for fruits that are easy to find in the winter, but use any fruit you find fresh or dried and unsweetened.

-4 oz dark chocolate, 70% to 85%
-2 to 4 tbsp organic cream
-1 tbsp cognac
-1 tangerine
-1 banana
-1 apple
-12 to 15 fresh strawberries (if available)
-6 dried apricot halves
-6 dried peach halves

Fill a saucepan with an inch of water and warm it over low heat. Break up the chocolate, or roughly chop it, into small pieces. Add the chocolate to a glass or stainless bowl and cover. Place the bowl over the saucepan and allow the water to simmer gently until the chocolate is just melted, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange the fruit on a plate.

Once the chocolate has melted, whisk in the cream and cognac, then transfer the chocolate mixture to a fondue bowl. Warm over a low flame and serve immediately with the fruit plate.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Red Wine Risotto

This hearty dish can be served as a vegetarian or vegan main course (see the directions that follow the recipe) or a side dish to accompany thinly sliced grass-fed flank steak (fan it out on top for a beautiful presentation). The deep purple color makes it an attractive addition to a special Valentine’s Day dinner.

I always make risottos with short-grain brown rice instead of the traditional white Arborio rice. Because brown rice has the bran and germ layers intact, it is a whole grain and a good source of fiber, B vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. Whole grains also contain essential fatty acids and protein (cooked brown rice has 5 grams per cup). The complex carbohydrates they contain ensure that the whole grains are digested slowly, which has a balancing effect on blood sugar levels.

White rice is made by removing the bran and germ layers, leaving only the starchy endosperm behind. Devoid of vitamins, minerals, fiber and essential fatty acids, these processed grains are quickly digested into glucose and quickly absorbed into the blood stream. The rapid rise in blood sugar can contribute to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and weight gain.

I like to use a fruity, dry merlot for this recipe, but another dry and fruity red wine will also work well. Additionally, I chose grated Romano cheese instead of the Parmesan traditionally used in risotto, because the sharper flavor stands up better to the bold red wine. But Parmesan can also be used if you prefer it or already have some on hand.

If you can, soak the rice ahead of time to activate the enzymes that make the micronutrients more bioavailable and the macronutrients easier to digest. Soaking the rice also reduces the cooking time, but risotto is a slow food nonetheless. Allow at least an hour and a half to make this dish.

-1 large portabella mushroom, wiped clean
-1½ cups mushroom stock or beef or chicken broth
-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing, divided
-2 tbsp butter made from organic grass-fed milk, divided (or more olive oil)
-Sea salt to taste
-Ground peppercorn to taste
-1 large red onion, chopped
-1½ cups dry brown rice, soaked for 8 hours or overnight, rinsed and well drained
-Several sprigs fresh thyme to yield 1 tbsp leaves, or 1 tsp ground dried thyme
-2 or more cloves garlic, grated or minced
-1 cup red wine
-¼ cup grated Romano cheese
-2 to 4 tbsp organic grass-fed cream

Place the portabella mushroom in a shallow baking dish, gill-side up. Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over the top and sprinkle with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Broil until the gills begin to crisp, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool, then dice.

In a small saucepan, warm the broth or stock over low heat.

Warm 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp butter (or 2 tbsp olive oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, a generous pinch of sea salt and several grinds of fresh peppercorn. Sauté until soft and starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped thyme, garlic and brown rice. Stir to coat all of the grains and cook for two more minutes. Add the red wine and cook until almost completely absorbed.

Prepare approximately two cups of water in a tea kettle or sauce pan. Warm it as the broth or stock gets low, in case you will need more liquid.

Once the wine has absorbed, add a ladle full of broth or stock, about one half cup. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally, and repeat, until the grains are tender and enveloped in a thick, creamy sauce. (This step may take 45 minutes, but you can use that time to prepare the rest of the meal.) Once the broth or stock is gone, add water from the kettle if more liquid is needed.

Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, cheese and cream. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Allow the risotto to sit for a few minutes to fully thicken before serving.

Vegan Variation:
Omit the dairy products, substitute additional olive oil for the butter, and opt for mushroom broth over beef or chicken stock.