Monday, March 14, 2011

Maple-Ginger Glazed Salmon, Orange Spinach Salad and Toffee-Coffee Tartlets

Today was my Merm's birthday, so we made dinner extra special. The salmon was fresh, the salad was tangy and crisp and the dessert was rich. Oh, and the company was great, too!
Part of this meal almost turned to disaster, but luckily I saved it! More on that later...
This meal comes from... you guessed it! Food Network Magazine. But, there are a few modifications. You'll see!

Oranage Spinach Salad
1 bag spinach, rinsed
1 sliced avocado
2 oranges, segmented
chopped pecans
1/4 C orange juice
1 T honey
1 lime, juiced
1 t dijon mustard
1/2 t salt
3 T olive oil

Whisk the oj, lime juice, honey, mustard and salt. Add the olive oil and continue to whisk. Toss the spinach, pecans, avocado and orange segments in a bowl and drizzle with the dressing.
The original recipe called for watercress instead of spinach and hazelnuts instead of pecans, but I put pecans on EVERYTHING. Those two substitutions made it great and very tasty.

Maple-Ginger Glazed Salmon
For this one, you want to get 4 oz of salmon for every person eating. We had three people, so Evan picked up a 12 oz fillet. The glaze should be enough for up to 3 lbs of salmon, so unless you're feeding an army (which 3 lbs would probably feed, actually), stick with the original proportions.

appropriately sized salmon fillet, skin on
2 t ground coriander
s&p (preferably kosher salt)
1/4 C maple syrup
1 2-inch piece ginger, grated and peeled
1 lemon, juice and zest!
2 t butter

Heat your oven to 425. Put your salmon in a baking dish (glass, metal, whatev) and sprinkle with the coriander, 1 t of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Set it aside, and just let it be for 10-15 minutes.
While you're waiting, put the maple syrup, ginger, lemon zest and butter in a small saucepan and put it over medium heat. Let it get a little thick, 5-7 minutes, take it off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Brush the fish with half of the maple-ginger glaze. Put it in the oven for 12-ish minutes, until it's a bit firm and barely golden on top. Turn the oven to broil and move the rack to the top level in your oven. Brush the fish with the remaining glaze and broil another 2-3 minutes. Check for done-ness and remove from oven. Let it rest for 5 minutes before diving into it.
When you slice it up, the skin should come off fairly easy. Serve it with the skin on, it won't stick to the fish when you pick it up with your fork. I used to be very freaked out about having the skin on when it hit my plate, but it's actually no big deal. It comes off easy and isn't weird at all. Ok, there's my schtick on fish skin.

Toffee-Coffee Tartlets
THIS is the dish I had a little mishap with. The recipe says to boil the cream and coffee grounds, let chill, then whip until stiff peaks form. I whipped that crap for 30 minutes and nothing happened. My hand mixer overheated, and I was schvitzin about ruining Merm's birthday dessert! But I threw it in my ice cream maker and turned it into rich, (almost too) creamy coffee ice cream that I then scooped into the tarts instead. I'm going to include the method the way I did it, but remember you can always try whipping the cream instead!

1 1/2 C heavy cream
1/4 C ground coffee
3/4 C caramel topping
2 T butter
1/2 C powdered sugar

1 10 oz pack frozen puff pastry shells
1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 C toffee bits (I couldn't find any at the store, so I bought Werther's and hit them with a hammer)

Bring the coffee and cream to an almost boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Turn it down to low and let it cook there for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and strain it through a fine mesh strainer. Set it aside.
Put the caramel topping in another saucepan and bring to a boil, over med-high heat. Reduce to medium and go for 2 more minutes. Take it off the heat and stir in the butter. Carefully and slowly whisk the caramel-butter mixture with the coffee cream mixture. Refrigerate until completely chilled, about an hour.
Bake the pastry shells according to package directions. Once cool, pull out the centers. You won't need these so you can throw them out or find something else to do with them..
To melt the chocolate chips, you can either place them in a glass bowl over a pot of almost boiling water and constantly stir, or you can microwave them VERY carefully, 20 seconds at a time stirring between each time until melted. Either way, don't let the chocolate get over cooked and crumbly. That's bad.
Pour the toffee bits onto a pie plate. Dip the rims of the pastry shells in the chocolate, then in the toffee bits. Set aside.
Once your cream mixture is cold, beat in powdered sugar. Now you can either try to beat the whole thing with a mixer until stiff peaks form, or throw it into your ice cream maker and churn according to how your machine works. Either way, once you have a finished product, spoon it into the shells, drizzle with caramel topping and enjoy!
Really, it doesn't matter how you choose to do it! How can you go wrong with heavy cream, caramel and chocolate??