"The more pasisonate the cook, the better the flavors" -Charles M. Carroll

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kale Orange Pomegranate Cranberry Salad

Hello Wild Chives Readers!
Jessica here, Lou's oldest daughter.
Here at Savory Event Catering we value family and my mom has definitely passed the culinary bug to us too! She's definitely the professional and I am still learning from her wealth of knowledge. My sisters and I will also be contributors, showing what cool things my mom has taught us. As a vegetarian, I focus on healthy eating... I am known as the Salad Guru in our family!

Above, photo of us. Jessica, Mom, Haley, Mckell. November 2010.

Below is a delicious salad I made to complement a Thanksgiving meal. I love this because it is SWEET. I definitely have a sweet tooth (proof that being vegetarian not always = healthy). But I think this is a healthy way to satisfy sweet cravings with seasonal winter fruit.

Thank goodness for citrus fruits in winter. This salad also has Kale, which is one of the most vitamin rich leafy greens you can eat! 

Kale is a closer cousin to Broccoli than lettuce and I think it adds a great texture to the salad. A great source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and Calcium (especially important for my Vegan friends & lactose intolerant friends who don't consume dairy)

Pomegranates are also in season around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Pomegranates are rich in anti-oxidants and have been considered a health food for centuries. Some may be intimidated on how to cut them, but continue reading and I will show you how to eat a pomegranate.

Oranges are a great addition too. These are clementines, a mandarin orange variety. They are similar to tangerines, but are seedless! Tons of Vitamin C to keep your immune system healthy during flu season.

When I cut the kale, I always trim the stem off. It is very tough. Also I shred the Kale into tiny bits. It can be a little bitter, but the tartness and acidity of the clementines and pomegranates counteract any unsavory taste from Kale.

How to cut a pomegranate:

Slice into quarters, fill a bowl full of water. You're going to break apart the seeds from the pith membrane in the water. The equilibrium of the water makes it so less seeds break open. You retain much more of the juice this way and less mess. The juice from a pomegranate will definitely stain your Carrera Marble countertop! (oh, I'm trained as an interior designer, this is when my geeky design side starts showing :)

Carefully break apart the seeds pods from the membrane.

The pith floats to the top-- seeds stay on the bottom! Now just rinse the seeds and lay on a paper towel to dry.

Time to assemble the salad. I used a mix of romaine, kale, and a spring salad mix w/ dark leafy greens. The darker the greens, the more vitamins you get! I also added dried cranberries, I like the chewy texture and cranberries are a great because they prevent bacterial infections.

I used a basic olive oil and lemon dressing for this. I think that a too complicated dressing competes with the sweetness of the fruit. 

But, you could always serve with a raspberry vinaigrette!

Here at Savory Event Catering, this is one of our favorite salads to serve at a winter wedding. The colors are so vibrant they look great on the buffet table!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Newest Salmon Recipe

So a few posts ago, I mentioned my salmon fishing trip to Alaska.  As you may guess I have been trying all kinds of new salmon recipes since then.  My post today is one that I made up and I wanted to share it with you.  I just want everyone else to be as excited about cooking as I am, so I experimented in the kitchen and came up with this one - I personally think it's to die for!

Pistachio Crusted Salmon with Mango Aioli


It's a salmon fillet encrusted in panko crumbs & ground up pistachio nuts, then sauteed in canola oil, then a nice sweet tropical sauce is drizzled over it to complement the nuts on the outside.
To make this mouth delight put the mango nectar in a small saucepan to reduce down to about a third so it doesn't make your aioli too runny- I use the "Jumex" brand of mango nectar- you could even blenderize frozen mango chunks (or fresh) and then strain them to get the juice out.  Which means at that point you probably wouldn't have to reduce it down because it would already be thick enough.  Then after I have a thick mango juice I add it to the mayo, milk, and herbs.  Refrigerate this until the salmon is ready - this sauce should be served at room temperature or even cold, but never hot because it will separate and be, well, a hot mess.
See the small white "pin bone" in between the edges of the pliers

Prepare the salmon by taking off any skin, then lightly run your fingers back and forth over the meat and if you feel a bone, grab onto it with culinary needle nose pliers and remove it.  (I just buy a new pair of needle nose pliers, wash them, and dedicate them to food use only - no need to buy something specialized- but don't allow moisture to stay in contact with them because they will rust easily.)

Cut off the thinner end so the main fillet is the same thickness

Trim the fillet so it is approximately the same thickness throughout.  Many pieces will be thick and then graduate down to a very thin edge, but if you cook it all together then you will have an uncooked thick part, and an overcooked thin part - neither side will be optimum - no bueno!

Chop the pistachios so that they are a little smaller than peppercorns
Grind up the pistachio crumbs in your food processor (or chop with a good chef's knife) until they are a little smaller than peppercorns.

From L to R: Chopped Italian Parsley, Peppercorns, Pistachios, Panko Bread Crumbs

Pistachios Mixed with the Panko Bread Crumbs

Next, mix the pistachios, salt, and panko crumbs together, then pour them out onto a plate for dredging of the fillets.  Lightly salt both sides of each fillet, then dip in the crumb/panko mixture.  You may have to kind of "press" the crumb coating into the salmon so there is enough coating on each fillet.  In a skillet, put in about 2-4 TBLS canola oil and heat it up on medium heat until it "frys" a little piece of panko when dropped in.  Fry each piece of meat until it has a nice golden brown color.  If you are worried about it being cooked all the way through, make a little hole in the bottom of the piece of salmon and check for a color change.  It should go from a dark orange color to an opaque peach color.  Do not cook the fish until it "flakes".  Flaky=overcooked!  There's nothing worse than dry salmon - what a waste.

Ready to take a bite!

When you plate this up for family or friends, sprinkle a little bit of chopped Italian parsley over it and serve it with Brussel sprouts sauteed with bacon chunks.  Tasty tasty.

Pistachio Encrusted Salmon with Mango Aioli
Lou Crandall, Savory Catering
Serves 4

¾ cup salted pistachios
1 cup panko bread crumbs
3 TBLS canola oil 
4 salmon fillets, approx  3” x 4” size each
1 cup milk

1½ cups mango nectar, reduced down to ½ cup
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Bacardi’s frozen drink concentrate, Pina Colada flavor
½ cup milk
1 TBLS finely chopped parsley

Put Mango nectar into a small saucepan and simmer until it reduces down to approx ½ cup.  Put it in the refrigerator to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk all the other ingredients together and add the mango nectar to it when it is completely cooled.  Set the Aioli aside.    

Put pistachios into a food processor and pulse until they are smaller than peppercorns.  Mix them with the panko crumbs.

Trim salmon fillets if necessary, so most of the fillets are all the same size.
Make sure the skin is off and the “pin bones” are pulled out of the salmon.  Salt the salmon fillets on both sides.  Dip in the milk, then in the crumbs to coat each piece of salmon with the pistachio/panko mixture.  I like to press the mixture in pretty thick.     

Put the canola oil into a large skillet and heat on medium until it is hot, and nearly smoking.  Carefully place the fillets down into the hot oil -but do not crowd them -and fry on each side about 3 minutes, or until the fish turns a light pink color.  Fish is cooked when it turns a lighter color, not when it is “flaky”.  Flaky fish means it is already overcooked.

Drizzle the aioli over the fillets right before service.  The aioli should be served at room temperature so that it doesn’t cool down the salmon too quickly.