July 9, 2008

Arctic Char with Horseradish Cream, Sweet & Sour Beets, and Dandelion Greens

This post comes to you from guest blogger (and childhood friend) Suzanne. How she found time to make this dinner with 15-month old twin boys and a 4 1/2 year old son is completely beyond me, but she did. The results sound delicious, and here they are. Thank you, Suzanne!!

My husband was recently appointed the Chair of his department at Oakland University. As such, he felt it would be nice for us to entertain a woman that was just hired to teach in the department and her husband when they were in town looking for housing. The woman is Japanese and her husband is Norwegian. So of course I chose to make fish and rice. I'm pretty fearless in the kitchen but one of my problem dishes happens to be rice. Even with a rice cooker, I always manage to screw it up. I was in the process of preparing the meal when I realized I was really setting myself up to be embarrassed by serving rice to a Japanese woman (not to mention fish to a Norwegian man). Fortunately the dinner turned out really well. The salad and main course were both beautiful and, all in all, the meal was quite healthy.

We started with some store bought appetizers - hummus, cheese, etc. I also made some delicious and potent martinis. I got the recipe from a restaurant called Kona Grille.

Berry Martinis (recipe makes one martini)
Mix the following and serve chilled
2 oz Three Olives brand Triple Berry Vodka
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/4 oz Rose's Lime Juice
1/2 oz Cranberry Juice

The salad, main course, and dessert recipes all came from Bon Appetit

Arugula, Fennel and Orange Salad
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 large oranges
7 cups arugula
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced (I used a mandoline)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (again, I used a mandoline)

Whisk the first three ingredients together to make the dressing. Season to taste with S & P.
Cut the peel and white pith from the oranges. Working over a bowl, use a small knife to cut between and release the segments.

Combine the arugula, fennel and onion in a large bowl. Toss with dressing to coat. Add orange segments and toss to combine.

Note: I added some of the juice from the oranges to the vinaigrette and adjusted the amount of oil to balance out the acid. I also added a bit of dry mustard powder. This helps the vinaigrette to emulsify and give a nice tang to it.

Note: I let the onion slices soak in ice water for several hours then patted them dry before tossing with the salad. This helps to mellow the onion flavor.

Arctic Char with Horseradish Cream, Sweet & Sour Beets, and Dandelion Greens (4 servings)

Horseradish Cream:
3 cups 1/2-inch cubes fresh peeled horseradish root (about 1 lb unpeeled root)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

To make cream, coarsely grate horseradish; transfer to medium saucepan and add cream; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 30 minutes. Strain cream into small sauce pan through sieve extracting as much cream as possible by pressing firmly on solids. Cream can be made 2 days ahead - cover and chill.

8 baby red beets, tops trimmed
8 baby golden beets, tops trimmed
(baby beets were not available so I used large beets and cut them to size after cooking)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 TBS sugar

Cook red and golden beets in separate medium pots of salted water until tender, about 18 minutes. Drain and cool. Beets can be prepared to this point 2 days ahead - cover and chill.

Peel red beets, cut in half and place in skillet. Peel golden beets, cut in half and place in a separate skillet. Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 TBS sugar into each skillet. Cook beets in each skillet over medium-high heat until liquid thickens to syrup and begins to coat beets, about 4 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste with S & P. Remove from heat.

Fish and Greens:
4 6-oz arctic char or salmon filets with skin
3 TBS vegetable oil, divided

1 large bunch dandelion greens, stems trimmed (you can use any other bitter greens such as arugula, watercress, endive or mustard greens; I used arugula to complement the salad).

Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle fish with S & P. Heat 1 TBS oil in large, heavy ovenproof sauce pan over high heat. Add fish, skin side down and sear until skin is crisp and brown, about 3 minutes (do not turn fish over). Place skillet with fish in oven and roast until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm the horseradish cream over medium heat. Heat remaining two TBS oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens until just wilted, about 1 minute and season with S&P.

Divide greens among 4 plates. Top with fish, skin side up. Surround fish with beets. Spoon warm cream over top and drizzle with any remaining beet juices.

Note: For a more substantial portion, I would double the amount of greens as they wilt to just about nothing once cooked. And we could all use more dark leafy greens in our diets. I wouldn't hesitate to double the beet recipe, either, as I love beets. And we could all use more beets in our diets. I served simple steamed sticky rice with the main course.

Raspberry Topped Chocolate Tartlets with Pecan Crust

2 cups pecans, toasted
6 TBS packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup whipping cream
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/2-pint containers raspberries
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 325. Combine pecans, sugar, and cinnamon in food processor. Blend until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and process until moist clumps form. Press dough over bottom and up sides of four 4-inch diameter tartlet pans with removable bottoms (I couldn't find them with removable bottoms so I used non-stick tartlet pans and they worked just fine; I just had to carefully extract the crust from each after the ganache filling had a chance to cool).

Bake crusts until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely in pans.

Bring cream to simmer in heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and add chocolate. (Use a very good quality chocolate - like Valhrona - since this is a simple dish and chocolate is the star). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour mixture into crusts, dividing equally. Chill until chocolate is set, about one hour. Cover and chill. Can be made 1 day ahead. If you use tartlets with bottoms that are not removeable, gently tap the tartlets out of the pans before the next step.

Arrange berries over top of tartlets. Stir jam in heavy saucepan over low heat until melted. Brush over raspberries. Refrigerate. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead.

Note: I used raspberries and blueberries. Strawberries would be great, too.

Note: Next time I think I'd make a different crust, perhaps combining nuts with graham crackers or shortbread. I found this crust to be a bit on the greasy side from the butter and oils released by the nuts.

I will certainly make all of these dishes again. You can do a lot of the work in advance which makes this a nice meal for entertaining.

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