I just got back from spending the holidays in Jamaica. It was as sunny and even more beautiful than you can imagine. However, I learned something on this trip that I never knew about myself before: I can get tired of being on vacation. After two weeks in paradise I was ready to come back to cold, windy, snowy Brooklyn. So after one week back at work in my real life, I wanted to get back at play in my real life. I invited a couple of ladies over to the house for a relaxing Friday night dinner.
I wanted to make something that was somewhere between the tropically-spiced curry and jerk Iâ€™d just left behind and traditional winter comfort food. I decided on a green rice, steamed then tossed with herb cream that provided a warm, silken and herbal base to the roasted salmon topped with romesco sauce. This combination would be equally lovely with a broiled and thinly sliced skirt steak. I added to this a side of snow peas sautÃ©ed with ginger and garlic.
While in the grocery store, I realized that Florida oranges are in season and there are tons of beautiful varieties and at reasonable prices. This inspired me to begin the meal with an arugula salad topped with blood orange sections, red onion and feta. This crisp and clean flavor steered me toward a tropical dessert. I went with a pineapple foster. It was mildly spiced with nutmeg and cardamom and the sauce was made with dark brown sugar, lending it a rich molasses, almost chocolate flavor. It was a great meal and got the conversation going â€“ until 3am! Definitely a successful dinner party in my book.
Orange, Red Onion and Feta Salad
Â½ lb washed and dried arugula
Â½ red onion cut into very thin slices
1 cup blood orange supremes (check out this video on slicing supremes: http://www.expertvillage.com/video/16535_orange-supreme.htm)
Â¾ cup crumbled feta
Â½ cup Newmanâ€™s Own Vinaigrette
Toss the arugula with the juice of Â½ lemon, then toss with prepared vinaigrette. Arrange orange supremes, onion and feta on top and serve family style.
4 cups cooked white rice
Â¾ cup light sour cream
Â¼ cup half-and-half
Â½ cup packed cilantro leaves
Â¼ cup coarsely chopped scallions
1 coarsely chopped Anaheim pepper (you can also use half a poblano)
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients except rice in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until the mixture turns into a smooth green sauce, about the consistency of a thin pancake batter. Toss herb and pepper sauce with cooked rice until thoroughly combined.
24 blanched almonds or almond slivers
1 head garlic
1 slice stale bread
2 ripe tomatoes
2 large roasted red peppers
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine or sherry vinegar (approximately)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or small hot pepper (optional)
This romesco sauce recipe makes about 2 cups of sauce.
Rub off excess dry skin from garlic head. Place on baking sheet and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top. Roast in oven (or toaster oven) for 20 minutes at 300F degrees or until garlic on inside is roasted and soft.
While garlic is roasting, blanch almonds, then peel. For easy step-by-step instructions on blanching almonds, read About.com Greek Food Guide’s, How to Make Blanched Almonds. Or, use a handful of almond slivers that you buy at the store.
Make sure almonds are completely dry after blanching. Place almonds and hazelnuts into food processor and process until finely ground.
Pour a few tablespoons of virgin olive oil into a small frying pan and fry bread until both sides are browned. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a plate or paper towel.
Cut tomatoes into quarters and sautÃ© in same frying pan, adding oil if needed. Saute for 4-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
Once cooled, tear bread into 6 pieces and process with the nuts. Add sautÃ©ed tomatoes. Squeeze roasted garlic from the skins onto a plate. Place roasted red peppers on a plate to drain. Put garlic and red peppers into the processor with the other ingredients and process until ingredients are a thick puree.
While processor is running, slowly drizzle in the oil and vinegar. Add salt to taste. Serve over roasted meat or fish.
6 oz. portions of salmon fillet
Preheat oven to 425. Place salmon portions on cookie sheet and bake in oven for 10-12 minutes until cooked to medium.
Snow Peas with Garlic and Ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
Â½ tsp salt
Â¾ lb snow peas
3 tbl olive oil
Heat olive oil in sautÃ© pan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger to oil, add peas 15 seconds later. Sautee until bright green. Sprinkle with salt. Remove from heat.
Â¼ cup salted butter
Â½ cup dark brown sugar
Â½ cup dark rum
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of cardamom
1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into chunks
1 pint Vanilla ice cream
Melt butter and sugar in heavy medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add rum and nutmeg and stir until very thick and syrupy, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple and stir just to heat through. Spoon pineapple and sauce over ice cream.
-Tell us how yours turned out!
Like Foodie? Check out the rest of Parlourâ€™s recipes from both Jâ€™alla and Nichelle here.
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