Wednesday, November 17, 2010

weekend dinner party

It's the weekend before Thanksgiving (gulp) so I propose keeping things light this weekend. There's also the fact that there are only ten days and a holiday centered around gorging that separate me from the beaches of Jamaica (do ya hate me?). Alas, all the more reason to lighten up the ole "diet."

Whether or not this spread can truly be considered "lightened up" is debatable because it certainly tastes anything but--which is the trick to staying on the healthy-eating track. And from a person adverse to almost all things track-related, you can rest assured that my "responsible" suggestions won't leave you feeling deprived of anything.

You see, because there are just very few things I deprive myself of. I come from a place of "yes."

In many ways, this spread is my ode to Mooncake. And while I owe them much of the credit, I came up with these recipes all on my own this past weekend when they were received with an overwhelming (yet humbling) number of compliments and finished with a standing ovation. While the latter may or may not be a slight embellishment on the truth, I assure you this meal will not go by unnoticed. And your figure will thank you (but really, me).

salmon with cilantro-ginger sauce over steamed rice
bibb lettuce salad with avocado, mango and orange-ginger dressing
new zealand sauvignon blanc

toasted coconut frozen yogurt

The pictures above show how leftovers (we did strip steaks rather than salmon) were translated the next day: Open-faced sandwiches, lovingly and perfectly curated by my cousin Renée on Sunday afternoon. May be one of the best looking things on Eat + Greet to date. And I had nothing to do with the assembly. Go figure.

Anyways, a bright, zippy Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand with big, juicy hints of grapefruit will go smashingly with this meal. And I know that because it's what I served alongside. Making two red wine drinkers absolutely swoon.

Contrary to popular belief, turns out I know a thing or two about wine and food pairings.

Salmon with Cilantro-Ginger Sauce
Serves 4

For the salmon:
4 6-oz. salmon fillets
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. lite soy sauce
2 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
4 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tsp. of sugar (or honey or agave syrup)
sprinkle of red chili flakes
1/2 tsp. salt

In a shallow dish, combine all of the wet ingredients. Turn the fillets of salmon around in the marinade until they're evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or two, turning the fillets once or twice.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Wrap each fillet in a piece of foil and place on a baking sheet. When the oven is up to temperature, place the baking sheet in the oven and allow to cook (steam) for about 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Serve with steamed rice and cilantro-ginger sauce.

For the cilantro-ginger sauce:

1 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno, halved and seeded
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
sprinkle of sugar
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. canola oil
salt to taste

In a food processor, combine the cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, and ginger. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add in the rice vinegar, sugar, canola oil, and salt and blitz until combined. Taste for seasoning.

Orange-Ginger Dressing

1/4 cup orange juice
3 slices of ginger (cut 1/4" thick or so)
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. canola oil
salt to taste

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add the orange juice and ginger slices. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer until the juice has reduced by half. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a small bowl, add the cooled orange reduction, rice vinegar, and chopped shallot. Stir to combine then whisk in the canola oil. Taste for seasoning.

Serve drizzled over a salad of bibb lettuce, sliced avocado and mango.

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