Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Awesome Stepkid R. and I were excited to give our "Inaugural Love Food Dinner" a try this weekend.
A little background. For those of you who've just joined us, you might want to read about our Love Food Discussion here. I'd urge you to do so if only for the comments section, where my amazing, thoughtful readers give insight and sage advice on the art of food seduction.
Anyways, I've been toying with sample menus for weeks, running them by Awesome Stepkid R. We considered, batted ideas back-and-forth, and have several dinners that we are gung-ho to test drive for you!
This weekend was the first, and the easiest, of those dinners. And there is no lack of irony here that our first dinner comes gratis of none other than Rachael Ray herself. I know, I wanted to gag, too.
However, this month's issue of Everyday With Rachael Ray magazine had a recipe for Halibut Saltimbocca with Lemon Butter Orzo. This recipe had potential for several reasons:
a) it was found in the 30 Minute Meal section of the magazine, which meant it wasn't overly complicated.
b) halibut is a very mild, inoffensive-tasting fish, so even people who are ambivalent about seafood could eat this easily.
c) said seafood is wrapped in Italian bacon, and let's face it, bacon is the bomb.
d) the lemon orzo is made at the same time as the fish, which is pretty handy.
Now on it's own, I wouldn't call this dish a MEAL. There is a glaring lack of veg in this recipe. Thus, I decided to heed the advice of several wise readers who indicated that a beautiful salad was something women appreciate.
I decided on a romaine, orange segment, red onion and toasted walnut salad. I went to the store, bought all of the ingredients, and burst through the door, excited to get crackin'.
And then I saw it.
It. The Buzzkill. The thing that was going to make my previously affable, willing teenager into a reluctant--if not outright sullen--sous chef.
While I was meandering through the market, squeezing oranges and sniffing halibut,weighing which oil to buy for the viniagrette... my Loving Husband had the brilliant idea to unpack and assemble his latest toy: Guitar Hero: Rock Band 2.
I came through the door and was nearly rendered deaf by the raucous, infectious hook of Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out. I entered the room, arms full, and spied all three children and Loving Husband rocking out, hooting and guffawing, all obviously smitten.
Well, shit. Learning how to supreme an orange really cannot compare to mastering Pearl Jam's Alive, can it?
So I put the groceries away, pouted a bit, and figured that Inaugural Love Food Dinner was toast. I got to work on supreme-ing my orange segments, scowling over the bowl as Miss D. channeled her inner Pat Benatar.
And then, engrossed in my sulk, I was startled--jolted--by a sudden touch on the back from my husband. So jolted that my very sharp paring knife, which a minute ago was meticulously segmenting tender orange from white pith, slipped and segmented my finger.
In retrospect, the amount of blood was quite impressive. For a while there, an ER visit seemed imminent, but a few kitchen towels later, we decided we were okay. Except. Open wound+Citrus juice? Yeah.
I was in horrible pain. Not only did it sting like a bitch, it throbbed.
I do have the good fortune, however, to know lots of folks in the medical profession, so while I howled, hubs was on the phone trolling for quality painkillers. Thankfully, a nearby friend's husband was coming off back surgery, so while Loving Husband got in the car to score me pharmaceuticals, I walked (okay limped) Roshan through dinner prep.
The Reluctant Sous Chef cooked the whole darn dinner. And he did a fantastic job, too. He stepped up, was SO game, and so calm and, well, Awesome about the whole thing. He even did the cleanup, too.
Verdict: The salad was my favorite part of the meal. I ate through a slight haze, however. Everything was delicious, actually, but it wasn't our Love Meal, we decided. This was a meal we'd make any night of the week, but maybe not for that special one evening. The search, my friends, continues.
Halibut Saltimbocca with Lemon Butter Orzo
salt and pepper
1/2 pound orzo pasta
4 halibut fillets (about 6 oz each)
4 leaves fresh sage
4 slices proscuitto di Parma
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 tablespoons butter, cut einto small pieces
Juice of 1 lemon, plus 2 teaspoons grated peel
**I added a little flat-leaf parsley...the dish was too white without it
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot.
While the pasta is working, season the halibut with salt and pepper. Top each fillet with a sage leaf and wrap with a piece of proscuitto. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium heat. Add the fish and cook, turning once, until the fish is firm and the proscuitto is crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the butter, lemon juice, parsley (if using) and lemon peel to the pasta and toss. Serve with the fish.
Romaine, Orange, Red Onion and Toasted Walnut Salad
2 cups romaine lettuce, torn
3 oranges, supremed
1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
juice from segmented oranges
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Peel oranges. Cut segments away from the white pith over a bowl. Reserve juice. Toss lettuce, orange segments, red onion and walnuts in a bowl.
Combine reserved juice, champagne vinegar, walnut oil, salt and pepper. Whisk. Pour over salad, toss.