Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Scrumptious Salmon, Watercress salad and Saffron risotto

With the crazy schedule I've created for myself, these days dinners that take the least amount of time to cook are high on my list. The other night I made a Salmon dinner with Watercress salad and Saffron risotto. It was scrumptious and one that's a sure addition to my repertoire.

Salmon’s one of those fishes that I know how to cook, and trust myself on cooking it well. Swordfish, marlin and other varieties that aren’t readily available, not so much. I am still learning techniques and fish personalities from Helen and other fish pros! Fortunately for me and others short on time and creative juices at 8pm, this Salmon recipe was very easy and simple. Sprinkling salt and pepper on the fish, and letting the oven do the work was all it took to cook this one!

Saffron risotto on the other hand required research however it was well worth it. Here’s a recipe you can use time and again. Thanks to Whole Foods, I followed their recipe for Saffron risotto with minor changes. The recipe and process are straightforward but require close attention, as is the case for risottos.

Enjoy these recipes as much as I did!

2 Salmon filets with skin
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 300F degrees. While the oven heats up, gently rub meatier portion of fish with salt and pepper. Drizzle small or medium baking dish with olive oil, lay seasoned Salmon on the dish, skin side down. Drizzling the fish with olive oil is optional. Bake in the oven for 15- 20 minutes. Oven temperatures and cooking times vary based on individual ovens; keep an eye on the fish, through the oven window, after 12 minutes. Helen gives a great pointer on cooking Salmon, don’t overcook the fish by letting it get flaky; that makes the fish dry.

Saffron Risotto
4 cups shrimp stock, homemade- this is completely optional, I just happened to have shrimp stock from previous weekend
1 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup Arborio rice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated

In a medium saucepan, bring shrimp stock to simmer on medium heat. When the stock starts to simmer, add cream and saffron threads to the pan. In another saucepan, heat butter and olive oil on medium low heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add Arborio rice and stir thoroughly to coat with onion and butter mixture. Add 1/4 cup simmered stock and stir with a wooden spoon; make sure rice is scraped from the sides and is cooking in liquid. Stir every 30 seconds or so to ensure the liquid hasn’t evaporated and rice isn’t sticking to the pan. Add another 1/4 cup stock and repeat process when the liquid is absorbed. Stirring often is crucial as this gives the rice opportunity to absorb the liquid and keeps from sticking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Repeat the ‘liquid addition’ method until most of the stock is used, approximately 20- 25 minutes. Taste, if the rice has a hard bite, continue to cook adding liquid when necessary. It is done when rice has a soft bite with creamy consistency. Add freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano before serving. Serve warm with salad and fish.

Watercress Salad
1 bunch watercress leaves
1/3 cup walnuts, halved and toasted
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 red onion, small diced
Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil

Tear watercress leaves from stems, add to a serving bowl along with toasted walnuts and salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix lemon juice with diced red onion, salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil to the lemon juice mix while whisking, to make vinaigrette. Drizzle over watercress and walnuts and serve.

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