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Pan-Fried Halibut with Dill Cream Sauce and Asparagus

Our orzo recipe could almost be a passable dinner by itself, but if you need protein at each meal, then this light fish is a great choice to pair with the orzo.  It doesn’t require a lot of attention to make it, so invite the kids to treat the parents for dinner one night by whipping this up for the family.

Makes 2

1/2 of a bunch of large asparagus

3/4 lb. halibut filet

1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream

1 tbs. of freshly chopped dill

1 tbs. of olive oil

The juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

shock the spears

shock the spears

Steam the asparagus until the spears are al dente.  Once removed from heat, add ice to keep the asparagus from continuing to cook itself.

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If the filet is large, cut it in half.  In a large saute pan over medium-medium-high heat (like NNW is right between north and northwest), add the olive oil and butter.  Bring the pan to full heat before adding the fish.

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Add the fish pieces one at a time, with about 15-20 seconds in between so as not to shock the pan.  Fry on each side for 4-5 minutes.  At the same time, in a small saute pan over medium-low heat, combine the cream, dill, lemon juice, and optional salt and pepper.  Cook until reduced and thickened to achieve nappe.

pan-fried halibut with dill cream sauce and asparagus

pan-fried halibut with dill cream sauce and asparagus

Optional: toss the asparagus spears in melted butter before serving.

Turkey Marsala with Wild Mushrooms

turkey marsala with wild mushrooms

turkey marsala with wild mushrooms

We love mushrooms and can think of a number of ways to use them, some standard and some atypical.  Tonight for dinner Chef Zach was inspired to make turkey Marsala, with wild mushrooms and cream enhancing the entree.  All that rich sauce could use a starch to help mop it up, so try this with cheesy polenta pancakes.  And don’t forget to balance your meal with vegetables, like sauteed rainbow chard.

Makes 2

2 turkey breast cutlets

1 box of low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup of flour

1/3 cup of Marsala wine

1 oz. each of alba clamshell, brown clamshell, forest nameko, and velvet pioppini mushrooms

1/4 cup of Straus cream

2 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. of minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Reduce the chicken broth in a sauce pan over medium heat.  You want to reduce it by half in order to concentrate the flavors.

Dredge the turkey cutlets in flour.  Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Put the turkey in the pan, one cutlet at a time with about 20 seconds in between.  If you can fit two in the pan that’s awesome, but you want at least 1″ of space between the cutlets, and they shouldn’t touch the side of the pan, either.

Cook each side for about 3 minutes, then remove from the pan and transfer to a plate.  Cover with foil to keep warm.

Add the mushrooms and garlic to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high.  Saute for 2 minutes until softened.  Add the wine and chicken broth, and cook for about 1 minute.  Finally add the cream, and cook until reduced and thickened, reaching nappe (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).

Put the turkey cutlets back in the pan for 1 minute to warm up the meat and coat with sauce.  Plate and serve.

Coffee Crème Brûlée

coffee crème brûlée

coffee crème brûlée

Crème brûlée requires very simple ingredients, so it’s all up to technique.  If you trust your hand with a blow torch, then heat things up!  Traditional crème brûlée is vanilla flavored, but you can add anything to the cream to give it a distinct taste.  Tonight we used August’s father’s Guatemala Antigua coffee beans; as The Renaissance Roaster, he roasts a few varieties himself in small batches.  If you’d like to know more about his delicious coffee and how you can get your own pound of beans, send us a message or comment below and we’ll have him get back to you!

Makes 5

1 quart of heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 cups of Renaissance Roaster whole coffee beans

10 egg yolks

2/3 cup of sugar, plus 5-10 tbs. for the crunchy top

1/2 of a vanilla bean, split and scraped

coffee and cream

coffee and cream

Add the coffee beans to the cream in a medium sauce pot, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  After it’s reached the boiling point, reduce heat to low and steep for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Five minutes before the coffee and cream steeping process is over, preheat the oven to 320 degrees F and whisk together the egg yolks and 2/3 cup of sugar by hand or with a machine.  Whisk until they are thickened, increased in volume, and have turned a light pale yellow.  Notice the texture and color in the video above.

strained

strained

The timing should be up for the coffee and cream, so pour this through a fine mesh strainer or a sieve into a bowl.  Discard the coffee beans.  Slowly add the strained cream to the egg yolk mixture, stirring in to fully incorporate.  If you do this too quickly, the egg yolks may coagulate.

Pour the mixture into a large measuring cup and skim off bubbles or foam, if there are any.  Using a measuring cup will make it easier to pour the mixture into ramekins for a bain-marie.  Place the ramekins on baking sheet, fill them with the mixture, then put the baking sheet in the oven and add boiling water to the baking sheet, surrounding the ramekins but not submersing them.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Once out of the oven the desserts must cool before being brûléed, so after they’ve come down to close to room temperature, transfer them to the refrigerator for 3 hours.

thicker sugar layer = crunchier top

thicker sugar layer = crunchier top

Using 5-10 tbs. of sugar, depending on desired crunchiness, evenly cover the top of each dessert.  What you see here is about 1 1/2 tbs. of sugar on this ramekin.  It’s wise to use super-fine sugar because regular sugar can give you darkened caramelized spots, but don’t worry if that happens anyway (we used regular sugar so you could see that it’s okay!).

With a kitchen blow torch from about 6″-8″ away so that you don’t set the thing on fire, make slow circles to melt the sugar.  Once the top has been achieved, put back in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to set it, although some people like to eat it slightly warm so that’s up to you if you don’t want to wait.