Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Feeling Awesome.

Ah yes.  The second day of the New Year.  The real "first" day for most of us, considering the aftermath of NYE.  Although I managed to keep this year's celebration pretty mellow- a couple drinks in my pj's watching movies from the 90's with the hubbs- I still took yesterday off from resolutions.  I decided, what better way to spend January 1st, 2013 than to read my books, eat a cheeseburger for lunch and finish with a pizza dinner?  I know, I know... The gluttony!  Gorging on junk food for an entire day was my way of saying goodbye to 2012 in the greasiest way possible.

It sounds stereotypical to announce, "This year, I'm going to eat healthy and exercise more!"  The thing is, we've already cleaned out the fridge, emptied the cupboards and waved goodbye to my beloved candy bag.  Both the hubbs and I are determined to kick the bad eating habits we've developed over the holidays and through football season by sticking to fresh, simplistic, healthy foods and a very active, consistent lifestyle.  The hubbs is now in training for his first triathlon and I've got no choice but to stand beside him in his quest.  I'll be running, swimming, and bicycling along beside him in support-- mind you, perhaps trailing a bit further behind and relatively slower.  No silly, I'm not participating in the triathlon, I'll leave that up to him.  It does give me the motivation to get myself back in motion though, especially after the indulgent days of the months ending in R.

Don't get me wrong.  There will be tons of cooking, eating and food journeys in the near future.  In fact, I'm starting our first new day with a healthy, delicious meal made entirely from locally sourced foods (keeping reading for the recipe).  We are passionate about our garden this year, and attempting to eat almost entirely our own fruits and vegetables.  I look forward to sharing tips, photos and recipes in the upcoming months as our garden changes with the seasons.  Heck, we might even buy some chickens.  For right now, the only items in our fridge are vegetables, hard cheeses, wine, milk and a ton of hot sauce.  Our cupboard has basic grains, dried beans, honey, sugar and beef jerky.  The barren winter garden will soon be sowed, covered for warmth and sprouting before we know it, revealing hearty root veggies and cool weather greens.  It's an exciting time of year around these parts-- things are a'changin!

To kick off our year of "feeling awesome", tonight I will be cooking up one of Eric Ripert's fabulously simple, healthy dishes made from locally farmed salmon and organic produce.  I admire Eric for his unique philosophy on cooking and his passion for sustainability within the field-- as a well respected philanthropist and Head Chef/Co-Owner of the exquisite Le Bernardin in New York City, he is one of my own personal culinary idols.  I love the way the man sees the world and it's bounty...


½ cup red wine
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 shallots, minced
4 sprigs tarragon
2 leeks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin off
fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

1 teaspoon sliced tarragon
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon finely minced shallots

Cooking salmon very slowly on one side or “unilaterally” is a very refined technique that is very easy to do a home. The rich fish is accompanied by the full flavors of the red wine butter sauce with it’s balance of richness and acidity while the sweetness from the leeks rounds out the dish.

In a small sauce pot, combine the red wine, red wine vinegar, black peppercorns, shallots and tarragon. Bring the wine to a boil and reduce to about 6 tablespoons. Reserve in pot.

Trim the ends of the leeks, remove the tough outer greens and wash thoroughly. Split the leek in half lengthwise and thinly slice the leeks into juliennes; place the leeks in a shallow pot and cover with water and 1 tablespoon of butter. Bring to a simmer, lightly season with salt and pepper and cook slowly until the leeks are very tender, about 10 minutes, adding more water as needed.

Finish the red wine butter sauce by whisking in the remaining butter 1 tablespoon at a time until fully emulsified, season to taste with salt and pepper and strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve and keep warm.

For the salmon, put about ½ cup of water in a pan (just enough to cover the surface); season with salt and bring to simmer over medium heat. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the salmon in the pan; cook at a bare simmer until the top of the fish is just warm to the touch (about 5-7 minutes).

Meanwhile, gently reheat the leeks in the cooking liquid. Spoon the leeks onto each plate, remove the salmon from the pan and drain each fillet on a towel. Place a salmon fillet on top of each bed of leeks. Sprinkle tarragon, black pepper and shallot over each fillet. Spoon sauce around and serve immediately.

The man himself, Mr. Eric Ripert- look at that smile.

“Cooking is a holistic process of planning, preparing, dining and sharing food. I place food at the center of our humanity, as it nourishes not only our physical bodies but also our emotional and spiritual lives. Food is truly a cultural phenomenon that informs our traditions and our relationship with the earth. I genuinely believe that food connects us all.”

This was an AMAZING dish that both the hubbs and I loved.  The fish came out perfect and the sauce was so light and complementary.  The leeks were slightly sweet and very tender, and the garnish of finely diced shallots and tarragon gave it bite.  So good.  Try it out, let me know what you think.  And don't be afraid of the "barely cooked" part- poaching the fish this way only brings out its natural flavors, it's a delight.

Cheers friends, and enjoy!

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