We love to entertain although I admit we're a tad out of practice because we just don't do it often enough. If you find yourself in the same boat, the wisest thing you can do is to "go with what you know". That's what we did last night. Dinner included:
- Sundried Tomato and Spinach Parmieres (served with pre-dinner drinks)
- Asian Glazed Sockeye Salmon
- Soba Noodle Salad with Fresh Vegetables
- Vegetarian Pot Stickers with Sweet Chile Sauce
- Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce
Our menu was made up of some tried and true favorites, but as usual, we neglected to take pictures of everything so I'll tell you about what I can show you, but I'll have to tell you about the parmieres some other time. Too bad, because they're really easy to make and rather impressive too. Sorry about that!
As for the main course, we've had the Asian glaze before on steelhead, but this time I used sockeye salmon. I prepped the glaze in advance so I wouldn't have to worry about it after our guest arrived which made cooking the main course a breeze. I can say that because the Big Guy grilled the salmon which took a grand total of about 6 minutes from start to finish - just enough time for me to cook up some purchased pot stickers and put the finishing touches on our soba noodle salad.
The salad's a breeze to throw together with julienned red pepper, grated carrot and sliced green onions along with lovely Japanese buckwheat noodles (soba) in a sweet spicy Asian vinaigrette. Although the whole thing can be put together in advance, yesterday afternoon I prepped the ingredients separately and had 'em all ready to toss together at the last minute so the vegetables would maintain their color. The salad is an interesting and fresh tasting accompaniment to any grilled entree, but particularly delicious with salmon.
It's hard to come up with an Asian style dessert so I went a different route and picked an autumny one instead. Dorie Greenspan's version of an Apple Cake is absolutely without question the best cake you'll ever make. It's rummy flavor really showcases the apple in all its glory. This time I used 3 different kinds of apples (Granny Smith, Red Rome, Gala) and served the cake with a homemade caramel sauce at the Big Guy's request. He can take some bows for his ingenuity because it tasted just like a caramel apple only much, much better.
Asian Glazed Salmon with Soba Noodle Salad
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 Tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic
Dried red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1-1/2 pounds sockeye salmon, (skin on) cut into serving pieces
Place sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and lime juice in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 9 minutes, or until sauce forms a glaze. Watch closely to prevent burning.
Clean salmon well under running water and pat dry. Leave skin on but check fish for pin bones and remove as needed. Dry fillet well. Baste with some of the glaze and let sit for 15 minutes. Grill for 6 minutes or until cooked through. Baste once more with glaze before serving.
Soba Noodle Salad:
4 ounces soba noodles cooked per package directions and well drained
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 small zucchini, cut into julienne strips
2 green onions, sliced
Combine ingredients below in a screw top jar and shake until well mixed.
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (sambel olek) optional
Toss soba and vegetables together with dressing and serve. Serves 4 Download Asian Glazed Salmon with Soba Noodle Salad
Apple Cake (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 Granny Smith apples
1 Red Rome apple
1 Gala apple
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8 inch spring form pan with cooking spray and line sides and bottom with parchment. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Peel and core apples and cut into one inch chunk. Set aside.
In medium sized bowl whisk eggs until light and frothy. Add sugar and whisk for 1 minute until well combined. Add rum and vanilla and mix well to combine. Stir in half the dry ingredients then add half the melted butter. Mix until combined, then finish with remaining flour and butter. Fold in apple pieces until they’re well coated with batter and turn into prepared pan. Level top with spatula. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown on top and knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Turn onto serving plate when cool enough to handle and remove parchment. Serve with caramel sauce. (Store cake at room temperature, lightly covered).
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Place sugar in a medium sized saucepan with a wide heavy bottom. Add water but do not mix together. Place pot on medium high heat and cook without moving or stirring until sugar is amber colored. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn and it is important not to move the pot. When sugar is caramelized and amber, carefully stir in butter (it will foam up, so be careful). Stir until butter is melted, then remove pot from heat. Carefully stir in heavy cream. When mixture stops foaming, add vanilla. Cool to room temperature. Download Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce