The past month or two, I've been in a cooking slump. Instead of excitedly reading food magazines, making menus, browsing grocery story aisles in anticipation of kitchen fun, I nixed most new ideas as too time consuming or too likely to meet with groans from my son. The low point: when I realized that we were looping the same seven meals, and Monday had become not just pasta night but spaghetti with red sauce. The ribs last week (see previous post) gave me a hint of the old fun, and salivation. So then Renée and I challenged each other: make a menu for the week and Sunday night let's come up with something totally new and seasonal and fun and delicious. Success: here it is!!!!!!
First, cocktails by Dave.
New England Whiskey Sour
2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz maple syrup
1/8 oz cranberry juice concentrate
Shake, pour, garnish with a cranberry or two.
Then, salmon burgers with aoili and roasted brussels sprouts with cranberries and maple syrup.
The salmon is from Alaska, but Renée's cousin who lives on the Cape caught it there herself - somehow that makes it feel local. Cranberries and brussels sprouts and maple syrup, local and seasonal. And guess what else: the parsley! Thanks to global warming or whatever is causing this nice warm December, I still have rows of little bushy fresh parsley plants in the back yard.
1 lb. salmon
1 large bunch parsley, finely chopped (makes about 1 cup chopped parsley)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 medium clove garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
1/3 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
Lay the salmon on a baking sheet and bake, uncovered, at 375 for about 30 minutes or until cooked through. When the salmon is cooked, break it up with a fork, making sure to remove skin and bones, and put it in a bowl with all of the other ingredients. Mix well with hands, until it will all adhere into a nice tight patty.
At first, it looks like this might not happen, but if you really almost knead it with your hands, it all comes together. Form into patties and cook in a pan over medium heat until nicely browned on both sides, 5-7 minutes per side. Serve with aoili to drizzle over.
2 egg yolks
1 tsp mustard
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
approx. 1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
Whisk together the egg yolks, mustard, pepper and salt. Very slowly, drizzle in olive oil, whisking quickly and constantly. This is easiest to do with two people. Continue adding olive oil and whisking until the mixture turns from a bright yellow to a light yellow, and about triples in volume. Add in garlic and serve immediately.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Maple Syrup
1 lb brussels sprouts, halved
1/2 cup whole cranberries
2 tsp. maple syrup
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
Spread the brussels sprouts and cranberries on a baking pan. Drizzle with syrup, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss.
Roast at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until brussels sprouts just begin to brown, tossing once halfway through.