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In the Kitchen with ... Birthday Food
updated: Mar 06, 2010, 9:00 AM
By Leah Etling
Today (Saturday) is my birthday, and we're going to celebrate by going to Cambria and dining at a couple of our favorite restaurants.
In case you plan a visit, Robin's (http://www.robinsrestaurant.com/cm/Home.html) is a little bistro with a romantic indoor/outdoor patio. They make amazing salmon bisque and great vegetarian entrees. Its sister restaurant, Novo, is my favorite in San Luis Obispo.
The Black Cat Bistro (http://www.blackcatbistro.com/) is more urban than you'd expect from kitschy Cambria, with a great local wine list, fresh fish, and creative appetizers. It's in an old house with really small rooms, which gives it an intimate atmosphere.
Before we left on our little trip, I made a birthday dinner (and dessert) so I could share the recipes with you.
On the menu: Braised salmon in pinot noir sauce with mashed potatoes, an artichoke to start, and chocolate cookies for dessert. These scrumptious cookies need a better name than "chocolate crinkles." Got any ideas?
The artichokes are not really a recipe. I love artichokes. My favorite one out, locally, is the grilled artichoke at the Brewhouse on Montecito Street. It's served with a delicious chipotle mayo (and melted butter), and I highly recommend it. At home, I make artichokes the simple way - a hard boil for 20-25 minutes. To dip, I like mayonnaise with a heavy dose of fresh ground pepper on top.
A lot of people are repulsed by this (and I respect that, but I've been eating them this way forever so it tastes good to me), so you can also serve them with blue cheese dip or butter. I'd love to make chipotle mayo at home, so if you have a recipe, let's hear it.
Braised Salmon (from Fine Cooking's Make it Tonight)
If you can, make this about an hour ahead and let the salmon marinate in the sauce before you braise it. The sauce is flavorful and delicious but it needs more time to really permeate the fish than the recipe allows.
Vegetables: slice and dice 2 large carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1-cup crimini mushrooms, and one medium leek. A fresh thyme sprig and bay leaf are also called for.
On the stovetop over medium heat, melt two tablespoons butter, and cook the mushrooms and celery for about 5 minutes, followed by the carrots and leek for 5 minutes more. Add 2 teaspoons tomato paste, the thyme sprig, Bay leaf, and 1 cup Pinot Noir, and stir. Bring to a boil and then let cook for about 4 minutes, until half the Pinot has boiled off. Then add 1-cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth and a half-cup heavy cream. Simmer and stir.
Place the salmon, which should ideally be de-skinned and deboned, into the saucepan with the vegetables and make sure the wine and vegetables cover the fish. (This is the point at which I'd let things sit if possible.) Then cover the dish and braise in the oven at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes, 20 minutes only if the fish is more than an inch thick at its thickest point.
Serve with homemade mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, or brown rice.
Chocolate Cookies In Need of a Better Name (from Better Homes)
1 ½ cups sugar
4 ounces baking chocolate
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
Powdered sugar to roll raw cookies in
Mix all ingredients in mixer until well blended. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Roll cookies into balls by hand. Put powdered sugar on plate and lightly roll cookies to dust. Bake in 375 degree oven for 9-10 minutes (the only thing you can do wrong with these cookies is undercook them. Unlike most brownies, they're moist enough that they don't taste better underdone.)
They're even sturdy enough to hold up a candle ... but not enough for all the candles on my cake this year. Enjoy!
2010-03-06 01:46 PM
I prepare artichokes the same way as 61468, with the addition of lemon slices and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil added to the pot before steaming...mmm!
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