Curried Salmon with Cauliflower Quenelle & Puree

salmon with cauliflower quenelle
As home chefs are becoming more adventurous, the line  between home and restaurant cooking is getting blurrier (read: moms making towers of PB&J on brioche with fireweed honey bruleé).  Since I’ve yet to attend culinary school, I can only fantasize that my kitchen resides in the back of a hip restaurant.  But if it did, here’s a dish I wouldn’t mind serving.  The sweetness of the vegetable puree is a cooling offset to the heat of the curry.  When working with small cuts of salmon, be sure not to overcook it. 

Total kitchen time: 1 hour
Makes: 4 carefully plated servings

Special equipment: immersion blender or blender, chinois or fine strainer or cheesecloth

Shopping list:

  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 leek (dark green part discarded), diced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 stalks thyme, placed in a tea bag or bundled together with twine
  • 2 lbs. salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed
  • 2 tsp. red curry powder
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  1. Preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 400°F and set the top rack 6-8” from the heating element.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into small fleurettes (little pieces) and toss with olive oil and salt to coat.  Spread onto a lined baking sheet and roast until soft and just slightly browned around the edges, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a high-sided, heavy-bottomed skillet.  When it just begins to smoke, add the onion, leek and shallot.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. 
  4. Add the white wine, stirring up any browned bits from the bottom.  Bring to a boil and cook until the wine is reduced about 2/3rds.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the cream.  Add the thyme and simmer about 10 minutes.  Remove the thyme and discard.
  5. Add the roasted cauliflower to the onion mixture.  Using an immersion blender (or transferring the whole thing to your blender) blend until smooth.  Transfer the mixture to a fine strainer or cheesecloth, with a bowl placed underneath.  Strain all the liquid you can from the mixture, and reserve.  The mixture remaining in your strainer should have the consistency of mashed potatoes.
  6. Using two spoons of the same size, divide the vegetable mixture into 4 parts and shape into quenelles (little round things).  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  7. Divide the salmon fillet into 4 servings and coat with curry powder, turmeric, sea salt and olive oil.  Sear in a hot skillet over high heat, about 2 minutes per side (timing will vary; look for the doneness creeping up the side of the fillet.  Some pink is good.
  8. To serve, spoon the reserved liquid into the bottom of a large bowl or plate, then top with a salmon fillet and a quenelle. 

I love the balance of flavors and fresh ingredients in this dish, but even more, I love that it let’s me play chef in my own kitchen. 

Orange-Curried Turkey Roulade with Goat Cheese & Spinach

My goal of having 6-pack abs for my honeymoon apparently won’t be met by reducing my intake of foie gras and pork belly alone.  In an effort to trick myself into eating healthier, I’ve been experimenting with other white meats.  Usually, I think turkey is pretty bland.  However, this recipe was so shockingly tasty that it made me forget I was even trying to cook “lite”.  The pungent flavors of the curry and orange marmalade transform plain turkey into a dish I would even serve for company.

Total kitchen time: 1.5 hours
Makes: 2 waists a little smaller

Shopping list:

  • 2 boneless skinless turkey breast halves
  • 1 tbsp. red curry powder
  • 2.5 Oz goat’s cheese (about 1/3 cup finely crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tsp. orange marmalade
  • 4 8” pieces of cooking twine
  • kosher salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F and place the top rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with foil or a non-slip baking mat.
  2. Working one at a time, place each turkey breast between two sheets of plastic wrap.  Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet, pound the breast until it is uniformly thick.  Be careful not to accidentally rip through the meat.  If you’ve had a long day, this step can be very therapeutic.
  3. Generously salt both sides of the breast.  Then, coat each side with curry powder.  Lay the breast flat-side down and top with 1/2 of the goat cheese, pressing the cheese into the meat to help it stick.  Then, top the goat’s cheese with half of the spinach.
  4. Roll the breast into a log, starting with the narrow end.  Tie the roulade (rolled meat) in two places using lengths of twine.  Repeat for the remaining turkey breast.
  5. Finally, rub the outside of each roulade with 1 tsp. of orange marmalade.  Place on the lined baking sheet and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the roulade reads 160°F.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

I enjoyed this dish alongside an artichoke with my favorite choke-dip: light mayo and curry powder.  I suppose other healthy options might include a salad, fruit, or a doughnut.  Wait, doughnuts are healthy, right?

Pineapple Crispy Duck with Coconut Curry

Sometimes I feel like getting a little fancy, and a whole roasted duck fits the bill.  Don’t let it intimidate you, though.  Roasting a duck is just like roasting a chicken, and no, it’s not absolutely necessary to crack open an actual coconut to make this recipe.  If you’re feeling a little adventurous, give this one a try.  I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Total kitchen time: 2 hours
Makes: foul for four

Shopping list:

  • 1 whole duck (or 4 duck breasts, if you prefer)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 24 oz. (4 small cans) pineapple juice
  • 1.5 cups basmati or jasmine rice
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut (from the drink mixers aisle of your supermarket)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. red cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 425° F and set the top rack in the middle position.  Rinse and thoroughly dry the duck, inside and out.  Salt and pepper the skin and inner cavity.
  2. Blend together the orange zest and butter using a small food processor (or with the back of a fork if you’re Amish, in which case I don’t know how you’re viewing my blog right now).  Stuff half of the orange butter under the skin of the duck and rub the remaining half on the outside of the skin.
  3. Truss the duck (it yields better results, but it isn’t absolutely necessary) and place it on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up.  You can also place the duck directly onto a preheated heavy-bottom skillet, but a roasting pan will help the duck cook more evenly.  Whatever you’ve got around will work, so don’t fret.
  4. Roast the duck for 45 minutes, then flip carefully and roast another 45 minutes with the breast side down.  Be sure to pour out any fat drippings from the body cavity when you flip the bird.  Let the duck rest at least 15 minutes before carving.
  5. Meanwhile, boil the pineapple juice in a small saucepan over high heat until it has reduce to about 1/4 the quantity.  It should be shiny and a little syrupy.  Set aside.
  6. Prepare the rice using your rice maker or stovetop, according to the directions on the package. 
  7. In a small saucepan, combine the cream of coconut, coconut milk, curry powder, cinnamon, red cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil, and adjust to taste by adding more curry powder or red pepper flakes.  Fold the coconut mixture into the rice.
  8. Plate the duck atop the coconut curry rice and spoon over some of the pineapple glaze.

If you’ve never cooked duck before, you’ll be surprised at the amount of fat that melts off the bird as it cooks.  Ducks have fatty skin because ducks need to float.  Wood also floats, and burns.  Witches burn because they are made of wood.  Therefore, if a woman ways the same as a duck, she is a witch.  Wow, a recipe and lesson in illogical justice?  What doesn’t this blog have!