And then sometimes, benevolently, someone will invite me to dinner at their place and inadvertently give me something to steal. Which is exactly what happened when some of our dearest friends invited us over for a Feast of an Indeterminate Amount of Fishes.
We have an amazing cadre of talented friends. They are all excellent at something. This leads to a lot of artistic favors (wedding photos, hello?), fun outings (gallery openings, politically like-minded cocktail hours) and, most importantly, GREAT dinner parties. At this particular party we had Marcelo's dandelion salad with bonito, frizzled leeks and poached eggs, Mike's homemade squid ink fettuccine with mussels and clams and (the object of my larceny) Chris' oven-poached salmon with onions, capers, white wine and tarragon.
And so it happened that on one deceptively warm winter evening a few weeks ago, poaching some salmon was all I could think of. I swear to you guys, I planned to keep it as simple as Chris had. Perfectly poached salmon, a layer of cream cheese spiked with capers and herbs and dark brown bread. But then, upon glancing in my fridge, there were leeks just begging to be incorporated. And some kale that said, "if you don't cook me today, I'll just wilt. I swear, I'll do it." And so, I gussied things up a bit. I made a dish that my sidekick is famous for: Jamie Oliver's creamy white beans with leeks.
I melted down a little bacon fat in my favorite kitchen utensil - the cast iron skillet - and sauteed some kale, garlic and red chile flakes at near nuclear temperatures. Then, after following Chris' excellent recipe almost to the letter, I layered them all on top of each other for one of the most satisfying meals I've eaten in a long time. You guys, steal this.
Chris' Poached Salmon with Herbed Creme Fraiche
(adapted only slightly, serves two)
1 lb salmon, skin on
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch tarragon, chopped
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 cups or so dry white wine
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon capers
Preheat your oven to 350. Butter the bottom of a baking dish that is wide enough to hold your fish flat and accommodate some liquid. Put the salmon, skin side down into the buttered dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the fish with lemon slices, tarragon and onion slices. Dot with butter (guys, is this not your favorite cooking direction?). Liberally pour white wine over the top (cover about 2/3 to 3/4 of the fillet), cover with foil and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until your salmon is cooked the way you like it and the onions have started to melt.
Meanwhile, combine creme fraiche, dill, capers and a bit of salt and pepper and let meld in the fridge until the fish is finished.