By Brian Lucas
This one is dedicated to Polly, who served us a meal fit for a king in 15 minutes. I am forever grateful to the people who have become friends with me through my blog.
“…all the charming and beautiful things, from the Song of Songs, to bouillabaisse, and from the nine Beethoven symphonies to the Martini cocktail, have been given to humanity by men who, when the hour came, turned from tap water to something with color in it, and more in it than mere oxygen and hydrogen.” –H.L. Mencken
I get as many requests for my recipes as I do for agile posts, so decided to be agile and recount this recent episode and satisfy two requests in one. A new friend I met through my blog, called and invited me to dinner. She said she could create and serve me an elegant meal in 15 minutes. I told her I would accept the invitation only if I could bring the wine and asked her what she intended to serve. “Pan seared salmon and I favor reds” was the prompt reply. So I hunted up a bottle of 2006 Bellecourt Chenas Beaujolais and headed towards our rendezvous like a salmon heading upstream.
The house was a wonderful old home in a section of the city noted for elegant edifices of time when gentility and craftsmanship were built into homes with love and pride by skillful artisans. As I climbed the highly polished mahogany porch to the front door, I marveled at the exquisite detail carved into the gingerbread trim. Polly answered the door and I presented her with my traditional offering of three dozen long stem roses.
As I shrugged out of my coat in her hallway, which was carpeted by a beautiful Persian rug, I glanced into the open dining room to see an exquisitely laid out dining table with a few dishes already displayed. We headed for the kitchen where she trimmed the stems of the roses and put them in an amazing Italian blue glass vase that must have been Murano.
Polly asked me to open and decanted the wine while she proceed with the meal. She had all the ingredients set out in the kitchen in a convenient layout. First she added some wild rice to a pot boiling on the stove. Then she started sautéing freshly chopped spinach with a small amount of finely chopped red peppers in butter and white wine. After removing it from the heat she added finely grated Parmesan cheese to it.
Then she lightly pan seared a skinned and deboned salmon removed it, painted it with an egg batter and rolled it in finely ground candied pecans. She then sautéd this in the dish she used for the spinach. In less than 5 minutes she removed the salmon, filled it with the spinach and red pepper mix. Then she removed and drained the rice and ladled it on a sterling silver serving tray. She topped it with a garlic butter sauce and arranged the stuffed salmon in the middle. A handful of parsley from her garden was used to garnish around the fish and voilà. Exactly 15 minutes.
The cheese platter and fruit dish was already on the table along with a rather interesting cranberry and pine nut bread. As I poured the wine, I explained that it was a rather young, fresh, fruity Beaujolais from Chénas, made from Gamay grapes. It is a rich dark and aromatic red wine with an abundance of roses, plums and peach flavors and a hint of cinnamon. I actually like it slightly cool.
What a wonderful rich repast this was and the fact that it took so little time to prepare, left us more time for the meal and conversation. See being agile has many advantages. So remember till next time, keep agile!