Luncheon for 16

Cold Borscht
Throwing a party is very, very fun and very, very low stress when you share the work with good friends. Last Friday, I hosted a luncheon at my house with 2 great friends in honor of another great friend.

The menu was inspired by a Russian theme, but we didn’t stick totally to the theme. Here is what the ladies were served:

Appetizers and drinks: Cold Borscht served in demitasse cups, Cheese Puffs, Crab Salad in Endive, Vodka with Lemonade, Iced Tea
Lunch: Poached Salmon with dill sauce, cucumber salad, orzo salad, black bread
Dessert: Russian tea cookies, raspberry and coconut sorbet

My cooking to-do’s were the Cold Borscht and the Poached Salmon. I also put together the sorbets (Haagen Daz) and the Vodka drink.
DSC02020DSC02022
I got the salmon on Wednesday from the fish purveyor at the Farmer’s Market. I spoke to the women at the stand one Saturday and asked about ordering for Wednesday. They gave me the name of the owner and I called him. No problem. The wild salmon from Canada was filleted and ready for me when I picked it up. So easy. Then I removed all the pin bones and poached it Thursday, adapting an old Gourmet Magazine method.
Parmesan Toasts

I must have been pretty focused on the party, because I didn’t take any pictures of the finished salmon. It looked light pinkish-orange. I had scored the top of the salmon down the middle and across, so there were about 10 pieces per fillet. When it was cooked and chilled, I pre-cut the pieces all the way through, keeping the fillet whole, but cutting was easy because of the score marks. Then, I decorated the top of each piece with a thin slice of cucumber and a sprig of dill. Not fancy, but pretty.

For the Borscht, I thought that I would use Ina Garten’s recipe from her new cookbook. I know it would have been flawless, but it seemed heavy with 2 cups of sour cream. And, I wanted a little more body, so I fiddled with that one, too. I used only 1 cup of sour cream, upped the yogurt to 1 cup, and used buttermilk to round out the flavor. I’m not sure how much buttermilk I used, but it was likely 1 1/2 – 2 cups. The biggest difference came from the fact that I pureed about half of the beets – that is where I got the body and the intense pink color. Wow.

I am not posting the full recipe for the borscht, because I really just modified and tasted, tweeked some more and tasted. I’m not sure of the exact measurements. Since it is a cold soup, you seem to need more intense flavors because the temperature seemingly makes your tastebuds less sensistive – like with ice cream.

Salmon FilletsDSC02002Poaching LiquidPre-Oven in Poach Liquid

The salmon on the otherhand, is pretty exact.

Here is the recipe:

Poached Salmon
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

I made two 2 1/2 pound fillets and so upped this recipe – about 1 1/2 times the amounts, and had to use a roasting pan to fit both of the fillets. The size of the fish will determine what type of pan you use.

Serves 6 (or more depending on how many ounces you estimate per person).

2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
¼ juicy lemon
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, bruised
1 bouquet garni (tie together: 1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs parsley)
1 ½ tsp. sea salt
a 3 1/2- to 4-pound salmon fillet

Preheat the oven to 400°F (NOT convection).

In a small saucepan bring the water and the wine to a boil. Squeeze in the quarter lemon and put the squeezed lemon in the pot, too. Add the black peppercorns and the bouquet garni. Boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the mixture stand, for 5 minutes.

In a large buttered baking dish (I use a roasting pan) arrange the salmon, skin side down. Add the wine mixture and cover tightly with foil. Place the pan in the middle of the preheated 400°F, and poach the salmon for 20 to 25 minutes (check at 20 minutes – press lightly on the middle of the fillet – if it is very soft, cook for another 5 minutes, if it shows some resistance, it is done) or until it just flakes and is cooked through.

Serve with a dill sauce or with green goddess sauce.

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4 thoughts on “Luncheon for 16

  1. It was a pleasure to host with you as well. I think the cheese appetizer picture is fabulous! I feel like I’m tasting those and not having any calories!

    The vodka/lemonade drink was a huge hit. Of course the borscht and salmon were terrific as well.

    When’s our next gig? Oh yeah….Wednesday! 🙂

  2. I am hungry just looking at this meal! Missing you guys – glad to get a flavor of life (pun fully realized) through this wonderful blog! xoxoxo

  3. I’ll host with you any day. Loved the salmon and will definitely use this recipe. Let me know if you want the dill sauce recipe, but it is another one of those “taste as you go” with no exact measurements.

  4. I love this! The pictures are great. Now, I don’t have to think about what I cook my family – I can just log onto your site. (Or have my sitter log onto your site since I am quite a reluctant cook). Of course, all is better with a glass of wine. I’d love a podcast to play while I cook (to make it tolerable) or a suggested song and a link. Is that silly?

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