Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Nonna used To Say...

Got Agita? It's Not What You Eat; It's What Eats You

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Salmon Francaise

Yes, Salmon...not chicken or veal.
I have nothing against Chicken or Veal Francaise. It's a wonderful recipe. "Francaise" is French, but it seems ever so popular in many Italian restaurants.  It's not a difficult recipe, though there are dozens and dozens of them from which to choose. All start with dusting (2 lbs) of chicken cutlets (pounded thin) in flour, dipping them in (2) beaten eggs then frying in oil until golden brown- then the differences begin.... most believe that flour such as Wondra is a good thickener. Others swear by cornstarch.  But a purist would tell flour.  You see, if you add cold butter (1/2 stick), a tablespoon pat at a time, to the white wine that has been reduced -the sauce will thicken. You do this by removing the hot pan from the burner and melting the butter. Place it back on burner if the pan cools and no longer melts the butter. On and off...on and off. So...remove the fried chicken to a platter lined with paper towels. Cover platter with foil to keep chicken warm. Then drain the excess oil from the pan. Saute a chopped shallot in pan and deglaze with (1 cup) of good white wine scraping together any brown bits. Reduce until it looks like a light syrup. Whisk in the butter as I previously explained until smooth. Add capers (1 T ), juice of 3 lemons (or less to taste), and fresh parsley. Some love a 1/4 cup of heavy cream added but that is truly an optional ingredient. That's all the best Francaise recipe requires. Note: if sauce is warmed too much, it will separate.

A true foodie is always looking for a new recipe, a way to tweak an old favorite or whatever it takes to satisfy our food lust.  So there I was in my favorite supermarket perusing the shelves when I saw a display case with bright pink salmon in it. Hmmmm, I hadn't had salmon in a while... and what was that jar of sauce on the shelf above the cold compartment? I picked it up. Gia Russa Francaise Simmer Sauce. Huh, never heard of it. I'm always suspicious of jarred sauces, so I studied the ingredients....actually figuring I'd see a whole bunch of things I couldn't pronounced. Huh, again. Butter, white wine, garlic, lemon, chicken & vegetable stock, cornstarch, milk, parsley and a few spices I knew well. Huh. Pretty much all the ingredients in a Francaise recipe.

Then I noticed a recipe card....Mustard Dill Crusted Salmon. Now if a recipe is going to use a Francaise sauce why not call it Whatever Francaise? Well, maybe, not everyone is as familiar with this wine-lemon sauce as I first thought. Could be, right? So, I bought all the ingredients on the card, even for the recommended Tater-tot side dish, and left ever so happy.

The recipe was easy. Almost as easy as scratch Francaise. It was very tasty...buttery, lemony, with a hint of mustard and dill. There was only 210 calories per serving....very low especially if you skip the tater-tots and add sauteed veggies and a salad. With such a low calorie count....splurge with a warm, crusty loaf of bread.

If you can't find Gia Russa Francaise Simmer Sauce and really, really want to try this delicious fish dish...use my "Purist" Francaise Sauce above and substitute salmon (no frying) for the chicken. Don't use capers or parsley and definitely use the heavy cream (more if you want extra sauce). To cut cream calories...consider some vegetable or chicken broth instead of extra cream. Always salt & pepper to taste, if desire.

Salmon Francaise

2 Tablespoons butter or herb garlic butter
2 Tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1 Tablespoon Dill relish
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 jar Gia Russa Francaise Simmer Sauce
2 salmon fillet about 1 1/2lb. skin removed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Chop chives and set aside

Stir mustard, dill relish, breadcrumbs, chives into melted butter.  Blend well.
Pour about a cup of the Francaise sauce into a 13X9 baking dish and spread it in the dish. Top with salmon. Pour the rest of the sauce over the salmon, then top with the buttered breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until opaque and flaky. Serves 2 or 4 depending on size of salmon fillet.
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Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Savoring Savannah: Crab Stew & Orange Scones

Hi y'all. I ate my way through Savannah.  I honestly did. My husband quipped that I never looked happier than when I was seated in Debi's Laurie's on Fried Chicken Thursday.

It all started at the Visitor's Center in Savannah Georgia's Historic District. We asked Carole for a tip or two for our two day visit. Carole is a southern lady who politely acknowledged me, but focused all her charm on my hubby, Steve. Who can argue with the upbringing of a southern belle? She pointed on a map all the must see attractions and when asked where to dine, she drawled, "If you leave Savannah hungry, you have no one to blame but yourself." That was the kiss of death.

City Walk
There are 668 Savannah restaurants reviewed on tripadvisor.  I only wanted to choose one. Steve and I headed to Paula Deen's Lady & Sons.
It had a limited menu, no ambiance and entrees at $27. No thank you, Paula. So our quest began...fortunately many restaurants had their menu tacked to a window. An hour later nothing caught my fancy, not even in restaurant laden, City Walk. Was I being too picky? Too food judgmental? Or was Carole at the Visitor Center's quip truly the kiss of death? Would I be destined to leave Savannah hungry & on the first night, no less?

So we vacated a coveted parking space, and toodled around looking for the "right" restaurant. Sisters on Skidaway Rd got good reviews for its down home southern cookin'. We stopped in. It was cafeteria style with one choice of meat and three sides. There was ox tails, turkey wings, pork chops, liver & onions, fried chicken and more. The sides: tomato & okra, lima beans, mac & cheese, collard greens & then some. It piqued my interest, but not so much my husband and we both agreed we wanted an eatery with some ambiance and more one-on-one attention. We were on the hunt, once again.

Tubby's Tank House
Finally, near Tybee Island was Tubby's Tank House. It had a hefty menu of fish, burgers, chicken & rib eye steak. We began with blackened yellow fin tuna, then the most silky crab stew,
I ordered grilled scallops with baked sweet potato, hush puppies and Cole slaw. Steve had a fried shrimp platter. Mark, our waiter, made the meal more enjoyable with his humor and kind demeanor. I'm sure his manners came from being raised by missionary parents. Good luck, Mark, with your screen writing career!
A 10 A.M. Walking Tour was first thing on our list the next day.  A dash into Panera Bread cafe gave way to the most delicious Orange Scone and steaming cup of coffee. I loved those scones so much that before we left Georgia, I bought 3 to take home. Yeah, I know I can buy them in any Panera, but I have  Food OCD.
Two cuties at Panera Bread
Anyway, Savannah Dan met four of us at Jefferson Square. It was a leisurely stroll with a Southern Gentleman who spoke about local tales, architecture, churches, cemeteries, fascinating history, "No hard's all good" he liked to say to the Northerners, and of course restaurants was a talking point. After two hours, he asked if we had any questions. Sure, I did. Where can I get truly southern fried chicken?
Debi's Laurie's on West State Street is the restaurant where Jenny worked in the movie, Forrest Gump. Thursdays was Fried Chicken Day...just what I hankered for. I delighted our good-natured waitress,

Fried Chicken @ Laurie's
Eleanora, by ordering dark meat, collard greens and rice with down delish! It was nothing short of finger lickin' great! Steve had a chicken salad sandwich with fries. And who did we meet there? Savannah ya know it's a good place to eat.

Carole said, "You can't leave Savannah without tasting Leopold's Ice Cream. You must try Tutti-Frutti." A Savannah tradition since 1919, it boasts a unique selection of freshly made super premium ice cream, milk shakes & ice cream sodas. It was not an idle boast. Tutti-Frutti was tempting, but I really wanted Butter Pecan. Steve had Pistachio which was loaded with pistachio nuts. Mine was creamy wonderful.

Our two day vacation to Savannah was winding down. We spent the better part of the day in and out of every shop on the famous and not too be missed, River Street. We wanted to visit a museum and/or tour a historical home, but it was getting late and streets were being corded off for a fashion festival. Now clothing and shoes call to me, but not we made our way back to our hotel.

We had time for a rare nap, shower, re-dress and then head out for supper. Two choices: Sweet Potatoes Kitchen on Waters Ave or Sand Fly BBQ on Ferguson. Sweet Potatoes Kitchen had mixed reviews and a limited menu with only two dishes standing out, Peach glazed chicken and meatloaf. There was Jamaican jerked chicken or pork, catfish and gumbo, but nothing tickled our fancy. So we drove to Sand Fly
Sand Fly

Southern BBQ...should anyone leave Georgia without tasting it? No. Sand Fly fit the bill with good reviews. There's a lot of casual restaurants in Savannah....this one was just that. Casual. The full menu was written in chalk on a huge blackboard. One wall was completely covered with license plates from every state. We ordered the Hog Wild Platter for two which consisted of 2 ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked sausage, potato salad and baked beans, oh & a thick slice of toast. Three sauces were bottled on the table: honey mustard, sweet ketchup-based BBQ sauce and a crushed red pepper sauce. The meal was good and just the right portion. The meats were smoky and tender...the best was the sausage. Steve raved about it. A country western crooner sang, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" while we drank bottled beer and took in the feel of the place. With a bill of $25, ya get your monies worth.

So I gained a few pounds, my cholesterol is probably higher, and I'm still trying to catch up on sleep, but our vacation to Georgia was memorable. There's 668 restaurants to savor in Savannah and they're now on my bucket list.  I'm determined &.... Who can argue with a gal with an Italian upbringing?

Crab Stew
16 oz crab claw meat (this will give you larger chunks)
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups milk
2 cups light cream
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp sherry
3 red or yellow potatoes peel and cut in 1 inch cubes

Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to medium heat. Start testing doneness at 5 minutes and continue testing until potatoes are cooked but still firm. Drain and set aside.

Bring crab, butter and milk to a slow simmer for 10 minutes. Never boil milk or cream. Add cream, cooked potatoes and sauces. Add salt to taste. Bring just to boiling point, stirring gently and not too often so as to keep crab meat as whole as possible. Add sherry and turn off heat. Let stand for 2 minutes. Sprinkle a dash of paprika on top. Serves 4
*an easier version: Eliminate potatoes & use one can of cream of mushroom or celery soup (if you are fond of the taste of celery) and one can of cream of potato soup. Use 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of light cream. Add the soups in the first step with butter & milk. Heat and stir until smooth, then add crab so it doesn't break apart as you smooth out the soups. Simmer 10 minutes and follow the recipe. You may not need salt.

Orange Scones
1 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar (more if you like it sweet)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp grated orange zest or peel
1/4 tsp salt
5 1/2 Tbsp cold butter 
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 c chopped mandarin oranges, drained
(can reserve juice for glaze)

Glaze icing
1 cup powdered sugar (or more)
3 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp orange marmalade

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, orange zest or peel, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is similar to coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and egg & blend into dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in oranges. Place "dough" on a floured surface and knead about 10 times. Don't over knead. Pat into a 6 inch round and cut into 8 pieces or more for smaller scones, if desired. Separate and place wedges on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool before icing.

Icing: Put powdered sugar in a bowl, stir in orange juice and mix well until all lumps disappear. Add orange marmalade. Mix well. If too thick, add more juice a little at a time. If more icing is desired...make a second batch of icing. Brush glaze over the tops of cooled scones. 
Remember To Make Memories At The Table
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