Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Ladies From Richmond Part 2 - The Cooking Class


Chopping salad ingredients


It's day 2, and the Ladies from Richmond were up early.

Their cooking class wasn't until 11 AM so I expected them to sleep in and spend a leisurely morning.

A help - yourself breakfast of homemade granola, fresh berries and home made muffins was set out in the green dining room at 9AM awaiting their arrival.

At 9AM, sharp, the front door opened and I heard calls of "Good Morning" coming from the front hall.

"Good Morning!" I responded, "You're all up early !!"

"Isn't it 9AM?" someone said. "You said breakfast would be ready at 9AM."

"Yes, it is," I chuckled, "It's 9AM and breakfast is indeed ready."

Rested and refreshed, they were ready to jump start the day and get into the kitchen!

Ah.  There's nothing like a home cooked meal and the peaceful countryside.

I love my job.

Salmon Salad


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Ladies From Richmond Cooking Class Menu -  Lunch

Carrot Bisque
Salad of Poached Salmon with Cucumbers, Black Beans and Whole Wheat Couscous
Chocolate and Fresh Berry Tarts


Recipe

Poached Salmon with Cucumbers, Black Beans and Whole Wheat Couscous

All measurements are approximate.
Vary them according to your taste.

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Makes 10-12 main dish, luncheon size servings
Can be made ahead and refrigerated until serving time

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1 1/2 pounds uncooked salmon
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaves (not ground)
Orange juice (fresh or bottled)
2 cups uncooked whole wheat couscous (See Karla's Tip below)
1 (15 to 16 oz) can black beans
4 cups thinly sliced cucumbers (peeled and seeded, if desired)
2 cups green grapes (halved and seeded)
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (recipe follows)
1/2 cup fresh dill (finely chopped - dried not recommended)


Poach the Salmon
Wash the salmon under tepid running water. Drain.  Remove skin, if desired.  Place into a large frying pan or pot.  Sprinkle with thyme.  Add enough orange juice to the pan so it covers only about 1/2 to 3/4 of height of the fish.  Partially cover pan.  Place on high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until fish is done (flakes easily with a uniform color - no traces of raw fish) - about 10 minutes per inch of fish.

Using a slotted spoon, remove fish to a plate.  Cool.

Couscous
Cook the couscous according to the package directions.  Fluff with a fork.  Cool.


Ready, Set - Cook!


Assembling the Salad
(May be assembled up to 2 hours in advance and refrigerated)

Rinse the beans under tepid running water.  Drain well.

Stir and fluff the cooked couscous so it's uniform in texture - without any lumps. (A fork or your fingers work well.) Pile onto the serving platter or bowl.

Top couscous with rinsed, drain beans then prepared cucumbers then grapes.

Using your fingers, break the salmon into very large flakes and scatter over the top of the grapes.

Pour the dressing (to taste) over the top.

Sprinkle with dill.

Using a fork or large spoon, gently lift the salad from below to lighten it and make it look attractive - not flattened down.

Serve the extra dressing (if any) along side.


Karla's Tip
Couscous is middle-eastern pasta.  It's made from wheat just like Italian pasta only it's made in very small pieces so it cooks quickly.  Unlike pasta, couscous absorbs it's cooking liquid.

Couscous is readily available in grocery stores everywhere.  Look for it in the rice, foreign or health food sections.  White couscous is the most common but you're sure to find whole wheat.  If you can't find whole wheat, just use the regular, white kind.


Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Makes about 1 cup
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1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar (optional - to taste)
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (1 or 2 cloves)
3/4 cup olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together or put into a jar and shake.  Can be used immediately but the flavor mellows and improves with over night refrigeration.  Keeps indefinitely in the fridge.

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