Lolling in Life

Living in the beautiful, temperate San Francisco Bay area, I prefer to spend my weekends at home, but many people residing in a less desirable climate take advantage of a two- or three- day hiatus to get away from it all. Predictably, our resort-bound friends call to see if they can book a night or two with us en route.

They're always more than welcome, and for me, planning the menu for these brief stays is always a joy, albeit somewhat of a challenging one. I want the food to be special but uncomplicated, so that I will have enough time to spend with my guests. A Cold Poached Salmon for Shabbat dinner can be prepared earlier in the day, and can wait patiently for guests late arrival if necessary. Serve it on a bed of greens surrounded by a lightly dressed potato salad.

Saturday will probably be spent away from home seeing the local sights. A Coriander Chicken and Almond Gratin, which can be made days ahead of time and reheated, is the perfect dinner to pop in the oven when you come home. Warm tortillas and a salad of thickly sliced fresh, ripe tomatoes, perfectly completes the meal.

Sunday is meant for hanging around, and a late brunch will take you right through the morning and early afternoon. Smoked Salmon and Sweet Onion Flan may be assembled ahead and baked just before serving. Incorporate bagels, cream cheese and jam as accompaniments, of course.

Cold Poached Salmon


11/2 cups kosher white wine
11/2 cups water
2 parsley sprigs
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
6 salmon steaks

In large skillet, combine all of the ingredients except the salmon. Bring to a boil and add the fish. Keep liquid at a bare simmer and cook 5 minutes.

Remove pan from the heat and allow fish to cool in liquid.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place the salmon on a bed of mixed greens.

Serve with Lemon-Mustard Sauce (recipe follows).

Lemon-Mustard Sauce


1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup yogurt
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
3 Tbsps. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. mustard
3 Tbsps. chopped dill

Combine all ingredients until well-blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes about 1 cup.

Coriander Chicken and Almond Gratin


3 large, skinned and boned whole chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 Tbsps. oil
1/2 cup dry kosher white wine
1/2 cup kosher chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
4 green onions, sliced
3/4 cup chopped almonds
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
6 Tbsps. pareve margarine, melted
2 Tbsps. lime juice
salt and pepper

Lightly dust the chicken with flour and cayenne.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the chicken until golden. Move chicken to an 9×9-inch oven proof dish.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add wine and chicken stock to same skillet, and deglaze over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes, until thickened. Pour sauce over chicken.

Combine garlic, coriander, green onions, almonds and jalapeños. Sprinkle over chicken.

Pour melted margarine and lime juice over all and bake, covered with foil, 15 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Serves 6.

Smoked Salmon and Sweet Onion Flan


2 Tbsps. oil
2 sweet onions, thinly sliced
8 eggs
11/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
3 oz. smoked salmon, chopped
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup chopped chives

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Butter a 6-cup shallow baking dish.

Heat the oil and cook the onions until wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove onions to prepared baking dish.

Mix the eggs, cream, milk, salmon and seasonings until well-combined. Pour over onions and sprinkle with chives. (May be prepared to this point and held in refrigerator overnight.)

Bake for about 1 hour, or until custard is just set in center.

Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

[Pareve or Dairy]

6 large heirloom tomatoes, more or less the same size, sliced
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsps. balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil

On a platter, arrange half the tomato slices.

Cover with half the cucumber slices and half the onion.

Sprinkle with half of the blue cheese, if using, and the dill.

Drizzle with half the vinegar and half the oil. Repeat layering.

Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8.

Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. Among the six books she's co-authored is Jewish Holiday Feasts.



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