It’s my yummy holiday gift to you! In cooking school this week I shared a new version of hummus. This one is so seasonal and celebratory! Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus is simply spectacular, especially when paired with my all-time favorite Naan bread! So you’re getting two gifts in one! I can pretty much promise these two treats will be your new favorites all year long!
garlic, minced fine
It was always the elegant “signature dish” reserved for special occasions like weddings or a New Year’s Eve celebration. Beef or Salmon Wellington with its beautiful puff pastry encasement was truly the fine dining darling of the 1960’s.
But take away the fête factor, and you have a fabulous weeknight or Sunday supper that turns a fresh piece of salmon into something really wonderful–especially if you give it a quick grill before enrobing it with dough. This recipe also included the ingredients for a classic Duxelles–that magical blend of butter, garlic, shallot and finely chopped mushrooms. That’s the second layer of deliciousness. The third is a layer of fresh, tender baby spinach. Slice through the layers of delicate puff pastry and enjoy the show!
I found the dusty well-worn cookbook in an old antique store off the beaten path in Ogden, Iowa. In researching the author, I was thrilled that I had stumbled across a treasure. The Gold Cook Book, first published in 1947 was written by Louis P. De Gouy, the Chef at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for 30 years. He was also one of the original founders of Gourmet Magazine and the author of 16 cookbooks. In the Gold Cook Book I found an entire chapter devoted to something you don’t find as a separate section in many cookbooks today- Compounded Butters. My favorite line opening the chapter reads, “Compounded (creamed) butters in cookery are the finishing touch to food, be it a soup, fish, meat, sauce or vegetable as is powder and make-up to the face of a beautiful woman.” The chapter covered every compounded butter from Anchovy to Truffle Butter, and I was struck at how simple these compounds are, often mixing together just two or three ingredients to the softened butter. The great thing about compounded butters is that they can be made ahead and stored in a closed jar and refrigerated indefinitely for use when necessary. I chose a recipe for a Garlic Butter and loved the idea of paring it with a simple salmon fillet. Adding some fresh squeezed lime juice to the compound gave the salmon a bright and flavorful finish. Choose nice fresh, thick slices of salmon, cook them in a grill pan or skillet with a little salt and lemon pepper, and then drop a dollop of Compounded Garlic Lime Butter on top for a perfect light meal in minutes.
In Julie Child’s Menu Cookbook from 1978, she speaks about how French bread “begs to be cooked this way.” Sliced thin, brushed with butter and baked to golden brown, the “croutes” became a hard toasted bread perfect for appetizers. The modern day version is crostini, toasted sliced baguettes used for popular plates like Bruschetta and mascarpone, prosciutto and fig on crostini Hors d’oeuvres.
For this recipe I’m taking a cue from Julia:
“Suppose the boss is coming for dinner—a formidable personage whom you want to impress and whose taste in food runs to the conservative. What to serve? For someone like that I immediately think of beef.”
This recipe for Filet with Sautéed Mushrooms combines the use of beautifully baked toasts sprinkled with grated cheese and then topped with thin slices of flavorful filet topped with a small mound of sautéed mushrooms and onions. If you invite your boss to your next party and serve up these, you just might get a raise!
(This is a great summertime light meal and all steps can be made ahead and assembled when ready to serve. Serve mushroom mixture warmed.)