Parchment Fish with Black Bean, Coconut, and Lime Sauce

You know how much I love make-ahead dishes. My golden rule in my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, is to always do “one or two make-ahead dishes—one in the oven and one on the cooktop. This makes for a relaxed host!”

When perusing my archives recently, I stumbled upon this post from almost six years ago for parchment fish. My daughter Alex calls it fish in a bag which is essentially what it is. You use parchment to create little pouches of flavor.

The best part about this is that it’s a great “make-ahead” meal. When you’re having guests for a dinner party, just put these together in the morning, pop them into the fridge and pull them out right before guests arrive. Bring them to room temp and pop them into the oven for 20 minutes and voila… dinner is in the bag!

Parchment Fish with Black Bean, Coconut, and Lime Sauce
Serves 4

You will need:

– 4 1/2 lb. pieces of wild salmon (or other fish of your choice; I also like Sea Bass)
– 2 cups snow peas
– 1 red pepper – cut into thin strips about 1/8 ” wide X 4″ long
– 3/4 cup black bean sauce, available in most markets.
– 1 lime 1/2 for juice and 1/2 for slices
– 1 garlic clove minced
– 1 teaspoon soy sauce
– 1/4 cup coconut milk
– 4 parchment squares 16″x16″
– 1/2 cup cilantro leaves as garnish

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Wash and clean the salmon. Pat dry and remove the skin (you can have the fishmonger do this for you if you like).

In a small bowl combine black bean sauce, lime juice from 1/2 lime, and minced garlic, soy sauce, coconut milk. Whisk until combined.

Lay a bed for the fish of 5-6  snow peas, and 5-6 strips of pepper in the middle of the parchment. Lay the salmon on top of the veggies, and spoon 4 tablespoons over the salmon, garnish with a lime slice.

To make a package, fold 2 flaps on either side of the fish over the fish while holding the flaps shut in the middle of the fish, pull the opposite 2 flaps over and hold on top, and roll together so the fold rolls over the fish forming a package. Squeeze the roll tightly and wrap the ends of the roll under itself into the ends of the roll, securing it shut.

Place the packages into a ceramic baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

I like to serve this over brown rice.

When you pull these out of the oven, place rice on the plate and open the package and carefully pour the fish with veggies and sauce over the rice, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve warm.

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Summer Dessert:: Pavlova

Pavlovas can seem intimidating, but I promise this recipe is foolproof. It’s a yummy summer dessert, and since it bakes at a really low temperature, it doesn’t make your kitchen too hot. Feel free to mix-up the fruit in the recipe, too. You can sub the kiwis for strawberries or even peaches. Let me know if you give it a try!

Kiwi Pavlovas 
serves 8-10

For the Meringues:
makes 36 meringues

You will need: 
– ¼ cup cornstarch
– 1 tablespoon white vinegar
– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
– 2 ½ cups sugar
– 8 egg whites room temperature

To prepare:
Preheat the oven to  225 degrees F

In the bowl of a standing mixer (with a whisk attachment), place sugar and egg whites on low speed until combined, raise speed to high, beat until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl mix cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla. Add the cornstarch mixture to the mixer and beat until glossy.

With a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, pipe meringue on to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Pipe 3 inch round swirls. Bake for 45 minutes on 225 degrees F. Let cool.

For the Kiwi Sauce:

You will need:
– 4 kiwis, peeled and cubed
– 1/2 cup of sugar
– 1/2 cup of water

To prepare:
Place all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. With a handheld blender combine sauce until smooth. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve in to a small bowl and press with a spoon. Place sauce into the the fridge for an hour until chilled.

For the Pavlova Garnish:

You will need:
– 4 kiwis cut into 1/2 inch cubes
– 16 small mint leaves for garnish
– 4 cups of whip cream

To assemble Kiwi Pavlovas:

Place 1/4 cup of whip cream on a plate, add 2 Meringues, top with 4 tablespoons of kiwi, drizzle with sauce, garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

xx Annette

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Fish on the Grill:: Smoked Rosemary Branzino

Why not take your grilling to a new level and try your hand at grilled Branzino?

Branzino is flaky and subtle, and it takes on flavors quite well. I love to smoke it with rosemary from our garden. The results are a buttery smokey flavor with a soft and melt-in-your-mouth texture. It’s a great summer recipe and the flavors could be translated to other fish types as well. A meal like this will really wow guests. Let me know if you give it a try!

Smoked Rosemary Branzino
Serves 4

You will need:
– 3  whole cleaned Branzino about 2 lbs
– 3 lemons
– 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
– 1 large bunch of fresh rosemary on the stems
– 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped coarsely
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 3 tablespoons olive oil

To prepare:

Have your fishmonger gut and clean the fish. Rinse under cold water, pat dry and set aside.

In a glass dish place fish and coat with thyme, rosemary, salt and oil, squeeze 1 lemon over the fish and massage into the fish. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Start the fire, after coals are white, (about 1 hour) pull the fish from the fridge place on the grill, place the large bunch of rosemary next to the fish and close the lid of the grill. Smoke should start forming, do not open the grill for 5 minutes. This will ensure the smoky flavor permeates the fish.

After 5 minutes, gently turn the fish to cook the other side. Add more rosemary if the rosemary has burned. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered. Watching to make sure the fish doesn’t burn.

Remove and garnish with lemon slices and serve warm.

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Cheers to Watermelon

Watermelon is ripe and ready this time of year which means it’s time for Keith Robinson’s delicious batched cocktail recipe, the watermelon spritzer. It’s perfect for spring and summer. Try it this weekend with friends, and let me know what you think, or just make the entire batch for a weekend of easy refreshments for two.

Watermelon Spritzer
Serves 12

You will need:
– 6 cups watermelon juice
– 1 cups fresh lime juice
– 1 cups mint simple syrup
– 1 bottle white Bordeaux or white burgundy wine
– 1/2 bottle club soda
– Fresh mint, lime slices as garnish

To prepare:
In a pitcher combine all the ingredients and ice and stir. To serve add fresh mint and slice of lime as garnish to each glass.

Photo: The Raftermen

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Cherries on Ice:: A Sweet & Frosty Summer Dessert

Ciao from Italy! As you know, part of being a good hostess is developing a menu that is fresh and fun while encouraging guests to chat and have a good time.

As you also know, I like to think and work smarter, not harder. There’s no need to make a dinner party or gathering with friends complicated. The goal is for everyone to have a great evening, including the host.

One of my favorite things to serve during the summer is a surprisingly simple summer dessert, cherries on ice. Back in the states, you should find plenty of them at your local markets and grocery stores. In fact, did you know it’s full-blown cherry season in the Northwest? Due to the special growing conditions and extended hang time on the tree – where the fruit accumulates sugar – Northwest-grown sweet cherries typically boast the highest fruit sugar content of any cherries. Just look out for ones that have a “cherries from the Northwest” label. This simple dessert makes a fun, light end to a meal. Let me know if you give it a try and what you think!

Cherries on Ice

You will need:
– cherries, rinsed and drained
– ice water

To prepare:

Thoroughly rinse cherries and set aside.

Fill a large bowl with ice and cover it completely with water. Place cherries into the ice bath.

Replace ice as needed and serve cherries directly from the ice bath. Be sure to place a pretty bowl nearby (or give one to each guest) for stems and pits.

xx Annette

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