Salmon with Fennel Baked in Parchment

I had my adorable cousins Jillian and Hillary over for dinner tonight and was tasked with making a healthy dinner. I have been making salmon in parchment paper for years, but wanted to add some fennel and found this fantastic recipe on Simply Recipes for Salmon with Fennel Baked in Parchment. You bake the salmon in cute little individual pouches (salmon en papillote in cooking speak), it’s pretty and healthy! I served with roasted broccoli and cauliflower, both tossed with olive oil, lemon, salt, red pepper flakes. It was lovely. Plus these 2 gals are as funny as they come, so lucky to have fantastic family!

Assembling fennel, salmon, lemon
Assembling fennel, salmon, lemon
Salmon en papillote
Salmon en papillote

Salmon with Fennel Baked in Parchment – courtesy of Simply Recipes

Ingredients

  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced paper thin (a mandoline helps for this)
  • 4 6-ounce portions of fresh salmon fillets (skinless is best)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon juice (to taste)
  • 12 very thin slices of whole lemon (from 1 to 2 lemons)
  • Several sprigs of fresh fennel fronds
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 12×18-inch pieces of parchment paper (can sub aluminum foil if you don’t have parchment paper)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Lay down a square of parchment paper on a flat surface. Fold the parchment in half to create a crease, then open it up again. Place several slices of fennel bulb below the crease of the parchment paper in a mound, and sprinkle with salt. Place one fillet of salmon on top of the fennel bulb slices. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the salmon (anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon, or to taste). Sprinkle the salmon generously with salt and pepper. Lay sprigs of fennel fronds over the salmon. Lay 3 thin slices of lemon over the fennel fronds and salmon (more if you want). Or you could put the lemon sliced down first and top with the fronds, your choice. I think the slices on top look better. Dot the top with butter.
  3. Fold the parchment over the salmon and secure close. There are several way that you can accomplish this. One easy and particularly attractive way is to fold a corner near the folded edge of the parchment paper into a triangle. Then about halfway down that triangle, fold another triangle over the previous triangle.  Working down and around the parchment edges, you can create folds all around the edges. When you come to the last folded edge, tuck the corner under the parchment.  There is an excellent video available that shows this technique here: How to Wrap Fish in Parchment. This technique works well with individual portions.You may find it easier to wrap a large (multi serving) fillet in the following way. Arrange the fillet so that its long side is facing you, and the two shorter ends are to the left and right. Then lift up the parchment edges closest to you, and furthest from you, bring them together, and fold them over a few times.  Then tuck the left and right edges under the fillet.  
  4. Place on a roasting pan or baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Serve immediately. To serve, you can either carefully transfer each salmon fillet and mound of fennel slices to individual plates, or you can serve the salmon in the pouch itself, on a plate. To eat, you can either unwrap the pouch, or cut through the top with a sharp knife to expose the salmon inside.

Midseason TV Check In

I have been dying to do this post. There is so much good midseason television on right now, new shows and returning, I don’t even know where to begin. Click any of the images for individual trailers.

GirlsGirls (HBO) – season 3’s 2 part premiere was on Sunday. After the downer which was season 2, I was ready for some lightening up, and it paid off, Hannah and Co. were back to funny, rather than depressing.  The opening scene was so amazing, it was one of the best tell-offs I have ever seen.

True Detective2

True Detective (HBO) – also premiered on Sunday. This stars Matthew McConaughey (fresh off of his Golden Globe win) and Woody Harrelson and looks dark and gritty. The story – Two detectives, Rust Cohle and Martin Hart, become entangled during a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. I haven’t watched yet, but it’s sitting in my DVR waiting. Update, watched it last night. This show is going to be awesome, Matthew McConaughey is at the top of his game. Creepy murder plot. HBO just makes great TV.

ShamelessShameless (SHO) – season 4 premiered on Sunday. I have recently gotten into this comedy starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum. I’m on season 1 right now, it’s my current binge. I like it and recommend, it’s funny, not too dark. The gist – An alcoholic man lives in a perpetual stupor while his six children with whom he lives cope as best they can.

rake 3

Rake (Fox) – series premieres January 23. I love Greg Kinnear. He’s just real handsome and likeable. Plot – An outspoken and self-destructive criminal defense lawyer takes on the most challenging cases. Could go either way, but it’s going in the DVR queue.

RHONYReal Housewives of NYC – season 6 premieres on March 11. Yes, I am getting this on your radar early. It’s that important. I am very excited to watch this level of crazy. Very. Excited. Check out the season 6 preview here.

House of Cards3

House of Cards (Netflix) – season 2 premieres February 14. This political thriller was one of the best shows of 2013 (won the Emmy for best drama) and I cannot wait for the new season. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are both fantastic.

Flowers in the AtticFlowers in the Attic (Lifetime) – premieres January 18. Once in a while, a Lifetime movie comes along that I must watch. This is it for 2014. I mean, didn’t everyone read these books in middle school? I cannot think of one friend who didn’t read it. Very risqué for middle school. And this version stars Ellen Burstyn, Heather Graham and Kiernan Shipka (Sally from Mad Men). Done. Sold.

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey – season 4 premiered January 5. Coming off of the season 4 knife-in-the-heart ending, we pick back up to see how Mary is managing without Matthew. I’m 3 episodes in and it’s still so good. New characters this season, new storylines, it’s staying fresh and has had some pretty big surprises already.

Is there anything I’m missing? Hit me up! You know I hate missing out on good TV.

Mexican Chicken Soup

After two dinners out this weekend at RockCreek and Westward, both of which were fantastic, I was ready to do some cooking and eat dinner at home on Sunday. Not to mention, it was rainy and shitty and the wind was literally attempting to blow my house down. Perfect soup weather! Ina Garten posted her Mexican Chicken Soup recipe on her Facebook feed last week and I realized it had been way too long since I had made one of my favorite soups. Bonus, it is totes healthy.

My notes for the recipe:

  • Ina calls for 2 – 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded. I used 3, seeded them, and it was way too spicy for Oliver. Great for me, not for him. He ate mac & cheese. That always feels good, you slave away and they’d rather eat their dinner from a box.
  • Chopping the veggies – I used my food processor to chop everything. Onion, carrot, garlic, jalapeno, celery, cilantro. I think this soup benefits from the veggies being chopped finely, especially the onion and carrot. With the onion, the processor chops it into almost a liquidy mush, which worried me, but it ended up great and just thickened up the soup.
  • Making tortilla strips for garnish – I used 8 tortillas, cut them in half, then cut them into 1/2 inch strips. spread on a rimmed cookie sheet in 1 layer and baked at 375 until golden brown, about 10 min.

Ina Garten’s Mexican Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
  • 2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
  • 6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas

For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

Friday Night Plans

For this single mom, the importance of good Friday night plans is immeasurable. Oliver stays with his dad on Fridays and this is my one true night off.  Depending on the week, sometimes my plan entails a night on the couch with current binge television and a bag of popcorn. But my favorite kind of Friday includes getting my ass off the couch, putting a cute outfit on, and hitting one of Seattle’s great restaurants with friends. I cannot control when I am going to meet the dude of my dreams, but what I can do is connect with the people in my life that I truly enjoy! I am lucky to have lots of them, so I got that going for me.

Tomorrow night, I am very much looking forward to trying RockCreek (http://www.rockcreekseattle.com/) with my friend Nelle (check out her fantastic food blog www.nellebee.com) and her sister. I know I will be eating delish food, sipping on equally as delish cocktails, and having great conversation, probably about how awesome my blog is. And bonus, if I get a little tipsy, I get to sleep in on Saturday morning, drink coffee and happily eat my Eggs & Avocado Toast before hitting pilates.

People, do yourself a favor, get on OpenTable and make a reservation at a restaurant you’ve been dying to try. I know how easy it is to get sucked into to your own life (for me, that’s episodic television. Oh, and my son), but get out there and eat, drink, socialize!

NOTE – all RockCreek photos are courtesy of their lovely website.