It has been a while since we have had a whole week of the entire family being home for dinner – and after talking with a friend, whose husband travels, and whose children are involved in time consuming activities almost daily, I realized how fortunate we were to have this time to sit down together, and really savored and appreciated it.
Each evening, I was excited and inspired, and made the effort to set the table with placemats and cloth napkins, the family silver and beautiful water glasses. I placed candles and flowers in the center and it seemed like the food tasted better and the conversation was more meaningful.
Here are some of our favorite meals from the week.
CRUNCHY SALMON SALAD
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh coriander
1/4 cup fresh basil
juice and zest of half to one lemon
1/2 cup mixed nuts
2 to 4 salmon filets
salt and pepper
2 cups fresh baby spinach
drizzle of olive oil
Heat oven to 200C.
Finely chop the parsley, coriander and basil, and add the lemon zest, lemon juice and mixed nuts.
Place the salmon filets onto a lightly greased baking tray, season with salt and pepper and place mixture on top of the salmon.
Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the salmon is lightly golden.
Place the salmon on top of the fresh baby spinach, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
CHIPOTLE AND ORANGE CHICKEN
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup coriander, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
8 chicken thighs
zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup honey
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
TO MAKE MARINADE Combine orange zest and juice, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, coriander and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Add chicken thighs and coat well in marinade. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for one or two hours.
TO MAKE GLAZE Place orange juice and zest, honey and chipotle chili sauce into a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, for five minutes until slightly reduced and thickened.
Remove chicken from marinade and cook on lightly oiled barbecue grill or grill pan over medium heat. Grill for 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Brush chicken with glaze and cook for a further two minutes on each side until cooked through.
Recipe adapted from Cleo Magazine
STEAK PEPPERCORN SALAD
2 8-ounce steaks
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 to 3 teaspoons brined green peppercorns, drained and chopped, plus 1 teaspoon of brine from the jar
2 romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Rub the steaks all over with 1 teaspoon of mustard and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook until browned, 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board. Wipe out the skillet.
Heat 1 more tablespoon olive oil in the skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook, undisturbed, until golden, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and continue to cook, stirring, until just soft, 3 more minutes.
Whisk the parmesan, sour cream, the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 3 teaspoons of mustard, the green peppercorns and brine, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, in a large bowl. Add the mushrooms, lettuce, celery, tomatoes and toss. Cut the steak into bite sized pieces, add to the bowl and toss. Divide among plates and top with more parmesan.
Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine, January/February 2013