Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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May 13, 2014

Salmon with Mashed Peas & Tarragon Butter

Libations used: 1 cup white wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so serve with dinner...
I had bought a ton of fresh peas from the Farmers' Market last weekend without thinking about what I was actually going to make with them.  I used to hate peas as a child.  I mean, truly, truly despised them.  Perhaps it was because we only got the frozen kind, and they were thawed out in the microwave.  After buying them fresh, now I just love them.  I was having a few girl friends over for Sunday dinner, and I wanted something easy and light tasting.  Food & Wine had this beautiful recipe in their April issue for Salmon with Mashed Peas & Tarragon Butter from Viña Casa Marín, a Chilean Winery, that captured the beautiful colors of spring.

I took a little trip to Santa Monica Seafood for some fresh salmon, and got a little sidetracked by the oyster bar.  There's nothing better than treating yourself to a few freshly shucked oysters on a Sunday afternoon.  For the wine, use a dry white such as a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc—something that pairs well with the fish.  If you don't have a grill pan to get those lovely grill marks, just use a regular sauté pan.  This recipe comes together quickly and I just absolutely loved the herbed butter sauce in it—it's divine drizzled over the salmon and peas.  At least you're getting your veggies, so all that butter offsets it, right?
Salmon with Mashed Peas & Tarragon Butter - serves 4
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen peas (about 3 cups)
  • 7 Tbs cold, unsalted butter, 6 Tbs cubed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs roughly chopped tarragon
  • Four 6 oz salmon fillets, with skin on
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
- In a large sauce pot of boiling water, cook the peas until tender, about 3-4 minutes, and drain.
- In the same pot, melt 1 Tbs of butter in the cream.
- Add the peas and mash with a potato masher until it's chunky (you don't want a smooth, perfect mash here).
- In a small saucepan, simmer the wine with the lemon juice over medium heat until reduced to about 1 Tbs (about 8-10 minutes).
- Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the remaining 6 Tbs of butter, one cube at a time, until the sauce is thickened.
- Whisk in the tarragon and season with salt and pepper, and turn the heat off.
- Heat a grill pan or sauté pan over medium heat.
- Rub the salmon fillets with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Grill the salmon, skin side down, turning just once, until just cooked through (about 10-12 minutes).
- Spoon the mashed peas onto the plate and top with the salmon, skin side up.
- Spoon the tarragon butter over the salmon and serve immediately.