One more fancy meal to go – New Year’s Eve – before we return to the simple comfort food we usually eat at our family table.
I don’t know about you, but around this time of the season, I begin to think that an extra serving of greens wouldn’t go amiss, so as I was drawing up this New Year’s Eve menu (of course you can use it for Christmas dinner, but I’m assuming you already have that menu complete), I added an extra serving of greens.
For an exceptional meal, consider starting with raw oysters. And to round out this menu, add a pan of buttery dinner rolls, what are now called Feather Rolls in our house (find the recipe at athomeatsea.com).
Because New Year’s Eve is a special day, I have included a special ingredient in the spinach salad – preserved grapefruit. You can replace it with fresh grapefruit segments or preserved lemons. However, if you plan ahead, you can make your own small batch: Reserve one or more grapefruit wedges from your breakfast plate. Remove any seeds and mince both flesh and rind. Place the minced fruit in a small ball jar and toss liberally with sea salt and olive oil. Leave on the counter at room temperature for a week.
This is the quick version; if in the future you have more time, use the wedges whole.
The creation of preserved grapefruit came about one day when we found ourselves with uneaten grapefruit wedges at the end of breakfast. Our usual modus operandi was to put them in a zip-close bag, save them in the refrigerator thinking we’d use them somehow, wait until they’d gone by and throw them out. This time, we instead put all the wedges into a ball jar, covered them with olive oil and sea salt (just as you would for preserved lemons) and waited.
Three weeks later, we had these salty, sour sections that are wonderful in salads. I’ve also added them to bread with olives and to a savory tartelette with cranberries and Comté cheese. They keep for up to six months.
Happy new beginnings to all!
Thyme and Lime Potato-Crusted Salmon
It’s tough to get the potatoes cooked before the salmon is overcooked, so use thicker, center-cut pieces of salmon, which will give you a greater margin of error. Or you could cook the salmon and potatoes separately. To do so, use two skillets, one for the salmon and one for the potatoes. Form the latter into 2- to 3-inch potato patties and sauté them in olive oil over medium-high heat. To serve, lay the patties on top of the salmon and then garnish. Be sure to use russet potatoes; their high starch content helps them stick together.
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds center-cut salmon, cut into 4 to 6 pieces
Juice from 1/2 lime, plus 1 tablespoon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
11/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the salmon on a platter and rub with juice from the half lime, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Set aside.
Place a strainer in the sink or over a platter. Grate the potatoes by hand or food processor, then put them in the strainer. Press down to squeeze out excess water. Place the dried, shredded potatoes in a bowl and add the egg, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon lime juice and thyme leaves. Mix. Press the potato mixture on top of the salmon to create a crust about 1/2-inch thick. If you have extra, use it to make potato pancakes. (I usually give those to whomever is helping me in the kitchen.)
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is warm, carefully place the salmon in the pan, potato side down. Sauté until the potatoes are browned, 7 to 10 minutes and carefully turn the fish pieces with a spatula. Immediately put the pan in the oven and bake for another 7 to 10 minutes, carefully watching the salmon to be sure that it doesn’t overcook. When the fish registers 125 degrees on a thermometer, it’s done.
Serve immediately with dollops of yogurt and thyme sprigs for garnish.
Brown Butter Kale with Toasted Almonds
The trick to getting kale crispy, which gives it both a wonderful chewy texture and a toasted flavor, is to have it as dry as possible before tossing it with the butter. The lemon adds a nice tang, but refrain from squeezing it on the kale until right before serving. If you toss the lemon juice in with the butter, the kale wilts, not terrible, to be sure, but not as good as it can be.
8 ounces kale leaves, torn into 1- to 2-inch pieces and dried thoroughly
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus a smidge more
Sea salt and pepper
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the kale in a large bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the butter has melted and turned a deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes (it will foam first). Watch carefully. If you let it go too long, the butter will burn and turn black, which can happen in the blink of an eye. Pour the browned butter over the kale and toss with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until the kale is crispy on the edges but still bright green.
Meanwhile, add a little extra butter to the saucepan. When it melts, add the almonds. Stir over medium-high heat until the nuts are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, and then transfer to a small bowl until the kale is done. Toss the toasted nuts with the crispy kale. Just before serving, squeeze the lemon juice over the kale.
Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Cranberries and Preserved Grapefruit
For directions on making preserved grapefruit, read my introduction above.
4 ounces spinach leaves, destemmed, washed and well dried
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup minced preserved grapefruit
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
Several grinds fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Prepare all ingredients ahead of time. When ready to serve the salad, toss all together.
Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “Sugar and Salt: A Year at Home and at Sea.” She blogs at athomeatsea.com and can be reached at: