Whidbey Recipes

"When I was 9 or 10 or so, sitting in the old Paramount Theater in Shelton watching the Saturday matinee, my heroes were cowboys. Roy, Gene, Hopalong and Randolph were the stuff of my dreams and I was sure that, if I only had a horse, I'd be able to lasso a man like that with my ridin', ropin' and yodelin'.Things change. Roy, Gene and the rest were supplanted in my heart and in my dreams by Clark, Cary, Tyrone, the Duke, Alan, Jimmie and even Bogie. All I had to do was go blonde, add a little on top, lose a bit on the hips, get some false eyelashes, have my nose fixed and I'd push Claudette, Vivian, Marilyn, Veronica, Hedy, Dorothy, Bette and the rest of those shallow, superficially sexy women (all except Ingrid, who was invincible), right out of the picture.Things change. Montgomery, James, Richard, Sir Laurence, Sean, Michael, even Fred and Gene, often occupied my daydreams and made trouble for the guys I was spending real time with. All I had to do was get some violet contact lenses, dye my hair deep black, somehow become about a 36DDD, or maybe go red instead and learn to dance backwards and in high heels, and I'd have Elizabeth, Ginger, Cyd and all those 007 bimbos standing in the wings like understudies.Yes, things do change. Mel, Bruce, Tom and that lot were OK, but just a tad too young and callow, and no way can I relate to the current crop of baby-faced, super cute boys that are currently turning my granddaughters into simpering, sighing sillies. For awhile I was bereft of men to worship, other than the one I live with, of course, and I was afraid my screen hero days were lost and gone forever. Not so. Quite by accident, I've found a new focus for my admiration, new inspiration for daydreaming, and I don't have to buy a ticket or sit in a movie theatre.Two clicks of the TV remote and Emeril is in my kitchen, which is where I do most of my daydreaming now anyway, and we spend a stolen hour together, oblivious of the outside world. And if Emeril doesn't happen to be available when I'm looking for some escape time, surely I'll find Wolfgang, Mario, Jamie or Bobby to take his place. I don't need false eyelashes or violet lenses, a horse would be a real drag with these guys, and they don't give a hoot about hooters (well, at least not while I'm with them). I stand a real chance with my current heroes because I understand what they're about, I know what turns them on, and I have all the necessary equipment right here in my kitchen. Should I perchance run into problems while I'm honing my skills to get their attention, all I have to do is call Food 911 and there he is, Tyler, every woman's answer to a prayer when things go wrong in the kitchen, daydream or otherwise. Boy! how things change, and I understood just how much when I realized one day last week that all my silver screen heroes have been replaced by a new crop of he-men, men who know how to attract and please women, men who know what's important and how to take charge, those wonderful, witty men in white jackets I now spend a lot of time with.....on The Food Channel! RecipesThey make it look so easy and there's always a happy ending when you tune in to the hot new crop of TV stars on Emeril Live, The Iron Chef, Food 911 or (gasp!) The Naked Chef. Oh, yes, and Graham Kerr, but he was a lot more appealing before he got so gushy, gooey, low-fat and phony. Now let's see, what would I prepare if Wolfgang or Emeril were coming for dinner....There should be salmon, because that's what's expected if you live in this part of the world, so I'd probably whip out one of my favorite easy but special salmon recipes:Salmon Dijonnaise2 T. olive oil1/4 cup minced shallots1/2 cup clarified butter (don't know how? most good cookbooks will have instructions)1/2 cup dry white wine2 t. fresh lemon juice4 pieces (about 6 oz. each) skinned, boned salmon fillets1/4 cup heavy cream1/4 cup Dijon mustard (taste, add a bit more if you want it a bit zippier)2 T. minced fresh parsley1/4 t. white pepper and 1/4 t. salt (or to taste)1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add oil, and when it is hot, add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened. Add butter, wine and lemon juice; bring to a simmer. Add the salmon fillets and cook about 1 minute on each side, or until it just barely flakes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the salmon to a plate and keep warm, loosely covered with foil.2. Increase the heat under the skillet to medium-high and reduce the liquid by about one third. Whisk in the cream, mustard, parsley, salt and pepper and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Stir in any juice that has accumulated on the plate of salmon, then nap the fillets with some of the sauce, garnish with parsley sprigs and serve immediately, with remaining sauce served separately.And because we have the best in the world readily available, there should also be a simple but zesty bowl of mussels and clams to start things off....Island Appetizer (Clams & Mussels)1-1/2 lbs. each, fresh mussels and steamer clams1 lemon, cut in halfCoarse salt1 carrot, scraped1 med. red onion, peeled2-3 cloves garlicTwo dozen sprigs cilantro, leaves only1/2 cup olive oil3 bay leavesSalt and freshly ground pepper, to taste1 good-sized pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)1 cup dry white wine6 slices crusty Italian bread, lightly toastedAdditional sprigs of cilantro for garnish1. Scrub clams and mussels; debeard mussels if necessary. Place in a bowl of cold water with the lemon halves and a little coarse salt; allow to soak for about 1/2 hour.2. Finely chop the carrot, onion, garlic and parsley all together. In a casserole or large saucepan, heat the oil over low heat. When warm, add chopped vegetables and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bay leaves, season with salt, pepper and the red pepper flakes. Add wine, reduce by half.3. Drain and rinse the clams and mussels. Raise the heat under the vegetable mixture, add clams and mussels, mix well, cover and cook 4 to 6 minutes, longer if necessary (depending upon size of mussels and clams), or until they are just opened. Remove bay leaves and any clams or mussels that have not opened and use a slotted spoon to transfer shellfish to a bowl and keep warm while you reduce the sauce for 1 minute more, stirring constantly.4. Place a slice of bread in the bottom of a serving bowl, ladle in clams and mussels (divide evenly among 6 bowls) and ladle some of the sauce over all. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and serve immediately. Serves 6.Ah, the stuff of dreams.........a bowl of shellfish, a loaf of bread and thou....... "

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