well, friday night's meal went very well. the company was wonderful and i actually made it to midnight despite having had almost no sleep the night before - but, oh my, the house looked good, as long as you avoided the basement and back bedroom.
i'd adapted a bon appetit recipe from epicurious.com for the main course. our guests, a quartet of die-hard foodies, seemed to really enjoy it and i think it's worth sharing (see below). also think, after a bit of research, that the "wild" aspect of "wild salmon in saffron sauce" is key. thanks to what they are fed, farm-raised salmon harbor dramatically more toxins than wild, which may also be lower in fat. i don't know when i started to get concerned about stuff like this, but thanks to trader joe's frozen wild salmon, i can afford to be.
can also now recommend roasting asparagus, because unlike steamed asparagus, roast asparagus kind of takes care of itself. just cut off the woody ends, load them in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet, drizzle with a bit of olive oil (i had some orange champagne muscat vinegar on hand that i added as well), add salt and pepper and a handful of sliced almonds, and roast at 450 degrees until tender, about 20-30 minutes. yum.
Wild Salmon in Saffron Sauce
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
3/4 cup (about) half and half
1/2 - 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes with added puree
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
4 4- to 6-ounce skinless wild salmon fillets
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
In microwave or on stovetop, heat wine to boiling. Pour liquid into 2-cup measuring cup. Stir in saffron. Let stand 15 minutes.
Add enough half and half to cooking liquid to measure 1 1/3 cups. Transfer to large saucepan. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf, and cayenne. Simmer over medium heat until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Half and half may initially separate but will recombine as it simmers.)
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add salmon, rounded side down. Cook until bottom is golden, about 3 minutes. Turn salmon over. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until salmon is opaque in center, about 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Leave covered to keep warm.
Stir lemon juice into sauce.
Place 1 salmon fillet on each of 4 plates and spoon sauce over salmon.
Makes 4 servings.