Gourmet Dining Chez Oleszek (with recipes!)
I was so astounded by the beautiful meals that our friend Janet concocted while we were in Fairfax, Virginia last month that some of the first pictures I took on this trip were of her dinner table, much to Janet’s amusement.
Here’s some ocular proof of our fine dining adventures, along with two of Janet’s recipe for light and simple summer dishes that should tempt even the weakest appetite on hot and muggy days: Watermelon with Orange Oil and Smoked Fish with Cucumber “Noodles“.
Watermelon with Orange Oil
Janet enjoyed this savory watermelon dish in a DC restaurant and replicated it at home sans recipe.
- Fresh basil
- Orange oil (or meyer lemon oil)
- Cut watermelon into cubes. Place in serving bowl.
- Cut basil in strips. Sprinkle over watermelon.
- Drizzle watermelon lightly with oil.
This light and refreshing salad offers a surprising combination of flavours. I liked a little salt on mine to bring out the savoury side of the dish, but don’t add salt during the preparation or you’ll draw the liquid out of the melon. The splash of red also brightens up your dinner table!
I can see this recipe being a big hit at my mom and dad’s cabin. I’m going to make a wild guess that they can probably pick up a 3-oz or so bottle of orange oil at Kelowna’s Mediterranean Market.
Smoked Fish with Cucumber “Noodles“
From the July 2008 edition of Gourmet Magazine.
- 1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
- 1 Tbsp bottled white horseradish
- 1 3/4 tsp grainy mustard
- 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and halved crosswise
- 1/4 large sweet onion
- 7 to 8 oz. hot smoked salmon, mackerel, or trout
- Whisk together yogurt, horseradish, mustard, and lemon juice. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt.
- Cut thin ribbons of cucumber with slicer (mandoline style), then very thinly slice onion. [Note that Janet cut the cucumber into ribbons with a vegetable peeler and this worked out perfectly.] Toss with half of yogurt sauce.
- Discard skin from fish and break fish into large flakes. Arrange fish on cucumber-onion mixture and serve with remaining sauce.
To make a vegetarian version, substitute strips of smoked tofu or atsuage (deep-fried tofu). To make a vegan version, substitute non-dairy yogurt for the Greek-style yogurt; you may want to drain non-dairy yogurt through a coffee filter first to make it thicker.
I really loved how the cucumber ribbons turned out, and when I have a kitchen again (whenever that might be), I look forward to experimenting with substituting cucumber for noodles in different kinds of cold pasta salads.
. . .
If my mom or any of our foodie friends (and that means you, Kathy!) or other readers try out these recipes, I’d love to know how the dishes turn out and what you think.
And now when we say that we were held hostage and force-fed gourmet food, you’ll know exactly what we mean.