“Amanda, you need to get yourself a new cabana boy. Dishes are for peasants!” Thus spoke one of my closest friends, when I was post-break up and bemoaning my new household responsibilities: mainly laundry and dishes. As dishwashers are practically non-existent in European apartments, I have (until now) always had the amazing foresight to choose boyfriends based on a combination of good looks and domestic abilities. Throughout my life I have habitually and ferociously loathed housework. When my last relationship fizzled out, I was left not only with a bruised heart, but a sink full of dishes and a laundry pile taller than me.
Regrettably, replacement cabana boys seem to be in short supply these days. Now that I am a single gal, I have had to adapt and change my lifestyle accordingly. Seeing as my son can’t really be expected to grow up in an abode resembling some sort of bizarre, baking-obsessed frathouse:
I channeled my inner Martha Stewart and let the good (and tidy!) times roll. And I discovered that I can, in fact, be “house proud.” (Do we say that in
house-proud - proud of your house or its furnishings or upkeep
Maybe it’s because my new apartment is the first place I’ve ever lived that’s truly “mine.” Maybe I’m just older and have accepted that a little elbow grease is a necessity. Either way, I now find activities like hanging laundry on a clotheshorse strangely meditative. My friends mock the fact that I am a 27 year old who owns and displays “decorative” tea towels (God help the soul who tries to USE one of these towels. Seriously.) I enjoy having folks over for dinner (although due to the microscopic dimensions of my apartment, three people is my maximum seating capacity.)
Recently, my friend Ingrid popped over for an evening meal. Earlier in the week, my mother had sent me the “Food Section” of The Washington Post because it featured an interview with David Lebovitz. The paper also contained a few recipes using cantaloupe, as it’s currently in season. One in particular caught my eye: Poached Salmon with Creamy Mint-Melon Sauce.
Intrigued, I decided to give it a whirl in my (sparkling) kitchen. The end result was absolutely, and unexpectedly, beautiful. The creamy mint and cantaloupe sauce is a perfect accompaniment to the salmon. If you have the good fortune of living somewhere where the hot sun actually shines during the summer months, this dish would be really lovely while sitting outside with a nice bottle of white wine and some mosquito-repelling candles for ambiance.
Ingrid and I, however, enjoyed it immensely atop my decidedly non-alfresco linoleum, so go ahead and indulge if you, like me, are patio-less and summer-deprived. Just be sure to tidy up before and after.
Poached Salmon with Creamy Mint Melon Sauce
Ingredients (serves 4):
for the salmon:
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
4 6-ounce skin-on or skinless salmon fillets, pin bones removed (24 ounces total)
for the sauce:
1 cup low-fat or regular sour cream (do not use nonfat)
1 cup 1/4-inch diced cantaloupe
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves, plus small sprigs for garnish
For the salmon: Have ready a pot large enough to hold the salmon pieces without crowding. Fill it with enough water to cover the pieces by 2 to 3 inches. Add the vinegar and salt. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then add the salmon pieces. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the poaching water just barely bubbles. Cook, uncovered, to the desired degree of doneness; 1/2-inch-thick fillets will be done in 7 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spatula to transfer to a plate; if using skin-on fillets, discard the skin at this point.
While the salmon is cooking, make the sauce: Combine the sour cream, cantaloupe, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1 teaspoon of the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and the chopped mint. Taste and add sugar and/or vinegar as necessary.
Divide the salmon fillets among individual plates. Spoon the melon-mint sauce over each portion. Garnish with mint sprigs; serve at room temperature.
From "Field Guide to Seafood," by Aliza Green (Quirk Books, 2007)