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Holiday Highlights

Set your table with two simple, savory dishes

Holiday cooking is the ideal opportunity to perfect a new recipe for a receptive audience, but the biggest stumbling block is often knowing where to start.

For holiday gatherings, Pam Riley Heironimus — a retired chef who used to command the kitchen at Evansville’s famed Petroleum Club — recommends two easy recipes of her own creation: chimichurri salmon side en papilotte, and baked Brief en Croute with honey mustard, Granny Smith apples, and caramelized onions.

Each dish takes about 45 minutes for assemble and bake — perfect for a delicious, last-minute meal when unexpected guests pop over for dinner.

Chimichurri salmon side en papilotte

“Around holiday time, if people are watching their weight, it's really hard,” Heironimus says. Enter fresh Atlantic salmon — but be mindful to cook it in a healthful way. “Salmon is typically cooked with butter, which has a lot of fat. This salmon is a healthier option.”

Although chilled, spicy chimichurri may seem an unusual sauce to lay atop baked salmon, Heironimus says it’s versatile enough to open a new world of flavor possibilities.

“Chimichurri sauce is identified with a parsley flavor, and it's a simple sauce that can be used on basically any protein — I've even used it on a lamb rack,” she says.

Chimichurri sauce is an excellent marinade for all types of meat. A bonus: Under proper refrigeration, and because of its vinegar base, chimichurri will keep for up to three months.

Ingredients

Chimichurri sauce

• 4 cloves fresh chopped garlic
• 1 shallot, finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
• 2 tablespoons packed chopped fresh oregano leaves
• 1 cup ice cubes
• 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, chopped
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley; chop leaves, discard stems
• 1 teaspoon cumin • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salmon main dish

• 2 pounds raw whole side of salmon
• 15 inch-by-50-inch sheet of parchment paper, folded in half lengthwise
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 lemon, thinly sliced
• 1/4 cup chimichurri sauce
• 2 tablespoons olive oil

Assembly

Start the chimichurri sauce by add each ingredient as listed to a food processor and pureeing until it reaches a smooth consistency. (Chimichurri can be chunky or pureed, based on the region of each specific recipe's origin. Go with the consistency you prefer.) Stir midway to ensure all ingredients are incorporated into a smooth sauce. Reserve a quarter cup for the salmon marinade and pour the rest in a bowl to chill.

Parchment paper is a big asset for this dish: It keeps the fish’s juices together while letting the salmon bake in a breathable tent. You’ll want to allow yourself plenty of paper for lining a sheet pan; depending on the thickness and length of the salmon, excess parchment paper may need to be trimmed on the open end on you place it on the pan lengthwise and fold in half.

Center the salmon skin-side down on the pan and sprinkle evenly with kosher salt and pepper. With a pastry brush, spread the reserved quarter cup of chimichurri sauce over the entire top surface of the fish and then arrange six shingled slices of lemon in the center of the salmon lengthwise. Tightly crimp the edges of the parchment paper over the top of the salmon and bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees, or until a meat thermometer reads 145 degrees in the center of the thickest part of the fish.

Upon removing the pan from the over, transfer the dish — parchment paper and all — to a serving platter and cut the paper lengthwise down the middle. Drizzle the salmon with two tablespoons of olive oil and garnish with additional lemon wedges and fresh herbs. Heironimus likes to serve this dish with a slice of Batard (a French bread) and chilled chimichurri sauce.

Baked Brie en Croute with honey mustard, Granny Smith apples, and caramelized onions

A creamy Brie by itself is a savory treat, but Heironimus takes her recipe for Brie en Croute to the next level by adding tangy honey mustard, tart Granny Smith apples, and delicious caramelized onions.

“I'd seen the Brie en Croute ingredients on a sandwich, and I just wanted to take it to a different level and introduce different flavor profiles,” Heironimus says. “The prepared mustard brightens the overall mustard sauce, and the honey takes it to another level. With the Brie, you get that buttery, gooey cheese.” Are you hungry yet?


Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium yellow onion, finely sliced (roughly 1 1/2 cups)
• 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1/4 cup red wine
• 1 tablespoon coarse-grained French mustard
• tablespoons mild yellow prepared mustard • 3 tablespoons honey
• 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and finely diced
• 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
• 8 oz Brie round

Assembly

In a four-ounce ramekin or small bowl, add both mustards and stir with a fork. Add one tablespoon of honey at a time and whisk, eventually incorporating all three tablespoons of honey, and then set aside. In a skillet, cook the sliced onion with olive oil — and sprinkle with salt — over medium heat, stirring frequently until the onions are translucent. Add the brown sugar and stir well, then stir in the butter and cook for another five minutes. Next, add the red wine, reduce it in the pan for three minutes, and then set the finished onions aside to rest at room temperature.

Roll the puff pastry into a 14-inch square on a floured board and then transfer to a baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Mark the center of the dough with a slight impression of the brie round; use this impression as a guide for placement of the ingredients. Evenly distribute the caramelized onions, diced apple, and honey mustard in the dough and top with the Brie round. “I leave the casing on the cheese to hold it in,” Heironimus says. “Otherwise, it can pop the puff pastry and ooze out during baking.”

Gather the dough into a bundle, twist, and cut off the excess dough with kitchen scissors. (The excess dough can be rolled into quarter-inch-thick leaf cutouts or pinwheels accents.)

After flipping the pastry over to the smooth side, brush an egg wash (made with the one egg and one tablespoon of water) over the top of the pastry. Bake for 20 minutes on 400 degrees until the puff pastry is a beautiful golden brown color. Let the Brie en Croute rest for about 45 minutes and then serve with fruit.

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