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Salmon That Satisfies

The Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring Dan Silverman prepared a delicious fall meal this weekend.

Silverman is the executive chef at one of New York City's hottest new restaurants, Lever House. We invited him to create a three-course meal for four on our budget of $30.

Dan Silverman's culinary career spans three decades. He first honed his craft at such renowned restaurants as Bouley, Le Bernardin and Postrio. Further refining his skills, Silverman worked at Zuni Café and Chez Panisse in California, and also took on traditional training in France with acclaimed chefs Andre Daguin and Dominique Bouchet.

Silverman then took his talents to a new level as executive chef of Alison on Dominick Street in New York City. During his five plus years at Alison, Silverman's dedication to seasonal produce, local farmers and their products enabled him to create a menu that garnered national acclaim. He was recognized by Food & Wine Magazine as one of America's ten "Best New Chefs."

Gourmet Magazine celebrated Silverman's fresh Mediterranean approach by voting Alison on Dominick one of its "Top Tables" for two years in a row.

After his successful tenure at Alison on Dominick Street, Silverman won the coveted position of executive chef at Union Square Café. Silverman found a deep affinity with Union Square Café's commitment to the Greenmarket, local farmers, great wine and excellent hospitality. He expanded the restaurant's network of farmers and further refined his cuisine, which became a standard-bearer for New York's culinary scene. Under Silverman's direction, Union Square Café held the top spot as the Zagat Survey's most popular New York restaurant for an unprecedented six years in a row.

Dan Silverman's Chef on a Shoestring menu: an appetizer of Greens with Roasted Butternut Squash and Ricotta Salata; an entrée of Salmon with Potatoes, Leeks, Lemon Zest, and Herb Butter; and for dessert, Honey Roasted Pears with Whipped Cream.


Greens with Roasted Butternut Squash and Ricotta Salata

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound mesclun greens, washed and spun dry
pomegranate seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate
1 cup grated ricotta salata cheese

Cut the pomegranate in half. Using your hands, pry out the pulp-encased seeds, removing any of the light-colored membrane that may stick. Place the pomegranate seeds in a bowl. Set aside.

Place a sauté pan on medium heat. Add olive oil and sauté the diced butternut squash until it's cooked through and begins to caramelize, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

In a large bowl, combine greens, roasted butternut squash and pomegranate seeds. Season the salad with salt and pepper and dress the salad lightly with the vinaigrette (recipe follows). Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve the salad on chilled plates and garnish with the grated ricotta salata.

Ingredients for Vinaigrette:

1 large shallot, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
additional salt and pepper to taste

Combine shallots and 1 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl, and let sit for 10 minutes to macerate. This will help extract moisture from the shallots. It will also soften the shallots and bring out some sweetness.

Add balsamic vinegar and mix well.

Whisk in olive oil and adjust seasoning to taste.

Roast Salmon with Potatoes, Leeks, Lemon Zest and Herb Butter


4 salmon fillets, about 5 ounces each
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch thick slices
2 large leeks (using both the white and some of the green parts), thoroughly washed and medium-diced
3 curls of lemon zest, finely julienned
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the potato slices in salted, boiling water until tender - approximately 10 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add the diced leeks and sauté until the leeks are tender, approximately 10 minutes. Take care not to brown the leeks. Reserve.

Place a non-stick pan large enough to hold the four salmon fillets on medium-high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper on both sides.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan and then carefully place the salmon fillets in the pan. Cook salmon on one side for about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the salmon fillets over and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

For the vegetables: In a separate sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of water. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the cooked potatoes and leeks to the pan, and heat through.

Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the lemon zest, and stir well to combine.

Taste again, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Add the herb butter to the vegetable mixture. Stir to incorporate evenly. The mixture should become somewhat thick, not watery. If it is watery, add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of butter.

Spoon the vegetables onto the center of hot plates and place the salmon on top. Spoon the remaining herb butter/vegetable cooking liquid around the fish.

Ingredients for Herb Butter:

2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
1 bunch scallions, greens only, roughly chopped
1 bunch flat Italian parsley, picked and washed
1 bunch mint, leaves picked and washed
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine butter, scallions, parsley, and mint in a food processor and combine until well mixed. You can prepare this two to three days in advance. Keep refrigerated until needed.

Honey Roasted Pears with Whipped Cream
2 ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored and halved
1 lime, juice only
1/2 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream

In a large sauté pan, bring the honey to a boil using medium-high heat. Cook until it begins to caramelize, which should take about five minutes. The honey should slightly darken in color. Add the lime juice and spices, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.

Add the pear halves to the honey mixture and reduce the heat to medium. From time to time, turn the pears and baste them with the honey mixture so they cook evenly. The pears are done once they are slightly caramelized and softened so that the tip of a knife can penetrate the pears with little resistance. Plate a pear for each serving, using the spices as garnish if desired. Spoon any remaining honey mixture over each pear.

Whip the cream in a chilled metal bowl until stiff. Place a dollop of whipped cream on each pear.

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