Take a solitary perfectionist chef who lives a life of precision and throw in a child and a playful Italian nemesis and you have a film. Add beautiful food, jazz music and romance and you have a compelling story. The original to the Hollywood, No Reservations starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart & Abigail Breslin is a quicker-paced, comedy rather than a slower-paced ‘drama’. There are a few laughs in the German original but it definitely keeps with reality more so than the American remake. It’s weighted and down-to-earth not launched among the ‘stars’ and you can tell the difference. I enjoyed both films but if you have seen the remake, it’s worth watching the original.
Martha is a no-nonsense chef who executes dishes in the kitchen with a great intensity and passion. She fights for her dishes must to the chagrin of the restaurant owner then appease a guest with a poor palette. She quickly gains responsibility for her eight year old niece after her mother is killed in a car accident. With her taking leave, the restaurant takes on a bubbly and charming Italian who, naturally, loosens up the staunch German.
One food scene I loved inspired my recipe for today. She is at home cooking dinner for herself and the film narrates her as she makes the recipe and explains why she loves it so. She says that a talented chef is marked by making the simplest of dishes magnificent, for example, Salmon and Sauce. She goes on to say that sometimes, it is all about the fish-and the sauce. Two simple components that bring the whole plate together.
1 Stick Butter
5 Cloves Garlic
4 oz White Wine
2 tsp Flour
Sweet Potato Puree
3-4 Small Sweet Potatoes’
You can prepare this dish in the oven or in a pan, whichever you prefer. If you decide to make it in the oven, preheat it to 450 degrees on a piece of aluminum or on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt, a bit of pepper and a bit of olive oil. Roast the salmon until it is opaque which takes about fifteen minutes.
I chose to cook it in a pan, heated to medium, and seasoned the pan with butter, salt and pepper. Once the butter is melted, add the salmon filets. I began skin side up and flipped every five or so minutes. The salmon doesn’t take long to cook, in the pan it will be about ten minutes if the filet is fresh or fully defrosted. I also added a tablespoon of butter to the pan to add to the richness.
For the sauce, melt butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Then, add your flour, wine and bring to a boil. Be sure to whisk for about a minute. After that, reduce it to a simmer and cook until it reduces which takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Then, add your basil and a dash of salt and pepper.
The puree is easier still. Boil your Sweet Potatoes on high for about 15 minutes. When they are soft, drain and rinse with cold water. When cool, peel off the skin and chop until chunks. Add a handful at a time, along with 2-3 teaspoons of butter, a dash of olive oil and if you need a bit of water, to get the mixture going. Puree until smooth, adding any additional potato as you go.
Add your sauce to the salmon before serving and enjoy!