Halibut with Asparagus Sauce

by Kelly on July 5, 2020

Remember the first weeks of the pandemic when a trip to the grocery store required intense planning and anxiety, and shelves were eerily bare? Although I quickly gave up on finding cilantro and toilet paper, I knew our basement full of freezer and pantry items would carry us through an apocalypse scenario, at least for a few weeks. I have never felt happier to have our Sitka Salmon Shares subscription stocking our freezer. If you are a seafood lover and live in the upper Midwest, I highly recommend the program. The seafood is caught by small boat fisherman in Alaska, processed and flash frozen, then shipped directly to your doorstep. You cannot beat the quality and convenience.

Last month’s delivery included halibut. I find halibut tricky to work with since it is low in fat and can be bland. This preparation is flavorful, fast, and fancy enough for a dinner party. Make sure to season the sauce well but salt the fish minimally. The prosciutto provides plenty of saltiness.

Captain Stu’s Halibut with Asparagus

adapted from Sitka Salmon Shares

  • 4 (1/4 lb each) halibut fillets
  • 4 TB butter, divided
  • 3 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • 8 small, tender sage leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • minced chives and lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet, melt 2 TB of butter over medium heat. Add the green onions and sauté until softened, about 1–2 minutes. Add the asparagus along with 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cook until asparagus is tender and water has been reduced to 2 Tbsp, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and add the spinach, lightly stirring until wilted. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth with lid vented. Season well with salt and pepper and set aside.

Arrange prosciutto slices in pairs, overlapping them slightly. Place halibut fillets in the center of each, season with salt and pepper, then top each fillet with two sage leaves. Wrap prosciutto tightly around each fillet.

In a medium pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Place each prosciutto-wrapped halibut in the pan, searing on both sides until browned, about 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until halibut is cooked through. Halibut should be firm when pressed but try not to overcook. Remove the halibut from the oven and top each with asparagus sauce, and a sprinkling of chives. Serve lemon wedge alongside.

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Between this year’s COVID-19, Presidential antics, and a national (long overdue) reckoning with racism, I find myself falling back on the comfort of baking. 2020 feels like a perfect time to bake more cakes and restart the blog. I spent many hours cooking for my family during our shelter-at-home quarantine and suspect that many of you have done the same.  

I only make this flag cake once per year although it is one of my favorites. This year I don’t really feel like celebrating the state of America so I may rearrange the berries into a less controversial pattern. Suggestions welcome.









American Flag Cake

adapted from Barefoot Contessa

  • 18 tablespoons (2–1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

For the Icing:

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 cups (about 3/4 pound) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Assemble:

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 2 pints raspberries

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour an 18 x 12 x 1–1/2‑inch sheet pan (a “half sheet” pan). Alternatively, you can line the pan with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 3 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. On medium-low speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir the batter with a rubber spatula and pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top and bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.

For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until very smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed. Stir with a rubber spatula to be sure the icing is well mixed.

Spread half of the icing on the cake. Using a toothpick, outline a flag on the cake. Fill in the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like the red stripes. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternately add 2 rows of raspberries and 2 rows of icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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