One of the most famous, most recreated menus on the planet has to be the Last Supper aboard the Titanic. I haven’t a clue as to why the sinking of this grand ocean liner holds such a romantically tragic place in the social physic, but it does. The Titanic has been the subject of many books, films and television programs. Immediately following the loss at sea, the public seemed unable to get enough and that appetite carried forward throughout the years. In all there were a total of 19 films and 27 Television productions, including a 1971 episode of Night Gallery entitled Lone Survivor.
The first film to depict the disaster was released just 29 days after the sinking. Saved From the Titanic was co-written and starred Dorothy Gibson, a survivor. Unfortunately, the silent film was lost in a studio fire, and now only production stills remain. That same year, two other films were released – La Hatis (The Haunting) was a French film on the subject; and In Nacht und Eis (In Night and Ice) was a German film.
The first film I ever saw was the 1953 Titanic, with Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck and a very young Robert Wagner. It was one of those black and white films featured on Television years after its initial release as part of an afternoon program featuring classic movies. The most famous, most expensive to produce and the highest grossing film was James Cameron’s 1997 release, Titanic.
I have my own theories as to why the Titanic has captivated the imagination for such a long time. Although the 1912 sinking came two years after the Edwardian Era (1901-1910); the influence and romantic ideas of a golden age of women in fancy hats attending posh garden parties and long, leisurely summers still lingered. World War I had not yet raised its ugly head. The Titanic represented all that was grand. I am particularly fond of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Such style, such elegance and sophistication – one cannot help but to view through romantic, rose-colored glasses. Poached Salmon was the third course, the fish course, in what seemed to be an endless parade of classy dishes served up on the finest of china to First Class passengers on that final night at sea.
Like those upper crusts aboard the Titanic, the first time I dined on Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce was in an equally grand setting. Hubby and I were guests at a wine-tasting tour of the Napa area. It was top-drawer all the way. On the final day of a week-long Fairy Tale, we spent the afternoon on the perfectly manicured Croquet lawn of a magnificent hotel. Our group was provided with an instructor to enlighten us on the finer rules of the game. He was dressed all in white with the most amazing handlebar mustache I have ever seen. So fitting of the Edwardian era. A tuxedo clad waiter with dark, sliced back hair silently moved about, balancing a silver tray on the tips of his white-gloved hand that carried golden champagne flutes. Hubby and I felt that this must have been the life of the rich and famous of old.
That evening, we attended a private dinner at the hotel. The chef prepared a beautiful, multi-course dinner. The Poached Salmon was one of the dishes offered. (And has remained a part of my “fantasy” dinner party menu). It was a night to remember.
Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce
Basic Court Bouillon
7 cups Water
1 carrot, sliced
1 small White Onion, chopped
1 Bay Leaf
1/4 cup Italian Parsley
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 1/4 cup dry White Wine
In a large pot combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Strain into an air-tight container and cover tightly. Court Bouillon will keep for up to a week in refrigerator, for up to a week.
6 cups Basic Court Bouillon (see recipe ABOVE)
6 Salmon Fillets
30 very thin slices of English Cucumber
6 sprigs fresh Dill
In large shallow pot, heat court bouillon until just below boiling point.
Using a slotted spoon or spatula, gently place salmon into bouillon. Add water if needed to completely cover the fish.
Poach fish for 3-5 minutes or until opaque on the outside and still coral-colored in the center.
2/3 cup unsalted Butter, melted
3 tablespoons Water
3 Egg Yolks
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons Fresh Dill, chopped
1/4 cup Heavy Cream, lightly whipped
Melt butter over medium-low heat. Allow the butter to melt undisturbed. Using a spoon, skim froth from the surface of the melted butter and discard. Allow butter to cool slightly.
On top of a double boiler or heat-proof bowl, whisk water and egg yolks together with salt and pepper for 30 seconds or until pale yellow and frothy. Over barely simmering water, whisk mixture for 3 minutes or until it draws a ribbon for 5 seconds.
Remove pan from heat; whisk in warm butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce begins to thicken. Still whisking, pour remaining butter into sauce in a slow steady stream.
Stir in lemon juice and dill. Allow the sauce to cool slightly. Gently fold in whipped cream. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Keep warm by setting over a pot of warm water.
When ready to serve, place salmon on a fish platter. Drizzle with some of the Mousseline Sauce. Pour remaining sauce into a gravy boat, and pass at the table.