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20140216-114748.jpgLove letters from the pups – including Tom! I am a lucky girl. (Buddy is confused about what year it is)

This year, for Valentine’s day, I decided to cook a repeat of the dinner I served Tom (and Buffy) our first Valentine’s day together, over twenty years ago. Simple, heart healthy and delicious. No over the top maneuvers, no interference from novice diners out, just us, at home, with candles, wine and swordfish.

The first time I made this though was well before I met Tom. I had been living in Pioneer Square in a fabulous loft apartment. There was a rooftop terrace off my bedroom the size of my living room below. I had acquired three full grown potted trees from the woman who moved away next door and had just purchased my first propane grill. It was summer in Seattle and I wanted to have a barbecue.

I worked a few days a week at Umberto’s located just down the street. I popped over there to see if I could purchase some limes for the barbecue; I had forgotten to get them at the market. The chef and I got talking about how best to cook the swordfish I would be serving. He told me the best thing to do was marinate it in orange juice concentrate mixed with whole peppercorns, then wipe dry, rub with oil and grill to a nice medium-rare.

Then, without so much as a thought, he grabbed a stainless steel pan from the rack and began making me a sauce. First came the shallots, then fresh orange juice. All the while, we chatted about food and I watched as he worked swiftly and with great authority. Once the juice had cooked down, he poured in some cream and no more than 10 minutes later, I was sent away with a container of the most delicious sauce, a priceless memory and a great new addition to my repertoire.


Although I was never given a written recipe, the sauce is adapted from a chef at Umberto’s twenty-some years ago (whose name, I sadly don’t recall). I have reduced the amount of cream from what I saw him use and Friday night I used Lemon Curd Greek yogurt from Ellenos, in the Pike Place Market (which, by the way, is unbelievably delicious and highly addictive) because I didn’t have cream.

I like to serve this with grilled haricot verts and roasted baby potatoes. I roast the potatoes in advance of cooking the fish and just heat on the grill as the swordfish is cooking. The haricot verts get treated to a toss in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper; I grill them alongside the fish.

INGREDIENTS (for the sauce) – makes enough for four

1 tsp olive oil
1 TB chopped shallot
1 cup fresh orange juice
6-8 grinds fresh pepper
2 TB fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup heavy cream (or 3 dollops creamy Greek yogurt)


Sweat the shallots over low heat in olive oil until soft (2-3 minutes).

Pour in the orange and lemon juice, grind in the pepper.

Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer. Reduce liquid to 1/3 or so (it should begin thickening).

Add the cream and continue cooking until the sauce becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Keep warm until you are ready to use.

INGREDIENTS (for mango salsa) – enough for four people

1/2 cup diced, fresh mango – skin removed
1-2 TB diced red onion – soaked in water
1 TB (or more, to taste) chopped jalapeño – seeds removed
2 TB fresh lemon juice
2 TB chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp sea salt
Fresh pepper
1/2 avocado, skin removed, diced (I didn’t have any this time but I usually like this in my salsa)


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

INGREDIENTS (for swordfish)

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper for seasoning
6 oz swordfish steaks per person (I always get sashimi grade when possible, one inch thick)
Approximately 1 cup fresh orange juice (enough to cover swordfish)
Olive oil for grilling


Season the fish with sea salt and many grinds of fresh pepper.

Place the fish in a Ziplock bag or a shallow bowl large enough to hold the fish in one layer. Pour in enough orange juice to cover (or cover part way and turn several times during marinade).

Let sit at room temperature for 1/2 hour while heating the grill.

Remove from the marinade, shaking off excess and transfer to a clean plate. Pour some olive oil over fish and rub to coat each side.

When the grill is hot, put the swordfish on and let sit undisturbed for 3-4 minutes until grill marks have formed and the fish removes freely from the grill without sticking.

Turn over and cook a few minutes more, depending on thickness. You can determine doneness by pressing the meat with your finger. The more well done, the denser and less give you will get when you press. It tastes best at medium rare, when the fish is mostly cooked through but still slightly pink in the center, very similar to a beef steak.

Serve over a pool of sauce, top fish with a spoonful of salsa.

oh, I am a lucky girl!