Champagne Taste on a Bar (Get it? It’s a law joke…) Budget

As a general rule, carbonation and I aren’t the best of friends.  Two sips into a beer and I feel like I’m full.  And soda makes me a giggly mess, as far too many stealthily-taken videos on friends’ phones will attest (no, I have not forgotten that you have them, and I will never give up on deleting them)!  But there is one carbonated drink, one beautiful nectar of the gods, that I love with all my heart– Champagne.  Or prosecco, I’m not picky.  If it’s wine-y and bubbly, it will suffice.  And I will take any excuse to drink some.  Happy Hour with a friend?  Why wouldn’t you drink a mimosa in the evening??  Brunch?  Don’t mind if I do.  Oh, this cupcake has champagne frosting on it?  I’d like to introduce that cupcake to my tastebuds, thankyouverymuch.  So when I came across a recipe that had “champagne” in the title not once but twice, I knew we were destined to be great friends.

Hello, you beautiful doll

Hello, you beautiful doll

Another great love that I share with BF is salmon.  He’s from the West Coast, so it makes sense that he’s a wild-caught purist.  To him, it’s not summer without fresh salmon, and I feel the same way.  As an upstate New Yorker,  I have no geographic reason to be so devoted to fresh salmon, but I love it nonetheless.  But BF and I are not exactly rolling around on our bed in a giant pile of money– grad school has definitely seen to that.  So when we came across some wild-caught frozen salmon on sale in Giant last week, we decided this was probably as close as we were going to get to the real deal and we went for it.

What can champagne and salmon do together that they can’t do apart?  What can’t these two greats do together?  Add in shallots and you’ve basically got the culinary equivalent of the moment in Captain Planet when everyone puts their rings together.

The original site I got this recipe from plugs it as a healthy recipe.  While it’s not awful, I’m not sure I’d sell it as health food either.  But switching out the cream for something lighter (in my case skim milk) and upping the reduction time to compensate leaves you with a fairly healthy option.  And if you pair it with sautéed spinach your plate will look even healthier!  Plus you’ll be doing nice things for your brain (spinach and salmon are both great for brain health), and that’s always a winner– you’re gonna get old someday, might as well treat your brain cells well while you’ve got ’em!

Note: I adjusted this for two of us, and for lack of fresh dill and champagne vinegar.  Basically that means I used 1 1/2 cups of champagne to poach the salmon and tossed in dried dill until it looked right.  I mostly left the sauce as it was, except for using only one shallot because my tear-ridden eyes couldn’t take it any more.

So many tears.  And yes, that's Cook's champagne.  You're cooking with it, don't bother going pricey (Get it?  COOKing? hardy har har)

So many tears. And yes, that’s Cook’s champagne. You’re cooking with it, don’t bother going pricey (Get it? COOKing? hardy har har).

Champagne Poached Salmon with Champagne Cream Sauce

2 cups champagne
1 shallot, chopped
3 sprigs fresh dill
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 (5 oz) salmon fillets

2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup champagne
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp champagne vinegar


Add the Champagne, shallots, dill sprigs, salt, and pepper to a skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Gently simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the fish to the pan and spoon the poaching liquid over them. Cook uncovered until the salmon is firm and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan using a slotted spatula.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the shallots and champagne. Bring to a boil and cook until almost all liquid evaporates, about 4-6 minutes. Add the heavy cream, bring to a boil and simmer until cream thickens and coats the back of a spoon, and is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the butter until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt, pepper, and vinegar and serve immediately over salmon.

Sautéed spinach is the easiest thing ever.  Drizzle and heat some oil in a skillet, toss in some minced garlic if you’d like (yes please) and cook it up for a few minutes.  Then toss in a BUNCH of spinach.  A whole big bunch, because it’s going to cook down more than you ever thought possible.  Cook it until it’s wilted and you’re good to go!  Don’t make your spinach until everything else is close to being done.  It cooks down quickly and gets cold and gross fast– this is definitely a dish best served hot!

Perks of cooking with champagne-- getting to having to drink what's left!

Perks of cooking with champagne– getting to having to drink what’s left!

I’m discovering that most of my photos of food also have BF in them– good thing he’s so cute!  And plugging our alma mater never hurts either (Go Continentals– thanks for all the free t-shirts)!