Friday, 5 September 2014

AUTUMN AIR WITH A SIDE OF BROILED SALMON



What is it about September that makes one want to start anew?  Personally, I find it far more motivating than a mere New Year’s resolution. The bright fresh feel of a crisp autumn day, all the little (and big) kiddies getting ready for a brand new grade. BRAND NEW!! Wall Street humming again, after that boring August lull. The Wall Street thing means nothing to me but it makes my hubby truly happy, which due to the natural order of things, makes me truly happy.

Yes, September is indeed refreshing and invigorating. How timely, since it has recently been brought to my attention by those who love me, that I have been trudging through life rather aimlessly and without purpose of late (expressed in the most loving of terms).  It didn’t take much soul searching to realize the truth in this assessment. Thus, I have to decided to reignite myself! To release my passions and set them aflame!

This means what? A brand new recipe, of course. BRAND NEW!! With a side of fresh writing and maybe a brand new pair of earrings. Big ones. I had forgotten how much I love those things.


 
BROILED SALMON WITH A MUSHROOM & PEPPER GLAZE
A quick note on salmon. I was happy to come upon a fresh organic salmon at my favourite big box store. And though I felt somewhat virtuous about buying it, knowing all the horror stories of regular farmed salmon, something was nagging at me. It was the colour and soft flabby texture of the fish. Exactly like the usual farmed salmon most of us have experienced. Anyway, after some delving into the issue, it appears organic salmon bears little difference to regular farmed salmon and there are no strict regulations regarding it.
So without being too preachy, I would advise a nice wild salmon for this recipe, whichever variety you prefer.

Large fillet of salmon
Salt
Pepper
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 large red pepper, chopped
!/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted, rinsed and drained 
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons thai chili sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce, your favourite 
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon of cornstarch, dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water


LIne a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set salmon atop. Brush with oil and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-heat. Sauté onions, ginger and peppers until just starting to brown, stirring occasionally.

Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and add garlic. Cook for about 1 minute, being careful not to let it burn.

Add remaining ingredients up to cornstarch. Bring to a simmer.

Add the cornstarch and stir until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat and set this mixture aside.

Place the salmon under the broiler and broil for about 8 minutes, or until just barely firm to the touch. Remove from the oven, spread the mushroom mixture atop and place under broiler again, for about 1 minute, or until browned and bubbly.

And with this, a new season begins with joy.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER MAC & CHEESE

As a somewhat portly child, I recall consuming vast quantities of cheese. This was a regular pleasure; hourly on a slow Saturday. To expedite the process I would put a big chunk of cheddar in a bowl and microwave it. I would then stand at the counter and attack, hovering over the bowl until I’d devoured the entire hot, melty mess.

(This shared reminiscence incites people who profess to love me, namely my own offspring, to gleefully berate me. I guess some memories are best kept to myself.)

Later, as a teenager, I became aghast at my rapidly expanding waistline. After reading one too many weight loss plans, I gave up my beloved dairy in favour of getting into some really cool jeans. This is a time in my history that is painful to recall.

Today, however, I embrace Julia Child’s motto, “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. (Child-isms are a joy to live by.) I find myself returning to the great loves of my youth. In other words, scarfing down pretty much anything originating in a cow’s udder.

My tastes have evolved into a somewhat more sophisticated palate over the years. (Unless we’re talking leftover pasta with the fridge door open. Or Costco hot dogs. Oh my.) Anyway, I now get my cheese fix in several forms.

As in this little beauty which I’ve adapted from culinary superstar, Mollie Katzen.









ROASTED CAULIFLOWER MAC & CHEESE



  • Large head of cauliflower, cut into 1” pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 
  • 1/2 container Imperial cheese
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack, Havarti or a combination 
  • 5-6 ounces small shell pasta, such as orecchiette
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups milk, 2% or whole, heated
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, spelt is fantastic but any wholegrain is fine


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Toss the cauliflower with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay on the baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with the minced onion. Roast for about 1/2 hour or until the cauliflower is beautifully golden, gently stirring once.

Remove the tray from the oven, sprinkle with 1/2 cup parmesan and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack or Havarti  evenly over the cauliflower. Return to the oven until cheese is starting to brown slightly, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until barely al dente. Toss with a little olive oil. Set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. 

In a medium pot heat a couple tablespoons olive oil and butter together. Once butter has melted, turn the heat to low and add the garlic. Stir for a couple of seconds. Add the flour and whisk until it is incorporated and becomes a paste, cooking for a couple of minutes to remove floury taste.

Gradually add the hot milk, whisking constantly as you go. Add the salt and pepper and continue to stir until it is about as think as melted ice cream. Remove from heat and add all remaining cheeses, stirring until well blended.

Combine with the pasta and the cauliflower, making sure to get any yummy bits stuck to the bottom of the baking tray.

Transfer to a greased 8x8 baking pan. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Place on top rack in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly.


You could actually make the case that this is very healthy!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Seared Red Peppers & Zucchini with Tahini Sauce & Fresh Tomatoes


An absolute stunner of a dish. Though technically a side, I could certainly devour it completely and utterly unaccompanied...morning, noon and night.



Seared Red Peppers & Zucchini with Tahini Sauce & Fresh Tomatoes

Olive oil
3 red and/or yellow peppers
1 zucchini
Salt 
Pepper

Tahini Sauce

1/3 cup tahini
1 garlic clove, minced
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Enough water to thin, about 3 tablespoons

Topping 

2 tomatoes, diced
Parsley, coarsely chopped


Cut peppers into strips. Cut zucchini into about 1/4" slices. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil over high heat until shimmering. Add peppers and zucchini in a single layer. If pan is not big enough for this, cook in separate batches. Sear until very dark, almost blackened on each side.

Remove from pan and set on a lovely serving dish.

For the tahini, just throw everything in a food processor until well blended. Add more water or lemon juice until sauce is thin enough to drizzle over peppers.

Drizzle tahini over peppers and top with tomotoes and parsley.

Partake with great joy!!

Can be served hot or room temperature.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

SAUTEED KALE, PEPPER AND GARLIC DIP


Although this is an appetizer, please don't make too much for dinner. This delight is so darn crazy good, you won't be able to stop feasting on it! And dinner becomes an irrelevant side.





SAUTÉED KALE, ROASTED PEPPER AND GARLIC DIP



4 tablespoons olive oil
2 heads of garlic, cloves separated & peeled, but not minced
Large bunch kale, stalks removed 
Salt and pepper
3 whole roasted peppers (red, yellow or combination of), seeds removed)
3 shallots, minced
1/2 tub of herb & garlic cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup olive oil based mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Sirachaca or your favourite hot sauce
1tablespoon worcestershire
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 cup crumbled feta

Heat a large skillet and add olive oil and garlic over med-low heat. Slowly cook the garlic cloves until they are a deep golden brown, turning occasionally. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning. If they begin to get too brown, too quickly, lower the heat. You want a lovely sumptuous  buttery flavour here. It can’t be rushed.

While the garlic cooks, slice the kale into strips. Do the same with the peppers. Set aside.

When the garlic is finished browning remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon to a side plate. 

Add the kale to the now garlic infused oil. Turn the heat to medium-high, add the kale and a bit of salt and pepper and sauté until kale is just wilted, about 5-8 minutes.

Add the shallots and cook for another 2 minutes.

Blend garlic, cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, hot sauce, worcestershire and lemon zest and juice in a food processor until well combined. Add the kale, peppers and feta. Pulse gently until chopped but still a bit chunky.

Now place the dip on an oven proof platter and spread evenly. You don’t want it more than about 1” thick. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.

I served this with toasted baguette slices. But when we got too full from the bread, but didn’t want to quit feasting, we switched it up to red pepper wedges. Also delicious. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

EASY PIZZA WITH A FRESH TWIST

Joy on a Saturday night, when all you really want to do is snuggle up by the fire and binge watch The Good Wife. 





EASY PIZZA WITH THE A FRESH TWIST


I wholegrain store bought pizza crust
1/2 jar sun dried tomato pesto
Good quality organic oven dried tomatoes (store bought or homemade)
Sliced roasted red, orange, or yellow peppers (jarred is fine)
Smoked Salmon
Goat Cheese

TOPPING:

2 cups fresh greens, such as chopped baby spinach or arugula
1/2 cup organic sprouts, such as broccoli, kale or pea shoots
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 475 degrees

Spread the pesto over the pizza crust. Cover crust with remaining ingredients up to topping.

Bake on bottom rack of oven until crust is browned and cheese is melted, about 8-10 minutes. 


Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients. Top the hot pizza with the fresh greens and bite into a little heaven.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

ARTICHOKE STEAMED IN WINE with MEYER LEMON BUTTER SAUCE

To think I’ve been intimidated by artichokes all these years! Could’t have been easier!




ARTICHOKE STEAMED IN WINE with MEYER LEMON BUTTER SAUCE


2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups dry white wine
2 lemons, quartered 
Salt 
Pepper
Thyme sprigs
2 whole artichokes


!/2 cup butter
1 Meyer lemon (or any lemon will do)
1 garlic clove, minced


Bring all ingredients, up to the artichokes, to a simmer in a large pot.


For the artichoke. Give it a good rinse. Cut off the stem. Then pull off a few of the thickest leaves near the bottom and discard. Cut off about 1 inch from the top and discard. Rub top cut part of artichoke immediately with the lemon, to prevent discolouration.

Now place the artichokes, bottoms up, in the pot with the broth and wine. Let this simmer away for about 30 minutes, or until a knife inserts into the bottom easily. Remove from the broth and set aside. Artichokes are great served hot, cold or room temperature.


Meanwhile, melt 1/2 cup of butter with lemon zest and garlic. Squeeze Meyer lemon juice in the butter.

To eat: pull the leaves off the artichoke, dip in the butter sauce. Then just sort scrape the  meat off the leaf off with your front teeth. Have a separate bowl to discard the tough part of the leaf.  So much fun!


Important Note: Do NOT eat the the thorny purple section in the centre. This protects the artichoke heart (the best part). Simply scrape away the the thorny purply part and then eat the entire heart, it will be tender and delicious.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

ROASTED BROCCOLI AND KALE SALAD

I realize my most recent post was also a roasted broccoli dish (though vastly different from this recipe in every respect), but the scrumptiousness of roasted broccoli cannot be overstated. That, and the overwhelmingly positive response it received from my husband (who continues to mistakenly believe he'll enjoy the meat portion most), led to this little lovely appearing below. 


ROASTED BROCCOLI & KALE SALAD





1 bunch of broccoli, cut into florets, including stalk
1 bunch black kale, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Plenty of olive oil
Plenty of sea salt and fresh black pepper

1/2 cup pea shoots
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Zest from one lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped
1/2 bunch fresh dill, rough chopped
3 scallions, minced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss broccoli, kale, garlic, pepper flakes, olive oil, salt and pepper together. Place on a large baking sheet. Roast just until kale becomes crispy, gently tossing a couple of times. Should take about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir remaining ingredients together .

Remove broccoli and kale from oven, top with pea shoot mixture.

That's it!