Salmon Platter

I spent last weekend at my friend Victorias place where as I have mentioned we have discussions that try to solve the issues facing the world including economic, political and social affairs. If only we ruled the world – I think it would be a better place ;-).

Kidding aside we also always cook up some wonderful meals which is really what this blog is about. This time we did a salmon platter with some fabulous salmon fillets we got on sale.

Victoria has a great cast iron platter that we roasted some potatoes on (after parboiling them first to soften them), grilled some asparagus – fresh picked (by Victoria) and a lovely salmon tail fillet.

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The salmon turned out super moist and layers just peeled away. It was delicious.  We had marinated it with a bit of dijon mustard and maple syrup (1 tbsp of dijon and 2 tbsp of syrup). The potatoes were parboiled then put on the oiled platter and the asparagus was also done in the oven with everything else.

The potatoes took about ½ hour to roast (although I think in hindsight I would have gone a bit longer – perhaps 45 minutes at 375 degrees C). Everything else was in at 375 for about 15 minutes. The salmon was turned once at about the 10 minute mark.

I think the secret is that you put the cast iron platter in while the oven is heating up so it is hot when everything is placed on it. That seemed to make a difference in the timing as well.

After the 15 minutes we put everything on a platter and sprinkled the asparagus and the potatoes with parmesan peels then squeezed some lemon on top.  The perfect meal in my books.  It was absolutely delicious. I could tell because there was nothing left when we were done.

Lunch at Good Fork (Toronto)

I have blogged about this restaurant before for breakfast or brunch I believe but I had a perfect lunch there the other day with my friend Kevin.

I was hungry but didn’t want a really heavy lunch so I opted for what is on the menu as “Anatolian delight” (I think that was it). The lunch included a bowl of delicious red lentil soup – thick and creamy and tasting of wonderful middle eastern spices. The bowl comes with a small container of olives, a small tomato and cucumber salad and another small bowl of the creamiest crumbled feta I have ever had.  I put some of the cheese into the soup and mixed it in. The meal also comes with a wonderful long flat piece of bread (actually it comes with two of these but it really only needs one). I put some of the feta on small pieces of the bread and it was out of this world.

Good Fork soup

It was such a good lunch and all for $12. I think that is a pretty good deal.

Good Fork restaurant is located on Bloor Street West just  east of Jane Street).  http://goodfork.ca

It’s a definite recommend!

 

Cooking with friends

Recently I was visiting my friend Victoria in the Peterborough area and we always get into cooking when I go to spend a couple of days there (We also talk about financial ideas, the economy, the psychology of people – great brain work out). Anyway, we decided to do a combo dinner where I would bring the soup and she would make the salad. I made my homemade vegetable soup with beans sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese- recipe below.

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…and Victoria made a wonderful spinach, pear and caramelized walnut salad.  Perfect dinner. The salad was from the cookbook called “The Pollan Family Table” by none other that Tracey Pollan (remember her – married to Michael J. Fox and starred in Family Ties? – click on link above for recipe).

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Vegetable soup recipe:

Talk about hearty! I used the vegetables that were in the fridge and usually I add some pasta to this soup but thought I would add white beans to give it more protein and fibre.

Ingredients

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 sliced medium sized carrots

2 sliced stalks of celery

2 small onions chopped

1 tetra pak of vegetable broth

1 large can of low sodium diced tomatoes

1 can of navy white beans

1.5 tbsp brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 handful of chopped kale (I buy a fabulous product called “Chopped Greens” which is a bag of frozen chopped and cooked kale.  I add it to everything and it is wonderful! – use as much as you want)

 

Directions

In a saucepan add the olive oil and the diced onions. Stir till translucent. Add the chopped carrots and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes. Then add the diced tomatoes. Stir well and then add the vegetable stock. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Stir this and let it simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes. Then add the kale (since it is already cooked it doesn’t need as long). Cook for another 15-20 minutes and then add the canned beans. Sprinkle in the brown sugar (takes some of the acidity out of the tomatoes and adds a slightly sweet note to the soup). Let this simmer all together for another 10-15 minutes and you have a wonderful hearty soup.

I served it with some shaved parmesan on top and it was perfectly filling and warming. Just what you need on these cold cold days.

 

Breakfast the next day was one of my favourites.

I have developed a craving for poached eggs. I always loved them but used to make egg whites for breakfast every morning. Now I make a poached egg on a slice of toast with a bit of cheese as my go to brekkie every day.  The whole egg has all kinds of things that are good for you and if cholesterol is not an issue then I say go for it.  Keeps me feeling satiated until lunch. This time we shared an english muffin (whole wheat) and I used some baldersons 4yr old white cheddar cheese with a couple of slices of avocado. YUM!!!

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A Dinner Fit for a Fancy Restaurant

I’m not going to tell you where I had this superb meal….I want you to guess (okay I’ll tell you at the end of the post). The only hint is that I was dining at the home of my wonderful friends (who cook amazingly – that should give you a hint).

We started the meal with an appetizer that my friend (who shall remain nameless till the end) came up with in the car on her way home. She took meatballs that they made the day before with a rich tomato sauce and put one into a large cremini mushroom cap and topped it with some Jarlsberg cheese (and jalepeno peppers on a couple). Baked them and then served one on a small plate of baby arugula.  Amazing appetizer and not hard to make. I will be doing these at my next dinner party I think.

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Next her husband (who shall also remain nameless till the end) prepared pork chops Milanese (egg wash and bread crumbs with parmesan cheese – no flour). He pounded the chops till half the thickness and then seared them and into the oven. The side dish was roasted jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes. Surprisingly you leave the skin on and slice like a potato and wash with a bit of olive oil and a touch of thyme and roast in the oven.

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These had such a delicate flavour. They were delicious.

Along with this we had steamed baby bok choy with a little garlic and olive oil and then broth added to steam them. Yum!

The whole meal put together was once again outstanding. My favourite “restaurant” never ceases to amaze me.

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Did you guess Ted and Judy’s place?  If you did you would be absolutely correct!

Shepherds Pie

As I was recovering from being quite ill for a few weeks I started craving shepherds pie – don’t ask me why but it was all I wanted to eat.  Strange but true. Even now as I am pretty much back to normal, I still feel a craving to eat it. Must be a comfort food thing.  Anyway I decided to make a few containers of it so that I could freeze it for when I just had to have it again.

I do put a slight twist on the traditional pie. The secret which makes it very healthy is adding a can of lentils to the ground meat. It adds to the volume and fibre but also the taste. I also added a spice paste called harissa, a middle eastern spice combination that gives a slightly spicy (heat) note to your food. Another addition was about a tablespoon of hoisin for a slight sweet note. Then there is the topping…I added shredded parmesan to the top of the potato before putting in the over to bake.

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Shepherds pie

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1.5 tbsp Harissa paste

1 tbsp Hoisin sauce

1/4 cup low fat yogurt

1 can cooked lentils

Potato – white not yukon – 1 per person

Shredded parmasean cheese

 

Directions

Sauté onion in a large pan till browned (tip – I add a pinch of brown sugar to help it caramelize). Add garlic and sauté till cooked but not burnt.

Add ground beef (or turkey), mix and cook till lightly browned. Add frozen mix veg and cooked lentils, harissa and hoisin. Mix well. Cook on stovetop till well browned and veg is no longer frozen.

Peel potatoes and chop into even pieces. Boil or microwave until soft. Transfer to a large bowl or mixer, add yogurt and mix with a mix master or hand held mixer till light and fluffy and mashed.

Add a punch of salt to taste if you like (I don’t add salt as the cheese on top adds enough salt for my liking).

Put meat mixture into a pan, or glass container (I divided it into four double serving glass containers so I could freeze it). Spread the mash potato on top of each container and sprinkle parmasean over top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes till slightly browned. Serve warm or let cool, cover and freeze.

Salmon, peppers and arugula

I had one of those evenings where I knew I was going to make some salmon but didn’t know what to have with it. I looked through the fridge and didn’t see much so I went for a walk to the green grocer up the street and picked up some peppers and arugula. Couldn’t resist them – they looked so fresh and colourful.

I came home and thinly sliced up an orange pepper along with a leek. I sautéed them till wilted and then threw in a handful of baby arugula to wilt it.  I turned the burner off so the heat that was left in the pan wilted the arugula nicely.

I did a quick maple and dijon glaze for the salmon and put it in the toaster oven for about 12 minutes then placed the fish over the peppers, arugula and leeks, sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top and dinner was ready in about 20 minutes.  How easy is that!

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I only managed to eat half and shared a small taste with my cat who was quite happy to indulge as well ;-). Now I don’t have to think about lunch tomorrow.

Fabulous Tuna Dinner

Well it was dinner with Ted and Judy again last night – my favourite “restaurant” ;-). I can’t get over the cooking that these friends do! So last night we had a starter of mussels which where so good I totally forgot to photograph them as we just dove into the bowls. Trust me they were delicious.

The rest of the meal was no exception. Actually I have to backtrack….I was starving when I got to T&J’s place as I had forgotten to eat lunch. Judy had some smoked salmon which she artfully put on top of a tiny dollop of hungarian cream cheese (made with paprika – yes it was awesome) on a  thin slice of left over roast potato. Topped with a couple of capers it was an appetizer fit for any restaurant.

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Later we had the mussels followed by a tuna dinner that was out of this world! Ted got some sushi grade tuna from a local fish monger and covered it in sesame seeds with a bit of black pepper ground on top.

 

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He seared it for 3 minutes per side in a hot cast iron frying pan. Prior to cooking, Ted made a small dish of sauce to go with the tuna. Mix the ingredients below and add to taste. It really does take on a different taste though once you drizzle it over the cooked tuna.

1 tbsp sesame oil

3-4 tbsp soy sauce

½ – 1 tsp wasabi paste to taste

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

Along with the tuna Judy made her secret mashed potatoes – all I can tell you is there is some butter and her secret weapon is a mix master ;-). They are the smoothest creamiest potatoes ever.

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The salad Judy came up with (so creative) was made with the following ingredients:

Red tipped boston lettuce (beautiful looking)

Cubed field tomatoes (from the farmers market that day)

Cubed bocconcini cheese, 4-5 pieces

1 whole diced/cubed avocado

4-5 sun dried tomatoes chopped with a lime infusion (lime juice squeezed over to moisten)

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients (not the lettuce leaves) and pour the juice of one lime over them and mix/stir. Then put into individual boston lettuce “cups”/leaves

The tuna was timed perfectly for when the salad and potatoes were done. Plated, it looked fit for royalty. What an outstanding meal! I of course got to take home the leftovers. Thanks again to my favourite restaurant!

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Vancouver Island Holiday


I just spent a week out on Vancouver Island with my cousin Rebecca – what a fabulous week! Aside from the most perfect weather, she has just purchased the most perfect house. It’s a heritage home that was “floated” over from Victoria a few years back.

Rebecca is planning on having a B&B at the house and I can’t think of a better place to be. The house has so much character and Vancouver Island is so beautiful. This was a sort of working holiday as I was helping to get things done around the house.  My cousin has some beautiful art that needed hanging so we put up at least a dozen pictures, a beautiful carving of loons and a gorgeous hand made wall hanging.  I also built a headboard from an old door that was left outside (solid oak – they don’t make doors like that anymore).

Now for the food….

Salmon, seafood and more salmon.  It doesn’t get any better than heading down to the fishing boat and buying some salmon for dinner. We had salmon in scrambled eggs for breakfast, in omelettes, seared salmon and BBQ’d salmon. Oysters that were half the size of my palm were $9 for 14!!! And oh so fresh.

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Farm fresh eggs and salmon and grilled potatoes for breakfast

One night we had maple salmon with boiled potatoes and sea asparagus. Some of you may remember I talked about sea asparagus in an older post – I had never heard of them and here they were growing wild at the waters edge right in front of her home!  We picked them and soaked them and I sautéed them with some garlic to put over the salmon.  Yummy meal. We had some fresh tomatoes that a neighbour brought over that day from their garden.  We decided this was a 10 mile meal (as opposed to a 100 mile version)

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Sea asparagus growing wild

 

 

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Soaking in water as they are very salty

 

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Wild Pacific Salmon

 

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Yum!

My cousin Rebecca is a champion pie maker and since blackberries grow wild everywhere around the island where she lives she made a blueberry and blackberry pie that was outstanding.  We had it my last night at a dinner party given by Kim and Tom with Mary Jo and Veer. What a great night – drinking blackberry wine and eating fresh BBQ’d salmon with oysters. What a great week with great people!

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Before going into the oven

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Baked – what an incredible smell!

 

See below for pics of the house and the neat headboard (yes I am proud of it) 😉

Rebecca's house

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“Chicks-in-Charge” Lunch

We had a gathering of our “Chicks-in-Charge” group a bit earlier than usual as one of our long standing members was going away for 8 months and we wanted to have a catch up before she left. (This is our group of about 8-10 women who run their own business) As usual our host Sheryl outdid herself with lunch. She wouldn’t let any of us bring anything other than side items.

Sheryl prepared a lunch fit for a group of special people (which I think everyone in the group is). We had roasted red and yellow pepper shells filled with red quinoa, a lovely salad, roasted potatoes and artichoke hearts (couldn’t stop nibbling at these – oh so good). Dessert was some sweet items one of the “chicks” brought.

It was a perfect lunch on a lovely summer day – who could ask for anything more?

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Dinner at the Neighbours

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to dinner at one of the neighbours whom I had known for years but never really socialized with. Well I was definitely missing out on great people!  Pina and Dan (and another of the neighbours Mireille) put on a great spread of grilled yakitori chicken skewers with steamed vegetables and roasted tri-coloured potatoes.  What a perfect summer meal!!!  We ate outside and enjoyed great company, great food and great wine (Mireille brought a very nice wine that was just perfect with the meal. It was a white with a slight sparkle to it – “Gazela”).

Dan BBQ’d the chicken skewers brilliantly using foil to avoid burning the wooden skewers.  The meal was finished off with delicious cookies homemade by Emily (Pina and Dans daughter).  What a great evening!

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