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.

salmon dinner

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.

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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.

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

headboard1headboard detail

 

Dinner Club – Korea

The other Saturday it was my turn to host Dinner Club. This is where a group of 8 of us (plus 2 host guests) gather for dinner and it is all about a specific country of choice (the host picks a country). The food is mostly prepared by the host and each guest brings a bottle of something to drink from that area (or surrounding area) and we each give a 2-3 minute presentation on a different topic. These topics range from economics, government, culture, arts and literature, customs etc.  It’s always a fun evening and we all go away learning something about that country.

Last night was my turn to host and I chose Korea as the country for the evening. I must say by the end of the evening I learned a great deal about a country I knew very little about. It was great and kudos to the guests for all their input!

 

Now for the food (which is pretty much what this blog is all about!)

The menu was as follows:

Salad with sesame dressing

Side dishes included – Kimchee (spicy pickled cabbage), edamame, pickled carrots and radish and sesame spinach. (Most of these items I bought – edamame is just steamed and recipe for spinach follows)

Main course – Seared miso salmon on a bed of grilled corn and steamed baby pea sprouts, Korean sizzling beef, jab chae – a sweet potato noodle with spinach and carrots in a soy marinade (a real favourite)

Dessert was fresh fruit – peaches and blueberries, green tea cookies and sesame cookies.

Recipes to follow after the photos.

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Seared Miso Salmon with Corn and pea sprouts (you can use anything as a base veg for this)

 Serves: 4 (I doubled this recipe but had extra left over)

Ingredients:

4 skinless, boneless salmon filets (I didn’t double this portion as I was serving small pieces along with the other food)

1 cup white miso

1/4 cup mirin

1/4 cup sake (I didn’t have this so left it out)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil plus a few extra drops for sautéing sprouts and corn)

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

3 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen (I grilled the cobs on the BBQ and then sliced the kernels off (yes I am Type A 😉 )

Toasted sesame seeds to sprinkled over before serving (I also crumbled some roasted nori on top)

 

Directions:

Place salmon in a shallow dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together miso, mirin, sake, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Reserve 5 tablespoons of the mixture, cover, and refrigerate. Pour remaining mixture over salmon, cover, and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

In a large nonstick pan, add ½ cup of water and a drop or two of sesame oil. Steam pea sprouts till wilted, about 2 minutes. Take sprouts out and pat dry. Add canola oil and a few drops of sesame oil to the pan. Add corn and pea sprouts and sauté another 4 minutes until flavoured. Toss in scallions and reserved miso sauce. Mix gently to warm through and set aside, keeping warm.

Heat some canola oil in the same pan. Remove salmon from marinade and shake off any excess. Place filets in a single layer in pan and sear until centre is no longer raw. Divide corn and sprout mixture among four plates and top each with a piece of salmon. Garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.

 

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Sesame Spinach

Ingredients:

1 lb. spinach, stemmed and washed (16 cups)

2 Tbs. Asian sesame oil

1 Tbs. soy sauce

Toasted white sesame seeds for garnish

1 tsp. plain rice vinegar

1 tsp. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Mix (whisk) all ingredients (except spinach) in a medium bowl.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the spinach in the boiling water, stirring, just until bright green and wilted (this doesn’t take long). Transfer the spinach to a colander. Drain well and squeeze or press out excess water. Using your fingers, loosen the spinach slightly as you transfer it to a medium bowl.

Mix the spinach with the ingredients in the bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld. Return to cool room temperature before serving. (The spinach is best served on the day it’s made). Photo is a bit blurry – my apologies but had to shoot fast as people were going to dig in!

 

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Korean sizzling beef

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

1/4  cup soy sauce

2   tablespoons sugar

2   tablespoons dry white wine

2   large garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1   tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2   teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 -2 1/2 pound beef flank steak, cut across the grain into narrow 1/4-inch-thick slices

2 scallions thinly sliced on an angle

Steamed rice, for serving

 

Directions:

Using a Ziplock bag, add all ingredients without the beef. Mix ingredients in the bag then add the thin slices of beef. Seal bag and marinate overnight turning the bag on occasion to ensure the mixture saturates the beef.

Set the BBQ to med high heat (about 300 F) and grill the beef slices (this sounds tedious but they only take about a minute per side).

Serve beef with some rice on a plate and scatter scallions over top.

Last image is the Jab Chae which I purchased as I really wasn’t sure I could make it.

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Sparrow Restaurant (Bloor Street West Toronto)

A couple of nights ago we took our friend Kim for dinner for her belated birthday. Jane and Kim were coming back to my place for a glass of wine and some nibbles after we all finished a panel at our part time gig as sensory panelists for a major grocery chain. We thought we would  just converge at my place before going out and then just walk up to Bloor Street for dinner.

We decided on a new restaurant on Bloor called Sparrow.  I had heard good reviews and none of us had been there before. I am always excited to try a new place in the “hood” as for the longest time we didn’t have any good restaurants – now we have several to choose from.

The inside renovations look great – it used to be a family style restaurant (Dr. Generosity’s) for years and before that it was the Rebel Chop House and before that, some of you may remember it as Mad Apples. They have done a complete overhaul and I thought it looked really nice.

Many of the staff are from the previous generation of restaurant and know the biz well and were fabulous.  The service was excellent as were the suggestions. The room however was quite dim and the menu had teenie tiny type all in caps so very hard to read without glasses.  Once we figured out what we were having, we ordered our meals along with a nice white Bertiolo Italian Pinot Grigio wine (we were all having a seafood dish). The wine was delicious!

Here is what we ordered:

Atlantic Salmon Riletters (Cucumber/Dill/Preserved Lemon/Red Onion/Chives/Crostini) – This was really tasty. We shared this as a starter along with warm marinated olives that were just wonderful!

salmon

 

olives

 

I ordered the PEI Mussels and both Kim and Jane ordered the Lobster Salad.

The mussels were listed as being prepared in a Junction Beer Broth with Bacon Butter, Garlic/Summer Herbs and served with Grilled Bread. While I really liked the broth I have to say I found the mussels just okay (a few of the shells were empty) and more than half of them were gritty. I don’t think I would order them again.

mussels

The Lobster Salad was made up of the following: Poached East Coast Lobster with Quinoa, Radish, Snap Peas, Horseradish and Mint. Sounds great and it tasted great, it was just the plating that had us mystified. See the picture below and you may be able to tell why….When the plate arrive all three of us wondered where the missing food was as the salad was served along one side of a large dish (I am sure working with the unique design of the plate) with a huge bare section. While the plate had a lovely design to it – it looked empty! A small green salad would have just made the plate but alas it was bare. We all thought it could have used the greenery on the plate to fill it out. Unfortunately the emptiness of the plate overshadowed the artistic arrangement of the food.

lobster salad

All in all, the wine list was great, the service wonderful, the appetizers yummy but perhaps we really didn’t order well.  A plate of lamb chops went by that looks delicious for $18. Perhaps we should have stuck to meat dishes as opposed to the seafood…..

PS – I am apologizing for the quality of the images as the lighting was quite dim and even with a flash the images were rather dark.

 

Maple Soy Glazed Salmon Salad

I had made a salmon dish for one of my food clients and had some leftovers. Since I wasn’t that hungry I decided to make a salad and use up the extra cooked salmon. The fish I had made for the dinner had a maple soy glaze that turned out really well.

Simple recipe – mix in a ziploc bag – 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 2 tbsp of soy sauce (I use low sodium), 2 garlic cloves crushed or minced and some black pepper. At the last minute I tossed in a ginger cube that was frozen (equivalent to 1 tsp). The cube didn’t melt so I don’t think it contributed to the flavour. Put your salmon in the bag and marinate for about 15-20 minutes.  Then sear it till it begins to caramelize on one side. As you see the flesh turn that light orange colour when it is cooked, flip it over and cook till the other side is also that light orange and darkened on the outer side. Just takes about 15 minutes in total depending on the thickness of your piece of fish.

I happen to really like cold salmon especially in salads to add as a protein. This time I made the salad with romaine lettuce, baby cucumbers, sweet grape tomatoes and some goat cheese.

It worked out very well. I was full but not stuffed.  Try it – I think you will enjoy it.  Use whatever dressing you like on the salad.

The beauty is you can have the salmon for dinner one night and then lunch or dinner the next day with the leftovers but as a completely different flavour.

salad

Brunch with Elizabeth and David

My friends Elizabeth and Dave are busy people. Trying to organize a get together is not easy, so when someone has a day free we jump on it.  The other Saturday afternoon we gathered for brunch at their place.

Brunch is one of my favourite meals because it is usually laid back, spent with friends and served with delicious food. Does it get any better?

This day was no exception. While Dave may have been worried that the brunch wasn’t over the top enough I am here to say it was outstanding!  Perfect meal to enjoy with friends and just kick back and have a good yak.

Brunch was an avocado dish that I thought was quite brilliant and have to try making.  We had avocado mixed with baby shrimp put back into the avocado shell which it was served in (so smart!). Beautiful tri-coloured tomatoes (one of my favourite things) and a touch of smoked salmon on the side.  It screamed springtime even though it was only 1 degree outside and pretty darn cold (if you can’t get your fill of spring with the weather you may as well get it with your food 😉 ).

Take a look at how beautiful this brunch was.  2 hours later we were talked out and we all had other stuff to get done. I left with a big smile on my face and the feeling of warmth and contentment.

brunch

Asparagus Risotto at Suzanne’s

The other night I was looking through the fridge and realized there was nothing to make for dinner. Coming to the realization that I may be eating a peanut butter sandwich that night, I was contemplating what to do when the phone rang. It was my friend Suzanne asking me if I want to come to an impromptu dinner at her place.  She too said she didn’t have anything to make which leads to her fall back meal of risotto.

I haven’t made risotto in ages but Suzannes is out of this world.  She went out and got some scallops and seared them to serve with the asparagus risotto.  It was a meal fit for a queen, so good with freshly grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and a fabulous baby spinach salad made by another friend Ginny.

There are many variations on risotto but the main thing is to use a starchy rice like arborio and slowly add liquid until absorbed – including a cup of white wine 😉

You can add all kinds of ingredients – salmon, vegetables, mushrooms etc.  Good way to use up ingredients in the fridge…..

risotto

I always forget about making risotto but after this meal trust me when I say it is now at the forefront of my mind.  Thank you my friend for a fabulous evening!

Summer dinner with Fern and Ian

Fern is my oldest friend – we have known each other since we were 8 years old (just a few years ago really 😉 )

I took a half day off work on a Friday and hung out with Fern in her lovely swimming pool after which we made dinner for her family . It was a lovely day with a perfect ending – good food and good company.

The menu was simple – fresh salad topped with feta, mixed red and white quinoa with grilled onion, red pepper and a bit of parmesan cheese, grilled marinated salmon and fresh corn on the cob just boiled.  While simple, the food was fresh and delicious.  Cooking with friends is a great way to spend time.

summer dinner at Fern and Ians

red & white quinoa and veg

salad with feta

Dinner at Jane’s

Had a wonderful dinner at my friend Jane’s the other night along with another friend Jocelyn.  We sat out in the garden on a perfect evening eating until we started clearing dishes and I freaked out about the bees (yes many of you know I am somewhat bug phobic….).  Inside we went for a pretty spectacularly presented dessert of fresh fruit and a trifle (and some more wine….)

Dinner was salmon steamed in parchment with vegetables (recipe from the cookbook French Women don’t Get Fat), baby potatoes and perfectly ripe deliciously meaty tomatoes with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. So so good!

raw salmon

salmon in parchment 2

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triffle