Mar 112014
 

What a treat!

Close up shot of salmon candy on a green plate

If you’ve never heard of salmon candy before, I’m not really surprised. It’s not something you see every day. You won’t find it in the grocery store, or even in most specialty food stores. It started out as a way for Native North Americans in the Pacific Northwest to preserve their salmon, but now it’s just a super tasty and very addictive snack! Salmon candy is made from the belly of Pacific salmon. The salmon is broken into chunks and then placed in a salt brine with sweet ingredients like honey, molasses and brown sugar for several hours. After brining, it is hot-smoked slowly until fully cooked. Salmon jerky is smoked and dried so much that it is chewy and “tuggable”, but salmon candy is soft, sweet, smoky and just plain delicious.

I had the pleasure of working with some salmon candy this week from my friends at Anderson Seafoods and found so many different ways to use it. It works in pasta, in scrambled eggs, in a green salad, as an hors d’oeuvre, with hot potato salad, with lentils and green beans… the list is endless. I loved using it in so many different ways, but I have to admit… my favorite way to eat it was just on a toothpick! Leave it out on a platter of nibbles, and I bet it’s the first to go!

Lucky for you, you’ll be able to get your hands on some of this high-end salmon delicacy through QVC on Wednesday, March 12th at 4pm ET. Don’t miss your chance!

(click on the links above for recipes!)

 

Feb 152014
 

Steelhead trout with melted butter, honey bell zest and parsley on top. Roasted fennel and carrots and broccoli in the background.

 

A fillet of Steelhead trout looks a lot like a fillet of salmon. Why is that? Well, because Steelhead is a fish that acts like salmon: it eats krill in the ocean and migrates from the ocean into freshwater to spawn. As a result, it has an appearance and flavor much like salmon. What’s the advantage of Steelhead trout? It’s a responsible choice with respect to sustainable fishing, is ranked as a “best choice” on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch List and is less expensive than salmon! 

A Honeybell looks a lot like an orange. Why is that? Because a Honeybell is a citrus fruit hybrid cross between a Dancy tangerine and a Duncan grapefruit. It looks like a bright orange bell shaped orange. What’s the advantage of a Honeybell? It’s unbelievably sweet and is filled with juice. While it is delicious to eat, it produces so much juice and its zest is such a beautiful color, that it is a joy to cook with.

In this recipe, I put these two ingredients together and it was a lovely match. A little bright, sunshine-of-a-meal in the middle of winter.

 

Steelhead Trout Poached in White Wine with Honeybell Butter

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • ½ small onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 Honeybell
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 fillets Steelhead trout
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine the white wine, bay leaves, peppercorns, onion slices and fresh thyme sprigs in a sauté pan. Slice half the Honeybell into slices and add the slices to the sauté pan. Bring the liquid to a simmer and simmer very gently for 10 minutes.
  2. While the poaching liquid is simmering, season the trout with salt and set it aside.
  3. Make the Honeybell butter. Zest and juice the remaining half a Honeybell and combining the zest and juice with the softened butter in a small bowl. Beat together until well mixed and season to taste with salt and pepper. Shape the butter into two flat disks or other shape and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
  4. Then gently place the fish into the sauté pan. Top the pan up with hot water so that the fish is covered. Poach, with the liquid simmering very gently, for 6 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch.
  5. Remove the fish from the pan with a spatula and plate with a piece of the Honeybell butter on top.

 

For more recipes using Steelhead Trout, visit my QVC recipe page here.

Jan 222014
 

A large round orange ceramic dish with Moussaka in it. A stack of plates in the background

It’s rare that I find a vegetarian version of a classic dish that I like as much as the original version, but this is one of those rare occasions! This version of the Greek classic, Moussaka uses portobello mushrooms instead of beef and it’s delicious. There’s a hint of cinnamon, but not so much to be overwhelming. It’s a not a recipe for those who don’t really like to cook, for the prep involved in putting the Moussaka together has several steps, but served with a Greek salad, it makes a perfect meal for a cold winter day.

Vegetarian Moussaka

Serve 4 to 6

 Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into ½-inch rounds
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces Crimini or Portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano OR 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup white wine (optional)
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

 Directions:

  1. Prepare the eggplant slices by sprinkling salt on both sides, and placing the slices onto a paper towel. Cover the eggplant with another piece of paper towel and set aside for 30 minutes. (This is to help extract some of the bitter enzymes in the eggplant.) While the eggplant is soaking, pre-heat the oven to 400ºF. Brush any extra salt off the eggplant and brush both sides with olive oil. Bake on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, flip the slices over and bake for another 12 to 15 minutes or until the eggplant is tender and cooked through.
  2. Make the sauce while the eggplant is baking. Pre-heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the onion, carrots and celery until tender – about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms and dried spices and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the white wine (if using) and crushed tomatoes. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly – about 15 minutes.
  3. Make the cheese sauce topping. Pre-heat a saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the flour, whisking for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and bring the mixture to a boil so that it thickens. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and let it cool just a little, then whisk in the egg.
  4. Assemble the Moussaka. Place half of the eggplant slices in the bottom of a 2-quart ceramic baker. Pour half of the sauce on top. Sprinkle the Parmesan and feta cheeses over the casserole. Place the remaining eggplant slices on top. Pour the remaining sauce on top. Finally, pour the cheese sauce topping over everything.
  5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let the Moussaka cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

Dec 022013
 

I made this gratin for American Thanksgiving this year and it really stood out to me as a great way to make a gratin without all the milk and cream. It was inspired by a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine and I really loved the briny caper flavor in it. It’s definitely a keeper!

Close up shot of the cross section of a potato gratin. Capers visible

Sicilian Potato Gratin

(Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine, March 2008)

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and very thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus a little more for the top of the gratin)
  • ¼ cup finely grated Manchego cheese (or any hard Cheddar)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup best-quality chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. While the oven is pre-heating, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the onions until they are tender, but not browned. This will take about 10 minutes.
  2. Use a mandolin or slicer to slice the potatoes into uniformly thin slices and set aside. Combine the cheeses in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Rub the garlic clove all over the interior surface of a 9-inch square cake pan or ceramic dish.
  4. Start layering the gratin in the following order: 1/3 of the potato slices, salt and pepper, half the onions, 1 tablespoon of capers, and 1/3 of the grated cheeses. Repeat. Repeat one last time without adding the onions (they should be all used up by this point). Pour the chicken stock into the dish and push down on the potatoes firmly. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and cover with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for roughly 60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Uncover, sprinkle a little more grated Parmesan cheese on top, and brown the top for another 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and let it sit for a little while to set up. (You may find that there is some excess liquid in the pan. You can drain that off later.)
Oct 192013
 
shredded brussels sprouts slaw on a square platter

(missing the red onion, which I was unexpectedly out of when I made this version!)

I served this Brussels Sprouts dish at Canadian Thanksgiving this year. Celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving in October always gives me a chance to try recipes before American Thanksgiving, and this one was a winner. There are so many flavors going on in the Thanksgiving meal, that this cold crisp vegetable salad with salty Locatelli cheese was a refreshing welcome and accompaniment to the mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkey and gravy. Plus, it’s great in a sandwich the next day. Bonus.

 

Brussels Sprouts with Fennel, Radishes, Red Onion, Parsley and Locatelli Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Raw ingredients - radishes, Brussels sprouts, fennel and parsley

  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced, soaked in water and rinsed
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 bunch radishes, julienned
  • Locatelli (or Pecorino) cheese, shredded (as much or as little as you’d like)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

 

Directions:

  1. Slice all the vegetables in very thin slices. Start with the red onion because you should soak the red onion in cold water for at least 20 minutes to take away some of the harsh flavor. You can do this while you slice the other vegetables.  Mix the vegetables, the parsley leaves and the Locatelli cheese shavings together in a bowl.
  2. In a small bowl combine the mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar. Blend well to dissolve the mustard and salt. Add the olive oil and check your seasoning, seasoning again if need be. (Remember the Locatelli cheese is quite salty.)
  3. Toss the vegetables in the vinaigrette and serve.  This is quite tasty the next day too.

 

Oct 072013
 

close up bowl of pasta with sauce mixed in

I am a sucker for pasta. Given my own way, I would have pasta at least twice a week. I love it because it’s so versatile, but I have to admit that more often than not, I turn to only a handful of  recipes when I’m making a pasta. Of course I love a good marinara and a great bolognese pasta, but one of my absolute favorite pasta recipes is the one that follows. The tomato sauce is rich, the Italian sausage is spicy, the peppers are sweet and the artichokes add another dimension altogether. I think it’s just difficult for me to pass on an opportunity to enjoy this combination, so I return to it over and over again… very happily!

 

Rotini with Italian Sausage, Artichokes, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Peppers

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8.5-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
  • 1 14-ounce jar artichokes (marinated or water packed), drained
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried rotini or other shaped pasta
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the crumbled sausage and cook until cooked through – about 5 minutes. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add the peppers, garlic and red pepper flakes to the sauté pan and sauté for 10 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
  3. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Add the crushed tomatoes, return the sausage to the pan and bring to a simmer again.
  4. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini and artichokes and continue to cook for 20 minutes, or until everything has warmed through and reduced somewhat. Add the fresh tomatoes and warm through. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil.
  6. Cook the pasta until it is al dente and then strain. Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve with grated Parmesan cheese at the table.

 

Sep 302013
 
a stack of sandwiches on a plate, one cut open in half, a pot of jam and a glass of milk

photography by Jessica Walker

 

This is a sandwich that I treat myself to only every now and then. The memory of it lingers and lasts for a long time. Adding the fresh raspberries really sends it over the edge. I can’t decide if this sandwich should be eaten in the morning, for lunch, or late at night.  Either way, it’s sure to be a sandwich you won’t soon forget either!  It’s delicious and decadent, and makes an excellent dessert, cut into quarters. Get the milk ready!

 

Sweet Chocolate and Berry Sandwich

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices cinnamon raisin bread
  • ½ cup chocolate hazelnut spread
  • ½ cup raspberry jam
  • 24 raspberries
  • Butter, softened

Directions:

  1. Spread the butter on one side of all 8 slices of bread.  Assemble the sandwiches by placing the bread slices butter side down on a work surface.  Divide and spread the chocolate hazelnut spread on four of the slices of bread.  Divide and spread the raspberry jam on the other four slices of bread.  Press the raspberries into the four slices of chocolate covered bread, and top with the jam covered slices.
  2. Pre-heat a skillet or griddle (ideally square in shape) over medium heat.  Add the assembled sandwiches and fry on both sides until nicely browned – about 3 – 4 minutes.  Enjoy with a tall glass of milk!

 

Sep 242013
 

a wedge of sticky toffee pudding on a china plate with sauce dripping down the sides

Oh, Sticky Toffee Pudding… why are you so good?

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
    For the Sauce:
  • ½ cup turbinado sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place the dates into a small saucepan with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes or until soft. Then, remove the pan from the heat and add the baking soda. (The mixture will foam and then settle down again. The baking soda will help break down the skins of the dates so they more easily become a uniform part of the pudding later on.) Remove from the heat and let the dates cool.
  3. Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix in the vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this mixture to the creamed butter mixture and stir in the cooled dates. Transfer the pudding mixture to the 10-inch sauté pan and send it to the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. It should feel firm in the center but give a little.
  5. While the pudding is in the oven, make the sauce by combining the sugar, butter and heavy cream and simmering until it is a golden caramel color and slightly thickened.
  6. Turn out the sticky toffee pudding while it is still warm and pour the sauce over the top to drench it!

 

 

Jul 182013
 
The view of Monte Carlo from the east

The view of Monte Carlo from the east

My first visit to France was after my first year of university. My parents had moved overseas when I graduated from high school. I went off to university, and they emigrated to Monaco. I used to joke that I was just glad they had told me where they were going!

During that summer after my freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to visit them at their new home, and spent two weeks in Monaco and France with my best friend, Tanya. I have many fond memories of that first visit to France, one of which remains a favorite food memory of mine to this day.

It happened one night near the end of our visit. Continue reading »

May 182013
 
Spaghetti with tuna, tomatoes, capers, basil, olives in a white bowl

Spaghetti with Tuna Putanesca Sauce

As I often have the pleasure to do, I’ve been eating a lot of fresh fish from Anderson Seafoods lately. The fish from Anderson Seafoods is one of my favorite food items to present on QVC. The fact that it arrives at my door fresh (never been frozen) always astonishes me, and that freshness comes through when you cook and eat it. Absolutely delicious!

Then there’s the health aspect. No other part of my work life leaves me feeling as healthy as working with Anderson Seafoods! Continue reading »