Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wild BC Snapper with Tomatoes, Olives & Swiss Chard

Red Snapper is a lovely robust fish and this simple preparation using BC Wild Snapper showcases its wonderful flavour and texture. A simple tomato sauce with olives and onion sauce and some steamd swiss chard are all that's needed to make this bright and flavourful dish. A specialty of the Tuscan port of Leghorn in Livorno, this recipe reflects the ingredients of the region: fresh seafood, olives and wine. Its rich and tangy flavour is ideal for serving with fish. In keeping with with the Italian roots of this recipe, I used Taggiasche Snocciolate olives, which are very small black pitted nicoise-style olives with a distinctive, earthy taste — the pride and joy of Liguria. The region produces only a small amount of these lovely little gems, and so they're a rarity even in Liguria. I was thrilled to have found some on our last trip to Italy.

Wild BC Red Snapper with Tomatoes & Taggiasche Olives is delicious served over a bed of steamed swiss chard and a pillow of Cauliflower mash. Low in carbs and high in nutrients, puréed or mashed cauliflower is a delicious substitute for mashed potatoes. I discovered this fabulous guilt-free recipe in the South Beach Diet Cookbook, which is my 'go-to' resource when trying to shed a few unwanted pounds. Wonderfully flavourful in it's own right, Cauliflower Mash is also great used as a silky smooth purée nestled under grilled scallops, sautéed Red Snapper or any kind of fresh seafood. Buono!

Wild BC Red Snapper with Tomatoes, Taggiasche Olives & Swiss Chard
Serves 2

2 tbsp olive oil
2  8-oz BC red snapper filets, skin removed
1⁄4 cup dry white wine
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, or homemade Tomato Sauce
1⁄4 cup black Taggiasche pitted olives, whole
1⁄2 bunch parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season with snapper with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes,  then turn the fish and cook other side another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, olives, wine and half the parsley and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until fish is just cooked through, about 10–15 minutes, spooning the sauce over fish as it cooks. Serve the snapper on a warm plate, over a layer of Cauliflower Mash, Steamed Swiss Chard with the sauce spooned overtop. Sprinkle with remaining parsley for garnish and enjoy.

Cauliflower Mash
Serves 2

2 cups cauliflower florets
1 oz butter or Olivina
1 oz whole milk or light cream
pinch of salt and freshly ground black or white pepper

Steam the cauliflower until soft. Purée in a food processor, adding the butter and milk to taste. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter & Walnuts

These are incredible little brownies. Moist, dense and fudgy in the middle. Chewy on the outside with a wafer thin candy-like crust. Bon Appétit featured these decadent wee wonders on their February 2011 cover. It piqued my interest even more with the huge text proclaiming "Best-Ever Brownies," heralding an entire feature section devoted to chocolate desserts penned by none other than Alice Medrich — an author, dessert chef and chocolatier who has been affectionately called 'The First Lady of Chocolate.'

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter & Walnuts
Makes 16
Recipe by Alice Medrich 

Non-stick vegetable oil spray
10 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts pieces

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line the inside of an 8" x 8" square metal baking pan with aluminum foil, pressing foil firmly against the pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat the foil with nonstick spray. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking until the butter stops foaming, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, and immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons of water, vanilla and 1/4 generous teaspoon of salt. Stir to blend, then let cool 5 minutes. Add the eggs to the hot mixture one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until well blended. Mix in the chopped nuts, and transfer to the prepared pan, smoothing the top before baking. 

Bake for about 30 minutes or more, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. If there is still a tiny bit of moist batter at the very bottom that's okay. Remove the brownies from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum foil overhangs; then pull the aluminum foil away from the brownies and cut them into 16 square pieces. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to three days. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Orzo With Parmigiano-Reggiano and Basil

Quick, easy and delicious, this recipe for Orzo With Parmigiano-Reggiano and Basil is a sensational side dish for any occasion. A one pot wonder, the orzo is simply sautéed in butter until lightly browned then simmered with chicken broth until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. A handful of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped fresh basil are stirred in at the end, and then seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Light, luscious and full of fabulous flavour, these five simple ingredients come together as the most mouthwatering and memorable dish.

Orzo With Parmigiano-Reggiano & Basil
Serves 6

3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups orzo
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup fresh basil, washed, dried and julienned 
salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and sauté 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the orzo is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Mix in the grated parmesan and sliced basil, and season with salt and pepper. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Broccoli, Mushroom & Dill Frittata with Cheddar

Among the most classic of brunch offerings, omelettes, quiches, and frittatas are also some of the most versatile. Healthy, light and delicious, this low-carb Broccoli, Mushroom & Dill Frittata with Cheddar Cheese is simple to prepare and delicious to make anytime of the year. Italy's version of the Spanish 'tortilla', the frittata is a thick, hearty open-faced omelette with an egg base, and contains more or less anything you like: herbs, vegetables, cheeses, meat, seafood or even pasta. The beautiful thing about frittatas is that there are endless flavour possibilities. Frittatas are cooked either over very low heat on a stove, or in an oven, until the underside is set and the frittata is beautifully puffed up. Unlike an omelette, a frittata is never folded to enclose its contents, but rather is divided into slices, or cut into slender finger food-sized wedges or little squares and served with drinks as an hors d'oeuvre or tapas — 'buen provecho!'

Broccoli, Mushroom & Dill Frittata with Cheddar
Serves 4

8 large eggs
1 cup grated cheddar, feta or gruyère
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups sliced white button or crimini mushrooms
1 head of broccoli, florets only, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp herbes de Provence
salt & pepper

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the grated cheese and chopped dill, and set aside. In a medium non-stick sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high and cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the broccoli florets and sliced mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and herbs de Provence. Sauté stirring frequently until the vegetables have softened, about 4-5 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the vegetables and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, sprinkle with a little more dill, then cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the frittata has set around the edges and the middle is cooked through. If the top is still runny, place the sauté pan in the oven uncovered for 2-3 minutes, until the surface is set. Serve while hot with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice with a splash of sparkling wine for a delicious start to a Sunday morning.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sri Lankan-Style Monkfish Curry with Kari Leaves

Fish curries are among Sri Lanka's most popular dishes, which feature generous pieces of fresh fish or seafood swimming in bright, colourful, fragrantly-spiced broths, which tend to be thinner and more heavily spiced than many Indian versions. Rice is an ever-present antidote to these big flavours. A rich melting pot of cuisines. It seems every nationality that has visited and traded over the years has left its mark – the Dutch, Portuguese, English, Arabs, Malays, Moors and Indians, resulting in a cuisine that is more inclusive of non-native ingredients, brought by international trade moving through the island. 

Along the coasts, one often finds fish, shrimp, or delicate local crab which absorbs brilliant Sri Lankan spices which include fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, fennel seed, cloves, coriander, kari leaves and local cinnamon, often called Ceylon cinnamon, after the island's former name. This sensational Sri Lankan-Style Monkfish Curry with spiced tomato and coconut sauce by Jamie Oliver, combines the vivid flavours of traditional a Sri Lankan fish curry using the tail meat of meaty firm textured monkfish, very similar in taste and texture to lobster, and stands up to the robust ingredients typical of this South Asian cuisine.  

Sri Lankan-Style Monkfish Curry
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Jamie Oliver

1 lb monkfish, skinned and deboned
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 limes or lemons, zest and juice
7 oz brown or aged basmati rice
13 oz tin coconut milk

2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
2-inch piece of ginger
2 fresh green chillies
10 ripe medium tomatoes, on the vine
Vegetable oil, as required
1 small handful of fresh curry leaves
3 cardamom pods
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 knob of tamarind paste

Slice the monkfish into large chunks and pop in a non-reactive bowl, along with the turmeric, lime zest and juice and a large pinch of sea salt. Mix together to coat the fish, then leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour. 

Peel and finely slice the onions and garlic, peel and finely chop the ginger, then slice the chillies. Roughly chop the tomatoes, keeping them separate. Heat a large casserole pan over a medium–high heat and add a splash of oil, the onion, ginger, garlic, chillies and curry leaves. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onion is softened and coloured. 

Smash the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar, then stir them into the pan along with the mustard seeds, cumin, fenugreek and turmeric. Fry for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tamarind paste or syrup, the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water, then simmer for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to break down and the sauce reduces. The sauce can be covered and kept on low heat until ready to add the monkfish, adding additional water as necessary to keep the sauce loose.

Add the rice to a pan with water and a knob of butter or ghee, and cook according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, finish the sauce. 

Add the monkfish to the sauce and simmer until the fish is cooked through and opaque. Remove and discard the cardamom pods, then serve in a decorative bowl with the rice on the side.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry & Herbs

Flavour reigns supreme in this delicious combination of fresh cremini, shiitake, plump portobello and dried mushrooms cooked with dry sherry, beef stock all puréed with rich cream. But instead of puréeing all of the mushroom mixture, half of it is puréed with the half-and-half cream and then combined it with the remainder of the mushroom mixture, producing a rich, creamy and ethereal broth with thick meaty mushrooms in every bite. 

Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry & Thyme
Serves 6

4 tbsp butter
3 leeks, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves only
1 lb cremini  mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/4 lb portobello mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 tsp spicy paprika
4 cups beef stock
1 cup heavy cream, such as half and half
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp dry sherry
1/2 cup minced parsley or chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small saucepan combine the sherry, 1/2 cup of beef stock and the dried porcini. Bring to  boil, remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.

Dice the leeks and onion. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook over low heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour, stir and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms, the porcini with the soaking liquid, and salt and pepper, and continue to cook over low heat, for 7 minutes. Sprinkle in the paprika, and stir. Add the remainder of the beef stock, lower the heat to a low simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. 

Purée half of the soup in batches, in a blender or food processor. Return the mixture to the pot and gently reheat, over low heat. Stir in the cream and re-season with salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with chopped parsley, chives and a garnish of cream.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Handmade Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Full of all the wonderful flavours from the sea, nothing beats a seductive bowl of Linguine alle Vongole. An essential part of Neapolitan cuisine, this fragrant dish can be prepared two ways: 'rosso', with tomatoes or 'bianco', without. This simple, elegant and tasty recipe pairs fresh clams and a simple sauce with a special secret ingredient — anchovies — which add a hidden depth of flavour to this wonderfully satisfying dish. A classic Italian pasta, this is one of my favourite dishes to make anytime of the year.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce
Serves 6

5 dozen Manila clams
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
3 anchovies, minced
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 small cans of clams, saving the clam juice
1/2 cup white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup italian parsley, finely chopped; plus extra for garnish
1 tsp salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 pound handmade or quality store-bought linguine

Let the clams drain in cold water for at least one hour. In a large pan that will accommodate the cooked pasta, heat olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes and cook until just golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, white wine, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes. 

Place the hard shell Manila clams in a large pot with 1-inch of water and cover. Set on med-high heat and steam for about 6-10 minutes, or until the clams open. Discard the stubborn ones that remain closed. Shuck half of the cooked clams and place in a small bowl with the 2 cans of canned clams. Set aside. Reserve the remaining clams in their shells in the pot and cover. Meanwhile, reheat the sauce if you have allowed it to cool, adding the shucked and canned clams to the sauce and heat gently.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add 1 tsp of salt. Cook the linguine until tender but still firm. Drain the linguine and toss it with the sauce, mixing well to combine. Serve the linguine in individual wide rim bowls, and garnish each with the cooked clam and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Serve with some lovely crusty garlic bread and a nice chilled bottle of white wine.