Rock the Leftovers: Halibut Edition

IMG_4326

Last weekend I was in my hometown for a short visit. My parents, who regularly read this blog, made a delicious dinner on Friday night including insanely fresh halibut, roasted on the BBQ in tinfoil, and delicious homemade bread from the bakery.

After having read my Rock the Leftovers: Taco Edition post, the big joke was how I’d take remaining food from this meal (if there was any) and turn it into something. Well, the next day, I was craving brunch. So I ventured into the world of fishcakes, using the strange array of products in my mother’s fridge, and came up with a very satisfying meal: lemon-basil halibut fish cakes with makeshift Dijon tartar sauce, served with homemade brown bread toast.

Yum.

Here is what went in my fishcakes:

Cooked halibut, flaked

Finely chopped onion

Finely chopped homemade white bread (or use breadcrumbs)

Two eggs

Very finely chopped fresh garlic

Chopped fresh basil

Dash of chilli powder

Squeeze of fresh lemon

Salt & Pepper

Here is what went in my makeshift tartar sauce:

Coleslaw “dressing” (my mother’s fridge!)

Dijon

Green relish

Dash of hot sauce

Squeeze of fresh lemon

Salt & Pepper

halibut

Odds and Ends: Spicy Chile-Lime Red Cabbage & Butternut Squash Salad

redcabbagebutternut

Today I lucked out. Poking around the fridge, I noticed we only had odds and ends, none of which seemed to make any sense to me, flavour wise, to put together. After about five minutes of Googling, I found inspiration from a few different sources, and was feeling confident.

What I came up with is possibly the longest salad description out there, but here goes: spicy chile-lime red cabbage and roasted butternut squash salad with garlic scapes, cilantro, basil, and double goat’s cheese. Served warm. So good.

What I did was roast the butternut squash in small chunks (tossed in olive oil), seasoned with salt, pepper and a little chili powder. That took about 20 minutes. Using the leftover oil from roasting the squash, I then sauteed the sliced red cabbage quickly with hot red chiles and garlic scapes.

Next, I threw them together in a bowl and let them cool off a bit. Then I tossed the ingredients in freshly squeezed lime juice, salt and pepper, fresh cilantro, basil and chives – plus chunks of firm Ran-Cher Acres goat gouda. To top it off, I crumbled Ran-Cher Acres regular goat cheese. SO delicious. Glad I went out of my way to make those odds and ends work.

IMG_4316

Spicy chiles, creamy squash and goat’s cheese plus crunchy cabbage made this salad balanced and tasty!

Rock the Leftovers: Taco Edition

IMG_4241

One part of cooking I enjoy is the challenge of taking leftovers and making them new again. Working from home, I have the opportunity to make my own lunch, in my own kitchen, several times a week. That, paired with the fact that we regularly cook dinner together (and it’s usually awesome), means there are often leftovers in the fridge.

There’s something inside me that just disagrees with recreating the exact same meal two days in a row. Often I have separate elements of leftovers that I can rework. So, I do this. And I’ve decided to blog about it more.

On Friday I decided it was the night for tacos. I made three different fillings: spicy pepper mix with onions, basil-lime sauteed mushrooms, and saucy tomato sausages with roasted garlic. Plus I made a yellow heirloom tomato-jalapeno pico de gallo (with some heat), guacamole, red cabbage slaw, lots of chopped green onion and fresh cilantro. So basically a sweet spread. So good I didn’t even really take photos. I just settled in and ate.

On Saturday I was solo and planning to rock my leftovers with a brunch creation. That I did. I made a double-layered Mexican brunch tostada of sorts. Okay, so it’s not THAT different from the tacos — but it was very delicious.

IMG_4239

First layer: masa corn tortilla, spicy pepper and basil-lime mushroom mix, fried egg, crumbled Ran-Cher Acres goat cheese, chopped green onion. Second layer: another tortilla topped with sunny-side up (runny) fried egg, a bit more cheese and green onion, fresh cilantro. Accompaniments: guacamole and pico. Side dish: red cabbage slaw. A big glass of OJ.

Brunch happiness.

Red cabbage slaw.

Red cabbage slaw.

Pesto for breakfast, lunch and dinner

IMG_4120

As a pizza fanatic, I often have a jar of pesto on hand at all times. I prefer the crunchy, herby, garlicky base rather than traditional tomato sauce. I’ll admit, though, the pesto is not usually made by me, but by Riverview Herbs.

Due to the abundance of beautiful herbs growing on my patio, I decided to make a batch myself. What I created was a deliciously fresh, earthy and (very) garlicky pesto, great for a variety of dishes. Obviously I used it on pizza, a couple times, but I wanted to  branch out from that. Here are three other very easy-to-make dishes that incorporate pesto for an intense flavour boost, all day long. And no, I didn’t eat all three of these meals on the same day!

IMG_4134

Breakfast: I threw together a market veggie scramble with pesto and goat’s cheese; one of my favourite, quick meals for the morning when you want something healthy and substantial.

How I did it: Heat the pan with a little olive oil, throw in some sliced onion, then chopped red pepper, asparagus, and a minute or two later, cherry tomatoes. Season. Allow them to cook about halfway. In a bowl, scramble your eggs with creamy Fox Hill milk, salt and pepper, then some pesto (a tablespoon or two). Pour in the pan and scramble away. Add swiss chard (spinach is good too) last and let it wilt. Dish into a bowl, adjust seasoning if you need to, and crumble Ran-Cher Acres goat’s cheese on top.

IMG_4125Lunch: Using my trusty panini press, I made pesto grilled cheese with sliced yellow tomato. If you’re making grilled cheese anyway, I definitely recommend adding some pesto in there. For this sandwich, I used Ran-Cher Acres goat paneer, which has a really unique texture. After buttering the bread (a really hearty multigrain loaf I buy at Local Source), I spread pesto thick on one side, layer both sides with sliced cheese, and put the tomato in the middle (or else it makes the bread soggy). Just remember that something needs to buffer the tomato’s moisture.

IMG_4122

Dinner: Light up the barbecue for grilled trout with creamy pesto sauce, forbidden rice and asparagus. This was the perfect summer meal. And pretty healthy. I had the rice done in advance, as the black rice takes about 50 minutes to cook on the stovetop.

How I did it: Everything on the barbecue. I reheated the rice in a little pot, just adding a touch of water, butter and some fresh thyme. For the fish, I oiled the skin side and grilled it skin-down, on medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes. In a pan, I heated up some pesto with a tiny bit of butter, and simply whisked in creamy Fox Hill whole milk, until I had the consistency I wanted. I also grilled some asparagus. When it was time to plate, I used the rice as a base, topped with a piece of crispy-skinned trout, asparagus, doused everything in some freshly-squeezed lemon juice, and topped with the pesto sauce. The citrus really brings everything together as there are a lot of flavours competing in this dish, but it is lightened considerably and balanced by the lemon and works really well.

If you’re wondering what I put in my initial pesto recipe, it was something like: Fresh parsley and chives (main ingredients), thyme, toasted pumpkin seeds (second main ingredient), Parmesan cheese, fresh garlic, roasted garlic, olive oil, meyer lemon infused olive oil, roasted garlic olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, and a touch of water.

Dinner Club, Round Two

We hosted dinner club just over a week ago. This was our second turn to host (see round one here) and it was another great night with delicious (mostly) local food and copious amounts of good wine.

I’m not going to pretend that I made the food, because Geir took the lead on that. But I did set the table, got the house ready, and worked with my sommelier friend Jonathan Wilson at Harvest Wines to pair the courses.

We started with a cheese and preserves board (which included some awesome bacon jam from our friend Lisa Wood at Fusion Catering), as well as a mango bellini welcome cocktail. After our guests were seated, here is how it all went down…

IMG_8012

First Course:

Jerusalem artichoke soup, toasted pumpkin seeds.
Parsley, garlic and lemon gremolata on freshly whipped cream to stir in.

Wine:

The Nk’Mip Pinot Blanc (BC)

IMG_8022

Second Course:

Rustic white bean salad with fresh basil, balsamic drizzle. Served with mesclun greens tossed in a truffle oil vinaigrette

Wine:

Concilio Arjent Sauvignon Blanc (Italy)

IMG_8058

Third Course:

Seared prawns with tomatillo salsa fresca, avocado cream, chili threads

Wine:

Gaspereau New York Muscat (Nova Scotia)

IMG_8110

Fourth Course:

Braised short rib on celeriac puree with double smoked bacon and sweet peas, pea shoots

Wine:

Vega Sindoa Cabernet Sauvignon (Spain)

IMG_8150

Fifth Course:

Apple tarte tatin with housemade Calvados ice cream and apple chip

Wine:

Your choice of Grand Pre Pomme d’Or or Jost Framboise (both Nova Scotia)

Check out more photos in the gallery…

Sunchoke Soup

IMG_3557

I finally got my hands on some sunchokes, a.k.a Jerusalem artichokes, the other week (from Local Source Market) and experimented with a few dishes. The best use of the ingredient, I found, was to make a creamy puree soup; this really showcased the sunchoke’s rich, unique flavour.

It is a strange ingredient, I’ll admit. It looks kind of like ginger, but dark brown. It’s knobby and awkward to peel, but underneath the rough brown skin there is a bright pale flesh with a consistency somewhere between raw potato and a water chestnut.

IMG_3552

The process was pretty simple: first I sweated some onions, and garlic, in olive oil and a bit of butter. Once they were fragrant and had a bit of colour, I added my sliced sunchokes, and some small pieces of local golden beets that I had in the fridge. I seasoned them and let them sauté just for a moment before I covered everything in water and white wine to simmer for a while.

In retrospect I should have just roasted the beets in advance because they took quite a while longer to soften up from the simmering than the sunchokes did.

Somewhere along the way I added some freshly chopped basil, another splash of wine, more salt and pepper, and some lemon juice. Once everything was soft enough I used an immersion blender and blended everything in the pot until smooth.

I let the soup mellow a while in the fridge and flavours really came together. Before serving I reheated on the stove, mixed in a tiny bit of heavy cream, sprinkled on some toasted pine nuts and topped with a Parmesan crostini.

Sunchokes have a great flavour… they are rich, creamy, garlicky and substantial. Definitely pick some up while they’re in season; they are versatile and delicious!

Brown Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

IMG_7948

Today is apparently Pi Day, which the foodies have turned into a day to post photos of pie-related dishes. Most memorable (so far) is this awesome creation by Ratinaud.

Lucky for me, I was already planning on blogging about my most recent dish, brown lentil shepherd’s pie. So what better day to post?

I love making a dish that’s a meatless concept where you’re replacing the meat with something else, but the look of the dish is virtually the same, and the way you incorporate this other ingredient works so well that it’s a whole new thing entirely on its own. Know what I mean? Probably not, unless you’re a mostly-vegetarian eater like me.

Brown lentil shepherd’s pie is DELICIOUS. I’m not going to say “it tastes just like regular shepherd’s pie,” because that would be a lie. It tastes like lentil shepherd’s pie. And when you use the right vegetables, herbs and seasoning, you can get a fantastic texture and flavour. So much that you would look forward to eating lentil shepherd’s pie, and wouldn’t even think about the “regular” version, or to compare the two.

IMG_7937Part of the deliciousness of my recipe was the mash. I oven roasted local fingerling potatoes and parsnips, kept the skins on, and added a splash of milk, along with Ran-Cher Acres chives goat cheese, and a bit of homemade roasted garlic oil.

For the lentil layer, I started with dried brown lentils, and cooked them like the package directions told me to. I haven’t cooked with lentils much. This worked.

Then I sautéed garlic, onions, and Brussels’ sprouts. When those are looking good, you add some tomato (canned works), corn, peas, veggie stock, and throw the lentils back in to simmer.

IMG_7939

You could use different herbs here (rosemary would be nice), but I only had some basil, so that’s what went in. I also squeezed in a generous portion of Sriracha, because I knew we’d love a little zing to our lentil shepherd’s pie. I was right.

Once this is reduced and thickened, seasoned to your taste, and the flavours have melded, you just spoon it into a baking dish, top with the mash, drizzle a little olive oil and bake it for 20-30 minutes, around 375, until the top is starting to turn golden brown.

IMG_7972Yum. The the best decision I made with this dish was to use the Brussels’ sprouts, as they added a needed crunchy-firm aspect. The dish had a little heat, too, just the right amount. We both had seconds.

One cool thing… if I hadn’t added the goat cheese and milk into the mash (you could sub out for almond or rice milk), this dish would have been vegan. And still hearty.