Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kitchen stewards' salad

For dinner tonight I made this salad, made famous by the kitchen stewards at Daniel, that I've been wanting to try since I clipped the recipe from New York Times Magazine years ago: 



1 medium Vidalia onion
1 large avocado
1-2 jalapeno peppers
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste.


Peel the onion and cut in half lengthwise. Slice each half into 1/8-inch-thick half-moons and set in a medium-size nonreactive bowl. Slice the avocado in half, remove the pit and peel each half. Slice each half lengthwise, 1/4 inch thick, and add to the bowl. Cut the stem ends off the jalapeno peppers (use just 1 if you don't like heat) and slice very thinly into discs. Shake out and discard any loose seeds and add to the bowl.

Whisk together the lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil and salt until emulsified and gently toss with the vegetables. Correct the seasoning and let sit for 5 min before serving.

There are two big reasons why I finally got around to making this today:

1 — I'm busy getting ready for a big trip and I've been looking for simple, easy-to-prepare, inexpensive, healthy meals. Truth be told, though, I prefer cooking simply all the time. Five ingredients or less is my ideal; the more dynamic the flavors the better. This recipe definitely fits that bill.

2 — The fridge was open when I got home from work yesterday and the ingredients in this salad were among the survivors. (Some of their friends didn't make it.)




Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day, Chef

That's a picture of my late father sometime in the eighties/early-nineties with (who I'm told was) former Governor General of Canada Jeanne Sauvé (and some other guy who looks pretty important).

So this proves that I come by cooking honestly!
In all seriousness though, there are many important things that my father taught me, and many great ideas and experiences that he introduced me to — far too many than I will get into here. But, I will say that getting the chance to hang out in a professional kitchen as a kid growing up was so much fun, and it shaped my outlook on both food and work. (And, I didn't do that much damage — a couple of over-cheesed pizzas, that's all.)

Hope you all had a good Father's Day!




Monday, June 14, 2010

Mercedes buns

Ugh...I'm in serious Glee withdrawal.

And the Matthew Morrison/Lea Michele number on last night's Tony Awards broadcast did nothing to help my situation. (Actually, I have no idea what the point of that was, but that's beside the point. ) As a tribute to a great first season, I wanted to share one of my favourite Glee-watching snacks.

This recipe for "Mercedes Buns" is adapted from a Podleski sisters recipe, hence the cutesy name, but I prefer to pretend it was named after Glee's own "diva-in-training."  



1 lb frozen bread dough, thawed*
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 oz cream cheese
1 tbsp milk

*Available in your grocer's freezer.


Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13" pan, and set aside.

Roll out dough to a 9x12 rectangle. Brush with 1/2 the butter. Mix the brown sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle 3/4 over dough. Spread evenly to edges. Roll jelly roll style. This should make a 12 inch long loaf. Seal by pinching edges. Cut into 12 pieces.

Arrange in baking pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hr.

Brush with rest of the melted butter and sprinkle with last of sugar mix.

Bake for 20–30 min until puffed and golden brown.

Prepare glaze while waiting. Beat the icing sugar, cream cheese and milk on high speed until smooth.

Remove buns and drizzle with glaze. Serve warm. (To reheat, microwave for 10-15 sec.)

These are basically a much less labor-intensive and much lower-fat version of traditional cinnamon buns. I love fresh cinnamon buns but would never invest the time in making them from scratch, so this shortcut was a very useful discovery for me.
I might normally be embarrassed to admit that I have "Glee rituals," but I'm not the only blogger who does these sort of things. In fact, I've found that the show resonates with a surprising number of people. I think it's Glee's message of inclusiveness combined with its grossly exaggerated but nonetheless truthful depictions of high school life that appeals to so many. And then, of course, there's the singing. (Warning: Don't watch the video below if you're not in the mood for a six-and-a-half-minute Journey medley.)  

Seriously, what's not to love about this show? I can't believe I have to wait three months for new episodes! But, I hear there'll be Stamos....




Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jamie Oliver's best tuna meatballs

This is not a great time of year for recently converted vegetarians. I'm talking about grill season and the random charred-meat aromas floating around everywhere, followed by the realization, "Oh yeah, I don't eat anything that smells like that anymore."

Then, out of blue this week, came this recipe from Jamie Oliver. It was nice to discover that (because I still occasionally eat fish) I can still enjoy a hearty bowl of meatballs. And, these tuna meatballs, from a traditional Sicilian recipe, do not disappoint. Here's my adaptation with Canadian conversions and my recommendation that you make the balls before you make the sauce:



For the tomato sauce:
olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 28 oz can of plum tomatoes
salt and fresh ground pepper
red wine vinegar (optional)
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped

For the meatballs:
1 lb sustainably sourced tuna
olive oil
1/3 cup pinenuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 eggs
zest and juice of 1 lemon


Make the meatballs — Chop the tuna up into 1/2-inch dice. Pour a good couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan and place on the heat. Add the tuna to the pan with the pinenuts and cinnamon. Season lightly with salt and pepper and fry for a minute or so to cook the tuna on all sides and toast the pinenuts. Remove from the heat and put the mixture into a bowl. Allow to cool down for 5 min, then add the oregano, parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, lemon zest and juice to the bowl. Using your hands, really scrunch and mix the flavours into the tuna, then divide the mixture and squeeze it into meatballs slightly smaller than a golf ball. If you dip one of your hands in water while shaping you’ll get a nice smooth surface on the meatball. If the mixture’s very sticky, add a few more breadcrumbs. Keep the meatballs around the same size and put them in the fridge for an hour to let them rest.

Make your sauce — Place a large pan on the heat, add a good glug of olive oil, your onion and garlic and fry slowly for 10 min until soft. Add your oregano, the tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 min or so, then liquidize until smooth. Taste – it might need a tiny swig of red wine vinegar or some extra seasoning.

Put the pan you fried the tuna in back on the heat with a little olive oil. In two batches, add your meatballs to the pan and jiggle them about until they’re golden brown all over. Divide between your plates, sprinkle with chopped parsley and shaved Parmesan.

 Notes: 1) Resist the urge to make bigger balls. The two larger-than-a-golf-ball–sized balls that I had began to disintegrate in the pan 3/4 of the way through cooking. 2) This really is a meal unto itself — no pasta needed. 3) Isn't it creepy how my hand is the same colour as the tuna!




Bacon of the sea

You're looking at smoked smoked scallops from The Whalesbone Sustainable Oyster & Fish Supply.

They are very similar to bacon in flavor, texture, and appearance.  Actually, if it weren't for the mildly fishy flavour, I would swear they were bacon. 

They're great for snacking, but I think they'd also make a great bacon substitute in recipes for those looking to replace meat and/or reduce fat.

I'll be sure to try this and report back.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tablescapes (literally)

Love this clever centerpiece made from garlic scapes that I spotted at The Whalesbone Sustainable Oyster & Fish Supply.

Trendy, in season, and really, you can only eat so many of these.