Hawaiian Poke

Tuna & Avocado Poke

So has anyone else noticed that it got pretty hot out? Like really quickly too? Whatever happened to Spring? It seems that here in Toronto we get, usually, a pretty wicked Winter, a week of Spring, and then watch out, ’cause here comes Summer! And with that, comes the heat and the dreaded humidity. Some days it feels more like you’re swimming outside rather than walking. So, having said all of that, how about some recipes that you don’t have to “cook”? No heat required? That’s right, we’re doing a raw week!

Today’s recipe is for Poke, a traditional Hawaiian dish that combines the freshest of fish, usually either tuna or octopus, with some asian flavours such as soy, sesame and onion. The trick to this dish is not to make it too much in advance. You want to combine the flavours just before eating, only about 15-30 minutes before everyone comes to the table. This way you don’t loose the fresh, delicate taste of the fish. My suggestion? Try serving this as a starter one Shabbos instead of gefilte fish! It will be a hit!

Ingredients:

½ pound sushi-grade salmon
½ pound sushi-grade ahi tuna
1 large avocado, cubed
4 green onions/scallion, thinly sliced*
½ jalapeno chili, thinly sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 ½ teaspoons lime juice
½ tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
cooked white rice, to serve

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions/scallions.

Directions:

Check over your fish for any small bones or pieces of skin left on. Using a very sharp knife, slice the fish into ½” cubes. Set your fish aside for now. To toast your sesame seeds, heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds, and cook until toasted and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Make sure to stir often to prevent burning.

In a medium bowl, mix together the green onions/scallions, jalapeno, toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, lime juice and ginger. Save a little onion and sesame seeds to top your finished poke. Add the fish and avocado to the bowl with the marinade, and toss to coat.

Fill a large bowl with ice, and then place the bowl with the poke in it into the larger ice filled bowl to keep the poke nice and fresh until you are ready to serve it. Taste the poke, and adjust the seasoning as needed, with salt and pepper to your own taste.

Serve the poke on top of some cooked white rice with thinly sliced green onions and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Potato Kugel

Potato Kugel

Potatoes are a fresh vegetable, and they seriously deserve a place on your plate. You should know that one medium potato with the skin on is:

  1. naturally fat-free and sodium-free!
  2. has only 110 calories!
  3. Contains 45% of the daily value for vitamin C!
  4. Is packed with as much or more potassium (620 mg) than bananas, spinach, or broccoli!
  5. Provides 10 percent of the daily value of B6; and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc!

Of course all of that changes once we start adding the sour cream, the butter, and in the Ashkenazi tradition, make today’s recipe for potato kugel! Let’s not worry about the calories in this one and just enjoy! Besides, don’t you know that everything that you consume on Shabbos gets absorbed by the extra spirit that Hashem gives you during this holy time? All the joy, none of the guilt! Good Shabbos Everyone!

Ingredients:

5 large potatoes
1 small onion
5 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chicken soup mix
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 stick of margarine, melted
paprika

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a food processor or grater, shred the potatoes and onion. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, and pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle the top with a bit of paprika. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees, until browned and crisp on top and the kugel is set.

* Note: If doubling this recipe – Double all of the ingredients except for the margarine. Keept that at 1 stick (1/2 cup).

Colcannon

Colcannon

When looking back in history, you don’t often hear about great famines or blights being brought about by a single type of vegetation, but the potato did just that. In Ireland between 1845 and 1852, the potato crop was devastated by a fungus known as “potato blight” or Phytophthora infestans. At the time, the peasantry of Ireland was very dependent upon the potato. The “Great Potato Famine,” caused a million deaths and another million emigrations (many to the U.S.). This caused the population of Ireland to drop by 20 to 25% during this period.

The potato remained Ireland’s staple crop after the famine and by the end of the 19th century, the Irish per capita consumption of four pounds a day was the highest in the world.  Because of their history and their first-hand experience Ireland has been at the forefront of international famine relief. In 1985 Bob Geldof, Irish rock star and founder of Live Aid, revealed that the people of Ireland had given more to his fundraising efforts per head of population than any other nation in the world. In 2000, Bono, lead singer with Irish band U2, played a central role in campaigning for debt relief for African nations in the Jubilee 2000 campaign. The Irish famine experience continues to influence many Irish people in their attitudes towards the developing world and famine victims everywhere. It is good to see that tragedy can turn into triumph, and bring about positive change in the world.

Ingredients:

6 medium/large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
2-3 tablespoons butter/margarine, divided
2 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)*
4 green onions/scallions, sliced*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head savoy cabbage, shredded*
2 ½ cups water, divided
3-4 cups green kale, washed, stalks removed and shredded*
salt & pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean cabbage, kale and green onions/scallions, and leeks.

Directions:

Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain the potatoes, saving about a cup of the cooking liquid. Mash the potatoes, adding salt, pepper, a little butter/margarine to taste, and as much of the cooking liquid as needed to make the potatoes fluffy.

While the potatoes are cooking put 1 tablespoon of butter/margarine in a deep skillet and sauté the leeks, green onions/scallions and garlic until everything is translucent, about 7-10 minutes, over medium heat. Add the savoy cabbage and ½ cup of water, then cover the pan and cook until the cabbage is tender.

In another skillet add the remaining water and cook the kale until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain the kale well, and then mix everything together, and taste to adjust your seasonings. Serve and enjoy!

Gnocchi in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

If potatoes had a hero, it would be Antoine-Augustin Parmentier. Born in France in 1737, he is most remembered for being a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source for humans in France and throughout Europe.

While serving as a French Army pharmacist during the Seven Years’ War, he was captured by the Prussians and imprisoned. Forced to eat potatoes, known to him at that point only has hog feed, he began to experiment and see the value to this small stubby root.

As a way to get the public interested in the vegetable, he conducted a series of publicity stunts, including hosting dinners at which potato dishes featured prominently and guests included luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier, giving bouquets of potato blossoms to the King and Queen, and surrounding his potato patch at Sablons with armed guards to suggest valuable goods — then instructing them to accept any and all bribes from civilians and withdrawing them at night so the greedy crowd could “steal” the potatoes.

I guess you could say his techniques worked, as potatoes are not only acceptable, and as more than just hog feed, but are a staple in kitchens around the world. Today’s recipe will show you how Italians make quick work out of a bag of spuds!

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:
6 large baking potatoes (about 3 ½ pounds), scrubbed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt + salt for boiling water
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

Brown Butter Sage Sauce:
¼ cup butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 sage leaves*
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

Directions:

Gnocchi:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15-20 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, and peel. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then mash the potatoes with a fork, masher, or in a ricer. Place the mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and stir in the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Knead in enough flour to make a soft dough. If the dough is too dry, add some more oil, too moist, add some more flour.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a long rope. Cut the rope into ½ inch pieces. Take each piece and roll it against the back of fork, along the tines. This will give you’re the classic ribbed shape of the gnocchi dumpling.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi, one by one, and cook until they float to the top, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Sauce:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, remove any foam that rises off of the butter. Let the butter start to get a little colour to it. Remove it from the heat, and add the olive oi. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the garlic, and cook until the garlic has softened and is beginning to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the sage and salt for a few seconds, and then add the cooked gnocchi. Toss gently with ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and the pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese to serve.

Marinated Chicken in a Wine and Mushroom Cream Sauce with Kalamata Olives

Marinated Chicken in Wine Mushroom Cream Sauce

So we’re coming into the home stretch, sort of, of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Dinner, as we are now on the relevés course. This came after the mains, but before the roasts and the sweets, not to mention the side table that was out, y’know just in case you got hungry between courses. Can you imagine? I’m sorry your Majesty, but the 9 dishes you had presented up until now haven’t quite hit the mark, I’m going to go make myself a cold roast beef sandwich? I definitely would have gone all Queen of Hearts on the subject and shouted “Off with their head!” to the ungrateful lout!

Speaking of off with their head, a chicken definitely lost theirs in the preparation of today’s recipe. “Les Poulets à la Financière” or “Chicken Garnished with Cocks’ Combs, Cocks’ Kidneys, Dumplings, Sweetbreads, Mushrooms, Olives and Truffles” was a pretty complex dish as you can tell by a partial recipe that I was able to find from the era:

Poulets à la Financière

I think the modern recipe below for chicken with mushrooms and olives might not only be easier, but will also be slightly more palatable! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

6 chicken leg quarters or 6 breasts (or whatever cuts your family likes)
olive oil (to brown chicken)

Marinade:
6 sprigs of fresh sage*
6 garlic cloves roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 ½ cups dry white wine
¾ cup pitted kalamata olives (roughly chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mushroom Cream Sauce:
6 sage leaves roughly chopped*
4 garlic cloves (minced)
1 ½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
3 cups of non-dairy creamer
3 pounds of crimini mushrooms (sliced)
¾ cup pitted kalamata olives
Salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

Directions:

Season the chicken with dried sage, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken in a covered container or large freezer bag with the wine, garlic, fresh sage and chopped olives. Marinate the chicken overnight, or longer, but no longer than 48 hours.

When you are ready to cook chicken, take the chicken out and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Bringing the chicken to room temperature will help the chicken to cook evenly. While you are waiting, preheat the oven to 375°F.

After the chicken has sat out for 15 minutes, put a little olive oil in a cast iron pan or other any oven safe pan you have. On your stove top heat the pan up on a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces, and evenly brown the chicken on both sides. Once you have browned the chicken, remove the chicken from the pan.

Now add the wine to the pan, deglazing it (removing all the delicious pieces of marinade from the bottom of the pan). Immediately after you add the wine, add the non-dairy creamer, mushrooms, sage, and garlic. Cook the sauce for a few minutes, giving the mushrooms a chance to absorb the sauce.

Then, add your chicken back in to the pan, along with the olives and taste for to see if salt or pepper is needed. Cover the pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked through.

Chicken & Mushroom Puff Pastry Stacks

Chicken & Mushroom Puff Stacks

On to the mains! Part of the entree course of Queen Victoria’s meal was Les Petits Vol-au-vents à la Béchamel or Vol-au-Vents with White Sauce. Vol-au-Vents are French for “windblown”, to describe its lightness of a small hollow case of puff pastry. Vols-au-vent are typically made by cutting two circles in rolled out puff pastry, cutting a hole in one of them, then stacking the ring-shaped piece on top of the disc-shaped piece. This pastry is usually found filled with savory ingredients, but can also have a sweet filling. I came across a recipe that would have been served at the Queen’s table. Les Petits Vol-au-vents à la Béchamel

Now, when reading this, remember, this is just for the pastry, not the sauce or filling! I think I’m better off buying the premade pastry shells from the grocery store! Please enjoy the recipe below, which would make a lovely appetizer for any meal. If you wish to have this as a main dish, just upsize the portions by adding more chicken, mushrooms, etc.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 ½ cups mushrooms, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 chicken breasts or 4-5 boneless/skinless chicken thighs, diced
1-2 tablespoons chicken soup mix
1 cup non-dairy creamer
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme*
salt and pepper, to taste
6 puff pastry shells

* Click here to learn how to clean fresh thyme.

Directions:

In a large skillet, over medium- high heat add the olive oil and bring up to temperature. Once hot, add the onions and mushrooms, and allow to them to cook for about 5-7 minutes, so that the onions become translucent and the mushrooms begin to cook. Add the celery and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken and toss to mix it with the vegetables. If you need to add a little more oil, you can. Let the chicken cook, so that it begins to brown, tossing every so often so that all the pieces get cooked. Once the pieces all look at least a little bit browned, add the non-dairy creamer, chicken soup mix, and thyme. If it is too thick, you can add some water to thin it out.

Reduce the temperature and let the dish cook until the sauce has thickened up a bit and the chicken is fully cooked through. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Serve on in the pastry shells.

“Crab” Stuffed Filet of Sole

Stuffed Sole

At Queen Victoria’s dinner she was served “Les Filets de Soles farcis à l’Ancienne” which roughly translates into Filets of Sole stuffed and garnished with a Cream Sauce of Shrimps, Mushrooms and Truffles. Now while I was not able to find an actual recipe for this dish, I did find a partial description in a book outlining some of the dishes served at royal affairs throughout the ages. This dish was described as the following:

Filets of sole spread with a stuffing of whiting mixed with breadcrumbs, herbs and beaten eggs, folded in two, coated in egg and breadcrumbs and cooked in butter. The fillets are then arranged in a circle, alternating with little poached shapes of whiting stuffing and sprinkled with brown butter. The centre of the dish is filled with shrimps, mushrooms and truffles in a cream fish sauce flavoured with Madeira.

Personally, just give me the brown butter and truffles on anything and I’m in heaven!

Ingredients

⅓ cup butter
¼ onion, minced
½ cup minced/shredded imitation crabmeat (about 4 sticks)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley*
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
20 buttery round “Ritz”-type crackers, crushed
6 (6 ounce) sole filets
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
toothpicks (to help keep the fish rolled)

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:

Preheat oven to  375°F. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Melt butter in the frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the crabmeat, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in ¾ of the crushed crackers.

Spread the mixture over the filets, and then sprinkle them with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Roll up filets, seal with toothpicks and place in the prepared baking dish. Dot each roll with butter and sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 17 minutes, with the last 5-7 minutes uncovered, until the fish fully opaque and flakes.

Alternatively, instead of rolling the fish, you can lay the fish pieces on the bottom of your pan and then spread the filling mixture out on top of the fish. Bake until the fish fully cooked and the topping is nice and golden brown (taken the cover off for at least 7-8 minutes rather than 5-7 at the end).

Cream of Wild Rice Soup

Cream of Wild Rice Soup

So the recipe that you would have had for “Potages À la Crème de Riz” or “Cream of Rice Soup” back in the Victorian era would have looked a little more like this:

la Crème de Riz

Admittedly, not very exciting. I’m sure knowing the chefs of the era, they would have served it up in a solid gold tureen or a reconstructed sea tortoise just to make a splash. The recipe I have posted below is a little humbler in presentation, but it’s comforting creaminess will definitely fill you up! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
1 celery stalk, chopped
¼ cup margarine
½ cup all-purpose flour
8 cups chicken broth
3 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup cubed cooked chicken breast
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup non-dairy creamer
¼ cup minced chives*

* Click here to learn how to clean chives.

Directions:

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion, carrot and celery in the margarine until tender. Stir in the flour until it has become completely blended. Gradually add the broth. Stir in the rice, chicken, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the creamer and cook for 3-5 minutes longer. Garnish with chives.

Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Dill

Salmon Dill Pasta

Hi everyone! I realize that it’s been a long time since I last posted, but I need to get back on that horse! Here is a quick recipe that I’ve been making lately. It’s a dairy pasta dish, so it’s rich and comforting, but the fresh dill and lemon zest keep it from being too heavy. You can also switch up the fresh salmon for canned or for a twist, use smoked salmon instead! This recipe will serve 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

12 ounces uncooked linguine pasta (or any other pasta of choice)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 shallots, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ pounds of fresh or frozen (defrosted) salmon, cubed
¾ cup cream cheese
¾ cup fresh dill, chopped finely*
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest**
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

* Click here to learn how to properly check fresh dill.
** Click here for my tips on zesting.

Directions:

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Once the pasta is done, drain it, saving the water to add to the sauce.

In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat on medium-high temperature. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, shallots and garlic. Toss to coat in the oil and season with salt and fresh pepper. Allow to cook, softening and getting some colour, but not turning completely brown, about 5-7 minutes.

Once the onions are mostly done, add the salmon to the pan, and again, toss to coat. Let the fish and onions sit for a minute or two, to allow the salmon to begin to cook. Add the cream cheese to the pan, and move it around the pan, so that the heat begins to melt the cheese. At this point, add some of the pasta water to the pan to mix with the melting cream cheese and make a sauce. Add as much water as you feel necessary to get the consistency that you like. Once the cheese has completely been thinned out, add the dill and mix to combine.

In a large mixing or serving bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and then sprinkle with the lemon zest and additional dill, salt and pepper, to taste.

 

Roasted Cornish Hens with Apple, Date & Almond Stuffing and Honey Pomegranate Glaze

Cornish Hens

So on Rosh HaShanah we eat many symbolic foods, in order to have a healthy, happy and prosperous new year. This entrée includes 4 of these foods! The apple symbolizes Gan Eden(The Garden of Eden), which according to the Sages had the scent of an apple orchard. The word date in Hebrew is תמרים and related to the word תם – to end. So on Rosh HaShanah we eat dates so that G-d will bring an end to our enemies.

Honey, as you know is sweet, and what could be a better symbol for a sweet new year? Lastly, the pomegranate is full of seeds (some say 613 seeds to be exact, just like the number of laws in the Torah). So we eat pomegranates so that we will be as full of mitzvot (good deeds) and the pomegranate is seeds. This recipe is geared for 8 guests, and will give some extra stuffing and sauce to serve along with your final dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

¼ cup unsalted margarine (½ a stick)
8-12 (about 4 pounds) Fuji apples, chopped
20 Medjool dates, pits removed, chopped*
2 lemons, zest and juice**
2 oranges, zest and juice**
1 cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
8 Cornish hens (1 ¼ pounds each)
¾ cup dry white wine
⅓ cup chopped shallots (about 1 ½ large shallots or 3 small ones)
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups pomegranate juice
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons margarine

* Click here to learn how to inspect dates.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons and oranges.
♦ Click here to learn how to truss a Cornish hen.

Directions:

Melt margarine in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add apples and sauté, stirring occasionally, until brown but still crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Add dates, zests, and juices; cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat, cool, and stir in almonds and salt.

Place the chopped onions, carrots and celery in the bottom of a large roasting pan (or divide into two smaller pans) and mix the vegetables so that they are combined.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Remove and discard the giblets and necks from the hens. Rinse the hens under cold water and then pat dry. Trim off any excess fat. Season each cavity with salt and pepper, and then loosely stuff with apple mixture. Truss the hens♦. Place the hens, breast-side up, on top of the chopped vegetables.

Boil the wine and shallots in a heavy small saucepan until most of the wine has evaporated, about 4-6 minutes. Add the broth, pomegranate juice and honey. Boil again until the sauce has reduced to about 1 ¾ – 2 cups, about 7-9 minutes. Whisk in the margarine and then remove from the heat.

Brush the hens with the honey-pomegranate sauce. Roast the hens at 475 degrees for 15 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 35 minutes, or until juices run clear. While the hens are roasting, baste them occasionally with more of the sauce, about every 10 minutes or so. Serve the hens with any remaining stuffing and remaining sauce.

Safety Note: Before serving the remaining sauce or giving a final basting to the fully cooked hens, put the sauce back on the stove and bring it back up to a quick boil. The reason for this is because you have been dipping your basting brush back and forth between the hens while they were cooking, and therefore at various stages of rawness, and then dipping the brush back into the sauce pot. You want to eliminate any chances of salmonella or other food borne pathogens from contaminating your final dish. The re-boiling of the sauce will kill off these pathogens. Safety first!