Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Green lava for salmon and trout

When I cook, I now and then stumble upon a perfect combination of tastes. Last time it happened was today.
I made baked salmon for dinner and served it with a pea sauce, and it was marvellous! This is definitely something I will make again.
The pea sauce is inspired from a cooking show with Nigella Lawson. She served this pea sauce with lamb (she also added some dry mint to it which I omitted for this recipe).
I decided to try and mix it with fish and it paired perfectly with baked salmon. Since salmon and trout share many of the same qualities, this delicate sauce goes with both.

I baked my salmon in aluminum foil in the oven (400F) for ten minutes. Before I baked it, I sprinkled my salmon with some fresh lemon juice, a little salt and fresh dill on top.

For the pea sauce, you will need the following ingredients:

1 garlic clove, peeled
1 to 2 cups of peas
2 tablespoons parmesan sauce
3 to 4 tablespoons creme fraiche (- or mascarpone cheese)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a couple of cups water in a pan. Add the peas and garlic clove, and cook until peas are done. (I used frozen peas so it only took a couple of minutes.)

Drain the peas and add all the ingredients in a food processor. Blend on high for a fev seconds, then scrape down the edges of the bowl with a spatula, add the lid and blend for a few seconds more.

I served the fish and pea sauce with baked potatoes and steamed asparagus (- asparagus being the vegetable of the season right now.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tomato soup for cold days

After days of sunshine and warm weather, it turneed cold and wet today.
I was craving something to keep me warm, and nothing tastes better than a hearty, warm soup.
I started with a recipe from the Vegetarian Times, and after some twists and tweaks, this is what I ended up with:

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (about 1 tsp.)
12-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed, then roughly chopped
3 (8-oz) cans chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 buillion cube
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup macaroni

Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic and a little salt, and sautè for one minute more.
Add tomato paste to the onions. Stir well and make sure the onions are coated in the paste before you continue.
Stir in peppers, tomatoes, sugar, bullion and water thyme.
Simmer 20 minutes.
Transfer mixture to blender, and purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer back to pot. add water and macaroni, and let boil fro about 10 minutes under a lid. Remove pot from plate and stir in heavy cream.
Serve while still hot.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is pie considered comfort food?

Having spent most of the last two weeks in bed (food poisoning, then the flu, followed by an angry bronchities, no less!) I was craving a home cooked meal once I got back on my feet.

As it happens, the magazine Country Homes and Interiors showed up in my mail box this day, featuring what looked like a good recipe for cheese and spinach pie.
As it also happens, I'm unable to follow a recipe to it's T, so after some alterations and tweaks, I ended up with a cheese, spinach and pine nut spanakopita, which is a Greek pie where the pie dough is made with olive oil rather than butter. (I changed it to canola oil. I told you I'm incapable of following a recipe! *LOL*)

Anyways, for the dough, this is what you'll need:

1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil
1/2 cup milk (I use 2% but any milk will do!)
1 egg, beaten.

Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough. Cover bowl and refridgerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling, you will need:

2 tablespoons butter (the original recipe calls for olive oil, but I prefer butter in this case)
6 anchovy fillets, chopped (I forgot to add the anchovies, and the pie still tasted great. Add them if you like, or omit them if you can't stand anchovies)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 pound spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup double cream.
1 teaspoon dries thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts
dried bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat butter in a frying pan and add the anchovies, onion and garlic. Saute for five minutes, or until tender.
Add the spinach and saute for another couple of minutes.
Set aside.

Some people will say that you need to roll out any pie dough. This dough, on the contrary, is so flexible and easy to push out with your fingers, I just add a little dough at a time to the pie tin until the tin is covered. Make sure you let the dough sit all the way up the edges as it will shrink a little.

Pre-bake pie shell for about 10 minutes in the oven, or until lightly golden in colour.
Take the shell out of the oven, let rest for some minutes, then sprinkle dried bread crumbs on the bottom of the pie shell. The bread crumbs will soak up excess moisture and keep the pie shell dry.

Spread the onion and spinach mixture over the base, and sprinkle with cheese.
Mix the eggs and double cream. Rub the dried thyme between your palms to get out more flavour out of the dry herb before you add it to the egg and cream mixture. Add salt and pepper, and pour the mixture into the base. Sprinkle with pine nuts, and bake the pie the oven for 20 minutes, or until the filling is set.

Serve with a green salad on the side.

This pie will serve four hungry people!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Breakfast for a busy bee

This is an easy, tasty and healthy breakfast when you are in a hurry. Or for fruit lovers like myself.

I make a fruit salad from fruits I already have in the house, like apples, pears, banana, kiwi, pineapple, melon, strawberries and grapes.
I top the fruit salad with Greek yogurt or yogurt naturel, and top it with nuts. I used hazel nuts here.

If you want, you can sprinkle some honey on top, but the sweetness from the fruit usually does it for me.