Sunday, March 20, 2005

Giada's Salmon

Yesterday morning I watched Everyday Italian with Giada de Laurentiis, whom I like very much. She made something like this on the show so I thought I'd try it out for dinner last night. It was a big hit.

Here it is.

1. Take salmon. I used a side because I was feeding four people, but you can adjust this very easily to accommodate the number of people you're feeding. Put in a baking dish or on a piece of heavy duty foil.
2. Take some vine-ripened tomatoes and chop roughly - no need to peel or seed. You'll need enough to cover the top of the salmon you're making.
3. Put the chopped tomatoes into a bowl and add salt & pepper to taste, some dried herbs like oregano, thyme, basil, some finely chopped scallions or shallots or onion of some description, some fresh garlic to taste.
4. Pour over this some good quality olive oil, just to coat - you're not making a salad dressing with it. Over this, squeeze some fresh lemon juice to taste.
5. Spread this over the salmon evenly. If using the baking dish, cover well with foil and bake until salmon is cooked through. If you're just using foil, fold it around the fish firmly into a nice package and cook until done.

I served this with rice and a green salad.

Notes to the readership.

  • You could use halibut, cod, or many other types of fish for this, including large shrimp.
  • If fresh tomatoes are not available, canned ones are fine; just drain off the juice. But don't chuck the juice! Save it and put it in soup or something.
  • Feel free to play around with the herbs. This has a distinctly Italian flavour to it with the oregano etc., but dill would be nice, too.
Questions, comments? You know the deal.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Sweet & Sour Chicken Recipe

This has got to be one of my favourite ways to make chicken. The sauce is amazing and it just bursts with flavour on your tongue. My mom used to make this, but alas, I cannot remember from whence this recipe came.

1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
garlic to taste
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 small can (4.5oz) pineapple chunks or tidbits
4 - 6 chicken breasts, bone in or boneless skinless

Combine starch and water in saucepan. Add sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic & spices. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the mixture thickens and is bubbling. Place chicken in greased pan, pour sauce over top and bake until chicken is cooked through. Add the pineapple at the end and return to the oven just for a minute to heat it through. Serve with rice and a steamed vegetable.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Garlic Bread

I got this recipe from Chef Michael Smith of Chef at Home, a show on the Canadian food channel I really love. The guy is 6'7" and his stove and worktop are knee-high on him, so I wonder if he has major back issues... Whatever. He's very enthusiastic and he has inspired me to do my own experimentation in the kitchen.

Here's what you'll need and what to do.

1. Take 4 heads of garlic (not individual cloves - the full shabang) and trim the tops off with a sharp knife so the tops of the cloves are exposed. Place in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in a 400F oven until soft in the centre and most of the cloves look like they're about to pop out of the peels.
2. Take them out of the oven and cool them off. Then squeeze out the garlic into a bowl. This looks super cool. The cloves should be so soft and tender that they should easily just ooze out of the peels.
3. Once completely cold, mash well and add an equal amount of butter, softened. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper. To this, you can now add some herbs to taste: I added parsley, but you could add pretty much anything you like - chives would be nice, cilantro would be cool, too. Or just leave it as is.
4. Take a French baguette and slice it open lengthways like a book, leaving a "spine" in tact. Spoon in your garlic mixture evenly. Wrap in foil and bake in a hot oven until desired crispness and it's hot in the middle.
5. Slice and enjoy.

I love roasted garlic. It's easy to make and we do all kinds of things with it at school. In the pastry kitchen, we add it to bread. It has a really mellow flavour and can be added to cream soups (or any soup, for that matter), salad dressings, sauces, flavoured butters, or pretty much anything you like to add garlic to. The flavour changes completely once it's been roasted, so don't worry about garlic breath or anything.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Oyster Mushroom Sauce

Yesterday, while at the Food Service Expo, I happened by the Ponderosa Mushrooms exhibit and talked with the really nice lady manning the booth. There were packages of organic oyster mushrooms free for the taking, so I took one. I hadn't tried this particular mushroom before, and they were described to me as delicate, meaty, and earthy, and they shouldn't be overcooked. I made a nice stirfry with them last night, and tonight made the following recipe.

  • 2 slices bacon (ok, I have some readers who don't eat pork; don't worry - you can substitute turkey bacon or, even better, if you can get a hunk of smoked chicken or duck, just don't saute for very long)
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • a little wine or stock for deglazing
  • about 1/2 a cup of cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp REAL Parmesan cheese (again - spend the money, get a grater, and buy the real stuff - there's no comparison!)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups oyster mushrooms

So fry up your bacon until desired crispness. Remove to paper towels to drain and drain most but not all of the fat from the pan; cut into small pieces. Saute your onions until tender. Deglaze the pan with whatever liquid you choose and then let the liquid reduce to a shadow of its former self. Add the oyster mushrooms and gently saute for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Season with pepper. Add the cream, garlic, bacon and cheese. Heat through thoroughly. Serve over pasta.


1. Oyster mushrooms have long stems - do not remove these!

2. Do not overcook the mushrooms. They are delicate and shouldn't be browned or cooked as you would your regular button mushroom. You basically just want to heat them through.

3. The mushrooms are chewier than your button mushroom - this is normal and the way they should be.

4. These mushrooms are more delicately but distinctly flavoured than button mushrooms. Don't overpower your sauce with tons of cheese or meat or garlic; you want a nice balance and you want to be able to taste the flavour of those mushrooms.

5. If you want to use oyster mushrooms in other dishes, add them near the end to avoid overcooking.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Food Agony Aunt

So, now that I'm on the verge of graduation and will have some official documentation in 2 weeks that indicates I actually know what I'm talking about, I'll now make the following announcement:

If you have any baking questions at all that you wish to have answered, if you have a recipe that you can't get to work, if you have questions about ingredients, methods, names of things, techniques, equipment, or whatever, please leave a comment and I'll endeavour to answer your queries to the best of my ability. If I don't have an answer, I'll be honest about it and will at least be able to steer you in the right direction. If it's warranted, I'll write a post re. your question and my answer. If you are in need of a recipe, I also may be able to help.

I love this kind of thing, so fire away - don't be shy.

Don't all inundate me at once, though. I have exams next week!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Pastitsio Pie

The Great White Bear has spoken. Here is a new recipe. I love this dish. My mother passed it on to me and she originally got it from Canadian Living. It's Greek-ish and will feed a family with yummy leftovers.

Pastitsio Pie

2 cups macaroni
1 tbsp butter
1 chopped onion
garlic to taste (I like lots, but that's just me)
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey or lean ground beef (they are interchangeable; I like the turkey, though)
1/2 tsp each ground oregano, salt, and cinnamon (or to taste; I usually add more cinnamon)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 can (5.5oz/156mL) tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp dried bread crumbs (the fine ones, not the ones you may make stuffing out of)
1 cup parmesan cheese (for God's sake - spend the money and get the real stuff! It's worth it)
1 can (14oz/398mL) stewed tomatoes (in Canada, I have never seen the 14oz cans; the 19oz works fine)


2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg beaten
pinch of nutmeg, salt & pepper

1. Cook pasta and drain. In large frying pan, saute onion & garlic in the butter. Stir in turkey and spices and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain off the fat. Stir in tomatoes, paste, and vinegar. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat; stir in parsley & set aside. (You can make the mixture ahead of time and refrigerate it until you need it.)
2. For the sauce (which must be made right before you need it), melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes (this will cook out the starch in the flour and make the texture of the sauce smooth on your palate). Pour in the milk & whisk for about 5 minutes or until it's thickened. You want it to be a nice thick sauce, not a runny one, but it shouldn't be too thick. Remove from heat and stir in the cottage cheese, egg, nutmeg, etc.
3. The original recipe calls for using a 10" pie plate; my experience is that this is too small a dish for this amount of food. A 9x13 casserole would probably work, or something along those lines. Anyways, grease your dish & sprinkle it with the bread crumbs. Spoon in half of the macaroni. Spread the meat mixture evenly on top. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the parmesan cheese. Spoon the remaining macaroni over that. Pour the sauce on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
4. Place the dish on a baking sheet (to prevent a mess in case it bubbles over) and bake at 350 for 50 - 60 minutes, or until bubbling and sauce is golden on top.

You can never go wrong with Canadian Living. I make a lot of their recipes and they always turn out and taste great. One of my dream jobs would be working in their test kitchen. Sooo, anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone... I've been to culinary school....I can write...I love Canadian Living... I'm willing to go on t.v.... You know how to reach me.


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