Friday, February 24, 2017

Tuna Salad with Avocado, Onion Sprouts & Boiled Egg

Low calorie, low carb and a great source of Omega-3, this simple, light and delicious Tuna Salad recipe makes an easy weekday dinner paired with sliced avocado, hard boiled eggs and some fresh tomatoes. Topped with a mound of flavourful onion sprouts and dressed with a tangy vinaigrette, summertime dining doesn't get any easier, healthier or more satisfying.

Tuna Salad with Avocado, Sprouts & Hard Boiled Eggs
Serves 2

10 oz (2 small cans) canned tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup diced English cucumber
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz mixed greens
2 large eggs, hard boiled, peeled and halved
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
6 grape tomatoes, halved
1 package onion sprouts, for garnish
Maldon salt and fresh cracked black pepper

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, minced
Fresh cracked black pepper and salt, to taste

Add the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon and minced garlic together in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Season with fresh cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Combine tuna, diced cucumber, green onions, lemon juice, zest, dill, mayonnaise, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir well. Toss the mixed greens with some vinaigrette to taste, then arrange on 2 plates and top with a generous scoop of the tuna mixture. Top with a handful of onion sprouts and garnish with sliced avocado, tomatoes and hard boiled eggs. Season with Maldon salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste and drizzle with more vinaigrette if need. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Toasted Coriander & Fennel Seed Crusted Salmon

Toasted coriander and fennel seeds become the fragrant foundation for a wonderfully flavourful dry rub, perfect on swordfish or salmon. Coarsely ground with white peppercorns and seasoned with a little kosher salt, the mixture is pressed into the fish, and grilled over medium-high heat for a delicious light and crispy coating, with scents redolent of Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. A great source of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, this Coriander & Fennel Crusted Salmon is excellent served on a bed of grilled asparagus and garnished simply with a slice of orange and drizzle of balsamic fig glaze. 

Coriander & Fennel Crusted Salmon with Grilled Asparagus 
Serves 2

2 tbsp coriander seed
2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp white peppercorns
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 organic salmon filets, about 6 oz each
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
Olive oil, for brushing
Fresh thyme, mint and sliced orange, for garnish
Balsamic and fig glaze, for drizzling such as Kalamata brand

Place the coriander seeds, fennel seeds and white peppercorns in a small pan over medium high heat. Toast the mixture, shaking the pan frequently, until they become fragrant and begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Let the mixture cool a few minutes and then transfer to a spice grinder or small food processor, and coarsley grind. Spread on a small plate with the salt and mix well.

Brush the salmon filets with some olive oil then dip the top side of each filet into the spices, pressing well to adhere. Transfer the fish to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Place the asparagus in a small dish and drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate along with the salmon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Maccheroni al Ferro with Ragù alla Bolognese

Inspired by this recipe for handmade Maccheroni al Ferro by Toronto chef Massimo Bruno, I have made this easy and delicious pasta many times after discovering the website of this talented chef and teacher last year. Ferri means 'irons' and refers to the thin metal rod around which small pieces of dough are rolled in order to create this unique shape of pasta. Originating from the southern Calabrian region of Italy, Maccheroni al Ferro is made using semola di grano duro rimaninata, a remilled durum wheat semolina, mixed with a little warm water and olive oil then kneaded until smooth and elastic, a process which takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into five or six smaller pieces, the dough is hand rolled into long snake-like coils then sliced into 1/2 to 1-inch long pieces, then shaped into maccherone using a wooden or metal skewer. One places the skewer on the centre of each piece of dough, and pressing it lightly to make it stable, one then starts rolling the dough to make a cylinder. Removing them carefully, the pasta are laid onto a parchment lined baking sheet until all the maccherone are complete. If one or two don't work out, simply roll them back into a small ball and try again. They don't need to be perfect, just made with love! Served with this classic Ragù alla Bolognese recipe by Mario Batali, the sauce is made with a delicious combination of sautéed vegetables, veal, pork and pancetta which are slow-cooked with milk, white wine and just a hint of tomato paste — a light and delicious sauce for my little pillows of loveliness "e tutto fatto a mano"!

Three simple ingredients: semolina flour, warm water and olive oil

Using a fork, the mixture is blended until it holds together 

The dough is the kneaded for 15-20 minutes until smooth

The dough is cut into six pieces and rolled into long ropes

The dough is cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Using a chopstick, the dough is rolled into 'ferro' and placed on a parchment lined baking sheet

A traditional Ragù alla Bolognese

Maccheroni al Ferro with Ragù alla Bolognese
Serves 2-4

1 cup Semola Di Grano Duro Rimaninata (remilled durum wheat semolina)
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, for adding to boiling the pasta

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 ribs of celery, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
4 oz pancetta, ground or finely diced
6 oz tomato paste
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup parley leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating

In a 6 to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat to start the ragù. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the veal, pork, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Add the meat over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned. Add the tomato paste, milk, and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 60-90 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm until ready to serve. The sauce can also be stored in an airtight container for 1 week in the fridge or frozen for up to 6 months.

Place the flour in a large bowl and make a hole in the centre. Pour in some warm water and olive oil and mix together slowly with a fork until the dough comes together, is no longer sticky and becomes hard to mix with the fork. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a clean surface. Massage the dough by pulling and stretching it out until it becomes soft, smooth and elastic, about 10-20 minutes. 

Slice into 6 pieces and using your hands, roll each piece into long snake-like cylinders about the thickness of a cigarette. Once all the dough has been rolled out, sprinkle some semolina onto a clean surface, and coat all of the pasta so it won't stick together. Slice each roll into 1/2" pieces. Using a 'ferri' or thin wooden skewer, place it in the middle of each small piece of dough, and using a little pressure, roll the rod back and forth until the dough is wrapped completely around the rod, then slide the pasta off and arrange on a parchment lined baking tray in a single layer, and dust with some flour to keep the past from sticking together if necessary. 

The pasta doesn’t need to dry for long and can be thrown into boiling water shortly after being made and will be finished cooking in a few short minutes when they float to the top of the water. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the pasta with any pasta water that's attached, to an appropriate amount of hot Ragù Bolognese, and toss so that the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce. Serve garnished with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a sprig or two of fresh thyme for pizzazz.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Indian Monkfish Curry with Tomato & Cilantro

Often compared to Lobster, Monkfish's firm-fleshed and meaty texture is ideally suited for this warm, fragrant and delicious Indian fish curry. Inspired by a recipe from The Cooking of India by Santha Rama Rau, this curry recipe is simple, easy to prepare and absolutely addictive. Onions, garlic, ginger and kari leaves are sautéed in olive oil until golden brown, then an aromatic mixture of cumin, turmeric, ground coriander, cayenne and fennel seed are added, infusing the kitchen with an intoxicating mouth watering aroma. Chopped tomatoes, yogurt and cilantro are mixed into the sauce, producing a rich fragrant gravy into which sautéed monkfish are added, then simmered for a few more minutes. Served with jasmine rice, papadam and a selection of chutneys, this easy Monkfish Curry is a light and flavourful salute to my tattered Time-Life series of cookbooks.

Monkfish Curry
Serves 2

1 lb monkfish tail
2 1/2 tsp salt
7 tbsp vegetable oil
6 oz finely chopped onions
2 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
12-16 Kari leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds
4 tbsp water
1 lb can tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
6 tbsp plain yogurt

Heat 5 tablespoons of oil over high heat in a large skillet, until water flicked into it splutters instantly. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and kari leaves, and sauté for about 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions are soft and golden brown. Reduce the heat to low, add the cumin, turmeric, ground coriander, fennel and one tablespoon of water, and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro, the yogurt and the remaining teaspoon of salt. Increase the heat to medium, add the remaining water, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. 

Cut the monkfish tail into 1-inch medallions, pat dry and sprinkle with salt. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat in a small skillet, and sauté the monkfish for 2-3 minutes on each side, until each medallion is opaque.

Place the monkfish medallions side by side in the sauce, and sprinkle with the garam masala and remaining cilantro. Reduce the heat to low, cover tightly and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

To serve, ladle the Monkfish Curry into a warmed bowl, and garnish with some chopped cilantro. This is delicious served with basmati rice, papadums and selection of chutneys.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Broccoli, Onion & Dill Frittata with Gruyère

Among the most classic of brunch offerings, omelettes, quiches, and frittatas are also some of the most versatile. Healthy, light and delicious, this low-carb Broccoli, Onion & Dill Frittata with Gruyère is simple to prepare and delicious to make anytime of the year. Italy's version of the Spanish 'tortilla', the frittata is a thick, hearty open-faced omelette with an egg base, and contains more or less anything you like: herbs, vegetables, cheeses, meat, seafood or even pasta. The beautiful thing about frittatas is that there are endless flavour possibilities. They are cooked over very low heat on a stove, or in an oven, until the underside is set and the frittata is beautifully puffed up. 

Broccoli, Onion & Dill Frittata with Gruyère
Serves 4

8 large eggs
1 cup grated Gruyère
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 head of broccoli, florets only, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt & white pepper

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the grated cheese and chopped dill, and set aside. In a medium non-stick sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high and cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the broccoli florets, season with salt, pepper, and sauté stirring frequently until the vegetables have softened, about 4-5 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the vegetables and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, sprinkle with a little more dill, then cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the frittata has set around the edges and the middle is cooked through. If the top is still runny, place the sauté pan in the oven uncovered for 2-3 minutes, until the surface is set. Serve while hot with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice with a splash of sparkling wine for a delicious start to a Sunday morning.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Swordfish with Citrus & Cilantro Marinade

I adore swordfish and serve it at least two or three times a month. Ideally, it's best grilled outdoors on a barbecue to create gorgeous grill marks, but when faced with a winter that just won't quit, baking the swordfish in the oven is the next best thing. With a dense, meaty texture and mildly sweet flavour, the key is preparing a marinade that is fragrant enough to enhance the swordfish without overpowering it's delicacy. This fabulous Citrus and Cilantro Marinade of lemon and orange zest, cilantro, sesame oil, olive oil and Ponzu sauce works beautifully on swordfish as well as salmon, tilapia or even seafood. Marinated for at least half an hour, the swordfish is simply baked in a 400°F oven for about 25 minutes, or until it's just cooked through. Served with a light salad and chilled glass of white wine, warmer weather doesn't seem so far away.

Swordfish with Citrus & Cilantro Marinade
Serves 2

1 lb swordfish, cut in two
3 slices of orange and arugula, for garnish

2 tbsp chopped cilantro
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Kikkoman Ponzu citrus-seasoned soy sauce

In a small food processor, blend the cilantro, lemon zest, orange zest, olive oil, sesame oil and ponzu sauce until well combined. Place the swordfish in a flat dish and coat with the marinade. Allow the fish to marinate 30-60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake the swordfish in a non reactive dish for 25 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.  To serve, place the swordfish on a warmed serving plate and garnish with sliced orange and arugula, accompanied with the salad and a chilled bottle of white wine.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mulligatawny Soup: An Anglo-Indian Classic

A classic Anglo-Indian soup, the name of which means "pepper water," should be richly endowed with meat and piquantly spiced, Mulligatawny became popular with the British stationed in India during colonial times of the late 18th century and later. When they returned home, they brought the recipe back with them to England and other members of the Commonwealth, especially Australia. The recipe for mulligatawny has varied greatly over the years and there is no single original version, but is usually based on a chicken stock and curry, with cream, chicken, onion, celery, apples and almonds and garnished with rice. This recipe by Sydney Oland starts with toasting mustard, cumin and coriander seeds in a small pan over high heat until the spices become toasted and wonderfully fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transferred to a mortar and pestle and ground until fine, it also features fresh ginger, garlic, sweet potato, tomato and green lentils for a bright, richly flavoured and satisfying soup, perfect on a cold winter day.

Mulligatawny Soup
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Sydney Oland

1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds

1/2 tsp whole cumin seed
1/2 tsp whole coriander seed
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb chicken thighs, skinless
1onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
1 medium carrot, finely chopped, about 3/4 cup
1 celery rib, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 tbsp curry powder
3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 apple, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 plum tomato, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup dry red or green lentils
6 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth, or water
Greek yogurt, to garnish
Finely chopped cilantro, to garnish
Red chili flakes, to garnish

Place mustard seed, cumin seed, and coriander seed in a skillet and toast over high heat until spices begin to smell toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and process until fine.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Season the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper and roast until cooked through, about 25 minutes, then transfer to a plate and reserve.

Add the vegetable oil to a large pot and once hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring often until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and toasted spices and stir until the vegetables are evenly covered. Add the garlic, ginger, sweet potato, apple and plum tomato and stir to coat. Add the lentils then return the baked chicken thighs to the pot. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until the potatoes and lentils are soft and soup has thickened, about 1 hour.

Remove thighs from the soup and shred the meat and skin then return to the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with yogurt, cilantro, and red pepper flakes.