Friday, June 28, 2013

Roasted Beet, Chickpea & Arugula Salad with Chèvre

The vibrant jewel-toned colours of magenta beets, golden chickpeas, bright green arugula and tangy chèvre play off each other deliciously in this fabulous Mediterranean-inspired salad. The bolt of colour from sweet earthy roasted beets and the chunks of creamy chèvre balance perfectly with the nutty flavour and buttery texture of the chickpeas, nestled on a bed of peppery wild arugula and dressed with a simple vinaigrette. This wildly flavourful and nutritious salad is great on its own or served alongside some simply grilled fish or seafood. 

Roasted Beet, Chickpea & Arugula Salad with Chèvre
Serves 6

4 small beets, washed & leafy tops removed
3 cups arugula
2 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, drained & rinsed
8 oz goat cheese or chèvre, crumbled
Maldon sea salt, for garnish

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, minced
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wrap each of the beets in aluminum foil and bake for at least an hour, or until a knife passes easily through the beets. Allow them to cool then using plastic gloves, peel the skins off. Cut the beets into small wedges and place in a bowl. To make the vinaigrette, 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 to taste. To serve, arrange the arugula, beets, chèvre and chickpeas on a serving dish and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Garnish with some Maldon sea salt for a little extra zing.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sesame-Shiitake Bok Choy with Salmon Bulgogi

A popular Korean dish, Bulgogi is typically made with thin strips of beef marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, and other seasonings, but is equally delicious when used as an aromatic marinade for salmon, chicken or even pork. Served with a light, healthy and fragrant Asian-inspired Sesame-Shiitake Bok Choy with ginger, garlic, sesame oil and oyster sauce, the combination of flavours and textures are outstanding. Reserving some of the marinade for the Salmon Bulgogi, makes for a rich and fragrant syrupy glaze for the fillets, once they've been removed from the grill. Served with a Cold Soba Noodle Salad, this is a sensational light meal for a hot summer evening.

Salmon Bulgogi with Sesame-Shiitake Bok Choy
Serves 4

4 6-ounce center-cut salmon fillets
1 tbsp olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled, divided
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
3/4 tsp chili-garlic sauce

Sesame-Shiitake Bok Choy:
1 tbsp oil, canola
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 lb bok choy, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 cups shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 pinch crushed red pepper, optional

Blend one garlic clove and remaining marinade ingredients in mini processor. Arrange the salmon in a glass baking dish, spoon the marinade over top and let marinate 10-15 minutes.

Preheat and outdoor grill to medium-high or indoor oven to 500°F. Arrange the fish, with some marinade still clinging, on rimmed baking sheet, or on the heated grill. Transfer any leftover marinade into to small saucepan. Roast/Grill the fish until just opaque in the centre, about 8-12 minutes. Bring the marinade in the saucepan to a boil, then set aside and reserve for a finishing glaze.

Meanwhile, start the sesame-shiitake bok choy by heating one tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant but not browned, about 30 seconds. Add the bok choy, mushrooms and ginger, and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring often, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Stir in the oyster sauce, sesame oil and salt. Garnish with sesame seeds, crushed red pepper and serve immediately.

To serve, place the vegetables on a decorative platter or divide among warmed dinner plates, and top with the salmon. Brush the fish with the glaze and serve immediately.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad
Serves 4

2 bundles (3.5oz) of soba noodles (Japanese buckwheat noodles)
3/4 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 lime, zest and juice
1/4 orange, juiced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp sriracha chili paste or similar, to taste
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1 tsp sesame seeds

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook soba noodles for 5-7 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool. Add all of the ingredients together in a medium size bowl and stir to combine. Add the cold noodles, cover and refrigerate one hour. The flavours will meld and the noodles will absorb the flavourful liquid. Serve with an extra scattering of chopped scallions and sesame seeds.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Rich, moist and delicious, these Banana Cupcakes with fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting are one of my favourite mini desserts. A sweet symbol of celebration, you don't need a special occasion to make these divine little morsels. An excellent way to use up over ripe bananas — the browner they are, the better — the same recipe can be used to make mini banana breads or even smaller bite-size cocktail muffins.

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 14 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
5 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
14 whole or chopped pecans, for garnish

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake wrappers and set aside. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add the bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla, and mix to combine. Stir in the nuts, and pour into the muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are firm to the touch. Let rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese until smooth; then add the sugar and vanilla, and mix until light and fluffy. Chill the frosting for about 30-60 minutes for a firmer icing. To assemble the cupcakes, spread tops with cream cheese frosting and garnish with a whole or chopped pecans.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Acccordian-Fanned Caprese alla Sorrentina

This sensational acccordian-fanned Caprese alla Sorrentina was inspired by a dish that I enjoyed last summer at Ristorante Giardino in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Styled on the traditional presentation technique used for making Hasselback Potatoes, this beautifully presented Caprese Salad is served as a whole beefsteak tomato, fanned open with ripe and creamy fior di latte mozzarella, garnished with basil pesto, balsamic vinegar, mixed olives nestled on a bed of arugula and topped with baby sprouts. Simple, healthy and delicious, I've recreated this fabulous summer salad many times with great delight.

Scalloped Hasselback Potatoes  photo:

The inspiration for this Caprese Salad came from Hasselback Potatoes, a Swedish recipe named after Hasselbacken, a Stockholm restaurant which first served the dish in 1748, where they were called hasselbackspotatis. In their simplest form, they're nothing more than whole potatoes cut in such a way as to resemble a fan or accordion when roasted. The outside of the potato becomes crisp and brown while the inside is soft and creamy, and makes a delicious accompaniment to grilled beef, pork or chicken. The accordian-fanned Hasselback presentation can be used for lots of other dishes, such as Hasselback Sweet Potatoes, Accordian Fanned Strawberries with Mint & Marscapone or my fabulous Caprese alla Sorrentina.

Acccordian-Fanned Caprese alla Sorrentina
Serves 4

4 ripe hot house tomatoes
4 fior di latte mozzarella or Mozzarella di Bufala (same size as tomato), sliced
1/4 cup basil pesto
Balsamic vinegar or glaze, for garnish
4 cups of arugula or mixed greens
12 sun-dried black olives
2 cups microgreens
Maldon salt

Make a series of 1/4-inch thick slices into each tomato, making sure not to cut through to the other side. Fan out the tomatoes, and insert a slice of fresh buffalo mozzarella between each slice. To serve, place a bed of arugula or mixed greens in the centre of 4 dinner plates and top each of the stuffed tomatoes. Garnish generously with tablespoonfuls of basil pesto and a drizzle of glazed balsamic vinegar over top. Finish with your favourite sea salt, a few sun-dried back olives and crown with a mound of fresh baby microgreens. 

Scalloped Hasselback Potatoes
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy

4 whole russet potatoes
1/4 cup butter
4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp and 1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup cheddar 

Sour cream and chopped chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Wash and dry the potatoes. You'll need 2 wooden spoons with handles of the same width. Place a spoon on each side of the potato and start slicing the potato into thin slices. The spoons will stop the knife from cutting all the way through the potato. Slice the butter into thin pieces. Alternate the butter and the parmesan, stuffing them in between the slices of the potato. Season the potato with garlic powder and kosher salt, then drizzle with olive oil. Bake on a parchment lined baking tray at 400ºF for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle heavy cream over the potatoes and top with cheddar cheese. Place back in the oven for 10-12 more minutes. Remove and serve with a dollop of sour cream and flurry of chopped chives.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Spicy Red Lentil Soup with Harissa, Bacon & Cumin

Red lentils or “masoor dal” in India, are one of my favourite types of legume, full of fiber, protein, and iron, they're a near perfect food. Wonderfully versatile, they cook faster than other varieties and can be paired with a multitude of ingredients. This savoury Moroccan-spiced recipe for Red Lentil Soup with Harissa, Bacon & Cumin is both comforting and delicious, and gets an extra kick from the harissa, a hot chili paste typically associated with Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Most lentil soups fall into one of two categories: highly spiced, or not spiced — sometimes called bland. This one sits very happily at the spicy end with the harissa adding a tolerable amount of heat and a wonderful complexity of flavour. A hearty, thick and satisfying soup, the bacon, cumin and yogurt add a robust note to this delicious low fat soup. 

Spicy Red Lentil Soup with Harissa, Bacon & Cumin
Serves 4-6

5 slices (4-ounces) bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp harissa paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine and 1/2 cup water
6 tbsp low fat yogurt
6 fresh sprigs of basil, for garnish

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a piece of paper towel, and set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings from pan. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots to saucepan. Cook vegetables over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the the lentils, cumin, harissa (or tomato paste), chicken stock, wine and water; stir to combine. Simmer until the lentils are cooked and falling apart, about 25-30 minutes. The soup is fairly thick, so if you prefer it thinner just add more stock or water. Using an immersion or regular blender, purée the soup, leaving it somewhat chunky or smooth. Reheat if necessary, stirring in the lemon juice. To serve, divide the hot soup among four warmed soup plates and garnish with the reserved crumbled bacon, a dollop of yogurt and fresh sprig of basil.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chlodnik: Crazy Crimson Chilled Beet Soup

Wonderfully light and refreshing, Chlodnik is the ultimate Polish summer soup. Pronounced 'who-wad-neek', the key ingredients in this fabulous fuchsia soup are fresh young beets. Chlodnik is typically made with a selection of crunchy raw chopped vegetables such as cucumbers and spring onions, and flavoured with some chopped dill. The soup's brilliant magenta colour can vary depending on how much dairy is used, so for a crazy crimson Chlodnik, use a little less buttermilk. Smacznego! Bon appetit.

Chunky-style Chlodonik

Chlodnik (Chilled Beet Soup)
Serves 4-6

1 bunch fresh red beets
1 English cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 bunch of dill
1 bunch of spring onions
1 cup Greek yogurt
3 cups buttermilk 
salt and pepper

Wash the beets, then wrap them individually in foil and roast at 450°F for 1 hour. Cool completely, then peel and dice the beets — use plastic gloves if you don't want crimson hands.

Finely dice the cucumbers and spring onion, then chop the dill. Combine the vegetables and beets in a large pot and mix gently. Add the yogurt and buttermilk and mix again, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Chill the soup for minimum 2 hours, but it tastes much better if left in the fridge overnight as it allows the flavours to meld and become more intense.

The soup can be served as is, a little chunky, or can be processed in a blender for a finer consistency. Serve cold with a dollop of sour cream a sprig of dill, and even some chopped hard boiled eggs for a traditional Polish Chlodnik.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Grilled Tandoori Tiger Prawns

Sitting under the stars on a warm summer evening, what could possibly be better than a platter of Grilled Tandoori Tiger Prawns marinated in a traditional Indian mixture of plain yogurt, Bolst's curry powder, hot chili powder, cumin, grated ginger, cilantro and lemon juice. This tongue-tingling dish makes a sensational appetizer or impressive entrée for serious seafood enthusiasts. More like small lobster tails, these sweet and firm 'super colossal' tiger prawns are so large they're sold at about 4-6 to the pound, although 'colossal' which are 8-12 count do an admirable job too. The key is to buy the largest prawns you can! The yogurt holds the seasonings in place so they grill slowly into a vibrant saffron coloured hue and give off the most intoxicating aroma. A quick and easy recipe for a great outdoor dinner, the marinade can also be used for chicken, lamb, any variety of firm fish like Monkfish, Ling Cod or one of my favourites, paneer cheese. Heaven!

Grilled Tandoori-Style Tiger Prawns
Serves 4

12 super colossal tiger prawns, about 4-6 per pound
1 cup plain yogurt, Balkan or Greek style
2 tbsp Bolst's curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Shell and devein the prawns. Leave whole or butterfly them by making a deep lengthwise incision from the tail to the end, being careful not to cut all the way through. Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Using your hands, thoroughly coat the prawns, then cover and refrigerate to allow the prawns to marinate for at least 2 to 3 hours or even overnight. 

When ready, preheat the barbecue and once hot, place the prawns on the hot grill. Grill for about 2 to 3 minutes per side until the prawns are just cooked through and the colour has changed. Serve immediately with Coriander Mint Chutney or Cucumber Raita.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Berry Pudding with Crème Fraîche

Summer Pudding is one of the quintessential English desserts, and one of my personal favourites! A triumphal end to many summer lunches and dinners I've hosted over the years, Summer Berry Pudding has also become an eagerly anticipated summer treat for many of my friends — as easy to make as it is outstandingly delicious. Packed full of fresh summer strawberries, raspberries and blueberries that have been simmered with brown sugar and framboise, then poured into a bread lined bowl and chilled overnight, the pectin in the berries react with the sugar in the bread, and as the pudding chills, it firms up into the most fabulous crimson coloured berry-licious pudding. Served with a dollop of creme fraiche, Summer Pudding is heaven on earth.

Summer Pudding
Serves 12

1 lb strawberries
1 lb raspberries
1 lb blueberries
1 lb blackberries
1 package frozen mixed berries
1 cup light brown sugar
1 loaf white bread
1/2 cup framboise

2 cups crème fraîche and fresh mint, for garnish

Remove the crusts from the bread. Wash and trim all the fresh berries, and add them to a large saucepan with the frozen berries, framboise, brown sugar and 1/2 cup of water, and cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the berries have released their juices, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then remove 1 cup of the juice and set aside.

Lightly grease a medium sized bowl with some vegetable oil, then line the bowl with the slices of bread, covering the bottom and the sides. Using a large spoon, ladle the berry mixture into the bread lined bowl, then top with the remaining slices of bread. Lay a flat plate on top with a heavy weight to squash the fruit down, and chill 12-24 hours.

When ready to serve, place a large serving plate on top of the bowl and gently invert. Shake gently to release the pudding onto the plate and spoon the reserved juice over the top, garnishing with some sprigs of fresh mint. Serve cut into wedges, with a bowl of thick crème fraîche on the table. Heaven!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Asian Marinated Swordfish & Jalapeño Corn Pudding

Rich and succulent Grilled Swordfish bathed in a tangy Asian-inspired Lime, Cilantro & Ginger Marinade served over a bed of poached asparagus with rich, cheesy and soufflé-like Jalapeño Corn Pudding is soul satisfyingly delicious. The fragrant combination of lime juice, lime zest, cilantro, mint, ginger, sesame oil, fish sauce, brown sugar and soy sauce are blended together in a food processor until smooth, then poured over the fresh swordfish and allowed to marinate for about half an hour. While the fish is marinating, the Jalapeño Corn Pudding can be made in one large casserole or as individual ramekins. 

Corn niblets, chopped onion, garlic and jalapeños are sautéed in a little butter until the onions become soft and translucent. Corn meal, whole milk and cream and then added, along with diced red pepper, cilantro, green onions and cheddar cheese. As the mixture cools slightly, egg yolks and whisked egg whites are added to the batter, for a light soufflé-like texture, and then poured into a buttered casserole or ramekins, and topped with a final sprinkling of cheese. Baked for 35-45 minutes until the pudding becomes rich, fluffy and golden brown, this is classic Southern comfort food at its decadent best.

A tangy Asian-inspired marinade of lime, cilantro, mint, ginger, sesame oil, 
fish sauce, brown sugar and soy sauce

The swordfish is marinated in the mixture for at least 30 minutes

The Jalapeño Corn Pudding starts by sautéeing corn, onion, garlic and chopped jalapeños

A cup of cornmeal is added along with whole milk and cream, 
and mixed together until it thickens

Chopped red pepper, scallions and cilantro are then added

The mixture is stirred together with a cup of grated cheddar

The mixture is allowed to cool slightly, at which point 4 egg yolks are mixed in, 
followed by 4 whisked egg whites, then poured into a casserole or individual ramekins
and baked until golden

Asian Marinated Swordfish & Jalapeño Corn Pudding
Serves 2

1 lb Swordfish, at least  3/4-inch thick, cut into 2 portions
1 lb asparagus, poached

1 tbsp diced red pepper, lemon zest and mint, for garnish
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce

Put all of the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Place the swordfish in a glass dish and pour the marinade overtop, making sure it's well coated on all sides. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat and cook the swordfish until it's just cooked though, about 15-20 minutes. Garnish with a flurry of chopped red pepper, lemon zest and fresh mint, served over a bed of poached asparagus with Jalapeño Corn Pudding.

COOK'S NOTE: The swordfish can also be prepared as bite size chunks, then marinated, grilled and served as kebabs or as an appetizer with decorative bamboo picks.

Jalapeño Corn Pudding
Serves 8 

2 tbsp butter

1 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cups fresh corn kernels

1/3 cup finely chopped, seeded, jarred jalapeño peppers

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

4 large eggs, separated

1 3/4 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese or monterey jack

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish or 6-8 ramekins. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté the onion, corn, jalapeño and garlic until onion is soft and translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Stir in the cornmeal. Add milk and cream, and stir over medium heat until a thick batter forms, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in red peppers, green onions, cilantro, 1 cup of cheese, 1 tsp salt, and black pepper; cool 15 minutes. Meanwhile whip the egg whites in a separate bowl with a tiny pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. Mix the egg yolks into the cooled-down pudding batter, then gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish, or ramekins, and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cups of cheese. Bake the pudding until the top is golden and the centre is just set, about 35-45 minutes for a large casserole, and 25-30 minutes for ramekins. Serve immediately with the Cajun Swordfish.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Black Bean, Red Pepper, Corn & Feta Salad

A colourful and delicious cold summer salad, this Black Bean, Corn & Feta Salad is perfect fare for an al fresco summer lunch or dinner on the deck. It's easy to make, can be made ahead of time and holds up beautifully for a long weekend up north at the cottage. Made with a handful of simple, healthy and tasty ingredients, this salad will soon become part of your summer repertoire.

Black Bean, Red Pepper, Corn & Feta Salad
Serves 6-8

1/2 cup feta cheese
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon
2 1/2 cups black beans
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups canned corn
1/2 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 cup red pepper, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, coarsely chopped 
Salt and pepper go taste

In a large bowl, add the feta and break it up with a fork. Whisk in the oil, vinegar and mustard. Then add all of the other ingredients and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day: BBQ Baby Back Pork Spareribs

One of the quintessential meals for Father's Day must be a heaping platter of grilled baby back ribs, smothered in a piquant BBQ sauce and cooked until they're 'fall-off-the-bone' tender. Tangy and delicious, these sticky pork spareribs are braised in an aromatic liquid for at least an hour, until they're perfectly tender, then marinated in a smoky BBQ sauce for up to three days. Because they can be prepared well ahead of time, these savoury summer spareribs are perfect party fare — just brown on the grill to caramelize the sauce, and you're done. They're finger licking good!

Father's Day BBQ Spareribs
Serves 4

Braising liquid:
8 cups beef stock
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cayenne
1 1/2 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp Tabasco
1 3"x2" nob of fresh ginger, sliced coarsely
1 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup honey
1 tbsp salt

1 rack baby back pork ribs
1 jar good quality BBQ sauce

Combine all the braising liquid ingredients in a large pot, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cut the ribs into 4"-5" slabs and add to the pot. Simmer until tender, but not falling apart, about 60-80 minutes. 

When done, transfer the ribs to a large bowl and coat with BBQ sauce. You can make your own very easily, but I cheat and buy Diana's Chipotle BBQ Sauce. I even marinate them in a sturdy plastic bag, to save on fridge space. The ribs can be prepared up to 2 to 3 days in advance at this point, and kept chilled until ready to BBQ.

Heat BBQ and transfer ribs to the grill, and cook long enough to brown. Baste frequently with leftover BBQ sauce, and serve immediately with extra warmed sauce on the side.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tandoori Spiced Grilled Salmon Steak

While the tandoor clay oven, which originated in the old northwest frontier of India, is the traditional method for cooking tandoori dishes, this delicious Grilled Salmon Steak works perfectly well on an outdoor barbecue also. The robust spice rub of cumin, paprika, garam masala, turmeric and red chilli powder teams with fresh ginger, garlic and lime juice, emulsified with five tablespoons of vegetable oil, to create a wonderfully fragrant and aromatic marinade for this Tandoori Spiced Grilled Salmon, inspired by a recipe from Chef Mehermosh Mody's La Porte des Indes cookbook.

Chef Mody's excellent Porte des Indes cookbook

Marinated for a few hours, the salmon is grilled on the barbecue for 10 to 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and has become the most glorious deep fiery red colour. Gorgeous on salmon, this fabulous marinade is delicious on other firm fish, chicken and lamb as well. Served with some lime pickle or coriander mint chutney, this recipe has become one of my favourite marinades, created by one of my favourite Indian chefs. 

Chef Mehermosh Mody, who I chatted with in London earlier this year

Tandoori Grilled Salmon Steak
Serves 2

2 salmon steaks, at least 1-inch thick
Lime wedges for garnish

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Juice of 1/2 lime
5 tbsp vegetable oil

Use a food processor to blend together the ginger, garlic and a little water, then add the remaining ingredients, mixing well to make a paste. Marinate the salmon in the mixture for 1-2 hours.

Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat and cook the salmon steaks about 10-15 minutes, turning them over half way during the cooking time. Garnish with the lime wedges and serve with some lime pickle.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Onion Bhaji with Cucumber Mint Raita

A classic Indian snack, Onion Bhaji are absolutely delicious and completely addictive little deep-fried fritters made with a fragrant combination of chopped red and yellow onions and a selection of aromatic spices and fresh herbs bound together with a thick gooey batter of water, chickpea flour and rice flour. I also like to throw in a handful of kari leaves and a chopped seeded hot green chili for extra flavour. Shaped into loose dumplings or patties, the bhaji are flash fried in a deep saucepan of hot vegetable oil until they're crispy and golden brown all over. Served with a bowl of Cucumber Mint Raita, or your favourite chutney, these delectable little darlings can be enjoyed as an appetizer with cocktails, or as a starter before an Indian inspired meal.

Onion Bhaji with Cucumber Mint Raita
Makes 10-12 appetizers

1 medium yellow onion
1 medium red onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 2-inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp Tikka Masala paste
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
kosher salt, to taste
1 green chilli, finely chopped and de-seeded - optional
10-12 kari leaves, also known as curry leaves - optional
6 oz besan flour, also known as chickpea flour
2 oz rice flour - makes the fritters extra crispy!
1/4 cup water, or as required
Vegetable oil for frying

Cucumber Mint Raita:
1 cup natural or Greek yoghurt
1/2 English cucumber, grated
1 bunch mint leaves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1 lemon, zested
1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped - optional

For the raita, wrap the grated cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze out as much excess water as you can. Mix together with all of the other ingredients in a small bowl and chill until needed.

Cut the onions in half and finely slice into half-moon shapes, separating each individual slice. Place in a large mixing bowl, and add the garlic, ginger, spices, lemon juice, cilantro (plus the green chilli and kari leaves if using) and salt to taste, and mix gently until combined. Add the chick pea and rice flour and water, a little at a time, until all the onions are coated well. The mixture should not be a batter but thick enough to hold it's shape and hold together well — like a thick gooey paste. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium, or use a deep fat fryer. Once the oil reaches 350°F, or a cube of white bread browns after 40 seconds, it's ready to use. You can also check the temperature by dropping in a small spoonful of the mixture - it should sizzle and float. Taste the bhaji and adjust the seasoning if required.

With moistened hands, make a loose dumpling or patty with the onion bhaji mixture and gently drop into the hot oil, about 5 at a time. Stir gently and fry until evenly golden brown all over. Remove the bhaji using a slotted spoon once they're done, and drain on paper towel. Repeat the process in small batches until all the mixture is used up. Serve immediately or allow to cool to room temperature if you prefer, and accompany the bhaji with cucumber mint raita or coriander mint chutney.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rhubarb, Honey & Orange Oatmeal Morning Muffins

Light, healthy, moist and delicious, these Rhubarb, Honey & Orange Oatmeal Muffins take full advantage of the abundance of rhubarb in the markets these days. Made with buttermilk, oats, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, orange zest and sweetened with honey and brown sugar, these muffins are fabulous fresh out of the oven for breakfast especially when served alongside a heaping bowl of Rhubarb Compote or slathered with sweet Cinnamon-Orange Honey Butter.

Rhubarb, Honey & Orange Oatmeal Muffins 
Makes 12 muffins

1 cup large-flake rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup liquid honey
2 tsp orange zest
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cup rhubarb, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

Line muffin cups with paper liners or grease with some butter or vegetable oil, then set aside. In large bowl, stir together the oats and buttermilk and let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the honey, oil, orange zest, sugar and egg to the buttermilk mixture, then pour into the flour mixture, stirring just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Then add the rhubarb. Divide the dough among the prepared cups. Bake in centre of 375°F oven until the tops are firm to the touch, about 25-30 minutes depending on the size of the muffins. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with Cinnamon-Orange Honey Butter or Rhubarb Compote.

Cinnamon-Orange Honey Butter
Makes 3/4 cup

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Serve with the Rhubarb, Honey & Orange Oatmeal Muffins.

Rhubarb Compote
Makes 3 cups

6 cups fresh chopped rhubarb, washed
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup maple sugar or brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer gently until the rhubarb starts to soften, about five minutes. Uncover and continue to cook another five minutes, then remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.