Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fish Frenzy!

There is a bit of a salmon frenzy going on in BC right now....the salmon run this year is the largest it has been since 1913! This means lots of salmon and at good prices! So I decided to join the throngs...and get me a salmon....a whole salmon! So I crept out of work on this terribly rainy day and headed down to Fisherman's Wharf on Granville Island to buy a salmon fresh off the boat. But when I got there they were sold out! So much for my idea that no one would go out on such a crappy day...but such was not the case. The nice fisherlady told me to come back on Saturday when they will sell line caught salmon...not sure what the difference is, but she seemed really keen so I said I would return then. I was not to be discouraged and headed to my favorite market fish monger to see what they had...knowing I would now be paying retail...but still hoping for a good deal. Success!
I found this guy...isn't he beautiful ? Just over 4lbs of Sockeye goodness. I wanted to try cutting up the salmon myself so I took him home whole, instead of getting the fish monger to filet him for me. Next time I will get them to do it...or make sure I have better ( sharper) knives at hand. I kind of butchered him but did get some filets out of him. I also ended up with a lot of good flesh still on the carcass....so I carefully shaved the bits off and decided to make salmon ceviche with them.

Next I placed the bones and head etc. into a large pot , covered it with cold water, added some onion, parsley, cracked pepper, garlic clove, bay leaf and a splash of wine and made salmon stock.And the filets? Apparently the best way to freeze them is to put them in a container ( ie plastic container) and cover them with cold water and freeze them. So I tried this...hopefully it works we shall see later after I defrost one of my salmon popsicle's.

Salmon and pineapple ceviche

Fresh salmon chunks or bits (bite sized)
red onion, diced
juice of 2 lemons
juice of one lime
fresh pineapple cut up into small dice ( slightly larger than the onion)
fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
splash of Ponzu sauce
jalapeno pepper, tiny dice ( optional)

The amounts can vary depending on how much salmon you have and how big are the chunks. Just make sure there is enough juice to pretty much cover the salmon. Place everything in a plastic of glass bowl with a lid. Shake or mix it all up gently to make everything is coated. Place in the refrigerator ( mixing occasionally) for two to four hours... it depends on the size of the chunks and how you like your salmon. My salmon was so fresh that I only marinated for 1.5 hours.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer bounty

This is the best time of year for tomatoes and so many more fruits and veggies. You want to devour them all up as soon as possible, for you know that their season is fleeting and before long they will be gone for another year. So the next best thing is freezing and canning.

That is exactly what I did when I made a fresh tomato and basil sauce. I enjoyed it fresh that evening and froze the remainder to enjoy later in the fall.

Tomato Basil Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 a medium yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
pinch red chili flakes
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp red wine
2 lbs of fresh tomatoes, chopped
pinch of sugar
handful of fresh basil, chopped ( or chiffonade, if you want to get fancy)

Saute the onion, garlic and chili in the olive oil in a large pot. Add the red wine and reduce to half. Add the chopped tomatoes ( and a couple of ounces of water if you think it needs it to get going) and the sugar, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Simmer on medium until the tomatoes have softened and it resembles a sauce ( about 30 min). Add the the basil and simmer for an additional few minutes. Serve over pasta. Or let it cool to room temperature and put in a freezer safe container.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Cooking shows on PBS

I love a lazy Saturday when I sleep late and get to watch a marathon of cooking shows on my local PBS station (when they are not preempted with some sort of fund raising programming)...it is a real treat.

12:00 pm Jacques Pepin: More Fast Food My Way
12:30 pm Everyday Food
1:00 pm Mexico - One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless
1:30 pm Avec Eric
2:00 pm Lidia's Italy
2:30 pm Chefs A' Field
3:00 pm America's Test Kitchen from Cook's Illustrated
3:30 pm Cook's Country from America's Test Kitchen

And very inspirational... I always want to cook after I watch them. Today, Lidia's walnut pesto caught my eye.. it was so easy, and I happened to have walnuts in my cupboard. The recipe is below... I didn't quite have enough ricotta, so mine is not as creamy as it should be... but it was still very tasty. It is quite rich and would go nicely with a green salad and a glass of pino grigio.

Lidia's Walnut Pesto ( serves 4)

1 cup walnut halves or pieces, toasted ( you can do this using a dry pan - watch closely!)
1 clove garlic
1 1/4 cups ricotta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated grana padano or Parmesan (optional)

1/2 cup tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper

Put walnuts and garlic in food processor and blend until an even coarse meal ( sort of like bread crumbs). In large bowl mix together the remaining ingredients.

Toss with cooked ( drained) pasta like taglitelle, fettuccine, linguine.

UPDATE - I tried this again making sure I had all the ingredients. I added a bit more ricotta than before and reduced the parmesan ( changes have be made above). This is a very rich pasta, so I would estimate serving less than you usually do. I would also suggest adding some green peas to the pasta just to cut the richness and add some more colour contrast. I also used fresh ( vs. dried) fettuccine this time and preferred the taste.