Salmon chowder

I bought two fresh lovely pink salmon – and learned to fillet them! – so I packed away all the leftover flesh and bones for a rainy day. Ok, summer’s probably over, but it’s not quite the rainy season yet. This light, lovely, pink soup is a perfect blend for the transition season.

I vaguely followed this recipe. Most fish stock recipes advise to start with a veggie base and sweat the bones. I didn’t know that so I just covered them in water like a regular chicken stock, but I thought it worked quite well. Since the bones aren’t as hefty as chicken or beef, it’s a quick process too – the whole thing, literally from ‘bare bones’, scratch to finish was about an hour.

Fish stock my way… Place leftover bones/meat in large stock pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer about 10-12 minutes. Remove larger pieces, pull off the meat and reserve. Strain the rest through a sieve.

  • stock and meat from two salmon
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced small
  • 3 leeks (or one large), diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, diced small
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Reserve fish stock in a bowl. In stock pot, add some butter and saute fennel, leeks, and garlic. Once a bit browned and translucent, add potatoes, fennel seed, tomatoes, fish stock. Simmer and serve.

To thicken, they suggest smashing a few of the potato bits. I also added a bunch of fresh dill I had in my fridge and it was an excellent complement. I need to make more soups. This was yum.

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Granola!

This, like zucchini muffins, has always been a staple at our house. Besides plain Cheerios, I haven’t bought processed cereal in years. Yes, Cheerios are my weakness. Who knew?

It’s not only delicious but it’s simple, easy to do, and full of whole grains, protein and nutrients that will actually keep you full ’til lunch, unlike 99% of the other stuff you find on store shelves. Plus, it’s delicious. What more can you expect from breakfast cereal?

6+ cups oats
1+ cups wheat bran
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 – 1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 – 1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup chopped almonds
Mix.

1/4 – 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I like grapeseed.)
1/4 – 1/2 cup honey
Heat in microwaveable dish. Add to dry ingredients and mix.

Bake at 350 degrees in a 9″x13″ pan for 20 minutes. Stir and bake another 20 minutes. Make sure to stir down to the very corners so you don’t have blackened bits. Repeat. Let cool and store in airtight container.

How much honey depends on how sweet you like it. I don’t like things very sweet so I tend to go with only 1/4 cup. If you mix it less, you’ll get big sweet clumps. Yum.

All of the ingredients are variable and approximate so this is really just a guideline. You can add any kind of nuts or seeds you desire. Walnuts, pecans, sesame seeds, etc… After it’s baked, you can also add dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots or other dried fruits.

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Crackers.

I’ll start by saying I don’t actually like crackers that much. Sure, I’ll eat those crunchy Stoned-Wheat thin kind if they have enough cheese or antipasto or other tasty dip on them – or if I just want something salty – but I just find anything that you buy in the store to be so awfully dry. Dry, dry, dry.

You can experiment with this recipe a lot too – which I love. I used figs, sunflower seeds and almonds instead of raisins, pecans and sesame but any combination of seeds, nuts and dried fruit would work. You can make it simpler or richer or go for different dried fruits, herbs and spices. I also left out the flaxseed the first time I made them, simply because it wasn’t in my cupboard at the time. I found them to be a bit less mealy in texture, which I liked.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk*
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup flaxseed ground
(*Hint: make buttermilk by adding about a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk)

1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tbsp chopped rosemary

Preheat oven 350F. Stir flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour into two 4″x8″ well-greased loaf pan. Bake 45min until golden and springy to the touch.
Once cooled, stash it in the fridge overnight. It’s easier to slice them thinner if it’s colder so you could make this in only one day but it’ll be a little more challenging and you might get thicker crackers. Slice as thin as possible. Place slices in single layer on ungreased cookie sheet.

The whole batch makes a few dozen so you can leave one loaf in the freezer for another time. Reduce heat to 300 and bake for 15min. Flip and bake for another 10min until crisp and golden.

Source: Grazing (2005), Julie Van Rosendaal.

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Just a bit o’ brunch

This is such a lovely recipe – so simple yet so complementary. Almost like my bit of sushi last week but less finicky.

I found this simple creation in a BC Liquor store magazine a few years and a few seasons back – couldn’t actually tell you which copy now, but probably a spring or summer version. Makes a great summer salad without the egg and hollandaise, but also makes a delightful variation on your typical eggs benny. Enjoy!

Salsa base – finely diced cherry/strawberry tomatoes and mango

Guacamole – simple with a bit of lemon juice and garlic

About 1 cup of fresh dungeness crab

1/4 cup mayo on the side – with 2 tsp fresh dill and 1/2 tsp lemon zest (or replace with hollandaise with a bit of dill)

Pack crab meat in ramekin. Add avocado mixture and pack down. Add mango/tomato salsa on top. Pack tightly (for optimal results, refrigerate 1 hour), slide a knife around the edge and slide out onto a bed of fresh arugula, with a dollop of dill lemon mayo on the side. Or add a poached egg and smother it in hollandaise ūüôā Love.

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Beautiful Beer

This is the result of our very first batch of beer!! And it’s delicious! We are doing an all grain mash so it’s going to be a lot of fun to experiment. We made what was supposed to be an Irish Red Ale but is a bit more like an English style brown. It’s tasty though and properly carbonated to boot.

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Popsicles

This summer, I renewed my love of popsicles – and who wouldn’t with these colourful beauties. While the cup at the bottom does keep it from dripping, it makes it rather difficult to actually finish off your popsicle. This requires some fancy licking, which is, well… awkward.

However, I happened upon this fun book this summer, all about a troupe from Brooklyn making popsicles from fresh ingredients and of course, how would that not delight me!?

I can’t even really tell you how I made this – apricot tarragon is not in the book – there are, however, many variations and easily adaptable. That’s partly why I love this book. They take some time to explain the process but then the world is yours to explore.

I modified this recipe a bit from a plum, yogurt, tarragon, to use up all the apricots I had sitting about, as one does… They also have beautiful concoctions of peach-bourbon, cognac and pear, and strawberry balsamic. Their ingredients include everything from lavender and star anise to heirloom peppers and moonshine (though not all at once… *shudder*). And where exactly does one find moonshine nowadays, anyway?

Here it goes:

Makes about 10

1 lb apricots (about 12)
1 cup simple syrup (ratio 1:1 sugar, water – heat until dissolved)
2 sprigs tarragon (They chose to season their syrup, and discard. I didn’t think the flavour was strong enough so chopped them up and put them directly in the popsicles. To each their own. It might be nicer to have a smooth popsicle finish and not find bits of green to chew on and perhaps the flavour comes through more in a plum concoction – either way, you know I love my tarragon so those leaves were going in.)
2 tbsp fresssh lemon juice
1/4 vanilla yogurt

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Cut apricots in half and remove pits. Place cut-side down on cookie sheet and roast until softened – about 20 min.

When cool, add apricots and everything else to food processor and blend. Should be quite sweet – they explain that the mixture will dull in sweetness on freezing so make sure it is on the curl-your-toes side.

Mine ended up quite tart, which is kinda nice on a really hot day. However, I also used plain yogurt instead of vanilla and might have even reduced the syrup because I don’t like things too sweet.

If you have leftover popsicle mash, ice cube trays are great.
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Sushi take two, with a little bit of mayo.

More sushi! I made nigiri this time with fresh scallops – as well as a chopped scallop roll. Incredible. The texture of raw scallop is like nothing else – firm but so delicate, it just melts in your mouth. If you try this though, be careful! Get high quality, fresh fresh fresh fresh fresh, and make sure it’s not red-tide season, among other things. Talk to your seafood market specialist as to what they recommend. If you’re not sure – cook them.

I tried the crab, avocado, mango, blackberry mayo roll and it was gooood. It was a beautiful balance of flavours, with the rich oils from the avocado and salty meat from the crab balancing the tangy fruitiness of the blackberries and mango. A delightful treat. And don’t go and spend $$ on a bottle japanese mayo. Here’s all you need to know:

Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk
1 tbsp dijon
Whisk.

Add 3/4 cup vegetable oil drop by drop, whisking all the time to ensure your mixture emulsifies. Ensure oil is fully incorporated before adding more. If it curdles, start over with a new egg yolk.

Add 1 tbsp vinegar (any kind – for sushi, I would use rice vinegar) or lemon juice.

If you’re making this by hand – also follow my neat trick¬†for keeping the bowl steady. All that whisking means you need a big bowl and a stable base.

I love stuff like this because it empowers us to not buy the store-bought stuff with fillers, preservatives and other stabilizers or emulsifiers to keep it on the shelf. Plus, when you run out of mayo, you don’t have to panic and run out to the store or add it to the grocery list – just go make some. Ta da.

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Local ice cream!

Beautiful local ice cream! These guys make good stuff and you should try it. This flavour was whiskey hazelnut. Made for me! I picked this one up at the Woodlands Smokehouse and Commissary, which is worth a visit, if not for ice cream, which is admittedly pricey at $9/pint, the housemade salamis, maple bourbon bacon, Cartems donuts, and other such local delicacies… not to mention the best Reuben sandwich I’ve ever had! My mouth is seriously watering, just thinking about it… Ugh.

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A Sunday on my feet

What a productive day! I made no-knead bread, pancakes, sweet and sour pork, tzatziki, strawberry peach popsicles, learned to fillet salmon and froze two, maraschino cherries… and crackers (the coveted, ultra-expensive Lesley Stowe kind… recipe will come).

I’m pooped. Needless to say, I didn’t feel like making much for dinner (the pork dish is for this week’s lunches). I sauteed up some amaranth with some garlic butter and I’ll probably end up eating a good deal of bread and cheese. I also have a zucchini roasting in the oven that I might mix with some feta but I’m not sure I’m even hungry anymore. Sitting feels good.

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Latkes

Fresh green onions from the UBC Farm and fresh potatoes too. I had about 8 of these giant stalks and there’s only so much salad, so many omelettes, and so many stir frys a girl can have before you start to look for something new. I added some dark sweet potatoes for some colour and a little extra egg to hold them together. I also used grapeseed oil to fry them in order to keep a higher temp. I love that stuff. Spitting oil is NO MORE!

Latkes:

2 cups finely chopped onions
2 eggs
1 1/4 tsps salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 lbs russet potatoes, grated
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder

Modified from Bon Appetit December 2007 via epicurious.

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