That’s what this time of year is. It’s just in between. It’s not winter and it’s not quite spring. I went clothes shopping today and had a hard time finding much. It’s still too early for white jeans and short-sleeved T’s, but if I have to wear the same old sweaters I’ve been wearing all winter one more day, I’ll go berserk.
I was wondering why I have found it hard lately to get motivated to try anything new in the kitchen. I’ve read similar comments by other food bloggers. Have you noticed that many of your favourite food blog posts are, well, boring, lately? Another kale salad?? C’mon. Even Pinterest seems to just be recycling the same old fattening desserts made with a cake mix and a package of instant pudding . . . or low-fat pancakes made with a mashed banana and a handful of oats. Oh yum.
And now I’ve realized why. We’re simply in between seasons. Asparagus hasn’t poked up through the soil yet, it’s not prawning season for a while, and here at home we’re just working on using up our freezer stores of pumpkin puree, blueberries, and Saskatoons. Once the sun comes back, the nettles will be out, we’ll be getting creative with garlic scapes, and we’ll be scooping up all the early produce at the farmers’ market.
In the meantime, here’s one of our old standby’s. It’s a supper we make when there’s “nothing to make.” We usually have fresh spinach and eggs in the frig, and potatoes, shallots, and parmesan are always on hand. It’s fast and easy to throw together for those nights when you just don’t feel like cooking.
Bring on Spring!
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 baking potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 bunches flat-leaved spinach, stems removed, washed, dried and torn
- 2 ounces Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 4 large eggs
- In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add potatoes, season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until potatoes are tender and browned, about 15 min.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine remaining 2 Tbsp oil with vinegar, mustard and shallot; season with salt and pepper, and whisk to combine. Add spinach and Parmesan (do not toss yet) and set aside.
- When potatoes are done cooking, immediately transfer to the bowl with spinach and dressing. Toss salad until spinach is slightly wilted, and divide among four plates.
- Heat skillet over medium and gently crack eggs into skillet without breaking yolks. Cook until whites are almost set, about 1 minute. Cover, turn off heat, and let stand until whites are just set but yolks are still soft, about 2 min. more. Top each salad with a fried egg and serve immediately.
What do YOU make when there is “nothing to make?” What’s your go-to meal? Leave a comment below. We all need new ideas.
Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food
Like many of you, (I suspect) I read cookbooks like novels. Actually, I read cookbooks
w-aaaa-y more often than I read novels. I found this recipe in a cookbook of sustainable seafood recipes that I picked up last year. I’ve made it several times. It freezes well, so I make it in small loaf pans, ready to reheat for a quick weeknight meal.
Having ready access to the freshest of fresh seafood is just one of the many benefits of living here on beautiful Vancouver Island. Today, after purchasing packages of promises of good things to come at Seedy Saturday, I planted arugula, split up the sorrel plants that flourished all winter, and watered the blueberry bushes that are smothered in buds. It is definitely feeling like spring here.
Have a few moments to view a video of this special place we call home? It’s totally worth the watch.
- 3/4 lb. crabmeat (about 2-3 Dungeness crabs)
- 1 pound quality cheddar cheese (mix of medium and sharp is good)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups cold milk
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp regular or smoked paprika
- 1/8 tsp saffron mixed with 1 Tbsp hot water
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 pound elbow or penne pasta
- 1 cup panko
- 1 Tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or 6 small loaf pans with butter.
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the shallots. Cook for 1 minute.
Whisk in the flour and reduce the heat to low. Keep cooking and stirring the roux for about 5 minutes. Gradually add the milk while continuing to stir. Increase the heat and add the bay leaf, paprika, saffron, tomato paste, cayenne and mustard. Simmer gently until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the cheese and cook until it has melted.
Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and transfer to a bowl. Stir the pasta and crabmeat into the sauce. Spread this mixture into the baking dish.
In a medium bowl, mix the panko with the lemon zest, parsley and melted butter. Top the pasta with the panko mixture and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the mac-and-cheese is bubbly and browned on top. This topping is soooooooo good! The lemon zest is a must.
Adapted from Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast by Becky Selengut
The last time we were in San Francisco, we stopped in at True Sake and picked up a bottle to bring home. Are we sake drinkers? No, not really. That bottle sat in our cupboard for over 2 years.
I picked up a copy of Salmon: The Cookbook edited by Bill Jones at the Vancouver Boat Show a few weeks ago and have been salivating over it ever since. Tonight this recipe jumped off the page, and I remembered that bottle of sake languishing in the liquor cabinet. With citrus fruits at their prime right now, it just seemed like the right thing to do.
Hope you like it as much as we did. I’d appreciate your ideas for what to do with the leftover sake, besides just drink it! Do you have a recipe using sake?
- 6 6 oz. salmon fillets (I used sockeye)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup sake
- grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons
- zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 1 Tbsp. chili paste
- 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
Adapted from Aaron Creurer’s recipe in Salmon: the Cookbook
Preheat oven to 400F.
Very lightly oil the bottom of a baking dish that is big enough to hold all the fillets in a single layer. Place the salmon in the dish, skin side down.
Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until it is reduced by half, about 8 – 10 minutes.
Brush the salmon with the sauce and bake for about 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. It should feel firm to the touch and just begin to flake. Brush a couple of times with more sauce during baking. Do not overcook.
Change the oven to the broil setting and place the fish under the broiler until the glaze begins to caramelize. Serve and savour.
This one definitely comes under the “Why didn’t I think of that?’ category. I pinned it last week, as I thought it was such a good idea. It makes more sense than having everyone crowd around one plate of veggies. Not only that, but it avoids the dreaded double-dipping.
Just put a tablespoon of your favourite dip in the bottom of a small glass and pack in some sliced veggies. Little hands can carry this around the house all they want.
- 1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal
- extra virgin olive oil (for brushing the baguette slices)
- 2 avocados
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- pinch dried chili flakes
- 4 ounces lump crabmeat
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
- 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
Preheat oven to 350F. To make the crostini, lightly brush the baguette slices with olive oil and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until slightly golden.
In the meantime, mash the avocado with a fork in a small bowl and mix in the salt, pepper, lemon juice and chili flakes.
In another bowl, gently toss the crabmeat with the lime juice and chopped mint. Add a little salt to taste.
Spread a little of the avocado mixture on the crostini, top with a small mound of crab mixture and serve immediately.
Fresh crab. Fresh lime. Smooth avocado. Crunchy jicama and celery. A hint of cilantro, and a dab of mayo just to hold it all together.
Those are the makings of a great amuse bouche we had before dinner tonight.
- 2/3 cup. finely grated jicama
- 1/2 avocado, peeled and finely diced
- finely grated zest of 1/2 lime
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced.
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup fresh crabmeat
- 2 Tbsp. low fat mayonnaise
Gently toss all ingredients together and chill. Serve on a bed of lettuce or in parmesan crisp cups.
Parmesan Crisp Cups
Finely grate about 2 cups of Parmesan Reggiano and about 1/2 cup of another cheese with a higher fat content (cheddar, Gruyère, etc). Mix together with your fingers and make 1-2 Tbsp. mounds on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 4-5 minutes until golden and crisp. Working very quickly, slide the hot crisps into tiny muffin tins to form cups. Let cool in pan, then cool on a wire rack before filling with the crab mixture. Munch away and enjoy!
Fast and fancy. Fennel and salmon really do work together, despite my initial doubts. Serve the salmon with a fresh orange vinaigrette on tender greens and it makes an over-the-top quick weeknight dinner.
I’ve adapted this recipe from one published in Salmon: The Cookbook –edited by Bill Jones.
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. crushed fennel seed
- 1 tsp. crushed peppercorns
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
- 4 salmon fillets
- oil for frying
- 4 cups fresh greens of your choice: arugula, baby kale, baby spinach, torn butter lettuce or a combination
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Crush the fennel seed and peppercorns. I used a mortar and pestle. Mix together with the salt. Rub the salmon fillets with olive oil and coat with the fennel mixture. In an ovenproof skillet or cast-iron frying pan over medium heat, heat a thin layer of oil. Put the salmon in, skin-side up, and fry for about 4 or 5 minutes. Flip it over carefully and slide the pan into the preheated oven to finish it off until it flakes easily with a fork but is still moist.
- Place a mound of greens on a plate, top with the salmon and drizzle with the vinaigrette.
Orange and Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette
- 1 red bell pepper, roasted
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tsp. crushed fennel seed
- 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. walnut or hazelnut oil
- salt and pepper to taste
While you could roast the peppers yourself, it is a time-consuming task. I used store-bought. Whisk the bell peppers, shallot, orange juice, fennel seed and vinegar together. Add the oils slowly in a thin stream, whisking to form an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper.