Friday, March 24, 2017

Sri Lankan-Style Monkfish Curry with Kari Leaves

Fish curries are among Sri Lanka's most popular dishes, which feature generous pieces of fresh fish or seafood swimming in bright, colourful, fragrantly-spiced broths, which tend to be thinner and more heavily spiced than many Indian versions. Rice is an ever-present antidote to these big flavours. A rich melting pot of cuisines. It seems every nationality that has visited and traded over the years has left its mark – the Dutch, Portuguese, English, Arabs, Malays, Moors and Indians, resulting in a cuisine that is more inclusive of non-native ingredients, brought by international trade moving through the island. 

Along the coasts, one often finds fish, shrimp, or delicate local crab which absorbs brilliant Sri Lankan spices which include fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, fennel seed, cloves, coriander, kari leaves and local cinnamon, often called Ceylon cinnamon, after the island's former name. This sensational Sri Lankan-Style Monkfish Curry with spiced tomato and coconut sauce by Jamie Oliver, combines the vivid flavours of traditional a Sri Lankan fish curry using the tail meat of meaty firm textured monkfish, very similar in taste and texture to lobster, and stands up to the robust ingredients typical of this South Asian cuisine.  

Sri Lankan-Style Monkfish Curry
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Jamie Oliver

1 lb monkfish, skinned and deboned
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 limes or lemons, zest and juice
7 oz brown or aged basmati rice
13 oz tin coconut milk

2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
2-inch piece of ginger
2 fresh green chillies
10 ripe medium tomatoes, on the vine
Vegetable oil, as required
1 small handful of fresh curry leaves
3 cardamom pods
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 knob of tamarind paste

Slice the monkfish into large chunks and pop in a non-reactive bowl, along with the turmeric, lime zest and juice and a large pinch of sea salt. Mix together to coat the fish, then leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour. 

Peel and finely slice the onions and garlic, peel and finely chop the ginger, then slice the chillies. Roughly chop the tomatoes, keeping them separate. Heat a large casserole pan over a medium–high heat and add a splash of oil, the onion, ginger, garlic, chillies and curry leaves. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onion is softened and coloured. 

Smash the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar, then stir them into the pan along with the mustard seeds, cumin, fenugreek and turmeric. Fry for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tamarind paste or syrup, the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water, then simmer for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to break down and the sauce reduces. The sauce can be covered and kept on low heat until ready to add the monkfish, adding additional water as necessary to keep the sauce loose.

Add the rice to a pan with water and a knob of butter or ghee, and cook according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, finish the sauce. 

Add the monkfish to the sauce and simmer until the fish is cooked through and opaque. Remove and discard the cardamom pods, then serve in a decorative bowl with the rice on the side.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry & Herbs

Flavour reigns supreme in this delicious combination of fresh cremini, shiitake, plump portobello and dried mushrooms cooked with dry sherry, beef stock all puréed with rich cream. But instead of puréeing all of the mushroom mixture, half of it is puréed with the half-and-half cream and then combined it with the remainder of the mushroom mixture, producing a rich, creamy and ethereal broth with thick meaty mushrooms in every bite. 

Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry & Thyme
Serves 6

4 tbsp butter
3 leeks, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves only
1 lb cremini  mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/4 lb portobello mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 tsp spicy paprika
4 cups beef stock
1 cup heavy cream, such as half and half
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp dry sherry
1/2 cup minced parsley or chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small saucepan combine the sherry, 1/2 cup of beef stock and the dried porcini. Bring to  boil, remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.

Dice the leeks and onion. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook over low heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour, stir and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms, the porcini with the soaking liquid, and salt and pepper, and continue to cook over low heat, for 7 minutes. Sprinkle in the paprika, and stir. Add the remainder of the beef stock, lower the heat to a low simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. 

Purée half of the soup in batches, in a blender or food processor. Return the mixture to the pot and gently reheat, over low heat. Stir in the cream and re-season with salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with chopped parsley, chives and a garnish of cream.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Handmade Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Full of all the wonderful flavours from the sea, nothing beats a seductive bowl of Linguine alle Vongole. An essential part of Neapolitan cuisine, this fragrant dish can be prepared two ways: 'rosso', with tomatoes or 'bianco', without. This simple, elegant and tasty recipe pairs fresh clams and a simple sauce with a special secret ingredient — anchovies — which add a hidden depth of flavour to this wonderfully satisfying dish. A classic Italian pasta, this is one of my favourite dishes to make anytime of the year.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce
Serves 6

5 dozen Manila clams
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
3 anchovies, minced
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 small cans of clams, saving the clam juice
1/2 cup white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup italian parsley, finely chopped; plus extra for garnish
1 tsp salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 pound handmade or quality store-bought linguine

Let the clams drain in cold water for at least one hour. In a large pan that will accommodate the cooked pasta, heat olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes and cook until just golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, white wine, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes. 

Place the hard shell Manila clams in a large pot with 1-inch of water and cover. Set on med-high heat and steam for about 6-10 minutes, or until the clams open. Discard the stubborn ones that remain closed. Shuck half of the cooked clams and place in a small bowl with the 2 cans of canned clams. Set aside. Reserve the remaining clams in their shells in the pot and cover. Meanwhile, reheat the sauce if you have allowed it to cool, adding the shucked and canned clams to the sauce and heat gently.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add 1 tsp of salt. Cook the linguine until tender but still firm. Drain the linguine and toss it with the sauce, mixing well to combine. Serve the linguine in individual wide rim bowls, and garnish each with the cooked clam and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Serve with some lovely crusty garlic bread and a nice chilled bottle of white wine.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gingerbread Spiced Apple Upside-Down Cake

This delectably moist gingerbread-spiced caramelized apple upside-down cake is the perfect dessert for the chilly autumn and winter months. Dark, coppery and intensely flavoured, this delicious cake is made with dark molasses, honey, buttermilk and a trio of fragrant spices, and goes perfectly with a dollop of pillowy soft Calvados Whipped Cream or tangy creme fraiche. As tempting as it may be, don't use a springform pan with a removable bottom, as the syrup will leak out and that would be enormously messy.

Gingerbread Spiced Apple Upside-Down Cake
Serves 12

4 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup honey
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Calvados whipped cream:
1/2 cup whipping cream, chilled
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp Calvados

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 10-inch cake pan. To make the topping, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and simmer over medium heat, stirring for 5 minutes, then swirl in the salt. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the mixture into the cake pan, spreading with a spatula to distribute evenly. Make circles of overlapping apple slices on top of the brown sugar. Chop any remaining slices and place them in the gaps.

For the batter, blend 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a standing mixer set on medium-low, then increase the speed to high and cream until the batter becomes light and fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses, honey, buttermilk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Alternate adding the egg mixture and the flour mixture to the creamed butter-sugar mixture, then pour the batter into the cake pan. 

Bake at least 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Run a small knife around the edges of pan to loosen the cake, then place a serving platter over the cake and invert onto the platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature with very softly whipped Calvados Whipped Cream, made by whisking the cream with the syrup and Calvados in an electric mixer until cream holds soft peaks. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Asian Sesame Ginger Salmon with Sliced Scallions

Simple and delicious, this sensational recipe for Asian Sesame Ginger Salmon is sweet, fragrant, and full of fabulous flavour. Low-cal and carb-free, the salmon is marinated in an aromatic mixture of sesame oil, rice vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic, then chilled for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to work their magic. While the salmon is marinating, a simple sauce of honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, minced ginger and sesame seeds can be whisked together and gently warmed on low heat, ready to be served over the cooked salmon with a final garnish of sesame seeds and chopped green onions.

Asian Sesame Ginger Salmon
Serves 4

4 organic salmon filets, about 2-pounds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 tbsp sesame seeds
4 green onions, finely sliced for garnish

Honey, Ginger & Sesame Sauce:
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, vinegar, brown sugar and whisk well until combined. Add the salmon, cover and refrigerate to marinate, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by combining each of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. 

Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the salmon on the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the centre is just done. If you like your salmon more well done, simply bake as long as you wish. To serve, spoon some of the sauce over top of the salmon and garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and flurry of sliced green onions.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Warm Olives with Rosemary, Lemon & Peperoncino

Plump, glossy and gorgeous, these fragrant Lemon & Rosemary Marinated Olives with Peperoncino are a tangy and tasty hors d'oeuvre with a glass of wine, a lump of cheese and a warm crusty foot of baguette. Sauté the olives with some garlic, hot red pepper, lemon zest, rosemary and some infused olive oil catapults this appetizer to another gastronomic level — one that is fast, easy and quite delicious.

Warm Lemon & Rosemary Mixed Olives
Makes 2 cups

3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups mixed olives with pits: nicoise, cerignola, kalamata, picholine
1 clove of garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 hot red pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
Garnishes: rosemary sprig, lemon rind strips

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sliced pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the mixed olives and lemon zest and cook, stirring frequently, until warmed though and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 10-15 minutes. Garnish with some lemon curls and fresh rosemary sprigs. Serve warm with some crusty bread and your favourite cheeses.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Barley, Wild Rice & Chickpea Salad with Cranberries

With its delicate nutty flavour and sturdy texture, wild rice makes a delicious basis for this healthy high-fibre Barley & Wild Rice Salad. The addition of sliced green onions, chickpeas and toasted pine nuts tossed together with a tangy vinaigrette makes this salad a nutritional powerhouse. Mixed-grain salads deliver a great combination of flavours and textures as well as folate and vitamin E for a strong and healthy heart — very important for those cardio workouts. Adding beans to grains also creates the key combination of protein and carbs that helps muscles repair and refuel themselves, which makes this Barley & Wild Rice Salad with chickpeas and dried cranberries a nutritional powerhouse with heart-healthy goodness that's also rich with great flavour.

Barley, Wild Rice & Chickpea Salad with Dried Cranberries
Serves 6

1 3/4 cups chicken broth 
1/2 cup uncooked brown and wild rice mix
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
3/4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained 
1/3 cup golden raisins 
1/4 cup sliced green onions 
2 tbsp red wine vinegar 
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil 
1 tsp Dijon mustard 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Place the chicken broth, rice and barley in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Spoon rice mixture into a medium bowl. Add the chickpeas, raisins, green onions and cranberries.

Combine the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and stir with a whisk. Pour over barley mixture and toss well. Cover and chill for two. Stir in the basil and pine nuts and serve at room temperature.