Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

2 12 2011

Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

We’re in the middle of the holiday season with all of its requisite parties, dinners and general overindulgence. However, sometimes in the midst of festive meals and a few too many cocktails, we start to crave something a bit lighter. Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes is just the dish to serve: it’s on the lighter side but is still packed with lots of flavour.

What is Sablefish?

Sablefish is also commonly known as black cod, butterfish and sable. It is a mild, buttery white fish, typically caught in the North Pacific Ocean off British Columbia and Alaska. According to The Monterey Bay Aquarium and their Canadian counterpart, SeaChoice.org, sablefish is considered a ‘Best Choice’ for sustainability, meaning that stocks are abundant and well managed.

Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

Makes 4 servings

  • 4 sablefish (black cod) fillets weighing about 4 oz. (113 grams) each
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fennel (white part), sliced about 1/4“ thick
  • 12 large cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ clove garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fennel fronds for garnish (optional)

For Crumb Topping:

  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs made from fresh bread (about 1 thick slice of bread)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (use a mortar and pestle or the side of a large knife to crush them)
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Prepare the Crumb Topping: In a small bowl, add the breadcrumbs, oil, chopped thyme, fennel seed, salt and pepper and stir together until all breadcrumbs are moist. Set aside.
  2. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper evenly over the fish fillets and set aside. Preheat the oven broiler and move the rack to the top position.
  3. Heat a large ovenproof, non-stick skillet on medium heat and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add the fennel slices and sauté until they caramelize and turn a dark golden brown, about 14 minutes. Be sure to stir the fennel around so it doesn’t burn and remove any pieces that brown quickly.
  4. Once the fennel has caramelized, remove from the skillet and set aside on a plate. Return the skillet to the burner and turn heat to medium-high. Heat the remaining olive oil and place the sablefish fillets in the pan, skin side down.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the fish for two minutes. Carefully turn the fillets over and cook for another two minutes.
  6. Turn the fish once again, so the skin side is down. Add the cherry tomatoes, wine, garlic, thyme and lemon juice and cook for another 2-1/2 to 3 minutes or until the fillets are almost fully cooked through. Return the cooked fennel to the pan.
  7. Press a couple of spoonfuls of the breadcrumb mixture onto the top of each of the fillets. Place the skillet with the fish under the oven broiler, watching very carefully, until the crumbs turn golden and crisp, about one minute.
  8. To serve: Divide the caramelized fennel and tomatoes between four servings and mound in the centre of each plate. Place a piece of the sablefish on each portion of fennel/tomatoes and spoon the pan sauce over the fish.
  9. Garnish with a sprig of fennel frond, if desired, and serve immediately.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Chinese Braised Pork

15 11 2011

Chinese Braised Pork Shoulder with baby bok choy and rice

It’s hard to believe but it’s already mid-November! Most of the farmers’ markets have wrapped up for the year and many of us have put away our grilling equipment. However, there’s no need to despair that summer is over. It’s now time for one of easiest and most delicious types of cooking: Braising!

There are a number of reasons to love braising:

It’s Cost Effective: Cooking inexpensive cuts of meat low-and-slow transforms them into meal that is tender and succulent. For less than $8.00, a pork shoulder can feed up to six people. As for equipment, all you’ll need is a pot with a heavy lid, a stovetop and an oven and you’re good to go.

It’s Easy: Once the initial prep work is done (which usually involves little more than some simple chopping and searing), the braise goes into the oven and does its thing. You can sit back, enjoy a glass of wine and a few hours later dinner will be ready.

It’s Delicious: The results achieved from low-and-slow cooking are always impressive. The meat becomes meltingly tender and the resulting juices can be reduced to make a silky, luxurious sauce.

It’s Versatile: The basic technique of braising (sear the meat, add aromatics and liquid, cover and cook on low heat) can be adapted to work with almost any kind of meat or vegetable. The finished product can usually be used in a number of ways, from taco fillings to pasta sauces.

Enameled cast iron pots are ideal for braising (left: Le Crueset risotto pot; right: Le Crueset 5.5 quart pot)

For more great braising ideas, check out my recipes for Braised Short Ribs, Steve’s Osso Bucco, Guinness Stew and Barolo-Braised Beef with Pappardelle.

Chinese Braised Pork

Serves 4 to 6

  • A 1.2 kilogram / 2.6 lb (approximately) pork shoulder blade roast
  • 3 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 points of a star anise (or more/less, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • A 1” piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons Shaoxing Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • ¾ cup soy sauce (preferably sodium-reduced)
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 6 Tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch + 2 teaspoons cold water
  • Chopped green onions, for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sprinkle the roast liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large (5.5 quart) enameled cast iron pot or other ovenproof pot with a lid, heat the oil on medium-high.
  4. Add the roast and brown on each side, about three to four minutes per side. Remove the roast from the pot and set aside.
  5. Add the diced carrots, celery and onion to the pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook for two minutes.
  6. Add the chopped garlic, star anise points, red pepper flakes and ginger. Continue to cook until the vegetables are softened, about three to four more minutes.
  7. Stir in the hoisin sauce until thoroughly mixed in and cook for another minute.
  8. Pour in the chicken stock, shaoxing wine (or sherry), soy sauce and rice vinegar. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
  9. Bring the sauce to a boil and return the pork shoulder to the mixture.
  10. Cover tightly and place in the oven for one hour.  After one hour, remove the star anise points if desired (it is quite strong). Return the pot for another hour.
  11. Check on the braise after the second hour. When done, it should be fork tender. Return to the oven for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until completely tender and the meat is easy to shred.
  12. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer to the stovetop. Carefully take the shoulder out of the liquid and set aside in a large bowl.
  13. Strain the remaining sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepot. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. In a separate cup, combine 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 2 teaspoons cold water. Stir until the cornstarch is completely dissolved and free of lumps.  Pour into the strained and reduced braising mixture.
  15. Continue to boil for another five minute until the sauce begins to thicken slightly and is a bit glossy.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  16. To serve: Break off chunks of the pork shoulder with a fork. Pour the sauce liberally over the meat and garnish with green onions, if desired. It’s delicious over rice or noodles and accompanied by sautéed bok choy.

Note: The meat and sauce can be refrigerated overnight, making it easy to skim off any excess fat. The sauce will likely gel once cooled but will return to liquid once heated.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Fall!

23 09 2011

Pears are at their peak in early autumn

A lot of people mentally checked out of summer after Labour Day but the real first day of fall is today! Fall happens to be my favourite season so I couldn’t be happier. In many areas, the weather is still very pleasant and the farmers’ markets are still bursting with plenty of late-summer and fall produce. As the weather turns crisp in the weeks ahead, I’m looking forward to enjoying some warm spiced apple cider, putting on some slow-cooked braises, taking walks through the brilliant foliage and getting the fireplace going for the season. To get in the mood, here are a few of my favourite autumn recipes:

Slow Simmered Ragu with Pasta

Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Orecchiette with Rapini, Sausage and Crisp Garlic Crumbs

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple

La Poire (pear cocktail)

Apple-Caramel Tart

Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce

Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline

A fall scene at the market

For more great autumn ideas, check out the Fall Archives!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Vietnamese-Style Rice Noodles with Spicy Pork

4 09 2011

Vietnamese-Style Rice Noodles with Spicy Pork

It may be September but don’t be fooled by the calendar – it’s still summer and many areas continue to be hot and humid! A refreshing Vietnamese-inspired noodle dish with crisp vegetables, fresh herbs and spicy pork is the perfect dish to cool down with.

A Note About Ingredients

When I first started this site, just over three years ago, my goal was to present recipes with ingredients that were accessible to most people in North America, whether they lived in large cities or rural areas (like most of my family does). At the time, that meant that anything remotely exotic had to be excluded. However, over the past couple of years, even grocery stores in small towns now carry ingredients from around the world (well, not every small town, but the situation is improving in most places!). The ingredients for this recipe should be readily available anywhere with the possible exception of fish sauce (nuoc mam), rice vermicelli (banh pho) and oyster sauce. Any city with a large Asian population will have markets where you can buy these items; in smaller centers check the rice isle and condiment section (some stores also place imported items under ‘Ethnic Foods’).  A Taste of Thai and Thai Kitchen brands are often carried in large supermarket chains. For substitutions, check out the Cook’s Thesaurus: Asian Condiments.

Some Vietnamese and Thai pantry basics: (from left) Thai fish sauce, rice vermicelli (banh pho), Three Crabs brand fish sauce, Thai rice stick noodles, oyster sauce.

Note: This recipe should be suitable for gluten-free diets, however, check the label of the fish sauce and oyster sauce to ensure that no gluten was used in their preparation.

Vietnamese-Style Rice Noodles with Spicy Pork

Makes 4 to 6 servings

This recipe is a little long and requires a bit of prep work but it’s very simple if you take it step-by-step. You will need about three limes total for the juice and garnish. Be sure to use fresh herbs to garnish – they will make the dish come together.

Dressing:

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce (preferably Three Crabs brand but any kind will do)
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (canola or safflower work well)
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 3 Tablespoons very finely minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt
  1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, add all ingredients and whisk until combined. Set aside until ready to use.

Spiced Pork:

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 450 g / 1 lb. lean ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 3 Thai bird chiles, finely minced or 1-1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 3 X 1” pieces lemongrass (eliminate if you can’t find it)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  1. In large skillet, heat the vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Add the ground pork and use a spatula to break it up. Cook for one minute.
  2. Add the garlic, shallot, chiles and lemongrass pieces. Stir into the pork until thoroughly combined. Cook the mixture until the pork is just past pink, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the lime juice, oyster sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar and pepper. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for another two minutes. Remove the lemongrass pieces and discard.
  4. Season the pork mixture with salt and set the mixture aside until ready to use.

Noodles and Vegetables:

  • 12 oz. / 340 grams dry rice vermicelli noodles (banh pho – about 3 mm wide – if these aren’t available any kind of flat rice noodle will work)
  • 1 medium English cucumber
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 1 cup bean sprouts or ½ cup shredded lettuce
  1. To prepare the noodles: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop in the dry noodles and cook for about 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to halt the cooking. Place in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.
  2. To prepare the vegetables: Slice the cucumber into rounds, about   1/8“ thick. Discard the ends.
  3. Peel the carrots and cut into thin matchsticks and cut the red pepper into thin strips.

Garnishes:

  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh mint
  • ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
  • Fried shallot rings (see below)
  • 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

Fried Shallot Rings:

  • 1 medium shallot
  • Vegetable oil – enough to cover the bottom of a small saucepan about ½” deep
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Peel the shallot and slice into thin rings. Heat the oil in a small saucepan on high. Add the shallot rings and fry until golden and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Make sure you don’t overcook them or they will become bitter.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove the rings from the oil and set them aside on a piece of paper towel. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and set aside until ready to use.

Putting it All Together:

  1. Place the softened noodles in a large bowl. Add the sliced cucumber, carrot and pepper strips and bean sprouts.
  2. Pour in the dressing and toss until everything is coated and thoroughly combined.
  3. Plate the noodles and top with the spiced pork. Garnish with torn fresh coriander and mint, chopped peanuts and fried shallot rings. Serve with lime wedges on the side to squeeze over the dish when served.
  4. The dish can be served warm or at room temperature.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Farmers’ Market Report – August 25th, 2011

25 08 2011

A roadside farm stand in the Niagara region

As we near the end of August, farmers’ markets in Ontario are stacked high with summer’s bounty. With the exception of a few spring vegetables, pretty much anything that grows here is now available. It’s almost too much to keep up with! Here are a few of the highlights from my recent market visits:

Tomatoes

I’ve been pleased to discover that this has been a pretty good year for tomatoes in Southern Ontario. Thanks to a hot, dry July, this year’s tomatoes have good flavour. Eatocracy recently did a story about the Best Sandwich in the Universe: a tomato sandwich, simply prepared with white sandwich bread, sliced ripe tomatoes and mayo. It only works in the summer, when tomatoes are at their peak. I don’t disagree that a tomato sandwich is a thing of beauty but my personal favourite is a BLT. The crisp bacon and crunchy lettuce elevate the tomatoes to new heights, in my humble opinion. For more great ideas using tomatoes, check out the Tomato Archives.

Corn

August is the peak month for corn in Ontario

Corn has been plentiful this summer but I’ve had a bit of an issue with some of it. I bought some nice looking cobs at the market a couple of weeks ago and used them to make a pasta dish. Unfortunately, the kernels were a little too sweet (if that’s possible!) and tasted more like sugar bombs than corn, which didn’t really enhance the recipe. However, I bought some cobs last weekend that were much better – still sweet but they had a decent ‘corn’ flavour as well. Simply boiled and dressed with butter, salt and pepper, it was a true taste of August. Why not make some Corn Chowder with Bell Peppers or try Corn Scallop, a delicious side dish for grilled meats.

Peaches

Freshly picked Niagara peaches

Peaches are a staple at Ontario markets this time of year. This year I’ve found them to be flavourful but a little on the small side, which one of the growers told me was because of the dry weather in July. Peach Cobbler is a classic and Peach Tiramisu is a unique twist on an Italian standard. If you’d rather something more savoury, Peach Chutney is a great accompaniment to pork or chicken.

Summer Squash

Zucchini and patty pan squash were abundant at the last market I attended. Luckily the zucchini were still young and tender – they can get watery as they grow large. Smaller summer squash tend to be sweeter and work well in pasta dishes such as Summer Squash with Egg Pasta. Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting is a great way to finish the meal – it’s moist, flavourful and the cream cheese frosting makes it special.

Potatoes

Ontario baby potatoes

Baby potatoes are one of my favourite things. They can be prepared very simply: give them a quick boil or steam and dress with a little bit of butter, salt and chopped parsley (add a little sour cream if you want to be decadent!). Or you could whip up a batch of Baby Red Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette, a mayo-free, zippy potato salad that’s a nice change from the usual (you can use regular white potatoes in place of red).

Basil

Fresh basil is a fragrant summer treat

It has been a good year for basil, at least for farmers (my personal pot of basil didn’t make it through the heat wave). Every time I have purchased some at the market this summer, people on the street and the bus have commented on how incredible it smells – a taxi driver even asked me for a leaf so he could see what it tasted like! Pesto is one of the most common ways to use a lot of basil. Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto is impressive and surprisingly simple to make. This month’s Saveur magazine has a full feature on pesto with a number of delicious recipes, from Pesto-Rubbed Chicken with Panzanella to Crispy Calamari with Pesto Mayonnaise. Caprese Salad is another way to use fresh basil – and it’s a great showcase for perfect tomatoes too!!

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





When It’s Too Hot to Cook…

20 07 2011

Temperatures are soaring in central Canada

Much of central/eastern Canada and the United States is currently engulfed in a heat wave that looks as though it’s only going to get worse in the days ahead!  Even those of us fortunate enough to have decent air conditioning don’t really feel like turning on the stove.  Standing over a hot grill outdoors isn’t much more appealing. Here are a few of my favourite ‘no-cook’ ideas for keeping the kitchen cool when the temperature soars:

Seafood Salad with Buttermilk-Avocado Dressing – Pick up some cooked seafood at the fish market and pair it with a cooling avocado-based dressing.

Asian Summer Slaw – Bagged coleslaw makes this delicious Asian-style salad a snap to put together.

Asian Summer Slaw

Crab and Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes – You can make these as hors d’oeuvres or use larger tomatoes for an elegant main dish.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Sherry Vinaigrette – Dress up summer’s best tomatoes with tangy goat cheese and a simple vinaigrette.

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad – Cool crème fraîche and cucumbers are delicious with smoked salmon and fresh dill.

Guacamole with chips – A summer classic. Serve with frosty margaritas!

Guacamole

Caprese Salad – If you have great tomatoes, dinner doesn’t get much simpler than this.

Chopped Antipasto Salad with Italian Vinaigrette – Some Italian favourites – in salad form!

Rotisserie Chicken – Pick up a rotisserie chicken at your favourite deli or supermarket and try these delicious ways to use it.

Duck Confit Salad with Fresh Raspberries – Shredded duck confit and fresh raspberries make an elegant and unusual dinner.

Sandwiches – Use summer’s bounty to make tasty and refreshing sandwiches. Tomato, cucumber, onion and lettuce all pair well with your favourite meats and cheeses.

Peach Tiramisu – An elegant no-bake dessert

Fresh Fruit – One of the best things about summer is that the fruit is so good, it doesn’t require much embellishment. Of course, a little fresh whipped cream on strawberries or peaches never hurt!

Peach Tiramisu

Bon Appétit and Stay Cool!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Garlic Scape Butter

8 07 2011

Garlic scape butter

A couple of days ago I wrote about finding garlic scapes at a farmers’ market in Bala, Ontario. I prepared a delicious and simple pasta dish with some of them but there were still a few scapes left over. At $1 for a good sized bunch of scapes, they’re a pretty good deal!

I decided to make some garlic scape butter and used it to make garlic bread to accompany the pasta. It only takes a minute to whip up and is very versatile. In addition to broiled garlic bread, you could use the butter on corn-on-the-cob, to finish steamed or grilled vegetables, with pan sautéed fish, on baked potatoes or just serve it with plain bread.

Garlic bread made with garlic scape butter

Garlic Scape Butter

Makes about 1/3 cup

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 garlic scapes, each about 20″ to 23″ long – discard the flowering ends and cut the scapes into 1″ pieces
  • 1 oz. (28 grams) parmesan cheese, grated (will equal about 1/4 cup once grated)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice or dry white wine
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  1. In a food processor or the chopping cup of a hand blender, add all ingredients. Pulse until the butter is smooth and the ingredients are thoroughly combined, stopping to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula as nessecary.
  2. Butter will keep covered in the fridge for a few days.

To make garlic scape bread:

  1. Slice a baguette or ciabatta loaf lengthwise down the middle. Spread a generous amount of butter on each half. Heat the broiler and place the oven rack in the highest position.
  2. Place the buttered bread slices on a baking sheet and broil until browned and bubbling (watch carefully – it only takes about a minute!).

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

Ciabatta loaf with garlic scape butter








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