Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

30 11 2010

Sablefish (aka Black Cod) with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes is a flavourful, lighter option.

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes parties, festive meals and general overindulgence.  Why not lighten up with a pan-roasted fish dish that doesn’t sacrifice flavour?

Sablefish is more commonly known as black cod.  It has become popular in the past few years because it is both sustainable and delicious.  Nobu restaurant popularized sablefish in their iconic dish, Black Cod with Miso, which has been copied by restaurants across North America (with good reason – it’s delicious).  Preparing the fish with fennel, cherry tomatoes and a lightly herbed crust gives it a Mediterranean twist.

Sablefish should be available at well-stocked fishmongers under the name sablefish, sable, butterfish or black cod.

To get the recipe from Suite 101.com, click here: Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Get updates from The Seasonal Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.  Join the conversation today!

Advertisements




How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

24 11 2010

Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes are a must at any holiday table.

When it comes to favourite comfort foods, mashed potatoes are near the top of my list.  They are the perfect side to serve with gravy-based dishes such as turkey and roast beef and no holiday table would be complete without them.

The great thing about potatoes (aside from being delicious) is that they are very inexpensive and readily available year-round.  I’m from New Brunswick, Canada, which is a major potato-producing region (McCain’s, the world’s largest producer of frozen french fries, is based there). A couple of years ago, I saw a roadside sign near Fredericton advertising 50 pounds of potatoes for $9.99 so it’s no surprise that they were a staple at our dinner table almost every night.

Potatoes may not look exciting but they are very versatile.

To make smooth, creamy mashed potatoes, here are a few tips that will ensure success:

  • Choose starchy potatoes such as Russets (also known as Idaho or baking potatoes).  Yukon Golds also work well and have a nice buttery interior.  Avoid waxy ‘boiling’ potatoes such as fingerlings or red potatoes.
  • Cutting the potatoes into chunks will speed the cooking process.  You can peel them before cooking for a nicer presentation but sometimes I leave the skins on for texture and nutrients.
  • Use a potato ricer to ensure smooth, lump-free potatoes.  A potato ricer looks like a giant garlic press and you push the cooked potatoes through tiny holes, resulting in potato strands that look like rice.  Ricers are available at most kitchen stores.  Do not use a mixer to beat them – they will become gluey.
  • Season well! Potatoes can handle a lot of salt and seasonings such as garlic, horseradish or chopped herbs (see below for more ideas).  Be sure to add butter and dairy while the potatoes are still hot so everything melts and combines easily. Add seasonings gradually and taste as you go.

Preparing Mashed Potatoes in Advance

Trying to drain and mash potatoes when you have guests waiting for dinner can be messy and cumbersome. Luckily, mashed potatoes can be prepared in advance and kept warm or re-heated. There are two methods that work well:

  1. Place mashed potatoes in a metal bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Cover loosely with foil. Stir occasionally and check moisture and seasoning before serving.
  2. Cooked mashed potatoes can be kept warm in a slow cooker set to ‘Low’. Check and stir on occasion, as they can become dry around the edges.

Optional Additions

While plain mashed potatoes are a delicious on their own, they can be further enhanced with some of the following (measurements are approximate – add to taste):

  • Grated horseradish – 2 to 3 Tablespoons or to taste
  • ¼ cup of sour cream plus ½ chopped green onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 head roasted garlic, squeezed out of its skin
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Mashed Potatoes

Evaporated milk or regular milk can be substituted for the cream but the results will not be as creamy and rich.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

(VEGETARIAN)

  • 6 large russet potatoes (about 2-1/2 lbs.), peeled and cut into thirds
  • ½ cup heavy cream (whipping cream), heated
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
  • Salt, to taste
  • A large stockpot with a lid
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • Water, to cover potatoes
  • Potato ricer
  1. In a large stockpot, add potatoes, 1 Tablespoon salt and enough water to just cover the potatoes. Cover and bring water to a boil.
  2. Remove cover and reduce heat to medium-high. Gently boil until potatoes are very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Check with a sharp knife periodically to determine tenderness.
  3. Drain cooked potatoes. Place two or three potato chunks in the potato ricer. Working over a large bowl, press potatoes through ricer. Repeat with all potatoes.
  4. Quickly add butter and cream to hot potatoes. Stir until combined and the potatoes are creamy. Add salt to taste. Add any optional seasonings and mix until incorporated.
  5. Serve with your favourite dishes such as braised short ribs, roast chicken or turkey with gravy.

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

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.

Get updates from The Seasonal Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.  Join the conversation today!





Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce

23 11 2010

Cream puffs (a.k.a. profiteroles) filled with a spiced pumpkin cream and topped with a buttery maple-caramel sauce.

When I want to make an autumn dessert, I think about seasonally appropriate ingredients such as apples, pears, caramel and of course, pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie is a staple at most Thanksgiving tables and spiced pumpkin is popular in everything from lattes to ice cream. As a bonus, scientists have long known that the scent of pumpkin pie is an aphrodisiac so it’s the perfect finale to a romantic dinner.

If you’re looking for something a little different from pie, these cream puffs (a.k.a. profiteroles) fit the bill perfectly.  The pumpkin-cream filling has all the flavours of classic pumpkin pie and the maple-caramel sauce is a decadent and delicious topping (which is also great on ice cream!).  The recipe has a number of steps but none are difficult and everything can be prepared in advance and assembled at the end of the meal.

Click here to see the recipe from Suite 101.com: Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Get updates from The Seasonal Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.  Join the conversation today!





Roasted Green Beans with Shallots

17 11 2010

Roasting green beans with shallots is a fresh alternative to heavy soup-based casseroles.

American Thanksgiving is next week and a favourite at many tables is Green Bean Casserole.  Made with canned soup and topped with fried onions, unfortunately it’s loaded with calories and sodium.  Lighten up with a delicious dish of roasted green beans and shallots, finished with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.  These beans are also vegan-friendly and gluten-free so everyone at the table can enjoy a taste. Even if you’re not celebrating Thanksgiving, they make an excellent side dish for roast beef and chicken.

Strictly speaking, green beans are at their peak in the summer, however, they are greenhouse-grown and readily available throughout the year at most grocery stores. Do not use frozen beans as they have a different texture.  Tip: When slicing the shallots, be sure the rings are quite thick (about 1/4″) or they will burn before the beans are done.

Roasted Green Beans with Shallots

Makes about 4 side dish servings – can easily be doubled

  • 12 oz. (340 g) fresh green beans, ends trimmed – equals about 3 cups of beans
  • 2 small shallots, cut into rings about ¼” thick
  • 4 teaspoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
  • Parchment paper to line baking sheet or pan
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • Sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the baking rack in the middle position in the oven.
  2. In a large bowl, toss green beans with shallots and oil until they are lightly coated. Cut a piece of parchment paper to the same size as the bottom of a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Line the sheet and pour the bean/shallot mixture onto it, making sure they’re in a single layer.
  3. Roast the beans for 10 minutes. Check on them at this point – if the shallots and beans are becoming very brown, remove them from the oven. Otherwise, roast for another 5 minutes until the beans are beginning to char around the edges.
  4. To serve, season with sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

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

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Get updates from The Seasonal Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.  Join the conversation today!





Hearty Stracciatella-Style Soup

15 11 2010

This Stracciatella-style soup is heartier than the traditional version with the addition of chicken, winter vegetables and rice.

It’s no secret that I love to make soups.  I have featured a number of soup recipes, from a quick and simple Peppery Leek and Potato to a more complex Corn Chowder with Bell Peppers.  They’re the perfect antidote to cool, rainy days and nothing is more welcoming than walking into a home with an aromatic soup simmering on the stove.

Stracciatella is a simple Italian egg-drop soup (ie. a beaten egg is dropped into the broth as it cooks).  This recipe is a heartier version, designed to be a meal on its own.  It features seasonal vegetables, chicken and a bit of rice.  No, it’s not traditional (hence the title ‘Stracciatella-Style’) but it is delicious. For a more authentic version, check out Mario Batali’s recipe: Roman-Style Egg-Drop Soup: La Stracciatella.

A note about spinach: You can always use fresh spinach but to be honest, I find frozen spinach easier to work with if I’m using larger amounts in cooked dishes. Frozen chopped spinach should be easy to find in the frozen vegetable section of any supermarket.

Hearty Stracciatella-Style Soup

Makes about 7-1/2 to 8 cups

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large (about 8 to 10 oz. / 225 to 280 grams each) bone-in chicken breasts with skin on
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts only), equals about 1 large leek
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup (packed) thawed frozen chopped spinach or cooked fresh spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6-1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup raw long grain rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (packed) grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with a pinch of salt and ground pepper.  In a large soup pot or enameled cast iron pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high.
  2. Add the chicken, skin side down, and sauté until browned, about five minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side, about another three minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate. Do not drain the oil from the pot.
  3. Add the chopped leeks, parsley, thawed spinach and nutmeg.  Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes.
  4. Pour in 6 cups of the chicken stock (reserve the last 1/4 cup for the eggs) and add the rice.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Cover and let the soup simmer gently (not a hard boil) for 25 minutes.
  5. While the soup is simmering, beat two eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock and 1/4 cup of parmesan until smooth. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. After 25 minutes, remove the chicken breasts from the soup.  Remove the skin and discard.  Using two forks, pull the meat off the bone.  Discard the bones and chop the chicken meat into bite sized pieces.  Return the chopped chicken to the soup.
  7. Pour the beaten egg mixture into the soup, whisking vigorously.  Turn the heat to medium-high and simmer, whisking occasionally for five minutes.  Don’t be alarmed if the soup begins to look curdled – that’s how it’s supposed to look as the eggs cook.
  8. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish each serving with grated parmesan and chopped Italian parsley.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Get updates from The Seasonal Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.  Join the conversation today!





Mussels with Leek-Cream Sauce

11 11 2010

Mussels make an easy, versatile and inexpensive meal.

A feast of mussels is one of the cheapest and easiest meals you can make.  For less than $10 and 15 minutes of your time, you can have a big pile of tasty mussels to share.  Serve with fresh bread or toast to mop up the delicious sauce.

Preparing Mussels for Cooking

Many of the mussels found in Canada and the U.S. come from Prince Edward Island. They should be easy to find at fish markets and the fish department of most grocery stores. They’re very easy to cook, however, there are a few guidelines to follow for safe handling:

  • Discard any mussels with cracked or broken shells.
  • Rinse the mussles in cold water and pluck off any ‘beards’ that are present on the shell. The ‘beard’ is a moss-like growth that keeps the mussel attached when it is growing in the water. Soak the mussels for about 15 minutes in a large bowl of cold water to ensure they are clean and free of grit.
  • Make sure all mussel shells are tightly closed before cooking. If a shell is slightly open, give it a light tap on a hard surface – if it doesn’t close up, the mussel may be dead and it should be discarded.
  • Mussels need to steam for about 10 minutes to fully cook and their shells will open once they’re done. Inspect cooked mussels before serving and throw away any that do not open. Do not force closed shells open – this is an indication that the mussel is dead and may cause illness if consumed.

Mussels in a Leek Cream Sauce

Makes about 50 mussels

This recipe should make plenty for two to four people (depending on whether it’s a starter or main).  You can easily double or triple the recipe if you have a big enough pot.

  • 2 lbs. (907 g) mussels, cleaned and inspected (see instructions above)
  • 4 medium or 3 large leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped thyme or parsley to garnish – optional
  1. Trim the leeks of any roots and tough green tops. Slice them lengthwise down the middle and run under cold water to ensure any sand is rinsed from their layers. Pat the leeks dry and cut into thin ‘rings’, about ¼” thick.
  2. In a large stockpot with a lid, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the chopped leeks and let cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and let cook for another minute, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour in the wine and stir the tomato paste into the mixture until thoroughly combined. Dump in the cleaned mussels.
  4. Put the lid on the pot and let the mussels steam for 10 minutes. Check on them after 10 minutes and if a lot of the shells are still closed, let them steam for another 2 minutes.
  5. Remove pot lid and stir in the cream. Discard any shells that haven’t opened. Season with salt and pepper and pour the mussels and sauce into a large bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley or thyme if desired.
  6. Serve the mussels with fresh toast or bread to mop up the sauce or with homemade frites, if you’re feeling ambitious.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto

10 11 2010

Slices of stuffed pork tenderloin, served with risotto and garnished with fresh sage

Pork pairs very well with hearty herbs such as sage and thyme, making it the perfect choice for autumn dinners. Unfortunately, pork tenderloin is very lean and can tend to be dry if overcooked.  Stuffing it with a flavourful filling and wrapping it in thin slices of prosciutto will help keep it moist and delicious.

Preparing a pork tenderloin for stuffing is very easy:

  • Lay the tenderloin on a piece of plastic wrap on the counter. Using a sharp knife, slice lengthwise down the middle of the tenderloin, cutting about ¾ of the way through the meat (do not slice it entirely in half).
  • Open the slit as though opening a book. Make another similar slit down the middle of the left side and repeat again on the right. There will be three cuts down the loin in total.
  • Spread open the loin and place a piece of plastic wrap on top. Using a heavy meat mallet, pound the tenderloin until it is of uniform thickness, about 3/4“ thick. The pork is now ready to be stuffed and rolled.

A Helpful Tip: To secure the stuffed and rolled pork loin, break off a couple of pieces of raw dry spaghetti. Use the spaghetti like toothpicks to hold the meat in place. Insert into the meat and snap off any extra length that is poking out. The spaghetti will cook along with the pork and no one will notice it. It’s much safer than leaving toothpicks in!

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto

Serves 4 to 6

Stuffing:

  • 1 Tablespoon neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3 slices white bread, crusts trimmed and cut into ½” cubes
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine (optional)
  • 5 swiss chard leaves, chopped (about 1 cup of chopped chard)
  • 1 slice prosciutto, cut into small dice
  • ¼ cup (packed) shredded mozzarella or smoked mozzarella

Pork:

  • 1 lb. (450 grams) whole pork tenderloin
  • 4 to 5 slices prosciutto, sliced paper-thin
  • 1 piece dry spaghetti
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 large pieces of plastic wrap
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. To make stuffing: In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add bread cubes and toast for 1 minute. Add herbs and cook for another minute.
  3. Pour in chicken stock and wine. Add swiss chard and cook until the chard goes limp, about 2 minutes. Stir mixture and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Remove stuffing from the heat. Stir in diced prosciutto and mozzarella. Set mixture aside until ready to stuff the pork (stuffing can be made in advance and refrigerated up to 24 hours).
  5. To Prepare Pork: Slice open and pound out pork between sheets of plastic wrap as detailed above (‘Preparing a pork tenderloin for stuffing’).
  6. Lay the prepared pork flat and spoon the stuffing in a line down the middle. Roll up the tenderloin and secure with pieces of dry spaghetti (see ‘A Helpful Tip’, above) or toothpicks.
  7. Wrap the entire tenderloin with prosciutto slices. Pour 1-1/2 Tablespoons oil on the bottom of a baking sheet and place the tenderloin on the sheet.
  8. Roast pork for about 30 minutes or until the meat is just faintly pink when sliced into. Let cool slightly and slice. Serve with roast potatoes, rice or risotto. Garnish each serving with a sprig of fresh sage.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.