Monday, 22 October 2012

Like Crabcakes But With More Awesome Stuff Inside

            So I have had this idea for a new recipe rolling around in my head for a while now and I have been picking away at how to pull it off. Ingredients have been added and subtracted more than a few times and I have finally settled on how to tackle making a really good seafood cake. It is like a crab cake just with more stuff in it. The want to take on this recipe came out of a brunch that my buddy Toby and I had months ago at a Caribbean joint in our town called The Reef. I ordered a Crab Cake Eggs Benedict and it was fantastic. I have been threatening my friends with trying to come up with a post for a seafood cake, I even made some for a get together but they were not what I wanted them to be. I think that I have found the magic because these bad boys are pretty kick ass.

            As I have stated before it is great to live where I do. I am talking bounty. We can get our hands on some of the freshest ingredients including fantastic seafood. I would be remiss in my cooking if I did not take full advantage of this. I have to give a huge thank you, in this post, to a friend of my Grandfather’s. A gentleman and a hell of a guy named Eldon. Eldon joined us for a Thanksgiving meal and he and I chatted about, among other things, the fact that his son had a fishing boat and that they would go out and catch their limit which included fresh shrimp, salmon, and all sorts of tasty other things. I joked with him that if his freezer was getting too full that I would be happy to take some off his hands. It was an offhand comment and I thought nothing more about it. A few days later I returned home to find a bag hanging on my door knob. Inside there was a whole host of treats from the sea and a note from Eldon saying simply Thanks for the great Thanksgiving dinner. Like I said he is a gentleman and a hell of a guy. So putting some of his gifts to use and adding a few from my local fish market I give to you Johnny’s Seafood Cakes.

Seafood Cakes to the tune of Under the Hurricane by Blitzen Trapper

1 onion diced small
100g crab meat, fresh is best
150g peeled shrimp chopped depending on their size
1 Basa fillet cut into small cubes
100g salmon cut into small cubes, I used some home smoked salmon to add a little bit of extra flavour but you can definitely use some good fresh stuff
1 cup bread crumbs
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 egg yolk
1 ½ tbsp fresh chopped dill
Zest of 1 lemon
Splash of hot sauce, Franks Red Hot, Tabasco, or whatever brand you favour
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

-Sweat the onions in a small sauté pan over medium heat until they turn translucent and then remove from the heat.

-In a large mixing bowl mix together all of your seafood and half your bread crumbs. Add in your mayo, sour cream, egg yolk and mix it up. If the mixture is too loose add some more bread crumbs. You should be able to form the mixture into a patty that holds together on its own. Add in your onions, salt and pepper, dill, lemon zest and hot sauce and mix again.

-Form the mixture into patties about the size of the palm of your hand and dredge in the remaining breadcrumbs. Set aside.

-Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Heat your oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Gently place your cakes in the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes on one side, flip, and fry for another minute until both sides are golden brown.

-Remove from the pan and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Fire in the oven and bake for about 7 minutes or so to finish cooking them all the way through.

-Serve with a simple salad of tomatoes or whatever you normally eat with crab cakes. You are done. Killer.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Soup is on for Gramps and Kelly

            There is something that I find truly wonderful about the autumn. The turn from tee shirt to sweater weather and the move towards warm and comforting food makes me smile. There is nothing better than coming home, all rosy cheeked, and sitting down to a warm bowl of soup. It is a sort of homey and comforting sort of a thing. I have been playing with soups more and more as the weather has started to get crisp. This one is a favorite of my Grandfather and I try to make it for him whenever I head back to my home town. So from my Gramps’ heart through my kitchen I give to you soup to warm you up on a chilly autumn day.
This one also goes out to my friend Kelly who as I write this is embroiled in a seemingly very intense fitness challenge thing. I do not pretend to know anything about it but I have read the restrictions she has to abide by and this recipe is easy and quick and with the omission of the milk products abides by all of the rules. Without the milk it freezes really well so you can portion it, freeze it, and then grab and go. I know that going to school, working, and attempting to do something like a fitness challenge can be tough and more than a little daunting. So this one is for you too Kel, good job and keep it going. I will make you something fatty and awesome when you are done. I might even take a swing at making some pumpkin scones because I know that is what you are really missing the most.

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Dill to the tune of Split Screen Sadness by John Mayer

6 carrots peeled and roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp dill, fresh is best
1 liter of vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
¼ cup milk or cream (optional)

-Put your stock in a pot over medium high heat, add your carrots and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it work until the carrots are tender.

In a small sauté pan over medium heat gently fry you garlic in the olive oil. When your kitchen is filled with the awesome smell of cooked garlic, dump the garlic into your soup pot.

-Add in your ginger and dill and let it work for a couple of minutes. Blend the soup until it is smooth. I use my emersion blender but you can use a standard type blender or a food processor.

-Add your milk if you want a creamier texture if you want to keep it Vegan add a little bit of water or stock to thin the soup out a little. Go slow and use you judgement and you should be fine.

-Serve with a little bit of crusty bread to sop up every last bit of goodness and you are good to go. Enjoy.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Camponata... Simple Goodness

                        There is something beautiful in the utility and simplicity of Italian food. It is all about the ingredients and the care and tenderness that you treat them with and the results are almost always good, sometimes great and every once and a while sublime. The sublime is what spurs me on, those few times when I pull a pan off the stove at exactly the right time or decide not to add that one last touch that would be too much. The rare times that this happens I know that I have made something that I consider to be special. I wish it happened more often but I am okay with that fact that I get it at all. Complicated and okay is way easier to achieve than simple and great. I will keep trying for the latter. There is something that I find ridiculously satisfying in being able to use the same recipe and turn out two or three things that all seem to work with the results of that one recipe. I have done this with a great Italian recipe for a dish called Camponata or marinated vegetables. It is a wicked little starter if you serve it with some good country style bread, it makes a great side dish served with fish, I have added it to a basic pasta sauce with great results, and it makes a killer filling in omelette. All of these dishes from a simple yet fantastic little recipe, like I said simple and full of utility. It takes a little bit of time to pull it together but it keeps great in the fridge for a few days and like I said it is crazy versatile. So here is the recipe for the Camponata along with a recipe for a spicy sole they worked great together so give them a go.

Camponata to the tune of the Four Chords Song by Axis of Awesome

1 eggplant diced
1 medium zucchini diced
3 stalks of celery diced
1 medium onion diced
2 tomatoes skin and seeds removed and diced
100-150g of good pitted green olives
100g almonds
¼ cup vinegar (I used plain white vinegar)
2 tbsp sugar
4ish tbsp finely chopped mint
1 cup of water
3 tbsp capers
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

-so you will need a few pans on the go for this one. In one you want to sauté your eggplant so that it is just starting to soften. In another do the same with the zucchini. Put these aside for a moment

-Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch your tomatoes, this allows the skins to be removed quickly and easily. There is a little tip for the day.

-In a large skillet over medium heat sauté your onions and celery until they start to soften. Add in the eggplant, zucchini, olives, almonds, capers, and tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium low and let them work.

-While that is going combine water, sugar, vinegar, and mint in a small sauce pan and bring to a low boil. Allow this to reduce by about half.

-Add in your peppers and your salt and pepper and let it go for another couple of minutes and then let everything cool. Add your liquid to the rest of your goodness. Fire it into a bowl, cover it with cling film and put it in your fridge for no less than 4 hours. The longer it sits the better it gets. It will keep in your fridge for a good week. And boom you are done.

Quick Pan Fried Sole to the tune of  In My Life by The Beatles

2 sole fillets
½ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp paprika
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

-combine chilli powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl. Dredge your fillets coating them in the spice rub.

-In a medium sized pan over medium high heat add your butter and your olive oil. Plop your fish in and let it work. After a couple of minutes flip them over and let them work again. Give them a poke if they are firming up pull them off the heat and let them rest for a minute or so. Serve with the Camponata and you have yourself a killer meal. Enjoy.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Pochetta because.... Well Why Not Really

            So there I was thinking of having some friends over for dinner and the question arose, as it always does, what am I going to feed these folks? I started to think about the food that I have had out and if anything struck me. I was taken back to a meal that I had at the Clay Pigeon bistro and I had it.... Porchetta. I started moving through my cook books and found a few recipes and managed to cobble out one of my own. Porchetta is a pork loin that is stuffed with herbs and then marinated in wine. It is then roasted. It is super tasty and is killer on sandwiches the next day. Now I had an epic fail in making this recipe in that the crackling did not turn out at all. I am sorry to all who had to push it to the side of their plate and I am even sorrier to the people who scarfed it down only to realize that it sucked. It did not crisp up the way I wanted it to, so to fix it I recommend removing the skin and frying it further so it becomes that crispy awesome that you want it to be. So here is Porchetta, it is totally worth giving a go.

Porchetta to the tune of..... The whole new Mumford & Sons album. You got the time.

A big chunk of pork loin, ribs removed and trimmed out so that it lays flat and is easily rolled. Your butcher will do this for you if you don’t want to do it yourself.

Rosemary, stalks removed
Thyme, stalks removed
7 cloves of garlic minced
 ½ cup olive oil, the best that you have
1 bottle of red wine, one that you would drink on its own

-In a blender or food processor blend your rosemary, thyme, garlic and oil until you get a thin sort of paste.

-Lay out your pork in a pan, skin side down and then spread the paste over the meat, coating evenly.

-Add the wine to the pan until it is almost all of the way up the sides of your meat.

-Cover and let marinate for 2 days in your fridge at the very least.

-Preheat your oven 375 degrees. Remove the pork from the marinade and roll and tie. As my Grand would say, like a jelly roll.

-Roast in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let it rest and then slice it up. I served mine with roasted root vegetables. It was pretty darn tasty. So give it a go.