Sunday, May 26, 2013

Blackened Salmon with Mango Salsa & Coconut Yam Mash

I'm very leery of open flames, unless my cooking tool is a stick and my food is in wiener form. Guaranteed this girl would lose her eyebrows if left in charge of the barbecue. Thankfully, I have a co-chef for recipes such as this. His challenge this evening was to get the salmon on one end of the fillet the same kind of delicate, grilled consistency as the other side. This is difficult when the ends vary in thickness.  The level of difficulty increases further when you add the fact that the salmon is sitting above an open flame. We usually wrap ours in foil for this reason and/or watch our fish like a hawk. Anyways, the co-chef conquered and this dish made the we should make this for guests-list. The yam mash doesn't sound very summery, but I happened to have leftover coconut milk and a yam and I found a recipe combining the two. The combination was heavenly, by the way. Coconut rice would rock this dish too. Don't have a recipe? Well, look at that: The internet delivers yet again.


Serves 4

Blackened Salmon
  • 750 g of filleted salmon (skin left on one side)
  • 3 t melted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 t paprika
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • 1/4 t cayenne
  • 1/4 thyme

Mango Salsa
  • 1 large mango, diced
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 t sea salt


Remove the salmon from the fridge to allow it time to reach room temperature. Heat the bbq to medium-high heat. Combine all the spices, garlic and melted butter and paint both sides of the salmon with the mixture. Place the salmon skin-side down on your top grill for 1-3 minutes, depending on the the thickness of the fillet. Carefully lift and flip on its' skin side and continue to grill for up to five minutes. Remove from the barbecue.

For the salsa, combine all your ingredients and toss lightly. Serve on top or with the salmon.

Coconut Yam Mash

Serves 4
  • 2 large yams
  • 2 t butter
  • 1/3 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 t thyme


Preheat the oven to 425F. Poke the yams with a fork and place in the oven until the interior is soft (mine took about 45 minutes). Remove from oven and peel off the skin while still hot. Place in a bowl with the butter and beat with an electric mixer. Add the coconut milk and thyme and blend until the consistency of the yams is smooth. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weeknight Cooking Part 3 of 3: Screw dinner, we're moving straight to dessert!

Whippity do da!

Last weekend I tried a berry cheesecake that knocked my socks off. Trees Organic Cafe in Vancouver was serving it, Ruedi discovered it and I ate it. That's all you need to know. 

This is a cheater's version. Wish I could attempt to make the air-dried bison we ate too, but that's a little above me.

No-Bake Berry Cheesecake

Adapted from:

Serves 4


  • 4 glasses, mason jars or other individual serving dish
  • 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 T melted unsalted butter
  • 1, 250g package of cream cheese
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries, thawed
  • 2 T coconut milk
  • 2 T condensed milk
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • fresh raspberries
  • fresh whipped cream as a topping


Combine the melted butter with the graham wafer crumbs and using a spoon, tamp the crumb mixture into the bottom of each serving glass.

In a mixer, combine the cream cheese, berries, coconut and condensed milk until smooth. Scrape down the edges and add the vanilla. Spoon the mixture into each glass until evenly distributed. Top with raspberries, whipped cream and more raspberries. Eat and get gas from all that dairy.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Weeknight cooking Part 2 of 3: Polenta with Sage, Goat Cheese, and Mushroom Ragout.

It happened to snow the night I made the ragout, which seemed fitting for this "Porridge of the evening". I guess this label doesn't sell it. Let me work on it. 

Anyways, a warm mushroom ragout was just what the doctor ordered. Cheesy, warm and subtle in its range of flavours, I enjoyed it for dinner and for lunch the next day. "Yuppy slop" Is that better?

From: Cavich, C. (2008). High Plains: The Joy of Alberta Cuisine. (pp.108-9). Calgary, Canada. Fifth House Publishers.

Serves 4 as an entree or 8 as a side



  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T butter
  • 200ml goat cheese
  • 1 T chopped fresh sage leaves

Mushroom Ragout

  • 8 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 cup minced white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • sprigs of fresh wild or garden sage


Bring water to a boil in a large pot and add salt and butter. Slowly add the polenta to the pot in a steady stream, whisking as you go to prevent lumps from forming. Remove from heat and stir in the goat cheese and sage. Keep warm.

To make the ragout, melt butter in a wide pan and saute onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add sliced mushrooms to pan with salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms give up their liquid and begin to soften.

Add stock or wine, increase heat, and simmer until liquid in the pan is reduced by half. Stir in cream and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute until ragout is thick.

Serve polenta in deep bowls, topped with the mushroom ragout. Garnish each bowl with a sprig of fresh sage. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Weeknight Cooking Part 1 of 3: Chinese Chicken Salad

On the quest for quick, wholesome meals, I went digging for recipes that can be prepared in pinch. I narrowed it down to three, the first of which is tonight's entry. In the case of this particular recipe, I would modify how the veggies are chopped if you need to quicken the pace a little. This took me about forty minutes to prepare. 

I was surprised by how good this salad was. It certainly looked test-worthy as depicted in this month's Chatelaine magazine, but it exceeded my expectations. This was a contribution of Gwyneth Paltrow's and while her version included steamed chicken infused with ginger and star anise, I opted out of the steamer and chose my frying pan and some oil. Easy peasy and a little less perfect than Gwyneth's recipe. You'll get over it.

The version below is my modified version. If you want the original, check it out:

Serves 4 as an entree



  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 T canola oil
  • Head of Romaine lettuce, finely chopped
  • 1 cup snow peas, julienned
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 3 T loosely chopped cilantro
  • 2 red chilis, diced (optional)
  • 1 T toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 T hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 3 T rice vinegar
  • 1/4 water
  • 1/2 t salt


Heat the oil in a large fry pan on high heat.  If you find the breasts aren't thick enough to cook all the way through when pan fried, slice them in horizontally in half. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper before adding them to the pan. Let them cook for 3 minutes each side or until cooked through. Remove from pan and when the chicken has cooled enough to handle, tear the chicken into bite-size strips.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the salad ingredients and set aside. Next, combine the dressing ingredients, mixing well with a whisk. Finally, add the chicken to the salad and toss well. Serve the salad in individual bowls and dress white after Labour Day. Gawd, I'm clever!