Monday, March 30, 2015

Seafood & Sweet Potato Pie

This would be one of the few adventures I've had that involves taking a recipe and turning it into my own creation. Chicken pot pie and shepherd's pie are at the top of my comfort food list so it was safe to assume a seafood pie would give me the warm and fuzzies too. What I didn't want was a lot of fat and little food value, so I upped the vegetable count and replaced some of the butter with yoghurt. In some cases I simply reduced the amount of butter overall. I'm pleased with the results, although I found my first attempt at it was a bit labour intensive.

There are four steps to this casserole: the sauce, the shrimp and veggie mix, the fish and the potatoes. Many pots were dirtied in this experiment, but that's where your dishwasher makes an appearance. Use it, readers. Use it.

It took me about an hour to assemble the pie, plus the baking time, so an hour-and-a-half from start to finish. In the big scheme of things, this isn't a long time, but if you've got hungry families to feed, it might be too long for you. I also find myself multitasking while cooking, so that hour included a load of laundry among other things. Anyways, it was worth it. Creamy comfort food, without any heaviness or guilt and loads of leftovers, which I can handle better than in previous months.

Adapted from:

Serves 8-10


  • 350g white fish
  • prawns thawed and tails removed
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 Anaheim pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion; 1/2 diced and half cut into quarters
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 large yam/sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 T chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T low fat yoghurt
  • 1 litre of low fat milk
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar
  • salt and pepper throughout


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9"X13" baking pan and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the yams and potato. Boil for ten minutes or until soft when poked with a fork. Drain the potatoes and add the unsalted butter and yoghurt. Blend with a hand held blender or potato ricer. Combine two tablespoons of the chopped parsley/cilantro and salt to taste into the mash and set aside.

In a frying pan heat the oil and add the pepper and diced onion, sautéing for one minute. Add the shrimp and stir until they lose their translucency; about 3 minutes. Add the peas and spinach and toss until the spinach begins to wilt. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a saucepan combine the milk, peppercorns, quartered onion, lemon juice and bay leaves and bring
to a boil. Reduce to simmer and add the fish, allowing to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the fish from the milk and set aside to cool. Once cooled, remove all the bones, pat dry and flake the fish.

In another saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat and add the flour, stirring until combined. Pour the milk through a sieve into the saucepan to drain it of any remaining fish, bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to simmer until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat.

Using the baking pan, begin by layering the bottom of the pan with the shrimp and vegetable mix. Add half of the sauce, follow with the fish and then with the remaining sauce. Top with the blended potato and cheddar cheese and bake the casserole in the oven, uncovered for about 20-30 minutes or until the top is browned.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Oh-So-Wholesome Muesli

Why make muesli? For starters, muesli is just about the easiest kind of food prep there is so you'll be patting yourself on the back for weeks to come over having fed yourself wholesomely.  Second, making bulk batches will save you money over the store bought varieties. And finally, it gives you the freedom and control to choose your ingredients. If you've got nut allergies for example, or other food sensitivities, this is a must. 

Consider the recipe below as your baseline and expand your ingredients list from there. I eventually added dried cherries and hazelnuts to this batch because I found them loitering in the pantry. I top my muesli with chopped or grated apples and bananas as a way of getting fruit into my diet. Fruit typically isn't of interest to me unless it's battered and fried, paired with cheese or coated in chocolate. I have however, found other, less obnoxious ways to enjoy fruit and muesli is one example.

Adapted from:

Serves 4-6


  • 1 cup rolled oats 
  • 1/2 cup barley flakes
  • 1/2 cup rye flakes
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (I used whole)
  • 2 T sunflower seeds
  • 2 T pumpkin seeds

For Serving

  • 2-3 cups of yoghurt (1/2 cup per serving)
  • fresh fruit of choice
  • honey or jam to top


Combine dry ingredients and store in an airtight container. To prepare, combine the yoghurt and muesli in a bowl and mix well to ensure the yoghurt coats all of the muesli. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve the following morning with fruit. and top with either jam or honey as desired.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Jamón Ibérico aka Iberian Ham

When Ruedi and I visited Spain last summer, we were introduced to jamón ibérico or Iberian ham, a Spanish and Portuguese delicacy that is a popular favorite among anyone who digs a good cut of meat. Both Ruedi and I had been to Spain in our single days and hadn't come across it, but we had much leaner travel budgets at the time. As far as I'm aware, acorn-fed jamón ibérico is as good as it gets in the Spanish ham community. Once weened, piglets are fed a diet of maize and barley and then released into fields where they graze on grass, acorns, roots and other available vegetation. Pigs that only feed on olives and acorns have a richer meat and become the chosen few. The pork is salted and air-dried for anywhere from twelve to forty-eight months before various parts are sold. A leg of jamón can retail from anywhere between one-hundred to one-thousand euros a pop. Bite on that meaty investment!

Ruedi's now living in Barcelona temporarily and his relocation presented an opportunity of sorts. Not one to pass up good eats, he was directed to El Charro a jamón retailer where he purchased the leg he's so proudly displayed to me on my arrival. He and his roommate and friend will be eating this for eons. 


Of course, one needs a carving stand and knife for their ham. Enter El Corte Inglés with a wide array of equipment selections that range in quality and price, depending on your requirements. 

When we've had it at restaurants it's been thinly sliced and served neat. Jamón ibérico has so many earthy, nutty dimensions, there isn't a need for any other ingredients, although wine is a fantastic idea!

La Tienda offers Spanish eats to North Americans, including Canadians! Yeah! Man, I get bummed when sites like these ship everywhere but my homeland. Of course, you pay a premium for an import like this, but I may succumb to the temptation in a year's time after a long jamón hiatus.

Post Script (March 15th) : Just found Lola & Miguel, an online retailer selling Spanish delicacies to Canadians. Bliss.