Saturday, May 31, 2008

cedar plank grilled salmon

The husband of a good friend of mine loves to fish and loves salmon. I would say if there was one meal that is his specialty to make, it is grilled salmon. His wife (my friend) makes a tasty-tasty lemon dijon sauce to top it. She was kind enough to share her recipe, but of course I can never just leave well enough alone! So below are directions for our version of cedar plank grilled salmon based on the deliciousness of theirs!

Grilled Salmon Ingredients:
cedar plank (for grilling)

water to cover plank
1/3 cup coarse salt
1 & 1/2 lbs fillet of salmon (we like the skin on)
a drizzle of olive oil
1/3 yellow onion thinly sliced
1/2 lemon thinly sliced

1/3 cup fresh dill
salt pepper

Lemon Dijon Sauce Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons yellow onion, minced

1 & 1/2 lemons juiced
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 green onion thinly sliced
3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

  1. In a large roaster pan place cedar plank, cover with water, add coarse salt. Allow to soak for 3 hours.
  2. Once cedar is fully soaked, prepare salmon.
  3. Pre-heat grill (ours is gas) to indirect medium high (about 425 F)
  4. Rinse off salmon (if it hasn't been done already, debone fillet)
  5. Place salmon on board, drizzle with olive oil, flavour with salt and pepper. Place dill, onion and lemon across the top of it.
  6. Place plank over indirect heat, allow to cook for about 20 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temp of 134 F.
  7. While salmon is cooking, make Lemon Dijon sauce: heat butter and saute onions and garlic, don't brown.
  8. Add Dijon mustard, lemon juice (sans seeds!) and honey. Whisk together and allow to thicken.
  9. Once the sauce is brought to a gentle simmer add green onions and dill, allow to simmer for 2-3 min
  10. Remove sauce from heat.
  11. Once salmon is done, remove from heat, serve fish right on cedar plank. Serve Lemon Dijon sauce on the side.
We served this with wild rice and a fresh salad... a great summer meal! Serves 4.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

mushroom barely salad

Do you ever have one of those nights when you just don't know what to cook, and you stare into the fridge, the cupboard, the sigh over and over again... just wanting to not deal with it, and have food magically appear? (I recognize the irony of a person with a food blog complaining about not knowing what to make.) Well a few weeks ago I was home alone and the idea of making a full meal just for me seemed ridiculous, but at the same time I couldn't bring myself around to eating cereal. So I pulled out the supplies I had...and this was the result:

1 cup barely
2 1/2 cups veggie stock
(you could use water, but I found this gave the barely nice flavouring...kind of like risotto!)
1/4 yellow onion finely diced
1 clove of garlic minced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1 green onion, chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice from one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
parsley to garnish


  1. Combine barley and stock or water in a pot (if using water I would encourage you to add a little salt as you would when cooking pasta). Bring it to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce to low, cover and allow to simmer for 35 minutes. Check for done-ness, it may need a few more minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, using one tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and the balsamic vinegar, fry up the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Once everything is softened, and the onions are translucent remove from heat, and allow to come to room temperature.
  3. Allow barely to cool. I found putting it on a plate and spreading it all out was a good method.
  4. Once everything is nice and cool, combine the sautéed veg, green onions, barley remaining olive oil, lemon juice and mix.
  5. Add crumbled feta - don't over mix otherwise the feta will disintegrate.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Top with parsley as garnish.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

daring baker's challenge: opera cake

A month ago I would never have been able to tell you anything about an Opera cake other than that it sounded fancy. Well, this month's DB challenge was just that. An incredibly rich and sweet French gateau. I completed the challenge back on Mother's day weekend as a dessert for dinner. My mom had asked for a lemon flavoured dessert so I thought it would be a nice combo with the almond flavour of the joconde (almond cake layer). In theory I thought this would work well, but somehow the sweetness of the buttercream was just too overpowering. The family enjoyed the cake, but when it came to the leftovers I think most begged out :(.

A traditional Opera cake to my understanding has the light jaconde coupled with a dark chocolate ganache. One of the requirements for the challenge, (in keeping with spring) was to keep the colours on the cake to the pastels. I think I prefer the contrast of the dark and the light. On my cake, everything just kind of melts together. I had the light yellow from the lemon buttercream icing, and I flavoured the ganache was a berry liqour, and topped the glaze with a strawberry (which my mom stuffed with sweet and tart cream cheese something...mmm).

Over all I thought the combination of white chocolate, with the richness and sweetness of the buttercream, was just too much.

I did however enjoy making the jaconde. I had never actually made a jelly roll cake before, so that was interesting, and I enjoyed grinding down the almonds into an "almond meal" was kind of fun. I think it would work really nice as a base for a somewhat nuttier version of strawberry shortcake.

For the full recipe check out the lovely blogs of this month's hosts: Lis, Ivonne, Fran and Shea

Monday, May 5, 2008

california spring salad

'Tis the season for lighter eating...I love the time of year when having a big salad is satisfying and refreshing. For the longest time my favourite salad was a Taco Salad, then it was Thai Beef Salads...this may be a new favourite. It is ridiculously fast to make and seemed to be enjoyed by many at a dinner party I brought it to. The picture does not do the salad justice... but alas sometimes you just have to put something up!

Salad to Serve Two (as a meal)

4 cups mixed greens and spinach
1 cup sliced strawberries
¼ thinly sliced red onion
½ log crumbled goat cheese

Candied Walnuts/Pecans:

1 cup nuts (I mixed varieties, sometimes even Almonds)
1 Tablespoon butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp Cajun seasoning

Maple Poppyseed Dressing:

½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup poppy seeds


Salad: combine ingredients - easy!

Candied Nuts:

  1. Toast in a hot frying pan about 2-3 minutes
  2. Add butter, brown sugar and Cajun seasoning (I know random – but the salt and heat is masked, but still adds something)
  3. Allow everything to melt and stir with a wooden spoon.
  4. Before mixture begins to burn poor nuts out onto a silpad to cool, separate with the spoon as much as possible to avoid clumps


  1. Put everything except for the EVOO in a food processor/blender and blend – slowly adding ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. Mix until emulsified; add 1/3 cup poppy seeds – blend again.

Combine salad, nuts and dressing, top with grilled chicken if you like meat and enjoy!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

daring baker's challenge: cheesecake pops

This month's Daring Bakers' challenge was a success, posting it was not! The deadline to post was Sunday, today is Thursday.... I even had done the challenge a few weeks before, brought it into work for a birthday surprise but failed to take a picture of it before - oops... still new to this whole "take the picture of your food" thing.

Anyhow, Elle and Deborah from Feeding My Enthusiasms and Taste and Tell, respectively, hosted. They chose little cheesecake pops. The creativity of the other Daring Bakers was inspiring. I loved the people who had geometric shapes, perfectly cut and clean...then were those who had been meticulous with the details like the Daring Baker at Delicious Days.

Anyhow, mine were simple. The cheesecake recipe. Melted chocolate chips some vegetable shortening (mmm, yes I know, tasty tasty) and rolled in graham cracker crumbs. I would make these again for sure. They are cute, festive and most importantly yummy. The recipe below is the FULL recipe, I halved it, and I would halve it again, as it made nearly 25 pops (which was plenty).

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5X 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped
(you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white)
(Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
-2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional


  1. Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
  3. Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
  4. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
  5. When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
  6. When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
  7. Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
  8. Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.)
  9. Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.
  10. Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

This recipe is adapted from Jill O'Connor's book
Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth