Cooking Classes


Poached Steelhead Trout with Lemon Risotto

During the World Women's Curling Championships here in Swift Current I was sourcing a lot of local food for the opening banquet.

One of the items we picked up for the banquet was steelhead trout from Lucky Lake. Wild West Steelhead has a wonderful farm on Lake Diefenbaker. Their fish is very good. Not only is it delicious and fresh they know how to farm fish and be kind to the environment. The fish food is government approved. The eggs are neutered so the fish cannot reproduce, if by chance any escape.

I was immediately impressed by the texture of the fish. It is firm and cooks to flake easily. I think I'll be making that two and a half hour trip over bad country roads at least once a year from now on.

For the banquet the fish was cured and made into gravlax, sliced thinly and added to the starter salad.

Poaching fish is highly under-rated. Poaching is especially convenient in the summer. The fish can be cooked ahead of time and chilled to be served cold or at room temperature. Serve with a homemade mayonnaise or aioli.

I have also included a very easy slow cooker poached version.

Poached Steelhead Fillets with Pimient d’Espelette Mayonnaise
Serve this with a simple green salad dressed in a tarragon vinaigrette, and lemon risotto. Pimient d’espelette is a spice from the Basque region of France and Spain in the Pyrenees near the village of Espelette. It is more delicate than cayenne.
1/3 c. water 75 mL
1/3 c. dry white wine 75 mL
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 fresh parsley sprigs
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 full fillets of steelhead trout, skin on
Combine 1/3 cup (75 mL) water, wine, shallot, parsley and thyme in large skillet. Place steelhead fillets skin side down in a large pan like a small roaster. Season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly and heat to just under a simmer over medium-low heat until fish is barely opaque in center, about 10 minutes. The liquid should not break into a boil. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer steelhead to a platter. Discard liquid or reserve it to use as fish stock. Cover fish with plastic wrap and chill until cold, at least 4 hours.
Serve steelhead on a platter. Garnish with slices of lemon and serve with pimiento d’espelette mayonnaise. 

Pimient d’Espelette Mayonnaise
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature 30 minutes
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard 2 mL
1 c. olive or vegetable oil (or a combination), divided
2 tsp. sherry wine vinegar 10 mL
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice 7 mL
1 tsp. pimient d’espelette 5 mL
2 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped 30 mL
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Whisk together yolk, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt until combined well. Add about 1/4 cup (60 mL) oil drop by drop, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Whisk in vinegar and lemon juice, then add remaining 1/2 cup (125 mL) oil in a very slow, thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. If at any time it appears that oil is not being incorporated, stop adding oil and whisk mixture vigorously until smooth, then continue adding oil. Whisk in salt, black pepper and pimient d’esplette. Chill, covered, until ready to use. This can also be made in a blender and stream the oil in slowly.
The egg yolk in this recipe is not cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area. Mayonnaise keeps, covered and chilled, up to 7 days.

Simple Poached Steelhead Trout
This method of poaching fish is foolproof. However, it only works for single serving portions rather than a whole side of fish.
1 c. water 250 mL
1/2 c. dry white wine 125 mL
1 yellow onion slice
1 lemon slice
1 sprig dill
1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
slice 2 steelhead fillets into 6 - single serving portions, without using the thinner tail portions
Combine the water and wine in the slow cooker and heat on high for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the onion, lemon, dill, salt and salmon. Cover and cook on high for about 20 minutes, until the salmon is opaque and cooked through according to taste. Serve hot or cold.  (Adapted from The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley)

Lemon Risotto
2 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped 30 mL
2 tbsp. olive oil 30 mL
1 c. Arborio rice 250 mL
1/3 c. dry white wine 75 mL
2 c. chicken stock, approx. 500 mL
1 tsp. lemon zest 5 mL
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated 60 mL
Saute shallots in olive oil until clear. Add rice and toss until coated in oil. Add wine and cook until reduced by half. Add warm chicken stock a ladle at a time until the rice is cooked to al dente. Stir often. The rice should be cooked but still firm. Remove from heat and add parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


A Sandwich Buffet or How to use up all those bits and pieces of food

It’s that time again. Seeding is in full swing and farm work becomes more active so is the busy-ness in the kitchen. Sometimes it is okay just to throw something together for lunch. This sandwich buffet uses bits and pieces of food that alone are not enough to feed a crew. It is an excellent way to use a single pork tenderloin, a couple of chicken breasts or a partial package of bacon. Then present a decadent dessert as the finale.

The components of a sandwich buffet include the protein, the crunch, the breads, butters and mayonnaise.  

Proteins are essential for muscle growth and repair. It takes the body longer to digest protein so a person feels full longer. Offer several choices of pre-sliced meats, poached fish, pates, cheeses and eggs.

Generously rub pork tenderloin or skin-on chicken breast with a seasoning mix like Creole or lemon pepper. Preheat a cast iron pan with a little canola oil and add the meat. Brown on all sides then slip it into a 350 F (180 C) oven to complete cooking, about 15 minutes. Cool and slice thinly.

Crispy comes from sliced raw vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes and crisp, torn lettuces. Torn lettuce can be prepared in advance because it browns more slowly than cut lettuce. Wash and shake lettuce dry and tear into serving size pieces. Then wrap it in a clean tea towel and refrigerate until serving time. Pickles, sauerkraut and a simple shredded coleslaw add flavour and crunch. 

Offer a selection of breads and buns. Baguettes make a nice chewy sandwich. Slice them horizontally for a hearty serving. Whip up some biscuits. Focaccia is simple to make in large batches. It is a flatbread and is sliced horizontally to make sandwiches.

Moisten the sandwich and also prevent juices from soaking the bread with mayonnaise, butter and mustards. Dig through the fridge for condiments like cranberry sauce, salsas and chutneys and put them on the table.
1 medium baking potato, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast 7 mL
3 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour 875 mL
1 c. warm water 250 mL
1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for the pan 60 mL
1 1/2 tsp. salt 7 mL
Boil potato until tender. Drain and cool. Put it through a ricer and use about 1 cup (250 mL) lightly packed potato.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, flour and 1 cup (250 mL) warm water until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Add remaining dough ingredients, including reserved potato. Mix with paddle attachment on low speed until the dough comes together. Switch to dough hook attachment and increase speed to medium. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, turn the dough to coat with oil and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm, draft-free place until dough is doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Cut dough in half and flatten each piece into an 8-inch disk on a large, generously oiled baking sheet. Cover dough with clean tea towel and rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). With 2 or 3 fingers, dimple the dough at regular intervals. Make about 2 dozen dimples. They should almost poke through the bottom of the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake about 25 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Serve warm. This recipe can easily be doubled. (Cooks Illustrated)
Poblano Salsa
1 large poblano pepper, halved and seeds removed 
1 bunch scallions 
2 tbsp. canola oil 30 mL
2 tbsp. fresh mint, roughly chopped 30 mL
1 tsp. lemon juice 5 mL
1/2 tsp. cane sugar 2 mL
1/2 tsp. chili flakes 2 mL
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
Place poblano halves and scallions on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and roast until softened, about 15-18 minutes.
Remove from oven, cool slightly, then chop coarsely.
Add to a bowl with remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper.  (Bon Appetit)
Caramel Brownies in a Jar
There is no brownie better than a cocoa brownie. Serve these in a 1 cup (250 mL) wide-mouth canning jar or other dessert dish. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of caramel sauce.
10 tbsp. unsalted butter 155 mL
1 1/4 c. sugar 315 mL
3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder 175 mL + 30 mL
1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla 2 mL
2 cold large eggs
1/2 c. all purpose flour 125 mL
2/3 c. walnut or pecan pieces (optional) 150 mL
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from skillet and set aside until mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add flour and stir until fully mixed in, then beat vigorously for 2 or 3 minutes the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
Lift up the ends of the parchment and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares. (Bon Appetit)


Soba Noodle Salad with White Miso Dressing

Salads are the crunchy version of a soup or stew. They can be made with whatever is at hand. My month of crunchy salads is on day 6. There is no real recipe today. Just an inspiration.

I have a few leftovers from previous meals so they came together in this salad with the addition of cold soba noodles. Cook noodles according to package instructions.

Finely chopped kale, romaine and green onions were tossed with cold cooked soba noodles and yesterdays salad dressing Miso, Carrot and Sesame Dressing. Garnished with spicy pepitas and sea buckthorn berries. Nutrition overload.


Miso, Carrot and Sesame Dressing

This is day five in my month of salads challenge. My real meal was the shrimp bisque. This is a simple salad elevated by an interesting dressing. The recipe is from Bon Appetit. Enjoy.

Miso, Carrot, and Sesame Dressing

I have white soy paste and it is very thick and rich. I cut the amount of white miso in half. I would suggest you use it 'to taste'. 

Servings: Makes about 11/2 cups
  • 1/2 cup white miso
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (packed) finely grated peeled carrot
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey 
Place all ingredients plus 1/4 cup water in a resealable container. Cover and shake vigorously until well combined. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.


Curried Couscous and Sidestripe Prawn Salad

Serving only sustainably harvested seafood is very important to me. BC sidestripe shrimp is ethically and sustainably harvested. It is a top choice of the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program. Always look for their logo on any fish or seafood you purchase.

A long time ago when I was in real estate sales one of my clients was from mainland China. Every time his entourage came into town we had a feast at his partner's restaurant. That is when I first learned to eat shell-on shrimp. Now it is the only way I want it.

Curried Couscous and Sidestripe Prawn Salad

1/2 cup cooked couscous
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon Madras curry powder
2 teaspoons peach chutney
1/2 small head of romaine lettuce
8 side stripe prawns
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
olive oil
sea salt

Wash and crisp romaine leaves. Leave them whole.

Cook couscous according to package instructions. When finished add curry powder, corn kernels and one teaspoon of chutney. Stir to mix. Season with sea salt to taste. Set aside

Toss prawns with smoked paprika and add to a hot pan that has been oiled with olive oil. Turn once and cook until done.

Prepare salad by laying 2-4 romaine leaves on a plate. Fill with couscous. Top with sauteed prawns. Serve immediately. Serves one.


Black Kale Salad with Navy Beans

It is Crunch Challenge month. Eat a crunchy salad every day for a month. I committed to posting every day whether it was pretty or not. Today I dined a little later and the natural sunlight was fading. That makes it difficult for taking a good picture. But here it is.

I enjoyed this salad but could have thought it through a little more. The pine nuts are the same size, colour and shape as the navy beans. They taste good together but not very eye appealing. I was considering saskatoon berries to sweeten the bitter kale but took the lazy way out and used some pomegranate jelly that was hiding in my refrigerator. It worked very well. Shaved parmesan would be ideal but I had none.

The dried navy beans were cooked in my pressure cooker with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda added to the water. Cooked for 5 minutes from the time full pressure was reached and they were perfect. The outer skins separated and rose to the top of the water. Skimming these off will solve your problem with flatulence and beans.

 My sea salt comes from an artisanal producer operating on Salt Spring Island. Canadian flavoured sea salt! Yay! The brand name is Salt Spring Sea Salt. This is pure with only balsamic and garlic added to pure sea salt.

I rarely use bacon fat. I don't like the flavour and idea of all the sulphites and additives. However, I was fortunate to find a pastured pig that was made into old style bacon. So delicious. I could not waste a drop of that liquid gold.

Black Kale Salad with Navy Beans

3 or 4 leaves of black kale, rib stripped out and leaves chopped
1 tablespoon good quality bacon fat
1/4 cup cooked navy beans
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
balsamic garlic sea salt
pomegranate jelly

Saute kale in bacon fat until just tender. Arrange on serving plate. Top with navy beans and pine nuts. Season with balsamic flavoured sea salt and pomegranate jelly. Serves one.