Tag Archives: smoked salmon

A Holiday Cocktail: The Smoked Sammon

19 Dec

Belvedere vodka cocktail

Whether or not you’re as food crazed as I am, everyone has food memories they associate with the holidays. Growing up, the appetizer table at Christmas dinner always included a smoked salmon platter, sometimes paired with a dill cream cheese, and often garnished with cucumber and lemon slices.

So, when I was asked by the team at Off The Grid to participate in a promotion where Toronto cocktail fanatics were asked to create a holiday tipple using Belvedere vodka*, my thoughts turned to one of my favorite holiday food memories. Those who’ve followed this blog know I’ve never shied away from unusual cocktail ingredients or smoky flavours (truthfully, I have a strong preference for brown spirits), so putting together a cocktail reminiscent of a smoked salmon platter was a welcome challenge.

The result: The Smoked Sammon (The name is a play on the name of the street I live on… and a reflection of the fact there is definitely no actual fish in this drink!).

cucumber Belvedere smoked paprika

To make this drink, step 1 is infusing the vodka with cucumber and dill. Peel, halve and de-seed half an English cucumber, then chop the halves into small chunks. Throw the cucumber into a mason jar, or any container with a tight seal, along with a handful of fresh dill. Pour in half a bottle of Belvedere vodka and close the lid. Store in the fridge for three to four days to infuse, and give the jar a gentle shake once a day.

Step 2: create the “smoke” for your cocktail. For this, I made a smoked paprika simple syrup, an idea I borrowed from Toronto chef Matt Kantor. Heat 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika in a saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes or so, until the sugar is dissolved. Let the syrup cool completely, then store in the fridge in a Tupperware (it’ll keep for several days).

Finally, make your drink. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and shake together 2 ounces of the infused vodka, half an ounce of your smoked paprika syrup and a few dashes of citrusy bitters to round things out (I used Bittered Sling’s Lem-Marrakech Bitters). Pour into a cocktail glass over ice, and garnish with a slice of cucumber from your infused vodka.

*Thanks to Belvedere and offthegridto.com for supplying me with a bottle of vodka to play with. To check out more cocktail creations, visit Off The Grid.

Creamy Whole Wheat Pasta with Smoked Salmon & Chives

7 Feb

Smoked salmon has become a bit of a staple in our house. Aside from being one of my favorite brunch foods (eaten on a toasted Montreal bagel with cream cheese, lemon & capers, of course) it’s a great ingredient to keep on hand in your freezer for a really quick weeknight meal.

We usually default to this quickly assembled dinner, but last week we thought we’d try something a little different but equally fast and simple.

We made this pasta up as we went along, grabbing a handful of ingredients that felt like obvious companions to the smoked salmon. The soft, salty/smoky salmon worked so nicely with the slight tang of the Dijon, the sweetness of the caramelized fennel and shallot, and the fresh hint of onion from the chives. The nuttiness of the whole wheat pasta really made a difference, too.

I usually squirm when Neil suggests adding cream to a dish we cook at home, since I’ve been conditioned to think that cream sauces are evil and will go directly to my thighs without being ‘worth it’. But as Neil pointed out, a little goes a long way in this pasta. You don’t need to create a full-on sauce, dousing the pasta in cream. Just use enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan, and you won’t be riddled with the kind of guilt that the likes of fettuccini alfredo inevitably leave behind. 

Creamy Whole Wheat Pasta with Smoked Salmon & Chives 

Whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente and strained

1 pkg smoked salmon, chopped into small bite sized pieces

2 shallots, chopped

Half a bulb of fennel, chopped

Handful of fresh chives, chopped

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Approx ½ cup half-and-half cream

Splash of white wine

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Sauté fennel and shallot until they’re soft and caramelized. Season with salt and pepper. 

Add some white wine and cook for another few minutes. Mix in the Dijon mustard and half of your chopped chives, keeping the rest to garnish.

Reduce the heat to low, add in the cream and mix. To be honest, we eyeballed the cream (with me on the sidelines reminding Neil not to add too much!) but probably ended up with just about a half a cup. Enough to coat the pasta but the goal is not to create a full-blown sauce. Make sure you’re heat is down on low so the cream doesn’t curdle.

Add in your cooked pasta while it’s still warm. Toss in the pan to coat the pasta evenly with the sauce. Add in the smoked salmon at the last minute – you don’t want to cook it but you want to incorporate it. 

Serve sprinkled with the rest of the chives. We drizzled our plates with some lemon-infused olive oil, but a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice would be perfect too. 

Simply Assembled: Dilled Potatoes with Smoked Salmon

18 Feb

Recently a friend asked me “Do you guys ever make anything bad? Do you ever screw up?” Though I would like to have answered “No. Never. We’re perfect. In every way,” that is far from the truth. Neil and I love to cook but we have a ton to learn and we do, of course, sometimes screw up. A Parmesan ice cream incident and a tofu cupcake mishap are among two of the worst. We just don’t post about the screw-ups!

I know it may also appear that we’re constantly busy cooking up delicious things, but just like most other regular day-job-holding home cooks we have our moments of  “Let’s just order a pizza” or frequent nights when we’ll get home from work, look at each other and say “What should we do for dinner? I don’t feel like cooking.” That’s usually followed by blank stares and silence, followed by whining (mostly be me), and usually ending with Neil suggesting take out sushi from our favorite place or burgers from one of the many burger joints in the east end and me vying for vegetarian or Moroccan food from around our hood.

Sometimes we’re in the mood to eat at home, but are more interested in easily assembling something instead of actually cooking. We have a few go-to meals for such occasions, and one of those is dilled potatoes with smoked salmon and a very leafy green side salad.

I once saw my celeb crush Jamie Oliver make this easy meal on his beautiful show Jamie at Home. I didn’t write down the recipe (because there really isn’t one) but the idea stuck with me and we’ve been making it ever since. Jamie is known for using really fresh, simple ingredients and producing dishes that are bursting with flavor. I love how he just adores every ingredient he throws into a dish and speaks of each one like they’re all his little muses.

This meal is not fancy or fussy but it tastes amazing and is really quick to throw together if you have all the ingredients in your fridge. It took us 20 minutes from starting to sitting down at the table.

If you’re wondering what’s up with the rainbow smoked salmon in the photos, we decided to try President’s Choice Vodka Beet Smoked Atlantic Salmon, mostly because it was on sale, but also because we were curious. It’s really beautiful and would go over well for a nice brunch or dinner party, but we didn’t really think it added much to our dinner, aside from some nice color on the plate. The taste is really no different from their regular smoked salmon, though it may have been a bit less smoky-flavored. I actually like to use gravlax for this meal because it’s thinner and more delicate and kind of melts in your mouth, but any smoked salmon will do.

Don’t skimp on the herbs for the potatoes though – they really make the dish. And I find that the horseradish sauce just brings it all together nicely. We’re big fans of horseradish sauces for lots of different dishes, as evidenced here and here.

The other night when we made this, we served it with a simple raw kale salad dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and a touch of maple syrup. And I have to say, this dinner pairs well with a really good cold beer on the side. We had Beau’s All Natural Lug Tread Lagered Ale (we’re really loving their beer as well as their cool packaging) and it was the perfect complement to our simple but fulfilling Jamie O-inspired meal.

Smoked Salmon with Dilled Potatoes

Sauce:

Plain yogurt or sour cream

Lemon juice

Lemon zest

Prepared white horseradish

Potatoes:

A bunch of red or white mini potatoes

Dill, chopped

Chives, chopped

Good quality extra virgin olive oil

White balsamic or apple cider vinegar

Lemon juice

Sea salt

If you’re using frozen smoked salmon, take it out of the freezer a few hours before eating and let it thaw in the fridge.

We like to cut the potatoes into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Place potatoes in a steamer and steam until soft. We actually steam ours in the microwave for approximately 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. I never measure; just use your judgment and adjust to your taste.

Get your herbs and oil and vinegar ready so you can quickly work with the potatoes while they’re steaming hot. Prepare your salad.

Once the potatoes are done, transfer them to a big bowl, add in the herbs, drizzle in olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and a good amount of sea salt.

Bring everything to the table and let everyone serve themselves. The best way to eat this meal is to take a heaping spoonful of potatoes and then top them with pieces of smoked salmon and a little bit of sauce. Try to get a little bit of everything in each bite.

The Best Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Cream

26 Dec

Eggs are one of those things that everyone has their own method of cooking. And scrambled eggs, though they seem so simple, can be made a million different ways.

Well, if you’ve got 30 minutes to spare and you want to try the creamiest, most delicious scrambled eggs you’ve ever had, read on.

Yes, I realize that scrambled eggs can be cooked in a matter of minutes so I know it may seem like an unnecessary ordeal to spend 30 minutes on such an easy dish. But cooking these eggs slowly on a low heat is what makes them so perfect. It’s worth the wait.

A lot of people add milk or cream to their eggs to get that creamy consistency, but with this method, you don’t have to add a thing. When they’re done, the eggs are creamy, silky, dense and melt-in-your-mouth amazing. They also turn a darker color than your typical quick-cooked fluffy scrambled eggs, so they look more intense and rich.

The leek is essential because it cooks down to be soft and kind of melty and adds a lot of flavor and texture to the eggs. I love chopping and cooking leeks; they’re so beautiful and delicious.

You need to babysit the eggs as they cook and keep stirring them in the pan with a soft spatula. You may get to the point of annoyance thinking that they’re never going to start firming up, but whatever you do, stay strong, keep going and do not turn up the heat! They’ll cook in no time (aka: 20 minutes) and you’ll be glad you waited it out as you indulge in every bite.

The smoked salmon and horseradish cream just take the eggs over the top. We’ve served this to friends for brunch with some fresh crusty bread and they were very impressed. I decided not to tell them how incredibly easy it was to pull together.

All you need is a little patience…

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Cream

6 eggs (3 per person)

1 large leek, dark green tops removed

Olive oil

2 Tbsp sour cream (I used light sour cream, you can also use plain yogurt)

1 heaping tsp prepared white horseradish (or to taste)

Lemon zest (optional)

Smoked salmon (I used gravlax with dill)

Slice the leek in half lengthwise, run under cold water, separating the layers to clean out any dirt. Dry and slice into half-moon pieces.

In a bowl, mix the sour cream and horseradish. Add some freshly grated lemon zest and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk to blend.

Add a good amount of olive oil to a large pan on medium heat and sauté the leeks for 10 minutes. You really want to cook them down to be soft and melty in consistency. You don’t want them to brown so watch the heat and keep them moving in the pan as you sauté.

Once the leeks are ready, lower the heat to a low setting and wait about a minute before adding the eggs, to bring down the temperature in the pan. Whisk the eggs one more time and then add them into the pan with the leeks.

The eggs now need to cook very slowly on that low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

You may get fed up but the final result is completely worth the effort, so keep on going… Don’t touch that knob!

Keep it on low and cook slow…

Using a soft spatula, keep moving the eggs around the pan in circular motions as they slowly cook. Let them sit undisturbed for a few seconds and then mix them around again. Repeat!

It takes a while before they start to transition from liquid form, but keep on cooking!

The eggs are ready once all the liquid cooks and the eggs are solid. You want them to be creamy so don’t overcook them to the point where they’re very firm and dry. You want them to be moist. Add salt and pepper just before you’re ready to plate.

Plate the eggs and top with pieces of smoked salmon. Add a dollop of horseradish cream and serve.

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