Sea Food

February 8, 2011


Salmon and Kelp

My lovely friend Rosemary is the Chief Development Officer for the BC SPCA. She has an unrestrained, whole-hearted love for all animals and she inspires me. Recently, she has been persuing a vegan lifestyle, a better-for-her way of eating. She told me a few months ago about Organic Lives in Vancouver and recommended that I try their kelp noodles. It took me a while, but I did. And they’re great. Incredibly crisp. Noodles from the sea! They went perfectly with this delicate salmon stew recipe that I lifted from the venerable cannelle et vanille.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, trimmed and slice, pale green parts only

1 baseball-sized celeriac, trimmed, peeled and diced

1 fennel bulb, diced – save some pretty fennel fronds for garnish if you like

1 cup of vegetable stock

1 tin of coconut milk

12 ounces salmon, skin removed and cut into 1″ cubes

1 package of kelp noodles, rinsed

sea salt

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat and add leeks. Sweat for two minutes and add celeriac, fennel and vegetable stock. Lower heat and simmer until vegetables are just tender. Pour in coconut milk and stir to combine. Add salmon and gently poach until almost cooked through and then add the kelp noodles. Heat, season with sea salt and serve with bits of frilly fennel.


Mushroom Soup

October 18, 2010

Chunky Soup

‘Tis the season, my friend Holly said, for mushroom soup. She emailed me last week to request a mushroom soup recipe. I am happy to oblige, especially as her request was accompanied by loads of compliments. In case you didn’t know, flattery gets you everywhere with me. I made a mushroom soup last year that I didn’t bother posting because it was merely edible. It was a puréed version without cream and the texture was blah. This year’s is chunky, and some things are better chunky, such as soups and sweaters.

Makes about 3 litres

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 medium sized onions, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1/3 cup pearl barley

6 cloves of garlic, minced

250 g cremini mushrooms, aka brown mushrooms, chopped

250 g shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, chopped

250 g chanterelle mushrooms, chopped

1 small stem rosemary, or 1 teaspoons dried

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried

1 litre of stock – beef, chicken, vegetable or, in my case, turkey

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

sea salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots and let them sweat it out for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pearl barley, mix it in, and then add the garlic. Stir and allow to cook for a few more minutes and then add the mushrooms, it’s an awful lot of mushrooms, probably as much as 16 cups, but they will cook down. Stir them occasionally and when they have reduced in volume add the rosemary and thyme. Isn’t it lovely how earthy this pot of soup to-be smells? Forest damp and woodsy. Now pour in the stock, obviously the different stocks will give different depths of flavour. If I had had some beef stock on hand, that would have been my first choice. However, given the season, I happened to have turkey stock in my freezer. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender with a slight chew. Stir in the parsley and season with sea salt and pepper. Mushrooms are one of those things that take kindly to salt and pepper, so add, taste, add again. That said, you can always add more salt, or pepper, but you can’t take it out. And there you have it – chunky mushroom soup for dinner and a week of autumn lunches.

Wooden Mushroom

Mi Amiga Katie

August 26, 2010

Tortilla-less Soup

Katie is a cook and friend extraordinaire. She has not made me her tortilla soup (uh, what up, Katie?) but she raves so unabashedly about it (she has high self esteem) that I know it’s super delicious. To note: if Katie raves about something, listen up. She is never wrong. Well, hardly ever. The only thing we disagree on are ice cream flavours* and in this case we agree to disagree.

* I love vanilla. Real, almost boozy vanilla bean. If I’m having ice cream, and I’m DQ’ing something different, I will order vanilla if I can discern that grey-ish flecked pallour of vanilla bean. Or chocolate. If I’m having gelato, oftentimes pistachio will win. Katie’s ice cream flavour? Muesli. I know, right? Without further disagreement or ado, here is Katie’s Tortilla Soup recipe. Thanks for guest blogging Katie!

Tortilla Soup

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

½ of a large onion, diced

2 or more cloves of garlic, minced

2 ears of corn, shucked, kernels stripped (save cobs)

2 anaheim peppers, charred, peeled, seeded and chopped  (the flavour of charred Anaheim pepper is irreplaceable, but they can be difficult to find…swap out whatever interesting pepper you can find at the market – sweet or hot)

1 small zucchini chopped (skin on)

2 or 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

3-4 juicy limes

dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano – can be found at Granville island)

bunch of cilantro

1 plump chicken breast, poached or grilled and then shredded

1 diced, perfectly ripe avocado, tossed with a bit of lime juice

extra lime wedges to serve on the side


– fried strips of corn tortilla (for a cleaner version, brush with olive oil then bake until crisp)

– shredded white cheddar cheese

In a big pot, sweat garlic and onions in olive oil. Toss in corn kernels (and cobs – just be sure to take them out before serving!), zucchini, peppers and oregano.  Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Pour stock into pot and bring the whole lot to a simmer.  Cook until vegetables are tender but still have a slight bite to them. Add tomatoes, chicken, salt to taste and lime juice. Just before serving, add chopped cilantro. We like to have our chopped avocado on the side to add as we eat.   The cold, creamy avocado contrasts beautifully with the hot citrusy soup.  If you are willing to go a little less clean, serve crunchy corn tortilla strips and shredded cheese on the side as well.  These should be added to your bowl of soup just before you eat.  Sometimes I will also serve a bowl of hand cut chunky salsa on the side, to add even more vegetables and flavour.

This is a very flexible recipe.  You can add or subtract as many vegetables as you like (we added finely sliced savoy cabbage yesterday and it was awesome) and of course this is easily vegetarian minus the chicken. Chopped, rehydrated dried chiles (such as guajillo) are an excellent addition….and if you can’t find Mexican oregano, you can use catnip in a pinch (I wish I was joking about this, as it happened when we were cooking for guests, but I’m not….that little bag of catnip looks almost exactly like the little bag of oregano you can buy at South China Seas…..oops…). The only thing that is non negotiable in this soup is the lime juice…use lots!  Somehow this soup manages to taste light and refreshing in the summer and spicy, warm and comforting in the winter. Sometimes we make it quite thin, and other times it is stew-like with so many vegetables.


PS. I would like to defend my ice cream choice.  It is Cranberry Muesli frozen yogurt (I’m sure it is at least 10% fat – so creamy) and I always like it with a side scoop of biscottino gelato.  Agree to disagree.

Summer Soup Elixir

There is a terrible bug going around. Thankfully, I have avoided it, but its unwelcome presence has me hankering for ginger and steamy hot veggies. On my way home yesterday I plotted to smash a small limb of fresh ginger, chop spring vegetables to bits and concoct a perfectly hot and simple elixir of a soup.

6 cups water

4″ piece fresh ginger, smashed

2 tablespoons dried shrimp

6 dried scallops

2 stalks celery, diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

1 small zucchini, diced

3 mushrooms, diced

2 cups fresh spinach

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 green onions, minced

sesame oil

Don’t be skeptical about using dried seafood. It’s so good and makes this soup taste full flavoured and long simmered. Heat water in a medium sized pot and add smashed ginger, dried shrimp and scallops. Bring to a boil and simmer for several minutes. Using a Chinese strainer or reasonable facsimile, remove shrimp and scallops to a chopping board. Stir in diced celery and carrots and simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the zucchini and mushrooms. Shred the cooled scallops and add to your soup. I discard the shrimp as I don’t much care for the texture. However, if you like, you can chop the shrimp and add to the soup, too. Stir in the spinach, sea salt and green onion. Heat through and serve, being mindful to leave the large pieces of fresh ginger in the pot. Drizzle each bowl with a small stream of sesame oil.

Dried Scallop

Dried Shrimp

Hock, Stock & Crock

March 25, 2010

As Thick As

I really can’t say why I felt like making and eating split pea soup on a sunny spring day. Its very stick to your ribs character calls for it to be made in the dead dark of foggy winter. Nonetheless, I wanted to go out and about yesterday, and I didn’t want to concern myself with cooking dinner when I got home. This was a job for my super Crock Pot.

Makes about 8 cups

1 ham hock

16 oz dried split green peas, rinsed and picked through

1 medium onion, chopped

2 ribs of celery, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons sea salt

6 cups of chicken stock or water

Put all ingredients into your Crock Pot. Turn it on to high for five hours and breeze out the door for the day. When you come home your dinner will be almost ready. Pull out the falling apart ham hock from the thick as pea soup pea soup and set it on a plate until cool enough to handle. When cooled, shred the ham and stir into your hearty split pea soup. Most enjoyable!

Update: okay, this recipe gets really thick overnight. You could easily add another 2 cups of stock or water if you like. Michael disagrees. But I must tell you, he scooped the soup onto his toast and cheese (he’s not eating clean, he only clean eats by default and his toast was white bread from a bag. I know, right?) that’s how thick it is. So, thin as you please.

Roasted Carrot Soup

January 25, 2010

Picture of Health

Woe is me, I am under the weather. I’m not feeling so poorly that I don’t feel like cooking, but I didn’t go for a run yesterday. I’m no doctor, but I decided a good dose of carrots, garlic and ginger would help to make me feel better. Childhood days of Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Eskimo Pies as medicine are long gone.

Makes about 8 cups

8 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into large-ish rounds

4 onions, chopped

1 head of garlic, peeled, cloves left whole

1/4 cup of olive oil, divided

1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 400 ml tin coconut milk

Pre-heat oven to 475º. In a large bowl, toss carrots, onions and garlic cloves with two tablespoons of olive oil. Turn out onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and shake to distribute evenly, ensuring that you have one layer of vegetables so that they roast evenly without steaming too much. Slide into the oven and roast for 45 minutes to an hour. Pull tray out of the oven and turn and stir the vegetables three times during the roasting. Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the ginger and stir to prevent sticking and scorching. Big, fragrant puffs of gingery steam will fill your kitchen and invade your fuzzy brain, breathe deeply! Add the salt and the hot, roasted carrots and onions to the pot of ginger and pour the stock over. Simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool. Use a blender or an immersion blender to puree and stir in coconut milk. Taste for seasoning and return to stove to heat gently. This soup, combined with a warm blanket and good novel, currently Five Quarters of the Orange, on a Sunday afternoon is some of the best medicine.

What's up, Doc?


January 21, 2010

Vegetarian Borscht

Vegetarian Borscht

Incredibly, this rich-tasting, jewel-toned soup is made with just vegetables. Isn’t it a gorgeous garnet colour? It’s not a true borscht, but it’s close enough.

Makes about 8 cups

4 small beets, peeled and cubed

2 carrots, peeled and cubed

1 yam, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 medium-sized onions, chopped

1/2 red cabbage, shredded

1 small tin of tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

1 tablespoon agave

2 – 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Place beets, carrots and yam into a medium-sized pot and cover with four and a half cups of cold water. Bring to a low boil over medium heat and simmer for about half an hour, or until vegetables are almost tender. Remove pot from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, stream olive oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, for about ten minutes. Add shredded red cabbage, tomato paste and bay leaves, continue to cook until cabbage wilts down. Add sea salt, dill and reserved, slightly cooled vegetables with their broth. Bring to a simmer, lower heat and add agave and vinegar. I add up to four tablespoons of vinegar, I like my borscht fairly tangy, but start with just two tablespoons to begin. You can taste the soup and see if it suits and add the full amount to taste. Simmer for about half an hour.

Beautiful Beet

All Day

January 14, 2010

Crock Pot Beans

Crock Pot Beans

Ha ha – look what I made yesterday while I was at work! My mom and dad gave me a Crock Pot and I’m quite excited about it. I’ve only made two things so far, these delicious beans and a beef stew over the weekend, which was just okay. The beef stew needs some tweaking. But these beans were delish. I cannot tell you how great it was to walk in the door after work and have dinner (almost) ready. Some planning is in order as the beans must be soaked overnight.

Makes about 8 cups

1 pound pinto beans, soaked in cool water overnight at room temperature

2 onions, chopped

1 large tin of tomatoes

3 cups water

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon hot smoked paprika

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon cayenne, optional – I like it hot!

2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1 1/2 cups frozen corn

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 ripe avocado, cubed

At this point your beans have been soaked overnight. Drain, rinse and put in Crock Pot. Put everything else except for the corn, cilantro and avocado into Crock Pot. Also, maybe don’t add the cayenne yet, stir it in after you’ve tasted the beans, they might be spicy enough for you already. I set the Crock Pot for a 6-hour cook on low and then went to work. As busy as I am, I thought of my beans several times throughout the day. I really wanted to be at home, incessantly peeking at them. And checking. Checking to make sure that there was enough liquid, that they weren’t getting scorched. But they were fine! When I came home I immediately went to check on them, I stirred them and hemmed and hawed. They were a bit too liquidy. So, still in my work clothes, I dumped the beans from the Crock Pot into a large pot and put it on the stove over medium-high heat. I pureed some of the soup with my immersion blender. That made for a better texture, it made it a bit thicker. It was a bit of a splattery endeavor in a nice outfit but I had been (bean?) waiting all day! Do you like the spiciness? Or perhaps you’d like to add the cayenne? I must admit, I did add a little more salt. I’m a saltaholic. I finished by stirring in the frozen corn kernels and cilantro, garnishing with the avocado, changing into comfy clothes and retiring to the sofa, dinner and good book in hand.

Pinto Bean


January 4, 2010

Tofu Hot Pot

Today is a good day for Japanese hot pot with tofu. Yudofu is simple winter dish of simmered tofu with vegetables and dipping sauce. First you must make a batch of dashi, the recipe is here on this post, scroll down past the soba noodle recipe. If you’re planning on getting back on the clean-eating wagon, this makes one of the most perfect meals. You will feel virtuous after dinner. I know a lot of us feel as though we’ve fallen off the wagon. Maybe the wagon has even run you over! Not to worry, just climb back on with this Japanese hot pot.

Serves 2 generously

1 recipe dashi, bring the whole four cups to a gentle boil

assorted, sliced vegetables such as baby bok choy, carrots, mushrooms, green onions

1 block soft organic tofu, cubed

2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon agave

2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Bring dashi to a gentle simmer and add vegetables. Add them in sequence according to how long they take to cook. For example, add carrot slices first and simmer for two minutes before adding the bok choy and then the mushrooms. While your vegetables are cooking to a crisp tenderness, make your dipping sauce. Dashi, or stock, is a really light, clean-tasting broth, so the dipping sauce adds a hit of intense flavour to dip your vegetables and tofu into. Scoop out a little dashi into two small dishes, about three tablespoons into each one. Add a teaspoon of tamari soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon of agave  to each, along with the grated ginger*. Add the soft tofu pieces to your hot pot of simmering vegetables and heat through. Divide amongst two bowls, garnish with green onions and enjoy!

Ginger Grater

* I am very fond of this bamboo ginger grater that my mother in law, Tash, gave to me. It has the perfect teeth for grating fresh ginger into a fine, juicy, gingery pile and I highly recommend it. They’re easily found in Vancouver and I’ll bet that they cost less than five dollars.

Turkey Soup

December 28, 2009

Turkey Barley Soup

To The Rescue

This blog is making a hypocrite out of me. When I’m eating well, I’m very very good, and when I’m bad, I’m a disaster. In the last many weeks I have reverted to some of my old ways, and I’m consuming an almost steady intake of chocolate and sugar. I truly feel terrible. I’m cranky, and I keep crashing from the sugar ups and downs. Stupid holidays and sugar plums. To help me help myself, I made stock from the leftover turkey carcass, and then made this vegetable-laden, barley-speckled turkey soup. It’s lean and hearty. It’s rescue me soup.

Makes lots

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 medium sized onions, peeled and chopped

3 stalks of celery, diced

3 carrots, diced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons sea salt

12 cups turkey stock

1/2 cup pearl barley

4 cups leftover turkey, shredded

1 bunch parsley, chopped

freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add onions. Sauté for two minutes and add celery and carrots. Cook for another couple of minutes and then add the minced garlic and sea salt. Stir and cook for another minute or two, until garlic cooks a bit and releases its pungent smell. Stir in barley and stock and heat to a gentle boil. Lower heat, stirring occasionally, and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until barley is tender. Stir in shredded turkey meat and chopped parsley. It’s a lot of parsley, and will lend the soup a clear, green brightness. A lot of parsley is good right now, it’s good for you and loaded with antioxidants. Good for combating the ravaging effects of sugar. Hopefully. Oh, don’t forget to stir in the freshly ground pepper.