Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Snow Crab Pasta

Years ago, the '70s if I must get exact, I used to enjoy a snow crab appetizer at the Mount Pleasant Lunch in Toronto. It was wonderful and left me with wonderful memories of snow crab. I decided to come up with my own snow crab recipe to delight my wife.

I used frozen snow crab. Look for packages that promise lots of big chunks. I have found that the packages that favour snow crab slivers are more fishy tasting. I can't say this is a general rule, and sometimes it is impossible to apply as packages are sealed and opaque, but still this has been my experience. Good luck.

Ingredients (This recipe is for two. I'm a senior and I cook for myself and my wife.)

360 g of frozen snow crab (Big pieces, if possible.)
90 g of asparagus, chopped into large, one-inch, pieces (I used eight stalks tonight.)
150 g of rottini or penne pasta (I like these shapes for ease of mixing with the other ingredients.)
25 ml of butter or Becel (I use Becel to please my doctors.)
25 ml, or a bit more, of olive oil
3 or 4 chopped green onions (Use lots of the green if these are nice and fresh.)
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
6 ml of lemon zest (More can work but don't use less.)
25 ml of fresh squeezed lemon juice
25 ml (at the very least) of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup of pasta water
1 finely chopped little, hot, red pepper (To be fried in a Tbsp of olive oil and poured over mixture.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve with a slice of lemon.

First, boil the asparagus stalks for about thirty second and remove from the hot water using a slotted spoon. Do not over cook. When the water returns to a boil, add the pasta to the water. Chop the warm asparagus and set aside.

Melt the butter or Becel in the fry pan with the 25 ml of olive oil. When hot, add the chopped green onions, minced garlic, and asparagus. Toss all together. Add the lemon zest and set aside.

When the pasta is done, again, don't over cook. Add the hot pasta to the fry pan along with two ounces of the pasta water. Add the chopped parsley. Add the chunks of snow crab. Add the lemon juice and grated Parmesan by sprinkling both all over the top. Toss everything as it heats. Set aside but for just a moment. Don't let this cool.

In a small fry pan, quickly fry the minced, hot, red pepper. I find one, and only one, of these one-inch wonders is enough. Some folk find these quite hot. Almost deadly. Use discretion. Frying the chopped pepper will take but seconds. Maybe thirty or forty. Pour the hot oil with the chopped pepper over the snow crab/pasta mix and toss all over the heat. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately with a slice of lemon and a little extra Parmesan.

A few baguette slices are nice on the table -- maybe with a little dipping sauce, too. And don't forget the white wine. I like something on the dry side. We are talking dry and not astringent.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Grilled sourdough bread with feta, strawberries and basil

If I could recall the restaurant where I originally enjoyed this, I'd give the place and the chef credit. Sadly, I can't.

Each spring I take my granddaughters strawberry picking at one of the pick-your-own operations in the neighbourhood.

One of my favourite things to do with the oodles of strawberries is make feta cheese, strawberry and basil sandwiches using sourdough bread.

I've also tried this with soft, goat cheese. The picture shows this variation. But, I've decided I like the feta version best. That said, my granddaughter, Fiona, likes hers made with a mild Canadian cheddar. Adding a light patina of strawberry jam is optional but the kids love it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Punch up fruit flavour with a cheat: sweet raspberry sauce

Both my wife, Judy, and I are watching our calories. We've both put on a few pounds. We haven't put on much and we don't intend to. Tonight we had a salad built on a solid foundation of fresh, baby spinach.

I added chunks of sweet, navel oranges, pieces of fresh strawberries and big bits of a locally made feta cheese. I added a blackcurrant/raspberry dressing and tossed all. It lacked something.

I added a few roasted sunflower seeds and slices of pan-fried leaks. It still lacked focus, not to mention a strong, fruity snap. In desperation, I added a Tbsp of a Quebec-made, sweet raspberry sauce, a topping made for waffles or vanilla ice cream. That did it. That punched up the flavour.

The sauce is good quality, made with fresh fruit. Using just a little highlighted the sweet taste of the fruit in the salad without making it cloyingly sweet. One must take care using such a cheat. It would not take too much to destroy a healthy salad. The goal here is a salad and not a dessert.

I made this without a recipe and yet my wife said it was delicious. Someday I may feel bold enough to call myself a cook.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Arctic char: a good choice for folk who aren't sure if they like fish

My wife isn't sure that she likes fish. In fact, she often claims she doesn't like fish. It's that fishy taste she hates. I tell her that properly handled fish, kept cold and fresh, doesn't have that off flavour. Good fish tastes good. Period.

The other day she noticed Arctic char on sale at our local fresh food market. She bought a 12 oz. fillet for the two of us to share. I cooked it that night.

I baked some large, thick slivers of sweet pepper, brushed with olive oil and salted, for about fifteen minutes at 375 degrees fahrenheit. With the time about half gone, I opened the oven door and add four tomatoes to the pan, and sprinkled on some basil, and, when only four minutes remained, I cleared a spot and added some washed and still wet baby spinach. I covered the pan for those last four minutes in the oven. This gently wilted the spinach.

Meanwhile, I pan fried the salted and peppered Arctic char in a little olive oil. I started with four minutes skin-side down and then flipped the fish for another three minutes. These fillets were not an inch thick.

Dinner was quick, under half an hour, looked good on our plates and delighted my wife. And the wine I paired with dinner, a dry pinot grigio.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Healthy Eating Is Easy!

Healthy eating is easy. Follow a few simple rules and all falls into place  — and weight control falls into reach.
  • Plan your meals around vegetables and fruits and not meat. Often your plate will be at least half-filled with fruits and veggies or have fruit or salad on the side. 
  • Mix the food groups at each meal. Try to always include at least one serving from most food groups.
  • If you're hungry, eat! Do not starve yourself. It is counterproductive. You will simply overeat later. Remember, you are allowed almost unlimited consumption of vegetables and fruits.
  • Put pleasure first. Don’t sacrifice enjoyment. Think flavour and not calories first.
  • Plan meals a week at a time. This will guarantee you have all the right ingredients on hand to complete each meal.
  • Eat 'real' food. Avoid processed foods or limit their consumption. This includes many canned and most boxed and convenience foods. Processed foods often include unwanted fat, sugar, calories and salt. It is better to lean towards whole, fresh foods still in their natural state. This includes most frozen fruits and vegetables.
  • Count 'add-ons' in servings. Dressings and dips for vegetables and fruits, as well as cream, milk or sugar in coffee or tea are not calorie free.
  • Be flexible with yourself. Every food you eat doesn't have to be a source of excellent nutrition. We are all allowed a guilty pleasure now and then. Just don't make them a daily occurrence. (My weakness it my wife's turtle cookies; don't ask.)
  • Look for shortcuts. Buy pre-cut veggies and fruits, precooked meats, and shredded low-fat cheese for quick, healthy meals.
  • Tomorrow is another day. If you didn't get enough veggies Monday, add extra Tuesday and Wednesday. Try not to get stuck on exact servings each day.
  • Beverages — including alcohol — count. When considering calories, don't forget to count what you drink. Juice may be made from fruit but it often contains oodles of added sugar. Milk contains lots of important nutrients but it can be high in calories, as well. One percent, or even skim, milk is best. And don't forget water: it is often the best choice when it comes to satisfying thirst and cutting down on the urge to snack.
The above was taken from the tips for using The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid. These are rules I try to follow when planning my diet and I am finding it works.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Broccoli Soup with Undertones of Onion and Cheddar

I like soup, if you hadn't noticed. Soup is fun to make. It usually keeps well. And, it is easy to get to the table on time.

I often make a cauliflower soup that even my granddaughters enjoy. (This is possibly because even small children can break the head into small florets. Letting them do this, helps to make the soup theirs.)

Inspired, I decided to try a broccoli version of my popular dinner time fare. I believe it worked out quite nicely and, more importantly, my wife liked it. She's my harshest critic.


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs. of broccoli, stems peeled and chopped
3 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of 1% milk
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, I like the medium to old cheddar best
a few tablespoons of fat-free sour cream
some crumbled blue cheese
some chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste


Warm the olive oil in a large, stainless steel pot over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent. This should take from three to five minutes. Add the minced garlic cloves and continue to sauté for another minute. Do not let the garlic burn. Add the broccoli and continue to sauté until the broccoli begins to soften, turning a bright green.

Add the stock and milk and bring all to a simmer over medium heat. When bubbles appears, turn the heat to simmer, partially cover the pot and cook until the broccoli is tender. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Although the following can be done in either a food processor or blender, I like to use a handheld immersion mixer. I find the KitchenAid with the metal housing surrounding the blade very good.

 Stay clear of the handheld immersion mixers with a plastic housing surrounding the blade. This can soften when mixing hot foods allowing the sharp, quickly spinning blade to come in contact with the bottom of your pot. The damage can be extensive.

Purée the soup until smooth and then, with the soup still retaining heat, add the shredded cheese. Blend with a whisk until the cheese disappears. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the soup to the heat, when hot ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Garnish each serving with a tablespoon of fat-free sour cream, some crumbled blue cheese and a few chopped chives. (I forgot the blue cheese when taking the picture. The soup, although excellent, did miss something.)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Fruit and nuts make a great salad

I took my wife out for dinner the other evening. It was our 27th wedding anniversary. The dinner, at The Springs, was very good and very inspiring.

At noon today I served my wife a salad inspired by our anniversary dinner.

I picked up some organic baby greens at Remark, a small, local grocery store specializing in high quality food stuffs: vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses and more.

My salad contained the following;

  • About half a bag of organic baby green
  • Thin slices from one peeled and cored Ambrosia apple
  • A little more than half an ounce of pan-toasted almond slivers - use more if not counting calories
  • About half an ounce of goat cheese feta in large chunks - again, use more if not watching the waist
  • Two Tbsp of Rootham Blackberry/Raspberry dressing - the amount here will be determined by the amount of baby greens you have used. My salad wasn't all that big. Taste your salad and use more if you cannot taste the dressing. The flavour of the berries should be there but not overpowering. The feta and almond slivers and apple slices should all have a presence, too.

I tossed the entire salad until I was sure all was gently coated with the fruit-flavoured dressing and then I served it in a small, salad bowl. It was yummy. It may not have been as good as the one I had at The Springs but on the other hand I can afford to enjoy this one often.

Next, I may try a baked or grilled salmon fillet with a carmelized fruit topping. Another dinner inspired by The Springs.