edible adventures from the centre of the universe

24 July 2007

Salmonburger, salmonburger, chips. No Coke, Pepsi!

This month's delicious. was particularly, er, delicious. Isn't that always the way? Just as your magazine subscription is about to expire, a stellar issue shows up in your mailbox like a vile temptress, begging you to resubscribe. Just when I thought I was out...

Anyway, as I flipped through this issue nearly every recipe made me stop and think: "I am so going to make that!" I've already managed to throw together two of said recipes: the above-pictured salmon burger and a deeply moving butternut lasagna, about which I will post in the near future. But not today. Today I am all about the fish.

Despite what a lot of recipes on the Internet would have you believe, perfect salmon burgers should be simply made from fresh salmon and minimal seasoning -- just say no to dry, flavourless breadcrumb filler! Topped with some classic guacamole, each mouthful showcases the clean flavour of the fish alongside buttery avocado. A subtle glow of jalapeno warmth finishes each bite off nicely. Perfectly sided with fresh corn-on-the-cob, these burgers are an ideal summer treat and I can't wait to make them again. An interesting variation on the recipe might be to replace the dill and mustard in the patties with a good dose of quality curry powder -- the flavour combination of earthy, complex curry with creamy, tangy guacamole is out of this world, and I think it would match nicely with the meaty salmon.

Salmon Burgers with Guacamole

300g fresh salmon, skinless, chopped into large pieces
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 small egg white
2 tsp olive oil
1 english muffin, split in half

1 ripe avocado, diced into small cubes
1 tbsp lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped

1. Place salmon, shallot, dill, mustard, egg white, salt, and freshly ground black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse very briefly, until the fish is roughly chopped and the ingredients are mixed, but not pureed. Divide the mixture into 2, and form into large patties. Place on a tray or plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.
2. Mix all guacamole ingredients together in a bowl, and then salt to taste. Cover and set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is quite hot, sear the burgers for 2 minutes or so on each side (turning carefully). Remove from heat when they are cooked to your liking.
4. Lightly toast the english muffin halves. Top each with a salmon patty and half of the guacamole. Dig in!

Serves 2


11 July 2007

Cool Hand of a Girl 2: Brunch Boogaloo

I've blogged about my awesome neighborhood cafe Cool Hand of a Girl before, but this place is worth a second look now that they've started serving weekend brunch. Each Saturday and Sunday, the ladies at CHoaG offer three amazing-sounding brunch specials on their blackboard menu: one scramble, one omelette, and one french toast. Last Saturday, these specials were a feta, kalamata olive, and leek scramble, a roasted cremini mushroom omelette, and a vanilla custard-stuffed french toast with maple syrup and raspberries. My two pals and I ordered all three.

Good, homemade food takes time, so we sipped some delicious house iced tea while we waited. Our dishes arrived beautifully plated with some fresh fruit, almost too pretty to eat. I had ordered the scramble, so I dug in to find that the flavour of the soft, perfectly-cooked, and rich-tasting eggs was elevated by a salty kick from the feta and olives. The sauteed leeks added a welcome touch of freshness to the combination. My eggs were sided with some nicely-spiced potatoes and buttered multigrain toast. It was absolutely the best brunch I have had in a long time.

My friends equally enjoyed their dishes, particularly the one who had ordered french toast. The multigrain bread had been stuffed with a layer of rich vanilla, and then coated in egg custard and grilled until crisp on the outside but still moist on the inside. Topped with real maple syrup and raspberries, this decadent treat was truly mindblowing. After one taste, my friend had to hold me back from inhaling his whole plate. I'm still craving it, 5 days later.

I'm thrilled to be able to say that Cool Hand of a Girl is still as fantastic as it was when it first opened over one year ago. In fact, with its recently-added brunch offering, this cafe keeps getting better and better. Though it may not be on the beaten track, it is definitely worth going out of your way for.


05 July 2007

Cupcake Heaven

To celebrate Dave's birthday this month, I thought it would be nice to bake him some cupcakes. He was craving carrot cupcakes and, after a long Intarweb search, I came across an old Cook's Illustrated carrot cake recipe that looked just about perfect -- I made a few minor adjustments to reduce the amount of oil and then I ran with it. Topped with maple cream cheese icing and Skor toffee bits, these treats were moist and carroty with a nice spicey undertone. The icing was a little runny, but I didn't hear any complaints from our pals as they licked it from their fingers and went back for seconds. In Dave's words: "Oh, man."

Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

2.5 cups unbleached all-purpose four
1.25 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (fresh ground/grated is best)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb. medium carrots, peeled and grated
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
3/4 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cups unsweetened applesauce


1 pkg (250g) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2.5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 pkg Chipits Skor tidbits, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers.
2. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a food processor, process granulated and brown sugars with the eggs until frothy, about 20 seconds. Add applesauce and mix for an additional 5 seconds. With the machine running, add oil through the feedtube in a steady stream, and process until mixture is light in colour and well-emulsified. Scrape mixture into a large bowl, and stir in the carrots. Add the dry ingredients, and combine until no streaks of flour remain (do not overmix).
4. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full, and bake for about 20 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean). Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
5. Make icing: using an electric mixer, combine cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until blended. Beat in maple syrup and chill until icing firms slightly. If icing is still too runny, add more powdered sugar as necessary.
6. Frost the cupcakes and top with Skor bits. Finally, scarf.

makes about 16 cupcakes