I have been silent for the last 5 or 6 days as my parents have been visiting. I decided to be courteous instead of diligent and not write while they were here. The good thing is I was able to get quite a few chores done and was able to do the visiting thing as well. The bad thing is I wasn't able to really get on here to do anything at all and now have to find that little spot in my brain which houses all the creative ideas about food and everything which goes along with it.
The past few days, we have thrown around a few ideas about what our menu should consist of this week. We decided to start out with some halibut last night. We weren't very hungry, so it was also decided we would take it easy and go with smaller portions on smaller plates again. Little O still has to keep up with her eating more fish, so we thought it was a good time for her to try halibut again. She didn't take to kindly to it the first time. I believe it was the texture which threw her off a little, but I didn't think the taste of it turned her off so we're still in the good books there.
My step-father just laughs when he sees her eat due to the fact she chews her food, then waits with her mouth open for us to fill it up again. She doesn't complain much and usually stays focused on the task at hand, so it's fairly entertaining for him to watch. He's impressed with the fact we feed almost anything to her and she gobbles it down. Afterwards the brushing of her teeth was taken in as a funny deal as well for him. You see, he's a dentist and for her to just sit there with her mouth open and me shoving my finger around in there (gently) with a little toothbrush thingy on it, isn't a regular thing for him to witness. Normally, I believe he has seen kids squirm, scream and get mildly violent in the 40+ years of his practice. I think it's safe to say she's doing well with her side of the food deal we have in place: you eat what we give you.
Pan Seared Halibut Served Over Asparagus And Roasted Hubbard Squash
This recipe calls for a heavy, ovenproof cast iron skillet. Unfortunately I don't have one yet so I used a non-stick frying pan. Safety note: even well dried fish can cause the hot oil in the pan to splatter. You can minimize splattering by laying the halibut fillets in the pan gently and putting the edge closest to you in the pan first so that the far edge falls away from you. I learned this the hard way many years ago. Just thought I would pass it on to you now.
- 4 halibut fillets, dried well with paper towels and trimmed of cartilage at both ends. I bought a whole, small fillet (.666 kgs, 1.5 lbs) and cut it into four pieces. Remember to take into consideration the thickness of each piece. The fillet is thicker at one end than the other, so make sure to cut the thicker pieces to a smaller width than the thinner pieces. For example, I cut the thicker end pieces to about 1.5" in width and the thinner end pieces were around 3" and 4" wide. In other words, as the fillet gets thinner, the pieces get wider. This way they at least equal out in weight rather than thickness and you will be able to gauge the cooking process a lot easier.
- 16 asparagus spears, woody ends broken off
- 1 small Hubbard Squash, diced into 1/2" pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the squash onto a cookie sheet and drizzle a small amount of EVOO over top with a little salt and pepper. Toss and make sure all the pieces are flat and not piled up on the cookie sheet before you put it all in the oven. This will help ensure they will all cook evenly. Place in oven for 20 -25 minutes stirring at the half-way point.
2. Heat frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat and add enough EVOO to ensure the fish will not stick to the pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the fish. When the oil starts to smoke, swirl it around the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add the fish skin side down. I put the thick pieces in for a minute longer than the thin pieces.
3. Transfer the frying pan or skillet to the oven after the thick pieces have been on the burner for no longer than 1 minute. This method cooks the fish without the stress of flipping and searing both sides. Cook until fish is firm , but not hard to the touch. You could also use an instant-read thermometer which could be inserted into the thick part of the fillets. They are done when the temperature reads 140F degrees, the fish flakes loosen and the flesh is opaque when checked with the tip of a paring knife, about 9 minutes (thicker fillets may take up to 10 minutes).
4. Take another frying pan and fill with water to the half-way point. Bring to a boil. Pour a small amount of EVOO in the water and add the asparagus. Sprinkle a little salt over top the help keep the spears green. Boil for 4 minutes until done. If you time everything right, all three parts of the dish should be done at the same time.
5.When the squash is done, it will start to brown and will not be mushy to the touch. It will still hold it's shape when touched but will be easy to chew. Grate the nutmeg over top with a micro plane, toss and go to the plate with it. Use this as the base for the dish. Make a small groove in the pile and place the asparagus in it. This will help keep the fish in place as well.
Transfer the fish to the plate and serve immediately.
This dish is quite a healthy dish, if you take it easy on the oil and keep the calories down to a minimum. Halibut is very good for you (as long as you don't have gout) and has loads of healthy properties (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=95). We eat it about once a month or so. With Olivia in the picture now, this may increase to once every week or two.
You want to spread you fish eating around a little. Alternate fish types as often as you can. We eat a lot of wild salmon cooked 4 or 5 different ways, but still keep our eyes open for new species and ways to cook them. Trout is another good option as it's health properties should be taken advantage of often.
When shopping, just look around you and see which fish/seafood you like to eat is sustainable. You may want to study this a little so you know what you are talking about if you are serious about eating more seafood. Check this site out - http://www.oceanwisecanada.org/. This is a foundation started by the Vancouver Aquarium which helps people understand which species of fish are safe to eat and are sustainably harvested. One of the big supporters and orginal resauranteurs involved with this foundation is Robert Clark of C Restaurant in Vancouver (http://www.crestaurant.com/chef.cfm). I haven't been to one of his places yet but plan on going in the near future. This is a growing trend which should have been started years ago. If you don't want to follow this way of eating seafood, at least try to use it as a guideline. Personally, I don't want to be eating Jellyfish a few years down the road because that's all which will be left to fish in our oceans. I try to follow this as much as I can, so you could say I use it as a guideline.
Little O's Menu
This weekend we had the halibut, as you just read. Our intent was to save a little for her to snack on for the next day or two. Well, we both finished our plates, looked at each other and then realized neither of us saved any for her. Good one, huh?? So, this week we will be having another halibut course so we can feed it to her. This time being more cognisant of how much is left on our plates before we finish.
O's appetite is increasing rapidly again. She is eating at least 6 times a day now. It is extremely important to make good and sure she is eating the right things which not only fill her up but are full of nutrients as well. If we do this correctly, she will not be filling up on empty calories. Everything which goes down her throat will be doing her a world of good.
This last week she has been eating a lot of apple and pear puree with yogurt, cinnamon and organic whole grain rice cereal. We threw in a couple of pieces of sprouted or whole grain bread for her to chew on as too. She is learning how to eat things on her own without our help now and is doing very well. This is great as she is trying to be more independent of us and try more tasks without our help.
Dinners have consisted of carrots, broccoli, Hubbard Squash and Butternut Squash soup with a little Parmesan mixed in. The usual fresh ground pepper and EVOO are added. She also ate the the soup on it's own with a little Parmesan added in here as well. We have to be careful with the cheese as it contains salt. We use only a little in her dishes for the flavour and the fat content.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Vendemmia International Wines (http://www.vendemmia.ca/) fall 2010 wine tasting with a friend, John, who owns a few liquor stores and a restaurant in town. This was a great event to be at as there were 60 winemakers and distillers attending to show off their product lines.
We both decided to sample the higher end wines because there were over 200 different wines to try. This could have posed a disaster on a very large scale if we were just to try as many as we could. It was the right decision and we were able to try many great wines which I can use for pairings. They also had a few Grappas there to try, but I only did the one as I was on my way out the door. It could have been ugly, but my head and body will be better for it.
The Alberta Foodservice Expo (http://www.albertafoodserviceexpo.ca/) is on here in Calgary at The BMO Centre on the Stampede grounds yesterday and today. This is actually a food industry get together and the public is not allowed to attend unless otherwise with a food industry professional. I was invited by John, the same fellow mentioned above. This was a good show to go to as all the new things in the restaurant industry are showcased here along with different types of food which are new to the market.
I was impressed with how many organic exhibitors were in attendance. I think I spoke to every one of them and asked them question after question about what they do and where their products are available. Most of them are becoming mainstream now and have many industry contacts. I was happy to hear this and I know where to find them all now so we can keep serving little O the organic menu we think she should be eating.
One vendor was The Daybreak-Scheresky Mill (http://www.daybreakschereskymill.com/Daybreak_Mill/Organic_Mill_Info.html) from Estevan, Saskatchewan. They grow all of their product themselves and have quite the selection. They are a small operation, which I can live with as this should ensure quality. I will be looking for their products at Community Natural Foods in the near future. Another fellow I spoke to was Darrel Winter Of Winters Turkeys (http://www.wintersturkeys.ca/). I told him I would try one of his turkeys for Christmas this year. Looking forward to it as they looked nice and healthy. He has quite a large following here in town so I would think the quality shouldn't be an issue. We talked about brining the turkey but he strongly suggested not to do this. I agreed as a good turkey shouldn't need to be brined. If it's nice and juicy on it's own without any outside help, then why try to alter this.
"Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage."
- Woody Allen 'Without Feathers'
Until next time, good eating everyone.