Halibut with Mango

Image by Deb Garlick

This refreshing low-cal fish recipe packs a sweet-tart punch thanks to tropical mango, zesty ginger, fresh lime and hot peppers.  The halibut is wrapped in foil and steamed — a technique that renders the fish incredibly moist and succulent.

This company-worthy dish is simple enough to whip up on a busy weeknight.

16 ounces halibut, cod or other white fish 

Kosher salt 

Black pepper

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 jalapeño chili,* seeded and finely chopped

1” chunk fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped 

Juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp fish sauce 

Pinch Kosher salt 

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced  

*Some peppers are hot, others are as tame as green peppers – you may need to adjust the level of heat.   

You’ll need a pie plate or shallow ovenproof dish and a generous portion of aluminum foil to enclose the fish.  

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Sauce

Season the fish liberally with salt and pepper and bring to room temperature. 

In a food processor or blender, combine all but the mango and process until well combined. Add the mango and continue to process until well combined but with some texture, about 2 – 3 short pulses.

Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, chili

, ginger and a pinch of salt to a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl and add the remaining ingredients.  (You’ll need to finely chop the cilantro.) 

Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sauce on the foil, place the fish on the sauce and cover with 1/4 cup more sauce. Seal the foil tightly and transfer to a pie plate or ovenproof dish. 

Bake in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes, removing the fish after about 8 minutes to check for doneness. (The thinner the fish, the faster it cooks.)

Serve immediately, with additional (unbaked) sauce. 


Jammy Almond Tarts

Images by Deb Garlick

These exquisite tarts are filled with apricot jam and velvety almond cream, a not-too-sweet ground-nut filling often used in French pastries. The tarts are lovely topped with toasted sliced almonds or sweet plums.

I made these tarts for years without jam until a friend mentioned that his European mother made a similar pastry with preserves. Not one to ignore a pastry tip from a European baker, even if it’s second hand, the dollop of jam elevated these pastries to a tart worthy of a fine patisserie.

Jammy Almond Tarts

Makes 24 small (2 1/2-inch) tarts or 12 4-inch tarts

Dough

1 recipe for Sweet Tart Dough

Almond Cream Filling  

½ cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 ¼ cup ground almonds

2 large eggs lightly beaten, room temperature 

2/3 cup apricot jam 

Topping Options

Almond: 1/2 cup sliced almonds and 1/4 cup powdered (icing) sugar 

You’ll need 24 2 1/2-inch tart molds, or 12 4-inch tart molds, lined with miniature parchment baking cups. (Or baking cups trimmed to fit the molds.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Prepare the Sweet Tart Dough dough according to the instructions on page xxx.

Cream together the butter and granulated sugar. Add the ground almonds and eggs and mix until combined. Set aside.   

Remove the Sweet Tart Dough from the fridge and place one disk onto a sheet of flour-dusted parchment and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Roll the dough (through the plastic wrap) to approximately 1/8” thick. Repeat with the remaining disk. 

Cut or tear circles of dough slightly larger than the molds and transfer to the lined molds, using your fingers to press the dough against the parchment baking cups. Trim the edges, cover and refrigerate at least 45 minutes before baking. 

Place the unbaked tarts on a baking tray leaving space between each tart. Spoon about two generous teaspoons of apricot jam into each small mold (about four teaspoons for a 4-inch mold), then cover with about one tablespoon of almond filling (about two tablespoons for a 4-inch mold).

Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. 

Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges have browned, turning the tray once during baking. The larger the tart, the longer the cooking time. The tart filling will puff in the oven, then settle as the tarts cool.

Place the tarts on a wire rack to cool. Dust with sifted icing sugar, if desired, just before serving.  

Leftover almond filling can be baked in parchment-lined muffin tins and served with custards or ice cream.


Flaky Pastry Dough

Images by Deb Garlick

Making your own pastry is one of the most satisfying baking projects imaginable, yet it draws the most reluctance.  While most agree that homemade is tastier than the commercial frozen options, there’s still trepidation. For those who insist their pastry never turns out or they have the time, this recipe is for you!

Follow the step-by-step images below and you, too, will enjoy the simple satisfaction of whipping up a pie.

For the flakiest crust, you’ll want to use lard. You can, of course, use vegetable shortening or refined coconut oil. Or half butter and half lard (or vegetable shortening). Each produces a slightly different result; I’ve used all these variations at one time or another with good results.

Whatever fat you use, the key to flaky pastry is a light touch and the minimal use of flour.  If you roll the dough between a sheet of parchment (or waxed) paper and a sheet of plastic wrap, the dough won’t stick to your work surface or rolling pin, thereby eliminating the need for excessive flour.   

I use a pastry blender to cut the lard (or shortening) into the flour but you can use two knives to achieve the same results.  I don’t recommend using your hands to work the lard into the dough because hands are warm and can melt the lard.  

You can easily double the recipe but if you’re not accustomed to making pastry, it’s best to start with smaller, more manageable-sized ingredients. 

Makes 1 double-crust pie

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ pound lard, vegetable shortening, refined coconut oil, a combination of half butter, half lard or shortening

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 egg

1 cup of ice-cold water

parchment or waxed paper

plastic wrap

Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well with a fork or a whisk. Cut the lard into 1 – 2” pieces and add it to the flour mixture. Cut the lard into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture is crumbly with some larger pieces of flour-coated lard along with the finer particles.

In a measuring jug with a spout, combine the egg, vinegar and enough ice water to equal 1 cup; mix with a fork.  Gradually pour about half the liquid into the flour and mix with a fork, adding only enough additional water to make the dough cling together in an untidy mass. You won’t use all the water; you’ll likely have some leftover. 

When the dough becomes too difficult to mix with a fork, transfer it to a flour-dusted sheet of parchment and shape it into a rough squat disk using your hands, being mindful not to overwork the dough. Cover the disk with a generous sheet of plastic wrap and roll the dough into a circle about 3/4” thick. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. 

Proceed with your recipe according to the instructions. Keep in mind, pastry must be cool before going into a hot (425 F) oven.

 

Incorporating the lard into the flour.

You should have some larger pieces of lard (or alternative fat), mixed in with smaller pies. The key is not to overmix!

Add only enough to hold the mixture together. The dough will look rough at this stage.

Roll the dough between a layer of flour-dusted parchment paper and plastic wrap.

Transfer to a pie plate, trim the edges and viola! you have pastry! Cover with plastic and firm in the fridge before baking.

 


Ratatouille Tart

Image by Deb Garlick

Zucchini squash, sweet peppers and vine-ripened tomatoes take center stage in this rustic tart. An adaptation of my ratatouille tart recipe in British Columbia From Scratch, this open-faced version includes briny Kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts and a handful of fresh herbs. Tucked beneath the vegetables is a savoury filling made of creamy ricotta, feta and Parmesan cheese.

To keep the pastry crisp, the pie shell is pre-baked with a dusting of Parmesan cheese, which forms a light barrier that prevents the filling from seeping through.

If you’re not in the mood for making pastry, the ratatouille filling is delicious tossed with pasta, gnocchi, rice, or baked potatoes.

This recipe can be easily halved.

Makes two (10 1/2”) tarts

Served warm or room temperature, this tart begs for second helpings.

The pastry and the fillings can be made days in advance.

Pastry

1 recipe Flaky Pastry Dough 

6 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated 

Tart Filling

2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more as necessary

2 large onions, diced

1/2 cup peeled and blanched pearl onions, optional

2 large zucchini squashes, cut in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch slices

2 large orange or red peppers, diced

1/2 tsp kosher salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

28-oz can good quality plum tomatoes

Two 6-oz jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped

36 Kalamata olives, pits removed and coarsely chopped

2 tsp hot sauce, such as Sriracha

6 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley

2 Tbsp freshly chopped basil

Cheese Filling

1 3/4 cups ricotta cheese, strained in a sieve to remove excess water

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg, slightly beaten

Optional Topping

1 dozen small ripe tomatoes on the vine 

Special Equipment

Two 10 1/2-inch tart pans with removable bottoms

Pastry

You’ll need to first prepare, and blind bake the pastry (pre-cook, without a filling) as per instructions below.

Line the tart pans with pastry, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Remove the plastic wrap from the tart pans and pierce the base and sides of the pastry with the tines of a fork, as pictured on page xxx. Place the tarts on a baking tray, cover each with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights, beans or rice.  Bake 20 minutes, turning the baking trays once during baking to ensure the tarts bake evenly. Remove the tarts from the oven and carefully remove the pie weights and foil (or parchment). Sprinkle each tart with 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese and return to the oven, uncovered, another 5-7 minutes or until the pastry is browned and cooked through. Cool completely on baking rack.

Vegetable Filling

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the zucchini, red peppers, salt and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about half a minute until aromatic, then add the plum tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add the artichokes, pitted olives, hot sauce and herbs. Simmer uncovered over medium heat, until the liquid has completely evaporated and the mixture has thickened, about 15-20 minutes. (A watery mixture will seep through the pastry.) Taste and season with additional salt if desired. Set aside to cool completely.

Cheese Filling

Combine the strained ricotta, feta, Parmesan and egg in a medium bowl and mix well.

Assembly

Divide the cheese mixture in two and spread evenly over the base of each pre-cooked pastry-lined tart pan. Divide the cooled ratatouille filling and spread evenly over the cheese mixture.

Optional Topping

If desired, scatter six or seven small ripe tomatoes atop the filling and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. 

Bake the tarts on baking sheet in a 350°F pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese and filling have warmed through.

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Kale & Roasted Zucchini

Image by Deb Garlick

This hearty salad combines sweet roasted zucchini, tender fava beans and kale tossed in a ginger-mustard vinaigrette. Served atop a bed of black quinoa, with a spoonful of nutty parsley dressing and a boiled egg, this nutritious salad is perfect for a robust lunch or late-night dinner. 

Beautiful bowl essential.

 

 

1 large zucchini squash

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

4 large eggs

1 pound fava beans or  ½ pound edamame   

¼ cup Ginger Mustard Vinaigrette, recipe below

4 – 5 cups chopped kale, about ½ bunch 

2 cups cooked quinoa (white, black or red)  

1 cup Parsley Dressing, recipe below 

2 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal 

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line two baking trays with parchment paper or a baking mat. 

Have all your ingredients chopped and prepared, including the vinaigrette and dressing, before you start this recipe.

Squash – Slice the squash lengthwise into long thin strips, using a vegetable peeler or mandoline. If desired, set aside four paper-thin strips to use as a garnish, as pictured. Lay the strips in a single layer on the prepared baking trays and brush with oil.  Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Roast for 10-15 minutes until the squash has shriveled and is starting to char around the edges. Remove the baking tray halfway through to turn the squash over and brush with oil. Watch the squash carefully — you may have to remove some slices earlier than others to prevent burning. 

Eggs – Place the eggs in gently simmering water for 8 minutes, then plunge into cool water to prevent further cooking. Shell and half or quarter the eggs just before serving.

If using fava beans, first remove the beans from their pods.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill a medium bowl with ice water. Blanch the beans in boiling water for about a minute, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl of ice cold water. Peel and discard the thin outer layer from each bean.

If using edamame, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the edamame, bring the water back to a boil and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Drain and plunge into cold water. Remove the soybeans from their pods. 

Kale – Just before serving, toss the chopped kale in a large bowl with ¼ cup of the Ginger Mustard Vinaigrette. Using your hands, massage the dressing into the kale until each piece is well covered (this helps break down the tough fibers). If using tender baby kale, skip the massage and simply toss to coat. 

 Putting it all together

Divide the dressed kale, quinoa, fava beans (or edamame) and roasted squash into four salad bowls. Top each with one sliced egg and about ¼ cup of the Parsley Garnish with the spring onions and sliced raw zucchini squash, if desired.  

Ginger Mustard Vinaigrette – makes about 1 cup 

1 Tbsp Dijon-style dressing

¼ cup red wine vinegar 

¾ cup vegetable oil

¼ tsp kosher salt

1 Tbsp honey

1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated 

½ tsp garlic, finely grated 

Combine the ingredients in a small lidded jar and shake well. Refrigerate and cover leftover dressing for up to five days. 

Parsley Dressing – makes about 1 cup 

2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley or a combination of parsley and cilantro

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, about ½ lemon

1 tsp hot sauce, such as Sriracha

1 tsp soya sauce

½ tsp kosher salt

½ cup vegetable oil

2 anchovies, rinsed and finely chopped   

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or almonds 

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Alternatively, toss everything but the nuts in a food processor and purée until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the nuts and stir to combine.