Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Smoked Salmon Roulade

This lovely, light dish can be served for dinner, lunch, breakfast or brunch....it also looks a lot more complicated than it actually is. It is basically a souffle, baked in a flat sheet and rolled up. The base for the souffle can be made ahead of time, and it only takes 15 minutes to bake, so there really is no excuse for not trying it at least once!!

It's been a while since I made this, and the smoked salmon in the freezer made me think of it. I used the grated Parmesan that was in the fridge, some of the red peppers I had roasted a couple of days before, 4 egg whites from the freezer, and of course the smoked salmon.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt:

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Add, and cook until softened:

1/2 medium onion

Stir in, and cook for a couple of minutes:

1 1/2 tablespons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk in:

1 cup milk

Continue to cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens and begins to boil. Remove from the heat.


4 eggs

Slowly add the eggs to the sauce, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling.

Return to the stove, and cook over a low heat, whisking, until the sauce thickens to the consistency of custard.

Scrape the sauce into a bowl, and whisk in:

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Stir in:

3/4 cup chopped smoked salmon
3 green onions, minced
1/2 roasted red pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

At this point, you can put the base for your roulade into the refrigerator, well wrapped until you are ready to bake it. If you are going to be baking it right away, continue on...

Line a 10" X 15" baking sheet that has sides, with parchment paper that overhangs the long sides by a couple of inches. Heat the oven to 400F. Cut a second piece of parchment paper, the same size, and set aside until needed. Have a second baking sheet ready as well.

Whisk to firm, but not dry, peaks:

4 egg whites

Fold the whipped egg whites into the smoked salmon base. Work gently, being careful not to deflate the egg whites.

Scrape the souffle onto the prepared pan, and gently spread it as evenly as possible.

Place the baking sheet in the centre of the oven and bake until golden and puffed, 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and immediately place the second sheet of parchment paper over the top of the souffle. Place a second baking sheet on top, upside down.

Flip the two pans over, and remove the top pan.

Carefully peel the top sheet of parchment paper from the souffle.

Starting from the short side, using the parchment paper to help, roll the souffle up as you would a jelly roll.

Use a serrated knife to carefully cut the smoked salmon souffle into 12 slices, and serve. I add fresh diced avocado to the plate, and passed salsa at the table. I made roasted potato wedges to serve with the roulade. All in all, a nice light, but tasty, Sunday night dinner!

  • This roulade can be adapted by changing the salmon to diced ham, cooked bacon, smoked trout; use minced fresh chives, parsley, basil instead of green onions; exchange the Parmesan for Swiss cheese, cheddar or pepper Jack cheese; and consider cooking thinly sliced leek instead of diced onion in the sauce.
  • No egg whites? Instead of adding 4 whole eggs to the sauce, whisk in 8 egg yolks, and whip 4 of the whites, freezing the remaining 4 for another time.
  • If you have any leftovers, they can be used in breakfast sandwhiches or wraps the next day.
  • This needs to be served immediately...when it is baked, flipped, rolled and then cut it should be eaten as soon as possible. 
  • Serve this with salad, crusty bread, pan fried potatoes, baked potato wedges or asparagus (steamed / grilled / roasted).

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Penne with Charred Red Pepper, Basil and Kalamata Olive Sauce

This chunky sauce was tossed with penne as a side to roasted chicken, grape tomatoes and cauliflower. It was also a way for me to make use of the abundance of red peppers in the fridge, a tablespoon of pinenuts and some fresh basil that was starting to wilt. Combining all of these flavours with some grated Parmesan and Kalamata olives, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar brought the Mediterranean into our house...the sauce is chunky, full of colour, texture and fresh bright flavours associated with warmer climates. It is quick and easy to make, and even easier to eat!

I started by roasting three of my peppers, using one for this and saving the other two for another meal.

While your pasta is cooking, you can assemble the sauce. It is a fresh sauce, needing no cooking, other than the heat from the pasta to warm it through. What could be easier than that?

Start by combining:

1 roasted red pepper, finely chopped
4 pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced


1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted pinenuts, roughly chopped

Stir in:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Stir in:

1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan.

Set aside until the pasta has finished cooking.

When the penne is cooked, drain, reserving about 2 tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta and cooking water to the pot.

Add the sauce to the pot and stir to combine.

Serve the pasta, as a main course, or as a a side dish as I did...together with a roasted chicken breast, grape tomatoes and cauliflower. Garnish with more grated Parmesan if you wish.

  • Fresh, chunky sauces are great to use when cooking pasta in the summer, as it is one less pot on the stove in the heat. They are also good in that all of the freshness in the ingredients is retained, and none is lost through cooking.
  • Other ideas for fresh sauces are to peel, seed and chop fresh, ripe tomatoes in season and combine them with other ingredients such as fresh herbs, olives and garlic. Toss together chopped capers, olives, anchovies, garlic and basil. Finely chop garlic, pinenuts, basil and fresh spinach, toss with olive oil and Parmesan.
  • This pasta can be eaten as a salad; add sliced cooked chicken if you want. 
  • Purchased roasted red peppers can be used instead of roasting your own.
  • Make extra sauce and use it on sandwhiches, pizza in wraps or serve it with a cheese plate.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Lasagne Roll Ups with Tomato Jam, Spinach and Goat Cheese

I recently made a batch of the tomato jam from the post Savoury Tomato Jam and Goat Cheese Tart to use up some extra tomatoes. I used half of it to make panini with goat cheese and chicken, but still had the other half to use.

There was also some ricotta cheese, a handful of spinach and some Basic Tomato Sauce in the fridge, so I used everything to make lasagne roll ups. I spread the tomato jam onto the lasagne sheets and then added the spinach and ricotta mix. Part way through baking I crumbled the goat cheese over the top, so that it was warm and melty by the time the roll ups were ready to serve.

The jam is sweet and spicy while maintaining the savoury elements, and this was the flavour that stood out for me. The creamy, tangy goat cheese was a perfect complement to it, just as it was in the Savoury Tomato Jam and Goat Cheese Tart.

Start by cooking 8 lasagne noodles in lightly salted, boiling water. When they are just cooked, drain and run under cold water. Cut the noodles in half so that you have 16 pieces. Set aside while you make the filling.
Cover the bottom of an ovenproof dish with a thin layer of  Basic Tomato Sauce.
1/4 cup cooked. chopped spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Lay the 16 pieces of cooked lasagne noodles out on the counter.

Spread 1 tablespoon tomato jam over each one.

Divide the ricotta filling between the noodles and spread over the tomato jam.

Starting at the short end, carefully roll each noodle up, and place in the prepared dish, seam side down.

Cover the roll ups with:
3/4 - 1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce.
Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, and then crumble the goat cheese over the top:
1/2 - 3/4 cup goat cheese
Return to the oven and bake until the roll ups are hot in the centre and the cheese is melted and gooey.

Serve the roll ups with salad, or warm crusty garlic bread...

  • Store bought savoury jam of any kind can be used instead of tomato jam, but if you have time to make the jam, it can be used in so many other ways.
  • Consider using sundried tomato pesto or tapenade instead of jam.
  • Instead of goat cheese, you can top the roll ups with grated mozzarella, Asiago or Parmesan.
  • If you have fresh basil, add some to the ricotta mix.
  • Goat cheese can be used for part of the ricotta if you want the tanginess in the filling.
  • The lasagne roll ups can be assembled a day ahead.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Ravioli with Smoked Tomatoes, Olives, Capers and Goat Cheese

This sauce is a take on puttanesca sauce, without the anchovies...simply because I had none! I did have a tablespoon of capers, some thyme goat cheese, half an onion, half a red pepper, opened tomato paste and a couple of Parmesan rinds to use. I added smoked tomatoes, Kalamata olives and a bit of Basic Tomato Sauce and turned the bits and pieces into a very tasty, chunky sauce for my chicken and rosemary ravioli.

The olives I was using were in a brine made from red wine, so I added a bit of that to the sauce, which increased the saltiness a bit, similar to the way that anchovies would. Between the olives, capers and Parmesan rinds I did not need to add much salt to the sauce.

There was about half a cup of the sauce left over, and I served it with pork tenderloin tonight, adding some grape tomatoes to it. All in all, this was an easy sauce to make, but the amount of flavour will make people think you spent a long time making it!

In a bit of olive oil, cook until soft:

1/2 medium onion, diced


1/2 sweet red pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of chili flakes

Cook until the red pepper softens.

Stir in:

1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste

Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes.


6 smoked roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped


2 Parmesan rinds
1 tablespoon capers, drained
10 pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons red wine olive brine
1/2 cup water

Simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in:

1/2 - 3/4 cup Basic Tomato Sauce

Simmer, stirring occasionally.

Allow the sauce to simmer while you boil the water for cooking the pasta, and while it cooks. If the sauce is too dry, add a small amount of the pasta cooking water to it. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning...at the point I had not added any, and found that I only needed a small amount of salt and some pepper. The individual ingredients added quite a bit of salt, and the chili flakes provided a nice heat.

To serve, drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce, or serve it with the sauce on top, as I did. Sprinkle it with some crumbled soft goat cheese.

  • Instead of smoked tomatoes, use fresh roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped or even canned tomatoes, drained and chopped...reserve the juice to use in the sauce if you need it.
  • If you still want the smokiness, but don't have smoked tomatoes, cook a couple of rashers of diced bacon in the pan, and then add the onions and proceed. 
  • Garnishing the plate with chopped fresh basil will add freshness in flavour and colour.
  • I mentioned adding some of the red wine brine from my olives...you can add 2 tablespoons of red wine, or even Balsamic vinegar.
  • This chunky sauce will be nice on a panini, or on a pizza.
  • Other cheeses that can be used include feta, Parmesan or Asiago.
  • If you have anchovies, mash and add them to the sauce along with the olives and capers. Add as many as you feel comfortable with. They are incredibly salty, and rinsing them before using them will remove some of the salt.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Smoked Scallop Chowder

My husband recently spent two days smoking every food item he could get his hands on...flank steak, pulled pork, roma tomatoes, white cheddar, chicken breast and the partial bag of scallops that I had in the freezer. Smoked scallops are so tasty; the smokiness brings out the sweetness, and the few times that he has made them we have both really enjoyed them.

Being winter, I made chowder with them, not salad as I have done in the past. I did not want to diminish the delicate smoky flavour so I made the soup first, and then pan seared the scallops and added them directly to each bowl. The crispy caramelized bits from the pan were scraped out and used as a garnish...what a great idea on my husband's part! Nothing goes to waste in our house...

To make the chowder I took advantage of a few things, namely 2 slices of ham, a small piece of zucchini, a couple of carrots and 2 small red potatoes. Trying to stay away from whipping cream, I used milk and chicken stock.

Dice and cook in a bit of olive oil until crispy:

2 slices of ham

Add the diced vegetables and cook until they begin to soften:

1/2 medium onion
2 medium carrots
1 stalk celery
2" piece of zucchini
salt and pepper

When the vegetables are starting to soften, add:

1 tablespoon butter

When the butter has melted, stir in, and cook for 2 minutes:

2 tablespoons flour


1 cup chicken stock

Bring to a boil, stirring. Turn the heat down to simmer.

Stir in:

1 1/2 cups milk
3 sprigs of fresh thyme

The last vegetable to add is the potatoes:

2 small red skinned potatoes, diced

Make sure that all of the vegetables are covered; add more chicken stock or milk if needed.

Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender.

Taste and adjust seasoning. I added a pinch of cayenne pepper at this point, as well as more salt. This is also the time to adjust the consistency; I added a bit more milk. The soup is now ready to serve, so the scallops can be cooked.

Make sure that your scallops have had the 'foot' or small muscle on the side removed, as it is chewy. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, and heat a non stick pan.

When the pan is hot, add a drizzle of olive oil., and then the scallops.

Cook them so that they are golden and seared on each side, which takes hardly any time. My scallops were smaller so they took about a minute to cook. The key is a very hot pan, which allows the caramelization to occur.

Immediately divide the cooked scallops between the soup bowls.

Portion the chowder into the bowls, and garnish with the caramelized bits from the bottom of the scallop pan.

Serve with warm, crusty bread so that every last drop can be soaked up and enjoyed.

  • Smoked scallops are not essential for the chowder. You can use any scallops, or other shellfish: prawns, crab, lobster, clams.
  • To add to the smoky flavour consider using bacon or pancetta instead of ham. This can also be omitted.
  • The scallops can be added directly to the chowder a minute or two before serving, which is enough time to cook them through. I wanted the caramelized effect, as well as the smokiness to come through instead of being absorbed into the chowder.
  • Be careful not to overcook the scallops; they will continue to cook as they sit in the bowl of hot soup. Sear in a HOT pan to achieve the crispy, caramelization without overcooking the middle.
  • Add other vegetables such as corn, peas, sweet peppers, leeks.
  • The chowder base can be made a day or two ahead; cook and add the scallops right before serving.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Savoury Cornbread Pudding

The last time I made chili I also made Cornbread with Bacon and Pepper Jack Cheese (without the bacon this time). I had about half of it left, and put it into the freezer. I used it to make a savoury bread pudding, to accompany our slow baked ribs, and it was a success....especially since my husband was a bit skeptical about it!

This was also a perfect use stuff up dish...not only did I use the cornbread, but also the last 2 eggs, the extra grated cheddar from another meal, half a red pepper and the 3 green onions in the fridge, and the half cup of frozen corn left in the bag.

There was also enough bread pudding left for us to have for breakfast today, with scrambled egg, salsa and diced avocado. The Cornbread with Bacon and Pepper Jack Cheese gave us three meals!!!

If you do not have leftover cornbread, start off by making a recipe of the Cornbread with Bacon and Pepper Jack Cheese. You can include the bacon if you choose to. Make it at least a day ahead, as bread pudding works best with stale bread. As I only used half of the Cornbread with Bacon and Pepper Jack Cheese, why not make it to have with chili or soup, and save the rest for the bread pudding.

Start by greasing a 6" X 8" ovenproof dish.


1/2 red pepper, diced
3 green onions, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Set aside.

Whisk together:

1 cup milk
2 eggs

This will be the custard for the bread pudding.

Slice the cornbread into 1/4" thick slices.

Mine was already cut into squares, this makes it easier.

Arrange a third of the sliced cornbread in the bottom of the prepared dish. It doesn't matter if you have small gaps.

Sprinkle a third of the vegetables over the cornbread.

Sprinkle a small amount of grated cheddar over the vegetables. I used about 3/4 cup of cheese in total.


Repeat the layering with the remaining cornbread, vegetables and cheese, finishing off with the remaining cheese.

Carefully pour the custard over the cornbread, vegetables and cheese.

Gently, but firmly, press down on the top layer.

Place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, so that the custard can be absorbed by the cornbread. Press down gently on the top layer occasionally.

Turn the oven on to 350F, and place the dish onto a baking sheet.

Bake until the pudding is set, slightly puffed up and golden on top, about 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

I served this as a side with baked ribs and green beans, along with barbecue sauce, but it can also be served with salsa.

  • Bread pudding is best made with old or stale bread, as this absorbs the custard well. When the custard sets, you have a crunchy outside and a moist inside...the more custard that is absorbed, the moister your pudding will be.
  • Any bread can be used. Some of my favourites include croissant, French bread, cornbread or cheese bread.
  • The cheese and vegetables can be adapted to what you have available. Some cheeses to try are goat cheese, Asiago, Swiss cheese. Some other vegetables include sundried tomatoes, olives, artichokes, cooked diced squash, caramelized onion, roasted garlic, grilled eggplant or zucchini.
  • Flavour the custard with hot sauce, sriracha, adobe sauce from chipotle peppers, fresh minced garlic, or chopped fresh herbs.
  • The bread pudding can be assembled ahead of time, and kept well wrapped in the fridge. This also gives the custard time to absorb. 
  • Another option for the cornbread is to cut it into 1" cubes, instead of thin slices. These can be layered as I did, or they can be mixed with the vegetables and custard in a large bowl, until the custard has been absorbed. Place the bread cubes and vegetables into the prepared dish and top with the grated cheese before baking.