Asparagus and Brie Tartlets

Asparagus & Brie TartletsThis is lovely as an hors d’oeuvre, or two per person as an appetizer. You can par-bake the wonton wrappers ahead of time, just make sure to weigh them down with something so that you retain the cup shape. I suggest dried beans or pie weights. This recipe will make 12 tartlets, but can easily be doubled. You can even make this into one large tart by layering the wrappers on the bottom of a tart pan, and then just topping with all of the filling and brie. I would suggest slightly cooking the tart first though, before adding the filling, so that it can crisp up a bit.

Ingredients:

24 wonton wrappers, thawed
2 ½ tablespoons butter, divided
24 asparagus spears, cut into 1” lengths (about 2 bunches)*
1 shallot, diced*
¼ cup white wine or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
4 oz. (120g) brie, sliced into 12 pieces/wedges
salt and pepper, to taste

* Click here to learn how to check these vegetables.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt about 1 ½ tablespoons of butter in a microwave or small saucepan. Brush each wonton wrapper with the melted butter and press two wrappers into each mould of a muffin tin. When placing the wrappers I find it easier to align them first out of the tin, then press them in. You should have one wrapper square in front of you, with the flat edge facing you, and then another wrapper on top, but turned 90 degrees, so that the point is in front of you.

In a saucepan, melt remaining butter on medium heat and cook asparagus for 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a fork or slotted spoon to keep the melted butter in the pan. In the same saucepan, cook the shallot for about 2 minutes. Add the white wine, and let it simmer until it has reduced by half. Add vinegar and reduce once again by half.

Pour the shallot/wine/vinegar mixture over the asparagus and season with salt and pepper. Divide asparagus and Brie among the muffin moulds lined with wonton wrappers. Bake on the bottom oven rack for 15 minutes or until wonton wrappers are golden brown. Serve warm.

Salmon & Brown Rice Potstickers

Salmon & Rice PotstickersRice is nice! And this recipe makes a great appetizer, or if you’re like me, and get addicted, can easily wind up making a meal out of them! In this recipe I’ve called for Salmon, but you can easily substitute with a different fish, or different protein all together. They would be equally as good with chicken or tofu. This recipe will make about 24 potstickers.

Ingredients:

¾ cup of long grain brown rice, fully cooked
1 package wonton wrappers
¾ pound salmon (or other protein)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce**
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, loosely packed*
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons of ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp black pepper or chili flakes (optional)
½ cup grated carrots
½ cup minced water chestnuts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for cooking
water, for steaming the potstickers
garnish: toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions*

* Click here to learn how to properly clean fresh parsley and green onions.
** If using meat instead of fish or tofu, please click here to learn about the use of Worcestershire Sauce with meat products.

Directions:

Add salmon, oil, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, garlic, ginger and pepper or chili flakes into food processor and pulse to make a chunky paste. In a bowl, mix together the salmon paste, carrots, water chestnuts and cooked rice. Fill the wonton wrappers as directed on package sealing the edge with a dab of water on your finger.

If you’re not making the potstickers right away, refrigerate or freeze them on a baking sheet lined with parchment until ready to use.

Heat a small amount of oil in a sauté pan, and lightly brown filled potstickers on one side. Flip, and add water to cover bottom of pan. Cover and steam about 4-5 minutes. Top with sesame seeds and green onion and serve with your favourite dipping sauce.

Moroccan Fish

Moroccan FishThis is another alternative to regular gefilte fish, and will work well for people that don’t keep gebrokts (those that don’t mix matzo with liquids), as there is no matzo meal used in this recipe. If you’re not crazy about cilantro (like me) you can use parsley instead and you can cut down on the amount of chili peppers as well if you’re not into the heat. This recipe will serve 8.

Ingredients:

8 boneless fish fillets (best if you use a firm, dense fish like halibut or snapper)
2 bunches fresh cilantro/parsley, cut into large pieces*
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into long thin strips
10 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4-6 large dried red chili peppers (or less depending on preference)
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 cups water
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to check how to clean cilantro and parsley.

Directions:

For this recipe, you will need a sauté pan, it’s like a wide, deep skillet with higher sides. Before you start cooking, reserve a few pieces of the cilantro/parsley for garnish. Place cilantro/parsley, bell pepper slices, garlic and chili peppers in the bottom of the pan to create a “bed” for the fish. Place fish fillets on top of the other ingredients. Season fillets generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle turmeric evenly across fillets. Add the water to the pan. Cover pan, turn flame on high, and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, reduce heat to medium and uncover the pan. Mixture should be simmering lightly at this point. Allow mixture to simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, basting fillets periodically, until the water reduces by half and turns yellow.

In a small bowl, mix together olive oil and paprika with a fork. Pour red oil mixture over the fish fillets, coating them evenly. Let the fish simmer uncovered for 20 minutes more, basting frequently. Fish is done when liquid is reduced to about a quarter of what it was originally, and the fish has turned a rich red colour.

Serve the warm fish and bell peppers, drizzled with some of the sauce and garnish with the remaining fresh cilantro/parsley leaves.

Fish Cakes with Citrus “Tartar” Sauce

Citrus Fish Cakes

This recipe will make fish cakes for a crowd, and is a nice alternative to traditional gefilte fish. The citrus in this recipe lightens up the dish, taking away from the fried aspect of it, and would make it a great idea for a lunch meal! Before you start wondering where you’re going to get such small amounts of freshly squeezed juices, simply use the lemon and orange that you just zested!

Ingredients:

Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)*
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)*
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch sugar
Pinch cayenne

Fish Cakes:
2 pounds carp (or perch or bass) fillets, skinned and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley**
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
⅓ cup matzoh meal
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup or more oil (for frying)
1 tablespoon sea salt

* Click here to see my tips on zesting citrus.
** Click here to see how to properly clean fresh parsley.

Directions:

To make the sauce:
In medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Cover and chill.

To make the fish cakes:
Line large baking sheet with waxed paper. Working in 2 batches, in food processor pulse the fish until coarsely ground (do not purée to paste). Transfer to large bowl and add onion, parsley, mayonnaise, egg, lemon juice, and orange juice. Mix gently until well blended, then add matzoh meal, salt, and pepper and mix gently until incorporated.

Using wet hands, roll mixture into 1 ¼ inch-diameter balls and press into ½ inch-thick patties. Arrange on baking sheet with additional waxed paper between each layer of patties. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

In large heavy skillet over high heat, heat ¼ inch oil. Working in batches of 5 and adding more oil as needed, fry patties until brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt while still hot. Serve warm with sauce.

Russian Carrot Salad – Салат из моркови

Carrot saladIngredients:

8 large carrots, shredded
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup finely chopped walnuts (or nut of choice)
½ to ¾ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh dill*

Directions:

Stir together the carrots, garlic, walnuts, mayonnaise and dill until evenly blended. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

* Click here to learn how to check dill.

Eggplant Salad – Баклажан Салат

Russian Eggplant SaladIngredients:

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 4″ strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 tomato, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced thinly
¾ teaspoon white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

Place the eggplant, bell pepper, tomato, and onion into a large pot. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, oil, vinegar, and water. Pour over the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Mexican Ceviche

CevicheIngredients:

1 ½ lb halibut, sea bass or red snapper fillets (or use a mixture of fish)
7-9 limes (enough juice to cover fish)
1 ½ fresh tomatoes, diced
1 ½ green bell peppers, diced
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped*
⅓ teaspoon salt
⅓ teaspoon pepper
¾ teaspoon fresh oregano*
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (less or more to suit your taste)
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 ½ medium onions, finely chopped
2 dashes Tabasco sauce (to taste)
lettuce leaves (to line serving bowls)*
1 avocado, chopped (optional)

Directions:

Dice the fish into an approximately ½-inch dice. Marinate fish in the lime juice in the fridge overnight (this step cooks the fish). I would suggest marinating the fish in a large gallon sized freezer bag, as it makes clean up a cinch, and you can shake the bag up often to make sure the fish is evenly “cooking”. The next day, pour off most of the lime juice, leaving just enough to keep the fish moist.

A few hours before serving, mix together the tomatoes, green peppers, ½ cup of the chopped parsley/cilantro,  jalapeno peppers and onions in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, oregano, vinegar and Tabasco sauce. Add the fish to the large bowl, and gently mix together, making sure not to break up the fish pieces. Pour the dressing on top of the mixture and toss, gently, to coat. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, remove the ceviche from the refrigerator so that it is not ice cold. Arrange the lettuce leaves in individual serving plates with a serving of the ceviche. Garnish with sliced avocado and remaining parsley/cilantro.

* Click here to learn how to properly check these ingredients.

Salmon Teriyaki on Asian Salad

Salmon & Salad

Ingredients:

Salmon:
8 salmon fillets (2-3 oz. each)
1 bottle teriyaki or honey-garlic sauce (your favourite brand)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Salad:
2 packages of chicken flavoured Ramen noodles
1 head of cabbage, shredded (easiest to buy the pre-shredded Bodek cabbage)*
4 green onions, sliced (white and green parts)*
1 purple onion, sliced very thinly
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons vinegar
½ cup oil
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Salmon:
Check over your fillets to make sure that no bones have been missed. Remove any if found. If you salmon fillet still has the skin, you can remove it or leave it on, it is just a personal preference. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put your fillets in a baking dish, and pour about ¾ of the bottle of sauce over them. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (about 10 minutes per inch of thickness of the fillet). Remove the fillets once cooked through, and allow to come to room temperature. They can be served at this point as is or chilled. When serving, sprinkle with some of the sesame seeds over the top of each fillet.

Salad:
In a large bowl, break up by hand the packages of Ramen noodles so that they are not one large clump. Sprinkle over the top the seasoning packets that came with the soups. I find it easiest to use a pre-shredded, pre-cleaned and inspected bag of Bodek cabbage for this recipe, but you can shred the cabbage yourself if you prefer. Add the remaining ingredients and let marinate in the fridge overnight if possible. This salad, if there is any left, always tastes better the second day. Plate a portion of salad on individual plates, and top with a piece of the salmon teriyaki.

* Click here to learn how to properly check cabbage and green onions.

Samosas

SamosasThese stuffed savoury pastries are a traditional Indian favourite. Lamb meat and spices are cooked together to create a mouth-watering filling for the easy to make dough. The recipe may seem complex, but it’s actually fairly simple. This recipe will make about 30 Samosas.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green chili peppers, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon chili powder
¾ pound ground lamb/beef/chicken
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garam masala or curry powder
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
30 won-ton wrappers
1 quart oil for deep frying
1 egg, for egg wash

Directions:

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in onion, garlic, green chili peppers and ginger. Cook 5 minutes, or until onions are golden brown. Stir in turmeric, chili powder, ground meat and salt. Cook until the meat is evenly brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garam masala and lemon juice. Continue cooking 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

Work with the won-ton wrappers one at a time, keeping the remaining ones under a damp dish-towel so they don’t dry out. Lay out the wrapper, and run some egg wash along 3 edges of the square wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half, making a triangle, and press together one half of the triangle, but leaving the other side open, making a small pocket package. Fill the won-ton will a few tablespoons of the meat filling, then using more egg wash, seal the final edge of the triangle, pinching it together as tightly as possible.

Carefully lower triangles into your preheated (350-375 degrees F) oil a few at a time. Fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with a great mango chutney!

Authentic Chinese Egg Rolls

Egg RollsOriginal recipe makes 20 egg rolls

Ingredients:

4 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 medium head cabbage, finely shredded*#
½ carrot, julienned#
1 (8 ounce) can shredded bamboo shoots
1 cup dried, shredded wood ear mushroom, re-hydrated (or other mushroom)
1 pound barbecued or roasted meat or tofu, cut into matchsticks
2 green onions, thinly sliced*
2 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 (14 ounce) package egg roll wrappers
1 egg white, beaten
oil for frying, as needed

Directions:

Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Pour in beaten eggs and cook, without stirring, until firmed. Flip the eggs over and cook for an additional 20 seconds to firm the other side. Set egg pancake aside to cool, then slice into thin strips.

Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Stir in cabbage and carrot; cook for 2 minutes to wilt. Add bamboo, mushroom, meat/tofu, green onions, soy sauce, salt, and sugar. Continue cooking until the vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in sliced egg, then spread mixture out onto a pan, and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

To assemble the egg rolls, place a wrapper onto your work surface with one corner pointing towards you. Place about 3 tablespoons of cooled filling in a heap onto the bottom third of the wrapper. Brush a little beaten egg white onto the top two edges of the wrapper, then fold the bottom corner over the filling and roll firmly to the halfway point. Fold the left and right sides snugly over the egg roll, then continue rolling until the top corners seal the egg roll with the egg white. Repeat with remaining egg roll wrappers, covering finished egg rolls with plastic wrap to keep from drying out.

Heat about 6-inches of oil in a wok or deep-fryer to 350 degrees F. Fry egg rolls 3 or 4 at a time until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Alternatively, for a healthy version, you can bake the egg rolls at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes, or until they are nice and golden brown.

* To see how to properly clean cabbage and green onions, click here.

# For ease of convenience, you can purchase pre-cleaned, pre-checked, bags of shredded cabbage and carrots.