Now that I’ve become a true farmers’ market fan, through my TV show Market to Table, I’m a committed non-supermarket shopper.
At Thursday’s Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers’ Market, fisherman Andrew Akiwenzie lets me have a couple of filets of lake trout he caught on Georgian Bay the day before. On the weekend, I’m back at Akiwenzie Fish for more at the Wychwood Barns market, they were so delicious, but even by 10 am, they’ve sold out, so his son tells me. No matter, another organic supplier lets me have fresh rainbow trout.
We stop at Liz Foers of Essa Seedlings to pick up some crispy greens and edible flowers and the feast is complete. Liz is a fount of knowledge on the benefits of microgreens, which, she says, have about five times the levels of vitamins C, E and K than when they’re fully grown. Sandra Dombi, at Kind Organics whose team has stalls at several local markets year round, is an enthusiastic promoter of baby greens. Baby spinach, for instance, has higher levels of disease-fighting flavonoids, which act as antioxidants to decrease inflammation and aid blood flow. On the show, Sandra talks engagingly about greens growing up and being marketed as teen greens for smoothies and then finally as adults, for in nature, plants refuse to stop growing. Whatever their age, as long as they are really fresh, dark, leafy greens will be good for you and provide benefits that can’t be found other veggies.
Summer meals, with truly fresh ingredients, are easy to throw together. Lightly steam the veggies, pan fry the fish in good quality olive oil with a dab of butter for flavour, and plate with some micro greens and edible flowers. A salad for starters is an easy choice: baby greens, with a quick dressing made of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), a splash of lemon juice and a spoonful of Kozlik’s Dijon mustard, topped with lardons, or seeds, or toasted pine nuts. Perfect.
All of the 10 or so commercially available varieties of salmon, as well as several related species such as Artic char, lake trout and rainbow trout are delicious and can be served the same way. Some of the species are born in fresh water streams, live out their lives in salt water and return to their stream to mate. Others are land-locked fresh water species. No matter, they are all equally tasty. Some are quite small fish and others grow to giant 30 pounders.
In the small varieties, the skin crisps up nicely and can be eaten. In some of the larger fish, the skin is, as you would expect, quite tough and can be removed before cooking, or left on the plate. When I’m not shopping for fresh lake fish at farmers’ markets, I head down to the St. Lawrence Market, where Pina at Seafront Fish Market always gives us oustandingly fresh catches.
A few months ago I wrote about pan fried fresh wild caught Atlantic salmon filets with Tamari sauce in a blog entitled Mashed. I said the food was so simple, I wasn’t even going to write up a formal recipe. I’ve relented. Here it is:
LAKE AND RAINBOW TROUT, SALMON
• Fresh fish filets (lake trout, rainbow trout, artic char or salmon)
• Oil (EVOO or canola)
• Butter (preferably unsalted)
• Tamari soy sauce glaze (optional)
Preparation and cooking
1. Wash the filets as soon as you get back from the market to rinse off any traces of blood. Plate and cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook. At the same time, scrub the skin side to loosen any scales the fishmonger might have missed and check for pin bones which can be removed easily with a pair of needle nosed pliers. Make sure the filets are of uniform size to ensure even cooking.
2. When you are ready to cook, add enough oil to a heavy frying pan to just cover the bottom. Add a dab of butter. Butter alone will burn, but together with oil will add a wonderful flavour. When it is smoking hot, add the fish, skin side down and fry for no more than three minutes until the skin is really crispy. Then turn down the heat and flip the fish over. Cook for another three to four minutes. The fish should be just done, leaving a slight pinkish centre.
3. Plate with veggies of your choice and a swirl of tamari soy sauce. NOTE: Tamari is the Japanese version of soy sauce, usually made without wheat and somewhat thicker and less salty that traditional Chinese soy sauce.
A few weeks ago I read of using cauliflower as an alternative to mashed potatoes on topping for pies, so this weekend decided to try that on my Cumberland fish pie. The verdict was “delicious.” So here it is, as a bonus.
CAULIFLOWER FISH PIE
by Nigel Napier-Andrews
Preparation 50 mins
Baking 35 mins
- 350ml (1 1/3 cup) full-cream milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 TBSP chopped fresh dill
- 300g piece of salmon, skinned
- 300g piece of cod, skinned
- 300g piece of haddock, skinned
- 2 TBSP butter
- 4 TBSP plain flour
- 1/2 cup grated medium white cheddar cheese
- 4 TBSP creamy Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
For the topping
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 2 TBSP butter
- 50ml full-cream milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation and cooking
Step 1: Make the filling.
Put the milk and bay leaf in a wide, deep frying pan over a medium heat. Bring just to simmering point, then add the salmon, haddock and cod (halve to fit in the pan, if necessary). Poach for 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking dish using a slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle, flake or cut the fish into bite-size pieces. (This is a good time to check for any errant bones or pieces of skin you missed earlier.) Strain the infused milk into a jug, discarding the bay leaf.
Step 2: Make the sauce.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the warm infused milk and bring just to the boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for a few minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard and grated cheese until it melts. Return to the heat if necessary. Season well.
Step 3: Make the topping
Chop the green stem and any really thick stalk off the head of the cauliflower and break it into chunks. Steam for 15 mins. Mash completely. Add in the butter, milk and season well.
Step 4: Assemble and bake.
Gently mix the sauce with the fish in the baking dish. Top with the mashed cauliflower. Just spoon it on and make furrows with the back of a fork. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese mix all over the topping. Place the pie on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 35 minutes or until turning golden and bubbling hot throughout.
Serve with green veggies, such as garden peas.
NEWS UPDATE: My fully illustrated e-book, Market to Table: The Cookbook started as a project for novice cooks, but after I was picked to host a cooking show featuring food bought at farmers’ markets, developed into a more complete collection of the recipes from the series, including some from guest chefs on the show, as well as those from my well-read foodie blog. It is easy to read, divided into chapters that cover the main mealtimes of the day, and into recipes that are concise and guaranteed to work. Most recipes are accompanied by an entertaining story. Brilliant young Chef Dan Frenette, who now hosts the TV series, has written the Foreword and contributes to the book.
Categories: Market to Table