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Monday, April 20, 2015

First Warm Spring Dinner

The weather last week was spectacular! We enjoyed the week immensely, particularly during our early morning dog walks.....The warm sunshine and blue skies brought the best out of the plant and wild-life in Kitchener-Waterloo.  The birds were busy building nests and seeking out mates. There were hawks, geese, ducks, robins, cardinals and bluejays flying all around us. As the week progressed, the snow disappeared, the ground dried up and the trees, grass and flowers started to pop!

We decided to celebrate spring on Friday with cocktails on the patio at Andrea and Teds, and a simple dinner prepared on the barbecue.
While we are patiently waiting for the spring vegetables to appear, we have been using a lot of herbs to brighten up our winter dishes.  The sauces for both the Halibut and the cauliflower that we grilled are great examples of how fresh herbs can bring out the best of simple grilled foods.

Spicy Halibut with a Cooling Yogurt Herb Sauce

6 halibut fillets

for the spice rub:
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander seed
½ teaspoon paprika
pinch red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl.  Sprinkle them over the fish one hour before cooking.

Preheat the barbecue on MEDIUM HIGH.  Clean the grids thoroughly with a wire grill brush, and coat the grids with plenty of vegetable oil to prevent sticking.

Reduce the heat to MEDIUM LOW and place the fish flesh side down on a 45 ° angle.  Let cook for 2 ½ minutes before flipping over on the same 45 ° angle.  Cook another 2 ½ minutes, then flip to the other side on the opposite angle.  After 2  ½ minutes flip to the same angle for the last 2 ½ minute stretch.  Transfer to a serving platter.   To serve, coax a thin flat spatula between the skin and the flesh and transfer to a plate with a bed of lightly dressed greens.  Top with yogurt sauce, recipe follows.

Cooling Yogurt Herb Sauce

¾  cup low fat greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
grated zest of one lemon
1 ½ tablespoons minced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Combine all the above ingredients in a small bowl.  Cover with wrap and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour while preparing the rest of the dish.  

Roasted Cauliflower with Sauce Vierge
adapted from Modern Sauces, 2012. Martha Holmberg

This recipe for Roasted Cauliflower may have appeared in our blog before, but it is the sauce that makes it such a special dish.  The flavours of all things green: herbs, olives, jalapeno peppers, pickles, lime…..pack a huge punch and raise the bland colour and flavour of cauliflower to new heights! 

2 large heads cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
1/3 cup olive oil3 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Sauce Vierge 

Preheat barbecue on HIGH for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to MEDIUM.
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets  and thyme in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a grilling tray and place on the grids. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until the cauliflower is golden brown and tender.

 Place in a warmed serving bowl and drizzle generously with the Sauce Vierge.

Sauce Vierge

1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup pitted green olives, finely chopped
2 tbsp gherkins, finely chopped
1 tbsp shallots, mince
1 tbsp capers, drained, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tsp preserved lemon, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lime juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, toss together the parsley, basil, olives, gherkins, shallots, capers, jalapeno pepper, preserved lemon and garlic. Stir in the olive oil, then stir in the lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper. This highly savoury sauce should rest for 30 minutes, to allow the flavours to develop. It is best used within the hour. Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and use the next day on pasta or grilled meats.

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