Pan Seared Halibut with Mango Pineapple Salsa

Blu halibutJust last week, Brian from Blu Seafood came rushing over to announce that Halibut was back in season, and that I should head over to his booth to get a good picture. I didn’t realize how large halibut could be, and I certainly wasn’t expecting him to hold up a fish as large as the one this picture – wow! Halibut is in season from late March to September, and comes from the North Pacific. These large flatfish are a highly sought after food fish. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to take some home and cook it up for the market blog.

I asked Brian for recipe suggestions, and he directed me to his cookbook, “Keep it Simple Seafood” (which you can pick up at his booth here at the market). The title speaks the truth. Not having much experience with cooking halibut (or seafood in general), I can confidently say that this is a great fish to cook for any beginners out there. He suggested adapting the Pan Seared Mahi Mahi (p. 82) recipe for halibut which worked out wonderfully.

halibut filletMarket Sourced Ingredients:

2 fillet of halibut from Blu Seafood

Juice of ½ a lime from The Cherry Pit

Package of Mango Salsa from The Cherry Pit

Package of pre-cut Pineapple from The Cherry Pit

2 tbsp oil (I used Persian Lime Olive Oil from Soffrito)

Balsamic vinegar (I used Grapefruit White Balsamic Vinegar from Soffrito)

Other Ingredients:

Couscous (or any other grain that you would prefer like rice, quinoa etc.)

Salt and pepperhalibut 1

halibut fillet cookingMethod (from Brian Plunkett’s book, “Keep it Simple Seafood”)

  • Pat dry the fish fillets
  • Season with sea salt, ground black pepper and the juice from ½ a lime
  • Heat frying pan, add the oil
  • Place the seasoned fillets of halibut in the hot pan and sear on both sides until golden brown and firm to touch – approximately 5 minutes
  • Serve over Mango Pineapple Salsa
  • Drizzle with balsamic vinegar

halibut finished 2I also cooked up some Israeli couscous (directions on how to cook it can be found here), but you could easily substitute this for whatever grain you prefer or have on hand. The original recipe was drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction, but I just substituted the grapefruit white balsamic vinegar from Soffrito straight up, and drizzled it over the whole plate before diving in. The wonderful thing about picking up oil and vinegar from Soffrito is that you can just tell them what you’re cooking, and they will make a variety of suggestions, allow you to sample the pairings, and then you can choose your favourite. I loved the bright citrus flavour of the Persian lime and grapefruit together and thought it would complement the mango pineapple salsa well.

I should also note that while Brian has a great recipe for salsa in his book, I cheated. The Cherry Pit makes an amazing mango salsa, but I didn’t want to leave out the pineapple! Fortunately they also have pineapple peeled, sliced and ready to go, so I just diced it up and added it to the salsa. All in all, this meal only took about 15 minutes to prepare, and couldn’t have been any more delicious, fresh or healthy – fast food at its best!

So next time you’re craving fish, be sure to head over to Blu Seafood. You can pick up all your ingredients, Thursday – Sunday, 9pm – 5pm at the Calgary Farmers’ Market!


halibut recipe

Leftover Turkey Soup

Many of you are probably winding down from a nice Thanksgiving weekend. You may or may not have had turkey at the center of your table, but if you did, this recipe is for you. One of the most wonderful parts of big turkey dinners, is (in my opinion), getting to make soup from the leftover turkey bones. I am usually fortunate enough to be the recipient of said leftovers when attending family dinners. Sometimes I will pop the bones into the freezer and save them for when I have more time, but this week I got right to work and have been enjoying turkey soup all week long. With the holiday season still looming ahead of us, this recipe may come in handy before you know it!

I have to say, I was inspired by a recipe over on DOTE magazine’s website for a simple turkey and wild rice soup. I also have to say that I am terrible at following recipes, especially for soup. I’ll often find inspiration in a recipe, and then make substitutions and additions as I see fit based on what I’m feeling like, or what’s left in the fridge! In this particular case, I happened to have barley on hand, and not wild rice; I also had some kale still growing in my garden which got thrown into the mix. So feel free to mix up the veggies a bit, or swap out the grain for your favourite (or use pasta!). In my house, making soup is basically an opportunity to clean out the fridge, with delicious results.

turkey soup

Back to the start; if you happened to be the one hosting the dinner, you would have three options for obtaining a turkey at the market (good to know for upcoming holidays). Blush Lane Organic Market has, you guessed it, organic turkeys available. Blu Seafood brings in free-range birds from Winter’s Turkeys. Last but not least, you can also pick up a turkey at Spragg’s Meat Shop. Who knew there were so many options?

Once you have purchased your turkey, invited people over for dinner, and have turkey leftovers, you are now ready to make Leftover Turkey Soup.

Making the stock

Ingredients

  • Turkey bones, bits and pieces
  • A few celery stalks
  • A few carrots
  • One or two onions
  • A bay leaf
  • Peppercorns
  • Salt

I like to make my stock in my slow cooker, but this can also be done in a big stock pot on the stove. Place the bones, veggies, bay leaf, salt and pepper into the slow cooker, and cover everything with cold water. (You can also add more veggies or other herbs as you like for flavour). Depending on how soon you want stock, you can use the high or low setting on the slow cooker. I usually place it on high for 2 – 3 hours, and then switch it to low for the remainder of the time. Making stock can take as long as you want it to. As soon as it’s good and tasty, you can use it, but bone broth tends to get better the longer you can hold out. This is why I like using the slow cooker. Plan for at least 3 or 4 hours (on high heat), but I left this batch on for about 24 hours and by the time I was ready to make soup, it was rich, flavourful and so good!

turkey 6Turkeys have a little more fat than chickens do, so I let the finished stock hang out in the fridge for a while until the fat solidified at the top; making it a bit easier to scrape off the excess. I do like to leave a little bit of the fat in because it has so much flavour (don’t be scared of keeping a little in there!).

Making the soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil from Soffritto Oil and Vinegar
  • 1 large onion from Innisfail Growers
  • 2 cups celery from Innisfail Growers
  • 2 cups carrots from Lund’s Organics
  • 2 handfuls kale (or other leafy green)
  • 8 cups turkey stock (see above)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp dried herbs of your choice (I used thyme and lovage saved from my garden)
  • 3 cups shredded turkey (also leftover from turkey dinner)
  • 1 cup barley

First, chop all of your onion, celery and carrots. Saute the onion for a couple of minutes in the oil, and then add your carrots and celery and cook for another 5 or so minutes.

turkey ingredients

Add your herbs, turkey and turkey stock now, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for up to an hour. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, throw in a couple handfuls of torn up kale.

ingredients

While your soup is simmering, cook the barley in a separate pot. Set aside until the soup is ready to be served. (Because I find that barley tends to soak up so much of the stock once it’s in the soup, I actually store my barley in a separate container, adding a scoop to my bowl as I eat the soup over the next few days – because the broth is the best part!).

Put a scoop of barley in each bowl, add the hot soup, and enjoy!

No matter how you like to enjoy your leftover turkey, you can get the ingredients you need at the Calgary Farmers’ Market, Thursday – Sunday, 9:00am – 5:00pm, year round. We hope to see you soon!

Canned Tomatoes, Two Ways

‘Tis the season for preserving the harvest! Calgary has such a short growing season, with such an amazing bounty of local produce that we must do our best to make it last. One of my favourite ways to preserve the harvest is to can it!

If you haven’t canned before, it may seem like a daunting task to start. Don’t be scared, it can really be quite an enjoyable process. Newer canning books also focus on smaller batch, artisanal recipes that are definitely a manageable place to start.

When canning, it is important to follow a recipe specific for canning to ensure the safety of your final product. That’s why I went to the experts on these recipes, and used two of my favourite canning books: Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff, and Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan.

All Purpose Tomato Sauce (makes about 4 pint jars)

From: Canning for a New Generation

Market Sourced Ingredientstomato blog 7

About 12 pounds of tomatoes (preferably Roma) – from Gull Valley Greenhouses

1 tbsp olive oil

12 ounces onion (about 2 small) – from Innisfail Growers

2 large cloves garlic

2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste

2 tsp citric acid*

First you need to peel your tomatoes. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, trust me! First, using a sharp knife, score a small ‘x’ on the bottom of each tomato. Now, simply bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill another large bowl with ice water. Drop a few tomatoes at a time into the boiling water for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water. The skins will just slip off easily at this point.

tomatoes times 3

Now for the fun (and messy!) part; you’ll want two bowls on hand, one for the seeds, and one for the tomatoes. Break the tomatoes apart and scrape out the seeds and core with your fingers. In batches, put the tomato flesh in food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Keep going until you have 12 cups of puree – that is all you need!

tomato guts

In a wide preserving pan or stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add garlic, stirring constantly about 1 minute. Pour in all 12 cups of tomato puree and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the sauce darkens and is reduced by one third. I find it takes a bit longer that 45 minutes to get the consistency I like, but it will depend on your preference, and your pan! Season with salt to taste.

In the meantime you can prepare for water bath canning. For full details on the proper method for canning, you should use a canning book or check out a website like the National Centre for Home Food Preservation.

Put ½ tsp of citric acid in each jar. Fill jars with hot sauce with ½ inch headspace. Wipe the rims, put your lids on and place the jars in the canning pot full of water. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, start your timer for 35 minutes (plus adjustments for elevation*).

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Remove the jars from the canner when complete and set aside for 12 hours. If you notice any that didn’t seal, put them in the fridge immediately. Label and store!

And now for the second recipe…

Whole Peeled Tomatoes (makes 4 quart jars)
From: Food in Jars

Market Sourced Ingredientstomato blog 18

10 pounds Roma tomatoes – from Gull Valley Greenhouses
(I used a few yellow and orange tomatoes as well, for variety!)

½ cup bottled lemon juice*

Prepare your boiling water bath and 4 quart jars according to the proper canning process.

Core your tomatoes using a sharp knife, and score the bottoms with a small ‘x’. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill another large bowl with ice water. Drop a few tomatoes at a time into the boiling water for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water. The skins will just slip off easily at this point.

Bring a fresh full kettle or pot of water to a boil. This will be the liquid you add to your tomatoes to fill any voids.

Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each prepared jar. Gently pack the peeled tomatoes into the jars. Squish them in as tightly as you can without mangling them too badley, and pour the boiling water over the tomatoes with ½ inch headspace. Use a wooden chopstick or similar utensil to remove any air bubbles.

I ended up cutting a few tomatoes in half to make them fit well into pint jars. In our household, we don’t often need a full quart of tomatoes at once, so smaller jars seemed like a better option. Of course, I adjusted the quantity of lemon juice to 1 tablespoon per jar.

Wipe the rims, put your lids on and place the jars in the canning pot full of water. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, start your timer for 45 minutes (plus adjustments for elevation*).

Remove the jars from the canner when complete and set aside for 12 hours. If you notice any that didn’t seal, put them in the fridge immediately. Label and store!tomato blog 21

*Because tomatoes are lower acid than some fruits, it is important to add an acid like citric acid or lemon juice to your jars, just follow the directions of whatever recipe you are using.

*Most canning books will recommend adding 10 minutes to the water bath canner time for Calgary’s elevation of about 3500 feet.

There you have it – two ways to can tomatoes. Hopefully these two all-purpose recipes will be welcome additions to your pantry come winter! This is my second season canning with tomatoes from Gull Valley Greenhouses, and I have to say – they are wonderful to work with and perfect for canning. Large, firm, uniform Roma tomatoes are a breeze to peel and taste delicious too!

Whole tomatoes can be used in any recipe that calls for them, like soups, stews or thicker sauces. Tomato sauce can be poured over pasta, used on pizza, as a base for more complex sauces – the possibilities are endless, really!

For example, I couldn’t resist using the leftover sauce that didn’t fit in my jars on some Veal Ravioli from Soffritto’s! Yum!

pasta collage

If you’re looking for more ways to preserve tomatoes, check out the Food in Jars blog – it comes chalk full of ideas! For even more canning recipes, check out our blog post from last year: Canning Extravaganza! If you’re anything like me, once you start canning – it can get a little addicting! It’s a good thing there are plenty of canning resources and books out there. I’ve shared two of my favourite books in this blog – which are your favourites? Leave them in the comments section below.

There’s no better place to start preserving the harvest than the Calgary Farmers’ Market!

Easy Easter Feast

A few things hop to mind when you think of Easter: chocolate bunnies, egg decorating, and ham.  Sure, there are other things that make up Easter, but in terms of food, these three things are pretty prominent.  We wondered how best to offer useful (and delicious) information and landed on: How to Roast a Ham.  It’s dead simple and is a sure-fire way to make every tummy at the table happy.
Plus, we just visited Greg and Bonnie Spragg’s pig farm.  When they offer you a ham, you don’t refuse.  In fact, you thank them gleefully because it’s the most beautiful ham you ever did see.
Ham Collage
Market-Sourced Ingredients

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Remember when we said it was simple?  You can’t get a whole lot simpler than three ingredients.  Yes, we know those ingredients don’t include brown sugar and mustard.  There are a few pretty traditional (and still yummy) ham glazes kickin’ around, but we wanted to give you something a little more off-the-beaten-path than the Cola or Pineapple Ginger recipes.  Plus, the only fruit that’s really “in-season” right now are apples and that’s just a little too close to the old-fashioned ham and apple sauce dinner we used to get at Grandma’s.  Why not try something a little different?

Preheat oven to 325F.  Using a very sharp knife, score fat in a diamond pattern.

Meanwhile, stir amber honey with blueberry balsamic.

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Place ham in a shallow roasting pan just big enough to hold it. Roast in centre of preheated 325F oven, uncovered, allowing 18 to 20 minutes per pound for a bone-in ham.

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Roast ham for 45 minutes before beginning to baste generously with the mixture.  To form a rich glaze, continue brushing with mixture every 15 minutes. Save any remaining glaze. Remove ham to a platter and tent with foil for at least 15 minutes.

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If you want to make a bit of a sauce for your ham: add 1 cup of vegetable broth and any remaining glaze to the pot you roasted the ham in. Stir pan bottom vigorously to scrape up all of the flavor-packed browned bits. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat burner on the stove (you can transfer from roasting pan to smaller pot at the point to make it less cumbersome). Then reduce heat to medium and boil gently, uncovered and stirring often, until slightly reduced, from 5 to 10 more minutes. Pour over sliced ham. Meat will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for a week or more.

Now, we know that ham is often served with traditional sides, like scalloped potatoes.  And if you’re an accomplished or ambitious cook, homemade scalloped potatoes are the bomb.  But as we can guess, you’re all very busy and since we’re selling this as an Easy Easter Feast, we suggest checking out the vast and tasty selection of ready-made agrio boxes at the Cherry Pit.

Agrio Boxes Capture

They offer everything from roasted or quick saute vegetables to easy dress and shake salads, all made in-house by their very talented vegetable butcher.  Easter dinner could not be easier.

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Want to learn more about Greg & Bonnie Spragg?  Check out our farm feature!