Something Fishy about this Curry

As Lent approaches I begin to think about traditions almost as much as I do at Christmas although for very different reasons. Lent is still a sort of celebration even in it's austerity. I kind of like the thought (contemplative and sombre) of it more than the craziness that has become the tradition of Christmas (Just watched
this movie over the weekend and thought it was fantastic!!! This guy is awesomely crazy!)

So, although my first thoughts fall to Hot Cross Buns (that will be later though), right behind that thought are more thoughts of fish. We like fish. Derek just made fish last night in fact but it's not enough for me right now. I want more fish! From what I understand fish is also very much a part of the Lenten tradition (although friday is the usual fish day - though I believe that during Lent Sunday is the only 'Feast day' during which any kind of meat is allowed - someone please feel free to correct and/or better inform me on the fasting tradition).

In any case, fish curry leaves the bland white fish baked in foil right where it should be... a dim and distant memory (I'm speaking strictly from my own damaged dorm life past of course!).

I love using coconut milk in curry. It rounds out the heat and gives a rich, butteriness to the whole dish. I'm also learning that it contains some significant vitamin and mineral benefits (been reading this book called '
Nourishing Traditions' - an interesting read for sure). I also like stretching out the dish as far as possible by using more vegetables than is traditional. Curries usually focus on one or two main ingredients. I just like using as many veggies as possible. This curry goes down very well with rice, quinoa or even couscous in a pinch - if you can get your hands on some well done Naan bread all the better!!!

Rainbow Trout in Coconut Milk Curry (serves 4 for a main course)

2 - 3 tbsp of butter or Coconut oil (any oil will do really - I like a combination of butter and oil)
1/2 Onion, chopped fine
1/2 - 3/4 Zucchini, chopped coursely
6 Mushrooms, quartered
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 can Coconut milk
Pataks Madras Curry Paste (is this cheating - but they do such a good job!!!!)
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
dash or two of Angostura Bitters
1 - 2 tbsp Soya Sauce
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp coriander
1 tbsp turmeric
1 - 2 tbsp garam masala
2 medium to large sized Trout Fillets (I don't usually bone them b/c of the health
benefits but feel free)
salt to taste (leave to the end)

In a heated Dutch Oven saute the vegetables, leaving out the garlic. After about 5 min add in the garlic and saute for 2 - 3 more minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the curry paste, all of the sauces and spices until they form a paste (you can feel free to add a little water if necessary) and set aside.

Cut the trout into large chunks 2 - 3 inch squares or so and have ready. Once the veggies are wilted add in the trout and mix
together. Add in the curry mixture and stir to coat all of the fish.

Let the fish
cook in the curry for 3 min. or so. Add in the
Coconut milk and mix well. Let the curry simmer on low heat for about 20 - 30 min to allow the flavours to mix. Check taste to make sure nothing else needs to be added. Try to wait for it to cool slightly before digging in (believe me the smell alone will make you crazy) otherwise you will burn your tongue (yeah... it's happened, so what!).
Serve over rice or Naan.

The New Mousse Workout

Who told me to do it? I did not know fully what I was getting myself into AND I've decided that next birthday/Christmas I'm getting much more specific about my wish list (I'll gladly even post it so you all can contribute!) Hello!!! Time to get some kitchen gadgets Wanda! How about a stand mixer for starters.

I really wanted to make chocolate mousse. I've never tried before and it does look amazing, is one of Derek's favourite things and, I figure, it's not like the kids are going to refuse it if it ends up coming out like mush! However, I forget so easily what it feels like to hand whip everything. It's like birth, you forget what labour feels like after the child is born... until you are in labour with the next child and saying 'What the $@*% is this!'

I eyed chocolate Mousse on the Orangette site and got inspired. I also had a recipe cut out of an old 'Gourmet' magazine *sad sigh* (however it might be available on the epicurious site! I haven't tried it). The Orangette recipe looked a little more appealing so I decided to give it a go - with a little twist here and there AND lots and lots of elbow grease!! Please keep in mind that the recipe I'm writing here is all about not having a machine to do the work... just your arms! It can easily adapt to a machine (as soon as I get one ;-) I'll post the changes!) but technically it's almost impossible to over-beat something by hand - at least that's what I've been told so if you are going to use a mixer try referring the Orangette site and/or tread a little more lightly.

Orangette Chocolate Mousse

8 oz or 1 cup bitter sweet chocolate (I used my trusty Callebaut 60% chocolate chips)
2 Tbsp Dutch process Cocoa
1 tsp instant espresso powder
5 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp alcohol of choice (I might try rum next time - whiskey, brandy etc.) This time my alcohol was Madagascar Vanilla from Williams Sonoma.
2 lg. eggs separated
3 Tbsp sugar (I just realised that I totally screwed Orangette's recipe up but I liked the screw up so I'm keeping it)
1/8 tsp (dash) sea salt
1 cup + 2 Tbsp of heavy cream

In a double boiler (just use a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water) melt chocolate, cocoa, espresso powder, water and alcohol of choice. Stir until melted and mixed (mine was a lot thicker than I expected it to be but don't be alarmed). the Let it cool slightly.
In another bowl combine the egg yolks and 1 1/2 tbsp of sugar until well blended. Add slowly to the chocolate mixture (you want to make sure that the yolks don't cook so check on the temperature of the chocolate) and mix well.

In another bowl whip egg whites until frothy. I used a cold stainless steel bowl and a large whisk. Once they are getting firm and frothy, add the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp of sugar and continue to whip until soft peaks form. All tolled it took me about 4 min to get the egg whites whipped. Whisk in about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and then fold in the rest until it is loosely blended (ie. not completely mixed).

In another bowl begin to whip the cream (I used the same bowl process as above and I even put an ice pack under the bowl while whipping the cream, to keep it cold) until soft peaks form (mine were pretty firm peaks but again this took just over 5 min all together). Using a rubber spatula, fold the cream into the chocolate mixture (gently and lovingly!) until well mixed.
Spoon 1/2 - 3/4 of a cup into ramekins or wine glasses or (dang!) ice cream bowls for all I care!
Cover with Clingfilm and chill for at least a couple of hours. (Orangette says it can chill up to 24 hrs)
To Serve:
I whipped up some more cream (it actually is really quite essential) only ever so slightly sweetened. I also removed the mousse from the refridgerator for a few minutes just to soften it up a little bit. Top the Mousse with a generous dollop of cream and dig that spoon in. Enjoy every rich and delicious morsel!!!

I'm already thinking about cake possibilities - adding this a top layer of something... I'm getting some ideas and I must ponder.......

The Bah Humbug Menu

I'm not huge on celebrations that involve gift giving (save birthdays which are unreservedly about the birthday person) and that includes Christmas. So! Needless to say, Valentine's Day is not big on my list at all. However, I thought that some sort of commemoration might be in order, even if it just ends up being an excuse to hang with my husband and have a good meal together - not something we often get the luxury of.

I guess that my lack of need for gifts on my anniversary, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter and Christmas should make me 'low maintenance' BUT let me assure you that I was totally serious about my birthday fixation - that day is ALLLL about the birthday person and in my case I have no problems requesting gifts from the likes of Tiffany's or Birks (see this years birthday request - doesn't mean I'll get it - that I fell in love with in the
Birks window. The picture doesn't really do it justice though).

Ah, I digress, back to Valentine's day. I recently had a lovely meal, at one of my favourite italian resto's here in Toronto called '
Terroni', of spaghetti al limone. It was spectacular, creamy, cheesy (with Parmesano of course), infused with a perfect hit of lemon. This is what I want to make today! I'm winging it with a recipe here but I'm thinking that if I go with a kind of Carbonara based sauce and just use lemon instead of bacon then I should be on the right track at least. Well, that is until I changed my mind. I remembered (sometimes my brain does this at the right time, rather than about 5 hrs too late) that Derek usually prefers rice to pasta (a mild preference but it is Valentine's Day after all) so I decided to make it Lemon Risotto instead. I had seen a recipe in Nigella Lawson's 'Nigella Bites' and followed it loosely here. Although Risotto sounds finicky, it's actually pretty straight forward AND it's extremely flexible - vary the vegetables, add seafood, instead of using broth use wine... you get the idea.

Risotto al Limone

2 1/2 cups of Arborio rice (short grain Italian rice available at any grocery store these days - totally necessary for the creamy texture)
half a medium sized red onion (what I used but shallots would be even better)

1 rib of celery
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/3 cup butter (yes people Real butter - do not use margarine or some 'low fat' alternative PLEASE!)
few dashes of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
approx. 6 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable) already simmering or having just boiled (this is crucial)
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon

2 egg yolks
1/2 cup cream
1/2 - 3/4 cup Parmesan
salt to taste
dash of pepper
2 cups of baby spinach

Heat the broth and have it at the ready. Chop the onion and celery until they are almost mush. In a large pot melt about 1/2 a cup of the butter, reserving the rest for the end. Once butter is melted add the chopped vegetables and saute about 3-4 min. Add the garlic and saute another 2 min. Add the rice and olive oil, stir well to cover the rice completely with the butter and oil for just a minute.

Slowly, begin to add the broth in a ladle full at a time. The idea here is to keep the heat as steady as possible which is why hot broth being added slowly is essential. As each ladle full gets absorbed add the next (beware - you may need extra hot water just in case) and stir continually (this is really as complicated as it gets!).
Combine the egg yolks, cream, lemon juice, zest and parmesan cheese together in a small bowl. Once the rice is cooked to al dente (about 20 min but make sure you taste it) remove it from the heat and add the spinach. Mix well and let the spinach wilt. Once mixed add in the egg yolk mixture. Again, make sure that you taste check. At this point add in any extra salt or pepper that it might need as well as the remainder of the butter. The idea is for this to be creamy, almost like a savoury rice pudding!

I loved it and it tasted fantastic with the Rainbow Trout that Derek whipped up. This dish can definitely hold it's own but is fantastic with fish or seafood (of course you could also add it right into the Risotto to make life simpler. I would say that this would probably serve 6 as a first course or 4 if serving it as the only main course.
This is truly comfort food!!! Creamy, cheesy, lemony, YUMMY!

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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