Juicy salmon fillets en papillote (parchment) with dill and tomatoes

When I get home from work, I have a small window to prepare and get dinner on the table. Cooking salmon en papillote (parchment paper) is an easy way to get juicy salmon on the table in less than 20 minutes including prep time. The dill, tomatoes and lemon zest is delicious with the salmon.

I encourage you to experiment with what you have at home. The key a great dish is to use vegetables that cook about the same amount of time as the fish, make sure it’s well seasoned and add a liquid…like soy sauce, lemon juice and/or wine. I have seen cooks use egg wash to seal the parchment paper and cut the paper into a heart shape, I found that it was not necessary to do both.

I know the other typical rule is to add one fish per parchment paper for presentation and cooking time, I also found that it was possible to cook 2 fillets in one parchment paper. This is an easy dinner where the parchment can be opened at the table. I prefer to take it out of the parchment so there’s more room on my plate for other items…I eat a lot!

Ingredients:
4 salmon fillets (no skin)-about 1 inch thick, 2 x 5 inches
Handful of dill-ripped in large pieces
2 small tomatoes-rough chop
Squeeze of lemon juice in each fillet
Pinch of salt and black pepper
Drizzle of olive oil on each fillet
Splash of white wine on each fillet
Green onions-ripped into large pieces
Butter (optional)- I didn’t use it

 Preparation work:

1. Cut the fish and vegetables according to instructions.

2. Fold a piece of parchment paper in half and cut a half circle. Make sure the fillet(s) will fit fully in the pocket when folded in half.

Cooking time:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place the fish in the folded parchment paper. Ideally there will be one fillet per parchment paper (I placed 2 in my example below). Drizzle the fish in olive oil and make sure both sides are dressed. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon zest and dill.

Preparing the fish

3. Add the tomatoes and add more dill and top with green onions. Before folding the parchment paper, add in the white wine. If you are using butter, I would add a dab to each fish at this stage.

4. I folded the paper and folded the edges to seal it. I placed the packages on an ungreased baking tray and cooked it for 10 minutes. I really dislike overcooked fish and this came out perfect, just done!

Almost ready for the oven

I was feeling like surf and turf and served the salmon with a steak and some leafy vegetables.

Salmon en papillote (In this case...taken out of the parchment paper before serving)

Enjoy!

 

Coleslaw with a mint, yogurt and dill dressing

One of the things I prefer not to buy is packaged coleslaw because I find the texture way to soft for my liking.  Green cabbage is really inexpensive and there are endless combinations of ingredients to make a great dressing, and plus homemade seems to taste better. This slaw is similar to the yogurt dill slaw I made recently (recipe here) but with a tangy dressing with mint, dill, yellow mustard and capers.

Look out for many more salad recipes to come.

* If you have other vegetables/fruits, feel free to add it to the salad.

Ingredients:
½ cabbage-thinly sliced (can use a mandolin)
5 mint leaves-finely chopped
A few mint leaves for garnish

Dressing:
2 cups of Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
A pinch of salt and black pepper
¼ cup of finely chopped dill
A large squirt of yellow mustard (I used French’s)
6 capers and a splash of the caper brine
Drizzle of olive oil

Preparation Work:
1. Cut the vegetables according to instructions

2. Make the dressing: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust as needed.

Assembling steps:

1. Place all vegetables in a bowl and add the dressing. Mix well.

 

Preparing the slaw

Preparing the slaw

2. Top with green onions. Refrigerate until time to serve.

 

Creamy slaw with a mustard yogurt dill dressing

Creamy slaw with a mustard yogurt dill dressing

Enjoy!

{Review} Lunch at Pangaea for Summerlicious 2014

Website: http://www.pangaearestaurant.com
Address:   1221 Bay St. , Toronto ON
When I visited: July 2014, lunch, 4 people
Rating: $$, 3

It’s Summerlicious time again, the time when 200 top restaurants in Toronto offer 3 course pre-fix menus at a great value.

What attracted me to re-visit Pangaea was that the restaurant was close to work, I had a great Summerlicious experience (food and service) in the past and I recalled they had the best creamy mushroom risotto I have eaten in Toronto.

The restaurant is located in the heart of upscale Yorkville and the decor is contemporary with accents of wood book cases and art work to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Chef Martin Kouprie takes pride in a cooking style that is close to nature and utilizes the best quality organic ingredients in his dishes. My Summerlicious lunch was an example of well thought out dishes that showcased Chef Kouprie’s style.

From the Summerlicious menu, I ordered the chilled melon soup with lime gastrique and fresh mint to start. It was light and refreshing appetizer. For my main, I ordered the seared tuna with Israeli couscous, compressed watermelon, wilted greens, roasted red pepper and avocado. The plate was beautiful and the tuna was perfectly seared and seasoned. My only complaint was that I wanted more. To end the meal, I ordered a plate of Ontario cheese.

Chilled Melon Soup (vegetarian)

Chilled Melon Soup (vegetarian)

Seared tuna

Seared tuna

Ontario cheese plate

Ontario cheese plate

For a $20 lunch, it was fairly priced for the quality of ingredients and taste, but I was not full. If I had a chance to re-order, I would have chosen a more substantial main including the grilled housemade lamb sausages on creamy polenta with blue cheese, grilled vegetables, fresh herbs and toasted pumpkin seeds. I took a bite and I was impressed by the spicy sausages and the flavourful creamy polenta. My friend was satisfied and full at the end of his meal (Check out other menu items here).

Other menu items at Pangaea

Other menu items at Pangaea

The food took about an hour and a half from start to finish which is a lot slower than my previous visits.

Overall:

It is worth visiting Pangaea for Summerlicious or trying their regular menu items including the mushroom risotto. If you are a big carnivore or big eater like me, I would recommend the roasted pork belly and lamb sausages for the main. Summerlicious ends Sun. July 20th, so do make your reservations soon.

Pangaea on Urbanspoon

{Review} The best Char Siu in Toronto at John’s Chinese BBQ Restaurant

Website: n/a, Yelp Review 
Address:  328 Hwy 7 E, Unit 10-11, Richmond Hill, ON
When I visited: June 2014, dinner, 6 adults
Rating: $$, 4

I have had my fair share of Chinese BBQ pork (char siu) growing up and often times it’s a hit or a miss. The bad versions include meat that is dry, the colour of the pork looks too artificially pink or it hasn’t been roasting long enough to develop enough deep flavour.

The best char siu I’ve had at a restaurant was in Hong Kong with extremely tender meat (I wish I remembered the name of the restaurant), and the best home made char siu I’ve had was in my recent BBQ style cooking class at George Brown College. There was no artificial dye, it was tender and full of flavour. Aside from these stand outs, John’s Chinese BBQ restaurant hits several points to make an outstanding BBQ pork. There is deep flavour inside and out, there’s a beautiful bark (my favourite pieces) and the glaze has the right amount of savoury and sweetness to it. From what I can recall, this is the best char siu from a restaurant in Toronto that I have eaten so far.

I have been to the family restaurant several times and has always been with a large group . The servers often push for the set menu which is only written in Chinese, which speaks about the typical clientèle that come here. If it is possible, come with someone who can read the Chinese characters, it will help with reading the set menus since the servers are not too willing to translate it thoroughly. The regular menu is in English but are missing the set menus in there, which is where the great deals are.

During our last visit, we ordered a set dinner for 8, which comfortably fed our hungry group of 6. The food arrived quickly and the service was attentive. Some of the standout dishes include the Peking duck, steamed fish and mixed vegetables with scallops and shrimp. We had 6 quality dishes plus dessert for only $128.80!

John's Chinese BBQ Restaurant

John’s Chinese BBQ Restaurant

Aside from the BBQ items, the dishes were pretty comparable to other fine dining Chinese restaurants in Toronto.  What keeps us coming back is the char siu and other BBQ items. They have take-out for the BBQ items which is convenient for those on the go.

Char siu (Chinese BBQ pork)

Char siu (Chinese BBQ pork)

Overall:

The restaurant specializes in Chinese style BBQ and does an excellent job at it. The set menus and the BBQ items are the way to go when visiting the restaurant. The char siu is delicious and memorable, the main reason that drives me back to the restaurant.

John's Chinese Barbecue Restaurant on Urbanspoon

{Review} Liberty Burgers and Wings in Markham

Website: http://libertyburgers.ca/
Address:  144 Main St. N, Markham ON
When I visited: June 2014, dinner, 3 people
Rating: $, 3.5

I wanted to make use of Yelp’s Burger Binge Week that happened from June 22-28th, 2014 where participating burger joints in the GTA offered one of their featured burgers for only $5. Knowing that the restaurant was close to home and is located on the gorgeous strip on Main St. Markham, it was an obvious pick to try out.

We lucked out with beautiful weather that evening so I had to make use of the patio. Plus, we got to enjoy live entertainment from a band playing at Main Street Mansion (check out my review here) right next store.

Liberty Burgers Markham

Liberty Burgers Markham

The servers took a bit of time to take our order but the food came out relatively quickly. We ordered the ‘smokehouse burger’ (the Yelp special burger)
which is normally $13.95 for only $5. With our mains, we ordered a side of poutine and a pound of the South American chipotle flavoured wings. I went with the “Shock Top” Belgium white beer since they were out of Keiths. They were also out of milk, which makes me wonder how often they run out of key ingredients.

Smokehouse burger

The restaurant sources their hamburger meat from a local butcher and the organic meat is freshly grounded and never frozen. The burger was juicy and an absolute steal for the price and it was loaded with tasty ingredients including 2 large strips of bacon and aged smoked chedder. The wings were plump and flavourful. The chipotle sauce could have used more heat for me, but it was delicious. The poutine had a good amount of gravy and was not overly salty, the way I like it.

Overall:

I am not sure if other family owned restaurants often run out of inventory, but I was surprised they did during prime weekend hours. Although the servers could have been more attentive, the food was worth the trip. I am confident the restaurant did not make any money from the $5 burger but the burger promotion worked, it drove us here. We would come back to pay full price for the “smokehouse” burger and eat their wings again. As for the Yelp Burger Week, I hope they run the event next year as it introduced me to new tasty joints.

Liberty Burgers & Wings on Urbanspoon

Mary’s Happy Belly Digest for July 2014: What’s new and exciting

I wanted to take a break from my typical posts with some thoughts and exciting things on my end.

When I started my blog, I had no idea the world that I would be entering. My universe had connected me to a larger world of food, events, chefs and a lifestyle I could only dream of.  I am thankful for every experience and connections I have made. If you have something you are passionate about, keep at it!

I returned to work from maternity leave recently so life got a a bit busier. It’s a challenge but do expect to see regular posts from me.

What’s on the radar for the month of July?

  • More recipes and restaurant reviews on my blog.
  • I am organizing a media event next week at the Hyatt Regency on King St. in Toronto with delicious food prepared by Executive Chef Wesley and team, with top food bloggers in Toronto attending. We will be enjoying the Summerlicious menu.  My Instagram photos are going to be ridiculous!
  • I will try to hit up at least 1 other Summerlicious restaurant. The event ends July 20th, 2014.
  • I am honoured to be included in an event by Chef Susur Lee at Luckee for a dim sum workshop with Chef Lee’s son, Kai Bent-Lee and the Luckee mixologist on hand. I am hoping Chef Susur Lee will be there (eeek, I am trying not to freak out!). I can’t wait to try making delicious dim sum at home.
  • My daughter’s 1st birthday is coming up. I am trying to work out a theme and a menu for her celebration. It’ll be delicious and I may even do some baking (and yes, I have baked before)! If it turns out great, I may post my very first dessert recipe on my blog.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. It’s been exciting to have readers from all over the globe stop by. If that’s you, don’t be shy to say hi!! Have a happy day!