Pan roasted salmon with dill sauce: a classic restaurant technique that is super easy to replicate at home and just as delicious.
This Friday is Good Friday, one of the most solemn days in the church calendar for all Christian denominations. For Catholics, this is also a day of fasting, abstinence, quiet reflection, and penance. The idea behind fasting is to imitate Jesus, to show an appreciation and a cognisance of the suffering He endured. The notion and practice of fasting has changed over the centuries. At one point, fasting meant only one meal for that day, a meal that abstained completely from meat, eggs, fat, dairy, alcohol and any other “luxury” ingredients. Today, the church has adapted a more lenient interpretation that often consists of simple meals centred on fish, absent from more indulgent ingredients. This is the tradition we observed in my family home growing up.
My dad was pretty strict when it came to fasting. Everyone in the house had to observe the no meat, no eggs, no sweets rule, including the kids. The only thing that exempted you was if you hadn’t made your First Communion yet. So by the age of 7 or 8, once you made the sacrament you were required to fast. Today, I think most parents would classify this as an example of child negligence or something. In reality, there is no harm in not eating meat for one day or telling your child they can’t eat chips or candy bars until Easter.
Raise your hand if your peeved with reality TV! You can’t see it, but both of my arms are flailing around in earnest right now. I am quite fed up with the infiltration of my boob tube by people doing dumb things. Extreme Couponing. Toddlers and Tiaras. Moonshiners. Hillbilly Handfishin’. And these are on TLC – the so called “learning” channel – and the Discovery Channel! Don’t even get me started on Much Music or MTV because I know I’ll upset some readers if I attack Jersey Shore. But the network that I’m really disappointed in is the Food Network. Note: If you noticed I haven’t added links to the above reality shows because I refuse to promote such nonsensical programming.
The Food Network has become your source of cheap, mindless entertainment, lightly peppered with food and cooking. Try finding a good old-fashioned cooking show at a decent hour on the Food Network. Go ahead, try. It’s not gonna happen. You can watch a number of different food competition shows though. These include Iron Chef America, no less than 6 times a day. Then there’s Chopped and of course Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, Top Chef Canada – not to undermine the talent of Rob Rossi, one of the runner ups and the former executive chef at one of my favourite Toronto institutions, Mercatto - Top Chef Texas, Top Chef Just Desserts! See what I mean!! Can I just please watch a show where an experienced cook or chef shares delicious recipes and gives me useful tips and above all inspires me to cook? They even put Diners Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri and his backward sunglasses and porcupine-esque hair, in Jamie’s Meals in Minutes time slot! Oh the inhumanity of it all!
If you’re lucky enough to flip to the Food Network and actually find a cooking show you might stumble upon some true gems, one of them being the inspiration of this dish today. Ina Garten, better known as The Barefoot Contessa may be a bit of a yuppy with lots of yuppy friends who all live in Yuppyville - aka the Hamptons - but you know what, the woman knows how to cook! Her recipes are simple, yet so very sophisticated. Any one of her dishes can be served to company with stunning results. The recipe that inspired this dish was her Mac and Cheese with mushrooms and fresh bread crumb crust. I use her technique for homemade fresh bread crumbs to coat the trout. Making your own bread crumbs from sandwich bread that isn’t stale – contrary to popular practice – is so much better than the dried stuff you buy at the grocery store. Mind you, those bread crumbs do serve a purpose, but for this dish, or any other recipes that call for a bread crumb topping (i.e. gratins, baked pasta dishes, casseroles, etc.) fresh is the way to go! The crisp, yet fluffy texture that absorbs flavouring so well elevates these dishes to another level.