December 07, 2009

Sunday Night Dinner with Rich...the Farmers' Market Edition

We haven't had much of a chance to do a leisurely Sunday night cookbook "date" dinner in quite a while.  The Open House is two weeks away (major cookie baking this weekend); charity ball on Saturday night (in honour of the Bollywood theme, I wore a beautiful borrowed sari and lots of safety pins!); and both of us trying to rid ourselves of the season's first - and hopefully only - cold.

But we did go to the Green Barn Farmers' Market, at the Artscape Wychwood Barns and even though December has put a definite crimp in the offerings, there was still plenty of good things to buy - and eat.

...including Nuala's delicious scones and Irish soda bread.  Yummy when toasted and slathered with butter!

First thing to buy was the "main" for dinner and we found halibut from Goldwater Seafoods, a Canadian company specialising in Nova Scotian seafood.

The greens came from Everdale's great selection of goodies.  A bag of assorted greens, perfect for sauting, for only $3.00.

Vicki's Veggies provided the delicious salad greens and parsnips. 

Dinner is a very simple affair.  Halibut slow poached in olive with lemon and dill; braising greens sauteed in garlic, shallots and chili pepper flakes, with some sauteed baby parsnips added in for crunch and nutty flavour; and Asian greens dressed simply with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  The perfect early winter dinner, filled with local goodness.

Sunday Night Farmers' Market Dinner for Two

Oven-poached Halibut in Olive Oil
adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
serves two to three

1 lb. halibut fillet
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
1 1/2 large lemons, thinly sliced
3 tbsps. chopped fresh dill, with additional for garnish
1 1/2 - 2 c. olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 250F

2. Pat fish dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Let stand for 10 minutes. Chop 1 tbsp of the capers

3. Arrange half of lemon slices in one layer in an 8-inch round glass baking dish. Arrange fish in one layer over lemons. Top with chopped and remaining whole capers, remaining lemons slices, and the dill, and pour oil over the fish until barely covered.

4. Bake, covered, until fish just flakes and is cooked through, about 1 hour.

Serve fish with some of the lemon slices, capers and olive oil spooned on top. Garnish with dill if desired.

Sauteed Autumn Greens
serves two generously

4 cups assorted kales and autumn greens, washed (do not dry the leaves)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
Pinch red chili pepper flakes, or to taste
Baby parsnips
Water as needed (approx. 1/4 cup)

1.  Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet until hot. 

2.  Add the garlic and shallots and saute for a couple of minutes or until fragrant.  Add red chili pepper flakes and saute for one minute more.

3.  Add any tougher kale to the pan first and saute for until softened.  Add remaining greens; stir and cover for a couple of minutes until greens are softened but not wilted. Remove and set aside in serving bowl.

4. In the same pan, add the parsnips and stir until hot. Add water, cover pan, and saute on high heat, about five minutes or until parsnips are tender but still crunchy.  Add the greens, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Set the table and serve it forth!


  1. Funny that completely separately, we both seem to be getting into baking at the same time. We love to cook, but the few times dessert is required for a gathering, we usually end up with mini cupcakes from Life Is Sweet in our neighbourhood.

    But in the past three months, we've gone through more flour than we have in the past three years. It started with pizza dough - made Jeff Crump's (Earth to Table) recipe using Jamie Oliver's method, and spread a giant quattro across the whole of our new stone. That way he gets his mushrooms, I get my serrano ham, and we both get the pepperoni with roasted red peppers and gooey mozza.

    Next was shells for quiche - we have one most weekends, and I've been buying Tenderflake frozen. In our continuing effort to eliminate processed and packaged foods from our diet, this one had to go. I use Bettina Schormann's (Earth to Table) recipe, which I love for the great tip of using a box grater for the butter, then tossing ingredients like a salad. For method, I'm relying on Elizabeth Hodder (Book of Old Tarts), and then I always wing it for the ingredients with whatever we have and feel like on that particular Sunday morning.

    Then on to the holy grail of Canadian baking: apple pie! I have an old paper bag recipe with super sweet crumble topping I've been making since I was a teen, but it's too sweet for our tastes now. So, using Bettina's dough, a method from Canadian Living and local Spartan apples, I made my first one for American Thanksgiving. A hit! I plan to make it again for my family for Christmas Eve, although husband is hoping it will be sooner than that :)

    For seasoning, in addition to a bit of lemon juice and sugar, I'm using baharat. Mine is from the Spice House in Chicago - the top note of this popular table seasoning from the Middle East (I'm all about ME cuisines this year) is very cinnamon/nutmeg, but the secondary note upon first taste is more complex, leaving one with a little kick that fits in with today's vogue for spicy desserts, and the holiday season. Ingredients are: Tellicherry black pepper, coriander, cumin, Ceylon select cloves, Saigon cinnamon, cardamom, Spanish paprika and Chinese Tien Tsin chile peppers. Sounds weird, but really works.

    Looking forward to a day when we might cook and bake together,

  2. Wow - are all those spices in the apple pie? Would love the recipe! Or better yet, as you say, we'll make it together.

  3. All those spices are in baharat - one shake, a bit of sugar and lemon, and that's it.