Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring Menu for Six

I came across this excellent spring menu for six in Canada's Food & Drink magazine, a free catalog distributed in Ontario by the Licquor Control Board of Ontario in their stores. I was so dazzled by the freshness and lightness of the flavours that I decided to share it on Martha Moments. If anyone indulges in the following recipes, please write to let me know how they turned out.


The beets give this soup a wonderfully earthy taste, which is reminiscent of borscht. A nice complementary garnish is chopped dill. The serving sizes are small.

2 tblsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1 small red beet, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tblsp tomato paste
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Salt to taste
1/4 cup yogurt

1. Place oil in a pot over medium heat, add celery, onion, carrot, beets and garlic. Cook gently until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, then add chopped tomatoes and cover, cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and salt. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

3. Place soup in a blender and add yogurt. Strain soup through a fine strainer to remove seeds and tomato skins. Serve hot or cold. Serves 4 to 8, depending on size of serving vessel.


This dish uses all the flavours of sushi in a different presentation. It can be made up to 4 hours in advance and refrigerated.

1 cup sushi rice
1 1/2 cups water
2 tblsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 ripe avocado
2 tbsp sour cream
1 lime, juiced
2 cups cooked baby shrimp
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup red onion finely diced
1/4 cup red pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup yellow pepper, finely diced
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 sheet of Nori for garnish
6 cooked shrimp for garnish

1. Place rice in a strainer and rinse rice until the water runs clean. Place rice and water in a medium pot and place on high heat. Place a lid on the pot and when liquid comes to a boil turn down to a simmer. SImmer until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from the heat and let stand 10 minutes, covered. Place rice in a bowl and add the rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt.

2. Peel avocado and remove pit. Either mash or puree with a food processor. Stir in the sour cream and squeeze in some lime juice. Season with salt.

3. Roughly chop the shrimp. In a small bowl combine shrimp, ginger, red, onion, red pepper, yellow pepper, coriander, lime juice and semsame oil. Mix to combine.

4. Into 6 clear glasses, place 1 tbsp of the shrimp mixture, followed by a layer of the avocado mousse followed by a layer of the sushi rice. Continue until all the ingredients are used up, preferably with the shrimp as a last layer. Top each with a few piece of julienned Nori and a large shrimp.


Sold in small jars, tobiko is a Japanese word for flying fish roe. It is typically used in certain sushi dishes such as California Rolls.

1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 piece of celery, roughly chopped
1 white onion, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic
1/2 lemon
8 cups water
6 salmon fillets
1 bunch coriander, washed and chopped
2 tsp grated lime rind
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp semsame oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 package green tea soba noodles or spinach fettuccine
1 English cucumber, de-seeded and sliced thinly with a vegetable peeler
1 bunch scallions, sliced finely
Tobiko for garnish

1. Place carrot, celery, onion, bay leaf, garlic and lemon into a medium pot with 8 cups of water. Gently bring to a simmer. Simmer for for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Let stand another 10 minutes and strain or remove vegetables, saving the liquid.

2. Bring the liquid back to a simmer and place the salmon pieces into the broth. Gently poach until desired doneness, 5 to 6 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets.

3. Place coriander, ginger, lime rind, rice wine vinegar, vegetable oil, sesame oil , brown sugar and salt into a blender and blend until smooth.

4. Cook green tea soba noodles or spinach fettuccini as directed on package. When done, toss with 1/2 cup of the coriander and lime vinaigrette, 1/2 the cucumber and scallions.

5. To plate, place 1 cup of green tea soba noodles in the center of the dish, top with a poached fillet of salmon. Place a reserved cucumber curl on top for garnish and drizzle the coriander vinaigrette lightly over the fish. Garnish with tobiko. Serves 6.


The pistachios add a rich creaminess to this dessert and lend it their pale green colour.

3 cups 35% cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup shelled green pistachios
6 large yolks
1/2 cup sugar

1. Pour the heavy cream, vanilla and pistachios into a pot and place over medium heat. Bring the cream to a simmer, do not boil. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is a lemon colour. Temper the yolks by gradually whisking in the hot cream into the yolk and sugar mixture. Do not add the hot cream too quickly or the eggs will cook. Place mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Pass the mixture through a fine strainer.

2. Preheat over to 350 degrees.

3. Pour the mixture into six 8-oz ramekins, filling them three-quarters of the way up. Fill a large shallow baking pan with 1/2 inch warm water. Carefully place the ramekins in the water bath and bake for about 35 minutes; the centre should just wiggle slightly. Remove the pan from the oven and let the ramekins cool in the water for about 10 minutes. Then put them in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to chill. Serves 6.


These cute cakes are baked in a muffin tin to create individual desserts for your guests. You may substitue the rhubarb for peach or apple with the same great results.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder

Pinch of salt
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Beat the butter and sugar until creamed, about two minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time until well blended, add vanilla. Beat in flour, baking powder and salt and beat until combined.

3. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin.

4. In each muffin tin distribute evenly the chopped rhubarb and 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the batter in each tin. Place in oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until light golden on top. Cool and turn out.

5. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 6.

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