Monthly Archives: November 2010

Fish Tacos: Rediscovering Seafood

The first 18 years of my life were spent just a stone’s throw from the ocean. I grew up just a 20 minute drive from a real beach. Summers were spent on the water surrounded by farmlands. I’ve built more sandcastles than I can remember and stung by jellyfish I’ll never forget.

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For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick. I always clarify this as just north of Maine so people don’t think I grew up in New Jersey.

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I didn’t wander too far for university (100 miles to be exact). And these past five months have been the first time in my life I haven’t been a short drive from salty air.

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I have to admit, I have not bought fish since moving to Ontario. I grew up next to the Lobster Capital of the World where shellfish was literally eaten right off the boat. Fried clams, lobster rolls, fish n’ chips, clam chowder, mussels dipped in butter. These are things that Maritimers take a lot of pride in. They are things I grew up eating on the regular and never really thought twice about.

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However, it seems my Maritime upbringing has failed me.

I unknowingly was missing out on one of the greatest seafood dishes of all.

Fish tacos.

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I blame the British influence in the East. It wasn’t until I travelled to the other ocean that I learned there was a whole culture of seafood I was missing out on. Namely, Mexican.

Canada, we have got to get into this Mexican thing.

While at the Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco, I attended a breakout session hosted by Alaskan Seafood. Susan Milliken, of Border Grill fame, demonstrated a couple varieties of her famous fish tacos. I was immediately hooked.

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I got to try the fish tacos at the Tasting Pavillion and fell in love. The soft tortilla, flaky fish, chunky and spicy salsa with the cool sour cream. It was the perfect combination of textures and flavours. Not to mention an utter mess to eat.

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Needless to say, I’ve been thinking of these fish tacos ever since. I’m no longer in the Maritimes, or on the West Coast, but that doesn’t mean I can’t bring a little spice to Mid-Eastern Canada.

I started with the above taco…

Haddock Fish Tacos with a Cucumber Citrus Salsa.

We were given recipe cards for the tacos and I totally lost them. No bother. It made recreating them even more fun. I had to do it from just one tantalizing memory!

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I began with the salsa:

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium orange, segmented and chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 jalepeno, minced (I’m sure Susan used a different pepper, but regular grocery stores in Canada don’t carry many choices!)
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro

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I didn’t want a whole bunch of salsa leftover, so I started small. Since all I could remember was the cucumber and orange from the recipe, I just went with what sounded like usual salsa ingredients for the rest!

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But I need to work on my segmenting skillz. And a sharper knife.

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I prepared the salsa the day before as these things usually taste best when they’ve had time to sit and mingle flavours.

The fish however, I was not on the ball with.

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The Alaska Seafood people encouraged buying frozen fish. It’s usually flash frozen at its freshest, whereas the stuff in the fish market of your grocery store could be up to two weeks old! I went for Wild Pacific Haddock. Rather than defrosting it slowly like you’re supposed to, I let it thaw in hot water.

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Then pan fried until just cooked. I do not like my fish overcooked at all so this is a step I’ve actually gotten pretty good at.

The key to my homemade fish tacos were the tortillas. I made those too!

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I’ve actually done this before and it’s super simple. I really don’t know why more people don’t do it. Three ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup hot water

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Some people let it sit for a little bit. But by this point I was hungry and got to rolling.

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Apparently, something else I need to work on.

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Cooked in a medium-heat pan until brown and bubbly.

Here’s where some of Susan Milliken’s tips came in handy. To soften the tortilla before eating, quickly dunk it in water to make it more pliable. Then, when assembling your taco (or whatever you may have) put lettuce on the bottom to prevent the juicier ingredients from soaking through the tortilla.

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I lettuce-d like a good girl, placed my flaky fish down, spooned a heap of salsa over top, and finished with a dab of plain yogurt.

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First, the tortillas. Best idea ever. You could taste the better quality and they really brought the whole thing up a notch.

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The salsa turned out fantastic. I am so proud of this little cucumber citrus salsa and can see myself making it time and time again! It’s so simple, versatile, and sounds way fancier than it really is.

The fish? Weellll, it’s not quite “off the boat” good. But not too shabby for my first inland foray into seafood. I can say fish tacos will definitely be added to my regular rotation of seafood dishes. I’ll be sure to whip up a batch for all my fellow fish lovers back home. Chased down with mussels drenched in a butter sauce of course ;)

Speaking of which – 29 days until I go home for Christmas.

Not that I’m counting down the hours or anything.

 

Question of the Day: Let’s talk fish tacos. Have you had them? Favourite kind or combination?

Butter Bread

It was a loaf that started with such good intentions.

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Rather than spend my money on store-bought bread this week, I decided to make my own Irish Brown Bread following this recipe.

I searched the city of Toronto for buttermilk and could not find any. So I substituted with plain yogurt.

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What is up with no buttermilk Toronto?? I went to all of three stores and could not find any. My mom says you can make it by adding vinegar to regular milk. But that’s, um, gross.

For some reason, the recipe’s instructions of 2oz butter registered in my brain as 1/2 cup butter.

That’s a lot of butter. And it showed.

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I had to bake it for nearly twice as long so the inside would cook resulting in a rock hard crust. It also didn’t rise.

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My soda bread turned into a butter bread. This is what I classify as a #bakingfail.

I’m not the kind of person to just throw out a loaf of bread though. In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m cheap. Plus, the point of this bread was to save money!

Looking past the difficult texture, the taste  of the bread didn’t turn out so bad. I mean, it is 50% butter after all. I tried to redeem it in the form of french toast.

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Three small slices soaked in egg whites and cinnamon. Eaten with sugar-free syrup.

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Not bad. But still crunchy. This bread can do better.

I took the remaining half loaf and broke it into pieces in a bowl. I then added 1 cup soy milk and let it soak until the bread absorbed all the liquid (about an hour).

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Once the bread was good and mushy, I tossed in 150g cubed ham and placed the mix into a greased square baking pan.

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Poured 2 cups eggs whites over top and sprinkled with 30g old cheddar cheese.

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After almost two hours of baking in a 350F oven, my Butter Bread Breakfast Casserole was complete.

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My baking fail turned into a baking #win!

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Now I’m left with four servings of a grab n’ go breakfast for the rest of the week. Not just that, but the taste and texture is now divine! I highly suggest you try your hand at making an eggy bread breakfast casserole. I do not however recommend doubling the butter in any recipe, no matter how good that may sound :\

 

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In other news, I’m part of a pin-up calendar!!

This is a project that has been in the works since last winter when Deb’s father passed away. Her dad, Marty, was a fan of her food and fitness blogging friends and always joked about how we’d make for good subjects in a calendar. Well, when he fell seriously ill with lymphoma, the joke turned into a reality. You can read Deb’s post here to learn all about it.

We are selling a small number of the calendars with all proceeds going to help cancer research. Please see Deb’s post for more details, or drop her an email at LASmoothieGirl @ gmail.com. I got my copy of the calendar today and am really pleased with how it turned out. It’s such a fun way for this blogging community to come together and show support.

Here’s the full listing of girls featured:

Remember this photo? Well here is your explanation. I got January because it’s my birthday month. I picked the 80s as my retro theme as it’s the decade I was born in! Plus, Jane Fonda is one of my idols ;)

 

Question of the Day: Any recent kitchen failures to share? I can’t be the only one!

The Food I Brought Home

Happy Monday! Or, I hope it was a happy one for you :) I didn’t mention this on the blog last week, but after returning from California, I was bed ridden for two days with a fever. I had to cancel all my clients on Thursday and call in sick to the running store. The last thing I wanted to do was sit in a nutrition course aaaallll weekend as I felt like junk. But today I woke up feeling mysteriously better! And I worked out for the first time in five days. Good times. Depending on your perspective.

In all of my San Francisco recaps, I spoke a lot about the food I ate in San Francisco. But I have yet to talk about the food I brought back from San Fran!

Remember this photo of me elated inside of a Trader Joe’s?

Well here are the goods:

 

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Almond Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds (crunchy & salted) + Sunflower Seed Butter (aka sunflower seed crack)

I’ve been eating these by using one of my favourite ways to eat nut butter… on oatmeal!

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Cathy was gracious enough to send me to California with samples of Simply Bars. Including their new protein oatmeal. Instant oatmeal with a light strawberry flavouring, bulked up with their signature protein-packed puffed soy.

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First I ate it hot. With yogurt stirred in and topped with TJ’s almond butter and maple syrup.

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I must say, I do not like this almond butter as much as Naturally More. It can do better.

Next up is the sunflower seed butter.

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I ate this with the Simply Bar raw oatmeal, stirred in with cold yogurt, cinnamon and grapes.

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My heart will always belong to TJs sunflower seed butter. So smooth and creamy, with the perfect amount of salt and sweet to cut off the bitter edge of sunflower seeds. Yumm-o.

Next up, I got some 21 Seasoning Salute per the recommendations of Janetha and Danica.

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I roasted a chicken last week, seasoned with this stuff, as well as sprinkling it on the roast veggies.

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A picture of how I utilized some of the leftovers – in a pita of course!

For fun, I added another TJs goody to the sandwich.

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I love this salsa! Because of my pineapple allergy, I can’t eat a lot of fruit salsas. But this stuff is pineapple-free. I’ve been eating it with carrots too, and the sweet undertones of the salsa pair perfectly with the sweet raw carrots.

I of course had to pick up a couple of my favourite bars ever.

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Yup, Clif Mojo in Peanut Butter Pretzel is my favourite tasting bar ever!

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I used to be addicted to those “Sweet n’ Salty” bars. Well this is like those, but a million times better. Real hunks of pretzel, peanut butter chips and peanut chunks to make the flavour pop. The texture is the perfect mix of crispy and chewy. I’m glad I only bought two of these, as I’m pretty sure I could find an excuse to eat one with every meal :P

Speaking of which…

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Don’t buy these.

Peanut butter filled pretzels are no good.

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And by “no good” I mean “so delicious” that you won’t be able to stop eating them until the bag is gone. Ohmy. You’ve been warned.

I didn’t leave San Francisco with just Trader Joe’s goodies! My bloggie friends hooked me up too!

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At Friday night’s welcoming reception, we all participated in a foodie gift exchange. I totally copped out by giving away a jar of maple butter. I immediately felt bad once I was paired up with a local San Franciscan who hooked me up.

Peet’s Coffee holiday blend because Peet’s started in San Fran.

Then a cone and filters to make my coffee with!

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Easiest process of making coffee yet. All you gotta do is heat water until just boiling. Add your coffee to the paper filter, and pour the water over top to let it drain through.

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Voila. Delicious coffee almost instantly. Apparently this is the best way to have it. I can’t judge yet because the Peet’s coffee is so much better than the cheap stuff I usually buy!

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My roommies in San Fran were also quite generous. Janetha brought us all homemade trail mix including her mom’s homemade dried apples. Also included almonds, cranberries, rolled dates and dark chocolate chips.

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I gobbled this up. Such a good mix and flavour combo! Props to Momma B for her dehydrating skillz ;)

We also got some reeeeally good dried fruit in our swag bags.

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I didn’t quite get why everyone was raving about the Frog Hollow pears that were available all weekend. But these dried peaches are top notch. A million times better than any ole’ dried apricot.

Of course, I returned back to Canada with pounds of Ghirardelli chocolate.

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I’m a pretty faithful Lindt or Ritter Sport girl, but this Luxe Milk Almond may convert me.

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I have half a square left. I think I have to eat it after looking at this picture.

Danica hooked me up with a plethora of Annie’s goodies. I haven’t come close to eating my way through them yet, but I am really enjoying them! We don’t get a lot of Annie’s products here.

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I’m a candy fiend, so these Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks are perfectly portioned to nip that sweet tooth, without all the crummy ingredients of the other stuff.

Was most excited to try the Annie’s Shells.

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Their take on Kraft Dinner. Which Kraft just calls “Macaroni & Cheese” in the States. Weird. Anyways, while I’m not a huge pasta fan, I grew up eating Kraft Dinner and will always have a soft spot for this comfort food!

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I cooked it using almond milk. Plumped it up with a couple cans of tuna and frozen veggies. As well as a small handful of shredded mozzarella for added cheesiness.

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LOVED. Plain and simple. The end.

 

I do believe that is enough food for one evening. If you don’t mind, there’s a half square of Ghirardelli in the fridge calling my name ;)

 

Question of the Day: What is your most favourite recent food buy? Pretty sure all of mine are displayed here :)

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