Sunday, 9 February 2014

A Fully Canadian Dinner, Honest!

Rainbow Trout and non-Schwartzies Potatoes

We had friends over for dinner last night, and among this group, not a one eats Indian cuisine, each for his or her own reason.  Born and bred on the Canadian prairies, they gravitate toward meat and potatoes, preferably Schwartzie style.  I can’t bring myself to pour canned mushroom soup over potatoes, mixed with gallons of butter and cheddar cheese: Schwartzie indeed, heart attack on a plate is more like it. But I could come up with a dinner they could eat, somewhat healthier, with Indian ingredients snuck in here and there.

Instead of “meat”, I asked if they’d settle for rainbow trout, so when they gleefully responded yes, I invited them.  Of course these two rainbow trouts were caught locally by a certain Indian from Goa, so already I managed to sneak in a bit of India by serving these beautiful fish. 

Instead of Schwartzies, I came up with a reasonable facsimile, somewhat more healthy and less damaging to my reputation as a creative cook.  Along with an arugula salad, butter roasted acorn squash and finally a blueberry and cherry crumble for dessert, the no masala rainbow trout were a big hit.

Oven was initially set at 350 F for everything, but eventually everything but the trout were removed, then it was set to 400F so they could finally cook through.

The Appetizer
Baked Camembert with Jaggery and Walnuts
Sorry, eaten too quickly to grab a pic after it bubbled and melted! 

½ cup powdered jaggery
½ cup chopped walnuts
many grates of freshly ground black pepper
1 Camembert cheese
2 baguettes

In an oven proof container, sprinkle half the jaggery and walnuts.  Lay the Camembert over that, and sprinkle the remainder of the jaggery, walnuts and pepper on top.  Roast in the oven till the jaggery melts and bubbles.  You may need to turn it around in the oven to ensure all the jaggery gets melted down.  Serve hot from the oven with freshly cut slices of baguette. 

freshly caught rainbow trout
Ice fished rainbow trouts
The Rainbow Trout

Although this pic shows winter caught fish, yes, the crazy boy goes ice fishing, these were caught earlier in the summer, and fished out of my freezer.  Once partially thawed, I lined their cavities with sliced lemon, purple onion, dill weed, salt and freshly ground pepper,with a spoonful of ghee poured over.  

Wrapped in tin foil, they went into the oven at 350 F till they were done.  As they were still a little too frozen, they took longer than they should have, but were worth the wait.  Normally they should take about an hour to cook, if fully thawed.  The combination of two huge fish and a packed oven slowed down dinner considerably.  Once only the fish were left in the oven, the temperature was cranked up to 400 F, and they cooked quickly after that.

The Non-Schwartzie potatoes

I finely diced eight large potatoes, along with 1 large purple onion.  First I browned the onion in about three tablespoons of ghee, in an oven proof pan but on the stove top.  Then I added the potatoes, and browned them to a golden hue.  I tossed a finely diced sweet red pepper (capsicum) into the pan and let it soften a little.  Finally I added 250 grams of cream cheese, about a teaspoon of dill weed, salt, and a little freshly ground pepper  Schwartzies they’re not, but a reasonable facsimile.  I popped them in the oven with the trout, and all was well. 

I de-seeded and quartered two acorn squashes, loaded them with butter, salt and pepper, wrapped them tightly in tin foil, and into the oven they went along with the fishies and Schwartzies.

Blueberry and Cherry Crumble

Finally the dessert was assembled.  Into a microwavable bowl went ½ cup jaggery powder, ½ cup flaked almonds, ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/3 cup of butter, 2 cups large flake oats, ½ cup whole wheat flour, two ground cardamom pods, a few grinds of fresh black pepper, and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Put on high till the butter is melted.  Stir till well combined. 
All the ingredients for the dinner, all at once...
Creamcheese, ghee, jaggery, lemon, thawing trouts and berries...

In a large oven proof dish, mix three cups blueberries and one cup pitted cherries.  (I used frozen fruits that had a chance to partially thaw on the counter top.)  Add three tablespoons vanilla sugar and two tablespoons Birds custard powder.  Take zest from one lemon, and mix into fruit and sugar mix.  Sprinkle oat mix over the top and bake at 350 F for an hour.  I served this with a gorgeous fresh vanilla bean ice-cream, along with a little Limoncello.

My oven was packed, so the trout took longer to cook than anything else, but the wait was worth it.  So many Indian ingredients snuck into unsuspecting types.  One of these days I’ll have them eating cumin, fenugreek and chilies.  Just not yet…

Blueberry and Cherry Crumble
Cardamom, cinnamon, jaggery combined with oats, flour, butter and berries...