Posts Tagged ‘Dill’

For the first time in my life, I am on the West Coast of Canada, enjoying the casual Vancouver life. I’ve been indulging in delicious seafood, and it reminded me of one of my favourite seafood salads.

This salad is the very essence of fresh – the cool cucumber and green melon accents the crab meat perfectly.  The mayonnaise dressing is lightened with lemon and dill, making the seafood shine.  This is one of my favourite salads to enjoy as it’s simultaneously light and refreshing, while filling.

I can’t take credit for this salad – that goes to my mom a few decades ago who had the brilliant idea of substituting imitation crab meat for chicken in a Silver Palate recipe.  It’s been a family favourite ever since, often the star during a picnic lunch. The salad keeps well undressed for a few days in the fridge – so if it’s just me enjoying it, I’ll dress individual portions as I eat them to help it hold. To make it a meal, serve with a crusty roll and enjoy!

Neptune Salad

Neptune Salad


1 lb imitation crab meat, flake style (usually blend of Alaska polluck and king crab)

2 cups honeydew melon balls

2 cups cucumber balls with skin

4 green onions, chopped

2 cups washed green or red seedless grapes, halved

½ cup chopped fresh dill

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

Coarsely ground fresh pepper and salt, to taste


In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, and seasoning until thoroughly mixed.

Shred the imitation crab meat into bite-size pieces and place into a large bowl. Add the melon and cucumber balls, grapes, green onions, and dill. Fold the mayonnaise mixture into the salad. Adjust seasoning to taste.  Best served cold.

Bon appetit!

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Beulach Ban falls

A few weekends ago, I visited Cape Breton with my sister and my friend Alex.  The colours were just past their peak, although still vibrant.  We stopped a few places along the Cabot Trail to take in all her splendour.  The skyline trail led us through spruce groves before opening to a magnificent view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  At MacIntosh Brook, we strolled through maple forests beside a babbling brook to a waterfall. We ventured down a small gravel road to the beautiful Beulach Ban Falls.  Ever searching for the perfect picnic spot, we lunched at the rocky headland on Green Cove, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  At Franey, we climbed like mountain goats to a small look-out perched on a steep cliff, with lovely views of the Clyburn River Canyon and the coast.

Towards the Atlantic Ocean at Freney

We spent the night in Pleasant Bay, a lovely fishing village halfway around the Cabot Trail.  Having dallied to arrive, the only restaurant still open was the Pleasant Bay motel.  The dining room was modest, but the kitchen was a delight with delicious, yet simple Maritime fare.  We each started with a bowl of chowder – creamy with a generous serving of seafood.  La piece de resistance, however, was the fish and chips: crispy batter around succulent haddock, cooked to perfection served with tangy coleslaw and home fries.

Since visiting Pleasant Bay, I have tried to recreate my taste experience.  I’m still brainstorming on how best to create homemade fish and chips without a deep-fryer, but with winter descending, this has given me the perfect excuse to experiment with chowders.  Inspired by cans in the pantry, this corn and salmon chowder was hearty, yet refreshing with the added dill.

Salmon and corn chowder

Salmon and Corn Chowder

(serves 6 bowls)


2 tablespoons butter

2 onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cans kernel corn, drained and rinsed

4 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoons flour

Generous dash of tobasco

2 cans of salmon, drained and finely mashed (I like my soup infused with salmon – if you wanted to let the corn shine through, one can would suffice)

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped plus more for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste


Saute the onions and garlic in the butter.  Stir in the potatoes and saute for another five minutes, and then stir in the broth, corn, and bay leaves.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Throughly mix the flour into the milk before adding it to the chowder base. Return the soup to a simmer and allow to thicken, about five minutes.  Add the tobasco, salmon, dill, and salt and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.  Serve, garnished with extra chopped dill.  Delicious served with a crusty piece of bread!

– Catherine

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For me, the splendour of cooking during the summer stems from an abundance of fresh herbs.  Be it basil or thyme, chives or parsley, dill or mint, the immediate burst of flavour is ever a delight.  As a child, I petitioned my mother for years to plant a herb garden, which she did.  Ever since, it has been a feature in our garden and we are spoiled throughout the summer by our potted herbs.

Spoiled by a selection of herbs from our garden: parsley, garlic and common chives, blooming thyme, dill, and green and purple basil!d

This week, Ottawa has been steamy – hitting over 30 degrees celsius most days.  After my daily 30 km commute, I am often ready for light fare that is simultaneously filling and tasting of summer.  Inspired by Silverpalate, my family has long enjoyed this pasta recipe that screams summer.  Delicate angel hair pasta is coated in a creamy bechamel, infused with a medley of fresh herbs and complemented by spring asparagus and soft peas.  The beauty of this dish comes from its versatility – any combination of herbs will do! So on Monday, craving a summery meal, I walked around our garden picking a generous handful of fresh herbs to whip up this dish.  Served with ripe tomatoes and the last-of-the-season strawberries in a spinach salad, this was truly a meal to savour!

Angel Hair Pasta with Fresh Herbs

(Serves 6)



1 box of angel hair pasta (about 350 grams) – I used whole wheat and it was delicious

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups of milk

1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

About 1/3 to 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese

1 bunch of asparagus, ends removed, sliced into 1 inch pieces

2 cups of frozen peas

2 cups of any fresh herb combination, finely chopped (recommended include basil, parsley, dill, thyme, chives, oregano, and coriander)



Cook the angel hair pasta al dente in a large pot of salted water.  Blanch the asparagus and peas with the pasta for the last 90 seconds of cooking.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Stir in the flour and garlic and cook until bubbly and fragrant.  Whisk in the milk.  Bring the bechamel to a simmer, reducing for 3-5 minutes.  Season to your liking with salt and pepper.  Remove the cream sauce from the heat, and gently stir in the Parmesan and fresh herbs.  Toss the pasta and vegetables to coat.  Divine served with fresh tomatoes!


– Catherine


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My first abstract was accepted at an upcoming conference, so this weekend I flew to Halifax to finish my data analysis.  I spent the days working hard on my analysis, and caught up with good friends during the evening.  It’s lobster season on the East Coast, so when we headed out to a pub for supper, I gravitated towards the lobster roll.  It was what you might expect from a pub – decent, but not necessarily stellar (the fatal flaw being inadequate amounts of mayonnaise).  We were seated near the window, so we could see McDonalds advertising perhaps the only food that might tempt me to enter its franchise: the McLobster  (aka McDonald’s version of the classical maritime lobster roll).

The next day for lunch, we ventured to try the McLobster.  The McLobster was a step above the pub lobster roll, but any points it earned on the lobster salad (a touch of celery added a nice crunch), it lost on the bun (hotdog bun-like bread that is so chockerblock full of additives that it would take upwards of five weeks to mold).  My friend Alex and I decided that we would clearly have to try our own hand at making a lobster roll.

Friday night, four of us decided to have a seafood extravaganza. Clearly this was our moment.  We bought a live lobster at the grocery store, and after scoping the bread section, decided to go instead with Pillsbury croissants.  For the lobster salad, we used a mayonnaise spiked with lemon juice and seasoned with dill, salt, and pepper.  Inspired by the McLobster, we added a little celery for crunch.

Deep-fried calimari sizzling away

Our seafood extravaganza began with some deep-fried calamari that beautifully crispy and chewy cooked by our friend Matt.  We then savoured a bowl of seafood bisque with the lobster rolls and garlic bread.  After we recovered from over indulgence in seafood, we finished our evening with a slice of scrumptious hazelnut pie. The consensus was that these lobster rolls were delicious – and definitely something I’ll be making again and again when I’m on the coast during lobster season!

The creamy lobster rolls ready to be eaten!

Lobster Rolls

(8 mini-croissant lobster rolls)


8 mini-croissant (we baked up a package of Pillsbury Croissant Dough)

1 medium-sized live lobster

1 rib of celery, diced

Handful of dill

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt and Pepper

Mayonnaise to taste (we used about 3-4 tablespoons)


Boil the lobster in a large pot of salted water for 10-12 minutes.  Remove the lobster from the pot and flush with cold water to cool quickly.  Remove the lobster meat from the shell using whatever means possible (if you are a poor student devoid of lobster crackers, sharp scissors and a hammer work miracles).  Coarsely chop the lobster meat and transfer to a bowl.

Add to the lobster the mayo, celery, dill, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Adjust the creaminess and seasoning to your liking.

Cut the croissants in half lengthwise, and fill each with a few tablespoons of lobster salad.  Delicious with a glass of chilled white wine!

– Catherine

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To celebrate the year’s end, my health policy seminar held a movie night Friday.  We watched a classic Quebecois film, La grade seduction (or, Seducing Dr. Lewis).  Filled with quirky Canadian humour, it is a film that melts your heart.  You cannot help but to be charmed by the villagers in Marie-la-Mauderne, and yet it also has real substance, a commentary on the plight of rural Canada’s attempt to lure and retain doctors under often difficult circumstances.

For an appetizer, I brought spanakopita.  I’ve been craving these ever since I went to Niche lounge for dinner in Halifax last month and had their trio of phyllos appetizer.  On offer was the trio of olive & feta, creamy artichoke, and sun-dried tomato & spinach.  The phyllos were melt-in-your mouth crispy and bursting with flavour.  Three, however, merely whet my appetite.  And so I found myself making the more classic spanakopita Friday afternoon.

I love the creamy spinach filling wrapped in layers of crispy phyllo.  I always add extra dill, which complements the spinach so perfectly.  I remember making these for the first time years ago, scared to work with phyllo pastry.  But it is surprisingly easy, the trick being to keep the pastry moist at all times and not to be afraid of a making a few imperfections (or having your first attempts look more blob-like than triangle shaped pastries!).  And once you’ve mastered the phyllo, the sky is the limit on fillings: shrimp and ricotta to curried chicken to apples and cinnamon!


A moist towel is key for keeping the phyllo moist!

(24 triangles)


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1 pound spinach, coarsely chopped

150 grams feta cheese

1 egg

1/3 cup finely chopped dill

Freshly ground salt and pepper

Phyllo pastry

Melted butter (about 2 tablespoons)


Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent.  Wilt the spinach until cooked through.  Allow to cook for a few minutes.  Crumble feta in a bowl.  Beat in egg and dill.  Stir in the spinach mixture, and season with salt and pepper.

Phyllo strips cut and ready to roll into triangles!

Roll the strips into triangles by gently folding them like a flag or sail

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  On a clean counter, spread the phyllo pastry and cover with a moist towel.  Lay a sheet of phyllo on the counter (making sure to keep any extra pastry covered), and brush it with butter.  Cover with a second sheet of phyllo.

Using a sharp knife, cut the phyllo into four long strips.  Place a spoonful of the spinach mixture near the bottom of each strip.  Fold the corner over, continuing to fold on the diagonal, resulting in a triangle.  Place the completed pastry on a baking sheet, and brush with the top with butter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.

These won’t last long, so best to eat them warm out of the oven!

– Catherine

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One night over Reading Week, after a long day of skiing with my sister and cousins, we made dinner for our parents. To jazz up our salmon, we decided to cook a creamy dill sauce. My cousin Dan expertly prepared the salmon, and my cousin Annie meticulously whisked away at the stove as I threw things into the pot. The recipe itself was an experiment, but the outcome was delicious: the delicate creamy dill sauce beautifully complementing the lemon-infused salmon.

As I write this, I am eating vegetarian for the month (adventures forthcoming) – but when I return to this fish, this will certainly be a repeatable menu item!


Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce
(8 servings)

8 salmon fillets
2 lemons
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups milk
Splash of white wine
A few dashes of Worcester sauce
1/3 cup finely chopped dill

Preheat the oven to broil (use the top element). Place the salmon fillets on a rack, and cover with thin lemon slices. Top with freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Broil salmon for 10 minutes or until salmon begins to flake.

Meanwhile, create a roux in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the milk, the white wine, Worcester sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the béchamel to a boil, and allow to reduce gently for 3-4 minutes. Ideally, your sauce should thickly coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and gently stir in the dill.

Serve the salmon with the lemon slices intact – they should have caramelized beautifully. Spoon the delicate dill sauce over the salmon and enjoy!

– Catherine

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