A new take on family seafood classics

To help start the autumn off with something new and impressive on your dinner table, our featured recipes provide culinary twists on familiar seafood dishes

To help start the autumn off with something new and impressive on your dinner table, our featured recipes provide culinary twists on familiar seafood dishes

If you prepare a feast of mussels, follow it with a Jiggs Dinner and savour it with your family, you’ll cover the subjects of this issue’s three cookbooks– Mussels: Preparing, Cooking and Enjoying a Sensational Seafood, by Alain Bossé and Linda Duncan; Island Kitchen: An Ode to Newfoundland, by Mark McCrowe with Sasha Okshevsky; and Family Meals by Michael Smith.

While each book is different, all celebrate Atlantic foods –new and old– and the enjoyment of cooking and eating with family.

MusselsMussels: Preparing, Cooking and Enjoying a Sensational Seafood
by The Kilted Chef Alain Bossé and Linda Duncan, $29.95 (pb)
9781770502147, 144 pp.
Whitecap Books, May 2014

Your days of simply steaming mussels are over! Mussel enthusiasts Bossé and Duncan offer up mussel quiche, mussel pizza, mussel strudel, mussel mac-n-cheese; they put mussels in salads, soups, chowders and drinks; and there’s even a helpful section on barbecuing them.

This nicely designed book includes information about mussels’ life cycles, mussel farming, their nutritional value, how to buy and store them and the all important how to cook, serve and eat them. It also presents fun recommendations for steaming using different liquids such as beer, tequila or apple cider.

Great ideas abound for marinating mussels in red wine, citrus, sherry or spicy and Thai flavourings. And the final chapter features recipes for the breads and spreads to accompany these mussel dishes. Finally the essential book for mussel lovers has arrived.

Mussel and Corn Fritters with Creamy Dill Remoulade from Mussels: Preparing, Cooking and Enjoying a Sensational Seafood

fritters for web
These mussel fritters are perfect for sharing. Photo: Joseph Muise

Dill Remoulade

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mussel Fritters

  • 2 lb mussels
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup finely diced red pepper
  • ¼ cup finely diced shallots
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 4 cups vegetable oil

Dill Remoulade

In a bowl, mix the dill, lemon juice, lime juice, shallots, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Mussel Fritters

  1. Rinse the mussels under running fresh water. Throw away any that do not close.
  2. In a large pot, add the mussels and wine. Cover with a lid and cook on high for approximately 5 to 6 minutes or until steam is pouring out from under the lid.
  3. Let the mussels cool. Remove the mussel meat from the shells and put it in a covered bowl or dish.
  4. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg and milk.  Whisk, making sure that no lumps remain. Mix in the red pepper, shallots, corn and mussel meat.
  5. Add the vegetable oil to a deep fryer and heat to 350°F. Using a tablespoon, carefully drop the fritters one by one into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel.
  7. Serve the fritters with the dill remoulade on the side for dipping.

Makes 6 main course servings or 24 hors d’oeuvres.

Island Kitchen NEWIsland Kitchen: An Ode to Newfoundland
by Chef Mark McCrowe with Sasha Okshevsky, $24.95 (hc)
9781771030281, 100 pp.
Creative Publishers, May 2014

How can you resist a book with chapter titles such as “Mudder’s Pickles”, “Republic of Soil”, “Gotta Get Me Moose B’y” and “Don’t Forget Your Roots”?

Author McCrowe’s two St. John’s restaurants, Aqua Kitchen and Bar and his most recent venture The Club, inspired the book. He covers the gamut – soups, appetizers, salads, seafood, meat, vegetables, desserts and condiments. There are even a few drinks recipes so if you’ve ever felt the urge for a “Salmon Eye Martini” or a “Humphy Dumpy”, with 2 ounces of Screech, this is the book for you. To acknowledge what McCrowe deems the “root cellar capital of the world,” there are recipes for “Candied Parsnips with Molasses and Balsamic Vinegar,” and “Roasted Roots with Grilled Lemon, Savoury Dressing and Parmesan”.

This imaginative, fun cookbook celebrates traditional Newfoundland cooking as never before. It is indeed a heartfelt ode.

Snow Crab and Sea Urchin Panna Cotta with Maple Glazed Pork Belly from Island Kitchen: An Ode to Newfoundland

Snow crab & urchin-web
Photo: Sasha Okshevsky

Sea urchin is the essence of the sea.  This silky panna cotta recipe carries these flavours beautifully and the sweet snow crab and maple glazed pork belly turn this dish from elegant to extravagant.

For the Sea Urchin Panna Cotta
2 tablespoon cold water
1 teaspoon gelatin powder
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sea urchin roe
4 ounces snow crab meat

1 In a small bowl, combine the water and gelatin and let soak about 10 minutes (do not stir). Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the cream to a simmer over medium heat.  As soon as it simmers, turn off the heat and add the gelatin mixture and the sea urchin roe, stirring until the gelatin is dissolved. Strain the mixture and pour into 4 teacups with 1 ounce of the snow crab meat in the bottom of each cup. Chill uncovered for 2 hours.

For the Maple Glazed Pork Belly

  • 8 ounces pork belly
  • sea salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 2 ounces Quebec maple syrup

Season the pork and slow roast at 350°F for roughly 2 hours.  During the last 30 minutes of cooking glaze with the maple syrup. When the meat has cooled, slice into 4 pieces to be placed on top of each panna cotta.

To Garnish the Dish

  • 2 ounces snow crab meat
  • 4 teaspoons sea urchin roe
  • Organic edible flowers

Top each panna cotta with a little extra snow crab, sea urchin and the maple glazed pork belly. If you can get your hands on some organic edible flowers, use them to pretty up the dish.

Makes 4 servings.

Family MealsFamily Meals
by Michael Smith, $32.00 (pb)
9780143184119, 288 pp.
Penguin Canada, August 2014
Reviewed from an Advanced Reader’s Copy

This latest serving from chef Michael Smith is dedicated to home cooks. As with his previous books, this one is appealing, accessible and inspiring. It presents recipes for breakfast, brunch, lunchboxes, salads, family meals and desserts. While his recipes are often a little out of the ordinary, they’re never difficult – how about a “Tuna Chip Seaweed Sandwich” or a “Pizza Soup”?

The author provides advice on cooking ahead and enjoying Meatless Mondays. He also supplies helpful top 10 lists, including ways for a family to cook together, for your kitchen to run smoothly and school lunch ideas. The food photography is stunning and the book is peppered with lovely photos of Smith and his beautiful family.

If cooking for the family has become a chore, Family Meals might lighten your mood.

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Salmon with Avocado Salsa from Family Meals

For the Salsa

  • 2 avocados, scooped and diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Big handful of chopped, fresh cilantro, with a few sprigs reserved for garnish
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons your favorite hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

For the Crispy Crusty Salmon

  • 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 6 fresh skinless salmon fillets 140 to 170 g each
  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.
  2. Make the salsa first. In a medium bowl, combine all the salsa ingredients. Toss and stir, evenly distributing the bright flavors. Set aside.
  3. Move on to the salmon. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, chili powder, brown sugar and salt. Dredge the salmon through the crunchy coating, evenly and thoroughly coating each piece, shaking the excess back into the dish for the next piece. Position on the baking sheet and roast until cooked through, tender and juicy, 10 minutes or so.
  4. Scoop a generous mound of the salsa onto each plate. Top with a piece of crispy crusty salmon and a festive sprig of cilantro. Serve and share!

This is a delicious way to transform a few ordinary pieces of fresh salmon into a spicy and crispy baked revelation, to be savored with lots of big, bright salad-like salsa flavors.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Written By

Valerie Mansour combines her love of food and books as our food section editor. Based in Halifax, she works as a writer, editor and documentary film researcher.

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