Summertime is just around the corner and although I enjoy entertaining friends and family, I don’t enjoy spending time in the kitchen when the weather is warm and sunny. I’m always on the lookout for simple solutions to entertaining, so I was delighted to discover the award-winning cookbook: Margaret’s Table – Easy Cooking & Inspiring Entertaining, by Margaret Dickenson of Ottawa.
Her outstanding book was recognized as the “Best Entertaining Cookbook in the World” at Gourmand World Cookbook Awards (2006) from among thousands of cookbooks. The book reveals 40 years of Margaret’s easy and practical entertaining “secrets” to mesmerizing family and guests even when time and talent in the kitchen are limited!
Margaret is a multiple international award winning cookbook author, recipe developer and TV host. She inspires her readers with innovative recipes, clever presentations and memorable entertaining. And yes, you can do it too!
With her husband, Larry who did the fabulous photography, she has just published Margaret’s Table – Easy Cooking & Inspiring Entertaining. The recipes are a treat for both the eye and the palate. This beautiful book contains 180 personally created recipes, 6 of which have won international awards in three different competitions, and 25 menus.
Try these “No Time, No Talent” recipes from Margaret’s Table and you’ll look like a talented chef in no time! They’re perfect for entertaining your guests, and if you follow her culinary advice, you can master the art of preparing a beautiful, elegant table with ease. Enjoy…
QUICK GRILLED SALMON STEAKS/FILLETS WITH NUTTY MANGO SALSA
For many, grilled salmon is irresistible, particularly if it is cooked to perfection. With this in mind, Margaret has developed grilling techniques which work wonderfully whether you use the barbecue, a grill pan or heavy skillet, on their own or in combination with oven baking. Regardless of the method, avoid overcooking the salmon. Remove it from the heat when the central core is still translucent as the salmon will continue to cook. Serve it with Nutty Mango Salsa, a stunning melange of nuts, fresh mango and coriander, with seductive notes of honey and spice. Fast and impressive, this is great with wild salmon as well! It’s equally appealing served hot, warm or at room temperature. Serve with a simple accompaniment of baked or mashed potatoes and broccoli or asparagus.
4 salmon steaks, at least 1 inch thick (8 oz each)
1 1/3 tbsp olive oil (4 tsp)
1 tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger root
Salt and crushed black peppercorns to taste
3/4 cup Zesty Ginger Mayonnaise, below (optional)
Nutty Mango Salsa
1 1/2 cups diced (1/4 inch) mango flesh
2 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 tbsp finely diced onion (peeled)
3/4 tsp hot chili paste
1 1/2 tsp honey
1/3 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
3 tbsp coarsely chopped pecans
Garnish: fresh herbs and/or edible flowers (optional)
1. Nutty Mango Salsa: With a fork, toss together mango, coriander leaves and onions; set aside. (Note: Salsa may be prepared to this point up to 12 hours in advance and stored refrigerated in an airtight plastic container.)
2. Rub salmon with olive oil and ginger; allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
3. Season with salt and crushed black peppercorns; place salmon on a well oiled and preheated very hot barbecue grill over direct heat with lid up. Grill first side for 1 1/2 minutes until brown grill marks appear. Turn salmon over and grill second side for 1 minute.
4. Immediately, close lid, reduce heat to medium and cook until central core is still translucent, about another 3 minutes. Avoid overcooking.
5. Remove from heat and promptly cover salmon closely with aluminum foil (shiny side “in”) for at least 4 minutes to keep in heat and to allow for more even cooking.
6. Add chili paste, honey and nuts to mango salsa; toss. Makes almost 2 cups salsa.
7. Top salmon with Nutty Mango Salsa. If desired, garnish with fresh herbs and/or edible flowers. Serve with Zesty Ginger Mayonnaise/Sauce.
* Option: Salmon fillets may be cooked in a similar manner. (Note: Sear flesh side first, and if finishing the cooking in the oven, arrange the fillets skin side down on baking tray.)
Zesty Ginger Mayonnaise: Whisk together 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger root, 1 tsp granulated sugar and if desired, a pinch of wasabi.
Alternative Cooking Technique (for Step 4): After searing the salmon on both sides (i.e., after 2 1/2 minutes) on the barbecue, transfer the salmon to a parchment lined baking tray. Place it in a preheated 350 F oven until the central core is still translucent, about 3 minutes. (Note: This is a useful technique when limited time is available for supervising the barbecue or when preparing large quantities of grilled salmon.)
Alternative to Barbecuing: Use a well oiled preheated grill pan or skillet set over medium-high heat. Sear the salmon exactly as outlined in Step 3. Immediately transfer it to a parchment paper lined baking tray and complete the cooking in a preheated 350 F oven until the central core is still translucent, about 3 minutes. Continue with Step 5.
Makes 4 servings.
BLUEBERRY OR POMEGRANATE AND ALMOND RICE SALAD
Margaret’s passion for developing versatile recipes is strategic! Doing more with basically the same recipe and reducing it to mainly an assembly process, thrills her to no end. For example, she tosses cooked rice with cumin, garlic and chopped fresh parsley, then moistens it with wonderful drizzles of olive oil and mayonnaise to produce the base for a myriad of rice salads. Additions of berries or chips of fruit offer the fresh taste of a particular season, while toasted slivered almonds provide a satisfying crunch.
3 cups cooked long grain rice, chilled or at room temperature
3/4 to 1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh garlic
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 to 3 tsp olive oil (preferably garlic infused)
Salt to taste
1 cup fresh blueberries, pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries (see tips below)
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 to 1 1/3 tbsp mustard/herb vinaigrette (optional)
1. Toss rice, cumin and garlic together.
2. Whisk together mayonnaise and oil; drizzle over seasoned rice and toss to combine evenly. Add salt to taste.
3. Fold in fruit and parsley. Refrigerate for at least an hour if possible or until ready to use. (Note: The salad may be prepared to this point up to 8 hours in advance. If stored longer, the rice tends to toughen.)
4. Just before serving, add toasted almonds and toss. If desired, drizzle with vinaigrette according to taste and toss.
Makes about 4 cups (5 to 6 servings)
* Serve this salad as an accompaniment to salmon, chicken, lamb or veal. For buffet and pot luck events, it imparts a tasty and original dimension to the menu.
* Blueberries create a mild but wonderfully refreshing salad particularly for summer entertaining.
* Pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries are particularly appropriate for the holiday season. 1 1/2 to 2 fresh pomegranates are required. Cut the fruit in half and carefully remove the seeds. Discard the skin and absolutely all bits of white pulp.
Visit Margaret’s website at www.margaretssenseofoccasion.com.
Norene Gilletz is a cookbook author, cooking teacher and food consultant. Her new book “Norene’s Healthy Kitchen” will be published in 2007 by Whitecap Books. For updated information about her cookbooks, cooking classes and culinary services, call 416-226-2466 or visit her website at www.gourmania.com