They are all we really need. And these dishes create the perfect early spring menu for any occasion, such as “It’s Tuesday!”
Christine Goble is an award winning local home chef from Seagrave, Ontario. Christine is a huge advocate for local business and makes sure she creates her sensational meals with as many foods provided by local butchers and farmers as possible. She loves cooking for her friends and family and is currently working on her second cookbook.
French Onion Soup
The key to a great French onion soup is patience. Taking the extra time to caramelize the onions will take it to the next level. The soup freezes perfectly, so make a double batch for a quick, easy meal.
¼ cup Butter (not margarine)
2 tbsp Vegetable oil
4 Large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
Sprinkle or 2 sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Brandy, sherry, cognac or fortified wine such as Madeira or Marsala
4 cups Chicken broth
2 Sprigs fresh thyme leaves
Sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 Slices hearty multigrain bread
2 cups Shredded Swiss, Gruyere or Mozzarella cheese
For the caramelized onions, toss the butter and oil into a large heavy stockpot set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter – the oil will protect the butter from burning. Then add the onions, a splash of water and salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. This will capture steam and help the onions release all their moisture.
Cook, stirring now and then, until the onions soften, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until all the water has evaporated. Lower the heat and slowly caramelize the onions, stirring them frequently.
This will take about 1 hour. You don’t need to stir continuously, just enough to keep the onions from sticking to the bottom. Continuing to lower the heat will also help prevent sticking. Be patient; the flavour is worth it.
When the onions are a deep golden colour and have shrunk dramatically, add the fortified wine. Turn up the heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the additional liquid has evaporated. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the thyme leaves, season with salt and pepper and continue cooking for 15 minutes or so.
To serve, preheat the broiler in your oven. Toast the bread slices. Cut rounds or crouton cubes out of the toast, large enough to fit your soup bowls.
Ladle the soup into 4 ovenproof serving bowls. Top each with a slice or two of toasted bread, enough to cover the top of the soup. Cover the bread with an even shredded cheese. Broil until the cheese has melted and browned and looks beautiful.
Honey Hoisin Salmon
As an alternative to baking the salmon, grill it with this sauce over the top laying on heavy-duty foil. This sauce is also just as good served with chicken or pork. Make a double batch for another day as it freezes well. Make sauce about an hour before so the flavours set in.
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
2 tsp Low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp Honey
2 Cloves minced fresh garlic
1 tsp Minced fresh ginger
Salmon fillets with skin on
Little olive oil for rub
Heavy-duty foil if BBQ cooking
Parsley and lemon wedge for serving
- Wash and pat dry your salmon fillets with a paper towel. Rub a little olive oil all over the fillets top and bottom.
- If using oven: Preheat the oven to 425ºF. If using BBQ, preheat to medium and grill over direct heat.
- Stir the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic and ginger together in a bowl.
- If baking in the oven, place double folded heavy-duty foil on a baking tray, spread some olive oil on the foil before putting salmon fillets skin side down. Spoon enough of the hoisin mixture over the salmon fillets to cover. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes per inch of thickness of fish.
- BBQ method: Take heavy-duty foil and double fold with some olive oil and place salmon fillet skin side down. Spoon enough of the hoisin mixture to cover the salmon fillet. Grill over medium direct heat until the fish flakes easily when pierced with a fork. Do not over cook, keeping an eye on it periodically.
- Garnish with parsley and lemon wedge and with remaining sauce on the side if desired.
Spinach Salad with Two Vinaigrette Options
When making your own vinaigrette, invest in a good bottle of extra virgin olive oil and an aged balsamic vinegar. You will taste the difference!
Fresh washed Baby Spinach
½ Red onion, thinly sliced
English cucumber, cut in half then cut into smaller cubes
Fresh red sweet pepper, diced
¼ cup Crumbled feta cheese
Thinly sliced radishes (optional)
Option 1 — Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 Oranges, zested
2 Small oranges, juiced or
1 large orange, juiced
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Honey
1 Clove garlic, peeled
3/4 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
To make dressing, blend all ingredients into a small blender until smooth. Chill about an hour so the flavours set in.
Option 2 — Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Honey
Mix all ingredients into a mini processor, or add to a bowl and whisk until thick and creamy. Use more garlic, mustard or honey according to your taste.
- Mix salad ingredients into a large serving bowl.
- Whichever vinaigrette you choose, drizzle over salad and mix until coated.
- Serve salmon either over top of the spinach salad or to the side.
Whole Wheat Baguettes
prep 2 hours | cook time 2 hours
Yields 3 medium loaves or 4 smaller ones
These do not take long, so just do it – get out that KitchenAid mixer and start making some bread! Freeze the extra loaves if they’re still around – they thaw perfectly!
Take it to another notch – make mini grilled cheeses for an appetizer and serve with a drizzle of olive oil.
2½ cups Whole wheat flour
1 tbsp Honey
1½ tsp Quick rising yeast
1½ cups Warm water (about 120 degrees F)
1 cup All-purpose flour, plus more as needed
2 tsp Salt
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine whole wheat flour, honey and yeast. Add water; stir to combine. Add all-purpose flour and salt; stir to combine.
- Knead dough on a well-floured surface 10 minutes, adding more all-purpose flour as needed until dough is smooth and slightly sticky, but holds its shape. Or, if using a stand mixer, replace paddle attachment with dough hook; knead dough 5 minutes on medium speed, adding more all-purpose flour as needed until dough is smooth and slightly sticky, but holds its shape.
- Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased large bowl; turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled.
- Punch down risen dough; divide into 3 (or 4) equal pieces. Roll each piece carefully into a thin log, about 10-12 inches long. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Place loaves a few inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Use a sharp serrated knife to cut three ½-inch deep slashes on top of each loaf. Cover dough with a tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. Let rise 30 minutes until nearly doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake loaves for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.
Wine expertly paired by Ocala Winery, Port Perry ocalawinery.com
High Quality Imported Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar is from Sarafino Importers in Uxbridge sarafino.com
Atlantic Salmon from The Trading Post Quality Foods, Port Perry tradingpostqualityfoods.com
Vegetables from Link Greenhouses, Bowmanville linkgreenhouses.ca