When I was asked to review Sea Salt: Recipes from the West Coast Galley, I was a bit skeptical. Seafood and I have had a shaky relationship ever since I was a kid and my family splurged one day on a bunch of lobsters, cooked and served whole. Today I’d be thrilled at such a meal but at the time, I just thought the thing was staring at me. Besides the freak-out factor of whole crustaceans (which I finally got over — mostly) there’s simple geography. London is the city I love but we’re just not going to have the same fresh seafood they have in Vancouver. I was worried that this book would be full of recipes I’d never make.
I was wrong. So wrong. And I owe my publisher an apology for all the grumbly things I said when I saw the book. I wanted to cook nearly everything in it, right away. I wanted to be able to talk to you about 20 recipes instead of two because two just isn’t enough. Maybe I loved this book so much because I expected not to, but I did love it.
This book is a family project. Hilary Malone and her sister, Alison Malone Eathorne are the founders of Sea Salt Food Co., a boutique catering business on the West Coast. Their mother, Lorna Malone, is an experienced sailor who always dreamed of writing a cookbook for sailors. The three women teamed up to write this, their first book.
Sea Salt recipes lean heavily toward those that can be made ahead and packaged for a boat trip, or that can be prepared easily in a tiny galley. People with apartment-sized kitchens may appreciate that. The chapters are arranged in categories that relate to boating adventures. As a landlubber, I found these categories a bit confusing but since the recipes looked so good, it didn’t matter much to me how they were organized.
While we don’t sail, my husband and I love to hike, particularly around Fanshawe Lake. One of our guilty pleasures is to stop for a late breakfast after an early morning hike and get one of those egg sandwiches in an English muffin (you know, under the golden arches). Muffin-Tin Frittatas, Three Ways are better. The clown does not serve breakfast with smoked salmon, serrano ham or goat cheese.
Crab Spaghettini with Chili, Lemon and Basil is one of the best examples I’ve seen of using just a few simple but excellent ingredients to make a dish that is far more than the sum of its parts. As a bonus, this one comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Buy the best crabmeat you can afford for this dish, it’s worth it. I used canned but you may be able to find fresh lump crabmeat at the fish counter. Until I win the lottery I’ll probably use shrimp to make this an everyday dish.
The authors are serious about supporting the best local suppliers in their region. In addition to a list at the back of the book, suppliers may be highlighted in the recipes which use their ingredients. This is done so well that I wanted to drive to BC to get hazelnuts and goat’s milk cheese before I remembered that we can get these here.
I’m looking forward to trying many more of the Malones’ recipes this summer, particularly when our own fresh produce becomes available. In case I haven’t piqued your interest in this book yet, I have only this left to say: Bacon Jam. You’re welcome.
Tracy Turlin is a freelance writer and dog groomer in London. Reach her at email@example.com
Sea Salt: Recipes from the West Coast Galley, by Alison Malone Eathorne, Hilary Malone & Lorna Malone, Harbour Publishing, 2013. 29.95
Recipes courtesy of Harbour Publishing.
Photos by Christina Symons.
Crab Spaghettini with Chili, Lemon and Basil
In anticipation of a boiled crab dinner for two, you bait your trap. Sadly, your day’s catch results in one lonely crustacean. Do not despair. One crab is all that is needed for two delicious servings of this simple spaghettini dish.
5 oz (141 gr) spaghettini
¼ cup (60 mL) olive oil
1 red chili, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
Meat from 1 cooked crab (approximately 1 cup/250 mL crabmeat)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 small handful basil leaves, torn
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghettini to the water and cook until al dente, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup (125 mL) of the cooking water.
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Add chilies and garlic and toss for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Toss in crabmeat, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Stirring gently, add enough reserved cooking water to the pan to create a light sauce. Add basil and toss. Serve immediately.
Muffin-Tin Frittatas, Three Ways
A breakfast favourite for our crew of eight was always an egg and ham breakfast sandwich. In lumpy seas, I would scramble the eggs, warm the ham, melt cheese overtop and then assemble it all on English muffins, one at a time. It was always quite a production and I wish I discovered the muffin-tin method years ago. We now bake individual frittatas—filled with our favourite ingredients—in muffin tins in the oven and have them in English muffins. These sandwiches go over extremely well with a tired, hungry crew at the beginning of what is sure to be a long day on the course. If you wish to simplify the preparation process even further, cook the eggs before leaving the dock and keep them warm in the oven in a baking tray covered with foil. Once it’s time to serve, tuck the frittatas into English muffins that have been warmed in the oven for a few minutes. A smearing of our Bacon Jam and a thick slice of tomato are delicious additions, as well.
WITH SERRANO HAM
6 thin slices Serrano ham
6 slices aged cheddar cheese
6 English muffins
Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Lightly grease a six-portion, standard-sized muffin tin. Loosely fold a slice of Serrano ham into each cup. Crack an egg into each cup. For a shorter cooking time, prick the yolks. Top each with a slice of cheese. Bake for 15 minutes for a well-done egg or until the yolk is set to your liking. During the last few minutes of baking, warm English muffins in the oven in a pan. Lift frittatas out of muffin cups using a spoon and serve in English muffins.
WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES & GOAT’S CHEESE
¼ cup (60 mL) sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced
¼ cup (60 mL) crumbled goat’s cheese
2 Tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh chives or flat-leaf parsley (optional)
6 English muffins
Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Lightly grease a six-portion, standard-sized muffin tin. Crack eggs into a bowl and beat well with a whisk. Mix in sun-dried tomatoes, goat’s cheese and chives. Pour into six muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes, until set. During the last few minutes of baking, warm English muffins in the oven in a pan. Lift frittatas out of muffin cups using a spoon and serve in English muffins.
WITH SMOKED SALMON & GOAT’S CHEESE
¼ cup (60 mL) smoked salmon, broken into small pieces
¼ cup (60 mL) goat’s cheese, crumbled
1 handful sprouts (such as pea shoots or sunflower sprouts), for garnish
6 English muffins
Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Lightly grease a six-portion, standard-sized muffin tin. Crack eggs into a bowl and beat well with a whisk. Mix in smoked salmon and goat’s cheese. Pour into six muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes, until set. During the last few minutes of baking, warm English muffins in the oven in a pan. Lift frittatas out of muffin cups using a spoon and serve with sprouts in English muffins.