Barbara-Jo McIntosh is the owner of the beloved Books to Cooks bookstore in Vancouver, BC. She herself has been called a national treasure of Vancouver because of her deep influence in “all things food” in that gorgeous city. Every year, scores of distinguished chefs, authors, wine makers and celebs from all over the world wind up in her shop. They are feted by Ms. McIntosh herself with a reception in their honor. Throughout the year, there are scores of meaningful talks, lectures, tastings and demos, too, making Books to Cooks the place to be if you have even the tiniest interest in cooking. In addition to hand-selecting the 7,000 titles available in her store, Barbara-Jo has written three of the books she carries. Her most recent, “Cooking for Me and Sometimes You: A Parisienne Romance with Recipes (French Apple Press, 2010) is a joy. You feel as though you are in a small French kitchen right alongside her, whipping up a sharp vinaigrette for the perfect Salade Nicoise, or braising a chicken leg with tomatoes and black olives. But as I’m staring at a large can of salmon this morning in my fridge (gift of my husband who did the grocery shopping yesterday), I lunge for another of her books on my shelf. Tin Fish Gourmet, whose subtitle, great seafood from cupboard to table, says it all. This book has a way of making you feel virtuous and wise, as you hunt for your can opener. Some months ago, my husband and I started eating canned salmon. I don’t remember why exactly. I used to hate it as a kid, especially because of the skin and cartilage that punctuated the pretty pink flesh, but having gotten over that, I find myself, instead, enjoying the weird texture of the tiny bones. I use it to make last-minute salmon rillettes and enjoy it smashed on a piece of black bread with fresh lemon and a dab of crème fraîche. Maybe some chives.
The Tin Fish Gourmet offers sixteen ideas using a 15-ounce can, or two (but beware, my tin of Bumble Bee salmon is 14.75 ounces!), from which to choose. Some are quite sophisticated, others are nifty and thrifty. I inadvertently soaked a pot of dried chickpeas last night and will try the healthy-sounding Avocado, Chick Pea and Salmon Salad. Hmmmmm, but Corn & Salmon Fritters, Curried Salmon Loaf, Salmon and Fennel Stew, and a dreamy-sounding Asparagus, Brie & Salmon Omelette also tantalize. But the book’s most-popular recipe is an appetizer: Pecan Salmon Roll. It’s a recipe Barbara-Jo picked up from a trip to Lunenberg, Nova Scotia. Recipe below. You can find each of the above mentioned books at New York’s beloved bookstore: Kitchen Arts & Letters, on Lexington Avenue and 93rd street. Tell Nach and Matt that Barbara-Jo sent you.
Barbara-Jo’s Pecan Salmon Roll
15 ounce can (tin) salmon, drained
9 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons goat cheese, optional
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon white horseradish
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, plus sprigs for garnishing
Cream together cheeses, lemon juice, scallion, horseradish and cayenne. Add salmon and mix together. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Shape into a roll, about 8-inches by 3-inches. Roll through the combined mixture of pecans and parsley to cover. Place on a platter and garnish with parsley sprigs. Serve with sliced baguette or crackers. Serves 6 to 10 as an appetizer.