Mom's tuna melt goes upscale with smoked salmon, fresh herbs
Elevate this childhood lunch with smoked salmon and scones
Lindsay Porter is a chef who runs on adrenaline. That's not unusual for many chefs but Porter seems to thrive on competition more than most.
Her love of testing herself against some of the industry's best was on full display recently when she emerged victorious on two Food Network shows — Fire Masters, where she defeated Top Chef Canada winner Dale Mackay, and Guy's Grocery Games with Guy Fieri.
Since she's constantly under the pressure cooker of competition or running the line at her busy English pub-inspired restaurant, London Local, it's fair to ask if she finds joy in simple cooking at home anymore.
"Home cooking is definitely more relaxed and it almost becomes therapeutic for me to cook at home because I can really slow down and enjoy what I am making," says Porter.
Cooking from scratch at home comes naturally for Porter. She learned from the simple but delicious cooking of her mother, Colleen, which came partly from a desire for healthy eating and partly from a lack of funds to buy the processed foods other families were eating.
"I grew up making almost everything in the kitchen, and it was really nice not to be overexposed to so much processed food," says the chef, who carries those ideals over to her restaurant as well as cooking at home.
Her philosophy on home cooking is simple.
"My priority is mostly concentrating on delicious food, but that always has a large quantity of vegetables to the dish," says Porter, who also enjoys the challenge of making vegetables the star of the plate.
One dish that carries fond memories from childhood is a tuna melt. Porter's grown-up version trades in the canned tuna for a delicious cured and smoked salmon that she makes herself.
After curing in equal parts salt and sugar for 12 to 24 hours, she gently cold-smokes the salmon for five to six hours to add another element of flavour. If you're not up for making your own, there's absolutely nothing wrong with finding a supplier of quality smoked salmon — Porter suggests Ocean Odyssey Inland — to skip the time and hassle.
Porter says it's key to use good, fresh herbs and she loves to serve it atop a scone, a nod to her British heritage that is also delicious. The champion chef also notes that this dish is as good served cold as it is warm, making it versatile for any weather.
Smoked Salmon Melt
- 400 grams smoked salmon
- ½ cup cream cheese
- ½ cup mayo
- 4 scones, cut in half (make your own or store-bought)
- 10 sprigs fresh dill, chopped
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 12 stems of chive, chopped
- 1 cucumber
- 1 head of butter leaf or arugula (enough for 4 side salads)
Mix salmon and cream cheese together; add lemon, dill and chives
Top the scone with the salmon mix and put under a broiler for 10 minutes until bubbling.
Thinly slice cucumber and top the salmon melts once out of the oven
½ cup honey
½ cup cold-pressed canola
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
salt pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and whisk.
Rip off butter leaf or portion arugula and drizzle dressing over greens for a side salad.
You can add whatever vegetables or fruit you like. A crisp apple chopped up is always a nice addition.