Gav Martell: He’s in the Kitchen


Easy Appetizers Complement the Meal

Impressive Meals Made Easy

For the better part of the last two decades, I've been cooking and tasting my way through life. I love eating good food. I love making it even more. To me, there is no better feeling than serving up a meal and watching people purr with enjoyment as they inhale it.

Now, in case you think I spend my days in a professional kitchen with an attentive staff of cooks, let me set the record straight. I have three kids, a wife, and a full time job as VP at a software company. This leaves me with little to no time to actually execute my vision in the kitchen. When it comes time for holiday cooking, as much as I'd like to, I don't always have time to prepare a five-course meal from start to finish. Like the rest of you, I'm short on time. Also, as much as I love making dishes that excite me, I find it hard to get motivated to make dishes that don't. If you check out my website you'll see I'm not really a huge fan of making side dishes, appetizers and desserts. Sure, I'll sometimes make them, but I really love focusing my time and energy on main courses. Beef, poultry, fish and pasta, are all way more enticing to me than rice, potatoes, salads, and the like.

While in an ideal world I'd love to make every single thing, it's just not practical.

When Sobeys offered me a chance to check out their Sensations by Compliments holiday products and try some of their appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, I knew this would be right up my alley. With a constantly revolving door of family and friends looking to be fed around the holidays, it is great to be able to quickly turn a one-dish meal into a multi-course festive feast.

Sensations by Compliments frozen hors d'oeuvres are ready and out of the way in 20 minutes. With delicious puff pastry filled with Spinach, Asiago and Artichoke or Carmelized Onion and Herbed Cream Cheese, or Spinach and Feta Cheese Spanakopita - they are really simple crowd-pleasers.

Putting together an impressive cheese platter is also made easy with Sensations assorted crackers and cheese selection. With a quick yet scrumptious base for hors d'oeuvres taken care of, it lets me focus on planning the rest of the meal without panicking. From my perspective that's a win-win!

This means I will supplement my meals with easy-to-make or prepared dishes from the grocery store. If I can cut some time and energy off my plate and still throw together a crowd-pleasing meal, why kill myself?

Of course, if you were to ask my wife and kids, there is both a blessing and a curse in having a food author and blogger in the house. Sure they get to try some awesome dishes, but I never want to make anything twice. You see, if I'm going to put content online, I always have to be looking forward to the next dish, not backwards at the last. With the holiday season upon us I'm busy focusing my attention on all of the entertaining we plan to do.

While we are Jewish, our immediate family contains more religions than I can count on one hand. Someone is always celebrating something. Inevitably, whether we're at Bubbie's for Chanukah or Grandma's for Christmas, or Aunt Charna's for New Years, people are turning to me to plan or help cook a meal. This means that around holiday time we are not always eating traditional festive meals. Because I post so many recipes online I never want to make the same thing twice. You may want traditional potato latkes for Chanukah, but you might get sweet potato latkes with a chili-cilantro sour cream.

Here's a recipe I'll be serving my family and friends this holiday season.

Grilled Salmon and Artichoke Pasta

Couch to Table in: 30 mins
Serves: 4


1 pound skinless salmon fillet
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & black pepper, to taste
1 pound fresh linguini pasta
14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Light the grill over medium heat. Coat the salmon in 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Grill salmon until just done, about 3 minutes per side. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then cut into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until just done, about 4 minutes. Drain.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta with remaining olive oil. Add the salmon, artichoke hearts, parsley, vinegar, and Parmesan. Toss - season with salt and pepper, and serve.

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