Sunday, December 1, 2013
Although I was totally off the hook for the first 5 courses at our dinner party last night, the dessert course was my playground. I decided to make the traditional Danish celebration cake, lagkage (translates as layer cake).
The cake is a bit spongy and is filled with a silky pastry cream and a dribbles of raspberry jam in each layer. Then a fluffy blanket of Chantilly cream adorns the outside.
There were leftovers! So for breakfast, the mister and I each enjoyed a piece along with our morning coffee. It was just as good the morning after.
DANISH LAYER CAKE (Lagkage)
4 layers of cake (make the following cake recipe twice)
1/2 litre of whipping cream, whipped and sweetened to taste
(Adapted from one posted by Karen Hansen on Food.com.)
This cake recipe bakes two layers of the cake. You need to make the recipe twice to have the four layers you need.
2 egg yolks from extra large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1 3/4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites from extra large eggs
Preheat oven to 435ºF.
Measure out the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
Separate the eggs. Whip the egg whites until stiff.
In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks until lemon yellow. Add the water and sugar and beat for 2 minutes on high. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the flour mixture gradually and beat well.
Fold in the egg whites.
Bake in two ungreased 8-inch cake pans (I used my springform pans) for 8 to 9 minutes.
Yields 2 1/2 cups
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine milk and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat milk to near boil.
Meanwhile whisk yolks, egg, 1/4 cup sugar and the cornstarch together. Temper the eggs with the scalded milk by pouring the milk slowly into the egg mixture stirring constantly. After 3/4 to 1 cup of the hot milk has been mixed in, the remaining milk can be added and whisked together.
Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the pot and bring to a near boil. Stir constantly. Watch the temperature of the custard closely when it reaches 170ºF. When the first bubble forms, remove from the heat immediately. Quickly run the custard through a sieve. Add the butter and the vanilla and stir until the butter has melted and is fully incorporated.
Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Place in the fridge to cool down completely. At least 3 hours. Overnight is better.
Place one cake upside down on a cake plate. Cover with at least 1/2 cup of the cooled pastry cream. Drop small spoonfuls of jam all over the pastry, using about a tablespoon of jam.
Repeat with the next two layers. Top with the 4th cake, baked side up. Chill the cake for half an hour.
Whip the cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters. Sweeten to taste with extra fine granulated sugar. About a tablespoon.
Skim coat the cake with the whipped cream. Then add a layer of cream to cover it completely without any cake showing through. Using a piping bag, decorate your cake with your own design flair!
Consider serving it with a raspberry coulis and berries. This morning I served it up with leftover pastry cream and raspberries.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
A fellow urban farmer kindly shares the bounty of his garden from time to time. He is a big fan of Vicki's Veggies Farm's heirloom tomatoes and plants plenty of these Prince Edward County seedlings each June. But before he became 'Leamington North', his garden plot had been home to Jerusalem Artichokes, also known as sunchokes.
Well, the thing is, or so he tells me, once you plant Jerusalem Artichokes, you have them for life. It is the garden gift that keeps on giving. Each Fall he digs in to see what volume awaits him. Even when he thinks he has them all extracted, they inevitably return again next year.
Jerusalem Artichokes have an earthy flavour and I sometimes substitute them for a potato mash on the plate. They also go well partnered with potatoes in a mash.
My urban farmer friend spoke well of this particular soup recipe from Vicki's Veggies Farm - Sunchoke & Roasted Garlic Soup. With a fresh batch of chicken stock coming off the stove, the mister dug into our three pound gift and put together a soul-warming creation.
We didn't have the full complement of potatoes in the pantry so the scales tipped a bit more towards the Jerusalem Artichokes.
The soup really develops its depth if it has had a day or two to chill. It reheats well and may require a final skim before serving.
The end result is really is a plain look when nestled into our white bowls. So beige. To bring more colour to the palate and to bring on more flavour, I garnished the soup with small garlic croutons, ristede løg (roasted onions, crumbled) and chives. Vicki suggested small diced sunchokes and bacon!
With any luck, I'll be making this again next year.
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES AND ROASTED GARLIC SOUP
inspired by Vicki Emlaw of Vicki's Veggies Farm in Prince Edward County
Serves 6 to 8.
1 1/2 pounds of Jerusalem Artichokes (sunchokes), cleaned, rough spots peeled, then roughly chopped
3/4 pound of red potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 heads of garlic, roasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups cooking onions, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
2 stems of thyme
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar
roasted onion crumble
small diced cooked Jerusalem Artichokes
Heat oven to 300ºF. Cut the root end off each garlic. Place in a tin foil pouch. Dribble with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Close the pouch, leaving open space around the garlic. Roast for an hour until soft and golden. Squeeze the cloves out of their skins and set aside.
In a dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onions until the soften and begin to brown. Stir them frequently. Add the Jerusalem Artichokes and continue to sauté over medium high heat until the Jerusalem Artichokes and onions have caramelized. As you stir frequently, give the bottom of the pan a good scrape to avoid over-browning of the fond.
Add the bay leaves, thyme, stock and potatoes. Bring the soup to a boil and skim off any foam that may be forming. Lower the heat and simmer until the Jerusalem Artichokes and potatoes are soft. Continue to skim any foam as it settles to the top.
Add the roasted garlic cloves and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves. Purée the soup and return to the pot. If it is too thin, continue to simmer to reduce. Season the soup with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.
Friday, November 8, 2013
A friend and I popped into Cylie Artisans Chocolatiers on opening day, September 17th. The new store is located at 204 Dalhousie Street just north of the ubiquitous Bridgehead. My friend knew the owners and while they chatted it up, I cruised the display cases to see what jewels were in store for me.
I love a high quality bar (locally I had been seeking out Hummingbird's because it is bean-to-bar or Ludwig's because he has lime bar) but I don't tend to be as attracted to filled chocolates. Partly because my likes are so narrow - citrus, raspberry, mint and caramel. I don't enjoy tea-infused or flowery scents like lavender.
The mister is more of the chocolate aficionado than me. To give the chocolates their due I had the mister do a taste testing with me.
Cylie's chocolates are not fondant fillings but flavour-infused ganaches, including some with their own teas. They also do bars and specialty items like chocolate dipped orange peels.
Now on with the tasting. They are from top to bottom:
- Praline Noisettes
- Piment Despelette
- Milk Chocolate Sweet + Caramel
- Lemongrass + Ginseng
- Milk Granduja + Pear William
The mister agreed they were all lovely and very high quality. Hi favourite was the Sweet + Caramel. Mine was the Milk Granduja + Pear William. We found that the infused flavours were not overpowering and sometimes almost not noticeable. Thankfully the creamy ganache is delicious on its own.
The name Cylie is a blend of the partners' names - CYril Nebout and LesLIE Yang. Both have pedigrees from Le Cordon Bleu, where they met here in Ottawa when Nebout was recently teaching.
With three chocolate shops within 600 metres of each other on the Dalhousie strip (Stubbe is further south and Bernard Callebaut is in the middle of those two), how is Cylie going to set themselves apart from the pack?
Stubbe's chocolate-making genealogy goes back to 1845 through six generations.
The Bernard Callebaut store is an outlet for chocolates made in and shipped from Calgary. Their chocolates are not made in the Ottawa store. The Bernard Callebaut name is highly regarded (though has a complicated past - but that's another story).
Cylie wants to present itself as a more modern twist on style and flavours, while maintaining the traditional techniques behind proper quality chocolate-making. They enjoy presenting an artistic flair to their work.
Their showy looks make them attractive for gift giving and for including on party menus. They have hit their stride in synch with our descent into the Holiday season. Perfect timing
I was just a fly on the wall during my first visit. How pleasant to receive a 'Well, hello again. I remember you.' greeting when I returned last week to stock up.
If you want to read more, here are recent articles regarding their opening:
>> Ottawa Citizen Style by Laura Robin
>> Ottawa Magazine by Anne DesBrisay
>> CBC In Town and Out Radio Show
Cylie Artisans Chocolatiers
204 Dalhousie Street
Facebook: Cylie Artisans Chocolatiers
Tues - Sat: 11 am - 7 pm
Thursday, November 7, 2013
My Holiday holiday is Christmas and I loved all the gold and red glitter of last year's LCBO Food & Drink's festive season issue. I am always hopeful for a cover that gets me in the Christmas party spirit. A warmth that draws me in.
I have to say that wasn't my reaction when my eyes made contact with magazine in the store. I wondered about the casual setting, as the holidays are a time to put on the Ritz, get out the finery and fuss over the littlest of details. Having now read the magazine cover to cover, I love so much of it. The fancy and the bling is there.
I do love the look of those smørrebrød-like bites - Horseradish and Smoked Trout Paté on Rye Croutons.
It wasn't until I read editor Jody Dunn's welcome that I found out Emerald Green is the 'IT' colour for 2013 says Pantone. I glanced back at the cover and noticed the colour of the logo. The masthead. The skin on the cucumber. The feathering of microgreens. All Pantone's Emerald Green. There is more of that beautiful green inside.
Tradition is that I weigh the holiday issue of LCBO's Food and Drink. 890 grams. 1190 grams with all the inserts. Heftiest ever!
We were having big talk at the dinner table recently about horseradish. We all love it and love it strong. Clean your nose out strong. The Food Trends article by Lucy Waverman is called Horseradish. Lucy says, "Horseradish is the ingredient of the moment." Happily I am dialed in to what's the latest for once. I agree with Lucy that the best result comes from using fresh root, peeling it and microplaning on the spot. Jars of horseradish can be handy, but their kick dissipates over time.
A hometown shout out for Steve Robinson. He is chef Marc Lepine's sommelier at critically acclaimed Atelier restaurant here in Ottawa and he is featured in Sommelier Selections by Nancy Won.
This issue is loaded. Why I love it maybe more than other Holiday issues is that it revisits a lot of the classics. A few twists to make them new. But nothing really wild. The holiday season is steeped in food tradition for many of us. Those coming to our table expect some specific once-a-year favourite dishes. The recipes here are not meant to make them so different. Just better.
Did you know that in 2005 Forbes.com selected the knife as the single most important tool in human history? I learned that from Robert Hercz in his in-depth article called Knives. Thankfully my dining partners have dispensed with the "stuff-and-cut" method of eating meat. Read every word of it. And apparently it "remained acceptable to carry food to the mouth with a knife until the early 20th century." Believe it or not, I still see people do it today. Stop please! Having an excellent knife is a wonderful gift but consider a gift certificate to a quality cutlery and cookware shop and let them pick their own.
I have parties to attend and food to plan and so I am appreciative of the suggestions in this issue. Here is what is on my food play list:
- Butter-Roasted Pear & Apple Compote with Mascarpone Cheese and Deep-Fried Eggs with Asiago, Spinach & Tomato (From Before The Feast by Marilyn Bentz-Crowley)
- Roasted Vegetables with Horseradish Vinaigrette (From Horseradish by Lucy Waverman)
- Key Lime Shooters (From Drink Matchmaker - Sensational Sippers by Julia Aitken)
- Garganelli with Ricotta & Blistered Cherry Tomatoes and Abalone Mushrooms with 6-Minute Egg and Romesco Sauce ( From Small Plates by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto)
- Sparkling Elderflower Ice (From White Wonders by Victoria Walsh)
- Lobster Diavolo (From Deep Sea Dining by Emily Richards)
- Herb-Roasted Rutabaga Batons & Cipollini Onions (From Tried & New by Jennifer MacKenzie)
- Salmon Rillettes (From Late Night Supper by Lucy Waverman)
- Gruyère & Cranberry Risotto (From Finding Favour with Flavour by Tonia Wilson-Vuksanovic)
I heard there were printing and distribution issues that meant some stores did not receive the magazine on time for Wednesday opening. I hope you have yours.
Plan ahead: The Winter issue hits the stores in ten weeks on Wednesday, January 15th.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Regular readers will know that I have been a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) half-shareholder with Roots and Shoots Farm since they began their operation in the summer of 2010. Much has changed over the past 4 years. For them and for me.
They began with an acre of land and 60 CSA shareholders. When I talked to Jesse Weatherhead at the Ottawa Farmers' Market this past Sunday, she said they are now using 10 acres and have 250 CSA shares representing approximately 280 families.
At the end of year two they acquired greenhouses.
They also put in an irrigation system - a saviour during the drought of 2012.
Robin and Jesse bought a house near by. No more trailer living for them.
They have a refrigerated truck and better storage for keeping the produce after harvest, both short term and longer term. The produce coming to us is more consistently high quality and also well cleaned.
They implemented a swap box system a few years back to allow for trades. Sometimes you just don't want another two quarts of zucchini. I used it once when it was first implemented when I was tempted by a beautiful red cabbage. I take my basket 'as is' as a show of support for learning to use what the harvest provides.
This past season they introduced a vacation policy. If you gave appropriate notice, you were allowed to forgo as many as three baskets without losing out. The credit goes towards next years share. In the past, if we were away we arranged for a friend to pick up the basket and enjoy it on our behalf. We used the vacation feature for one of our weeks this summer. This was nothing short of a miracle with how our summer plans unfolded. Getting to the CSA pickup location on our day is a constant challenge because of that active schedule.
There is now an online farm store for their shareholders. This allows us access to other products all year round. I have used it to buy extra garlic and to also purchase meat. Roots and Shoots Farm raised chickens this year and they also have an arrangement with another farm for organic beef. This feature is very handy when I am not able to meet up with them at the local farmers' market to augment my basket. I like that I can still get staples like onions, potatoes, carrots, beets and squash even though the CSA shares have ended for the summer.
In year 4, Roots and Shoots Farm extended the season from 16 weeks to 18 weeks.
The farm has established a Fall share program. We did not use it last year or this year. Although we were very much interested, we wanted a break from 'pickup deadline' since we have another crazy fall schedule. Their fall share program runs for 8 weeks from the end of October to mid-December and means pickups every other week.
Robin and Jesse extended their growing season into the winter in their third year. In fact they were recently recognized by the provincial government with the Premier's Award For Agri-Food Innovation Excellence for their innovative winter greens program.
Roots and Shoots Farm is now certified organic, a status not so common in the Ottawa area. Many say they use 'organic practices' in their farming. It is not the same. Roots and Shoots prices in the marketplace are also on par with their local non-certified organic competitors. It is a premium to me to have certified organic produce.
Roots and Shoots Farm have set land aside since year one to grow food for the food bank.
Communication has improved year after year. In year one, I knew what would be in my basket when I lifted the bin lids at my pickup location. Now they send us a weekly newsletter a day or two ahead of my pickup where they list the upcoming share content, suggested recipes and the latest farm news.
This is the kind of farm we have hitched our wagon to and we feel so fortunate. As a CSA shareholder, how could I not be happier? As a seasoned shareholder, I am definitely a lot more comfortable with the concept than when I first started. But I still have woes.
When I sign up for my share in the winter, I have no idea what my summer plans might hold. Who will be living here? How much will we be traveling? Can we expect a slew of visiting house guests?
Having a CSA basket coming in the house every other week needs people to eat it. This continues to be a roller-coaster ride for us. With the darling son away at university for the summer and the mister traveling constantly with work, there were many days when I was the only person at the dinner table. I am not a 'tea and toast' eater when I am going solo but I don't always crave a full on, pull out the stops meal. Many invitations out to with others for dinner meant that sometimes the count went from one to none! Often the volume was overwhelming and I was looking for ways to preserve what I had received or trying to create dishes that could be stored for later. For someone who likes to live in the moment, that created pressure to be organized.
If we were traveling for the weekend, getting the basket on Thursday evening had its challenges. There was limited time to do anything with it before we headed out. When visiting family or friends I brought my food with me and thankfully it was well received. This wasn't an option when we were hoteling. Gah! The pressure.
The first baskets of the season contain the most tender of greens. Ideally you want to eat them right away. At least in the first day or two. That gets tricky if we were away or there was just me here. Tender greens aren't the easiest thing to 'preserve'.
The food in the basket is preset. If I had plans to make a dish that week that did not include anything provided in the basket, it likely wasn't going to happen. Focus was always on how to use up the CSA share in a timely way.
Being a CSA shareholder is hard work to use it with care and try not to let any of it go to waste. Sometimes it means I am cooking whether I want to or not. I often felt 'behind' and that meant less exploring with new recipes than I would like and more reliance on the tried and true, just to 'get er done'. Recipes I knew that were already crowd pleasers. Despite that, there has been a lot of playing.
Over the 4 years I have become more relaxed with it all. I do have a larger repertoire of recipes for using my veggies. Some borrowed. Some created. I have been more successful with my food storage to maximize how long my produce will last. I have become better at preserving my extra food if I can't use it all in time. And I have hosted more dinner guests (friends and neighbours) to help eat up the bounty. I definitely know my neighbours better. Good food unites!
Some food highlights for me:
I loved how often we received herbs in our early baskets. If I had a chance, I picked basil each and every time. And I turned it into basil pesto just about each and every time. Some might have considered the bunch too small to bother but pesto is easy to make and also easy to freeze.
I received some gorgeous eggplants. I don't recall getting eggplants before. Wonderful for curries and also baba ghanoush.
I loved how often we received beets. I can't get enough of roasted beets and enjoyed them constantly in salads, usually serving them up at dinner parties. In fact, I loved roasting them so much I didn't do any pickling this year. Yet.
I loved how often we received cucumbers. This was the summer of tzatziki for us. We also had Danish cucumber salad often too.
Have I mentioned the garlic? I received 8 heads of garlic. They were all beautiful, big and perfect. They are all gone. I still have 50 heads of garlic from other farmers stored away in my cool, dry basement to get me through the winter.
I don't mind radishes but I was fine that I only received them once. They are not my favourite to eat in volume.
No cabbage. The farm had a problem with their field of cabbage. No napa. No green. No red. I missed not having cabbage. But I get that being a shareholder means sharing in the risk as well as the glory. I did buy red cabbage from them at the most recent Ottawa Farmers' Market at Brewer Park. They just didn't have enough to give out in their shares.
The carrots were awesome! So were all the onions and potatoes. I love getting plenty of the basics.
I received many tomatoes. Give me more tomatoes and I would be over the moon!
In closing, you might be wondering after all my angst, will I sign up for year 5. Yes. Yes, I will. Take another look at my 8 CSA baskets and you will see why I find that such an easy decision.
It is always with a bit of sadness when we go to pick up our last Roots and Shoots Farm CSA share of the season. Week 18 came so quickly and that was two weeks ago already.
1 quart of Carrots
2 quarts of Potatoes - a mix of Chieftain and Russet
1 Butternut Squash
2 Acorn Squash
1 bunch of Leeks
2 Cooking Onions
1 pint of Parsnips
1 bunch of Broccoli leaves
1 quart of Beets
1 bunch Swiss chard
Much of of the preparation of this share was very basic. Often just roasted to have the beautiful produce accompany some special meals. As you will see, the dishes speak to the change in the weather. More comfort food and food to that can be stored in the freezer for another day.
The carrots were roasted with two meals - one was a prime rib roast dinner. The other was a roasted chicken (Roots and Shoots Farm chickens) dinner.
The Chieftain potatoes were roasted for the prime rib dinner. The russets were used with the leeks for a scalloped potato recipe to which we also included sweet potatoes, bacon and onion.
The butternut squash went into homemade butternut squash ravioli. After roasting the squash, I mixed the pulp with a bit of cream, maple syrup, finely diced sauteed onions, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
The onions were used in French Onion Soup.
The garlic was used in our ubiquitous garlic shrimp pasta dish.
The parsnips were roasted up for the prime rib roast dinner.
The rutabaga was used in the big vat of beef stew.
The broccoli leaves and Swiss chard was chopped up and put in the freezer for another day.
The beets are still in the fridge. They are not big and will be sweet when roasted. There is a nice selection of colours too. It may not be imaginative, but I bet they end up in a roasted beet salad. We never tire of this dish.
They say they have learned a lot over the last 4 years. I can say that I have too. Thank you Roots and Shoots Farm.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Morning Owl Coffeehouse at 538 Rochester Street, just north of Carling is on my list of Best Espresso Coffee Shops In Ottawa. I was more of a regular here two or three years ago and then it fell off my flight path. A combination of where my travels would take me in a day and also a few inconsistencies with the drink.
This morning I popped in to get a refresher and see how things have transpired for this weekday-only (7am to 3 pm) shop. Busy as ever with a steady stream of customers. Clearly a loyal following of regulars, ordering without hesitation or a need to glance at the menu board.
I ordered my usual for the Owl - a small Australian flat white. $4 with tax.The baked goods tempted and I went for what I thought was the least 'sweet' - a beautiful, moist and fruity blueberry scone. $2.50 with tax. Their baker said she has been making the treats for The Morning Owl for two years now.
My barista, Tommy said he has been working there for 3 years. A really good sign. The Rancilio espresso machine, there since day one, was still humming along.
What is new as of two weeks ago - and this is pretty important - they now use a custom-blend from Equator Coffee Roasters up in Almonte, outside of Ottawa. Not a lot of coffee shops in Ottawa are serving up Equator beans (I know of Café Qui Pense on Main Street), so as a fan my interest was piqued.
They are also selling this custom-blend in the shop. Owner, Jordan O'Leary, sent me home with a few beans to try in my own Rancilio machine, Silvia.
How was that flat white? Faith restored.
It was the right combination of caramel-y, chocolate-y notes. Not acidic. Good depth in coffee strength. And not to be overlooked - the right temperature on the milk. Too many places overheat their milk.
In fact, I was left with a WOW feeling. The kind of wow that makes you want to bring your empty cup back and tell them yourself.
Morning Owl Coffeehouse
538 Rochester Street
Mon - Fri: 7 am to 3 pm
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
This is my Roots and Shoots Farm CSA basket heading into Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a holiday where my people count on the traditional favourites. It might be risky business to mess with those expectations.
The onions typically go into the stuffing and the giblet stock. The carrots, acorn squash and potatoes get roasted with a minimal of extra flavours. They have their own earthy taste in the mouth. Together on the plate they need to share the stage, complement the other and of course, go well with gravy!
I could get away with turning that kohlrabi into slaw again, if I can find a decent Northern Spy. The garlic won't make it to the end of the week, since it's a daily staple. I patiently wait for those green tomatoes to take colour. They will. The leek has already been set aside for soup.
But kale for Thanksgiving would be something new. We've never had kale for Thanksgiving before. Have you?
1 Bunch of Red Russian Kale
1 Bunch of Dinosaur Kale
1 Quart of Carrots
1 Quart of Chieftain Potatoes
2 Delicata Squash
1 Acorn Squash
1 Bunch of Leek
2 Cooking Onions
3 Green Tomatoes
1 Bunch of Hakurei Turnips
Monday, October 7, 2013
For the past eleven years October 7th has been an autumn day that seems to trumpet the changing of the season. On this day I see, hear and feel that shift. Whether the rain is a bit colder, the wind a bit stronger, the sun a bit lower in the sky.
My last day with my father was at his bedside, embracing the family and waiting. Waiting for his racing, heaving heart to end its marathon. He lay in peaceful comfort and was attended to with the greatest of care.
That sunny Sunday morning I plucked the only red leaf from a newly planted maple tree already bursting with yellow, orange and rust. Like my father, that one red leaf stood out among the others.
My father had many talents. I am particularly proud of his time as a Canadian farmer. Besides the business itself, he and my mother architected a very large garden to provide for the family.
Although my mother tended to much of the planting and then preserving, I felt my father was more involved with the potatoes and carrots. With his equipment and strong arms, we stored away countless 50-pound burlap bags of root vegetables to feed us through the winter. He was always there with the tractor when we were harvesting the high hanging fruit from our abundant pear tree.
Perhaps his greatest gift to us was choosing to call Canada home. Because of his courage to see Canada as his future, he enjoyed 48 years here and his growing family now lives in the finest country in the world.
That sad Sunday morning the lone red maple leaf was a last minute grab before heading to the hospital. I wanted a little piece of the outside world to be touching my father as he lay sleeping in his windowless, sterile, high-tech setting. As the hours past, the bright red maple leaf continued to shine like a badge against his blue gown.
When so many details of finality were looming large, in all the blur, I still somehow managed to bring the tired maple leaf back home. A little bit drier and curled. It lays tucked in the pages of my hymn book at song 67 - Silent Night. Perhaps my father's favourite hymn.
On this cold, sunny, windy, rainy day, I see the leaves glowing red again. A reminder for us of the changing season. A reminder for me of my last day with a very special man.
Monday, September 30, 2013
We are almost done this last Roots and Shoots Farm CSA basket as we are just days away from getting the next. It was an exciting basket because of all the great colour. We have been enjoying some delicious dishes. I have a few pictures from my smartphone to share with you throughout the post.
1 bunch of Swiss chard
6 green tomatoes
2 ripe tomatoes (I took one red and one yellow)
1 head of garlic
1 quart russet potatoes
1 bunch beets (I picked a bunch that included red, golden and candy cane)
1 quart carrots
1 bunch of kale
2 acorn squash
2 red onions
The leeks and Swiss chard went into a Martha Stewart recipe - Leek and Swiss Chard Tart. It was a lot of work. We enjoyed it best when it was first made. We didn't think the leftover reheated that well. I would consider making this again but playing with the ingredients a bit. The mister suggested adding bacon. Let's not be surprised. I appreciated making a pâte brisée again. It is not my regular crust.
Danny was emphatic that the green tomatoes would stay green. I am glad they defied him. All 6 of them turned red over the week before we ate them. I turned them into a tomato salad with a few of their yellow cherry tomatoes that I picked up at the market. They were tossed with some chives and a dressing of Kricklewood Farm's sunflower oil, Temecula Olive Oil Company's California Balsamico Bianco vinegar, salt and pepper.
The two ripe tomatoes were used in an heirloom tomato salad along with other heirlooms I bought at the market. We make this recipe each September and I blogged about it here.
The entire head of garlic went into our favourite Garlic Shrimp Pasta dish.
The russet potatoes were used in a mashed topping for the Shepherd's Pie. It sure isn't a pretty thing to photograph when it hits the plate!
The beets were roasted and used in a salad with goat cheese, Spicy Maple Pecans and mixed greens. By now you know we love that salad and make it a lot.
The kohlrabi was made into a matchstick slaw along with an Empire apple, celery and CSA carrots. The dressing I used was adapted from Bobby Flay's Creamy Coleslaw dressing.
The carrots we used for lunches with other raw veggies for munching, in the Shepherd's Pie and in the kohlrabi slaw.
I think overall this basket can be declared a success. We had a number of dining out experiences mixed in with the home cooking that has made managing the fridge a bit tricky. We are striving to use all of our basket and to use it well.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
If there are rules for menu planning when having company, today we probably broke them all.
We didn't have canapés or anything that resembled an appetizer.
We thought little about protein.
There was no natural order to the dishes, other than we did serve dessert last.
I wanted a salad but couldn't decide between a beet salad or a tomato salad. We had all the ingredients for both, thanks to our latest CSA basket and some market shopping. So we did both. That is probably breaking a really big rule. Do people ever do two salads?
I couldn't decide on a 'main' and the mister was really keen to have shrimp and requested our garlic shrimp pasta that we make all the time. Boring to us maybe but not to our company. And we do love this dish. I hardly ever have a pasta dish as a 'main'. Then again maybe we didn't have a main. Maybe it should be called something else.
I have, or did at one point have, 18 pounds of rhubarb in the freezer. I bought strawberries at the market yesterday and decided on pie. Is pie a legitimate dessert when hosting? I don't typically do it if I am pulling out the silverware.
I was lost when it came to planning for hosting company for lunch today. But I didn't really care if I got the menu 'right'. More than anything I wanted to use what I had in my fridge. Our latest CSA basket played a big part in that.
I figured our company wouldn't care either as long as it tasted delicious and looked reasonably attractive.
Rules be damned.
|Roasted beets (red, yellow and candy cane) from Roots and Shoots Farm. Goat cheese. Baby romaine. Pea shoots from O'Grady Farms. Spicy Maple Pecans. Orange and maple syrup dressing.|
|Garlic shrimp pasta. I used the whole garlic from the last Roots and Shoots Farm CSA basket.|
|Heirloom tomato salad. Tomatoes from Roots and Shoots Farm and also Acorn Creek Garden Farm. Pea shoots from O'Grady Farms. Chives. Parmesan crisps. Champagne wine vinaigrette.|
|Very Puckery Rhubarb Strawberry Pie. Strawberries from Just Farms. Rhubarb from Helen & Merrill.|
Thursday, September 12, 2013
The 20th Anniversary edition of the LCBO Food & Drink magazine hit the stores last Wednesday. I am just getting to reading mine now. I wish I could say there are still some copies out there, but that might be a lie.
If you haven't started reading it yet, go straight to page 187 and work your way through Origins: Food & Drink by Robert Hercz. Although it is right at the back of the issue, it really feels like the setting for the story that unfolds as the Food & Drink team chronicles their view of, well, food and drink, in this province over the past 20 years.
First off, I have to tell you that one of my loyal followers of the blog's Facebook page has told me that he is a big fan of Food & Drink and figures he has every issue printed except eight from the earlier years. So if you are also a collector but considering a purge, I want to make a plea on Ken's behalf that you give him first crack at your stash.
The issue will have you reminiscing of recipes past that have now moved into your regular repertoire. Editor Jody Dunn shares her all-time favourites on page 22 in Editor's Choice. A few that come to mind for me that we have made time and time again are:
- Curried Squash and Apple Soup (by Lucy Waverman in Holiday 2000 issue)
- Key Lime Pineapple Squares (by Anna Olsen in Holiday 2006 issue)
- Roasted Halibut in Tomato Cream Sauce (Summer 2002 issue)
- Malaysian Chicken Curry (Autumn 2006 issue)
Thanks to social media, many of the Food & Drink personalities are accessible to us through Facebook and Twitter. Lucy Waverman and Ruth Gangbar of Foodography PEC are two that come to mind. I like hearing their voices regularly and seeing what they are up to. That connection helps, I think, to keep me brand loyal.
But LCBO Food & Drink themselves seem a bit late to the social media parade. There is no identity for the magazine itself, that I have found. Just LCBO proper. And their Facebook page is only 9 months old. The LCBO Twitter account has 14 tweets. I am hopeful that this soon will change. We would love to see and hear more of you, Food & Drink, in our everyday conversations.
I know it is hard to pick when making the many lists for this issue. No surprise, I suppose, that it is Toronto-centric. With each turn of the page I anticipated a mention of Ottawa, or anything at all from eastern Ontario. The Ottawa Byward Market was listed in Farmers' Markets, though I wish the nod had been to the Ottawa Farmers' Market. Being a producer only (no resellers) market, it feels more authentic to me. Jamie Stunt, actually now formerly of Oz Kafé (by maybe 4 months now) is mentioned by Julia Aitken in Chefs On The Rise. A natural pick, considering his performance in last year's Gold Medal Plates competition. Because of Jamie, I had Oz Kafé as one of my top 5 favourite places to eat in Ottawa.
Overall, I really enjoyed the magazine. Congratulations on 20 years. You have created something that causes frenzy in LCBO stores every 8 weeks.
So fellow readers, have you had a chance to go through the Autumn edition yet? If I asked you to tell me your all-time favourite Food & Drink recipes, which ones would they be?