Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Creamy Veal Scallopini Marsala with Local Veggies

The mister has been a super rock husband lately and so I decided that Monday's dinner would have a bit of fuss and fancy. The veal dish is quite easy as was preparing the sides. But I am not going to tell him that. We rounded out are meal with a glass of Amarone.

There is a sense of contentment that comes from using local produce in the summer. Just knowing it is fresh, fresh, fresh.

I dipped into our Roots and Shoots Farm CSA basket in order to make this meal work.

The purple, yellow and green beans create quite a colour statement. However, when they are steamed, the purple beans turn a dark shade of green.

Our veal marsala recipe uses garlic as well as shallots to create extra flavour in the mushroom sauce.

I had no idea what to do with these sexy zucchinis when they came in the basket. I lightly steamed them, cut them in half and then sautéed them to give them a bit of brown and a nutty butter flavour.

I used the brown skinned potatoes for this dish. Peel, roasted, tossed in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and fresh thyme and then into the oven at 375F for about 45 minutes. When roasting potatoes, I use my 9" x 9" stoneware pan. When there is just two of us, the big roasting pan is too much. The stoneware gives the potatoes a unique crisp.

The small selection of carrots were quartered lengthwise and roasted along with the potatoes.

With just a few tomatoes left, they became the last garnish on the plate.

Where do you get your veal scallopini? My veal scallopini came from the Glebe Meat Market on Bank Street in Ottawa. I usually just go there for their 1/2 litre bags of housemade stock - beef, chicken, vegetable, turkey and veal. I am curious to know where others shop for their veal scallopini. Have you found a favourite?

Creamy Veal Scallopini Marsala
Inspired by Canadian Living, Epicurious and The Food Network

3/4 lb veal scallops, pounded very thin
flour for dusting (salt and pepper incorporated)
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp shallots, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cups veal stock
1/4 cups Marsala
1/2 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley (optional)

Once the veal scallops are pounded very thin (using flat side of meat cleaver between 2 sheets of waxed paper), dust veal lightly with flour mix.

In large skillet, heat oil with 1 tbsp of the butter over medium-high heat. Cook the veal for about 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Continue until all the veal is done.

Melt remaining butter in skillet and sauté the mushrooms, for about 3 minutes or just until tender. Let them sit in the pan in order to get colour and caramelized edges. Too much moving will prevent this from happening. Add a little more butter if needed. Remove the mushrooms and place with the veal.

Add the shallots and garlic to the pan. Cook until softened, usually less than a minute. Stir in the veal stock and Marsala. Reduce by half. Add any juice that has accumulated around the veal and the mushrooms. Add the cream.

Reduce again to thicken slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the veal and mushrooms back to the pan to reheat through. If using, sprinkle with parsley and stir in.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Napoleon with Parmesan Crisps & Herb Salad

A fresh heirloom tomato salad is a rainbow of flavours bursting with sweetness and complicating the gastronomic senses.

The cascade of colours in our salad was a combination of fruit from local growers we hold in high regard:
  • Roots and Shoots Farm (our latest CSA basket)
  • Bryson Farms (sourced at The Piggy Market in Westboro)
  • Vicki's Veggies (we planted one of her Yellow Perfection seedlings in June)
  • Fran, a garden enthusiast and friend from Manotick (our Sweet 100 seedling was gifted to us at Easter and lovingly christened Heinz)
I first made Fine Cooking's Heirloom Tomato Napoleon with Parmesan Crisps & Herb Salad in September 2008 when I read about it in their July 2008 issue.

[The 4 tomatoes on the left are from Bryson Farms. The 10 wee red marbles are my Sweet 100's. The 3 yellow tomatoes in the middle are Vicki's Veggies' Yellow Perfection also grown in our garden. The remaining 7 tomatoes on the right are from Roots and Shoots Farm.]

Heirloom Tomato Napoleon with Parmesan Crisps & Herb Salad
Serves 4

For the Parmesan crisps:
2-1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

For the vinaigrette:
1 small shallot, minced (about 1-1/2 tablespoons)
4 teaspoons Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or canola oil

For the salad:
1 cup baby arugula leaves
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into bite-size pieces if large
1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves
1/2 cup 1-inch-long fresh chive pieces
20 small nasturtium leaves (optional)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sixteen 1/3-inch-thick heirloom tomato slices, preferably of different colors, sizes, and shapes (2 to 3 lb.)
About 20 various heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

The above is Fine Cooking's ingredient list. I made a few changes to the recipe:
  • Because I used a grater to prepare my cheese, I only baked the Parmigiano-Reggiano for 8 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • I used only arugula for the greens and only enough to set a base on the plate.
  • I used chives as a garnish - both as 1-inch straws but also finely chopped.
  • I chose a different plating for the ingredients instead of the Napoleon formation. (see picture)
  • Of their oil suggestions, I used olive oil and grapeseed oil in the dressing.

Roots and Shoots Farm
1004 Manotick Station Road
Manotick, Ontario
Website: www.rootsandshootsfarm.com
Facebook: Roots and Shoots Farm
Twitter: RootsShootsFarm

Bryson Farms
R.R.1, 25 Stewart Road
Shawville, Quebec
Website: www.brysonfarms.com

The Piggy Market
400 Winston Avenue (in Westboro)
Ottawa, Ontario
Website: www.ThePiggyMarket.com
Twitter: ThePiggyMarket

Vicki's Veggies
81 Morrison Pt Rd
Milford, Ontario
Website: www.VickisVeggies.com
Facebook: Vicki's Veggies Farm
Twitter: VickisVeggies

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Roots and Shoots Farm - 9th Week of CSA Food 2011

I could use some help. If this was your CSA basket, what would you be making? I would love to hear what my Roots and Shoots CSA buddies are up to as well.

We are over half way through our CSA season. Many feel like summer is drawing to a close with the start of the new school year so close. But there is still many good weeks of harvest in the fields.

My CSA basket this week from Roots and Shoots Farm is particularly purple.

A few weeks back, the farm instituted a Trade Box with our pickup. If there was something we did not want to take from our share, we could then do a trade with another item in the Trade Box. When I first heard of the concept, I thought it was brilliant. Except that I had no plans to use it. I was going to take what I was given and rise to the challenge of liking it and liking to cook with it.

But this week I peeked in the Trade Box just to see what temptations lay inside. Bad idea. There was a solid, fresh red cabbage. I love red cabbage. I closed the lid and walked away, so disappointed that I had been tempted. I was going to stick to my guns and keep my contents. It felt like a culinary version of Lets Make A Deal. In the end I buckled and traded my big, bad boy, bok choy for that luscious red cabbage. I traded something green and white for something purple. No regrets.

With my last basket, I made recipe plans for the produce the day I received it. This proved to be very helpful. I changed my mind once but other than that, I forged ahead and made the meals as the occasion suited. I wish I was feeling so clever about this basket. I am wondering if I need to be considering more ideas around preserving or freezing.

Just a reminder: There is a concert at the farm Tuesday evening. Read all about it on Facebook. It is potluck. Don't over think that part. Just a little offering. The 'fishes and loaves' parable works for all faiths! Lawn chair, utensils, plate, cup and a wee dram of your favourite drink. (Tuesday is Sunny. High of 24°C and a low of 12°C.)

Red cabbage

Red Russian Kale - a great abundance actually.

A small bunch of purple beets.

Sweet carrots. They were very dirty and hairy (roots) when I picked them up but I gave them a good scrub down before the camera saw them.

Red Scallions

Zucchinis - they look very fancy pants, don't they.

Peppers - I look at these and think I should be pickling.

Cucumbers - now for sure I should be pickling. Time to hit the books. It's been a while.

Mixed heirloom tomatoes - nature's candy.

Another garlic for our stockpile.

A mix of potatoes.

If you want to learn more about the farm, the contact information for Roots and Shoots Farm is:

Culinary Montage Using Produce from Roots and Shoots Farm

We really enjoyed our last CSA basket from Roots and Shoots Farm. Although we had challenges as far as being home enough to enjoy all the produce, we managed to turn just about all of it into delicious creations. We still have three potatoes left. That's not a bad thing.

Here is a recap of our wonderful dishes from Week 7's CSA Basket. How is it going with your fresh, local produce? Have you made some new creations?

[Recipes can be found in other posts. Just click on the pictures.]

Boston Butter Lettuce Salad with Oranges, Blue Cheese, Onions & Pecans

Butter lettuce is a fancy lettuce. (Also called Boston Bibb and sometimes called Boston Butter.) It would make for a very special salad course at your next dinner party. Even when I make this particular salad at home for myself, I insist on plating it on a classy dish and I use the silver to eat it.

The strong flavours of the red onion and blue cheese are balanced with the buttery lettuce, sweet nutty pecans, segmented oranges and the citrus dressing.

When I found a Boston butter lettuce in my latest CSA basket from Roots and Shoots Farm, I knew I was going to remake one of my favourite salads.

[You could used sliced or slivered almonds or pine nuts if you prefer. Also, Stilton or Gorgonzola would be well matched cheeses too.]

Citrus Salad with Maple Orange Dressing

Boston butter lettuce, leaves kept whole
oranges segments
red onion, very thinly sliced
pecans, lightly toasted
blue cheese

1 part orange juice
2 part vegetable oil
1/2 part maple syrup
Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper

Cut the rind off the orange and cut out each segment. Squeeze juice from the remains. The juice is used in the dressing.

Wash lettuce leaves and spin. Leave the lettuce leaves whole.

Arrange the leaves on open plates. Decorate each salad with orange segments. Arrange thin slices of red onion. Sprinkle with blue cheese and pecans.

Dressing: Combine dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously.

Drizzle each salad with dressing when you are ready.


Making tzatziki is dead easy. The hard part is figuring out how to spell it. I am convinced there are as many spellings as there are Greeks.

This time I used Astro Original Balkan Style yogurt. I am very fond of the Organic Meadow product as well.

I have tried many types of Greek Pita and the Pita Delight brand from Concord, Ontario is the most authentic for my tastes, as far as a pita found in a grocery store. It is very similar to what is used at Greekfest here in Ottawa in August every year. I buy mine at the Produce Depot at Carling and Maitland.

The pitas must be heated before serving to make them light and fluffy. I heat my pitas on the BBQ or I use my crepe pan on the stove to heat them through one at a time. Brush just a little bit of olive oil on the bread before putting it on the heat.

If you have a Greek pita recipe, I would love to try it.

Tzatziki can be used in many ways - as a dip with pita bread or vegetables, inside a souvlaki pita sandwich, or along side grilled lamb. I have also used it as 'butter' on rye bread, topped with thin slices of cucumber and roast pork.

Enjoy! Opa!


4 cups Plain Yogurt
cucumber, peeled and grated (equivalent in quantity to one English cucumber)
3 - 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
Pita Bread

Line a colander with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl to drain. Pour in the yogurt and allow it to drip for at least two hours.

I let it sit in the fridge overnight as I like a very dense yogurt cheese. (Make sure you have a bowl that is big enough to catch close to two cups of liquid.)

Peel the cucumbers and grate them finely.

[Cucumbers and garlic from Roots and Shoots Farm]

Also drain the cucumber so it is just a pulp. You may have to squeeze it multiple times. It is important to drain the cucumber well to ensure a dense tzatziki.

Combine the yogurt cheese, cucumber pulp and minced garlic. Place back in the yogurt container and refrigerate until just before serving.

When serving, drizzle the olive oil over the surface and without stirring, sprinkle on the salt. It needs no mixing. Leave that to your guests when they dig in.

Makes 2 cups.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

SOUP: Carrot and Coriander

Thankfully my neighbour gifted me her Roots and Shoots Farm CSA basket this past Thursday. It meant that I would have enough carrots for my favourite carrot soup. I also used onions, garlic and potatoes from the basket. I did have some of my own freshly made chicken stock on hand.

TIP: When I do not have homemade chicken stock, I buy it from the Glebe Meat Market on Bank Street. They make it regularly and sell it in 2 1/2 cup bags.


2 pounds carrots
2 small potatoes
3 ounces butter
3 small onions, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
dry sherry
fresh cilantro
deep-fried onion greens, match stick width and 2" in length

Peel the carrots and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces. Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. When hot, add the onion and sauté while stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté while stirring until beginning to change color, 20-30 seconds.

Add the carrots, potatoes, and fresh coriander and sauté, stirring a couple of times, for about 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, sugar, salt, bay leaf, celery salt, and cayenne pepper. Over medium heat bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover partially and continue simmering until vegetables are soft when pierced with the point of a knife, about 20-25 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf. Use a food processor with its metal blade attached, or a blender, and process the vegetables in small batches, with their broth, until a smooth purée (soup may be made ahead to this point; cover and refrigerated). We use our Vita-Mix and it always gives a great consistency for soup.

Return the soup to the saucepan let it simmer on a very, very low simmer to keep warm. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. If the soup is too thick, add more stock or you could use milk.

To plate, put one tablespoon of sherry in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the soup on top. Garnish with coriander leaves and deep-fried onion greens. Another way to garnish could be a dollop of sour cream and a generous sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

The Arugula, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese BBQ Pizza

Arugula can have a bit of a spicy flavour to it. If it is something you find too strong for your palate, heat will take the bite out of it. When we received the arugula in our latest Roots and Shoots Farm CSA basket, I knew it was destined to be on top of an upcoming BBQ pizza.

Arugula, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

Homemade pizza dough
Corn meal for the pan
Homemade tomato sauce *

Mozzarella cheese, grated
Caramelized onions
Bacon, partly fried
Goat cheese
Pine nuts

* Homemade sauce made with a can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, fresh thyme, oregano and basil. Plus salt, pepper and sugar.

We have made pizza on the BBQ a few times before this summer. For other recipes and BBQ pizza grilling tips, check out this post.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Zucchini Bread - Smitten Kitchen Style

When I received my Roots and Shoots Farm CSA basket on Thursday, I made a commitment as to how I planned to use each piece of produce over the coming week.

The zucchini was going into zucchini bread. I made the rare confession of saying I had never made zucchini bread before. It is so ubiquitous, that it seems just a bit unfathomable that someone who loves to bake has been holding out this long on zucchini bread.

I wasn't expecting to hit a new recipe home run and figured that I would start my first experience with 'tried and true'. Something out of Smitten Kitchen would likely land me safely. Just get it done and over with. Lose my zucchini bread virginity with some predictability, minimize the thinking thus minimize the pain.

I did linger on the idea ever so slightly. Not surprisingly I made my Smitten Kitchen announcement out on Twitter just to test the soundness of my plan.

[ : If I wanted to make zucchini loaf, any reason why I just wouldn't make 's Why reinvent perfection?]

Clearly I was showing hesitation and was looking for some sort of approval. Twitter friend @hellokaitlin did what Kaitlin does best. Not let me off so easy.

[: because 's rivals 's. they are different, but both INCREDIBLE.]

She approved of Smitten Kitchen but brought my commitment into question by dangling the equally solid baking skills of Seven Spoons before me. She was right. I did need to look around just to be sure. After all, this was my first zucchini bread. The subtext of her message, possibly? - My recipe choice for my first zucchini bread is not a decision that should entered into without respectful thought.

I weighed the taste of chocolate and the taste of spice and realized that, although my choice had been hasty, cinnamon and nutmeg was the style of zucchini bread that I likely wanted for my first time.

For those familiar with her recipe, I did boldly add walnuts (1/2 cup), as well as cranberries (3/4 cup), raisins (1/4 cup) and chocolate chips (1/8 cup). Other than the optional questions, I mindlessly followed the recipe to a tee.

The verdict? The spice smells are intoxicating. It is the kind of bread that tastes great with a smear of butter and a cup of tea. It was great sharing it with friends fresh from the oven.

What did I learn? Well this was a bit of a surprise. I totally acquiesced to the iconic Smitten Kitchen when I approached my challenge and I shouldn't have. Not that it wasn't a beautiful and yummy bread. But it wasn't 'my bread'. Although I didn't plan to go at it that way, I realized that it actually mattered. To me. I didn't consider for a second the outcome. I just relied on the master. What is good for her, must be good for me. @hellokaitlin took a poke at my non-thinking and I opened one eye for a quick glance at an alternative. But really, my input was lame.

I love to bake and I love to tinker with recipes to suit my likes or perhaps those of my guests. I have so many things I want to do differently next time. Things I think I would have actually considered from the get go if I had just stopped to give it some thought. I want my nuts to be Brazil nuts. I want to grind them. I want to put in less flour. I want less cinnamon. I don't want any chocolate chips. I may just want raisins. I am still debating the cranberries - I did love them after all. And I just might use a cream cheese frosting to make it look more cake than bread.

The moral of the story? When losing your zucchini bread virginity, don't treat the experience carelessly. Sure, it is great to partner with someone with a lot of knowledge, but you need to have a say in it too. Contribute. Say what you like. Own the outcome. Thankfully, Smitten Kitchen did make my first time a very beautiful thing.

Tomato, Kale, Onion, Garlic, Pesto Penne Pasta

Since we started with our Roots and Shoots Farm CSA food basket at the beginning of July, we have created a pasta dish that has become our 'go to' meatless, veggie creation for the summer. We have made it 4 or 5 times so far. We have also shared it with guests. The biggest wow from the reviews seems to be that people have been pleased to enjoy consuming kale this way.

Very veggie focused cooks feel very comfortable with creating kale variety on the plate, but there is a population that is only just enjoying the 'idea' of eating kale, knowing that it is so healthy for us, but not sure how to prepare it.

I love to load up the dish with onions and garlic because, well, because sautéed onions and garlic just tastes so good. It isn't a surprise that there are chili flakes. The teenager goes for spicy at any turn and has made a convert out of me. I am the tomato fan. All this becomes the vessel for hiding the good stuff - the kale.

The pesto showed up on the second attempt at this dish since I had a small bit I wanted to 'move along' and now it is officially in the recipe.

On the third go, we figured out that a bit of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese actually incorporated right in the dish proved to, literally, be the glue to hold it all together.

The onion, garlic, chili flakes and pesto really give this dish big flavour. I nice balance to the tomatoes, kale and pasta.

I noticed in this week's Roots and Shoots newsletter that they have a similar tasty pasta dish they call Summer Pasta. Zucchini is a big star in their dish and they do a bit of a carbonara twist by adding egg. Sound good? You should check it out.

Have you made any new dishes this summer with your fresh food bounty? I would love to hear about your magic.

[From Roots and Shoots Farm: Red Russian Kale, Tomatoes, Onion, Garlic, Pesto was made with their garlic]

Tomato, Kale, Onion, Garlic, Pesto Penne Pasta
Serves 3

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 spring onions, diced (include healthy parts of the greens)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 pint of heirloom tomatoes
1 bunch of Russian red kale
1/2 teaspoon salt
150 grams penne pasta (my favourite dry pasta brand is Barilla)
1/4 cup pesto
1 cup of parmigiano-reggiano, grated

Prepare the ingredients. Dice the spring onions. Keep the whites separate from the greens. Mince the garlic. Chop the tomatoes. Remove the stems from the kale. Rough chop the kale leaves. Grate the cheese.

Prepare the penne pasta until el dante. When it is drained, return to the pot and keep the lid on to keep it warm until the sauce is done.

Heat oil in a fry pan. Sauté the white parts of the onion until soft. Add the minced garlic, chili flakes and green parts of the onion. Continue to sauté until the greens of the onion start to soften. Not too long.

Add the tomatoes. When the tomatoes have warmed, add the chopped kale. Sprinkle with salt. Add a bit of water to the pan to help steam the kale if there does not appear to be much liquid from the tomatoes.

When the kale has just wilted and cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Make sure you do not over cook the kale. The kale should be limp but still be a bright green.

Put the pesto on the pasta and stir to cover. Add the vegetable sauce to the pasta and stir. Add 1/2 cup or more of the parmigiano-reggiano to the pot and stir.

Serve in warmed pasta bowls. Sprinkle with parmigiano-reggiano.

Dig in! Chew each mouthful 20 to 30 times before swallowing. Take a rest half way through eating your portion. All this will help you to stretch out the deliciousness of this wonderful meatless dish.

TIP: I often boil up the the full box of penne, use what I need, and then put the remainder in the freezer in appropriate portions. It easy to reheat but dropping it into boiling water for just a minute or two. Just enough to heat it through.

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