Sunday, September 23, 2012

Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup

Our 5 burner stove has been going full tilt the past few days as we dedicated kitchen time to preparing hearty cold weather dishes in bulk. Working at break neck speed, the possibility for an 'oops' was high.

In my haste, I accidentally opened a jar of my home-canned tomato juice instead of sauce.  At first I felt frustration, knowing it now needed to be refrigerated and used within days.  But as we say often around here, sometimes a problem is really disguised as an opportunity.  

The corner of the counter was loaded with well-ripened tomatoes from the garden - Yellow Perfection and San Marzano (seedling plants came from Vicki's Veggies in PEC).  Reviewing the remainder of our Roots and Shoots Farm's CSA food baskets, I found month-old colourful carrots needing a purpose. Thankfully, still in great shape.  

The flavour combination of carrots and tomatoes is undisputed. At least in this house. As I added up all my 'problems', the opportunity presented itself as roasted carrot and tomato soup.

I have written out the recipe as it was executed today. But you should not feel bridled to the ingredient list or the method.  It is not meant to be prescriptive but more of a suggestion of what works well together and how you could go about it.

If you can't find time to roast the vegetables, don't.  If you have more tomatoes than carrots, go for it.  If you want to throw in some basil, do.  If you have vegetable stock instead, it may actually taste better than chicken.  No coloured carrots, stick to orange. No kale chips in sight, skip it. Dying to toss in a sprinkle of Parmesan, I say "why not". You get the idea.  That's the nice thing about soup.  It's not souffle.

Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup
Yields: 6 one-cup servings

6 small purple carrots
2 small yellow carrots
3 small orange carrots
2 cloves garlic
6 yellow perfection tomatoes
5 San Marzano tomatoes
1 onion
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons butter
1 onion, diced
2 small stalks celery, chopped, with leaves if healthy
handful of kale chips

2 cups tomato juice
2 cups chicken stock, use vegetable stock as an alternate

pea shoots or chives 
dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, optional

Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Cut carrots and tomatoes lengthwise and lay out on a baking sheet.  Cut one onion into 6 wedges.  Place onion wedges and unpeeled garlic cloves onto the baking sheet.  Drizzle vegetables with olive oil. Then season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast the vegetables for 30 - to 40 minutes until they start to caramelize.  Do not over roast.

Melt butter into a saucepan.  Sauté the diced onion and chopped celery until translucent. Season with salt.

Add roasted vegetables to the saucepan.  Add the tomato juice and stock.  Add the kale chips if you are using them.

Simmer for 10 minutes to combine the flavours.

Blend in a VitaMix or a blender until very smooth.  Thin with more stock if necessary to get the preferred consistency. (I do not like my soup to be super thick.)  Heat the soup through again. Taste and season.

[Colour carrots from Roots and Shoots Farm]
[Garlic from Roots and Shoots Farm]

[Vegetables will be roasted at 425ºF for 30 minutes.]
[Delicious with a rustic bread]

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Awesome Apple Pie - Your Thanksgiving Dessert Saviour

Not everyone embraces pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. If you are still searching for a great pie recipe for the upcoming holiday, this one will keep your guests satisfied. This weekend we 'practiced' making our Thanksgiving dessert - homemade apple pie.

The crust is very flaky and the filling is full of the cinnamon-y scent of autumn.

I like using McIntosh apples because they cook out a bit, making a softer filling.

This pie is your Thanksgiving dessert saviour.


Servings: 8

2 cups all-purpose flour (I use 5 Roses)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup lard (I use Tenderflake)
1/4 cup water

6 - 8 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons corn starch
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoon butter

Sift flour and salt together in a bowl.

Remove 1/3 cup of this mixture and place it in a small bowl or cup.

Stir water into it to form a smooth paste. (I usually add the water to this small bowl of flour after I have cut in the lard, in order to keep it moist.)

Cut lard into the flour mixture in the first bowl with a pastry blender until the grain is the size of small peas. It works best when the lard is still chilled and not fully at room temperature.

Stir the flour paste into the dough. Work it with your hand until well incorporated and the dough forms a ball. It is important not to over work the dough or it will become tough.

Wrap the ball in saran wrap and chill for at least 60 minutes.

Stir sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a small bowl. Pour sugar mixture over the fruit. Toss to coat.

Roll out half of the pastry and fit into 9-inch pie plate. [I roll out my pastry between two pieces of waxed paper that is very lightly floured. This minimizes overworking and prevents it from becoming dry from over-flouring.] Prick the bottom of the pie shell and also the sides. This prevents the bottom shell from puffing up during baking.

Spoon fruit into pie crust and even out. Using approximately 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon of very soft butter, place small dots of butter all over the top of the filling.

With warm water, wet the edge of the bottom pie shell. This will help the top crust adhere to the bottom crust, making a tighter seal.

Roll out remaining pastry and fit over top of pie. Press the top crust to the bottom on the moistened edge. If fluting the edge, trim it first. If using a fork pattern around the edge, then trim after it has been forked.

Cut vents in top for steam to escape. A large hole in the center is particularly helpful.

Bake on baking sheet in 450ºF oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350ºF. Bake for 40 minutes longer or until golden.
Cover the pie with tin foil part way through if the pie is golden before completely baking.

Fallowfield United Church Annual Fall Turkey Supper - The Best Meal Deal In The Valley

Get your tickets now!

In the 25 years we have been attending the Fallowfield United Church Annual Fall Turkey Supper, the price for the all-you-can-eat dinner has doubled to $16. It is still the best meal deal in the Valley.

For this princely sum, you can enjoy a refreshing juice drink, dinner roll, a plateful of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, gravy, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, pickles and piece or two or three of homemade pie, coffee or tea. 'Tax and tip included'. Help yourself to seconds if you like. I dare you to find a better tasting church supper in the region. Let alone, a full meal experience at that price.

The supper is always the Saturday before the Thanksgiving weekend. This year it falls on Saturday, September 29th. The continuous seating begins at 4:15 pm and tends to end around 7:30 pm. They feed close to 500 people and some years have exceeded. Young and old from the congregation pitch in to make their major fundraiser a success.

The turkeys are cooked by the top cooks of the congregation. They also look after bringing in their best stuffing and piping-hot-secret-recipe gravy. Where possible, farmers have contributed vegetables for the meal's preparation. Proud pie makers provide the many choices of flaky goodness. I have it on good authority, that pecan pie is the most sought after. There is also a choice of cake for those that pass on pastry.

When you arrive, make your way into the sanctuary to pick up your tickets and listen to music. Enjoy the entertainment until your number is called. The dining takes place down in the church basement and they have capacity for close to 100 people. The crowds continue to flow as the hungry are seated, then fill up their bellies and head on their way.

It is a wonderful time to chat with old friends and neighbours and meet new ones. A few years ago, I sat across from Scott Moffatt, who is now councillor for Rideau-Goulbourn. Often I see the mayor out for a good meal deal - and in election years, the mayor wannabes.

Call today and reserve your tickets 613-838-2520. Takeout is also available.

Adults - $16
Children (6 - 12 yrs) - $8
Children (5 yrs and under) FREE

Fallowfield United Church is located at 110 Steeple Hill Crescent at the corner of Fallowfield Road. It is 1.5 kms west of the Fallowfield/416 exit, across from Valleyview Little Animal Farm.

Here are a few of our tasty dinners from years past.

Roots and Shoots Farm - 12th Week of CSA Food 2012

As we edge into September, the CSA food basket from Roots and Shoots Farm is less 'delicate' and more 'roots-y'.

I was so taken by the lovely looking acorn squash I did something I have only ever done once before. I used the trade box. Wanting 'lots' of acorn squash, I traded in my delicata squash for a second acorn. This strategic move set me up well for hosting a Thanksgiving-esque dinner party this weekend. The basket also had onions, celery, carrots and beans. Naturals on the dinner plate with bird, stuffing and gravy.

[My 6.55 pound chicken came from Earth's Harvest Farm near Oxford Mills. Luke and Liza Swale raise pasture-raised (grass-fed) organic chickens. I called him Francis and he was delicious.]

Roots and Shoots shared an Asian Napa Cabbage Salad recipe in their newsletter that I know we will try this week. The ingredient list includes: chow mein noodles, crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, and dry mustard.

This basket will not last long.

[Acorn squash]

[Red onions]




[Curly kale]

[Napa cabbage]


[Bell peppers, chocolate pepper, lipstick pepper, jalepeno peppers]

[Cherry tomatoes]


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

They sell at a number of markets around the city, including the Ottawa Farmers' Market on Sunday at Brewer Park. 8 am to 3 pm. I frequent their Westboro market on Saturdays. It runs from 9:30 am to 3 pm. They are also out in Kanata and Manotick on Saturdays.

[Disclaimer: Many have noticed that I write quite frequently about Roots and Shoots Farm. I have no connection to this business other than as a 3rd season CSA customer and pitching in as a volunteer. My Linkcomments are my own. I do not do sponsored posts. Roots and Shoots Farm has never asked me to write about their farm. I did this post because I love their food. I receive nothing in return for waxing poetic about their great produce.]

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monday Night with the Fraser Brothers and Michael Stadtländer at Table 40

As chef and food activist Michael Stadtländer makes his way to the Canadian Chefs' Congress in Nova Scotia, he treated food fans by stopping in Ottawa on Monday to team up with Ross and Simon Fraser for a 6-course dinner at their private dining room, Table 40.

The event sold out quickly and was actually overflowing. I counted 45 diners in total tucked in at the ends of tables and also at the bar.

We arrived early and checked out the famous traveling bus, The Northern Light, decked out with sleeping quarters and a substantial kitchen. Behind the bus, Mark Snyder had set up his traveling kitchen too - The Flatbread Pizza Company. Mark was in charge of the amuse-bouche and he also had a hand in crisping up the piglet course.

They started us with Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava and Stadtländer's house made sourdough bread. For those that chose, (which I did), you could enjoy pairings with each course.

The dishes speak for themselves.

[Slice of pizza with bruleed figs and Clarmell On The Rideau pure chèvre goat cheese from Clarmell Farms] - by Mark Snyder of The Flatbread Pizza Company

[Soup from Eigensinn Farm Tomatoes, Acadian Sturgeon Cartilage with Acadian Sturgeon Tartare and Caviar] - by Team Stadtländer
Staete Landt "Anabel" Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand

[Wild BC Ivory Salmon and Green Curry, Crab, Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame and Lime] - by Team Fraser Café
Charles Baker Riesling 2009, Niagara, Ontario

[Tangier Lobster Risotto, Blue Potato, Prosciutto, Crazy Dave's Greens and Eigensinn Baby Fennel] - by Team Fraser Café
Closson Chase South Clos Chardonnay 2010, Prince Edward County, Ontario

[Roasted Eigensinn Farm Piglet with Potato Dumpling with Lovage and Parsley and Eigensinn Farm Garden Vegetables] - by Team Stadtländer
Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir 2010, Prince Edward County, Ontario

[Canary Melon and Passion Fruit Sorbet]

[Roast Duck and Foie Gras Torchon and Red Wine Plums, Wild Rice and Roasted Squash Crêpe and Wild Mushrooms] - by Team Fraser Café
Painted Rock Merlot 2007, Okanagan Valley, BC

[Spicy Kuri Squash and Ontario Wild Blueberry Tart with Maple Syrup, Ontario Wild Ginger and Double Cask 12 Year Old Balvenie Whisky Ice Cream] - by Team Stadtländer

Hétszölö Tokaji Aszu 2000, Tokaji, Hungary

My favourite tastes were the duck dish (particularly the Wild Rice and Roasted Squash Crêpe) by Team Fraser Café and the Balvenie whiskey ice cream by Team Stadtländer.

Surprised to see sturgeon cartilage on the menu, I expected it to have the texture and flavour of softened fingernails. And it does. I learned that we have wild ginger in Ontario. Who knew!

The bus rolled into town around midnight on Sunday evening. Organizers Christian Morrison and Julie Gibb had friends in town that happily hosted the bus team indoors for the two nights before they headed to Montreal. Thankfully, the hosts' neighbour is a bus mechanic. He was pressed into service Monday morning to work his magic, fixing the troublesome problem of the bus being stuck in reverse (and facing the garage)!

But this dinner wasn't just about enjoying delicious food with wonderful people in a friendly setting. We are privileged in Canada to have Chef Stadtländer as a strong voice speaking out against issues that affect us all. There he was, just moments before the event was to launch, in the CBC studio on Queen Street with Evan Solomon on Power & Politics, sharing his concern about genetically modified alfalfa - a hot topic for the CCC this weekend.

Click on the icon to watch the program. Stadtländer's segment goes from 1:49:00 to 1:55:30.

Thank you to Ross and Simon Fraser, Michael and Nobuyo Stadtländer and their crews. It was a memorable evening and the service was excellent.

*** Check out the Stadtländer team's photographer's photos from Monday, now up on Facebook in a Canadian Chefs' Congress album - Fraser Table 40 in Ottawa. ***

Friday, September 7, 2012

LCBO Food & Drink Magazine - Autumn Issue 2012

I didn't get all giddy about the Summer issue of Food & Drink at the end of June but they sure made it up to me this time! It's been 2 days and I am still pouring over Autumn's offerings.

First, let me gush some hometown pride at seeing The Wellington Gastropub of Ottawa featured in Pub Bites by Nancy Won. We have been going to The Welly since it opened in 2006. For us it short lists as a place to go for special occasions as well. No dress code here. The special is all about the great food.

Second, it warmed me to read James Chatto calling out Kiln Haus Raisins, Canada's first native raisin, in the Trend Spotting feature. I first read about the Reif Estate Winery raisins in a Maclean's Magazine article last February. A competitor to the ubiquitous California raisin means I can now make a '100 mile butter tart' if I can get my hands on the naked ones. Am I wrong to think I may have seen them at McEwan Foods? Anyone spotted the wee gems in their neighbourhood yet? (I can't wait until they change their Facebook presence from a Group to a Page.)

Third, Toronto-based Andrea Damon Gibson of Fred's Bread is profiled by Cynthia David in Spotlight. Her wonderful bread products have made their way to Ottawa. I have enjoyed a loaf from Grace in the Kitchen in Kanata. In fact, right now I am snacking on a Red Fife Whole Wheat JoyStyx that I picked up at 42 Crichton Street Fine Foods. Andrea and her team are super busy as the website is a wee bit out of date. And no amount of scouring will turn them up on Facebook or Twitter. Yet. The bread is premium priced and it's popularity is growing.

Rarely do I mention a specific recipe from an issue beyond the Top Picks list but I was wooed by Gooey Maple Butter Tarts in Raisin the Bar by Nicole Young. Curiosity is running high. Are they as good as Marion Kane's famed recipe? Or that of Dana McCauley? Or mine?

If you are looking for the Playlist, it appears to be no more. Part of the changes for 'a new look' and 'a few tweaks' shared by Editor, Jody Dunn. I am going to miss the Shurman/Torno theming as they set us up for seasonal party times.

My top recipe picks:
  • Lamb Tagine (From Raisin the Bar by Nicole Young)
  • Brûléed Lemon Pie (From Sweetie Pies by Victoria Walsh)
  • Onion Flowers (From Making The Cut by Lucy Waverman)
  • Autumn Squash Chowder (From Pub Bites by Nancy Won)
  • Tomato Balsamic Relish (From Preserving Nature by Tonia Wilson)
  • Chewy Date and Seed Bars (From Seeds by Eshun Mott)
  • Black Sesame Crackers with Black Garlic Fig Jam & Ash-Covered Goat Cheese (From Black Beauties by Christopher St. Onge) *** [Know that Major Craig's will have Canadian Black Garlic available for sale in December. I tried some at the Perth Garlic Festival. It's great. ***]

Plan ahead:
The Holiday issue hits the stores in 9 weeks on Wednesday, November 7th.
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