Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Do You Call It Tatziki or Tzatziki?

For this traditional Greek dish I say tzatziki, but I see many refer to it as tatziki. How about you? Do you call it tzatziki or tatziki?  Wikipedia seems consistent on tzatziki.  We were just at the Ottawa Greekfest last week (our 28th year!) and their menu board refers to it as tzatziki.  When in Athens, do as the Greeks do. So tzatziki it is!

My first taste of tzatziki was at the Ottawa Greekfest 29 years ago.  We have been going every year since and have only missed out once because of holidays.  After much tzatziki in Greece on our month long honeymoon, we started making it regularly for ourselves.

Roots and Shoots Farm gave me 6 cucumbers in my last CSA basket.  And as the saying goes, when life hands you cucumbers, you make tzatziki. Well, something like that.

Our darling son has been going to Greekfest every year since he was zero.  With garlic juice coursing through his veins he took to preparing our lunch today.


750 gr natural yogurt, drained well
1 or 2 cucumbers, peeled, grated and drained well
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1 to 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine drained yogurt, one drained cucumber, one minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Add more cucumber pulp, minced garlic or salt to suit your taste. Lightly dribble 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil on top of the tzatziki when serving.

  • Use full fat yogurt.
  • Drain the yogurt through cheesecloth in a plastic (not metal) colander. I prefer to drain it for a whole day so the yogurt cheese is the consistency of spreadable cream cheese.
  • The cucumber pulp can be squeezed 'dry' if you do not have time to wait for it to drain.
  • Seed the cucumber before grating if the seeds are large.

  • In gyros and doner.  
  • As a dip with raw vegetables or warmed Greek pita bread.
  • Along side souvlaki. 

My favourite store bought Greek pita is made by Pita Delight and can be found at Produce Depot. If you know naan bread, it is very similar in bread texture vs. Lebanese pita.

It tastes best warmed but not so much that it dries out.  If the BBQ is on then I will use it; otherwise, I use a cast iron pan or my heavy crepe pan.

I lightly brush the pita with olive oil.  Place the pita over medium heat until to is starting to brown.  Flip the pita and heat on the second side until it is starting to brown.  The bread should still be soft inside but feel and taste 'baked through'.

You can wrap the bread in foil and keep in the oven at 165F if you are timing the pita with other dishes. Cut into wedges just before serving.

I keep my pita stored in the freezer and take out just what I need each time.  It defrosts very quickly on its own.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Roots and Shoots Farm - 8th Week of CSA Food 2013

This summer my CSA shares from Roots and Shoots Farm has been feeding guests here at home but also traveling.

My company on Friday night dug into a pesto pasta dish with a medley of vegetables (onions, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, garlic).

My company on Saturday shared in our Mediterranean Zucchini Salad in Pita Pockets (zucchini and tomatoes).

With the mister away, I have also had many summer jaunts out and about to visit others. I try to bring prepared dishes to share the bounty, but also to be a contributing guest.

This past week I traded a night's stay in my brother's fabulous 5-star guest room for homemade Tzatziki (cucumbers and garlic), a Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese (beets) and Vikram Vij's Eggplant, Tomato, Green Onion Curry (eggplant and tomatoes) with basmati rice.

It is proving to be another beautiful CSA share.

3 peppers
2 zucchinis
6 cucumbers
pint of tomatoes
head of lettuce
2 heads of garlic
2 white onions

What are you making fellow vegetable lovers?

You Know That Awkward Moment - Oh Look, That's My Photo!

You know that awkward moment when, much to your surprise, you run across your photo out on the Internet being used by a commercial enterprise to help enhance their business?

I don't hang my shingle out as a full-time professional photographer, but I have invested time, energy and money into gear that makes my product of value to me in order to enhance my work on the blog.  Which, in turn has led to paid food related work.

I took this picture last weekend when out garlic festival hopping.  I like it well enough, though I think it is a bit bright.  Oh the challenges of shooting candids outdoors on a sunny day.  Interestingly, at the time I took the picture, I turned to have a chat with someone from a photography club. In our conversation, I lamented about photography 'theft' as I have had pictures, including others of garlic, 'lifted' before.  I guess garlic photos are a popular commodity.

In this particular case, my photo was cropped so that my name and website were removed and the company's advertising was overlaid on the photo. No photo credit of any kind.  At least that could have been a gesture. I won't lie, seeing my name and website get cropped did sting.

I am left to wonder why I was not approached to be asked to use the photo.  I am left to wonder why someone did not think it was worthy of some kind of remuneration but was worthy of use to further their product sales.  Are these intentions of malice? Oversight? Is the overriding view of the public that everything out on the Internet is considered fair game, even if you put your name on it?

In the past, my response has varied. Sometimes I have asked for a photo credit and link.  Sometimes I have asked for the photo to be removed.  Sometimes I just sigh and move on.  I have also been advised on more than one occasion to send invoices and skip the neighbourly chats. Starting in February, I have been putting my name and my web address on each picture, hoping to curb the 'wandering' that takes place unbeknownst to me.

Fellow photographers, how do you feel when you see one of your pictures get 'pinched'? How do you handle it? Do you have different reactions depending who takes it and how it gets used? Is this just something we have to get used to?

When asked for a photo, when do you give them away and when do you ask for 'payment' and/or attribution?

God bless the pretty garlic. She is so darn tempting.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Jam 'n Booze

Whenever I go to the Ottawa Farmers' Market, I make a point of swinging by Michaelsdolce to chat with Michael Sunderland and check out his latest jams.  On a visit in July, he was showcasing his new Yellow Plum & Star Anise - a hit with me, and then his Spiced Cherry Jam.

Although the Spiced Cherry Jam was delicious, the juicy cherries made this first batch just a bit too runny.  Michael said he was going to be changing his next batch up a bit to solve that.

Ever the optimist, I happily will look for a way to turn a food problem into a feature.Not ever thinking this good taste was ever lost, I suggested using the 'jam juice' as a cocktail starter.

Next thing I know, Michael has pressed his sample jar of Spiced Cherry Jam into my hand with the challenge to hit the cocktail lab.

We recently had visited Dillon's Small Batch Distillers in Beamsville and picked up a bottle of their vodka and gin.  Both start with local Niagara grapes as their base.

Our drink mix test was put to a panel of esteemed judges and Dillon's vodka proved to be the best match for Spiced Cherry Jam.

Michael isn't new to 'jamming' his cocktails.  He will be joining Ottawa bartender, Jeff Taylor to make non-alcohol cocktails for the Savour Ottawa's Harvest Table lunch coming up August 18 at Brewer Park beside the Ottawa Farmers' Market.  Read more about it from Laura Robin at The Ottawa Citizen. Recipes included!

Many of us prefer not to use thickeners when making our fruit jams.  If juicy fruit gets the better of your batch, just remember Jam 'n Booze.  It's the Year of the Cocktail, after all.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Barns, Farms and Wicked Chefs - Movable Feast Gala Bringing Farmers and Chefs Together

With an event called Barns, Farms and Wicked Chefs one is certainly curious to know what clever brain pulled that name together.

Nancy Wildgoose, Executive Director of Perth's, The Table Community Food Centre, casually suggested that it came about effortlessly with some crazy group brainstorming.

After all, it so aptly describes the event, where Farmers and Chefs are joining forces to showcase the best that Lanark County has to offer in one of the county's most idyllic country settings - the historic Barns of Ecotay.

The movable feast gala on Saturday, August 24 hopes to live up to the buzz of their inaugural sellout last year.  As far as foodie festivals go, you have yourself a deal.

This is the largest fundraising event for the organization this year and it's critical that it goes well.  The proceeds from the event will be used to buy produce from environmentally sustainable, small local farms for use in meals, hampers and the kitchen at The Table Community Food Centre. Another important objective of the event, is to provide an opportunity for dialogue to get the word out. Many people have not heard of The Table or know of its good work. This event can get people talking. Hopefully even becoming active participants.

Joining Nancy on the organizing team, is The Table's own 'wicked chef', Judy Dempsey.  Although it has been a few years since her days cooking at her former restaurant, The Hungry Planet, people I talk to still know Chef Judy for her legacy there. Over a decade of serving great food has garnered her a reputation. High praise indeed.

Judy Dempsey, Community Chef at The Table Community Food Centre in Perth

In addition to her regular duties as Community Chef, Judy has been working tirelessly on the fundraiser to pull the food components together. Organizing the participating chefs and farmers is a huge undertaking.

Meanwhile, she has already crafted her dish for the event.  She wants to do an open-faced lamb burger on a baby focaccia, topped with a combo feta/chèvre spread, a lemon garlic mayonnaise and a Mediterranean style pico de gallo.  She tells more about it in this week's Ottawa Citizen.

Our paths keep crossing, and last month I stopped into The Table in Perth to volunteer at one of their drop-in classes as part of their food skills program, run by Rosie Kerr, Community Kitchen Coordinator.  Here, I saw first hand where Nancy, Judy, Rosie and their colleagues spend their days and share their food talents and passion. I rounded out my visit that day with a tour by Wendy Quarrington of the Good Food Bank. It is a progressive concept where a points allocation allows the clients to 'shop' at the Good Food Bank 'grocery store'.

Some people might think of Perth as a retirement community focused solely on leisure.  If you think it's just about golf, spa days, shopping and the arts, it's not.  Perth is showing itself to be a very caring and supportive community for those among them in need and at risk.

There is a desire to improve food access and food skills to those most vulnerable.  This includes community meals, a progressive food bank, food skills classes plus a new and growing 8000 square foot community garden. They also provide support through their social justice and advocacy office.

The Table is a unique program in the heart of Perth that took off in 2011, with support from the acclaimed Community Food Centre in Toronto called The Stop. In 2010 The Stop was looking to replicate their highly visible and successful program in other communities in need.

Nancy Wildgoose says they flirted outrageously with The Stop to make sure they knew every nuance and detail about what Perth had to offer.  Perth was hopeful that they would be picked since they had already secured a suitable building, they had been awarded a substantial Trillium grant - the biggest grant that could be given in the area, and they were already headed in the direction of developing new programs, growing beyond just a basic food bank.  Last but not least, they had a strong board and local support.

Nancy Wildgoose, Executive Director at The Table Community Food Centre in Perth

From the selection process, The Stop picked both Perth and Stratford. The goal is to have 15 partnership sites across Canada by 2017. Perth is quite happy to be an early adopter.

I returned to Perth last Friday to enjoy lunch at a new restaurant called The Masonry.  Owner-chef, Kyle Woods, will be one of the eight chefs serving up local fare at Barns, Farms and Wicked Chefs.  He is new to the Perth food scene, only opening his farm-to-table breakfast/lunch eatery last month.  A post lunch chat with Chef Woods had me convinced that his place was off to a great start and he had the 'giving back' commitment that would make The Table's fundraiser a success, second year running.

Kyle's dish will have two presentations of beef - cold and hot.  First, an herbed beef carpaccio with grilled corn & bacon relish and a roasted shallot mayonnaise. The second will be seared beef with cauliflower purée, fondant potato and maple cranberry gastrique.  That sounds pretty appetizing to me!  But I know chefs well enough that they are continually tinkering. Between their ever evolving ideas and the limitation of what will actually be in the pantry on game day, I sure won't be surprised if the menu changes up a bit.

Kyle Woods, owner-chef at The Masonry restaurant in Perth

On my regular weekend stroll to the Westboro location of the Ottawa Farmers' Market last Saturday, I picked up a beautiful sheep's tomme from Cait and Kyle White of Milkhouse Farm & Dairy.  It was their first time out to the market this season and their cheese was moving quickly.  As new farmers in their 20's and active members of the food community, the White's are pleased to be part of the gala again this year. Milkhouse is one of the farms providing their unique artisan cheeses.

Kyle and Cait White of Milkhouse Farm & Dairy near Smith Falls

The event was a sellout last year and they hope this year's 350 tickets will be sold before the 24th, now just two weeks away.

Joining Judy Dempsey and Kyle Woods as creators at the movable feast will also be:
Joanne Edwards of The Cove in Westport [vegetarian]  
Jesse Denton of Santé in Ottawa [pork]
Andrew Chatham from The Whalesbone in Ottawa [oysters]
Michael McKenzie from Seed to Sausage near Sharbot Lake [charcuterie]
Gita Seaton from Nouveau Palais in Montreal [goat]

Dressed in your country casuals, you will also be enjoying the jazz and folk music of The Tim Murray Quartet, String Tease and also Ghost Pipes. Sip away on your cold ones from Perth Brewing Co. and Kichesippi Beer Co. Or perhaps a select PEC wine. A cup of Coutts & Company coffee will round out your meal as you enjoy desserts and chocolates.

Interested Ottawa foodies will recognize many of the producers/farmers whose product will be on the plates:
Seed to Sausage near Sharbot Lake [Charcuterie]
Back Forty Artisan Cheese in the Lanark Highlands [Cheese]
Milkhouse Farm and Dairy near Smith Falls [Cheese]
Kricklewood Farm near Frankville [Cold-pressed Sunflower Oil]
Clarmell on the Rideau near Manotick [Cheese]
Miller's Bay Farm near Lombardy [Beef and Pork]
Campton Farm [Pork]
Parks Family Farm near Maberly [Goat]
Jameshaven Farm near Bathurst [Chicken]
Windblest Farm near Ferguson's Falls [Lamb]
The Table Community Food Centre in Perth [Garlic]
Temple's Sugar Bush near Ferguson's Falls [Desserts]
Fine Chocolate by Ludwig near Crow Lake [Chocolate]

  • Saturday, August 24 - 5:30 to 10 pm
  • EcoTay, 942 Upper Scotch Line, Perth Ontario
  • $100/pp Tickets purchase through Tickets Please or by phoning 613.485.6434 (tax receipt for $70 of ticket price)
  • Direct donations to The Table accepted online (tax receipt for full amount)
  • More information on The Table’s event website
For a glimpse into last year's event, check out Mary Anne's experience on the local Ottawa blog Wine, Dine & Design.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Farewell to Odile

I've had a number of days now to absorb the news that Marysol Foucault plans to close Odile at the end of August (only 15 months young) and focus her energy on her first restaurant, Edgar, which she opened in October 2010.

The mister and I dropped into Odile a few weeks ago.  Without a reservation, they gave us spots on the high stools where we had a full view of the action in the kitchen.

I had been craving something rhubarb.  With 18 pounds nestled in my own freezer, I could have easily solved this problem myself.  But my rhubarb-y senses told me that Marysol was likely the doctor to write the prescription I needed.  It seemed foolish to self-medicate.

As predicted, the dessert was spot on.  A hefty chunk of orange pound cake sitting in macerated strawberries and rhubarb compote. It was adorned with cool, creamy balls of avocado lime sorbet and strawberry ginger ice cream. Playfully arranged on top were sweet little gooseberries.

The dessert was a shining example of why her food stands out in this town.  It is creative. The dishes have depth of flavour and character.  They are loosely precise and artistically presented. Not necessarily formal.  Definitely fun.

Odile will have regular dinner service until mid-month.  Then starting Wednesday, August 21, for the last 8 dinners closing out Odile, Marysol will be amping up her 'playful'.  Expect the unusual. Bring your adventurous self and come on out. Without a reservation, your wait in line should be just as enjoyable as your time at your table.  Reminisce with regulars or indoctrinate the 'I-always-wanted-to-come-here-but-never-quite-made-it' team.

I'll miss the linger-shminger that her sit-down place allows for in a dining-out date-night experience.  Though I, like many, can draw solace knowing her kitchen creativity can still be had at Edgar.  Most notable, her brunches. A different venue. A different time of the day. A different vibe. But thankfully still Marysol, through and though.
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