Monday, September 30, 2013

Roots and Shoots Farm - 14th Week of CSA Food 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.

4 leeks
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 kohlrabi
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.

Still outstanding are: the kale, the two acorn squash and the 2 red onions.  The squash and onions can keep for quite a bit. The kale will become a salad or I will put it in the freezer for a future dish.  Frozen it will still be fine in a soup or quiche.

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

The No Rules Autumn Lunch Menu

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

LCBO Food & Drink Magazine - Autumn Issue 2013 [20th Anniversary Edition]

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:
I too am a long time reader of the magazine and one thing that I have come to appreciate is the ability to search Food & Drink's recipes on-line.  Although they aren't all up there, many favourites are.  I was forever ripping recipes out of magazines and now I have given that up.  Thank you Food & Drink for making so many recipes available on-line.  My clutterless husband thanks you too.

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?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Roots and Shoots Farm - 12th Week of CSA Food 2013

Any guesses on the weight of my latest CSA share from Roots and Shoots Farm?  I didn't put it on the scale, but I can tell you it was HEAVY. Even without that gorgeous watermelon.

The basket came on Thursday, just as we were getting ready for a quick trip to Montreal which was just before the mister headed back to his work away from Ottawa.  The darling son has been absent for many dinners too and so it has been up to me to make a dent in this great food.

I have to tell you, I am getting pretty overwhelmed.  I've decided that the squash can keep for a bit as can the potatoes.

The garlic is long gone. As are the onions.  Red peppers and zucchini became filling for omelettes.  Red peppers and carrots were also used raw in the darling son's work lunches. I have used the tomatoes in guacamole and mile high tomato sandwiches.  I have had a few cucumbers and carrots as raw snacky foods too.

Slowly I am getting bites into this great basket but I feeling intimated.  I don't want to waste any of it or let it go bad.

I am seriously considering switching to a Wednesday pickup location just to give myself another day ahead of the weekends to get a handle on it all. We have been away for many weekends this summer and it is messing with my CSA basket food plans.  When I have been visiting in other people's homes, prepared food has been coming with me but this plan doesn't work so well when it comes to hotel getaways.

How are you coping with your basket?

2 peppers (I chose red)
5 small zucchinis
4 cucumbers
2 quarts of tomatoes
1 head of garlic
2 white onions
2 delicata squash
6 potatoes
purple basil
bunch of greens

Dining In With The Fab Five

I am still digesting (maybe even literally) our very special dinner from Sunday night.  When I attended a fundraiser in March for the launch of the Ron Eade Culinary Bursary for Algonquin College I suspected I was at risk of bidding on an auction item or two.

Percolating in my head was the well-oiled fundraiser auction phrase, "It's for the students!".

One of our table pals often cooks with the mister and before long the four of us were in cahoots to go after the Dinner For 8 By Five of Ottawa's Finest Lady Chefs.  I like to refer to them as the Fab Five.

Algonquin College culinary graduates Patricia Larkin, Chef at Black Cat Bistro, Anna March, Resident Chef at The Urban Element, and Katie Ardington Chef de Cuisine at Beckta teamed with Pascale Berthiaume of Pascale's All Natural Ice Cream and Marysol Foucault owner/chef of Edgar to create an out-of-this-world dining experience.

We each joined in another couple and on Sunday night the feasting began.

It was a very special time with friends, to be sure. But I confess to being tempted to wiggle my way into the party in the kitchen.  To watch and learn.  To be a part of their buzz. Their love for food came shining through, not only in taste but the 'pretty' on the plate. To have such dishes on the table in a home setting is a rare experience.

Thanks to the Fab Five for making a big memory.

Grilled and Marinated Baby Zucchini with Manchego Cheese and Lemon Balm created by Katie Ardington.

Pork, Apple & Shallot Terrine by Patricia Larkin.

The arrangement by Bloomfields Flowers adds beauty.

Amuse Bouche
Canada Goose Tartare with Parma Crisp and Baby Kale by Marysol Foucault.

Albacore Tuna, Pickled Watermelon, Peanuts, Thai Basil and Chillies by Anna March.

Heirloom Tomatoes (from Katie's garden), Kale & Cashew Pesto, Corn Gastrique, Corn Sable, Umeboshi Purée by Katie Ardington.

Duck Breast, Mustard Spaetzle, Mushrooms, Kale, Walnuts, Thyme, Black Garlic, Jus by Patricia Larkin.

Trou Normand
Cranberry, Lime and Triple Sec Trou Normand Granita by Pascale Berthiaume.

Fennel-braised Lamb, Smoked Tomato Broth, Lemon-Herb Labneh Stuffed Patty Pan Blossom, Gremolata, Roasted Veggies by Marysol Foucault.

Cassis Blackberry Sherbet with Raspberries and Lemon Coulis by Pascale Berthiaume.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Fresh Banana, Waffle, Candied Ginger Sundae by Pascale Berthiaume.

9/11 Memorial in New York City

Today is the 12th anniversary of the terror attacks of 9/11 on the USA.  I was in Europe at the time.  It was unsettling to be separated from my family.

Last month, while in NYC, I went to the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero.  The waterfalls and reflecting pools are meant to "convey a spirit of hope and renewal, and creates a contemplative space separate from the usual sights and sounds of a bustling metropolis.", says the memorial's website.  The twin reflecting pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood.

The security to get into the plaza might suggest that things have changed for the freedom of movement of peoples in the US.  I showed my ticket (it's free) at three different checkpoints plus had my personal belongings run through a scanner. The area is heavily fenced and security cameras are prolific. It kind of kills the mood. Safety and security now trumps symbolism says a recent NBC News article.

Seeing what a huge production the memorial has become, it is a lot to take in knowing that there have been even larger acts of terror committed around the world.  It is a very different experience to life back home in little old Ottawa.

I read this in UK's The Week today regarding One World Trade Centre. "Although One World Trade Center won't be the first tower to open at Ground Zero it has the greatest significance for New Yorkers and Americans in general. When a spire was added to the structure in May it reached its "symbolic" height of 1,776ft, a reference to the year the US declared its independence."

I know he is safe, but I do feel a small twinge knowing that the mister is in NYC today. I wonder for those who live there if that feeling ever goes away.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

Bright bursts of red blanketed my kitchen counters last week. There was just enough extra space to set up the coffee machine and lay out a cutting board for any food prep. The insanity started when I purchased 75 pounds of Roma tomatoes. Equivalent weight to the boy next door. Ambitious plans to be sure.

Most of my tomatoes go to making sauce. This time I pulled out about 20 pounds to be oven-roasted.

Whichever way I choose to preserve my tomatoes, my first step is to wash and sort them immediately. Those with blemishes are used right away.  The remaining beauties are laid out on tea towels to further ripen. With this batch, I had them laying about for four days.

When I roast tomatoes, I cover my baking sheets with parchment paper.  The Romas are cut in half lengthwise, placed cut side up, dribbled lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  I will often do double duty and throw in a few cloves of garlic to roast since the heat is on.

I use the convection bake cycle on my oven and set it to 200ºF to 250ºF, depending on my personal schedule.  A lower temperature means they could roast overnight, using hydro at off-peak hours.  I prefer the lower temperatures because it dries the fruit more slowly, avoiding any charring of the skin and flesh before the drying cycle is complete.  Another side benefit is that it doesn't heat up my kitchen. You will see other recipes that roast temperatures in the 300's and 400's with success. It really depends on your desired outcome.

How long they are in the oven really depends on the size of the fruit and your preference for 'juicy'.  At the lower temperatures, expect it to be at least 5 hours. As they near completion, check on them every half hour.

I store my oven-roasted tomatoes in the freezer in zip-lock freezers. Always on the ready.

Oven-roasted tomatoes are a spectacular hit of flavour on a sandwich.  It pairs well with goat cheese and avocado.  I also use them in quiches, tarts, tartines, pizzas, omelettes, pasta dishes, soups, stews and curries.  Did I mention they go well as a pesto on warm melted brie?

What is your favourite way to use them?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...