Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Roots and Shoots Farm - 5th Week of CSA Food 2014

Garlic Scapes

The word is spreading about Roots and Shoots Farm.  

We had friends in for an impromptu dinner party Saturday night to share in our latest CSA basket, only to find out they have jumped on board too.  It is their first year and they are so pleased that they are augmenting their half share with more Roots and Shoots produce from the Ottawa Farmers' Market Westboro.

Want to know why they are so excited? Here is what we both brought home from our Thursday pickup.

Cucumbers

Dinosaur Kale

Golden Beets

Hakurei Turnips

Iceberg Lettuce

Spring Onions

Summer Squash

Carrots

Cilantro

Building Good Sandwiches The Organic Way - Avocado and Egg on Rye


I took the long way to lunch today. The really long way. What could I possibly eat? The fridge wasn't brimming, nor was it empty. But it gave off that vibe like "There's nothing to eat."

The crisp, fresh, sweet carrots first beckoned my munch. Then a large, succulent cucumber.  The scant leftover blue cheese dressing was almost too obvious.

I figure they deserved some civility, so instead of crunching down on them mindlessly, they were cleaned and cut and presented for sharing.

In my fridge foraging I found a nicely ripe avocado, a partly cut red onion, a small wedge of Jarlsberg cheese and a few herbs - cilantro, basil and chives. Oh some kind of sandwich I guess. Still pretty un-enthused.

The bread is kept in the freezer, pre-sliced at purchase or at home just before hitting the chiller.

Avocado said rye bread. I agreed. Lucky me, one slice left.

And so on with the building and piling. It was now seeming more hopeful.


I find building my open-faced sandwiches is much like art. You stand back and stare at the canvas and size up the look - and in this case the taste - then figure out where to put more colour, more texture, more flavour.

You know me well enough by now to know that my cheap trick is the egg - more often than not, soft-boiled. Partly it is my canned answer to 'What next?' when my lame response is apt to be 'I don't know'. I like that it is colour and it is protein too. Maybe that makes this cheap trick okay then.  I blame my Danish roots. We do love the egg.


So it was that my lunch organically unfolded. The carrots, the cucumber, the smørrebrød sandwich. And in the very last seconds, a quick splash of sriracha for the for WOW and the POW.


* Happy to say that my carrots, cucumber and cilantro came in my latest CSA basket from Roots and Shoots Farm. The to-die-for sriracha is a new creation from michaelsdolce which I bought at the Ottawa Farmers' Market, Brewer Park.




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Roots and Shoots Farm - 3rd Week of CSA Food 2014


My second CSA basket in the third week of the Roots and Shoots Farm CSA program had nine beautiful specimens.  As I worked my way through the produce, I took a quick picture on my phone of each dish I prepared. Follow along to see what happened with each item in my basket.

Basil - the next day I made a batch of basil pesto using the basil, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, salt and pepper. I was able to make three 125ml jars of pesto.  Two jars went into the freezer.

Some of the basil pesto was used in this pasta dish.  I also used some of the spring onions and the garlic scapes.

Curly Kale

The mister made a kale salad and made a lemony vinaigrette.  He topped with grated parmesan and some of our stash of toasted pine nuts.

Napa Cabbage

I made a coleslaw with the Napa cabbage.  I also used some of the spring onions. The dressing is based loosely on Bobby Flay's Creamy Coleslaw recipe.

Peas

Broccoli

I used the peas, broccoli and some of the spring onions and garlic scapes for this stir fry which was served over steamed rice.

Zucchini

This zucchini yielded 9 thin strips.  We grilled them lightly and let them cool.  Just before serving our party treats, we spread them with a soft cheese - Garlic and Fine Herbs Boursin.

Grated parmesan was heaped on top and then they went under the broiler to brown and warm up.  A great party treat.

Beets

The beets were roasted in the oven and the beet greens were set aside for another dish. When slightly cooled and peeled we used them in the ubiquitous roasted beet and goat cheese chèvre salad.  I included some greens from my friend's garden, microgreens from Butterfly Sky Farm, and some pralined pecans.  The dressing is an orange maple dressing using Kricklewood Farm's cold-pressed sunflower oil.

Spring onions

Garlic scapes

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Smitten Kitchen's Best Cocoa Brownies - To Heal The Broken Hearts


When I get bad news, my first instinct is to head to the kitchen to lose myself in a recipe. Or two. Or three.

And so it was when I got the call and the first words pretty much were, "Anne, he's gone." The gut punch.  I do the mental math and the months between our ages barely matter to any statistician.  In the sadness of it all, my own mortality blankets the scene. "It could just as easily have been me. Or my mister. Or my brother..."

I don't think I am terribly unique to find refuge in the kitchen as funeral plans are formulating around another kitchen table down the road.  The burners and ovens are blazing for the usual cast of characters.  Food that can feed plenty but also freezes well. Lasagnas, chickens, chilis, stews, casseroles.  Then there are the treats.  There is a bit of irony baking up a calorie laden, sugar and butter weighted treat on such a sorrowful occasion. But desserts are tradition.  There will be company and tea times.

So this time I hit the larder to see what I had on hand and I knew I could double up a batch of Smitten Kitchen's Best Cocoa Brownies.  Chewy, dense chocolate.  Its sweetness hidden behind the deep cocoa.  Its buttery-ness married with eggs, for a firm lava. No need for icing.

A gift for you to heal the broken hearts.  From my kitchen to yours.

SMITTEN KITCHEN'S BEST COCOA BROWNIES
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet

Ingredients:
280 grams unsalted butter
500 grams sugar
130 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
130 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method:
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.  Lightly grease a 9"x13" cake pan and line with parchment that continues up the sides and over the edge.  The lightly greased pan will help the parchment stay in place and not fold in on top of the batter.  The overhang of parchment will help to lift the baked brownies from the pan.

Warm the butter in a heatproof bowl to almost melting using your microwave.  Add the sugar, cocoa and salt and stir. Place the bowl over a boiling water and stir the mixture occasionally until fully incorporated and the batter is quite warm to the touch.  The batter will seem somewhat grainy.

Using an electric hand mixer add the vanilla extract.

Let the batter cool to warm.  Then add each egg one at a time and use the hand mixer to blend.

Add the flour in three batches and use the hand mixer to blend.  When all the flour has been added, mix the batter for another 45 seconds on low.

Pour half the batter in one end of the pan.  Add the chopped walnuts to the remaining batter and pour into the other end of the pan.  This way your can keep your nutty fans happy and also the not so nutty.  Even out the batter with an offset spatula.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Place on a rack to cool.  Set the cooked brownies in the fridge or freezer.  When you cut into it, you will have clean edges.  Remove the pan from the fridge or freezer and remove the brownies from the pan by lifting on the parchment.  Trim the edges and then divide into squares.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

LCBO Food & Drink Magazine - Summer Issue 2014



I broke the forbidden rule.

Do.not.read.the.LCBO.Food.and.Drink,magazine.when.you.are hungry.

The Summer issue of the latest LCBO Food & Drink magazine is a companion piece for our amped up social lives during this long awaited sunny season. The chill of our long winter is a faded memory. School is out. The cottage is the main event. Parties and festivals are everywhere and we keenly try to catch up with friends.

What I like about this issue is the play on simple, easy summer staples, like hot dogs, that can feed a range of tastes from the very young to the very foodie.  One rendition shared in Hot Diggity Dogs by Christopher St. Onge gives the weiner an extra bit of pizazz with truffle mayo and garlicky mushrooms. His mashups with the Korean Chicken Wing Dog and the Balsamic-Braised Short Rib & Burrata Dog have high appeal too. Even more importantly, where did he get those stellar buns??!! Anyone?

'Fast' is the name of the game when preparing food in the summer. Heather Trim teases me with her Chicken Caprese Salad in Quick & Easy 30-Minute Marvels as I impatiently wait for my own urban garden tomato plants to bear fruit.

A favourite feature article is Robert Hercz's Food Origins. This issue he tells us all we need to know about Potato Chips. Did you know that ketchup-flavoured potato chips are a Canadian invention?  (A pretty brilliant flavour, I thought, when it hit the stores back in the day.) And the average Canadian eats 2 1/2 kilos a year - the equivalent of 60 single-serving (43-gr) bags. I'm not doing my bit so that means someone out there is having even more. This fact is a real stunner. I remember the Canadian chip enterprise Hostess, which was the chip company in Canada before Lay's (really the PepsciCo empire) bought them out in the 90's.  I also remember the short-lived flavour of Roast Chicken.

If you only read one article this time around, the most super fun piece is Nice Ice by Kristen Eppich. Besides the stylish and flavourful cubes, she shares practical tips to set you up for icy success. Use purified water and boil it first to remove the air. This will give your cubes a more professional look plus shiny bling power.

Again, their Summer issue is including Wine Country Ontario Travel Guide 2014 with its very handy Official Map of Ontario's Wine Route. A great planning tool. Put it in your car right away.

Trend spotted by cocktail lover Charlene Rooke is Ottawa's own Harvey & Vern's sodas. She highlighted other Ontario craft sodas and appears to have a thing for ginger beer. Bring on the Dark 'N' Stormy!

As a seafood lover, my 'Gotta Make' list is full of it:
  •  Lobster In A Saffron Broth with Baby Bok Choy, Tomatoes & Noodles (From Lobster Made Easy by Monda Rosenberg)
  • Smoked Salmon Tostadas (From Quick & Easy 30-Minute Marvels by Heather Trim)
  • Crab Linguine with Chili and Cilantro ( From Matchmaker - Provincial Brews by Michael Fagan)
  •  Wok-Steamed Mussels (From Oh, Canada by James Chatto & Lucy Waverman)
  • Cameroon Spiced Shrimp with Peanut Sauce (From World Cup BBQ by Marilyn Bentz-Crowley)

Plan ahead: The Autumn issue hits the stores in a little over 8 weeks on Wednesday, September 3rd.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's Kind of Like That Zippy Zingy East Side Mario's Salad Dressing


Look at that splendid head of romaine lettuce from my first CSA basket of the 2014 season!  It was tender and sweet, with no hint of bitterness.  The head was solid and plentiful with many well-developed leaves.

When we don't want to do the classic Caesar salad dressing with our head of romaine, we go for something more zippy and zingy.

In our DIOK days of 'double income one kid' we sometimes caved on the way home from work and dined at East Side Mario's.  Part of the attraction was their all you could eat house salad. If I recall, it had tomatoes, olives, red onions, croutons, and a peperoncini pepper or two.  The wait staff would shred the cheese on top at your table and give a few turns of the gigantic pepper mill.  I think it was no more exciting than iceberg lettuce.  But it was the zippy zingy salad dressing that had us licking our lips.

A few years ago, I tried to find a dressing that would come close to that zippy zingy taste.  I have a yellow Post-It with an ingredient list but I have no idea where I sourced it. It appears that it exists everywhere out there. Who knows who started it. We have also doctored it a bit ourselves.  When we make this salad we use romaine instead of iceberg and we skip all the fixings, except for thin slices of red onions. That cuts down on calories and sodium.  If we need to stretch the salad, and don't have a second head of romaine, we use mixed greens.  They aren't as sturdy so if using serve as soon as the salad is dressed.

A little bit of parmesan is added to the salad when tossing but we save most of it for a showy topping, along with that quintessential freshly ground black pepper.

So here you go.  It's kind of like that zippy zingy East Side Mario's salad dressing.


IT'S KIND OF LIKE THAT ZIPPY ZINGY EAST SIDE MARIO'S SALAD DRESSING

Ingredients:
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped, or use dried
1/4 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped, or use dried
1/4 tsp. minced onion, or use powder
1/4 tsp. minced garlic, or use powder
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar

Method:
Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar and shake well.  This is more salad dressing than you will need for one head of romaine. It will keep in the fridge for a few days. We think it tastes better the next day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Asian Radish Poutine - Radish Haters Unite


I don't think I would call myself a Radish Hater but I am definitely not in love with them.  The mister embraces the raw, crunchy, spicy, bitter taste.  I can take a bit of them in salads but for me they aren't a snack or a meal.

And so begins my struggle with my CSA basket as it is guaranteed to be loaded up with these bright red beauties a few times this summer. The mister is working away from home and I had a dozen near perfect radishes staring me down this weekend.  They were my last offerings remaining in the first CSA basket of the season and I was determined to give them my full respect.

In our second newsletter from Roots and Shoots Farm, they were kind to give assistance to the Radish Haters in their midst.

The recipe that they shared called Sautéed Radishes from allrecipes.ca had their own embellishments.  Roots and Shoots Farm suggested "you can add the leaves in about three minutes from the end, and serve them up with soy and sweet chili sauce. So yummy!"  

I ended up including the soy and sweet chili sauce to the pan to help wilt the radish greens. As it turns out, the heat caused a nice gravy to form.

As a final touch at plating I topped my radishes with a wedge of Cambozola cheese and voilà, Asian Radish Poutine was born.

I liked it well enough, but next time I would include sautéed spring onions to sweeten it.  This would make a great side for a beef dinner but it's probably too strong for something as delicate as fish.

Are you a Radish Hater? Maybe this is your rescue dish.


ASIAN RADISH POUTINE
Inspired by Roots and Shoots Farm and allrecipes.ca
Serves 2 as a side dish

Ingredients:
1 bunch of radishes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt and pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 to 4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
cheese

Method:
Remove the radish leaves and set aside any leaves that are still in very good shape. Wash the radishes and the leaves well.  Trim the radishes at each end and halve or quarter them, depending on their size.

Heat the unsalted butter in a skillet over medium heat. Place the radishes face down and turn the heat to low so they can cook through as they brown.  Stir them occasionally to make sure they are not sticking or getting too brown too fast.  Season them with salt and pepper.  It may take as much as 10 minutes for them to soften.  A few minutes before they finish, add in the radish greens.

Pour soy and sweet chili sauce over the dish and heat through.  Adjust to your taste.

Plate and top with a wedge of cheese.  This time I used Cambozola, thinking I would challenge strong with strong.  Use a cheese that suits your tastes.




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lebanese Lentil Soup Marries My Roots and Shoots Farm Swiss Chard


I know little of foreign relations but I trust that all is well between Lebanon and Switzerland.  At least it is in my kitchen. My absolute favourite way to eat Swiss chard is in Lebanese Lentil Soup.  I have a few friends that make something similar and they provided the inspiration to include this dish in my repertoire.

It is a dish that is well sought after in the colder months. But knowing how the Ottawa seasons seem to include many climates, I knew I just needed to wait a few days and the scene would be right.


Yesterday, while many were considering building an ark on our dark and stormy Tuesday, I took much comfort in my Lebanese Lentil Soup, loaded up with my entire head of Swiss chard from my last Roots and Shoots Farm CSA basket. For good measure I included a few of my CSA spring onions too.


It is a big batch and kinder weather has returned.  The remainder is now in containers to be enjoyed later. It freezes so well.

SHOURABIT ADAS (LEBANESE LENTIL SOUP)
Inspired by Mary Salloum's A Taste of Lebanon: Cooking Today The Lebanese Way and two special friends that are lentil soup fans

1 pound lean ground beef
4 cooking onions, evenly chopped
2 spring onions including the greens
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup lentils
5 tablespoons ground cumin
10 cups water
1 bundle Swiss chard, chopped
12 small potatoes (cherry tomato size), halved, leaving the skin on if in good shape
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
lemon juice

Heat the butter and oil in a dutch oven. Season the meat. Sauté the beef until fully browned. Add the onions and sauté until the onions are softened.

Clean the Swiss chard and then rip the leaves from the stems.  Rough chop the leaves into manageable pieces for eating, but not too small.  Chop the stems.

Add the ground cumin and cook for 1 or 2 minutes to bring out the fragrance of the spice.

Add lentils, water, Swiss chard, potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer with the lid on until the lentils are tender, say 1 hour.  I will let the soup stay on the stove on a low simmer for 3 or 4 hours to let the flavours incorporate.  Add water or broth if it needs thinning.

I find the soup tastes much better the next day.  Consider adding more cumin to your taste as the strength of cumin can vary by variety and age. Adjust the salt to your tastes too.  Potatoes take a lot of salt to cook. Finish seasoning just before serving.

When you serve it up, sprinkle a few drops of lemon the top of the soup.

Great accompanied with freshly baked bread.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Supply and Demand's Famous Kale Salad - Homestyle

Supply and Demand Kale Salad Homestyle for our Summer Solstice dinner.
It's true that I offer up Supply and Demand as one of my regular restaurant haunts when people ask me where to eat in Ottawa.  And despite their offerings on their Raw Bar and seafood selections from the mains, I seem to get permanently stuck in their veggies on the Small Plates and From The Garden section of the menu.

My most repeated dish over my many visits is their signature Kale Salad.  My visits are often impromptu and covering for me instead of cooking for myself.  The last two times I dropped in quickly for a Kale Salad and a Beet Salad. Re-energized, I was good to go.

After my harried attempt at making their Kale Salad for my Summer Solstice dinner, all I can say is, don't come to my restaurant if you want to eat in a hurry. Eating out has its benefits.

The number one rule of cooking if using a recipe is to read it through first to gather the ingredients and to absorb the instructions.  I like to live loose with recipes but I was committed to following this one to a tee.  Mainly because I already know that the space between Chef Steve Wall's Kale Salad perfection and what I could add to elevate the dish to my personal tastes is non-existent.

Had I followed my number one rule of cooking, I would have probably washed and massaged the kale sooner to allow for a proper and thorough drying.  I would have known that the already cooked bacon in the freezer wouldn't do because I needed the rendered fat to toast up the coarse bread crumbs.  And speaking of coarse bread crumbs, well they take a bit of time to make if you are starting with frozen old buns from the freezer.

What I did do right was make sure I had some fresh Manchego cheese on hand to snow peak my mountain of salad.

Although I only had the one head of kale, I made the full batch of dressing and used more the next day with my grilled asparagus in place of a gribiche sauce.  I would consider using this dressing for my classic romaine Caesar too.

Curly kale from this week's CSA basket from Roots and Shoots Farm

If you have an awesome head of curly kale like the one I had from Roots and Shoots Farm, by all means, make the much hailed Kale Salad à la Supply and Demand.  But if you are in a hurry to eat, head on down to 1335 Wellington Street West and hope they can tuck you in at the end of the bar.

KALE SALAD WITH CAPER VINAIGRETTE
Source: Chef Steve Wall, Supply and Demand
printed with permission; embellishments for my own clarity are also included

Makes 4 generous servings.

Ingredients:

For Caper Vinaigrette
3 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons capers, plus a good splash of brine
1 large shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups canola oil, scant

For Salad
2 bunches curly kale
1/2 lb bacon
1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs
1 1/2 ounces Manchego cheese*

*Supply and Demand has also used Crotonese cheese

Method:
To make the vinaigrette, purée anchovy fillets, Dijon mustard, capers, shallot, garlic, vinegar and water in a blender or VitaMix until smooth.

Chef's Tip: Allow some caper brine to be included with the capers; it will give the vinaigrette an extra "capery" flavour boost.

Slowly add the oil with the blender running. Season with salt.  Chill the dressing until using.

Remove the stems from the kale.  Wash, then soak in ice cold water.  Using ice cubes, massage each leaf individually.  The leaves will turn a strong green.  This tenderizing process removes the leaf's stiffness and will give the kale a more lettuce-like texture.  Once the kale leaves are torn into pieces, pat dry with a towel.

To make coarse bread crumbs, place chunks of old bread in a 300°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes to dry and then crumble it in your hands until you have pieces the size of small peas.

Fry bacon slices until the fat is rendered and bacon is crispy, remove bacon and save the bacon fat in pan.

Add the coarse bread crumbs to the hot bacon fat in the pan and sauté until the crumbs are golden.  Season lightly with salt.

Put the kale in a bowl for tossing.  Season it lightly with salt.  Add the bacony bread crumbs, and crumbled bacon.  Don your kitchen gloves. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and massage it into the leaves.

Place in serving bowl and top with shredded cheese using a fine microplane.

In the middle of preparing this post I had to zip out to do an errand in the village.  Dinner service had just started at Supply and Demand so I sat in for a quick bite.  Kale salad to start, of course.  Comparing this delight to my weekend effort, I think my Supply and Demand Kale Salad Homestyle was a success.
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