Friday, August 31, 2012

Roots and Shoots Farm - 10th Week of CSA Food 2012

The CSA baskets from Roots and Shoots just keeping better and better! I am feeling a bit melancholy though. The start of September marks a changing season and our remaining weeks of baskets are dwindling.

We have done well using our produce but it is still a bit of a race to make sure none goes to waste and that it is used well.

I have enjoyed helping out at the Roots and Shoots Farm 'pavilion' for their first two weeks at the Westboro location of the Ottawa Farmers' Market. A great way to catch up with my neighbours, fellow CSA members and meet new food loving friends.

We loved how everyone within hearing distance would pitch in to share their ideas on how to best care for the new purchases and their favourite way to cook them up. The most common advice I doled out was "Don't be a beet boiler!" I hope there are a few converts to roasting them and keeping the nutrition packed inside.

I was not surprised when the kale sold out week 2. It has become so popular as the morning smoothie core ingredient. Kale is the new ! How would you answer that? Super food? Kale and quinoa!

My big surprise news flash is that my mister really doesn't like string beans. Not green, yellow or purple beans. We have been married forever and I am finding this out now? Their is a silver lining though. This week's beans are all mine.

Have you found a new favourite in your basket or at the Farmers' Market?

[green and purple beans]

[cooking onions and a red onion]



[romaine lettuce]

[red, golden and candy cane beets]

[delicata squash]



[savoy cabbage]


[lipstick peppers, green peppers, jalepeño peppers]

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 also sell at a number of markets around the city, including the Ottawa Farmers' Market on Sunday at Brewer Park. 8 am to 3 pm. Their Saturday markets are: Kanata, Manotick and Westboro.

[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 comments 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.]

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Roots and Shoots Farm has beautiful saucing tomatoes. These came from the Westboro location of the Ottawa Farmers' Market. (It runs from 9:30 to 3 every Saturday until October 27.)

I washed them right away and left them out on a tea towel to fully ripen.

One of my favourite ways to preserve a saucing tomato is to roast it. The beautiful fruit can keep for months in the freezer, laid out in a well sealed, zip-lock bag.

The hardest part of this job is finding a break in the hot weather where putting on the oven does not seem like a violation to our home's comfort.

I roasted these tomatoes in a 250ºF oven for 3 3/4 hours. They were cut in half lengthwise and put cut side up on a parchment lined baking sheet. I like to drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and then season them lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper.

I will roast garlic cloves at the same time to be energy efficient. The roasted cloves store well in the refrigerator. Keep the peeled cloves in a small jar covered in olive oil. This time I took two of my Roots and Shoots Farm garlic heads and put the cloves among the tomatoes.

Our roasted tomatoes are a popular condiment on our open-faced sandwiches.

This snack starts with a slice of lightly toasted onion bread from The Crusty Baker in Kemptville. It is covered in a smear of freshly roasted garlic, which is then covered with a thin blanket of Clarmell Farms creamy chèvre cheese. The roasted tomatoes sit on top of avocado slices. The garnish includes a thin chip of a Parmesan crisp, homemade basil pesto and a young pea shoot from Butterfly Sky Farms.

I love using the roasted tomatoes in pasta dishes too. So easy when all I have to do is pull them from the freezer!

Will you be preserving tomatoes this Fall?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Roots and Shoots Farm - 8th Week of CSA Food 2012

This week we hit the half way point in our CSA season with Roots and Shoots Farm. It's week 8. If the weight of the basket is any indication, this farm appears to have reached its crescendo. Or at least is well on its way.

I continue to marvel at the beauty of the produce week after week. This is their best year of their three. The storage life exceeds what I normally experience with produce from the grocery store. It helps that what I receive in my CSA share was picked just the day before it arrives.

Thankfully there are a few dinner parties over the next week. I plan to stuff everyone to the gills! Lucky them.

How are you doing with your food basket?


[Red curly kale]

[Sprouts tops]












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 also sell at a number of markets around the city, including the Ottawa Farmers' Market on Sunday at Brewer Park. 8 am to 3 pm. Their Saturday markets are: Kanata, Manotick and Westboro.

[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. My comments 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.]

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child

Dear Julia:

Happy 100th birthday! When I reflect on your many wonderful qualities, what I think stands out most for me is how tenacious you were about fulfilling your desire to learn how to cook. To leap into a program as demanding as that of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris is not for the faint of heart - killing lobsters, trussing chickens, deboning ducks. You seemed so unfazed by all the hard work required to complete the program.

So when I was invited on a lunch date this past Wednesday, and was left with the responsibility of choosing the dining destination, I jumped at the chance to celebrate your big day with friends at Le Cordon Bleu right here in Ottawa. Lucky us.

I so wanted to sit out on the large, stone terrace with a view of the magnificent fountain across the road in Strathcona Park. The weather co-operated. It was sunny and a warm 25ºC.

The wait staff doted on us. At times there seemed to be more of them than us. The cutlery was shuffled or replaced according to protocol as we moved our way through our 3-course meal. The white linens added an elegant touch. With all the hipster, humble, honest eating going on in town now, it's hard to even get a comfortable seat. But our setting was definitely a place where you can linger.

The soft, plush homemade bread was swaddled in white linen too.

I was not the lunch organizer, but my three table mates were happy to heap praise on me for making the actual dining choice. I am not sure they even knew it was your birthday on Wednesday, let alone a centenary. But they did speak of you fondly too. No doubt they were feeling a bit wowed by it all. I have to say, at one point, I did feel kind of genius, as it was all going so swimmingly.

Alas, I had hoped that Le Cordon Bleu had fussed just a wee bit about your big day. After all, aren't you likely their most famous alumnus? For sure, you should be given a nod for being such an able ambassador of French cuisine and introducing French culinary techniques to the home chef. For them, this day was business as usual.

You were a strong influence on your fellow Americans, but there are many north of the 49th parallel that also embraced your joie de vivre in the kitchen. Your friend, Marion Kane, now former food editor for the Toronto Star, heaps praise on you all the time. I remember fondly, as a child, watching your television show, The French Chef. To tell you the truth, I think it was that special lilt to your voice that kept me watching.

I am constantly struck by the juxtaposition of your demand for perfection and the way you seem to just roll with any calamity that comes your way. What a marvelous balance in appreciating the human condition.

I digress. Let me tell you about lunch. As I mentioned, it was a 3-course meal. And probably the best deal in town. It's only $26 for the lunch and they heap all that 'lovely' on you too as they take you into their care. I have been for dinner but it is the lunch that I much prefer.

There is a choice for the starter and main. I so predictably go for fish or seafood when I dine out, but this time I decided to make choices that were all Julia. First the soup, and then the duck. Here is what the lunch menu offered this week.

Seared salmon sashimi salad, arugula, Ponzu vinaigrette
Classic potato and leek soup, double smoked bacon foam, crispy leeks
• • •
Confit duck leg, white bean cassoulet, seasonal vegetables
Atlantic cod, clams, chowder
• • •
Red wine poached pear, chocolate cremeux, orange foam

It was all delicious. And what a pile of calories! Maybe you can tell that from the pictures of my lunch.

[Classic potato and leek soup, double smoked bacon foam, crispy leeks]

[Confit duck leg, white bean cassoulet, seasonal vegetables]

[Red wine poached pear, chocolate cremeux, orange foam]

It was a subtle celebration perhaps. I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The evening rounded out with yet another viewing of the well-known 2009 movie, Julie and Julia. There has been a proliferation of food bloggers over the past decade and the world is now chock-full of Julie's, but there is still only one Julia.

Happy Birthday, Dearie!

[Disclosure: I have done work for Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa in the past, not associated with the dining room. I was a paying restaurant guest, like any other on Wednesday. If I had not enjoyed my experience at lunch, I would have remained silent.]

Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures
453 Laurier Avenue East
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Twitter: cordonbleuott
Facebook: Le Cordon Bleu Bistro at Signatures Restaurant in Ottawa

Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 13, 2012

Spicy Zucchini Latke Canapés

A snack for the Olympics closing ceremony was a last minute idea. As I surveyed what was still remaining in the fridge from our latest Roots and Shoots Farm CSA basket, I decided the last two zucchinis (one yellow and one green) would be the main ingredient. I like making vegetable latkes. Roots and Shoots included a similar recipe in their latest newsletter for their CSA members.

Spicy Zucchini Latke Canapés

Makes 12

2 zucchinis, grated
1 small pepper, preferably red, finely diced
1 summer onion, finely diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper, to season
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce


Sour cream
Red pepper and peach relish
chives, chopped


Box grate two zucchinis. Roll in paper towel and wring out the moisture.

Finely dice one small pepper. I chose the reddish one for colour.

Finely dice one summer onion. Include as much of the greens that is still fresh looking.

Mince in a small garlic.

Whisk one egg in a bowl and then add the vegetables.

Cover with the cup all-purpose flour. Season with salt and pepper. Combine. Squeeze in Sriracha chili sauce to taste. (I included close to 1/2 teaspoon.). Combine.

Let rest for 15 minutes.

Drop a tablespoon of the mixture onto a hot, oiled griddle. Flatten slightly. Flip when lightly browned on one side. Continue until the second side is lightly browned and the latke is cooked all the way through.

Blot on a paper towel before serving. Salt lightly.

Garnish with sour cream, Red Pepper Peach Relish and chives. Serve warm.

The results are golden!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Food Day Canada 2012 - A Tribute to Canadian Farmers

[The aftermath]

Did you get a chance to celebrate Food Day Canada this past Saturday?

When Anita Stewart, strong promoter of all things Canadian on our dining plates, initiated The World's Longest BBQ in 2003, who knew the concept would still be going strong a decade later.

I was at one of those celebratory BBQs in 2003 and considering the size of the steak, we took our our show of gratitude to Canadian beef very seriously! That was one big piece of meat.

[World's Longest BBQ Dinner August 2, 2003]

Anita and her son, Brad, morphed The World's Longest BBQ event into Food Day Canada as a tribute to all Canadian farmers and all that they do to provide us with beautiful product for our banqueting enjoyment.

We have had friends in before to celebrate Food Day Canada but this year we decided to pull out all the stops. Our CSA food basket from Roots and Shoots Farm had just arrived a few days before and we had plenty to share. I also made trips to the markets for extra produce.

By contrast to our 2003 meal, 2012 was much lower on protein and high on vegetables.

There was something satisfying about putting in many, many hours of hard work as a show of respect for the extraordinary effort put in for us, particularly in this drought-ridden growing season.

We chose friends to join us that have unique loves of food - grape growers, amateur high-end chefs, and those that choose to eat great food in humble appreciation. No one knew each other beforehand, but not surprisingly, food does unite.

Our Texas heat meant that we could easily sit out for the entire evening with no fear of night dew setting in on us.

It was a magical evening. And not one photograph of the event, save the shot of the kitchen the morning after.

As we worked our way through the leftovers in the days that followed, I did manage to capture our menu from that night.

Our special thanks for our meal on Saturday goes to Roots and Shoots Farm, Butterfly Sky Farms, Harmony Organic Dairy Products, Brome Lake Ducks, Clarmell Farms, Vicki's Veggies, The Wilson Farm, Michel Diotte Farm, Portuguese Bakery, Happy Goat Coffee Company, Nanuk, Sunset, Allberry Farms, Aquafuchsia, Quebec maple syrup, Parkdale Market, The Byward Market, Herb & Spice Shop, Produce Depot, Cave Spring Cellars, Peller Estates Winery, Angels Gate Winery. And a big thank you as well to Anita Stewart and her team for their tireless efforts as Canadian culinary activists.

Bon appétit!



Roasted Beets, Clarmell’s Chèvre Cheese, Praline Pecan in Butter Lettuce Wrap with Maple Citrus Dressing

Salmon and Avocado Stacks


Chilled Cucumber Buttermilk Soup



Sweet Potato Ravioli with Basil Pesto and Primavera Sauce

(Green onions, scapes, garlic, red pepper, zucchini – green and yellow, kale, tatsoi, Swiss Chard, tomatoes)



Heirloom Tomato Napoleon with Parmesan Crisps & Pea Shoots Salad



Potato Millefeuille with Duck Confit, Braised Red Cabbage and Jus



Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote


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