Comfort for Colder Days [Farmers Market Bibimbap]

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It’s almost that time, guys. 

Our sweaters button a little tighter, zippers up a little higher as the once-lush, green landscape becomes caped in a dull shade of brown as we wait for the snow to fall. Winter is coming. But not without one last harvest. 

We wanted the last summer Farmer’s Feast to be something special. Something a bit more comfort-food forward as opposed to the simple, fresh meals you might have come to expect from these baskets. When I saw the beautiful meaty mushrooms from Le Coprin and the shiny little green and purple (!!) Brussels sprouts, I knew I wanted to do a bibimbap with a sprout kimchi. I’d seen a recipe for the kimchi on Bon Appetit and had it lingering in the back of my mind for weeks. The decision was only solidified upon seeing the massive ham steak from Pork of Yore. It was going to be a good one. 

Admittedly, this was my favourite basket to date. I love comfort food, especially when it’s Korean comfort food. For those unsure, bibimbap is a dish of mixed rice and vegetables (“bibimbap” literaly means mixed rice). Sometimes there is meat, sometimes not. Usually it’s topped with a raw or fried egg, making it that much more enticing for someone who loves eggs as I do. 

I wouldn’t go as far as to say this version is authentic. We’ll go ahead and call it a Farmer’s Market Bibimbap so no one gets upset. Whatever it is, it’s delicious and I think you’ll love it (/shovel it into your face as quickly as I did). 

The wonderful farmers who provided ingredients for this month’s Farmers Feast are:

Pork of Yore - Hamsteak
Roots ‘n Shoots FarmFlowering Cabbage, Parsnips, Broccoli leaves, Swiss Chard
Champignon Le CoprinShimeji, King Eryngii, Blue Oyster
Warner Farms - Chestnuts
Just Farms
Green & Purple Brussels Sprouts
Needham’s Farm
Spaghetti, Acorn and White Ghost Squash

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Farmers Market BiBimbap
makes 2 large (4 small) servings

Many of the ingredients are adaptable to what you have on hand so be creative and use what you love. 

1 lb pork bulgogi
2 cups crispy sesame rice (recipe follows)
pan crisped wild mushrooms (recipe follows)
sauteed winter greens (recipe follows)
2-4 fresh eggs
toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
toasted sesame oil, for garnish (optional)
Brussels sprout kimchi (recipe follows)
2 tbsp green onions, sliced very thin
Sriracha (Thai chili) sauce, for garnish

Into two large (4 small) bowls, add a good sized handful of the crispy sesame rice. On top of that, make small sections of the pork bulgogi, pan-crisped mushrooms & sauteed winter greens. 

Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. When hot, crack in the eggs and fry until whites are set and yolks are runny. Top each bowl with a fried egg and garnish with sesame seeds, sesame oil, green onions, Brussels sprout kimchi and Sriracha. Dig in! 

Pork Bulgogi
1lb ham steak (or pork butt) sliced extremely thin
Juice from 1 asian pear
3 scallions (green onions)
1 small yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sugar

Puree all the ingredients (except for the pork…of course) until smooth. Massage into the pork slices and let marinade for 1-2 hours. 

In a large skillet, heat a few glugs of vegetable oil over med-high heat. When sizzling, add the pork a few strips at a time and let brown, 4-5 minutes. Turn to get the other side caramelized and golden. Remove and repeat with the rest of the pork. 

Crispy Sesame Rice 

2-4 cup cooked short grain rice (1 cup per serving)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Place rice and oils in a non-stick pan over med-high heat. Let sit untouched until starting to brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir and let sit again. Do this 3-4 times until rice is crisped in spots. Stir in the sesame seeds. 

Pan-Crisped Wild Mushrooms
1 lb wild mushrooms (I used Shimeji, King Eryngii & Blue Oyster), cut into manageable pieces if necessary
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

Place the mushrooms and oil in a pan over med-high heat. Let sit for at least 5 minutes or until edges of mushrooms are golden brown. Toss to brown on all sides, stirring only occasionally so they get nice and brown. Add the garlic and stir for another 20 seconds. Add the soy sauce and scrape any bits of mushroom up off the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to serve. 

Sauteed Winter Greens
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic
pinch red pepper flakes
1 bunch (4-5 healthy handfuls) winter greens (chard, broccoli leaves, collards, kale, etc), cleaned and torn into bite size pieces. 
salt

Heat oil in a pan over med heat and add the garlic + a pinch of red pepper flakes. Saute until garlic is golden, 20-30 seconds. Add in the greens and saute, stirring occasionally, until bright green and cooked through with a bit of bite left, 5-6 minutes. 

Brussels Sprout Kimchi
adapted from Bon Appetit
makes approx. 2 1/2 cups

3 cups brussels sprouts, cut in half or quarters
6 tbsp kosher salt
2 cups warm water

3 tbsp gochujang sauce*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
2 tbsp water, if needed

*you can buy this at well-stocked Korean markets

Place sprouts, salt and water in a bowl and mix well so salt gets dissolved. Place a plate over the bowl to press everything down and keep the sprouts submerged in the water. After 4 hours, rinse the sprouts a few times and dry well. 

In a small bowl, mix the gochujang sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce and coriander. Mix well to combine. Scrape the sauce into the bowl of sprouts and use your hands (gloves are wise if you have cuts/scrapes or are worried about your hands smelling a bit funky) to mix everything really well. Spoon the mixture into a glass jar leaving 2” head space. Push the sprouts down so they are covered in the brine. If there isn’t enough to do this, add a bit of water to loosen things up. I added about 2 tbsp to mine and the flavour wasn’t affected. Cover with a loose lid and place on a plate in case it spills over, which it likely will. Place in a warm spot to ferment for 1-4 days. Check after the first day to see if any little bubbles have formed. If so, taste to see if the flavour is there. If it’s not pungent and a bit funky, let it sit for another day and check again. When the flavour is to your liking, seal the jar and place in the fridge.

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Farmers Feast 03: Tomatillo Margarita & Strawberry Beet Granita

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WHOA FALL. When did you get here? Wasn’t it just August 1st? 

This month’s Farmers Feast was set to come out mid-August but some events I was working on just took over and before I knew it we were in September. 

I do love fall (endlessly), but I’m feeling a bit mournful about the end of freshly plucked fruits and vegetables from the market. This last basket I received was like a rainbow of colours and flavours. When I saw it, I literally gasped at it’s beauty. August always yields the most incredible bounty and this basket was proof of that. Just look at it. Are you looking? ARE YOU? 

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I had offered an idea that we use most of the baskets contents to make mocktails/cocktails this month, but once I had my hands on it I had other ideas…. as usual. We’re releasing this month in two parts. The first being “drinks” (kind of), and the second a salad that will be coming next week. The strawberry-beet granita is just what you’d expect, bright strawberry flavour with just a slight earthy undertone that compliments the flavours really well. Consumed on a scalding day, it was just what the body needed. The tomatillo margarita might make you raise an eyebrow at my thought process, but the tartness from the tomatillos is different than that of a lime (think: unripe plum) and it adds another dimension to the classic cocktail. I was pretty thrilled with how it came out…and I consumed two of them…back-to-back. I blame the heat *cough*

The farmers who generously donated their produce this month were: 

Warner Farms – Peaches & Apricots
Avonmore Berry Farm - Strawberries
Roots Down Organic Farm - Shishito Peppers & Tomatillos
Jambican Garden - Shiso
Roots & Shoots - Kale
Just Farms – Beets
Ingelside Tomatoes

Linda’s Garden – Canary melon
Watarah Downs Organic Farm - Lemon Cucumbers

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Strawberry Beet Granita
makes 2 large/4 small portions

1-2 small Chioggia beets (yellow beets will work too), peeled and cut into chunks
1lb strawberries, rinsed & tops removed
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 tbsp lemon juice, optional
tiny pinch salt
mint, to garnish (optional)

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and toss the beets in. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until fork tender, 15-20 minutes. Strain and run under cold water until cooled to the touch. 

Place all the ingredients in a blender and taste for sugar and lemon juice. Add more if needed. 

Pour mixture into a shallow baking dish and place flat in the freezer. After 30 minutes or when you can see the edges are starting to freeze, pull the sides into the center and return to the freezer. Repeat every 30 minutes until you have a loose mixture of tiny ice chunks, about 1 1/2 hours. Spoon into cups that have been in the freezer for an hour. 

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Tomatillo Margaritas
makes 4 cocktails

Simple Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold water

Bring the water and sugar to a boil until sugar dissolves. Let cool completely. 

Rim
2 tbsp coarse salt
zest from 2 limes (use the limes you’re going to juice)

Stir the lime zest and salt together. 

Cocktail
simple syrup
2 small tomatillos
4 limes
4 oz white tequila
crushed ice

Puree the tomatillos and push through a fine-mesh sieve to separate the pulp and the juice. Juice the limes into the juice of the tomatillos. 

In a large pitcher, stir the lime/tomatillo juice, the simple syrup (add half at a time and taste to make sure it’s not too sweet) and tequila. Taste and add more lime or simple syrup. Stir well and chill for at least an hour. 

Use a wedge of lime to moisten the rim of your glass and dip into the rim mixture. Fill glasses with crushed ice and pour margarita over. 

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Farmers Feast 02: A Promise of Picnics [Toasted Rye w Labneh, Fava/Sweet Pea/Mizuna Spread + Cold Avocado & Cucumber Soup]

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I promised myself I would picnic more this summer. Spend more time outside, feeling the breeze dance on my skin and the sounds of passing voices buzz in my ear, pack up a cooler filled with cold soups and icy drinks, sandwich-making ingredients and snacks and remember what it was like to not have deadlines breathing hot against my neck, or obligations too important to pass on. 

So far this summer, I’ve managed to fit one picnic in – I’m not all that successful at keeping my word to myself.  That said, it was a very lovely one where we gathered with friends at a dog park nearby, one brilliantly green and lush with weeping willows and an abundance of grassy spots to laze about during the seemingly infinite days of summer.  We drank cold beers (illegally – gasp!) and used a pocket knife to gnaw hunks of Piave cheese onto waiting apple and pear slices. We watched the dogs, tails thwarting back and forth, up and down in cheerful celebration, and rubbed their bellies when they came by for a drink of water and a slice of fruit. It was everything a picnic should have, and could have been. I want more days like that. I vow to make time for them before the absolutely endless days of winter arrive again.

When I arrived at Pascale’s shop to pick up the Farmers Feast basket this month, she explained that she and Tara went with the theme of “green” for the basket, the sides of the it draped in leaves and stalks of every shade from emerald to forest green.  It’s always such a treat poking through the ingredients, marvelling at the freshness of them and gently dusting the dirt from their roots. It was hard to ignore the only non-green sparks of colour from the purple kohlrabi and the crimson radish orbs.   

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Typically, I try to incorporate the Farmers Feast basket into one meal using as many of the ingredients as possible. This time around, Tara and Pascale decided that maybe it would be neat to create a few different dishes using the ingredients. Never being one to turn down a challenge, I got to work thinking of how I wanted to tackle the box and eventually came up with a theme of my own – a picnic lunch! I started out working off a soup and sandwich concept  and came up with a cold, creamy and refreshing soup made with avocados and cucumbers (and topped with salty kohlrabi chips!) and an open faced rye crostini with a kicky garlic scape labneh (salted, strained yogurt that turns thick – almost like cream cheese, but way better), a fava bean/sweet pea/mizuna spread that was sweet and bright and just a tiny bit bitter from the greens, and some thinly sliced radishes to add crunch, colour and a bit of a spicy bite. Everyting married so well - each bite offering creamy, tart, spicy, crunchy, sour and savory. My mouth was happy, my stomach even more so. It’s been absolutely been my favourite Farmers Feast to create, and potentially one of my favourite recipes to post on the blog (which says a lot because I’ve been kicking around here for some time). 

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The key here is that you don’t have to put all the recipes together. You can just make the spread or the labneh, or you can just make the soup on its own. Use what you have in your garden and at your farmers market to decide what you’re able to make, and adapt the recipes based on your produce availability. If you don’t have garlic scapes for the labneh, add half a clove of fresh garlic or even some fresh herbs instead. If you don’t have fava beans, make the spread with just sweet peas. It’s that easy! This is just a guide to what you could be doing with all the greens that summer’s throwing at us right now. 

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The wonderful, tireless farmers that provided the ingredients for this month’s Farmers Feast are: 

Mizuna – Jambican Studio Gardens
Bok Choy – Roots & Shoots Farm
Apple Cider Vinegar – Hall’s Apple Market
Kohlrabi – Luxy Farms
Cucumbers & Radishes – Linda’s Garden
Sweet Peas – Limeydale
Belarus Garlic – Acorn Creek Garden Farm
Fava Beans – Waratah Downs Organic Farm

We’ve started giving away some market bucks for those of you in Ottawa and this month is no different! See below on how you can enter to win one free item from one of this month’s participating farms. 

1. Leave a comment below telling me what you would do with one (or all) of the ingredients above. 

For extra entries (leave a new comment for each)
1. “Like” Ottawa Farmers Market on Facebook (1 extra entry)
2. Follow @OttawaFarmMkt on Twitter (1 extra entry)
3. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter and let me know you did in a separate comment (1 extra entry)

We will pick a winner at random this coming Tuesday, July 9th.

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Toasted Rye w Labneh, Fava/Sweet Pea/Mizuna Spread + Cold Avocado & Cucumber Soup

toast recipe adapted from La Tartine Courmande
serves 2

For the toasts:
1 1/2 cups Fava, Sweet Pea & Mizuna Spread, recipe follows
1 cup garlic scape labneh, recipe follows
4 slices rye (or bread of choice), toasted
4 radishes, sliced thin
pea shoots, optional
raw sweet peas, optional (for garnish)
fresh cracked pepper

Slather each slice of toasted bread with the labneh. Spoon a heaping mound of the bean/pea spread on top. Garnish with radish slices, pea shoots and raw sweet peas. 

Fava, Sweet Pea & Mizuna Spread
makes 2 cups

1 1/2 cups cooked fava beans, shells removed
1 1/2 cups blanched sweet peas, out of the shell (save about 2 tbsp to stir into the finished spread)
2 tbsp chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped mizuna (a bitter leafy green)
Juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic

Place ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the dip is spreadable but still has a few chunks to it. Stir in the 2 tbsp of cooked sweet peas. 

Garlic Scape Labneh
makes 1 cup

1 1/2 cups plain, full fat yogurt
2 garlic scapes, minced
1/2 tsp salt

Stir ingredients to combine. Place in a colander lined with a few layers of cheesecloth and let drain over night in the fridge. In the morning, pull the corners of the cheesecloth together and give the labneh a little squeeze to release any extra moisture. Scrape into a dish. Will keep covered for a week. 

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Chilled Lime, Avocado & Cucumber Soup
serves 2

1 ripe avocado
4 baby (1/2 large) cucumbers, rough chopped
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced 
Juice of 1 lime (1/2 if you like it less tart)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup plain yogurt
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cold water


Place all ingredients except for the water in the blender and blend until smooth. If it’s too thick, add water a little at a time until desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lime if needed. 

Kohlrabi Chips
makes about 1 cup of chips

2 large kohlrabi, stems removed and sliced thin on a mandolin 
vegetable oil
coarse salt

Preheat oven to 250. 
Toss kohlrabi with oil and a few pinches of salt and place on a rack lined cookie sheet so the heat can evenly bake the chips. Bake for 30-45 minutes, turning the pan every so often, until golden brown and crisp. 

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2013 Season - Farmers Feast 01 [Ramp, Green Garlic & Asparagus Frittata with Mennonite Sausage]

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At the start of the 2012 season at the Ottawa Farmers Market, I embarked on a fun project with them that we titled the “Farmers Feast”, in which I would receive a mystery basket of ingredients, chosen by Tara Simpson - their events coordinator, each month to create a recipe with and share with you all. It started as a bit of an experiment to see if we all enjoyed the outcome of the project and as you can imagine, we did! It was such a treat receiving a different bundle of ingredients, some I had to take a second look at as I wasn’t sure what they were, and develop a recipe using as many of them as I could. We did a full season  and were thrilled to start again this year. Needless to say, we couldn’t share the farmers feast if it weren’t for all the hard working farms, artisans and producers who dedicate themselves to growing, feeding and sharing with our city. Maybe you can give them a quiet, two-finger round of applause! 

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A few weeks back, I went and grabbed my basket from the market. It was literally errupting with great stalks of rhubarb, leafy, emerald green garlic and ramps, thick, meaty asparagus, curly, tangled pea shoots, eggs and a big hunk of mennonite sausage (which could be my new favourite addition to a cheese plate). All of these wonderful things were tucked into a stunning hand-carved bucket with a rope handle from Les Seaux Gadi. I highly recommend checking Claude’s wares out, their uses are endless and they would look so lovely in any home. 

imageThe kind, hard-working farmers who donated goods for this first-of-the-season Farmers Feast are: 

Avonmore Berry Farm - Ramps
Acorn Creek Garden Farm - Green Garlic
Bearbrook Game Meats - Mennonite Sausage
Just Farms - Asparagus
O’Grady Farms - Pea Sprouts
Needhams Garden Market - Rhubarb
Reinink Farms - Eggs
Glengarry Cheese - Big Brother cheese
Les Seaux Gadi - Bucket

The wonderful thing about spring/summer produce is that you don’t need to mess with it a lot. I decided to throw together a very rustic frittata filled with just about everything from the basket (the rhubarb I saved for something else coming soon!) and it turned out wonderfully. The pungent green garlic and ramps with the earthy asparagus and savoury sausage - everything married so well and came together with the addition of the creamy cheese. I highly suggest using these products, but understand that you’re not all located in Ottawa. So if you’re not in these neck of the woods, I hope you’ll at least take a trip to your local farmers market and seek out something similar. 

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This season, we’ve decided to give away some market bucks to one lucky guy or gal. Details on how to enter are below, and if your name is chosen, you’ll get to pick out one ingredient/product from one of the vendors who donated goods to this month’s basket (excluding Les Seaux Gadi). 

To enter: 
1. Leave a comment below telling me what you would do with one (or all) of the ingredients above. 

For extra entries (leave a new comment for each)
1. “Like” Ottawa Farmers Market on Facebook (1 extra entry)
2. Follow @OttawaFarmMkt on Twitter (1 extra entry)

We will pick a winner at random this coming Saturday, May 25th. And now, for the recipe. 

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Ramp, Green Garlic & Asparagus Frittata with Mennonite Sausage
serves 4-6, depending on appetite

2 good glugs olive or canola oil
1 cup chopped ramps (green and white parts)
2 tbsp chopped green garlic

1 1/2 cups chopped asparagus spears
1/2 cup mennonite sausage, diced 
1/2 tbsp lemon zest, optional
8 large eggs
1 cup Glengarry Big Brother cheese, 1/2” cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Lemony Pea Shoots
2 cups pea shoots
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Turn the oven on to broil. 

Drizzle a good 2-second pour of canola or olive oil in a pan. Turn the heat on to medium and add the chopped ramps, leeks, asparagus and sausage. Sauté until starting to soften, 5-6 minutes. While that cooks, crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk gently until combined. Add the cheese to the egg mixture. Pour the eggs into the vegetable mixture and fold gently to combine. Let cook until almost set (the top and center will be runny still), about 4-5 minutes. Place in the oven and let broil until golden brown and puffed up, 3-4 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, slice and serve topped with the Lemony Pea Shoots (recipe below). 

For the Lemony Pea Shoots
Toss the shoots with the olive oil and lemon and top the frittata with them for some added crunch and a way to cut the richness. 

[photo provided by Les Seaux Gadi]image

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Disclaimer:
 Farmers Feast is a partnership with the Ottawa Farmers Market. I am not compensated beyond the ingredients given from the market. Opinions expressed are mine.
 

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Farmers Feast - Chef Edition [Recipe: Pear and Cranberry Tart]

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It’s been a little longer than usual since I’ve talked about the Farmers Feast, but I hope you’ll forgive me knowing it was for a most excellent reason.  

Tara and I decided this time around that it might be fun to switch things up a little and have two local chefs take on baskets of local produce, meat and other products from the Ottawa Farmers Market to see what their take on the items would be. Suffice to say, they both created some dishes that had me literally salivating over my keyboard as I looked through their photos and descriptions. This was such a fun way to see how the basket process and outcome differs from that of a homecook (aka me). These two gents turned the fruit and meat of our land into such beautiful dishes. Before we get too deep into the food, I’d like to introduce you to the two chefs that were awesome enough to take on this task despite their obviously hectic schedules. 

Earlier in the summer, I told you a little about Brothers Beer Bistro, a wonderful beer-focused, upscale-casual addition to the suddenly booming dining scene in Ottawa. Chef Darren Flowers is part owner, and all chef. He came to Brothers Beer by way of Play Food & WineLuxe Bistro and Beckta but eventually found home in this new venture he’s take on with friends (and “brothers”, though not by blood) Patrick Asselin and Nick Ringuette.  Since the doors of Brother Beer Bistro opened, traffic has been heavy and steady, filled with everyone from tourists passing through, to regulars who frequent the restaurant for their many cask-beer nights, and their impressive choice of 16 beers on tap and 60 available by the bottle. For more on food, see the link above or check out Chef Flowers’ menu on the website!

Darren’s approach to the basket from the Ottawa Farmers Market had my stomach groaning in jealousy. I only wish I was the happy recipient of these incredible dishes. Below is a list of what Chef Flowers did with his Farmers Feast products, and he even gave us a recipe for the Roasted Pear Pie, Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel, and Cranberry Compote - what a good guy! (You can find the recipe at the bottom of this post). 



As well as Darren, we brought on Chef Paul Dubeau. Though I hardly think he needs an introduction as he’s one of Ottawa’s finest, let me tell you a little about this cured meat-loving, butchery-obsessed man who always has a welcoming smile painted across his face. Chef Dubeau started honing his skills at La Piazza, Trattoria Vittoria and the Black Thorn Cafe in Ottawa, and eventually found himself in the position of head butcher at pop-up deli Murray’s Market. From head butcher at Murray’s Market to sous chef of Murray Street Kitchen|Wine|Charcuterie, working alongside much celebrated Chef Steve Mitton, it seems Paul has found his place in Ottawa’s fast-growing dining scene. And holy cow (pig?), we’re glad for it.  Paul makes a killer house-made bologna (which can often be found in Murray Streets epic “Meat Cone”) among so many other meaty goodies. For a full breakdown of Murray Street’s menu and a little more on the boys behind the pork, see the website

Chef Dubeau has a decidedly comforting approach to food and it really comes through in the dishes he created with his basket. Bold flavours and stick-to-your-ribs satisfaction. This is the food we’ve come to love from this talented gent! 

Many, many thanks to the Farmers and producers who provided the ingredients in this edition of the Farmers Feast! 

Each basket given to the chefs included:
Upper Canada Cranberries
Castor River Farm – Oat Groats
Bryson Farms – Bok choy
O’Brien Farms – Beef Shoulder - petite tender
Warratah Downs – Leeks 
Bergeron Gardens – Brussel sprouts
Warner’s Farm – Bosc Pears
Linda’s Garden - Black Tomatoes

Chef Paul Dubeau’s dishes:

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Appetizer:
Roasted Brussels sprouts and braised pork belly salad with smoked black tomato dressing.

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Main Course:
Groat “fried rice”, fried in beef marrow, topped with creamed leeks and bok choy, with sweet & sour crispy beef.


Chef Darren Flowers dishes:

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Appetizer: Beef Carpaccio - Pickled bok choy, roasted garlic aioli, Dijon, blackened black tomato, smoked paprika oil, crispy leeks.

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Main Course:
 Pan Roasted Shoulder Tender - roasted Brussels sprouts,  blackened black tomatoes, pickled garlic, and groat risotto

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Dessert: Roasted Pear Pie - vanilla ice cream, caramel, cranberry compote  

RECIPE: 
Pear and Cranberry Tart
Recipe courtesy of Chef Darren Flowers and Pastry Chef Adrienne Courey

Crust:

2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup butter, cut into cubes and cold
¼ to ½ cup ice water
cream or milk, for brushing top of tart

Caramel Pear Filling
½ cup sugar
3 tbsp water
¼ cup whipping cream
1 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp salt
2-3 ripe pears, quartered

Cranberry Compote
½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
6 tbsp sugar (or more, to taste)

Vanilla Ice Cream:
3 cups 10% (half and half) cream
1 cup whipping cream
8 egg yolks
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds removed, OR 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For Caramel Pear Filling:

1. In a heavy saucepan (at least 5 cup capacity), stir together the sugar, syrup, and water until the sugar is completely moistened.
2. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring completely and allow it to boil undisturbed until it turns a deep amber
3. Immediately remove it from the heat and slowly and carefully pour the hot cream into the caramel. It will bubble up furiously.
4. Using a wooden spoon, or heat resistant spatula, stir the mixture until smooth. If any lumps develop, return to low heat and stir until smooth. Stir in butter and salt.
5. Pour caramel sauce into the bottom of each baking dish and let cool slightly. Arrange pear quarters over caramel sauce.

For the Crust:
1. In a food processor, or by hand, combine the flour, salt and sugar. If using a food processor, add butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. By hand, cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives.
2. Add enough ice water to bring the dough together. The mixture may look dry, but will hold together when squeezed.
3. Pour the mixture onto plastic wrap and use the plastic to help shape the dough into a disc. Chill at least 30 minutes.
4. Roll the chilled crust to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut crust slightly larger than the baking pan. Drape crust over filling in baking dish and pinch edges along pan to seal.
5. Cut slits in the top of the crust to allow any steam to escape during the baking process.
6. Brush top of crust with cream or milk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
7. Bake tart at 350 degrees, until top is golden and juices are bubbling through steam vents. About 25-30 minutes.

Cranberry Compote:
1. Cook all ingredients together until thickened. Adjust sugar as desired.

For the Vanilla Ice Cream:
1. Heat both creams with vanilla over medium heat until just barely simmering.
2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar vigorously until thickened and light in colour.
3. Slowly, while whisking, add half the hot cream to the egg yolk mixture. Return remaining cream to the heat.
4. While stirring remaining cream with a rubber spatula, add the egg yolk mixture to the pot. Cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. The mixture will hold a line when a finger is dragged across the spatula.
5. Cool mixture completely in the refrigerator, and then freeze in an ice cream machine, according to the manufacturers instructions. 

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Disclaimer: Farmers Feast is a partnership with the Ottawa Farmers Market. I am not compensated beyond the ingredients given from the market. Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

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Last Sigh of Summer | Farmers Feast #4 [Propeller ESB & Chipotle Braised Lamb Shank Tostadas]



I’m a season pusher. The crazy person wearing a wool sweater and heavy boots the second the mercury drops below 20 degrees. If it could be between +5 and +15 all year round, I’d be pleased as flaky apple pie (you know, because it would be apple season year round!) 

I’m ready for fall and tired of summer. Tired of being a sweaty mess wherever I show up. Totally over wearing shorts and tank tops. Exhausted from one too many nights spent awake misting ourselves to cool down. Ready for a change - boots, sweaters, mittens and cold noses. Wrapping fingers around hot mugs of tea, pulling out the quilt we regretfully tuck into the wooden trunk each spring, longer, tighter hugs and the unmistakable sound of leaves crunching beneath feet. 



It’s not all bad, though. I swear I’m not a total curmudgeon and I definitely will miss certain aspects of summer. Sitting on the balcony late into the night under the cover of winding bean vines, spending my lunch hour reading on the patio at work, dangling my toes in the water while I sip sangria at Mr. GL’s parents, sheets drying in the sun, but mostly I’ll miss the food. Terribly so. Fresh produce from the market, eating salsa that’s still warm from the just-picked tomatoes, the way a cucumber tastes when it’s plucked right from the plant, bright flavours and citrus-heavy crudo. Those are the things I find myself nostalgic for during the dark winter months. 

As I perused the Farmers Feast basket this month, packed with vibrant yellow beans, lamb shanks and a metric tonne of fragrant shisito peppers (among other things), my mind started moving in the direction of a curry. Something comforting and heavy. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to stretch the days of summer and cook the way I have been the last three months. So I made myself a compromise. I could do a heavy braise so long as the flavours were balanced out with something light and citrusy. And you know my penchance for anything taco/burrito/tostada related, right? I’d pretty much trample my own mother for a bite of a taco. Don’t tell her! (Sorry Deb!). It wasn’t long before I was braising the lamb in a savoury mix of extra special bitter beer and Chipotle while zipping up a sweet and spicy salsa. 

As usual, I was blown away by the incredible ingredients that came in the basket. Many, many thanks to the Farmers who provided this month’s feast & the Ottawa Farmers Market;

Yellow beans – Just Farms
Ground Cherries – Needhams
Lamb – Stevenson Farm
Amber Mustard – Somerford & Hall
Peppers & Eggplants – Roots Down Organic Farm 



Propeller ESB & Chipotle Braised Lamb Shank Tostadas with Roasted Shisito, Tomatillo & Ground Cherry Salsa

makes 4 tostadas

I used Propeller ESB because it’s Canadian and because I love it. You can use whatever ESB is available to you, but if you can find Propeller in your city, I highly recommend it! 

Chipotle in Adobo can be found in the Mexican section of most grocery stores. They’re usually tucked in with the pickled jalapenos/refried beans. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make your own at home.  

Braised Lamb Shanks
2 lamb shanks (about 2-3lbs together)
1/2 bottle Extra Special Bitter beer
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp amber-ale mustard (something on the milder side)
1 canned Chipotle (in adobo) + 2 tbsp adobo sauce
salt and pepper
vegetable oil

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in a tsp or two of oil oil (enough to coat the pan). Pat the shanks dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, place the shanks in the pan and brown on all sides (2 minutes per side). Take your time here, getting good colour on the shanks ensures the best flavour. 

Preheat oven to 325.
In small bowl, mix the beer, adobo, orange juice and a pinch or two of salt. Place the browned shanks in a roasting pan and cover with the braising liquid. Cover in foil and secure it tightly around the edges so no steam escapes. 

Place in the oven and braise for 2 hours or until meat pulls away from the bone really easily. 

Remove shanks and meat and set aside. Skin fat from the braising liquid and poor into a sauce pot. Bring to a boil and let reduce, stirring frequently, until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. 

Use aa fork to shred the meat from the shank and place in a big bowl. Poor the reduced sauce, a little at a time, over the shredded meat and toss to coat. You might have left over sauce - feel free to serve that on the side. 

Roasted Shisito, Tomatillo & Ground Cherry Salsa
Makes 1 1/2 cups

If you’re unable to find shisitos, a sweet Japanese pepper, feel free to simply add another jalapeno or milder pepper of your choice. Perhaps a cubanelle. 

3 shisito peppers, cut in half, seeded/deveined
1 jalapeno pepper, cut in half, seeded/deveined 
1 1/2 cups tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed well
3/4 cup ground cherries, husks removed and rinse well
1/2 small red onion, rough chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp sugar
salt

Turn oven on to broil. 

Cut tomatillos in half . Place Shisito, Jalapeno and Tomatillos on a baking sheet (skin side up) and place under broiler for 1-2 minutes until skins blister and start to get charred. Remove from the oven and dump into the food processor along with the cherries, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime, sugar and a pinch or two of salt. Process in quick pulses so it still has some texture to it. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. 

Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

 
To Finish: 
4 corn tortillas

Garnish (optional):
sliced limes
fresh cilantro
Sour cream/Mexican Crema
Manchego or Feta
pickled pepper rounds 

In a dry pan over high heat, place one tortilla at a time and let it bubble and brown on each side (about 30 seconds per side). 

Place a crispy tortilla on each plate and top with lamb, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, cheese and a squeeze of lime. Take a quick second to say a thanks to the hard working farmers who made this food possible, and then dive in!



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Disclaimer: Farmers Feast is a partnership with the Ottawa Farmers Market. I am not compensated beyond the ingredients given from the market. Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.  
 

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Farmers Feast #3 [Warm Caramelized Corn, Shiro Plum & Patty Pan Salad]



Another month, another Farmers Feast. 

This time, it was all about the corn. The beautiful, golden yellow and satisfyingly sweet corn. With the recent drought still causing uncertainty and stress for our farmers, I worried that I might not get the opportunity to go about my usual late-summer addiction to the succulent golden beauties. 

Imagine my sheer elation when I spied 4 perfect cobs of corn tucked away inside my surprise basket from the Ottawa Farmers Market. I showed up earlier than usual this time, and found Tara zipping around thoughtfully filling my take-away basket full of shiro plums, peppy yellow patty pan squashes, cobs of corn, fragrant tomatoes, pungent purslane & red Russian garlic, Red Deer pepperettes and spiky artichokes. This was going to be a fun one. 



I ultimately decided on a warm, caramelized corn salad packed with all things sweet, savoury, creamy and crunchy. I wanted to do something that was simple and speedy to make in the extreme heat we’ve been having lately. It was nearly impossible to add everything from the basket into the salad, but I tried to use as much as was possible without overdoing it. Rest assured, everything else found a happy home in my tummy. 

The vendors who graciously provided this month’s Farmers Feast:
Warner Farms – plums
Kiwan Farms - purslane
Acorn Creek Garden Farm – artichoke
Needham’s Garden Market– sweet corn
Trillium Meadows Red Deer & Wild Boar Farm – pepperettes
Hoople Creek Farm– red Russian garlic
Jaquemet Garden – tomatoes
Bergeron Gardens - Paddy pans

Oh, and while we’re yakking about the market, I want to make sure you all know about Savour Ottawa’s Harvest Table event. This year it’s being held on August 19th at the Ottawa Farmers Market (Brewer Park) and it’s going to be a delicious day. Tickets are $60 ($75 for cream of the crop tickets, which include a tour of the market and some tasty sampling) and include a 5 course menu prepared by some of Ottawa’s most celebrated chefs and local beer and wine. The market will be in full swing as usual, bringing diners and shoppers together for one giant celebration of local food and drink. For more details on restaurants and beer/wine companies involved, have a look at the link above. I really hope I’ll see you there, it’s going to be a fantastic day! 

 Warm Caramelized Corn, Shiro Plum & Patty Pan Salad
serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main course

If you’re unable to find patty pan squashes, zucchini will do in a pinch. The same goes for plums - use red plums or even peaches in place of shiro plums if you’re unable to find them. 

3-4 cobs of corn, kernels sliced off the cob (about 1 1/2-2 cups)
2 tbsp olive oil (or 1 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp butter for extra indulgence)
4-5 patty pan squashes, cut into bite-sized piece
4 shiro plums, pitted and sliced in quarters
3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2” rounds
1/4 large red onion, minced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbsp fresh lime juice + slices for serving
1 tbsp good quality olive oil
Good, aged Lankaaster or Parmesan cheese, crumbled
sea salt and pepper

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil (and butter, if using) into the pan until melted. Add the corn to the pan and spread evenly. Let it sit to brown for 2 minutes. Stir, spread evenly and repeat for another 2 minutes. Add the squash and cook with the corn, stirring occasionally until it’s tender but still has a nice bite to it, about 6-7 minutes. Stir in the red onion, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Toss to coat. Taste for seasoning, add salt if needed. 

Place 2-3 tomatoes slices on your plate (or in a serving dish). Spoon corn salad over the tomatoes and top with crumbled cheese, a few grinds of pepper and another squeeze of lime. 



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Disclaimer: Farmers Feast is a partnership with the Ottawa Farmers Market. I am not compensated beyond the ingredients given from the market. Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. 

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Farmers Feast #2 [Cherry & Red Currant Curd Granola Parfaits]

 
It’s that time again….  Farmers Feast #2 is here! And it comes bearing brilliant red berries and crispy smoked bacon. That sounds good, right? I thought so, too.

When Tara dropped off the basket this week (I wasn’t able to make it to the market last Sunday because I was shoving my face full of oysters, fish burgers and Kichesippi beer at The Whalesbone 5th Annual Oysterfest – I know, it’s a rough life. I’m super hard done by.) I first laid eyes on the pint of impossibly plump, unblemished and heart-achingly deep plummy red cherries. I don’t know if I heard anything Tara said for the first 10 seconds as my brain slowed to a hazy berry-induced coma while I fully absorbed the excitement of it all. To their right, a pint of equally stunning Red Currants, as delicate and glossy as glass beads. I knew that despite my urge to start popping them in my mouth like M&Ms, I wanted to hold out and do something extra special.



Along with the berries came some bacon, naked oats and a red wheat flour blend, humongous fava beans pods (which, to be honest, I was a little terrified of at first), some rainbow Swiss chard, delicate sugared flower petals (that are so beautiful I’m almost scared to use them!), some incredibly pungent Belarus garlic, spotty, organic brown eggs and some life-changing amber maple syrup (that I’ve been sneaking regular swigs from). 

 Since we’re mere days away from celebrating Canada’s 145 birthday (she’s a lovely old broad, ain’t she?), I thought something Red and White might be suiting for the occasion. Fluffy white clouds of billowy whipped cream layered between tangy, succulent cherries, lusciously tart red currant curd, and a crisp, salty-sweet maple bacon granola. Are you still with me? Should I send help? Quick, get the nearest person to hurl a glass of ice water in your face! That’ll shake the bacon sweats right outta you!



Though I wasn’t able to use everything offered in the basket (I wasn’t sure if you’d welcome the idea of Fava beans in your parfaits), I came pretty darn close. The list of vendors who graciously provided the contents of the Farmers Feast this week are;

Roots & Shoots Farm – rainbow chard
Garland’s Sugar Shack – amber maple syrup
Castor River Farm – flour, quick oats and smoked bacon
Corinne Mooney’s Fleurs Combestiles – sugared flowers
Acorn Creek Garden Farm – Belarus Garlic
Warner’s Farm – currants and cherries
Waratah Downs Organic Farm – fava beans
Reinink Family Farms – Organic eggs

Cherry & Red Currant Curd Granola Parfaits 
serves 4

After making and tasting the final product, I’m not 100% sold on the addition of bacon. The bacon itself was un-frigging-believable in flavour, but it didn’t add much to the final product. Try as I may, sometimes things just seem better on paper. So I’ve made adjustments if you’d like to leave it out. 

That said, the Maple-Bacon Granola on it’s own is something you MUST try. I back it 100% and have been eating it with a spoon since yesterday morning. 

Red Currant Curd
adapted from La Twisted Chef 

2 cups fresh red currants (about 1 pint) rinsed
(save a few for garnish!)
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
pinch of salt

In a saucepot, add the currants (stems and all) and a splash of water. Cook until the berries have burst and released all their juices. Use the back of a wooden spoon to gently help smoosh them. 

Strain the juice into a bowl pressing on the pulp to make sure you’ve gotten all the juice. 

Stir half the currant juice (for a more tart curd, add about 3/4 of it), yolks and sugar together in the rinsed sauce pot and place over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add butter, 1 piece at a time, until incorporated. Scrap curd into a bowl and push a piece of plastic wrap right against the top of the curd (to prevent a skin forming). Refrigerate for at least an hour so it can set.


Maple-Bacon Granola
adapted from Married and Cooking

6 slices bacon (optional)

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup bacon fat (or vegetable oil if you’re cutting out the bacon)

Preheat over to 350.

If using, place the bacon on a wire rack over a clean cookie sheet and place in the oven. Bake until crisp (about 10-15 minutes). Pour the bacon fat into a small bowl and reserve. Let bacon cool and then crumble into small pieces. Maintain the oven temperature.

Mix the oats, cinnamon and pecans and pour onto a cookie sheet. Place in the oven, stirring every so often, until oats and nuts are lightly toasted and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and pour into a large bowl. Add the maple syrup, bacon fat (or oil), crumbled bacon and salt. Mix well and pour back onto cookie sheet. Bake for another 10-12 minutes or until oats have absorbed the oil/syrup and feel dry and crunchy to the touch. Let cool and pour into a jar.

 
For the Parfait:
1 ½ cups whipping cream
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 pint cherries, pitted and rough chopped

Pour whipping cream and maple syrup into a bowl and, using electric mixer or stand mixer, whip until stiff peaks form.

In 4 serving glasses (alternatively, 2 tall glasses), spoon a layer of whipped cream, then a layer of curd, a sprinkle of cherries, another layer of whipped cream and a thick layer of granola. Do another layer of whipped cream and curd, and then top with cherries and granola. If you’ve reserved any currants, garnish with them.

Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set, and then dig right in there! 

 

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