2013 Season - Farmers Feast 01 [Ramp, Green Garlic & Asparagus Frittata with Mennonite Sausage]
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!
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.
The 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.
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).
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.
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]
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.
Knock Out That Cold [Spicy Kale Ginger Lemonade]
There is something ominous lurking around.
A dirty, nasty cold/flu that seems to be knocking my friends and family out one by one. I woke yesterday with a sandpaper throat and what felt like two corks in my sinus’. Immediately I started trying to knock it out before it did me in.
Water (a lot of water), raw garlic (mashed into yogurt), oil of oregano and two full glasses of Green Juice later, and I seem to have come out victorious. I had plans to share a galette today, but in the spirit of health, I thought I’d share the recipe for the green juice that I’m adamant saved my ass from this TKO cold.
Spicy Kale Ginger Lemonade
based on Café My House’s version
The ingredients are pretty rough here. Taste and adjust based on what you like best. This method is for those not lucky enough (like myself!) to have a juicer. It takes a little more time but it’s well worth it.
1 bunch kale (curly or lacinato), rough chopped
1 large apple (2 small), skin on, cored and rough chopped
Juice from 2 lemons
1/2 english cucumber, rough chopped
large handful flat-leaf parsley
2” ginger, peeled and rough chopped
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 - 1 cup water
Place all ingredients in a blender with the 1/2 cup of water. Blend until everything is combined in a sludgy mess. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the contents of the blender into the strainer. Using a spoon or a potato masher (I have the best success with the masher, but it’s whatever works for you) and work the juice out of the pulp until it’s fairly dry. Taste and add more lemon if needed. Chill the juice or pour over ice and serve.
Finding My Past in Food [Healthier Egg Salad with Tarragon and Pickled Celery]
My past with food isn’t as glamorous as I sometimes wish it was. I didn’t learn to mix, knead and roll pasta with my grandmother on Sundays and I wasn’t teetering on my tip toes, nose barely reaching the counter, while my Dad taught me how to break down a chicken, sear it to a golden brown and simmer it in tomatoes and capers, olives and hot peppers. It wasn’t my reality. There are times I feel nostalgic for the stories of those whose family and food lives were wrapped around each other like a sturdy vine, but I forget that I, too, have a past in food, glamorous or not.
The older I get the more I remember the things I did learn about food from my family. They may not be the stories I longed for or the romantic ones some of my friends and peers can tell, but they were the ones that shaped me. My Dad passed along his fearlessness towards all food. Mold? Just cut it off and carry on. Leftovers there for a while? Details, details - just eat it. Expiry dates? A mere suggestion. He joked endlessly about liver and onions, terrifying my sister and I at the thought of having to join him at the table. He ate any cut, any way. If there was something on a menu that he hadn’t heard of before, there was an 80% chance it would arrive in front of him minutes later. At the time I may not have appreciated his ways with food, but theses days I embrace them. He made me a fearless eater, never one to turn anything down, never afraid to try anything at least once. Especially creamy, mayonnaise-filled items like chicken salad, egg salad, any kind of canned meat… I was my fathers daughter and it made me proud to say that I liked what he liked.
Years later, when it was just my mom and I living in her place, I learned how to cook the first meals I made for my friends and first real boyfriend. Meaty spaghetti sauces studded with big hunks of tomato (something that made my sister squirm in disgust), tomato soup jazzed up with a hit of Worcestershire sauce, tabasco and melted cheese slice that I still crave today when I’m under the weather, dreamy whipped mashed potatoes that I can still claim as the best I’ve ever had and still make today, much to Al and my friend’s delight. She taught me that cooking for people made them feel special and showed them how much you cared for them. It was a high I still haven’t come down from despite not getting into cooking until I was about 24. Sunday dinners at her place brought us all together so we could slow down, laugh hysterically and tell our stories from the week. I still relish her cooking and it always makes me feel important and loved when she cooks for us.
My best friend, Amanda, is Lebanese. She comes from the kind of food background that I’ve always longed for. Her mother cooks everything from scratch. When I used to go there, back when I was only just learning to love cooking, I remember seeing hot peppers from her garden drying on the window sill. Amanda explained that she would grind them and use that as seasoning in her dishes. That nearly blew my mind. Do people do that? Don’t spices come from a clear jar with a sage-green lid in the spice aisle? She would feed us labneh, a soft cheese made with strained yogurt (also homemade) and I would sit, bewildered at her dedication to feeding her family ingredients that she pulled from the garden or created from a few humble items in her fridge. Her cooking is a nudge to her past, rich with tradition and memories of Lebanon. I remember Amanda always felt a bit weird about her entirely ethnic lunches (at least to suburban kids who ate french fries or peanut butter sandwiches for lunch), and I would be lying if I said we weren’t all a bit put off by them in the high school cafeteria, but those are the meals I now hope I can feed my kids someday. Meals rich in culture and tradition, meals that have a past and a story to them. Meals and ingredients that I made with my two hands. Ones that I might even be able to say Mary Melhem, your Aunt Amanda’s mom, taught me about when I was just a bratty 10th grader.
All of these stories shaped the way I cook, the way I eat and my relationship with food. Though I longed for more then, I realize now that I couldn’t want for any more. Fearlessness and an open mind, the knowledge that cooking equates to loving and that making a meal for someone is the best way to show them you care, and a dedication to create meals from scratch for my family and share the tradition and stories behind them.
Egg salad always reminds me of my Dad. He liked his creamy and mayonnaise-filled (expired or not) and studded with green olives. I haven’t eaten egg salad in a long time but when I do, I prefer mine a touch healthier and with plenty of flavour from tarragon, pickled celery and hot sauce. I still thought of him as I spread it thick on bread and took a monstrous bite as the salad pushed out the sides like toothpaste.
Healthier Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Tarragon
makes 4 sandwiches
Though this recipe is mostly mine, I did use Smitten Kitchen’s idea of picking the celery. This adds such a welcome kick of sour bite to the salad without having to bite down on a pickle. Unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case - add a few pickles diced really tiny.
Hard boiled egg method courtesy of 101Cookbooks. Follow it to the tee and you’ll have perfect eggs every time.
1/4 cup (2 stalks) celery, diced
1/2 cup pickle brine (from dill pickles, sweet gherkins, pickled jalapenos)
6 hard boiled eggs, method follows
2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, minced
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce (or favourite hot sauce)
1 tsp dijon
1 tbsp caper berries (2 tbsp if you really like them)
1/2 tsp salt
plenty of fresh ground pepper to taste
sliced whole wheat bread
romaine, kale or greens of your choice
Place the diced celery in a pickle brine of your choice. I used jalapeno because I wanted that spicy kick. Let it sit in the brine for at least 45 minutes up to overnight.
Have a bowl of ice water ready. Place your eggs in a pot and cover by 1-2” with cold water. Bring to a gentle boil, turn off the heat, cover and let them sit for exactly 7 minutes. Plunge into the ice water and let cool for at least 3 minutes to stop the cooking process.
Peel the eggs, place in a big bowl with the celery, greek yogurt, tarragon, Tabasco, dijon, capers lots of pepper and salt. Mash everything together, paying most attention to the eggs, until you’re left with a well combined, coarse textured salad. Taste and adjust to your liking. Spread a nice, thick layer onto bread and top with greens of your choice. Place the second slice of bread on top and take a big, messy bite.
Was your childhood ripe with tradition and history in food or did you have a past similar to mine?
A Lack of Thought [Almond Mint Arugula Falafel with Lemony Avocado Buttermilk Dressing]
I keep coming here with the intention to write a big long spiel about stuff and things and life… and then I get here and just stare at the page, pick at my cuticles, sigh heavily, and walk away.
I’m not sure if it’s a result of a busy few weeks or if I’m actually just getting really boring. I’m hoping it’s the former, because my cuticles are pretty ravaged. The thing about writers block is that it doesn’t just go away… at least not in my case. I tend to just write through it despite not having all that much to say. This isn’t always beneficial when you have readers who expect a certain caliber of writing… so I apologize in advance for the lack of intelligent thoughts, but I promise that block or no block, I’ll always share recipes that make up my shortcomings.
So, like, you know… here are some falafel. They are really good. So good that I ate about 6 of them in one sitting, popping them into my mouth like they were grapes. The creamy, citrus-spiked buttermilk and avocado dressing, which has all the texture of a decadent dressing but is relatively healthy if you’re not afraid of good fat, was perfect with the earthy, herbed falafel. I dunked them into the dressing and enjoyed them as simply as that. But you can absolutely stuff them into a pita or a lettuce wrapped filled with your favourite produce, herbs and sauces.
So make a batch this weekend. And have an intelligent conversation on my behalf, because I will probably be fumbling over my words for a few more days.
Almond Mint & Arugula Falafel with Lemony Avocado Buttermilk
recipe adapted from Green Kitchen Stories
makes 1 dozen falafel
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2 cups loosely packed arugula leaves
1 cup toasted almonds
2 cups canned chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ small red onion, diced
pinch red pepper flakes, optional
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp flour (whole wheat works!)
1 tsp baking powder
Creamy Buttermilk-Avocado Dressing, recipe follows
Lemon wedges, to serve
Place the herbs and almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until herbs and chopped and almonds are almost ground, a little texture is good.
Add the chickpeas, garlic, red onion, red pepper flakes, olive oil, cumin, flour and baking powder to the bowl and blend until well combined. It’s ok to have some texture and chunks of herbs/chickpeas/onion etc. No need to be TOO picky.
Preheat oven to 350.
Roll about 1 1/2 tbsp scoops into an oval shaped ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes so they brown evenly on all sides.
Serve on their own with the dressing, or stuff into pita or lettuce wraps with tomatoes, extra herbs, dressing and extra avocado. Serve with extra lemon wedges on the side.
Creamy Buttermilk-Avocado Dressing
1-2 tbsp lemon juice, depending on taste
1/4-1/3 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth. Add a bit of water (or more buttermilk) to thin, if needed. Taste and add more salt or lemon, if needed.
MacGyvering Lunch [Anchovy Butter Toast with Spicy Tomato Jam & Broccoli Rabe]
I always imagine what chef’s and other food writers eat when no one is looking, when their fridges are almost empty save for a bit of produce and pantry basics. In my mind, they use these few ingredients to whip up extravagant dishes, the way MacGyver might tunnel his way out of a sticky situation with nothing but a paperclip and coffee spoon.
After interviewing a few chefs for other publications and learning that the meals they have once their aprons come off are less than gourmet, I realize that maybe I’m not alone in my pursuit for simple, but satisfying meals when the rare downtime happens. Eggs typically play a primary role in most of my quick meals, but while I was prepping to make lunch last week and realized the fridge was egg-less, I felt a little panic in the pit of my gut. What does one DO without eggs?! A thought I’m rarely faced with. I peered into the crisper and saw the bundle of broccoli rabe I’d purchased a few days ago and figured that, some greenhouse cherry tomatoes and a few leftover anchovies would have to suffice. What I didn’t realize was that this meal would become one of my favourites to date. The salty, rich anchovy butter, spicy-sweet tomato jam and bitter rabe make for a a mouth explosion I really wasn’t expecting. I’ve made it twice since and it’s still not let me down. This is one for the books and I hope you agree!
Anchovy Butter Toast with Spicy Tomato Jam & Broccoli Rabe
serves 4 as an appetizer or snack
I used a white country loaf because I had it on hand, but Rye bread would be a nice substitution, too!
4 thick slices of crusty country bread
2 tbsp Anchovy Butter, recipe follows
4 tbsp Spicy Tomato Jam, recipe follows
1/2lb garlicky broccoli rabe, recipe follows
Fresh ground pepper
Parmesan cheese, shaved into big pieces (optional)
Preheat oven to 400.
Spread 1/2 tbsp anchovy butter on each slice of bread. Top with tomato jam. Place on a baking sheet and bake until bread is crisp and golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and top with rabe.
Top with fresh ground pepper and Parmesan shreds.
3 anchovy filets (packed in oil), strained
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
In a food processor, add the anchovies and give it a couple whirls so they break down. Add the butter and blend until anchovy is well incorporated into the butter. Keep at room temperature until you’re done with this recipe, and then put it in the fridge for anytime you want a salty, savory bite.
Spicy Tomato Jam
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups grape/cherry tomatoes
generous pinch red pepper flakes
salt, to taste
drizzle of honey
Add the olive oil and tomatoes to a heavy pot over med-high heat. Cook until tomatoes start releasing their juice and slumping down into a sauce-like consistency. Add the red pepper flakes, salt and a squeeze of honey and let cook until the sauces reduce and it’s slightly thickened., 10 minutes. Spoon into a sealable jar and set aside for toast. The rest will keep in the fridge for a week or two (and makes a great accompaniment for eggs - surprise, surprise!).
Garlicky Broccoli Rabe
1/2lb broccoli rabe (rapini, broccolini)
1 clove garlic
salt, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Trim the thick ends of the rabe off and cut into small tree-like piece. Plunge them into the boiling water for 30 seconds, remove and drain.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add the drained rabe and toss until fragrant and bright.
Heart & Home [Coconut Flank & Broccoli Salad with Peanuts and Basil]
I’m sorry… did I go to Mexico or was that just a sublime delusion?
I blinked and it was over. Days on days of burying my nose in My Berlin Kitchen, romancing over a life that wasn’t nearly mine, sipping piquante bloody mary’s or mojitos while observing a motley crew of intensely-hued tropical fish swim circles around my ever-browning toes, kissing dolphins on the nose (which made me squeal in an octave I’m not sure has been identified by humans yet), standing still while spider monkeys crawled around my head, tangling sesame seed shells into my salt-crusted hair, sipping mimosas while kayaking around a lagoon and yelping that the electric-coloured crabs would jump 6 feet to our boat (unlikely…I realize) and finishing each evening recounting our day over red wine and Jacuzzi baths (guys. seriously. the Cadillac of Jacuzzi tubs sat a mere two feet from our bed). It was a trip not filled with much culture or adventure, but one rich in relaxation, time together reconnecting, and plenty…PLENTY…of sub-par dining options. As most resorts tend to excel in.
On our last day, I started thinking of what I would cook when I came home. I needed something rich in colour, vegetables and zingy, bright flavour (everything we ate was rich and salty….but not balanced with any sort of citrus or acid). I spent much time during our week away immersed in the Donna Hay Magazine spring issue. Every recipe had my mouth literally puckering and drooling like a toddler, and I anxiously dog-earred pages, knowing full well that the second I got home, I would drop my bags and sprint as fast as I could to the nearest store for produce and ingredients to make these dishes my reality. I returned home the day before my birthday and while most wishes I received directed me to have someone else cook for me on my day, the only thing I was wishing for was to have my feet planted firmly in front of my cutting board; chopping, whisking, marinating, searing… the words I’d missed so genuinely that had been replaced with “room service” and “buffet” and “Me gustaría pedir…”. I love my kitchen. It is heart and home as much as my bed, my Allan, my animals.
This dish is vastly different than the one in the magazine in preparation. The ingredients are identical, but because I bought flank instead of rump, I decided to marinate it in the coconut mixture that was only used to soak peanuts and cook broccoli in the original. It produced a savoury, rich marinate AND sauce for the dish that I can’t wait to experiment with again. I hope you enjoy making it as much as eating it, and relish in the act of chopping and searing, as I did.
Coconut Flank & Broccoli Salad with Peanuts and Basil
adapted from Donna Hay Magazine
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
2lb flank steak, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 cup peanuts, roasted & unsalted
4 cups thinly sliced broccoli florets (or broccolini)
1/3 cup basil leaves
In a large sealable container (or zip bag), add the coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy, lime and oil. Stir to combine and tuck the flank steak into the mixture. Seal, chill and marinate 3 hours, up to overnight.
Place a large cast iron skillet or grill-pan over high heat with a bit of neutral oil (veg or peanut) in it. Remove the flank from the marinate, shaking to remove excess marinade, and place on the pan for 4-5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. I don’t recommend cooking past med-rare as flank tends to get tough if over cooked. Remove and wrap in tin foil to rest.
Pour leftover marinade and peanuts into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the broccoli and toss around a bit. Cover and cook just until bright green but still crunchy in the center, 2 minutes. Remove and set aside. Let coconut marinade continue to simmer until reduced and deep brown. It should coat the back of a spoon.
Slice flank into very thin slices, cutting against the grain, and at a slight diagonal so that the slices are wide. Toss the meat with the broccoli and thickened coconut and peanut mixture, taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Spoon onto a platter or serving dishes and top with basil leaves and extra lime wedges. I serve with lots of spicy Sriracha as it tends to go well with these flavours.
To stretch the dish out and provide something a bit more filling, serve with rice or rice noodles.
Flying Away to Mexico [Chorizo & White Bean Stew]
This is my last post before I head to Riviera Maya, Mexico with my handsome man for a week of bun-sunning, toes-in-sanding, coconut-drinking, hammock-laying and maybe some tequila-drinking (FYI: “Maybe” means “absolutely, definitely, 100% a lot of tequila drinking”). We head there tomorrow morning and I haven’t quite had a chance to get excited yet because work and life have been so incredibly packed with things to do. I won’t keep you long, but I wanted to share this recipe with you before I go. And I really hope you’ll make it while I’m gone and maybe, if it’s not too much to ask, take a picture and send it to me so I can look at it and remember how much I love and miss you all (ok, I’m only going for a week which isn’t long AT ALL, but still, guys. Just do it, ok!?)
This stew is ridiculously simple. Nothing but a few pantry items involved, but I will insist that you buy really good quality fresh chorizo. That’s the flavour-maker in this stew and it needs to be a product that’s made with big, powerful flavors that haven’t been sitting around in packaging for weeks (or months). If you can’t find a high quality chorizo, than I’d suggest going with another high quality sausage of your choosing (an Italian would be lovely here – especially if you can find a good spicy one). As well, a good homemade stock, or at least one you’d be willing to sip on its own, makes a big difference in the overall flavour of the soup. Because the ingredients are so few, finding the best ones becomes paramount for an impeccable finished product. The creamy white beans, bold crumbly sausage and savoury broth swimming with onions will melt you right to your core.
I was feeling slightly under the weather (err… hungover) last Sunday and this stew got me right back on track. Warmed my tummy, filled my body with nourishment, and the fattiness from the sausage never hurts a hangover now, does it? Short of a super spicy Bloody Caesar, this might be the next best hangover cure!
Chorizo and White Bean Stew
adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry your tummies are
I used Seed to Sausage chorizo in this dish and highly recommend you do the same if you’re able to find it in your grocer/market. And if you can find it at your market, I suggest you stock up on EVERYTHING because once you taste it, you’ll want to try everything Michael McKenzie and his crack team of butchers and chefs puts out. It’s just that good.
1lb fresh Chorizo
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed well
2 cups good quality chicken stock
1/2 tsp Smoked paprika (more if desired)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
4 big handfuls of baby spinach
Drizzle about 1 tbsp of oil into a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and let it cook to a golden brown on all sides and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the sausage to a plate. Turn the heat down a touch to medium and add the onion. Cook until golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minutes. Add the beans, stock, paprika and a few pinches of salt and fresh ground pepper. Use the back of your spoon to crush some of the beans and thicken the stew slightly (option, but gives nice texture). Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Slice the sausage into bite-sized chunks while the stew cooks. Remove from heat, fold in the spinach and sausage until spinach is just wilted. Spoon into bowls and drizzle with moe olive oil and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.
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Little Puggish Nuts [Cocoa Hazelnut Granola with Sour Cherries]
I’ve always thought hazelnuts to be lavish and exotic. We never really ate them or had them laying around as kids, aside from the holidays when we’d receive boxes and boxes of gold foil-wrapped Ferraro Rocher chocolates with one smooth, crunchy hazelnut entombed in milk chocolate and dipped into more chocolate studded with chopped hazelnuts. Peeling away the little crimped cup and foil always made me feel so fancy - far more so than tearing the plastic (pfft…please!) from a snickers bar.
I find myself tucking my beloved hazelnuts into everything these days - pestos, salads, homemade nut butters, ground into smoothies or mixed with breadcrumbs for a crispy coating. When toasted lightly, their flavour is so distinct, rich and unlike any other nut available. They don’t hide behind the flavours you mix them with, they always stand out dominantly, refusing to melt into the background. I love that about them.
This granola, like my dear puggish hazelnuts, is bold and beautiful. It’s full of texture and flavour and comes together so brilliantly, you’d wonder why they don’t sell a pre-made version of it already (answer: because it’s never as good as homemade!). I’ve been crunching away at it for the past few days and I’m fairly certain it just kicked the fanny of my favourite almond granola. Because I wanted the flavour of the main ingredients to really shine, I didn’t add too many other flavourings. You’re welcome to play around with spices in it, but I suggest trying it on it’s own first. It’s simple and doesn’t need much fuss about it.
Cocoa Hazelnut Granola with Sour Cherries
adapted from Food in Jars
I used coconut oil because I love it, primarily, but it’s also a very healthy oil (which is up for debate with some people, I realize, but I feel good about it), you can feel free to use whatever neutral oil (sunflower, vegetable etc) you like or have on hand.
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, rough chopped
1/2 cup flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
3 cups rolled oats
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, rough chopped
Preheat oven to 325.
In a large bowl, mix the nuts, coconut, rolled oats and cocoa powder. Give it a good mix to make sure the cocoa powder is evenly distributed.
Mix the honey and the melted coconut oil until well combined. Add the wet ingredients and salt to the oat mixture and mix until everything is well combined.
Spread evenly on a foil lined baking sheet and pop into the oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to make sure the edges don’t burn. When it’s golden brown and crunchy, it’s all ready. Let it cool completely (this helps those big, wonderful ‘clumps’ of granola form) and then stir in the sour cherries. Keeps for a few weeks in a sealed glass jar or ziplock bag.
Serve with milk or on top of yogurt, by itself or with fresh fruit.
Ode to the Egg [Sauteed Purple Kale with Charred Shallots & Fried Egg]
There are few things I wouldn’t do for an egg in the morning.
I wake up thinking of them, trying to recall what veg I have in the crisper, if I’ve any bread or cheese, onions or garlic, and deciding whether it’ll be fried in olive oil or scrambled low and slow until velvety and smooth. Something about an egg, so simple and pedestrian, really tugs at my heart. I adore them. And almost as much as I adore eating them, I get eager at the thought of shooting them. When the light catches a sunny yolk, it’s polished surface gleaming and flecked with pepper and salt, I can’t help but get all up in their business with a camera.
Today I bring you a very simple, incredibly nourishing breakfast (or lunch or dinner if you’re into that sort of thing - I bet you are!) that will satisfy and fill your tummy with goodness. Garlicky sauteed kale topped with sweet and slightly bitter charred shallots and a perfectly fried egg. If you added some crisp bacon or pancetta, it would be that much better.
Garlicky Purple Kale with Charred Shallots and a Fried Egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large handfuls (around 4-5 cups) curly kale
6 small shallots (4 large), sliced in half & peeled
salt and pepper
Clean and dry the kale and chop into bite-sized pieces. Heat a good few glugs of olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the kale and a pinch or two of salt. Toss until cooked through, about 5 minutes. It should be green and still a touch crunchy. Taste for seasoning and remove from heat.
While kale cooks, heat a skillet (dry) over high heat until hot-hot! Add the shallots, cut side down, and let them cook until blackened on the bottom, 5-6 minutes. Turn shallots and remove from heat.
In another skillet (or the same, just remove the shallots and wipe it off) over med-high heat, add a thin layer of olive oil and let it get hot. Crack the eggs into the pan (they should immediately sizzle and sputter) and cover it lightly with a plate or pot-lid. Let cook until whites are set but yolks are runny, 3 minutes.
Pile the kale onto plates and top with shallots and fried egg. Sprinkle with some flaky salt and fresh ground pepper.
Bright and Happy [Lemon-Herb Wild Mushrooms with Israeli Couscous]
Resolutions? Not up in here.
I’m not much for them. Setting myself up to feel badly that I haven’t kept a promise made 12 months prior isn’t my idea of productive. That said, I do usually try to start a new year off on a healthier foot. This is mostly because I have eaten and drank myself into early diabetes and alcoholism over the Christmas holidays. Am I over exaggerating? Unlikely.
Healthy to me means adjusting my eating habits, not existing on raw carrot sticks and lemon juice with cayenne for a month. Food is not the enemy and the people who make it out as such give me a wicked case of the face-palms. I’ve been filling up on better-for-you grains and swapping out my usual heavy pasta toppings with lots of quick fried vegetables and nuts. Finding dishes that are as delicious as they are good for you makes a healthy lifestyle adjustments a lot easier to stick to.
I always turn to my good friend, Fungus, when I need something rich and meaty… without the actual richness and meatiness. Mushrooms are the only vegetable that naturally contain Vitamin D. Any other natural food sources of Vitamin D are from animal, poultry or seafood origin. So when it’s mid January - late March and you’re missing the sun and feeling a little down in the dumps, grab a handful of mushrooms and fry them up. Your mood will be brighter and your tummy will be happier because of them.
I cooked this decadent lemon-herb mushroom dish on CTV Ottawa Morning Live today (see my nervousness here!) and wanted to get the recipe up right quick so you could whip it up over the weekend if you’re so inclined. I’d like that. I think you would, too! It’s going to fill you and and keep you satisfied through the afternoon if you have it for lunch, and would be super delicious with an arugula salad on the side for dinner.
Lemon-Herb Wild Mushrooms with Israeli Couscous
serves 4 as side, 2 as main
A note on browning mushrooms: Really take care to be patient when browning the mushrooms. Don’t overcrowd the pan or salt the mushrooms before they’ve browned. Don’t be shy with the oil, this helps dissipate the moisture in the pan and will help them crisp up.
1 1/2 cups dry Israeli Couscous
2 cups water or stock
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
fresh ground pepper
1 1/2lbs wild mushrooms (chanterelle, shiitake, oyster, porcini etc)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp tarragon
3 tbsp fresh Italian/flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt & fresh ground pepper
high quality olive oil, to garnish
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, to garnish (optional)
In a medium sauce pot over med heat, add a glug or two of olive oil (maybe 2tbsp) and th couscous. Let it cook, stirring every minute or so, until couscous is lightly toasted. Add the water or stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and let cook, covered, until couscous has absorbed all the liquid, 8-10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, parsley and a generous amount of pepper. Taste for salt and add more if needed.
While couscous cooks, take a heavy (cast iron would be ideal!) skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add a good layer of olive oil to the pan and place 1 layer of mushrooms down. Let them brown well (2-3 minutes) and them flip and brown the opposite side. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat until all your mushrooms are brown and crispy and delicious.
Wipe the pan down and add 1 tbsp olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Add the mushrooms back along with the herbs, lemon zest and a pinch or two of salt. Toss a few times to combine and remove from heat. Add the lemon juice.
Spoon couscous into a serving dish and top with mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with pine nuts, olive oil and any remaining parsley. Pour a glass of wine (or seltzer if you’re being really good and healthy) and enjoy!