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 & Wine, Luxe 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:
Appetizer: Roasted Brussels sprouts and braised pork belly salad with smoked black tomato dressing.
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:
Appetizer: Beef Carpaccio - Pickled bok choy, roasted garlic aioli, Dijon, blackened black tomato, smoked paprika oil, crispy leeks.
Main Course: Pan Roasted Shoulder Tender - roasted Brussels sprouts, blackened black tomatoes, pickled garlic, and groat risotto
Dessert: Roasted Pear Pie - vanilla ice cream, caramel, cranberry compote
Pear and Cranberry Tart
Recipe courtesy of Chef Darren Flowers and Pastry Chef Adrienne Courey
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
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.
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.
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.
We rose, slower than usual, from our slumber Sunday morning, sipped our coffees as we rubbed our eyes, and had a small breakfast. We knew saving space in our tummies would pay off as we were in for a treat later in the afternoon.
As we pulled into the parking lot of Brewer Park, the current home of the Ottawa Farmers Market, it was apparent that this was no regular day at the market. The parking lot swelled with cars and chipper market-goers toting bags spilling over with vibrant locally grown produce and fares. We parked, far quicker than we imagined, and set our sites on the white tent that stood taller and more elegantly than all the other vendor booths. This was where we would soon share a meal with locals food-lovers, farmers and chefs alike. This was Ottawa’s 2nd annual Harvest Table.
Harvest Table is a much-anticipated yearly event, organized by Savour Ottawa, that offers patrons an opportunity to celebrate Ottawa’s ample harvest and culinary artistry by enjoying a meal with the hard working folks who both grow and prepared it. It brought some of the cities finest chefs, hardest working farmers and food-loving residents together under one charmingly decorated roof… err.. tent.
As we wandered the market waiting for lunch to start, we happened upon the C’est Bon Cooking tour, offered with Cream of the Crop tickets ($75 as opposed to $60 for the lunch alone) and we listened in as Paola St George, tour guide extraordinaire, expertly navigated the market followed closely by a crowd of wide-eyed, eager guests hungry for every bit of information she had to offer… or maybe it was the tantalizing samples they were hungry for. Either way, people were happy. So happy. And it was lovely to see everyone so anxiously gobbling up the full market experience. We listened in for a few minutes as Andy Terauds, owner of Acorn Creek Gardens and vice-president of the market itself, spoke about his farm but trailed off when we spotted Somerford & Halls booth. [Side note: if you’ve not been to check out C’est Bon Cooking, I urge you to click through to the link above. Team building, cooking classes, Byward Market food tours, and so much more!]
As we made our way to our table, Impromptu Strings setting the mood with their artfully performed classics, we took our seats, scanned the airy, outdoor space and breathed in the whole atmosphere. The tables were charming and simple, centerpieces made up of richly hued flowers and greens mixed with small tomatoes vines and kale, truly making use of every bit of summer’s harvest. Already present at the table was a platter of antipasti ripe with elk sausage, wild vegetables, edible flowers, soft cheeses and a deep purple blueberry ketchup. We passed it around the table as we acquainted ourselves with other diners over Kichessippi Beer’s Natural Blonde & a choice of either Chardonnay or Cab Franc from Casa-Dea Estates Winery. The Cab Franc was lovely; great acidity and a smooth plummy flavour.
The antipasti platter disappeared as quickly as it came, and we were served course after course of exquisitely executed dishes; Chilled Strawberry Melon Soup with Goat Cheese, Grainy Potato Salad with generous hunks of egg, Harvest Table Farm Salad filled with local veg, Fresh Basil Ravioli with Tomato Sauce (easily my favourite - the ravioli were pan-fried similar to gnocchi and exploded with a warm, delicate basil filling), Roast Beef with Summer BBQ Sauce, Heritage Breed Pork Duo (pulled shoulder and belly), a vibrant Tomato & Zucchini Millefeuille with Goat Feta, Swiss Chard with Heirloom Carrots and Cinnamon Honey, New Fingerling Potatoes with Jalapeno & Onion Confit, and finally, a variety of tantalizing summer pies bubbling over with fresh fruit filling.
I’m not sure how we managed to avoid slipping into a food-induced slumber right there at the table while we digested our pie and applauded the work of restaurants, chefs, farmers & food producers, volunteers, organizers and sponsors for their magnanimous efforts in putting this event together. It was an experience I won’t soon forget. The honour of dining in the presence of those who have toiled endlessly (particularly after a hard, drought-filled summer) to grow and produce our food, and the chefs who work long, often-thankless hours to prepare dinner so we can sit back, relax and enjoy left me feeling an overwhelming amount of gratitude. When the option to attend rolls around next year, I hope you’ll join Savour Ottawa in celebrating our great city’s harvest, farmers and chefs - there are so few events that bring all of these together to truly tell a story of Ottawa’s food and people.
After such a fantastic meal, I was inspired to create something with the beautiful heirloom tomatoes we grabbed on our way out. This tart is simple to make and so pretty to look at. I almost felt guilty cutting into it… but once I did, my guilt quickly faded away into the buttery layers of crunchy dough and sweet, warm tomatoes.
Heirloom Tomato Tart with Lemon Ricotta & Cornmeal-Thyme Crust
makes 1 10” pie
Cornmeal-Thyme Pate Brisee
adapted from Martha Stewart
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (stems removed)
1 cup unsalted butter, frozen cut into small pieces
1/4 – 1/2 cup ice water
In the bowl of your food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and thyme. Pulse the processor until butter pieces are about the size of a pea. Add water in 1 tbsp at a time until the dough starts to hold itself together. It should stick easily when pinched together. Dump the dough out and press together in a loosen ball. Divide in half and place each portion onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap each in the plastic and press into a flattened disc. Refrigerate for 1 hour (Make ahead: can be made 1 day ahead and kept in the fridge).
Remove 1 round of dough from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface to approximately 1/4” thick. Press your dough into a 10 x 1 1/2” pie plate. Trim the excess dough off the edges and crimp the edges if you’re into that sort of thing (I totally am, but as you can see, I’m not the best at it as a result of my big clobber mitts - you can just leave the crust as it is…we’ll call it rustic. Shhh!). Place in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes or until you’re ready to start prepping the filling.
1lb Heriloom Tomatoes, sliced into rounds
1 tsp coarse salt
3/4 cup high quality ricotta
1 tbsp lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350.
Remove the tart shell from the fridge. Prick all over with a fork and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
While the shell bakes, toss the sliced tomatoes and salt together in a colander. Let it sit in the sink or over a bowl, tossing gently every few minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, lemon zest and salt. Stir well to combine.
Once pie is removed from the oven, turn heat up to 375. Spread the ricotta on the pre-baked pie shell. Arrange tomatoes around the pie plate in two layers. Give a few generous grinds of pepper and place in the oven until tomatoes are soft and reduced in size, about 40 minutes. If you notice the crust cooking too quickly, just lightly cover the pie with tin foil.
As I was flying 40,000ft in the air over the British Columbia Rocky Mountains, something struck me (aside from the usual “I’m probably about to die. I better eat another crunchy Cheeto just in case!”)…
I really need to eat some vegetables.
Yes, these are the thoughts that scatter throughout my mind when I’m not thinking about how the airplane is inevitably going to kill me (I get terribly psychotic on airplanes - the only cure is booze and candy… but isn’t that the cure for anything anytime?)
The past week has been a never-ending feast of all things cream-sauced, butter-filled, sugar-crusted and hollandaised… my gut is feeling a little worse-for-wear to say the least. The very least.
I returned home Saturday evening, tired, jet lagged and hungry, to a lively bundle of freshly cut, ruby red and green Rhubarb from my great friend Ashley’s Mom, Wendy. Keeping in mind my promise to eat more veggies and fruit this week, I got busy making some White Peach & Rhubarb Galettes.
…..what?! Pie isn’t considered healthy? But it’s got fruit in it! Well jeez, guys. I can’t be held responsible for that!
In all seriousness, these are not exactly healthy. But what they lack in nutrition, they make up for in utterly delightful flavour. The combination of the sweet, floral white peaches, tart rhubarb and gentle rose-water flavour is perhaps one of my new favourites. Just eat them in moderation (and don’t keep sneaking past your boyfriend to pick pieces of the dough off in the fridge and chew them as fast as you can so he doesn’t know… but he always knows).
Individual White Peach & Rhubarb Galettes with Rosewater Pastry
Pate brisee adapted from Martha Stewart
Note: White peaches, which have a lighter flesh colour and are slightly more floral in flavour than typical yellow peaches, are recommended but not mandatory in this recipe.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
1 tbsp rosewater
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In the bowl of a food processor (which you can chill for 30 minutes prior to dough making for optimal results), add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse for 5 seconds to blend.
Add the butter, rosewater and 2 tbsp of the ice water and pulse. Add more ice water, 1tbsp at a time while pulsing until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. When you pinch it, it should easily come together.
Pour out and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight (can be frozen and stored for 1 month).
1lb (about 4 cups) trimmed rhubarb, sliced into 1” chunks
4 very ripe white peaches, pit removed, sliced thin
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp rosewater
1/4 cup cornstarch
coarse sugar for finishing
Toss all ingredient in a bowl.
Once dough has been chilled, divide into 8 equal sized portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece to a 7-inch round, 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the rounds to 2 baking sheets. Add a heaping 1/4 cup of the filling into the center of the dough. Fold edges over the filling leaving an opening in the center.
Once all the rounds are filled and folded, brush the dough with water and sprinkle with coarse (turbinado or sanding) sugar. Place the trays in the fridge while you pre-heat the oven t0 400 degrees.
Bake for 25 minutes until crust is golden. Turn heat down to 375 and bake until fruit filling is bubbling and set.
Remove and let cool on a wire rack with parchment paper underneath (to catch all the saucy drips).
Serve on their own, with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.
Well things have just been all over the place here lately, haven’t they?
I’ve spent this past week slightly under the weather and not wanting to do much but drink peppermint tea and watch The Real Housewives (of every city….). I’ve been sitting on a really delicious recipe for a few weeks now and I figure I’d better get it out to you before all your heirloom tomatoes are rotten or -gasp- frozen! Ok, maybe frozen is a little wishful thinking on my part. I’m anxiously awaiting the first snowfall. And now you know how terribly insane I am.
It’s a chilly day here in Ottawa. One that begs more for a slow cooked beef soup or creamy risotto than a Galette. But you know what? I have a Galette for you so you’ll just have to bear with me and enjoy it. I promise it will be worth it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘Galette’, it’s a general term in French Cuisine referring to an array of flat, round, free-form tarts. Rustic, unfancy, but so perfectly satisfying when piled with your favourite sweet or savoury fillings. There is something so unassumingly charming and welcoming about a flaky dough round, filled with fresh ingredients. That first slice into the tart, when the crust shatters like glass into little shards of buttery dough, always makes my heart flutter.
I had some beautiful Heirloom tomatoes sitting pretty atop my window sill that begged for something different than my usual heirloom tomato salad…. delicious as it is. A Galette was an easy alternative to my go-to dishes that really pushed the unique-looking tomatoes to new heights of flavour.
Heirloom Tomato Galette with Cornmeal Crust
adapted from Look I Made That
You could easily use any tomatoes you have on hand. Roasting them really helps bring out the most of any tomato.
adapted from Fine Cooking
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 tsp sugar
1-1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2” cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup ice water
In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until evenly distributed but still has some large, visible pieces present.
Add the olive oil and slowly add in the ice water, mixing, until the dough starts to come together. Gather dough in your hands and shape it into a small disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour up to overnight.
3-4 large (or 6-7 small) Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced into 1/2” rounds
1.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
handful basil, sliced into ribbons
coarse salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375.
On a floured board, roll dough out into a round about the size of a dinner plate. See? Rustic means we’re not being fancy here.
Leaving about 1.5” around the edge of the dough clean, slather your Dijon mustard over the dough. Top mustard with grated Gruyere. Arrange tomatoes over the cheese and sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper and basil.
Carefully pick up the edges of the dough and fold it over the filling. If
the dough breaks, just pinch it back together and call it a day. There are fancier ways to fold the dough if you’re looking for something with a little more ‘ooooooh’ appeal, but I love the simple, messy look of this method.
Bake on a preheated pizza stone or baking sheet for 10 minutes or until browned on top. Reduce heat to 325 and continue cooking until tomatoes are gooey and baked, about 40-50 minutes.
Serve with some lightly dressed micro greens or a simple arugula salad to give a nice spicy contrast to the rich tomatoes.
The term 'just one of those weeks' (or days, months, years…) has never rung more true or slipped more frequently from my lips than it has in the past two weeks. I’ve had to tell myself on numerous occasions that this winter is a true test of my patience, sanity and emotions. I hope I’m passing.
I think one main thing that’s keeping me down is the lack of sun these days. I don’t mind the cold. In fact, I like it. But I really do enjoy the feeling of the morning sun beaming warmly onto my face while walking to work. And more than that, it’s vital to my happiness some days. I just need it. My coworkers who have been lucky enough to witness my bleek moods lately would probably agree.
I woke up this morning frustrated with the icy, grey scene outside. I know I live in Ontario, I know this is what every single January/February looks like. No matter how many times as I tell myself that I won’t let it get to me this year, it always does. But alas, I do not control the weather. Yet. So I will just have to make do the best way I know how.
If I can’t feel the sun, you better believe I’m going to go leaps and bounds to be able to taste it. Thankfully in this case, leaps and bounds turned out to be more like tiny tip-toes. I love tip toes.
I had a few grapefruits laying around threatening to expire, so I put them to use in my quest for sunny flavour. I’m not a really big grapefruit eater, but I love grapefruit flavoured things. So when I came across a recipe for Grapefruit Curd, I knew it was just what I needed. Tangy, ever-so-sweet, and bright sunshine yellow. Made better only by the soft, buttery tart shell that housed it.
As you know, I don’t dabble much in dough without breaking into panicked sweats, but this recipe from Martha Stewart was just about impossible to mess up. I made it according to the directions, but thought the dough felt a little too sticky. I added a little more flour, over-kneaded it, fussed about with it too frequently to yield anything but a rock-hard crust… and yet it still came out perfectly soft, crumbly and delicate. That’s why she’s Martha Stewart and I’m cleaning curd up off my floor with a fork.
I managed to finish the tart, take some photos and have a slice before the incident, which only made more clear that the universe is not done testing me. While in transit from the counter to the fridge, I watched, mouth agape and unable to do anything but gasp, as the tart buckled in the middle and feel to both sides in a heap of gooey curd on the floor. Nothing to see here. Definitely not a metaphor for my life as of late . No big deal at all, right? Nothing a glass of wine, a deep breath and a clenched fist can’t fix.
If you’re missing the sun, or even if you’d just like a little more of it, this tart will fix you right up. It’s like having a pina colada on the beach. Sort of. Just try not to break your sunshine.
adapted from Honey and Jam & Martha Stewart
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/4 - 2 cups cups all-purpose flour (I used about 2)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds + 2 tbsp
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter an 11-inch fluted tart or quiche pan with a removable bottom, sprinkle 2 tbsp of ground almonds into the pan and shake around to cover bottom and sides.
Lightly whisk flour and salt together. Pulse almonds with confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until finely ground.
Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in almond-sugar mixture. Add yolk and 1 1/4 C flour. Beat until combined. If dough is still too sticky, add more flour slowly until it’s firm but still slightly sticky.
Press dough evenly into bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Freeze for 20 minutes.
Bake crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Press down bottom and up sides if needed. Bake until golden brown, about 13 minutes more. I pressed the tart shell down twice during cooking. Transfer pan to a baking sheet, and let cool for 15 minutes.
8 large eggs yolks
1/2 cup freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 ruby red grapefruit, finely grated
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
Combine yolks, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, half of the zest, and the sugar in a saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and taking care to scrape the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve unto a medium bowl. Stir in the remaining zest. Pour into shell. Let sit at room temperature (or fridge) until set, about an hour. Optional: Dust with confectioners sugar.