November 23, 2013
I’m heading to London, England next week and will be dining at the fabulous Ottolenghi’s on Tuesday night. I can’t wait. I use his cookbooks all the time and am very inspired by him. And now I get to feast on his creations prepared by – not by me in my humble little kitchen – but by his peeps. So this recipe is in honour of that occasion. I’ve switched it up a bit but it’s still his signature style using fresh, good quality ingredients in a simple way with heaps of fresh herbs to make it sing.
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
8 thyme sprigs
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/3 baby beluga lentils
3 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tbsp chopped chives
4 tbsp chopped dill
pine nuts, toasted
Start by making the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 hour, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool down slightly.
Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a bit. Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 3cm above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oil, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top, sprinkle with the pine nuts, and serve.
November 10, 2013
2 blocks extra firm tofu, cut into slabs
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Arrange tofu slabs in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
Sprinkle tofu pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them. Bake for 45 minutes, basting frequently with pan juices. Carefully transfer tofu, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.
October 27, 2013
I’ve posted other soups similar to this one, like the wabun point potage, ribollita, and minestrone. So this recipe is less about the actual recipe and more about the procurement of ingredients. We all have beans and rice in the pantry (or should!) but this soup features two ingredients that take this soup up a notch or several. First, instead of your ordinary grain, I used farro, or more specifically, emmer grown in the Garfagnana region of Tuscany with an IGP designation (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) which by law guarantees its geographic origin. Second, I used Gialet beans which are Slow Food Presidia protected. If you don’t know Presidia, “the Presidia sustain quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods, safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties.” Wendell Berry says that “eating is an agricultural act” and it’s true. By purchasing foods that protect our farmers, our fields, our biodiversity, our traditions, we advocate for the systems we want and don’t want. All in a bowl of soup.
4 tbsps olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
8 baby potatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
handful of fresh thyme
1 cup farro
4 cups veggie stock, plus water from cooking the beans if necessary
1 cup stewed tomatoes
1 cup cooked gialet beans
sea salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Sauté onion, carrot, celery, and potatoes until they begin to soften up, about 10 – 15 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and sauté until garlic becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add dry farro and stir until coated with the olive oil. Add veggie stock and cook for about 20 – 25 minutes until farro is cooked. If you need more liquid, add additional veggie stock or some of the water from cooking the beans. Once the farro is done, add stewed tomatoes, gialet beans, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat for another 5 – 10 minutes until the flavours meld, adjust seasoning, and serve with some bread or other delicacy that sustains quality production, protects unique regions and ecosystems, recovers traditional processing methods, safeguards native breeds and local plant varieties.
September 13, 2013
I was just given Domenica Marchetti’s new cookbook The Glorious Vegetables of Italy and in it I found a recipe for small batch stewed tomatoes. Given the season and the number of fresh, glorious, local tomatoes out there, I thought I would whip up a small batch. I think everyone should do some canning each year, even if just a little bit, to keep in touch with preserving one’s own food so we don’t lose the knowledge and skills, and what’s more, the connection to age-old traditions. Domenica taught me a trick with this recipe and that’s to grate the tomatoes, leaving the skin out of the concoction. I wasn’t convinced but I like it. She discards the seeds as well but I can’t do that – I like them and that’s where much of the flavour is. She also doesn’t use onions, but I do. So what you see here is a variation but a really good one. I ate it for lunch. As a soup. As is. So good. But with the rest of the batch, I’ll tuck the jars away and pull them out for stews, risotto rosso, and other dishes that need summery-fresh-hand-preserved-tomatoes to truly sing.
1/2 cup olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
12 lbs ripe tomatoes
3 tsps fine sea salt
small bunch basil leaves
6 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
Wash and sterilize 6 large mason jars and their lids by immersing them in boiling water for 10 minutes.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place a box grater over a large mixing bowl. Hold the cut side of a tomato flat against the large holes of the grater and grate the tomatoes, pressing gently, until only the skins is left in your palm. Continue until you have grated all the tomato halves. As you work, collect the pulp and any juice that collects in the bowl. Collect the tomato skins in a separate bowl. When you have processed all the tomatoes, and collected all the skins, put the skins in a colander and squeeze them hard over the bowl with the tomato pulp to catch any residual juice. Discard the squeezed skins.
Carefully pour the tomatoes into the saucepan with the oil and onions. Season with the sea salt, raise the heat to medium, and bring the tomatoes to a simmer. When the juices start bubbling, return the heat to medium-low and let the tomatoes simmer, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, until thickened to a nice consistency. Stir from time to time to prevent the tomatoes from burning. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil leaves.
Pour 1 tbsp of the lemon juice into each of the sterilized jars. Ladle the tomatoes into the jars, leaving 1 inch of space at the top. Screw the lids on tightly and process for 35 minutes in a boiling water bath. Store in a cool, dark place.
September 7, 2013
Cantharellus cibarius, commonly known as the chanterelle or girolle, is a fungus. It is orange or yellow, meaty and funnel-shaped. Wiki thinks that it has a fruity smell, reminiscent of apricots and a mildly peppery taste (hence its German name, Pfifferling). Wiki also tells me that chanterelles are relatively high in vitamin C, very high in potassium, and among the richest sources of vitamin D known. Which I have to say is pretty cool. I didn’t know that when I picked up a bag at the farmers’ market this morning. What I did know is that they are a fall delicacy, and freshly picked – as I found them this morning – make a fabulous soup.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tsp fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fresh chanterelles
2 Tbsp light spelt flour (or other light whole grain flour)
3 cups vegetable stock
1½ cups white beans, cooked (navy, butter, cannelini, great northern)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large cooking pot. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add minced garlic and thyme and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes.
While the onions and garlic are cooking, clean chanterelles by removing any dirt with a damp cloth. Coursely chop the mushrooms and add to the pot. Cook until mushrooms become soft and fragrant. Add spelt flour, mix well, and cook for a few minutes over medium heat being careful not to burn.
Meanwhile, combine the vegetable stock and beans in a blender, and blend on high until creamy. Once done, add slowly to the pot with the onions and mushrooms, stirring as you go to make sure there are no clumps and you create a smooth base. Once added, continue to stir and then let simmer for a few minutes until the flavours meld.
When complete, put soup in the blender and blend to desired consistency but not too much to maintain a some texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with some good olive oil, fresh thyme, or small rounds of toast.
September 1, 2013
As you may have read in the recipe for wabun point potage we’ve been blessed with renting a place on Lake Temagami for the last 10 days. Dick and Marg Lewis, who rented us the cottage, invited us over for a glass of wine and some scrumptious treats, one of which was kale chips which Dick made himself. Tasty. Fabulous. Healthy. Colourful. I had to try it myself. In fact, I’m surprised I had never made them before but everything has a season and things happen when they happen. We ate them on the dock with crackers, roasted garlic bulbs, and a side of burgundy red. Conjure up the sound of the waves, the cool north breeze, the slap of a beaver’s tail, and a distant osprey call, and you pretty much have paradise on earth.
1 head of kale, ripped into pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rip kale into bite size pieces, removing the stems. Wash clean and spin dry. Toss with enough olive oil just to lightly coat the kale. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Spread out on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes depending on how crispy you like them.
September 1, 2013
Potage (from Old French pottage; “potted dish”) is a category of thick soups, stews, or porridges made by boiling vegetables, grains, and, if available, meat or fish. It was a staple food of all people living in Great Britain from neolithic times on into the Middle Ages. Potage commonly consisted of various ingredients easily available to serfs and peasants and could be kept over the fire for a period of days, during which time some of it was eaten and more ingredients added. The result was a dish that was constantly changing. Potage consistently remained a staple of the poor’s diet throughout most of the 9th-17th-century Europe.
Wabun Point is on Garden Island on Lake Temagami, and protects a peaceful, rustic, homey cabin built, loved, passed on, and tended to by the Lewis family. We rented the cottage from Richard P. Lewis The Third and Marg Lewis (I assume The First) for 10 days this summer and, on our last day there, emptied the fridge of whatever ingredients were left and came to the conclusion that the only reasonable thing to do with them was to make a potage in true peasant style on the old vintage Moffat stove. We did not keep it for days adding ingredients but, instead, slurped it down to the last drop in our bowls with a satisfied smack of the lips when it was all done, leaving a container or two in the fridge for Dick and Marg as the soup is now, officially, named after their sweet little abode. My recipe is below but it’s more of a guideline as the real McCoy has no recipe but is made from creativity and necessity.
3 tbsps olive oli
1 large spanish onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 large red potatoes, diced
1/4 head green cabbage, shredded
1/4 head red cabbage, shredded
4 carrots, shredded
2 cups veggie stock
28 oz can whole tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cobs corn, niblets removed
3 tomatoes, diced
sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch over on the stove or an open fire. Add chopped onions and sauté for a few minutes until they become soft and translucent. Add minced garlic and sauté for another 2 -3 minutes until garlic becomes fragrant. Add diced potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and thyme. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat until the vegetables begin to soften.
Add veggie stock, canned tomatoes, bay leaves, and red wine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through and the flavours start to meld. Add fresh tomatoes and boil down until incorporated. Add corn niblets about 10 minutes before serving. Season with sea salt and pepper. Serve with a nice crusty artisan bread, sit by the fire, and enjoy.