Thursday, 31 March 2011

Buckwheat Pilaf

Buckwheat makes a nice local alternative to rice as a side dish, but it's softer in texture and stronger in flavour. I like it's intense nutty-woody flavour although Mr. Ferdzy says "cardboard". I can see it, but I say it's good cardboard. Gourmet cardboard, even.

This is a pretty simple, here-it-is dish designed to provide a back-up to other main dishes and also not to take to much time or trouble to make. It went very nicely with the Bison Meatloaf and cabbage.

The instructions to toast the grain then add it to boiling stock are to keep it from turning to mush, so be sure to do those steps and also let it rest once it is done. It really is easiest to do it in a rice cooker.

4 servings
45 minutes - 20 minutes prep time

1 cup whole raw buckwheat kernels
2 stalks celery
3 or 4 shallots
1 large carrot
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
2 cups good chicken or other stock
salt & pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the dry buckwheat, and toast it, stirring frequently, until it is reasonably well toasted throughout. It will darken, and smell toasted. Set it aside on a plate to cool.

Wash, trim and chop the celery. Peel and chop the shallots. Peel and grate the carrot. Put the oil in the skillet, and cook the vegetables until soft but not browned.

Meanwhile, put the stock into the rice cooker (or a large pot) and turn it on; it should come to a good boil. Add the vegetables once they are ready.

When the stock is boiling with the vegetables, add the toasted buckwheat. Reduce the heat to a simmer (or let the rice-cooker do its thing) and cover. Cook until the rice-cooker turns itself off, or until the stock is absorbed and the buckwheat is tender; in either case, approximately 15 minutes. Stir gently to fluff it up a bit, then let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Braised Endive.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Lemon-Caraway Cabbage

Everyone knows (yes?) about adding caraway seed to cabbage as it cooks. (And also to Brussels sprouts or other forms of brassica.) It's a simple and classic way of adding a little flavour twist to these veggies. Some lemon and butter makes it just that bit better.

4 servings
20 minutes prep time

4 cups finely chopped savoy cabbage
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons butter
the finely grated zest of 1/4 to 1/2 lemon
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Trim and chop the cabbage, and steam or boil it until just tender, with the caraway seed. It should be a minute or two short of being done to your liking. Drain it well.

Keep the cabbage in the pot (or return it there) and put it back on the stove. Add the butter. Grate in the lemon zest, and add the lemon juice. Mix them in well until the butter is melted and the cabbage is re-heated throughout. Serve at once.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Bison (Buffalo) Meatloaf

For some reason we have not gotten into eating much bison. Occasionally we buy pre-made burgers. However I saw some ground bison at the 100 Mile Market, and since I've been hearing the call of the meatloaf for a couple of weeks now, I decided I'd see what kind of a meatloaf it made. Very good, is the verdict. Bison is much like beef; maybe a little more robust in flavour. It is very lean meat though, so I added a little fatty bacon to keep it moist.

6 to 8 servings
2 hours - 30 minutes prep time

Bison (Buffal) Meatloaf
1 large carrot
3 or 4 shallots
1 or 2 stalks of celery
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil

900 grams ground bison (buffalo)
150 grams (1/4 pound) fatty bacon
2 extra-large eggs
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoon sweet paprika; Hungarian OR smoked Spanish
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup thick tomato sauce or other glaze

Peel and grate the carrot. Peel and mince the shallots. Wash, trim and finely chop the celery. Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the vegetables until soft, but not browned; about 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Chop the bacon finely, and grind the black pepper, fennel and celery seeds. Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. It's best to do this by hand.

Press the mixture into a large loaf pan. Cover the top with the tomato sauce, or use something else if you like. I'm out of tomato sauce, so I used a mixture of apple butter and hot pepper jelly. Pretty good, but I do like a bit of tomato flavouring in there. Chili sauce is a popular topping for meatloaf and so is ketchup. Either would work fine. Barbecue sauce might be good, as long as it wasn't too strong, but I'm not sure it would be ideal with the seasonings I used.

Bake the meatloaf for 1 hour 20 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Last year at this time I made Apple Dumplings.

Monday, 28 March 2011

A Quick Cucumber-Beet Salad

This hardly qualifies as a recipe, but every once in a while I get a cucumber for Mr. Ferdzy. (Not for me; they give me indigestion.) Lately I've been adding pickled beets with a little of the brine poured over as a dressing. He says it's good. It's certainly easy.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I'm sure I hardly need to post a recipe for this, but I thought I'd let you all know I am still alive and kicking.

This computer change-over has been a major pain. One of the programs I have lost is my photo-editor. I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that all I was using was a free sample program that came with our printer. However, I can no longer connect the printer, and so the program is gone. (And we have to buy a new printer, ugh. There was nothing wrong with the old one.)

I'm looking at other programs to replace it but so far everything does 500 times as many things, 98% of which I don't want, and in a far more clunky and time-consuming way. Ugh. So pictures around here will have to be "au naturel" until I come up with a plan. If anyone has any suggestions I'd be happy to hear them.

4 to 6 servings
40 minutes - 20 minutes prep time, not including roasting the garlic

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
900 grams (2 pounds) potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 - 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 heads roasted garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Wash and trim the potatoes, and peel them if you are so inclined. Cut them into chunks and put them in a large pot with plenty of water to cover them. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly until tender. Drain well.

With the potatoes still in the pot, add the butter, buttermilk and garlic and mash well. It may help to pre-mash the garlic separately before adding it. Once everything is well blended, season with salt and pepper to taste, and mash it in well. Mix in the Parmesan cheese and serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Baked Beans with Cabbage & Sandwich Buns.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic
The re-entering of the accounting goes on, but I did take the time yesterday to stick the last remaining heads of garlic from our garden into the oven to be roasted. I trimmed off the tops to expose the cloves, removed the outer layers of skin leaving each clove just in its own papery wrapping, set them quite loosely in a foil packet, and roasted them at 400°F. Some places I looked said they would be done in about half an hour, but in fact mine took a little over an hour. I don't know if this was because my garlic is getting a bit old, or if it was because I put it in a cast-iron baking dish that took a while to warm up.

They smelled delicious while roasting, but now my whole house has a garlic "hangover". I know what to do when I have a garlic hangover - vigorous exercise will clear that away - but I'm less sure about the house. I'm looking forward to it getting warm enough to open all the windows and doors and clear away the fustiness of the winter.

Anyway, roasted garlic mashed potatoes for dinner, I believe...

Last year at this time I made Cabbage, Carrot Sprout & Apple Salad.

Monday, 21 March 2011

And THEY"RE Ba-aack!

The red-winged black birds, I mean. They came up yesterday. Also I've been seeing a few robins, and a bunch of turkey-vultures too. I think this is the earliest I've seen the vultures, although the others seem to be right on schedule.

Hurray, it's spring! Even if there are still dirty great piles of the used-to-be white stuff around. Not for long.

Palestine Soup (Jerusalem Artichoke Soup)

Well I'm ba-aaack, I guess. It was an odd week on the computer front. I have not yet really been disconnected from the internet, but as it turns out our old accounting program is so old that the new computer won't run it. We have been obliged to come up with another one (we're trying Gnucash, which is a free program and looks very good) and so have been busy re-entering 2 1/2 years of accounting entries. Oh joy. Still, it's an interesting exercise. I always thought we were fairly budget conscious, but even a year ago we were much more likely to take a "we NEED it - we have to buy it" attitude than we are now. Partly when we moved into a new house there was a bunch of things we did need, I guess, but I think we are also just much more likely to think twice now. Anyway, food...

This is a traditional British soup made with Jerusalem artichokes. There is of course no connection with Palestine beyond their name, which comes through an odd quirk of history - they are from the great lakes region of North America, and are not artichokes.

It's a lovely, mild but full-flavoured soup. I served mine without any topping and did not really miss it. Croutons and bacon bits were another recommended topping which would add a nice bit of crunch to the very smooth soup. (And the soup should be very smooth - as smooth as you can get it. Don't be afraid to cook the vegetables quite soft, and a blender is probably better than a food processor if you have one.)

4 to 6 servings
1 hour 20 minutes - 40 minutes prep time

Palestine Soup
500 grams (1 pound) Jerusalem artichokes
3 shallots
1 cup grated celeriac, or 1 celery stalk
1 cup grated carrot (1 smallish)
1 tablespoon butter or other fat
2 cups good stock or broth
salt & pepper

yogurt or sour cream, if desired

Scrub the artichokes well, and trim off any bad spots. Chop them roughty, and put them on to boil in a large soup pot with about 4 cups of water.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the shallots, and peel and grate the celeriac and carrots. (Trim and chop the celery if using.)

Heat the butter or fat - I had some fat on top of my stock, and used that - and cook down the shallots, celeriac and carrot until quite soft but not browned. Set them aside until the artichokes are ready.

When the artichokes are tender, drain them but keep the cooking water. Purée them very well with the cooked down vegetables in a blender or food processor, adding some of the cooking water as needed to keep them fluid. You will quite certainly need to do this in more than one batch.

Return the puréed soup to the soup pot. Swish out the blender or food processor with any remaining cooking liquid, and add it to the soup. Add the stock.

Reheat the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve as-is, or with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.

Last year at this time I made Chick Pea & Potato Curry #2 and Sweet Breakfast Buns.

Monday, 14 March 2011

A Visit to The Green Barn Market

This weekend we went to Toronto to visit family and friends, and since that's never enough for me we left early enough on Saturday to stop in somewhere I've wanted to go for a long time - The Stop's Green Barn Farmers' Market. To my surprise, I recognized the place - when I lived in Toronto, it was a TTC streetcar depot. That kind of barn, duh. Okay. It sure looks different, though.

Inside was a wonderful light-filled space, with wall-to-wall windows at both ends and a skylight running the length of the building. The walls are a warm, mellow block that add to the welcoming feel of the place. It was also full of people; vendors and shoppers.

Here's cheese from Fifth Town, one of Ontario's best small cheese makers.

At this time of year most of the vegetables available are root and storage vegetables, but there was a good selection.

This man had some greenhouse spinach though! As well as leeks, celeriac, rutabaga, parsnips and daikon. He was also there representing Urban Harvest, and had a good selection of vegetable seeds.

Whoa! If I had known I could have gotten my knives and scissors sharpened I would have brought them. I miss having a little old Italian guy come round the neighbourhood, ringing a hand-bell to let people know they should bring their knives out to be sharpened. But here you can get sharpened just about everything that gets dull by the looks of it.

Angus beef from Field Sparrow Farms in the Kawarthas. Check the link... it's an interesting farm.

Some really lovely looking savory pies.

St. John's Bakery had done such a roaring business that by the time we were there at 9:30 they were closing in on being totally sold out.

This little 4-person band filled the whole space with lively music that was a real joy to listen to. I recognized classic jazz pieces, what sounded for all the world like klezmer music, and "This Little Light of Mine", which I had last heard from the piping little voices in First Day School junior class. Fun!

More delectable goodies. Oh how hard to make a decision!

Ontario grown sweet potatoes from Round Plains Plantation. They also had baked goods, including some from their gluten-free kitchen. We got a basket of mixed sweet potatoes, including Covington (a standard orange-fleshed one) Okinawa and Murasaki (Japanese varieties with light flesh and purple skins) and O'Henry (a skinny little light skinned variety.) We're looking forward to sweet-potato fun!

There's still plenty of Ontario apples - and pears, which I haven't seen here for quite some time. Nice! Oh those lucky Torontonians.

Not Ontario grown - but Ontario produced - were these delectable chocolates from ChocoSol. We tried the hemp-seed and salt, and the 5-Chili, and bought both. I'm now regretting that we didn't buy some of their drinking chocolate. Next time! This is another place doing fascinating stuff - be sure to click the link!

A wide array of green, crunchy sprouts to liven up those root veggies.

Honey and beeswax products - we bought a little jar of lavender honey. I'm getting to have quite a collection; we must do a honey tasting one of these days.

Ontario's Own summer in a jar.

Ying-Ying's Gourmet Tofu Products, made with Ontario-grown, certified organic non-GMO soybeans. Yes! They have all kinds of flavoured tofu; they even have tofu "bacon". We tried it, and if it wasn't completely convincing it would certainly work well enough in recipes that need that little salty-smoky-chewy hit that bacon provides.

We loved this market and can definitely see why this has become one of Toronto's favourite markets in only three years of operation. It's just bursting with great local foods, and we could write a whole post about each and every vendor.

They are open every Saturday 8 am to noon at the Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St. (at St. Clair).

On another note, this will be the last post for several days. The other thing we did while in Toronto was pick up a new computer for me. Two hard crashes requiring nerve-wracking resuscitations in the last 6 months tells me it's time to make an orderly change-over before I can't even do a resuscitation at all. So once that's done and I'm up and running again, I'll be back.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Rosti Potatoes

Considering the number of potatoes that have been consumed in this house this winter I haven't posted too many recipes for them. However, here's one! And a very good one too. This is a classic Swiss dish. There isn't too much to it and yet it's quite distinctive. Personally I put it all down to the slow cooking in butter. Hard to go wrong with that.

I've always used onions in this before but this time I used shallots. You'll note, if you examine the photo, that a few spots got a little too brown. Those were mostly shallots, and I'm not sure if they scorch more easily than onions, or if it's just that even after 2 years I am still learning to cook over gas. However, they were a minor flaw and did not impede our enjoyment of these delicious potatoes.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour plus 1/2 hour prep time, in two separate blocks

Rosti Potatoes
1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (6 medium-large)
1 large onion
OR 4 or 5 shallots
6 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper

Scrub the potatoes and put them in a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain at once, and cool in cold water. This can be done in advance.

Peel and grate the potatoes. Peel and chop the onion or shallots. Mix the potatoes with the onion.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat - just a little lower than you would use to cook eggs or pancakes. Put 3 tablespoons of butter in to melt. Press the potato and onion mixture evenly into the pan. Cut another tablespoon of butter into little bits and dot them around on the potatoes.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until you can see good signs of browning around the edges. Flip the potatoes out onto a cookie sheet and set aside for a moment as you add the remaining butter to the pan. Slide the potato cake back into the pan so that the browned side is now up.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes more. I find it best to flip it back onto the cookie sheet, then slide it onto the serving plate, as it's pretty difficult to manoever a heavy pan, a moving potato object, and a delicate plate and be sure that all will live to tell the tale.

Last year at this time I made Cocoa Banana Muffins. It's a little embarassing to notice that they call for half the fat of these potatoes. Dear me.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Lamb Cabbage Rolls

We haven't eaten very much cabbage this winter. Normally, we practically live on the stuff but our own crop wasn't great, I didn't store it properly, and it was gone by the end of December. This was not really a problem because our freezer was packed with snow peas, peas, beans, broccoli and cauliflower from our garden.

The end of that is possibly in sight, so I felt free to buy a cabbage this week. Since it was such a novel treat instead of the same-old-same-old, I thought I would do something to recognize that fact. There was one last packet of ground lamb in the freezer, so cabbage rolls it was.

The sugar at the end sounds odd, but my sauce was sufficiently acidic that I thought it needed a touch of sweetness to pull it back into line with the other flavours. It worked very well; adjust the amount by how acidic you think your sauce is.

I guess you could use a non-Savoy cabbage, if you liked. Savoy cabbages are my favourite though. There's something about all those little nooks and crannies.

8 - 12 cabbage rolls (4 servings)
2 hours 15 minutes - 45 minutes prep time

Mix the Seasonings:
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dill or fennel seed
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon savory (optional)
2 teaspoons dried mint
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon salt

Grind the celery and fennel seeds, and mix them with the rest of the seasonings.

Make the Cabbage Rolls:
8 -12 large outer Savoy cabbage leaves
450 grams (1 pound) ground lamb
1 cup cooked rice, barley or other grain
1 large onion
2 or 3 shallots
1 medium-large carrot (2 cups when grated)
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
2 cups tomato sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar

The rice (or whatever) should be reasonably cool when you start. It can, in fact, be leftovers, which is what mine was. The exact amount is also pretty flexible.

Have a large cabbage with outer leaves in good condition. Carefully remove 8 to 12 of them, and set them aside. The rest of the cabbage is your problem.

Put a large, shallow pot of water on to boil; you will need about an inch and a half of water in it.

Peel and chop the onion and shallots, and peel and grate the carrot. Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the onions and shallots until quite soft, stirring frequently to prevent them from browning. Set them aside to cool.

Go back to your cabbage leaves, and pare down the thick parts of the stems so that the leaves will be easy to roll. Dip them briefly in the boiling water (use tongs!) until just softened, then put them in the sink to drain.

Once the cooked vegetables are cool enough to handle, they can go into a mixing bowl with the meat, rice and seasonings. Mix well - I find it's easiest to do this with my hands.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Shake each leaf dry and lay it out flat. Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal portions, and roll one portion into a rough tube. Put it in the middle of the cabbage leaf, then fold up the bottom (stem end). Fold in the sides, then roll up the leaf to finish. Put the cabbage roll in a large (9" x 13") lasagne pan. Do the same with the remaining cabbage leaves.

Drizzle the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls, sprinkle them with the sugar, and cover them with foil. Bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, and let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Chickpea & Potato Curry with Coconut Milk.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

First Sprouts Are Up!

It's not too early - we hope - to start some seedlings. Members of the onion family are generally very slow growing and need to be started early. They germinate quickly enough, but the transition from a little green thread to something big enough to plant out is slow. We've planted leeks and several different types of onions. One thing we realized last year is that it will be practically impossible for us to grow too many onions.

We've also planted spinach, lettuce and chard, probably in ridiculously large numbers. It's far too early to plant those for ordinary growing, but we are gambling that the weather will co-operate and that in another couple of weeks we can put them out under glass and plastic and give them a big head-start.

We're experimenting with using smaller celled starter trays than we have used in the past, one plant per cell. We used to put several into somewhat larger trays. This change was Mr. Ferdzy's idea. He is meticulous and patient about parcelling out tiny seeds, one per cell, where I am much more inclined to just fling them out and live with the spotty results.

Anyway, we will see what happens with getting these into the ground. There are starting be bare spots here and there, or at least there were. We've had a bit more snow since our big melt of a week and half ago or so. But if it now keeps snowing until the middle of April, you will know who to blame.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Parsnip Slaw

Since my epiphany that beets can be eaten raw a while back, I have started to wonder about other vegetables I have never eaten raw. How about parsnips? In fact when grated they made a very nice salad.

I had nothing to post yesterday because I spent the weekend surfing for horticultural porn researching peonies instead of cooking anything, or at least anything more interesting than simple pasta and fried potatoes. After all that heavy stuff we really needed a nice salad though. I had to laugh when I looked down at them after I assembled them and thought, hmm, peonies.

4 servings
20 minutes prep time

Parsnip Slaw
Make the Dressing:
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon honey
the juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (light is fine)

Grind the coriander and fennel seed together. Put them in a small bowl with the honey and lemon seed. Heat until the honey just melts (20 seconds in the microwave for me), mix well, and set this aside. Just before mixing it into the salad, mix in the mayonnaise. (This will let it cool down again first.)

Make the Salad:
250 grams (1/2 pound, or 2 to 3 medium-large) parsnips
1 cup peeled and grated celeriac
1/2 head hydroponic lettuce

Peel and grate the vegetables. Wash and drain well the lettuce. Arrange the lettuce over single serving plates.

Toss the salad with the salad dressing, and arrange it over the lettuce.

Last year at this time I made Nutty Mushroom Pate and Chocolate Peanut Crisp Squares.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Cheesy Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

It's another really not very glamourous dish, but we enjoyed it very much. I will never say no to cheese, I'm afraid.

6 to 8 servings
2 hours 20 minutes - not including boiling the beans

Cheesy Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce
Boil the Beans:
450 grams (1 pound) white pea (navy) beans

Rinse and pick over the beans. Put them in a large pot with plenty of water to cover them. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat and cover them; soak them overnight. The next day bring them to a boil again and simmer them until tender.

Bake the Beans:
1 large carrot
2 medium onions
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
3 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon rubbed basil
1 tablespoon rubbed oregano
250 grams (1/2 pound) old cheddar cheese
2 cups water from cooking the beans

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Peel and grate the carrot. Peel and chop the onions. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and cook the onion and carrot until soft. Mix the drained beans, the carrots and onions, the tomato sauce and the seasonings in a large baking dish. Grate the cheese and mix in about two-thirds of it. Gently mix in 2 cups of water left from cooking the beans.

Bake the beans, uncovered, at 350°F for about an hour to an hour and a quarter. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and return to the oven for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and browing around the edges.

Last year at this time I made Rohkostsalat.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Smoked Trout & Sweet Potato Cakes

I've been thinking about fish cakes for a while and I thought I'd try making them with sweet potatoes. They were a bit on the soft side, but I really liked the flavour. Watch these; they will scorch if given half a chance. Make sure the heat is not too high. You want it about the same as you would use to cook eggs, or pancakes.

8 cakes (4 servings)
20 minutes prep time - not including baking the sweet potatoes

Smoked Trout and Sweet Potato Cakes
2 cups baked sweet potato (2 medium-large sweet potatoes)
250 grams (1/2 pound) smoked trout
1 extra-large egg
1 cup cracker or bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
the grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup flour

mild vegetable oil to fry

Bake the sweet potatoes until tender, and let cool. This can be done a day ahead. Peel and mash the sweet potatoes, and measure out 2 cups.

Peel the skin from the trout and discard it. Chop the trout fairly finely, and mix it with the sweet potatoes, the egg, the crumbs, salt, paprika and lemon zest.

Peel and mince the garlic and ginger. Saute them until fragrant in a little oil ( a couple of teaspoons) and add them to the mixture.

Spread the flour out on a plate. Put a large skillet on the stove with enough oil to generously coat the bottom of it, and heat it to medium-high. Scoop out the mixture, one-eighth at a time, and form it into a patty, coating it on both sides. Fry the patties, 4 at a time, for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until firm and golden brown.

Last year at this time I made Lentil Chile.