Friday, 21 December 2012

Squash or Sweet Potato Puff

This is a very easy dish to make, although somewhat time consuming if you bake the squash for it as part of making the dish. Better to use left-over squash or sweet potatoes.  You can serve it as a side dish, but it`s solid enough to be a vegetarian main dish if you like.

If you use squash, don`t forget to rinse off the seeds, toss them with a little oil, spread them on a baking tray, sprinkle them with salt or other seasonings and roast them for about half an hour. They are a delicious snack.

8 servings
2 1/2 hours -30 minutes prep time

3 cups cooked squash or sweet potato purée
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
black pepper & grated nutmeg to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons milk
5 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, rub the cut edges with oil and roast for about 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours, until soft. (Or roast the sweet potatoes.) Peel and purée. Measure 3 cups into a mixing bowl.

Mix the seasonings into the purée, with the butter, milk and egg yolks. Butter or oil an 8"x 11" baking pan. Set the oven to 325°F.

Beat the egg whites until very stiff. Fold them into the squash or sweet potato mixture and pour it into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until firm and set in the middle. Serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Brussels Sprouts Salad.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Cranberry Turkey Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy

Don't want to go all-out with turkey and the trimmings? Here's a more homely, every-day alternative that brings together most of the flavours of a traditional turkey dinner. Serve it with a green vegetable and Stuffing Bread for the complete experience. 

4 to 6 servings
45 minutes prep time

Make the Meatballs:
500 grams (1 pound) ground turkey
1 large egg
1 cup finely cubed or crumbled breadcrumbs
1 recipe poultry seasoning
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

Make up the recipe for poultry seasoning, or use about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of prepared poultry seasoning.

Put the turkey in a mixing bowl and add the egg, breadcrumbs, poultry seasoning and cranberries. Mix well; the easiest way is to do it with your hands, until thoroughly and evenly combined. Form the mixture into about 24 equal-sized meatballs, setting them on a plate or board as you work. Best to divide the mixture into 4 equal parts then use each part to make 6 meatballs.

If you are serving these with mashed potatoes, have the potatoes cleaned and cut into chunks, in the pot, covered with water and turned on to start cooking 10 minutes before you finish the dish. 

Finish the Dish:
250 grams (1/2 pound) button mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups chicken or turkey stock
3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
1/2 cup light cream

Clean and trim the mushrooms and cut them in halves or quarters. Heat the butter in a large skillet. When it is melted and foamy but not browned, add the mushrooms, stirring them in well to coat them as evenly with the butter as possible. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes or so, until browned and softened.

Add the turkey stock and bring up to a boil. Drop in the meatballs (carefully!) and simmer for 10 minutes, turning to be sure they cook evenly.

While the meatballs cook, drain and mash the potatoes with butter and milk, salt and pepper when they are done. Keep warm until the meatballs are ready.

When the meatballs are cooked, mix the cornstarch or arrowroot with the cream in a small bowl, being sure there are no lumps - it's best to mix in a small quantity of liquid to make a smooth paste, then slowly mix in the rest. Stir this quickly into the gravy. Simmer for a minute or two more, until thickened, stirring constantly. Serve over the mashed potatoes.

Last year at this time I made Squash with Roasted Squash Seeds.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Crisp Winter Salad with Cottage Cheese Dressing

Winter has hardly started and I am already finding that I'm not serving enough salads... here's one that should take us right through to spring. I put the cottage cheese into the dressing and puréed it this time, but I decided it's better to mix it in at the end and have the texture of the cheese.

This is best as a side salad, but if you wanted to make a meal of it, you could add some grated Cheddar cheese, more cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, or tuna to take it there.

Pass the dressing and let people put on their own; that way if there's leftover salad, you can toss it in a stir-fry the next day.Oh; and if you have any winter storage radishes a bit of grated radish will go nicely in this too.

4 to 8 servings
40 minutes prep time

Make the Dressing:
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 green onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 small clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
a pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cup cottage cheese

Put the yogurt and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Wash, trim and roughly chop the green onion, and add it, along with the chopped parsley. Peel and slice the garlic and add it. Add the mustard and cayenne. Grind the cumin and pepper, and add them. Process until quite smooth.

Mix with the cottage cheese.

Make the Salad:
2 medium carrots
2 cups peeled, diced celeriac OR 2 to 3 stalks celery
2 cups bean sprouts
3 cups finely chopped savoy cabbage

Peel and grate the carrots. Peel and dice the celeriac, or wash, trim and chop the celery. Rinse the bean sprouts and drain them well. Finely chop the cabbage, and mix the vegetables together. Top with the dressing. 

Last year at this time I made Kipferl, Nut Crescents.

Friday, 14 December 2012

White Chocolate Mousse with Cranberries

Here's a rich and special dessert. I'm calling it a mousse, but I could probably have called it a cheesecake and no-one would have contradicted me. It's rude to talk with your mouth full, for one thing. And when they did talk, all I heard was, "Mm! Mm! Mm!"

The cranberries are an excellent foil for the richness of the chocolate and cheese, but you could make this at other times of the year with other tart fruit, such as sour cherries, currants, raspberries, or even rhubarb. I used a blueberry honey with the cranberries and I was surprised at how much the flavour of blueberries came through - I actually hadn't noticed it particularly with anything else I had made with that jar of blueberry honey. Still, any good honey will do very nicely. I used light cream cheese, not out of any principal but because it was on sale, and it worked perfectly well. You don't want the stiff, bar type cream cheese, but something softer out of a tub.

This is really very easy to make. The main things to watch are to be sure to not let the cheese, egg yolk and chocolate mixture get too hot as it cooks, and to stir it carefully. Then, be sure the mixture is cool before you add the egg whites.

8 servings
1 hour prep time

Cook the Cranberries:
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup honey

Rinse the cranberries and put them in a small pot with the honey. Bring to a boil and simmer until the berries have mostly popped. Stir regularly. Set aside to cool.

Make the Mousse:
170 grams (6 ounces) white chocolate
250 grams (1/2 pound) soft cream cheese (light was fine)
2 large egg yolks
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup sugar

Chop the chocolate roughly, and put it in the top of a double boiler. Whisk together the cream cheese and the egg yolks, and add them. Put the egg whites aside in a metal bowl that can be put on top of the double boiler.

Bring the water in the double boiler to a bare simmer, and stir the mixture constantly until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the top pot from the heat at once, and set it aside to cool.

Beat the sugar into the egg whites, then place them atop the still simmering water in the double boiler. Beat with an electric mixer until very fluffy and stiff, about 3 or 4 minutes. Set aside.

Allow about 30 minutes for the chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature. Fold it gently into the beaten egg whites. The mixture will likely be somewhat lumpy or streaky, but once they are reasonably well amalgamated, stop mixing. You want to keep it light.

Spoon about half the mousse evenly into 8 individual serving dishes. Spoon about half the cranberry sauce evenly over that. Top the cranberries with the remaining mousse divided evenly between the dishes. Put them in the refrigerator to set, and once set spoon the remaining cranberry sauce over the mousse.

Last year at this time I made Black Forest Cookies. (And reached for the same - not literally the same, no - clementine oranges for a prop, I see.)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Michael's Grandmother's Pickled Onions

A number of years back my friend Michael asked me to help him make his grandmother's onion pickle recipe, which he remembered fondly and for which he had her written recipe. He had not done much canning and her instructions were rather cryptic so it took some work for us to figure them out. We did though, and I was very impressed with the results. The long brine soak makes them mild and slightly salty, and the final packing liquid has just enough sugar to balance them out. The spices give a bit of bite. Michael's grandmother also added a littel mace but we decided we didn't want any, and have never regretted it.

It's been a few years since I made these, and as I made them I was reminded why. These are very good pickles but I have to say they are a lot of work. Never mind peeling all the onions; that's par for the course. It's the brining and soaking that's a pain. Also all that salt! Most of it going down the drain admittedly, but that just makes me feel like these are my very own little ecological disaster. However they are good enough that I think they should be made every few years.

The onions to use for this are not the little silverskin onions usually thought of as pickling onions, but regular cooking onions - just the smallest regular cooking onions you can find. The best way to get them is in a  10 pound bag. For some reason, the 10 pound bags of onions usually seem to have smaller onions than when you buy them in a 2 or 5 pound bag. Look for the bag with the smallest but most evenly sized onions you can find. I got a 10 pound bag of onions and removed about a pound of them as too big to pickle, leaving me with about 9 pounds.

7 x 500 ml or 3 1/2 litres
4 DAYS brining - allow 1 hour to peel onions,
and 2 hours for the final canning

4 to 4.5 kilograms ( 9 to 10 pounds) small cooking onions
3 cups, yes I said CUPS, pickling salt

1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes PER JAR
1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns PER JAR
4 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar

Peel the onions. Place them in a large ceramic or glass crock. Put 2 quarts (8 cups) water in a pot with 1 cup of the salt and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling brine over the onions. Cover and set in a cool place for 2 days.

Drain the onions. Make another boiling brine of 2 quarts water and 1 cup salt, and pour it over the drained onions. Cover and let sit for another 2 days.

Put your canning jars into a canner, and cover them with water to an inch above the tops of them. Bring to a boil and boil them for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the onions. Trim off any darkened or bruised spots and put them in a canning kettle with 2 quarts of water and the final cup of salt. Bring to a boil and boil 3 minutes. They should come to a boil just as the jars are finishing. Remove the jars from the canner, setting them on a heatproof surface. Drain the onions throughly and pack them into the hot jars, using a sterilized funnel and a slotted spoon. Add the chile flakes and peppercorns to each jar.

Have the 4 cups water, vinegar, and sugar standing by in a pot. Put it on to heat when the onions are drained, and once it boils and the onions are packed in the jars, ladle it over the onions. Also have the lids in a pot, covered with water, and put them on to boil at the same time. Wipe the rims of the jars with a bit of paper towel dipped in boiling water, put the lids in place and seal them. Return them to the canner and boil for 10 minutes for 500 ml jars or 15 minutes for 1 litre jars. Remove, let cool, and test for seals. Label and store in a cool dark spot for at least one month before opening. Once opened, they should be refrigerated.

Last year at this time I made Stuffing or Dressing Bread.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Leek & Garlic White Bean Soup

The holiday party season seems to have already started around here, and I have already had a hankering for some good bean soup with lots of flavour but not too rich, to give myself a break from too many "treats". So here it is. These were the Blue Lake dried beans from our garden, but any white bean will work well; the usual pea or navy bean being just fine.

Good tasting yeast (you can get it at Bulk Barn) is a bit of a secret ingredient for soups, sauces and gravies when you want to go vegetarian. Its flavour is rather chicken-like. The leftover hard rinds from Parmesan cheese should always be saved, well wrapped and stashed in the freezer, for vegetarian soup making as well. Like soup bones, they lend their flavour to the broth then are taken out and discarded. At that point they are likely tasteless fatty blobs of no interest. But the soup they leave behind is fabulous.

8 servings
2 hours cooking time - 30 minutes prep time

2 cups dried white beans
4 cups chopped leeks
2 cups chopped carrots
6 to 8 cloves of garlic (1 head)
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
75 to 100 grams (3 to 4 ounces) Parmesan cheese rinds
2 tablespoons good tasting yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons savory

Rinse the beans and remove any bad ones. Put them in a large pot with water to cover them generously. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let rest for a few hours, then repeat the process. After three or 4 times, the beans will be mostly cooked.

Rinse the leeks, trim and chop them. Rinse them again, and drain well. Peel and chop the carrots. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the leeks and carrots, until softened and reduced in volume; about 6 or 7 minutes. Add them to the beans. Top up the water to be sure the soup is of a satisfactory thickness. Add the Parmesan cheese rinds, yeast, salt, pepper and savory.

Simmer for 30 or 40 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent sticking. Remove the cheese rinds before serving. As ever, bean soup is much better the second and subsequent days than the first.

Last year at this time I made Schchi; Russian Cabbage Soup

Friday, 7 December 2012

Roast Leg of Lamb with Seville Orange Gravy

Seville oranges, also known as sour oranges, or marmalade oranges, are really only available in December, January and February. They make a fine, slightly sour-spicy sauce which balances the richness of a leg of lamb beautifully.

However, if you can't get them, you can reasonably replace them with a combination of regular oranges and lemons, a little heavier on the oranges. 

I have gotten to be very fond of gravies made by puréeing the vegetables that have been cooked in the juices of a roast. However, it is important that the roast be a fairly lean one, or the sauce will be too fatty. There should be a thin film over the leg of lamb before it is cooked, but be sure to remove any more substantial quantities, if they are present. It shouldn't be too bad; leg of lamb is usually quite lean.

I have likewise given myself over completely to slow-cooking large pieces of meat. What you lose in the inability to have it rare, you gain in the tender, melting texture. This leg of lamb did not need to be carved; the meat fell from the bone and I just had to pull it apart a bit with the spoon as I lifted it from the pan. 

8 servings
7 hours - 1 hour prep time

1  2 to 3 kilo (5 to 7 pounds) leg of lamb
1 large onion
2 medium carrots (2 cups sliced)
1/4 of a large celeriac (2 cups sliced)
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef or lamb stock, or water
the finely grated zest of 2 Seville oranges
OR the finely grated zest of 1 orange AND 1 lemon
the juice of 3 Seville oranges
OR the juice of 2 oranges AND 1 lemon
1 teaspoon allspice berries
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon rubbed oregano

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Put the leg of lamb into a roasting pan, with just enough room around it to add the vegetables. Peel and roughly chop the onion, peel and slice the carrots, and peel and slice the celeriac. Arrange them around the roast. Pour the red wine and stock or water over them.

Grate the orange (or lemon and orange) zest. Juice the oranges (or oranges and lemon) and pour the juice around the roast. Grind the allspice berries and fennel seeds with the chile flakes, and mix them with the grated zests. Mix in the salt, ginger and oregano. Sprinkle the spices over the roast and vegetables.

Roast the lamb for 6 hours. Lift the meat out of the pan into a serving dish and cover it with foil to keep warm as you finish the gravy. It should just fall from the bone; you can pull it apart with a fork and a spoon. Discard the bones carefully - be sure that there are none left in the sauce. Scrape all the broth and vegetables into a blender. Blend until very smooth. Put into a gravy boat and pass with the meat.

Last year at this time I made Steamed Chocolate Date Pudding.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Celeriac in Mustard Sauce

I do like this kind of vegetable dish - several different things, finely shredded and cooked together with a bit of a sauce to liven them up. Apart from the shredding, which can after all be done in advance, they cook up very quickly and provid a lively balance of flavours and textures. I am happy to report that these are all veggies from our garden, although that's at least half the entire Brussels sprout harvest right there. The amazing, awful, relentless barrage of bugs seemed to end sometime in late August, which meant the brassicas could finely stop hanging on by their fingertips and start to actually grow. Unfortunately, it was really too late for them to accomplish much. Still, what little there was of them was delightful and we enjoyed them very much.

6 to 8 servings
45 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Brussels Sprouts Carrots and Celeriac in Mustard Sauce

4 cups finely chopped Brussels sprouts
2 cups grated carrots
2 cups grated celeriac
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice or sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil

Wash and trim the sprouts, and shred them finely. Peel and grate the carrots, and peel and grate the celeriac.

Mix the soy sauce, vinegar and mustard in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the carrots and celeriac for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until cooked down and slightly browned in spots. Add the shredded Brussels sprouts, and mix in well. Add about a quarter cup of water, and cook the vegetables, stirring regularly, until the water has evaporated. Mix in the sauce until evenly distributed throughout, and serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Braised Lamb Shanks with Beans

Monday, 3 December 2012

Parsnip Timbales

We planted our parsnips late this year; so when we went out and pulled up a bunch of them (during last week's deep-freeze, no less) we were surprised to find what a good size most of them were. They were also amazingly delicious - the freezing temperatures having done them nothing but good - and surprisingly tender considering how large they were. Success! This was a very simple treatment for them, but very well received. If you wanted them a little fancier, you could season them with a bit of finely grated nutmeg or orange zest before forming and baking the timbales.

6 servings
1 hour 45 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Parsnip Timbales

1 kg (2 pounds) parnsips
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Peel and slice the parsnips, and put them in a pot with water to just cover. Bring to a boil and boil until tender, 5 or 10 minutes, until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain well and mash with the butter. Let cool until the flour and eggs can be beaten in without setting. Beat in the salt and pepper as well.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Use the last tablespoon of butter to butter a muffin tin generously. Divide the parnips evenly between the muffin cups, and press them in. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour and a half, until nicely browned around the edges. Let cool for a few minutes before removing them. They will be somewhat delicate, so lift them out carefully, with a thin, flexible lifter or a shallow spoon.

Last year at this time I made Brussels Sprouts au Gratin and Samosa Pie with Apple Butter Chutney

Friday, 30 November 2012

Carrot Soup with Ginger, Cardamom & Orange

There's a definite Indian influence to this soup, but it's subtle enough to allow it to fit in with many different menus. It's light enough to serve as starter to a large meal, although it would do just fine alongside a sandwich.

As my soup cooled I realized it would probably be just as good served cold as hot, which really makes it versatile. Making it in advance will allow the flavours to develop thoroughly, so if you can do that, it's a good idea.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour prep time

1 kilo (2 pounds) carrots
3 or 4 stalks of celery
6 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 green cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
the finely grated zest of 1/2 orange
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
the juice of 1 orange
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sweet sherry

sour cream or yogurt to garnish

Scrub or peel the carrots, and cut them into chunks. Wash and trim the celery and cut it into somewhat larger chunks. Put them in a large soup pot with the water and the salt. Bring to a boil and boil gently but steadily for 30 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

Meanwhile, crush the cardamom pods enough to be able to remove the green papery husks (discard them) then grind the seeds with the peppercorns. Peel and grate the ginger. Wash the orange well (with soap) dry it, and grate the orange zest. Heat the butter in a small skillet and cook the cardomom, pepper, ginger and orange zest in it for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring regularly, until slight signs of browning appear. Put this mixture into a blender.

Lift the carrots and celery out of their cooking water and put them in the blender. Add a ladle or two of the cooking water, and purée very smoothly. You will need to do this in 2 batches; once you are done, swish out the blender with the cooking water and add it back in with the carrots (soup).

This much can be done in advance; when ready to serve the soup, add the honey, orange juice, buttermilk and sherry, and heat through. Although I rather think this could work as a cold soup in the summer as well, in which case just whisk them in. In either case, pass some good thick yogurt or sour cream with the soup.

Last year at this time I made Creamy But Non-Dairy Pumpkin Soup and Rum & Raisin Baked Apples.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Cranberry Salad Dressing (& Sweet Spicy Pecans)

It's always fun when you make something that looks as good as it tastes - and it tastes great. This bright pink dressing put a big smile on my face. 

This is a dressing that will go well on simple green salads for holiday dinners. Alas, I didn't think to pick up any apples and I haven't seen a single pear this year, but when I make this dressing with more of a plan in mind, I will be sure to add one or the other to my greens along with some dried cranberries and the spiced pecans.

4 servings
15 minutes prep time

Make the Dressing:

1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup almond or hazelnut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sweet sherry
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Put all the above ingredients in a blender, and blend very smoothly - you may need to scrape down the sides and it may take several minutes. 

And since that didn't take much time to speak of, why not make some sweet spiced pecans to add to your salad too:

Make the Sweet Spiced Pecans:

1 green cardamom pod
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon allspice berries

2 to 3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Crush the cardamom pod to allow you to remove and dicard the papery green hull. Grind the pepper, allspice and cardamom together, and mix in the sugar. 

Put on the broiler, and put the butter in a broil-proof pan, that is just large enough to spread out the pecans in a single layer. Melt the butter in it, then add the pecans and mix well. Sprinkle the spiced sugar over them and mix well.

Return the pan to the broiler and broil for a minute at a time, then taking them out and stirring them. When the pecans are well toasted - not likely more than 3 or 4 minutes - let them cool, before using them to garnish your salad.

Last year at this time I made Ginger-Lime Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Chicken & Kohlrabi Stew

Thursday evening it turned cold, as the weather forecast said it would. In preparation, we spent the last few days prior running around the garden making sure everything was stashed and that we had harvested everything that we could, or at least wanted too. In the process, I rediscovered our patch of kohlrabi that got planted sometime mid-summer then kind of forgotten.

I was impressed at how well they stood up to that. They are generally considered a summer to early fall vegetable, but if the leaves are trimmed off they will actually store quite well. You won't find them in a regular grocery store at this time of year, but they may turn up at a farmers market. Since mine were from the garden, they still had their leaves, but any you find now are more likely to have been trimmed for storage. In that case, replace the missing leaves with a bit of kale or cabbage. These later season kohlrabis will likely need a bit more trimming than fresh ones in the summer.

This is a variation on a traditional Hungarian recipe. I find the slight sweetness of the kohklrabi goes very well with chicken. You can omit the parsley root (or replace it with a small parsnip) if you can't find it, but it does add a subtle and interesting flavour.

6 servings 
45 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Prepare the Vegetables:
6 to 8 (2 pounds, without leaves) medium-small kohlrabis
2 cups chopped kohlrabi leaves or kale or cabbage

1 medium carrot
1 or 2 parsley roots
2 large leeks
1 or 2 stalks of celery
3 or 4 cloves of garlic

If the kohlrabis have leaves, cut them off and discard any tough or damaged ones. Chop the remaining ones fairly finely; there should be about 2 cups but it could be a bit more. If the kohlrabis arrive without leaves, use some good green cabbage or kale to replace them.

Peel any skin which is tough and fibrous from the kohlrabis - if it is tender and green it can be left on. Cut the kohlrabis into halves or quarters, and slice them about 1/4" thick. 

Peel the carrot and parsley roots, and dice them finely. Trim the leeks, and chop them. Rinse well and drain. Wash and trim the celery, and chop it. Peel and mince the garlic.

Start the Stew:
4 cups chicken stock
4 (1 kilo; 2 pounds) medium skinless boneless chicken pieces

Put the chicken stock in a large pot. Add the prepared kohlrabi stems (leave the leaves until later) and the carrots and parsley root. Cut the chicken into largish bite-sized pieces and put them on top. Bring up to a simmer and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Finish the Stew:
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme or savory
1 teaspoon dillweed
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
the juice of 1/2 lemon

 Mix the flour, salt, and seasonings in a small bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the leeks and celery Cook gently for about 5 minutes, until softened and reduced. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, stirring regularly. Add the flour and seasonings and cook fo another 5 or so minutes, scraping up the flour to keep it from sticking to the pan but allowing it to cook thoroughly.

Ladle in enough chicken stock from the stew, stirring asidiously, until the flour has formed a smooth paste. You will likely need at least 2 cups of the chicken stock to be added to the skillet. Once this is done, add the contents of the skillet to the large pot and mix in well. Add the chopped kohlrabi leaves or cabbage. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes; total cooking time should be 20 to 25 minutes. The chicken should be cooked and the kohlrabi tender, and the kohlrabi leaves or cabbage doen to your liking.

Squeeze in the lemon juice just before serving.

Last year at this time I made Roast Lamb Shoulder with Cranberry-Nut Buckwheat Dressing.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Anyone in the Meaford Area...

... want a little black kitten?

There is one meowing outside our back door right now. It has been doing this both night and day for the last 3 days. I think some creep-o abandoned it. Couldn't even make it out to the farms to dump it, not that that would have been any better.

After 3 days my nerves are shot so I am off to give it some water and tuna. It is shy and runs away, but I suspect with a little care and tuna it could be resocialized. It's obviously not one of the local feral cats kittens, as they have always been, well, feral, and I've never seen any of them survive to get this big anyway.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Cheesy Pasta Casserole with Squash & Kale

It's another cheesy pasta casserole, with squash and kale this time. This one is more rich and elaborate than the Broccoli Kugel I made last week, and takes longer to make because of needing to pre-cook the squash in particular. However, it is not difficult and could be broken up into sections and made at least partially in advance. I expect it to freeze well; in fact I have made an extra batch and stuck it in the  freezer to form the vegetarian main dish for our Christmas dinner.

If you made this earlier in the season you could use Swiss chard in this, but by now it is pretty much gone and you will need to use kale - nothing wrong with that!

8 servings
2 1/2 hours - 1 3/4 hours prep time

Pre-Cook the vegetables & Pasta:
1 large (1.5 kilos, 3 pounds) butternut squash
4 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
3 medium leeks
4 to 5 cloves of garlic
1 bunch kale (or Swiss chard)
250 grams (1/2 pound) stubby pasta

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cut the squash into chunks, and peel it and discard the seeds (and by discard, I mean wash them, and toss them with oil and salt and roast them, but that's another dish.) Cut the peeled squash pieces into smallish bite sized pieces, and spread them on a baking tray. Toss them with 3 tablespoons of the oil. Roast for 30 minutes, until fairly soft. Wash the kale and chop it finely, discarding any tough stems.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. 

Meanwhile, wash, trim and chop the leeks, and rinse them again and drain well. Peel and mince the garlic. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet, and gently cook the chopped leeks until soft and translucent. Do not let them brown. Add the garlic and stir in well, for just a minute, then remove from the heat.

When the water boils, add the pasta and cook for HALF the time recommended on the package. When there are 2 minutes more for it to cook, add the finely chopped kale. When done, drain and rinse in cold water, and drain well.

Either leave the oven on when the squash is roasted, or preheat it to 350°F again just before you finish the casserole. 

Finish the Casserole:
450 grams (1 pound) cottage cheese
450 grams (1 pound) ricotta cheese
100 grams (1/4 pound) feta cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons rubbed basil
2 teaspoons rubbed oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt & pepper to taste
250 grams (1/2 pound) old Cheddar or Colby cheese, grated

When the pasta and kale have been well drained, return them to the cooking pot. Add the roasted squash and the cooked leeks and garlic. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the grated Cheddar or Colby cheese. As usual, the amount of salt will depend on how salty your cheeses are. I do find fresh cheeses need to have some, so maybe about half a teaspoon. Mix well.

Spread the mixture out evenly in a 9" x 13" baking (lasagne) pan. Top with the grated Cheddar or Colby. Bake at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cheese on top is bubbling. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Jerusalem Artichoke Caponata.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


The Highland Companies have withdrawn their application to blast southern Ontario to smithereens:
'Mega-quarry' in southern Ontario won't be built. 

It sure is nice to get some good news for a change.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Balsamic Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is so classic with sweet and sour flavours that it is very hard to think of any other way of serving it - so I didn't. Balsamic vinegar provides both qualities.

This is quite simple, but since it should be cooked to the point of being moist rather than wet, good temperature regulation and frequent stirring are important. 

4 to 6 servings
45 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

4 cups finely chopped red cabbage
4 to 8 shallots - 1 cup when chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chicken stock OR apple juice OR white wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Trim and chop the cabbage. Peel and chop the shallots. Heat the butter in a large non-reactive (stainless steel or glass) pot.

Add the shallots and cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened and reduced and slightly browned in spots. Add the cabbage, mixing in well, and let it too cook down for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add the chicken stock or other liquid, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice to be sure it isn't catching. Remove the lid, and add the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. I would use about 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt, unless you think your chicken stock is particularly salty, in which case use less. You could use white wine or apple juice or cider if you wanted a vegetarian dish.

Continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so, stirring regularly, until the broth and vinegar are absorbed and the dish is just moist. The closer it gets to done, the more often you will need to stir it to prevent it from scorching, but it is still probably a good idea to increase the heat a little from when it was cooking covered, in order to speed the process a bit.

This reheats well, but it is probably easier to do it in the microwave or in a covered dish in the oven than on the stove-top, where there is the most danger of it burning.

Last year at this time I made Apple Brown Betty.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Cauliflower & Leeks with Saffron

We actually got 2 cauliflowers out of the garden this week! One of them was the size of a golf ball, but still! I have been eyeing the heaps of greenery with their distinct lack of cauliflowerness for some time now, and wondering if we should even try growing them again next year. But if we don't grow corn, and we don't grow broccoli, and we don't grow cauliflowers, and we don't grow lettuce... what are we going to grow in the leaf rotation of our garden? 

I stumbled upon the motherlode of all antique crochet patterns this week and lost several days wandering around in them. Must dig out my crochet hooks... in the meantime, I dug out an old crocheted potholder I got at a garage sale a number of years back. Too valued to use as a potholder, of course, but I should use it as a model more often.

4 servings
30 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

1/2 of a large cauliflower (4 cups choppped)
2 large leeks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon (large pinch) saffron threads

Clean and chop the cauliflower, and put it in a pot with enough water to cook. Bring to a boil and boil for 4 or 5 minutes. Drain well. While it cooks, crumble the saffron into a small dish with 1 tablespoon of water, and let it sit on the back of the stove to warm.

Meanwhile, Trim and chop the leeks. I cut them in half lenghtwise, then in 1/4" slices. Heat the butter in a large skillet - the cauliflower will be going in there too - and gently cook the leeks until soft and reduced, but do not let them get brown. Grind the fennel seed, add the peppercorns and coarsely grind again. Add them to the leeks with the salt.

Drain the cauliflower well, and add it to the leeks. Mash it in roughly with a potato masher. Pour in the saffron and soaking water, and mix in well. Cook for a few more minutes, until the cauliflower and leeks are dry and show very slight signs of browning - but don't overdo it; burnt (i.e. even medium-browned) leeks are nasty.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Pan Fried Jerusalem Artichokes with Ginger & Garlic

Look what has turned up at the local store! It's Jerusalem artichoke time. The more I eat these, the better I like them. Since they remind me a bit of water chestnuts I decided to cook them with Asian flavours, which I would say works well.

Be sure to have everything ready and standing by before you start cooking the Jerusalem artichokes. They should still have a bit of crunch left in them if possible.

2 servings
30 minutes - 25 minutes prep time

500 grams (1 pound) Jerusalem artichokes
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil

Wash the Jerusalem artichokes. They don't need to be well peeled, but pare off any tough or scabby bits. Cut them in 1/4" slices.

Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and mince the ginger. Set them aside together.

Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, water, sesame oil, and arrowroot in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a mid-sized heavy skillet. Sauté the Jerusalem artichoke slices until evenly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and mix in well. Stir up the sauce and mix it in well. As soon as it is thick and evenly distributed - under a minute - serve up the dish.

Last year at this time I made Brussels Sprouts & Jerusalem Artichokes - how bout that - and Light Christmas Fruitcake. This years' is already sitting in the cold room, marinating. I made three smaller loaves this year, and should go update the baking info.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Impossible Pumpkin-Coconut Pie

Okay, now that you have presumably finished displaying all your seasonal pumpkins... it's time to eat them! Here's one way to do it, and very quick and easy it is too, presuming you have cooked your pumpkin first.  I'm actually using some left from last year, which it turns out is not a bad thing as this years harvest was dismal, although in fact the only squashes we managed to get to harvest were pumpkins.

This is a variation on a popular pie back in the '60s and '70s. The original versions were made with a commercial biscuit mix, but the recipes have long been "dehybridized" if I may use that term. The idea is that the flour settles out of the quickly beaten-together ingredients and forms a bottom crust without the work of having to make and roll one out. Much lower in fat and calories too, as a result. This one combines 2 popular flavours; pumpkin and coconut. The coconut adds a nice crunch. It might be a good idea to toast it before adding it.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 10 minutes prep time

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups puréed cooked pumpkin or squash
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Put the butter in a small dish and melt it - 30 to 40 seconds in the microwave will do it, or set it in the oven as it preheats. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9" pie plate.

Put all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and give them a stir. Add the remaining ingredients, and beat them with an electric mixer for 1 to 2 minutes, until thoroughly blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pie plate, and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, until firm in the middle. (No jiggle!)

Serve at room temperature, or chilled.

Last year at this time I made Brussels Sprouts & Jerusalem Artichokes.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Broccoli Kugel

This has been a very popular dish around here this broccoli season. And why not? It's light but filling, and easy to put together, if admittedly not super fast, although most of the time is spent baking it. The leftovers keep very well, and it reheats fine in either the oven or the microwave although it's perfectly nice at room temperature too. Serve it for brunch, lunch, or dinner - heck, I would eat it for breakfast. 

The veggies should be chopped fairly finely and the noodles should be broken into somewhat short lengths, of 3" or so. This helps everything mix up evenly and meld into a well-balanced whole. You can use regular or whole wheat noodles, as long as they are on the fine side. I haven't tried it with fine rice vermicelli yet, but it's on my to-try list. I don't see why it wouldn't work. Also when I say discard the broccoli stems, I mean use them somewhere else.

4 to 8 servings
1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes - 30 minutes prep time, 15 minutes rest time

1 large or 2 medium onions
2 stalks of celery
1 large carrot
3 to 4 cloves of garlic
2 heads (1 bunch) broccoli

1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed basil
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano OR savory
250 grams (1/2 pound) vermicelli, capellini or spaghettini
4 large eggs
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
100 grams (4 ounces) old Cheddar cheese, grated

Peel and chop the onions. Wash, trim and chop the celery. Peel and grate the carrot. (These three can be put aside together until wanted.) Peel and mince the garlic.  Wash the broccoli. Cut off the stems, and discard. Chop the florets and tender upper stems quite finely. Butter 2 9" pie plates or a 9" x 13" baking pan and set them (it) aside.

Put on a large pot of salted water to boil. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and cook the onions, celery and carrot in it until softened and reduced in volume. Add the garlic and seasonings, and mix in well, cooking for another minute or two. Remove the vegetables to a mixing bowl.

When the water boils, add the broccoli and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on cooking time for the pasta - the broccoli should be just tender at the end of both cooking times, about 5 minutes in total. Add the broken up pasta and cook for HALF the recommended time on the package - this may be as little as ONE minute, but will likely be 2 or 3 minutes. Drain well, and mix with the vegetables in the mixing bowl.

Mix the cottage cheese, sour cream or yogurt, and the eggs into the vegetables and pasta, and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan(s), spreading it out evenly and pressing down slightly. Top with the grated Cheddar.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until firm. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving, or let it set completely and serve at room temperature.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Red Flannel Hash

Here is a fine old dish. The name comes from the way the beets bleed all over the potatoes, like a red flannel shirt that got mixed in with the white laundry by mistake. It's always been delicious, but I added some fennel seed and cayenne and thought it was better than ever. The poached eggs are classic, and really make it a complete meal. The two of us ate it all, since we are apparently under the impression we are lumberjacks, but if you have a more modest appetite or serve it with other things, it will serve four. The stuff in the jar is my home-made chow-chow, another classic old-timer of a recipe. Ketchup would also go just fine.

As you may be able to tell from the photo, I am finally getting better at making poached eggs. Add a dollop of vinegar to the water, drop them in very gently, keep it at a steady simmer, allow 3 to 4 minutes for a soft egg and 8 to 10 minutes for the way Mr. Ferdzy likes them. Time them. Yes, I know. What a waste of good eggs. Oh well.

2 to 4 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 30 to 40 minutes prep time

4 medium (500 grams, 1 pound) beets
6 medium (1 kg, 2 pounds) potatoes
1 large onion
3 to 4 cloves of garlic
2 stalks celery
2 to 4 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or flaked red chiles (optional)

Wash the beets and trim off any leaves or stems. Put them in a pot with water to cover and boil for approximately 40 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, wash the potatoes and cut them into 1 cm dice. Put them in a pot with water to cover generously, and boil for 15 minutes. Drain well.

Peel and chop the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Wash, trim and chop the celery. When the beets are tender, drain them and rinse them under cold water until they can be handled and the peels slip off. Cut them in dice of similar size to the other vegetables.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Fry the potatoes until nicely browned all over, turning and mixing every few minutes or so as they brown. Heat should be medium-high; adjust so that they brown at a steady rate without scorching. Add a bit more oil as necessary. Once they start to brown, add the onions and celery. Once the potatoes are well browned, and the onion and celery is soft and cooked down, add the garlic, salt, fennel seeds and cayenne, and mix in well. Add the diced beets and mix in well. Continue cooking for 3 or 4 minutes more, turning and mixing as needed, until the beets are hot through. Serve with poached eggs, if desired.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Determinate and Indeterminate Vegetables

I write a fair bit about individual varieties of vegetables, but as I sit and plan next springs' garden it occurs to me that I should write a bit about some of the criteria I use to select the varieties I do. This is part of the series on seed-saving, but it's about seed selection on the macro scale: what seeds to you choose to grow in the first place? One of the things I need to know about a variety before I plant it is whether it is determinate or indeterminate.

What do determinate and indeterminate mean?:

Simply, whether the variety of vegetable will grow to a given size, produce all of its crop within a short period of time, then die down (determinate), or whether it will begin to produce slowly, continuing to grow as a plant and  to provide the edible part of the plant over a prolongued (indeterminate) period of time.

Usually, the vegetables that are described as determinate or indeterminate are the ones where the fruit is the edible part of the plant; tomatoes, peppers, peas and beans and perhaps cucumbers or melons being the vegetables where you are most likely to see the term used. However, it is also applicable to potatoes. They are generally described as short season, medium season, or long season rather than determinate or indeterminate. However, short season potatoes set a certain quantity of potatoes, then they die down. Long season potatoes will, if you continue to hill them up at a judicious rate, continue to form tubers until cut short by cold weather. Mid season potatoes will continue to set potatoes for a while, but die down naturally before long season varieties would. As so often is the case, determinate and indeterminate describe the more extreme ends of the phenomenon, but many varieties will fall somewhere in the middle.

So which should you grow?:

Well, I don't know! It depends on what you are looking for. Like most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to each growth strategy.

Determinate varieties:

One advantage of determinate varieties is that they are often the earliest producing plants. If you want early peas, you almost certainly need to grow a determinate variety such as Misty, or Strike. Carol Deppe, in her book The Resilient Gardener, points out that when gardens are stressed by unpredictable and fluctuating weather, or by an inability of the gardener to give them full their full attention, determinate varieties make a lot of sense. For instance, I can often get a batch of Envol potatoes in and out of the ground before the potato beetles even show up for the season. Determinate varieties are also generally more compact than indeterminate varieties, making them more suitable for container gardening and other gardens without a lot of available space. They are also good in gardens which lack shelter - the larger indeterminate varieties are much more likely to be damaged by wind and weather. Determinate varieties may also mean multiple crops from one space. For instance, we like to grow Bellestar tomatoes for their early determinate crop of canning tomatoes. (Although I find determinate fresh eating tomatoes just annoying.) We pull them out and put our fall-planted garlic in their spot. You can follow early peas with bush beans very easily in our 150 day season, say Dual, followed by Provider. Finally, determinates are practically the only varieties grown by commercial vegetable growers because they are the ones that are suited to mechanical harvesting, or harvesting by seasonal labour crews. If you are growing your vegetables to freeze or can, having your harvest come in within a short period of time is very helpful -  you can do it all in a few batches, rather than in dribs and drabs.

Of course, there are also disadvantages. If you don't want to freeze or can your vegetables, but to cut and come again over a long season, these are very annoying - one week you are awash in more vegetables than you can manage, and the next week they are gone. Furthermore, I have found that determinate varieties have less disease tolerance in general than indeterminate varieties. Of course, tolerance varies between different determinate varieties, but in general they can't evade molds, fungi or viruses (or even nibbling pests) by simply outgrowing them the way indeterminate varieties often can. There is also a definite relationship between the amount of foliage a plant produces and the flavour of the parts used as vegetables. For instance, many people believe - and I am certainly one of them - that pole beans and peas (almost always indeterminate) almost always have better flavour than bush peas and beans (almost always determinate).

Indeterminate varieties:

The advantages and disadvantages of indeterminate varieties are, of course, pretty much the reverse of the above.

You will wait longer for your indeterminate vegetables to start producing (usually), and that means more time for something to go wrong. You will generally need more space for indeterminate varieties, and they will usually need much more in the way of structural support than determinate varieties. You had better like them, because they will keep coming... and coming... The fact that they are indeterminate doesn't mean you don't have to pick peas and beans every day - you do!

Still, there are a number of indeterminate tomato varieties where I am happy to eat every one as they come available, at a very reasonable pace. Their flavour is superb, the product of time and the support of a strong plant. They ignore, if not shake off, the growth of some diseases while the Bellestars mentioned above, on the other hand, are almost certainly in a race to produce something before all their leaves die and fall off. (That dratted septoria spot!)They are often much easier to pick, assuming you have supported them properly, and are often cleaner and in better condition because they haven't been draggling on the ground.

So what do we grow?:

As we become more experienced gardeners, we find we are using a combination of indeterminate and determinate vegetables so that we can have the best of both possibilities. No reason to stick to just one or the other - it's all about what works in your garden.

If you find a determinate variety you really like, but you lament how quickly it is over, you can plant several batches, timed to give you a harvest over the period you want. At least, that's the theory and what is usually recommended by garden writers. It works with some things; other times, whatever it is just sits there, regardless of when planted, and then when they decide the conditions are ideal they all take off together.

That has certainly been my experience with lettuce, which is marginal for us at best anyway. Spinach, too. Radishes work reasonably well. Peas? It all depends on the weather although peas planted for the fall - in theory a great idea - always seem to get mildew and fail to get really enthusiastic about spitting out the peas. Somewhat counterintuitively, I think it is best to plant indeterminate peas for the fall - they may out grow the mildew, unlike shorter determinates, although they need to be able to start in a relatively low number of days. Snap peas such as Amish Snap and Sugar Magnolia, seem very amenable to staggered plantings. Beans have proven reasonably amenable to staggered plantings. I don't have any data on cucumbers or melons, or tomatoes either for that matter. Onions etc have such a long growing season in general, and around here tend to be sensitive to day length anyway, that they are not particularly flexible in their planting times. On the other hand, we put some Russet Burbank potatoes in very, very late this summer (beginning of August!!!) and they still produced a respectable, if diminished crop. (We kept them going as long as we could under a hoop-house.)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Chocolate Cranberry Panforte

I thought I would try a different kind of fruitcake this year for Christmas, and decided to tackle a panforte. The name is misleading - it means strong bread, in Italian - because this is not bread nor cake, but really a kind of baked candy. Staggeringly rich, is what I'm saying. So cut it in very, very small pieces.

It's supposed to be quite hard once it cools. The aging period will soften it up, but it will still take some effort to slice I suspect.  Little nibbles from the bits that stuck to the parchment lead me to suspect that it will also be quite amazing.

It was quicker and easier to make than I expected, although it's important to have everything else finished and ready before you turn on the heat under the sugar and honey. After that you must work quickly to get it into the pan and into the oven. I made 2 batches; one pretty much as described below, and one that I divided up into 6 little pie pans. Those were done in about 30 minutes. I used wheat flour for the first batch, and rice flour for the second batch as they will be presents and I needed them to be wheat-free. They seemed to work just as well that way.

24 to 48 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 45 minutes prep time

Prepare the Spices:
5 tablespoons flour (wheat or rice)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 pods green cardamom

1/2 teaspoon anise seed
1/4 teaspoon coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Put the flour, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Crush the cardamom pod lightly, to allow removal of the green hulls. Grind the remaining cardamom seed with the anise, coriander and peppercorns. Add them to the flour along with lemon zest. Set aside.

Prepare the Fruit & Nuts:
2 cups nuts - hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, or a mix
1 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup light raisins
2/3 cup candied peel
1/4 cup preserved ginger

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts on a baking tray and bake them for 10 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Time will depend on the type of nut. Check regularly. If you use almonds, they should be blanched first.

When the nuts are toasted, put them in a large mixing bowl and add the cranberries, raisins and candied peel. Chop the ginger coarsely and add it to the mixture. Toss the fruit and nuts with the flour and spices until evenly coated, breaking up any clumps.

Finish the Panforte:
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for buttering the pan
2 tablespoons rum
60 grams (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate

Line a 9" spring form pan with parchment paper, folding up the edges, and butter it thoroughly. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Put the sugar and honey into a heavy-bottomed pot, and bring to boil. You can stir once or twice to be sure the sugar dissolves, at the beginning, but once it starts to really warm up stop stirring. Once one half of the surface is bubbling, set the timer for 2 minutes exactly. Watch it to be sure it doesn't boil over - reduce the heat if it is rising up too high. After 2 minutes, turn it off and stir in the butter, chocolate and rum. Keep stirring  until the chocolate (and butter, but it will go much faster) is completely melted.

Pour the hot mixture over the fruit and nuts, and stir well. Scrape quickly into the prepared pan with a spatula, and spread it out evenly. It will start to set quite fast, so you will need to do this before it gets too stiff to easily work.

Bake the panforte until it is bubbling gently all over the surface, about 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Wrap well and keep in a cool, dry, dark place for 2 weeks or more before serving.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Celery & Peanut Butter Soup

This is a rich and filling soup, and with some toast would make a complete meal. Still, in small portions it could also be served as a starter to more formal meal.

I looked at a number of peanut soup recipes before I devised this, and most of them seemed to call for milk or cream which struck me as excessive given that peanut butter is pretty filling on its own. I was also getting more of an oriental vibe from the idea, so I went with it. I thought the results were really good.

The peanut butter was purchased - I suppose I should mention that it was a peanut butter consisting solely of peanuts (a little salt would be okay); I've never seen the point of having peanut butter filled with extraneous not particularly healthy fats and extra sugar - but I was excited to be able to garnish the soup with some peanuts from our own garden. As usual, a pretty skimpy harvest, but we persevere. They went in very late. One of these years we will get it right, I hope.

4 to 8 servings
45 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

1 medium head celery (4 to 5 cups chopped)
3 or 4 large shallots
1" x 1" x 2" piece of ginger
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon flaked hot chiles
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 to 2 tablespoons tamari or soya sauce
chopped roasted peanuts to garnish (optional)

Trim the celery and wash it, and chop it fairly finely. Peel and chop the shallots finely. Peel and mince the ginger, and peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the celery and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened and reduced, but don't let it brown. Add the shallots and ginger, and continue cooking for another 3 or 4 minutes, until it too is softened and reduced, and perhaps slightly browned. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute or so. Add the hot chile flakes and stir in well.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a good simmer. Cover and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the celery is fairly tender. Mix in the peanut butter until well dissolved and distributed throughout the soup. Season with the soy sauce, the exact amount depending on how salty the chicken stock was to start with, and how salty you would like the soup.

Serve garnished with a spoonful of chopped roasted peanuts if you like.

Last year at this time I made Sweet & Sour Cabbage and Ajvar. Again, my Ajvar was made a good 2 weeks ago this year... what a funny season it has been. 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Beans, Beans!

Somehow, we ended up with a lot of dry beans this year. It's interesting to compare  how productive they were, relative to each other. From left to right: Mennonite Purple Stripe, Arikara Yellow, Deseronto Potato Bean, Dolloff, and Blue Lake S7. Some seeds have been held back from all the varieties for replanting, but the above 2-litre jars give a good general idea of how productive each variety was, with the caveat that 2 out of the 5 varieties were planted in a 5' by 8' plot, and three were planted in a 5' by 4' plot.

First, the Mennonite Purple Stripe. We tried them this year as they are a relatively local heirloom pole variety, long grown by Mennonites from the Kitchener-Waterloo area. I believe they made their way into general circulation through Bob Wildfong of Doon Heritage Village (and Seeds of Diversity).  My impression is that they are likely a selected strain of Rattlesnake (aka Preacher), a relatively common heirloom American bean. It looks similar, although more brown than purple. The Mennonite Purple Stripe really are pretty, in unusual shades of purple and mauve. Even the green pods are streaked with purple.

They are supposed to be good both fresh and dry. Most people we gave them to thought they were really, really good fresh. Mr. Ferdzy and I thought they were only good, which doesn't quite cut it for us. So, after picking a few to eat fresh, we left the rest to dry. We haven't tasted them yet, but I can say that they were surprisingly slow to dry down, and only produced about 2/3 the amount of most of the other beans. They were one of the 5' by 4' plantings. The pods got enormous and puffy as they grew, but only contained an average of 5 to 7 beans. That's a high count, actually, but given how large the pods were, it seemed a bit unimpressive. And obviously, there were fewer pods, because in spite of the large size of the individual beans, they did not add up to much more than a litre once dried and shelled. These are a pole bean, Heritage Harvest says 70 days to fresh beans, and I'd think close to 120 for dry - not quick, really.

The ones next to them are Arikara Yellow. These are a traditional bean from the Mandan and Arikara tribes of the Missouri Valley. This is about on a latitude with southern Ontario, but it is in general a colder and drier place. Thus the beans are well adapted to short seasons and drought. We planted ours very late - in July! - in a 5' by 8' bed. They charged ahead, and when it became clear to them that the days were shortening, they started aborting new pods and too-small beans and concentrated on ripening what was far enough along to make it. We planted them earlier last year, and got a bit better crop then, I think. But not by much, so I'm really impressed by these. We got a bit more than it looks like; I saved a lot of seed out of them.

We planted Cherokee Trail of Tears at the same time this year (admittedly a pole bean, while Arikara Yellow is bush) and didn't get a single ripe seed. The plants seemed completely unaware of the approach of fall, and just kept noodling along putting out new beans but not shaking a tendril at getting the first ones ripe, presumably because they developed in an area of much longer seasons. In spite of the fact that Arikara Yellow went in late, they produced about as much as the best pole beans (in twice as much space, admittedly.) Bush beans are less work than pole beans though, and I find I don't mind picking dry bush beans in the same way that I mind picking fresh bush beans. That's because we yanked up the entire plants and brought them inside to finish drying, then shelled them at our leisure. The one thing to watch when growing dry bush beans is that the grass around them needs to be well trimmed, or they will run into it and rot.

Since we grew these last year we have tried eating these. They are a smallish kidney-like bean that dries to a yellowish buff and cooks up surprisingly brown with a nice mild beany flavour. These look like being a staple for us. Eighty to eighty-five days to dry maturity! Wow! Five to 6 beans per pod on average for us.

Next up, Deseronto Potato Bean. Heritage Harvest Seed describes them as "a vigorously twining bush but can be grown on a fence as a pole bean as well." We put them in with the pole beans, and boy, am I glad. Unlike most pole beans they didn't start back down once they got to the top, which means they "only" grew to seven or so feet, but I would hate to have to deal with them as a snarly mass on the ground. These were strongly determinate but took a while to dry down; 100 days sounds about right for the start, but they were quite spread out in the time it took them to finish.

I haven't eaten any of these yet but I am excited to try them. They are an even more genuine Ontario heirloom than the Mennonite Purple Stripe, originating with the Tyendinaga Mohawks of eastern Ontario. I expect they were originally grown up corn stalks, hence their slightly odd intermediate plant size. The beans themselves are lovely; big, fat and white, supposedly soft and potato-like in texture once cooked. I did not think they would produce as well as the Dolloff from the number of pods, and the fact that each pod had on average only 4 to 5 beans, but the beans are large enough individually that in the end they were actually very close in volume. This was another 5' x 4' section.

Dolloff was our other selection as a dried bean this year, and it takes the prize as the most productive, although by a nose. The beans are touted as a lima bean substitute, being rather similar in shape. They are smaller though, and prettily mottled in reddish tan and brown. These originate in Vermont, and as you might expect, they are quite early at 90 days to dry, and I would say they were all dried down within 2 weeks. Unlike the Desorontos, which died off once they were done the first batch, the plants then attempted to start producing a second batch, although only a few pods were able to mature before being cut short by frost. This is a beany, beany, bean-producing plant, for a dry bean. They are a shortish pole bean topping out at about 8' or 9' with 4 to 6 beans per pod.

Again, we haven't had a chance to try them yet, but if they are as tasty as they are productive they will be a real winner and a garden staple. We did try them as a fresh shelly bean, and they were delicious, although they turned a slightly unappetizing grey as they cooked. (That's them up above, from the middle of August.)

And finally we have a small quantity of Blue Lake S-7 beans. This is the other one that was planted in a 5' by 8' bed, which means that this is a very small quantity of dried beans for the space. That is misleading though; these were planted for fresh beans, and we only let them start drying down once we have filled our freezer and eaten as much as we can stand of them fresh. The fact that they still manage to produce any dried beans at all is impressive. They are not sold as a dried bean at all, but we seem to usually end up with about a litre of fine, delicate white beans that are really very good once cooked up - almost like the gourmet French haricot beans, although without the pale green tint of true haricots. Still, not bad at all for a complete bonus. There's always a lot of Blue Lake beans that don't get mature enough to dry down before frost,and that was the case this year as usual and it always makes me sad. Still, they at least get going on drying down the earlier pods soon enough that you should get a respectable quantity in the end. I can expect to pull out the Blue Lakes at the end of the season positive that they don't owe me a thing. Eight to 10 beans per pod, but small ones!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Pork with Fennel & Peppers

I'm not sure what the pepper situation is out there if you have to buy them. I am STILL trying to clear all of ours off the counter, although they are finally dwindling fast. (Admittedly a number of them are going to the compost.) Good thing this turned out to be quite tasty, as I made a big batch to freeze.

If you can't find stewing pork (it doesn't seem to be around much) a piece of shoulder or pork loin rib chops trimmed and cut up will do just fine. If you don't have or use wine, I would put in some lemon and/or orange juice instead. Also, you may wish to hold out a bit of the chicken stock until the end, then stir it in with 2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in it, for a thicker sauce. 

4 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 1  hour prep time

2 large bulbs of fennel (4 cups sliced)
3 to 6 mixed sweet pepeprs (4 cups sliced)
1 large onion
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
500 grams (1 pound) lean stewing pork
2 to 4 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dry rubbed thyme
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon flaked red chile
1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste

Wash the fennel, and trim away the stem end. Cut off any narrow, tough stems and greenery. (Save a little of the leaves for garnish if you like.) Cut the fennel in half, removing any tough core, then slice into small bite-sized pieces. Wash, core and deseed the peppers, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Peel the onion, and chop into bite-sized pieces. Peel and mince the garlic. Check that the pork is trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet, and cook the peppers over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they are softened, slightly browned and much reduced in volume. Add them to a large stewing pot. Add a little more oil to the skillet if needed, and cook the fennel until similarly softened, browned and reduced in volume. Add it to the peppers. Repeat with the onion, adding the garlic just a minute or two before you add it to the stew pot. Finally, brown the pork  well in the skillet then add it to the vegetables.

Add the wine, chicken stock and seasonings to the stew. You will likely need to adjust the amount of salt depending on how salty the chicken stock is. Bring to a simmer, then simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with rice, noodles or potatoes.

Last year around this time I made Vegan Stuffed Peppers and Miso-Tomato Soup. Hmm, tomatoes have been done for a good 2 weeks this year, but it's a good year-round soup when made with tinned ones. 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Southport White Globe Onions

I usually write about vegetables that have been successful for us, but occasionally something just doesn't work. Sometimes it's just a failure; other times it's an instructive failure, and it may be useful to discuss it. Such was the case with these.

We had some difficulty with onion seed this spring, including buying some that didn't germinate, meaning that we had to find a replacement in a hurry. We picked up Southport White Globe from a rack at our local hardware store; the seed coming from the Ontario Seed Company (OSC). They didn't have much selection but I had at least heard of this one. Here's what they had to say about it:
 An excellent white bunching onion that is well adapted to northern growing areas. The bulbs are round, medium sized and solid with thin delicate skin. The flesh is white, fine grained and mild. An excellent direct seeding variety as they mature very quickly. A good keeper. Suitable for regions where the weather tends to rapidly shift between hot and cool during the summer. 

I had already heard about this onion from William Woys Weaver, in Heirloom Vegetable Gardening. Here's his description of the Southport White Globe:
 "...this onion is perfectly round in shape, with a smooth white skin. This variety is always recommended over all other white onions for the American kitchen gardens in old garden books because it can be grown in many parts of the country, including the Upper South. Unfortunately, it is not a good keeper, but it makes a delicious soup."

I trust you can see the problem from the pictures. For most of the summer they sat there not looking that different from any of the other onions, but eventually, as the others began to bulb up and die down, I got more and more anxious about the fact that the Southport White Globe onions were still narrow-bodied and thick-necked, and not dying down at all. And finally, this week, I had to admit that they never were going to do any such thing so I pulled them out and put them on the compost.

So, what exactly happened here?

Well, you may remember when I talked about selecting seeds for the characteristics that you want in them. It's my belief that this variety has been selected for so long for growing as green onions - in other words for not forming a bulb too early - that it seems to have lost the ability to form a bulb at all. This doesn't resemble the perfectly round globe, described by William Weaver and suggested by the name and description on the OSC packet. It has become a different vegetable, for all intents and purposes.

So, if you want long-standing green onions, this is no doubt an excellent choice. If you want actual onions, it is a failure. I have to admit I don't find the idea of a specialized annual green onion all that useful. Starting with Welsh onions early in the spring and moving on as other onions get added to the garden, it's easiest for me just to snip a few onion tops here and there as I want them. Of course, I am home gardener rather than a market grower, which certainly changes the picture.

I wonder if the original Southport White Globe still exists? Has anyone else grown these from another source? What was the result?

According to William Weaver, Southport, Connecticut developed as an area of onion specialists before 1788. They regularly received seed from Spain and Portugal, but during the American revolution it became necessary to grow their own. Over the next century, the Connecticut onion farmers continued to incorporate new genetic material and refine their onions. The Southport White Globe was one of the resulting varieties.At least the one described by Weaver and expected by me.

It was interesting to me how much these over-mature "green" onions resembled leeks, (although, alas, they were tough and stringy when cooked which is why they were all composted). The more I grow alliums the more I see how they resemble each other, sometimes in surprising ways. At any rate, we'll cross this one off the list and continue to look for other interesting open-pollinated onion varieties in the future.

Thursday, 25 October 2012


Sometime last month,  Luckiest1 gave me a Leibster award. Yay, award!

While I appreciate the thought, I have to admit the results were an awful lot like HOMEWORK, and if you don't know how I feel about HOMEWORK, well, keep reading and you will know...

Rule 1: Post 11 things about yourself
Rule 2: Answer the tagger's questions
Rule 3: Tag and pass the awards to 11 other bloggers
 Rule 4: Create 11 questions for the bloggers to answer
Rule 5: Go to bloggers page and inform them about the awards
Rule 6: No tagging back

11 Things About Me:

1. Mr. Ferdzy is allergic to everything with fur and feathers. That's about him, but it's also about me in that the result is that we have no pets, have never had any pets and probably never will have any pets. Although I've told him that if he ever dies or leaves me, I'm going to replace him with a dog. I like dogs. Even though, according to allergy testing I once had, I'm allergic to them too. Cats are much worse though, and let's not even talk about rodents.

2. My father was at the lumberyard, carrying me. I looked up, wrinkled my brow and moved my lips, then announced: "CEDAR!" And so it was. That was when I was 2 years old. I've been reading voraciously ever since, up to three books a day in high-school. 

3. In spite of my early love of reading, I developed an early loathing for education too. In grade 2, I used my new arithmatic skills to determine that I still had ELEVEN MORE YEARS TO GO and was completely horrified and depressed. I managed to shave off half a semester when the time came by getting my Grade 13 with the absolute minimum possible number of credits. Dad agreed to write me an absence note once a month providing I skived off on a day with no tests or projects due, in order to keep me sane. Homework was also totally against my principles, so how I actually passed I don't know.

4. By the time I was a teenager I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: retired! It took a while, but we did retire 3 years ago, when I was 48. Money will have to be watched carefully, but to me the whole point of working is to be able to stop.

5. I am probably one of the most cynical, pessimistic people you will ever meet. I try not to let it show on the blog - or anywhere else - too much. It's not a quality that adds much to my quality of life, but it is what it is. I'm just happy to live with Mr. Ferdzy who is also mostly Mr. Sunshine. Actually, he can be pretty cynical and pessimistic too, but at least we tend to brood about different things, even though we agree on a frightening amount. He is at least a much more naturally cheerful person.

6. I suppose I should say something about me and food. This is a food blog, after all. I like food. I like almost all of it, and I like lots of it, and I am no big fan of exercise, and the result is that I could really stand to lose a bunch of weight. Sometimes I think I need to either stop blogging or convert this to a diet blog... Bleargh.

7. Speaking of exercise, they made me run in Phys Ed, back in the bad old days. I swore I would never run again once I was no longer taking it, ie the moment it became optional. I have only broken that vow once, about 15 years ago in the Vancouver airport. If I had realized there was a flight to Victoria every half hour, I wouldn't even have broken it even that once. I hate running with a passion. I'm perfectly happy to walk though, and in fact 6 years ago I (we) walked clear across Spain - probably about 1000 kilometers, all said and done, over three months. Yes, that was the Camino de Santiago. A very happy memory. 

8. I used to be an Anarchist. It seemed to be a logical extension of being a Quaker. However, by the time I went to the Toronto Anarchists Convention in the summer of 1988, the bloom was kind of off the rose. Nothing like meeting most of North America's anarchists to really make it clear that anarchism was no panacea for the human condition. On the bright side, I re-met (long story) Mr. Ferdzy there, moved in with him a month later, and the rest is history.

9. We were involved in an anarchist magazine collective (Kick It Over) for several years. After it wound down, we read Systems of Survival; A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics, by Jane Jacobs. It took me a year to come to terms with re-wiring my brain, but the end result was that we became born-again capitalists, and went into business for ourselves. First we made organic baking mixes for the health food market, which was barely successful, and after we sold the business (which then quickly folded) we became landlords by buying a 12 unit apartment and later 8 townhouses which we renovated, severed, and sold.

10. And then we retired, and decided to live out our hippy fantasies, and bought the farm. So to speak. Here we are, up to our elbows in tomatoes.

11. You can always tell a Ferdzy, but you can't tell her much. Pig headed? Check. Opinionated? Check. Pig headed and opinionated? Check, and check.

Who or what inspired you to start blogging? 

The idea had been kicking around in my head for a number of months before I actually did it. I was reading a few blogs regularly, and the whole local, seasonal food movement was starting to take off. I looked at a number of things that people were doing on that front with faint disbelief, I have to say.

The whole "100 Mile Diet" thing, where people wouldn't eat anything - ANYTHING - if it wasn't local. As someone who had made a conscious decision to eat as much local, seasonal food as possible 20 years earlier, that kind of purity struck me as very faddish, although it was certainly good at getting attention to the idea. But I'm in this for the long haul, and what that means in practice, is if I want to eat a banana I eat a damn banana and don't angst about it. And of course, on the other side of the equation I would see recipes described as local and seasonal and they'd have one or two local seasonal ingredients and a whole pile of ingredients, including quite key ones, from somewhere else. Or, include two ingredients that could be local and seasonal - but not at the same time. Those recipes kind of get up my nose too.

But what actually got me onto my butt and typing was a day when we still lived in the apartment, and the stairs were being repaired, meaning I was stuck inside with nothing to do for about 10 hours straight... somehow, at the end of that the blog was up and several recipes had been posted. Oops. I was committed.

Do you watch Food TV? If so, does it inspire you to cook? Is there any particular show or chef that inspires you most of all? 

I  don't, actually. We haven't had a TV in about 25 years. Not that we don't spend large amounts of time in front of a flickering blue screen - it's just a computer screen. I hear vague things about various shows and chefs, but it's like it's all happening on another planet for the most part.

Do you know about the Food Revolution and have you signed the petition? 

Uh, eh, er. No, and no. Oh wait. Is that Jamie Oliver? I guess I  have heard of it (and him). There's a petition?

Do you grow your own vegetables or herbs? 

Oh, yeah. 

Did your parents/grandparents pass their recipes down to you? 

Well, a few. But I come from a standard anglo-Ontario/Quebec-with-a-branch-from-Nova Scotia oldish Canadian family, which means there were not a lot of recipes to pass on and upon the whole that was just as well.

Interestingly, and in spite of the above comment, my mothers side of the family included 6 sisters (my great-aunts) who were all renowned for their cooking. It was all fairly basic, founded mostly on high quality ingredients and good if simple techniques; no rare or expensive items beyond the occasional very fine roast. Minimal spicing. Kind of plain. But good. (Frequently rather rich, it has to be said.) I admit I still lean towards that style of cooking, although like most modern Canadians I am so bloody happy that our food horizons have expanded to take in so much more of the world. Still, I am very fond of food that tastes like what it is and looks like what it is, and have a deep distrust of things that have been gussied up too much. (Don't get me going on the whole molecular thing...)

Did anyone else in your life teach you to cook or share their recipes with you? 

The aforementioned great-aunts, Aunt Alethea in particular, who was more like a grandmother to me than either of my actual grandmothers, I would say. But I've never spent a lot of time cooking with anyone else. Most of my time in the kitchen has been experimenting on my own.

Do you cook with your children or any other children in your life? 

Rarely. We don't have any. But for a while it was an annual tradition for me to make cookies and take them to the First Day (Sunday) school of our Meeting on the first sunday in December and decorate them with gobs of icing and sprinkles, etc. 

Do you occasionally eat fast food? 

Occasionally. Very occasionally. I try to avoid it as much as I possibly can, although I admit to a sneaking fondness for Egg McMuffins. Even so, every time I have one I sadly recognize that it would have been so much better if I had made it myself. And right now I am jonesing bad for some spicy Popeye's chicken. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the nearest outlet is a good 2 hours away.

They say you either love or hate cilantro, and there is no middle ground. How do you feel about it?

Oh, I like it quite a bit, I'd even go so far as to say I love it. I do think there is such a thing as too much of it, so it's not an unconditional love. Most of my family like it enough to eat it occasionally, but none of them are mad for it, so maybe that blows that theory out of the water.

Okay; 11 (seriously, 11?) exciting other bloggers! (Uh, nope.)

And here's where I go my own way. There are a lot of great bloggers out there and I could maybe even think of eleven of them. But I'm not going to. Sorry, this is a dead end. However, if someone out there want to pick it up, here are the questions I would ask:

And the Information I wish to Extract Is:

1.) What is your earliest food memory?
2.) What is your favourite food?
3.) What is your least favourite food?
4.) Do you feel like you have a philosophy about cooking and eating, and if so, what is it?
5.) Is there something seasonal that you look forward to all year? What is it, and how do you get it?
6.) Do you have a special treat that you like when you are feeling down, or sick, or otherwise in need of culinary support?
7.) Have you ever had a transformative food moment? Something that you tried for the first time maybe, and it changed your life?
8.) How do you feel about... OATMEAL?
9.) Since it's on my mind at the moment... what is your traditional Christmas menu?
10.  And cookies... let's talk about cookies... what's your favourite cookie?
11.) Snacking: sweet or savory?