Friday, 31 May 2019

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Crumbs

Every year I feel obliged to do something new with asparagus, even though really, there is so much to be said for steaming it very lightly and serving it with butter and a squeeze of lemon, or maybe with poached eggs on toast.

However, if you want a change this is simple and quick - okay steaming is still quicker - and it's hard to complain about crispy crumbs and cheese. And spicy mayonnaise.

2 to 4 servings
30 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Crumbs

500 grams (1 pound) asparagus
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove of garlic, optional
OR 1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup finely grated, packed Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
a pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash and trim the asparagus. Drain well, and wrap in a tea-towel; set aside to dry thoroughly. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cover a baking tray (I used a pizza pan) with a sheet of parchment paper.

Peel and mince the garlic very finely. Melt the butter. I find it best to use a shallow baking (lasagne) pan for best coverage of the asparagus. Mix the garlic into the butter. If not using garlic, you may wish to grate in a very small quantity of lemon zest.

Finely grate the Parmesan, and crush the bread to crumbs if it is not crumbs already. Mix them together in a small bowl with a little - Parmesan is pretty salty, so just a little - salt, and pepper to taste.

When the oven is ready, toss the asparagus in the butter. Tip in about 2/3 of the cheese and crumb mixture, and toss well. Transfer the asparagus to the roasting pan and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the last of the cheese and crumbs over them.

Roast for 15 to 20 minutes at the top of the oven, until the coating is browned and crispy and the asparagus is tender.

Serve with a wedge of lemon, or I made a little chile-garlic mayonnaise. Mr. Ferdzy said, "I'm not sure this really goes with asparagus" and then proceeded to consume most of it. That was about 1 teaspoon of chile-garlic sauce mixed into about 2 tablespoons mayonnaise. (Actually I made about twice as much, but it was notably more than was needed, Mr. Ferdzy notwithstanding.)

Last year at this time I made White Bean & Asparagus Salad

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Sorrel, Leek & Green Onion "Spanakopita"

It will likely be a while until I make something else with sorrel, because this left my 4 plants all looking pretty denuded, and they will need some time to recover.

I've commented before that sorrel seems so unpromising - big, coarse leaves, prone to slugs and snails. It turns brownish when cooked, and I'm not sure I've actually boiled it before - it got positively slimy and I admit to being slightly daunted. But I drained it well and persevered. As usual, the finished dish was completely delicious and everyone fell on it like they hadn't seen food in weeks.  Also as usual, I have to admit that the most likely way to be able to get sorrel is to grow it yourself. Same with the leeks, really; but you never know your luck at a farmers market.

You could replace the sorrel with spinach, and the juice of 1/2 lemon. You can also fiddle with the exact proportions of feta and ricotta/cottage cheese, in which case you will also need to fiddle with the amount of salt - as the feta goes up, the salt goes down. At the proportions given, I added about a quarter of a teaspoon. It might have taken just a bit more.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 45 minutes prep time
allow extra time to thaw pastry and cool finished "pita"

Sorrel, Leek & Green Onion Spanakopita

450 grams (1 pound) frozen filo pastry, thawed
450 grams (1 pound) fresh sorrel leaves
3 medium leeks
4 to 6 green onions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
225 grams (1/2 pound) feta cheese
225 grams (1/2 pound) ricotta or pressed cottage cheese
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
about 1/3 cup mild vegetable oil

Thaw the filo in the refrigerator overnight.

Put a pot of water on to blanch the sorrel. Wash and pick over the sorrel well - soak it in well-salted water for 15 minutes to remove any guest, if you can. Cook it for 1 or two minutes in the boiling water, then drain it well. Let it cool. Chop it well and put it in a mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, wash, trim, slice, and wash the leeks again. Drain them well. Wash, trim, and chop the onions.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the leeks for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened but not browned. Add the onions and cook for another couple of minutes until they too are well wilted. Add them to the sorrel, and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat the eggs into the vegetables, then crumble in the feta and ricotta or cottage cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Brush a 9" x 13" lasagne pan with oil. Lay in a sheet of filo, brushed lightly with oil and folded to fit; add another until you have 2 or 3 layers of pastry. Put in about 1/6 of the filling and spread it out as evenly and as close to the edges as you can. Repeat with another layer of lightly oiled and folded filo sheets. Followed by another layer of thinly applied filling... you see where this is going... it keeps going... until the filling is all in and you finish with 3 or 4 layers of lightly oiled filo pastry.

Bake the pie for approximately 45 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature. Reheats fairly well, provided you do it in the oven and eschew the microwave.

Last year at this time - or actually the year before to be precise - I made Haskap Rhubarb Nectar

Monday, 27 May 2019

Cream of Radish Soup

Radishes make surprisingly good soup! Although I've made this a couple of times now and I have to say, make sure you get some radishes with good flavour. The first time I made it we were fairly unimpressed, but then I tasted some of the raw radish and realized they just didn't have any oompf to them. The looked so nice! Crisp, and neither woody nor spongy. Unfortunately they tasted just watery. This may be a hazard of the weather we have been having this spring, I don't know.

If you can't get fresh dill (it is a bit early for it at this point) replace it with a teaspoon of dried dill weed.

The photo is actually of the first batch I made, and the next time I decided to grate the raw radishes instead of chopping them. You could chop them, but I would suggest more finely than the ones in the picture if you decide to do that. I found the ones chopped as you see just a bit too coarse.  

4 to 6 servings
30 minutes prep time

Cream of Radish Soup

2 to 3 bunches (32 to 36 medium) red radishes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 to 6 green onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons barley (or wheat) flour
3 1/2 cups unsalted chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup 10% cream

Trim the radishes and wash them. Set side 2 or 3 for every bowl of soup intended. Trim and slice the rest in fairly thick slices. Save a good handful of the best radish leaves, wash them and chop them. 

Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot and add the radishes when it is melted and beginning to bubble. Cook the radishes over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until they have softened and absorbed much of the butter.

Meanwhile, wash, trim, and chop the green onions. Peel and grate the garlic. Wash, dry, and mince the dill.

Add the radish leaves and the green onions to the radishes and cook in until well wilted. Add the garlic and dill, and mix in well. Add the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the flour, and mix it in well. Once it has cooked in for a minute or so, and there are no more unabsorbed white flecks to be seen, begin stirring in the broth, a little at a time. Once it is all in, let the soup simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the soup cooks, grate the remaining radishes coarsely. 

Mix the cream into the soup and let it heat through. Transfer it to a blender or food processor (in batches if necessary) and purée the soup until smooth. Serve the soup with grated raw radish mixed in and some sprinkled on top for a garnish. It could be made in advance and re-heated, if required (raw radish added just before serving).

Last year at this time I made Crustless Fiddlehead or Asparagus Quiche.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Russian Fish & Spring Greens Pie

After several years of abuse, my French sorrel appears to be recovering nicely. This is a plant - herb? vegetable? - that I get to like more and more. Of course, now I want to move it again.

If you are not growing it yourself, sorrel will be hard to find. You can use all spinach, and throw in a tablespoon of lemon juice to replace the tart zing of the missing sorrel, but if you have any garden space at all, I recommend planting a little patch.

Use any standard pastry for this. I would have made my favourite biscuity crust, but I was out of buttermilk so it was more like this one. If it calls for around 2 cups of flour it will be quite sufficient. 

6 servings
2 hours - 1 hour prep time

Russian Fish & Spring Greens Pie

1 recipe pie pastry
2 large eggs
2 cups packed raw spinach
2 cups packed raw sorrel
1/4 cup minced parsley
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons flour
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup 10% cream
75 grams (2 to 3 ounces) strong Cheddar cheese
200 to 225 grams (about 8 ounces) tinned salmon
     OR smoked trout or salmon

Make the pastry. While you make it is a good time to cook the eggs as well - put them in a pot with water to cover them well, and bring them to a boil. Boil them steadily for 1 minute, then cover  them and remove them from the heat. Let them sit for 10 minutes before letting them cool.

Wash, trim, and pick over the spinach and sorrel. Shred them very finely. Put them in a strainer and pour boiling water over them to just wilt them. Squeeze them well to remove as much moisture as you can, then shred them again. Put them in a mixing bowl.

Wash, dry, and mince the parsley and dill. Add them to the spinach and sorrel.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and season with salt - lightly, keeping in mind the saltiness of the fish and cheese - and pepper, more enthusiastically. Mix in the cream.

Pick over the fish, removing and discarding any skin and bones. Break it into bite-sized chunks. Add it to the vegetables. Grate the cheese and mix about three-quarters of it into the vegetables. Peel the eggs, and chop them. Mix them in as well.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Roll the pastry out into as neat a circle as you can manage on a sheet of (possibly floured) parchment paper, so that it will fill your pie plate with about an inch excess all around. Flip it into the pie plate, centred, and remove the parchment paper from it. Press it to conform to the shape of the dish. Scrape in the filling and spread it out evenly, pressing it down gently. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Fold in the excess pie crust over the pie, pleating it neatly.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is nicely browned. This pie is best served at room temperature, so let it cool completely before serving. If it is made much in advance, it should be covered and refrigerated; bring it out 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off of it.

Last year at this time I made Spinach & Apple Salad with Balsamic Dressing.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Asparagus & Mushroom Salad with Chervil-Chive Dressing

Yowza, this was good! Chervil is a wonderful spring herb and with asparagus and mushrooms - a combination that I love, as can be told from the number of recipes I post combining them - you get a lovely spring chorus of flavours.

We ate this with some Sweet Potato Rotis. I'm not sure they really went together perfectly, but they are delicious in their own right, and overall, a really enjoyable lunch was had.

I would have liked to serve this on some lettuce leaves, but the supply is not really there yet, and I forgot to buy any.

2 to 4 servings
30 minutes prep time

Asparagus & Mushroom Salad with Chervil-Chive Dressing

Make the Dressing:
2 tablespoons minced chives
3 tablespoons minced chervil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (light is fine)
2 tablespoons sour cream OR thick yogurt
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash, trim, dry, and mince the herbs. Mix them in a small bowl with the remaining ingredients. 

Make the Salad:
250 grams (1/2 pound) asparagus
60 grams (2 ounces) oyster mushrooms
125 grams (1/4 pound) button mushrooms
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
a little salt
1/2 teaspoon rubbed savory
4 to 6 leaves of lettuce (optional)

Wash and trim the asparagus. Steam or boil until just tender; about 4 minutes. Transfer to cold water to stop them cooking any further. Once cool, drain well and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, trim, clean and tear the oyster mushrooms into large shreds, discarding any tough stems. Trim, clean and slice the button mushrooms thickly.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toss in both the mushrooms, and cook until softened and slightly browned. Sprinkle with a little salt and the savory as they cook. When they are done, add them to the asparagus and let them cool.

Wash, dry, and arrange the lettuce on serving plates or a salad bowl. Toss the asparagus and mushrooms in the dressing and arrange them over the lettuce.

Last year at this time I made Mint & Barley Soup.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Rhubarb Ginger Syrup

Yeah, this was made last year. I wanted to actually try it before I posted it, which meant waiting until rhubarb season was pretty much over. Can report; it was lovely but I guess I won't be making it this year.

I regard it mostly as a flavouring for club soda, but you could drizzle a little over ice-cream or panna cotta. Plain yogurt, even. This amount of ginger is pretty gingery; you could use as little as half if you prefer less bite.

6 250-ml jars
45 minutes prep time
2 to 12 hours straining time
1 1/2 hours to can

Rhubarb Ginger Syrup with Club Soda

8 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups sliced fresh ginger
5 cups water
1 cup sugar

Wash, trim, and chop the rhubarb and put it in a large canning kettle or similar pot. Wash the ginger well, but there is no need to peel it. Cut it in thin slices and add it to the rhubarb. Add the water. Bring to a boil, and boil gently for 15 minutes ore so, until the rhubarb disintegrates. Stir regularly. Cover and let cool.

Pour the mixture into a clean large jelly bag (I use a clean old pillow case and rig it up to strain into a pot for 2 to 12 hours. I hasten the process by squeezing it. Squeeze it as much as possible. I also strained it into a pot with a strainer insert, which meant I could put a weight on it. In short, extract as much liquid from the mixture as you can.

When ready to proceed, put the jars to be filled into a canner and cover with water to at least an inch above the rims. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Put the lids and rims into a smaller pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil one minute then remove from the heat until needed.

At the same time, bring the strained liquid up to a boil and add the sugar. Boil for a few minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Fill the sterilized jars with the rhubarb-ginger syrup. Wipe the rims with a piece of paper towel dipped in the boiling water. Seal with the prepared lids and rims, and replace them in the canner of boiling water.  Boil for 10 minutes. Remove, let cool, check seals. Label and date the jars, and keep them in a cold dark place until wanted.

Last year at this time I made this. Oh, all right - and also Stir-Fried Lamb with Asparagus.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Asparagus with Chervil Chive Butter

The asparagus is starting to flow! Our new asparagus bed is starting to produce, and I think we are on our third or fourth cutting now. The old bed is only just starting to show some signs of life in the highest spot, confirming that moving it is a very good decision.

Chervil is next to impossible to find, so I post this mostly to encourage people to grow some chervil. It is one of the licorice-flavoured herbs, along with fennel and tarragon, but with a sweetness and delicacy that both of those lack.

I have an old cook book that has a chart of cooking times for vegetables, and it starts with 20 minutes for asparagus. This honestly boggles my mind, as I once cooked some for 6 minutes by mistake, and it disintegrated - there is no other word for what happened. HOW do you cook asparagus for 20 minutes - I mean, okay; you cook it for 20 minutes. But how do you possibly serve up the results?

4 to 6 servings
20 minutes prep time

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon 10% cream

a pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chervil

Be sure the butter is soft enough to work before you start. Put it in a small bowl with the cream, salt, and pepper.

Wash, dry, trim, and finely mince the herbs. Work them together until smoothly integrated. Pack them into a little bowl, cover, and refrigerate when wanted. Serve with steamed or boiled asparagus.

Steaming is generally considered a better way to cook asparagus, but I admit I generally boil mine. Trim the ends of any tough parts, and bring the water to a boil. Be sure they will all fit into the pan before you start - really long ones may need to be cut in half. Three to five minutes is entirely sufficient, and drain them well before serving.

Last year at this time I made Fiddlehead & Potato Salad.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Spring Salad with Honey-Yogurt Dressing

Here is just as simple a little salad as possible. The dressing is smooth and charming, the greens are crunchy, but really it justifies being posted by consisting mainly of things now available from the garden. Yaaaaay!

2 or 3 servings
20 minutes prep time

Spring Salad with Honey-Yogurt Dressing

Make the Dressing:
1 to 2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk together in a small bowl - you may need to soften the honey in the microwave for a few seconds before you add the remaining ingredients. 

Make the Salad:
1 cup lightly packed torn lettuce leaves
1 cup lightly packed torn spinach leaves
4 to 6 sorrel leaves
4 to 6 radish leaves, if in good condition
4 to 6 small red radishes

Wash, pick over, and spin dry the leaves, and tear or chop them into bite sized pieces. Wash and trim the radishes, and slice them. Arrange them in a salad bowl, communal or individual ones, over the prepared leaves. Drizzle with the dressing.

Last year at this time I made Sorrel & Goat Cheese Soufflé.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

I've been noticing a lot of recipes with a "Buffalo Chicken Wing" theme lately, and decided to join the party. I have to admit I have resisted for quite a long time, though. The trouble is that in my early twenties I had a job as night-cook at a bar, and what I mostly made was Buffalo chicken wings. It gave me a jaundiced view of them.

I find it thoroughly bizarre that Buffalo chicken wings have become a kind of fancy thing. They are the creation of working class bars (in Buffalo, duh) made with the sole aim of selling a little food and encouraging the consumption of beer. Consequently, the recipe needed to be made of ingredients available from the cheaper food service companies and simple enough to be assembled by stoned minimum-wage workers late at night.

I'll tell you the original "recipe": Throw chicken wings in the deep fryer until done to a golden brown. Meanwhile, mix hot sauce and melted butter in a bowl, the proportions to depend on whether the customer has ordered mild, medium, hot, or suicide. When the wings are fried, drain them and toss them in the bowl. Dish them up and serve with a little blue cheese dressing from a bottle, and celery sticks. I see a number of gussied-up recipes with garlic and paprika out there, and let me tell you, no. Nobody in a bar is going to mess around like that.

The hot sauce was either Franks or Tabasco, depending on whether your bar had any pretensions to gentility whatsoever. There was no "wing sauce" which is apparently a thing you can buy now; I don't know why. I guess so you can have yet another half-empty jar of gunk in the fridge. There was absolutely no sugar or honey in it, which is a thing some people add now because people add sugar to absolutely everything, ugh.

So, anyway! These were good, and I would definitely make them again. You do need to make the Blue Cheese Dressing in advance, because let's face it; bottled blue cheese dressing is nothing to write home about, even when you are on your third beer. And a nice burger with lettuce and pickle is way better than gnawing on some boney, greasy, over-priced wing. Once the dressing is made they are really no harder or slower to make than any other burger.

4 large or 6 small burgers
20 minutes prep time for burgers
15 minutes prep time for Blue Cheese Dressing

Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Blue Cheese Dressing and Vegetable Sticks

Make the Meat Mixture:
450 grams (1 pound) lean ground chicken
1/4 cup oat bran
1 large egg
1 to 3 tablespoons Tabasco or Frank's hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup rice (or other) flour

Put the ground chicken in a mixing bowl with the oat bran, egg, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix very well.

Put the rice flour in a shallow bowl sufficiently large to hold each hamburger patty as it is formed.

Also you need to have your blue cheese dressing made by now or it is tooooo late. Probably a good time to cut up the veggies as well.

Make the Burgers:
1 recipe Blue Cheese Dressing
4 to 6 hamburger buns
4 to 6 sturdy lettuce leaves
4 to 6 slices dill pickle (optional)
4 to 6 slices sweet onion (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 or 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
2 or 3 stalks of celery, trimmed and cut into sticks.

Slice the buns and set them on plates. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves and put them on the buns, along with a dollop of blue cheese dressing and a slice of pickle and/or onion if desired.

Heat the butter in a skillet (or two) of sufficient size over medium heat until sizzling. 

Meanwhile, divide the meat mixture into 4 or 6 equal portions. Form each into a patty and dredge in the rice flour. Add them to the sizzling butter and cook for 4 minutes on each side until done. Put them in the buns, close them up, serve them with celery and carrot sticks. If there's a little extra dressing, pass it for the vegetable sticks.

Last year at this time I made Turnips with Bacon & Onion.

Friday, 10 May 2019

A Brief Introduction to the Garden Season

Well spring is here and we have started gardening. This is a very short post about it because 1.) we are about to go away for the weekend and 2.) it is pretty much the same as usual and 3.) I think we are both feeling a bit blasé about gardening this year.

However, we have planted our peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants; our onions, leeks, and shallots, a few other things; and sweet potatoes are being sprouted for slips. All in pots, of course. On nice days they get hauled out and on less nice days they stay inside. Since it hasn't actually gotten all that nice out yet, even when they are out they tend to stay under a sheet of plastic. 

So far we have planted the early peas (they're up!) and tsk-tsked over the state of the spinach (sadly nibbled by mice and rabbits) and lettuce (pretty much all eaten by mice and rabbits) that we planted last fall and carefully covered for the winter.

Otherwise I have been doing some weeding and also pulled all these strawberries out. They are now residing either in the bed in the top right of the photo, along with a few irises I don't know what to do with, or they are in the compost. This, if anyone remembers, is a strawberry that grew from a seed about 3 years back. Looks like it's a good go-er! 

Mr. Ferdzy has been installing a 2-foot high chicken wire fence around the main garden, see comments about rabbits. Rabbits, it is known, go in cycles and they have been bad the last few years. I had been hoping that last year was the peak and this year they would crash, but judging from the number I have seen around this spring they are not at the peak yet. So if we expect to save anything from constant nibbling, they must be excluded. It will be a pain in the arse to only have a few gates instead of being able to enter or exit the garden at the end of every path, but on the other hand I expect to enjoy having more vegetables.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Rolled Omelette with Spring Herbs & Cheese

This is all about the presentation rather than the recipe so much; it's an omelette. It's quite a bit like the Bachelor's Omelette, in fact. Baking it in the oven ensures that it cooks evenly and without browning, and rolling it up makes it look fancy, but it isn't difficult. Providing you use parchment paper, I'm afraid. I have a love-hate relationship with parchment paper. One the one hand no sticking and easy clean-up; on the other hand, more bloody single-use plastic garbage.

It really needed a bit of parsley for a garnish. I would totally have nipped out and gotten some more when I realized I had forgotten to save any, but Mr. Ferdzy was breathing down my neck after having spent 15 minutes pacing the kitchen as he waited for breakfast. Please picture some artistically arranged sprigs of parsley around this, thanks.

2 to 4 servings
30 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Rolled Baked Omelette with Spring Herbs & Cheese

2 green shallots OR onions OR wild leeks
1/4 cup finely minced parsley
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh oregano (optional)
OR 1 cup finely minced fresh sorrel or spinach
4 large duck eggs OR 6 extra-large chicken eggs
2 tablespoons potato starch
1/4 cup 10% cream
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
60 grams (2 ounces) strong Cheddar, grated

Wash, trim, and mince the shallots or other oniony thing. Wash, dry, trim, and mince the parsley and any other herbs being used. DON'T forget to set aside a few sprigs for a garnish, duh. If you are using spinach or sorrel, blanch them in a strainer with a little boiling water then squeeze well to get them quite dry when cool enough to handle; chop them again.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9" x 13" baking pan with parchment paper.

Whisk the eggs with the potato starch in a reasonably large bowl (they need to be whisked very well)! Season with salt and pepper; lightly with the salt in the presence of the cheese, more enthusiastically with the pepper. Whisk in the cream. Pour the eggs into the prepared pan, being sure they flow evenly into all the corners.

Grate the cheese. Sprinkle the prepared herbs and/or vegetables evenly over the eggs. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over everything. Bake for 12 to 20 minutes, until just set. Yes, I know! But so much depends on just how deep those eggs are. Start watching them carefully at the 10 minute mark. Pull them out the minute they are just set.

Lift the omelette in the parchment paper to a heat-proof board, and begin rolling it up - from a short side is easiest and probably looks best too - peeling off the parchment as you go. Make sure it's folding over itself nicely then pull the end of the parchment you are holding back across the omelette parallel above it - it should roll up neatly. Go a little slowly in case you need to help it off the parchment without tearing. Roll it onto a serving dish, garnish with parsley - whoops - and serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Cucumbers with Chervil. Yeah, I debated putting chervil in this and decided I didn't think it went with shallot greens.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Mushroom & Wild Leek Soup

We have wild leeks growing in our woods, that we transplanted there 2012. They are growing quite nicely, and returning every year, but it has to be conceded that at the rate they are spreading, they should be ready to harvest sometime around 2153. The acres of wild leeks (also known as ramps) in local woodlots are plainly not the result of hundreds of years of spreading so much as thousands of years. A somewhat amazing thought, and only very slightly tongue-in-cheek.

So I didn't use wild leeks for this, although that would be ideal if you could get them. What I did have, and recommend as my second choice, is shallot greens. I have some shallots that really don't die down in the fall and are green and leafy by now. They have some of the rich flavour of wild leeks too. But if you can't get shallot greens - and unless you grow them yourself, you probably can't - you will have to use green onions.

I used shiitakes, because I had rather a lot of them having found some on sale. I think a mix of shiitakes, oyster, and button mushrooms would be ideal, but nothing wrong with shiitakes! With smoked trout and cream, this was really delicious. It ought to be, I guess, because it is a bit on the pricey side, even with picking my own shallot greens. Definitely something for a special occasion.

4 servings
40 minutes prep time

Mushroom & Wild Leek Soup

Make the Broth:
225 grams (1/2 pound) smoked trout fillet
2 or 3 bay leaves
6 to 8 black peppercorns
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups of filtered water

Peel the skin from the trout and put it in a medium-sized pot with the remaining ingredients. Chop the trout meat and put it in a cool spot, covered - it's not going in until later. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce to a simmer and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

Make the Soup:
6 to 8 wild leeks (ramps) OR green shallot or onions
250 grams (1/2 pound) mixed mushrooms
1/4 cup unsalted butter
6 tablespoons barley flour
1 teaspoon rubbed savory OR thyme
1/3 cup 10% cream

Meanwhile, wash and trim the wild leeks or green onions. Chop them finely, keeping the green and white parts in separate piles. Clean and trim the mushrooms (if using shiitakes, discard the stems - you could throw them into the pot of broth if you like) and chop them fairly finely.

Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and white parts of the onions/wild leeks, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining chopped green tops and cook for another 5 minutes or so. As they cook, sprinkle the barley flour over them and mix in well. Let it cook for a few minutes.

When the broth is ready, strain it into the pot with the cooked mushrooms etc, and discard the solids. Mix it in well. Let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. When it is well thickened, mix in the chopped trout and the cream. Bring it up to steaming hot again - about 5 minutes - but don't let it simmer. Check the seasoning and add a little more salt and pepper if needed. Serve at once.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Scotch Egg Pie

The British are famous for their meat pies, and meat pies with eggs in them are a traditional version. Make the meat pork sausage or something like it, and suddenly they are reminiscent of another classic British dish.

We made a trek to Barrie last week, and I found some quail eggs at a Chinese grocery store there! They really are a nicer size to find in a pie than chicken eggs, but there's no denying they are tedious little lumps to peel. At least they peeled fairly well.

I took pork and seasoned it as sausage but if you have a favourite bulk sausage you could just peel off the casings and use it. I happened to have some cooked buckwheat on hand so I used that and thought it worked really well as the filler. Breadcrumbs are the traditional filler, but if you want to avoid them and don't want to fuss with cooking buckwheat, rolled oats could also be used.

6 to 8 servings
2 hours - 45 minutes prep time
allow another 2 hours to cool

Scotch Egg Pie

Make the Pastry:
2 1/4 cups whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg

Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl and mix.

Measure the oil, buttermilk, and butter. I do them in a 2 cup measure, adding each one as I go. The butter should be quite soft.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not over-mix, but it should all come together to form a ball. Set this aside, covered, while you make the filling.

Make the Filling & Finish the Pie:
6 large OR 8 small chicken eggs OR 18 quail eggs
900 grams (2 pounds) lean ground pork
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
2 or 3 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
1 large chicken egg
1 cup cooked buckwheat groats OR raw quick-cook oats OR breadcrumbs

Put a pot of water on to boil the eggs, which should be at room temperature. If using chicken eggs, add them when the water boils and boil for 1 minute, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes. If using quail eggs, add them and boil for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Then, remove the eggs to a basin of cold water to cool. When they are cool, peel them.

Meanwhile, put the ground pork into a mixing bowl. Peel and mince the garlic, and add it. Add all the seasonings. Break in the egg and add the buckwheat groats, rolled oats, or breadcrumbs. Mix well by hand.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Cut the pastry into 2 pieces of approximately 60% and 40%. Roll out the larger piece on a sheet of parchment paper to fit a 10" pie plate. Flip it into the pie plate, centre it, and peel off the parchment, fitting it into the angles.

Use half the meat filling to evenly cover the bottom of the pastry-filled pie dish. Make slight indentations in it to hold the eggs, and arrange them in an evenly distributed pattern on the meat. Crumble the remaining meat filling evenly over them then press down gently for form a firm, slightly domed meatloaf.

Roll out the remaining pastry on the parchment paper and flip and centre it on the pie. Peel off the parchment. Pinch the two crusts together to seal them, and cut steam holes in the top of the pie. Bake for a hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, with a baking tray under the pie plate to catch any drips. Let the pie cool to no more than warm before serving it. If made in advance, it should be brought back up to room temperature before it is served.

Last year at this time I made Parsnip Hash Browns.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Roasted Mushroom, Bacon, Green Onion & Buckwheat Salad

Hey, look at those cute little mâche rosettes! Wonder where they came from?

I did a warm mushroom salad, hm, last spring, I think. This one is more of a complete meal in itself, with buckwheat groats and bacon to make it substantial. The two of us ate it all, but if you wanted to serve it with something else, it would stretch to 4. That might not be a bad idea. Not everyone loves buckwheat all that much (*cough* Mr. Ferdzy *cough*) but I am trying to eat more whole grains so he will just have to deal.

2 to 4 servings
45 minutes prep time
plus about 30 minutes to cook the buckwheat

Cook the Buckwheat:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup buckwheat groats

Put the salt and water into a rice cooker or pot and bring to a boil.

While the water comes to a boil, toast the buckwheat in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until it has darkened and shade or two. Turn it out onto a plate to cool.

When the water boils, drop the buckwheat into the rice cooker or pot. Let it cook until it turns itself off if in the rice cooker, or simmer for about 10 minutes until dry and cooked if in a pot. Loosen the buckwheat with a fork and turn it back out onto the plate to cool.

Make the Dressing:
the juice of lemon
1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian Paprika
1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil

Squeeze and strain the lemon juice into a small bowl or jam jar. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk or shake well to combine.

Broil the Mushrooms, Bacon, & Green Onions: 
350 grams (12 ounces) oyster mushrooms
4 to 6 green onions
225 grams (1/2 pound) lean bacon

Trim any tough ends off the mushrooms, and tear them into large bite-sized pieces. Trim the green onions and chop them into 1 1/2" lengths. Mix them and arrange them in a wide, shallow baking dish. Chop the bacon into 1/2" pieces and sprinkle them over the mushrooms and onions.

Broil the mushrooms, etc, for 5 minutes, then turn and mix them and return to under the broiler for a further 4 to 6 minutes, until the bacon is cooked and crisp and the mushrooms and onions also cooked and perhaps slightly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Mix the Greens & Finish the Salad:
2 cups total mixed greens as lettuce, sorrel, mâche, or spinach
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

While the mushrooms, etc, broil wash, drain well, and chop or tear up the greens. Wash, dry, and chop the parsley. Mix them in a mixing bowl with the cooked buckwheat groats.Turn them out onto a serving platter of shallow salad dish.

Arrange the cooked ingredients over them. Drizzle with the salad dressing. If there is a lot of liquid from cooking the mushrooms, and it is not tooo greasy from the bacon, you could drizzle it on too.

Last year at this time I made Oladi - Russia Yeast-Raised Pancakes.