Sunday, January 31, 2010

Eat peasant quit plastic ode to self


Eat Peasant quit plastic ode to self

These mason jars have been mine for 30 years and represent an attachment to all things peasant.  Vintage jars continue to work for tomatoes and everything else we put up. A replacement lid is all.  Lunches, left-overs and freezer foods all go into jars with no need for plastic.  I remind myself be vigilant about waste.

In the kitchen at Le Crocodile, chef Michel Jacob lives this kitchen virtue obtaining the best food control in the industry and the experience remains an excellent example of waste management.

I tell to my ear, less is more.  Buy in bulk, share with family, friends and neighbors to reduce waste.  Stores are still using foam trays on organic meat and poultry and wrapping it in plastic.  The single portion is wasteful! 

In a perfect world we make yogurt, bread and bakery products, noodles, pasta etc and stay away from the middle isles of the supermarket, avoiding packaging.

I am on the warpath to end waste and to embrace my peasant roots.

Composting, edible garden instead of lawn.  Seedy Saturdays are coming up!  Fortunate to have a freezer.

Farmers markets are wonderful in this regard.  Avoiding packaging.

Grass fed and finished beef  comes to us in butcher wrap, in sensible portions as does lamb and pork.   Keeping a ready supply of homemade meals is sure to cut down on plastic!

The way of the peasant is to make what we consume.

go be delicious xx

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Canadian Butter Tart

                                                              The Canadian Butter Tart             

Before I go further, I applaud the daring bakers for this visual treat.  The January Food Challenge salutes British Columbia's Nanaimo bar, in support of the coming 2010 Olympics, in Vancouver BC.

As a tree planting cook these were a staple on the lunch table.  Untold misery if you forgot to buy Birds Eye custard.  We cooks soon learned to hide them the night before if we had any hope of getting them to the table the next day.

To get into the spirit of things I have made Canadian butter tarts.  The first know butter tart filling, the voluptious mix of eggs, butter, sugar and currants appeared in a cookbook by the Royal Victoria Hospital's Auxiliary in Barrie Ontario in 1900, attributed to Mrs Malcolm MacCleod.  It appeared again in the daily news from a Mrs BMB in 1908 and again 
in 1911 in the Canadian Farm Cookbook. 

The recipe used today comes from my recipe box, but I think it originally came by way of  The Joy of Baking.

I have used a regular butter pastry dough instead of pate brisee. I do like to cut back on sugar where possible.
This adaptation uses currants (my favorite), instead of raisins (although today it is raisins) and extra whole walnuts.

I'm not fond of corn syrup, which is mostly used in store bought butter tarts.  Brown sugar and butter are the real McCoy and give it that distinct caramel flavor they are so loved for.

go be delicious

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wild Huckleberry crisp with hazelnut streusel

wild huckleberries
                                                                        wild huckleberries

British Columbia is the blueberry and raspberry capital of Canada and is the second largest producer in the world after Michigan. No where are these sweet berries more appreciated than in BC. Blueberries and the mild, moist climate and acidic soil of the Fraser Valley delta are a natural choice and have been produced for over a 100 years.  The 2009 harvest was 90 million pounds up from 2008.  Demand has sharply increased as the health benefits are better known.
Blueberries top the list of antioxidants: they should be firm and plump with a silvery sheen called the bloom. Can be kept up to 10 days in the fridge and frozen up to a year.

Also home to British Columbia are a number of native wild berries.

when the fireweed blooms the huckleberries are ready to pick
It is with thanks to the busy bumble bee that we have wild berries.
blueberry crisp with hazelnut streusel

1/2 c organic dark brown sugar
1/4 c organic flour
1/4 c lightly roasted hazelnut, skinned rub off
1/4 c organic butter
1/2 t cinnamon

Process in medium bowl of food processor pulsing and scraping sides to obtain a fine but crumb mixture. 

wild huckleberries
4 -5 c of frozen or fresh berries
1/3 c organic white sugar
1/4 c tapioca.
1/2 t cinnamon
2 T butter
Mix together the sugar and  tapioca, add to berries, pour into buttered glass baking dish.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and dot with butter. Cover topping and Bake.

Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes or until brown and the berries are bubbling.

go be delicious xx

Monday, January 18, 2010

Broccoli soup with raw walnut and aged goat cheese

This soup captures the elegant rawness of broccoli just picked from the garden.  It literally can be ready in minutes.  I happened to see Gordon Ramsey prepare this soup. The garnish can be what is on hand or to your liking.  Raw walnuts I prefer for their nutrient density and with so many local artisan goat cheeses to try, it makes for a perfect light meal. When the best broccoli is within your finger tips, on a fine summer day, it needs only a simple preparation, keeping the superb quality intact.

Serve it in a lovely bowl and eat it quietly in the garden if possible.  A glass of wine...

It's important to salt the water before and after adding the broccoli and immediately covering the pot and quickly bring the pot back to boil.
4 c water
2 c broccoli florets

goat cheese
raw walnut halves
extra virgin olive oil

Boil 4 c cold salt water, add broccoli, salt again, lid on and bring back to boil and simmer to done, remove from heat and cool slightly.

With slotted spoon place broccoli in blender, add cooking water to cover, place a tea towel folded over lid and blend, scraping down sides until uniform in appearance.

Dress soup bowl with raw walnut halves, goat cheese and top with broccoli soup. Drizzle with olive oil. 

go be delicious xx

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Baking bread with Anita's organic stone ground flour

" Bread is to the world cuisine what light is to an artist, it has the power to enhance and complement"

Not sure who the author of this quote is but I remembered it today as it really is an old world skill. 

This wholewheat bread is made with regular yeast and is a handy recipe when you haven't any starter or wild yeast on hand.  Artisan bread making is an enviable art and is complicated to get started, but truly well worth the effort.

I developed my bread making skills from the back of the flour bag. At the time we had Rogers Flour, a local brand and it was considered the best at the time.  Now I use Anita's organic stone ground wholewheat, a readily available local product.  There are more excellent flours coming available here in BC with the CSA expanding in our area.

My wish for this post is to make it accessible, to get you started if you have never made bread before.

For those who would like to make regular bread with store bought yeast this is a good start.  Artisan bread is an institution on it's own.  I'll be posting on this another time.  Homemade bread at any level is old fashioned frugality, one to embrace. Many home cooks use a bread maker but hands work just fine too . 

Anyone who buys 22kg sacks of flour has got to bake bread and in uncertain economic times this can save you money. 

Basic rule for 1 loaf

1 t sweetener per
1T regular yeast
1c of tepid water
3/4 t  of salt
1T of regular yeast
2 c  hot water
4-7 c flour

The liquid can be just about anything: scalded milk,  hot potato water,  pureed frozen vegetables with hot cooking liquid.

There are many ways to start. Boil up a tea kettle of water, pour it into a bowl and add salt.
That is the very basic.

Today I have used frozen green peas, and have brought 1quart of cold water in a medium pot to a boil, added 11/2 cups of frozen organic peas (or try mixed vegetables: adds fiber and flavor), covered the pot and brought it quickly back to a boil.   I then removed the pot and cooled it slightly before blending, water and all.

Meanwhile in small ceramic bowl proof the yeast with sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup, brown rice)  in the tepid water and let stand until foamy. If it has not, the water was too cold, too hot or the yeast old.  Start again with fresh ingredients.

Pour the hot liquid in a large mixing bowl, add the salt and a good dash of extra virgin olive oil, or 1/4 c butter.  Mix well to dissolve salt, and melt butter while liquid cools, before adding the proofed yeast . Make sure the liquid has cooled to blood temperature or the yeast will die.

At this point you can add more ingredients to enrich the bread or keep it simple.  For a sandwich bread that keeps for a few days add small amount sweetener, eggs, molasses, leftover oatmeal or leftover potato.  For a nice plain bread just add flour.

Start by adding 2 cups flour and mixing with a heavy wooden spoon,  adding more flour as it starts to stick, eventually cleaning the spoon and using your hands to knead the dough, until it doesn't stick to your hands and comes away from the bowl.

About flour: quantity depends on type of flour used. 
All purpose, unbleached white, wholewheat,  bread flour (which has a small amount of barley to aid the yeast), or try heritage Red Fife.

Do not use pastry flour as it is made from soft wheat and the gluten will not develop.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead some more.  Knead all you want, the more the better.

go be delicious

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Farmer's Market meals from the freezer: tulameen raspberry dessert

It feels like Spring here today and I'm craving raspberries.  This is my favorite variety ... Tulameen's.   They are firm, fleshy and intensely flavored, no petrochemical fertilizers on these lovelies.  I freeze a few crates from the Farmer's market each year to the delight of all.   I'm going to dip into this stash and make a birthday meal for a friend. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

chicken marbella... why is it not on any local menu?

Please ... can anyone tell me if there is a restaurant in Vancouver that serves chicken Marbella... made popular by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins of The Silver Palate fame?
Requested by friends and family to make this dish way too many times ... they love it so much.  Don't you want something else I ask? Unrelentingly good, each time I'm pressed to add more and more olives and prunes, okay, yes it's great.

Restaurateurs ... please add chicken marbella to your menu!

When in doubt make chicken marbella as I've never found anyone to not like it.  My top three Silver Palate recipes starts with this dish  followed by the spicy breakfast patties. I served  these as burgers at Real Food  using lots of fresh basil and grated ginger interchanging ground turkey with chicken.  The third favorite is the chocolate fudge sauce which became a must have holiday dessert for Christmas while I was a live-in chef. This sauce  served warmed and poured on homemade (hazelnut praline) ice cream  hardens on contact like an ice cream revel's chocolate coating. None can resist that! Put that on your menu restaurateurs pretty please.

When I was an apprentice chef at Le Crocodile Restaurant after graduating from the Pierre Dubrulle  Culinary school friends would ask for the tomato soup  you see in the pot on the back burner and the onion tarte but really kissed up for the chocolate mousse. Chef Michael Jacob and his recipes have continued to make me a popular host. 
I make the soup with home canned tomatoes .... treasures from BC gardens.
We still reach for our cook books and feeling the pages and seeing the scribbles and notes cannot be replaced ever, only added to.
Can you see where this is leading? Tell me about your cook books. I would enjoy a
journey through your cook books.
Tomatoes I have loved thanks to the Kitsilano Farmers Market. This Saturday Wise Hall Farmers Market, hurray!
This cauliflower cheese pie with potato crust comes from the Moose Wood cook book and is by far the top vegetarian request.  When I cooked for tree planters there was always a small vegetarian group in the bunch and we discovered all the meat eaters wanted some too.  That was when meat became the side dish. Now I must pop this pie in the oven . Another dish I would like to see on the local menu.

Farmers market meals from the freezer : braised blade steak with huckleberry ketchup

 After the harvest we continue to enjoy food from Kitsilano Farmers Market where meals are a matter of visiting the freezer.

My freezer ingredients today are grass fed and grass finished blade steaks from Empire Valley Beef and foraged wild huckleberries ketchup.

These under appreciated inexpensive steaks are made for braising with big flavor and make a rich dark broth. 

serves 4
2 large blade steaks cut in half or try flat iron steaks 
2 red onions peeled and diced
4 stalks celery peeled and diced
4 medium carrots peeled and diced
1 large clove garlic peeled
2 small yams peeled and large dice
1-2 T organic coconut oil
1 c huckleberry ketchup
2 oz fruity red wine
2-3 c stock
1 bottle beer
2 T spice rub
salt and white pepper

Spice rub
1t ground cloves
1t ground ginger
2t ground cinnamon
1/2 - 1t cayenne pepper or to taste

mix well and rub on both sides of dry steak

Heat organic coconut oil in heavy casserole with whole clove garlic on medium heat.  I have used a (rare) Leningrad variety of garlic, porcelain in color, with a mid season harvest.

When the oil is hot, not smoking, adjust the heat and remove the garlic, slice and set aside.  Brown the meat.  Season well with salt.

Boil stock, skim and strain again and measure out a pint.  I have used organic turkey remouillage;  this term is the second run of stock made from the remaining solids leftover from the first stock. I use remouillage instead of water.  Stock is reserve for quick soups and sauces.

Add a a good splash of wild berry wine or any fruity red wine you have on hand ... above is homemade Himilayan black berry wine. De-glaze the steaks, cook off the alcohol, pour in a bottle of organic BC Natureland lager beer (their amber ale is my favorite thirst quenching beer).
Once this has come to a simmer add in the stock and sliced garlic.  This is a braised dish so the liquid should just cover the steaks.  Cover the pot and braise in a slow oven till fork tender.  Check the liquid after 40 minutes adding more hot stock if needed.

While the meat is braising prepare the garnish.  The colors in this dish are deep and dark with red onion and lots of root vegetables.

                                            These are foraged from Sea To Sky, route 99 north
                                                         wild huckleberries August 2009

Now for the huckleberry part of the dish.  I realize that you do not have access to huckleberry ketchup so substitute by making your own from frozen organic BC blueberries.  Enjoy!

Blueberry Ketchup
makes 1 1/2 c
Ingredients: 2 c frozen BC organic blueberries
1/2 c organic cider vinegar
1/2 c water
1 c firmly packed organic dark brown sugar
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t sea salt

Tools and method:

None aluminum sauce pan and a food mill 
canning jars or freeze containers

1) Combine the blueberries, vinegar and water in non aluminum sauce pan and boil for 5 minutes.
2) Put the mixture through a food mill fitted with the fine plate and set over bowl.  Discard the pulp.
3) Put the liquid and the remaining ingredients in a non aluminum sauce pan and simmer for another 10 minutes until slightly thick.  Pour into hot jars and seal. Heat process in a water bath 10 minutes.
or simply use right away.

Add the berry ketchup, onion, celery and carrots to the pot, stir and continue cooking with lid on.
You can turn the oven way down or turn it up depending on your plans.  Only add the yams when you want to serve this dish.  Keeps and travels very well.

go be delicious

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

skiing between the sun and the moon

Boxing Day bliss ... a picnic in the snow.  Basking in the alpenglow and the moonlight .... sublime!