Mac and cheese is my ultimate comfort food, and it’s the first, and one of the only things my mom ever taught me how to make. Since going off wheat I have of course made this dish many times with various macaroni substitutes; quinoa noodles, corn noodles, rice noodles. But honestly, I think I have discovered the best GF noodle sub ever…. roasted cauliflower florets! Mmm. So much better than pasta. Dense, nutty almost with great body and texture, I am not sure I will go back to pasta after last nights diner!
So pretty, isn’t it? This holiday season I was adamant that I would make French Canadian tourtiere to be served on Christmas Eve along side my new favorite killer condiment green tomato ketchup. What a great idea! I read about a million recipes for traditional tourtiere from various regions all over Quebec, which differ vastly. I settled on a flaky pork lard and butter whole spelt crust and created a dish of rich browned pork, lamb and beef seasoned with garlic and onion, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, bay and savory. I added small pieces of potato and a little chili for just a hint of heat.
I know some of you are chomping at the bit to get some holiday baking done, and that is why I have highlighted some of my all time favorite recipes for sweet holiday cheer. I’ll have plenty of new recipes to share starting next week. Some of these are vegan, some gluten free, some so buttery and wheat-y you’ll feel like your at grandmas.
Now where to start?
I am pretty sure you all are familiar with the dish “wife saver” we lovingly call it wife beater around here because it is pretty “white-bread-trashy”, why do folks love it so? My mom used to make this on Christmas morning once in a while, with SPAM if you can believe it, and my sweeties grandma makes it pretty often for brunch; white bread (crusts off) layered with ham and orange cheese soaked in egg and topped with corn flakes and more processed cheese! I tried once to make a really fancy version of this for a brunch, I used baguette, smoked bacon, roasted garlic, fancy french cheeses and even a bechamel sauce with fresh herbs, I loved it but my guy was missing all the trash factor, seriously. He told me not to mess with his wife beater, and for the last 8 or so years I have complied, until the other day that is… My daughter and I made a big batch of chili and she whipped up some corn bread skillets using our families favorite recipe (with the substitution of corn flour for spelt flour). By day 3 we were over the corn bread and the chili, and I kinda forgot about half a skillet of corn bread for just long enough for it to start to dry out, and that is when it came to me; corn bread wife saver! It was worth a go, and I am so happy I tried it and the whole family LOVED this version.
This is a very exciting harvest time for us, we just picked a truckload (literally) of apples from a number of different friends properties over the past week, and yesterday I loaded them all up and set off for the “Apple Jack” in Brilliant. William has been pressing apples with his home made hydraulic apple press sine the 60’s. He tossed and chopped and hauled and mashed and pressed and screened 25 Gallons of fresh raw unpasteurized valley apple juice for me and my friends. What an event! I didn’t bring my camera and sooo wished I had! The juice is divine, but I had other plans for this nectar…
Please excuse my absence over the past while, our friends equinox country wedding has taken over my culinary life for a time. I had the great pleasure of baking all of the desserts for their local harvest feast, along with the wedding cake, and some lovely condiments to go along with the exceptional charcuterie table, whole hog roast and the stunning seasonal dinner Chris Cho of Ayden Kitchan and Bar rolled.
Look at these babies! Not one but two blue ribbon cabbages were grown right here at tricycle acres! Over 32 lbs of cabbage in fact and after taking home these first place prizes from the fall fair we spent much of the day using up every crisp sweet leaf of these high achievers! I favored the hearty and “biggest” cabbage, a green leaf variety that I have been calling Audry and singing little shop of horror ballots to for months now, Isis was taken with the stunning “best savoy” cabbage, who surprised us all with it’s beauty as it was hidden away behind a mountain of kale. Beauty and the Beast!
Geez what a week! We roasted a whole hog on Wednesday to celebrate my mother in laws 60th birthday, and since then I have been up to my eye balls in pork puttin’ up! You think I should have learned my lesson from my recent “Bacon” experience, yet I signed up for another round of whole hog… albeit and thankfully awful-less.
It all started with a 77lb stuffed whole hog and a crazy roaster rental… I made a killer BBQ sauce for the hog with about 8lbs of freshly picked heirloom tomatoes slowly roasted along with a mound of garlic, peppers and onions. After all of those veg roasted down in a flaming hot oven for hours I skimmed the liquids off and started reducing them along with molasses and cane sugar with some smokey seasonings.
After we feasted and fed the party goes and gorged on pulled pork for a day, I had to start canning all that meat. I had been researching prior to the pig roast how to pressure can homemade pork and beans and I was thrilled to be able to tackle that. Along with that I also pressured canned whole quarts jars of pork in some savory pork stock. After two days of this processing (along with salsa and more druken apricot jam) We finally gave in and vacuum sealed bags of yet more meat.
Making your own pork and beans was totally appealing to me… My sweetie loves buying cans of beans, and although I grew up loving the stuff the contents scare me off these days, and I am much happier sending my family camping with home made goodness.
So if your up for this pressure canning challenge, hold on to your hats, this recipe is for the best damn “canned” pork and beans you ever did have:
I just came home after a few days canoeing the lake to yet another bushel of pickling cucs needing my attention! With some conventional dills under my belt as well as a batch of fridge pickles already this season, I opted to try my hand at a big ‘ol batch of fermented pickles… which are about the easiest thing ever! I added a few grape leaves from the vines to help keep them crunchy, and after finding the perfect big jar / weighted lid situation I was off to the races.
Wow that is a crazy hot pink glaze! I made a batch of triple berry gratitude loafs and finished them with a quick saskatoon berry glaze that gave them this pink show stopping finish! We had a few folks to thank for some favors so I finally made time to do some batch baking and use my berry-berry-berry abundance! I also ran down to the local thrift shop in search of some semi disposable pans and came how with 8 small loaf pans which was the kicker in turning my berries into lovely loafs. The pans are great little commercial units and they baked these loafs perfectly!
I was inspired again by Independence Days by Sharon Astyk A great book I read and loved a few years back, and then I just discovered this great web ring and decided to ramble off this list and participatein the five little homesteaders Independence Challenge, so here is what we have been doing at the homestead in the last couple days to continue our food resilience efforts:
Although the garden is fully planted we keep adding bits and bobs… yesterday Isis planted: yarrow (for medicine and food) and chives both in our newest fruit tree guilds, marigold for dye and pest control, and lovage because it’s tasty and lovely.
We have been wild harvesting chick-weed for salads, wild pineapple camomile for tea, yarrow flowers for tea and medicine, red clover for tea, mint from our bog for everything, horsetail for stir fry, volunteer mustard greens which are everywhere in the garden along with, orach spinach, swiss chard and kale are all making their way into most every meal.
In fact we are challenging ourselves (and me the cook) to eat wild foraged food each day!
I spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen yesterday running 3 batches of wild herbal jelly. Mint, Dandelion, and Spruce Tip. What excited me the most was processing some freshly collected spruce tips into jelly. A few weeks back I was sharing some of my dandelion jelly with our friends and they spoke of a traditional dutch jelly made with spruce tips, which had me intrigued. Then a few days ago our local master herbalist was teaching some medicine making techniques and she too mentioned spruce tip jelly, luckily my wild-crafting partner in crime here at the homestead was setting off to Alberta on a harvesting adventure and she keenly returned home with a batch of fresh tender spruce tips ready for canning. Yeah.
So the plan was to thaw out the dandelion juice I made a few weeks back and put off canning because the weather turned grey and cloudy, make a fresh batch of spruce tip jelly, and finally give some mint jelly a go… I love mint jelly on roast lamb or beef, and I thought a mint jelly would be a nice starting point for some mint sauce. I opted however to make mojito jelly by adding some fresh lime juice to the batch, the next roast beast dinner might call for some rum!
First off I need to say to my vegan and vegetarian readers the next 3 or so post are likely not going to sit well with you, the images that follow are graphic and this is the story of taking a life to nourish a family, a community and a million little critters along the way. A few months back we set out on a pork culinary adventure with the purchase of this cute fellow, and yesterday was the day that our “little piggy went to market” as they say.
The past 24 hours have been a whirl wind of processing and pushing through comfort zones and mental barriers, but let me step back a little. This little small holding adventure started a few years back with chickens and food in the ground, we have been through raising chicks, and setting hens, dispatching roosters and even raising and enjoying meat rabbits. Along the way we have helped friends with butchering cows and goats, we have been enjoying raw milk and cheese, foraging, fishing, smoking and canning, all with the intention of connecting to our food systems, all of them, even the unpleasant bits. This adventure is by far the most real, the most challenging, and for me as a cook the most humbling. When we first decided to get a pig my intention was to honor the entire animal, and to challenge myself to use every part of it, and reconnect to my humble roots where using all and wasting nothing wasn’t an ethical decision, it was simply the way of life.
So I sit here exhausted 24 hours after our pig departed his pasture, and this is how the snout of this nose-to-tail story begins…
Last night I made a big batch of these big bad baked brown beans and today I up-cycled them into this really lovely sweet boston bean soup, in thickness it’s almost chili like, but I am not sure I would call this chili, but I would call this delishious. I am sure you could cook some kidney beans (or gawd forbid use canned beans) and season them according to the baked bean recipe if you didn’t have left overs on hand. This dish is sweet and smokey, hearty and hot, and best of all it comes together really quickly. In my original baked brown bean recipe I opted to make a meaty-pork version of these beans, but last night I kept things vegan, and used a drizzle of olive oil rather than the bacon drippings.
I totally forgot just how divine the ginger apple butter I canned this fall is! It’s great and this recipe is a lovely way to use a pint of a golden rich deep apple spread to infuse oat crumble with fall goodness. After spreading apple butter on the crust of this dessert i liked the spoon and swooned, I think it’s time to bust open a jar for toast topping!
I used the same crumble crust recipe as I used for the fabulous balsamic fig dessert I made a couple weeks back, but this time I added slivers of dried apple chips to the topping for a double hit of apple preserve. I also kicked up the cinnamon warmth and the results were perfect, this dish was my contribution to a permaculture pot luck, and my sweetie dashed around all night soaking up the glowing reviews telling everyone how hard he worked at the dessert all day!
Burwell General Store : Vintage Recipe Swap time again!
This months swap was chicken pancakes… hmmm. Always a scary surprise opening up these old cookbook treasures.
The original recipe is this… pulled chicken pan fried in pancake dough, My mind immediately went to chicken and waffles, and then it leapt into the world of chicken croquettes. I opted to make turkey croquettes (as I had ground happy turkey in my freezer, and not chicken) and as a tribute to the pancake, I made a maple syrup mustard dipping sauce for these little panko pillows. I know I know… I took the easy way, if you deep fry it, they will come, but these are really something special. Browned meat infused with sage and grainy homemade mustard mixed with a garlic roux, a gooey inside and a golden crispy outside.
I had a chicken carcass from a roast dinner with family and friends the other night along with some lovely left over gravy and pan drippings, and I set out to make good ‘ol chicken noodle soup, but had a hankering to bake something lovely, with this urge I decided to make a flakey spelt pie crust and bring together a thick and savory chicken pot pie with roast potatoes cabbage and slivers of prosciutto ham. This is so funny; we haven’t had TV for years and years and years and only just got good internet out here in the bush so over this holiday time I have been knitting and streaming food porn, mainly master chef. I watched the first 3 seasons in the last 2 weeks, so now as I cook anything I can here Ramsey addressed each of my steps. “Just look at that pastry… flakey, golden… it’s (dramatic pause) absolutely perfect” I can here him saying. Master chef, that is a reality show I would love to rock! But enough about Gordon, lets talk about pot pie. You can make a bang up veggie pot pie, in fact I do that more often, as we only roast a couple chickens a year in this kitchen. Mushrooms, onions, potatoes, carrots, peas, and squash slowly simmered in a thick mushroom gravy, all makes for a divine pot pie. Tonight I veered from the veggie train and assembled a luscious lemon infused herb chicken gravy that you could literally eat with a spoon.
Not sure I have ever sought out marmalade for my toast, but on occasion I have indeed indulged in its citrus sweetness. For some reason I decided on a whim in the local natural food store to load my cart with 8 lbs of organic Mexican oranges and a big bag of candy ginger, In that moment I dreamed of lovely jars of marmalade, which seemed to be festive, although oranges are certainly not local or seasonal, nor have they ever been part of my holiday traditions, yet here I set out to get jamming on the snowy solstice. This recipe yielded a really unique and kicking gingery citrus spread that had not to many chunky bits and just the perfect balance of sweet and heat. We will be enjoying this recipe for years to come I am certain it will make many a repeat performance in my kitchen. I am dreaming of ginger cookie sandwiches with marmalade cream filling…
I had the great pleasure of finally making this Hungarian 6 layer cake this weekend, and even more pleasurable was the eating of it! My friend had his mother share his family traditional favorite with me in hopes that I would make it for his birthday months ago, and instead we made it together for mine. I taught him a few baking tricks and he made sure each step tasted and looked like his mom’s. Considering all the steps and careful mixing, I think we did pretty good. Each thin layer of fluffy spongey cake is slather with a chocolate coffee layer of frosting. We took the liberty of adding freshly toasted and then ground hazelnuts to 2 of the layers, and did a chocolate top rather than the caramel sauce shown below… I did try to make the carmel sauce but my vintage stove is all hell at heat control, I have hot and burn settings only on my cooktop, and when it comes to candy making consistent heat is key. I did however get to play with deeply sticky candy sugar and had fun making a little decorative poof for the top.
This is the story of Romeo, our rabbit buck who was to propel our rabbit breading program forward. The idea of breeding rabbits has always been 3 fold for me: nice fur for crafting, great manure for soil building, and lovely lovely meat for enjoying. We did however has some issues trying to get the bunnies, to do what they are meant to do best. When we finally felt we had a pregnant Juliet and just as I was beginning to dream of rabbit dished for the winter, our doe made a dash one day while foraging with the chickens, out and under the fence, where a good race took flight but our playful guard dog won, and his reward, well he ate her and all the little bunnies to in utero too. It was a sad day for all of us, including her lover Romeo. The poor guy was heartbroken to loose his friend, and as the winter approached, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep him in solitary confinment. Instead to celebrate my Birthday this week past, I requested that we butcher him and eat him, celebrating his life and time with use these past few months. And I wanted to be very very hands on for the whole process, I felt this dinner would be a great test to ensure we really do want to take another go at rabbit breading in the spring.
I was really thrilled to have a butcher friend walk us through the whole process, which compared to chicken processing, was a breeze. Way less smelly and messy and time consuming. The following day I broke down the rabbit, Which was unlike any process I was familiar with there were bones in places I least expected them and pockets of meat where I didn’t imagine, After some time I yielded a good 5+ lbs of lean meat. I left lots of bits on the bones, and today they will make a nice rabbit soup.
The rabbit meat got a good 4 hour marinade in chili, onions, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, our dried garden parsley, and some sweet paprika.
I wanted to cook the rabbit with as much of our own garden fair as I could, following no particular recipe, but inspired but a creamy tomatoes Cacciatore (hunter) style stew. I busted open the first jar of my precious canned red peppers, and unfroze about a dozen plump red tomatoes, used up the last of our tiny red onion bulbs, and spiced it up with our dried oregano, thyme and parsley all still hanging in the drying rack. In addition to all of that garden goodness the stew was filled also with yellow onions and mushrooms, thickened with yogurt and garnished with fresh parsley. I quickly seared the meat for only 3 minutes of so, before adding it to the pressure cooking “Instapot” along with the deglazed pan liquids and some S+P. I set the pressure cooker to stew and let it cook for about 3 hours. The result was a tasty thick rosa sauce that we ladled over potatoes from the garden roasted golden brown, and everyone at the table enjoyed the feast, and gave thanks for Romeos huge contribution to the meal.
The following day I cooked some Italian semolina noodles and used the rest of the stew as a lovely pasta sauce. There way even enough left overs for my daughter to get lunch out of that stew today. All that and the soup today, made for a good amount of feeding the family and friends from one rabbit.
Ok so here is the reason I spend all this effort cooking and milling and canning apple sauce endlessly in the fall… So I can enjoy quick and easy apple sauce baking the rest of the year. This loaf is laced with walnut cinnamon strussel and made with spelt flour and coconut with a pint jar of homemade apple sauce to add just the right amount of sweetness and moisture. This tastes like your grandma grew the apples and baked the loaf herself, I promise you’ll love this homey loaf.
Combine in a large bowl:
1 cup cane sugar
1 pint homemade applesauce
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
slowly add in:
2 1/4 cups sifted spelt flour
1 tsp bp
pinch of fine sea salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp blend of the following ground spices: nutmeg, allspice & cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped coconut
In a small bowl make streusel:
1 tbsp cane sugar
1 tbsp walnut pieces
1 tsp cinnamom
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp coconut oil
pinch sea salt
combine into crumb
Into a prepared loaf pan pour 1/2 of the batter, then sprinkle 1/2 of the streusel crumble, and top with the rest of the batter, finish with the rest of the streusel and bake at 350 for about an hour and ten minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Serve warm with a hot ‘cuppa!
This is kinda like doukhabor borscht only way way way less work, time and effort. It has all the same elements; cream, cabbage, potato, onions carrots and dill…. it’s just assembled in a lazy chilly fall day, kind of way. If you like borscht but not all the effort, give this quickie a try! You could totally add a small beet to the potatoes as they boil away to add that sweet pink that is often associated with borscht or you can leave it out and just enjoy this lovely soup straight up.
In a large pot start by browning the following in oil for about 8 minutes:
1-2 onions diced fine
2-3 cloves of garlic chopped
2-3 carrots finely chopped
1/2 head of cabbage shredded fine
Once the onion is transparent / golden add 6 cups of cubed potatoes along with 6 cups of boiling/hot water
season with S+P , a bay leaf, and 2 tbsp dill seed.
Let boil covered for about 20 minutes.
once the potatoes are cooked through add a dollop of butter and puree about 1/2 of the soup using an immersion blender, until you have a consistency you like… I enjoy some small bits in a smooth combined thickish stock.
add 1 cup heavy cream along
and 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill weed (I froze a whack of it down so I always have this pungent green on hand)
Serve and Enjoy!
A handmade gnocchi is like a hug from your italian grandmother (which I don’t have) but I would imagine her being round and soft and sweet, just like these pillows of heaven. I was given some squash from a friend, not sure the type but the flesh was deep and dark and orange, and I decided to roast it up and mash it up with equal parts of ricotta cheese, then once turned into dough cut into tiny mouthfuls and simmered in brown butter with a garlic and sage infusion finished with a glug of white wine and sprinkle of a robust cheese. ‘Um heaven indeed.
These start off mostly healthy, and certainly you could boil them and toss them with a drizzle of your favorite pasta sauce, but if you really want to enjoy these in all their gnocchi goodness then go for the brown butter fry!
The dough is simple:
equal parts (2-3 cups) of mashed squash roasted (not boiled) and ricotta cheese
add 2 eggs
aprox. 3 heaping Tbsp spelt flour (don’t get carried away and add too much flour)
season with a handful of fresh herbs of your choice (I used chili flakes, rosemary and sage)
and a sprinkle of fine sea salt
toss into a bag and refrigerate for at least and hour (but overnight is good too)
* HALF of this dough recipe will make dinner for 4, the balance can be frozen, or used up within a couple days.
The to form the gnocchi’s you can use any number of techniques, there is many a web page dedicated to how to form the perfect gnocchi. I opted to roll out the dough from little balls into long snakes (on a well floured surface) then cut the snake into little 1cm thick “ovals” which you can then roll down the back of a fork or off a butter paddle… or if you rushing of to a knitting night with the gals, just chop and plop them into a pan filled with bubbling brown butter.
Pan fry each side for about 3 minutes until golden brown then toss browned gnocchi in a large bowl. Once all of them are cooked and waiting patiently in the bowl you can add 1 large minced garlic glove into a pan and brown, add a pad of butter and a splash of white wine (about 1/2 cup) simmer quickly and add a handful of fresh herbs (sage, rosemary and parsley were my herbs at hand) pour the “sauce” over the gnocchi along with a handful of freshly grated grana or parmesan and gently toss until well coated. I threw a handful of fresh ribbons of kale in with the garlic too which was a nice addition.
Anyway your coat or cook these they are hug-i-lishious fabulous.
One of my favorite things about fall is mushroom hunting! This is my third year foraging for fungi and I just can’t get enough of this edible past time. My daughter and I took the fall mushroom class again this year, and finally I think some of this crazy mycelium is sticking in my mind! Me and the Chanterelles were on the same wave length, I could truly sense where they were, and found myself lifting bits of forest duff only to find a lovely chanterelle ready to burst out! What luck. Last night we enjoyed a creamy chanterelle fettucini and last year I made this killer cream of chanterelle soup. But my favorite mushroom of the day was the pine mushroom (Matsutake) . I am hopeless at finding them, but my daughter and her friend (with the help of our guide and local mushroom enthusiast) found a few sweet flushes. We left with a basketful and shared many with our friends and hunting companions.
Ooooh almost as exciting as making homemade ketchup, or homemade nutella, is mustard making … fancy grainy flavored mustard I might add! The whole process will leave you wondering why on earth you’d ever bother paying $10 for a jar of fancy mustard again! It takes two days, but has very few steps. I used the Food in Jars recipe for grainy white wine mustard, to guide me and ended up tweaking it a little… which when canning is not recommended unless you keep the acid levels the same (which usually means NOT adding and extra veggies or tweaking the volume of acidic additions)
In a pot bring to a boil:
2 cups of cream ale
1 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup brown mustard seeds
Once boiling cover with lid and remove from heat, let sit overnight.
The next day process with 2 cups of hot water until your reach desired consistency of broken seeds.
(my food processor is kinda crap, so I wondered if I might have had better luck grinding some of the seeds in a mortar and pestle before the first boil… and I might try that next time)
Return to pot and heat to a boil along with these lovely flavor additions:
2 cups of apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup honey
2 tbsp garlic granules
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp chili flakes
2 tbsp lemon juice
Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to thicken for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile sterilize your jars (this batch will yield 3 pints, or 6 lovely gift sized half pints)
Portion mustard into hot sterilized jars, and water bath process for 15 minutes.
* I was recently gifted some of these fabulous vintage jars by a fellow canner extraordinaire (thanks Cindy), so I opted to fill this rubber gasket 1 L jar and keep it in the fridge rather than processing it. I did make a few extra jars for my sweet sister in law, who helped me get the mustard going the night before (thanks Dayna).
Yummy this recipe is so perfectly versatile! After tasting just one bite of the leftover 1/4 cup that didn’t make it into cans for processing, I was sold and dreaming of a million uses for this sauce, other than the good old corn chip dip!
I was thinking: fruit salsa white bans and rice with coconut breaded tofu, maybe slow roasted chicken with salsa, my sweetie suggested pizza sauce as he devoured the little left over bit, and promptly requested I get canning another batch!
The original recipe is for peaches, but as nectarines are sister fruit to the peach the swap is an easy one. I made this batch 1.5 times bigger and pumped up the heat, cause I like it hot… but you can replace any number of the hot peppers for sweet ones.
This batch size yielded 6 pints of perfectly hot fruit salsa.
8 cups prepared peaches / nectarines
3 cups chopped red or white onion
6 jalapeno peppers finely chopped
2 red hungarian wax peppers chopped
3/4 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro or coriander
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp honey
3 cloves or garlic
1 tbsp cumin
1 heaping tsp cayenne
pinch of sea salt
Pit and chop nectarines, add other ingredients bring to boil in heavy bottomed pot, then boil gently for 5 .min.
Portion into sterilized jar leaving 1/4″ inch headspace. Process in hot water bath for 10 min.
Taste, ohh, ahh and then make more!
Even though I am eyeball deep in canning / drying / harvesting and about 1 million client projects I had this incredible desire to make something super special for dinner the other night. The kind of dish that requires messing up a million pans, and pots and bowls, while balancing 3-4 burner temps and times all in stride. You see the night before I met my new farmer friend Tony on the side of the road and loaded up (again) with his bio dynamic organic goodness, from the valley next to us. He brought with him these stunning eggplants. Eggplant I think is the most voluptuous and sexy veg on the planet. I swooned and came home with a dozen of these perfectly deep dark purple glossy wonders and started dreaming of jars of Italian styles eggplant in oil, and of course of egg plant parmesan. Along with the aubergines I also bought 5 lbs of these fabulous tie-died looking colored peppers, that were so sweet and crisp and I just had to pull out all the stops and honor this beautiful food… And so these gluten free eggplant parmesan with oven roasted pepper sausage sauce was born.
Where to begin with this recipe…
Lets start with the eggplants. Maybe some of you like me have experience trying to fry eggplant in a pan of oil, only to discover the oil being lapped up and mysteriously disappearing into the eggplant, it has a unique ability to make you feel really bad about your ability to bang out a tasty veggie dish. Well here is the answer to that struggle:
I know this is a grand shout out, but this recipe makes the most perfect caesar salad dressing of all time! It’s true. My father in law Dave, passed it along to me from a newspaper clipping he has used for years and years, and it has yet to meet it’s match!
This past weekend we took in the hills Garlic Festival and loaded up on our favorite local cave aged organic cheese, we took home huge 1/4 wheels of all our favorite types, and I was just aching to dive into the mountain grana today, and a caesar salad seemed a most fitting venue for a salty parm like cheese.
So folks here it is, the best caesar salad dressing recipe ever:
In a food processor pulse:
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup of fresh grana or parm cheese
1 egg yoke
tsp anchovy paste
tsp dijon mustard
juice from 1/2 a lemon
dash of Tabasco sauce
dash of Worcestershire sauce
dash or red wine vinegar
1/4 c good olive oil
pinch of sea salt
fresh ground pepper
Serve slathered on a bed of garden fresh romaine, with garlic toasted crutons and if you so desire some pan seared bits of bacon, and you must not forget a good shred of grana cheese to finish it off with.
By best backroad girlfriend passed this recipe on to me after sharing a stelar jar of this zesty zucchini relish with us, This year I have been coming up with a million and one uses for my starburst (patty pan) squash abundance, and this was the perfect addition to the growing “what to do with squash” list.
Hopefully your not all growing boarded with canning recipes… I have so much to preserving get through still but I will be sure to keep the non canned recipe coming too, as we move fully fall forward into my favorite eating season!
We have been harvesting everything, gleaning trees, and collecting seeds, foraging for mushrooms and watching the fall crops come to ripen up, what a terribly exciting and busy time of year!
For this Easy Relish You’ll need:
12 cups shredded starburst squash (or zucchini)
4 cups chopped onion
3 large sweet / hot peppers*
1/3 cup course sea salt
1 ½ cups can sugar
2 tbsp fresh ground nutmeg
4 tbsp turmeric
2 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
1 large hot pepper with seeds
* The original recipe calls for 4 tbsp horseradish, but I’m not a fan so I omitted it and subbed in an extra hot pepper for the sweet pepper.
Shred zucchini and chop the peppers, sprinkle with the sea salt and allow to sit over night in a colander or cheesecloth, give the lot a squeeze in the morning before cooking down.
Finely chop all ingredients and bring to a boil in a large heavy bottom cauldron for 35-45 minutes. Use a submersion blender to reach desired constancy.
Portion into sterilized jars and hot water bath or steam process for 20 minutes. Ta-da zesty relish for all your BBQ needs, and yet another great place to hide excess zucchini!
Another round of tomato canning (I have 50 lbs under my belt this week already) and todays mission was tomato sauce, thick chunky sauce with a spicy kick. This batch yielded 10 quarts. It was pretty non-fussy and the sauce came together quickly. I decide to leave both the skin and the seeds in and just zipped it all up with my old faithful submersion blender. Lots of recipes call for removing the skin and roasting the peppers and removing their skin too… and frankly I just couldn’t be bothered with the mountains of other produce to put up. I like a homestyle sauce and thats precisely what this is.
18 pounds tomatoes chopped
3 pounds chile peppers
3 cups onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1 handful of fresh chopped oregano
1 handful of fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Stew everything down in a big ‘ol pot for about and hour, stirring often. Then blend up to desired consistency, before simmering for another hour.
Portion into sterilized hot jars and pressure can at 11 lbs for 25 minutes (for quart jars). I love my pressure canner, have I mentioned that? Oh here is a tip you may not know… I noticed my pressure canner was leaving a water line on the bottom of my jars, and if you add 1 tbsp vinegar to the water… presto, the jars are sparkling clean!
This sauce is fresh and spicy, and I know I will enjoy all the tastes of sun warmed tomatoes in the drizzling cold winter months ahead.
There is a saying I love…. “if you haven’t got any zuchinni, then you haven’t got any friends”, well I am blessed with both, as I am sure many of you this time of year are too! So what to do with all this damn zuchinni?
My sweetie resents my baking anything chocolaty with hidden veggies in it.. so I was hunting for a more savory approach when I stumbled upon a Jamie Oliver (bless him, my celebrity crush) recipe for cheesy zucchini bread. I gave it a go and it was fabulous, obviously I put my standard SOLE spin on it (never one for following orders to well) the bread was dense and rich, packed with herbs and whole spelt goodness. I used yellow star burst squash because it makes the bread look even cheesier. It past my sweet heart test and I plan to make a 4x batch tomorrow and fill the freezer with some extra loafs… they are perfect for a hearty bowl of soup or as an open faced fried egg sandwhich!
In a large bowl mix:
500 g spelt flour
make a well in the center and add:
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
combine with a fork then add:
3 cups of shredded squash
1 handful of fresh chopped herbs (what ever is abundant)
2 handfuls of shredded cheese, again whatever you have
Mix until you have a sticky dough.
You may need to add another splash of water, if your squash is old or dry.
Kneed on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes (don’t compensate for the stickiness by adding more flour)
Oil a bowl and your hand and form dough into round, set in bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and let to rise for 30 minutes (somewhere warm and draft free)
Punch down and form again, place in lined oiled loaf pan, and allow to rise for anther 30 minutes.
Finally bake for 45-55 minutes at 350 until deeply golden and firm. Cool completely before serving.
This loaf makes for delicious toast!
A few years back I had the great pleasure of trying a fabulous Lebanese dish called fataya, my girlfriend brought some out to the farm here to share, and I feel in love with the fluffy bread bundles stuffed with spicy beef and mint. Reminded me of classic British Sunday roast slathered in mint sauce. These fatayas have inspired a few dishes, namely these minty meat balls, so I thought it was about time I tried to make some fataya for my self… not sure if it was the bountiful mint bog that inspired me, or the fact that our vegetarian interns are now gone, and we have had a 2 day meat party! Whatever the case I am thrilled at the results and I made a stellar veggie fataya too, complete with garden fresh peas, fresh mint, and my girlfriends goat feta. I tricked the guys and bundled all of the fatays in the same triangle shape, so they could’t skip out on their veggies in during their great meat gluttony (which is now behind us for the record)!
I searched for a nice sounding dough recipe and finally found this one, which I used, and it was a delight to work with, silky and soft, forgiving, and fluffy. I started the dough and let it sit and rise for a couple hours while I assembled the two different fillings.
Mint pea feta filling:
In a frying pan start by browning 1 small onion in a good glug of olive oil
add and fry 2 minced garlic cloves
when brown add 3 cups of fresh peas
season with S+P
add 1/2 cup of water and a splash of fresh lemon juice,
allow to simmer on medium for about 3 minutes.
add a handful of fresh chopped mint and mix, remove from heat.
In a bowl mix together
1 cup chopped (or crumbled feta)
along with the pea and onion mix
Set aside until your ready to stuff the dough
Meat and mint filling:
In a frying pan start by browning 1 small onion in a good glug of olive oil
add and fry 2 minced garlic cloves, and 6 finely chopped garlic scapes
cook for 2 minutes before adding in 1 lb of grass fed local / organic ground beef
2 tsp chili flakes
Allow to cook down before adding:
1 HUGE handful of fresh chopped mint
1 handful of fresh chopped parsley
Once cooked through set aside until your ready to stuff the dough.
Follow the dough instruction from the link above, which yielded me about 24 fataya. I used a 4.5″ circle lid to cut out the dough into rounds, then stuffed each with about 2 tbsp of either meat or veggie filling. I then pinched half of one side together, and then pulled the center of the open flap up to the triangle tip and sealed up the two new sides, to form these lovely little triangles.
Each one got a good beat egg brushing, and were baked for about 13 minutes at 350. I whipped up a spicy tomato chili dipping sauce that was perfect, and the dish was a huge hit. I will certainly make these again and again. I had a little of both of the fillings left over which I mixed together and plan to stuff into baked potatoes tomorrow night!
Our permaculture intern is of Hungarian descent and as I am so interested in global food and cultural eating I have been prying him for details on traditional dishes and his favorite foods, when he presented the sweetest little cookbook his mom made him. In it I found some tasty sounding dishes but was drawn especially to a recipe for Hungarian dumplings (nokedli) in a wax bean soup. Yum. I used his mom’s nokedli recipe and instructions but ended up forming the “noodles” in the fashion my German friend taught me when I got my spetzle lesson. The lazy lumpy noodle dumpling are delicious and are well worth the effort. As there is nothing quiet as comforting as homemade chicken soup bursting with homemade noodles, or nokedli as it may be.
As for the soup goes it started it’s life as a roast chicken carcass that spent two day simmering away in onion and garlic broth, and then it got a Hungian sweet paprika treatment and the addition of the last of my frozen wax beans from last years harvest. The soup was great and although I took all sorts of slack for not serving it with sour cream (sorry to you traditionalists, and to Jordans Mom… I just don’t stock very many creamy white dairy type items in my fridge), everyone seemed to enjoy the soup immensely!
I won’t tell you how to make chicken soup, only that the addition of wax bean fried in butter and doused in sweet hungarian paprika made this my own take on the bean soup recipe in the cookbook. As for the nokedli, here is how it came together:
In a bowl mix 4 eggs with enough flour to make a thick gluey dough, that will fast become very hard to mix. But carry on mixing well until silky and thick. I used Anita’s white spelt flour (which is my favourite easy spelt sub in, it can be used in every manner one would use white flour, with out any of the traditional whole-grainy spelt issues to contend with)
Let the dough rest at room temperature for a time, and about 10 minutes before you want to serve dinner, get your soup up to a rolling boil and start to form the dough dumplings and let them boil for 8 minutes. Jordan’s mom’s technique was to cut little bits of dough over the edge of a bowl using a wet knife. My German friend showed me to use a large wooden paddle and a flat dough scraper to cut bits right into the boiling liquid. This is no easy task, but with some experimenting you will get a flow down. You want semi-consistent bite size lumps, which will start to float to the top once cooked.
Serve the soup with a hearty garnish of parsley and I used garden fresh peppery watercress in my garnish as well. And for those of you who enjoy sour cream, apparently this is the place for it! Go on give it a go (the nokedli I mean not the sour cream)
Enjoy, and thanks Jordan’s Mom, for sharing both the recipe and your super son!
Not only is is stunningly beautiful, it is as if the sun poured it’s nectar into a glass jar for you to spread onto any thing you please.
This divine preserve looks and tastes like sunny honey.
Now I understand why the french celebrated spring with this jelly, it takes 365 days (and flowers) between batches if you pick dandelions at the height of spring time. This jelly is all things spring time. And I was gratful to stumble upon it in a book I just got from the library: We Sure Can – How Jams and Pickles are Reviving the Lure and Lore of Local Food. I can only imagine how delightful this will be on the coldest cloudy winter days.
What I like most about this recipe is that dandelions are abundant and free and wild and oh so yellow and yet always get such a bad rap! I now have 2 uses for dandelion heads: make more jelly and feed to the bunnies! Yet I will certainly seek out more ways to enjoy this free and sunny food.
This is not a simple jelly but really all jams and jellies involve preparing and processing time, so when your fields are flush with bright yellow heads, get picking, then cozy in with a glass of wine or tea and start picking petals!
* make sure you are not picking dandelions from the side of the road or from fields that have been sprayed!*
Pick 365 dandelion heads wash them and then snip the green stock and collect only the yellow petals in a large bowl.
Then in a heavy bottom pot combine flower petals, 3 tbsp of lemon juice and 6 cups of water. Bring to a full rolling boil for about 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to a glass bowl cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.
The next day, return mixture to a pot, and add 6 cups of organic cane sugar then return to a boil for about 10 minutes. Strain out petals and return syrup to the pot once again and add 10 tsp powdered pectin then return to another boil until the jelly reaches setting point. You can test this using the cold plate or spoon back method. (it took me about 30 minutes of boiling to reach a good gel)
Ladle mixture into prepared sanitized jars and cap with boiled sanitized lids. Leave 1/4″ of head space in jars, and process for 12 minutes (if doing small jars or 15 minutes if using 500 ml+ jars) in a rapidly boiling water bath (or steam caner) allow jars to cool down slowly. Once they pop they are ready for the panty, shortbread cookies or toast! share, stock up and enjoy!
Everytime I make chilli or baked beans or bean soup I feel inclined to make corn bread… and in theory I like the stuff, but recipe after recipe has let me down. I have tried it a million ways, on the grill, in a skillet, in muffin tins, with buttermilk, with butter, with honey, with maple syrup and while some I like more than others I have had more ho-hum batches than I care to admit. BUT FINALLY I found a keeper recipe for my house, and I am really excited to share it with you all. (did you imagine I said yall’ with a drawl, just now?)
Today is the day… The burwell general store monthly recipe swap, and this months challenge was both obvious and easy for me to put a SOLE spin on. The Dilworth Hotel tomato pudding, was screaming cheese please! .. and so the ketchup project was born. I have done a lot of canned tomato sauces and soups before but today and I decided to process up a batch ketchup with some of my summer harvest of whole frozen tomatoes, the stocks of which are now running low (good thing I have 18 tomato plants happily growing inside) and what better way to edge last years abundance into this seasons decadence! Gourmet home grown home made tomato ketchup. What a treat.
This is nothing like heinz ketchup at all, what it is however is tomato-y and lovely, fresh and just a little spicy, with a nice acidic kick, a sauce perfect for dipping, dunking and slathering.
Here is the inspiration for today’s challenge:
And here is how I made 2 pints of ketchup:
In a deep bottomed oven safe pot warm:
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 medium onions chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped
cook until transparent then add:
about 12 roma tomatoes
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 small tin of tomato paste (haven’t gotten around to making that myself yet it it was store bought)
1/2 cup of cane sugar
1 cup of vinegar (I used half apple cider 1/2 malt)
Add a cheese cloth spice bouquet containing:
2 bay leafs
6 whole all spice
6 whole cloves
1 tbsp chilli flakes
1 tsp cayanne
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp celery seeds
4 pieces of cinnamon stick
Tie bundle and let the works cook down covered over medium heat for about 30 minutes.
Remove bouquet and using an immersion blender zip up the sauce to desired consistency.
Allow sauce to cook in a 350° oven for 30-60 minutes which will allow the sauce to darken and thicken.
Pour hot contents into sterilized jars and keep refrigerated. These should keep for 6 months … but likely they will be long gone before that! I see french fries in your future.
grilled cheese + home grown ketchup = happy day
check out the rest of the recipe swap bloggers:
My otha’ momma back in high school, was from Guyanna, she is a wonderful cook and about the best ‘best friends momma’ you could ask for. She made some killer pepper sauce, curry chicken, salt fish, and my favourite of her specialities roti. She tried guiding us girls through the roti making process one day but I think the beers got away with us, and none of the lesson really stuck, one recipe however has stuck with me all these years and that’s Pam’s chickpea green onion channa.
The other night I was having a mad craving for some spice, heat and ethic flavours so I made a little vegetarian west Indian feast, complete with spelt roti and while it wasn’t the best I have ever made it still perfectly bundled up the yummy purple yams and carrots I slowly roasted slathered in Chamelea Giri’s Garama Masala spice blend (check out her etsy shop), and Pam’s channa masala.
I don’t have the luxury of having a jar of Pam’s scotch bonnet pepper sauce in my pantry, so I used the next best thing; a locally made killer crazy hot Caribbean pepper sauce, and the results were simply perfect. We just needed rum and cola and some soul grooves to bring it all together.
In my possession I have no less than 40kg of nice organic rolled oats which I continue to overlook day after day. I bought them with the intention of eating them each morning for breakfast… but more times than not I fall short on this task, and end up eating a fresh egg on sprouted toast (if anything at all). But I am trying to change that habit, and start with a more whole and hearty breakfast and recently inspired by Heidi of 101 cookbooks and her overnight cereal ritual, I blended up a killer cereal masterpiece. Finally today after looking at this beautiful cereal mix all week, I actually made a huge batch, and everyone, everyone, everyone, was thrilled to devour a big bowl of hot grains laced with coconut, hemp seeds and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
Here is my 7 grain + seed mix:
3 cups of rolled organic oats
1 cup of rolled organic rye
1 cup of organic barley
1 cup of organic flax
1 cup of rolled organic spelt
1 cup of organic hemp seeds
1 cup of organic millet
mix and shake it all together and store in an air tight jar.
Now the cooking part, I loved Heidi’s idea of toasting the grains in butter and then soaking them overnight… the problem is I had forgotten to do so 3 nights in a row… so here is the hybrid technique I used today, and it worked great!
In a large pot toast:
1.5 cups of cereal mix
2 tbsp butter
pinch of sea salt
pinch or two of cinnamon
Stir often and toast for about 8 minutes, when the grains will begin to smell fabulous!
Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the grain, remove from heat and let soak covered for about an hour.
Return to heat with another cup of hot water along with 1/2 cup of coconut and 1/2 cup of maple syrup.
Gently simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often and adding more water as needed.
Before serving garnish with seeds, dried fruit, nuts, and another sprinkle of drizzle of something lush and sweet.
I remember LOVING baked beans as a child, and I had a very distinct flavour I was seeking to recreate when I made these earlier this week. As I have mentioned before my family has very strong British culinary roots, and I have had many a weeknight bean on toast night in my life… but tin beans have nothing on all day sweet molasses baked brown beans.
I totally nailed the flavour I was after, and I used this vintage recipe I photographed about a 7 years ago to set me down the right track. While spending a week out in Kananaskis Country in a standard Canadian January trying to keep warm in the -30°c cozied in an amazing old hunter /weavers log cabin with wood heat and a wood stove (not unlike my present life funny enough) I found in the pristine 50’s kitchen a stunning pantry complete with a flour mill bursting with vintage food packaging; herbs, jello, coffee, flavourings you name it. I was in packaging heaven! I absolutely adore old food packaging, and have a collection of some really sweet bits and bobs. As an designer (who does a lot of food packaging these days) I just love seeing the way it all began.
But back to the beans; I used this recipe and tweaked it (as usual) and below is my version along with a not so appetizing image of the net result.. poor beans aren’t too photogenic even in my vintage le creuset casserole and after a few snaps I soon gave in to the enticing smell that was teasing me all day. We all oohed and awed over these brown beauties, and I think you will agree a beans on toast night with these baked beans makes up for many a tin bean debauchery.
My SOLE spin:
2 cups of dry kidney beans
1 cup dry pinto beans
The next day drain and rinse
Set the beans to boil in fresh water until the skins start to split. DO NOT SALT WATER.
In a large measuring cup combine:
1 yellow onion diced fine
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp mustard
pinch of chili flakes
pinch of paprika
2-4 Tbsp of homemade HP sauce
2 Tbsp bacon drippings
Once beans start to split drain (reserve water and add 1-2 cups of it to the sauce mix above)
Place beans in a nice cast iron or ceramic casserole dish and pour enough sauce to cover the beans
Add 3 whole maple pork sausages (or any other piggy product) into the casserole, after they are cooked though you can slice them into 1/4″ slices, stir them in and continue baking so they soak up the sauce.
bake at 300 for about 6 hours. Check beans at least 3 times and add more sauce and then hot water as needed.
You want a good amount of yummy thick bubbling sauce, so don’t let it bake dry… after all you need to dunk your toast in something!
Of course you can omit all things animal from this dish and have a really great meal, coconut oil would be nice in lue of bacon dripping but I wouldn’t ruin a good pot of baked beans with tofurkey sausage or anything like that!
Squash is still a hard sell with my family.. as much as I grow it, cook it, and serve it, both of my sweeties turn their nose up at the stuff time and time again. I can manage to get them to eat it, and they both realize this is part of us eating out of pantry and food shed, but it doesn’t mean they are ever going to love it, not even if it’s smothered in cheese! Yet I diligently roast whole squash all the time, and spend the following week tossing it into everything I can dream up.
This recipe is another of my attempts to hide said squash into a family favorite; frittata. Frittata is a no brainer for me, what with 20+ laying hens I always have a mountain of fresh eggs, and something or another to add into the mix for a fluffy light and super quick mid week meal.
This frittata is made with a hearty amount of really lovely organic cottage cheese, spinach and left over roasted squash. From start to finish it’s on the table in about 15 minutes. This recipe yields a 8″ frittata (which I made for just two of us tonight) double this for a 12″ pan and a family meal. Also I only ever use cast iron pans to make this as it’s a fry and bake method.
warm oven to 500
In a small bowl mix:
1/2 cup of water
1 tbsp grainy mustard
good amount of freshly ground Pepper
1 tbsp homemade seasoning salt
3/4 cup of organic cottage cheese (or any cheese you like)
In a small cast iron pan over medium high heat:
Warm 1 cup of leftover roasted squash cut into 1″ pieces along with a drizzle of oilve oil
Toss in a large handful of spinach (kale and chard are great too)
Cover greens with egg mixture poured into pan evenly.
Allow it it cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes, until the base and sides are cooked and firm.
Remove from ellement and put in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes.
Once the egg is almost entirely set turn oven to broil and brown the top for a minute, until golden bubbling and complexity set.
Breakfast, Brunch or Dinner this is a great meal, and leftover slices are awesome on the go food, even cold. I love this for dinner with a huge green leafy salad. Frittata filling combinations are endless…. whatever you have on hand. Sub red pepper spread or miso for mustard, add happy bacon or wild edibles like stinging nettle, caramelized onion with roasted garlic and gouda is one of my favourite versions of this easy dish. Be creative and enjoy!