Squelching Happily into June.

asparagus outside1It’s here! The first of our farm’s produce has been delighting us for the past week.  Asparagus is wonderful in and of itself but also as a harbinger of everything to come in the following months.  It has been very welcome in what has been another grueling month for the kitchen.  In May we were producing meals on 30 of the 31 days which stretched our relatively small staff … and they came through valiantly!  So props and respect to Patty, Todd and Shirley and to our stalwart volunteers Virginia, Jerome, Regan and Greg.  We can’t forget Theresa who is the entire Housekeeping Department all by herself and calmly works as hard as anyone I have seen!

It’s been a month full of fascinating and wonderful people.  Well, ALL our visitors are fascinating and wonderful … but so many of our clients are here for silent, contemplative retreats that we don’t get a chance to interact with them.  They are here for a purpose – and that is not to amuse the kitchen staff!  When we get workshops and conferences with groups like the Women’s Songwriting Workshop, Guelph Community Health Care or Unitarian ministers from all over the continent who fill the house with talk and laughter, there’s a different vibe to the house.  “A change is as good as a rest”  some people say …

Asparagus (like many vegetables) is versatile and plays well with others.  After you’ve had your fill of eating it plain (steamed or roasted), you can have it as a soup, as a salad, on the BBQ or as the highlight of a quiche.  Quiche is a staple here at Loyola House.  We love it, clients love it, it’s nutritious, attractive, keeps well and especially good for using up that last little bit of whatever you had last night. We have a good source of pre-made pastry shells too, so that makes it easy to whip up.

Basic Quiche

Thaw a 9 inch unsweetened pie shell.  If you like, flute the edges – this makes it easier to serve and less likely to spill as you move it in to the oven.

Whip together …

5 large eggs

2/3 cup 10% cream

Strain this in to another bowl.  This will remove the strange gooey bits of the egg attached to the yolk (called the chalaza, in case you ever wondered).

Whisk in …

1/4 t salt

1/4 t pepper

pinch of nutmeg

dash of hot sauce (more if you like it spicy but the aim here is to have just a touch of undetectable heat to stimulate the taste buds)

Smear the bottom of the crust lightly with Dijon mustard and sprinkle with grated cheddar.  Arrange the fillings and then carefully pour the custard over all.  Sprinkle again with grated cheddar.  This will melt and produce an attractive glaze while protecting the eggs from forming a less palatable skin.  Bake at 350 until it starts to puff and the centre is completely firm – about 50 minutes.  This is one dish I like to bake on the bottom shelf of the oven to make sure the pastry is completely cooked.  Allow to sit 10 minutes before slicing.

Fillings?  well just about anything that goes with cheese!  Often we use meat – bacon or ham or chicken or sausage … even salmon.  Vegetarian is good too – broccoli, spinach, peppers, tomato, onions (caramelized or not) … and yes, asparagus!  One of my favourites is a 3 (or 4 or 5) cheese variety sprinkled with fresh chives.  Let your imagination (and your leftover shelf) be your guide.

For your gluten-free friends, this is even easier!  Simply smear a pie plate or pan with coconut oil, pour in the custard then proceed with fillings, top with cheese and bake … and proudly call it a Frittata.

kohlsparagus4

I’m back to the kitchen … trusting you to take care of yourselves and everyone around you!

PS – Thanks to Mike-the-farmer (a man of many talents) for the first evocative, lovely photo!

 

 

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Sneaking Through Fe-beware-y…

‘Tis an awkward time of year, February.  We’re still in the depths of winter but the excitement of new snow has worn thin.  We overhear farmers planning the new crops which puts us in mind of spring … close enough to tantalize but still so far away. We remember what it is like to go for an invigorating walk without bundling up for 10 minutes first.  Beware the February blues!  Take extra good care of yourself and treat yourself often.

marbella-close

I present to you one of our special recipes – one we bring out when we want to impress someone, when the skies have been grey for too long or when we just feel like a reward.  This was adapted from The Silver Palate cookbook – an essential, elegant and beautifully laid-out book that I highly recommend.  We have made some substitutions … local apple cider for wine, a little less garlic and sugar, apricots for excitement or even some of my Mom’s dried calendula petals for an extra special touch.  The original recipe calls for bone-in chicken pieces but we usually use slices of breast only … the sauce is complex (and slightly sticky) so it is just easier not to have to deal with bones as well.  The combination of ingredients looks outré but (trust me) when they are baked together, they work beautifully!

CHICKEN MARBELLA

For 10 servings, use…

2.5 lb chicken breast – cut into 2 oz strips

Marinate for 2 – 6 hours in …

1 T chopped garlic

3 T dried oregano

1 t each of salt, black pepper

1/3 c red wine vinegar

1/3 c olive oil

1/2 c each of prunes and apricots – sliced coarsely

1/2 c green olive, sliced

1/3 c pickled capers with some brine

6 bay leaves

1/4 c brown sugar

1 c apple cider

½ c chopped Italian parsley

Pull the chicken pieces from the marinade and arrange on parchment paper. Pour the marinade into a small pot. 

Bake chicken at 350° F until done (about 20 minutes, turning each piece over at least once so it browns evenly). As you turn the chicken, pour off any juices into the marinade pot.  When the chicken is almost done, bring marinade to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, skimming off and discarding any foam that rises.  Arrange the pieces in a serving tray and pour the hot marinade over them.  You can discard the bay leaves if you like but some people say it is good luck to be served one … as long as you don’t try and eat it!

This is also very nice served cold in the summer. Follow the above procedure and allow to cool overnight in the refrigerator.  Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

marbella-far

This year, we are proud to announce that our annual fundraising dinners are expanding their focus from “Taste of Italy” to “The Taste of Diversity” – featuring the following themes …

March 29 – “What Would a Jesuit Eat?”  – a smorgasbord of our local Jesuit community’s favourites, including a carving station with Chef Susan to cater to your Roast Beef whims.

June 13 – “Let’s Go Dutch” – an exploration of the cuisine of the Netherlands, intrepidly guided by Theresa Wright and Miriam Koopman.

November 15 – “A Return to Italy” – revisiting and reaffirming our connection to this vital nationality with the help of Christine Clementi, Maria Gazzola and others!

Mass will be at 5pm and dinner at 6pm.  $60 each dinner or $150 for all three. Space is limited and, if other years are any indication, the dinners sell out fast!  For tickets, contact 519-821-1250 x 221.  We’d love to see you here!

In the meantime, take care of yourselves.  Live in the moment but anticipate spring!  ❤

 

 

 

Whee! We made it!

veggies-dec-2016Happy 2017!  It sounds like a science fiction story … aren’t we supposed to all have flying cars and inter-planetary holidays by now?  I’ve just gotten back from a holiday in BC where it is mild and rainy so while I am delighted to be back at work … actually getting to work through all this wind and cold and white stuff is a bit of a shock.

Naturally, my mind turns to thoughts of something warm and comforting to enjoy as a reward for yet more shoveling and I was surprised to notice that we have not yet featured one of our staple entrees …

RATATOUILLE

Sautee briefly

1 large red onion, sliced

1 bulb fennel, sliced

2 T minced garlic

¼ c olive oil

 Take off the heat and add …

6 cups canned whole tomatoes

Wash, cut into large, attractive chunks…

4 c zucchini

Toss with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and 1 t oregano and roast in a 350° oven for 10 minutes

Do the same with …

4 c multi-coloured peppers – but roast for 15 minutes, stirring once

Do the same with…

up to 4 c eggplant – but roast for 30 minutes, stirring several times

Add all of the vegetables to the tomato pot along with

2 T puree of fresh basil (or 2 T dried)

2 T lemon juice or red wine vinegar

2 T sugar or honey

Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste

Bring to a simmer and let simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over pasta or rice or with a good, crusty bread.

 

This will bring back memories of mid-summer and the vegetable bounty of those fleeting months.  Even mid-winter, our farmers have ways of making us happy though … look at the wonderful radishes they grew this year and passed on to us in December!

purple-radish

Don’t you now wish you had bought a CSA winter share?

Enjoy the nascent year … 2017 is going to be a great one!  Let’s be careful out there and take care of each other!  ❤

 

‘Tis becoming the season …

.xmas cheese tray

Last night marked the first of a number of Christmas festivities at Loyola House.  The Catholic Teacher’s Association celebrated their annual “Merry Advent Mass”.  As much as the usual peace and silence of this place is a blessing and a balm to the soul … it is occasionally nice to have a house full of laughter and hugs!

We hope to duplicate the experience on Sunday (Dec. 6 from 2 pm – 5 pm) with the Jesuit Community of Guelph’s annual Open House.  It would be nice to see you all here!

xmas cookies

In choosing a recipe for this post, I was looking for something a little fancier – suitable for a party.  This is a recipe I developed in honour of a friend of mine …

 Morel’s Elk Loaf

Sauté briefly, then cook low and slow until translucent …

3 c finely diced onion

2 c finely diced celery

2 T minced garlic

1 T rubbed thyme

2 T coconut oil

 

Cool, then add …

5 lb ground elk

8 eggs

3 c steel cut rolled oats

¼ c chiffonade of fresh basil

¼ c chopped parsley

2 T minced fresh rosemary

2 c crumbled sheep’s feta

1 c diced gran padano parmesan

2 t each of pepper, salt, chipotle sauce

2 T each of Bragg’s, maple syrup

¼ c lemon juice

Mix well with hands, shape into loaves and bake to 170° F.

Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.  I glazed it with Rootham’s Fire-roasted Catsup.

If you can’t get ground elk, this would work well with ground beef as well … local and humanely raised – of course!

Enjoy the season … remember to take care of yourself … and each other.  ❤