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!  ❤

 

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‘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.  ❤

Our favourite time of the year …

 

 

 

chives 2Late last week came the time that Loyola House cooks have been dreaming wistfully about all winter … the first produce from our organic farm is here!  The asparagus started slow but this warm, wet weather will accelerate it into full swing this week.  Now is the time to take a couple of hours and fill the freezer – after a few good gorges, of course!  There really isn’t anything like an organic vegetable that’s only a couple of hours out of the ground.

At the same time, our kitchen herb garden is springing to life.  The clever chive border that we put in as protection from insects is a handspan high and showing signs of graduating from border to hedge-hood this year.  The perennials are starting to leaf out … and the mint … of course the mint is back.  Now is the time to explain to the mint (with trowel in hand) that it can’t have the entire garden this year either!

One of the recipes we like to dust off for the warm weather features both asparagus and fresh herbs and that is the Loyola House interpretation of the classic French dish “Salade Nicoise”.   This is a main-course salad that features (among many other things) green beans but this time of year we slyly substitute asparagus and it is all the better for it.  Traditionally, this is a “composed” salad – carefully and artistically arranged patterns of separate ingredients complementing each other in shape and colour. This doesn’t work so well on a buffet line for 40 people who only have an hour for lunch!  Invariably someone will steal all the hardboiled eggs and after the first couple of people serve themselves, any artistic arrangement is only a fond memory. So we toss all ingredients together and stand back …

 

Nicoise Salad

Whisk together …

2 T grainy Dijon mustard

1 t chopped garlic

1/4 c lemon juice

1/4 c white wine vinegar

Whisk in very slowly …

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

Stir in

2 T olive brine

1 t black pepper

up to 1/4 c chopped fresh herbs as your garden (or farmer’s market) provides. I am particularly fond of chives (cut on the diagonal of course!) and basil (purple if you can get it – both for its beauty and the intriguingly spicy flavour).  Other good candidates are parsley, chervil, thyme (if you have the patience for stripping all those tiny leaves you will be well rewarded with taste and health benefits), tarragon and dill.  Our kitchen herb garden has a well established lovage patch … TOO well established, maybe.  While lovage gives an earthy celery flavour with a useful touch of bitterness (my new favourite flavour), only the very young leaves should be used … and those sparingly!

It is useful to make this dressing the day before serving so that the flavours can mingle and get ready to party on your tongue!  It will keep very well in the fridge – although the lemon juice may leach the colour from the herbs.  Of course, the olive oil will solidify in the cold – this is how you know you have a good olive oil – so bring it to room temperature and shake well before using.

for the salad, toss gently with 1 c of the above dressing …

2 c boiled potato – you can use left-over ones or boil minis in their jackets, then quarter and toss with a little of the dressing (you did make it ahead of time, didn’t you?) and leave to cool in the fridge overnight.

1 c calamata olives (pitted is nice if you have the time)

2 c asparagus – cut in bite-sized pieces, lightly steamed and cooled immediately in cold water, then drained well

1 c tomato – a beefsteak-style cut in chunks or use Elmira’s Own grape tomatoes – a very tasty local product

2 cans light tuna – well-drained

Serve on a bed of greens (if desired) and garnish with hardboiled eggs in quarters.

nicoise2

Enjoy – on the patio, if possible – and join me in waiting, semi-patiently, for the next installment of nature’s bounty.  And take good care of each other!