Aaaand – there goes April!

2019 Easter 6

Happy belated Easter!  It surely was a happy one around Loyola House – we had over 200 of our closest friends come to Brunch.  We had pastries, muffins, local Bella Roma turkey sausage, smoked salmon scrambled eggs, Thatcher Farms lamb kebab-ed with Cremini mushrooms … oooh, so many things!  Topped off, of course, with plenty of chocolate.  Thanks to the mighty kitchen staff, some stalwart Jesuit volunteers (and my beloved sisters who dropped by to help with the transformation from First Seating to Second Seating) it was a fast-paced but fun occasion.  Now we start planning how to top it for next year …

This blog is coming up on 7 years old!  Sometimes I worry about running out of recipes.  I shouldn’t worry – the inventive and enquiring minds in the kitchen are always coming up with something new.  This month – thanks to Emily – we have a

THAI INSPIRED CUCUMBER SLAW

For the dressing, whisk together…

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (or plain old tamari)

1/3 cup  unsweetened rice wine vinegar

1/3 cup dark sesame oil

2/3 cup peanut butter 

Assemble in a large bowl … 

½ cup chopped cilantro

1 bunch green onions, chopped

3 English cucumbers, sliced

1/2 c Edamame – out of the shell!

1 large head of cabbage, sliced (we like Savoy cabbage)

1 cup  roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped

¼ cup sesame seeds -black or toasted white (or both)

Add the dressing and toss well.  This salad will benefit from having an hour to assimilate the dressing.  Stir it occasionally, then transplant to your favourite serving bowl and astonish your guests with a new taste treat.  For those who don’t like cilantro, basil works very well in this salad – if you can get the beautiful, spicy purple basil, so much the better!

asian slaw 2

asian slaw 1

Thanks, Emily! And thanks to Natasha for the Brunch picture.  I now have camera envy.

Don’t forget that the next Taste of Diversity dinner is barely three weeks away, on May 22.  This will be our annual voyage back to Italy – ably guided by our dear friends from the Holy Rosary Parrish.  There may be a couple of tickets left … but not for long.

Until next time – take care of each other and keep the sunscreen handy (hope, hope).  ❤

 

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April Fool-ery

springWow!  Almost overnight we have gone to full-blown Spring.  Sunshine and rapidly dwindling snow piles have put a bounce in everyone’s step.  Of course, there are always those pessimists who mutter grimly about “one more blast of snow” but we’ll just ignore them, shall we?  Instead, let’s look forward longingly to asparagus and the first baby greens.

BABY SPINACH SALAD

Spread on a baking sheet and toast gently in a 350° oven for 5 minutes or until they just start turning colour …

¼ c sliced or slivered almonds

Allow to cool while you make the dressing.

Mix …

1 orange – finely grated zest and juice

3 T cider vinegar

1 T basil

1 t minced garlic

1 T honey

1 t ground black pepper

Whisk in …

½ c olive oil

In a large bowl, mix ..

½ c dried cranberries

½ c crumbled feta

toasted almonds (from above)

6 cups baby spinach – washed and dried well

Pour the dressing over and toss well. Serve immediately.  This should satisfy 4 – 6 people.               

spin salad 2

Enjoy on the back deck … soaking up the new sunshine.

Remember – Easter Brunch is coming up quickly … there may still be a couple of tickets left.  Email Pam at officecoordinator@ignatiusguelph.ca .

Take care of yourselves and start thinking about the new nourishment ready to sprout! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling Gracefully into Winter.

It’s been a lovely fall season here in Southern Ontario.  Warm (mostly) and (mainly) sunny and lo-o-o-ong!  It makes the transition that much easier – and allows ALL the crops to be harvested in a timely manner without too much panic and shrieking.  Now, though, the nights have a real bite and the sunlight has an attenuated quality … winter is not far away …

Time to break out the winter menus; chili and stew and thick soups.  Comfort food, slow-you-down and stick-to-your-ribs food.  Whatever you call it, it definitely includes this salad!cauli salad 1

Lemon-Cumin Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Assemble marinade …

finely grated zest and juice of one lemon

1/3 c lemon juice

1/2 t salt

1 t pepper

2 T ground cumin

1 T chopped garlic

1 T ground coriander

whisk in …

1/3 c olive oil

Cut into bite-sized florets …

1 head cauliflower

Wash well, immersing in cold water several times.

Cut into chunky slices …

2 large carrots and 2 red onion

Parboil the carrot and thoroughly toss all vegetables with the marinade. Let sit for half an hour to get itself together. Just before service, turn out everything (vegetables and marinade) onto a parchment-covered baking sheet.  Roast in a 350 F oven for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring several times.  When stirring, use a flat spatula to pick up the marinade off of the parchment and re-distribute it over the vegetables.  A cut-glass platter makes a nice serving vessel for this salad and a sprinkle of chopped parsley would not go amiss.  Two of my favourite flavours (lemon and cumin) clinging to the meatiness of the cooked cauliflower … that will stick to your ribs!

Pro-tip for the carrots:  start cooking them in just enough cold water to cover.  By the time the water boils, they will be almost par-boiled all the way through.  If you added the cold pieces to boiling water, the outside would be mushy by the time the heat penetrated to the centre of the carrot.  Don’t forget to use the cooking water in your next soup or stew (or as the-mom-who-lives-in-my-head says “Just drink it! It’s full of vitamins!”).

I like to use what I call a “roll-cut” on the carrots.  It has lots of long, cut sides for the heat to penetrate quickly and it looks elegant. Start with a simple diagonal cut off of one end.  This piece will be different from all its siblings … treat it gently.roll cut 1Now turn the carrot one quarter turn towards you roll cut 2and make another cut on the same angle roll cut 5Keep turning and cutting until you run out of carrot. roll cut 6

More extreme versions of our usual thanks go to volunteers and members of the community who have pitched in to help during the 40 day retreat!  Virginia, Jerome, Regan, Zigang, Greg, my sisters Julie and Chris (and my Mom for one memorable afternoon!) – we literally couldn’t have done it without you all!  Thank you x 100,001!

They are taking care of us – you take care of each other and the world!  ❤

 

 

 

Awww … There Goes August!

edamame salad 5I made up a salad!  I am quite excited about this … this is the way things are supposed to work. I had a bunch of ingredients (including WAY too many zucchini – if you can possibly believe such a thing about this time of year) so I said to myself “Self – how can we put these together so they taste better together than they do apart?”  And the “Serendipity Salad” was born and got rave reviews on its first few outings.

Mind you, the name is misleading.  I was able to put this together because we stay prepared.  We always have pickled ginger (gari) on hand.  We always have beautiful red onions, Canadian grown, shelled and frozen edamame, a selection of herbs and of course, the beautiful produce from our organic farm.  Perhaps this salad needs a new name (suggestions welcome).

So here we go …

I love gari or, as you may know it, “sushi ginger”.  I used to go to the Asian market and buy a bunch of  jars of it to cook with.  Then, one day I read the ingredients!  Now we make our own – cheaper, healthier and much more fun.

Slice peeled ginger – young and firm is best – as thinly as possible, making sure you cut across the grain.  A kitchen “mandolin” or V-cutter is useful for getting ginger paper thin.  Be careful with this instrument, though! v cutter 2It is so sharp and you can get going at such a clip that it is easy to miss the transition from ginger to finger and we don’t want that!  Place the ginger slices in a canning (heat resistant) jar.

At this point, you can add a couple slices of raw, peeled beet – to give it the traditional pink colour, if that is important to you. It won’t affect the taste but it is pretty.  Just don’t add too much beet or it will turn out quite a surprising colour!

Bring to a boil …            

2 c rice wine vinegar

1 T sea salt

½ c sugar or maple syrup or honey

When this liquid is boiling, pour it over the ginger in the jar – making sure to cover well. Allow it all to come to room temperature then lid and refrigerate.  Let it sit in the fridge for 3 days before using.  Make a lot, it’s good for you and your digestion (see my post “Ginger is the New Garlic”) and it lasts almost forever!  Use the juice in salads or sauces.

gari 4

2 hours before starting on the recipe … start the onions pickling!

Place in a steep-sided stainless steel or glass bowl …

2 c red onion – sliced thinly and attractively

Cover with red wine vinegar and add …

1 t salt

1 T black pepper

2 T maple syrup or sugar

Stir well and leave in a warmish place to pickle – stirring occasionally. The red colour will soften to pink and blur slightly and the harsh taste will soften as well.

Mix … 

8 c zucchini – very finely sliced (the mandolin works well here too)

1 c pickled red onion

1 c edamame (without shells)

¼ c sliced green onion

¼ c chopped cilantro

2 T slivered pickled ginger

Whisk together …

1/4 c pickled ginger juice

2 T lime juice

3 T toasted sesame oil

Whisk in slowly – to form an emulsion …

1/4 c vegetable (or other neutral-flavoured oil)

Dress the salad and garnish with black and white sesame seeds.

Enjoy! gari 5Wishing you a most felicitous fall!  I hope this recipe will help you take care of any backlog of summer squash … freeing you up to take care of yourselves, our mother earth and each other!  ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simmering in the Summer.

That title sounds good, but today’s recipe takes no simmering at all.  This will be welcome during summers in less comfortable kitchens than the Loyola House Kitchen.  We like to joke that the kitchen is the coolest part of this house in midsummer – thanks to our amazing Director of Operations, Lisa, who upgraded the heating/cooling unit for us to something near miraculous.  That, plus our astonishing view, plus our wonderful co-workers PLUS the inspirational and congenial folks who make their way here from all over the world combine to make our kitchen a happy place indeed!  The recent rush of fresh produce from the farm only intensifies our joy … is there anything more wonderful than a crisp sugar snap pea just hours off the vine? Or burying your beak in a bushel of basil?

After such sweetness … a little balancing tartness.  This is my personal favourite of the dressings that we make.  Blueberries and lemons are a “gestalt” combination … the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  It is great in baking and I love it in this dressing.  I must confess though — part of my affection for this dressing is for the dramatic colour!

blueberry dressing 3

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Blueberry-Lemon Vinaigrette

Slice and remove seeds …

2 whole lemons

Put  in a cuisinart or blender, then add ….

3 T  Dijon mustard

2 c frozen blueberries

½ c white wine vinegar

½ c lemon juice

2 T sugar or honey

1 t pepper

½ t salt

(dash of Tabasco)

With machine running, add in a VERY slow stream…

1 c veg oil

With machine running, add steadily, but in a faster stream…

1 c veg oil

1 c extra virgin olive oil

1/2 c apple cider or juice

If it gets too thick – add a little more apple juice to thin it down. Remember that it will thicken up in the fridge as the olive oil gets cold.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Store in fridge.

You can substitute raspberries for a change of flavor and a different but equally dramatic colour…

We are in the midst of our busy retreat season … back to back to back eight day retreats, usually full, so not much news to report.  If you are planning to attend our third and final Taste of Diversity dinner ( A Return To Italy), I advise getting your ticket NOW.

I leave you with an amazing thing that I found in a perfectly ordinary box of mushrooms this week.  The world is full of wonders … find them and celebrate them!monster raw mushroom

And take care of each other and yourselves…<3

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!

 

 

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!  ❤