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

Out with October! We’ve got a winter to attend to.

Finally, Fall has … well … fallen.  The crops are harvested, the community gardens are turned over,  the annual 40 day retreat is drawing to a close and we put up enough Green Tomato Relish that I actually had to buy more canning jars!

In homage to our farm’s amazing root crops, I offer this salad – substantial, nutritious and satisfying – perfect for this time of year.

BEET SALAD

Use enough beets to ensure ¼ pound per person. Do not peel before cooking.

Rinse and cover well with water, then bring to a boil. Lid the pot and simmer – 35 minutes for smallish beets up to an hour for very large ones.  Drain and allow to steam off in a colander.  When cool (you can even refrigerate overnight), peel and cut up beets.  Dress with the following vinaigrette and allow to marinate at least one hour before serving.  There is no in point trying to garnish this salad with different colours of  vegetables as the beets will just stain them all a uniform red.

Note: this salad looks AMAZING using golden beets, although you might want to cut out the brown spices to let the glory of the yellow, gold and rose colours shine!

Cider Vinaigrette

(for beet salad or carrot slaw – as well as many other possibilities)

Whisk together in a large bowl ….

½ c good cider vinegar

2 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

½ tsp salt or to taste

¼ t pepper

½ t cinnamon and/or nutmeg and/or cloves

(¼ c apple cider reduction and/or a dash of hot sauce are both optional)

Whisk in slowly… to form an emulsion (like mayo)

½ c  oil  (I prefer to use olive or coconut oil for the health benefits, but both are solid at fridge temperature so you have to be careful to serve this salad at room temperature)

This should dress quite a bit of salad. It will also keep in the fridge almost indefinitely – although it might separate.  Go heavier on the cloves for beets and on the cinnamon for carrots.

two-beets

Welcome to the world, Hannah!  Welcome to the kitchen, Shirley!  Elaine, your recipe will be up next.

I still have a few hatches to batten down, so until next time – take care of 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!