Spice up your March!

ginger-cranberry-far2After the “blahs” of February, it’s time for some excitement!  Unexpected snowfalls, winds that will blow your cat away, the first robin spotting and perhaps a jolt of gingery, mouth-puckering cranberry sauce!  This goes well with turkey, roast pork (including our favourite – roast peameal pork loin) or even on toast.  After a few rounds of this usage, we stir whatever is left – IF there’s any left – into a Balkan-style yoghurt (locally produced, of course) for a breakfast treat full of flavour and antioxidants.  All this and it’s easy to make as well  …

GINGERY CRANBERRY SAUCE

Dice very small and place in a saucepan …

1 whole orange (yes, peel and all!)

Peel and chop as finely as you can, then add to pan …

100 g ginger (about ¼ cup chopped)

Add …

2 cup good apple cider

1 T whole cloves

1 large cinnamon stick

2.25 lb whole cranberries (about 8 cups) (frozen is fine)

Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, lid tightly and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Let cool for 30 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Add and stir well …

1 cup raw local honey

Taste and add more honey if you like a sweeter sauce. Maple syrup is good too although the sauce will be slightly runnier.  This keeps very well in the fridge.  It would also be good for canning in small jars.

You could put the cloves in a muslin bag so they can be removed before serving but I like just crunching them up – after simmering for that long, they are perfectly edible … although the flavour just might be too intense for some people.  I wouldn’t use ground cloves, they would dull the sheen of the sauce.

ginger-cranberry-near

Things are ticking over quite nicely in the Loyola House Kitchen.  We have bid a fond “see you later” to Emily as she is now on maternity leave … and not a moment too soon!  Watch this space for news of the latest in the next LH generation.  While Emily is off remembering how to be a new mom again, we are thrilled to welcome Patty back.  She will bring her hard work, humour and skilled touch with desserts and she will keep us all in line while Emily is away!

Coming up in the next month or two are some great events … the first Taste of Diversity dinner (“What Would a Jesuit Eat”) and Easter Brunch… as well as some great retreats – tried and true favourites like the Lenten Taize as well as some newer ones like the Les Miserables retreat in mid March.  We hope to see you out here for one or more … or just for a walk and a breath of peace.  Take care of yourself and take care of those around you .  ❤

 

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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!  ❤

 

The Flowering of May

april TOI

The first Taste of Italy fundraising dinner has been successfully served … to a sold-out crowd as usual. This time we were celebrating the cuisine of Naples and surrounding area.  Many, many thanks to Christine Clementi for all her help, ideas and calm cheerfulness!  More thanks are due for her splendid cooking … people are still talking about her Pasta Puttanesca and a luscious Eggplant Parmesan (I think she may be after my job).  My apologies to those who were not able to attend – there are still tickets available for the June 15 and September 28 dinners, although possibly not for long!

The appetizer platter was photographed by Emily – one of our new kitchen staff treasures, who is revealing diverse unexpected and welcome talents. It featured Christine’s seasoned, roasted peppers; a tedious, sticky thing to prepare but well worth it …especially when someone else is doing it!  In homage to the abundant seafood of the area, I made a calamari salad with arugula, artichoke hearts and white beans.  Mushrooms a la Greque saluted both the amazing lemons of the area and the subtle Greek influence on culture and cuisine.  Finally olives – no platter would be complete without olives and plenty of them!

For dessert, we did a variety of  fruit and a brace of cakes; a Lemon Polenta cake and a Torta Caprese.  These were chosen to compliment each other in taste and texture.  The lemon cake was very lemony and had the pleasant grittiness of cornmeal in contrast to the decadent richness of the torte.  It is a surprisingly fun cake to make and I highly recommend it!

Torta Caprese

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Farenheit (sorry, Dad).  Grease a 10 inch spring form pan.  Line the base with a circle of parchment paper for added insurance against sticking!

Melt and allow to cool to almost room temperature …

200 g butter

In a food processor, grind …

250 g of almonds – I made sure not to grind them too fine to add interest to the texture

then …

200 g of good dark semi-sweet baking chocolate – again, don’t grind it too fine or too long lest it start to melt!

Separate 4 large eggs.  Beat the yolks until thick and quite pale with …

1 1/4 c sugar

3 T good vanilla extract

Fold together the yolk mix, butter, chocolate and almonds.

Clean the mixing bowl very well before tackling the egg whites!  Rinse with very hot water to remove all vestiges of fat and then cool. Whip egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold them into the rest of the batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until just barely done – about 45 minutes.  Run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the edges of the cake, then let it rest in the pan for half an hour before removing to a serving plate.   This keeps well if wrapped tightly and HIDDEN VERY WELL!

I added a square of unsweetened chocolate to each recipe to give a slightly bitter edge. After such a rich meal, the last thing one would need is a too-sweet dessert and  I am still convinced that bitter will be the next new flavour fad.  You read it here first … thanks for reading and take care of yourself so you can take care of others!

pear plate

 

 

 

‘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.  ❤

September’s “Taste of Italy” Celebration.

T o I sept

On Wednesday night, Loyola House hosted 2015’s third and final “Taste of Italy” fundraising dinners.  It was a warm and heart-warming time, like having 85 of your closest friends over for supper.  In this case, we had 27 new friends as well, the Anglican Church of Canada was here for a “Stronger Together” retreat … so they joined in the festivities!

Thanks to everyone who came … and ate … and hugged and sang!  Thank you, Moses, for the ever-popular music.

I would like to make a very passionate, grateful “thank you” to our amazing volunteers … Vicki and the indefatigable Olga – who did most of the cooking, Jerome (who did most of the dishes!), Dan and my baby sisters, Chris and Julie, who showed up to help out and did all that was necessary … including some of my thinking for me!

Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of a truly astonishing staff … Michele, Ryan, Theresa and Autumn!  We fit together like cogs in a machine … complementing each other’s talents, helping each other keep spinning.  Thank you.

These dinners have gone so well and have been so much fun that we’ll probably do something similar next year, so be warned … book your tickets early!!

 

TOMATO FENNEL SOUP (one of our favourites!)

Sauté until soft but uncoloured….

1 c sliced onion

1 bulbs fennel – sliced thinly and attractively

1 T toasted fennel seed

2 T minced garlic

1 c sliced celery

Add….

1 large (100 oz) can of whole (organic, Canadian)  tomatoes – break them up with your hands, take out bits of skin and stem scars then strain away as many seeds as you can and add up to a can more of water

Simmer until fennel is soft. 

Adjust seasoning with

2 T rice wine vinegar or lime juice (my favourite!)

2 T maple syrup

2 T dried Tarragon

Salt, pepper, hot sauce as desired

As with most soups … this is better on the second (and third) day.

 

Take care of each other … ❤

T o I dessert

(just as a side note – and to exasperate my mother – in two years, both of my baby sisters will be eligible for “senior” prices in some places!   How time does run away with us!!)

Fennel and Orange Salad

photo by Kate Hendry

Fennel is a vegetable I only began eating in the past couple of years. And now that I know about it’s mildly licorice flavour, I am making up for lost time.

Making fennel salad is also a good way to practice and hone one’s knife skills. I think fennel is best when thinly sliced – almost shaved – so give yourself some extra prep time to put those skills to use. The oranges need to be zested, peeled, and segmented with care so as to remove all the white pith and membranes. This takes a while as well, so while this isn’t a salad to make when strapped for time, it is well worth the effort.

To prep the fennel, cut off the fronds (the dark green, feathery leaves). Some of the younger and finer fronds can be used as a garnish, but generally I find them to be bitter and with an unpleasant texture, so use sparingly. Trim the stems, cut the bulb in half, and remove the core with a paring knife.

The acid in the vinaigrette is lime juice, along with the orange zest. Whisk this together with honey, mustard, salt and pepper, and then slowly add the oil. (See my Cucumber Watermelon Salad post for vinaigrette ratio information).

Thinly slice the fennel and some celery. Segment the oranges, and mix everything together. Enjoy!