A bit of foolery for April.

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Last Wednesday saw us all dressed up for the first of this year’s Taste Of Diversity dinners …

TOD march menu trialThe evening was sold out … as these dinners tend to be … and was enjoyable all around.  What could have been a stressful evening became fun with the combined efforts of our stalwart staff (Patty, Shirley and Todd) and some valiant volunteers (many thanks to Regan, Christine, Julie and Cecilia).  Oh, and I was there too …TOD march susan trialThat is what remained of a whole hip of beef from the local food heroes at Thatcher Farms ( http://www.thatcher-farms.com ) … just enough for a couple of sandwiches for staff…

TOD march appto be chased down with a healthy veggie shot!  Of course, some people like to go right to the source …TOD march toddThanks to everyone who came out and remember, there are still two more such extravaganzas this year.  Except next time … Let’s go Dutch!

Of course, I wouldn’t be allowed to escape this post without a recipe … so let’s try a very seasonal one.  Rhubarb and asparagus are the first two fresh items we get each spring – and asparagus doesn’t make a very good cake.  Once you try this cake, though, I think you will find it deserves its name …

Fabulous Rhubarb Cake

 Cream well (until light in colour and texture)  …

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

Add while still beating slowly …

1 egg

1 cup applesauce

1 T vanilla extract

zest of one orange

Mix together well …

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. soda

2 cups flour (I use half whole wheat and half all-purpose)

1 t ground ginger

1/2 t ground nutmeg

Add and toss well to coat …

1 1/2 cups raw Rhubarb cut fine

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed through and no bits of flour are showing.  This can be baked in a 9×13 inch cake pan for about 30 minutes at 350 F (or until done).  We like this one in a bundt pan though and that takes a little longer to bake – maybe 50 minutes.  Remember that the cooking times are approximate – they depend on a lot of factors.  The best way to know if it is done is to gently touch the centre of the cake.  It should be as firm as the outside of the cake.  For those without Teflon fingers … insert a toothpick into the centre and make sure it comes out clean – with no wet batter sticking to it.

This is a very moist cake, so a strip of parchment paper in the bottom of the cake pan or a handful of crumb topping in the bottom of the bundt pan can save you the grief of the cake sticking and tearing.  It really doesn’t need icing – an orange glaze might be nice but I find what this cake needs most is a great deal of self-restraint!

Until next time, take care of yourself, each other and the crocuses!  ❤

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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.

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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!  ❤

 

 

 

Kitchen Advent-ures.

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Our Emily is an accomplished gardener.  This year she grew an astonishing variety of peppers and gifted me with some.  I fermented them with garlic and pink Himalayan salt and now I will have hot sauce all winter -thanks,  Em! I though I’d share a little colour (and heat) on this grey day…. especially since the recipe that I have been asked to post is for yet a another monochromatic delight.  Good for eating … but not so much for photographing.

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Trying to find a dessert when you don’t eat gluten OR dairy can be quite challenging!  We have come up with a few really good ones (and we’re always looking for more… hint, hint).  To the Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies and Chocolate Black Bean Cake (see previous entries) we now add …

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Melt together …

3/4 cup coconut oil

4 oz good, dark baking chocolate

Stir in and whisk together until smooth …

1 c mashed banana

¾ c maple syrup

1 t vanilla

1 c cocoa powder

Stir in …

5 c unsweetened, shredded coconut

¼ c chia seeds

¼ c coconut flour

Form into balls, “haystacks” , nests or your preferred  shape then refrigerate until solid. (These are best not served in the heat of summer as the coconut oil will melt and make the consistency too soft and your fingers all gooey).

These are very popular AND they pack quite a nutritional punch!  They contain protein (chia), potassium (banana), antioxidants (cocoa), lots of good fats and lots of fibre.   But still …. brown, they’re just brown ….. so here is another unrelated yet more visually satisfying photo of our Quinoa Tabbouleh with calendula petals from our kitchen herb garden.

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As we begin this holiday season, please remember the Jesuit Community of Guelph is having their annual Open House at Loyola House on Sunday, December 4, 2016 from 2 pm until 4 pm.  We’d love to see you out here!

Take good care of yourself so you can take good care of others and the world.

Honey-sweet (but nutty) – that’s us!

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Here at Loyola House we are gearing up to host Taste-real’s “Source It Here” event – an annual celebration of Guelph Wellington Local Food.  It is a trade-show, workshop session, networking opportunity and a wonderful place to shop and graze!  Every year I try to offer the most local products that I can – some graciously donated by participants!  For more information on this wonderful event, see http://www.guelphwellingtonlocalfood.ca/source-it-here-networking-event  This year along with the ever-popular Carrot Cake … yes, we still have Ignatian Farm carrots! … I thought we would serve Baklava as well.  Granted, phyllo pastry isn’t exactly made in our backyard but our honey is from Tuckamore Bee Co. made from bees who range and gather nectar from our property.  It doesn’t get more local than that!

I’ve been known to moan and groan about working with phyllo but it is a truly interesting and unique process making baklava.  As with everything else, once you have the basics down, you can play around with flavours, ingredients and even textures.  I have found that a finely ground filling helps the final product stick together better but I know people who prefer chunky bits of nut and (as we all know)  there’s no arguing with taste.

BAKLAVA

The evening before you bake, move 1 package of phyllo pastry from the freezer to the fridge and remove from cardboard wrapper – carefully!  If you dropped it at this point, all the sheets would shatter and you would be very sad indeed when you came to assemble everything.  Melt 2 cups of butter and return it to the fridge in a pyrex measuring cup.  This is the easy way to make ghee – when it is solid again, you simply pick up the butter and pour off the milky whey.  Then you have butter which is 100% fat and makes a nice, crisp baklava.

Process in the food processor until fine …

3 c walnuts (or other nuts)

1/3 c brown sugar

zest of one lemon and one orange

1 t each of ground ginger, ground cinnamon and ground coriander

I like to stir in 1 cup of very finely sliced apricots … I am a sucker for apricots

Heat butter and oil a 9 x 13 inch baking tin.

Unwrap phyllo and cut the sheaf of sheets in half so they will fit better into the pan.  Cover the sheets you are not working on with a damp towel.  Lay one sheet of phyllo in the pan and butter lightly with a pastry brush. If the sheets are too long, fold them over.  If they are too short, alternate sheets on either side of the pan.  You will end up with 40 layers … you don’t have to be too exact with each one!   I find it best to keep the butter hot on the stove and pour off a little at a time into a small pyrex cup.  That way you are always working with hot butter and not getting too much on your brush (and onto each sheet) at one time.

Lay down 5 more sheets, buttering each one lightly after it is placed in the pan.  Sprinkle a handful of the filling over the top.  Lay down two more sheets and then another handful of filling.  Continue like this, adjusting the size of your hands (ok, adjust the size of your “handfuls”) as necessary.  You are aiming to have all the filling gone and have 6 or 8 sheets left to make a nice cap.  Let the baklava cool somewhat and solidify.  With a very sharp knife, cut the pastry into the size of pieces you will serve … it will be too crisp to slice after it is cooked!  I like to cut this size pan into 20 squares and then to cut each square into 2 triangles.  These pieces are small – but you don’t need too much of this intense sweet!

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or until nicely golden all over. 

While the pastry is cooking, make the syrup.  In a stainless steel pan, mix …

1 c honey

1 c apple cider

3 T lemon juice, more lemon zest if desired (it adds a decorative touch to the top if grated finely enough)

Whole spices if desired … I use star anise – but only 1 or 2!  Bring to a boil, then simmer 10 minutes.  When the pastry comes out of the oven, pour the hot syrup over it all and let it cool uncovered.  Like many things, this is really better the next day. 

A further tip (from Father Roger – thanks!).  Instead of fussing around with zesting and then juicing lemons and throwing away half of the nutrients, you can freeze the whole lemon and grate it directly into whatever dish you are preparing.  You will get some of the bitter flavour of the pith (the white part that everyone tells you to avoid), but bitter is just another flavour and can be a good thing in something as sweet as baklava.   My mother used to tell me that that was where most of the vitamin C was …

Do be careful, though.  You need a sharp grater for this and you need to be very aware of where the lemon ends and your skin begins!  Enjoy your baking, enjoy the sunshine and the coming floods … and maybe we’ll see you next Monday at Loyola House.