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

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Dilled Mushroom Salad

photo by Kate Hendry

Mushrooms. They are certainly one of my favourite foods. But it wasn’t always the case. Before getting to the simple yet satisfying recipe for our Dilled Mushroom Salad, I would like to share a mushroom story with you.

When I was a young girl, I hated mushrooms. And when I became a not-so-young girl, aka an obnoxiously opinionated teenager, I thought anyone and everyone who enjoyed mushrooms were crazy. And stupid. (Thank You God for letting me grow through those teenage years!) My mom would periodically prod me to try them again to see if my taste buds had matured, but I always stubbornly refused.

Fast forward to the summer after my first year of university. I had decided it was high time I become an adult, and in my mind that meant learning to eat mushrooms. I didn’t have hopes to love them, or even to like them. My goal was to be able to politely tolerate them when served. I started by ordering the Portobello Sandwich for lunch at The Bullring on campus. And when visiting my parents I would ask my mom to put mushrooms in the pasta.   I ordered mushrooms on my pizza, which was previously a cringe worthy idea. I can’t quite place when it happened, but soon my disgust bypassed tolerance completely and I discovered a new culinary love.

photo by Kate Hendry

Last fall I bought the above Portobellos at the Guelph Farmers Market. Aren’t they exquisitely beautiful?!? And while I’m no longer my know-it-all teenage self, my mushroom journey reminds me the impossible is often possible, and to never stop opening myself to new experiences and tastes!

Dilled Mushroom Salad

This salad is one of the simplest salads we make, and it is so delicious. It tends to fly off the table each time it is served.

I should also mention that I’m not one for precise recipes outside of baking. I think it’s really wonderful to develop a sense of when a dish is well-balanced. So, most of my recipes will have approximate amounts. Also, since we tend to cook for a crowd – I made this salad for 50 people last night – you’ll probably want to adjust the amounts anyway!

To make the salad, I whisk the vinaigrette together in a large mixing bowl, adding the oil slowly at the end. I taste and adjust if needed. Then, I wash, slice, and add the mushrooms to the bowl. Finally, I chop and add the dill, mix everything together, and let it sit for a while so the mushrooms can absorb the flavours. And try not to eat the whole bowl while I wait.

As a side salad to feed 50, I used approximately:

1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1 Tbsp of grainy Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp of honey
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
1/4 – 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
4 lbs of button mushrooms washed and sliced
1/4 cup of dill

What is your favourite mushroom recipe?