by Elisabeth Bailey
3:47 pm | Comments Off |
It’s apple time! Apples are one of the best local foods to enjoy with a minimum of fuss, and we have lots of variety here in Nova Scotia to select from. They keep for ages (well, not all of them, but most) so you don’t have to use them or process them within a couple days the way you do some fruits. In our house we’re eating Honeycrisps and Cox’s Orange Pippins out of hand, and making applesauce out of Gravesteins (with a few Cox’s Oranges thrown in for extra flavour). You can make applesauce about just about any kind of apple, though. If you’ve got a tree or two on your property of edible apples, go to town.
To make applesauce: Peel and core as many apples as fit in the pot you want to use. Add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice if you’re peeling and coring at a leisurely pace and give it a toss from time to time. (Good idea if you have kids ‘helping’!) If you’re zippy, however, you can skip it. For anise ginger applesauce, put from one to three stars of anise in the pot. Heat covered on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until all the apples break down into sauce. Mince candied ginger (I like the one they carry at Bulk Barn), remove anise stars, and add minced candied ginger and white sugar to taste. Purée with an immersion blender, or remove to a stand blender. For cinnamon applesauce, simply replace minced ginger with ground cinnamon to taste. Allow to cool and enjoy!
This applesauce freezes beautifully. Make lots. Come back in February and tell me how fantastic it is (and how brilliant I am for inspiring you to do it!)
September 19, 2010
6:18 pm | 2 Comments » |
As much as I love to cook and preserve local foods myself, I’m also passionate about eating great local food that’s hardly any effort. Local food is for everyone, not just those of us who geek on copper-bottomed saucepans. And even for us, not every day can be a kitchen day.
Yesterday, for instance, was a canoe day for my family. We went to Keji and paddled out to some of the islands in Kejimkujik Lake. Around noonish we pulled up onto a sandbar and pulled out a picnic basket of drinks, chips, Annapolis Valley pears, Lunenburg county Gravestein apples, Queens county cherry tomatoes, and the main attraction: that morning I had chopped up some leftover duck from dinner the night before and mixed it with a few tablespoons of Ma Bell’s Country Condiments’ Savoury Basil & Pepper Jelly (available from Meredith Bell at the Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, and Bridgewater farmers’ markets). We spooned it onto our favourite bread (a fesse from La Boulangerie Vendéenne) and had duck sandwiches. They were damn fabulous.
My happy guys!
Duck on a Rock
You could, of course, do the same thing with chicken or pork or about anything you like. I also picked up a rosemary jam and a chilli jam from Meredith, which I plan to use with a shoulder pork roast (bought from Kurt Wentzell) and fishcakes (bought from Jimmy of Evan’s Fresh Seafoods) for some easy diners this week.
Oh, and for dessert? Walnut marmalade made by Faye Labelle of Silverlane Farm smeared on what was left of the fesse (which basically means “bum” in French). The marmalade is an old French recipe made with walnuts, peaches, and lemons. Words don’t do it justice. It was the perfect grace note on a gorgeous, delicious, Nova Scotia day.
*Note: the pears, apples, tomatoes, bread, jams, marmalade, pork, and fish cakes mentioned in this post were all purchased at the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market. There’s no better way to spend a Thursday morning!
2 Comments »
September 8, 2010
3:01 pm | Comments Off |
Remember that easy tomato sauce I wrote about earlier? It’s time to take it deeper.
In the comments, Reader Angie asked me, “When do you add the onions and garlic?” My answer was, “Anytime you want!” and that’s true. You can make this sauce and prepare other ingredients at the same time; you can make the sauce one day, refrigerate it, make the rest the next day and then freeze; or you can freeze the plain sauce and add other ingredients the day you use it (which is , in my mind, in February.)
I almost always go with one of the first two options, because I usually have other produce fresh from the market lying around that I want to use promptly, while it’s at the height of its nutritional value. I don’t plan what I’ll put in my sauce too carefully–I just use whatever I happen to have. Pretty much any combination of the following ingredients will work:
- slow roasted tomatoes (as described in my last post)
- onion (sauteed, caramelized)
- roasted bell peppers (any colour)
- spicy peppers (if you swing that way; I do)
- herbs (especially basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano)
…or really, anything you like. Sometimes I brown some ground pork or beef (both of which I buy from Kurt Wentzel at the farmers’ market) and freeze it as a meat sauce.
Once I’ve made my veggie and herb-laden sauce, I freeze it in small portions. I then use them instead of conventional frozen foods on busy days. I can add one to a jar of plain sauce for quick spaghetti dinner; to a can of tomato or mushroom soup for chunky vegetable tomato soup; as a sauce for a chicken breast; or as a dipping sauce for bread. It’s all part of my Master Plan to eat a little local food every day of the year. It’s easier than you think!
August 30, 2010
3:49 pm | Comments Off |
As an enthusiastic cook and preserver, I tend to write mostly about whole foods that I can process and preserve myself. I don’t want you to get the idea that local food is all apples and cabbages, though; it is entirely possible to eat delicious, preprepared, local foods without stepping a foot in the kitchen.
There are dozens of people right here in Lunenburg County who prepare local food for sale, many of whom sell their products at the farmers’ markets. One of my favorites is Ma Bell’s Country Condiments, offered by Meredith Bell. She makes jam and other condiments from fruits, herbs, and other locally grown ingredients harvested at their peak.
Her jams work as beautifully as topping for ice cream as for toast. Try them as a stir-in for plain yogurt (better taste and nutrition than flavoured yogurts, not to mention less sugar) or on pancakes. Jam flavours include:
- blueberry & lime zest
- strawberry & lime
- raspberry & vanilla bean
- strawberry, rhubard & vanilla bean
- blueberry loves raspberry
Cheese aficionados may want to add a more savoury or peppery jelly to a soft or aged cheese. (Try Quark from Foxhill, also available at the markets!) There are several to pick from, including a savoury basil & peppers. Fish cakes pair nicely with a traditional rhubarb relish, and grilled or planked salmon is even more delicious with spicy blueberry relish. Apple chutney is a nice touch to any grilled or pan fried filet. Many of the pepper jellies work wonderfully as finishing glazes for roasting or barbequeing poultry or pork.
See? Eating local is easy! It’s as simple as spreading jam on toast. You can find Ma Bell at the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market on Thursday mornings, the Mahone Bay Farmers’ Market on Friday mornings, and the Bridgewater Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings. Tell her I sent you, and tell me what other convenient, premade local foods you love!
August 24, 2010
3:20 am | 2 Comments » |
A friend wrote to me recently and said, “What do I do with all these tomatoes?” It’s a question that comes up for gardeners and farmers’ market junkies about this time every year. Here are some simple answers.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4-5 pounds tomatoes (or, basically, as many as you happen to have—paste tomatoes are great but this works with any kind)
- 1-2 bulbs garlic, cloves separated and peeled
Preheat the oven to 250° F. Prepare a baking sheet by brushing it with the olive oil. Slice small-medium sized tomatoes (including paste tomatoes) in half and larger tomatoes in fourths and place, cut side down, on the sheet.
Plop garlic cloves down here and there between the tomatoes as you see fit and sprinkle salt evenly. If you have some rosemary leaves on hand you can sprinkle those two. Slide into the oven and roast for 5-7 hours. If the edges are starting to burn, take them out.
After the tomatoes have cooled a bit, you can pile them along with the garlic into a freezer container, cover them with olive oil, and freeze. Use them for sauces and pizza all winter long! I like to shuck the skins off and slip the roasted flesh into a sauce (recipe below!) that I make on the stove at the same time. This technique is also great for mushrooms and eggplant.
BASIC (ALLY FABULOUS) TOMATO SAUCE
Roughly chop tomatoes (as many as you have) and place them in a large saucepan.
Salt generously, cover, put on low-medium heat, and cook until broken down completely, 2-3 hours. You can either pick out the curled up skins with your fingers (which is what I usually do) or strain the resulting sauce through cheesecloth to get pure tomato sauce–or, if you cook it long enough, tomato paste.
You can put this in freezer containers and freeze for winter, or do what I do and add garlic, herbs, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, and the roasted tomatoes listed above, and THEN freeze. One big pot of tomatoes = one night a month all winter long of homemade spaghetti sauce. Whip these out when unexpected company comes–they’ll think you’re a genius! (And they’ll be right. After all, you took my advice, didn’t you?)
2 Comments »
August 19, 2010
1:18 am | 2 Comments » |
I recently started the facebook fan page for the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market (join us here!) This week, Sarah Wentzell of Sarasam Farm told me that they have lots of kale in particular. Now, as tasty and nutritious as kale is it can present a cooking challenge to a lot of people, so I thought I’d share my favorite easy kale recipe. One of the great things about this recipe is that it works very well for freezing, so if you buy or grow a ton of kale and aren’t sure what to do with it all, make this soup and just put containers of it in the freezer for winter! (If so, though, do it before adding the cream at the end–throw that in when you warm it up, instead.)
Elisabeth’s Kale Bisque
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large or 2 small bunches of kale
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup cream (or milk, or rice milk… you get the picture)
- Pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add salt and onions. While the onions begin to sauté, rip the green leaves off the kale in shreds, leaving the ribbing for the compost. Add the shredded kale to the onions and sauté for about ten minutes.
Add the chicken broth and turn the heat to high. Simmer for about half an hour, until kale is tender. Turn off the heat and puree with an immersion blender (or, if you don’t have one, pour the hot soup into a blender or food processor to puree). Add cream or milk and pepper to taste.
2 Comments »
August 14, 2010
5:13 pm | 2 Comments » |
I went a little nuts at the farmers’ markets this week. I brought home zucchini, tomatoes (big and cherry), corn, peaches, plums (three varietals), blueberries, blackberries, spinach, swiss chard, carrots (orange and purple), turnips, broccoli romanescu, onions, lemon cucumbers, scallops, haddock, pork roast, back bacon, and eggs. Whew! Lots of trips to the car and back.
I’ll write a little bit more about what I’m doing with some of those later in the week, but today I want to focus on what I’m doing with some of the fruit. It’s ice cream day on Sunday! Now before you wander off, let me tell you that I don’t have an ice cream maker. I’ll probably shell out for one someday, but in the meantime, I use a fairly fabulous (albeit food-slutty) recipe that I adapted from the New York Times.
It’s easy enough for even the beginner cook, and let me tell you that once you’ve made your own ice cream with fresh, ripe, local fruit, Haagen-Daaz is going to be slumming it (which is good because they’re owned by Nestlé and I have a special loathing for Nestlé, but that’s a story for another day).
Elisabeth’s Excllent Ice Cream
- 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
- 2 to 21/2 cups fruit such as berries, chunks of peeled, pitted peach or plum, etc
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)
Using electric beaters, whip the cream until it begins to thicken, then add vanilla. Continue to whip until soft peaks form, then slowly add the sweetened condensed mik while continuing to beat until soft peaks form again. Gently add fruit and Grand Marnier and beat until just combined. Transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze for at least six hours before giving in to temptation.
Enjoy! This ice cream will keep in the freezer for about a month–not that you’ll have the willpower to keep it around that long.
2 Comments »
August 4, 2010
5:53 pm | 6 Comments » |
Want to eat local all year round, but you aren’t sure where to start? It’s easier than you think. This week I made a terrific dish out of the best that Nova Scotia farmers have to offer, and I thought I’d share it with you. The beauty of this dish is that you can do it with just about any assortment of vegetables. Just buy what looks appealing and is fresh, in season, and affordable.
First I chopped up all the vegetables lying around my kitchen that I wasn’t sure what to do with: zucchini from Joanne’s market in Mahone Bay; these beautiful little white turnips from Donna Gursky at the Mahone Bay farmers’ market; and multicoloured peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and young purple onions from different sellers at the Lunenburg Farmer’s Market. I tossed them with a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil and a cup of chicken stock, then roasted them at 390 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.
After the hour was up, I tossed on some spinach and corn (both also from the Lunenburg market) as well as some minced fresh garlic from my garden. Then I put the pan back in for another 20 minutes, giving it the occasional stir.
Done and delicious! This roasted melange contains about five family meals-worth of veggies. We ate one portion right away, then bagged the rest and chucked it in the chest freezer. To do this yourself, first label ziplock freezer bags, then spoon in the veggies, and finally suck extra air out with a straw before sealing completely. The liquid from the bottom of the pan will basically surround the veggies when you do this, helping to preserve them. Pull the bags out on days when you don’t have time to cook and simply heat and serve.
I won’t lie to you: it takes a little extra time and effort to feed your family like this, but it is so very, very worth it. You just can’t get nutrition or taste like this from the supermarket (although you ought to be able to–but that’s a post for another day.) Enjoy!
6 Comments »
July 30, 2010
4:09 pm | 3 Comments » |
Trattoria Della Nonna has an excellent reputation, and deservedly so. Unfortuanately, even the best restaurants have their off nights, and I seem to have had the misfortune of catching them on one. It’s all the more the pity as we go out to eat really very rarely—I’m more likely to spend any extra food money buying and freezing produce that is in the height of its season (when it’s not just the most fresh and nutritious but also the cheapest!) But for my birthday, we decided to splurge.
I ordered a house salad and the spaghettini Bolognese. My salad was just as perfectly balanced, crisp, and flavourful as I could have hoped. My husband had the herb crusted pork tenderloin, and the few tastes I had of it topped everything else I ate all week. We both found the house Chianti to be a solid choice. Given the opportunity, I might have ordered a second glass.
Which leads me to the service, which was, frankly, both perfunctory and rushed. At a restaurant of Trattoria Della Nonna’s calibre, it seems reasonable to expect that many customers are enjoying a special night out. (That’s true in nearly any restaurant, actually; and it’s my opinion that part of a waiter’s job is to treat the occasion with respectful attention.) It was obvious that we weren’t a special table to our waiter, however, who offered me parmesan ten minutes after serving my Bolognese (and a mere minute or two before I gave up on the dish). The salty, simple sauce struck me as more of an American creation than an authentic ragù, while the veal meatballs had none of the tender, moist delicacy I associate with veal.
I had gone to the restaurant very much hoping to chat up the waiter about local sourcing of ingredients, but opportunity never presented itself. Nevertheless, I look forward to giving them another shot down the road.
On our way home, we redeemed the more disappointing aspects of the meal with a visit to the chocolaterie behind the mysterious castle door down below—but more about that next time!
3 Comments »
July 23, 2010
6:15 pm | 2 Comments » |
As a consummate foodie, I am over the moon about the new kid in town here in Lunenburg, Ironworks Distillery. Both their spirits and their attention to detail are exquisite–right down to the elegant graphics on the inside of their bottle labels.
So far we’ve sampled their unique sipping vodka (the only vodka I have ever truly enjoyed straight up in my life, and believe me, I’ve tried a lot!) and their apple brandy. We love the apple brandy on its own, but I couldn’t resist experimenting with it in the kitchen as well. I liked the results so much I wouldn’t feel right keeping them to myself.
Happy Apple Pork
Family-sized pork shoulder roast (We like the ones we get from Kurt Wentzell at the Farmers’ Market in Lunenburg—he’s also in Bridgewater on Saturday mornings!)
- 1/2 cup apple brandy from Ironworks
- 1/2 cup Sriracha
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup apple brandy
- 1/3 cup Sriracha
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (you can substitute milk or soy milk if you’re watching your fat content)
Mix the ingredients for the marinade thoroughly, then submerge the roast in the marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 and up to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C. Place pork with marinade in a baking pan and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, then cover with aluminum foil or a pan lid until it is fall-apart scrumptious (depending on the size/shape of your roast, up to 3 hours.) Remove pork from oven and prepare sauce by thoroughly combining the brandy, maple syrup, and Sriracha in a saucepan and bringing to a boil. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, remove from heat, and whisk in cream. Plate the pork, drizzle with sauce, and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Cooks note: if you aren’t into spicy food, you can skip the Sriracha or substitute 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. If you are into spicy food but have never heard of Sriracha, trust me–you’ll love it! We use it in just about everything. You can find it in the International Foods section at Superstore–even though it’s manufactured in the US.
2 Comments »