Monthly Archives: August 2011

Check My Pulse

I have vacation belly.  The syndrome where you start with great intentions of healthful eating while on holiday (“maybe I’ll have half a freezie every other day”) and quickly surrender to all-out gluttony.  It starts with, “Well, I can’t get these duck rillettes in Ontario so of course I should have them for breakfast on a warm croissant” and ends tragically with, “Where else can I eat licorice Nibs and McNuggets for lunch if not in Quebec?”

Which leads me to the amazingly delicious lentil and celeriac salad I made the day we returned from holiday.  Nutrition guilt led me to this pulse-based dish (also I had meant to make it the week before we left for holiday and the poor celeriac was losing all life sitting in the fridge).   Plus I’ve been dying to try some of the recipes in my new cookbook, “Plenty“. It’s the second from Yotam Ottolenghi, based on recipes from his UK restaurant and this book is all veggie.  (Which we need more of in this household.)

Without further ado, I introduce “Celeriac and Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts and Mint”.  Here is the original recipe from Ottoleghi’s Guardian column.

Celeriac: a rather knobby looking coconut exterior

You begin with about a 1.5 pd celeriac aka celery root (I forgot to take the picture BEFORE peeling, sorry).  And slice into 3/4 inch pieces.

Then you pop these into boiling water for 8-10 minutes until softened. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile you gather your lentils, some thyme and a couple bay leaves, add 3 cups water and bring to a boil.

just add goldfish

You are supposed to use Puy lentils (which stay nice and firm when cooked) but I could not find them at the bulk store and so used what I had aka “lentils in the plastic container” (which I think may have been the French lentils anyway).  Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are cooked but still have bite to them (15 minutes or so).

Just to make sure the oven is not feeling left out, preheat to 275 F and toast 1/3 cup hazelnuts.  Skin on.  Cool and roughly chop.  Set aside.

Chop up some fresh mint.  Easiest to roll the leaves into a “cigar shape” and chiffonade.

Drain your lentils and while they are still hot (so that they absorb flavour) add olive oil, hazelnut oil (could not get this so substituted walnut oil), good red wine vinegar and a generous amount of salt.  Plus some fresh pepper.  Mix gently.  Add the celeriac and hazelnuts and serve warm….

…or room temperature.  Just hold off adding the hazelnuts and mint til just before serving and adjust seasoning.  You will probably need a bit more vinegar.

Lusciously healthy, this would make the best brown bag lunch ever.  With chicken McNuggets and Nibs.

6 Comments

Filed under All Recipes, Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Ruminations on the Edible

Camping = Bacon

Yes, we just threw 2 packs into the pan. Bacon loves company.

Sometimes processed food is OK.  More than OK.  Perfect in fact.  Between this and the sour cream and onion crinkle chips.  I was feeling alright.

Don’t tell me your mouth is not watering just a little bit.

Let me inspire you:

*Bacon and ripe August tomato sandwich (with mayo)

*Bacon and scallops

*Bacon and peas

*Deviled eggs with crispy bacon

*Crisp Salad, blue cheese dressing, bacon

*Bacon in Meatloaf

*Bacon Cheeseburger

*Bacon and caramelized onion quiche

*Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Bacon

*Bacon in your hand at the kitchen counter before the eggs are finished

2 Comments

Filed under Ruminations on the Edible, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

American Cheese Society Conference: Cheese a Go-Go

Setting Up the Festival of Cheese

This is what 1676 cheeses look like set-up for nibbling.  The Festival of Cheese which is also open to the public concludes the events at the ACS conference.

I was lucky enough to get a peek while the room was being set-up.  This is only one side of a giant conference room.

It smelled pretty amazing in there.  Fresh, milky and rich.  Cheese land.  And the roller coaster was awesome.

Here are a few more images of the room to make you wish you were there.

This is the soft, bloomy-rind table underway.  Some of the really rich yellow ones were made with Jersey milk.  Comfort Cream from Upper Canada Cheese Company is in there–it won a ribbon.

Ontario also had winners from Glengarry Fine Cheese (Aged Lankaaster), Monforte (Abondance) and Best Baa Dairy for their yogurt (a no-brainer, especially if you’ve had the maple flavoured one!) and Mouton Rouge, a washed-rind wheel.

Here is the part of the blue table.  One of the Quebec winners was one of my absolute faves–the sheep’s milk Bleu Moutonnière .  YUM. YUM. YUM.

Finally-we had 44 Quebec ribbons over all and here are a few of the winning Fromageries:

La Moutonnière (5) Fritz Kaizer (3) Maison d’affinage Maurice Dufour (2) and of cour La Presbytere whose Louis D’Or took third prize for Best in show.

Cheesed out yet?   Someone get me a green salad.


2 Comments

Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Restaurants and Products, Travel and Food

Toast Post: American Cheese Society Conference, Day 2

Oka recipe creates Fromage de la Trappe in Manitoba.

Remember that film The Notebook?  The one starring Ryan Gosling that’s about a monk who made washed-rind cheeses and kept secret notebook of brining techniques?

That version of the film is actually an NFB doc called A Monks’ Secret.  (You won’t recognize Ryan Gosling–he plays the actual notebook.  Amazing immersion into a role.)  The doc is a story of Fromage de la Trappe, the cheese you see above.

Fromage de la Trappe comes from Manitoba and is made by Brother Alberic at the Cistercian Abbey Our Lady of the Praires.  The old recipe was passed to him by the Trappist monks in Quebec (at Oka Abbey de Notre-Dame-du-Lac).

The original Oka recipe was sold to Agropur in the 1981 when the Oka Abbey in Quebec could no longer sustain the demand for the cheese.  The factors may have been more than economical–monks do not want to be known as cheese makers, cheese making is simply a means to an end so perhaps the business was in conflict with their values.  It may have also been hard to find people to keep making cheese in general as they got older and their numbers got smaller.

Fromage de La Trappe (left) and Agropur Oka (right)

One of the original Oka cheesemakers, Father Oswald had kept a  notebook that was passed on to the Manitoba monastery when they started to make cheese as a source of income.  The caveat that came with the hand-written notes was that should the Monks ever go out of the cheese business or the Abbyy close, that notebook would be destroyed (never to fall into a non-religious hand).  This cheese is God’s business and no one else’s..Due to the craft secrets in notebook, what started out as a mediocore cheese, became something unique and flavourful.

Celebrating a ribbon for Louis D'Or

Celebrating Louis D’Or.

And I cannot sign off before leaving you with a picture of Jean Morin, celebrating after his raw, organic milk cheese Louise D’Or received 3rd place in the Best of Show category.  And we’re looking at over 1600 cheeses entered.  That’s right he’s feeling smug.  He damn well should!

4 Comments

Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Restaurants and Products, Travel and Food

Toast Post: American Cheese Society Conference, day 1

Cheese-alanche

Soak it up.  I ate it up.  A room of cheesemakers from the US and Canada offering their cheese at the American Cheese Society conference in Montreal.  The luscious fromage in the photo above is from Beecher Handmade Cheese in Seattle.  This is a new version of their Flagship cow’s milk cheese, it’s a mixed milk cheese (sheep and cow).  I walked by the table, popped a piece in my mouth and walked on.  And then went back.  The flavour of this cheese just kept evolving and lingering.  I left with more in  hand and some wrapped in a napkin stashed in my purse. (It was that or the waistband of my jean skirt and I already had a washed-rind tucked in there.)

Better than Cheetos (maybe)

A hit of cheese anyone?

These awesome little cheese bites above come flavoured with lavender, saffron, rosemary and chili.  They are called Hannahbells and hail from Shy Brothers Farm. These thimble-like cheeses are made in the style of the French “boutons de coulottes”. (Trouser Buttons).

Bleu Moutonnière up front, Apple Ice Wine in the rear

This is my tasting plate from the Taste Buds and Molecules session–a discussion about the science of pairing food and wine. Sommelier Francois Chartier, author of Taste Buds and Molecules led the tasting, he’s worked with Ferran Adria amongst others, helping create about 50 dishes for El Bulli (which just closed last Saturday) using the science of deliciousness.  He would never serve you Perrier if you didn’t want to partake of  alcohol with a meal—at his house he would offer spruce beer or green tea–so your bevvie would compliment your meal, not just wash it down.

Stupid Perrier.  Smart molecules.  Amazing Pairings.  Hercule de Charlesvoix +apricot+ apple marshmellow and curry butter+apple ice wine.

YES, YOU WANT THE MARSHMELLOW CURRY BUTTER RECIPE.

1 Comment

Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Restaurants and Products, Toast Posts, Travel and Food

So Many Damn Peaches

Planet Peach

Summer peaches.  A perfectly ripe, juicy, pain in the ass.

Why do I have to buy a whole basket of peaches?  Why can’t I buy just two or three at the farmer’s market?

Because none of the farmer’s want to deal with all those damn peaches either. “Take them urban consumers!” they shout at us. (In their heads.)

So my perfect peaches sit on the counter while  fruit flies circle and I shove slice after slice into my mouth like some uber-healthy, hot dog eating contest for the “eat local” movement.  At which point I’ve only eaten 2 1/2 peaches.

Ready for the sauce.

So how do I rescue my delicate bounty from the fate of the green bin?

Luckily, Delmonte comes to the rescue.  Peaches in syrup.  AHA!

I slice eight peaches.  I make a light syrup in a medium pot.  (4 cups water, 2 cups sugar).

Once the sugar has dissolved I add the peaches and some mint and basil leaves (my basil plant weeps with gratitude at its usefulness–the poor thing barely sprouts a leaf under my care.)

A peach of a plan.

And then I bring it all up to a simmer, pour in a shot of Triple Sec (from my margarita stash) and pull it off the stove.  Let cool and store in the fridge so you can eat them all week. On top of ice cream!  YES.

Don’t be distracted by the above picture, keep your focus on the fact that the herby-fresh syrup created from our peachy compote is great for cocktails.  Like peach infused Mojitos.

The  minty, aromatic liquid is a perfect sweetener for the limey-tart concoction.  Mash some of the fruit in there too.  God knows you have to use it up somehow.

4 Comments

Filed under All Recipes, Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Ruminations on the Edible