Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stuff It

The upside to having zucchini in your garden: blossoms to stuff.
Downside: gosh, it takes up so much space...

I have been gathering blossoms for 3 days. I discovered that bees and earwigs like to hide in them. This concerned Simon a bit tonight when he saw me preparing them... You will wash them right? No bees? No earwigs? Not sure I want to eat this. Of course, he ate them.

You need to eat these as soon as you are done frying them, you want the batter crispy, the cheese stuffing still warm and gooey. The extra stuffing went into baby tomatoes.

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

1/2 cup each: grated mozzarella, mascarpone and ricotta
Fresh herbs, I put basil, oregano, parsley
1 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

2/3 cup flour
1 cup club soda
Salt and pepper

Prepare your batter: with a whisk, mix the second set of ingredients and let rest.

Wash and dry your blossoms. Delicately open the top part and snip the pistil with scissors. Set aside.

Mix the cheeses, garlic, salt and pepper. Put into a pastry pouch or baggie with a cut corner. Fill the blossoms until they slighty puff up. Twist the top part of the blossom shut.

Dip the stuffed blossoms into the batter and fry until lightly golden. We ate them with a spicy tomatillo sauce.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pasta with Swiss Chard, Prosciutto and...Macadamia nuts?

Does this look delicious? It better, because it was.

Biking makes me hungry.
My healthy tofu and veggie lunches disappear in no time and I am ravenous when I get home. The past few days I have craved pasta. My whole world revolves around food - I have said before: I get up in the morning and I am already planning what we will have for lunch and dinner (I plan breakfast as I sleep). I constantly think about flavour combinations. Pairing wine. Using ingredients in new ways. I should work in a kitchen, my thoughts would be put to profit.

I am trying to find new ways to eat Swiss chard. It is overflowing in my garden. I am giving some away. I am roasting and grilling some. It is Swiss chard overload.

So, in an effort to eat what is available and be efficient with leftovers - ta-da! Swiss chard, prosciutto and macadamia nut pasta. I initially was thinking of pine nuts, classic. But then I had none. You know what? Macadamia was such a treat.

What do you need?
*Good quality olive oil
*Lemon zest
*Macadamia nuts
*Swiss chard
*Salt and lots of pepper
*Mascarpone for garnish (Or you could mix some in, but it may end up looking messy...)

ps. Today, as I was biking home, I got pooped on twice by birds. This either means that I am very lucky, or that it takes me too long to bike home.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Food shots of the weekend...

The tiniest snail ever.

The biggest bowl of wild berries I have ever hand picked.

The most succulent piglet I have ever met.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Easy Entertaining - Vive l'été!

Summer makes it all so easy.
I actually started my shopping after lunch - I walked to different little shops around Aylmer - then unpacked, had a nap, and eventually put everything together.

This is how it should be. Invite people over (in this case two faaaaabulous guests, Rachelle and Ryan!), spend one hour in the kitchen, then enjoy the company.

I did not take pictures of the meal except for dessert - Rachelle did take a few snapshots and maybe she will review me, and put me on Urban Spoon soon... I need to thank Stephen for the excellent menu ideas!!! Again, giving the kudos to those who inspire.

If you live close by, I wanted to mention a great little farm, Les Potagers Eardley. I bought some veggies, tomatoes and blueberries for our dinner...

I go there about once a week at this time of year until October. You can pick your berries (this year you could do strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) and they have a lot of veggies. All is displayed so nicely, prices are much better than Byward & Parkdale. Selection varies depending, well, on what is left in the field! They even have animals that you can pet behind the farm house.

What was this dessert? It was heavenly.
*Vanilla ice cream
*Coffee syrup (A few shots of espresso + sugar, reduced by half, chilled)
*Toasted slivered almond
*Blueberries in chocolate (Melt chocolate, pour over blueberries, freeze)
*Grated cinnamon

The cinnamon and almonds were just an extra yummy touch - I actually forgot them when I served the dessert! But then I redid one for myself and it was simply sublime.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Inspiration. You open a door and never know what might happen.

In art, some people bring tears to my eyes, literally. Open a book, walk into an exhibit...
Francis Bacon, Henry Darger - I saw a Damien Hirst piece today, breathtaking.
They inspire me to go further, to never hold back.

In food, a few chefs in the Ottawa region really do inspire me.
But mostly, you know what? Regular, really awesome, super fabulous, incredibly fantastic people inspire me. Go to your bookmarks, see what others are eating, get cooking.
These people make me feel good. Like I don't need fancy-schmancy purées and sauces and reductions and foams. Just make it tasty.

Rachelle & Ryan, Scott, Anne, Kaitlin, Don, Kirsten, Eva, Shari, Asha, Ron, Mary, Giz & Psychgrad, Jennifer no-meat-babe... and so so many more. Thank you.

Inspired by Scott and Ryan (and whoever else has recently done this...)

Beef with herb-yummy stuff. Parsley, oregano, basil, garlic, jalapeno, bird's eye chili...

I hope more of you inspire me real soon: parley, fennel and swiss chard are monsters in my garden. The return of the grilled swiss chard! (Now with sambal!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Raspberry Pie and Patience

I am a fairly patient person.

I love picking berries. Time flies. Good pies.
I let people pass at the grocery store. And I smile. And I hope that one day they will let someone pass too.
I can paint or draw hands, just hands, for hours, days.
I don't mind waiting for a butterfly to stop fluttering in the garden.

.Bought a pie pan, bravo.
.Don't care much for butter based pie doughs. This was not my favourite.
.I mixed aged balsamic vinegar with the raspberries and sugar for this pie, yum.
.I am not a patient driver. I honk. I cuss.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Somen Noodles with Gai Lan

We've back from playing with bears and deer.
No more owl sounds, no more fireflies.
I am happy to be home, but, also a bit sad to have left the cottage with its beautiful surrounding lakes, vast fields, majestic forest.

It rained a bit, so this meant that we read and read and ate.
What a treat, I rarely have time to read. I indulged in a quick and funny read (Dishwasher, the quest of Pete the Dishwasher to wash dishes in each state of the U.S.), and a hilarious-are-you-sure-this-girl-isn't-my-sister book (It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me). Now that I am back home, I will convince myself to take the time to read through a Francis Bacon bio, also started at the cottage, before going back to work. I deserve reading time even if I am not in the woods.

Coming back from vacay equals:
*empty fridge.
*overgrown garden.

I spent all morning and a part of the afternoon in the garden. Pulling out, weeding, cutting, tying, lifting some plants from the ground to help them grow better, turning the soil to plant some more. Wow. We have a lot to eat in there!

I pulled all the Gai Lan (or Gai Larn as I read in Delicious magazine this week) and will plant some more. We ate it with somen noodles, our first cucumber (yay!), orange bell pepper, cilantro, snow peas, green onion.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Halloumi with Beets and Kale

Eating from the garden.
You have no choice but to be creative. Just like one of those tv reality challenges...
Prepare a dish from your pantry + kale and beets. (Feel like increasing the level of difficulty? Do this when you are not home, ha.)

These are our first beets.
Our kale. Our basil, parsley. Gosh, I am starting to love summer.

Beet and Halloumi Plate

Halloumi cheese
Olive oil
French shallots
Lemon (zest and juice)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Clean, tear and dry your kale. Toss with lemon rind, garlic, salt and oil. Bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes until crisp.

Cook your beets however you prefer. I love roasting them until slightly tender. Mandolin slice.

Heat some olive oil in a pan. Drop your halloumi slices, grind some fresh pepper, fry until golden on one side. Flip. Add lemon zest + juice, capers, shallot. Cook for a minute or two. Add garlic, cook for another minutes until second side is golden. Plate. Add fresh herbs to remaining oil and lemon juice. Drizzle over beets and cheese.

Had a lovely prosecco with this. The only thing that could make this moment better would be a solid game of bocci with my glass in hand.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

from our garden...

...into the big big bowl. I love salads.
Gai lan, swiss chard, radish, fennel tops, orange (obviously not from our garden!) that we ate with an orange-shallot-grainy mustard vinaigrette.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cool as a Cucumber

Biking to and from work these days has been, well, hot. I needed a bit of encouragement and luckily, Simon was there for me - he met me halfway and we cycled slowly in this crazy heat.

Days like these, at home, no bbq, no oven.

This soup can be made vegan - no need for the yoghurt if you don't want to - the almonds make it creamy enough.

Cucumber, Mint & Almond Soup

3 large garden cucumbers
1 cup veg stock
3/4 cup slivered almonds
handful of mint, some basil & dill
1/3 cup yoghurt
Lemon juice
Salt to taste

Blueberries in the Morning

A crumble to start the day.
Blueberry, Cinnamon & Almond.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Be a Good Guest...

...Bring a gift.

Fresh radishes from our garden. Beer and a nice rosé.

...Accept gifts graciously.

In this case, a delicious muddled drink from LCBO magazine. Strawberry, basil, rum, ginger beer.

...Eat what is served.

They almost gave me a heart attack by saying Big Mac. But it was sooooo pleasing and picture perfect. With sweet potato fries, a roasted red pepper and savoury/spicy/sour walnuts.

...End the evening with good manners and a sweet goodbye.

Black raspberries that I picked at the cottage this weekend. With cream and brown sugar. What more could you ask for? (Wait, let me check... friends, food, sun, a swimming pool, a bicycle ride. I think this is perfect.)

Tall Grass and Lily Pads

So we escaped for a couple of days (or so it seemed as it went by so fast!). One cottage sandwiched between two lakes.

Kayaking. I can explore, watch huge turtles and big fish. Herons, ducks, dragonflies.

Sailboating. My man just gliding away.

Swimming. Taking walks. Staring at the clouds. Fireflies at night. Owls and foxes waking me up, making me smile.

Eating whenever you feel like it. And oh, we ate.

Before leaving I prepared everything.

Dips and spreads. Meat marinating ready to be skewered. A whole fish with dill and lemon and yummy goodness. Salsas. Cold soup. It was fabulous having it all done in advance, it made everything so simple. Believe it or not, it took me two hours to prep, make a mess and clean - everyone should do this!!! Forget the pleasure of preparing a meal with a glass of wine, I wanted more time to read (I finished one book and got into reading another, Everything But the Squeal, thanks Mike!).

You can have wine as you read and are distracted by hummingbirds. You can have wine as you play rummy and not feel guilty. Play some frisbee right after. Go back to reading. Eat. Play some pool (and look like a fool!)

We ate our first 100% garden salad mix. I was so proud.

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