Thank you Jamie Oliver

What a great day it was when we learned to make this delicious tomato salad from a Jamie Oliver cookbook! The farmer’s markets (or if you’re lucky, your back yards) are full of them now. Of course we’ve made it often enough we keep adapting it, so it’s not exactly as it was. In this case we used some red onion from the market, the usual dried oregano, balsamic, EVOO, and pepper. Then a chiffonade of basil from the urban farm, to top it off. Goes with anything, or itself. Mmmm.

Goodness Can Come from a Can

We made this tasty dish earlier in the week: Salmon Pasta Pesto Toss. It all started with some basil and walnut pesto, made from basil we grew here on our urban farm. So many good things to make!

We cooked some whole grain pasta from Better Bulk. In the meantime, we tossed some veggies together with a little EVOO and cooked them until they were tender-crisp. In this case, we used celery, broccoli, yellow peppers, red onions, mushrooms, and carrot, all from the East York Farmer’s Market. Then we stirred in a large chopped tomato from Larry’s garden (not for sale – neighbour-ness has its privileges). We put the lid on and let it simmer while the pasta finished cooking.

Then at the end, we stirred in the drained pasta, a heaping tablespoon or two of the pesto, and a can of wild salmon. We popped on the lid and let it sit for 3 or 4 minutes for the flavours to develop. Quick comfort in a bowl. (For cold comfort, you could easily refrigerate this and serve it as a salad!)

Chop Chop! (Pork, of Course)

It’s true. Alfresco dining days are disappearing. But while we can, we’ll keep enjoying the backyard dining opportunities.

We grilled a regular grocery store Ontario pork chop (from Valu-Mart, down the street). It would be nice to do butcher shop chops every day, but it’s hard on the budget, so we do that as often as we can. These were dusted with a little bit of ground coriander.

On the side, we served cauliflower from the East York Farmer’s Market, and a grilled tomato topped with ermite cheese from Quebec. The tomato was fresh from our neighbours’ garden – even closer than the farm! The cauli came from the East York Farmers market. Go farmers!

Steak and Red Potato Garlic Smash

Yesterday we were at Fermentations to bottle some lovely Malbec. As we often do, we ducked next door to pick up something good from The Friendly Butcher. As always, we were spoiled for choice and almost couldn’t figure out what to do! But we settled on these delicious, tender steaks. Grilled just right (rare, thanks)…we served them with red potatoes boiled together with a clove or two of Ontario garlic, then smashed. Steamed green beans and yellow bell pepper rounded out the plate. Fresh, local, and delicious. Dinner doesn’t get any better than that.

PS, a disclaimer. Although we’re walkable, we did not try and walk home carrying two dozen bottles of wine and our steaks. But if pushed, we could!

Eat More Vegetables!

We love veggies. But one of the things we learned when we lost weight was: eat less, move more. The second thing we learned was: eat more fibre. And finally: eat veggies with everything. So we’re always looking for ways to tuck in a few more vegetable servings.

Take the humble tuna sandwich, for example. We made it on 100% whole wheat bread, just the regular old grocery store kind. We didn’t spread it with anything, to keep the fat content down. For the tuna filling, we used a can of tuna (makes 2 sandwiches), plus a diced yellow tomato (we hear you, it’s a fruit!), a tablespoon (15ml) of light mayo and a tablespoon (15ml) of Dijon mustard. We put it on the bread, then added a few leaves of mixed lettuce and arugula we’re growing out back on the urban farm.

Sound good? It tastes even better.

We Say Chickpea, You Say Garbanzo

No matter what they’re called, they make fantastic hummus. We cooked these chickpeas ourselves and stored them in the freezer until they were needed. They have a fresh taste that you just can’t quite get in the canned ones, and they’re much lower in sodium.

To make the hummus, in a food processor, mince a clove of garlic with the zest of half a lemon. To this, add about a cup of chickpeas, drained (but reserve the liquid), the juice of the lemon half (or, in a pinch, a couple of tablespoons of juice from a bottle and some lemon pepper instead of the zest), a heaping teaspoon (10ml) of tahini, and a half a teaspoon (2ml) of cumin. Buzz it together well then add the liquid, a little at a time, processing just until you get the consistency you want.  This hummus has a bright flavour that goes perfectly with all of these awesome vegetables we found at the East York Civic Centre Farmer’s Market.

You Can't Beat This Drum!

Friday we popped into Hooked on Queen Street to see what they had on offer. As usual there was a tremendous selection, making it difficult to choose.

The photo doesn’t do it justice – I’m no expert with phone photography, but we settled on these tasty Red Drum fillets from Nova Scotia. Pan-fried in a little butter, we then swirled a little chardonnay in the butter and pan drippings to make a sauce. On the side, we served steamed beans with carrot dice, and a boiled potato – all from the farmer’s market. Dee-lish!

It's Raining Bread. No, it's Raining: Bread.

When you’re stuck inside and the weather is cooling, it’s a great time to bake bread. Our bread-baking definitely falls off in the summertime, so we relish the cool wet days that occasionally appear.

We made this batch of spelt-buckwheat loaves on Friday. One has pumpkin seeds throughout, and on top; the rest are plain. All of them have an almost spicy flavour, even though we didn’t add any cinnamon or other spices to them. They make spectacular toast, and we even used some as the foundation for eggs benedict when our friend Rob came to visit.

Fingerling Out What to Do with these Potatoes

We found these delicious fingerling potatoes at the market, tiny and golden. But how to cook them?

Since we had plans to put a chicken on to roast, we decided maximizing our use of the oven was a fine idea. After rubbing the little fellows with some olive oil, we put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and ground on a little salt. Then we topped them with sprigs of rosemary we had growing out back. When the chicken was half-done (after 30 minutes at 450F) we put the potatoes in. At the one-hour mark we took the chicken out to rest, and turned off the oven, leaving these tiny morsels to finish cooking.

They were crispy on the outside, and creamy on the inside, and good all over.

Cool as a Cucumber

Last week I tweeted about the cucumber watermelon salad we were making – some folks wanted a recipe. It’s not much of a recipe, really, but here it is:

Peel some English cucumber and cut into thick chunks. Cube some watermelon about the same size, and remove the seeds. Place these in a bowl.

In a small prep bowl, whisk together 15ml (1T) olive oil and 30ml (2T) cider vinegar. Drizzle this over and give it a toss. Grind on a few good grinds of pepper. Then julienne some basil leaves and sprinkle over the top. We’re lucky enough to have lots of fresh basil growing on the urban farm, but it’s plentiful in stores right now, or in farmer’s markets.

Put the whole thing in the fridge until it’s well-chilled. It’s a sure-fire solution to cool you off on a sultry summer day.

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