Well, although we had a warm, sunny Thanksgiving, it will turn chilly soon enough. So we’ve been busy gathering what we can from the garden, preserving, freezing, drying and cooking the fruits of our labours so we can enjoy them all winter long.
With a bumper crop of basil, we decided to make some pesto. Here’s what you do:
In the food processor, chop some garlic (1-3 cloves, as you prefer it). Then add a couple of good handfuls of basil leaves, about 1/3 cup of walnuts, and a couple of ounces of parmesan cheese, freshly ground. Traditionalists use pine nuts, but walnuts are always easier to find, especially in the fall. Besides, they appeal to our frugal natures. Pulse it until it’s coarsely chopped, then, with the food processor running, pour extra virgin olive oil in the spout until it reaches a thick, saucy consistency. Store in mason jars, topped with a layer of olive oil, in the fridge for a week or two (add more oil each time you take out some pesto), or in the freezer if you want to keep it longer. Simply thaw it in the fridge the day before you want to use it.
We love the many uses of pesto – as a base for pizza, tossed with some pasta, rubbed on a chicken, or mixed into a homemade vinaigrette. We could go on and on…but instead, we’ll stop for now (and maybe make some more pesto).
Thanksgiving around our house means two kinds of pie (pumpkin and apple), cranberry sauce (homemade, of course), squash, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, gravy, and of course, turkey with dressing. Whether it’s held on Sunday or Monday, it’s all about family. (Psst: Happy Birthday, Kathryn!)
Here’s a picture of this year’s succulent bird, before dinner. We’d like to share more photos, but we were too busy cooking, carving, chatting, and eating.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
This sumptuous soup started with some spicy roasted squash, adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe. We took a hubbard squash and cut it into wedges, rubbing them with a mixture of olive oil and some delicious spicy peppers (pureed) from the farmer’s market and a bit of ground fennel and coriander. Roasted for about an hour at 400F, or until soft, we used some of them for dinner and chilled the leftovers in the fridge.
The next day, we took some of our homemade veggie broth from the fridge, and blanched half an onion and a carrot. Then we tipped in the remaining squash and let it simmer til the veg were tender, about 10 minutes. A quick blend with an immersion blender (or a potato masher will do, not quite as smoothly, in a pinch) and it was nearly ready. A cup or so of milk (we used 1% – choose your fat according to your preference) lent a creamier colour. Then we drizzled with a little fat-free Greek yogurt, and decorated with some chopped garlic chives from the urban farm. It warmed us through and through.
Yesterday, on a drizzly day, we took a midday break and headed for The Friendly Butcher. Despite the gray, chilly atmosphere, “Oz” and “Buddy” (sorry, we didn’t get your names – these are your new monikers) entertained and amused us with their positive attitudes and their helpful advice. Here, a tasty lamb chop, browned with some aromatic olive oil, celery, onion and garlic. We deglazed with a little red wine, then mixed in a spicy pepper from the farmer’s market, oregano, mushrooms, and olives. Finally we chopped in a huge yellow heritage tomato from The Big Carrot and let it braise in the oven for about 45 minutes at 400F. Meanwhile we cooked some red and blue fingerlings with the skins on. When it was all done, we mashed the potato with a little milk and butter. Ahhh, friendly lamb, friendly fall.
Ripe, juicy peaches – mmm! They look so tempting at the Farmer’s Market. We freeze some. We make jam. We put batches up in jars. Yet still, we keep buying them, because they’re so delicious. Then suddenly, they’re all ripening at once!
Here’s a tasty and different way to use them up. We took 4 slices of whole-grain bread, and spread them with Organic Meadow cream cheese. Then we grated a tiny layer of delicious goat cheese from Montforte on one side. Next, grate a bit of fresh ginger, and top with thin slices of fresh peach. Top with the second piece of bread, and butter the top. Grill in a nonstick pan with just a little butter, flipping when they’re golden.
Tastes like summer!
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!
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!
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.
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!