Saturday, September 24, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup

Ahh yes. A velvety red soup bursting with summer flavours. Everyone was surprised at how sweet the soup tasted despite not using any sugar/honey/maple syrup. I sweated down 1 large onion in soya oil, added minced garlic, fresh thyme and a bay leaf. I added in a whole can of the roma tomatoes we processed last weekend and cooked them down until they smeared across the bottom of the pot.  Then i deglazed with equal parts homemade chicken stock and water. I added in a whole can of the roasted red peppers (also homemade) and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes. To finish, puree everything with an immersion blender and add a touch of cream and season with salt and pepper. I garnished the soup with a slice of tangy goat chevre. It melted into the soup (as smooth as sour cream) and complimented the pepper flavour wonderfully.  YUM!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Canning Sweet Peppers

What a nightmare!
Oh well, this sacrifice of a perfectly warm and sunny afternoon will benefit us through ought the winter.
I tend to idealize cooking and baking, but when it comes to canning and preserving, the process is often arduous, messy and (because of my laziness) disorganized.
Mom spearheaded this one, and together we canned about 2 bushels of red, bell peppers.
Don't get me wrong, I love cooking, but processing summer produce turns our dainty kitchen into a mini-factory.
We charred the red peppers under the broiler, on all sides. Then they were steamed in bowls covered with cling wrap. We peeled them, and soaked the silky strips in water to remove any lingering seeds. They were stuffed into sterilized jars and topped with a vinegar/oil/water solution, then finally heat-processed with lids. This was a day of pure, messy sacrifice.
My hands are stained red. Are you on the 100-mile diet? Do you want to eat red-peppers during the winter too? Call me up next summer. We'll bear the brunt together!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Split Pea and Sausage Stew

A creamy tomato-ey broth, bits of Italian sausage with fennel seeds, potatoes, yellow split peas, onions, thyme, apple and yellow pepper. Mmmm.
A little preview of autumn :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Canning Chili Sauce

Thanks so much to Karla Kerrigan and her mom for this one!
With a free Sunday afternoon and a bushel of paste tomatoes, I set about making chili sauce.
It's round #3 of the tomato battle: 1st was 5 bushels of whole, canned tomatoes; 2nd was tomato salsa and now...
While I had to adjust and tweak the recipe to suit the 100-mile challenge, the result was spectacular! Mine was not quite a ketchup consistency, rather halfway between Tabasco sauce and a tomato sauce. Upon first taste, it is sweet, rich and tomato-ey, but then a powerful kick comes in from the scotch-bonnet peppers, all rounded off by the lingering taste of spices (celery, mustard, bay and I used cinnamon too). I also pureed mine at the end for a perfect sauce consistency. Considering what I plan on using it for, it made sense:
With about 10 small jars canned and a few larger ones, I expect to be using them all winter long as a sauce for meat, a smear on toast, a spicy drizzle to finish soups, an addition to salsa and much more! While I've been dreading the end of summer and months of potatoes and cabbage again, with cans of this sauce in the cold cellar, I'm excited to make winter meat dishes. Think - tender meatloaf with a spicy chili sauce coating :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Beautiful Heirlooms

I had the pleasure of helping Angie from Fertile Grounds CSA at the Kitchener farmer's market again today. So many wonderful vegetables and fruits are at peak season right now and it was quite the sight to see! The tables were dancing with colour, flavour and freshness. Angie has been winning the fight against blight with the tomatoes this year (last year wasn't so successful) and the results are big, beautiful tomatoes of many varieties, bursting with flavour. In the top picture I am holding a "striped German" tomato. It has a yellow and pink marbled flesh and the sweetest taste. Being able to eat such rare varieties of vegetables is one of the biggest incentives to buying local or belonging to a CSA, in my opinion. Because heirloom vegetables are often too delicate and expensive to transport and sell at large chain grocery stores, you just can't buy them at the supermarket. For example, these 1-2lb tomatoes are rarely grown in bulk and have a very short shelf-life (their downfall). They are at their peak for only a few days and must be stored upside down on their "shoulders" to prevent from bruising. Being "high maintenance" ensures their absence from mainstream stores. However, if you  venture out of the store isles and into a market where local food has been picked less than 2 days before, you'll be graced with vegetables label-free, sans-packaging and out-of-this-world delicious taste!


Friday, September 2, 2011

Just Thrown on the Plate...

A spiced chicken breast, pan fried until perfectly tender. A variety of summer vegetables (picked the same day!) some of them blanched, were thrown in the pan at the last minute with the chicken. Salt, pepper (squeeze of lemon if you're no 100-mile) and voila! Very easy, but fresh veg made it to-die-for!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pasta Melanzane with a Twist

 "Eggplant Pasta" is delicious on it's own, but our fridge was bursting with so much produce from the farm that I was forced to find a way to cram more vegetables in. Eggplant, tomatoes, swiss-chard, beets greens, flat-leaf parsley, fresh sage, basil leaves and a few little cubes of tender beets made it into this one. Local buffallo mozzarella was stirred into the pot and each bowl was topped with aged pecorino.