Celery Gin Fizz 

I know what you’re probably thinking. “She’s taking this kitchen-inspired cocktails thing a little too far. A celery flavoured drink? Really?” Well, all I can say in response is don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, especially if you prepare it with fabulous, local celery as I did thanks to Just Farms at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. This is one awesome libation. Fresh, fizzy and a just a little sassy – don’t be surprised if your friends suddenly think you’re a mixologist par excellence after you serve up a round of these beauties.

With just a hint of celery flavour, this cocktail has an intriguing, refreshing flavour.

With just a hint of celery flavour, this cocktail has an intriguing, refreshing taste that will both surprise and delight your guests.

Ingredients

For the celery syrup:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) celery leaves (or ¾ cup / 185 mL chopped celery stalks)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 1 cup (250 mL) white sugar

For one cocktail:

  • 5 oz (45 mL) gin
  • ½ oz (15 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 5 oz (45 mL) celery syrup
  • Soda water
  • Ice
  • Celery stalk for garnish

Method

  • Combine celery leaves (or chopped stalks), water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Strain syrup into a clean jar; cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.
  • To make one cocktail, fill a cocktail shaker or 500 mL jar (with lid) with ice.
  • Add gin, lime juice and celery syrup.
  • Cover and shake well for 1 minute to blend and chill the drink.
  • Strain into a cocktail glass. Add 2 ice cubes and top with soda water. Garnish with a celery stalk.

Recipe makes 1 cup (250 mL) of celery syrup.

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Purple Cabbage and Apple Salad

As soon as I saw the gorgeous purple cabbage from Bergeron Gardens in my August Farmers’ Feast basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. This beautiful salad is quick to prepare and oh-so-colourful. I love using purple cabbage in salads for the lovely contrast and flavour it provides; just be aware that the vibrant colour will ‘bleed’ into other ingredients so you may not want to assemble this salad until just before serving time. Salty cashews make a great topping but almonds, pistachios or even sunflower seeds would be just as delicious.

Red cabbage makes for a glorious salad, especially with diced apples, a yummy vinaigrette and salty chopped nuts on top.

Purple cabbage makes for a glorious salad, especially with diced apples, a yummy vinaigrette and salty chopped nuts on top.

Ingredients

  • ½ head purple cabbage
  • 1 large apple (I like Romas as they don’t turn brown as quickly)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) finely minced shallot
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 mL) freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) minced fresh mint leaves
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons (45 – 60 mL) coarsely chopped salted cashews

Method

  • Shred cabbage really finely with a sharp knife or mandoline. You want 3 cups of shredded cabbage for the given quantity of dressing. Put in a serving bowl.
  • Core and finely slice the apple. Add to cabbage.
  • In a small jar with a tight fitting lid, combine lime juice and salt. Cover and shake until salt dissolves. Add olive oil, shallot, cumin and pepper. Cover and shake again.
  • Drizzle cabbage and apple with dressing. Toss well to combine. If not serving immediately, refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
  • When ready to serve, add chopped mint and toss. Sprinkle with cashews and serve.

Serves 4.

 

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Perfect Purple Potato Salad

Ever since I figured out a better way to make potato salad, I’ve enjoyed its flavour a lot more. Cooking the potatoes in salted water is an important first step; dousing them in vinegar as soon as your drain them is the real magic, though. The acid seeps into the potatoes giving them a pleasant tang, which means you don’t need an acidic dressing to get a lovely sweet-sour profile. When I spied gorgeous purple potatoes from Just Farms in my August Farmers’ Feast Basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, I knew right away what I wanted to do with them. Unlike some vibrant vegetables such as purple beans that lose all their colour when cooked, purple potatoes maintain a pretty great hue that is showcased in a dish like potato salad. Of course you can make this recipe with regular potatoes also, thought it won’t be quite so showy.

Purple potatoes, which don't lose their vibrant colour when cooked, make for a dramatic and delicious potato salad.

Purple potatoes, which don’t lose their vibrant colour when cooked, make for a dramatic and delicious potato salad.

Ingredients

1 pint (about 500 mL) small purple potatoes
1 tablespoon (15 mL) coarse salt
2 tablespoons (30 mL) white vinegar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced red onion
1 stalk celery, finely diced
¼ cup (60 mL) finely diced red pepper
1 dill pickle, minced
¼ teaspoon (1.25 mL) freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon (1.25 mL) salt
¾ teaspoon (3.75 mL) powdered mustard
¾ teaspoon (3.75 mL) crushed coriander seeds
½ cup (125 mL) mayonnaise
2 tablespoons (30 mL) minced fresh celery or parsley leaves

Method

  • Wash potatoes. Do not peel. Cut into 1” (2.5 cm) pieces and place in a large saucepan. Add just enough water to barely cover.
  • Sprinkle with salt and bring to boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. (6 – 8 minutes).
  • Drain potatoes in a colander and transfer to large bowl. Add vinegar and toss gently.
  • Let stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours. If letting stand for longer, refrigerate.
  • In a small bowl, stir together onion, coriander, red pepper, pickle, seasonings and mayonnaise.
  • Gently fold dressing into cooled potatoes.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Serves 3 – 4.

 

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Apricot Tart

This freeform tart or crostata really showcases apricots at their finest; I could think of no finer way to treat the luscious fruit from Warner’s Farm in my Ottawa Farmers’ Market August Farmers’ Feast basket. Because apricots have such tender skin, there’s no need to peel the fruit. You can adjust the quantity of sugar in the filling to suit your tastes – simply bake the fruit first per the directions, then taste and add a little more sugar if you like, before you put the fruit in the crust.

A rustic apricot tart showcases this fruit in an attractive and delicious way.

A rustic apricot tart showcases this fruit in an attractive and delicious way.

Ingredients

Pastry:

  •  1 ¾ cups (445 mL) all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 6 ounces (175 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 tablespoons (60 mL) cold water

Filling:

  •  2 pounds (900 grams) fresh apricots, washed and quartered (approximately 6 cups prepared fruit)
  • ½ cup (125 mL) white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) butter, in chunks

Glaze and topping:

  • 1 egg white, slightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) white sugar
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Place flour, sugar and salt into food processor. Add butter.  Pulse with on and off motion until mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  • Beat egg yolk lightly, add water. With machine running, add liquids to flour mixture, then immediately turn off machine.
  • Turn mixture (it will still be crumbly) out onto lightly floured surface and gently knead together into a ball.
  • Flatten mixture into a circle, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.
  • Place fruit slices in a baking dish, sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar, then dot with butter. Bake for about 10 minutes until fruit is just tender but not mushy.  Let cool to room temperature.
  • Roll out chilled pastry between 2 sheets of parchment paper, lightly flouring dough, to a 12” or 13” (30 – 35 cm) circle.
  • Transfer pastry to parchment-lined pizza pan or large baking sheet (edges of dough can overlap edges of sheet for now). With a slotted spoon, add fruit to centre of pastry, leaving a 3” (7.5 cm) empty border.
The fruit will continue to shrink as it cooks so don't worry about overfilling the pastry.

The fruit will continue to shrink as it cooks so don’t worry about overfilling the pastry.

  • Reserve fruit juices in baking dish.
  • Fold pastry border up over fruit, leaving the centre of the pie open (so fruit shows in centre).
  • Glaze pastry with egg white, pressing folds gently to seal, then sprinkle with pastry with sugar. Scatter sliced almonds over exposed fruit.
Many people find a freeform pie easier to assemble and serve.

Many people find a freeform pie easier to assemble and serve.

  • Bake on middle rack in oven for about 25 minutes or until pastry is uniformly golden.
  • Boil down any fruit juices (you can do this in the microwave) until slightly thickened (about 2 minutes), then pour juices into centre opening of tart to glaze the fruit.
  • Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 8.

 

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Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Leek and Red Pepper

I have to confess that I have never been a big fan of Brussels sprouts so I was a little intimidated when I saw a box of them from the Avonmore Berry Farm stall at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market in my Farmers’ Feast Challenge basket. Despite a lifelong love of other cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli, cabbage and bok choy, I have consistently avoided these little green orbs. I suspect it was the bitter, sulphurous odour they give off (not to mention the corresponding taste) when they are overcooked. At any rate, I will be ignoring these humble sprouts no more. Packed with nutrition, they are also exceptionally delicious when prepared with a little care. This pretty salad is a winner.

After a lifetime of avoiding Brussels sprouts, I am now a big fan of them, thanks to this tasty salad recipe which features, leeks, red peppers, a delicious vinaigrette and a topping of Parmesan.

After a lifetime of avoiding Brussels sprouts, I am now a big fan of them, thanks to this tasty salad recipe which features, leeks, red peppers, a delicious vinaigrette and a topping of Parmesan.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) thinly sliced leeks (white and light green portion only)
  • 1 cup ( 250 mL) thinly sliced red pepper
  • 1 pint (approximately 225 grams) Brussels sprouts
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) coarse sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons (5 – 10 mL) maple syrup, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) Parmesan shards

Method

  • Trim the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts then slice them thinly (1/4 inch / .3 cm or less) from top to bottom. You should get about 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) of sliced Brussels sprouts.
  • In a small jar with a tight fitting lid, combine thyme leaves, olive oil, maple syrup, cider vinegar and Dijon. Cover and shake until well blended. Set aside.
  • In a large, shallow pan (use a wok if you have one), heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced leeks and red peppers. Sauté for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring often, until tender.
  • Add sliced Brussels sprouts and salt to the pan and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring often, until the sprouts are turning bright green and the thickest slices are just barely tender. Don’t overcook the sprouts as this will give them a bitter taste.
  • Transfer the cooked vegetables to a serving bowl. Drizzle with dressing and toss. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

Serves 4.

 

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Grilled Banana Peppers with Chèvre and Crispy Proscuitto

I’m so happy to share my new favourite appetizer. Also my new favourite lunch, mid-afternoon snack and late-night treat…. The banana peppers came from Bergeron Gardens at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market and I always keep both chèvre and proscuitto in the freezer as they are so versatile. I love dishes with a subtle bit of heat rather than those that leave me feeling scorched, and these beauties deliver just the right amount of kick, balanced by the creamy chèvre and salty proscuitto.

These grilled, stuffed banana peppers are easy to make and super tasty!

These grilled, stuffed banana peppers are easy to make and super tasty!

Ingredients

  • 4 slices proscuitto
  • 4 banana peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
  • ½ cup (125 mL) chèvre, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) torn basil leaves

Method

  • Preheat the barbeque to medium-hot (400F).
  • In a frying pan or on a parchment-lined tray in a hot oven, cook prosciutto until it is thoroughly crispy. Watch it closely so it does not burn. Set aside to cool.
  • Place peppers, cut side down, on the hot grill. Cook for 10 minutes, turning several times, until skin side is beginning to char. Remove from grill.
  • While peppers are cooking, crumble the crispy prosciutto into the chèvre. Add the basil and stir gently to combine well.
  • Once peppers are cooked, let them cool for 2 minutes (or longer) and fill them with the chèvre mixture.
  • Serve within an hour.
  • If making ahead, refrigerate for up to 24 hours and remove from fridge one hour before serving.

Serves 4 – 8 people.

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Spaghetti Squash, Leek and Green Bean Frittata

I love making frittatas for brunch because they don’t take too long to prepare and they are a great way to use up little bits of produce, cheese and meat you have on hand from other meals. I often put leftover cooked pasta in my frittatas, so when I spied a tempting spaghetti squash from Just Farms in this month’s Farmers’ Feast basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, I thought it might be fun to replace the pasta with squash strands. This frittata turned out to be a delicious, hearty gluten-free experiment that I’m sure I’ll be making again. Toss up a nice green side salad and you’ll be dishing up a lovely lunch that is both nutritious and delicious.

Frittatas are a great way to use up small quantities of vegetables; they can also showcase the freshest seasonal produce as well.

Frittatas are a great way to use up small quantities of vegetables; they can also showcase the freshest seasonal produce as well.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
  • 1 leek, white part only
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
  • handful thin French beans, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) milk
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) chèvre
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh celery leaves, parsley or basil

Method

  • Remove seeds from the half spaghetti squash. Place cut side down in a steamer basket and steam in a covered pot of simmering water for 15 minutes or until the skin pierces easily with the tip of a sharp knife.
  • Remove squash from pot and let cool for 5 minutes then shred the flesh (creating spaghetti-like strands) with the tines of a fork. Discard the rind.
  • Place the shredded flesh in a strainer and balance over a bowl. Let drain for 5 minutes, tossing gently a few times with a fork or your fingers. Leave in strainer until ready to use.
  • While squash is draining, trim the root end off the leek then split the leek in half lengthwise. Pull the layers apart with your fingers as you run the halves under cold running water, rinsing out any dirt or grit. Slice finely.
  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • Preheat the olive oil in a 9 inch (22.5 cm) cast iron pan until it is warm but not too hot. Add the sliced leeks and jalapenos. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
  • Add the halved beans and drained spaghetti squash, along with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes more, stirring often.
  • While vegetables are cooking, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream and chèvre until well blended.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the cast iron pan and stir briefly with a fork to combine. Sprinkle with chopped celery leaves.
  • Cook on stovetop over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer pan to preheated oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until set in the centre.
  • Let stand 2 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Serves 3 – 4

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