Garlicky Grilled Artichokes

I have to admit I was a little surprised to find artichokes this week in my Farmers’ Feast basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market – for some reason, I thought they only grew in warmer climates than ours. While I love artichokes now (this pasta dish is a real favourite in our house), I never tasted them until I was in my 30s as they just seemed a little unapproachable. In fact, they rank up there pretty high on my list of foods that make me wonder who the first brave soul was to experiment to see if they were edible. In the past, I’ve usually just steamed artichokes and served with lemon butter but now, after tasting them grilled, I’ll never prepare them any other way. When you eat the cooked artichokes, the customary method is to peel off the leaves, starting with the outer one, and dip the thick end in the garlic-butter-lemon mixture. If you’re a little impatient, like my husband, you might want to just dig in and pull out the centre ‘choke’ and eat that, ignoring the fiddly leaves.  This dish works best with tender young artichokes although you could also make it with larger, more mature ones, but be advised that the chokes may be a little tough to eat.

Grilling tender young artichokes brushed with garlic and lemon butter greatly enhances their flavour.

Grilling tender young artichokes brushed with garlic and lemon butter greatly enhances their flavour.

Ingredients

  • 6 small artichokes
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper

Method

  • Preheat barbeque to medium-high.
  • Prepare the artichokes by stripping off the first layer of two of tough outer leaves. Trim the stems to about 1/4 inch (6 mm) and cut the top 1/2 inch (1.25) off the pointy top of the artichoke. If the artichokes are not tender young ones, you may also need to snip the spiky tips off the leaves with a pair of scissors. Put the prepared artichokes in a steamer basket.
  • In a broad pan with a tight lid, put enough water to come to just below the base of the steamer basket. Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the lemon juice. Put the steamer basket with the artichokes in it into the pan and cover with the lid.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat; when the pot comes to boil, reduce heat to medium-high.
  • Steam the artichokes for 10 – 15 minutes until the stem ends are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
  • While artichokes are steaming, put butter and garlic in a heatproof bowl and microwave on medium-low heat for 2 minutes to melt butter and slightly cook the garlic. Add lemon juice and stir well.
  • Remove the cooked artichokes from the pan and place on a cutting board. Slice them in half from top to stem end.
  • Brush the cut sides of the artichokes with the butter mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Grill, cut sides down, for about 5 – 7 minutes, until artichokes are very slightly charred.
  • Serve with remaining butter mixture for dipping.

Serves 2 – 4.

Posted in barbeque, Farmers' Feast, Grilling, Ottawa Farmers' Market, summer, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wilted Summer Slaw

I don’t remember liking cabbage very much as a kid, but now it has become a vegetable I reach for often, due to its versatility, great flavour and awesome nutritional properties. I love both the crispy, crunchy texture of raw cabbage as well as the softer, gentler flavour when it’s slow-simmered; this dish is a compromise between the two. Unlike traditional slaws where the dressing is added to the shredded vegetables, this one is made in reverse. You make the vinaigrette first, in a frying pan, then add the vegetables for a very quick sauté – just enough to wilt and soften them just a bit, without eliminating their delicious crunch.

This made-in-reverse coleslaw features a zippy dressing which is heated to just barely wilt the vegetables. It's delicious!

This made-in-reverse coleslaw features a zippy dressing which is heated to just barely wilt the vegetables. It’s delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons (30 – 45 mL) cider vinegar
  • 2 cups (500 mL) shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 red pepper, in thin strips
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) shredded carrots
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Handful fresh parsley or cilantro leaves, chopped

Method

  • In a large frying pan, toast the coriander and chili flakes over medium heat for about 2 – 3 minutes, stirring often, until they become fragrant.
  • Add the olive oil and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, until garlic is softened.
  • Add 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of cider vinegar and stir. Taste the dressing and if you like it tangier, add one more tablespoon (15 mL) of vinegar.
  • Add the cabbage, pepper and carrots and stir well to coat with the oil and spice mixture. Cook, stirring often, for 2 – 3 minutes until cabbage is beginning to wilt.
  • Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper; taste and adjust if needed.
  • Spoon the slaw into a serving dish and garnish with parsley or cilantro.

Serves 2 – 3

Posted in Farmers' Feast, Ottawa Farmers' Market, Salads, vegan, Vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grilled flatbreads with grilled eggplant, cream cheese and purslane

I am often asked what my process is for creating a new recipe and I wish I could tell you it’s very linear and logical, but usually it’s exactly the opposite. I’ll spy a beautiful ingredient I’ve been longing to work with and that will get my creative juices flowing, typically in about fifteen different directions. I’ll read about someone’s perfect restaurant meal, or see their photo of a dish, and that will get me thinking about multiple variations on that theme. Sometimes I get handed things to work with and I have to do a little sleuthing to figure out what to do with them.

That was the case this week when I spied some succulent, leafy greens in my Farmers’ Feast challenge basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. I discovered they were purslane, a nutritionally-rich member of the portulaca family. Purslane has a slightly tangy, salty taste and has been commonly eaten for centuries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico while in North America it was long considered a weed. I learned that it’s packed with vitamins A, B and C as well as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. After nibbling many tasty leaves on their own, I decided they would be delicious on a flatbread, accompanied by some garlicky grilled eggplant and fresh cream cheese from Fromagerie les Folies Bergères. I had fun making flatbread dough and grilling the ovals on the barbeque but you could easily make this recipe with purchased flatbreads too. It made for a fantastic lunch and would be a perfect appetizer too.

Grilled flatbread topped with cream cheese, garlicky grilled eggplant and tasty greens such as purslane makes for a delicious lunch or a fun appetizer.

Grilled flatbread topped with cream cheese, garlicky grilled eggplant and tasty greens such as purslane makes for a delicious lunch or a fun appetizer.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup (250 mL) warm water
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) yeast
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) white sugar
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups (375 – 500 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 mL) salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil

Toppings

  • 3 – 4 small eggplants, sliced 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup (180 mL) fresh cream cheese
  • 2 cups (500 mL) fresh purslane leaves (or arugula)

Method

  • Put the warm water in a large bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one). Sprinkle yeast and sugar over top and let sit 3 minutes until frothy.
  • Add 1 ½ cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt and olive oil to yeast mixture and stir to blend well until the dough comes together. Add more all-purpose flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
  • If using a stand mixer, knead for 4 – 5 minutes, adding flour as needed to keep from sticking. Otherwise, turn dough out on a floured surface and knead by hand, also adding flour as needed.
  • Put the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for an hour, or put in the fridge if using later in the day. If refrigerated, remove from fridge ½ hour before shaping dough.
  • When ready to prepare flatbreads, preheat barbeque to medium-high.
  • Cut dough into six equal pieces and on a floured surface, shape each one into an oval, about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rest while you prepare the eggplant.
  • Combine olive oil and garlic in a small bowl.
  • Lay eggplant slices out on a baking sheet and brush both sides with garlic olive oil. Reserve 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the oil mixture to brush on cooked flatbreads.
  • Grill eggplant slices on barbeque about 3 minutes per side until they are softened and have nice grill marks. Remove from grill and place on the same baking tray.
  • One eggplant is cooked, place ovals of flatbread dough on the barbeque. Grill the first side for 5 minutes, then flip and grill for 4 – 5 minutes longer.
  • Remove flatbreads from grill and brush with reserved garlic oil. Top with cream cheese, grilled eggplant slices and purslane leaves.
  • Finish with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 flatbreads.

Posted in barbeque, Breads, brunch, Entertaining, Farmers' Feast, Food Finds, Grilling, local, Local Food, Ottawa Farmers' Market, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grilled Corn, Tomatillo and Red Pepper Salsa

I am a big fan of grilled corn on the cob. Somehow the smokiness imparted by grilling seems to accentuate the corn’s natural sweetness. It’s also a great way to enjoy corn on a hot summer’s day without heating up your kitchen. This salsa is a perfect showcase for sweet corn and peppers; their flavour is balanced nicely by the tartness of the tomatillos and the tangy vinegar. You can easily double, triple or quadruple the recipe for a large gathering and, like most salsas, it tastes even better when it’s had a little time to sit. I hope the nice people at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market (especially Needham’s and Just Farms who supplied the key ingredients for this dish as part of this edition of the fun Farmers’ Feast challenge) think about giving this recipe a try – it’s one I’ll be making over and over again. It’s great with tortilla chips but I am certain it will be equally delicious on grilled chicken or fish; you could even sprinkle it on lettuce for a quick, zippy salad.

Grilling fresh corn, tomatillos and red pepper before making them into salsa adds a ton of extra flavour.

Grilling fresh corn, tomatillos and red pepper before making them into salsa adds a ton of extra flavour.

Ingredients

  • 1 ear fresh corn, shucked
  • 3 tomatillos, papery skin removed
  • 1/2 small red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced hot pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste
  • Few dashes hot sauce, if desired

Method

  • Preheat barbeque to medium hot. Put a small grill pan (or piece of heavy duty foil) on the grate, on one side of the grill.
  • While grill heats, cut tomatillos into 1/2 inch wide (1.25 cm) wedges and slice red pepper into 1/4 inch (.6 cm) wide strips.
  • When barbeque is hot, place husked ear of corn directly on the grill. Cook, turning often, for about 10 minutes, until corn is nicely charred.
  • While corn cooks, put tomatillos and red peppers in the grill basket or on top of the foil and cook for about 5 – 7 minutes, until softened and edges are charred. Remove from barbeque.
  • Dice cooked tomatillos and red pepper and place in a bowl. Add hot pepper, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
  • When corn is cooked, remove the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife or corn zipper/stripper and add to the bowl. Stir well to combine and taste. Adjust seasoning (sugar, salt, pepper, hot sauce) to your liking and serve with tortilla chips for dipping.
  • If not serving immediately, cover bowl and let sit at room temperature for up to 6 hours; refrigerate for longer storage.

Makes approximately 1.5 cups (375 mL) of salsa.

Posted in Appetizers, barbeque, Farmers' Feast, Grilling, Ottawa Farmers' Market, summer, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yellow Bean, Red Potato and Cherry Tomato Salad with Bacon

I adore yellow beans. As a kid, they were one of the vegetables I always wanted to pick in our large garden and I could eat them every day. I was convinced their flavour was vastly superior to green beans. These days, I tend to cook green beans more often because I like the pop of colour they provide on a plate, but I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the yellow ones. It was therefore with great excitement that I set out to do something special with the lovely yellow beans and red potatoes from Needham’s in my Farmers’ Feast challenge basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market; the cherry tomatoes came from my own small garden. This salad was deemed a real winner by my family and I loved it so much, I might even make it with green beans.

Fresh from the garden yellow beans, red skinned potatoes and cherry tomatoes are fabulous topped with a bacon-studded dressing.

Fresh from the garden yellow beans, red skinned potatoes and cherry tomatoes are fabulous topped with a bacon-studded dressing.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (454 g) red skinned potatoes, cut in 3/4 inch (2 cm) pieces
  • 10 ounces (300 g) yellow beans
  • 4 strips bacon, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Dijon
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) red wine vinegar
  • 5 ounces (150 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh basil

Method

  • Cook the diced bacon in a medium frying pan over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp.
  • While the bacon is cooking, put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat slightly; cook until just tender (test with the tip of a knife). When the potatoes are cooked, drain them using a colander and place in a serving bowl.
  • While the potatoes and bacon are cooking, bring another pot of water to a boil. Add the trimmed beans and cook until just tender, about 3 – 4 minutes. Drain in the colander and then rinse under cold water.
  • Dry the beans well with a tea towel (or paper towel) and cut them into approximately 3 inch (7.5 cm) pieces. Add the beans to the potatoes in the bowl.
  • When the bacon is cooked, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 – 3 minutes, until softened.
  • Remove the bacon pan from the heat and add the Dijon, olive oil and red wine vinegar; stir to combine.
  • Add the tomatoes to the bacon pan and let wilt for a minute or two.
  • Pour the bacon and dressing over the potatoes and beans and toss gently to combine.
  • It’s best served while still warm but you can refrigerate and reheat to just above room temperature in the microwave. Don’t sprinkle the basil on top until you are ready to serve.

Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side dish.

Posted in Farmers' Feast, Ottawa Farmers' Market, Salads, summer, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fruit-filled Breakfast Bars

These little beauties are ridiculously tasty, so much so that you might forget they actually include some pretty nutritious ingredients. I was inspired to make them when I spotted some perfectly ripe plums from Warners Farm in my Farmers’ Feast challenge basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. While the plums are a fantastic choice, I am confident the bars would be equally delicious made with any fruit, especially ones with a bit of tartness to them. I made a batch with a vegan margarine and that was also very successful. I plan to try them with raspberries next. They’re so quick and easy to prepare, I know I’ll be making these often as they were a huge hit with my family.

Oats, almonds and fresh fruit make these delicious breakfast bars a healthy morning treat!

Oats, almonds and fresh fruit make these delicious breakfast bars a healthy morning treat!

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) flour
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) rolled oats (not instant)
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each baking powder and baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) melted butter

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced plums
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) finely minced fresh ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons (20 mL) flour
  • 4 teaspoons (20 mL) melted butter

Method

  • Line an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Prepare crust by combining ingredients in the order listed above, blending together until evenly crumbly.
  • Divide crust mixture in half; pour one half into the prepared baking pan. With your fingers or a spatula, spread to form an even layer, pressing down firmly.
  • Bake bottom crust for 12 minutes.
  • While crust is baking, combine fruit filling ingredients in the order given and stir to blend well. Set aside.
  • After bottom crust has baked, pour fruit mixture over top, using a spoon to distribute evenly.
  • Sprinkle remaining crumble over top of fruit (it’s easiest to do this by hand, rather than with a spoon).
  • Return the pan to the oven and bake 30 – 35 minutes more, until golden brown on top.
  • Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then lift the bars out using the parchment paper as handles.
  • Let cool completely on a wire rack (speed this up by putting the bars and wire rack into the fridge), then cut into 18 bars.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.

Makes 18 bars.

Posted in Baking, Breakfast, Farmers' Feast, Fruit, Ottawa Farmers' Market | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farmers’ Feast – August 2015 Edition

One of the reasons I said yes when asked by the Ottawa Farmers’ Market to participate in their Farmers’ Feast Challenge was that I love how it pushes me to try new ingredients, new ideas and often new techniques. The idea is simple: several times a year, a mystery basket of ingredients arrives at my doorstep, and I spend a few deliriously happy days hunkered down in my kitchen cooking with all the farm-fresh goodies. While this month’s basket contained items that were mostly familiar to me, I did enjoy learning about purslane and tomatillos, neither of which I’ve worked with before. You can enjoy the same kind of experience simply by visiting any farmers’ market. They’re sure to have on display new-to-you varieties of produce and the farmers themselves are great sources of information on how to store and prepare the food they’ve so carefully grown.  One thing that amazed me (and as a regular farmers’ market shopper I really should know by now not to be amazed by this) about the fruit and vegetables in this month’s basket was just how fresh and full of flavour everything is. You really can taste the difference.

The bounty of the season is well represented in this month's Farmers' Feast challenge basket from the Ottawa Farmers' Market.

The bounty of the season is well represented in this month’s well-stocked Farmers’ Feast challenge basket; all items are from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market.

As in the past (check the Constantly Cooking archives for previous Farmers’ Feast posts), I’ll be sharing all the results of my experimentation in the days ahead. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for a cantaloupe recipe – it was so perfect and ripe, we just ate it ‘as is’. Here are the goodies I’ll be working with, and the farms that produced them:

  • Kiwan Gardens: Romano beans, eggplant, purslane
  • The Beet Box: Hispi cabbage
  • Warner’s Farm: Italian (blue) and Shiro (yellow) plums
  • Needham’s: Sweet corn, yellow beans, red potatoes, cantaloupe
  • Just Farms: Tomatillos, green tomatoes, hot pepper, artichokes
  • Fromagerie Les folies bergères: sheep’s milk cream cheese

I’ll add links to the recipes below as each one gets posted. I hope you find some inspiration for your next trip to the Farmers’ Market.

Fruit-filled Breakfast Bars

Yellow Bean, Red Potato and Cherry Tomato Salad with Bacon

Grilled Corn, Tomatillo and Red Pepper Salsa

Grilled flatbreads with grilled eggplant, cream cheese and purslane

Wilted Summer Slaw

Garlicky Grilled Artichokes

 

Posted in Farmers' Feast, Fruits, Fruits and vegetables, Local Food, Ottawa Farmers' Market, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments