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Archive for the ‘Leeks’ Category

I’ve been waiting for some inspiration in the last year in order to bring you some new recipes on Gourm(eh), and I’ve finally admitted to myself the reason that it’s been a slow time in my culinary adventures. The truth is, it’s not very exciting to cook for oneself. One thing that I’ve really enjoyed, however, has been long-distance meal-planning with my significant other, especially because it’s so exciting to see that despite distance, food is still able to bring us together and we often send messages back-and-forth of ideas and questions about how best to prepare things, and what produce has been good lately at the market or grocery store. Yes I’ll admit, Hamilton is a bit ahead of Ottawa, but we’ve got some good things here too now! It’s not nearly as nice as a meal together, but it will do if it’s all we’ve got for now!

I’m telling you this because this recipe was inspired by his own a few weeks ago. A tomato sauce with beets! I had one pound of delicious ground beef from my CSA box, new young leeks, fresh oregano and beets, so I decided to attempt some meatballs with spaghetti and a spicy beet tomato sauce. The spicy sauce is well-balanced by the sweet beet base, and it goes very well with flavourful beef.

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Ingredients – 4 servings

Meatballs

1 lb ground beef, extra lean
2 young leeks, cleaned and minced
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
3 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed (I like to pound mine in a mortar and pestle)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 egg
dash salt and pepper
olive oil

Spicy beet tomato sauce

1 onion, diced
2 young leeks, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 – 1 tsp dried chili flakes (to taste)
1 beet, diced into small pieces
1  good tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 can diced tomatoes (796 mL or 28 Oz)

Spaghetti or other pasta, enough for 4 (according to package)

Parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Mix all ingredients for meat balls except olive oil and egg in a bowl with hands until everything is well mixed, then add the egg. Form into small balls in the palm of your hands, and place on a plate drizzled with olive oil. Roll the meatball in the olive oil so it is coated, and repeat until you have made all the mixture into meatballs. Depending on the size, you should get 20-30 meatballs. Set aside in refrigerator while you prepare the sauce.

For the sauce, dice the onions first, and heat up the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onions for a few minutes, then add the minced leek. Cook for a few more minutes and then add the garlic, chili flakes and basil. Stir until the onion is soft and everything is fragrant. Add the beet, and then the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a strong simmer and then reduce the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, while you prepare the meatballs and the pasta.

For the meatballs, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat in another frying pan. Once the oil is hot, cook the meatballs, turning them carefully so all sides brown. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, until they are cooked through (you should not see any pink inside).  Set on a paper-towel lined plate once cooked.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook pasta to your liking. Pour a ladle-full of water into the beet sauce to make it a little saucier if you like. Serve the meatballs tossed in the sauce, over the pasta, with grated parmesan and enjoy!

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Muskox burger

I’ve been saving photos of many things for Gourm(eh) in the past month. Life up North has been ever-consuming, and I was waiting for a window during which I could start posting. Since we started up Gourm(eh), we’ve been trying to explore Canadian cuisine. We’ve posted traditional dishes and others from almost each continent. I think that really points to how wonderfully multi-cultural our country is, and I must say I really enjoy that fact.

During my stay up in Hay River, I think I finally have learned a little more about Canadian cuisine. As a small northern community (although large for the territories), pot-lucks, dinners, the market and cooking clubs with kids at the school have shown me several new secrets about Canadian food. Here, if it contains meat (wild or store-bought) and it sticks to your ribs it is good, keeping you fuelled through the cold and dark months. It’s pretty much “no meat, no good” in the families that have been here for generations. An influx of new folks has started to change up the tastes in town (including Chinese and vegetarian), but those are not yet mixed into the norm, from my observation.

One pleasure I’ve had has been to explore wild meats here. I am always asking the kids stories about hunting with their families, talking with elders about how they lived on the land. It’s fascinating, and every story involves new and interesting information I’m still not sure how to fit together. It’s also been fun trying all the different wild meats common around here, from Bison to Caribou and Fish. Last week, we made these Muskox burgers which were unbelievably delicious. Muskox has its own unique flavour, and is totally lean. The afternoon before we cooked them, I happened to hear some advice from a child’s mother: include oats and eggs or else they will fall apart the meat is so crumbly!

The most surprising thing about Muskox is that even though we always buy extra lean ground beef, I’m used to my burgers and meatballs shrinking. With Muskox meat, we shaped burgers into medium-sized patties hoping to end up with small patties, as we do with beef. This time, though, the patties did not shrink at all, leaving us with exactly the same volume as we began with. If you’re a meat-eater, I highly recommend trying Muskox if you ever have the opportunity!

Muskox feast

Muskox burgers – (5)

Ingredients

1 lb ground Muskox meat

1/2 cup instant oats

1 leek, white and light green only, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp crushed rosemary

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1-2 eggs (depending on how crumbly the mixture is)

5 buns (I like to make bannock buns)

Suggested toppings

5 lettuce leaves, washed

1 tomato, sliced

Cheddar slices

Dijon mustard

Caramelized leeks (optional)

Directions

In a bowl, pat dry the muskox meat as best you can. Mix the ground meat up with your hands. Add all the additional ingredients except the egg. Mix well, and once it is evenly mixed, add the egg. Form the mixture into patties and cook as you would a burger.

Serve on freshly baked bannock buns with any of the toppings you enjoy!

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Yesterday, the bright blue sky pulled me out of bed, inviting me on a lovely run along the Don River. The crispness in the air couldn’t help but remind me that somehow we’re over at leaset half the summer, and my craving for harvest food officially began. I know many will criticize me for speaking of the end of summer, but come on – I haven’t seen any other season for about a year and a half, and I’m excited for the glorious Canadian autumn. Then the downpours began. So what could possibly be better than hiding away from the rain by baking delicious savoury muffins? That, and I also wanted to make a snack I love to show my friend who’s scoping out people’s snacking secrets…

In honour of my craving for harvest food and the change in weather, I decided to bake savoury sweet corn muffins, with herbs from our tiny balcony garden. Looking around for recipes, I decided my best bet would be to inspire myself from a variety of recipes and then make up my own, judging by the importance that left-overs are playing in the creation of these I didn’t have much of a choice in terms of ingredients or quantity, and it turns out that was not a problem at all.

Enjoy these savoury treats warm with butter for breakfast or a delicious afternoon snack!

Ingredients – makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cup roasted corn kernels (or frozen corn, if you don’t have roasted)
1 leek, white an light parts, finely diced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbsp honey
1 cup buttermilk, or milk with a tbsp of cider vinegar or lemon juice added
1/4 cup melted butter (you can substitute 5-6 Tbsp oil if you prefer)
1 large egg

1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar (optional, but highly delicious)

Directions

Dice the leek, and then heat the oil in a frying pan and gently sauté the leek for about five minutes. Add the corn, the salt and pepper, and the thyme leaves, and continue to cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.

Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat the milk, the egg, melted butter, and honey.

Combine wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until incorporated. Add the corn mixture, and the cheese if you are using it.

Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups. Evenly fill each cup until almost  full, and then bake in the oven for between 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven! In mine, it took around 19 minutes.

I hope you enjoy this delightful recipe inspired by a true Canadian ingredient, roast corn.

-Sitelle

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I’ve been making an effort to finish off all the food stored in my cupboard before I leave – which makes for interesting combinations of things I wouldn’t always think of eating together. This time, it was sunchoke latkes with applesauce and thyme-infused lentil cakes with gruyère. On my last market visit, I also picked up a beautiful bouquet of plump thyme which I have been enjoying in meals and as tea ever-since.

I have been making lentil cakes since I came across a recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian I have at home. Since that fateful recipe trial, I have developed my own recipe which basically adapts itself to whatever I have on hand at the time.

Ingredients – 6-8 servings

Lentils

-1 cup puy lentils
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
-4 sprigs thyme

Lentil cakes

-cooked lentils from above, cooled
-thyme leaves from 12 sprigs of thyme
-1/2 cup grated gruyère (or sharp cheddar)
-1 leek, white part only, minced
-3 Tbsp flour
-2 eggs, slightly beaten
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-extra gruyère, grated

Directions

In a pot, place broth, lentils, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 minutes, covered. Most of the juice should be absorbed, and the lentils should be cooked but still a bit chewy. Remove from heat to cool. If you are short for time, put the pot of lentils in a couple of inches of cold water in the sink – that does the trick as long as you don’t spill the lentils or forget they are there when you turn the tap on!

Preheat oven to 375F.

Taste the lentils – if they are not salty enough add a bit of salt, but otherwise you’re ready to continue. Slice the leek, grate the gruyère, and combine those two ingredients with the lentils. Add the flour and thyme, and mix well. Add the eggs, and mix some more.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and place tablespoonfuls of the lentil mixture on it. Use your fingers to form them into disks of approximately 4 cm diameter and 1.5 cm thick. Sprinkle some additional gruyère over top, and then drizzle with a tad of olive oil.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the bottoms are golden. Serve with a salad, your favourite vegetables, or latkes!

-Sitelle

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I love leeks.  They have such a delicate flavour, with delicious nutty undertones.  Versatile, they are the perfect substitute for onions in any risotto or soup.  Leeks are often overpriced in the winter, but the Halifax market is currently overflowing with this vegetable, so I have been taking full advantage of their presence!

Vichysoisse is one of my go -to soups.  Ready in less than half an hour, this soup is lovely served either hot or cold. With a piece of crusty bread, it makes for a rusting meal. While purists may recommend serving it chilled, I also love this soup hot. Its flavour is subtle, but comforting.  The secret is to use flavourful broth (homemade is best – although if you buy yours in-store, I recommend spending the extra 50¢ to upgrade from a can to a box) and fresh leeks.

My largest recommendation?  Do not get impatient with your blender.  I may have tried to velouté too large a batch, only to end up with my blender and the hot soup exploding on me.  There are smudges of vichysoisse on my kitchen ceiling to prove it!

 

Vichysoisse

(serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

1 bunch leeks, dark green segments discarded and the rest coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons butter

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 bay leaf

About ½ teaspoon salt

Broth (about 3 cups)

Pepper to taste

Cream (about ½ cup) – Both liquid or sour cream work well here

Chives or green onions for garnish, finely chopped (optional)

Directions:

Sauté the leeks and garlic in the butter until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes, broth, bay leaf, and salt, and bring the soup to a boil.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes and leeks are cooked through.  Allow to cool slightly.

Blend the soup in batches in a food processor until smooth.  Return to the stove and season to taste with salt, pepper, and cream.  Serve either hot or chilled, garnished with chives or green onions.  Delicious with a crusty slice of bread.

Bon appétit!

–       Catherine

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Family dinners at the cottage are often more exciting than one bargains for.  Earlier this spring, my grandmother was given a whole frozen Arctic char.  She decided that the occasion to serve it would be for her 63rd wedding anniversary.  The dilemma was how to cook the fish?  No one in my family had ever attempted to cook a whole fish before, and certainly not a beautiful large Arctic char!

On their 63rd wedding anniversary, my grandparents enjoying an evening swim!

We decided to try to poach it.  My mother dug up from her basement, a dusty fish poacher given to her as a wedding gift over two decades ago (never once used).  I was to look up a recipe, and chose Martha Stewart’s court-bouillon recipe for poached salmon.  It looked simple, yet flavourful using fresh spring ingredients.  And the Arctic char would add the Canadian twist!

Cooking the fish proved to be more exciting than expected.  Our first excitement came when we realized I had forgotten the recipe at the grocery store.  Then, as it thawed,  we discovered it had yet to be gutted (my uncle saved us here).  Finally, half way through the poaching, my sister scraped the crown of her foot on a rock covered with zebra mussels. She suffered a series of cuts, but more seriously, a gash that proved to need stitches!  Realizing emergency might take a while, we decided to enjoy the fish and chocolate zucchini cake before taking my sister into town for stitches.  But really, what would a special dinner be at the cottage sans adventure?

The fish itself was delicious – succulent, flavourful, and soft – the 14 of us polished it off nicely.  Indeed, my mother thought it was so delicious that she decided to cook it the following week for a dinner party!

A feast of Arctic Char!

Poached Arctic Char

(serves 12-15)

Ingredients

1 bottle dry white wine

1/2 fresh fennel, sliced

2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

3 bay leaves

1 bouquet garni (1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley and 1 bunch thyme, tied together)

1/2 teaspoon peppercorns

Water

1 large Arctic char, between 6-8 pounds, gutted (salmon substitutes beautifully)

Directions:

Set the poacher diagonally over the stove so it touches two burners.  Place all the ingredients for the court-bouillon into the fish poacher.  Add water until the fish poacher is about 3/5th full.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

Gently lower the Arctic char into the court-bouillon.  Cook at a bare simmer for about 20 minutes.  Slide two wooden spoons through each handle of the rack, and lift it to remove the fish.  Serve on its own or with a creamy dill sauce.  (Be sure to freeze the stalk for another dish.) Poached Arctic char is perfect for special occasions!

– Catherine

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I love the infectious excitement that spring brings to so many people.  Clearly, it’s hit me since that’s what I’ve been blogging about non-stop for the last month.  It’s wonderful when something as simple as seeing my first daffodil flower can completely change my day, as it did today. It’s the fresh start, the fresh air, the fresh greens sprouting from the ground that put me in this mood. I’m planning a little adventure.

Today I made this leek and parsley tart.  I’m sure many will notice that leeks are a very, very common ingredient in the things I make – and it’s simply because I love them and they are toujours in our fridge – a staple. That means they often make an appearance, and I have never been disappointed, except when I open the door to find they have in fact already been used.

It’s funny how in different grocery store settings, people have completely different reactions to my purchases. When I am not able to make it to Kensington or the market, I usually frequent the local No Frills not far from our place. There, my tendency towards filling our cart with leeks and general vegetables and fruit always gets me into conversations with elderly women who are in awe that I like leeks and so many vegetables. I’m a little disappointed by their lack of faith in my generation to cook real food, but also happy to see I’m not the only one that thinks we’ve got a lot of work to do to improve our eating habits.

Ingredients – 8 servings

-2-3 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced
-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
-2 Tbsp butter
-4 large eggs
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-pinch salt
-1/2 cup grated cheddar or gruyère
-1 quantity savoury shortcrust pastry

Directions

Prepare the shortcrust pastry at least 1 hours in advance (I like to try to remember to do this the night before, but we all know that’s not always realistic).

Wash and slice the leeks, and then heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Melt the butter, and add the leeks when the butter is bubbly.  Gently sauté the leeks, reducing the heat to low, for 10-15 minutes, until they are nicely softened but try not to brown them too much.

In a bowl, crack the eggs and add the sour cream.  Whisk together until smooth, then add the chopped and washed parsley, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Roll out the dough. I like to do this between two sheets of wax paper as it makes transferring it to a baking dish really easy. Grease the baking dish with butter before putting the crust in, and then pierce the crust with a fork several times before adding the filling in order to relieve air bubbles that form during cooking.

Scatter 1/2 of the cooked leeks onto the crust, and mix the rest into the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the leeks, and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon.  Then sprinkle the grated cheese over top.

Bake in oven at 375F for 25 (or so) minutes, or until the filling is set and the top is golden.

I love to eat savoury tarts witha simple salad, and it definitely works well here.  Bon appétit!

-Sitelle

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