Friday, July 29, 2005

Week 15 - TOMATO & BASIL SALAD

Saskatchewan Menu of the Week -- 26 July 2005

Breakfast -- Scrambled eggs with chopped tomato.
Lunch -- Cold sliced beef on a bun
Dinner -- Tomato and basil salad. Crusty bread.

TOMATO AND BASIL SALAD
No salad screams "summer" like a tomato and basil salad. Made with ripe tomatoes and fresh basil, it is the simplest and yummiest salad in the world. Basil grows like crazy in our climate, so I use lots.

Basil grows abundantly in our climate, so I always have a pot of basil close to the back door. My mom grows more basil in her garden on the farm, so I have plenty to preserve for winter cooking. I just love the aroma of basil in the middle of February - it sparks the distant memory of summer's heat. (See the recipe for BASIL CUBES on 19 March 2005.)

For the salad, slice or chop the tomatoes according to your preference. Chop or tear a handful of basil and sprinkle it onto the tomatoes. Make a vinaigrette with oil and vinegar (I use balsamic vinegar). Pour onto the tomatoes. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to your taste. For added variation, add tiny cubes of mozzarella cheese. Use the bread so soak up any vinaigrette left on your plate. Good to the last drop!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Week 14 - STRAW & HAY FETTUCCINI

Saskatchewan Menu of the Week -- 20 July 2005

Breakfast – Yogurt and raspberries.
Lunch – Chicken salad sandwich.
Dinner – Straw and Hay fettucini. Green salad.

STRAW AND HAY FETTUCCINI
This Italian dish is made with two colours of fettuccini – regular and spinach – which resembles the contrasting colours of straw and hay. It is traditionally made with peas in a cream sauce. Since peas are now abundant in the garden, it’s a good time to make this dish for dinner. We make our own pasta with farm eggs ,which gives it a nice straw colour.

Heat a bit of butter and oil in a saucepan and sauté 1/4 cup of chopped onion and one chopped clove of garlic. Add 1/4 cup of cooked diced ham. Stir for a few minutes, until the onion is soft. Add 1 cup of cream and cook until the cream thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add 1 cup of raw green peas. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Cook until the peas are soft. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Toss it into the sauce, and serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Week 13 - THREE PEPPER PASTA

Saskatchewan Menu of the Week -- 14 July 2005

Breakfast – Fresh raspberries.
Lunch – Leftover pizza.
Dinner – Salad greens with caramelized onion rings. Three-pepper pasta with ground moose and pork. Mint sorbet.

THREE PEPPER PASTA
I am fortunate to be able to buy Saskatchewan peppers at the farmers' market. They are grown in the greenhouse at Grandora Gardens just east of Saskatoon, owned by Pat and Fred Gittings. This recipe is adapted from Saveur magazine, Aug./Sept. 2004.

2 red peppers, 2 yellow pepper and 2 green peppers
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cloves of garlic peeled
4 ripe tomatoes roughly chopped
1 finely chopped onion
1/2 pound ground meat (I used moose and pork; the recipe calls for veal)
Butter, oil, salt, pepper
Pasta, preferably fettuccine

Cut peppers in half, remove the seeds and pith, and peel skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut in fat strips. Heat oil in pan. Sauté garlic until golden and discard. Add the peppers and a pinch of salt. Turn down heat and cook until soft, about 45 minutes, turning now and then.

Meanwhile, heat butter and oil (2T each) in another skillet. Cook the onion until golden. Add the meat, salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat, turning occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink. Add tomatoes and their juice. Simmer 20 minutes.

When peppers are done, mix them into the meat. Cook a few more minutes to incorporate the flavours. Pour over hot cooked pasta in a warm serving bowl. Toss and serve with parmesan cheese.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Newspaper - July - TABOULEH SALAD

Published in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 18 July 2005

We may be far from the Mediterranean Sea, but we’re not that far from the Mediterranean diet. Many of the foods that form the diet in Mediterranean countries like France, Greece, Spain and Morocco are also grown right here in Saskatchewan.
Consider the tomato. It was cultivated in South America by the Aztecs and taken to Europe by Spanish explorers in the 1500s. Lentils are a staple food in Mediterranean countries like Egypt and France. In fact, they are now eating lentils from Saskatchewan, which has become one of the largest producers in the world.
I began exploring the Mediterranean connection more than a decade ago when I asked my mom to grow some basil in her garden on the farm. To me, basil is the essential summer herb. It goes perfectly with tomatoes and lentils and many other Mediterranean dishes. If I could have only one fresh herb, it would be basil.

I had grown it in pots on a sunny balcony, but I had no idea if it would survive on the dry windy prairie. Well, it thrived. That row of basil grew so tall I picked it into black garbage bags and gave some to all my friends. So here’s my point – eating Saskatchewan foods does not mean a meat-and-potatoes-and-coleslaw diet. Saskatchewan foods lend themselves to many culinary traditions from around the world.

This is good news, because for one full year I have pledged to serve Saskatchewan foods almost exclusively at my own dinner table. I began in mid-April, and I’m happy to report that I am eating better and healthier than ever. I am searching out new sources of food, reading labels in the grocery store and getting to know some farmers. I am even the happy recipient of gifts of food. Not long ago, my neighbor Andrea presented me with a container of frozen apple butter from her own tree. It went straight into a fruit cobbler.

Recently, I hosted my bookclub. We always have a potluck meal and since we had just read "Tender is the Night", a novel set in the south of France, I decreed that the dinner theme would be Mediterranean foods made with Saskatchewan ingredients. Before long, there was an email in my inbox: "Help! What on earth do you mean? Examples please." So I listed off some foods that we have in common – grains and lentils, tomatoes and herbs, cheese and chicken, pasta and bread, etc, etc.

My friends are real troopers. They came with excellent dishes that were – or could be – made with Saskatchewan ingredients. We had: arugula salad, lentils with fresh herbs, Lebanese tabouleh salad, French gratin of cauliflower, Greek spanikopita and Italian margarita pizza (tomatoes, basil and cheese).

Just the other night, we had our friend Ian and his mom for a nice dinner on the patio. I found a pasta recipe in a cookbook by the godmother of Italian cooking, Marcella Hazan. It called for red, yellow and green peppers, ground veal and fresh pasta. I bought greenhouse peppers from the farmers’ market, made pasta with fresh farm eggs, and substituted ground moose for the veal.

The moose came from Jeff, an avid hunter. When he heard that I was eating Saskatchewan foods, he showed up on our doorstep with 30 pounds of frozen moose. Gotta love friends like that!

Tabouleh Salad
This is the national salad of Lebanon, pronounced ta-BOO-lee. I made it with pearl barley from the Daybreak Farm at Estevan, farmers’ market tomatoes and fresh greens from my own garden.

1 cup pearl barley
1 bunch green onions
2 bunches parsley
2 bunches mint
4 tomatoes
1/4 cup canola or olive oil
Juice of 2-3 lemons
salt and pepper

Soak the barley in plenty of water until it is chewable but not too soft, a few hours. It should double in size to about 2 cups. Drain. Finely chop the herbs and onions. Cut the tomatoes in bite-sized pieces. Mix everything together and enjoy.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Week 12 - WISCONSIN BRATS

Saskatchewan Menu of the Week -- 4 July 2005

Breakfast – Yogurt.
Lunch – Open-face grilled cheese and tomato.
Dinner – Wisconsin-style bratwurst. Buns. Potato salad. Apple pie.

WISCONSIN BRATS
My husband grew up in Wisconsin where there is a strong German heritage and bratwurst is cooked in a particular style. Once, several years ago, a friend told him his brats were better than lobster! He’s been living on that compliment ever since. We buy the bratwurst at Emco Meats, where the German butcher makes them authenticly.

First, buy a good quality brat that doesn’t have too much fat. Boil the sausages in a pot of beer and sliced onions. Grill the boiled bratwurst on the BBQ. While they’re grilling, scoop out the onions and brown them in butter. Enjoy the bratwurst in a bun with onions and mustard.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Week 11 - SASKATOON BERRY COBBLER

Saskatchewan Menu of the Week - June 25

Brunch – BLT sandwich.
Dinner – Steamed trout with dill, grilled asparagus, saskatoon berry cobbler

Saskatoon Berry Cobbler
I was poking around in my mom’s freezer when I found a milk carton marked "Saskatoons ‘93". How is it possible, I asked her, to have saskatoon berries in the freezer for 12 years? She shrugged. Then she gave them to me. Not one to turn down a gift of food, I tried them in this cobbler and they were great. We're soon coming into saskatoon berry picking season, so bon apetit!

Cake:
1/4 cup butter at room temp.
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cups milk
3 cups fresh or frozen saskatoon berries
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Crumble topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter

For the cake, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg. Add the dry ingredients and milk, and mix well. Pour into a greased baking dish. (I use an 8-inch round ceramic dish.)

Stir together the berries and almond extract and layer onto the batter.

For the crumble topping, combine the dry ingredients and cut in the cold butter. Spread on top of the berries. Bake at 350F for 40 min., until the top is brown and the berries are bubbling. Serve with ice cream if you like.

Sources: saskatoon berries picked by my parents in the wild.