Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Take time to eat the flowers - ZUCCHINI EGG PIE

My husband and I had only one prenuptual agreement - that I would never grow more than six zucchinis at a time. Here's a great way to use up that prolific zucchini and prevent even more by eating the flowers! Europeans have a long tradition of eating zucchini flowers - stuffed, deep fried, baked - this is a good way to introduce zucchini flowers to your Saskatchewan dinner table because it's more decorative than culinary. It's best to pick the zucchini when young and tender and the flowers when wide open first thing in the morning.

2 tbsp canola oil
½ onion, finely chopped
½ cup mixed herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano, etc.)
1 cup zucchini, grated
10 eggs
3 tbsp cream
½ tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper
1 cup grated cheese (such as cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, etc.)
2 open zucchini flowers
1 pie crust

Heat the oil in a skillet. Sauté the onion until soft. Add the herbs and zucchini; cook until the zucchini is just warm and wilted. Remove from heat.

Whip the eggs with the cream until frothy. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the zucchini flowers into two halves and remove the stamen/pistil.

Spread the zucchini and herb mixture in the pie crust. Top with the grated cheese. Pour the whipped eggs on top to cover. Arrange the zucchini flowers on top, pressing lightly into the egg. Bake for 30 minutes at 375F. The pie is done when a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Newspaper Column - Sausage Fest

Published in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, 16 July 2007.

Pictured: Annie grills sausage purchased from a butcher in Yorkton.

A few years ago, my husband was feeling homesick for Wisconsin – the land of good sausage and better beer – so he invited some friends over and cooked up some bratwurst in the Wisconsin tradition: Heat a pot of water, pour in a bottle of beer, add a whole bunch of sliced onion and boil the brats. When cooked, grill the brats on the BBQ and serve in a bun with the onions and ketchup. His sausage ‘fix’ has became Sausage Fest, a summer sausage feast in our back yard. Sausage Fest has two rules: you bring the sausage and he provides the beer. And it better be a Saskatchewan-made sausage.

If I had to name a food that is quintessential Saskatchewan, a food that represents different geographies and ethnic traditions, a food with a long history and, I hope, an even longer future, I would have to name the sausage. I could design a bumper sticker that says “I brake for sausage” for all those people like myself who can’t resist pulling over at a farm or butcher sign advertising handmade sausage for sale.

I’d give one of those bumper stickers to Tim Ouellette, a bone fide sausage addict.
Tim works for Tourism Saskatchewan, a job which takes him around the province. I imagine he visits many museums, bed and breakfasts, tourist sites and the like, but the souvenir he always brings home is sausage. Tim is working on a project to advance farm and food tourism in Saskatchewan, and I hope his itinerary includes a few rural butchers.

Like many families, mine has a sausage tradition. Dad’s homemade sausage is always on the table at special family dinners, along with the turkey at Christmas and the ham at Easter.
But I had never made sausage myself until this spring when my husband and I got together with our friends Ralph and Lisa Bock. Ralph’s dad was a butcher so he knows sausage from a very early age. I hauled my Kitchen Aid mixer over to their house. It has a special attachment for grinding meat and another for stuffing it into the sausage skins, which had never been used. The dough hook got a good workout mixing the meat. We made bratwurst, breakfast sausage and koubasa, which Ralph smoked in his back yard.

For Sausage Fest, Ralph and Lisa brought their homemade Italian chorizo; Tim brought a farmers’ sausage from the butcher in Lumsden. In fact, our BBQ looked like a mini sausage United Nations, from fat bison sausage to skinny pepperoni, from the Lebanese Aleppo kebob to French merguez, from curry sausage to koubasa, from venison to lamb. My husband put some Oom-Pa-Pa music on the stereo, donned his Green Bay Packer socks and felt right at home.

For dessert, Meringue Nests with Fresh Berries (recipe)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A cookie for the birds

I made cookies yesterday. I burned the bottoms so I ate the tops off the cookies and left the bottoms for the birds. Later, my husband noticed that a bird had pecked one cookie into a perfect heart. I think it was showing appreciation for the treat!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The rewards of babysitting - VENISON GOULASH

This recipe is adapted from Saveur magazine, October 2006. The venison came from our friend Rick, who hunts near Saskatoon, as payment for babysitting his kids. Even though this recipe comes from Hungary, almost every ingredient is produced locally (except the vinegar and allspice).

1½ – 2 pounds venison, cubed
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Four slices of good bacon, diced
1 big onion, finely chopped
1½ tsp paprika
½ tsp fresh thyme
¼ tsp mustard powder
4 allspice berries
1½ tbsp tomato paste
½ green pepper, finely chopped
1 cup chicken stock or water

Put the meat in a bowl, toss in the vinegar and cover with boiling water. In a heavy pot with a lid, fry the bacon until cooked. Add the onion and cook until soft. Drain the venison and add to the pot to brown on all sides. Add 1 cup of water plus the paprika, thyme, mustard powder, allspice, tomato paste and green pepper. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours.

Add the chicken broth or water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat without the lid for another two hours, or until the sauce is thickened and the venison is fall-apart tender. Serve with boiled potatoes that have been tossed with melted butter and chopped parsley.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hanley Bread Series #5 - LAND-LOCKED CAESAR SALAD

My garden romaine is ready for eating so what else but a Caesar salad. A true Caesar salad has anchovies in it, which I don’t normally have in my fridge, so you might call this version a Land-Locked Caesar. It’s part of the “Hanley Bread Series” – what to do with the free loaf of bread you get for filling up at the gas station in Hanley, Saskatchewan, especially if that loaf of bread sits in your car for a day or two before you get home to use it. For more recipes in the Hanley Bread Series, click the label at the bottom of this post.

1 egg yolk, room temp.
1½ tbsp lemon juice
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
A few grinds of black pepper
½ cup canola oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Romaine lettuce

Three or four slices of day-old bread
1 big sprig of fresh oregano or parsley
1 big clove of garlic
A few tbsp olive or canola oil

In a blender, mix together the egg yolk, lemon juice, garlic clove, Worcestershire, mustard, salt and pepper until smooth. With the blades running on low, drizzle in the olive oil. When it is thoroughly mixed, pour the dressing into a bowl and stir in half the cheese. Do this ahead of time so the flavours can mingle.

Cut the crusts off the bread and cut the bread into small cubes. In a mortar and pestle (or with a fork) crush together the garlic and oregano until mashed. Stir in enough vegetable oil that it will coat the bread but not make it soggy. Toast the bread cubes in a skillet until browned.

Tear up the romaine and toss with the dressing. If the dressing has become thick, you can thin it with a few drops of milk. A few minutes before serving, toss in the bread cubes and sprinkle on the remaining parmesan cheese.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

New farmers market in Saskatoon

There's a new farmers' market in Saskatoon. It was started to fill the gap created when the Saskatoon Farmers' Market moved into its new permanent location and stopped holding satellite markets around the city. The new group can be found:

Saturday 8 am-2 pm Lawson Heights Mall parking lot
Tuesday 8 am - 2 pm outside London Drugs on 8th Street
Wednesday 8 am - 2 pm Market Mall parking lot
Thursday 8 am - 2 pm in front of Peavey Mart on 51 Street

I attended the Saturday market, which was a bit thin (only four vendors). But one of those vendors was a Hutterite Colony from down south near Cabri with beautiful cabbages and broccoli (which have not yet made an appearance at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market). I hope they can sell enough veggies to pay for the drive up from Cabri four times a week!

I was told that some vendors from the Saskatoon Farmers' Market will be attending the satellite markets on weekdays, so there should be a few more vendors to choose from. I'm sure the seniors who live in the highrises around Market Mall are quite pleased, and I'm glad that I can continue to shop the market at Peavey Mart on Thursday. The more local veggie opportunities the better!

Saturday, July 07, 2007


This is a great dessert to serve after a patio barbeque.

4 large egg whites at room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
Fresh raspberries

Heat oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.

Beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Turn the mixer on high and add the icing sugar one spoonful at a time, beating for ten seconds between each addition. When the whites are stiff, sprinkle in the cornstarch and vanilla, mixing well.

Scoop the meringue into 12 small mounds on the cookie sheet, using the back of a spoon to create a depression in the centre of each meringue circle. Bake 5 min. Turn down the heat to 200F. Bake for one hour. Turn off the heat and leave the meringues in the oven for another hour or two, until very dry. (The amount of time needed to fully dry the meringue will vary depending on the humidity that day.)

Whip the cream with vanilla. Just before serving, spread whipped cream onto each meringue and top with fresh berries.

Sausage Fest Success

There was a great selection of sausage at the 3rd annual Sausage Fest in our back yard last night. We told everyone to bring a) sausage made in Saskatchewan or b) a dish for the buffet table. We provided the beer.

There was no shortage of sausage, food or beer. Local sausages included: Ralph and Lisa’s homemade chorizo; Art and Veronica’s homemade curry sausage; Ramesh and Karen’s homemade Lebanese sausage; Remi’s homemade ‘merguez’ (a spicy sausage from southern France); Rick and Sue’s venison pepperoni; a thick bison sausage; and many more sausages from local stores and butchers. All were graced with Penny’s homemade mustard, the best mustard in the world.

Adrien brought the most gorgeous fruit pavlova for dessert. Three-year-old Jonah, entranced with his first taste of pavolva, declared it to be “as good as jello.” Yea for kids who tell it like it is!