Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dinner at Cultivate

Cultivate is the latest culinary venture of Chef Moe Mathieu -- it's a "pop up" restaurant at the Saskatoon Famers' Market with a distinctly Canadian flavour.

"Pop up" refers to the fact there is no restaurant. Moe and his crew of culinary students set up tables and start from scratch every day when the market closes. We met a group of friends for a sultry evening, with the big overhead doors of the market wide open to the evening air.

Amuse bouche of chunky apple sorbet and Rainier cherry. A lovely mouthful.

Acadia pea soup with long-roasted pressed pork and sour cream. The addition of green peas to the traditional split green pea soup was fabulous.

Raspberry sorbet on a bed of fresh basil. Now that I think of it, maybe it was cherry sorbet. No matter, the addition of fresh julienne basil was a surprising hit.

Coffee and donut shortribs (that's a timbit on top!). Melt in your mouth ribs - delicious even without Tim's.

Quebec inspired duck tortiere. Debbie overflowed with superlatives for this dish. 

Roast root vegetable pavé. Joan runs a market garden, so she had to try to pavé (which, we learned, means pressed). She was im-pressed!

Cherry sorbet on chocolate softcake with prairie cherry coulis. Even when my tummy is full, there's room in my heart for dessert. Especially chocolate and cherry.  

Cultivate does not have a liquor licence (due to what must be some of the wackiest liquor laws in the free world) but we made up for it by sipping these gorgeous cucmber mint juleps
(and no bourbon passed our lips!)


Chef Moe (left) working with his students in their borrowed kitchen at the farmers' market. Reservations 384-6262.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cherry Festival

Spent a lovely day at the Bruno Cherry Festival selling my book and, before returning home, stopping at the Pulvermacher. butcher for their famous cherry smokies.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Light patio dinner - Local flavours

When the local food columnist invites the local wine columnist* for dinner, well, I did the cooking and he mixed the drinks. We had BBQ lamb chops, lentil and red pepper salad, pickled beets and mint juleps (among other patio beverages).

*James Romanow and his wife "Sairey"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Soup Week 28 - More rain!

Wow. Two weeks of company coming and going. I did quite a bit of cooking, including a big ham which produced one lovely ham bone for a nice pot of soup. Did I mention that it's raining again?

Which raises the question -- is it raining because I keep making soup, or am I making soup because it's always raining?

My Aunt Elaine bought me a stack of old Time Life Foods of the World Cookbooks at a garage sale. This lovely potage is adapted from the book on provincial France.

In a soup pot, boil 6 cups of water. Drop in 2 cups of yellow split peas. Add a bouquet garni of 2 parsley sprigs, 2 celery tops, 1 bay leaf and a sprig of thyme (tied together with string), along with a ham bone. Cover partially and simmer until the split peas are cooked soft. (This took a few hours; I added more water along the way so it stayed a soupy consistency.)

In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp of butter in a heavy skillet. Add a handful of pork fat. Heat on low for a few hours until the pork turns crisp and the fat liquifies. (Last night I trimmed a roast into small pieces for kabobs and saved the fat. If you don't have fresh pork fat, use butter.) Time Life says "remove the pork and discard it" but frankly, I love those crispy fried bits of pork and so it became lunch.

When the split peas are cooked, add 1/2 cup of green peas (fresh or frozen) and 1 cup of chopped ham. Remove the bouquet garni. Cook through. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook 1 chopped onion in the pork fat until it's soft and turning brown. Add 1 cup of fresh chopped spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Turn the onion-spinach mixture into the soup. Before serving, stir in 2 tbsp of soft butter. Yes, it's a rich soup, but hardy enough for a cold and wet July day.

Additional note: the recipe called for pureeing the soup before adding the green peas, but I like a chunky soup so I didn't to that.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chicken in my Kitchen

Finally, the chicken mosiac leaves its cardboard box under my bed and finds its rightful place on my new kitchen wall. That's Clayton Underwood doing the tile work.

So here's the story behind the chickens: Several years ago, I saw a chicken mosiac at the Saskatchewan Craft Council's swank invitation-only art show. (Yes, I snuck in.) I loved the chicken mosaic so much I decided, after some deliberation, to buy it. To my horror, someone else had bought it in the meantime.

Turns out, it was my friend Janis Cousyn. So, I contracted the artist to make another mosiac for me. Unlike Janis's, mine includes some baby chicks (so I like mine better!). Anyway, Janis installed her chickens in a kitchen reno a couple of years ago, while mine languished under my bed.

No more. This week the mother hen is standing proud. Now if I could just get the plumbers to put in the gas line so I can install the new stove...

PS: If you're interested, the mosiac was made by Arbie Kepler of Saskatoon 306-244-8625.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Soup Week 27

Last of the season asparagus and fiddlehead soup. Ate it before taking a picture!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Saskatoon Berry Festival

I spent the day in Mortlach, home of the Saskatoon Berry Festival. I live in a city called Saskatoon, but it took the little town of Mortlach to latch onto the way overdue notion of feting the famous berry of the prairies with a festival of its own.

There's a lot going on at the Saskatoon Berry Festival, but of course I went right for the food.

At the invitation of Lois at the Hollyhock Market, I set up a table to promote my book Prairie Feast, which recounts that oh so prairie ritual of going out to pick wild saskatoons. The wild saskatoon berry season starts soon... can't wait!

The Hollyhock Market is a friendly natuaral food store that's fun to poke around in. Lois has done a fabulous job of bringing ecclectic, healthy and organic food to her town. She has a big garden in the lot next door and a flock of laying hens out back. The small town ideal!

My table was right next to a very popular stand -- Over the Hill Orchards with its saskatoon and cherry jams, pies, etc. That's the owner Sylvia Kreutzer and her mom-in-law.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Ian Brown on the national food road trip

Had coffee at Souleio with Ian Brown of the Globe & Mail. Ian is travelling the country sampling the food along the way for a special series in the Globe. Now where can I get a gig like that?

He wanted to know why we don't have more artisinal cheese in Saskatchewan, or a big pasta plant, or more food processing in general (as opposed to just growing and raising the raw material). A very complicated question. I think the answer lies somewhere between stulifying regulations, fierce supermarket competition, traditional commodity agriculture and a willingness to try something new.

I'm not sure of his "menu" here in Saskatoon, but I can tell you that he visited Pine View Farms at Olsler, the mushroomers of White Fox and the Mexican restaurant EE Buritos. He asked me where he could get a deep fried cheese sandwich in Saskatoon (apparently, someone has recommended this delight) but I drew a blank. Anyone know?

Ian had delved into my book Prairie Feast, which was very gratifying, proving that folks not from Saskatchewan can enjoy reading about our quaint life out here on the prairies.