Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Apple Blossom Picnic

The blossoms are out at Patterson Garden, Saskatoon's hidden gem of a tree museum. It looks beautiful and smells divine! We took an afternoon picnic with my mom and dad.

Mom and Dad with the picnic basket. Dad remembers Professor Patterson from his days in the College of Agriculture.

Beautiful ornamental apple blossoms.
A chokecherry tree in bloom, with the plaque identifying the species.

White apple blossoms ala Georgia O'Keeffe. Grab a picnic and spend a few moments under the blossoms before they're gone!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Camelina Oil

I'm having fun experimenting with camelina oil, a natural cold-presssed culinary oil produced in Saskatchewan. Camelina is an oil seed in the same family as mustard and broccoli. Three Farmers camelina oil is named for the three farmers who started the company. Read more in my article in the Star Phoenix.

Advantages for the home cook: High smoke point 475F -- Use it for searing, frying and grilling -- Slow to go rancid -- Long shelf life without refrigeration -- High in vitamin E and antioxidants -- Fresh green and nutty flavour.

Camelina oil pairs wonderfully with spring vegetables such as asparagus, baby greens and fiddleheads. Here's a camelina-inspired dinner for two:
Steelhead Trout Fillets
Heat oven to 350F. Cut one fillet into 2 or 3 pieces. Season with salt and pepper. In a heavy frying pan, heat 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs natural camelina oil. When hot, place the trout fillets skin side down. Sear until the skin is crisp, about 5 minutes. Place the pan in the oven to complete the cooking process, about 4 minutes. Carefully lift the fish from the pan so the skin remains intact.
Nutty Fiddleheads
Boil a small saucepan of salted water. Add 1 1/2 cups of fresh fiddleheads, stems trimmed. Boil 2 minutes and drain well. In a skillet, heat on medium 2 tbs roast onion and basil flavoured camelina oil. Briefly sauté 1/4 cup chopped walnuts until fragrant. Add fiddleheads. Season with salt if desired. Sauté 4-5 minutes. Fiddleheads may absorb the oil before they’re cooked, so be prepared to add more oil as needed. Remove from heat. Add a squeeze of lemon and shavings of parmesan cheese. This method also works for asparagus and green beans.
Spring Salad
Make a dressing by briskly whisking together 1 tbs lemon juice, 1/2 tsp mustard, pinch of salt and 1 tbs plus 1 tsp natural camelina oil. Gently toss with 2 cups of chopped baby spring greens. The salad in the picture includes spinach, sunflower, orach, dandelion, arugula, mustard sprouts and one red spring onion.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Restaurant Review - Hose & Hydrant

Deck season is suddenly upon us, so I checked out the new deck atop the historic fire hall at the Hose & Hydrant. Suddenly, it feels like summer! Read my restaurant review of the Hose & Hydrant in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

Crispy zesty wings in the sunshine.

They call this Broadway's Best Burger. I can't vouch for that, not having tried them all, but it was pretty darn good.

The Mediterranean Salad was a meal in itself -- 
crunchy calamari and oodles of olives.
Hose & Hydrant Brew Pub occupies an historic fire hall opened in 1912.
612 11th Street East

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Slow Food + CHEP + Open Cooks Society

Awesome is the only word for tonight's Slow Food Saskatoon Community Dinner featuring the amazing foods of Saskatchewan. The kitchen team of Chef Roman Goodheart of CHEP Good Food Inc. and his friends in the Open Cooks Society did themselves proud.
(See the list of local food providers below.)

Beet Salad with Herschel Hills goats cheese.

Quinoa chocolate cake from Griffin Takeaway with Saskatchewan cherry compote from Prairie Sun Orchard. Flowers by Tierra Del Sol.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Kitchen Collections - Tacky Tourist Spoons

No fancy wall holder collecting dust for me - I use my tacky tourist spoons! Like my collection of tacky tourist mugs, each one represents a city I have travelled to (and a few prov/states). But unlike my collection of tacky tourist mugs, I didn't buy a single spoon while travelling. They're all from goodwill stores here at home. (50 cents versus $5 each!)

San Francisco, Quebec City, Paris, La Ronge

Saskatoon, Medicine Hat, Victoria, Mazatlan

Vienna, Salzburg, London, Heidelberg
Deadwood, Death Valley, San Francisco (again), Manitou Beach

And many more...
What's your kitchen collection?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Restaurant Review - Boxcar Cafe

Tired of junk food, fried food and too much food? Lunch at the Boxcar Café is good for you, your wallet and the community. Read my review of the Boxcar Café in the Star Phoenix.

One day's special - colourful couscous salad with grilled chicken.

Black bean and roasted corn salad - exemplifies the low fat, low salt, low sugar ethic at the Boxcar Café.
Delicious carrot dill soup and turkey deli sandwich - all soups are made in house.
Sunny cafeteria style café next to a railway.
1120 20th Street West
in Station 20 West

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tarragon days

Tarragon comes up quickly in spring, so it's one of the first culinary herbs in my kitchen after a long winter. The flavour of tarragon goes well with eggs and tomatoes, so why not combine them for a fresh-from-the-garden breakfast?
2 big farm eggs, scrambled
1 spring of tarragon, finely cut
Salt and pepper
1 small tomato, chopped
Mix egg and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper. Warm a small skillet on medium low heat. Cook the eggs, turning with a spatula to keep them light and fluffy. When the eggs are half done, but still quite moist, add the chopped tomato. Cook until the tomato is warm and the eggs are cooked. Sit by the garden and eat! Local factor: 99%.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

First Spinach Salad of the Year

As soon as the snow melted on my plot in the community garden, the spinach was turning green. It had been left in the garden last year, dormant over winter, but obviously raring to go as soon as it warmed up.

I tossed the spinach with a dressing of mayo (thinned with milk), mustard, salt and pepper, along with very thinly sliced red onion, diced cooked bacon and hard boiled egg. This is a 95% percent Saskatchewan salad. Only the mayo, salt and pepper are from 'away'.

After eating this salad, I went back into the garden and planted lettuce, arugula, radishes and peas. Gosh, it feels good to be warm again!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Restaurant Review - Somewhere Else

How often over this past long and snowy winter I longed to go somewhere else. Well, last week I did. Read my restaurant review of Somewhere Else Pub and Grill in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

A lovely spring evening, but sadly the deck wasn't open yet.

My husband: "This is the best pub burger I've had in a long time."

The fajita was large enough for sharing.

2605 Broadway Ave. South

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Irish Soda Bread... with a twist

For a St. Patrick's Day dinner... well... here's a picture...

...I made Irish Soda Bread for the first time. Well... that got me hooked. Soda bread is so quick and easy to make, it's out of the oven and slathered with butter in one hour flat. Since then, I've been experimenting with different flavours, including the addition of Saskatchewan-grown caraway seeds or ground mahlab (a sweet Middle Eastern spice made from ground cherry pits).

Incidentally, Irish soda bread with raisins is called Spotted Dog.

Not Quite Irish Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all purpose flour (or 3, with 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 tbsp. sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp ground mahlab or whole caraway seeds
2 cups buttermilk

Hold back 1/2 cup flour. Blend the rest of the dry ingredients. Pour in buttermilk. Mix quickly with a fork and then your fingers. Turn onto a floured surface and knead by hand just until it holds together and is no longer sticky, 1-2 minutes. Add the extra 1/2 cup flour as needed to flour your hands and prevent sticking. Place the ball of dough on a baking sheet and press to flatten the top. Slash with a knife, cutting about 1 inch deep. I find that if I do not slash deep enough, the centre of the bread may be uncooked. Bake at 425F for 35-40 minutes. When cooked, the bread will be quite brown and a good tap on its bottom will sound hollow. You bad bad soda bread...