September 21, 2009

how far we've come


Here is a recipe from The United States of Arugula by David Kamp. I finally indulged in a paperback copy. And I love the cover.

I read the book a couple of years ago (I got it from the library) and since then I've remembered this salad recipe he quotes from the Chicago Tribune of 1937...I doubt you're ready for's kind of like food trauma.

The Lacy Valentine Salad: "marshmallows, apricots, maraschino cherries, dates, celery and canned grapefruit suspended in gelatin and garnished with curly endive and mayonnaise piping..."


September 19, 2009

sausage, the link to earth

I tripped over a thought last night while eating dinner - dinner that Steve cooked and I inhaled after a work week of billowing stress - I'm removed from the food.

What I mean is, I ate my bowl of chili, crunched my nacho chips, drank my drink, put it down and said thanks.

But I didn't make the dinner. I didn't put any of the tastes and textures together. I haven't made dinner all week. I felt no synergy - no connection to the meal that was greater than the sum of the ingredients. I just consumed. I was removed from the love of it.

And it was unsatisfying. Eating by rote. And it bothered me to my core.

I felt disconnected from the earth.

So I fixed it. I was dissecting the fridge of leftovers this evening and found some smoked Mennonite sausage that needed to be used up.

I was drawn back to Jamie Oliver's book Jamie at Home - who else would know how to gussy up a sausage?

On a cool September night, after a gorgeous, intensely sunny day at the Brick Works farmer's market, this hit the spot.

Adapted from "Sweet cherry tomato and sausage bake", Jamie at Home, I've cut the recipe to serve two

6 small red potatoes, quartered, Jamie doesn't use potatoes at all
1 lb cherry tomatoes, I used a slightly larger version
sprigs of rosemary, thyme and bay leaf, I also used fresh sage
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-4 sausages, the full portion of the recipe calls for 12
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Toss the potatoes in olive oil, and place on one side of a roasting pan. Put a sprig or two of the rosemary and thyme among the potatoes.
Toss the tomatoes in oil as well and place them on the other side of the roasting pan. Place the herbs, including the bay leaf, amongst them as well.
Sprinkle the garlic over all.
Place the sausages on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle everything with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper it all.
Bake in the oven for about 3o minutes. Turn the sausages to the other side and put back in oven for another 15-20 minutes. I made this with already cooked, leftover sausage and some caramelized onion which I threw in the pan as well for the last half hour. Check out how it's all doing and leave for another 10 minutes if you need to.

I plated the potatoes, topped it with a few of the roasted tomatoes, sliced up the sausage (which was leftover remember), and mixed in the caramelized onions. The sweetness of the roasted tomatoes is so beautiful, I almost teared up...and felt very much back on earth...

Now if you like, Jamie says you can take out the sausages once they're done (and the potatoes in this case) and put the roasting pan on top of the stove, cook down the tomato juices a little bit and thicken them. I didn't do that, but I'll bet it's fantastic.

September 09, 2009

the new portuguese table

Look what was waiting for me when I got home...Ola baby...Como esta...and all that. I'm digging into it looks David wrote/commanded in the front cozinha bem!

September 08, 2009

Speaking of Ice Cream

Before summer runs away...There is a creamery to the east of us called St. Clair Ice Cream – that sells the biggest, humungousest, gargantuan balls of ice cream. Steve remembers going there as a kid and getting a head-sized orb on a cone. A frozen planet. He said it was absolutely ridiculous. So we headed east. We lumbered back to the car under the weight of two "small" ice cream cones. We were gob smacked at the size, the weight, the mass, volume, density, gravitational pull these things had.
On the sidewalk were two young kids – about 8 and 10 – car door open, Mum in the driver’s seat, warning them away from the car, holding stacks of napkins. I could see why. The young boy was giggling uncontrollably looking at his arm, knowing he was fighting the good fight, but he had lost. He was solidly coated from the fingers up to the elbow in mint green. It looked like a glove that was dripping onto the sidewalk - which made him laugh all the more, which gave the ice cream time to melt more. His older sister saw us coming along with our ice creams and said, “Are they CRAZY?” bending under the weight of her cone. “We ordered a SMALL.”
Their universes collided – they got something they wanted and couldn’t handle it or make any sense of it. I don't remember the ice cream itself, but that was the most joyful ice cream moment I’ve ever had…

September 07, 2009

Summer and the Spit

Labour Day weekend is always tinged with sadness. When you’re saying goodbye to summer it takes some work not to feel a grief creeping toward you. The sun has swept southward in the sky and now comes fully in the window, bathing our sofa in rays during the morning – much to our old cat’s delight. Three trees in the Don Valley have decided to try on red. It’s still hot in the sun, but you need sleeves in the shade. We turn the lights on so much earlier.

Toronto got the Labour Day weekend of all Labour Day weekends weather wise. It was gorgeous. And we earned it.

We headed down to what’s called the Leslie St. spit this morning – as we’ve done many times over the summer. In its weekday life, dump trucks trundle down the paved road that heads off shore, to add to the re-bar and bricks and concrete and old granite that had a life and now are the foundation of new land.

Nature is working as partner in this. The trees have taken over, the marshes, the grasses all filling in what we don’t want to use anymore.

The spit, in its weekend and holiday life, becomes a park. Five kilometers from the entrance to the lighthouse at the end – five kilometers of growth…and cyclists and rollerbladers, runners and walkers.

The wind was coming off the lake today in powerful, cool gusts. The boats were conservative in their sails. The monarch butterflies hunkered down on all the purple flowers they could find, the thistles, the cornflowers. The golden rod was at its beautiful height and everywhere. The cormorants are so happy on the spit it’s one of the biggest nesting colonies in North America.

We’ve seen snakes and rodents and great blue herons hunting, and even a beaver in the inlet pond. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a beaver in the wild before…if he climbs out of his stick house and looks to the north he’d see the skyline of Canada’s largest city right there. But I don’t think he cares.

This year with the moderate temperatures and loads and loads of rain, everything looks lush and beautiful and at its prime of life. In a place that is a hopeful place.

And this weekend was definitely a summer looking for the weather Oscar.

It was a perfect end to summer - a 10-kilometre walk, on a perfect day, through a construction site that nature is cleaning up…So when it came to dinner I went up to the corner vegetable market to see what they had. I picked up local radishes, green beans, some lemons, some tomatoes, green onions and headed home. Oh, and salted cashews…to go with the bottle of wine I intended to open while preparing the summer daze dinner.

Steve marinated a piece of flank steak I had bought at Fresh from the Farm on Saturday. He consulted the Cook’s Illustrated marinating article, which had been marinating under the coffee table for a while. He poured molasses, soy sauce, garlic, water, olive oil, a dash of sesame oil and chives from the garden into a plastic bag, stabbed the meat liberally with a knife, then put the steak in the bag for a lovely bath. For an hour …90 mins max. Then he barbequed it on the grill.

Meanwhile, glass of wine in hand, and bowl of cashews on the table (I love cashews), I made a salad of the tomatoes. I chopped them into small chunks, added some chopped scallions, red pepper and lots of fresh basil from my pot outside – I doused it all in good olive oil (brought directly from Italy by my dear grace Naomi).

I roasted the red potatoes I had in fresh rosemary, crunchy salt, and black pepper. I sliced an onion and caramelized it in a skillet. Then I trimmed and steamed the green beans for only a minute or two and plunged them in ice water to hold their gorgeous green (and I stared into them - because the colour makes me think of what Ireland must look like). Once the potatoes were nicely roasted I pulled them out, threw them into the pan with the onions and added the beans, which I’d cut in half. Once it was all cooled down, I threw over a little balsamic vinegar and finished it off with a little more olive oil.

The radishes were large. And that has meant only one thing to me lately – crunch and no taste. No peppery shake of the head, no holding my forehead as the radish does its thing. Just crunch. So I decided to make a Vietnamese dressing for them. I sliced the radishes thinly, and poured over them a dressing I made with fish sauce, cider vinegar, lemon (should be lime, but the lemons were cheap), garlic, sugar, and shredded carrot. And I let them bathe together while everything else was cooking…They were fantastic.

It was our Summer Daze dinner. And while September moves us on toward autumn, and I love September more than any other month, this Labour Day weekend will be in the books as a great beauty, bringing summer to its full height. The summer of 09 went out leaving them wanting more…

*Pic is from here and here's more on the Leslie Street spit - if you need it!