Sunday, November 21, 2010

Summer's Bounty, now in Winter Soups

Maybe it's the fact that it's dipped below zero, and the wind is howling, and although there is no snow on the ground, there's lots in the air. Maybe it's the fact that my Veggie Patch Harvest Share is used up, and all I've got left from the gardens are some potatoes. Maybe it's the fact that I'm not yet getting supplies in to make into soup, and so I've been going to the grocery store, and despite the abundance, most of what's for sale seems a little grim.

Whatever- this week has seen me really start to crack open the seals on my Mason jars and open up the Ziplocks from the freezer and make some foods that really warm the soul.  Opening that first liter of tomatoes brought back the bushel that Julie and I put up together in August, and the opened jar smelled just like summer. I canned some with balsamic and basil, and it was so lovely. My fridge is full of pickled beets, cukes and jalapenos, and it's so nice to remember all this bounty from the warm months... No need to suffer the pallid tomatoes and wan cukes. Nope. Not for a little while.

So here's what we ate last night- and today (well, and probably tomorrow- it seems to feed 8-10). I got to feed some wonderful folk with this one- the talented Kim, farmer Paul and the music maker Jennifer (who needs a website up- ahem).

Spicy Red Lentil Tomato Soup

This is a simple but flavourful soup. Spicy and fresh. Serve it with some yogurt (I've been making my own!) or sour cream.

2 tbsps olive oil
2 onions sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups red lentils
4 cups vegetable stock
1 liter tomatoes, chopped or otherwise broken up (okay, okay. I use my hands)
 two tbsp balsamic
2 potatoes, peeled
8 pickled jalapeno rings, minced
basil- and YAY! I had frozen from the summer!
Juice of 1 lemon
  1. Saute onions in oil over medium high heat until they start to get very very soft. 
  2. Add the garlic and the lentils, and saute for another minute.
  3. Add everything except the basil (unless it's dried- if it is, add it now). 
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for thirty minutes until the lentils are dissolved and the potatoes soft. STIR every few minutes as lentils will stick to the bottom of the bottom. 
  5. Add the basil, adjust the salt, add the lemon juice and taste until you might as well grab a bowl, it's that good.
  6. Garnish with yogurt (and more jalapenos, if that's the way you roll) and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Well. It's gonna be a short one as I gotta get a redo of my business plan done for the bank tomorrow morning, but here we go!

The Causeway kitchen deal is finalized! Sweet! Start in there next week, just before my first trade show/exhibit with the Y on November 26 at Dominion Chalmers Church, 10-3.

I'm glad this one is before the Locavore Artisan Food Fest on December 12, as that is gonna be big. We- an awesome group of producers, including the Happy Goat, Micheal'sDolce and Siren Bakery- have been organizing since October and have a pretty great line up ready for your gift giving pleasure... Sweetness, savouriness and all kinds of depth and complexity!  It should be fun- and wonderfully busy!

So, I've been planning for those, plus had a great meeting on Monday with Ottawa U- nothing's firm, or even close, but there's a chance the little green truck will be on campus in March! Woot! We looked at some places...

In the not good news, I had a car accident on Friday. Everyone (including my pup Zip) was fine, but the car is kinda damaged. I am deciding right now whether to repair my Civic with 265 000 km on it or to splurge for a new to me car with a flatter and larger cargo space. I'm leaning towards Subaru-ey newness, but need to sleep on it for one more night. I've been fond of Roxanne, but we've been together since she was new, and it may be time to let her go... I got a cold right after the accident and haven't been moving very fast.

A few little things done on the truck, a bit more planning, and it's time to get feverishly fast- January is SOON, especially given how much time things seem to take, and how crazy the next couple of weeks are.

Back to a revisit of the business plan to show the bank tomorrow.

But you know, as has become the case for much of my time of late, I do feel so wonderfully supported by my friends and family, and the world at large. I know this idea is a good one, and I know I can do it, even when I am thinking of how, if I had chosen to do something more simple, I would be earning money by now, and how that'd be pretty nice. It'll come, right? That's the idea of business, anyways. And the support is there, and the love, and the feedback, and I feel pretty lucky. So thanks!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Salmon en Papillote with Leek and Tomato, Cauliflower Puree and Wilted Spinach with Garlic

You make an envelope of paper around the fish, then bake it.
On Wednesday, I taught a lunchtime cooking class at the local Superstore- there was a nice diversity of students, and everyone enjoyed the food. 
Cooking fish in parchment keeps the moisture it- it's steamed and baked- and in this case, steamed with leek smell. What could be better- oh, I know- pictures. I didn't take any. I was teaching, and the oven didn't preheat, and I forgot. So I stole this one, so you can get the idea. 

But here are the recipes. It's a ludicrously healthy meal, and madly delicious. 

Cauliflower Puree
Serves four

1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp butter
½ cup milk
½ cup water
½ tsp. salt
white pepper to taste

1.     Place all ingredients except sour cream into saucepan and bring to a boil.
2.     Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and allow to cook 20-25 minutes, until cauliflower breaks apart with a fork.
3.     Pour into food processor and blend until smooth. You can add a bit of cream or sour cream if desired, but it’s not necessary. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Keep warm until serving.

Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Leek and Tomato

1 tbsp butter
1 leek
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
16 grape tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil, or 1 tbsp fresh
I large salmon fillet
pepper to taste
1/4 c. white wine
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 F.
1.     Slice leek thinly, and clean thoroughly.
2.     Saute in 1 tbsp butter in an ovenproof skillet with salt on medium heat until softened
3.     Add garlic, tomatoes and basil and allow to heat through.
4.     Add wine and bring to a low boil until much of the wine has evaporated.
5.     Rinse the salmon, pat dry, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6.     On a baking sheet, place a long sheet of parchment paper. Spread ½ the leek tomato mixture in the middle of the paper, then the fish, then the other half. Fold the paper to create an envelope- the top and sides need to be folded shut.
7.     Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, until salmon flakes easily.

Wilted spinach with garlic

2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp butter
one bag spinach, cleaned and deveined (or small box baby spinach)
Salt to taste

1.     Peel and slice garlic paper thin.
2.     Heat butter in deep frying pan or wok on medium low (but closer to low) heat.
3.     Cook garlic, stirring constantly for under a minute.
4.     When garlic starts to become translucent, and the sharp smell is gone, add spinach.
5.     Cook one minute more until it is starting to wilt. Add salt.
6.     Transfer to warm serving bowl and serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kitchen space! Breathing Room! Movies!

Well. Last week I caught my breath, and it's a good thing, as this week I'm back at a good run. Keeping it all at a jog though, as I want to be able to keep on running for a while on this round. I moved slow last week- and boy, am I glad I did.
Four big pieces of news this week, on top of what's becoming the regular (but not taken for granted) goodness (which this week included teaching a class at Loblaws and having another class booked in for Urban Element).
News One: I have a commercial kitchen space!  Well, nearly. Formalities remain until I am renting evening space at Causeway.  It's a community economic development organization that runs some pretty amazing programs, and it's got a great pastry kitchen, with some good fridge space I can use. I have dried goods storage with my good friend the Happy Goat and freezer space here, so although it's a bit spread out, I should be able to keep things moving for the SOUPSCRIPTION service, the details of which are nearly worked out.
They missed the step where you cook the veggies.
News Two: New website host and some modifications to the website in order to get the Soupscription up and running. They're nearly there- end of the week and there should be a lovely form so you can sign up and I'll deliver you some soup. The actual delivery is going to begin in December- I'm away for the last two weekends of November, one cooking, one at a conference, and still need to firm up my supply, packaging and composting chains.
News Three: My brother is taking on the truck! I tried to be sad when his contract in Northern Saskatchewan ended, but I am selfishly kind of glad he's home and underemployed. I can employ him! He's found an insulation solution already, and is so darned smart and creative and handy, and I'm just so glad... There's a lot to be done, but he just looked at it and saw how to go about it. He's also smart for telling me to hold off on buying things until the right time. Going to the bank for more money is not a dream of mine, but it may become a reality.
News Four: The trailer for the movie! We saw the movie last night, and it is SO good. Rob's got some crazy talent- it's really fun to watch.  Come vote at Carleton on November 25- the whole movie will be up after that.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What a wonderful week

This week has been great- I'm a bit late on the blogging (I've decided to go every Wednesday- oops!), but since I last wrote there has been a lot of action on the media front and the truck front, plus life has carried on with it's wonders and obligations and workshops and acting like a chef and all.

Well. Number one on the excitement front- how cute is this? So cute, I tell you. Okay. Not as cute as the one year olds in their Hallowe'en gear, but you know, I don't have kids yet, so... Yay!

And the number two yay was the media attention- in the Ottawa Citizen, no less.  Very exciting indeed.This article was written by Ron Eade, the Citizen's food columnist, after a great event at the Urban Element (which is a lovely kitchen to teach and work in) for the Soup Sisters. It's an amazing organization out of Calgary that makes huge batches of soup for women's shelters. So fun, so community, so healthy.  I'm going to work with them regularly for the next little while to keep the soups scrumptious for Interval House.

A lot of time last week went to workshops- planning, practicing and teaching them- next week is the same. I'm going to present two workshops for the Food For All rollout- the result of months of policy consultations and writing on local food policy. I'm the edutainment! Also going to teach at the Superstore- which should be good too.

What I really need to get on though, is getting the interior of the truck ready for Winterlude- and getting a structure and plan in place. I met the man responsible for the concessions, and he seems keen on having me there, but I need to be ready. I have a commercial kitchen in my sights, and want to start a little delivering to make a little cash and get into a groove beforehand- especially as I will need some employees.  As usual, the broad strokes are worked out well and the planning is great- but the details still need a little work!
Is there some expression about people in ice carriages don't serve soup?

Winterlude will be amazing- it's pretty exciting to have the chance to do this- and soup on the canal in February... Yum!

But it's coming a along- and plans to make money are coming into play, and there is buzz, and the soup is getting out there and getting popular, and that's all good. We're finishing the filming for the film today, plus I'm organizing the truck tasks to be completed, plus updating the website a bit. And the week will see the truck renos on the go- photos of the interior will come on as they get done!