Turkey!

September 2014

IMG_6095Early this summer I had the great pleasure of visiting the Turkish Mediterranean for 2 weeks with my 15 year old son.  We hadn’t planned to go to Turkey, but were drawn there by a week long cruise of the area on a sail ship offering daily yoga, fresh food, and dips in the cool, blue waters.  YogaCruise is operated by Sven & Kathja.  They were the ultimate hosts on this trip, providing twice daily yoga, cool tunes, and great meals featuring ingredients from the region.

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Tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and fresh yogurt made daily appearances in our breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Served up 50 different ways, these ingredients were staples of the local diet.  Fish, beef, and lamb made occasional appearances.  Desserts consisted mostly of dried & fresh fruits, nuts, and the occasional pastry or Turkish Delight.

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Our days were spent like this: wake up, do yoga, eat breakfast, swim, lie in the sun, eat lunch, swim, lie in the sun, have tea, swim, lie in the sun, nap, do yoga, eat dinner, dance, sleep. After 7 days of this I was relaxed, tanned and just a teensy bit more fit. The 45 degree plus weather was most bearable due to the sea breezes and refreshing dips in the Mediterranean. Not a bad way to spend a vacation.  Too bad it takes 24 hours to get there!


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One of the may local recipes we enjoyed were these simple zucchini fritters, and considering we are in the thick of zucchini season, I thought it would be a good recipe to share with you this month.

Ingredients

1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), trimmed
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
scallions, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup corn starch or all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions
Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor fitted with the shredding disk. Transfer the zucchini to a fine mesh strainer and set over a bowl. Toss the zucchini with the salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Wring all of the excess liquid out of the zucchini with your hands, then set aside.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the dried zucchini, scallions, dill, feta, garlic and black pepper. Sprinkle the corn starch and baking powder over mixture and stir until uniformly incorporated.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Drop 2-tablespoon sized portions into the pan, then use the back of a spoon to gently press the batter into 2-inch-wide fritters. Pan-fry until golden brown on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate. Wipe the skillet clean with paper towels. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, and repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm or room temperature with lemon wedges.

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It’s Berry Season!

August 2014

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Wild Strawberries

It’s the thick of blueberry season, and you can find late varieties of strawberries and raspberries at the local Farmer’s Markets in abundance.  Last year we were receiving fall raspberries from Rideau Pines Farm well into late September!

Most berries fall into the SuperFood category.  The antioxidants in berries help your body fight stress caused by free radicals that can lead to illness. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help improve your health, protect your skin and hair, and prevent certain diseases. All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, but nutrient-rich berries are some of the absolute best sources.

Vitamin C is also found in berries. Eating vitamin C–rich berries will contribute to radiant skin and healthy hair, and may reduce the risk of arthritis, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Oatmeal with blueberries, yogurt & bacon bits!

Oatmeal with blueberries, yogurt & bacon bits!

There are so many ways you can enjoy your fresh picked berries, and because they are easy to freeze, you can enjoy local berries through the fall and winter.  Here are some ideas!

Enjoy a breakfast of  fresh berries, plain organic yogurt sweetened with honey or maple syrup, ground flax seed, hot oatmeal, or Justine’s Granola (available in our Retail Shoppe).  A SuperFood way to start your day!

Finish your dinner with a bowl of berries topped with a dollop of whipped cream or greek yogurt.

Slice and layer berries, lemons, and other seasonal fruit in a pitcher with fresh mint and a couple of ounces of your favourite berry liqueur, then add a bottle of sparkling wine or Prosecco.  Muddle to intensify the flavours.

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Serve fresh berries with pound cake or angel food cake (see recipe)

Add fresh blueberries or strawberries to summer greens and toss with a sweet vinaigrette, garnish with some poppy or sesame seeds.

Make the best daiquiri ever.  Fresh mint adds zing! (see recipe)

Make a batch of crepes or pancakes and top them with fresh berries and maple syrup.  If you want to get fancy, add a slice of seared foie gras.

Crepes with Fois Gras, Blueberries & Apples

Crepes with Fois Gras, Blueberries & Apples

 

berriesLemon Sour Cream Pound Cake with Lavender

3 cups of organic white flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon organic food grade lavender
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and dust with flour, tapping out excess flour – a 2 loaf pans, or one 8 x 10 cake pan, or a bundt pan.  This recipe also bakes well into muffin cups.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl at medium speed until fluffy.  Gradually add sugar and beat for 4 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition.  Beat in lemon juice and peel.

Using a rubber spatula, mix in dry ingredients.  Mix in sour cream.  Transfer batter to prepared pans.

Bake until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean, which could be between 30 minutes (muffins) to 1 ½ hours depending on the size of your pan.  Turn out carefully and allow to cool completely.  This cake keeps well for a number of days if wrapped tightly.

IMG_6014Fresh Strawberry Daiquiri

6 cups ice
½ cup organic cane sugar or ¼ cup honey
150-200 grams of fresh strawberries
½ cup lemon juice
¾ cup rum
¼ cup triple sec
¼ cup sparkling water

In a blender combine ice, sugar and strawberries.  Pour in lemon juice, rum and sparkling water.  Enjoy!

Red Apron on the Hudson!

August, 2014

IMG_6336This month, Jo-Ann and I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to get into our car and drive to Hudson, New York, to take part in an on-farm event in support of Friends of the Farmer. FarmOn! Foundation, is a non-profit charity, founded in 2011 to reinvigorate a respect for farming.  The Friends of the Farmer Festival was created to raise awareness of local food choices and sources creating rural to urban marketplaces in support of sustaining local small-scale family farms Since its inauguration the foundation has worked to generate over $250,000 in economic development for the Hudson Valley’s local community.

 

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In addition to a good cause, the real draw was an opportunity to have chefs like April Bloomfield – Spotted Pig, The Breslin – New York, NY, and Derek Dammann – Maison Publique – Montreal, QC IMG_6353serve us food and to engage in discussions about food, farm and the industry.  As part of the Norther Chef Alliance, these 10 award winning chefs come together a few times a year to lend their talents towards the raising of money for good causes.

It was a beautiful day and the hosts at Fish & Game Farm put on a spectacular event that was well organized and perfectly executed.  The 10 chefs paired off under large tents and served up 2 dishes each that featured ingredients that were locally sourced, or they brought with them from their various regions.

IMG_6349We sampled rotisserie chickens, smoked pig, spit roasted goat, coal fired vegetables, boiled crab and much more.  Each chef-team was paired with a mixologists who were serving up cocktails using artisan spirits, local wines & microbrews.  The net effect was a heavenly experience, culminating in a huge bonfire and live music performed by Medeski, Martin & Wood.

One of the highlights of the evening was the opportunity to meet Jeremy Charles – Raymonds – St. John’s, NL and his lovely wife and new baby, and to taste his delicious creation of crab, sea grass, new potatoes, and sea grass.  His restaurant is now on my ‘must visit’ list.

We spent the next day touring around the town of Hudson,IMG_6372 sampling spectacular baked goods from Bonfiglio & Bread , shopping for antiques and home wares, visiting a young and inspiring entrepreneur at Flower Kraut,  culminating in a memorable dinner at Swoon Kitchenbar where I tasted the best pasta dish in recent memory.

IMG_6358Hudson is a lovely town with a vibrant food scene, talented chefs,  great live music venues, and affordable yet stylish accommodations.

We will absolutely visit Hudson again, soon!

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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Farmer’s Market Season

Finally, spring has arrived and Farmer’s Market Season has commenced.  We are so fortunate to have a growing number of markets to visit each weekend including:

Ottawa Farmer’s Market @ Brewer Park – Sundays
Main Street Farmer’s Market @ St. Paul’s University – Saturdays
Ottawa Organic Farmer’s Market behind Canadian Tire at Bank & Heron on Saturdays
Parkdale Farmer’s Market – Daily
….and so many more cropping up here and there.  For a more comprehensive list, click here.

The first local crop to hit the markets is asparagus.  We received our first delivery last week from Rideau Pines Farm – a pick your own fruit & vegetable farm near Manotick.

Fresh picked & delivered same day

Fresh picked & delivered same day

According to Matt at Rideau Pines, don’t shy away from the large asparagus.  If it’s picked fresh, locally grown, then it’s just as tender as small asparagus, and it has more crunch so can be enjoyed really lightly cooked or even raw as part of a cold salad or slaw.  Today’s recipe features this amazing vegetable.

Under the right conditions, asparagus can grow up to 1 cm per hour.  Asparagus can be green, white or purple.  To extend the life, refrigerate stalks, tips up in a cup of shallow water.  Asparagus can be broiled, steamed, grilled, roasted or sautéed.  Asparagus is high in fiber, folate and potassium, and contains bone-building vitamin K along with many antioxidants, including vitamins E, A and C.  Each spear of asparagus has just 4 calories and contains no fat or cholesterol.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mLf-wUdkws

Pasta with Peas, Asparagus and Double Smoked Bacon

8 oz dry pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup whipping cream
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup shelled green peas (may substitute frozen, thawed)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or tarragon leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
¼ pound Double Smoked Bacon – cubed (Piggy Market’s is the best!)

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to directions. While the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce as follows.

In a large saucepan cook the bacon on medium heat until golden.  Remove bacon and set aside.  Add the garlic and Asparagus. Cook for 1-2 minute.  Remove Asparagus and set aside. Add the stock, cream, lemon zest and turn heat up to high. When it begins to boil, add the peas and continue cooking for about 3 minutes. Turn off heat.

Drain the pasta (do not rinse), and add back to the pot. Pour in the sauce and mix to coat the pasta. Add the lemon juice, basil, Parmesan, asparagus, salt and pepper. Toss again and serve immediately – garnish with double smoked bacon.  If your grill is on, consider grilling the asparagus lightly tossed in oil first.  The flavour is delicious!

Variations:  You can top this lovely pasta with grilled chicken or fish, or serve it beside a grilled steak.

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Let’s Bake a Pie!

April, 2014

With Easter on the horizon, you may be hosting a few guests for brunch or lunch.  Making a pie can often seem like a daunting task, involving many steps and ingredients.  But the reality is that it can be simple, and is a very versatile and elegant way to present almost any ingredients.

This month’s recipes feature free-form galettes, which are really easy to make.  We make them in a pie plate because it’s easier to move them around and transport them before and after baking, but you can make them on a baking sheet as well.

Our savoury version is a vegetarian galette.
butternut cheddar galette
When Jo-Ann and I travelled to London last fall, we were inspired by the many, many, many types of pies available in shops and markets.  We found this one inspiring, and came back to try to replicate it.  We served our first batch at our annual Lumberjack brunch and they were a HUGE hit.  We will be making them and selling them in the store this Easter.

Although the recipe calls for butternut, you could switch it up seasonally, and replace it with sweet potato, pumpkin, or any orange squash.  This recipe makes a great lunch/brunch dish, but is also a great accompaniment to grilled or roast meat.

The sweet version is a mixed berry, but almost any fruit will work including peaches, mangos, apples, etc.

strawberry galette

 

We make small versions of this sweet treat for sale each day in our retail store, and sometimes we add custard or cheese.  If you are using strawberries, remove the hulls and slice them first.  You can use any stone fruit.  Just  peal and slice them beforehand.  Apples work well, and you can mix your fruits too and come up with your own favourite combination.

You can use frozen fruit for this recipe, but make sure you assemble the pie quickly before the fruit thaws, and bake immediately.  If your fruit thaws before baking, it will release too much moisture and make your crust soggy.

Butternut, Caramelized Onion & Cheddar Galette

Pie Dough

1 ¼ cups all purpose organic flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, chilled & diced
¼ cup water

In a large bowl, combine flour & salt.  Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Filling

2 cups butternut, diced and sautéed (Note 1)
1 clove of garlic crushed
3 onions, sliced & caramelized (Note 2)
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar
butter & oil for frying

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Assemble

Roll out pie dough, and place gently into a 9 ½ inch pie plate.  Do not trim the pie dough.  Distribute ½ of the shredded cheddar on the bottom of the pie dough.  Layer all the caramelized onions on top of the cheese.  Add the diced butternut and distribute evenly and top with remaining shredded cheddar. Fold over the edges of the piecrust to form a rustic finish.

Bake in pre-heated 325-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden.

Note 1:  Sauté butternut in oil & butter until slightly golden & tender.  Season with salt and add garlic just before finishing so it doesn’t burn.  Let cool

Note 2:  Sauté onions in oil & butter until soft & golden.  Season with salt.  Let cool.

Very Berry Galette

Follow the same directions above for making and rolling out the pie dough.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
4 cups berries or fruit *
1 tsp coarse sugar
icing sugar (optional for dusting)

Combine brown sugar and cornstarch and 1/8 tsp salt in a large bowl. Stir in berries until coated. Tumble fruit mix onto centre of pastry inside a pie shell.  Fold pastry over, just to cover edge of fruit. Centre of pie should not be covered with pastry, and edge will be uneven. Lightly brush pastry with water, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake until pastry is golden and mixture is bubbly, 35 to 40 min. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or cool and dust with icing sugar.

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About the Red Apron
the red apron is a meal delivery service for busy families and savvy singles. We create locally sourced, sophisticated comfort food, letting you rediscover the taste of great food without the stress of shopping and meal preparation.
 
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