Food Trends for 2016

February 2016

Each year a number of publications put out a list of ‘hot food trends’. We have seen this list run the gamut from blueberries, cauliflower, fermented foods, quinoa through kale. This year, according to a number of sources, there are a few food trends worth watching.

The first food trend that we wholeheartedly throw our support behind, are pulses. Pulses are legumes such as dried lentils, beans, peas & chickpeas. The United Nations has officially declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses with the goal of heightening public awareness of their nutritional benefits. Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins around the globe, and growing pulses adds nitrogen to the soil, increasing soil fertility, resulting in a positive environmental impact.

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Consuming more legumes can help lower bad cholesterol and lower the risk of heart attacks & strokes. They are considered complex carbohydrates, and are wonderful sources of fibre. Pulses contain twice the amount of protein as whole grains, and are chock-full of iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, thiamin & niacin.

Pulses are really inexpensive, especially if you purchase them in their dried form, and can be cooked in thousands of different ways, both sweet and savoury. With all these benefits, why don’t more people make pulses a part of their daily diet? One reason could be the fear of bloating and gas. There are a couple of ways we can make pulses less gassy. First, soak them for 8 hours before cooking. You can add seaweeds, like kombu, to your cooking liquid – it will make your beans easier to digest. Finally, the more you eat them, the more familiar your digestive system becomes, and the less ‘impact’ they will have.

super legumes book cover

The Red Apron has been a huge fan of pulses since we started our business almost 10 years ago, and we have been known to sneak them into many meals to add protein, texture & flavour. If you are looking for more inspiration visit the website of Chrissy Freer whose beautiful new cookbook called Super Legumes which is available in our retail shop.

against the grain farm

The second trend that has been brewing for some time, and seems to be peaking in 2016, is an interest in grains (and pseudo-grains), other than commercial wheat – especially heirloom varieties, ancient grains, seeds that cook/act like grains, or grains that have been hybridized to be nutritionally dense.

The Red Apron has been using organic whole-grain spelt and Red Fife flour as staples in our bakery department for years. In the last twelve months, we have added purple corn flour & barley flour to our bag of tricks. In the book entitled Wheat Belly, William Davis makes the case that modern wheat has been hybridized to the point that the gluten has become toxic to humans. We believe that not all gluten is created equally and that many grains (some gluten free) are full of nutrients and are low-GI carbohydrates. These include barley, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, rye and rice (brown, white or wild). Most of these grains are available whole, cracked, rolled, and ground into flours.

For more inspiration on cooking with spelt, visit the website of author & spelt farmer, Roger Saul, or pick up a copy of his book Spelt in our retail store.

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Recently we have added two new grains to our repertoire: purple corn (flour & meal) and hulless barley (berries & flour). All of these product are available in our retail store. Grown locally on the Against the Grain Farm near Manotick, purple corn is full of anthocyanins, rich in antioxidants, and bursting with amino acids. Their hulless barley is high in B vitamins, rich in fibre and high in beta glucan, which stabilizes blood sugar levels.

Curried Sweet Potato & Chicken Stew

This stew can be made with or without the chicken.
Oil (canola or olive)
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled & grated
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 small can of diced tomatoes or 3 medium fresh tomatoes diced
1 small can of coconut milk
2 cups of organic chickpeas, drained & rinsed (or cooked from dried)
2 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 tablespoon of curry powder
1 large or two medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed (1 inch cubes) and cooked until just tender
Cooked meat from one chicken breast, cubed
½ bag of baby spinach leaves
Salt, to taste

Steamed rice, to serve

Prep all of the above ingredients.

In a large saucepan, sauté onions in a bit of oil over medium high heat, until soft. Add red peppers, and cook until peppers wilt. Add garlic, ginger and curry powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and coconut milk, and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add chickpeas, 1 cup of chicken stock, chicken and sweet potatoes. Simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and more curry powder to taste. If the stew is too thick, thin with remaining chicken stock. Immediately before serving, mix in spinach leaves. Serve on steamed rice.

You could garnish this dish with chopped green onions, cilantro & avocado.

‘Against the Grain’ Purple Corn cake with Blueberries

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Almond Crumble:
½ cup raw skin-on almonds
¾ cup purple corn flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup chilled butter, cut into pieces

Cake:
1 ¾ cups purple corn flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces almond paste
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 lb blueberries
Powdered sugar (for serving)

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until about the size of grains of rice. Add flour, sugar, and salt, and pulse just to blend. Add butter and process until no dry spots remain. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a spring form pan with oil or nonstick spray.

Whisk the corn flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, break up the almond paste until crumbly. Add the sugar and butter and mix until blended, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well to incorporate after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Fold in the blueberries.

Scrape batter into pan; sprinkle crumble on top. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 80–90 minutes. Let cool in pan before unmolding and dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

‘Against the Grain’ Barley Berry Pilaf with Roasted Vegetables and Feta Crumble

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¼ cup canola oil
1/2 cup onions – small dice
1/2 cup carrots – small dice
1 cup barley berries
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 tsp salt – or to taste

Feta Crumble:
1 cup crumbled feta
1 cup crumbled herbed croutons
Basil to garnish

Selection of Seasonal Vegetables – grilled or roasted to your liking – We like to use peppers and zucchini and garnish with fresh tomatoes.

Vinaigrette:
In a bowl, whisk the following ingredients:

¼ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
¾ cup good quality olive oil
dash of salt

In a medium sized saucepan on medium high heat, sauté the onions and carrots in a bit of oil until the onions are translucent. Add the barley berries, vegetable stock and salt. Bring the water and barley to a boil over medium high heat, skimming off any foam. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook until the barley is done – approximately 25 to 35 minutes. Add more water if the pan becomes dry before the barley has finished cooking; check every 5 minutes until desired chewiness is reached.

Leave the barley to sit for 10 minutes, covered, until any remaining liquid has been absorbed.

Slice the vegetables into bite sized pieces. Mix with the barley and vinaigrette. Garnish with the cherry tomatoes and crumble mixture. Enjoy cold, warm or at room temperature!

 

 

 

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Happy New Year!

January, 2016

For many of the people in my life, myself included, 2015 seemed to be a particularly challenging year, rife with health troubles, life changes, and obstacles. I am looking forward to 2016 with optimism and will be happy to put 2015 behind me.

It appears that the tides have shifted since the election, and I have enjoyed the positive, forward-looking and solution-focused approach of our new elected officials. I want to support those efforts by staying focused on the positives in my life and the lives of those I care about. Along those lines I thought it might be helpful to develop a toolkit for remaining optimistic.

Here are a few ideas to focus on as we welcome 2016:

Surround yourself with constructive people.

Continue to express love towards other people.

Remain selective about what you read, listen to or watch in the media.

Listen to more music and dance more often.

Remember to be thankful for everything you have, everything you are, and for the amazing people in your life.

Spoil yourself often.

Challenge yourself by deliberately stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Work on accepting things that you cannot change and try to know when to call it quits. Some things are just not worth the effort.

Remember the value of being a positive role model and a source of inspiration.

Try not to bite off more than you can chew.

Celebrate your successes and the successes of others.

Make clutter your enemy and organization your friend.

Smile often.

Continue to be passionate and embrace life and love.

After a year of change, I am also enjoying getting back to one of my favourite pastimes – cooking for the people I love. The completion of a major kitchen renovation is allowing me to rediscover the joy I feel when I cook. Most Sunday afternoons you can find me, after a visit to the Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne, in the kitchen cooking up a big batch of stew, a hearty pasta or a comforting soup. These meals can be enjoyed throughout the week for dinner or lunch. Or invite a crowd over for Sunday dinner!

At the Red Apron, January is Spa Month, with menus designed to renew and rejuvenate. The Valentine’s Day pre-order dinner menu is now available on our website. Our annual Lumberjack Brunch will be held on January 31st. Details on all these events are available on our website.


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Lamb Stew

For years I have been buying my lamb and pork from Joseph from Canreg Station, who has been a fixture at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market for years. Joseph raises his pork and lamb on pasture, and makes beautiful cheeses with his sheep’s milk.

1 large onion or leek, sliced
4 cloves of garlic – minced
3 medium leeks, cleaned and chopped
2 cups of carrots – large dice
3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and diced into ½” cubes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups broth (beef, lamb or chicken) or water
2 cups of full-bodied red wine
2-3 sprigs each of rosemary and thyme – rough chopped
2-3 pounds of cubed lamb shoulder
Olive or canola oil

Salt & pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven on the stovetop, heat oil, and brown the pieces of lamb in small batches on medium high heat. Don’t allow them to cook through. Remove the pieces from the pan and set aside.

When finished browning the lamb, add more oil if necessary and add the onions and leeks. Sauté on medium-high heat until the onions are softened. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add more oil if necessary and sauté the carrots on medium-high heat to caramelize slightly. Deglaze the pan with wine and allow the liquids to evaporate.

Return the lamb, leeks & onions to the pan along with the stock/water, rosemary & thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover and place in a 275-300 degree Fahrenheit pre-heated oven. Cook covered for 1 to 1 ½ hours until the lamb starts to become tender. Add the potatoes to the pot and add more liquid if necessary. Stir and cover to cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. Test for doneness. Your potatoes should be tender and the lamb should be starting to break down.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Smoked Sturgeon

pasta with sturgeonOne of my most exciting discoveries in 2015 was sturgeon from Petit Brûlé, which was available for the weekends leading up to Christmas at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. In addition to smoked sturgeon, this small owner-operated business sells sturgeon mousse and sturgeon caviar. For details visit their website at petitbrule.ca

When I saw it, I instantly thought of using it in my favourite pasta. If you can’t get your hands on smoked sturgeon, you can substitute with smoked salmon or any of your favourite smoked fish.

Serves 4 to 6, unless you have a 16 year old boy, in which case it serves 2 – 3.

1 package dry spaghetti (I used gluten free pasta)
4 large eggs
2 shallots or 2 medium onion, sliced thin
250 grams smoked sturgeon – diced
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used Canreg Station’s Pecorino instead)
2 tablespoons butter
Freshly cracked black pepper,
sea salt

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook per instructions on the box, or until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and shallots and sauté for about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and half the cheese until well-combined.

Be prepared to move quickly for the next few steps. When your pasta is cooked, immediately drain 1 cup of the hot pasta water and add half to your large skillet on medium low heat. Drain your spaghetti and quickly add it to the pan while it is still hot. Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture, stirring quickly until the eggs thicken. The residual heat will cook the eggs but work quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. If the sauce seems too thick, thin it out with a little bit more of the pasta water.

Season liberally with freshly cracked black pepper, remaining cheese and add the diced sturgeon.

Serve immediately.

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Let’s Bake a Pie!

December, 2015

It’s December at the Red Apron, which means we will be making hundreds of pies. Pies are an easy way to feed a group and a simple last minute addition to a pot luck. The best thing about pies is that you can make a few of them at a time and freeze them un-baked, so you are always no more than an hour away from a hot out of the oven, fresh baked dinner or dessert.

This December, in addition to our regular offering of assorted fruit pies and dinner pies, we will be making a couple of special seasonal pies including Bison, Beef & Berkshire (Pork) with Dried Plums & Sage, our ever popular Traditional French Canadian Tourtière with House Made Ketchup and new this year, an Apple Mincemeat Pie. These pies are available in our retail shop, or for pre-order and pick up on the 24th of December.

The secret to a good pie is in the crust. We have found that the simplest and most effective pie dough is made using 2.5 cups of flour, a pinch of salt, ¼ cup butter, ¾ cups of lard and a small amount of ice water. The flour, cold butter & lard can be pulsed together in a food processor until the texture resembles crumbs. Do not over mix. Transfer the ingredients to a large bowl and sprinkle with enough ice water to allow you to form the dough into a ball. Divide the ball in 2, wrap in plastic wrap and let the ball cool in your fridge for at least a half an hour. This makes one full bottom and one full top, or two pie bottoms for an open-faced pie or galette.

On a clean, cool surface, roll out your pie top and bottom.

ball of dough
Once filled, you can freeze your unbaked pie and bake it from frozen when you are ready to eat it, or bake it immediately in a 350-degree oven for 45-60 minutes, until golden brown. You can also freeze your pie dough, and thaw it out when you are inspired to make a pie.

What to put in our piecrust? There are a million answers to this question but here are a few of our favourites.

Pie for breakfast. One of the simplest pies to make is a quiche. Take 2 cups total of your favourite things (ham, cheese, spinach, potatoes, mushrooms, bacon) spread over your unbaked pie shell and pour over a mixture of 4 eggs and 1 ½ cups milk or cream whisked together with salt & pepper. Bake per directions above. Don’t go too crazy with too much filling ingredients, and make sure they are relatively dry as excess moisture is your quiche’s worst enemy.

Butternut Cheddar Galette

Butternut Cheddar Galette

Turkey Pies

Turkey Pot Pie

Pie for dinner. It’s easy to create a savoury pie using a variety of fillings. If you are making a batch of stew, for example, set aside 750 grams to fill your pie shell. Bake per instructions above or freeze for a later time. One of our favourite savoury pies is our butternut galette. To make you will need 2 cups of butternut (or sweet potatoes, pumpkin or any orange winter squash) diced and sautéed in oil and butter until slightly tender, then seasoned with salt and garlic. Next, slice 3 whole onions and caramelize in butter & oil until soft and golden, seasoned with salt. You will also need 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar. Distribute half of the cheese on the bottom of your pie shell. Layer the caramelized onions and diced butternut and top with the remaining cheddar. Fold over the edges of the piecrust to form a rustic finish and bake per directions above, or freeze for a later time.

Pie for dessert. Take 7 cups of your favourite fruit (peeled and sliced, frozen or fresh) and toss it with 2 tablespoons of sugar and one tablespoon of cornstarch. Fill your unbaked pie shell. Cover with a pastry top or crumble top and either freeze to bake later or bake per directions above. Let it sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Pudding & Pie. Who can resist pudding? There are many types of cream or custard like pies including banana cream pie, key lime pie, lemon meringue pie, but one of the easiest is a chocolate cream pie. First you need one par-baked pie crust. Then you will need to whisk 2/3 cup of sugar with ¼ cup o of cornstarch, ½ teaspoon of salt and 4 egg yolks in a heavy saucepan. Add 3 cups of whole milk in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then reduce to simmer and continue to whisk for one minute. Force the mixture through a fine sieve then whisk in 2 ounces of unsweetened, melted chocolate, 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Allow to cool, then spoon into your piecrust and cover loosely. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours and serve with whipped cream! Any pudding recipe will taste great poured into a pie shell and topped with whipped cream.

Classic Pumpkin Pie

Classic Pumpkin Pie

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Amazing Grains

October 2015

against the grain farm

Our 100 Mile Menu experiences allow us a unique opportunity to source out new growers and producers in our region, many of which become regular suppliers to us year round.  This year we hit the jackpot with the discovery of Against-the-Grain farm near Winchester.

Shelly and Tony have been growing some very exciting grains — after one conversation with Shelly, we were sold on her product.  Their purple corn is a non GMO, gluten free, whole grain.  The dark purple color is due to natural pigments known as anthocyanins, which are rich in antioxidants. Purple corn has a higher antioxidant capacity than blueberries.  These antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory abilities and encourage connective tissue regeneration. Studies also indicate that they reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, inhibit abnormal cell growth, promote collagen formation, and improve circulation.

barley packages

Their hulless barley is a variety of barley that has been adapted to grow in Canada. It is free of genetically modified organisms and commercial additives, and is more nutritious than traditional barley.  The beta-glucans found in this barley are a type of soluble fibre that lowers blood cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. One gram of beta-glucan from barley grain products equals 35% of the recommended daily intake! Beta glucans slow stomach emptying and creates a feeling of fullness, and prevents fast rise in blood sugar after eating. Beta-glucans also aid in the support of the immune system and can help regulate blood sugar.

The nutritional benefits of these grains puts them in the Super Food category –  which is any nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.

In this day and age of grain fears and phobias, it is nice to be able to use some locally grown, non GMO products that taste delicious while delivering a highly nutritious kick!

We have been experimenting in our retail store with a number of recipes to really make use of these lovely products, and here are two we would like to share with you.  The purple corn flour, purple corn meal, barley berries, and barley flour are all available in our retail store so you can have fun cooking at home!

‘Against the Grain’ Purple Corn cake with Blueberries

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Almond Crumble
½ cup raw skin-on almonds
¾ cup purple corn flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup chilled butter, cut into pieces

Cake

1 ¾ cups Purple Corn Flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces almond paste
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 lb Blueberries
Powdered sugar (for serving)

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until about the size of grains of rice. Add flour, sugar, and salt and pulse just to blend. Add butter and process until no dry spots remain. Set Aside

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a springform pan with oil or nonstick spray.

Whisk the corn flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, break up the almond paste in a large bowl until crumbly. Add the sugar and butter and mix until blended, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well to incorporate after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Fold in the blueberries

Scrape batter into pan; sprinkle crumble on top. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 80–90 minutes. Let cool in pan before unmolding and dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

‘Against the Grain’ Barley Berry Pilaf with Roasted Vegetables and Feta Crumble

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¼ cup canola oil
1/2 cup onions-small dice
1/2 cup carrots-small dice
1 cup barley berries
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 tsp salt-or to taste

Feta Crumble:

1 cup crumbled Feta
1 cup crumbled herbed croutons
Basil to garnish

Selection of Seasonal Farmer’s Market Vegetables – Grilled to your liking – We like to use peppers and zucchini and garnish with fresh cherry tomatoes.

Vinaigrette:

In a bowl, whisk the following ingredients

¼ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
¾ cup good quality olive oil
dash of salt

In a medium sized saucepan on medium high heat, sauté the onions and carrots until the onions are translucent. Add barley berries, vegetable stock and salt. Bring the water and barley to a boil over medium high heat, skimming off any foam. Reduce heat to a low simmer cover and cook until the barley is done – approximately 25 – 35 minutes. Add more water if the pan becomes dry before the barley has finished cooking; check every 5 minutes until desired chewiness is reached. Leave the barley to sit for 10 minutes, covered, until any remaining liquid has all been absorbed.

Slice the vegetables into bite sized pieces. Mix with the barley and vinaigrette. Garnish with the cherry tomatoes and crumble mixture. Enjoy cold or at room temperature!

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Red Apron Tips & Tricks II

Guest Blogger:  Tanya Ewanovich, Red Apron Client, Foodie & Cheesemaker

We love our weekday Red Apron meals and the containers always look great…but what to do with all the garnishes in the containers? Quite honestly, we eat some of them, but mostly we we were throwing them out and I felt so guilty wasting these fragrant bundles.

image1I also love cooking with herbs but the problem is that when I grow them in my garden, half the time I forget about using them. When I buy them at the store, there is always way more than the recipe calls for and so again, I forget about them at the back of my veggie bin until they are spoiled beyond recognition.

I think you know where this might be going. For several months I have been drying the Red Apron’s herbaceous garnishes in my kitchen and now I have little scented gems ready to become part of a meal. See how quickly they dry on my hutch!

Here is a picture of roasted chicken thighs using oregano and thyme (both Red Apron image3meal garnishes dried in my kitchen), rosemary (yea! I remembered to get some from my pot in the garden), red chilli flakes, Dijon mustard, leftover white wine, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Yumm…my aromatic Red Apron Trick!

Another simple way to use up Red Apron leftovers…I had some kale waiting in my fridge for some inspiration along with Seed to Sausage Juniper and Garlic Bacon, leftover from Sunday brunch. I also had some dressing from last week’s Red Apron salad. Since my husband doesn’t like a lot of dressing, we always have extras accumulating in the fridge. There was also a bit of Red Apron slaw, but not enough to use it as a proper side dish. So here you have it…kale salad and not a single bite leftover for tomorrow…sigh.

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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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We are Mothers, residents of our community, entrepreneurs as well as active participants in our local economy. We individually have a history of owning and operating successful local businesses.

Our commitment to getting people “back to the table” starts at home and extends to our community through a number of philanthropic endeavours.

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