Sunday, February 26, 2012

Icelandic pancakes, and last day at the farm

When I do get back to Toronto, I'll work on a recipe for those little beauties you see up there: my dad's Icelandic pancakes. They're sweet like cake, fluffy like air. I don't think I've ever seen a recipe for them --- my dad has never needed one.  But I do know that many egg whites and sugar make them a close relative of meringues, if you can ever say that about a pancake. 

But before I go, a few more bites I had this week, at the farm. 

My mum's lamb liver and onions. I know! Maybe you don't like liver and onions. Well, too bad for you. 

Venison steak-frites, from a doe my dad shot this fall. For the fries, the potatoes are from the world's best vegetable woman, Kelly Dubé, in LaBroquerie, ten miles away. And seasoned with this salt (which is decidedly not from ten miles away). 

On Wednesday, my good friend Emma came over for dinner and brought this spice cake. Joy of Cooking! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Taking Time

This week, I won't be testing any recipes. You'll only see my photos. I'm at my parents' farm in Manitoba for the week. That's why. 

But I will be eating. 

Eating stuff like this lovely chocolate pie my Papa made, when I arrived on Sunday. 

My parents are both tremendous cooks. 

And my Maman is a fabulous watercolour painter, too. I'm spending my afternoons with her. 

She's also a gardener, even in the dead of Manitoba's winter.

I'll be back later this week with more farm photos. And I promise recipes when I'm back in the Toronto routine. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

M.F.K. Fisher

I liked M.F.K. Fisher from the moment, in an early chapter of her first book, Serve It Forth, she describes her secret winter’s habit of peeling tangerines and leaving them on a hot radiator for the day, so that the thin skin dries and the flesh swells with warm juicy pulp. Once cooled on a snow-packed windowsill, they quickly disappear:

“…I cannot tell you why they are so magical. Perhaps it is that little shell, thin as one layer of enamel on a Chinese bowl, that crackles so tinily, so ultimately under your teeth. Or the rush of cold pulp just after it. Or the perfume, I cannot tell.
          There must be some one, though, who knows what I mean. Probably everyone does, because of his own secret eatings.”

Sunday, February 5, 2012

An Ode to Oats

Steel cut oats, that is.  Not rolled, and not quick oats, but the kind of oats that are knobby, pebbly and hardly friendly-looking. But I love them, and I eat them almost every morning.  

Steel cut oats make for a sturdy meal; a meal that takes its time on the stove, and doesn’t mind waiting for my bleary eyes to wake up. It’s a porridge that gently bubbles away for half an hour, while sip on coffee and peruse the news.

Steel cut oats can take on any personality: With a handful of coconut, some chunks of dried pineapple, and a good spoonful of dark, dark sugar, it’s nearly a dessert. Or throw in a handful of nutty granola and some cinnamon just before serving, you end up with good texture and wholesomeness. Or make it savory, with a pinch of salt, simmered with herbs, and knob of butter right at the end to round it out.  Maybe a spot of cream, too.

There’s a constant, though. For one serving, you need ¼ cup of oats, and a cup of water. Bring it to a boil, then down to the lowest fathomable simmer for half an hour. But those are really the only rules.

That picture, up there, it’s not really a porridge. It’s closer to a loose pilaf. But the principle is exactly the same: ¼ cup oats, a cup of water, and a half hour of simmering.

It’s quickly become one of my favourite ways to eat steel cut oats.  Feel free to play with the ingredients. Here, there are more veggies than there are oats. That makes plateful, rather than a bowlful. But you can easily make the reverse.

Oats with Kale and Mushrooms
Serves one as a hefty breakfast

A knob of butter
A handful of mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
A pinch of grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Kale, 5 or 6 leaves, roughly chopped and tough stems discarded
¼ cup steel cut oats
1 cup water

In a wide sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Add numeg, salt and pepper.

Now add the kale, and sauté until it’s just starting to wilt.

Now add the oats and the water. Bring to a full boil, and immediately down to a low simmer.  Cook uncovered, keeping an eye on the oatmeal, and giving it an occasional stir. The oatmeal is ready with the grain is tender, and all the water is gone. Heap onto a plate, and eat it while it’s still piping hot.