Seasonal eating

I have learned a great deal about the food industry over the last year. Over that time, I’ve taken a more proactive approach to cooking for myself following a moderate set of ethical guidelines that I’ve established in accordance to my new knowledge. There were some difficult moments and meals where I blankly ignored what I knew. The summer however has brought on a wealth of new flavors and ingredients that have provided me the means to easily follow a diet that is both more sustainable and healthier.

One issue I face during the year that affects my eating habits is the desire for diversity. In North America, with the annually available products from around the world in the grocery stores, this is not so hard to do. But doing so means sacrificing your appreciation for fresh ingredients. So often, you pick up a fruit or vegetable that has traveled (literally)thousands of miles to be there, was picked before being ripe and was grown on massive industrial farms where artificial fertilizers provided the necessary nutrients for their flavor profile… Fresh produce, in season, from locally sourced farms that practice sustainable agriculture taste vastly different from what we are used to seeing at the grocery store. Over the last weeks I’ve enjoyed a plethora of wonderful foods both colorful and nutritious that have helped me try new things in the kitchen. Much of that experimenting has been simple; fresh produce doesn’t need much work to taste good, and one thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve become creative again. I had gotten bored during the winter months and seemed to use produce redundantly, without any attempt at trying new things. Of course, the summer also provides a great deal more to work with.

Here are some dishes I quickly put together over the last 2 weeks that I enjoyed. You’ll find that there are reoccurring ingredients in these dishes… The fresh produce I’ve used the most recently has been green peas, broad beans, carrots, radishes, fresh leafy greens, herbs and tomatoes. Last weekend, at the Jean-Talon market, I learned that the corn season had just started

local arugula, carrots, green peas, radishes, sun dried tomatoes, humus and olive bread
corn, green pea risotto with poached lobster.. oh yes, and a lovely Sicilian white wine by Arianna Occhipinti

mizuna, amaranth greens, tomatoes, radishes, peas, sunflower seeds, and a creamy québec goat cheese

polenta, hard boiled eggs, broad beans, carrots, zucchini, celeri, onions

What’s coming up

Hey,

The last 2 months have been kind of slow on the post front, but this should change over the next week or 2(depending on when my internship officially finishes).

Over the next few weeks, I will start posting videos once again: cooking videos, and videos about food, and other health related issues.

I will be writing a piece about LUFA Farms, which I visited on Monday. http://www.lufa.com/

I want to post new recipes, and grade them for their health factor, their cost factor, and their seasonal factor.

I want to post about local farms in Québec, and on the Ontario border, possibly on the American border as well. Farms with ethical practices that are near Montreal, when possible.

I also want to write some pieces about our markets, both the more commercial ones, as well as the small farmer’s markets that our organized by local individuals during the warmer seasons.

Anyways, I’ll also keep posting about movies and books occasionally and might start doing restaurant reviews that focus less on saying whether I like it or not, and focus more on what their philosophy is, what you can expect as a diner and so on.

Thanks and see you soon.

Winter dinner #2!

Happy Monday to everyone,

Hope that those of you who have the weekend off enjoyed it, and that those who don’t enjoyed it as well. It’s bright and sunny here.. and very very cold.

I like the sun.

Last night I decided to make myself a nice dinner of bright orange squash, youthful green cabbage, and grain fed chicken. Its’ colorful composition might have one thinking of summer. However, it’s actually more of a fall dish, but with all of the main ingredients being about as seasonal as you can get when living in frigid Quebec during the winter, we’ll call it a winter dinner anyways.

It’s a very simple dish to make, doesn’t take too much prep, and is both light and hearty(!?). It’s healthy and easily digestible as well, so it doesn’t leave you feeling tired or bloated.

Here’s a picture of most of its ingredients:

Grain fed chicken, brown rice, sage, chives, organic butter, an onion, garlic, cabbage, squash, and white wine

The plan was simple:
-sweat some finely chopped onions in a medium sized pot. Add rinsed rice to pot, a cup of white wine and chicken stock, a sage leaf, bay leaf, and some dried tarragon(preferably fresh but…you know).

-While the rice is slowly cooking, prep the squash and cabbage by finely slicing the two. *I was inspired by Lawrence, the restaurant where I work, to cut the squash this way. They make a beautiful gnocchi with thinly sliced squash that takes very little time to cook. Sautee it with some broth, wine, or water, and within a minute or 2 it’s done! It also is wonderfully delicate this way; sweet and light.

sliced squash
cabbage

-Season the chicken breast with salt, pepper and some thyme if available. Cover with olive oil, and heat a cooking pan to med heat. Turn on oven to 400°. Add chicken to pan and let it slowly cook, allowing for its skin to turn brown. I especially like using my iron pan for searing meats: if properly maintained, the meat will never stick, the pan leaks iron, which is a mineral many women(and men) are missing in their diet, and I find I get an especially nice texture when cooking with it. It also goes in the oven, which is convenient. After having seared both sides, add the other half of finely chopped onion to the pan and bake the chicken breast while preparing the squash and cabbage.

chicken breast cut in half, sage, caramelized onions, chives, garlic, white wine, butter

-In a second pan, heat up some olive oil, add your squash and cabbage and sautee in order to cover the 2 vegetables with oil and initiate the cooking process. After a minute or so, add a cup of wine, a cup of chicken stock, a tbls of butter(all of this is optional. Whatever fits your dietary needs and/or restrictions), and season with salt and pepper. Make sure the pan is hot enough to start reducing the liquid so that you end up with a thicker sauce. Cover and take off of heat.

cabbage and squash, brown rice, and grain fed chicken breast

-Take chicken out of oven(make sure not to over cook it. There’s nothing worse than a dry chicken breast…) Watch OUT! pan will be very hot! Add a tbls of butter, garlic and some fresh sage leaves. Give the leaves enough time to cook, and then add a splash of wine and chicken stock. Let the sauce thicken and add some finely chopped chives to the chicken and vegetables.

Serve, and enjoy!

Winter blues, a candle, and a song

It gets dark early in Montreal at this time of the year. Today’s sunset was at 4:26, and so it is already dark here. One of the nice things about this is that as northerners we get to spend some forced time hibernating, reading, watching movies and cooking. I think this has a positive impact on our lives. We’re a reflective, moderate people.

I finished work late last night and didn’t sleep very well. I’m about to watch a movie, but thought I’d leave you with a song that reflects the seasonal mood of the moment.

Keep the streets empty for me

 

by Gabriel Couture