Brie and Apple Crostini with Onion Jam

ready to assembleJust as I think I really don’t need another cookbook, poof, next thing you know, there I am buying just one more. I seem to have no willpower when it comes to cookbooks. That, and black jumpsuits. I need a black jumpsuit intervention! A bit more about the latest cookbook purchase in a minute. As for as my black jumpsuit obsession, well, no need for you to know any more about that!

We were in Washington D.C. for a wedding a few weeks ago. We only had time for one meal out, so I did a little research and and the restaurant Founding Farmers kept coming up. Everyone raved about it and it was just a 10 minute walk from our hotel.

Our server came over to our table and introduced herself as Myers. I asked, “like the lemon?” She laughed and nodded. I loved that our server had a food name. She brought us the menu and explained a little bit about the restaurant. It’s a very cool concept. It is owned by over 40,000 family farmers of the North Dakota Farmer’s Union, and is supplied daily by hundreds of family farms everywhere. Everything is cooked, baked and mixed, from scratch on site, with high-quality, responsibly-farmed food.

I wanted to order one of everything on the menu. Myers said that the home baked farm bread was one of her favourite things on the menu. She suggested we start with the Apple, Brie, and Onion Jam Crostini. Fantastic suggestion! If you go, it is not to be missed. When good bread is on the menu, I feel a responsibility to sample it.on green platesThe onion jam was sweet and tart all at the same time with a surprising depth of flavour that you can only get with low slow cooking. slicing onionsonions in pan 1onions in pan 2I asked Myers if the chef would share his recipe for the onion jam, and she said they had a cookbook with many of their recipes. Of course I bought it and came home to recreate this delicious dish. I served it as an appetizer with drinks, but it would also be perfect with a salad for a lunch or a light dinner. The onion preserve recipe makes more than you will need, but it keeps well in the fridge for a week, so use it up in grilled cheese sandwiches, on toast with goat cheese and as a pizza topping.

As always, start with good bread! Kudos to you if you plan to bake your own baguette. I have tried, and it’s not easy. But, there are so many great bakeries crafting excellent Artisan loaves now, it’s just so easy to buy great bread. use good bread

Click here to print recipe for Brie and Apple Crostini with Onion Jam.

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Autumn Panzanella Salad

in black bowl 625 sqTraditionally panzanella salads are made in the summer. Created in Italy, as a way to use up stale bread, toasted croutons are tossed with juicy ripe summer tomatoes, perhaps some cucumbers, onions, olive oil, and maybe some cheese. Everyone knows that a salad with bread is always better.

But an Autumn panzanella salad??? I know! The first time I heard of it , my mind was blown too. This salad was inspired by Chef Michael Symon. He made this one on The Chew a few weeks ago. This is my riff on it.

The most important rule of this salad, (yes, I have rules) is that you must use good quality bread. I used the multi-grain ciabatta from Ace Bakery. Tear the bread, don’t cut it. Douse in olive oil and liberally sprinkle with kosher salt. Toast in a hot oven until golden brown and crunchy. Craggy irregular shaped croutons are way more satisfying to eat. All those nooks and crannies to soak up the dressing.making croutonsAn autumn panzanella salad requires the quintessential fall vegetable, Brussels Sprouts. No roasting required. Just thinly slice. Brussels SproutsAdd some Honeycrisp apples, toasted pecans and gruyere cheese.assembling the salad 1Juicy sweet-tart pomegranate seeds add a pop of colour and some great crunch.seeding pomsassembling the salad 2Toss it all together with an apple cider vinaigrette, and summer panzanella salads will be a distant memory.

Click here to print recipe for Autumn Panzanella Salad.

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The Captain’s Cocktail

drinks for 2 in blue glassesWith party and holiday season just around the corner, I thought I’d share with you a twist on the classic gin and tonic. Recently on the last night of our holiday in Newfoundland at Fogo Island Inn we were treated to a Cocktail Tasting Session.  Assistant Food and Beverage Co-ordinator Bryan put us under his spell as he crafted four special cocktails using classic spirits with the addition of roots, herbs, fruits and berries that grow on Fogo Island.

For our first cocktail, Bryan taught us how to make “Some Shockin Good”, a vodka based cocktail featuring foamed egg white, tart cherry juice, marinated cherries and liquorice syrup. Bryan disappeared into the walk-in freezer and returned with a huge hunk of ice broken off a 10,000 year old iceberg, a giant mallet and some safety goggles. I got to work out my aggressions and smashed some chunks off the iceberg to pour the finished cocktail over. IcebergAccording to Bryan, as an iceberg forms over thousands of years, air becomes trapped between the thin layers of snow. Eventually, that air must find it’s way out, so when you pour a drink over iceberg ice, it snaps,crackles and pops. That’s the sound of gas being released, after being trapped inside for 10,000 years. We happily sipped to the Rice Krispies soundtrack.

The second drink was a cocktail crafted from Screech. My recollection of what else went into that drink is a bit fuzzy. I do recall that for the third cocktail, some kind of smoking gun apparatus was brought to the bar and Bryan smoked some spruce buds (I think?) to add to a whisky based cocktail.

For our fourth cocktail, my husband requested a gin and tonic based drink. Bryan got to work and created a delicious concoction, which we promptly dubbed “The Captain”, my husband’s nickname.

He earned this moniker many years ago, before we became parents. We would visit friends and family with children and inevitably, driving home after the visits, he would comment that when he had kids they would be better behaved than our nieces and nephews. He joked that his kids would salute him and answer “sir, yes sir, daddy sir” when he told them to clean up their toys or go to bed. I know you will be shocked to hear that it didn’t quite go that way with our own.

For this drink, gin and tonic are joined in the glass with lime juice, simple syrup, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur and a splash of Chambord liqueur. Should you decide to splurge on a bottle of Elderflower Liqueur, here are a few more great cocktail ideas.squeezebar set upPoured over ice, “The Captain” is sure to mellow even the toughest parent at your gathering.Pouring_The_Captain

Click here to print recipe for The Captain.

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

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Ever notice how some winter vegetable soups taste a bit flat and one note, resembling baby food that’s been thinned out with a bit of water or stock? Depth of flavour is often noticeably absent.

This soup is anything but boring. Roasting the squash really contributes to a deep flavour profile. Sautéed leeks add a delicate subtle onion flavour and apples add a welcome sweet-tart juiciness. Ancho chile powder contributes mild smokiness and heat and cumin powder jumps in adding an earthy, nutty, pungent bite. ready to make soup 2The additional time it takes to roast the squash is well worth it. Plus, there is no need to peel or dice the squash. Just cut it in half, lengthwise and set it on a foil lined baking sheet while you prepare the other ingredients.Sautee leeks
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reheating soup on stoveFor a gorgeous finish, add a touch of maple cream (mix 1/3 cup sour cream with 1 Tablespoon maple syrup). To make the pretty swirl I show here, put maple cream in a squeeze bottle and drop a few small dots of the cream on top of the soup. Take a wooden skewer or toothpick and run it gently through the center of the dot, to make the elegant pattern. one bowl b 625 sqFinish it off with a light dusting of smoked paprika and a few toasted pumpkin seeds for some crunch.

Click here to print recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.

Roasted Cauliflower Tuna Melts

cauliflower tuna melt 1 625 sqApple orchards, pumpkin patches, haunted houses, whatever your version of autumn joy is, I hope you’re out there, savoring the season. Have you heard about leaf peeping?  My niece Rachel, who is up on all the latest trends, informed me about it. She lives in Seattle now, but grew up in Florida. I told her that those of us who live in the Northeast have been peeping for years!

As for me, my fall bliss involves cauliflower. I’m having as bit of a love affair with it this autumn. But who can blame me when stunning beauties like these keep popping up at the market. Three colours 2A tuna melt is my default go-to when I return home from holidays and the cupboard is bare. I always have some kind of bread in the freezer, a can of tuna in the pantry and a small wedge of cheddar in the fridge. Bonus points if the cheese is mold-free and the tuna is packed in olive oil.

Truthfully, even the humblest of ingredients are more special when served on toast, and this fact is celebrated in Jill Donenfeld’s new book, Better on Toast. I took her Cauliflower Melts recipe and tarted them up with the addition of Italian tuna in olive oil. brushing with olive oilSlice the cauliflower into slabs, brush with garlic kissed olive oil and roast until golden brown.
time to assemblePistachios add crunch and golden raisins add a welcome hit of sweetness. Tuna in olive oil just tastes better than water packed tuna. Look for a Spanish or Italian brand if you can find it. Unlike water packed tuna, which can be dry, olive oil packed tuna is exceptionally moist, so no mayo is needed. If you have access to some really good artisan bread, go for it. Slice thickly please and give it a light toasting before assembling.start with good breadstart with lightly toasted breadLay on roasted cauliflowergolden raisins and pistachiosI love the addition of nutty Gruyere cheese, but feel free to use cheddar or any great melting cheese. adding gruyere cheesemeltedHot and bubbly, these are hearty knife and fork sandwiches, that help soften that abrupt hard landing that inevitably occurs when coming home after a holiday.

Click here to print recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Tuna Melts.

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