Cooking Classes


Played with my food tonight and this is what I made ...

Today was opening day for our farmers' market season. There were a few changes and I have new helpers so it was with a touch of anxiety that I awoke this morning to do it all over again.

I wish I had taken a few pictures. The market was flooded with happy people anxious to buy our offerings. I love market day. After a week of kitchen work it is time to meet your buyers face to face and enjoy a bit of camaraderie.

Tonight I played with food that arrived in my foraged food box from northern Saskatchewan. What a grand meal.

The burn morels were prime. Large, dry and not wormy. They made a flavourful risotto. Dandelion greens are heavy in the dietary fibre so no need to make a lot. Their bitter flavour complimented the risotto. And I have about 6 dozen quail eggs. It was fun to poach a couple. But seriously, they only take a minute. Quail eggs taste like chicken eggs but they proportionately have a large yolk.

Satisfying simple dinner.


Phyllo Balkan Feta Torte with Spring Herbs

I recently visited a new business in Moose Jaw, SK  -  Coteau Hills Creamery. There are precious few cheese makers in this province so the opening was an event to be celebrated. I came home with their Balkan style feta. It is softer and saltier than the Greek style but just as versatile.

Here is a bit about Kirby and Crystal, the owners:

The British Columbia wine industry was good to Kirby and Crystal Froese but after almost two decades it was time to return home to Saskatchewan. “We really wanted to come back to our hometown of Moose Jaw to be with our families. Our nieces and nephew were growing up fast, our parents were getting older, too,” shares Kirby.
It didn’t take long for their entrepreneurial spirit to resurface and after researching various opportunities cheese making seemed like a natural transition from wine making. “Time, temperature, pH, hygiene and patience are elements of both businesses.” They are a dynamite combination to have their own small business. Kirby was the winemaker and Crystal worked in communications and marketing.
They opened the Coteau Hills Creamery with a 750 litre (200 gal) batch pasteurizer/cheese vat. Local milk is delivered every second day from Caroncrest Farms at Caronport, SK and two other local dairies. Milk is pumped directly into the vat and is held at 63 C (145 F) for 30 minutes before it is processed into cheese. As production increases milk will be delivered daily.
Kirby and Crystal are setting their sights on distributing their cheese throughout the country. In order to be federally registered to sell outside of the province, a “Certificate of Analysis” must accompany all the ingredients and come from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency registered facility.
Their first cheese is a Balkan style feta and will be available soon. It is softer and creamier than a Greek feta and saltier.
Next they plan to experiment with other small batch handmade cheeses without using additives to increase yield or add colour. A hamburger cheddar and a brie style are in the works. They are also working on a saskatoon berry rubbed tomme style cheese, which has a lower butterfat content, firmer and with a rind, for release in August.

Phyllo Balkan Feta Torte With Spring Herbs
This is much ligher than a dip and can be heaped with microgreens for a dramatic effect. Serve with crostini or crackers, if you wish.
1 c. fresh whole-milk ricotta 250 mL
3/4 c. Coteau Hills Creamery Balkan style feta 175 mL
2 large eggs
1/3 c. chopped soft spring herbs or baby greens (any combination of dill, mint, sorrel, chives, dandelion, parsley, arugula) or pesto 75 mL
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 2 mL
1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted 75 mL
1 box phyllo dough, thawed overnight in refrigerator
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, feta, egg, herbs and pepper.
Brush 6 1/2 inch (16.5 cm) spring form pan with some of the melted butter. Drape 2 sheets of phyllo on top of Bundt pan. Do this with 2 more sheets placed perpendicular to the first 2 sheets. Continue adding phyllo sheets in this crisscross manner until all sheets are used. Edges of phyllo should hang over edges of pan.
Scrape half of the ricotta filling into pan. Spread pesto over the cheese. Spoon the rest of the ricotta mixture on top. Fold edges of phyllo over filling. Using a sharp knife, poke at least 10 holes in dough that reach all the way to bottom of pan. Slowly pour melted butter over torte. Some butter will seep through holes and some will remain on top of dough.
Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, or until torte is puffy and golden brown. Allow torte to cool in pan for 1 hour before removing from the spring form pan and serving on a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Spring is Rhubarb Time

I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. Rhubarb in the spring was a staple but we never had any on our farm. I pined for rhubarb pie and did not learn how to make one until years later. This is another version that I thought I would try. 

The crust is a butter crust rather than a lard crust. It has a meringue. A nice variation from the standard.

Rhubarb Meringue Pie
Eggs should be at room temperature when making meringue. It usually takes about 30 minutes for eggs from the refrigerator to warm up to room temperature. Older eggs give better volume than fresh eggs. Be sure the bowl and utensils are fat-free because the tiniest bit of fat will ruin the meringue. Add the sugar when the egg whites have reached the soft peak stage. The peaks will fall over gently when they have reached the soft peak stage. Gradually add sugar until stiff peaks are formed.

Put the meringue on a piping hot pie and cover the top completely and touching the crust all around to prevent it from shrinking. The heat will partially cook the bottom of the meringue and prevent shrinking and weeping. Cut a with a knife dipped in cold water.

1 recipe of Buttery Pastry
4-5 c. rhubarb, raw 1-1.25 L
1 tsp. orange zest 5 mL
2 eggs, separated
2/3 c. + 1/4 c. sugar 150 mL + 60 mL
2 tbsp. all purpose flour 30 mL
2 tbsp. butter, melted 30 mL
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar 1 mL

Roll out pastry and line a deep pie plate. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Chop the rhubarb it into roughly 1cm slices. If the stalks are very wide and chunky then cut in half lengthways, also. Scatter on a baking sheet and bake until tender. Remove from baking and drain, reserving the liquid.

Separate eggs, putting the whites aside for the meringue. Beat egg yolks in a medium sized bowl with a fork. Add 2/3 cup sugar, flour and the melted butter. Continue to beat until blended. Then add the eggs and 1/3 cup of the rhubarb liquid to make a smooth and runny paste. Add rhubarb and mix to blend. Pour into pastry shell. Bake until set, about 30-40 minutes.

Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks, add cream of tartar, 1/4 cup of remaining sugar and continue to beat until glossy and stiff peaks form. Spoon this over the hot cooked rhubarb pie, making sure it is completely covered and there is no gap where rhubarb can bubble through the meringue. Use the spoon to bring some of the meringue into peaks. Put back in the oven for about 15 minutes until the peaks are toasted.

Cool for 10 minutes and serve. 

Buttery Pastry
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 310 mL
1/2 tsp. sugar 2 mL
1/4 tsp. kosher salt 1 mL
1/2 c. chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 125 mL, 12 mm
1/2 c. ice water 125 mL

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter. Pulse until the texture of very coarse meal. Add ice water slowly until dough comes together in clumps. Form into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Makes 1 single crust.

Rhubarb Eton Mess
4 c. rhubarb 1 L
2 tsp. maple sugar 10 mL
2 c. whipping cream 500 mL
1 packet individual meringue nests

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch (12 mm) pieces. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Roast until the rhubarb is tender and beginning to caramelize. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Whip the cream in a large bowl until thick but still soft. Roughly crumble in 4 meringue nests.
Take out about half a cupful of the rhubarb, and fold the meringue cream and rest of the fruit mixture together.

Arrange in 4 dessert bowls and top each with remaining rhubarb. Serve immediately.

Rhubarb Iced Tea
8 c. rhubarb, chopped into small pieces 2 L
1 c. sugar 250 mL
1 Earl Grey teabag

Roast chopped rhubarb in a 350 F (180 C) oven until tender. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Strain the juice from the fruit in a colander. Use the fruit for a pie or crisp. 

Boil 2 cups (500 mL) of rhubarb juice with 1 cup (250 mL) sugar. Cool. 

Put teabag in a pot and add 3 cups of boiling water. Steep for 5-7 minutes or until it is a strong tea. Remove teabag. Chill tea.

Mix tea with an equal amount of rhubarb syrup and pour over a glass full of ice. Serve.