Love those scotch bonnets

Over the years we’ve developed a taste for spicy foods, and at a certain point we found those dried red chiles to be way too bland. It happens I have a dehydrator I use for drying wild mushrooms, and it turns out it’s great for chiles as well.

IMG_2413I put on a pair of latex gloves and slice up a batch of good hot chiles. Currently I’m using a mix of mostly scotch bonnets with a few cayennes thrown in to give the mix a redder colour.  They dry in the dehydrator in 24-30 hours.

IMG_2415I grind up the dried chile mix in a coffee grinder. We keep a batch in a little clay pot in a cupboard by the stove (with a back-up batch stored in a plastic container), and we sprinkle it on all kinds of foods.

If you try something like this at home, be sure you don’t touch the chiles then touch your eyes because it will burn. Also, be sure you grind the chiles in something that doesn’t let much fine power out as you grind or you will find yourself coughing from the strength of the chiles in the air.

Chanterelle Omelet

IMG_1724First go to a forest and forage around until you gather a basket of primo chanterelles. If you find a few hedgehog and lobster mushrooms and an bolete or two, no problem. It’s all good.

Clean your mushrooms then saute them in a little vegetable oil. The mushrooms will release fluid and then take it up again. At that point they’ll start to colour up nicely.

Crack 3 eggs, add a splash of milk, and beat them for a minute with a fork. Add the eggs to the mushrooms. While the omelet cooks, grate a little hard cheese. I carefully chose the only hard cheese in the fridge. Use what you like. IMG_1725Sprinkle on a few hot chiles and grind some fresh pepper and add a pinch of salt.

IMG_1728Meanwhile, put some bread in the toaster. You’ll want some toast. Open a cool beer. Fold the omelet and slide it onto a plate. Serve with toast. You could chop up some chives or a little parsley and sprinkle it on top. If you squeeze a little ketchup on top, I won’t tell anyone.

Pasta with morels and fresh sage

IMG_1337First, go find some fresh wild morels. Then….heat your pasta water and while that is happening, roughly chop up a pile of morels and more finely chop up some garlic and a few sage leaves.

While the pasta is cooking….
…..heat up a big cast iron pan, add a little oil and the garlic and the sage and the morels and let them cook up for a while.

While the morels are cooking….
…grate some cheese (I used Parmigiano but I bet several other choices would be tasty too).

Before the pasta is done….
add some white wine to the morels, garlic and sage. I also added a cup of milk. Heavy cream would have been way richer but I try to stay away from it. Stir it all up and let it simmer.

When the pasta is cooked, strain it then add it right into the morel/sauce mixture and toss it around. Let it all cook together in the cast iron pan for a couple minutes.

Shut off the burner, then toss in the cheese, a sprinkle of salt, some fresh ground pepper and if you like a few chile flakes. Add some fresh parsely. Toss it all together, and enjoy.

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Paska Wars

As we were busy making paska today, friends in Mississauga texted to say they were making it too….and the paska wars were on. Long Branch vs Mississauga. Tuffy P drove our entry west out of Long Branch to the exchange, a parking lot at Southdown Rd and Lakeshore.

IMG_0940Here are the entries….

…..and then Mississauga throws us a curve ball by including a container of super-delicious ravioli….paska + pasta!

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IMG_0954Looks pretty good, that Mississauga paska…

IMG_0948And tastes damn fine too!

The judges have deliberated and declare it……a tie!

 

More comfort food…

The veggie stew I featured in my last post is an excellent main course, but a small bowl of it also rocks as a side with a roast beef and raw red onion sandwich and some roast potatoes. I roasted this small roast with a bunch of small potatoes in a cast iron pan.

White bean stew with kale

I’ve never been a big kale fan, but this veggie stew featuring white beans and kale is fantastic. It uses:

  • shallots
  • carrots
  • celery
  • garlic (I used some of my brother’s home grown garlic – awesome)
  • white beans
  • kale
  • white wine
  • crushed tomatoes
  • veggie stock
  • sprigs of thyme
  • bay leaf

Sautee shallots and garlic for a couple minutes in a dutch oven or heavy pot, add in carrots and celery, chopped roughly. After a few minutes, add a cup or so of white wine. Pour a glass of wine for yourself at this point. Let everything cook down and reduce the liquid to about half. Add white kidney beans (canned ones work fine for this). Add the kale. Add a few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf. Add your stock + about a cup or cup and a half of crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Let it simmer for 45 minutes.

Cooking lobster mushrooms

I’ve noticed, looking at the stats for this blog, that quite a few people have been searching for ways to prepare lobster mushrooms. Here’s one way – the way I prepared them for dinner tonight in fact.

Lobster mushroom and sausage omelet

You need:

  • lobster mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • two or three eggs
  • some tasty sausage (I used Goralska Polish sausage)
  • grated awesome cheese

In a cast iron pan, sautee the mushrooms with a little vegetable oil on medium heat. Lobsters are very firm mushrooms that hold their texture. As well, they don’t shed water in the cooking process the way some other mushrooms do. After a few minutes in the pan, add some chopped up sausage and let it cook together. You want the sausage to start to crisp up and the mushrooms to start turning a nice golden colour. When this is ready, transfer to a non-stick pan. I know you’re going to say, aw c’mon, do I have to use two pans? The answer is yes. I like the way the mushrooms and the sausage cook up in a cast iron pan, but in the end you’re making an omelet and non-stick pans are great for omelets. So, you transfer the sausage and mushrooms to a non-stick pan. With the transfer, they’ll bring along enough oil for the omelet. Heat up the pan to the high side of medium. While that’s happening, beat up your eggs with a fork. Some people add a little splash of milk. You can do that if you want. I usually don’t. When the pan is hot, pour the mixture over the mushrooms and sausage and move the pan around to spread around the eggs. When the eggs are just about done, toss some of your awesome grated cheese on top (tonight I used an old gruyere). Let it melt on there for a moment, fold two sides of the omelet to the middle and serve it up, maybe with a spoon of good salsa and some fresh ground pepper and just a wee bit of salt. There are a million variations. If you have some fresh herbs, chop them into the egg mixture before pouring it onto the pan.

Or….

If you want something even simpler and still super-delicious, sautee the lobster mushrooms in your cast iron pan until they get nice and golden. Add salt and fresh ground pepper and maybe a wee bit of some ground hot chiles and spoon loads of the mushrooms onto toast. Just that simple.

Autumn in the Air

You can tell it’s getting into fall when roasting veggies becomes a regular activity here on 27th Street.

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Summer Soup

Summer Soup
Summer Soup

I made this up as I went along today….

First, I grilled half a dozen cobs of corn on the bbq (yes, a charcoal one) along with some red shepherd’s peppers and a chunk of kielbasa (I used a 6 inch chunk of Goralska from Starsky’s sliced in half lengthwise). I let the corn brown some. I allow the skin of the peppers to blacken some and then I peel off most of the blackened bits later.

Then in the kitchen…

I started some onions cooking up in a Dutch oven with a little oil on the bottom and a pinch of salt and a good pinch of dried scotch bonnets. I chopped up two carrots and tossed them in the pot and I added in a couple cloves of garlic from the garden. Then I stripped the corn cobs and tossed in the kernels, and chopped up the peppers and tossed those in as well. I chopped up the kielbasa, except for one bite-sized piece which I sampled (strictly in the interest of science). I added two chopped up baking potatoes (I think the starchy potatoes rock in this soup), and chopped up and added a few plum tomatoes. I then added in lots of stock, a couple bay leafs, and chopped and tossed in loads of fresh basil from the garden.

I let the whole business simmer away for around an hour. An amazing soup!

(oh, almost forgot….I tempered some milk and added a little to each bowl before serving)

Soup Saturday

Since late fall, most Saturdays have been Soup Saturdays around here. I’ve been making all kinds of different hearty and delicious soups. Today’s soup was green pea. Here’s how I made it.

I had a piece of bbq bacon from Starsky’s so I sliced it up and fried it up until it started to crisp, then chopped it into little pieces and set it aside.

I chopped up some leeks (normally I would use an onion for this but I had some nice leeks so I thought I’d use them), some bok choy that I found in the fridge (I thought I ought to use it before it became a science project), a big carrot and a red shepherd’s pepper and started them cooking with a little vegetable oil in a Dutch oven. I added in a little salt and just a little dried cumin as the veggies sauteed. Meanwhile, I soaked some dried mushrooms in a bowl of water (use whatever dried mushrooms you have for this, whatever you like).

After 10 minutes or so, I added some stock and a splash of beer (I was drinking a Steam Whistle at the time). I chopped up the mushrooms and tossed them into the pot. Then I rinsed about a cup and a half of dried green split peas (the yellow ones work just as well….choose your colour) and tossed them in. Oh, and I also added in a couple bay leaves. These can be removed later.

I brought the soup up to a simmer, put the lid on, left the heat on low and went to practice the oil can banjo for an hour. At that point I added in the bacon and as well, I chopped up a piece of kielbassa and tossed that in too. Ten more minutes and the soup was ready. The only thing to do was to adjust the seasoning and add in some fresh ground pepper.

Some people like to puree their pea soup or partially puree it (separate out a portion of the soup, puree it and add it back in to the rest), but I thought the texture was just right and I was enjoying the bits of orange from the carrots and red from the pepper so I kept it as is.

We served the pea soup with fresh bread (also great with skillet corn bread – next time). Delicious.