Birkenstock Breakfast: Yoghurt and Apple Maple Granola

Awhile back, I gave step-by-step instructions for making yoghurt (click here). Yesterday I promised a maple syrup recipe.

So today, I’m going to offer up a great, home-crafted nutritional breakfast — one that may or may not go with Birkenstock sandals.

Maple syrup isn’t just for your pancakes. Don’t get me wrong, we had pancakes and maple syrup yesterday, but I’m also using our new maple syrup to flavour some yummy apple-maple granola.

Note: You can still find some good storage apples at market if you are up for drying your own (about 10 hours at 135 degrees if you have a food dehydrator).

This granola is a staple for me with my morning yoghurt. Feel free to modify to your tastes!

Apple Maple Granola

2 cups whole oats
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 tbsp flax seeds
1/3 cup apple cider
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp sunflower oil (or similar)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 cup dried apple slices, coarsely chopped (these are not added until after the granola comes out of the oven)

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine wet ingredients and spices in a small saucepan. Heat mixture, stirring frequently, until it reaches a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.

Remove from heat and add hot syrup to dry mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are well coated. Spread an even layer of the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn after 15 minutes.

Mix in the dried apples, then spread to cool.



The Perfect Picnic: Tandoori Chicken with Apple/Cucumber Relish

Tandoori Chicken Sandwich with Apple/Cucumber Relish -- and some picnic wine, of course.

It was Krista’s birthday yesterday, and I wanted to do something special.

For those of you who aren’t regular readers of the column and blog, Krista is the Farm to Table gardener, baker, and bookkeeper. She’s also my main squeeze. My partner in crime. My wife.

Krista turned 29 this year. Which is astounding as she turned 31 last year. Women’s math, I think, differs from men’s.

But age means little on a birthday in the Farm to Table household. No, for us it is all about food. Birthdays are wonderful excuses to try restaurants we’ve never tried before, or to cook elaborate birthday dishes to have by candlelight.

This year, however, we did things a bit differently.

This year, Krista wanted a picnic.

And so a picnic I did make.

Wrapping my head around picnic food, I knew that I would need something somewhat portable. Something that could be eaten cold. But something fun, fresh, and exciting.

Of course, I also wanted it to be local and seasonal (or as much as possible anyway).

And with Krista out for the day yesterday, I set to work making a lovely dinner. By the time she got home, it was packed and ready to go.

Now, as any food lover will tell you, setting greatly enhances any dish. So, for the picnic, we decided a paddle up the canal to a nice secluded area would do the trick. We have a lovely private area that we pull into whenever we canoe up the canal. I’m not going to tell you where, but it is a little bit before you get to the bridge at Nassau Mills Road.

We made the short paddle up, set out our blanket, let Cedar the Wonderdog loose to go play in the meadow, and tore into the feast.

I was a bit nervous that Krista wouldn’t like my main course, but was relieved when she bit into it with gusto. At the end of the meal, when there were only crumbs left, I knew I had nailed a perfect picnic.

Click through to my MyKawartha Farm to Table Blog for the Recipe

My picnic dates: Krista and Cedar.

beef ‘n ale tarts (and meat pies too!)

I’ve got to tell you, I’m tired.

It’s been a long week of writing.  I’ve been putting on my consulting hat a number of times over the past few days (including some pro bono work).  And I’ve been battling a cold.

Maybe it is just the February blahs, but I’ve been dragging my ass for days.

And yet, Saturday is here, and I’m needing my hockey night pub grub.

It’s times like this that a chef depends on his staff for the grunt work on a menu.  He gets the sous chef to whip the brigade into action and has each of the station cooks maxed out in getting things just right.

There’s a problem using this model in the Farm to Table kitchen, however.  First of all, I’m not a chef, per se.  Second of all, I have no staff.

I do, however, have a side-kick, partner and house-pâtissière.  Thank you, Krista.  While you may not know it, you’ll be carrying the brunt of this tired Saturday evening dish.  I’ll even be a good husband and get your pastry ingredients together.

Tonight, we’re going to face the winter blahs with a hearty and homey pub dish: Beef and Ale Pies.  These little tarts are my Central Ontario take on Steak and Guinness pie, but in tart form — with a top and bottom crust.  They will be the perfect showcase for some late winter local ingredients, and a wonderful pairing with our local Publican House Seasonal Dark Ale.

Because I have the ingredients out, I’ll also make up some Savoury Beef Tarts to put in the freezer. They can act as an even easier tired Saturday night treat in the future.

Krista will be home soon. I best get the fillings together.

As usual, scroll down for the local growers/suppliers of my ingredients. *note* I use a homemade tomato paste. I’ll blog instructions on the paste at a later date.

Beef and Ale Filling

2 tbsp clarified butter
2 lbs stewing beef (1 inch cubes)
1 tbs all-purpose flour
1 tbsp red fife wheat flour
2 tsp course black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
250 ml beef stock
250 ml dark ale
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1/4 cup water

1. heat butter in deep saucepan.
2. dredge beef in flour/salt/pepper.
3. brown beef in small batches — 5 minutes per batch — and remove to clean bowl.
4. deglaze with garlic/onion/water and saute until onion is just soft.
5. add beef, tomato paste, stock, ale, worcestershire, thyme and rosemary
6. cover and braise on low, bubbling, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours

Savoury Ground Beef Filling

2 lbs ground beef
2 tsp course black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
125 ml beef stock
125 ml dark ale
2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1/4 cup water

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Brown over medium high heat, skimming fat.

Notes on the Tarts by Krista:

Unsweetened Pastry (recipe unabashedly borrowed from Moosewood cook book, with some notes for guidance)
6 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces)
1 1/2 cups flour
about 4tbsp cold water

1. Cut together butter and flour (I just use a fork)
2. Add just enough water to hold the dough together (mix with finger tips)
3. Roll out dough and cut to fit into tart shells
*Notes: rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper can make it easier to roll out; plan carefully so you are able to handle the dough as little as possible as you cut the crusts and lids (if you have to re-roll some scraps, use them for the lids)
4. Add filling
5. Dampen the edges of the crust & place the lids and pinch closed.
6. Seal by pressing a fork around the edges, cut off excess pastry & puncture the lid a few times
7. Bake at 400F for 25 – 35 minutes (until edges are brown and filing is bubbling!)

Local Producers:
Clarified butter: clarified from Sterling Butter (Sterling)
Stewing beef: private local supplier
All-purpose flour: Merrylynd Farm (Lakefield)
Red fife wheat flour: Merrylynd Farm (Lakefield)
Onion: Beyers Farm (Peterborough)
Garlic: Gaelic Garlic (Peterborough)
Beef stock: Farm to Table
Henry’s Irish Ale: Publican House Brewery (Peterborough)
Tomato paste: Farm to Table

organic red fife flour tortillas

I’m a week late in blogging this recipe, but… better late than never, right?

I apologize, I’ve had a busy week wearing my Small Print Writing and Consulting hat. But, a good recipe or two is worth the wait, right?

Last weekend, I live tweeted the creation of my dinner. It was my traditional “hockey night fun food adventure,” in real time. The tweeting lacked a photo element. It also should have had a blogged recipe to work from. These are lessons learned, and tools you’ll see next time around. The tweets did, I think, capture some of the fun.

Saturday night, you see, is all about the casual, sport-friendly dinner. It is about food that goes well with hockey. It is pub food, fun food, food that goes just as well with easy-drinking ales and lagers as local red wines. It is food to be consumed while wearing a Montreal Canadiens jersey. On Saturday night at Farm to Table, you are likely to find gourmet burgers, specialty pizzas, jerk chicken, chicken wings, fun sandwiches, home-baked chips. You’re likely to be given a beer. Once 7 o’clock hits, you’ll be asked to pay attention to the hockey, not just be present. You might be asked to cheer.

Anyhow, last Saturday was Fajita Night in Canada, featuring skirt steak fajitas on home-griddled red fife tortillas. Local, pasture-fed top sirloin met fresh, hot tortillas. They were topped with sautéed onions and peppers and a variety of salsas and hot sauces.

I’m going to get to the full fajita recipe later in the week, but, in the short term, will fulfill the requests for the red fife tortillas. It has been a week, after all. As usual, look to the bottom of the post for the local producers behind the local ingredients.

Let me get this out of the way first, though. There are going to be some food purists who will turn their nose up at this recipe. First of all, it is a wheat tortilla, not corn. Second of all, it contains a leavening agent (baking powder), where a traditional tortilla wouldn’t.


Tough cookies.

This is Tex-Mex, folks. It is hardly traditional Mexican.

I’m sure I will feature some authentic Mexican cuisine on this blog at some point — or as authentic as a white dude from Central Ontario can produce — but in the meantime, I’m here for some good, clean, hockey night fun.

With that in mind, I give you:

Griddled Organic Red Fife Flour Tortillas.

makes 8 tortillas

1 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup of red fife wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of melted clarified butter
3/4 cups of warm milk

1. Mix together the dry ingredients and oil.
2. Slowly add the warm milk.
3. Mix just until a sticky ball is formed.
4. Knead for two minutes on a floured surface.
5. Place in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 20 min.
6. Separate into eight sections and roll into balls in your hands.
7. Cover with a damp cloth and rest for 15 min.
8. Place ball in floured surface and press flat.
9. Roll with a rolling pin, starting from centre, until 7-8 inches wide, and very thin. Do not overwork! Cover until ready to fry.
10. Dry fry on a griddle or in a large frying pan, 30 second per side. They should have a just slightly charred look.
11. Cover with a towel until ready to serve.

Local Producers:
Organic all purpose flour: Merrylynd Farm (Lakefield)
Organic red fife wheat flour: Merrylynd Farm (Lakefield)
Butter: Kawartha Dairy (Bobcaygeon)

mini bean burgers w/ chipotle mayo

mini black bean burgers with chipotle mayonnaise and home-pickled jalapanos. i threw in some of our hot sauces for fun.
i gotta say, i was in the mood for a burger tonight.

with that, i gotta say, i’m in the mood for a burger every night.

but i can’t really eat a burger every night: i’d blimp out. i’d be helping the world starve. i’d feel pretty crappy.

but i felt like a burger tonight.

so i made a burger. a damn good burger. a burger i could feel proud of on a tuesday night. i made a burger that was gloriously mid-week un-decadent, in both health and environmental health.

i made:

mini bean burgers with chipotle mayo

ingredients in place: beans ready to be smashed, dry bread ready to be turned to crumbs.
makes four open-face burgers
1 cup cooked and rinsed black beans
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 egg
1 tsp cumin
3 chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tsp oregano
olive oil

6 slices of baguette style french/italian bread
cheddar cheese
chipotle mayonnaise
pickled jalapano peppers

1. chop onion and sauté in a small amount of olive oil, until soft
2. in a food processor, chop beans until you have a mix of bean paste and roughly chopped beans.
3. in a medium bowl, thoroughly mix beans, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, egg, chilis, and spices.
4. form into patties.
5 let refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

once burgers have set:

1. heat olive oil in a medium pan under medium heat.
2. fry, turning frequently, until darkly browned on both sides.
3. cover with cheese before last turning

patties at the ready: almost time for cooking.
and to present:

1. toast baguettes in oven.
2. top with chipotle mayonnaise.
3. serve burgers with cheese over top.
3. offer condiments.

and because i always like to list the sources of my ingredients:

dried black beans (sorry, not local)
bread crumbs (made from our homemade french bread)
onion: beyer’s farm (peterborough)
garlic: gaelic garlic (peterborough)
chipotles: dried chipotles from the firehouse gourmet (peterborough), re-hydrated in my own hot sauce
egg: millar farms (keene)
cheese: empire cheese (campbelford)
chipotle mayonnaise: homemade, recipe coming soon, with eggs from millar farms.
pickled jalapanos: grown and canned by farm to table.
hot sauces: from my own peppers, prepared and canned by farm to table.
and those pretty looking peppers in the picture? grown by us and frozen.