Falling Back [Creamy Crème Fraîche Mushrooms on Toast]

Crème Fraîche Mushrooms on Toast

The evenings have been cool around these parts lately. We’ve dug out the heavy knit sweaters and I managed to find the slippers I tossed away like an empty carton of milk last April. It’s wild how quickly fall has nestled itself into our lives. I love it. The way the crisp air clears out your lungs and makes them feel brand new. It’s as though I’ve been taking half breaths for the last few months and I can finally inhale deep into the pit of my gut again. It feels good and real. I’m odd that way. Where most of you come alive in the Spring, I come back to life in the fall. Running outside when everyone is woefully coming back in. It’s time to get back in the kitchen, to cook slowly and with intention, to get re-inspired and rouse some curiosity. And I’m starting with something tried and true.

These mushrooms on toast always pop up around September/October in our kitchen. As soon as the temperature drops, I crave them. It’s an earthy dish, deep and hearty with an herbal kick from a few sprigs of fresh thyme and a slight puckering milkiness from the Crème Fraîche – everything is in perfect balance.  Simple in execution but big in flavour, I’ve no doubt they’ll move to the top of your simple-but-satisfying meal list.

Crème Fraîche Mushrooms on Toast

Crème Fraîche Mushrooms on Toast
makes 4 large servings, 6 small

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 lbs cremini or wild mushrooms*, sliced thin
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup brandy or chicken stock
3 tbsp Crème Fraîche (sour cream will do in a pinch)
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
fresh thyme leaves, to garnish
Rye or Whole Grain Bread, sliced and toasted
olive oil, to garnish

Melt butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add in the mushrooms. DO NOT ADD SALT. Let them cook, without stirring, for 8-10 minutes. As they cook, they’ll start to soften and release their excess moisture. When they start to crisp, tighten and shrink, you can start to stir. Add in the sprigs of thyme, garlic, and red pepper flakes and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the wine or stock,  Crème Fraîche and stir, scraping any stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced and mushrooms are beautiful and creamy. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, tasting as you go until you’re happy with the flavour.

Spoon over toasted rye bread and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

*specifically: shiitake, chanterlle, oyster

Crème Fraîche Mushrooms on Toast

Inspiration + Friends [Curried Chicken and Chickpea Salad with Mango Chutney and Toasted Coriander]

CURRIED CHICKEN AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH MANGO CHUTNEY AND TOASTED CORIANDER-3

I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by talented, inspired people all the time. From working in food and listening to customers tell me about their recipes, trials and errors in the kitchen, to my very own closest friends, I’m surrounded.

We spent the Labour Day Monday last weekend at my friends Tara and Phil’s home. Now, their house is an inspiration all on it’s own – having just recently knocked out the back patio door and bricks and put in a large sliding glass wall – but that’s a whole other blog. Whenever we end up at Tara’s place, there is always something interesting in the fridge. She’s part of a cookbook club and is generally just obsessed with food – it’s why we get along (and why our boyfriends usually tune us out while we break every single detail of a recipe down for hours) and why I love spending time with her. Whenever her fridge opens, I have to gawk in amazment. From the sheer organization of it all, weck and ball jars lined up perfectly, filled with herbs and colourful leftovers, to the pungeant smells of whatever dish she’s concocted that week, it’s a moment to behold. I could never be that organized even if I tried.

On our last visit she looked slightly embarassed when the warm, nose-tickling scent of curry escaped her fridge. She explained quickly that she’d made a curried chicken salad the day before and apologized for the smell (unecessarily, of course – I love curry and it’s intoxicating smell). Later in the day, while Allan did some work in her backyard, she brought out an opened faced sandwich with the curried chicken salad piled high atop it. It was for Allan, as he was the one actually working and stirring a hunger, but I couldn’t help but steal a bite, and then another, and one more to be sure. The salad was perfect. Heavily spiced, warm and creamy, balanced with some sweetness from a homemade mango chutney and plump raisins, crunchy and fresh from the addition of celery and freshened to perfection with some parsley. I knew immediately it was what I needed to get me through the week. I asked for a quick breakdown of the ingredients and went home, reciting them in my head so as not to forget anything. Well, I did. Of course I did – it’s me. But I did my best to put it together as I recalled, with a few extra additions based on what was in the fridge and needed to be used. I can’t get enough. I plan to make this as often as I can tolerate it as it’s healthy, warm, makes for great leftovers and satifies in a way that a ham sandwich just can’t. Pile it over grainy bread, serve in lettuce cups, or eat as-is for a filling meal.

CURRIED CHICKEN AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH MANGO CHUTNEY AND TOASTED CORIANDER

Curried Chicken and Chickpea Salad with Mango Chutney and Cranberries
makes 6-8 cups, keeps for 1.5 weeks

I roasted a whole chicken rubbed generously with curry powder and sea salt for the chicken part of this recipe. You can used poached breast, leftover meat from a previous meal, or anything else you fancy. It would be delicious with turkey or with just chickpeas for something vegetarian friendly. 

Mango chutney can be found at most well-stocked grocery stores or at Indian grocers. It’s easy to make at home if you’re so inclined, too! 

3 cups roasted chicken breast, thigh and leg meat (I used a whole roasted chicken)
2 cups shredded lacitano kale
3 celery ribs, diced
6 scallions, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups chickpeas
2 large carrots, peeled and diced small
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted pecans, rough chopped

dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil mayonaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mango chutney
1 tbsp freshly toasted coria nder seeds*
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
squeeze or two of lemon juice

Toss all the salad ingredients together.

Pour all dressing ingredients into a food processor ir blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more curry or pepper for spice, lemon for tang or chutney for sweetness. It all depends on personal taste.

Toss the salad and the dressing together, let sit in the fridge for 10-20 minutes to make sure all the flavours are well acquainted and serve in whatever way you like best!

*take 1 tbsp coriander seeds and pour into a skillet over medium heat. Cook until fragrant, 5 minutes, and shake the skillet often. Once toasted, grind in mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

 

 

Gut Saver [Roasted Heirloom Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Fried Calabrese, Sweet Cherries and Burrata]

Roasted Heirloom Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Fried Calabrese, Sweet Cherries and Burrata
Oh, my poor gut.

Working in a shop that sells the most beautiful meat and cheese is a dream. Of that I can assure you. It is not, however, a dream for my poor grumbly gut. The little guy who has to suffer my lack of self-control in the face of a wheel of cheese and a  pudgy stick of unctuous, spicy Chorizo. Or calabrese. Or smoked ham. Or speck. Or grey owl cheese. Or Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar. Or Thunderoak extra old gouda. GET IT ALL IN MY FACE.

I digress. My poor stomach. Suffering through the perils of a vegetable-less existance while I stuff face with everything salty, fatty, nutrient-less and delicious. I have not been treating it well this summer and finally, I’d had enough. Enough abuse! It was time to cram as many vegetables as possible in there…with a little cheese and salumi in added in so as not to shock my system cold turkey. I marched right to the market, bought up as many colourful, crunchy things as possible and got to work. Chopping, roasting, pitting, plucking. Saving myself from certain death….or gut-pain at least. (ok, I get it. This salad is still pretty indulgent. Give me a break!)

Roasted Heirloom Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Fried Calabrese, Sweet Cherries and Burrata
This salad is packed. In every way; flavour-filled, colour-filled, nutrient-filled, deliciously-filled. It’s got everything. Spread a little burrata on a crostini, top it with a few crunchy beans, some tomatoes roasted just enough to make them slump out of their skins, juicy sweet cherry halves,  a piece of crisp and salty calabrese and wouldn’t you know it, you got yourself a mouth-party! It’s all about balance afterall, isn’t it?
Roasted Heirloom Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Fried Calabrese, Sweet Cherries and BurrataRoasted Heirloom Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Fried Calabrese, Sweet Cherries and Burrata
serves 2 as a main, 4 as an appetizer

This is a pretty willy-nilly salad. Add what you like, take out what you don’t. Slice them any which way you please. It will be beautiful no matter how you get there.

1 lb trimmed green (or yellow) beans
1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, whole or halved
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup sweet ripe cherries, pitted and halved
50g calabrese or chorizo, sliced thin into rounds or strips
1 8oz ball fresh burrata
olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
red currants, to garnish (optional)
crostini or crackers, to serve

Preheat oven to 450.

Toss the trimmed beans and tomatoes with a few drizzles of olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Place on a rack over a baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes or until beans are bright green and tomato skins are starting to crack and soften.

Place the calabrese or chorizo in a frying pan over med-high heat and fry until fragrant and crispy. Place on paper towels to drain.

On a large platter, place the beans down and top with the tomatoes, cherry halves, ball of burrata, crispy calabrese, and currants (if using). Squeeze the lemon juice over the platter and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place rounds of crostini or crackers around the plate and dive in.

To Suit Your Taste [TURKEY APPLE SAGE BURGERS WITH PEANUT SATAY]

TURKEY APPLE SAGE BURGERS WITH PEANUT SATAY

Don’t tell him I told you, but my boyfriend can be a bit of a picky eater at times, or at least he was when we started dating 5 years ago. Nothing too spicy, nothing that sounds too strange or exotic, not too many vegetables or bold spices, nothing creamy white or overly saucey. All my favourite food traits! But I took well to the challenge of cooking dishes that he loved and that I could still make interesting and appealing to my tastes.

Things have changed now and I barely have to consider his previously long list of dislikes anymore, as he tends to eat almost everything I do, but every so often I try to appeal to his tastes and challenge myself with making something simple, delicious and undaunting. I consider it good practice for the day that I might have little ones and don’t want to feed them buttered noodles or chicken fingers for every meal.

The recipe for this kid-friendly burger was something I cooked up for Turkey Farmers of Canada. I love the way the turkey, apple, cinnamon and sage flavours play together (something I picked up from an Apple-Sage sausage we sell at workand almost mimick a thanksgiving stuffing.  Adding some tangy, but not spicy, peanut satay sauce over the top reminded me of apple slices with peanut butter, a snack that brings me back to childhood. The sweet and salty flavours are a great introduction to little ones and they still get lots of nutrition and a filling, satisfying meal. And of course, you’ll want to eat them too! That’s big.
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The Dinner Rush [BBQ Espresso-Chipotle Turkey Breast Nachos]

BBQ Espresso-Chipotle Turkey Breast Nachos

Grilled Chipotle-Espresso Turkey Nachos

Dinner used to consume my thoughts through the day. What will we have? Where will I shop on the way home? Will Allan eat it? Will I want to photograph it? What’s everyone else making – maybe a little inspiration would help.

Fast forward. We arrive home, exhausted, brains whirring from the day, both starving and with no intention of cooking or any idea of what to have – assuming we even have food in the house. The times, they have changed.  Dinner has become less of a romantic endeavour that I pour myself into all day, every day, and more of what I imagine it is for normal people – a pain in the ass at time, something to shut everyone up and fill your tummies with as much goodness as possible based on what little food you have in the fridge.

Grilled Chipotle-Espresso Turkey Nachos

Turkey is super versatile and when I know it’s in the fridge, I feel confident that dinner can come together without too much thought. Last week I knew there was a breast in the fridge along with a few different types of cheese from the shop, a mighty soft avocado and a few herbs. I imagine most people have at least a few of those things on hand. After a quick trip to the corner store for Nachos chips and salsa, we were set. The turkey seasoning takes a bit of forethought but it makes enough to last you through a few months worth of slow grilled turkey, pulled pork shoulder or chicken tacos. Mix up a jar, seal it tight and you’ve got an easy spice mixture that makes incredible meat dishes.

Grilled Chipotle-Espresso Turkey Nachos

BBQ Espresso-Chipotle Turkey Ranch Nachos
serves 4-6

Although the turkey does take 3-4 hours to cook, you can absolutely cook it the day before or on the weekend. If you have leftover turkey from the nachos, it makes a very tasty pulled turkey sandwich when tossed with a litle bbq sauce or in a grilled cheese sandwich. 

1 large turkey breast (1-1.5lbs)
1/2 cup Espresso-Chipotle Spice Rub, recipe below

1 bag tortilla chips
1 cup salsa, whatever you like best
2 – 3 cups mancheo, monteray jack or mozzarella cheese (or a mixture of the three)
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup ranch dressing

In the morning, before heading off to work, rub the turkey breast down with plenty of the spice rub. It would be well covered. Cover and place in the fridge until you’re home. This can be done up to 24 hours before you’re ready to cook the turkey.

Preheat BBQ to 250 degrees. Place breast in a roasting pan  and cover tightly with foil or make a foil packet. Cook for 3-4 hours or until it’s moist and shreds easily when you pull it apart with two forks. Shred all the turkey up and let cook slightly. Alternatively, preheat oven to 300 and cook for the same amount of time.

For the nachos:
Preheat oven or BBQ to 400.
Place 1 layer of nachos down on a baking sheet. Dress that layer with a healthy amount of salsa, half the shredded turkey, half the cheese and a sprinkle of cilantro. Drizzle with ranch dressing. Repeat with another layer finishing it off with the avocado. Add more cheese if you like them extra cheesey and don’t forget the drizzle of ranch dressing.

Pop in the oven on on the grill for 10 minutes or until chips are lightly browned and cheese is bubbling.

Espresso-Chipotle Spice Rub
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup of finely ground espresso beans
1/4 cup paprika
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp chipotle powder
2 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp of cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp allspice

Mix all ingredients, pour into a jar and seal tightly. Keeps for 6 months.

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Disclaimer: Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post put on by Turkey Farmers of Canada. I was compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only partner with companies I respect and know well, recommend restaurants or products I use/enjoy personally and believe will be good for my readers. 

Back to the Kitchen [Spicy Ginger Turmeric Lemon-Limeade]

Turmeric Ginger Lemonade

…and we’re back.

Sorry about that little sabbatical I took there. June was quite a month – moments of frustration and accomplishment, moments of sheer exhaustion tickled with exhileration, moments of bliss, love and shining happiness. It passed by so quickly but when I look back on it all, I can’t believe it was all crammed into 30 days.

One of my best friends got married; the first of us to take that leap. The wedding was magical, sincere and pure, and a testiment to what real love looks like. Standing beside her on the alter was an experience I’ll never forget and one I’m eternally grateful for.

Turmeric Ginger Lemonade

Another feat – helping to open the Seed to Sausage General Store in Ottawa. I’ve dreamed of a job where I get to be and do many things, all tied together by food. Officially I am the purchaser for the store, something that keeps me constantly absored in unique Canadian food items that I’m anxious to share with our customers, but unofficially I get to help with the butchering, the marketing, the customer side of things, the merchandising and of course, the taste testing. It’s been a joy. When I’m not at work, I miss it. I suppose that must be what it feels like to love your job – or maybe it’s insanity. Either way I feel like I’m finally where I was meant to be. Surrounded by food and people who love food.  It’s been long days, and my diet usually bears the brunt of that. Less full meals, more snacking. Less grains and vegetables, more meat and cheese. Lately my stomach can be heard protesting the shift in diet, demanding I smarten up and get back on track. Begging audibly for healing foods.

Everything in this Lemon/Limeade was meant to help me heal my gut back to vigor. The turmeric for it’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, the ginger for it’s ability to aid digestion, ease cramping, and improve absorbtion and stimulation of essential nutrients in the body, the lemon and lime for their cleansing, detoxifying and immune-boosting properties and the cinnamon and cayenne for their antimicrobial, anti-fungal and ability to help digestion. But aside from all those wonderful things, it simply tastes good. It’s icy and soothing and refreshing on a hot day and would, if you’re into this sort of thing, be lovely with a shot of good, aged tequila.

As I ease back into the kitchen, sip on one of these and accept it as a peace offering for my absence. I’ll be back in action as soon as I drink another 100 of these.

Turmeric Ginger Lemonade

Spicy Ginger Turmeric Lemon-Limeade
makes 8-10 servings

Using sparkling water, as I did here, makes this lemonade feel a little more special. It would be a great treat for your friends who don’t have a taste/don’t partake in alcoholic beverages. 

2 large lemons
3 limes
water or sparkling water
ginger-turmeric simple syrup, recipe to follow
lemon slices, for garnish
mint, for garnish (optional)

Juice the lemons and limes and pour juice into a tall jar or pitcher. Add 5-6 cups of water, stir and then add 1/2 cup syrup at a time until the sweet vs tart is balanced to your liking. I usually add about 1 = 1 1/2 cups which yeilds a nice tart lemonade. Pour over ice and serve.

Ginger-Turmeric Simple Syrup
1 cup raw cane sugar
2 cups water
2 tsp grund turmeric
1-2 tbsp freshly grated ginger (I like it spicy so add 2 tbsp)
strip of lemon zest
generous pinch cayenne pepper
generous pinch cinnamon

Bring all ingredients to a gentle simmer over med-high heat, whisking, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is flavourful. About 5-7 minutes. Taste and add more sugar if you feel it’s necessary – it should be quite sweet. Strain into a jar and cool. Syrup will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge. It also makes a lovely vanilla ice cream topping.

Turmeric Ginger Lemonade

Gone So Long

Rhubarb-Ginger Coconut Floats

Rhubarb Coconut Ginger Float

YOU GUYS.

I’ve been thinking about this float for a MONTH. A whole month. Waiting until I was done the freelance projects I was working on, day dreaming about it, “will it be as pretty as I’m picturing?’ “will the flavours make sense without overpowering eachother?”, and I can safely say… Yes! It IS as pretty, it IS as delicious. And if this sounds like I’m tooting my own horn – YOU WIN! I am. Because it’s that tasty and because ice cream floats hold a soft place in my heart.
Rhubarb

Rhubarb Coconut Ginger Float

My dad has always made a MEAN coke or root beer float and as a child, even now, it seemed like a thing of magic to me. That sweet, gaseous foam, velvety soft ice cream and cream-soaked soda.  It’s one of my favourite treats and I always picture my dad, child-like grin painted accross his face, ready to dive in, whenever I eat one. So in honor of Fathers Day, and in case I don’t get back in here before then, this one is for my pops. The man who taught me to eat well and eat everything, work hard, be polite, and do everything with a pinch (or fist-full) of sarcasm. Love you, D-Money.

Rhubarb Coconut Ginger Float

Rhubarb-Ginger Coconut Floats
serves 4

I used a vegan ice cream here because I wanted something as pure as possible. Coconut Bliss’ Naked Coconut is as pure as can be; seven ingredients, dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free. I highly recommend this if you can’t find a local equivelant. [disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post - I just love this ice cream]

 

2 bottles high quality ginger beer (we love Nickelbrook Ginger Beer)
1 pint Coconut Ice Cream
1 cup Rhubarb-Ginger Syrup (recipe follows)
In the bottom of 4 tall, slim glasses spoon a few tbsp of coconut ice cream. Top with a bit of rhubarb-syrup and a 1/2 bottle of ginger beer. Repeat in each glass and then do one more layer of each item, finishing with a drizzle of syrup.

Rhubarb-Ginger Syrup
makes 1 – 1 1/2 cups

5 cups rhubarb
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
few coins gingerPlace all ingredients in a sauce pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Let cook for 20 minutes or until rhubarb is extremely soft. Place a fine-mesh seieve over a bowl and dump contents in. Let sit, pressing gently after it looks like all the liquid has come out, until you have about 1 – 1 1/2 cups syrup. Pour into a clean jar and cool in the fridge until ready to use.

Rhubarb Coconut Ginger Float

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NEW DESIGN + Turkey Champion

Poached Turkey Salad with Fennel, Kale, and Cashews

POACHED TURKEY SALAD WITH FENNEL, KALE AND CASHEWS

When I cook, I’m usually hoping to accomplish one of two things. The first, something that makes use of what’s already in the fridge, maybe not keeping so well anymore. The second, something filling and satisfying we can make once and eat all week for lunches or snacks to keep us going.

My main man is a landscaper and food tends to disappear very quickly around here when he’s working 12 hour days. I try to make sure there is always something healthy, convenient and satiating so he’s keeping his energy levels up in the 30+ degree days we have during most of the summer months in Ottawa.

POACHED TURKEY SALAD WITH FENNEL, KALE AND CASHEWS

This salad is packed. Tender anise and clove scented poached turkey breast, thinly sliced strips of kale, sweet and crisp apples and grapes, crunchy fennel, lots of hydrating celery, and roasty cashews. It’s the perfect cooling summer salad to fill you up without causing that afternoon sluggishness that sometimes happens after a heavy meal.

POACHED TURKEY SALAD WITH FENNEL, KALE AND CASHEWS

Something extra to chat about: THIS NEW WEBSITE DESIGN!!! Imagine that, right?! I’m forever indebted to Janine Williams of Janine Isabelle Web & Graphic Design. She along with illustrator and generally inspiring woman Yuli Scheidt, who freshened up my logo and helped with this lovely, simple and rustic redesign, helped make sure I got exactly what I wanted and were so helpful and willing to answer all my 589085948025 questions along the way. I hope you love it as much as I do and I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts.

POACHED TURKEY SALAD WITH FENNEL, KALE AND CASHEWS
serves 4-6 as a main, more for sides

This recipe is my May contribution to the Turkey Champion campaign I’m participating in with Turkey Farmers of Canada for the 2014 year. We’re bringing you delicious recipes and showing you how to add healthy, wonderful turkey to your everyday meals.

Poached Turkey Breasts
4 cups (1L) water
½ cup (125 mL) olive oil
½ cup (125 mL) dry white wine
4 star anise
½ tsp (2 mL) whole peppercorns
4-6 cloves
2 bay leaves
2 large skinless turkey breasts

Salad
4 celery stalks, diced thinly
½ cup (125 mL) celery leaves, minced
1 small fennel bulb, diced thinly
1 bunch scallions, sliced thinly
2 cups (500 mL) Tuscan kale, sliced into thin strips
2 small-medium apples (something tart like Honey Crisp or Granny Smith), diced (skin-on)
1 cup (250 mL) seedless red grapes, sliced in half
½ cup (125 mL) roasted, unsalted cashews

Dressing
1 cup (250 mL) plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp ( 5 mL) honey
1 tsp (5 mL) dijon
½ cup (125 mL) lightly packed fresh tarragon
¼ cup (60 mL) flat leaf parsley
1 clove garlic
Zest from 1 lemon
2 Tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Bring the water, olive oil and white wine to a boil and add in the cloves, peppercorns, star anise, bay leaves and turkey breasts.

Bring water down to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes or until cooked through (165ºF/74ºC). Remove from the poaching liquid and let cool.

While the turkey cools, toss all the salad ingredients together until everything is well combined.
Place all the dressing ingredients in the food processor or blender, and process until all the herbs are incorporated in the dressing. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon if needed.

Slice or cube the turkey breast and toss it with the greens and 1 cup (250 mL) of the dressing. Add more dressing or serve on the side when you’re ready to eat.

POACHED TURKEY SALAD WITH FENNEL, KALE AND CASHEWS

Disclaimer: Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post put on by Turkey Farmers of Canada. I was compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only partner with companies I respect and know well, recommend restaurants or products I use/enjoy personally and believe will be good for my readers. 

La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères

Blackberry Basil Sticky Buns with Goats Cheese Icing

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A few weeks ago, while we were waiting for all the little bits and pieces in the Seed to Sausage shop to come together, we decided to take a leisurely field trip out to a cheese producer we’re hoping to carry n-store.

The winding, potholed roads and rolling hills, still speckled with white from the long winter, guided us through the country side of Quebec to St. Sixte (near Thurso) and up the driveway of La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères where we had the great pleasure of meeting Maggie Paradis.

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Maggie and her husband Christian began their story in 1999 when they started to milk their ewes and sell the milk to cheese makers around Quebec. When the listeriosis crisis hit, demand for product vanished and they were left with a tough decision – halt the milking or process their own milk into cheese. They forged ahead and Les Folies Bergères, roughly translated to “Crazy Shepherds”, was born.

While we tasted, little more than satisfied sighs escaping us, Maggie took us through the production and styles of all her cheeses. From La Petite Folie, a soft unripened ewe’s milk cheese with a creamy texture that is spreadable (also available with a bloomy rind on it for a more yeasty finish) to the La Sorcière Bien Aimée, a goat brie that’s not as tangy/stinky as a traditional brie but has a lovely goat flavour, to the amazing La Coulee Douce, 100% sheep’s milk cheese with a local apple cider-washed rind… everything these cheese makers do is innovative, diverse and above all else, delicious. I came home with La Petite Folie and La Sorcière Bien Aimée so I could relish them in private, no one to observe my sighs of satisfaction. 

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I decided to make something fun and unconventional with the soft, unripened goats cheese. I’ve seen it used as an icing for cinnamon buns before, but that seemed almost too mundane for such a cheese. I peeked in and out of the fridge, back and forth from my Flavor Bible and finally came out with these – an ooey-gooey blackberry bun with lemony, aromatic basil sugar and a sticky sweet goats cheese icing. They are everything. EVERYTHING. The flavours, the texture, the tang from the lemon and goat cheese. I am obsessed. I think you might be, too! 

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Blackberry Basil Stick Buns with Goat Cheese Icing
makes 12 large buns

Dough
1 cup warm buttermilk (110 degrees F – 45 degrees C)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Filling
1 cup basil sugar*
zest from 1 lemon
4 tbsp butter, very soft
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup fresh blackberriesIcing

4 oz soft, unripened goats cheese, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice

For the dough
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast into the warmed buttermilk along with the sugar. Stir gently and let it sit until frothy (8-10 minutes). Pour in the melted butter, beaten yolk and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and nutmeg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a fork until a shaggy ball starts to come together. Use your hands to fold the dough in the bowl until all the bits have come together and you have an almost uniform dough. Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean, lightly-oiled bowl (being sure the surface of the dough is slick with a bit of oil) and cover with plastic wrap or a clean damp towel for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, make the filling. In a small bowl, stir together the basil sugar, lemon zest, softened butter and lemon juice. Set aside.When the dough is doubled, dump onto a clean, lightly floured surface and roll into an 18×14 inch rectangle. Sprinkle the basil lemon filling all over the dough leaving about 1/2 inch of clean dough around the edges. Roughly chop the blackberries and spread evenly over the filling. Starting at long side, tightly roll up, pinching seam to seal. Pop in the freezer for about 10 minutes just to firm things up so they slice easily. Once firmed, use a serrared knife to slice into 12 even piece. Place in a lightly oiled baking dish (2 pie plates or a 9×13 inch baking pan) and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour. After 30 minutes, preheat oven to 375.

Pop buns in the oven and let bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown, covering with tin foil if they start getting too golden before they are cooked through.

While they cook, place all icing ingredients into the food processor or a small bowl and process/whisk until smooth. Taste and add more lemon or sugar if needed.

Remove buns from the oven and drizzle with all, or half, or the icing. You can reserve half the icing for when you serve them or just coat them completely right away.

*basil sugar
1 cup white or cane sugar
about 8-10 big basil leaves, stems removed

place ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or mortar and pestle. Grind until leaves and sugar are uniform. It will be moist and fragrant.

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Fingers & Fries + Turkey Love

Honey Garlic Turkey Tenders with Sweet and Smoky Dipping Sauce

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Perhaps like you, I ate a lot of fingers and fries as a kid (/teenager…./adult). If there was a dinner out, it was widely known and accepted, with a sigh, that I wouldn’t be pleased unless the menu had those three little words that twisted my pout into a triumphant grin. Fingers and fries. My whole “fine dining” world. 

Just recently I was out for dinner with my dad and we discussed this exact situation. Each family vacation, no matter the destination, I would anxiously jab a spindly finger in the air, pointing to a restaurant while professing to my parents, “We haven’t been here before!”, and begging that we try it out. My Dad, ever the intrepid food explorer and the first to bravely seek out the one thing he hadn’t tried on any given menu, was certain with each new restaurant that today might be the day I ordered liver. Or hell, even a burger. Even a bowl of gloppy, butter-slick Alfredo. Anything but fingers and fries….again. But I wouldn’t have it. Those simple flavours were home back then. I knew I liked them and that was enough. All the guess work was done for me. My exploration wouldn’t come until many years later when I lived on my own. 

These days I’m still mad for any sort of meat-strip battered or coated in a crunchy crumb-crust. Especially when it’s a recipe meant to be kid-friendly. Of this, the tastes that wee ones crave, I know plenty. And swapping the standard chicken to turkey is something I’ve been waiting to try for a while. We love turkey in our house and try to grab it up to cook any time we see it. It’s incredibly healthy, full of flavour and provides a much needed refresh on a classic kid’s favourite. 

I’ve worked with Turkey Farmers of Canada many times before and am extremely honoured and excited to tell you that I’ve signed on as a Turkey Champion for the 2014 year. This  partnership means I’ll be sharing plenty of turkey-filled recipes with you, hosting some twitter parties to talk about the ever-versatile meat source and generally sharing my love for turkey with all of you! That kicks off today with these Turkey Tenders – perfect for your kids (or even your own inner-child). They are sweet and garlicky, crunchy and tender, slightly cheesy from a goldfish crumb, and the perfect dunker for a sweet and smoky paprika-spiked dipping sauce. 

Let’s not waste any more time, these babies could be dinner tonight! 

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Honey Garlic Turkey Tenders with Sweet and Smoky Dipping Sauce
serves 4
Find them on the Tasty Turkey website, too!

I like to add wheat bran and oats to the crumb mixture because it’s a simple way to get more nutrition into these tenders, especially when we’re talking about kids. If you choose to leave them out, add another 1/2 cup of goldfish, cornflakes or bread crumbs. 

Marinade
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp melted butter
few dashes hot sauce, optional
2 tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic 
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 1/2 – 2 lbs turkey breast, sliced into thin strips

Crumb
1 cup goldfish crackers, crushed into fine crumbs
1/2 cup cornflake crumbs
1/4 cup wheat bran, optional
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats, optional
1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbsp whole wheat (or all-purpose) flour

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Sweet and Smoky Sauce
makes approximately 1 cup

1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbsp ketchup
1/4 cup white or rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cumin
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp cornstarch

Place all the marinade ingredients except for the turkey in a blender/food processor and whir around for 10 seconds until smooth. Place into a sealable bag or container and add in the turkey. Toss to coat and let marinade 4 hours up to overnight. 

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place a rack on top. Pour all crumb mixture into a large shallow dish and stir to combine. Remove marinated turkey 1 strip at a time and coat it in the crumb mixture. Place on the rack above the baking sheet.  Repeat with all the strips, you may need to use two sheets or cook them in 2 batches so they aren’t crowded on the pan. Baking for 20-25 minutes or until golden at the tips and internal temperature reads 180 degrees.

While the turkey tenders cook, add all the Sweet and Smoky Sauce ingredients to a sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon and looks shiny and thick. Pour into a sealable jar and let cool to room temperature before dunking.