Posted on Leave a comment

On Caramelizing the Humble Onion

Onions are part of the Allium genus which includes lilies, chives, leeks, and garlic. Onions are indispensable in cookery and especially in soup stock. A myriad of onions are cultivated worldwide; white, yellow, red, sweet, and so forth.

At this time of the year you’d be forgiven thinking we’d all be exhausted of going through a winters worth of stored onion sacks. Nothing could be further from the truth. We love the humble onion, its sibling the potato, cousin carrot, aunt beet and weird uncle parsnip but we don’t talk about him much.

Anyway, have you come across the cipollini onion? Its a bite sized popper great for roasting. The cipollini is small like a shallot only more squat. In an onion choir cipollini sings alto. It sits between the richness of the cooking onion and the zing of the shallot. Mellow and benign all on its own. Cipollinis are arguably the best onion to caramelize.

Cipollini Onion
Photo credit reluctantgourmet.com

Caramelized onions of any kind are magnificent. Caramelizing is simply sauteing except on low heat for longer periods of time. The process slowly breaks down the starch in the food giving it the opportunity to migrate and caramelize, which in the end magically and sweetly encrusts the pile o’ goo left at the bottom of your saute pan.

Side note: Avoid non stick pans. They’re convenient but no more so than a well seasoned skillet. Which is traditional and honest. farmersdotter uses an enameled iron pot to caramelize onions to perfection. Besides, where do you think your non-stick coating goes as it wears off your pan? Hmm? Celebrity chefs who use them have probably endorsed the hell out of them. Get them out of your kitchen.

To prepare: Roughly chop a few onions then lightly saute with butter and olive oil on low to medium-low heat until nicely brown and tender. You’ll begin to see the little blackened bits of fond stuck to the bottom of your saute pan. This is when you know you’re so close to ooh la la gooey goodness time. This is what you’ve been waiting for. That, and for it to be five o’clock somewhere. Cheers!

This is the time to scrape up the fond and incorporate its essentialness. Yes, it is not a word but it works. Essentialness. Scrape up the fond and incorporate with a little vermouth, oyster sauce, pinch of salt, and a squage of cracked pepper… Dunno, look it up.

farmersdotter Sautes Onions with Good Stuff
farmersdotter Saute Onions with Good Stuff

You can add pan roasted spices, herbs and all sorts of good stuff but don’t overdo the seasoning or additives cause honestly, caramelized onion prepared with just butter is simply sublime. farmersdotter keeps a store of caramelized onion handy in the fridge so she can…

Okay, at this point I should (avoid litigation says the pointed headed guy in the three-piece) point out that onions are a low acid food, and as such safe preservation requires pressure canning and a safe recipe from a qualified source and blah blah blah…

…so she can add them to a recipe at a moments notice because when you are in a rush to prepare a dish the last thing you need is to slow cook onions on low heat… after peeling them… and crying… with guests walking up the drive… I digress. Simply put, use them anywhere you would use a condiment.

Onions love mushrooms. For the preparation above add chopped mushrooms to the onions. Just prior to plating add a healthy amount of freshly chopped spinach, Chinese broccoli, asparagus, bok choy, and parsley or any combination thereof. When in season we love to add our garlic scapes from the Russian red garlic grown on our farm. Continue to saute but for only for a moment or two. The vegetables need to retain a crunch. At plating top with lime zest.

Saute Onion with Mushroom
Photo credit: juliasalbum.com

Behold the steaming bowl of goodness that ups the umami game to a whole new level. Like most dishes in a bowl farmersdotter adds a dollop or ten of our organic crushed chilli and garlic to take goodness to greatness.

Posted on 1 Comment

Purchase Original Garlic Scape Salt

Purchase Original Garlic Scape Salt

New Packaging for Scape Salt
New Packaging for Scape Salt
Posted on Leave a comment

New Look for the Scape Salt

New Packaging for Scape Salt

farmersdotter Original Garlic Scape Salt has a new look. The top-secret, proprietary recipe for the Scape Salt hasn’t changed, that will never change. No, only the packaging has changed. The home for those wonderful little granules that farmersdotter has been pushing on you for a few years now.

New Packaging for Scape Salt
New Packaging for Scape Salt

Welcome the foil pouch. Less folksy but also less bulky than the original canning jar. Certainly much lighter which means less weight for shipping. Less weight for Canada Post.

Our original garlic scape salt is still handcrafted in the sunny Similkameen Valley using only certified organic garlic scapes from our farm and Canadian sourced ancient sea salt. Carefully blended in small batches then wood-fired and oven roasted in our farm bakery. Enjoy on everything from steaks to popcorn to potatoes to your best friend!

Anyway, we hope you like the new look for the Scape Salt. Let us know either way.

Cheers!

Posted on Leave a comment

On Bitterroots and TV Shoots

On Monday farmersdotter and I hosted the crew from Quest OutWest’s “Wild Food”. The programme observes the four food chiefs; Bear, Salmon, Saskatoon Berry, and Bitterroot, and explores the varieties, heritage, cultivation and preparation of each. Our focus was on bitterroot, representative of all root vegetables and in our case garlic.

The project began as the brain child of series host Tracey Kim Bonneau

 

Tracey Kim Bonneau
Tracey Kim Bonneau

…and is now in production for release on the APTN Network next year. The programme is about Aboriginal foods and their place in history, culture and modern times and intends to weave together threads about growing up Okanagan, family, community, culture and health.

 

The day began with the arrival of the crew at 8:00am who then promptly set about the task of preparing for the first scene.

Exterior Setup
Exterior Setup

Weather conditions for the most part were favourable for the exterior scenes and of course the interior scenes which took place in the bakery held few challenges, at least the crew made it look very easy.

Bakery Setup
Bakery Setup

Topics varied from the psychological trauma experienced in confronting an elderly cow in a root cellar to land stewardship. Who’d have thought all that from root veggies?

The shoot culminated with a wonderful root vegetable nicoise with tuna expertly prepared by culinary consultant Scot Roger.

Scot Roger
Scot Roger
Root Vegetable Nicoise Salad
Root Vegetable Nicoise Salad

farmersdotter and I want to thank the whole crew of Wild Food for a wonderful and informative experience. In particular producers Suzan Derkson and Darlene Choo and director Richard Flower who pulled everything together with calm and grace. Cheers!

Posted on Leave a comment

Gin and Juice Baby

20140214-083450.jpg

What does one do with all that duty free gin? Why gin and juice of course.

Risking the breaking point of our carry-on bag’s zipper we stuffed as much duty free 40% into it as humanly possible. After arrival we carefully unburdened the weighty tote of its’ precious cargo. Bombay Sapphire. I dare say If its good enough for the Queen then its all righty-ho by me.

The challenge is how one conveniently and efficiently transports chilled el coctels to the beach. Well mi amigos the challenge has been met. Game, set, and match.

For this you will need an insulated tote bag with a closing zipper. Ours is from Community Natural Foods in Calgary and is about the volume of a plastic shopping bag. Fits nicely into the basket of a bike.

Method:

Fill four empty single serving sized plastic water bottles with potable water and freeze over night.

Take two additional empty water bottles, as large as will fit into your insulated beach bag and pour a liberal amount of gin, vodka or whatever grain alcohol tickles your fancy into each bottle. Reserve room enough to add the juice mix.

For the mix we prefer jugo de toronja, grapefruit juice, or jugo de naranja, orange juice. Fresh squeezed juices are readily available in Tulum and will cost about $25.00 pesos a litre for grapefruit juice and $20.00 pesos a litre for orange juice.

Once you have the mix to your liking place these bottles in the freezer overnight.

Yield: two fun filled suckies of fun.

By now you gather where this is headed.

The next morning you will wake up and like a kid at Christmas you will behold the joy when you open the freezer to reveal two perfect slushy cocktails. With enough alcohol the contents will freeze to a slush and not rock hard. So one could enjoy these straight off. But wait.

Just before you head out to the beach place the four frozen water bottles along side the two ‘juice’ bottles into the beach bag. The frozen water bottles will keep everything nice and cold for up to four hours.

There will be additional space in the beach bag to add some sandwich fillers. Lunch and refreshments. Cool, tidy and good to go.

The side benefit is as the ice melts in the water bottles one has agua enough to rehydrate.

20140214-083833.jpg