Which way to the farm?
Tootling according to Webster’s dictionary refers to the practice of “proceeding in a leisurely way”. City Palate magazine has sponsored “Foodie Tootles” to local farms around Calgary for 13 years. I used to help my friend Dee Hobsbawn-Smith run these and last year when she moved to Saskatchewan I took on the task of keeping the Tootle torch burning. It is one of the most rewarding things I do.
I love visiting farms and farm folks and their families to see what they do and if their niche in the world will be a good place to bring 44 city folk. I start in fall, making visits and forming relationships. I look for geographic clusters of farms so that we can visit two or three in a day’s outing. They have to have a great product, raise their animals or crops in a humane and healthy fashion and be open to the idea of speaking about it and sometimes pitching in to help feed all those city folk.
We eat well on Tootles because we create meals using the products from the farms we visit. Once I have confirmed the farms we’ll visit, I begin to plan a dream menu and the logistics of how we can pull it off while being on the move for the day. Lunch is usually a portable ploughman’s style picnic which is quick to set up and clean up but for dinner we like to show off a little. I get so inspired by the raw ingredients and I have a great team of my associate Tilly Sanchez and chef Matthew Altizer of The Cookbook Co. Cooks to work with.
Our Spring Tootle took us to Champion and Nobleford, Alberta. We visited Ewe-nique Lamb farms and the Vande Bruinhorst family, Noble Duck Farms and the Van Deuveren family and Noble Meadows Goat farm and the Van Driesten family. Because spring in Alberta is known for its changeable weather (just listen to Ian Tyson’s song “springtime in Alberta” sometime) we booked the Champion Community Hall for lunch and dinner when we would usually eat on the farms themselves. This proved to be a God send and we stayed dry and warm when all was muddy and wet around us by dinnertime. Amen!
What follows are some photos, the menu and some of the recipes. I hope you enjoy them. The next Tootle is August 20th, 2011 when we will visit Aspen Crossing in Mossleigh, Broek Pork’s pastured Berkshire pigs and Broxburn Vegetables and Cafe in Lethbridge. Tickets are $120.00 per person at 403-265-6066. Hope to see you on the bus.
- Spring Tootle Menu
Duck Confit Salad Rolls, assorted Noble Meadows Goat’s cheeses
Apricot Mint Barbecued leg of lamb
5 spice Roasted Duck Breast and Caramelized Grape Salad
Apricot and Almond Wild Rice pilaf
Roasted Poplar Bluff Russian Blue Potatoes with Tzatziki
Dee’s Sweet Potato Lentils
Edgar’s Asparagus – Grilled
Greek Salad with Broxburn vegetables and Noble Meadows Feta
Sidewalk Citizen rustic bread
Rhubarb Punch and Rhubarb Cake
Grilled Leg of Lamb (adapted from Jacques Pepin’s Today’s Gourmet)
1 c mint leaves
1 piece of ginger, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
½ c apricot jam
¼ c soy sauce
¼ c water
4 -5 lb boneless Butterflied leg of lamb
1 Place the mint leaves, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, jam and water in the bowl of a mini-chopper and process until liquefied.
2 Transfer to a plastic bag. Place the lamb in the bag, seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
3 Remove the lamb, (reserve the marinade) pat it dry and place on a very hot grill for about 7 minutes per side. Transfer to a roasting pan, pour the reserved marinade around it, and place it in a 200ºF oven for at least 15 minutes.
4 Slice and serve with some of the juices.
Apricot and Almond Wild Rice Pilaf
1 onion, finely chopped
2c chicken stock
½ c orange juice
1 ½ c brown rice
½ c wild rice
1 orange zest
¾ c dried apricots, diced
¼ t cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
¾ c slivered almonds
Sprigs fresh parsley
1. Heat the butter in a heavy pot
2. Sauté the onion until tender
3. Pour in the stock and juice and bring to a boil,
4. Stir in both of the rice and return to a boil and simmer for 45 – 50 minutes.
5. Stir in the apricot, zest, cinnamon and cloves about 20 minutes before it is done.
6. Toast the almonds and add them at the end
7. Garnish with parsley, serve on a platter.
Curried Sweet Potato Lentils
(Adapted from my friend Dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s Skinny Feasts book because Dee’s lentils are a Tootle tradition and everyone loves them)
1 T canola oil
2T ginger root, pureed
6 cloves garlic, minced
1T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 T garam masala
1t fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
1 t turmeric
¼ t Cayenne
1t mustard seed
1T curry powder
1T Hungarian paprika
1each leek, carrot, celery, medium yam and onion diced
1 apple, diced
¼ c raisons
¼ c honey
1 lemon, juice and zest
Salt and hot chilli flakes to taste
1 Heat the oil in the pan and sauté the ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2 Add the spices and stir until fragrant.
3 Add the vegetables and cook until tender
4 Add the lentils, water, apple and raisons.
5 Simmer stirring frequently until tender (do not add any salt or the lentils won’t cook properly)
6 Adjust the flavours with the honey, lemon, salt or chili flakes.
Rose Edgar’s Spiced Rhubarb Punch
6 c rhubarb, chopped
4 whole cloves
1 c sugar
1. Boil the rhubarb, cloves and water until the rhubarb is soft.
2. Strain the liquid
3. Add the sugar to taste
Rhubarb Cake (Little Red Deer Dorcas Women’s Institute “Tested Recipes” – an Alberta Classic)
Ingredients for bottom
2 c flour
¼ t salt
1t baking powder
½ c soft butter
Ingredients for Top
4 c rhubarb, cubed
½ c flour
½ c butter
Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon
1. Crumble the topping ingredients together and add the egg in last with a fork.
2. Save ¼ of this mixture for the crumb topping.
3. Press the remainder into a 9X13” pan
4. Mix the remaining ingredients
5. Put on top of pressed crumbs and cover with remaining crumbs
6. Sprinkle with some sugar and cinnamon
7. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.
Tilly’s “Warren Buffet” (it’s that rich!) Flourless Chocolate Cake (adapted from Gourmet magazine, November, 1997)
4 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
½ c unsalted butter
¾ c sugar
½ c unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line the bottom with a round of buttered wax paper.
2. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put it into a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water.
3. Melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture.
4. Add the eggs and whisk well.
5. Sift the 1/2 cup cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.
7. Dust the cake with additional cocoa powder. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.)