100-Mile Diet Dinner
Although I always buy local meat and poultry, and I try to buy local produce as much as possible, I had no idea what I was in for when I agreed to host James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith (authors of The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating
) at my book club. We take a lot for granted when we use rice, sugar, olive oil and lemons, for example. In the end even James and Alisa found it hard to believe that we had cooked the entire dinner with local ingredients (though I have to admit we extended the range to 150 miles at times).
It was an eye-opening exercise. We managed to chase down local canola and soybean oil, learned that the largest salt mine in the world is in Goderich, and found a great flour mill in Arva – all close to Toronto.
The challenges of eating locally vary depending on where you live. Everyone has to make compromises, and don’t forget, “almost” all local is good, too.
My biggest tip for cooking locally? Keep your ingredient lists short. Or have a 100-mile potluck dinner, so everyone can share the fun and aggravation!
Except for the kale, which should be sauteed just before serving, this entire menu can be prepared ahead. Smoked Trout Spread
In southern Ontario, trout is the only local fish that is commercially available year round, although fresh whitefish, pike, perch and pickerel are also sometimes sold (Rick Blackwood of Mike’s in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market is a great source of information about local fish).
We made our own mayonnaise using local oil, but you could use yogurt, instead.
Serve this with bread or crackers.
8 oz (250g) smoked trout, bones and skin removed
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp (25mL) chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp (25mL) chopped fresh dill
1⁄2 cup (125mL) mayonnaise or yogurt, approx.
Salt to taste
Apple cider vinegar to taste
Sprigs fresh dill or chives for garnish
1. In a food processor, combine trout, celery, chives, dill and 1⁄4 cup (50mL) mayonnaise. Process on/off until mixture just holds together, adding more mayonnaise if necessary. Add salt and/or apple cider vinegar to taste.
2. Serve garnished with fresh dill.
Makes about 1 1⁄2 cups (375 ml) Mayonnaise
In a food processor, combine 2 egg yolks, 1 tbsp (15mL) apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp (5mL) dry mustard and 1⁄2 tsp (2mL) salt. With machine running, very slowly add 1 1⁄4 cups (300mL) vegetable oil through feed tube. (You can also do this in a bowl with a whisk, adding the oil drop by drop at first and graduating to a thin stream.)
Makes about 1 1⁄2 cups (375mL).
Braised Lamb Shanks with Wine and Herbs
Although this recipe contains tons of garlic, the long cooking time makes it unexpectedly mild and sweet. You can serve the lamb shanks on the bone or remove the meat in chunks (to avoid scaring guests with what looks like a huge hunk of meat).
Peel fresh tomatoes by cutting out the core, cutting a cross on the bottom and blanching for 20 seconds in boiling water. Cool under cold water and remove the skins, or use a soft skin peeler.
8 lamb shanks, trimmed
1 tbsp (15mL) salt
2 tbsp (25mL) vegetable oil
3 onions, coarsely chopped
12 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups (500mL) dry red wine
2 lb (1kg) fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 128-oz (796mL) can plum tomatoes, with juices
1 tbsp (15mL) fresh thyme, or 1⁄2 tsp (2mL) dried
2 tbsp (25mL) coarsely chopped fresh parsley, optional
1. Pat lamb dry and sprinkle with salt.
2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown lamb well on all sides, in batches if necessary (this will take about 10 to 15 minutes). Remove from pan.
3. Add onions and garlic to pan and cook for a few minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by about half.
4. Add tomatoes and thyme and bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon. Return shanks to pan. Place parchment paper directly on surface of lamb. Cover with lid and cook in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours, or until meat is very tender.
5. Remove shanks from pan. Skim any fat from surface of sauce and discard. Puree sauce in a food processor or blender and return sauce to pan.
6. Remove lamb from bones in large chunks and return to sauce. Heat thoroughly. Garnish with parsley, if using.
Makes 8 servings
Caramelized Apple Crêpes with Maple Syrup
Local maple syrup and apples are legendary in Ontario. If you don’t have maple syrup, use honey, which is available locally in most places. I find most apples are good for cooking if they are very apple-y and not too tart or crisp.
2 tbsp (25mL) butter or vegetable oil
6 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut in wedges
1⁄2 cup (125mL) maple syrup
10 cooked crêpes (pages 272—273)
1. Heat butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
2. Add maple syrup and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until apples are tender and caramelized.
3. To assemble crêpes, place crêpes, nicest side down, on a work surface. Divide apple mixture among crêpes. Roll up and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
4. Before serving, warm crêpes in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
Makes 8 to 10 servingsFrom the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Friday Night Dinners by Bonnie Stern. Copyright © 2008 by Bonnie Stern. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.