lunch

Whipped Butternut Squash and Red Onions

This is a very simple recipe; apart from roasting the squash, it'll take you only 15 minutes to prepare. Stick a serving spoon in and pass it around. Enjoy!

Ingredients

• 1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs) • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced • 4 tablespoons butter • 3 tablespoons heavy cream • salt • a dash of hot sauce (optional)

Split the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast in the oven at 375-400°F for about an hour, until you can easily pierce it with a knife. Meanwhile, in a skillet, gently cook the onions in 2 tablespoons of butter for no more than 2 minutes. Once the squash is cooked, scoop out the flesh, and whisk it in a bowl with the rest of the butter and cream. Add the onions and season with salt and hot sauce. Put the mixture back in the skin and serve.

Fried Cheese and Arugula Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

This recipe was inspired by Ron, the Wandering Shepherd. He makes fresh cheese curds and said they are great fried. He wasn't kidding. I pan-fried the curds in oil for a few minutes then threw them on a salad for lunch. You could use any cheese resembling halloumi. The cheese must keep its shape when cooked. For vinegar I used our Wild Rose Vinegar, for which I used apple cider vinegar as a base.

Enjoy!

Serves 2

Salad

• Small handful of cheese curds • Few handfuls of arugula • 2-3 cherry tomatoes, quartered • Fresh chives or basil, chopped • Ground black pepper

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a small sauté pan. Once the oil is sizzling hot, add the cheese and cover (the oil can be messy). Fry a few minutes on each side, until the cheese is golden and crispy. Toss some greens on each plate, add the tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle some vinaigrette, top with chives or basil and a twist of black pepper.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

• 3 tablespoons olive oil • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar • 1 tablespoon honey • a small pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients together.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon and Green Onions

These twice-baked sweet potatoes have crispy, carmelized skins and a smooth tangy filling. Add a dollop of crème fraîche and indulge. Don't ask me why crème fraîche is so hard to find. Until I started making it myself (cultures are from Glengarry) I never had occasion to try the stuff. Now, I love it in soups, curries, and anything that benefits from a rich, creamy kick. Crème fraîche is similar to sour cream but less sour and with a higher fat content. You can, of course, substitute sour cream, but avoid the artificially soured kind. It doesn't really taste good.

Green onions are a sure bet with potatoes. Sometimes they're called scallions, but I think I prefer green onions. You've probably heard the song "Green Onions" by Booker T. and the M.G.'s. It's a goody and should get you going while cooking this recipe.

I cure and smoke my own bacon, and I get my salad greens from Peter LeBlanc's Scenic Valley Farm in Margaree Valley. Delicious.

Enjoy!

Serves 4

Ingredients

• 3 medium sweet potatoes • 6 slices bacon, roughly chopped • 4-5 green onions, chopped • 2 tablespoons butter • pinch cayenne pepper • 1/2 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream or greek yogurt) • salt + ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F Bake the sweet potatoes on a baking pan for 45-55 minutes or until you can easily pierce through it with a knife. Let them cool for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté the bacon in a frying pan on medium heat until the bits are crispy, this should take about 10-15 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the green onions. Set aside.

For 2 of the potatoes, split them in half and scoop most of the flesh out, leaving about 1/4" on the borders. Take all the flesh out of the remaining potato. Mash, then add the butter and the bacon-green onions mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture back into the skins and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Serve with the crème fraîche.

Grilled Pesto and Triple Cheese Sandwich

One of my all-time comfort food favorites is the grilled cheese sandwich. No surprise there. This is my second post on that heavy-sitting delicacy. One of the three cheeses here is my own, a homemade goat cheese. Cheese is easier to make than you'd think. You should check it out. The other cheeses are the cheddar and parmesan leftover from my Pinwheel Loaf. Let's hope that one day I am making all my own cheeses. For now, one at a time. The whole wheat bread is also homemade and I'll probably post the recipe here because the results are well worth it -- depth of flavor and a nice crust. Instead of using pine nuts in the pesto, which come most often from the far end of the world, I used sunflower seeds. They're just as good, cheaper, and they grow closer to home. Use any herbs that are available; pesto is also good with parsley, chervil, and even chives.

Enjoy!

Simple Pesto

• 1 cup fresh herbs of your choice • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds • 3-4 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil • salt + ground black pepper

In a food processor, grind the nuts coarsely for crunchy pesto or finely for smooth. Add the herbs and half of the oil. Whizz until just blended, then add more oil to desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Grilled Pesto and Triple Cheese Sandwich

• 2 slices of bread • couple slices of aged cheddar • small handful parmesan, grated • small handful goat cheese • 2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan. Butter each slice of bread. Put one slice in the pan, drizzle with pesto, then add the cheeses and drizzle again with pesto. Top with the other slice of bread, flip and grill until golden brown. Transfer the sandwich to a baking pan and put in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melting. Eat.

Watercress Pesto

The peppery flavor of watercress and its juicy leaves are terrific in pesto. Think peppery, lemony, garlicy goodness together with toasted nuts and punchy parmesan. If you want a quick, crowd-pleasing appetizer or a spread for that grilled tomato sandwich, give watercress pesto a try. You even have the option of drizzling some with added oil on your meat or fish. Pesto is versatile, and since the greens and the garlic remain uncooked, it's also very healthy. Enjoy! Yields about 3 cups

Ingredients

• 1 cup pecans (or walnuts) • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds • 2 cups packed watercress • 1 1/2 cup grated parmesan • 3/4 cup olive oil • juice of one lemon • 3 garlic cloves • salt + ground black pepper

Dry toast the nuts and seeds in a pan, shaking, until they're ready. In a food processor, whizz the nuts and seeds until finely shredded. Add all the other ingredients, and whizz again. Season with salt and pepper and adjust to desired consistency with olive oil. Serve with fresh bread.

Red Chard and Oyster Mushroom Toast with Shaved Parmesan

I love toast for lunch. It takes under 10 minutes to make and you can top it with any satisfying combination of handy ingredients. Choose your flavors; anything you have in mind will probably work if you don't over do it. For this toast, I went with garlicky chards, oyster mushrooms, and parmesan. You can also substitute the chard for spinach and the oyster for a different mushroom. I can't wait to make toast with chanterelles this summer...

Serves 2

Ingredients

• 2 large slices of bread, toasted • 6 leaves red chard, roughly chopped • 150g oyster oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped • 2 tablespoons butter • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil • 1 tablespoon heavy cream • shaved parmesan • salt + black pepper

Sauté the chard in two tablespoons of butter for about 2 minutes or until it's soft. Near the very end, add the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a bowl.

In the same pan, heat the oil and sauté the mushrooms on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. Remove from heat, add the cream, and give it a stir.

Put the chard and mushrooms on your toasted bread, top with shaved parmesan and a drizzle with olive oil.

Part 3 - Lunch: Flatbread Lobster Roll

I wanted to make a lobster roll that you could actually roll. I have nothing against the classic hot-dog bread buns, but I figured flatbreads are so easy to make, why not give those a whirl? My preferred way to eat lobster is straight up with a squeeze of lemon and soaked in garlic butter. Simple but effective. It's the same here, but rolled in a flatbread. Also check out: Part 1 - Cooking the Lobster Part 2 - Lobster Eggs Benedict Part 4 - Lobster Stuffed Shells Part 5 - Lobster Bisque

The flatbreads need a couple of hours to rise, so plan in advance. Don't worry about making too much, the dough keeps well in the fridge for up to a week and it's a triple purpose recipe; flatbreads, pizza dough, and small buns.

Yields 12 flatbreads

Flatbreads

• 3 cups white flour • 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water • 2 teaspoons yeast • 2 teaspoons salt

In a large bowl, mix the yeast and the water. Then, add the salt and flour and work with your hands until smooth. Add a bit of water if needed. Cover and let rise for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in volume. If time is on your side, you can even let it rise overnight. At this point you can store it, covered, in the fridge.

Take a chunk of dough just a bit bigger than a golf ball, roll it on a floured surface to about 1/8". Roll as much as you need. Flour in between the rolled flatbreads to make sure they don't stick to each other. Heat up a pan. Drizzle a bit of oil and put the flatbread on. It should cook less than a minute on each side. Set it aside on a plate covered with tin foil so it stays hot. Repeat.

Garlic Butter

• 1/4 cup butter • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

In a small saucepan, on low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic, simmer for a minute, and remove from heat. If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt.

Roll it up

Put lobster meat on a flatbread (I used claws), drizzle with garlic butter, squeeze a lemon wedge, roll up and enjoy!