salad

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.

Bean Salad with Honey and Cumin Seeds

In the same vein as my other salads, it's simple, because I think salads are better left alone. I usually add just a few selected seasonings to give them a boost. Here the sweetness of the honey and the toasty cumin seeds take care of that. If you want a quick and filling lunch, just toss all the ingredients together and serve the salad on a couple of crispy leaves or greens. Since this salad is mostly beans, it's a great source of fibre and protein. Worry not, it's very good. Even if you're not into the beans, give this combo a try. It might change your mind. You can also make this salad with chickpeas, red kidney, or any other bean really.

Soak beans overnight and cook or use canned.

Enjoy!

Serves 8

Ingredients

• 2 cups romano beans • 2 cups black beans • 2 cups lima beans • 4 tablespoons olive oil • 4 tablespoons honey • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds • small handful parsley, chopped • salt + black pepper

Dry-toast the cumin seeds in a pan for a couple of minutes. Set aside. Mix the oil, honey, vinegar, cumin seeds, and parsley together. Gently mix the beans and stir in the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a couple leaves of romaine lettuce or crispy greens. Will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

The Cutting Edge

We drove down to Halifax this weekend for the Taste of Nova Scotia Cutting Edge Chef Competition, a part of the Saltscapes Expo. What was I expecting to find? A lot of people, great food and wine, and a chance to cook. Ten chefs from around Nova Scotia were competing in the event. Each of us was given a black box containing secret ingredients, and we had 45 minutes to make something awesome. Well, everything went pretty well--yesterday I found out that I won!

My black box ingredients were pork tenderloins, honey, apples and quark cheese. I decided to keep it simple, as usual, so I made an apple-fennel slaw with a couple of greens, drizzled on a quark cheese and white balsamic vinaigrette, threw on a few pieces of crispy double-smoked bacon, seared off that pork, finished it with some honey and cream, and topped it all with a red wine onion confit.

Now, I could never have done it without my fantastic sous-chef who was assigned to me from the crowd. She made a point of telling me that she was not much of a cook, but Jee-whiz was she ever a wizard with the knife! We were both in good spirits and had a lot of fun cooking together. It's always nice to work with people who enjoy food as much as I do. So Jill, wherever you are, thank you!

Also, a big thanks to Alain Bossé and to Christine and all the team from Taste of Nova Scotia for putting together the Cutting Edge Competition and for making it so much fun. Local Food is the best! I owe a huge thanks to Earlene Busch of the Chanterelle Inn, who has been throwing me opportunities left and right. Oh yeah, and thank you Grohmann knives. I now have all top-notch tools!

And here I am, giving a demo; Wild Mushroom and Cheddar Risotto

A couple of people asked me for the recipe of the slaw that I made during the competition, so here it is. Enjoy!

Apple-Fennel Slaw

• 2 small apples, julienned • 1 fennel bulb, julienned • 1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped • 4 tablespoons almonds, roughly chopped • 2 tablespoons lemon juice • 1 tablespoons olive oil • pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients together and let sit for at least 30 minutes, stiring once or twice. Taste, and add more lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve on top of some greens or salad.

Quinoa with Roasted Peppers and Sunflower Seeds

Most of the snow is gone so I decided to cook up something that would make a great summer dish - just to herald in some even warmer weather. By now everybody knows quinoa is very healthy. It's not the cheapest grain, but it's worth eating not only for it's nutritional value, but also for it's taste. You can easily add anything to it; vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits or even poultry to make it a main dish. It's usually served cold as a salad, but you can heat it up to replace rice or any other grain. Eat it hot or cold, up to you. Serves 6-8

Ingredients

• 2 cups quinoa • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock • 2 bell peppers • 1 medium red onion, chopped • 1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/2" cubes • 1 cup sunflower seeds • juice of 1/2 lemon • salt + black pepper • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the peppers in half, lengthwise. Put them on a pan, drizzle some oil and roast in the oven for around 30 minutes.

In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil and add the quinoa. Cook for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Set aside.

In a pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and remove from heat.

By now your peppers are probably roasted. Cut them roughly in 1/2" cubes and add them to the pan with the onions and zucchini. In the same pan, add the cooked quinoa, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix everything.

Serve straight away or leave to cool an hour or so. Top with sunflower seeds.

Goat Cheese, Walnut and Apple Salad

Here's a quick and healthy salad fix. The goat cheese and walnuts are really the major flavors here - that's why the vinaigrette is so simple. This takes about 5 minutes to put together. Serves 4-6

Ingredients

• 4 handfuls (about 150g total) mixed lettuces • 1 cup walnuts • 150g goat cheese, crumbled • 2 red apples, chopped • 1/4 cup oil (olive, sunflower or grapeseed) • 3 tablespoons lemon juice • chopped cilantro (optional)

Mix the chopped apples with the lemon juice. It'll keep them from browning. Put all the ingredients (including the apples and the lemon juice) in a large bowl and gently stir together. Serve and top with cilantro.

Peanut Slaw

Here's another simple salad. Works great with fish. Over and out.

• 1/2 red cabbage • 1/2 green cabbage • 1 bunch chopped cilantro • 1 cup ground peanuts • 1/2 cup rice vinegar • 3 tablespoons peanut oil • 3 tablespoons sugar • a dash of sesame oil

Finely slice the cabbages either with a knife or mandolin. Mix everything together and let sit for an hour. Serve.