tomatoes

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.

Mint Invasion - Part I: Mint and Feta Tabbouleh

Our mint patch has taken over the herb garden. The top canopy is almost chest-level, like a hedge. It has engulfed neighboring oregano and chives. Minty sucker scouts are popping up yards away. We act now or... deal with a worse situation next year. The strategy? Eat it. I'll be cooking a few recipes with mint to keep the invasion in check until we feel like bringing out the big shovels. I did a stint of digging a couple of weeks ago to transplant a section of this leafy tyrant to a plot by the mailbox.

This first recipe is a simple tabbouleh, which can be made with bulgur or couscous--both are good. Some people find tabbouleh bland. I keep it interesting by toasting the couscous/bulgur.

For even more flavor I use the deliciously crumbly Mira River Feta by The Wandering Shepherd, a Cape Breton artisan cheese maker best known for his terrific ewe milk cheeses. For this recipe, I'm also using Speerville Organic Couscous.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

• 2 cups couscous • 4 cups water • 1 cup mint, chopped • 1 cup feta, crumbled • 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped • 1 onion, chopped • 5 tablespoons olive oil • small bunch of chives, chopped • juice of half a lemon • salt + ground black pepper

In a small skillet, sauté the onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Set aside. In a large cast iron pot or skillet, toast the couscous on medium heat, stirring often, until most of it is browned. Meanwhile you can bring the water to a simmer. Remove from heat. Pour the hot water over the couscous, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and stir in the sautéed onions, mint, feta, tomatoes, chives, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Eat hot or let it cool down. Top with chopped mint. Will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Weekend Oyster Bar

"Contentez-vous de peu et vous serez toujours heureux." My parents came to visit this week and so did my girlfriend's family. We all had a great time together, enjoying the scenery, the food and a few drinks. Since the weather has been so chill and the water so cold, we also went oystering and musseling. One afternoon we set out at low tide and returned a little later with no less than eighty oysters and sixty mussels, all of them wild, fresh, and mind-blowingly good. We ate the shellfish on the back deck, now also known as the Weekend Oyster Bar.

We slugged a couple of oysters with lemon and cold Canadian beer. The mussels I cooked with vermouth (as martinis were in demand), and my mother found seven tiny pearls in one of them.  Later on I served the rest of the oysters with shallots, garlic and tomatoes tossed over pasta. You'll find the recipe for that below.

On sunny Father's Day we went around the Cabot Trail, stopping every few kilometers to take in another dramatic view, explore a pebbly beach, or check out the local crafts. I'm so glad to live in an area that is not only beautiful and wild but also home to woodworkers, potters, leathersmiths, metal sculptors and glass blowers--in essence, home to artists and creative individuals. Here are a few of the shops whose wares I will be featuring on the blog.

Leather goods - Leather Works Cutting boards - Woodsmiths Studio Plates and more - Big Hill Pottery

Serves 4

Pasta with Oysters, Shallots, Garlic and Tomatoes

• 40 oysters, shucked + some juice • 2 cups tomatoes, diced with juice • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped • 3 shallots, finely chopped • small handful of flat-leaf parsley, cut in chiffonade • 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano, grated • 1/2 lemon juice • olive oil • salt + ground black pepper

Cook your choice of pasta in boiling water. Set aside. In a large pan, cook the oysters in a bit of olive oil for about 1 minute. Add the shallots, garlic and parlsey. Cook on high heat for another minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer for a couple of minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top the pasta with the sauce, some parmesan, parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.