Monday, July 27, 2009

Transforming Green Beans into Pâté

I've been debating with myself about whether I should include recipes on this blog. It wasn't part of my initial vision for this space, but I'm beginning to think that recipes with some of my favorite seasonal foods would be a nice fit. So on that vein...

It's the season for green beans. This recipe for a walnut and green bean pâté is one of my favorites. It's adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. I was skeptical when I first saw it. Green beans and walnuts aren't the most obvious of combinations for a pâté, but once I whipped up a batch I was quickly won over. Katzen says it tastes like chopped liver. I tend to agree! It's excellent on crusty bread on in a sandwich. It is also a great on crackers or accompanying a cheese plate.

Vegetable Walnut Pâté
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups green beans, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs mayonnaise
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions until they begin to brown (about 10 minutes). Add the chopped green beans and saute until tender and very slightly browned(another 10 minutes or so). Remove from heat.

When the beans and onions are cooled, combine them in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and grind them into a paste. Chill and serve.

When I serve this as a pâté, I like to top it with fresh fried onions. Basically, slice up half an onion and fry the slices over medium-high heat until they're brown and crispy.

If you don't ahve nutritional yeast, you can skip it. It's harder to skip the parsley. Also don't overdo the mayonnaise or lemon juice.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Seasonal Community Markets in the Southwest

I recently discovered that Montreal's SouthWest and Verdun districts will soon be getting small seasonal community markets. The project aims to bring fresh, affordable and local produce to this region of Montreal which has been criticised as not having affordable access to nutritious food. Most residents in the area live below the poverty line. The markets are supported by the Groupe Sud-Ouest en sécurité alimentaire (SOSA) and the Conférence regionale des elus (CRE).

The markets kick off this weekend in Cote-St-Paul and Verdun. The market in Little Burgundy will start in August and the one in Saint Henri gets underway in September.

Eglise St-Paul, 1690 de L'Eglise
Saturdays, 9h-14h
July 25, August 1, 22, September 5, 19, October 3

Parc du souvenir (metro Verdun)
Sundays 9h-14h
July 26, August 2, 3, 16, 23, 30, September 6

Little Burgundy
Yolande Breton Community Centre, 1845 St-Jacque
Saturdays 9h-13h
August 1, 15, 19, September 19, October 3, 17

Saint Henri
Ecole St-Zotique, 4841 Av Palm
Fridays 5h-19h
September 4, 11, 18, 25, October 2, 9

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Local Food in the News

Here is a quick round-up of some news items about local or seasonal foods that I came across this week in blogs and mainstream media. Not all of the articles are new, but they did catch my attention.

The Conference Regionale des Elus de Montreal recently announced an initiative to bring more organic food into Montreal. Over $390,000 will be invested in the program over the next three years, whose main objective is to encourage the creation of new businesses in the organic food sector. The provincial government is also a partner in the project. Read the press release (in french) here.

Earlier this month, five southwestern Ontario grocery stores went independent, ending their franchise relationship with Sobeys. In an interview with CBC, the owner of one the stores said that his customers were asking for locally-produced food but Sobeys' corporate policies prevented him from buying local products. Read the full story here.

An article in the Montreal Gazette a couple of months ago talks about the artificial economy created by Quebec's Farm Income Stabilization Insurance program, including the frustration of local farmers who want to buy farmland to supply the increasing demand for local vegetable crops but can not because banks prefer to lend money to larger, more financially stable companies who use the land to supply feed for livestock. It's an interesting read. You can find it here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Savouring Sustainable Seafood in Ottawa

Before a recent trip to Ottawa, I asked around about restaurants serving up sustainable, local or organic fare. To my pleasant surprise, it turns out there are a lot of them in Ottawa, including a small seafood restaurant serving up sustainable fare. At the suggestion of FoodiePrints, I headed off to check it out.

The Whalesbone Oyster House is a tiny, rugged-looking but tastefully decorated little place located on Bank street. It is completely devoted to serving sustainable catches and is a member of the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program, a program that helps consumers identify restaurants serving sustainable seafood. (Wilfrid's Restaurant in the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa is also a member of Ocean Wise.) In addition to being its own restaurant, Whalesbone supplies fresh fish and seafood to several Ottawa area restaurants and hotels. It also offers a catering service.

Oysters are the obvious focal point Whalesbone. So while we browsed the menu, we sipped on an oyster Caesar, a basic Caesar served with a fresh oyster. We also ordered a couple of oysters to sample. Being new to oysters, our hostess suggesting trying an east coast and a west coast choice and foregoing the sauces so we could enjoy the full taste of the shellfish. The PEI Colville Bay oyster, our east coast choice, was sweet and subtle; whereas the west coast Outlandish Gems from BC were smaller, meatier and saltier. Now I understand why our server suggested enjoying the east coast ones first!

My friend opted for the catch of the day: east coast lobster. It was served without its shell on a bed of Swiss chard and delicate finger potatoes. The sauce was slightly sweet with just the right amount of butter and garlic. Since eating scallops is a very rare treat for me, I opted for the hand-picked Qualicum Beach scallops from Vancouver Island served over bitter greens, garlic sprouts, and a mixture of white beans and bacon. The scallops were large and perfectly seared. Their natural sweetness, augmented by a light maple sauce was a perfect compliment to the bitter greens. A truly brilliant combination.

Unfortunately, we only had a bit over an hour to dine, so we didn't have time to try their new sundae bar featuring Pascale's Natural Ice Cream. We also passed on the wine list, which is divided in light-bodied, medium-bodied, full-bodied and sweet wines, making it easier to pair them with your meal. That's okay. We'll just have to go back!

Whalesbone Oyster House
430 Bank Street
Ottawa, Ontario

Head Chef: Charlotte Langley
Owner: Joshua Bishop

Dinner for two, including oysters and drinks ~ $100