Nocino

Nocino in Brandy
Nocino in Brandy

Recipe and photos by Gayle Hurmuses

Nocino is a fabulous digestif, a traditional Italian bitter made from unripe walnuts (any type) that can be made into a lovely liqueur given the right treatment.

The articles I read before making last year’s batch suggested that it would be gone before the year of proper aging was complete and the authors were right. The first few tastes were much like Fernet Branca, but over time it mellowed nicely into something much more subtle and compelling.

Traditionally, the latest date to make Nocino is June 24. Thanks to a late winter in BC, we’re weeks behind, and in late June, the walnuts were still barely marble-sized. They’re nice and plump today however, and the shells have not yet begun to form, so it’s a perfect time to begin. From the look of the fruits there are still a few more days to go before it’s no longer possible.

This recipe will give wonderful results. You may not want to share. I didn’t. O:-)

Walnuts for Nocino

Duck Confit

Duck confit in jar
Duck confit in jar

Duck confit may seem decadent, but the process doesn’t leave the meat fattier than it began.  You’re  going to have mere slivers of the meat, and you’re not going to drink the fat.

I won’t be serving an entire duck leg or wing for each person. The pieces will be deboned, and the meat will be used as an accent…almost as a seasoning to the dishes it’s used in. I truly do get 10 or more dishes from the two legs and wings of an 11lb duck.

Mind you, it was a very happy, exceptionally lean, free-range duck, from neighbours at Legacy Farm. There was little waste on this bird .

Because the duck used was truly free range, it was almost entirely without fat. Even after rendering the skin from the breasts, which was used for another purpose, there was only a small amount of fat, and there was none at all clinging to the bird.

With no duck fat for sale locally, butter was the only solution. It proved to be a delicious problem.

BBQ Pork by GaddAboutEating

Recipe and photos by GaddAboutEating.

This BBQ pork is styled after the Chinese Char Siew style, but with some homegrown (BC) and international (Guyanese) stylings.

I think it’s worth noting that most, if not all of my recipes, are designed to be simple for beginner cooks to follow; practical for those with small kitchens or limited supplies; and fun for anyone to use and play with.  If you don’t have a particular ingredient:   SUBSTITUTE with something else similar or if it seems like it’s not crucial: omit it.

In this recipe, for instance, the maltose and hoisin sauce that would typically be included have been replaced by cane sugar and cassareep.   If you don’t have honey, use brown sugar. or maple syrup, or whatever you think is similar, available, and interesting.

And finally, before we get into the recipe, I’d like to talk a little bit more about cassareep.  DSC_0085[1]Cassareep is made from cassava. Cassava is a vegetable root grown in the heat of the tropics. It has many similarities to a potato and is enjoyed in many ways by people in many countries. Cassareep is a thick black liquid made from cassava root, often with additional spices, which is used as a base for many sauces and especially in Guyanese pepperpot. Besides use as a flavoring and browning agent, it also acts as a preservative. Its antiseptic characteristics have led to medical application as an ointment, most notably in the treatment of certain eye diseases.
To make cassareep, the juice is boiled until it is reduced by half in volume, to the consistency of molasses and flavored with spices—including cloves, cinnamon, salt, sugar, and cayenne pepper.  Traditionally, cassareep was boiled in a soft pot, the actual “pepper pot”, which would absorb the flavors and also impart them (even if dry) to foods such as rice and chicken cooked in it.  Most cassareep is exported from Guyana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uses of the Dandelion

From Godey’s Lady’s Book published in 1862 (found on the delightful “The Complete Victorian” website.
Photos by Philly Markowitz and Jacqui Shannon

Dandelions and greens
Dandelions and greens

Henceforth, all Eatin’s Canada recipes will be written in such delicately correct language for the edification of all and sundry.

Dandelion
It’s uses are endless: the young leaves blanched make an agreeable and wholesome early salad; and they may be boiled, like cabbages, with salt meat.

The French too slice the roots and eat them, as well as the leaves with bread and butter, and tradition says that the inhabitants of Minorca once subsisted for weeks on this plant, when their harvest  had been entirely destroyed by insects.

The leaves are ever a favorite and useful article of food in the Vale of Kashmir, where, in spite of the preconceived prejudices we all have to the contrary, dandelions, and other humbler examples of our northern “weeds,” do venture to associate themselves with the rose or the jasmine of it’s eastern soil.

On the bands of the Rhine the plant is cultivated as a substitute for coffee, and Dr. Harrison contends that it possesses the fine flavor and substance of the best Mocha coffee, without its injurious principle; and that it promotes sleep when taken at night, instead of banishing it, as coffee does.

Mrs. Moodie gives us her experiences with dandelion roots, which seem of a most satisfactory nature.  She first cut the roots into small pieces, and dried them in the oven until they were brown and crisp as coffee, and in this state they appear to have been eaten.  But certain it is that she ground a portion of them, and made a most superior coffee.  In some parts of Canada they make an excellent beer of the leaves, in which the saccharine matter they afford forms a substitute for malt, and the bitter flavor serves instead of hops.  In medicine, too, it is invaluable.

Dandelion Flowers
Dandelion Flowers

BEET SALAD using Pickled Beets and Shallots

Recipe and photos by GaddAboutEating.

This is a fun recipe because you can modify it to use ingredients that are currently in your garden (or fridge, or pantry) and it uses a bottle of Pickled Beets and Shallots as featured in this recipe.  Or you can use other pickled beets you have as the base.

Beet Greens in the garden...
Beet Greens in the garden…

The thing I loved about this version of the recipe was that it included not only the pickled beets and shallots, but also the beet greens and shallot greens that were fresh in my garden.  I was tempted to call this ‘Beet Beet Shallot Shallot Salad’ but thought it was a bit heavy handed.  This from someone who LOVES to repeat herself!  😉

Banana coconut rum upside down cake (gluten free)

Recipe and photos by Rita Anastasiou.

banana-coconut upside down cake 3

It all started with a failed attempt to make a healthy dessert… It was one of those days again,when I was trying so desperately to trick my sweet tooth with plain bananas…! One thing brought another,I realized I had in my pantry Malibu Rum and all the ingredients for a cake. It’s not any kind of cake! It’s one of the most  moist,rich,fluffy upside down cake you’ve ever had! The caramelized bananas pair beautifully with the warm spiced and the coconut rum! The kitchen bathes with the aromas of the baked bananas…  Try to refuse a piece of cake like this!

banana-coconut upside down cake 2

banana-coconut upside down cake

Crawdad Bisque

 Recipe and photographs by Gayle Hurmuses

This recipe is based on one that I originally had in Halifax, NS, at Cafe Chianti, in 2008, while in town for a conference. I happened to be there the first night and tried the lobster bisque, which took me back to the restaurant twice more during my 4 day stay.

Vegetables for bisque
Vegetables for bisque

It’s been a long time since I was there, so not sure if this is quite as good as the original, but it’s satisfying to me and regularly complimented.

Crawdads (or Crayfish)
Crawdads (or Crayfish)

I normally make this recipe with lobster, as per the original, but on the day that photos were shot, I was using crayfish, hence “crawdads” in the title.