Double Stuffed Mushroom Caps

IMG_8805Mushroom caps have long been a staple on appetizer buffets, and rightly so! They’re easy to do, usually just a mouthful or two, a perfect finger food. They’re typically filled with cream cheese, maybe with some crab mixed in. Cheese seems to be in so many appetizers, so if there’s a way to hold back on the stuff (this is me talking, She Who Wants Cheese) I try to do it whenever possible. This recipe is full of umami, and can easily be adapted to be Gluten Free or Vegan (see following main recipe). I usually allow for 3 per person if they’re to be plated and served before the salad course. However, if they’re part of an appetizer buffet allow for 1 – 2 per person.   Continue reading

Butternut Squash Gratin with Baby Kale & Pecans

IMG_5686Back in the beginnings of our life on the farm, we used to grow squash in places where we’d had a burn pit.  We’d turn over all the ash, add some compost, and plant a few seeds.  Sometimes they were seeds that a friend had from the last year’s crop.  The biggest were Hubbards, and they grew to be huge, grey-green, miss formed globes.  If we had excess milk from the dairy that needed to be thrown out, it would go on the squash mounds to feed them even more.  I suppose seeing how big we could grow them was part of the charm, until we wanted to use them.  As we didn’t have a frost-free storage area to store them, we would cook, and then freeze them.

Cutting into a Hubbard squash is not easy.  I can remember swinging the splitting maul, just hoping to pierce it enough to pry it open.  When we finally did get it open, then we’d need to cut it into chunks that would fit into our trailer’s oven, to be roasted, and then frozen for use later on in the winter.  It would take about 3 roastings just to get it all done, from just one squash!

It’s been awhile since we’ve done any major squash growing.  It’s just so easy to go to the farmer’s market and buy lovely Butternuts, Acorns, Delicatas, and so many more.  They’re a manageable size, and I don’t have to worry about storing them in a frost-free space!

This is a wonderful gratin that really shows off the great flavour that Butternut Squash has.  It’s teamed with garlic and kale, with a yummy gratin topping.  Even though it is meant as a side, it could easily be served as a main.  You’ll just need more! Continue reading

Cod Cakes with Zesty Mayo

IMG_5277It used to be that if we wanted fish for dinner, we’d simply go out in our dory and catch some.  We used to be happy with a couple of nice sized rockfish, thrilled if we got a snapper, and felt like we’d won the lottery if we brought in a good sized Lingcod.  We would cast a herring jig and slowly bring it back up to the boat.  If we didn’t get anything in half a dozen casts, we’d move to another place.  We only kept decent sized fish, because there was no point in keeping the littler ones. Those days are long gone.  For several years in a row in the mid-eighties, there was a fishboat that used to go up and down Stuart Channel, scraping up anything that was a bottom fish.  Unfortunately, it scraped up anything and everything.  Rockfish, Ling Cod, Snapper, and every other type of sea life.  This was before we knew about the late reproductive age of rock fish and lingcod.  Stocks are slowly returning, but most of our area is prime habitat for these fish, so it is usually closed to fishing, commercial or pleasure.

Stuart Channel - heading home.

Stuart Channel – heading home.

Now we buy our fish.  Sometimes we are lucky and are told of some  fresh caught halibut or salmon for sale, but more often than not, we buy our fish at a store.  I try to keep some in the freezer, as I only go to town once a week or so, and if that isn’t the day for fresh fish, I’m better off with frozen.

Our usual is wild caught Pacific Cod.  It is sustainable, and until we have North American farm-raised tilapia more readily available, I feel better with the cod.

We’re pretty happy eating fish grilled, baked, or pan-fried, but I’m a sucker for a good fish cake.  When I saw this recipe in Canadian Living it sounded so fresh and flavourful, I had to try it.  As usual, I couldn’t help but change a few things. Continue reading