Roast Beef Tenderloin with Herbs & Garlic

IMG_9090Tenderloin of beef is a perfect go-to roast for special occasions. It is very easy to prepare, takes little time to roast, and carves beautifully. Yes, it is expensive, but when reserved for special occasions, is so worth it.

The tenderloin is the most tender of cuts. This muscle runs under the ribs next to the backbone of beef, and gets very little use, so remains tender. Even in an older animal who’s meat might be only be used for minced or stew, we try to reserve the tenderloin, which has amazing flavour, but is still tender. Unfortunately on-the-hoof aged tenderloin is hard to get (unless you raise beef).

The basic principal is that the more exercise a muscle gets, the more flavourful it is. So although very tender, the tenderloin benefits when treated to a rub or paste before roasting. Buy a roast that has had its fat and silver skin removed. It will have a long tip at one end, which you’ll be tying back to create a uniformly shaped roast. 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

Pea Spread with Meyer Lemon

IMG_3890My sister and I were walking the other day.  Several times a week we take our dogs, Lainie & Bonnie for a hike up over Burchell Hill and around back through the woods.  It takes about 1¼ hrs and gives us lots of time for conversation, when we’re not huffing and puffing!

We were discussing the foods we eat.  Most of the foods found in both our homes are whole foods.  Basically we start from scratch when making any meal.  Then we talked about how many processed foods we have in our homes.  We both have more than we would have guessed.  Our processed items are very similar: condiments, dairy products, crackers, granola bars, tortilla chips, peanut butter, jams, chocolate, alcoholic beverages, soft beverages, canned tomatoes & sauce, boxed cereals & Dr. Oetker pizzas (we both had at least one in our freezer).

That got me to thinking about what I had in my freezers.   I have two chest freezers, a top freezer on our extra fridge, and an upright small freezer in the kitchen.  One of our chest freezers is used solely for customers’ beef.  It gets turned on a few days before a delivery and is shut down when empty. The chest freezer in the house holds our own beef, any other meats I have purchased from other farms, and fish.  One side is filled with assorted berries, all measured before packaging & ready to use easily, and stocks.  The small top freezer holds any extra baked goods. My kitchen freezer is filled with at least one of each type of fruit I have on hand, a huge assortment of nuts & seeds, specialty flours, grains, coffee, a small selection of meats and frozen peas.  I routinely sort through the freezers, rotating stock, using up things I may have forgotten I had, and basically keeping them organized.  If they’re not tidy, food gets wasted.

Funny how the only vegetables I have in the pantry or the freezer are tomatoes and peas.  Tomatoes are such a go to vegetable for most of us for sauces, pasta etc.  The peas are one of the very few vegetables that can handle being frozen and still give you a good, fresh tasting product when cooked.  I use them in risotto, as a quick side dish when the crispers are getting low, tossed in a salad, and for this very fresh tasting spread.  A thin sliver of rustic bread with a smear of these peas is an amazing snack.  So, don’t be proud, keep a small bag of good quality frozen peas at hand and use them to their fullest potential! Continue reading