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Local bounty makes for options

Sautéed green beans tossed with toasted almonds and butter, roasted candy cane beets, crispy cucumbers in a dill and buttermilk dressing, baby greens, baby carrots, creamy goats’ cheese tossed with a green onion vinaigrette, the first new potatoes of the season.  Ontario cherries, strawberries or raspberries for dessert. These are just a few in the long list of delicious local produce items that will be available to us this month.

As chefs, it is hard to pass up all of the fantastic foods the region has to offer. Kirstie’s vacation this year was her honeymoon to Italy where she was able to enjoy some of the world’s finest olive oils and cheese.  I have taken my kids to visit their cousins in Whitehorse, Yukon for our vacation. The landscape is breathtaking, the 24 hours of sunlight is something to experience but I am really missing Waterloo Region and all of our local produce.

The local food movement that we have in Waterloo Region does not exist in the Yukon. I was able to locate Canadian mushrooms at the Whitehorse super store; everything else is shipped in from the United States. I am proud to say that we are spoiled with our farmers’ markets, produce auctions and grocery stores like Central Fresh Market and Vincenzo’s, both big supporters of Foodlink Waterloo Region.

As I listen to the cousins enjoy their time together, I am daydreaming about what I am going to eat when I get home … ohhhhh … grilled onions, Charles Quality Meat’s ribeye steak, roasted new potatoes and garlic butter .. or a bowl of fresh berries and ice cream … so many choices, I am a lucky girl.

You can check out Foodlink’s website (www.foodlink.ca) to find out what is available and upcoming at our local markets.

And to get you started right now, here’s a fantastic dessert recipe that is oh-so-impressive.

Fresh Fruit Clafoutis Serves 8

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 lb fruit such as blueberries, raspberries or pitted cherries (our favourite is the cherries, and if you warn people, don’t bother pitting them)
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 3 tbsp sugar (second amount)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup 35% cream
  • Pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 375°F;

Toss the fruit with the sugar and lemon zest; arrange in the bottom of 6-8 well-buttered ramekins;

Beat the egg yolks with the second amount of sugar until light and creamy;

Beat in flour, almonds, vanilla and cream;

In a second bowl, beat the egg whites together with the pinch of salt until soft peaks form;

Fold whites gently into the yolks until just blended, and then pour batter over the fruit;

Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until the batter is puffed and well browned;

Let cool slightly and then serve with a dollop of Chantilly cream.

Chantilly Cream:

  • 1 cup 35% cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

In a cold bowl, whip cream with a whisk until soft peaks form; add icing sugar and vanilla and whip until just combined.

Chefs Kirstie Herbstreit and Jody O’Malley are both Red Seal certified chefs. Together they run the company YouCanCook2, specializing in interactive dinner parties. You can also find them cooking at Entertaining Elements in St. Jacobs, where they hold private dinners for eight people. To contact the chefs, visit their website www.youcancook2.com.

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