Welcome to Da Local

4 kids. 3 dogs. 1 amazing wife. 1 great job. And a huge passion for food. Cooking it, tasting it, growing it. An abiding love and respect for the farmers, artisans and other individuals committed to bringing the best to your table and mine.

Come along for the ride. You can never be quite sure of where we're going, but it will almost always be delicious.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Another Thursday, Another Trip to the East Gwillimbury Farmer's Market

With just an hour to spare before my boy's martial arts class, the two of us headed off to the farmer's market. I enjoy taking him, as he seems pretty open to learning about how important farmers are to us. I like to believe I'm getting through to him. I think a trip to a farmer's market is a vital thing for kids in all urban centers. We need to cure them of the disconnect between farmer and supermarket and impress upon them the importance of the farmer in our society.

Despite the drizzle, the market was going strong as we arrived. We headed straight for the Niemi Family Farms stand for some of their incredible baked goods. Today it was another of their stellar Coconut Cardamom Twists and a rustic looking loaf of oatmeal bread.

Then on to sampling some lovely honey from a local beekeeper. I couldn't resist picking up a jar. I was sorely tempted to pick up a piece of honey-comb from him as well. But seeing as I'm working the next few days I decided to hold off. I adore topping a stack of fresh fluffy pancakes with butter and a slice of fresh honeycomb. It is a treat that you really need to try.

While my boy ran off to explore the rest of the market, I stopped in to see my favourite farmers. Cooper's had beautiful garlic and perfect crisp leeks. Chris at Back to Basics  had some lovely butternut squash and onions, as well as some beautiful heirloom tomatoes. Other stalls yielded some gorgeous celery root and tiny brussel's sprouts. As I made my last few purchases, I was surprised by the appearance of an amazing Polish sausage on a bun. My son had bought it for me because he wanted to say thanks for bringing him along. It was the first time I had a sausage at the market, but it won't be the last. An excellent sausage on a great fresh baked roll.

Time to head for home and start cooking!!

With it being a cool and drizzly day, I had already decided that a soup was definitely going to be the plan. But what kind to make? Celery root? Butternut squash? So I made the only decision possible....BOTH!

I quickly peeled and chopped the squash and put it in a pan with onions, carrots and garlic, along with a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme from my herb garden. I tossed it all together with a touch of oil, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of that delectable honey and set it to roast in the oven.

Meanwhile, I sweated the celery root with the leeks and some garlic. A few small peeled potatoes and then a top up with water. In went a bay leaf or two and another sprig of thyme. After a 20 minute simmer, a quick puree in the blender and then through the strainer. (To take out any seeds or fibers. I heartily recommend it for any pureed soup.) Once the vegetables in the oven were well roasted, I transferred them to another pot along with a few more potatoes and cooked everything until tender. Another trip to the blender and my soups were done.

As much as I love the silky texture and smooth richness of a pureed soup, I always enjoy a flavourful garnish to elevate a soup to another level. In this case I separated the leaves on the brussel's sprouts and blanched them quickly in boiling water, before shocking them in ice water to stop the cooking process. I then sauteed onions together with diced smoked sausage. Once the onions were beginning to caramelize and the sausage had rendered down, I threw in the leaves and continued cooking until they were heated through and well coated in the onion sausage mixture.

I realize that making 2 soups and serving them together is a bit of overkill, but for a special night, why not? The trick to serving the 2-tone presentation is to ladle both soups into the bowl at the same time. As long as both soups are roughly the same consistency, they will give you a great look. Then a bit of the brussel's sprouts on top, making sure to get some of the sausage and onion as well.

A simple salad of the sliced heirloom tomatoes with salt, pepper, fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil and a thickly buttered slice of Marjo's oatmeal bread were the finishing touches on what turned out to bean amazing meal and a great tribute to the farmers who support us all.

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