Monthly Archives October 2013

Happy Halloween: Papa a la Huancaína Soup

This mildly spiced cheese and potato soup is my twist on the classic Peruvian dish, Papa a la Huancaína (sliced cold potatoes covered in a spicy cheese sauce). My soup has just enough heat to gently warm your bones – but not enough heat to awaken the bones of the dead – on a chilly Halloween night. Add more aji amarillo if you’re feeling devilish.

Papa_Huancaina_Soup

Papa a la Huancaína Soup

Serves 6

Aji amarillo peppers are orange-fleshed, medium-hot Peruvian chili peppers, which are prized for their unique fruitiness and imported from Peru. Aji means chili pepper and amarillo means yellow. Look for frozen aji amarillo chili peppers or jarred aji amarillo paste in Latin American grocery stores. Check my Grocery Store Directory to find a Latin American grocery store in your area.

Queso fresco is a Mexican fresh white cheese. You can find it in Latin American grocery stores and sometimes in regular grocery stores, such as Paul’s nofrills at Bristol Road and Creditview Road in Streetsville.

Peruvian_Ingredients

Local Dairy in Ingersoll, Ontario produces queso fresco under the LaVaquita brand name (photo not shown), using authentic Latin American recipes and techniques. It is made from fresh milk that is delivered daily from local farms in the Oxford County area. The nearest store where we can find LaVaquita Queso Fresco regularly is the Sobey’s on Queensway, beside the Ontario Food Terminal. Local Dairy also produces other Latin American dairy products (Queso Oaxaca, Queso Duro, Queso Chihuahua, and Crema, all under the LaVaquita name) and Indian dairy products. I was lucky enough to sample their delicious cheeses and dairy products recently, at the Delicious Food Show. I hope we will find Local Dairy products in our neighborhood stores in the future. Next time I am in my local grocery store, I’m going to ask if they can bring in Local Dairy products.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (1 medium onion)

4 yellow aji amarillo chili peppers, defrosted (or 1/2 cup jarred aji amarillo paste)

6 medium yellow-fleshed potatoes, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon coarse salt

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

4 cups water

3 cups grated queso fresco (Mexican fresh white cheese)

1 (370 ml) can fat-free evaporated skim milk or 2%

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 lime, cut into sixths

Garnishes: chopped pitted sun-dried black olives, chopped avocado, chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. If using whole aji amarillo peppers, seed and devein them; roughly chop.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onions, potatoes, and chopped peppers (if using aji amarillo paste instead of frozen peppers, don’t add it yet); season with thyme and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Sauté until onions are softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add water (and aji amarillo paste if using in place of the peppers); bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Carefully transfer soup to the large bowl of a food processor; add cheese and then process until smooth.
  6. Return soup to pot. Add evaporated milk.
  7. Bring soup to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until cheese has melted a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with lime wedges and garnishes.

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Streetsville United Church Fall Craft Show: Chili Con Carne

I often think of the women of my church as the Divas Who Dish Divinely. After countless bake sales, church luncheons, and casseroles for friends in need, years of practice have perfected their “from-scratch” recipes and turned them into best-in-show treasures.

The Divas Who Dish Divinely (AKA Streetsville United Church Women) will be dishing up some delicious food again at the 46th annual Streetsville United Church Harvest of Crafts Sale, this Saturday October 26, 2013 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at Streetsville United Church.

Olive the Streetsville United Church Harvest of Crafts Sale because it invites the surrounding community to come together under one roof. Our fundraising efforts help support various local outreach programs. And of course, the food is delicious.

Our all-day café offers you a spot to sit, chat, and replenish your shopping-weary soul. Several women make their own batches of chili con carne and chicken soup, then combine them all into one heavenly pot of chili and one ethereal pot of chicken soup. Sandwiches, salads, and homemade desserts are made with care.

Make the baking table your first stop: delectable pies, cakes, cookies, and squares are all made from scratch and sell out quickly. Our local harvest is preserved in pretty jars to enjoy throughout winter. The sale is brimming with creative and witty, inexpensive crafts made by the talented Streetsville United Church Women. Local artisans offer a variety of unique, handcrafted gifts. There is always a special find in the Attic Treasures collection of gently-used modern and vintage finds. Come and get your Christmas shopping done early.

After working all day at the craft show, while the aroma of simmering chili wafts from the kitchen, I come home tired and craving chili. Here is my recipe.

chili_con_carne

Chili Con Carne

Serves 8

This classic chili simmers for five hours but it is much more flavourful cooked slowly and lovingly on the stovetop than abandoned in a slow cooker. Start it early in the day, refrigerate overnight, and reheat gently the next day to further deepen the flavour. If you have two large pots, you can double the recipe and stock your freezer with chili to warm up the chilly months that lie ahead.

I learned this old Southern tip from my friend, Bill, (who learned it from his friend from Kansas City): gently stir in a tablespoon of peanut butter near the end of cooking to smooth out the acidity and round out the flavour of the chili. For years I made this recipe without the peanut butter and still loved it, so if there is a peanut-allergy concern, leave it out.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil

About 2 pounds (1kg) extra lean ground sirloin

2 yellow cooking onions, chopped

6 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 yellow or orange sweet bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

1 28 fl oz/796 mL can diced tomatoes

1 19 oz / 540 mL can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed, drained again

1 28 fl oz/796 mL can crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon white sugar

2 tablespoons ground chili powder, to taste

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 bay leaves

Finish:

1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter

Freshly ground black pepper and coarse salt, to taste

Few dashes of hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Piri Piri), to taste

Optional Garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, hot sauce, chopped avocado, fresh cilantro leaves, tortilla chips, or garlic bread.

Directions:

  1. Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat; add onions and ground sirloin and brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon and stirring frequently, just until meat is no longer pink inside, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, except peanut butter; stir. Partially cover with a lid; simmer for 4 3/4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. To finish, stir in peanut butter and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 more minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.
  5. Let cool and then refrigerate overnight to allow flavours to mellow further. When ready to serve, reheat gently. Serve hot with your choice of optional garnishes.
Streetsville United Church
274 Queen St. South
Mississauga, Ontario
L5M 1L8

Harvest of Crafts Sale Hours: Saturday October 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Free Admission. Appreciate your support.

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Fall Colours: Provencal Stuffed Baby Peppers

One fall, after taking his daughters on a lovely trip to Provence in the south of France, my father requested a Provençal-style Thanksgiving dinner. After such a memorable trip, we were more than happy to oblige. We spread out the sunny Provençal tablecloths that we bought at the market in Uzès. Then we laid out a delicious feast of roast turkey (and called it Dinde Rôtie), Potatoes Savoyard (Jane Rodmell’s Cottage Life’s Summer Weekends Cookbook), Cauliflower Gratin (Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris), Sweet Potato & Sage Brûlée (Lucy Waverman, Food & Drink Holiday 2007), and these pretty stuffed peppers, inspired by Laura Calder’s Tomato-stuffed Peppers (French Food at Home).  Colourful, flavourful, and oh so darling, they pair nicely with a glass of wine and a Provençal state of mind.

provencal_stuffed_baby_peppers

Provençal Stuffed Baby Peppers

Makes about 36 halves

The brainchild behind this recipe is Laura Calder. I changed her recipe slightly, using baby peppers and cherry tomatoes instead of big ones, my olive purée instead of the stronger tasting tapenade, and added goat cheese for creaminess and a touch of panko bread crumbs for a slight crunch. Make the olive purée ahead of time, so there is less to do at assembly time.

provencal_stuffed_baby_peppers

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs. mini sweet bell peppers, in a colourful medley of orange, yellow, red

1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes in a colourful medley of orange, yellow, red

1 bunch of fresh basil, stems removed

¼ cup Black Olive Purée (see recipe below)

1 small package (130 g) soft, unripened chèvre (goat’s milk cheese)

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

⅛ cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cut each pepper in half, lengthwise from stem to tip, leaving the stems intact on both halves; remove and discard the seeds. Place pepper halves, cut side up, on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet; roast until the peppers are slightly tender but still hold their shape, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from the oven; let peppers cool slightly but leave them on the tray and leave the oven on at 375°F.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise; remove and discard seeds and pulp. Turn halves upside down to drain while peppers are roasting.
  4. When step two is completed, place 1 large basil leaf or two smaller basil leaves in each pepper half.
  5. Place 1/8 teaspoon of olive purée on top of basil; carefully spread out the purée a little.
  6. Place a tomato half, cut side up, on top of the olive purée, choosing a contrasting-coloured tomato for each pepper. If tomato halves are too big, cut them in half lengthwise again.
  7. Place ½ teaspoon of goat cheese in each tomato half.
  8. Repeat with remaining peppers.
  9. Sprinkle the panko bread crumbs evenly over the top of the peppers.
  10. Drizzle the peppers evenly with olive oil.
  11. Return pan to the oven and bake until cheese is soft and bread crumbs are lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, to taste. Serve warm.

 

sundried_moroccan_black_olivesBlack Olive Purée

Makes about 1 ½ cups.

Inspired by a Patricia Wells recipe (Olive Purée from Nyons, The Provence Cookbook), this spread is similar to tapenade but doesn’t include the strong flavours of capers, anchovies, and mustard which I find overpowering. Here, the olives are the star. I use thyme and rosemary (instead of herbes de Provence) and I throw in a garlic clove just for good measure. Oh, wouldn’t I love to get my hands on the Nyons olives that inspired Ms. Wells to create her recipe! Instead, I use the wrinkly but meaty, sun-dried black olives (such as the flavourful, sun-dried Moroccan olives that Longo’s currently carries in their olive bar). Whatever you do, don’t use totally flavorless canned black olives. Use this spread sparingly because it is quite salty.

Ingredients:

2 cups best-quality sun-dried black olives, pitted

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 clove of garlic

2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, if required

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except for the oil, in a food processor or blender. Blend to a thick paste; if too thick, add oil and blend again.
  2. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and cover; store in refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for longer storage. Defrost before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
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Heritage Cookbook: Mom’s Sage & Onion Bread Stuffing and Mom’s Apple Crisp

I love to have our extended family gathered around us, joined together by food at a family feast. That’s how I imagine heaven, all of us together again, around the table. We’d wear silly paper hats. We’d crack up over my brother’s humour and marvel over my father-in-law’s poetic recitals. Roast turkey and my Mom’s Sage & Onion Bread Stuffing would scent the air. My Grandma’s Stained Glass Window Cake and my Nana’s Carrot Christmas Pudding would make a grand entrance. I’d peer through the elbows on the tables, at the smiles of all my loved ones.

I have wonderful memories of my Mom and I cooking our family feast in her kitchen. While my Dad sang Silver Bells in the background (happy to be the errand boy), Mom and I would talk for hours as we wrestled with the bird and happily cooked our way through our family-favourite casseroles and all the fixings of a holiday feast. I loved it when my Mom asked me to taste-test her stuffing: “is there enough butter, onion, broth, sage?” It was just a simple Sage and Onion Bread Stuffing recipe from her Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, but my mom knew how to season it just right.

My Mom was very modest about her cooking abilities – yet to this day, I have never tasted a better Chicken Divan, potato-egg salad, turkey stuffing, or apple crisp. We all have our favourite recipes made by our mothers that we grew to love so much.

My sisters and I have taken over the cooking for my side of our ever-expanding clan. We make the traditional, family-favourite recipes that Mom used to serve: my aunt’s Swedish Potatoes, Mom’s Sage & Onion Bread Stuffing, and Vegetables Supreme (from the first Fare for Friends cookbook). I only recently perfected my Grandma’s Stained Glass Window Cake recipe, which I cooked from a recipe scribbled down too hastily on a scrap of paper – it took me a couple of tries to get it right. I have my Nana’s Carrot Christmas Pudding recipe that I may try to make this Christmas. It’s so important to accurately record these heritage recipes to pass down to future generations.

On that note, I have a really great idea I want to share with you. Why not create your own cookbook of treasured family recipes, photos and stories, and then give copies to family members as Christmas gifts? It’s far easier than it sounds. I have come across a fabulous website – HeritageCookbook – that allows you to easily create your own cookbook on-line, with a minimum order of only four cookbooks. Become a free trial-member for 30 days and invite as many people as you want to submit recipes and photos from their own computer, by logging on to your registration. You’ll have access to HeritageCookbook’s templates, photo library, and support. Most people complete their cookbooks within the free-trial month but if you don’t, the monthly fee is minimal. When you are finished, the cookbooks are printed on quality, coated paper with laminated covers.

Though their customer base is largely American (the pricing on the website is in American funds), the company is Canadian-owned and the books are printed in Toronto. HeritageCookbook has printed over 200,000 quality cookbooks and has been recommended by Oprah, Rachel Ray, and one of my friends. The wheels are turning in my head. Which project shall I start with: a family treasury, a church fundraiser, or perhaps my own Olive to Eat cookbook? I can’t wait to get started.

To both sides of our family – near and far, from the other side of the continent to the other side of the Atlantic, and to those we hold close in our hearts – I’m so grateful for the memories, old and new. Happy Thanksgiving.

Mom’s Sage & Onion Bread Stuffing

Serves 4 to 6

This recipe is from my Mom’s Better Homes & Gardens cookbook that she received as a wedding gift back in 1954. She made it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. The key to this simple, classic stuffing is to season it to your taste – but make sure you use lots of butter and sage. We always add more of each ingredient than the recipe calls for but never measure – so start out with the recipe, then slowly add more, tasting as you go along, until it tastes just right.

Since the recipe only serves 4 to 6 people, you will likely need to multiply the recipe for a larger feast. If you are stuffing your turkey, calculate 1 cup of stuffing for 1 pound of uncooked turkey; don’t stuff your turkey until you are ready to put it in the oven; promptly remove any leftover stuffing from the cooked carcass and store separately in the refrigerator. I have heard a lot of talk lately about cooking your turkey unstuffed and cooking the stuffing in a separate baking dish. By the time you get the stuffing in the turkey’s cavity heated to a safe internal temperature of 165°F, you dry out the poor bird. Makes sense to me, so my recipe instructs you to cook it in a separate casserole while the turkey rests.

Ingredients:

4 cups dry bread cubes – “stuffing croutons” that grocery stores bring in for the holidays

3 tablespoons (or more) finely chopped yellow onion

1 teaspoon (or more) salt

¼ teaspoon (or more) freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon (or more) poultry seasoning

¼ teaspoon (or more) ground sage

1/3 cup (or more) melted butter

Hot chicken broth or water, just enough to moisten the bread

Directions:

  1. Combine bread, onion, and seasonings in a large bowl; add butter and toss. Slowly add hot broth, bit by bit, until bread is just moistened. Taste and if necessary, add more onion, broth, butter, or seasonings, until seasoned to your taste. Toss gently to mix thoroughly.
  2. Place stuffing mixture in an ovenproof casserole; cover and chill until ready to bake.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring stuffing casserole to room temperature before placing in preheated oven. Bake, covered, until hot throughout and flavours have melded together – about 30 to 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Mom’s Apple Crisp

Makes one 9”-square baking dish.

I have my Mom’s handwritten copy of this recipe. She called it Apple Crisp – Dad’s Favourite and included a little story about the recipe’s origin – it was submitted to St. Andrews United Church in Chatham, by the mother of my aunt’s boyfriend in grade 4 in 1942.

Apple Crisp

This is an easy – and I think more delicious – way to enjoy warm apple pie without the fuss of the crust. It is packed with tart apples and brown sugar and has a crumbly, cinnamon-scented streusel topping. The butter, spices, apple juices, and brown sugar meld together in a delicious mélange that caramelizes around the edges. It smells so wonderful cooking. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream – or perhaps Belly Ice Cream’s Caramel and Sea Salt.

A note on cinnamon: thanks to some helpful advice from Chef Michael Smith, I have fallen in love with Vietnamese cinnamon. I couldn’t get my hands on the brand that Chef Michael uses but found McCormick Gourmet Organic Ground Saigon Cinnamon at my local grocery store – Longo’s Glen Erin. I compared the taste between Saigon Cinnamon, regular cinnamon, and a third gourmet organic cinnamon I picked up at another grocery store, all very recently. To me, the Saigon Cinnamon is the most aromatic, flavourful, and spiciest of the three cinnamons. Olive it! Thank you Chef Michael Smith!

Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

Filling:

5 cups cored, peeled, and very thinly sliced apples (about 6 to 8 apples, ask your farmer which available apples are best for apple crisp)

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

Dash of grated nutmeg

Topping:

½ cup packed light brown sugar

¾ cup all-purpose flour (measured by spooning in, then leveling off with a knife)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (preferably Vietnamese cinnamon)

Pinch of salt

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Directions:

  1. Place oven rack in middle of oven; preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the apples with ¾ cup brown sugar and dash of nutmeg until evenly coated. Pour filling into a 9” square baking dish and level gently with a spatula.
  3. Add all topping ingredients (except butter) to a medium bowl; stir to combine evenly. Add butter to bowl; blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender to break down the butter into the flour until the mixture becomes crumbly, resembling coarse breadcrumbs without any large chunks of butter. Sprinkle topping mixture evenly over apples.
  4. Bake until apples are tender and topping is browned, about 35 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Spoon into pretty cups and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cold with whipped cream.

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Spirit Tree Estate Cidery: Savour the Quality

Even if you are not a fan of cider, don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy a scenic drive to Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, an artisan cider mill gracing the Niagara Escarpment, in the picturesque hills of Caledon. While farm-fresh apples and carefully crafted cider are at the root of the Spirit Tree experience, there is much more to this story.

Of course, there are delicious sweet and hard ciders to sample in Spirit Tree’s tasting room or purchase in their farm store, as well as apples already-picked from the estate’s orchards.

spirit_tree_estate_cidery

I look forward to a glass of sweet apple cider in the fall, but I am a novice when it comes to hard ciders. To learn more about Spirit Tree Estate Cidery’s award-winning, artisanal ciders, click the Our Ciders tab and the Press tab on their website link at the end of this post.

What I find exceptional about Spirit Tree Estate Cidery is the attention to detail and high-quality standards that owners and founders Thomas Wilson and Nicole Judge have poured into their business, starting with their cider but apparent throughout their operations.

spirit_tree_estate_cidery

Nestled in the heart of their award-winning straw bale building is a specially designed wood-fired oven with thick stone masonry that retains heat for hours, even after the fire burns down and is cleaned out of the oven. From that oven, come some wonderful things.

spirit_tree_cidery

Artisanal bread is handcrafted using old European techniques and preservative-free, natural ingredients, then baked fresh daily, directly on the clean oven hearth. There are several beautiful varieties of bread to choose from, including Caledon Sourdough, Red Fife Whole Wheat, Boston Mills Multigrain, and Epi (gorgeous French-inspired baguettes styled after wheat stalks).

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I brought home a Tartine loaf – a Spirit Tree favourite, with a chewy crust and delicious interior.

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Spirit Tree’s Maple Walnut Granola is roasted in the wood-fired oven. It has a crisp texture with a pleasing maple flavour that is not too rich or too sweet. It’s made from rolled oats, brown sugar, maple, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, almonds, pecans, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Healthy never tasted so good!

Whole pies and quiches (filled with a variety of delicious ingredients) are baked fresh on the premises and available ready-to-eat or frozen. I picked up a frozen Quiche Lorraine filled with bacon, potato, thyme and swiss cheese. I have it stored in my freezer, ready for an easy brunch. For Thanksgiving, consider pumpkin pie or gluten-free Applicious pumpkin pie, but be sure to call in advance to pre-order. Cheese buns, cinnamon buns, tarts, cookies, and scones (which are delicious, according to my sister) are offered daily.

Spirit Tree Estate Cidery even makes a couple of enticing gourmet pâtés. I picked up Pâté with Ice Cider & Shallots – the ingredients sound delectable: chicken livers, clarified butter, shallots, port, brandy, ice cider, Calvados, apple syrup, eggs, spices. It’s frozen in adorable little 165g ceramic pots – I am storing it in my freezer for Christmas entertaining.

The owners’ insistence on quality, natural ingredients is evident again in the gourmet food they bring in from local artisans. Spirit Tree’s farm store is filled with fine quality, artisanal gourmet food – a gourmet gal’s dream.

merediths_ginger_syrupMeredith’s Ginger Syrup is a fusion of fresh ginger root extracts and natural honey raised on Meredith’s organic farm in Meaford, Ontario. My favourite way to add this healthy elixir to my diet it is to add the juice of half a lemon and a dash of cayenne powder to 1 cup of hot or cold water, then stir in two tablespoons of Meredith’s Ginger Syrup for a rejuvenating morning habit that my friend Angela has got me started on. Of course, you can omit the cayenne and the lemon and enjoy a lovely, soothing drink of spicy ginger that will warm you from the inside out.

Handcrafted in small batches at the Deerhurst resort in Muskoka by chef Shelley Westgarth, Belly Ice Cream is served in some of the finest restaurants (such as the Ritz Carlton’s TOCA) and sold in several of the finest gourmet food stores throughout Ontario (including Spirit Tree Estate Cidery). Shelley uses locally-sourced, all natural, preservative-free ingredients and dreams up a variety of creative, gourmet flavours like these.

belly_ice_cream_company

I bought Dulce de Leche with Spiced Chocolate ice cream – did they know I was coming? This flavour was made for me: dulce de leche caramel ice cream, toffee bits and thin wafers of Belgian dark chocolate that melt on your tongue and leave you with a little kick of heat. A variety of amazing flavours, sold in 500 mL containers or individual serving sizes, are available at Spirit Tree Estate Cidery.

You will also find Sheldon Creek Dairy products (such as traditional unhomogenized milk with cream on the top), Wicked Shortbread, Roothman’s Gourmet Preserves, and a bounty of other gourmet goodies.

spirit_tree_estate_cidery

My sister and I enjoyed a light lunch in the tasting room. The high ceilings, rustic decor, and touches of elegant black or white calligraphy scrolled on the walls and blackboards made us feel like we were eating in a charming French mas (farmhouse). You can also eat on the outdoor porch or the picnic tables scattered on the lawn, if the weather permits. Brunch and lunch are served from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. Daily sandwiches and a farmhouse charcuterie platter are also on the menu.

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The atmosphere is casual but the quality of the food is superb. The daily quiche was filled with wood-oven-dried tomatoes, sautéed spinach, thyme and chèvre, all suspended in a lovely egg custard. It came with a healthy side salad of barley, red quinoa, baby arugula, and diced vegetables.

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Our gracious and knowledgeable server, Alyssa, informed us that the daily soup (mushroom) was made with homemade vegetable stock, fresh rosemary from the garden, and a just a hint of cream. It was chock-full of mushrooms and had a full mushroom flavour – the best mushroom soup I have had in a long time.  Soup is served with slices of Spirit Tree’s delicious Country French bread.

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I couldn’t resist and ordered both a well-prepared café latté and a freshly-pressed sweet cider that tasted like apple in a glass – so much fresher tasting than mass-produced, grocery store apple juice that has been processed, filtered, treated, sweetened, and watered down.

spirit_tree_estate_cidery

Friday night is pizza night. Though I haven’t had the opportunity to try Spirit Tree’s hand-tossed, wood-fired oven pizza yet, I am told that it is a real treat. Pizza toppings range from traditional to creative, quality ingredients. To an adventurous eater like me, the Cider House Blues pizza sounds heavenly: caramelized onions, wood-oven roasted potatoes, sliced apples, mozzarella, blue cheese, rosemary, and walnuts drizzled with honey. Oh my! Pizzas are served from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and are baked to order, so call ahead. You can either take your pizza to go or enjoy it on Spirit Tree’s picnic tables, when weather permits.

Visit Spirit Tree Estate Cidery on Saturdays or Sundays at 2:00 p.m. for a drop-in, guided tour ($5 includes free-tasting) or check the website for details on pre-booked group tours. Sparkling sweet apple cider will be available in October, when Mother Nature dictates.

Fall is the perfect time of year to take a scenic drive through Caledon to Spirit Tree Estate Cidery. When I went with my sister last week, the leaves were just beginning to be tinged with colour. I’ll be back at Thanksgiving for more cider and again closer to Christmas to stock up on gourmet goodies for easy entertaining. I’d love to make it to the wassailing ceremony on Family Day in February, to sing to the apple trees. Stay tuned to my blog for more information, closer to the date. Whenever you go, bring a cooler to safely transport any frozen goodies home.

Spirit Tree Estate Cidery
1137 Boston Mills Road
Caledon, Ontario, Canada
L7C 0N1
 
Telephone: 905-838-2530
 
Open:
Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
 
www.spirittreecider.com
 


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Belly Ice Cream Company: www.bellyicecreamcompany.ca

Meredith’s Ginger Syrup: www.meredithsginger.ca

Roothmans Gourmet Preserves: www.roothamsgourmet.com

Sheldon Creek Dairy: www.sheldoncreekdairy.ca

Wicked Shortbread: https://www.facebook.com/wickedshortbread

 

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