Stocking a fresh pantry every season is one of my favourite things to do for my island kitchen. Before opening weekend, I make a long list of my favourite ingredients I know will see a lot of use in my recipes. I keep the basics on hand, but find that I am buying new staples with every new cook book I delve into. Here is a list of my must have staples and few add ons that are good to have around.
- OLIVE OIL
- COCOANUT OIL
- VINEGARS- BALSAMIC + WHITE + RED WINE
- SALT – COARSE + FINE
- BLACK PEPPERCORNS
- SPICES – DRIED AS STAPLES BUT FRESH ARE BETTER
- POLENTA + CORNMEAL
- ROLLED OR STEEL OATS
- DRIED BEANS AND LENTILS
- CANNED TOMATOES
- CANNED BEANS- CANNELLI AND CHICKPEAS
- SUGARS – WHITE AND BROWN
- BACKING POWDER +SODA
- MAPLE SYRUP
- NUTS – ALMONDS + WALNUTS + PINE
Cookbooks are a bit of an obsession with me and there are so many great chefs and cooks that are presenting food in a way that makes me want to cook. Every post I will be cooking from a different cook book and sharing a menu for a full day of eats to tuck into and enjoy. When I buy a new cookbook one of the ways I really get into the recipe’s and the feel for the style of food offered, I tend to cook out of it all at once. I can devour it for a week worths of meals or take my time cooking off and on for a month, trying out different recipes. When I am up on the island for a weekend I alway choose one book to make my meals from for my guest. It’s nice to have the focus and the simplicity of one book to edit down your meal plans for the weekend, and put your cooking talents to the suggestions of one writer. For the firsts of the Saturday’s Menu I took inspiration from IN MY KITCHEN, the new book from iconic chef Deborah Madison. This is a beautiful book with so many great vegetarian recipes, it was hard to choose which to present on my post. In the intro to the book the recipes are described as, “pared down and perfected”, and I would agree, easy, tasty and rather yummy. It’s a nice way to start off the Spring season with Veg all around.
On opening weekend I like to prepare some of my meals before hand in the city, as the first weekend on the island can be filled with lots to do, and my focus on cooking can easily get sidetracked. I try to do this meal prep the first couple of weekends in the season and find that it really helps incase I also forget some ingredients at home (which is a true bother when you are cooking from an island). Anything that you can prep ahead of time makes it a great way to enjoy more of your surrounding and more time with possible guests that you might have invited up
This weekend I wanted a sense of comfort to my food without being to heavy. This menu I picked out from the book offers time savers that truly meet the great taste requirements. I made a breakfast loaf , mushroom soup and the herb laced ricotta balls all in the city the night before I headed out to the island. It does make some evenings at home a little busy, however was so great to have meals ready to cook when I got to the island and had a million things to do. I hope you enjoy Saturday’s Menu and I highly recommend Deborah’s book.
BREAKFAST BREAD with ROSEMARY AND LEMON
SERVED WITH BALSAMIC FRIED EGGS
MUSHROOM SOUP WITH AVOCADO TOAST
WITH ZUCCHINI NOODLES AND TOMATO SAUCE
BREAKFAST BREAD WITH ROSEMARY AND LEMON
- 6 to 8 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces, plus more to serve, or use olive oil
- 2 heaping teaspoons minced rosemary
- Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cup diced currants
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups flour (whole wheat, white whole wheat, all-purpose, or a mixture)
Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan. Heat the oven to 350° F.
Melt the butter with the rosemary, lemon, and honey in a small skillet. If the currants are hard, cover them with hot water, let them stand until they soften, then drain and squeeze out the excess water. Beat the buttermilk and eggs together. Combine the flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a spacious bowl.
Make a well in the flour, add the milk and egg mixture, and quickly bring the ingredients partially together with a fork. Pour in the melted butter mixture, add the currants, and continue mixing with a light hand until all have come together. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and toss the pine nuts over the surface.
Bake until risen and browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes, then carefully loosen the rim of the spring form pan. Slide the bread onto a serving plate and serve warm, with soft butter.
For the fried eggs
Melt butter in a medium hot non stick skillet. Crack and add each egg into the skillet. For over easy or over medium, turn over the eggs. When opaque and firmed up enough to flip without breaking . Pour/drizzle balsamic vinegar around the edges and over the eggs.
MUSHROOM SOUP FOR COMPANY
- 2 tablespoons butter, plus a little to sauté the mushroom garnish
- ½ cup chopped shallot or onion
- A few slices of dried porcini
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 bushy thyme sprig
- 1 pound mushrooms, a few whole mushrooms reserved for garnish if you don’t have any wild ones (see below), the rest washed and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 slice firm-textured bread (can be gluten-free)
- 4 cups water or mushroom stock, either homemade or commercial
- ¼ to ½ cup cream
- A few wild mushrooms, for garnish
- Mushroom salt or truffle salt, if available
Melt the butter in a wide soup pot over medium-high heat. When it foams, add the shallot, cook for several minutes until translucent, then add the porcini slices, and cook a minute more. Add the chopped mushrooms and stir well to coat them with the butter. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and cook over medium heat until their liquid is released. Add the garlic, bread, and water or stock. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
Purée the soup in a blender, leaving it a bit textured with flecks of mushroom or making it utterly creamy, and then return the soup to its pot. Taste for salt. Swirl in the cream, with a spoon and season with pepper.
Before serving, slice the mushrooms you held back (or the wild mushrooms) about ¼ inch thick. Sauté them briefly in a bit of butter. Spoon them into each bowl of soup. Finally, add a pinch of mushroom or truffle salt and serve.
I added a little more to this lunch with avocado toast which was a nice compliment to the soup.
To make toast…. smash-up half an avocado per slice, add a little salt and pepper and spread on toast bread of choice. For this meal I bought a yummy seed bread.
HERB-LACED FRITTERS MADE WITH GOOD STALE BREAD AND RICOTTA
- 4 thick slices stale but not rock-hard country bread (about 8 ounces)
- ½ cup milk or as needed
- 2 tablespoons chopped marjoram or oregano or 1 heaping teaspoon dried marjoram
- ½ cup parsley leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup finely diced onion
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 or 2 eggs
- Olive oil
- Almond meal or dried bread crumbs, if needed
- Additional chopped parsley or marjoram, for garnish
Cut the crusts off the bread. Put the pieces in a pie plate and pour over the milk. If the bread is on the soft side, use less milk; if it’s hard, use more. I know this is vague, but it’s hard to be more precise since we’re all starting from different places. Better to have it a little too dry than too wet.
While the bread is soaking up the milk, chop the garlic with the herbs. Return to the bread now and then move it around, squeezing the wet pieces over the drier ones. When all the bread is soft, squeeze out the excess milk. Use your hands or a quick turn in a food processor to just break it up into coarse, large, moist crumbs; then turn it into a bowl.
Add the herb-garlic mixture and the onion to the bread along with the ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano and 1 egg. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Mix everything together — your hands are the best tool — then fry a little in some olive oil and taste it for salt, adding more if it’s needed. If the mixture is too dry to shape, add another egg. If it’s too wet, add almond meal or dried bread crumbs to absorb some of the moisture. You want to be able to shape the batter into spheres or ovals that will both hold together and keep their shape when fried. When you’ve got your dough to a place you like, form it into spheres or ovals, 2 to 3 teaspoons each. As you work, set the pieces on a clean surface.
Fill a cast-iron or non-stick skillet with an inch of olive oil and set it over medium heat. When hot, add the morsels, taking care not to crowd them, and cook over medium heat, shuffling the pan frequently so that all the surfaces brown. To serve, spoon a little tomato sauce on each plate, add the herb- laced fritters, and garnish with the additional chopped herbs.
For this meal I made a light tomato sauce and panfried some zucchini noodles and it was a great addition.