By Lynn Ogryzlo
The holiday season is all about feasting and for locavores we especially cherish our local products at this time of year. As the snow falls I hunger for tins of Utopia Ontario tomatoes and bags of Thompson’s beans to simmer slowly with meat, poultry or game (raised locally of course). Local cheeses are some of the most delicious and so are the wines and hand made charcuterie that go so well with them. We can create amazing baked dishes from sweet butter, dairy and eggs and easily incorporate mushrooms, root vegetables and greenhouse vegetables into them. Apples are sleeping in cool country barns with pears and a wide range of orchard nuts from chestnuts to Northern pecans. The cooler months in Canada don’t inspire an appetite for fresh, light vegetables but more savoury roasts and heart-warming wholesome goodness. Isn’t it amazing how Mother Nature provides what we hunger for at just the right time of year? Enjoy your holiday pantry for it’s certainly not a lean one.
An Ontario Holiday Menu
Oven Baked Black Bread Soup (recipe follows)
Roasted Cheese with Orchard Fruit
Apple Cider Brined Turkey with Sage, Sausage and Cornbread Stuffing
Roasted Root Vegetables
Leeks and Mushrooms with Pancetta
Apple Sticky Toffee Pudding
Cheddar Cheese Puffs
Oven Baked Black Bread Soup
1 3-inch piece of pork belly, diced and trimmed of most of its fat
1 Holland Marsh onion, diced
3 Ontario garlic cloves, minced
5 cups (1.25 L) homemade beef broth (I’ve found some local butcher shops are now making delicious broth)
1 cup (250 mL) dry red Ontario wine
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) dried fennel seeds (Ontario Natural Food Coop has a beautiful line of organic, dried Ontario herbs.)
6 slices of dark rye bread from your local artisan bakery, cut in half
1/2 small head field cabbage, shredded thin
1 cup (250 mL) Roman Cheese brick cheese, grated
½ cup (125 mL) Thunder Oak Gouda cheese, grated
3 tablespoons (50 mL) farm fresh butter
4 tablespoons (65 mL) Vineland Estate Vice (vodka with icewine)
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). In a large skillet, add the diced pork belly, onion and garlic. Cook on medium high until onion is beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Warm the broth with wine with herbs and season well. In 6 deep oven proof soup bowls, build the soup as you would a lasagna; layering the ingredients. Begin with a bread slice in the bottom, trimming to fit. Cover with a layer of raw, shredded cabbage, cheeses and cooked pork belly mixture. Repeat and end with a thick layer of cheese on top.
Pour the wine mixture over each soup, totally immersing the ingredients. Dot with butter and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the soup is bubbling and has a golden crust. Serve with a drizzle of Vice directly over each portion. Serves 6.
Lynn Ogryzlo is the author of The Ontario Table and Niagara Cooks, winner of The Best Local Food Cookbook in the World at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris, France,