What’s this?: Choosing and cooking fiddleheads

Nothing signifies spring like new buds on the trees and birds singing in the air. Everything starts to come out of winter hibernation and new life is born. We’ve had a slow start to our spring this year but spring has finally sprung in the food world! How would culinary gourmands decide this? well…Fiddleheads of course!  With a growing season that lasts only a few weeks in late April and early May (later this year), Fiddleheads are considered one of the first treasures of spring, making them a rare but popular delicacy.

What’s a Fiddlehead?
Fiddleheads, also called crosiers, are the young unfurled leaves of the ostrich fern that grow beside riverbanks and streams in the wet areas of Northeastern North America. Fiddleheads get their playful name as they resemble the curved neck of a violin, or fiddle.

Fiddleheads have a strong spinach taste, while many others compare their taste to asparagus, green beans or broccoli. They have a high nutritional punch, containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and twice the disease-fighting antioxidants of blueberries. They also contain Iron, Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and are a good source of dietary fiber.

Choosing the right Fiddlehead?
Like morels and other wild foods, fiddleheads should never be eaten raw. Fiddleheads may harbor microbes and should be washed and cooked properly to prevent possible stomach upset.

When buying fresh fiddleheads, look for those that are tightly curled, bright green in colour and have a crisp texture. Avoid any fiddleheads that have begun to uncurl – as this is an indication that they are no longer edible. Fiddleheads are available in the market for only a few weeks in springtime, and are fairly expensive. Pickled and frozen fiddleheads, however, can be found in some stores year-round.

To Wash Fiddleheads: Rinse them in several changes of fresh cold water to remove any papery onion like husk, dust or dirt.

To Cook Fiddleheads: Fiddleheads should always be cooked thoroughly before eating. Health Canada recommends boiling them for 15 minutes or steaming for 10 to 12 minutes until tender. Fiddleheads should also be cooked prior to sautéing, frying or baking.

 

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Eco-friendly ideas: Growing your own herb garden

 

Who doesn’t love to cook with fresh herbs? It adds that extra loving flavour to your favourite dishes. Instead of buying the $2.50 herbs at the supermarket that wilt almost immediately when you unpack the groceries, why not grow your own herb garden? Here at Jayne’s Gourmet, we have our very own fresh herb garden that we pick and cook with in all our savory dishes. We will show you how fun and easy it is to grow your own herbs so you can cook with fresh herbs year round without a large price tag (and to do something friendly for the environment too!)

1. Pot and Tray – From your local hardware or gardening store, buy a large, deep plant pot. Make sure there is at least one small hole in the bottom of the pot for drainage. If you have easy access to some stones or gravel, put a few inches of stones at the bottom of the pot to promote drainage. In addition to the pot, buy a plastic or ceramic tray for under the pot to keep drained water from dripping on the floor.

2. Hardy Herbs – Choose a variety of herbs for the pot. We choose cooking herbs – Sage, Sweet Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Cilantro, and/or Mint. We liked the different sizes and heights; sage grows tall, basil is bushier and thyme is a creeper, growing flat to the ground. Note: Thyme has a tendency to take over its environment, so trim it back regularly.

Choosing herbs: Find small potted herbs at your local nursery (Sheridan Nurseries is a perfect place http://www.sheridannurseries.com ). Try not to crowd the pot with too many herb varieties.

3. Soil and Water – Fill the pot up with soil, stopping about 3 inches from the top. Moisten the soil lightly but thoroughly with water and mix it until evenly wet. It shouldn’t be dripping wet – just loosely muddy.

Dig a small hole, deep down. Remove one of the plants from its nursery container. Gently loosen the soil around its roots. Don’t tear the roots apart – just loosen them up a bit. Put plant in the hole and pack about an inch of dirt over top of the root ball. Repeat for the other plants, giving them several inches of room between each other. Water again when finished.

4. Water and Sun – Put the pot on its drainage tray. Place anywhere it can get full sun; outside on a patio in the summer and inside in a sunny window in the winter. Don’t over water; pour in a cup of water wherever and whenever leaves look droopy.

5. For Cooking – Cut leaves and stems off the tops first – not the sides.

Cost: $35-$50, depending on the cost of the pot and amount of plants

 

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From the Kitchen: Mango Salsa

It’s that time again where I’ve pulled our chefs away from their busy day in the kitchen to create a great recipe for all our followers to try at home.

This week, we’re bringing mangoes back in a different way. A mango salsa is a great way to brighten up the flavours of a traditional salsa, and can be used not only with your favourite tortilla chips, but with different proteins as well like Chicken, Salmon, or Beef.

 

Jayne’s 10 minute Mango Salsa

1 Ripe Mango, Peeled, Pitted and diced

1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeno chile, minced

1 Small cucumber, peeled and diced

3tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

3tbsp fresh lime juice

salt and pepper to taste

 

Combine all ingredients into a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper.

**If the salsa ends up being too hot, or too acidic for your taste you can temper it by adding in some diced avocado.

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What’s this? Muddlers and how to use them

As summer is near approaching, many start to reach for those refreshing cocktails that are built so effortlessly by talented bartenders…did someone say Mojito? Yummy! All you need is one essential bar tool – The Muddler.

You may ask what’s that? A muddler is a bartender’s tool, used like a pestle to mash—or muddle—fruits, herbs, and/or spices together in the bottom of a glass to release their rich flavor.

When searching for the perfect muddler, it is ideal to have both the traditional wood muddler and the more modern stainless steel.

1) The wood muddler is perfect for all muddling, but especially good with delicate herbs (mint, basil) or soft fruit (raspberries). Keep in mind that you want a wood muddler that has not been varnished or lacquered so it doesn’t wear off in your drink.

2) The stainless steel muddlers with plastic or hard-rubber muddling base, sometimes with teeth on the end, are used only for hard fruit (limes, oranges) or thick ingredients. The teeth will shred the more delicate ingredients, which will change the flavour (and bitterness) of your cocktail.

The Right Way to Muddle?

  1. Choose a sturdy mixing glass, a pint glass, or a shaker tin. If you choose a thin-walled glass, you risk breaking or chipping the glass with your muddler.
  2. Place the herbs, fruit, spices, or whatever else the recipe calls for into the bottom of the glass.
  1. Place the muddler in the glass. Press it down lightly on the ingredients and give a few gentle twists. If there’s fruit in the glass, you should see juice squirting out from the flesh. When your kitchen smells aromatic, you’re done!

Here is a simple and delicious muddled drink to impress your guest. Our chef’s at Jayne’s Gourmet have made for you to try this summer – The Fresh Raspberry Mint Mojito!

What you will need:

10 to 15 mint leaves, plus sprig for garnish
6-8 fresh raspberries
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz premium rum
Splash of soda water

Directions: In the bottom of a rocks glass, muddle the mint leaves and raspberries with the lime juice and simple syrup. (Muddle lightly to just release the oils in the mint, do not pulverize the leaves.) Add the rum. Top with crushed ice and the soda water. Stir well from the bottom up. Garnish with the mint sprig and serve. Enjoy!

Muddlers are available at your local kitchen supplies store, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel or Williams Sonoma. Or if you are in a pinch, use the end of a rolling pin or spoon!

 

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Eco-friendly ideas: Green Cleaning

Weekly cleaning is supposed to be about maintaining a healthy home. We buy products that fight germs, streaks, stains, polish and odours to keep our homes sparkling clean. Canadians spend more than $275 million on household cleaning products in a year. While these magical chemicals in household cleaners foam, scrub, sparkle and smell sweet in our bathrooms, floors and counter tops, they are contributing to environmental pollution and potential bodily harm.

You may ask how you can still get that perfect germ-less clean without the harmful chemicals? Well, here at Jayne’s Gourmet, we will give you the basic step by step Green Cleaning Recipes and rid your home of all harmful chemicals. With many ingredients already found in your pantry, homemade cleaners are versatile, affordable and eco-friendly!

1. All Purpose Spray: For tubs, tiles, counters, microwaves, floors, etc.

  • 3.5 Liters of Hot Water
  • ½ cup of White Vinegar
  • ½ cup of Liquid Castile Soap
  • 1 Tbsp Borax
  • 10 drops of Essential Oil (optional – Lavender oil, Lemon oil, Rosemary oil, Tea tree oil)

Directions: Combine all ingredients. Pour into clean empty spray bottle and clearly label for future use.

2. All Purpose Scour: Non-abrasive for tubs, tiles, sinks, etc. Don’t use on glass stove tops!

  • 1 2/3 of Baking Soda
  • ½ cup of Liquid Castile Soap
  • ½ cup of Water
  • 2 Tbsp of White Vinegar

Directions: Combine all ingredients. Pour into a clean squirt bottle and clearly label for future use. Shake contents of squirt bottle before use. Rinse well!

3. Furniture Polish: Since wood finished vary, always do a test patch

  • 2 cups of Warm Water
  • 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp of Lemon Juice

Directions: Pour ingredients into spray bottle. Shake well and spray into a polish rag. Rub on furniture and polish with dry side of rag.

4. Glass and Mirror Cleaner: Wipe with newspaper to avoid streaks

  • ½ cup of White Vinegar
  • ½ cup of Water
  • 10 drops of Essential Oil (optional – Lavender oil, Lemon oil, Rosemary oil, Tea tree oil)

Directions: Combine all ingredients. Pour into clean empty spray bottle and clearly label for future use.

 

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