It sounds so simple - two shortbread cookies sandwiched with caramel sauce. But they are oh, so much more.
Alfajores, a South American treat, are well known in many countries including Argentina, Paraguay and Peru. From the Arabic word for "luxury", alfajores aren't just sandwich cookies- they are a celebration of indulgence. A more accurate description would be: two soft, tender, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookies joined together with luscious & creamy, sticky dulce de leche. Some variations include dipping the cookie in chocolate (white or dark) or rolling the edges in coconut.
Shiitake mushroom, caramelized red onions, bacon, spinach & local gouda quiche
Day 14 in our 15 Days of Elgin Christmas features the umami-packed shiitake mushrooms from Nature's Perfection, a mushroom farm located south of Aylmer, Ontario.
Shiitake mushrooms have a rich, buttery, almost meaty flavour which complements other foods. Sauteed, steamed, baked, or stir-fried, shiitakes are recommended to be consumed cooked as they have been known to cause skin rashes when ingested raw. Pickled, dried, or fresh, the flavour of shiitakes are more intense than regular white button mushrooms. Not sure where to use shiitakes? Try them as a pizza topping, in risottos, in soups, omelets, stuffed in chicken breasts, in a grilled cheese sandwich or on shish kabobs (because who doesn't love food on a stick?).
Dried Lavender Flowers
It's the middle of December, and it feels like summer. Kind of.
Not only because there still isn't any snow on the ground, but baking with dried lavender makes me think of sitting in the backyard watching the butterflies and bumble bees buzz through the gardens in the scorching heat of July.
For day #12, I've chosen to make a treat inspired by a client's shared tale of a trip to France: Lavender Meringue Cookies. With a crispy outer shell and fragrant aroma of lavender, these light & airy cookies melt in your mouth and provide a wonderful contrast in texture to your holiday dessert table.
Tourtière with Tomatillo Chutney
We're down to the final 5 in our 15 Days of Elgin Christmas. With one week left until Christmas, I hope you have been inspired to shop local this holiday season and support the growers, bakers, harvesters, and artisans that offer up the taste of home- right in our backyard.
Day #10 in our 15 Days of Elgin Christmas and I am duplicating a local artisan food product in the list- because I like it that much. Crossroad Cheese is my inspiration for this dish: Mac 'n cheese pie with bacon & broccoli.
Did you know: Canadians top the US in Kraft Dinner consumption? Consumers in this country have been eating the mass manufactured KD ,with its glowing orange colour and squishing, tubular noodles for over 60 years and there is no sign of slowing down. It's convenient to not only buy (it's everywhere), but also to prepare, kids like it, and it's cheap.
Butternut Squash & Rosemary Biscuits
On Day #9 in our 15 Days of Elgin Christmas, I chose to bake another savoury item that would compliment your Christmas breakfast or supper table. Using organic roasted butternut squash from The Dancey Family Farm and dried rosemary from the Horton Farmers' Market manager's garden (that's a mouthful!), these biscuits bake up flaky, buttery and are incredibly aromatic. Sage, thyme, onions, cheese or bacon could all be added to the biscuit dough if you prefer to skip the woodsy aroma of rosemary. The recipe below is easily adaptable and forgivable. Roll the biscuits ahead of time and bake from frozen if it's more convenient. Try making your own biscuits and taste the difference home-baked makes!
Hello, Monday! It's a new week and Elgin Harvest will be bringing you five more holiday temptations to continue on with the 15 Days of Elgin Christmas. Using as many local ingredients as possible, each day we feature one local artisan food product from Elgin County and use it in a chef prepared dish. From sweet to savoury, from appetizer to dessert, our region is speckled with delicious culinary gems just waiting to be discovered and devoured. Inspired by local food ambassador Lynn Ogryzlo's Holiday Challenge, we hope our posts entice you to spend just 10% of your holiday budget on edible artisan products from within the community. If you would like to order the treats featured (or anything from our Holiday Baking List), our contact information can be found here.
For Day #6, we've made another traditional holiday favourite cookie --shortbread-- and married it with a soothing blend of organic tea from Wildflowers Tea in St. Thomas, Ontario. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays approaching, it's important to stay calm, and that's the blend we've used to make Lavender shortbread cookies glazed with lemon icing. "Calm" tea blend uses a lovely combination of lavender, nettle, skullcap and lemon balm to create an incredibly balanced and soothing herbal infusion. To flavour the biscuits, the tea is powdered and baked into tender, buttery cookies. Each finger is then glazed and sprinkled with dried lavender flowers (from my backyard).
Friday, December 7
Gougeres (French Cheese Puffs)
On the 5th Day of Elgin Christmas, my true love gave to me:
FIVE GOLDEN CHEESE-PUFFS!
It's the first Friday in December and the holiday party season has officially begun. Whether you're heading out to a potluck or having the neighbours over for a cocktail, entertaining requires more than just sweets and candies. Among the platters of tarts and bowls of nuts, cheese is a must-have on every table.
All over the world, there are cheeses that are made regionally, specifically, and lawfully. Each style offers a taste of the land and each one is different from the next depending on the milk used, what the animal ate, how the curd was developed, how long the cheese was aged and hundreds of other factors. Here in Elgin County, attempting to source small-batch prepared cheese made from locally derived milk to serve at a get-together just wasn't possible. That is until now.
Thursday, December 6
Egg shells are determined by the breed of hen and have no impact on nutrition. Egg yolk colour is defined by the what the chicken eats.
Everyone has a favourite food. Some of us have several. One of mine, without a doubt, is the Day #4 locally featured food item: the mighty egg. White, brown blue, scrambled, deviled, or poached, I would rather give up wine than give up eggs (I can't believe I said that). Not only are eggs delicious and nutritious, they are also a kitchen marvel. Eggs can be used as: a leavener to lighten cakes & cookies, create structure in meringues, help bind and emulsify mixtures and enrich & thicken custards.
Jar of local honey
The first of 15 Days of Elgin Christmas focuses on one of the worlds favourite sweeteners: honey.
Elgin County has several apiaries and hobbyists that produce a wide variety of honeys. The colour, flavour, and even aroma of a particular variety of honey may differ depending on the nectar source of flowers visited by the honey bees. The colours may range from pale and colourless to dark brown and caramel-like, and the flavour may vary from mild to distinctively bold.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.