For me, inspiration comes from a great number of sources. This post was inspired by an article I came across in the October issue of National Geographic Magazine. The issue contained an article entitled "Once Upon A Home" which included a series of photographs taken by Kai Fagerstrom. They seemed so intriguing when I first saw them, that they prompted me to conjure up my own setting and mood for a unique meal.
Fagerstrom traveled to a desolate area in a wooded region of Finland to discover a number of abandoned cottages. He found the cottages to contain so much history. With all of the crumbling interiors and possessions of past residence still in place, the homes seemed to keep memories frozen in time. When looking at the photographs this was apparent and was so enriching.
But for Fagerstrom, one of the most intriguing things about these homes was the way that they had become inhabited by wildlife. The cottages had once again become part of the forest surrounding them and had become sanctuaries of sorts for a variety of different animals. All of the photos captured a moment with an animal using an abandoned cottage as their own home- squirrels and mice looking out from the windowsill, badgers entering through their fireplace passage, a fox peering through an old cat door.
I know I may be the only person who would ever associate these photos with a great theme for a meal, but I guess that just makes me different...
I really wanted to evoke a feeling of a "foraged" feast that is set in the heart of the woods, focused on earthy flavors and inspired by nature itself, much like the setting in Fagerstrom's photographs. I hope that I was able to accomplish this in a creative but still delicious and appealing way. I hope that you enjoy and are inspired to try making some of the tasty dishes below!
Apple, Fennel, and Hazelnut Salad with Honey Vinaigrette
serves about 4
2 bulbs fennel, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
4 cups arugula
2 small apples, sliced
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1. Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the oil and fennel and start tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
2. As the fennel begins to caramelize, add a splash of water to steam for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
3. Combine arugula, apple slices, and hazelnuts in a large bowl. Stir in the fennel when it is cool. Dress salad with honey vinaigrette.
Recipe for sauteed fennel from Cheryl Smith of the Food Network
Recipe for salad from the kitchen of Cirque Du Souffle :)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
salt and pepper
1. Place the vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the vinegar while whisking. Whisk in the honey and season with salt and pepper.
Recipe from the kitchen of Cirque Du Souffle :)
Rustic Bread Loaf (GF)
150g potato starch
35g white rice flour
25g garbanzo-fava flour
25g tapioca starch
15g buckwheat flour
10g sweet rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon pectin
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Ener-G egg replacer
2 eggs, beaten
100mL warm water (about 150 degrees F)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon yeast
30mL canola oil
1. Blend all of the dry ingredients together with a whisk in a mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let it foam for a few minutes.
2. Add the eggs, yeast mixture, and oil to the flour mixture, and "knead" with a soft spatula until the dough is smooth. If the dough seems too stiff, sprinkle in a little more warm water until it is springy.
3. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and allow the dough to rise for at least 30 minutes in a warm place (I let mine rise for about 50 minutes in a slightly warm oven to create a fuller loaf).
4. After it rises, squash the dough down and tip it out onto a baking stone covered with a piece of lightly oiled, lightly floured parchment.
5. Gently roll the ball of dough in flour (a mix of tapioca and potato starch is good). Work in some more flour if the dough seems too loose or sticky. Stretch the surface so it is smooth, and shape it into an oval. Brush with oil and dust with more flour. Cut slits on the top of the loaf using an oiled knife.
6. Place in a cold oven and turn it on to 400 degrees F. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe from Meg of Gluten- Free Boulangerie: Real bread, without the wheat
Roasted Herbed Wild Mushroom and Dry Jack Grilled Sandwiches on Rustic Bread (GF)
makes 4 sandwiches
1 pound wild mushrooms, washed and sliced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chives, minced
1/4 cup marjoram, minced
butter for bread
8 slices rustic gluten free bread
8 ounces dry jack cheese
1. Heat the oven to 475 degrees F. Toss the mushrooms in a large bowl with a generous amount of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
2. Roast on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 minutes. Toss mushrooms once, then continue to bake for 10 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and toss with the herbs and more salt and pepper.
3. Heat a large frying pan. Butter all slices of bread on one side. Place 4 slices (butter side down) in the skillet, top with cheese, and distribute the mushroom herb mixture on top of the cheese. Place the top slices of bread on top of the cheese and mushrooms.
4. Cook until the bottom slice is slightly browned, then flip the sandwich and cook until the cheese is melted. Serve hot.
Recipe for Roasted Mushrooms with Herbs from Faith Durand of The Kitchn
Recipe for Grilled Sandwiches from the kitchen of Cirque Du Souffle :)
Nutmeg Pavlovas with Whipped Cream and Macerated Black Currants
makes 10 to 12 individual sized pavlovas
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Start at low and increase speed until soft peaks form.
3. At medium-high speed, whisk in the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Whisk for a few minutes, then add the vanilla and nutmeg. At high speed, whisk until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form.
4. Spoon the meringues onto the baking sheet, forming 10 to 12 round mounds. Create indentations in the middle of the mounds with the back of a spoon.
5. Place the baking sheet in the oven and reduce the temperature to 250 degrees F. Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes. The pavlovas should be white, dry to the touch and only slightly cracked. If they begin to turn tan colored or crack, reduce the temperature to 225 degrees F, rotate the baking sheet, and continue to bake.
6. Let the pavlovas cool completely. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and macerated black currants just before serving. (Pavlovas can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week).
Recipe very slightly adapted from Shuna Lydon of Eggbeater
Macerated Black Currants
1 1/2 cups black currants
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 tablespoons creme de cassis
1. Place half the black currants in a bowl with half the sugar and the cassis. Mix well and leave to macerate.
2. Put the rest of the currants in a small pan with the remaining sugar and 1 tablespoon of water. Heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat.
3. When the currant sauce is cool, mix with the macerated currants.
Recipe from Richard Corrigan of Riverford Organic Farms