My personal favourite guide to seasonal Ontario produce is Foodland Ontario. It isn’t impossible to eat locally all winter and it certainly isn’t boring!
Even if you can’t make it to a farmers’ market, all major grocery stores now have signs stating the origins of the fruit or vegetable so it won’t be difficult to choose local.
Here is the list of vegetables that are grown in January with inspiring menu ideas and some recipes that are definitely not the norm. (Recipes and menu ideas that do not have a chef’s name afterwards are my own. If you would like the recipe for any of the dishes below, please email me. Click on the book title or Chef after the recipe for a link to buy the book)
Apple Soup (The New English Table by Rose Prince)
Melt 85g/3 oz of unsalted butter in a large pan. Add 1 large onion, roughly chopped, 2 garlic cloves, chopped, 12 apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped, 2 celery stalks, chopped, 2 sprigs of thyme and 1/2 tsp allspice. Cook over low heat until the apples soften and then add 1.2 liters of chicken stock. Cook for 15 more minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Serve with bread and cheese. Serves 4.
Beetroot Purée (A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell)
Purée 1.5kg cooked and peeled beets with 2 peeled garlic cloves and 1 large red chili. Wash 1 large bunch of coriander very well, then chop roughly and add to the beet mixture with 1/2 bunch fresh mint leaves, 1 tbsp freshly grated horseradish, 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp olive oil. Blend until a smooth puree and then fold in 125mL full fat Greek-style yoghurt. Serve as a garnish to a white bean soup, or as a dip with pita, or as a garnish to grilled fish.
Sautéed Savoy cabbage with chili and garlic (A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell)
Cabbage soup with confit rabbit shreds (A Chef for All Seasons by Gordon Ramsey)
Sweet Carrot Pickle (A Taste of Palace Life: Royal Indian Cookery by Manju Shivraj Singh)
Peel 1lb carrots and cut into small cubes. Put in a pot and cover with 2 cups water then bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Add 1lb sugar, 4 cloves, 2 sticks of cinnamon and 4 cardamom pods to the liquid and simmer covered with a lid for 20 minutes. Add the carrots and simmer until the mixture thickens. Cool completely, then spoon into jars.
Fried Cucumbers ( I learned this recipe while working in Ireland, at the Rathsallagh House Hotel)
Slice one cucumber lengthwise and running a spoon down the length of it, remove the seeds. turn over so that the cucumber is steady on the cutting board. Chop the cucumber into half moons, about 1/4 inch wide. Heat a pan until very hot. Add 2 tbsp butter and once bubbling, toss in the cucumbers, keeping the heat high. Toss them a few times until hot, then season with a generous amount of fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately. These are a superb surprise.
Garlic white wine mussels
Leek Chips ( A Chef for All Seasons by Gordon Ramsey)
Split open the white of a leek and cut the layers into large bite-size squares. Blanch for a few seconds and then pat dry and brush each side with truffle oil. Dry them out in a single layer on a baking sheet in the oven at the lowest temperature until crisp.
Saffron-scented leek soup with pickled girolles ( A Chef for All Seasons by Gordon Ramsey)
Lettuce ( greenhouse)
Heart of romaine with wood-grilled onions, radishes, fresh cheese and roasted garlic dressing (Rick Bayless)
Mushroom risotto garnished with chopped almonds and shaved pecorino
Mushroom caps fileld with bone marrow ( Jeremiah Tower)
Panade of slow-cooked onions with Gruyère (A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell)
Melt 50g unsalted butter in a large pan over low heat. Add 4 yellow onions, sliced very thinly and sprinkle over 1 1/2 tsp caster sugar and a pinch of salt.Cook gently for 20 minutes until very soft. Pour in 50mL brandy* (*Be sure to keep children well away as the brandy may ignite. If it does, don’t try to blow it out! Simply let the alcohol burn off and soon the flame will extinguish). Increase the heat and add 1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs of thyme and 750mL of chicken stock. Cook for 10 minutes and then remove the herbs. Toast some bread and rub with a clove of garlic. Ladle over the broth and onions and finish by sprinkling some grated Gruyère.
Smoked haddock chowder (A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell)
Woodcock with caramelized parsnips and chocolate sauce ( A Chef for All Seasons by Gordon Ramsey)
Potato soup with a drizzle of truffle oil ( A Chef for all Seasons by Gordon Ramsey)
Baby red mullets with choucroute and rhubarb ( A Chef for All Seasons by Gordon Ramsey)
Rhubarb compote with seared foie gras
Rutabega dip with sour cream and fried sage
Squash soup Mantua style (Giuliano Bugialli’s Foods of Italy by Guiliano Bugialli)
Cut 1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds, into thirds then remove skin and seeds. Cut the squash into smaller chunks and soak in cold water for thirty minutes. Heat 8 tbsp butter in a large pot and once melted add 1 4oz piece of prosciutto and sauté over low heat for 5 minutes. Drain the squash and add it to the pot. Cook for 15minutes, then add 3 cups beef broth and then cook another 15 minutes. Remove the prosciutto and discard. Purée the soup, add salt and pepper to taste and then cook for 10 minutes longer over low heat. Serve hot, garnished with a basil leaf. Serves 6.
Sweet potato stew with crab, coriander, lime and butter (A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell)