The rites of early spring and a tribute to my Dad

The sun is bright and spring is in the air! Finally.

Although food-wise, locally, it’s a ways away – with 2-3ft of snow still in the woods!  

The sap is barely running, at least for artisanal bucket operations like ours that rely on natural flow. (Commercial outfits on big plantations siphon with tubes). However it will go fast with the double digit forecasts on the horizon..

Perfect timing, our annual Wild Maple Menu at Les Jardins Sauvages is underway this week end with a dressed up version of a sugar shack themed menu – Maple mushroom popcorn and soda, Cattail crepes with cretons and pickles, Pea soup with maple sap and maple smoked ham, wild beach peas, reduit poached egg with soba and sea lettuce, Wild boar and cassoulet, Maple scented Mushroom maple desserts etc.. Maple menu photos 

So, I’m prepping for that, while keeping the JeanTalon Market stall supplied with our soups, 'wild' Kombucha and our line of products/preserves. The slow season can be just as busy for me flying solo in the kitchen.. Yup, it’s also time to hire for the season!  To plan and promote our spring menu and May events, workshops and etc. The first greens and fiddleheads kick of the season for us in a mad rush; we have to be ready. It is at the end of April that it typically all starts, then bang in May! when there is the widest variety of wild edibles around here from dandelion and crinkleroot leaf to spring beauty and live-forever for salad, nettle, live-forever, linden and day lily shoots etc, foraging heaven..

But the thing is.. I am having a hard time focusing, ‘feeling it’ and being pro-active – that normal excitement/anticipation for the change of seasons..  It feels far off.  And I don’t feel much like writing about food, let alone updating my decrepid blog.

Because I just lost my Dad.

Even if he was 85, had a full life, was at home with his wife until his stroke, with no chronic illness or medication beyond the likes of Tylenol. Even if he went peacefully with my mom and all of us ten kids around him living tender moments until the end. Even if I know that death is a part of life, and that we are blessed. Everyone has lost a close one or worse. I am grateful to have had him as a Dad, to have my sweet mom and all my wonderful brothers and sisters who are all chips off the old block.

 Dad and baby me 

Nonetheless, I’m sad. I worry about my Mom, and it’s just that Everything reminds me of him. The little wooden bowls and engraved cutting board in my kitchen.  The food..  Peeling potatoes. He loved his ‘spuds’, everyway, but especially baked.

As I make my pea soup and cassoulet, I think of him, how he loved both, his beans. And everything Maple! Every year, he would splurge on maple products to our delight while my Mom scolded him for spending so much money. It was a seasonal treat!

The cloudberry in the pot is soo Dad as he was from Newfoundland and loved his ‘bakeapple’.  So scrumptious with cheese.  We Hintons eat a lot of cheese!

As I make a salad dressing, the anchovies recall childhood memories of him and his sardines, I would dramatically run out of the house pinching my nose and screaming about the stench. Once a week, we had to eat fish and I would kick up a fuss. Now, I appreciate all fish, especially fresh but canned too: anchovies in a Caesar dressing, Puttanesca (see my recipe* below) or Bagna Cauda.. (Recette en français)  If top quality, even straight up on bread with butter -Imagine, Dad!

That said, my Dad was a delicate man with a delicate palate. When I was a young chef, I remember him finding my cooking over-seasoned, but then he came around. Accustomed to traditional ‘English’ fare, he found garlic and pepper spicy! But somehow hot mustard was fine. Later in life, he was fond of hot sauce too. He would taste a dish a bit at a time analytically before making up his mind or giving a compliment, but how he savoured his meals. Always the first to line up at the buffet. Seated at the table before anyone, ever eager for dinner, but not before grace!

It’s hard to not choke up at all the little Dadisms that lurk about, popping up surprisingly as I go about my business. I’m listening to CBC in the background of course like my Dad, and it seems that every show or tune has some connection. I check up on my mead and my cider, he would want a wee drop just to 'wet his whistle'. I figure the choucroute is ready, but I can't quite decide, so I stick it in the fridge wishing I could ask his opinion. Besides my soups, he particularly liked my pies and choucroute (sauercraut)… ‘My, that’s some good’, he would say. 

As winter recedes, the darn raccoons are out, so it’s time to stop leaving the birdseed kicking around and using the outdoors as a freezer.. Such banal day to day things elicit a Dad flash. Amused with my raccoon stories from summer camp (I could not keep the devilish critters from my peanuts and snacks), he gave me a stuffed raccoon, which I found to be a silly gift as a teenager (thinking I was too cool for tou-tous.) But I slept with my Raccoon into adulthood, nibbling on his whiskers when I couldn’t sleep. I still have my Raccoon.

My Dad was so special, you see. He was my prince, my hero. A great Dad and model human bean (who appreciated a good pun). He was so fun, so cool, so wise. Deep. Sweet. Just a good egg.

A man of mind, heart and soul; So ‘up there’ with the gods, yet so ‘down here’ with us.

A man of words and big ideas, between his literature, poetry, philosophy and religion.

But who also appreciated the small things in life and simple pleasures – good ‘grub’, a glass of red wine, cracking nuts, star-gazing, or a picnic on the Plains with some sightseeing and rough and tumble play. He was a lover of nature, of art and history; He enjoyed carving wood and working with his hands, as well as fixing things around the house.   

And music! From the hymns, Scottish melodies and Newfoundland tunes he played on the piano to strumming with Paul and the boys at family gatherings, always a ukulele or guitar in hand.

He was so disciplined and serious, yet so playful. My first and fondest memories of him revolve around fun. He would read us stories on his lap with all the character voices and movement, he was the best storyteller. And the airplane rides, wow!  Or even rides in the snowshovel, or his car, which he called ‘she’. On Sunday afternoons, he would take us for ‘randies’ (car rides through the countryside to pick up apples or corn.) ‘Grocery day’ and ‘Pizza night, traditions like his Christmas crackers’ - he made every little thing so exciting. When I said ‘higher, faster’ on the swing, he was all for it, while Mom had a heart attack.

He was my chauffeur, dropping me off at school with his 'Work hard, have fun!' or 'Be good!'

I was his alpha, and so we fought too, as I grew into a mischievous kid and teenager who challenged him.. He contained my fight and taught me nuance and critical thinking throughout our debates, instilling values like honesty with his disapproval of my profiting from the fact that I looked young to pay less on the city bus or at the movies, say.. He earnestly tried to teach me patience.

He wrote us humorous poems on our birthdays. Besides the words of wisdom and quotes he flung about, He also said the most amusing things: Holy Mackerel! Winkle dinkle donkle! His swearwords more like a poetic exclamation: ‘Blessed Fortune, Night and Day!’

A real gentleman, a stickler for manners, proper grammar and rules, all that stuff you find tedious as a child that you are thankful for later. Yet, a real boy with his love of planes, trains and automobiles, puzzles and mystery stories.  Ready for anything, his pockets were full of trinkets and tools, paper clips and rubber bands. A real charmer, he had a special twinkle in his eye. Deep down, he was a romantic. He loved my mom fiercely and completely until the end. His last wish I know was to make her happy.  He often told me to be kind and take care of my man.

A family photo from their 50th anniversayYou'd think it was Richard & Liz, but no, my young parents

Aimez vous les uns et les autres’. Felix Leclerc

His love and quest for meaning was inclusive not exclusive, which is what made him a tremendous example for conventional religion in the modern world when it frequently gets a bad rap as an answer to our spiritual needs. Because he did it right; he never forced his beliefs on any one. It seemed to be all about interpretation, an exchange of ideas and honing in on the essential. About faith, community, being a better person for the good of all. He spoke of other religions in parallel, and listened to our musings on it all. He once suggested that I was in effect praying to God in expressing myself wholly through my life and vocation, being true and working hard, with mindfulness and meaning, by striving to be a good person. It didn't seem to bother him much that I didn’t go to church or do bible talk. He was a missionary in the sense that he shared moral values, showed by example and that he helped the less fortunate of all stripes.

He was a discrete man of tradition, yet curious and open to the world. It’s amazing how he evolved throughout our lives (no doubt, with us 10 kids as catalysts, but still). In so many ways.. It was heartening and inspiring to see him navigate the changing times. His emails were adorably adorned with emoticons. He loved his meat and potatoes, but his favourite restaurant of late was Les Saveurs de l'Inde on Maguire (Indian). He was acquiring a taste for Kombucha too! And how he softened up with age, hugging us to death.

A quiet man of faith, a teacher and scholar, a Newfoundlander and francophile, a loving and playful father of ten and grampy to 14, all that and so much more..  My Davinci-esque Dad.  And my favourite customer at the restaurant, he loved coming to la table champêtre, wine bag in tow. He claimed he didn’t care much for mushrooms, but he devoured our wild mushroom menu with 35 kinds. Ha!

As I write this, I can’t help but wonder about my punctuation, if I have enough paragraphs… Relentless about correcting our English in a Quebec city sea of French and Franglais, he once chided that I was one big run-on sentence;  ‘strike the enter key, Lass’. My sister Louise is here to correct my English, now.

Back to the grind at Les Jardins Sauvages. He would probably tell me to settle down and get on with it.

I always said that in the dance and race with nature that is our life, how each year, the passage of seasons was thrilling, each time around different, unique and full of surprises - Thanks to the weather, Mother Nature,  the Gods that be and the 'je ne sais quoi'. So true. Who knows if it will be a late spring, when the trout lily, or the first morels will show up..

One thing is for sure, now Maple season and early spring will not only be about sugaring off, snow crab, Easter eggs and planning the green season, but about Dad’s passing and remembering him. Which is fine. Like my Dad, we like our rituals, more meaning in everything with the years, and life is richer for it. With his legacy woven throughout the fabric of our lives, in the heartbeats of my beautiful siblings, nieces and nephews. So much to toast to, right! 

‘C’est grand la mort, c’est plein de vie dedans’ Felix Leclerc

At the funeral home, us kids, Mom and Uncle Maurie

Here’s to the season ahead, and to my Dad, Rev. Donald Macintosh Hinton, Cheers!

Our goodbye words to him at the hospital and funeral were from his beloved Shakespeare, ‘Good night sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. ‘

Since this is supposed to be a food blog, I will finish with a food story and some cooking tips (as well as a few links to real spring posts about wild edibles below**), after

my entertaining ‘Dad cooks fennel tale’..

One day later in life after the kids had moved out and my mom was starting to do her own thing once and a while or maybe delayed who knows; anyhow my dad saw that it was 5pm and there was nothing happening on the stove, so he made himself dinner ('supper' to him). He got to enjoying cooking on occasion. He would write me about his culinary exploits. He once saw an intriguing looking vegetable at the store and cooked it up, ‘my, ‘twas deeelicious indeed’ (he hadn't a clue what the white bulb that resembled celery but with the aroma of licorice was?!). He bought it again and repeated the exercise only to find it tough and inedible. So, I asked him what he had done. ‘Well, I put it in the oven!’, he replied. ‘Ok Dad, did you add oil, some water or cover it in foil or what?’ ‘No, I just put it in the oven’. ‘But Dad, you can’t just stick a big head of fennel in the oven like that. (like a potato?!) You must have gotten lucky the first time, perhaps because it was a small, young, naturally water gorged fresh specimen, and then you probably used a dish that had sides to provide some steam, or your oven wasn’t too hot or..'  Oh. OMG did I find that hilarious, so cute. And then followed up by giving him instructions for better, more consistent results in the future:

Fennel tips:

  • Cut in wedges and pan-fry in olive oil/butter to color, add garlic, deglaze with white wine and chicken broth, season with salt, pepper, thyme or herbs of choice and optional tomato, and finish in oven covered until tender (30min+)
  • Cut in wedges and pan roast in oven coated in oil and herbs or on BBQ, finishing on lower heat (or covered) until tender
  • Make slaw: Shave thinly and marinate for 30+min with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of cider vinegar/white wine vinegar or lemon. Add a good oil and serve in salad or as a side dish for fish, poultry, pork, meat or in a poke bowl or pasta with parmesan style cheese..


*My Puttanesca Recipe - making 'stinky' fish yummy

(I like to add a wild green like daisy, but any tender green like arugula or baby spinach could be used, or not):

Pasta Puttanesca à la Marguerite

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

 4 portions

150g                                       spaghettini ou pâtes de choix

30ml (2 cu.à soupe)             huile d’olive

30ml (2 c.a.s.)                       échalotes françaises émincés  (1)

15ml(1 c.a.s.)                        d’ail émincé (2-3 gousses)

20ml (1 grosse c.a.s.)          anchois hachés (4-5)

45ml (3 c.a.s.)                       câpres (et/ou boutons de marguerite marinés)

5ml (1 c.a.t.) ch.                    origan et basilic séchés

2ml (½ c.a.t.)                          flocons piment fort

500ml (2 t)                             tomates en des (2 tomates)

15ml (1 c.a.s.)                       beurre

125ml (1/2 t)                          parmesan râpé

50g (3t)                                   feuilles de marguerite

2ml (1/2 c.a.t.)+                     poivre noir au goût

1ml (1/4 c.a.t)+                      sel au goût


Cuire les pates dans l’eau bouillante jusqu’à ‘aldente’ environ 8min ou 1min de moins que les instructions sur la boite. Égoutter en gardant une partie de l’eau de cuisson. Mettre de coté.

Dans le même chaudron, faire suer les échalotes dans l’huile avec ail, anchois, câpres et épices 1-2 min.. Rajouter les tomates.

Retourner les pates au chaudron avec 1/2t d’eau de cuisson et le beurre et brasser. Fermer le feu.  Ajouter le parmesan et les feuilles de marguerite et brasser. Rajouter un peu plus d’eau de cuisson si nécessaire/si sec. Assaisonnez au gout et servir. Garnir de quelques feuilles fraiches.


Some relevant posts from the archives for my Dad

An ode to my Dad’s Newfoundland, my Hard Tack piece

From 2008, A reflection on ‘God’ that I remember my Dad appreciating if only in that I was contemplating these things. And for the record, I certainly don't believe that praying is bogus, especially now..


**A few real Spring posts (about food/ wild edibles and not death)**

 Late spring edibles and foraging guidelines

Spring pickings

Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 12:05AM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Jardins Sauvages News and Schedule for 2018: Valentine's menu, Pop-ups, Workshops and more..

Bonjour, (an English message will follow..) 

Notre menu St-Valentin, ‘Sauvage et Aphrodisiaque’ est disponible samedi le 10 et 17 février à 19h; sur réservation seulement; vous pouvez venir en couple ou en groupe.

C’est un menu dégustation cinq services (entrée, soupe, salade composée, plat et dessert); Apportez votre vin, bière ou porto.

120$ par personne tout inclus.  150$ pour La Totale, Menu Deluxe (menu 7 services avec foie gras et fromage)*

120$ (90.75+ 15% pb 13.61 + 5.22TPS+ 10.41TVQ); 150$ (113.45 + 15% pb 17.02 + 6.52TPS +13.02 TVQ)

Payable en argent comptant ou par chèque le soir même, ou par carte de crédit au téléphone lors de la réservation.

Vous pouvez consulter le menu ici : 

Pour réserver, SVP appelez au 450-588-5125.

Je vous invite à visiter notre site pour l’horaire de nos activités pour l’année 2018, incluant le calendrier de dates pour les menus ‘pop-ups’ saisonnier (quand vous pouvez venir 2 ou 4 sans accompagner un groupe) et notre fameux menu champignon..) En dehors de ces dates, le resto ouvrira que pour des groupes de 6 et plus. Le menu thématique suivra les saisons comme toujours avec plantes et champignons sauvages à la une, gibier et produits du terroir, toujours affiché sur le site à l’avance.

On va continuer la visite libre le dimanche après-midi cet été.

*Le prix du menu est maintenant ajusté ‘tout compris’ (incluant taxes et service), nous n’avons pas monté nos prix! Ça fait longtemps que nous voulions adopter cette formule mais nous hésitions à la faire parce que ça paraît plus cher et qu’on paie tous plus de taxes (sur ce qui aurait été pourboire). Par contre, c’est juste plus logique et plus simple pour tous. C'est aussi important par principe (impliquant le partage des pourboires/équité salariale). Nos serveurs sont payés un salaire régulier comme tous les employées, selon compétence et expérience inclus dans le prix.

Ateliers et Stages au printemps

Autre nouveauté, ce printemps, il y aura une série d’ateliers le dimanche après-midi, ouvert au publique sur les plantes sauvages et champignons sauvages de la cueillette à la cuisine (sur réservation avec dépôt).

Et des jours de stage les lundi matins en mai (ou les gens peuvent s’inscrire pour apprendre en travaillant, cueillir avec/pour François (places limitées).. Liens

Avez vous gouté à nos soupes et plats cuisinés ‘prêt à manger’?

Notre kiosque au marché Jean Talon est ouvert 7 jours : où nous avons notre gamme de légumes et champignons sauvages du Québec congelés, plats cuisinés et conserves, notre grande variété de produits transformés ‘local et sauvage’ – vinaigrettes, moutardes, épices, aromates et thés.. Nouveautés : confiture aux fraises des champs, ketchup chicoutai, notre menu de tisanes et notre soda sumac-érable (sans sucre rajouté)..


Un petite article dans la revue l’Actualité qui nous mentionne : 


Au plaisir,

François et Nancy 


Vous pouvez aimer notre page facebook aussi pour avoir les nouvelles et menus à jour.

Twitter/Instagram : @soupnancy #LesJardinsSauvages 




Our Valentine’s Day Menu is Wild & Aphrodisiac and available two Saturday nights at 7pm the 10th and 17th of February,

The menu:

It’s a five course meal (entrée, soup, composed salad, main, dessert) for 120$ all included* or the Delux Menu 150$* for 7 courses with foie gras and cheese.

 (120$ (90.75+ 15% tp 13.61 + 5.22TPS+ 10.41TVQ); 150$ (113.45 + 15% tp 17.02 + 6.52TPS +13.02 TVQ))

Bring your own wine, beer or porto.

On reservation only.

Payment is by cash or cheque on spot, or by credit card by phone in advance/upon reserving.

We are 45 minutes NE of Montreal on Route 341 (15 minutes from the 40).  For more information, you can visit the website or call the restaurant. 

To reserve, please telephone 450-588-5125.

*You will notice that the menu price is now adjusted to be ‘all included’ (tax and service), so no tipping necessary and no, we haven’t upped our price. This formula makes more sense all-round, being more logical and simple for everyone, not to mention on principle (implying tip-sharing for more equitable pay structure). The waiters are paid a salary based on their job description, competence and experience, like all employees, that is included in the ticket price. We have long wanted to adopt this but held back due to ‘sticker shock’ and fact that more of the bill goes to taxes (on what would have been tip), and this remains frustrating/a challenge. We hope our customers will understand and appreciate the change, figuring that most people were tipping more than this 15% before tax.

Our schedule for the season is up on the home page of the website, starting with the maple menu in April and including all dates for our seasonal pop-up events, as well as the famous fall mushroom event.. Beyond these set calendar dates when you can come 2 or 4 people without a group, the restaurant will only open for groups of 6 or more.

We will continue our open visit on Sunday afternoons this summer.

This spring, there will be a series of workshops on foraging and cooking wild foods on Sunday afternoons (on reservation with deposit).

As well as the possibility of ‘stage’ Mondays in May where people can sign up to pick with François, learn while working..

Have you tasted our soups and ready-to-eat cooked dishes?

We invite you to visit our stall Jean Talon Market open seven days: On offer alongside a few local cultivars are our wild and local mushrooms and vegetables that are frozen, vacuum packed and ready to eat as well as our soups and sauces, cooked dishes and long line of preserves. Beyond dried mushrooms and teas, herbs and spices, mustards vinaigrettes and pickles.. Novelties: wild strawberry jam, cloudberry ketchup, sumac maple soda (with no added sugar)..

L’Actualité magazine – An article in the current L’Actualité on wild herbs that features us.

Enjoy the winter!

Hope to see you soon,

Nancy and François

La Table des Jardins Sauvages

17 Chemin Martin, St.Roch de L’Achigan



You can always like our Facebook page to follow our news and up to date menus.

Twitter/Instagram @soupnancy #LesJardinsSauvages

Thank you.




Posted on Friday, January 19, 2018 at 01:48PM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Fall Mushrooms and Puffballs

Finally, the local wild mushrooms are out in full force!

An autumn day harvest  graylings - a rare treat in the chanterelle family

Armillaire pesant; Swollen Stalked Cat


Hen of the Woods

 Slippery Jack - a yellow bolete that is especially good dehydrated.

Poule des bois/Hen of the Woods haul









Besides the Hen of the Woods (our favourite), the most spectacular is always the giant puffball, in season now. 

I have had multiple inquiries on how to cook it.

So, here’s the deal. It is easy enough to identify; if it is still firm and pristine white throughout when you slice it, it is good to eat. They go yellow and soft (not to mention) pungent smelling as they age past their prime.

The best way to cook a giant puffball:

Peel and slice. Pan-fry or bake on parchment with a good amount of fat (I start with oil and finish with butter), flipping half way through. You want to gently brown it, on medium heat as opposed to high.

With its sponge-like texture, I find that it cooks up quite like eggplant. Best eaten straight out of the pan, it gets soft and loses volume as it sits, although it will taste good no matter.

It has a strong (ish) mushroom flavour, so I like to layer it with other flavours like tomato, cheese or root vegetables in a lasagne or gratin for example. It makes good soup too.  You could dice it up and make spaghetti sauce, the options are endless.

It's not all about the puffball, especially with Matsutake season starting. I'm busy putting up the fall boletes for our dried mixes and butter etc, as well as yellowfoot chanterelles and hedgehogs, hundreds of pounds a week. We are still waiting on the autumn oysters and another half dozen varieties to complete my upcoming annual mushroom fest menu..


Red Mouthed Bolete, a dessert fave

Armillaires Couleur de Miel; Wild Honey MushroomLactaires DelicieuxComb tooth and Yellowfoot Chanterelles

Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 05:09PM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

François' tomatoes, and a few summer recipes

We may as well talk about tomatoes since there isn’t much going on in terms of local mushrooms. What a crappy season so far. I mean we’ve had a few good harvests but we are not meeting the demand at the market, and with a trickle for the restaurant menu, I haven’t started putting up. When you consider that I typically process 2 tons of mushrooms for our year (to supply the restaurant and make our products), I will have to get started soon enough.. Pretty frightening. Fingers crossed.

So anyway, back to the tomatoes. Anyone who knows us (or follows me) has heard of François’ famous tomatoes. They are an old heirloom variety whose name eludes us, from seeds passed down generations in Pasquale’s, (one of his Italian mushroom pickers) family. His great grandfather brought them over here like a century ago. François kept the seeds from the tastiest of his specimens and started them this winter, moving them into a greenhouse in the spring, and he lovingly tends to them every day with water and suckering, tying them up (they are 9ft tall!) and etc. He has planted some in the garden too and distributed seeds to other gardeners as well, in hopes to keep the variety alive.

Greenhouse vs field, the taste test is on..
Proud green thumb  

I can’t tell you how important his tomatoes are to him, and hence what an exciting time it is in our household now that they are finally becoming ready. He lays them out on the counter in order that they will be eaten and for different uses.. Woe and behold if I take too many to the restaurant or if I chop up the one that was meant for a sandwich, or yikes, slice it ‘the wrong’ way - Watch out for the St-Roch tomato police!

The first dish was of course Fried Green Tomatoes, which has become an annual ritual since we started making them (, François just adores them. And besides, what else are you going to do with green tomatoes. Now that they are ripening, we are eating them in salads and salsa, with pasta and fish. They are meaty, not many seeds buy juicy, sweet and tomatoey, with a bit of tart. I like some acidity but François expects them to be succulent sweet and is banking on the garden ones.

He apparently has tomato tarts and pizza on the agenda, as he has ordered his dough (from me)..

At the restaurant – 1st entree of the moment: Fried green tomato with ripe and smoked tomato, corn, cucumber salsa, sea spinach and sea asparagus, crinkleroot lovage yogurt dressing, smoked eel, bee balm

As the harvest really explodes later this summer/fall, I will be canning, smoking, making ratatouille and ketchup, etc..

François' tomato pie, yum!

But it’s not all about tomatoes or even the wild edibles, with the corn and beans, peas, favas, zuchinni and peppers, garlic, kohlrabi.. Lettuces, herbs, Plums, melons and peaches.. Not to mention the wild blueberries! And it will only get better in the month ahead, alongside the mushrooms. September is the best month of the year for food!

Some other summer hits:

A vegetable stew thickened with bread: ribolita - panzanella meets ratatouille, just a different delicious way to use the garden bounty or what’s hanging out in your fridge. Stew onions with celery/leek, peppers, add zucchini and whatever other veg you like (corn, beans..) Herbs and spices, A bit of white wine and stock or just tomatoes with their juice. At the end, throw in some croutons or dry bread, season and serve on salad with a good oil, aged vinegar and cheese shavings. Good as is or as an accompaniment to sausage, chicken or steak.  At the restaurant, I was serving it with confit rabbit.

Fleur d’ail (Scapes) as a vegetable and as a condiment

In July when it’s scape time, we put them up for the year, alongside the wild stuff, a raw, green garlicky pesto. But it’s a beautiful time and a 2-3 week window (one for picking one, 2-3 for storing), when you can eat the scape as a vegetable, like an asparagus or green bean. It takes a 5 min. Boil. It is tender when it loses its bright green, sorry. Mildly garlicky, delish. Here the raw pesto is tempered into the hot potato mash, and the cooked scapes are a garnish. Alongside chanterelles which are in season at the same time. Just missing the corn, which would be perfect now.

Vichyssoise (Stinging nettle)

Like a Parmentier or any puree/ green soup thickened with potato (so less cream). With stinging nettle and sea parsley, this soup is delicious, but it could be/is with many greens. I make a seasonal green soup with what is abundant, always good. Not only delicious, but nutritious.  Served cold on a hot day or hot the rest of the time. Just a basic soup with onion, leek, celery, a touch of wine or vinegar, stock, herbs and spices, potato.  Add wild greens. Finish with cream, milk. Tweak with salt, pepper, spice, acid, maple syrup.

Add a little garnish like this: cucumber, radish, lovage, sumac to lighten it up, or it could always be another to make it more hearty like bacon or smoked duck.

Mushrooms or not, it’s time to be hitting the market (and/or garden) and cooking up a storm!

Lobster mushroom and lobster bisque risotto with beach peas, sea spinach and sea scallop First significant harvest of Lobsters to put up


My guilty foreign flour affair '00'

My guilty foreign flour love affair

If you love pizza as much as I do, and like to make it at home, read on..

Maybe I’m late to the game on this, but I’m in love with Italian yellow flour ‘00’!

If you like to play with dough, you NEED to try it out. It is just so fun to work with. And it tastes great. I just love the texture it lends to the dough too. Although it looks like finely ground cornmeal, it is indeed wheat flour but milled differently, very fine supposedly, I guess by Italian standards because it is coarser than ours.

Being a girl that promotes local food pretty religiously and for some time now, naturally I buy all my flour from the mill next door (Le Moulin Bleu, St-Roch de l’Achigan).

My guilty affair with this imported flour started with my first No.900 pizza a couple of years back in Quebec City. It was simply the best pizza! Even my fussy François agreed. Dressed only with good tomatoes, cheese and salami and dripping with olive oil, it was the thin, blistered but soft-chewy  crust that made it extra-special.  Maybe this would be an occasion to use the silly word ‘toothsome’.

Since my first year of professional cooking 24 years ago and early job in an Italian restaurant (Picolo Diavolo in the village), I have been making pizza. And I have the burn marks to show it on my arms. I don’t make it at Jardins Sauvages except for fireside friend parties, the occasional catering event as finger food, but yes, regularly for us at home, for me. It is never a meal, but the perfect snack, say late night or during a kitchen shift. I always have dough in the freezer, if not a ready-made pie. François likes it white, which is good especially loaded with wild garlic and crinkleroot and some wild greens (so green). I prefer it red with my put up tomatoes, cheese of course and something salty like a cured meat or olives, definitely some spice and occasionally maybe even something sweet like a pickled pepper or ratatouille. But only as a garnish, absolutely not too much topping.  But I have a hard time not putting too much on the pizza, like on my plate.

Anyway, the important thing is the crust. The dough at that first spot I worked was a thin crust baked in a wood oven, back when that was a new thing on the scene here; it was rich in that it had milk, eggs, a bit of sugar and all purpose flour, more crisp than chewy. I’ve come back to it several times over the years, after experimenting, but most often doing a simple basic 3hr affair with 65- 70% hydration, just salt, yeast and a touch of olive oil. But now, all while working on the chew, I do like to add one egg for the crisp/taste factor, otherwise a basic dough.

Of course, I went through the no-knead trend but although it’s a neat trick, you have to start the day before and it doesn’t really produce the best results. Especially with bread dough, I have ditched the no-knead laziness however often it saved my ass in the past (the Instadough recipe I learned at the Cordon Bleu was a go-to when busy)..  No longer with Leonard (my beloved levain who passed a while ago), I now have a younger less complex starter that sometimes requires work in the days before, but I prefer to make the final dough same day and yes, knead. I make pretty good bread given my set-up, and I enjoy it. If I was in the city and had a fantastic bakery around the corner, I would probably outsource but here, it happily makes sense that I bake my own bread.

All that said, I have never been super ecstatic with my pizza dough, often settling, always fiddling. It’s also in my nature. I can’t just follow a recipe, always working on the ultimate one that I forget to write down.  In any case, I know I don’t have the proper oven, can’t attain those ideal ultra-hot temperatures. And yes, I tried a baking stone, rocks from the river and etc. At one point (this must have been early in our relationship), François spoke of building me an old fashioned bread oven; he has the plans and the stones. But we both know that’s ridiculously inefficient in terms of the wood we would need to burn for our small, sporadic operation and a family of 2; ideally that sort of thing would be for a community of bakers or a full-time bakery/pizza place.

Besides the fancy 900 degree oven I will never have, I figured I might come closer to that crust I dream about by trying the famous yellow flour used at No.900 and by many Italian pizza aficionados..

And yes, it is pretty amazing! Mind you, you can’t follow a regular recipe for it, but I just played within my ratios and added the flour needed.  It’s incredible how elastic it gets. 1 cup of 00 weighs 200g compared to around 150g for most all-purpose or bread flours.  But it absorbs less water, so you need more flour than you think. But if you’re working in cups, you end up not being too far off I realized.. Since I usually work with weights in bread, I stopped following any recipe, followed the feel and the fermentation. With the extra flour in weight, I saw I had to up the salt. I haven’t found that you need more yeast, but maybe a pinch. It depends again on if you’re using a starter or what your timeline is. If you have a starter or want to take it slow, you will add less yeast, say. Don’t be too harsh, punching down your dough and such, it’s good to be gentle. I am often tempted to roll out but stretching by hand apparently gives a better crust.

Dough balls for the freezer. Takes no time to thaw for same day pizza if not overnight.

It’s still not perfect, but steps and bounds ahead, for a home kitchen.  You can see my recipe template below and others too.

This could have been rolled or stretched thinner, less topping. But it was still delish.

I said I would use the 20lb François gave me as a Xmas gift, because it was a super gift and I don’t want to be wasteful. I have been using it in my bread at la table too (along with Le Moulin Bleu, say 50:50 or just to feed the starter or just to finish) much to my waitresses’ bafflement, given our local credo. I told them it was just a fling. But I’m almost out, so I don’t know. Maybe more than a fling, because I might have to buy more, if only for my home pizza snacks. You can get it at specialty Italian stores or suppliers, not too hard to find in the big city or online I suppose.

And it makes the most fantastic pasta too! I use half Moulin Bleu bread flour and half '00'.

Fliing or not, the Moulin Bleu will remain my go-to and should be on your radar too. Local and organic, especially known for their buckwheat.. I don't know, but it doesn't really make much sense to import flour. So torn.

My more-or-less recipe (pretty darn good but still room for improvement)

2x large or 4 x medium 12’ pizzas:

10-15g yeast (1-2 Tbsp or 1-2pkg) active dry*

400ml water (slightly warm to body temp) or 1 egg + 350ml (total a little more than 1.5 c)

15g (1 Tbsp) sugar

700g+ 00 flour (around 3.5c), more like 550g of AP flour or Moulin Bleu bread flour+

20g (1Tbsp salt)

20ml olive oil (1 big Tbsp)+

Mix water, sugar and egg, add yeast. Add a third of the flour and mix. Allow to hydrate a little, say 20min. Add another third of the flour, salt, oil and start mixing. Once you have a sticky homogeneous mass, add the rest of the flour except for a bit, that you will add as need be. Knead at slow/medium speed, adding more flour as required until a uniform mass /loose ball forms, and then knead a little more, but not too much. Like 5 min total by machine. Until it is an elastic, stretchy, slightly but not too sticky ball that gently pulls off the dough hook or your hands (by hand it will be longer, more like 10min). Let rise covered for 1hr or until double. Cut into 2 or 4 portions and roll into balls. At this point, I put them on a greased tray and freeze, wrapping the next day for later use. Then you pull out a ball and let thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter for a few hours, before rolling out/shaping. . If you are cooking soon, then let the dough rise another 30min-1hr before rolling out (onto a greased floured pan). Once stretched or rolled out, top and let sit while your oven heats up.  Cook for about 10 min in a 450F oven.  Go higher with a stone if you can. The hotter the better if your pie is thin, not too much topping.  I have found that unrealistic in a home oven setting and with my pizzas. Because you want it to be cooked through and toasted, not burnt. Out of the oven, Brush with olive oil or good oil of choice.

*I find that if you’re not in a rush, it is best to use less yeast and take more time..

Our favourite toppings:

Tomato sauce (with garlic and oregano) spread very thin, you should see the dough through the sauce, cheese (ideally a blend of grated firm cheese like cheddar and/or parmesan-style, with some mozzarella or fresh cheese), prosciutto or salami, green onions, basil, hot pepper

Ratatouille spread very thin, cheese (same as above), olives

Bechamel or cream sauce or just drained fresh cheese with herb pesto (or a ton of chopped herbs and greens), some grated cheese, thinly sliced onions or wild garlic (optional: bacon)

Wild mushroom sauce, cheese

Wild Herb pesto, fresh tomatoes, cheese

3 Pizza dough recipes


Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 02:32AM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Spring meets Summer, Foraging issues and guidelines

Spring meets Summer, finally!

Although it’s still technically spring, it’s starting to feel a lot like summer. A deep, lush green abounds, a symphony of birds chirping, and yup, the mosquitoes are out in full force.

Our spring rush of harvesting shoots and fiddleheads is over. It’s always a mad dash to seize the short window and make the most of it. With a slow, cool spring, the greens were at their best - mild and crisp, delicious.

François' 'shade' fiddleheads
erythrone/trout lily

Now, the early season stars like Trout lily, Dandelion, Spring Beauty and Linden have gone, as Stonecrop (live-forever), Daisy and Violet take their place. There is stinging nettle, garlic mustard, sheppard’s purse, wild chives and such.. as the buds appear, the edible flowers start to bloom and first marine greens pop.

 wild chives dame's rocket 

It was a great morel season.

morille blondeverpe de boheme

I couldn’t help but notice how many people were out there foraging and posting pictures of wild edibles this spring. It is clear that this is a trend that is only growing.

Which is great and NOT.

It’s natural that once awakened to the delights of the forest that passionate eaters and cooks want to get out there themselves.  I remember my beginnings at L’Eau à la Bouche with Anne Desjardins where I met François the pioneer of foragers, how thrilling it was to discover these new ingredients. I was lucky to team up and build on his experience, taking the wild thing a step further than the chefs he'd worked with before in the Jardins Sauvages kitchen. But being leaders in largely uncharted territory meant that we had to figure a lot out on our own. Just that a certain plant is edible and best used a certain way is taken for granted now, while many years of research, tests and samples given away lie behind.  Not to mention the miles walked and free labour on François' part going back 30 years. Today, it seems that every other menu resembles one of mine from 10 or 15 yrs ago, with game, wild greens & wild flavours everywhere, back when I was the only one with sweet clover or wild mushrooms in my desserts, ha. I knew we were onto something, but who knew it would ‘mushroom’ so.

For sure foraging is awesome in so many ways; it doesn’t get much more terroir, fresh and local than that.  But the thing about foraging, is that it’s trickier than it appears! It is not as easy as walking through the woods and filling your basket, it is not 'free'. You need land, and knowledge, a due respect for nature and nuance, lots of time and patience, before actually putting in the hours and doing the work. Finding your spots, being there at the right time, getting down and dirty on your hands and knees with the mosquitoes. It takes more than a day or a season to learn the basics, plenty of books and time spent in the woods. Way more than a google search or utube video, say. People these days want to go too fast.  It’s not that I want to discourage eager enthusiasts... But Please! I just wish everyone would be more mindful and cautious. It’s for the plants, the future and one's own sake, not only sustainablility and safety, for deliciousness too. 

Foraging primer: Bottom line, Don’t touch unless you know what you’re doing..

Which means How, When and Where.

First of all, know that what you’re picking is indeed edible (there are many look alikes). Ensure that it’s a healthy population. It depends on the microclimate and age of plant population. You need to know the cycle of the plant/how hardy it is before knowing how much you can take. That’s why being in the same spots, seeing the impact of your harvest each year is so important.

Don’t rip out roots (in general). Prune.

If you pick, don’t let it show, as in you’re leaving way more than you take, little trace. Unless you are weeding your garden or in a site with an invasive plant you know well.

Be careful/don’t pick species that are slow to reproduce or endangered: Wild garlic, Wild ginger, Crinkleroot, Milkweed..

And some need to be mature enough, and then just trimmed - like sea asparagus (salicorne, samphire), otherwise you might kill the plant. This is an issue now when it is still several weeks too early to pick salicorne anywhere in Quebec. Yet, I see it on menus. 

The ‘weeds’ you can worry less about, Go!: Lamb’s quarters, Nettle, Garlic Mustard, Sheppard’s purse, Purselane, Amaranthe..

And then in the kitchen, they need to be washed, and cooked properly!  Some need to be cooked throughout:  For instance: Fiddleheads, Milkweed, and most wild mushrooms. Wash well and boil 5min+. Less touchy veg like beach peas, goat's beard, and leafy greens like nettle might only require 1-2min. For mushrooms, a braise is better than a sauté, count 5-20min. Some greens are better raw, but most are better cooked even if slightly. All are super healthy ingredients, but can be toxic, you can’t just wing it. I’ve seen sprouts of toxic plants decorating plates in Montreal. 

Don’t give wild plants a bad name by serving anything up because it sounds cool, as little do you know it might be of sketchy quality, often like those on the black market or picked without experience..  For example, dandelion is only good if picked young (before flower) in the morning; most greens like live-forever only in shady, humid conditions; garlic mustard is only yummy young/early season and same, bitter in dry conditions. Same with beech chickweed. Etc. Where, when and how was it picked/stored etc.. is key to whether it will be yummy and not give anyone a belly-ache.

With many wild plants and aromatics (herbs/spices), it’s a question of dosage.. As with nutmeg, basil or rosemary, all of which can kill you if you eat too much. The difference between delicious, medicinal and toxic is in the dose. Normally nature is well made, as in you won’t use anything potent in huge quantities - the difference between a vegetable and an herb, a stock or a sauce. For example, be careful with mélilot/sweet clover flower, sweet grass, conifers - less than .1%. . Oxalis (Lady’s sorrel), like kale and rhubarb leaves contains oxalic acid, which is hard on the kidneys. And so on.

(See more picking tips and photos/links below..)

Whether picking or not, Chefs using wild ingredients need to be responsible for their source or purchases! (See Black Market blurb below) And you can participate. There is a conference on the commerce of PFNL (wild edibles) and the development of guidelines, with chefs and journalists invited (June 14th in Quebec City), the first public meeting of the type, there will be more. It’s about developing the industry further, but in a structured and sustainable way. See below.

Rules and Regulations – they are coming, but it’s complicated

This explosion of amateur foragers and start-ups might be a plus for the economy but problematic for sustainability of the resource and market, quality and safety. Making some sort of regulation has become necessary. Which is what groups of people in the industry and levels of government are currently working on but it’s incredibly complex. Between the interests to develop the forest beyond lumber, putting people to work in the regions, sharing our heritage while balancing what is possible with respect to nature and the realities of the market, labour, what is doable and fair when it comes to enforcement... Quotas, permits?

It’s a big pain in the ass actually. We have no choice but to be implicated, because we care and have expertise to bring to the table,  and obviously, it will affect us directly. Trust me, we would rather not have to spend so much time on all this debate and data for regulation because although we believe in it, I can humbly say it shouldn’t even apply to us.  Because of all the careless people who ravage or innocently don’t know what they’re doing, we might be banned from picking and exploiting edibles we have plenty of on private property, picking sustainably in the same spots every year (for 30 yrs). Nonsense. No one even knew about most of these wild edibles until François put them on menus by introducing them to chefs.

Or like with ramps. We have a healthy population that we could easily sustainably put it on our menu from our back yard, but it’s illegal. If I chop up a few leaves as a soup garnish for 10 clients there is an inspector at my door. Meanwhile, chefs all over Montreal who do hundreds/thousands more  covers have ramps on their menu, from where? No inspectors? So it should be illegal, but what difference does it make? Ideally, it should be legal but regulated.

Black Market  Everyone likes a good price, be it at the market or from a picker coming to a chef’s door. This year (and last) at Marché Jean Talon, there was so much black market dumping for fiddleheads, that we had to sell at a loss to discourage them. Because these guys don’t have fridges or a legit business, pay no rent or taxes, no inspectors, zero traceability. Who knows where or how it was picked, stored.. They need to unload so sell at whatever cost, ie dump. Merchants buy and sell. Like with wild mushrooms too. So say this foraging guy decides to continue beyond a day or two, he needs to buy a fridge, register a business, have a clean locale that will be inspected, he will want a website and business cards, maybe an accountant etc. Soon enough he will charge more or bail. Which is what they all do, bail after crashing the market with questionable quality produce, even poisonous mushrooms. So that’s the future if things don’t change, a bunch of n’importe quoi.

Meanwhile, we have for years, sustainably and passionately brought wild edibles to the market (at the restaurant, to chefs and le grand public, in the cooking schools), offering tastings, given out cooking instructions, building the market, teaching. If people want to be able to buy wild edibles from a reputable source, the present scenario is not sustainable.

Marketing vs Truth  Everyone has local, something wild or boreale on their menu. But often it’s Bullshit, a few spices and maple syrup while most comes from big suppliers, imported. The morels on the market in March (when every chef wants to put morels on their ‘spring’ menu) came from China. And often, the wild mushrooms and vegetables come from out west, Europe or China, the deer often from Australia; elderflower from an imported extract, sumac imported and very questionable in composition. Wild arugula out of a Costco box is imported monoculture, not the same species as our wild rocket. Just because it sounds wild and local doesn’t mean it is. It sucks to have to question the glossy menu local wild vibe at your hot restaurant. But I’m kind of tired of being the real thing seeing all the BS that doesn’t seem to matter. I’m done with being polite.

Its great that many people want to reconnect with nature, eat locally and explore new flavours. A richesse de notre terroir that naturally should be a part of our culture and traditions, as it largely was before everyone moved to the city and started destroying biodiversity. Now people are waking up to the treasures, but there is less to go around. I know there are many young people opening Boreale restaurants or bars, making gin and cocktail kits, etc with the best intentions, without realizing the issues surrounding the sourcing. Like no idea what 100kg of juniper berries or Labrador tea entails.

Hopefully, we can all move forward with wild edibles for everyone who cares!

Info about the Conference for PFNL guidelines, hosted by the ACPFNL  Details here: file:///C:/Users/utilisateur/jardins%20sauvages/pfnl/Acpfnl/ACPFNL%20invitation%20AGA%20du%2016-05-2017.pdf To stay informed, the ACPFNL Facebook page:


Foraging primer Edible Manhatten

Spring, ramps and fiddleheads

There are many photos with the plants identified in our albums on our Jardins Sauvages facebook page too..

Summer wild edibles

Our old videos:

Spring, trout lily

Other early summer backyard treasures

Wild chives and riverside

Stinging nettle







Disco Soupe Slow Food

I couldn't help but organise a little something - this event called out my name! As Soupnancy, passionate maker of a shitload of soup since forever, lover of disco and Slow Food member since always, plus we're at the market!
So this Saturday April 29th, we're hosting a Disco Soup, which is a world-wide Slow Food event to counter food waste - come celebrate with us at Jean Talon Market!
We scour the market for #2 veg and less than perfect donations from producers, we make soup to the tunes of disco and serve it up for free; and you can dance if you want to. Donations accepted for Slowfood.
Starting with my 'Toutski sauvage', and a communal soup made on spot with potatoes, celery root, tomatoes, cabbage, stock from Michel's chicken carcasses, lettuces from Chez Nino, our fiddleheads and wild herb pesto..
It is the first day of the open market to boot, should be fun!
When: 1pm to 4pm Saturday April 29th
Where: Jean Talon Market, behind Les Jardins Sauvages between the specialty aisle and the open market

A collaboration of Slowfood LanaudièreSlowfood Montreal, Les Jardins Sauvages and Jean Talon Market.
Donors: Prince Noir, chez Nino, Omer Charbonneau, Alain Darsigny +..
Part of our collect for soup; Legumes moches et carcasses
What is Slowfood? An international grassroots organisation that promotes good, clean and fair food for all. Which means quality and pleasure but with a direct link to producers and care for workers (local, fair trade), heritage and tradition, the environment.
Journée Disco-Soupe Slowfood ce samedi le 29 avril au Marché Jean Talon!
Une soupe communautaire contre le gaspillage alimentaire: On ramasse des légumes 'moches' et dons de cultivateurs et commerçants au marché, on fait de la soupe en écoutant du disco, on invite les gens à manger (et danser si ça vous le dis!) 
Dégustation de soupe gratuit; dons accepté pour Slowfood.
Quand: 13h à 16h samedi le 29 avril
Ou: Marché Jean Talon derrière le kiosque de Jardins Sauvages dans la première allée
Une collaboration Slowfood LanaudièreSlowfood Montréal, avec Jardins Sauvages et le Marché Jean Talon (Donateurs: Prince Noir, chez Nino, Omer Charbonneau, Alain Darsigny, +..).
C'est quoi Slowfood? Une organisme internationale qui promouvoit une alimentation bonne propre et juste - pour le plaisir à la table en lien avec le producteur, la tradition, l'environnement. 
Posted on Friday, April 28, 2017 at 12:23AM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Easter Egg-spiration

Spring is in the air! Here is some egg-spiration including ever relevant prior posts and a few egg recipes for Easter (and year-round..)

As with most people, I am always inspired at Easter especially because the seasons are changing and it’s our new year! These guys take the cake though with their easter egg tree..

But wow, looking back at my blog, I’m extra inspired by how inspired I was in 2007 or 2008. It all still holds true, but let’s just say, the wonder of eggs and a ‘God’ we don’t understand are now givens; I am presently more focused on just getting a ton of mundane tasks done - like my cooking, paperwork and cleaning, maple soda and hiring, planning for the season. The greens will be sprouting soon enough, weehoo..

For Easter, On Eggs and God  I really like this post (from 2008), which I also find amusing since I am even more of a witch now, fascinated by plant intelligence for instance. Once in a while, it’s important to stop, think and feel, question or accept, taking stock and ‘lacher prise’. Often time alone in the kitchen provides that space, like snowshoeing or running say, conducive to figuring something out and finishing off feeling good. A moment of peace and clarity can go a long way. There can never be too many elephants in the room. Besides, my dad the minister comfortingly told me once since that I am effectively praying to God by doing my thing the best I can, by practicing my craft and expressing myself in tune with nature, loving and doing and sharing, while being honest and true. My kind of religion.  Scroll down to my Egg Epiphany.

My Easter Egg  A quick ode to the egg and all its properties, from 2007. Kind of boring as in ‘duh’, but fact: eggs are truly amazing. How can you not find the phenomenon that is meringue extraordinary?!

My Easter soup (from made with lamb lungs, a fun exercise in tribute to my producers and Greek tradition but not necessarily one to repeat.

These following recipes are more of a sure bet, like my eggs en cocotte (baked) with wild mushrooms and greens below.

First of all, a basic egg cooking guide is a good idea to share with your kids or to revisit if you’ve forgotten to cook eggs. Everyone should know how to cook eggs. This overview covers basic egg knowledge; I just don’t agree with frying an egg in oil at high temp, but to each his own.. And for a hard-boiled egg, I stand by the method of putting them in cold water, bringing to boiling temperature, removing from heat and covering for 10min. Chill in running water while cracking the shells a bit and peel. When cooking in the pan, gentle/medium heat and butter, not oil. And I couldn't be bothered with the 62C degree egg. I prefer more texture, but mainly, why spend hours cooking an egg in a circulator, when 5 or 10 minutes with an old-fashioned technique works just fine.  

An Italian Easter Ricotta pie

Egg toast Mumbai sytle

Pound cake  An easy recipe to remember (approximately equal parts by weight of butter, sugar, eggs, flour), and a snap to make, it’s just plain good stuff. I had forgotten about this old classic, more often making a current lightened version using less eggs and butter, adding milk/yogurt and baking powder, vegetable oil for a fine cake or ‘quickbread’ (like banana bread), if not going all out to make a fancy dessert. I rediscovered pound cake this winter when my girlfriend was preoccupied with ensuring her athlete-daughter had enough energy for her competitions; pound cake was important filler. It was hanging around, we ate it. And then, I came back home to make it regularly. Bonus is that it keeps well on the counter for over a week, perfect with coffee or breakfast, or for a snack. Dress it up with coulis, fruit and whipped cream, caramel or chocolate it can be a swoon worthy dessert. While at JS, I would incorporate wild flavours such as mushroom powder or sumac, long pepper or sweet clover flower and maple sugar etc, this lemon poppyseed version at home is tough to beat. See recipe below.


Baked eggs with wild mushrooms and greens

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

4 portions                 

200g                                        wild mushrooms (4c)

*(or 150g JS sousvide, cooked, frozen wild mushroom mix)

30ml (2 Tbsp)                          olive oil

15ml (1 Tbsp)                          butter

1                                              small onion, minced (1c)

5ml (1 tsp)                               minced garlic

45ml (3Tbsp)                           white wine

Pinch                                       tarragon

125ml (1/2c)                            heavy cream

150g                                        Blanched/Precooked greens (lambs’ quarters, wild mustard leaf, spinach fiddleheads, asparagus), chopped (2c)

4                                              eggs  

drops to taste                          hot sauce or chilli flakes

drops                                       worchestershire

to taste                                    salt, pepper

100g                                        grated cheddar cheese

option                                      chopped cooked bacon

to taste                                    maple syrup


Sauté mushrooms in a hot pan with oil. As soon as caramelisation starts, lower the heat a bit. Add onions and butter and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, add the garlic and lower the heat and cook 5-10 minutes more until the mushrooms are cooked through and tender, the onions translucent. You might want to add a squirt of water to finish the cooking (so it doesn’t dry out or fry). Season to taste with salt, pepper, worchestershire, herbs.

Deglaze with white wine and add cream. Remove from heat.

Add cooked greens, and make nests for the eggs.

Or divide mushroom mixture and greens into greased ramekins.

Crack the eggs into the nests. (You might want to break the eggs into a bowl first to make sure there are no shells).

Season again or add bacon, and a spoonful of pansauce or cream on top of the egg. Top with cheese.

Put in a hot 350F oven and cook for 10-20min until desired doneness.

*When it comes to small ramekins, it is often recommended to place in a pan of hot water which makes for a gentler heat but it takes a lot longer (like 30min) so your choice, after 10 minutes, you need to be checking.

*Serve with hot sauce and maple syrup or a tomato salsa. And good toast.


Œufs en cocotte aux champignons sauvages et légumes verts

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

4 portions

200g                                        champignons sauvages (4t)

*(ou 150g Mélange Forestier JS blanchies congelées sous-vide hors saison)

30 (2 cu.à soupe)                    huile d’olive

15ml (1 cu.à soupe)                beurre

1                                              petit oignon émincé (ou 1t)

5ml (1 cu.à the)                       d’ail émincé

45ml                                        vin blanc

pincé                                       estragon

125ml                                      crème 35%

150g                                        Légumes vert blanchis (chou gras, épinards de mer, feuilles de moutarde, têtes de violon ou asperges etc) et coupé grossièrement (2t)

4                                              oeufs 

gouttes                                    huile de piments/sauce au piments ou pincé piment broyé

gouttes                                    worchestershire

au goût                                    sel, poivre

100g                                        fromage cheddar râpé

option                                      bacon cuit et haché

au gout                                    sirop d’érable



Faire poêler champignons dans l’huile à feu vif. Quand la coloration commence, baisser le feu et ajouter le beurre, les oignons et continuer la cuisson plus lente pendant 5 à 10 minutes de plus, ajoutant l’ail à la fin, jusqu’à temps que les champignons sont cuits au centre, tendre et encore juteux et l’oignon translucide. Rajouter un peu d’eau si c’est trop sec pour terminer la cuisson. Assaisonner les champignons à votre gout (sel, poivre, worchestershire, herbes..)

Déglacer avec le vin blanc, et réduire. Ajouter la crème et enlever du feu.

Garnir de légumes verts et faire quatre trous (nids) et placer les œufs.

Ou séparer les champignons et les légumes dans 4 cocottes individuelles beurrées et placer les œufs au centre.

Assaisonner et garnir de bacon si vous désirez.. Ajouter une cuillère de sauce/crème par-dessus l’œuf. Garnir de cheddar râpé.

Enfourner à 350F pour 10-20min jusqu’à la cuisson désiré.

Avec des ramekins individuels, on peut les mettre dans une plaque avec de l’eau chaude pour une cuisson plus douce (et plus lente). Peu importe, verifier la cuisson après 10min.

Servir avec un filet de sirop d’érable et sauce piquante.

Une salsa de tomate et du bon pain accompagne bien aussi.


Lemon-Poppyseed Poundcake

*I don’t remember where I got this particular recipe which uses cake flour, baking powder and an off kilter ratio with more butter, but I like it.

1 loaf (standard 9x5)

270g                                        butter

1/2c each (230g total)             brown sugar, white sugar

5ml (1tsp)                                vanilla extract

15ml (1 Tbsp)                          lemon zest

4                                              large eggs

2c (230g)                                 cake flour

5ml (1tsp)                                baking powder

30ml (2Tbsp)                           poppy seeds


Have all ingredients at room temperature first of all.

Cream together the butter and sugars, lemon zest and vanilla (or whatever flavours you like) until light and fluffy.

Add in eggs one at a time, whipping well after each.

Combine dry ingredients and mix into butter-sugar-egg mixture, gently incorporating until homogeneous.

Bake at 350F in a greased/parchment lined loaf pan for 50min-1hr until a knife comes out clean.


Posted on Friday, April 14, 2017 at 12:23AM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Minute sauce

I’m a sauce girl.

At work, I put lots of love into my sauces, starting with deer, duck or mushroom stock. At home, I like to keep on hand ready-to-use stock reductions, MEP to be able to make a quick and delicious sauce without too much work or planning ahead.

When cooking meat, I always prefer a pan to the grill, even in summer since I hate to miss out on deglazing the pan for sauce. I care more about the sauce than the meat itself.

I think everyone should have a few sauces under their belt for a life worth living.

When I was teaching this winter, after learning a few classic 'mother' type sauces, my students were pleased with this easy one, reminding me to share it.

In a pinch, it's a favourite one to whip up that requires nothing but a few pantry/fridge staples.. Particularly good with fish and poultry, it is quite passé-partout (versatile).

I call it my minute sauce because it literally takes a minute if you make a small batch, say for two. It’s a cross between a classic wine cream reduction and a sauce vierge/warm vinaigrette à la Anne Desjardins (Eau à la Bouche). 

I remember seeing her make her 10 second sauce by combining lemon juice or a good wine vinegar, a good olive oil, a touch of cream and some fresh herbs in a mini copper saucepan, marvelling at the delicious simplicity - how dare she! (Not to mention that the broken emulsion look was not yet hip, seen as a flaw in classic cuisine).  I like adding the shallot wine reduction and a mix of fresh and/or dry herbs. We have a salted wild herb pesto that keeps in the fridge year-round that’s got mustardy, garlicky kick with anise, parsley, celery notes -a life-saver and full of summer flavours, but any pesto or mix of chopped herbs (dill, tarragon, parsley, basil, chives..) will do..


Wild herb minute sauce

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

4-8 portions

45ml (3 Tbsp)                        chopped French shallots (1)

30ml (2 Tbsp)                        good cold press olive, canola, hemp or sunflower oil (or JS wild herb oil)

2-5ml (1/2-1 tsp)                   minced garlic (optional)

60ml (1/4 c)                           white wine or cider

125ml (1/2 c)                         heavy cream 35%

30ml (2 Tbsp)                        Pesto or JS salted herb pesto

2-5ml (1/2-1tsp)                    good cider, wine or sherry vinegar or lemon juice

To taste                                  sel, poivre

To taste                                  hot pepper sauce


Method :

Sweat shallots (and garlic if using) in oil for a few seconds in a small pot or saucepan.

Add wine and reduce to a third, almost dry.

Add cream and herb pesto, reduce by half or to desired consistency.

Season to taste with a touch of acidity, spice and salt & pepper.. 

*Depending on pesto or salted herbs used, you might very well not add salt or garlic.

*Serve with fish, poultry, pork, red meat, eggs, vegetables/legumes or pasta..


Sauce minute aux herbes sauvages

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

4-6 portions 

45ml (3 c.a.s.)                       échalotes françaises émincés  

30ml (2 cu.à soupe)             bonne huile première pression huile d’olive, canola ou tournesol (ou huile d’herbes sauvages JS)

2-5ml (1/2-1 cu.à the)          d’ail émincé (option)

60ml (1/4 t)                            vin blanc ou cidre

125ml (1/2 t)                          crème 35%

30ml (2 c.a.s.)                       herbes salées/pesto d’herbes sauvages/pesto d’herbes au choix

2-5ml (1/2-1c.a.t.)                 bon vinaigre de cidre, Xeres ou jus de citron

Gouttes/au gout                   huile de piments/sauce au piments ou pincé piment broyé

au goût                                  sel, poivre


  1. Ajouter vin blanc et réduire à un tiers, quasiment à sec.
  2. Ajouter crème et herbes salées. Réduire à moitié ou jusqu’à consistance désirée.
  3. Assaisonner au gout avec acidité, piquant, sel & poivre.

*Dépendant des herbes salées ou pesto choisis, probablement pas besoin de sel.

*Servir avec poisson, volaille, porc, viande rouge, œufs, pasta, legumes ou légumineuses..

Posted on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 03:13PM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , | CommentsPost a Comment

Mushroom Maple Popcorn

We serve this at the restaurant during our mushroom festival and so over the years, it has become a thing.. Full on umami, with mix of salty and slightly maple sweet, it’s hard to stop eating.

On offer at our Jean Talon Market stall Thursday March 23rd, 5à8 during the Market Maple event, and for our own Maple event in April (when the sap will actually be running)..

Or if you want to make it yourself, easy peasy; see recipe below.. When was the last time you made popcorn stove-top? It’s the best and really no trouble at all.


Mushroom Maple Popcorn

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages


12 portions (6L)       

1 c (200g)                              organic popcorn  

2 Tbsp (30ml)                        corn oil or grapeseed oil (or other neutral cooking oil)

Topping :

1/4lb (120g)                           butter

1/4c(60ml)                             maple syrup

2 Tbsp (30ml)                        tamari (or soya sauce)

1 Tbsp (15ml)                        JS wild mushroom oil

1 tsp (5ml)                              JS wild mushroom salt (or pinch of sea salt)


Heat oil in a big heavy bottom pot that you have a tight fitting cover for. Add popcorn and stir to coat kernels evenly. Put the lid on and turn the heat to high.

Without removing the cover, shake the pot regularly. Once the corn starts to pop, you will have 2-3 minutes of more regularly shaking the pot so that the popped kernels don’t burn and the un-popped kernels fall to the bottom to pop.

When the popping stops, remove from heat and wait a minute or two.

Meanwhile or beforehand, prepare the topping by combining the ingredients in a little pot, bring to a boil and turn off.

Empty the popcorn into a big bowl. Add topping and mix well. Start with a tablespoon per cup and adjust to taste. Add extra salt to taste if necessary. **It’s best to add the topping at the last minute before serving or make and keep warm.

You can also dry toast it in a low oven (around 200F) for 30min to make it crunchy and so it holds well (say prep it in the afternoon for a dinner party).


Popcorn aux champignons sauvages et à l’érable

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

12 portions (6L)                

1 t (200g)                               popcorn bio

2 c.a.s. (30ml)                       huile de maїs ou huile de pépin de raisin (ou autre huile de cuisson neutre)

Garniture :

1/4lb (120g)                           beurre

1/4t (60ml)                             sirop d’érable

2 c.a.s. (30ml)                       tamari (ou soya)

1 c.a.s (15ml)                        huile de champignons JS

1 c.a.c. (5ml)                          sel de champignons JS (ou pincé sel de mer)


Mettre l’huile de maïs/pépin de raisin dans un gros chaudron de 8L pour lequel vous avez un couvercle. Ajouter le popcorn, mélanger bien, mettez le couvercle et allumer le feu au max.

Brasser le chaudron sans enlever le couvercle régulièrement pendant quelques minutes. Quand le maïs commence à éclater, vous en avez pour 2-3 minutes à brasser le chaudron, toujours en gardant le couvercle étanche.

Quand vous n’entendez plus d’éclatements, arrêtez le feu et attendez quelques minutes.

Avant ou pendant ce temps, préparer la garniture en mélangeant tout dans un petit chaudron; amener à l’ébullition et arrêter le feu.

Videz le chaudron de popcorn dans un gros bol. Ajouter la garniture par-dessus et mixer. Allez y au gout (2 c.a.s.+ par portion de 2t ) ou 15-20ml par tasse.

Ajouter sel aux champignons de plus au gout.

**C’est mieux de mettre la garniture à la dernière minute ou garder le popcorn chaud. Ou si on veut le préparer à l'avance, on peut le passer au four pour 30min à 200F pour qu'il reste craquant.



Posted on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 02:50PM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , | Comments2 Comments

Slowfood says no to TPP

Slowfood takes a stand against the TPP. No doubt this kind of industrial free trade does not make sense when it comes to fresh food, which should naturally be grown/raised produced close to home for taste, health and freshness, control and community, and for long term sustainability of our local food supply and economy. Vote with your grocery dollar and support our local artisans doing things right if you want them to stick around.

Pour une alimentation saine, délicieuse et durable, Dépenser locale et encourager les artisans de notre région!

Slow Food condamne la ratification du CETA par le Parlement européen

Le CETA sert les intérêts de la grande industrie, au détriment des citoyens et des petits producteurs

L'Accord économique et commercial global (ou CETA) entre l'UE et le Canada vient d'être ratifié aujourd'hui par le Parlement européen, malgré une opposition massive du public.

Le vote du Parlement européen va à l'encontre d'une large coalition citoyenne appelant au rejet de cet accord, du côté canadien comme du côté européen. La mobilisation contre le CETA a fait naître un mouvement démocratique européen d'une force inédite, grâce aux voix de 3,5 millions d'individus de toute l'Europe ayant signé une pétition contre le CETA et son accord jumeau, le Partenariat transatlantique sur le commerce et l’investissement (TAFTA).

Pour Carlo Petrini, président de Slow Food : « Les accords commerciaux internationaux sont inutiles s'ils ne parviennent pas à élever les normes (environnementales et sociales) de production, afin de protéger les intérêts des petits producteurs. Ce n'est pas le cas du CETA et ce n'était pas non plus le cas du TAFTA. Ce ne sera d'ailleurs jamais le cas d'autres traités similaires à venir. Les signer revient à renoncer à la fonction régulatrice et législative qui devrait être la prérogative des gouvernements, en privatisant ainsi également les processus décisionnaires. »

José Bové, Député européen, est allé plus loin encore : « L’Accord de Libre-échange avec le Canada va avoir un impact très dur pour les paysans européens et canadiens en particuliers dans les zones rurales difficiles comme les régions de montagne. Je crains plus particulièrement que certains produits alimentaires de qualité soient lourdement pénalisés par une fausse protection des AOP.

Les grandes entreprises et les multinationales sont donc aujourd’hui les gagnantes de ce deal. Ce vote est un échec mais la bataille continue car le CETA doit être ratifié par les 28 états membres. La lutte menée au niveau européen doit être démultiplié nos différents pays.

Je suis convaincu qu’il y a une urgence absolue à stopper toutes les négociations bilatérales pour relancer des négociations multilatérales qui prennent en compte les droits sociaux, environnementaux et surtout la question climatique. »

Slow Food appelle les États membres de l'UE à consulter la société civile, à écouter les voix de tous ceux dont la vie serait menacée et à prendre en compte la menace faite à notre démocratie. Il est inacceptable pour des gouvernements démocratiques de renoncer officiellement à leur pouvoir en faveur d'accords de libre-échange qui réduisent les droits et les protections dont nous bénéficions, en tant que citoyens et en tant que travailleurs. Les individus avant les profits !

C'est maintenant à la société civile de se battre, au sein de chaque État membre de l'Union européenne.

*Contexte :

Suite à la signature du CETA par les gouvernements canadien et européen en octobre 2016 et de votes controversés dans plusieurs comités du Parlement européen, le vote d'aujourd'hui en session plénière du Parlement, était l'étape finale de la ratification du CETA au niveau européen. Une grande partie de l'accord entrera désormais en vigueur dès le printemps 2017. Mais l'accord ne sera mis en œuvre dans son intégralité qu'après ratification par les parlements des 28 États membres, y compris ceux où le CETA est hautement controversé et donnera lieu à des référendums.

Pour en savoir plus, vous pouvez contacter :

Service Presse de Slow Food International - Twitter : @SlowFoodPress

Slow Food est une organisation internationale qui repose sur un réseau local d'associations et envisage un monde où chacun puisse avoir accès à une nourriture bonne pour lui, pour ceux qui la produisent, et pour la planète. Slow Food implique plus d'un million de militants, chefs, jeunes, exploitants, pêcheurs, experts et universitaires dans plus de 160 pays. Autour d'eux, le réseau compte environ 100 000 membres Slow Food rattachés à 1500 antennes locales du monde entier, qui contribuent au mouvement grâce aux adhésions, mais aussi aux événements et campagnes qu’elles organisent Plus de 2400 communautés de la nourriture Terra Madre qui produisent, à petite échelle et de manière durable, des aliments de qualité, alimentent également ce réseau dans le monde entier.

Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 01:58PM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Foraging tips and recipes

With the current trendiness of local, seasonal food and notably wild produce, naturally many foodies and chefs are eager to have a go at foraging themselves. After all, it is a part of our heritage living off the land, a rural practical tradition that was slowly largely lost (luckily except for in my partner François’ family).

Wild edibles being our passion and business, (Les Jardins Sauvages a pioneer, thirty years in now), naturally we are delighted that people are curious and open to eating our terroir treasures; however, there is a downside  to this trend.. Many among this new set however excited in theory are city dwellers and completely disconnected from nature; they are not afraid enough, or careless , wanting to go too fast without sufficient knowledge, or respect for nature and awareness of sustainability issues.

It is important to have some background information before attempting to forage on your own.

Equally, if you purchase wild food, you want to know that the seller is first of all certified with an official business, knowledgeable and respectful of nature, picking sustainably, mostly on private property if not owned then with permission. Especially restaurant Chefs who are dealing in larger quantities should take responsibility when they put foraged foods  on their menu, ensuring that it is from a reliable sustainable source (paid for with bill). The increasing number of hacks and black market is dangerous on all levels not only in terms of sketchy product commonplace, but in terms of sustainability of the resource with no traceability (picked how, where, by who). Not to mention that without the overhead of running a business, these occasional pickers crash the market making it difficult for an experienced business like ours doing it right, working with the government and schools, dealing with inspectors and paying taxes etc. (and who paved the way to boot).. Awaiting regulation, the best we can do is keep doing our thing while educating..

I recently hosted a crew of explorers who were here for a forest cooking competition (Woods Greatest Canadian Explorer)  in a survival type series of challenges (airing July 28th) . We gave them a crash course in foraging with many of the wild edibles on our property before they had their cook off using wild foods and regular camping gear and dry goods. When customers come to the restaurant for a workshop dinner too, these are the main points we share with them about foraging before they go out identifying and tasting with François.

Photos of Quebec wild edibles

Bonus below are also a couple of easy recipes that you can dress up or down, meant to be doable while camping.


Foraging Tips

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

Know what you’re doing!

Ensure proper identification. Don’t rely on only one book (especially with wild mushrooms).

Ensure proper picking, both for taste and Mother Nature. There is a specific way for each wild edible (how, when and where).

Some greens are hardy, growing like weeds in the right environment (like lambs quarters, garlic mustard..) while others have a slow reproduction cycle so can easily be endangered if over-harvested (like ramps/wild garlic, wild ginger, crinkleroot). Don’t touch unless you know the life cycle of the plant and that it is in a healthy population.

In general, don’t rip out roots. Prune tips or leaves from mature plants, leaving buds; leave young baby sprouts alone.

Leave more than you take.

Besides for sustainability, there is also a proper way to forage for deliciousness and digestibility. Some plants are best picked in the morning (say dandelion), others at noon (say some flowers and goats beard).. Some plants are tasty when growing in a moist humid shady wooded area, while bitter, even inedible in a dry sunny season or spot, as with live-forever, wild rocket and mustard, sea chickweed..

Keep in mind that many wild edibles need to be cooked, for example: fiddleheads, milkweed, most wild mushrooms. It is a good idea to wash your harvest. When cooking, follow your palette: If it is pungent, use sparingly like an herb; if it is mild, then use as a salad green or vegetable.

Don’t be in a rush. Be cautious, not stupid.

Books and google searches might be a fine help, but there is no shortcut for experience.. Time in the Woods is Key! The best way to learn about foraging is to get to know your property or a patch of land/woods nearby that you can visit often, observing patterns, trees and what plants/mushrooms grow where every year, including the impact of your harvest (if you have permission to pick.)  Start with a few plants and mushrooms, get to know them well and slowly widen your scope every year.

Some wild greens/vegetables to explore without fear: Live-forever, trout lily, violet leaf, day lily, fiddleheads, lamb’s quarters, amaranth, garlic mustard, wood sorrel, sheppard’s purse, wild mustard leaf, wild celery/lovage.. Always keeping an eye out for familiar wild berries, wild mint and chives..

Some wild mushrooms to start with: 

Boletes (A family of hundreds including Porcini with the sponge under the cap) – While not all are of interest, they are not dangerous.

Lobster Mushroom – characteristic red colour and shape

Chanterelles – there is only one ‘look alike’ and easy enough to differentiate

Oyster/Shelf mushrooms on maple trees. Most are good when young, avoid really old rotten trees.

Be afraid of very pretty picture perfect mushrooms – often the deadliest!


Fish baked with crinkleroot, tomato and wild herbs

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

4 portions


500g                                         fresh fish fllets (or 1x 2lb whole fish, gutted)

45ml                                         Butter and/or olive oil

1 c (250ml)                                shallots or onion, sliced thin

60ml (1/4c)                                sliced wild garlic (or 30ml minced garlic)

15ml (heaping Tbsp)                  steak spice

125ml (1/2c)                              white wine

30ml (1 Tbsp)                            crinkleroot (or horseradish)

375ml (1 1/2c)                           diced tomato (1 can)

250ml (1 c)                                heavy cream

1.5L (6 c)                                  wild greens such as lambs quarters, sheppard’s purse/wild rocket sprouts, mustard leaf, amaranth..) or spinach/greens of choice

60ml (1/4 c)                               wild herbs such as wood sorrel, garlic mustard leaf, lovage, ramp leaf, chives, angelica, yarrow.. (or dill, tarragon, basil/ herbs of choice)

To taste                                    salt, pepper

To taste                                    hot sauce or chili



The fish can be cooked whole and served off the bone too. It all depends on your camping set up and mood.

Sprinkle the fish with steak spice.

Heat large pan or pot on burner or fire, sweat onions in butter/oil a few minutes, add garlic and crinkleroot, then white wine, tomatoes and cream. Place fish in sauce and top with wild greens and herbs, season to taste. Cover and bake or cook gently for 15-20min or until just starting to pull apart. A whole fish will take twice as long.

For the simplest method: All the ingredients can be put in a covered pot on the fire or in an aluminum foil packet (en papillote)..


Wild Mushroom Rice bowl

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

4 portions


225g                                         wild mushrooms (such as chanterelles, hedgehogs, lobster mushroom, young king or yellow boletes, black trumpets..), cleaned and sliced

45ml                                         grapeseed or olive oil

15ml (1 Tbsp)                            butter

1/2c (125ml)                              chopped shallots or onion

30ml (2 Tbsp)                            wild garlic (or half as much garlic), sliced thin

10ml (2 tsp)                               wild ginger, minced

250ml (1c)                                 long grain rice like basmati

125ml (1/2c)                              white wine

30ml (1 Tbsp)                           dried mushroom powder

375ml (1 3/4c)                          water or broth

To taste                                   Spices (ex. clove, bay leaf, pinch thyme or curry powder..)

To taste                                    salt and pepper          


1L (4c)                                     Mix of wild greens and herbs such as lambs quarters, dandelion, wild rocket, ramp leaves, day lily shoots, daisy, sorrel, mint.. (or say spinach, watercress and basil, coriander, mint..)

30ml (2 Tbsp)                           Olive oil

Optional                                   splash sesame oil


100ml                                      pickled mushrooms, fiddleheads, kimchi or pickle of choice                                                    

To taste                                   Chilli/hot sauce



Sauté mushrooms in a hot pan with oil. Once they start to colour, add the butter and onions and turn down the heat to medium, cook a few minutes and add the rice, garlic and ginger, stir to coat the rice. Add the mushroom powder and wine, reduce slightly. Add the water/broth, season with salt, pepper and spices of choice. Cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, until rice has absorbed liquid and looks almost done. Remove from heat and let sit 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss greens and herbs with a good oil, salt and pepper.

Serve rice topped with salad and pickle.

Add a fried egg, tofu, cooked sausage, leftover chicken/steak or protein of choice for a more substantial meal.



First Bite, a book about how we learn to taste

First Bite, by Bee Wilson

This is a book about how we learn to taste and eat, with a fresh look at the latest research - the balance of nature vs nurture, how psychology and culture play in and more.. 

Fascinating stuff!

Eating well shouldn’t be complicated in our land of plenty, but somehow in our western society, we have made it so.  I can't help but think, 'Problems of the rich!' but no, it turns out that there is nothing straightforward about it. Here the author attacks our eating habits and food issues by delving into how we learn to like what we do in childhood, showing that taste is a skill, a learned behavior, more than we think.

Besides a small genetic component providing us with variable appetite, physiology and sensitivity to certain flavours, our likes and dislikes are mainly acquired. Across the world, we all are born with an innate predisposition towards sweetness and a suspicion of bitterness. We all start with a diet of milk, but after that, it’s all about flavours and what is normal differs depending on culture.  And by the way, the whole idea of ‘kid food’ as separate from adult food is unique to ours.  ‘A kid that only eats cornflakes says more about the parents than his/her personality.’ Nonetheless, the author refrains from taking on a tone of telling us what to do, sharing her exploration of our taste buds, rituals and common hang-ups, causing us to think anew about the multiple facets of our funny relationship with food.  

Interestingly, there is a magic window between four and seven months when a baby is more open to new tastes, after which they typically enter a neophobic stage (fear of new foods), when the whole process of getting children to like what’s good for them becomes more difficult, and which we often bypass with the focus on breastfeeding followed by bland sweet mush.

Another interesting tidbit: A regimen of successive exposure to ‘Tiny Bites’ appears to be a sure tactic to introduce a new food to even the fussiest of children, the key being pea sized morsels outside the pressure of mealtime threats and bribes.  Most kids come to like a ‘despised food’ after 4-5 tries, requiring up to 14 times for a tough case such as an autistic child. It especially helps if the broccoli or whatever it is that is ‘good for you’ isn’t treated like it isn’t supposed to be yummy (worthy of a sweet treat). Pressuring a child to eat greens teaches him/her to dislike them. Force feeding is problematic in this day and age when lean times are not necessarily around the corner; abundance has made obsolete the notions of our grandparents with their 'waste not, want not' philosophy and penchant for generous portions and food treats when possible due to memories of hunger and harsh times. 

Now, an ‘ Authorative but Warm’ parental feeding approach seems to be the most beneficial  for long term health and weight  which means caring and controlling what is on the plate or in the pantry, but allowing children to learn to self-regulate as early as possible. There are many proponents for BLW (Baby Led Weaning)– babies feeding themselves with their hands as of 6months finger foods like steamed vegetables, risotto, soft fruit and bread, even lamb chops.  

Experiments show that children who are only introduced to lumpy solids after 10 monthes are more likely to show feeding difficulties as toddlers such as trouble swallowing or general anxiety about eating anything but familiar comfort foods. 

Another notorious experiment showed that toddlers to ten year olds who were left on their own ultimately chose a sufficient quantity of a variety of foods and healthy diet overall (yes fruit and vegetables and including bone marrow and cod liver oil)-the key was that that what was available was a variety of reasonably wholesome foods (not junk).

We are reminded that likewise; we can unlearn bad eating habits by slowly changing our tastes even as adults. Medical evidence has long established that the healthiest diet is composed of moderate helpings of a variety of real whole foods, mostly plant based and minimally processed, alongside regular exercise. Ritual and culture (rules) often help structure healthy eating behaviour. Unlike the occasionally contradictory nutritional information about fat and carbs, it has never been controversial that we should eat our veg. Yet, we are eating less than ever. So it’s not about information or knowledge but applying it, learning new habits.

There is an increasing consensus among neuroscientists, psychologists and biologists in the nature vs nurture debate about how taste works, however complex and influenced by many factors, it is fluid, changeable, certainly not fixed. Our ‘tastes’ are just reinforced patterns of neurons firing relying on the drug famous dopamine response.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter/hormone released in the brain when you do something rewarding that provides pleasure. The chemical signal (dopamine response) can fire up at even at the sight of (in anticipation of) a food linked to a prior positive taste experience or memory. So it’s not about physical taste more than it is the thought of it and what it means to us including the context (in relationship to the cook/parent or company, the identity or statement it provides, social acceptance etc, ie the story associated with said food.)

Peer pressure, siblings and societal gender roles also have an influence, whether positive or negative (they are part of the story, obviously!). 

It’s interesting to have science back it up, but we all inherently know how true all this is -from our favourite meals being tied to love or celebration or nostalgia, our phobias from traumatising situations, that food tastes better when you can see it and that it looks delicious or if you are led to believe that it will be for whatever reason..

So how can so many people get away with being so absolute in their claims to like/dislike foods, or allowing their kids to be such fussy eaters beyond a short phase?? As a cook, I’ve seen people go from hating fish or coriander or blue cheese or spice to adoring it so many times depending on how it is prepared, by having an open mind or with acclimatization, I find it infuriating to hear someone say they won’t try something.

I just see it as a missed opportunity for pleasure or life experience. Like I said, I believe eating should not be so complicated. Bee Wilson proves that it is and isn’t in the best of ways, which is only empowering, good news for those with food issues and parents of young children.  No need to stress out over nutritional labels if you learn to love your veggies..

But, in case you do want to know more, I can go on with miscellaneous compelling facts and thoughts from Wilson's book..

Hunger, the most basic of physical needs for survival, is not simple either. Way more complex than low blood sugar, running deep and muddled in how we feel it and respond to it. ‘If you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat it’ does not always work.. The sweet peanut based Plumpy Nut miracle food created to beat malnutrition in Africa did not have the same success in Bangladesh or India because it is foreign to what food should taste like to them;  a bean/lentil coconut thing is in the works.  In understanding hunger on a biochemical level, there has been progress. There is leptin concentration (an indicator of much fat is available and a cue to stop eating); while studying binge eaters, it appeared that over-eating can cause resistance to it. Another biomarker for hunger that stimulates us to eat is Ghrelin yet it has been shown that outside factors such as regular mealtimes can trump these biomarkers. There is CCK, a gut hormone that is released when the stomach is full (of fat and protein, or just extended) that suppresses hunger. Yet again, there is an important cognitive effect on hunger and satiety, for example heavily influenced by how much food we are offered (portion size!).  While our body is supposed to stop eating when it registers that we are full (as easily happens with children under the age of 4), it seems that many of us have learnt to ignore these cues. The conventional cereal and juice might be the worst start to the day. Fact: Soup and protein will keep us full longer. Fact: We tend to eat more when distracted. Mindfulness and education can teach children as well as adults to more accurately listen to hunger and self-regulate.

We have a lot to learn from other cultures (before they catch our eating disorder). Japan is a stellar example of diet (and change; what we associate with Japanese is relatively new). The French have also taught us a few things, it being natural to raise kids in a ‘civilized’ way with rules and sensory education, a reverence for food and dining; which surely help develop an overall attitude towards eating that is open to variety, less governed by the simple sugar-salt-fat equation that is the normal pull here.

Eating disorders are revelatory since often they are best understood as extreme versions of regular, common irrational feelings toward foods and feeding disorders such as emotional binging to selective eating.. However recent research suggests that in the case of anorexia, there is a more definite genetic factor, but it remains a predisposition, requiring other environmental stress in childhood and trauma triggers as well as other untreated conditions (depression). Anorexia is correlated to a dysfunction of the insula, a part of the brain that regulates anxiety which appears to be linked to flavour processing, as if an anorexic brain has a hard time recognizing pleasure, which makes recovery tougher than with others. 

Family Meal! is the one universally beneficial lifestyle choice for all.  When it comes to people  with feeding disorders (fussiness, phobias), or with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia..) alongside medical help and psychotherapy, the most crucial part of any successful treatment is ultimately a structured meal with others where a range of foods are on offer but in a firm and loving way.

And when it comes to losing weight, which is the fight of many Westerners, the key tips from those who maintain a healthy weight is slow change (towards healthier choices, decreasing portion size and sugar etc) alongside exercise evidently, while avoiding any diet that is too restrictive.. You have to enjoy your diet for long-term success. But with a flexible brain, we can adjust our likes by making little modifications and introducing variety while working on the pleasure response, the ‘story’ around the food, in conjuction with attention to the other senses.  

This power has been exploited by the fast food industry to the max for instance with the optimal potato chip that feeds on our love of crispy, crunchy, fatty, salty and sweet with sensory overload. Consider all the stunts and smoke and mirrors that food purveyors and restauranteurs use to alter/enhance the taste experience with lighting, utensils, music, marketing etc.. The new field of Neurogastronomy is increasingly demystifying these non-taste related sensations that impact flavour,  for one to assist people with eating disorders and chemotherapy patients derive pleasure and nourishment for quality of life.

Cooking is another great FREE way to take control and feed ourselves better; implicating kids in the process makes them more inclined to eat it too.. And it's true that just about no one doesn't have time to cook, it's a choice. I'm a little bossier than Bee on this one.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this informative read! 

A review from the Guardian


Wild mustard greens, our November star

Wild mustard greens

Forager and farmer come together for a win-win project (in French)

You see, among a zillion other wild edibles, we pick wild mustard greens in fall. They taste like their name implies, of green and mustard, yet nutty, with a pleasant touch of bitterness. François refers to them as our ‘wild rapini’. In the wild they can be extremely pungent, or in humid, temperate to cold climate, in the right soil and shady conditions, wow - super delicious! Especially young, the sprouts, even full grown leaves can be so tender and soft, even buttery with but a delicate bite. They are tasty raw in a mixed salad, or gently cooked like spinach. Some years we had it on the menu and used it liberally, other years, not so much; we rarely bothered bringing it to market because among the other better known edibles, it could be a tough sell.

However, François has been wanting to exploit this further for a while. He couldn't help but think that it would be ideal and easy in a greenhouse, consistently customer friendly. He was a conventional farmer before he focused on the wild stuff, he knows that mustard is a good fertilizer. So..

He has been throwing around ideas with André Cormier for years, a nearby farmer who grows asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, corn, squash.. Who has a lot of greenhouses. They have collaborated in the sense that he lets François pick wild greens in and around his fields (weed his garden) and has learnt a lot along the way, even eats some of it himself now. In fall, he grows a fertilizer crop like canola in his greenhouses only to enrich his soil. Finally they got it together this year and André listened to François and grew mustard.. For weeks, it went crazy, he was happy with the 'no sweat' rich green cover and high germination rate, François with the greens he could pick past frost. He was able to sell a bunch at the market if he was there talking about it and making people taste it. (Like most of our stuff, you need to educate, prepare and give a lot away in order to sell). Anyway, I'm happy that we still have local fresh ‘wild’ greens that aren’t blanched sous-vide on the menu at the restaurant.  All in all, it appeared to be an experiment that showed promise. Plus, bonus chickweed (another good weed that I love) that in conjunction, stuck around a little longer.

Finally, the greens froze sooner than we expected, so I guess this project won't go that much further for this year, but it was a small victory for both. André the farmer is happy with the productivity and result of his soil, and François got to harvest greens through November. We don't think it would be worth it to heat the greenhouse for this year, but who knows in the future, if there was more of a market that we would have to develop and secure first. Even if it's just a seasonal one-two month thing post harvest season, it's one more spoke in our wheel.

François is such a great ideas man, in the moment and all over the place, spread thin, not always the best with forethought and planning. We will be better organized next year.. He has collected so many seeds for a myriad of his projects. While in sync dancing with nature, there are still sustainable tangent opportunities to explore. But the reality is that these experiments can never take too much away from where we need to be in day to day business; in October we are so focused on our mushroom festival, the market and then getting ready for the Xmas market in L’Assomption..

No matter, I’m happy that we are constantly trying new things and evolving, me in the kitchen and him in the field. It’s essential.

Posted on Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 12:50AM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Lettre ouverte de Slow Food Lanaudière

Les pesticides, l’agriculture industrielle et notre alimentation

Slow Food Lanaudière enjoint Monsieur Pierre Paradis, ministre de l’Agriculture des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation, à revoir l’ensemble des lois et règlements régissant l’agriculture au Québec pour aider et favoriser les producteurs artisans.

Un reportage de Radio Canada en date du 21 octobre dernier nous apprenait ce que nous redoutions déjà; notre gouvernement provincial a perdu le contrôle de l’utilisation des pesticides sur son territoire tant en quantité qu’en qualité. Le ministre de l’agriculture, Pierre Paradis, avouait dans une entrevue avec Paul Arcand le 22 octobre : « Monsanto est plus puissant que le gouvernement du Québec ».

Il n’est pas très réjouissant de constater l’impuissance de notre gouvernement à veiller sur la santé des citoyens. Ces pesticides dont certains sont bannis, entre autre dans plusieurs pays européens, se retrouvent dans les aliments offerts par les supermarchés et donc dans nos assiettes et sont la cause de nombreux problèmes de santé.

Le ministre Paradis nous conseille d’être vigilant et de revendiquer le droit de savoir comment sont produits les aliments que nous achetons. Nous sommes tout à fait d’accord avec lui et nous l’encourageons fortement à revoir les règles de l’étiquetage des aliments afin que les consommateurs soient informés de la présence de pesticides ou d’OGM. Nous avons le droit de savoir.

Cependant il faut aller plus loin; en effet , il faut aussi qu’une plus grande quantité de produits bios, sans pesticides et sans OGM soit offerts sur les tablettes des épiciers. Ces produits ne proviendront pas de l’agriculture industrialisée. L’agricultrice qui témoigne dans le reportage de Radio Canada dit bien « L'industrie te pousse toujours à être plus performant, à sortir le plus de rendement, à avoir les champs les plus propres possible». La loi de la grande industrie est de produire toujours plus, de baisser les prix et vendre plus pour faire plus de profit. Ces industriels ne tiennent évidemment pas compte dans l’établissement de leur prix de revient de l’augmentation des coûts de la santé due à la croissance des cas de cancers et de maladies chroniques causés par l’usage incontrôlé des pesticides et des additifs alimentaires. Et maintenant, l’Organisation mondiale de la Santé décrète que les viandes rouges et les charcuteries sont nocives pour la santé…

Puisque nous ne pouvons pas compter sur la grande industrie alimentaire pour nous approvisionner en produits sans danger pour notre santé il nous faut nous retourner vers les producteurs artisans qui accordent plus d’importance à la qualité qu’à la quantité.

Le consommateur aura ainsi accès à des aliments sains: Bon au goût, Propre car l’artisan à tout avantage à protéger la pérennité de son moyen de subsistance et à garder sa clientèle avec qui il est directement en contact et Juste parce que l’artisan recevra une rémunération équitable tout en offrant un produit à prix avantageux, ceci grâce à la disparition de nombreux intermédiaires.

Et attention! Selon Boucar Diouf (la Presse, 31 octobre 2015, A25) «Si la tendance se maintient, l’industrie alimentaire (telle que nous la subissons actuellement) risque de vivre, dans le futur, des recours collectifs de l’ampleur de ceux qui frappent aujourd’hui l’industrie du tabac».

Geneviève Longère, coresponsable de Slow Food Lanaudière

Posted on Monday, November 23, 2015 at 01:50AM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Summer highlights 2015

Summer highlights and snapshots à la table des Jardins Sauvages

It’s been an amazing summer so far - fun, fun, fun.


The frequent rain has definitely been good for the greens, while giving us hope for a bountiful mushroom season!

The challenge was that everything went soo fast, it was a major race to pick and put up - from the spring fiddleheads, sprouts and roots to the wild summer vegetables and flowers that we are processing now, each season stressfully short.  For instance, we managed to pickle 20 cs of daisy buds, but missed out on the motherload due to logistics and sick pickers  (When it’s time, you have to be there and organised to seize the window, otherwise say goodbye for a year, boohoo).

The strawberries were awesome at Cormier here but apparently, the weather seems to be tougher on the berries at this point, however the wild ones will no doubt fare better than those cultivated.. There are raspberries along the riverside here and in our backyard, so delicious. François brought home succulent wild blueberries from Lac St-Jean, the Ontario peaches are my favourite truly seasonal import, local corn is really good now, the celery with huge branches, green onions as tall as me. All round, between the wild, our local producers and the Marché Jean Talon, the eating is damn fine these days. The wild mushrooms are starting in earnest, with decent chanterelle harvests, some Lobsters and boletes showing up. So far François has gone far and wide for a few black trumpets. With a warm dry spell, it will all pop.

One lowpoint of the summer for me was suffering through a good dose of poison ivy, a severe frontal burn (big pot blanching with a bad back) and wasp bites (who knew that there was a wasp nest in my smoker!?).. Many years in, I thought I was immune to such country blips, but no. Paranoid of the ever-lurking poison ivy, I am now hyper alert to the natural antidote ‘Impatiente du cap’ which is everywhere (it not being edible, I hitherto paid little attention..). And for the record, it really helps.. Of course, now you all know that as soon as you’re exposed you need to wash well, scrubbing the poisonous oil away with soap and water. But if you didn’t do that and you find yourself with a rash of crazy itchy bites, you make a paste of this plant and spread it all over, nature’s calamine lotion.. I also found that a mix of baking soda and aloes helped when I didn’t want to be covered in green.

Sumacade came to the rescue on hot days for refreshment; afterall, you can’t hang out in the walk-in fridge all day!  I have last year’s fruit on hand, this year’s crop is not ripe yet, very green and astringent but getting more drinkable by the day. Especially with some wild mint and other flowers and herbs thrown in. Melisse (lemonbalm) from my garden is a favourite addition.


The preserving checklist is an ongoing work in progress, and the bulk of my work alongside our dinners. There are more marine greens and a TON of mushrooms in my future, but much of the rest of our staples are checked off for the year.. We sure got a lot done with a small crew..  Check it out!                    

Fiddleheads: 800lb put up at la table – pickled or blanched, frozen sous-vide in 1kg packs for me and 150g for customers off season, plus the seasoned ones for tastings (and customers who don’t want to cook).

Crinkleroot: pickled, paste and dried

Wild ginger: pickled, paste and dried

Garlic Mustard, Lovage, Daisy, Crinkleroot leaf, herbs and etc: .. Many little harvests off and on – Dried, pesto.

Stinging nettle 50lb blanched, sous-vide and dried

Lamb’s quarters (Pigweed) 60lb, blanched sous-vide

Cattails and pollen: Cooked spears, Dried and pulverized flower - enough to be sneezing yellow for a week

Various Flowers dried for tisane and infused for Syrups: Linden, Milkweed, elderflower, sweet clover flower, pineappleweed..  I just love Matricaire (pineapple weed is a good name, we English have it sometimes). We went easy on the milkweed this year , although we have plenty around here,  we figured we best leave more for the butterflies, taking just enough for our aromates and my pink sorbet for July menu.

Pickled daisy buds  15 cs + a few mason jars for moi

Pickled day lily buds 40cs

Milkweed brocoli - 20lb cooked sousvide, a few pickles

Sea spinach 300lb – For Joe La Croute’s Popeye bread, lb packs of cooked, seasoned spinach sousvide, 150g packets for customers in winter, and then some for my freezer.. Plus for my menus.. Sea spinach was key in François’ winning my heart 15 years ago and remains my  favourite of all wild greens.. But every year is new, I am getting over the spiciness and appreciating sea rocket more and more, although it needs to be chopped up and mixed with other greens or used in a punchy salse verde.

Sea rocket pesto my new favourite condiment

Sea parsley pesto, plus dried for our herb salt. There will be more but it’s being left alone for now while it goes to seed.

Bee balm – picking petals every week.. For our butter and aromates. At the beginning and end of the season, we harvest the leaves which are a tasty herb, dried very Earl-Grey like.

Day lilies from our field – a rotation of projects with this delectable edible, from a few sprouts, to the buds (vegetable or pickled), and finally the petals & pistils and buds for our tisane, butter, coffee and aromates.. Weeks of picking and processing right there.

The list goes on..

And throughout, keeping up with our line of products that we make periodically all year: vinaigrettes, oils, mustards, spice mixes and salts, teas.. Our soups, sauces, vacuum packed ready to eat/pret à manger dishes..

New discoveries

Winecaps/Stophaires à Anneaux Rugueux - Not new really, but a little-known plentiful mushroom in early summer that I have gotten to know and adore. It's an easy to like mushroom not so different from a Portabella say, so just sautéed, in an omelette, risotto or pasta dish, yum.. It was our star until the chanterelles came around.

Day-old Day lilies were a revelation - I like the fresh petals of the day for salads, but I had read that the closed day lilies were used in Chinese cuisine and François finds them sweet if a bit mushy, so I made a point of playing around this year. Stewed with pork (as in the Chinese recipe) seems a stretch, but fried in tempura, they are tops!

Carotte sauvage, Queen Anne’s Lace: One of those wild edibles that has been on our todo list forever. The delicate umbrella white flowers are so aromatic, with a sweet carrot scent and notes of green, celery, cedar, menthol.. Nice as a subtle infusion (sauce) or ground up as a finishing spice, I’m exploring the possibilities still. On my menu now in a carrot kolrabi slaw with lamb’s quarters, wild mustard long pepper and duck.  

My wild coffee: A mix I’m working on, ever evolving..  Kind of like a cereal coffee, but not. Featuring roasted dehydrated apios (ground potato), dandelion root, chaga (that famous cure-all wild mushroom that grows on birch), wild carrot root, amaranthe, among other various ingredients.. for a wild & local coffee replacement (alongside our house tisane and mushroom tea!). A bonus for Food Day Canada, that I might keep on the menu for our more avid wild diners. I don’t see how I could market this; like so much of the stuff we do, so expensive/plant heavy/labour intensive. No caffeine, but I think it’s pretty interesting. It tastes like coffee, but local and medicinal, another kind of boost!

Wild Cocktail kit: I let my creativity go concocting various ingredients for cocktails, such as a sarsaparilla sugar, spruce/mint sugar, sumac salt, some syrups and shrubs (sweet/fruity vinegars) building on what we already have like our wild grape ‘balsamic’ or milkweed flower, elderberry/elderflower syrups.. Wild cherry with highbush cranberry, mixing in juniper and spices, Labrador tea, Wintergreen..  I already have many infused spirit, syrups, herbal vinegars and building blocks for bitters. But the thing is, we don’t drink cocktails (preferring wine), we don’t have a liquor licence, so what’s the point, I lost steam when more pressing jobs came onto the agenda. Most of it got transformed into dessert or are sitting there until the next time I want to pick up that thread.

Flower bouquets  This used to be a waitress chore that has slowly become mine over the years. I pick the flowers for starters, so why not follow through. I have found that I love making the bouquets, first of all since I didn't find there was enough love going into it, and the truth is, I simply enjoy it. It's a zen part of my day. I always remember Anne (L'Eau à la Bouche) fretting over the flowers and at the time, wondering why she wasn't delegating and doing something else more important in the kitchen, or talking to her stressed out chef de cuisine, ha!? I never stop learning from her.

Menu hits: At la table des Jardins Sauvages

Venison carpaccio with sea rocket and wild garlic mustard, crinkleroot aioli, Menestrel cheese, pickled buds and sprouts – the quality of the meat (ours!) helps, but here it was the spiciness of the sea-rocket rounded out with the aioli and the cheese, and a good olive oil (sorry, I’m so local but have not found an equal for this, besides Highwood Crossing Canola oil maybe). Coup de Coeur à François.

Crisp veg salad with wild greens, wild chimichurri, pickled egg, petals and duck cracklings – I made this in several versions this summer without the duck or egg which takes it to the next level, but just a bunch of veg sliced thin and marinated with a vinaigrette that I punched up with a pesto of wild herbs under a mound of different wild greens seasoned with a good oil and our herb salt.

Halibut with sea greens and smoked tomato  With fresh fish, can’t go wrong here.. I used my wild salted herbs for an easy sauce with a wine reduction, touch of cream. Instead of a latke or one of my usual potato crinkleroot bases, I made a Leffe, a Norwegian pancake thingie, neat. Like wet gnocchi dough kneaded, rolled out and cooked like crepes.

Wild flower sorbet: The dominant flavour was the milkweed flower, also giving it it’s pretty colour, but the elderflower, acacia provided good background. Paired with a sweetclover cheesecake or pavlova and sweetgrass , it stole the show.


Market issues

What the hell is going on at Marché jean Talon? Such a beautiful place to be in summer, so much top notch produce, it’s so busy, yet it’s dead. It’s become a tourist destination, which should be great, but it’s packed with people soaking up the scenery and eating sausage on a stick, no one with a bag in hand. The actual shoppers have been scared away. For sure, there are public markets sprouting up everywhere, so why leave your village or neighborhood, not to mention supermarkets are doing a somewhat better job with fresh and local.. But still, but nothing beats MJT at this time of year, people seem to have forgotten. You need to know where to go for the best of the best be it corn or tomatoes or herbs, but François is there for that! And there is parking underground.


Anecdote/Theme of the summer:  

Carpe diem with Family & Friends. Life is short. No matter how fabulous or insane life can be, the most important thing is staying true and taking care of ourselves, finding time to be with family and friends. Our business is our baby and forever a labour of love - the momentum is easy, we love what we do, but it is never really all that easy.  We have to do what we have to do, which does mean working our asses off in season, weekends devoted to work, but we’ve decided it’s ok to slack off here and there for family events too.. As well as making a point of jumping in the river as often as possible. Our river is a blessing, a wonderful refreshment, offering up a killer back massage or a bath, a moment to wind down solo and breathe in the country air, gaze in awe at the massive trees and herons circling above, also the perfect setting for a romantic apero or crazy bonfire party. Cheers big ears!

Posted on Saturday, August 1, 2015 at 01:57AM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Food Day Canada 2015

At les Jardins Sauvages, we are celebrating Food Day Canada/ Journée des Terroirs, August 1st!

This is a national ‘holiday’ celebrating local food and good eating.  On the same day, across the country, both chefs and home cooks (whole villages even) will be simultaneously feasting on menus composed of fresh and local products while raising a glass to our rich and diverse culinary landscape.  Organized by Anita Stewart, acclaimed food writer and long time proponent of Canadian food, she has lots of great people and restaurants on board, check it out..

Of course, my menu is always focused on local, artisanal and wild foods, but I love this initiative.  We should be eating like this year round both for our health and happiness, as well as for the land.  I like the idea of fostering national and regional culinary pride, and I am all for another reason to get together over good food and wine, one day at a time.  At the height of the growing season, every meal is so easily a celebration, so why not join in!  

Alongside the market (Jean Talon) and cooking at the restaurant, we are up to our nose in putting up the harvests - dehydrating and infusing, blanching to vaccuum pack/ freeze, pickling up a storm.. The wild vegetables, the flowers, the marine greens, the berries.. And now, the mushrooms! Time to indulge in the abundance! 

Our Food Day Canada menu can be viewed below or at

To reserve, please call 450-588-5125

To take the beverages to the next local level (replacing coffee or tea), we have a new ‘wild coffee’ in the works.. Last year, we did the wild mushroom tea (like a tastier version of Chaga) which many liked but some found weird to finish the meal. Something more like coffee is on order, look out!

 Canada Food Day Menu*

August 1st, 2015 

House smoked Arctic char and gravelax with sea parsley gribiche and pickled day lily and daisy buds, sea spinach and sea-rocket salad with glasswort and Canadian sandspurry, wild herb chimichurri and nasturtium

 Corn and Lobster mushroom chowder with cattail broth, garlic mustard leaf, cattail spear and pollen

 Wild ginger and miso duck with Quebeclong pepper, buckwheat noodles, kohlrabi slaw with lamb quarters and wild mustard, milkweed brocoli tempura

 Venison from the farm with our ‘wild steak spice’, cauliflower and wine-cap mushroom gratin with l’Amateur cheese, ratatouille

 Option : Quebec Cheese plate – a selection from the region, chutney and homemade bread (100g for two; 20$ supplement)

 Sweet clover flower and sumac upside down cake with wild berries and sweetgrass (wild blueberries, elderberries, saskatoon berries and squashberries), American black walnut and Maple-scented Lactarius semifreddo

 Tea, coffee

 Wild leaf & flower tisane, Fair-trade espresso

Sparkling water (5$ supplement)


95.00$ tax included, service extra

(82.63+ 4.13GST +8.24PST)

Bring your own wine


Your chef : Nancy Hinton

Your host and forager : François Brouillard

29 years the pioneer in Quebec wild edibles


Posted on Sunday, July 26, 2015 at 11:07PM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Officially Spring 2015

Spring 2015, a slow start but officially here and going fast now..

Wow, the fervor of spring, ie the beginning of the growing season, feels new and exciting each year but if I look back at written words over the years, it’s like groundhog day, and I’m an annual seasonal broken record..  Maybe that’s partly why I don’t blog as religiously anymore.

So I’m streamlining here with main highlights and an updated slideshow of spring edibles (below), most of which are peaking now.. And honestly, it is indeed different and ever as thrilling year after year, I just no longer feel like repeating everything ten years later.

Spring 2013 post with more detail and photos.. (back when I was able to upload photos here) 

No Doubt, Spring in St-Roch really is the jackpot season, when there is the most abundance of edibles in our backyard. Highlights are always the wild salad greens which are really good this year; with the cold start, the dandelion isn’t bitter at all for instance, the spring beauty, trout lily and daisy so sweet, the live-forever juicy.. 

Spring Edibles slideshow Les Jardins Sauvages

Beyond the little curiosities such as apios (wild potato), the day lily shoots and varied sprouts, roots, spruce tips and such, it always comes down to two main topics in spring..

About ramps: I have said it all before, but..

Bottom line: Know where your ramps are coming from, they are slow to reproduce and need to be harvested sustainably, which is why they are illegal in Quebec. Pick on your own property and you won’t be ripping out any roots, picking carefully and moderately. Harvest the leaves at the end of the plant cycle and use in salads or as an herb, make pesto for the freezer. Same story with crinkleroot and wild ginger which also have a slow cycle, and so are on the endangered list - you can’t be ripping out the roots. Pruning a healthy population on your own property is the only way to go, which is what we do. Chefs and diners should be aware, there are a lot of hacks out there wrecking it for the rest of us.

About fiddleheads I have said it all before, but..

Bottom line: Don’t worry, they aren’t toxic (as long as you are sure you have the right fern), you just need to wash and cook them to the core. There is a molecule that is hard to digest, but it is water soluble and denatured by cooking. They grow in swampy areas, so another reason to wash and cook. But they are super nutritious and delicious if fresh and cooked properly. 5 minutes in lots of boiling water is all it takes, then sauté with garlic, butter/olive oil, a squirt of tamari and cider vinegar, salt&pepper. I like a splash of hot sauce too.  They are great with bacon, bone marrow and duck confit, sesame and nuts, as well as in curry or stir-fries, or just plain with a meat dish.             

Get out there, breathe the spring air eat some greens!

Visit us at the restaurant Our spring menu 

And our workshop dinners are every second Sunday from May to July.

Visit us at the Jean Talon market! The walls are down and producers will start showing up as of this week..

Like our Facebook page Les Jardins Sauvages if you want to stay tuned to what is in season and available at the market..



Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 12:03AM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Connecting with my Newfie roots via Hard Tack

I grew up with hard tack. Not many people here in Quebec have ever heard of it.


It’s a dried bread biscuit from Newfoundland sold in chunks in paper bags. Once a staple for fishermen or folks in far-away regions when fresh bread wasn’t always available, food was scarce and you needed to stretch a meal..

My parents are from Newfoundland, my Mom from St-Johns and my Dad from Deer Lake, now well integrated Quebeckers, fluent in French with their cute accents, francophone grandchildren and all. They are the best, but when I was growing up, I hardly thought so. As a young one in Quebec city with innate survival skills, I hardly wanted to let on that I was Anglophone, let alone ‘a Newfie’.  Already aware that we stood out like sore thumbs, the last thing I figured I needed was Newfie jokes. My mom made her own brown bread and composted, sent us to school with peanut butter sandwiches in recycled milk bags, I wore hand-me-downs and said chesterfield when my friends said sofa; it was a struggle to not to feel embarrassed next to my ‘fancy’ friends.

Nonetheless, I always knew my Newfie grandfather was cool, he hunted and fished and told good stories flecked with colourful expressions we barely understood that sounded so neat. We loved hearing tales about our ancestors in Newfoundland, both families pioneers (be it exploring the arctic or in civil engineering).  As an adult, obviously  that heritage is something I embrace, so it’s high time I pay attention to the culinary side too.  I hear about exciting things happening on the dining scene, but for now, I’m more interested in the old school ..

Flipping through the spiral bound ‘The Treasury of NFLD dishes’, I felt a warmth, like with many old community cookbooks from Quebec/Canada.  Objectively, the recipes seem quite boring, rustic or quaint, yet many dishes struck a chord with me because they reminded me of my childhood, which was a good one. Although I was very critical of much of what my Mom made (being a fussy contrarious brat), her chicken soup, stuffing, stew dumplings and  molasses cookies evoke fond memories.

Sharing these food memories with François over the years, a mixed/pure-laine francophone Quebecker and curious gourmand, he couldn’t help but wonder about this hard tack stuff. I told him that I remember it tasting kind of like soda crackers which he adores (one of the few industrial foods in our pantry, he crumbles up handfuls into his soup?!) But no, these are Hard biscuits (as in hard like wood) that need to be soaked to add to a dish, not normally eaten as is.. Yet as kids, we used to crawl into the cupboard next to the Grand Prix milk (yuck) and pick out a piece each to gnaw on, when there was no more cereal or other accessible snacks, I guess.

So, it was on the agenda. I had to make some Brewis for François (and for me), which is what you call a hard tack dish, typically made with salt fish.  The traditional recipes tell you to soak the hard bread in cold water overnight. Then you soak your salt cod in cold water overnight. The next day, you change the fish water and cook in fresh water gently until done. Clean and flake. The hard tack is supposed to be brought to a near boil in its soaking water and turned off (so warmed through). Then you mix the two together and sauce with scrunchions (fried pork fat bits somewhere between lardons and oreilles de crisses).

I got the precious bag by the mail from my mom via Aunt Carolyn.  I don’t recall any French on the label when I was young, nor was there any mention of ‘low fat’ then, ha. Three ingredients: Flour, water, salt.

François went straight for a piece, didn’t seem to know what to make of it, but went on to nibble on it for an entire period of a Mtl Canadians hockey game. (Hard tack is good for stress, it seems).

I was eager to cook it for him! I thought I should go trad first, but c’mon that recipe is kind of dismal, calling out for a riff.  I had to dress it up, and impress François with this novel  Newfie thing. Being a chef, naturally, I used what was on hand and went from there for my brewis creation.

We get free fish heads from our fishmonger friends so often, we always have halibut cheek meat or some kind of fish stewing, so that was a good starting point.  I added shallots, lardons, ramps, tomatoes (from Lussier), corn and swiss chard from our freezer, crinkleroot(wild horseradish), a touch of white wine and cream.  I added the soaked, reheated hard tack in pieces and it turned into a beautiful hash. That stuff soaks up a surprising load of liquid, so I was happy that I kept it separate first (being inexperienced with this kind of dish but experienced as a cook). Afraid it would amount to a big mound of mush, I hadn’t used enough water at first, having to add some to properly rehydrate, controlling the two before mixing. Anyhow, now I know I can liberally soak and add it all to the fish. It turned out great, accompanied by a salad of wild spring greens..  And François really enjoyed it. He thought it tasted like Gaspésie.


Final verdict:  Yes! For me, maybe not for you.

The hard tack does not dissolve into mush, keeping texture while thickening and boosting a one pot dish, kind of like cooked potatoes or dry bread stuffing or salad and it has a kind of bland but comforting taste, perfect to accompany a punchy, saucy protein.  So, another starch option among the rice, polenta, pasta, potatoes and company.  I might prefer rice or a fresh slice of bread with my meal, but I will definitely finish my bag of dried biscuits, try other versions of brewis and have some fun.  Do I think others should order some up? No, not necessarily. I could easily do without in my kitchen, but perhaps it will become a pantry staple just so I can whip up the occasional brewis.  I love the idea of preserves and a stocked larder in general, feeling like I’m ready for anything, always able to make a hearty fine meal at home no matter what storm or disaster might hit.. I also love ingredients with a story.  

Especially in this case, it’s a with a nod to my Newfie heritage with respect and thanks,  and a desire to share stories and mix cultures that makes me want to carry on this bizarre dry bread tradition.  Next up, maybe some moose brewis for my Grampy.

Photos: Hard tack and my halibut head brewis, François eating with appetite

Posted on Monday, May 4, 2015 at 11:00PM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Eating well off-season

Ok, enough with my seasonal rant about eating local and fresh, enjoying the seasons in time, blablaba..

The reality is it is still winter, everyone is fed up, what to do? No choice but to suck it up, get out when the sun is shining, cook up a storm at home with imports or whatever will make you happy in the moment. Chez Nino helps.. The snow crab and nordic shrimp have begun; Another key address at Marché Jean Talon is Ferme René Lussier for great local tomatoes! 

But! Of course, I have to say something about eating well off season too, and that comes down to putting up. No one talks about it past Sept/October, but this is the time to convince any gourmand that it’s a good tool to have in your box, FTR utterly essential in my world for year round happiness. Now is the time to dream ahead and start planning for next year.

Eating seasonal food out of season is very cool too.  Local, fresh, put up at its peak. It’s our way at La Table des Jardins Sauvages, and we've been trying to convince people of this for years with our line of local & wild vegetables and mushrooms that are frozen sous-vide. It's beginning to catch on in winter, one customer at a time, from the market clientele to chefs.

At the restaurant, we have our roots stored for the winter, greens blanched and vaccum packed or dried, mushrooms, pickles, frozen berries, coulis, tomatoes, peas, corn, game, you name it ..  We have a fully stocked pantry and ten freezers. It’s a parallel approach - taking full advantage of the season, gorging on fresh while preserving the bounty for later.. It becomes normal to eat ramps, fiddleheads, corn and sea spinach in winter as if the seasons don't matter, but it means we have local and wild all year, our trademark. Like in the old days, it just makes sense, and its delicious..  So basically, we’re following the seasons, except for in winter when you eat the other seasons from the gardemanger.

Trust me, you will be less grouchy in winter when you have a freezer full of goodies and canned goods in the pantry.. The thing is, with a whack of preserves, no matter how brutal the weather, you don’t need much to be content, maybe a touch of green crunch and tomatoes from local greenhouses or a bunch of romaine from the store ..  Not to mention that if  there is a major catastrophe, you’re covered for a while (I’m waiting for the next ice storm, we will be wining and dining, weehah!).

So keep that in mind before the growing season starts! Think like a cook, MEP (prep) for the year.. Enjoy the moment first, but don’t forget that at the same time, you could also be preparing for next winter without too much effort. Clean or cook a bigger batch when making dinner, pop a few containers into the freezer. Take a few hours a week, or a day a month in summer/fall, make a party of it, and put up! A foodie stay-cation?! Canning is a good idea for tomato sauce and pickles, but most things are fine, even best just frozen, often blanched/cooked first as with vegetables. Of course, a sous-vide machine to vacuum pack is ideal but I find that most things for the home are fine in Tupperware style containers.  I do our soups and sauces that way and they keep well for months so you shouldn’t be afraid to freeze if you don’t have a sousvide machine.. A dehydrator is great for an array of things, from herbs to fruit to onions and mushrooms.  

These are my lifesavers, some ideas to get you psyched and ready..

Quebec Garlic/Ramps/Scapes:  With the bulb or root, mince and pasteurize by cooking slowly in oil (no colour). Freeze in small containers or sousvide. Pull one out every month for the fridge and every day cooking. Leaves can be transformed into raw pesto (frozen) as with scapes and used the same way. A knife tip/scant teaspoon goes into my salad daily. (Our ramps our picked sustainably on our own property for home use only).

Stinging nettle: Great dried (for tisane, soups, to grind as an herb/seasoning/food additive) or blanched and frozen for soup.. Or made into soup right away..

Most salad greens are best eaten fresh in season and that’s it. Sturdier ones like spinach/lamb’s quarters can be blanched and frozen. Which means you can’t make salad with them afterwards, but they make a nice veg accompaniement or added to soup, pasta, omelets, smoothies etc..

Herbs: Dried or Pesto. I dry some except the most delicate, and make pure pestos, say with sea parsley, sea rocket, crinkleroot leaf (minced with oil, salt) and freeze in small containers to use in cooking. For the market/home, I make a finished pesto (sea spinach, sea parsley, garlic, cheese..) which is ready for pasta, pizza or whatever.

Salted Herbs: I love this old-fashioned recipe which consists of mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot) minced with a ton of chopped herbs and summer greens (a dozen plus) and salt.  I use this magic potion to boost stews and soups, for quick sauces and marinades. I use less salt than a traditional recipe so I freeze it, but it could keep in the fridge for months)..

Tomatoes  - Sauce is the easiest. Whole tomatoes are nice to have too. I can both in mason jars, but it’s easier to freeze, less trouble and you don’t need to worry about ph (acidity). If you jar, make sure you know what you’re doing, add some lemon and boil the jars for 10min+.

Wild and cultivated vegetables, buds, corn, fava beans, peas.. Clean, blanch a few minutes and freeze sousvide or in ziplocs. Some vegetables are best roasted (say squash) before freezing. I pickle some buds and fiddleheads, but keep most natural for later use. For some, it’s a one time seasonal soup and that’s it (served fresh at the restaurant, or packaged and frozen). Forget about putting up asparagus, say.

Mushrooms: I put up 30+ varieties in a myriad of ways, it depends on the mushroom (Dried/Frozen/Pickled/Candied..). Some are best dried (those with a soft texture or with aromas that only develop upon dehydration as with boletes); some firm varieties can be frozen as is but not many as they often develop a bitterness, on top of a mushy texture; many I have found can be frozen well after a first cooking. We have a frozen, local ‘Melange Forestier’ (with first cooking) that we introduced last year, just starting to take off as customers/chefs realize that it’s a good deal, local quality variety that you just can’t get here in winter and if you buy fresh, imported and cook them up (losing half in water), it ends up costing you twice as much. Forget about wild mushrooms in winter otherwise beyond the dried for soup/sauce/stuffings.

Stew/Braised meat:  In hunting season, I make big batches of stew from moose, duck, partridge etc and freeze for the winter. When we slaughter whole deer, I keep all the tender muscles for roasting, make sausage and braise the rest, making stock with the bones – all gets frozen for future use.  I highly reccomend meat sharing (a carcass from a local farm, butchered in pieces, shared among 2-4 families) if you don't have a good butcher like Prince Noir nearby.

Fish/Seafood is best fresh, but still when you come across whole fish freshly caught, filet it up and freeze (this is best sousvide or if not cooked within a couple of months). Nordic shrimp and scallops IQF if fresh.

Berries, fruit: I make jams for the shelf and coulis (both canned, as well as some less sweet for the freezer); I like to freeze most berries whole (and rhubarb diced) IQF to cook with them year round.

Pickles:  Ok, pickles remain a condiment, not a main course to drown the winter blues, but how nice to have on hand to punch up a salad or accompany a charcuterie plate with sparkle, color and crunch. Besides the classic JS fiddleheads and mushrooms, I pickle a shitload of things, have a few traditions like hot sauce and ratatouille that aren’t wild at all, but necessary in my pantry, like my natural green bean pickle and peppers.

There are so many more possibilities on all fronts, from the cooked to the pickled, or natural fermentation (more tricky), to wines and alcohols, extracts.. I steep herbs in alcohol (thé des bois, foin d’odeur, juniper berries, elderberry) too.

Certain precious things should be kept seasonal, because they are best that way. But who’s to judge. Almost anything you love can be put up in some form or another. I like to eat ramps and sea spinach year round (a relatively new luxury habit of mine being with François des bois), which in fact only makes me more excited when the season starts, so I can stock up..

I hope I have you revved up for the growing season, and eating well off season too.. Don't despair, the greens are around the corner!

Happy Spring!

PS and BTW, many of these preserves, we sell at our kiosque Marché Jean Talon if you don't feel like doing it yourself..


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