Yes, it’s getting cold out, but there are still goodies being harvested here!
crosneJewel-like little crosnes and knobby jerusalem artichokes, both a bitch to clean, but worth the effort.
Still alive in the garden are the hardy herbs like thyme and rosemary, as well as beautiful chard and sorrel that isn’t bitter at all.. My trusty favourite wild daisy greens are always available, and the last of the wild mint must be picked before the river rises too high..
From the woods, there is still a trickle of late autumn shrooms from around here, yellowfoot chanterelles from the Gaspesie..
Another big batch of ultra ripe and fragrant juniper berries just picked on the north shore – I’ve never seen juniper berries this good.. They cry out to be treated like a berry-fruit as opposed to a berry-spice.
With the growing season coming to an end, and the mushroom festival behind us, now it’s about playing catch up, preparing for the winter and most importantly, tackling my Christmas cooking.
Hubbard and Potiron
I need to finish the wild grapes, which get transformed into coulis, concentrate and our ‘balsamic’. I have a beautiful mountain of winter squash that has been patiently waiting to be processed. And then, it’s time to focus on the meat.
Two weeks until the X-mas markets open, which means an increased demand for all my braised dishes, charcuteries, soups and sauces.. As well as all our Christmas specialties like game tourtieres, turkey mushroom pot-pies, cassoulet and mushroom desserts – all with a touch of wild..
As of November, our customers naturally shift from the fresh produce to what’s put up, comforting and ready to eat. We sell a lot of soup and stew. Then in December, it’s fancy but homey festive food to share and gift bags that people want. Oh, and ketchup!
For one month a year, my kitchen turns into a production kitchen for stuffed birds, pies, cassoulet, foie gras, terrines and the like.. I pull out my sarriette (savoury), which I only seem to use at this time of year. My soup pot is on a constant simmer, aromas of duck fat and quatre épices in the air, Christmas music in the background.. Now, all that is missing is the snow on the ground and I’ll really be in the mood.
Holiday cooking is fun stuff, but like everything we seem to do, labour intensive. For the tourtiere for instance, I need to first make the duck confit (which takes several days), breakdown and clean the venison then braise it, grind the other meat, make and roll the dough – it’s a week long process altogether. Same for the cassoulet which also relies on confit and some serious pig work before starting (ie. breakdown pig, brine and smoke ham, braise shoulder, make sausage and bacon).. Time to get to work.