January 25, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24,24: The 10 Mile Dinner

You’ve heard of the 100 Mile Diet? Well this is the 10 Mile Dinner! Because I’m always up for a challenge I decided to submit a proposal to Foodbuzz’s January round of 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs that would require me to make a three course meal using ingredients within a 10 mile radius of my house. I was thrilled when they accepted my idea and set to work on planning an exact menu. The results are as follows:

The 10 Mile Dinner

Lavash cracker tower with sautéed watercress, caramelized onion, bacon lardons, smoked trout and maple syrup.

Venison chop roast with mashed potatoes, pan fried shiitake mushrooms and roasted butternut squash.

Pavlova with maple whipped cream, grape sorbet, candied walnuts and wine reduction.

Wine: 2007, Back from the Dead Red from Coffin Ridge

Ever since my proposal was accepted for this round of 24, 24, 24, I’d been trying to think of all the possible ingredients I could use in my 10 Mile Dinner. Some of the ingredients came to mind immediately like venison and mushrooms. Others took a little more time. I would think about it while cooking other meals and reading my cookbooks but I also found myself thinking about while doing things unrelated to food, like cross country skiing. It turns out that was a great time to think about it as I found one of my ingredients while skiing around my backyard. Watercress. It grows in a natural spring that feeds our pond. The spring runs year round which prevents it from freezing and allows watercress to grow even in the dead of winter and surrounded by 3 feet of snow, (its current state). The only way to get to the spring however, is either by skis or snowshoes as the snow’s too deep to walk in for any distance. So ski I did and then proceeded to numb my hands completely as I pulled watercress from the frigid spring. But it was a necessary part of my appetizer so it was worthwhile.

Speaking of which, my appetizer started out as being ‘something with smoked trout’ and evolved to become a napoleon of sorts made by layering homemade lavash crackers with sautéed watercress, caramelized onions and homemade bacon lardons, smoked trout and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Like the appetizer, the entrée began as simply ‘something with venison’ and turned into a venison chop roast with red wine that was rubbed with thyme, rosemary and juniper berries and then covered with the fatcap from the bacon that I finished making on the same day, (bacon is a 7 day process, requiring a cure before it can be smoked). The venison was served with mashed potatoes and roasted butternut squash, both cellared from the garden. There were some unusually large butternut squash in the garden this year so every time I cut one up to roast there are always leftovers, perfect for soup.

I thought dessert might be a bit trickier as I certainly couldn’t use chocolate or coffee and try to call it local. But then I remembered that the freezer is full of summer’s bounty, including a container of concord grape juice that was pressed from our own grapes and was begging for an excuse to be used. Grape sorbet then became the first component of my dessert, which was soon followed by pavlovas, (made with eggs from a nearby farmer) and whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup, (from the nearby sugar bush) candied walnuts, (from my tree) and a red wine reduction, (with the wine coming from this county’s only winery, Coffin Ridge).

Complete List of Local Ingredients

Wine, 2007 Back from the Dead Red from Coffin Ridge

Shiitake mushrooms, from Wylie Mycologicals

Venison, Dad shot it with his bow, locally

Watercress, wild from a spring in my backyard

Potatoes, cellared from my garden

Butternut squash, cellared from my garden

Onions, cellared from my garden

Rosemary, dried from my garden

Thyme, dried from my garden

Juniper berries, wild from my backyard and dried

Concord grapes, juice pressed and frozen during the summer from my garden

Bacon, pork belly was bought from local butcher at Cottenie’s Country Meat and I cured and smoked it

Smoked Trout, caught in Georgian Bay by my Dad and smoked at our house

Eggs, from a farmer down the street

Maple Syrup, from Kemble Mountain Maple Products, (also just down the street)

Flour for crackers, from Saugeen Specialty Grains

Sometimes I miss living in the city but when you can make a meal like that out of ingredients you harvested yourself from your backyard, it’s hard to complain about living in the country.

Be sure to check out Foodbuzz and all of the 24, 24, 24 dinners from around the world. There are sure to be some great ones!


anna said...

That's amazing! I bet it all tastes wonderful, too. The fresher the better!

Snooky doodle said...

what a great idea! Those dishes looks so so good :)

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wow, incredible selection and all local! I love the skiing for watercress in your backyard.

Coffee and Vanilla said...

What a great idea! I laughed so much when I saw the photo about skiing for watercress ;)

Have a good day, Margot

Bellini Valli said...

Excellent Brilynn. I am all for eating and preparing foods from local sources whenever we can. Your menu is incredible and what a setting:D

Sara said...

Wow, fantastic job Brilynn.

Jenny said...

Wow, that is amazing! And an inspiration too.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

What an amazing menu! I'm so impressed at how much your own yard can yield. And watercress that grows through the snow? Who knew?!

Parker said...

Congrats on being picked for the 24 event. Your idea is so great, I loved that you skied to get watercress that is inspiring. The meal looks fantastic, well done!

kat said...

What a great idea, you're lucky to have so much good food so close to you

jen said...

This is a wonderful post - all I want to do now is make bacon! OMG to dream the impossible dream.... Seriously though, I have so much admiration for what you've done and long for the day when we can do something similar. Oh yeah - and you love Trent Reznor - my kind of gal!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

That's a heck of a challenge--great work on pulling it off!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Dang! Now skiing to pick watercress - I want to do that because maybe then I'd qualify for a place at this dinner table!! Wow that's really fun Bri!

Mary said...

I'm so impressed with your creativity!

_ts of [eatingclub] vancouver said...

Wow, 10 miles, eh! And I agree with everybody: skiing for watercress, teehee!

Anonymous said...

Can't get any fresher. How lucky you are to have such lovely foods at your fingertips. Great 24 post!

Nate-n-Annie said...

Congratulations on being selected for a "24" dinner! 10 mile dinner - that's hard core! For using all local ingredients, and even harvesting your own watercress from a natural spring in the dead of winter, I'm simply amazed.

We were also selected for a "24" meal, but our ingredients traveled much further than yours did. At least the fish and crabs for our cioppino were locally caught. Come check out our post!

Joan Nova said...

Very creative and very well executed...and it looks delicious too.