As winter draws to a close and fresh, local, seasonal vegetables and fruits are in short supply, we turn to dried fruits like cranberries; vegetables grown indoors in B.C. like mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes and some lettuce; winter keepers like onions, carrots, parsnips and turnips; and the very first sprouts of spring, like asparagus, which should soon appear out of the thawing soil.
We purchased a whole pig last fall from Gelderman Farms in Abbotsford and have been thoroughly enjoying it this winter. Their pigs are raised using only vegetable products and no therapeutic antibiotics are used. As well the family’s animals are permitted to run about and root in the ground as pigs are in the habit of doing naturally.
We raised our own pigs when we lived on our acreage in the Cariboo and they were the cleanest critters we ever kept, and had tons of character. They’re very clever and can easily be taught, unlike turkeys, who are dumb as posts.
Locally-raised meat is generally far superior to that which has been imported from far away, just as is true of fruit and vegetables.
Plus, you’re supporting your own friends and neighbours in your community, province or country, and keeping that money circulating locally.
For more recipes featuring local foods, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is organized seasonally, so you can be inspired by what’s available fresh and locally, throughout the year.
Pork Stuffed with Spicy Mushrooms
We found the combination of onions, mushrooms, spices, Craisins and pine nuts was great in this and the crisp crumb crust helped keep everything inside nice and moist. Pair this with your favourite pinot noir, one of my favourite grape varietals.
1 pork tenderloin, butterflied
1 small onion
1 tbsp. (15 ml) minced ginger
1 garlic clove
1 c. (250 ml) minced mushrooms
drizzle of oil
1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter
1/2 tsp. (3 ml) cumin powder
1/2 tsp. (3 ml) coriander powder
pinch of cardamon powder
1 tsp. (5 ml) garam masala
salt and pepper, to taste
1 c. (250 ml) day-old bread crumbs
2 tbsp. (30 ml) dry sherry
1/4 c. (60 ml) Craisins
2 tbsp. (30 ml) toasted pine nuts
1 beaten egg
dried bread crumbs
Cut the tenderloin (about a pound) in half so it will fit in the frypan, then butterfly each half, making two lengthwise cuts on opposite sides, one in the middle of the top third and one in the middle of the bottom third of the tenderloin on the other side and lay it out, gently rolling both pieces into an even thickness with a rolling pin or a clean wine bottle.
Prepare the stuffing by chopping up the onion finely and mincing the ginger, garlic and mushrooms.
Heat a drizzle of oil in a frypan over medium heat and add the butter. Saute the ginger and onion for a few minutes until soft, then add the garlic and spices, then the mushrooms.
Cook and stir for a few minutes until they’re all cooked and soft and well-mixed. Add Craisins, a sweetened, dried cranberry, and mix in; then add day-old bread crumbs, drizzle with a little sherry and mix well with the rest of the stuffing.
Cool and then spread this mixture over the butterflied pork pieces, after first seasoning each lightly with salt and pepper.
Roll them each up snugly and wrap tightly with plastic wrap, then refrigerate to firm up, about an hour. Use toothpicks to hold it together if necessary.
Remove the film, dust each with flour and roll each in beaten egg, then in dried bread crumbs.
Heat butter in an oven-proof frypan large enough to hold the tenderloin pieces and quickly brown the crumb crust over high heat. Remove the toothpicks if you used them, then put the pan into a hot (400 F) oven for 10 or 15 minutes, until just cooked through.
Slice to serve.
Blue Cheese Risotto with Asparagus
4 c. (1 l) vegetable stock
1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
1 c. (250 ml) finely-diced onions
1 c. (250 ml) arborio rice
1/2 c. (125 ml) dry white wine
1 c. (250 ml) chopped asparagus
1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter
1 c. (250 ml) fresh chevre
2 tbsp. (30 ml) crumbled blue cheese
sea salt and black pepper, to taste; fresh herbs, to garnish
2 tbsp. (30 ml) chives or parsley, finely minced
Heat stock to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, ready to gradually add to the rice. (Chicken stock works well instead of vegetable stock.)
Melt the butter in the olive oil in a deep frypan over medium heat. Chop the onion finely and add, sauteing until soft and translucent.
Add the rice and move it gently around the pan with a wooden spoon until every grain is coated in the olive oil and butter.
Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally until the rice has absorbed it before adding a half cup of the hot stock.
Stir in and let simmer over medium heat until that has nearly been absorbed and add another half cup of hot stock.
Continue stirring in hot stock, a half-cup ladle-full at a time, until the rice is softening and getting creamy, but it is still firm to the bite, about 20-30 minutes. You should have a ladle-full or so left.
Stir in the asparagus pieces and cook for a minute or two, then add the chevre cheese and stir in, then the crumbled blue cheese.
Taste for seasoning and if needed, add the last ladle of hot stock so the risotto is creamy, and salt and pepper, if necessary.
Garnish with finely-minced fresh herbs.
1/2 c. (125 ml) heavy cream
1/4 c. (60 ml) grated stilton cheese
1/4 tsp. (2 ml) freshly-grated black pepper
pinch of sea salt
Heat the cream in the frypan the pork was cooked in, scraping any bits of brown into the sauce and beating it lightly with a whisk over medium heat. When the cream is bubbling, let it reduce by about half, until it’s nice and thick, then add the grated cheese and melt it in the sauce. Stir in pepper and salt, taste and adjust the seasoning.
Drizzle over the slices of pork.