Earth Day eats
Spanish tortilla with potatoes and rhubarb creme brulee shows the bounties of earth for Earth Day 0
Earth Day's coming up April 22 – let's celebrate Mother Earth. After all, Earth Day represents the main course in our sustainability banquet — from the colours of the foods on our plate, to our buying commitments — it's all about treating Mother Earth with love and respect.
Does such a woman exist? I always conjure up images of a strong, beautiful woman with long, thick locks, bold flowing robes and powerful persona. A stern look can change the weather, a warm wave of her arm can start trees to bud. She's a mythical representation, to be sure, but her name represents everything from from food, to weather, music, to prose. And of the earth, of course. Mother Nature has played a role in everything from fertility to agricultural bounty. Algonquin legend says that "beneath the clouds (lives) the Earth-Mother from whom is derived the Water of Life, who at her bosom feeds plants, animals and men." More than that, Mother Earth feeds us and sustains us with offerings from her generous garden. The Farmer's Almanac encourages us to "get out and walk! Enjoy the fresh air, make contact with soil, and companionship with nature. "Go outside no matter what the weather!" I like that. Let's celebrate Earth Day with a tribute to Mother Earth and the foods that reflect her bounty.
Let's savour the gems of the earth — potatoes! Years ago on a trip to Seville, Spain, I was served these delightful potato cubes that reminded me of a frittata. I've played around with the recipe several times and found great success with this one — great warm or cold.
- 4 medium-size Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) slices
- 3 Tbsp. (45ml) olive oil
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup (125ml) flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 6 eggs
- Salt and fresh-ground pepper
Place potato slices in large pot; cover in cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Boil for about five minutes, drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in large, deep fry pan. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion has softened and is opaque. Add potatoes and parsley to pan potatoes and stir gently to combine. Cook for about five minutes, pressing down into pan. Whisk eggs with 1 tsp. (5ml) each of salt and pepper. Pour evenly over potatoes. Cover and cook over medium heat for a bout 20 until eggs are set. Slide onto a serving plate and serve warm or cold.
Serves 4 to 6.
Rhubarb Creme Brulee
Rhubarb is rich coloured jewel in Mother Nature's crown. Hidden beneath the brown-sugar-crusted custard is the tart, rosy rhubarb purée. Recipe courtesy of Foodland Ontario. (Foodland.gov.on.ca.)
- 2 cups (500 ml) chopped (1-inch/2.5 cm) rhubarb pieces
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) water
- 2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) light brown sugar
In small saucepan, combine rhubarb, granulated sugar, brown sugar and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and rhubarb is softened. Let cool. Custard: In saucepan, heat cream to almost simmer (until hot to touch). In bowl, stir together egg yolks, eggs and granulated sugar, just until blended; gradually stir in hot cream. Strain through fine sieve into bowl or large measure. Stir in vanilla. Divide rhubarb purée evenly among six 6 oz (175 ml) ramekins or custard cups. Carefully spoon custard mixture over rhubarb. Place ramekins in water bath* and carefully place pan in 300F (150C) oven.
Bake until custard sets but still quivers when gently shaken, about 1 hour. Carefully remove cups from water bath; let cool to room temperature. Cover each ramekin tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. To Serve: Gently blot any liquid that has formed on surface of custards with paper towels. Sprinkle 2 tsp. (10 ml) brown sugar evenly over top of each. Transfer cups to baking sheet. Broil as close as possible to heat source until sugar melts and caramelizes, about 2 minutes. Let stand until sugar hardens. (Desserts may be refrigerated for up to 1 hour after broiling.)
*Water-Bath: Place ramekins in roasting pan, large enough to hold them without touching. Pour in enough hot tap water to come halfway up sides of custard cups. Serves 6.