Dandelion Marmalade Recipe

by Kyle Wagenblast, Executive Chef

It’s that time of year again where, whether you love them or hate them, the dandelions are out in full force. When they start lining up for Mount Julian, we start lining up our pots!

 

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Dandelions are one of the first plants to really green up in the spring. They are also one of a few plants that are entirely edible from the flower down to the root. Typically we pluck the leaves and, yes, we have all had dandelion in salad. Boring!

So, what else can we do with this plant? The roots are often dried and used to make a coffee or herbal tea. The leaves, when young, are tender and great for salad, but another idea is to add them to a soup.

And last, but certainly not least, the flower! Vibrant yellow in colour, full of nectar, and essential for our bees. The flower is also the most fun to play with because there is so much you can do. You can fry them in butter, make fritters with them, dandelion wine is a popular choice, or you can even make beer. Today, we are going to make some Dandelion Marmalade!

Dandelion Marmalade recipe; foraging dandelions

Dandelion Marmalade Recipe

Ingredients

4 cups water
4 cups dandelion flowers, yellow and white part only (I picked 7 cups roughly to achieve this)
¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons of pectin (about half a pouch)
4 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Steps
  1. Bring water and dandelions to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer; you should get 3 cups – if not, add a little water.
  3. Combine pectin and ½ cup of sugar in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
  4. Bring dandelion water and remaining ingredients to a boil. Slowly add pectin mixture, stirring constantly and boil for 1 minute.
  5. Skim any foam that may have formed and store in air tight containers.
  6. Refrigerate till set, about 4 hours.
  7. Enjoy!

Note: The shelf life on this should be at least 2 weeks if heat sealed even longer.

 

Our restaurants serve food made with fresh, foraged, and locally farmed ingredients, all part of our Whole Hog food philosophy.


Trout Lilies & The Joy of Foraging

by Ben Samann, General Manager

One of the joys of foraging is finding a community – countless happy little plants around us are known to many people as edible. So, when we hear of a new plant, we go online to find recipes, suggestions, and, importantly, conservation information.

A few years ago, we discovered trout lilies.

You’ve seen them, you just don’t know about them. They’re some of the first greens to pop up, and once they start, they’re everywhere.

It’s important to know a few things. They’re sweetest when they first come up, and once they flower, they turn a bit bitter. They’re slow to spread to new areas, but come back year after year in the same patch. The leaves are easy to harvest, and while the roots are a nice starchy snack, pulling that kills the whole plant.

We’ve been using them for years, mostly in salads (and as a source of vitamins on my hike home). There’s something magical about finding food just sprouting up in nature.

But we’re adventurous! No more “just put it in a salad!”

What are people doing with them? Off to the internet, Chef Kyle! Find some interesting uses! Foraging blogs are easy to find, and many write about how awesome trout lilies are. Recipes abound, but it was the same story: use them in salads, add them to salads, or cut them up and eat them in a salad.

…okay then. Thanks, internet. Off to the lab we go!

Dog with science experiment, captioned

Chef Kyle and I set to work. We pickled, in 3 styles. We jellied. We boiled, mashed, and served in a stew. We made sugar cookies. We candied. Dehydrated.

Interestingly, while this was going on, we were interviewing for a new sous chef. Mandy was coming for an interview to cook a 5-course tasting menu for us. She made a trout lily granita.

In each case, the trout lily flavour was incredibly mild, but always added something. Sometimes it was sweetness, other times we tasted the astringency (bitterness), and sometimes it just added a nice hint of green. But, it was interesting.

At this point, we have a bunch of ideas. We’ll see how many pan out, but there’s fun to be had. It’s an exciting year ahead!

Read more about our food philosophy and how we use foraged, farmed, and locally grown ingredients in our restaurants at The Whole Hog.

 


Preserving Summer

Strawberries being preserved

by Alyssa Joynt

As the lake begins to freeze over and the soft glittering blanket of snow descends over the rooves of the cottages, icing the trees and turning Viamede into a scene out of a mythical Christmas town, it can be hard to remember that just a few short months ago there were people playing on the water trampoline and fresh fruit on the tables. The bright and loud colours of summer can get lost in the wintery quiet, but Viamede has a secret for keeping the flavour of summer alive.

You may have noticed jars on the mantle in 1885 and Mount Julian and passed them off for decoration. All of those jars, however, are preserves, made right here at Viamede to help bring the memories of summer to the table throughout the year. This past July, I got to watch Chef preserve strawberries!

All of the berries come from nearby McLean Berry Farm. It doesn’t get more local then this! Before talking to Chef, I always thought of preserves in the form of jams and jellies. Chef, however, chooses to preserve the berries whole. When asked why, his answer was simple. Whole berries are much more versatile, and “in the dead of winter, when you have these freshly preserved strawberries, it’s just lovely”. As Chef explained, “Strawberries are such an Ontario ingredient… strawberries remind me of Ontario summer more than any other food”, and bringing the delicious flavour of local Ontario berries into a mid-January meal is the perfect way to harken back to the highlights of summer. These strawberry preserves will mostly be used for desserts, because the sugar used as a preservative adds a lot of sweetness, but they can also be used as an accompanying sauce on a cheese plate or in a salad dressing.

So how do the berries get preserved, exactly? The process can take a few days, and involves mixing the berries with sugar to really pull out the flavour, as well as cycles of heating and cooling until the berries are tender and can be strained out of the liquid. The liquid is brought to a hot temperature by itself and any foam is skimmed off, and then the berries are poured into sterilized jars with the hot syrup ladled overtop. The jars are then boiled to seal them and keep out any contamination- if the jars are properly sealed, the preserves can last for a year or more!

Strawberries aren’t the only thing that Chef preserves, though. As he noted, “the more local produce we preserve, the happier we’ll be!”. Viamede’s focus on local ingredients lends well to preserving the landscape around us, so it is always the goal to preserve aspects of each season. Some of the highlights of early summer include garlic, strawberries, raspberries, and cattails, and of course the wild blueberries that are such an iconic ingredient in the Kawarthas. Later summer features tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, and the fall harvest focuses in on squash, apples, and potatoes. By preserving aspects of each season, every meal can remain centered around the local theme throughout the year, while also painting a picture of the seasons and the culinary landscape of the Kawarthas.


The Winter Harvest

by Executive Chef Alexander Barron

We’re well into November and the snows are falling hard.  It’s a visual (and thermal) sign of crossing into winter, though on the calendar it’s still autumn, and the kitchens are preparing to cook through the long snowy season.

In order to make it through, this year we are growing our own greens and sprouts in the main dining room with its floor-to-ceiling windows.  We are still learning the best method, but if you stay with us this winter you may see one of the cooks trimming greens for your salad or sprouts for a garnish on your plate.

Foraging is not completely finished either, as there are a few things we can harvest even through the snow cover.  Many of our perennial herbs can simply be uncovered and trimmed, and then covered up again with snow to protect them from the cold air.  We will also be harvesting sumac straight from the trees to play with.  Part of the fun is seeing what is still available.

This time of year much of the Ontario harvest is still good and fresh (kept in proper storage) so we can pickle a good variety of vegetables.  We’re also getting excited about squash, pumpkin, cabbages, roots, apples and pears which keep well.  They’ve gotten something of a bad name as part of a boring winter cuisine, (think boiled vegetables with no flavour! or don’t if you prefer), but we think this is just part of the cook’s ever-changing challenge to keep food interesting and appetizing.  It doesn’t hurt that Ontario now boasts excellent greenhouses as well.

As the earth quiets, and settles for a long winter’s sleep, it’s time for these beautiful ingredients to shine. The whole culinary team at Viamede is looking forward to serving up hearty, nourishing, and imaginative meals. We can’t wait to welcome you!


Mount Julian’s Fall Harvest

by Alyssa Joynt

As the leaves turn from green to gold, the numbers on the thermometer start to drop, and we watch summer roll into fall, it is the perfect time to look back at the summer gardens of Mount Julian.  When we say that the food we serve is local, we really aren’t kidding.  For the next installment of the Mount Julian blog series, Chef Alexander took me on a tour of the gardens around Viamede and explained how he uses each plant in various ways to create incredible meals.

One of the first gardens I saw was the one situated right next to Mount Julian. The building has gardens both on the side and facing the lake, and all are filled with delicious greenery!

 

 

This lavender has a very short growing season, but can be used in crème brûlées and infused into almost anything, especially in dishes involving cream and milk.

In the neighbouring garden, a variety of greens take centre stage.  Our goal is to grow all the lettuce used at Mount Julian, and the leaf lettuce seen here can be used in a classic salad or as a burger topper.

 

Right next door is Genovese Basil, which is used in classic pesto.  One of the dishes featured this summer included a homemade pesto that was made with these pretty homegrown leaves.

 

Leaving the Mount Julian side of the property, we explored the gardens by the main building.  These pear tomatoes, which are a kind of cherry tomato, grow right near one of the outbuildings by the main entrance to Viamede.  They aren’t quite ripe in this picture, but once they are, they are delicious!

 

Right beside the cherry tomatoes are string beans and peas, both of which are beautiful and fresh veggies for any dish!

 

While I recognized many of the plants on my tour, dinosaur kale was a new introduction.  Another neighbour of the incredible pear tomato, this is a very large and extremely tough variety of kale that would generally not be eaten raw.  When the leaves are big like this, they are better sautéed or in a stew.

At the front of the building, there is a vibrant flower garden, but those flowers aren’t just for show!  Some of them are nasturtium flowers, which have a bit of a peppery taste and add a fun bunch of flavour and a fun punch of colour to the summer salad they were added to.

 

In between the Mount Julian and main building gardens, there is a very special plant growing.  Viamede doesn’t use any pesticides and we try to preserve the natural landscape of the Kawarthas as much as possible. Because of that effort we are blessed with native plants like this wild grape.  This variety is completely edible, and not only can we munch on these grapes but we also use them in jelly.  Their leaves are especially exciting – Chef used them during the summer to make dolma as a starting course at Mount Julian.

 

Chef harvests the leaves before service and then boil them to make them nice and tender.

 

 

Once boiled, he fills them with wild rice and rolls them up into delcious dolma!

 

Another example of the wild Kawartha landscape incorporating itself into the Mount Julian menu is our sumac and honey butter.

 

Featured earlier on in the summer, this butter is hand-whipped and mixed with honey and sumac, which can be seen growing all over the property.

Our gardens supply our kitchen with as much natural produce as possible, and we are so grateful!  As our gardens transition into the end of the fall harvest, Viamede transitions along with them.  Into our fall season now, these Mount Julian blog posts are near their end.  Thank you for exploring the kitchen with me, and I look forward to sharing the exciting world of preserves with you later on in the winter.  We all need some way to preserve the summer season, right?