From the Mount Julian Kitchen

by Mandy Weaver, Culinary Chef

And so, with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Spring and summer seem to have blended into one and descended upon us in a rush and I, for one, am happy to welcome it in.

Greetings from the Mount Julian kitchen. I feel that it is high time I introduce myself. My name is Mandy and I will be cooking for you today. Taking the freshest ingredients I can either forage myself, gather from the garden (with Bob’s blessing, of course!), or source from local providers. Preparing and assembling said ingredients into a coherent dish for your sensory pleasure.

In my first couple weeks at Viamede, there were some adjustments made into my new surroundings: new relationships built, new foraging locations sought out, and new menu ideas blooming into existence. The North Kawartha area has proven to be a fascinating location, flush with much familiar vegetation as well as a few ‘new to me’ items ripe for the avid forager to discover. I always keep in mind the sustainability of the item foraged. Thus far in my short time at Viamede Resort, we have collected, frozen, pickled, preserved, dehydrated and utilised spruce tips, ramps (also known as wild leeks), lilac flowers, chive (so much chive), daylilies, as well as many other wild flowers. Now, berry season has started!

Bob the Gardener and I go for regular tours of the gardens to see what is usable now, and what I can start planning to use in the coming weeks. He’s grown oodles of lettuce varieties and herbs galore. The carrots, beets, and radishes are just at the baby stage, which pair perfectly with fish or make an enticing amuse bouche, and, don’t tell him, but I’ve even started getting into his peas.

I still have much to discover in the field of local farmers (mind the pun), however, Buckhorn Berry Farm has had a phenomenal strawberry season. Fingers crossed I make it out one more time before the berries are all gone.

Having been born and raised in Norfolk County on the shores of Lake Erie, farming, foraging, preserving and freezing has always been a big part of my life. To now be in a position that, though far from home, brings me back to my roots, I feel quite blessed. I am grateful to my parents for providing me with a solid foundation in sustainably harvesting from the land, as well as the Viamede Team for inviting me in and providing me this opportunity to expand my knowledge, while also pursuing my career and living my dream all at the same time.

Signing off for now,

Mandy

 

Enjoy a 5, 7, or 9 course tasting menu at Mount Julian restaurant – call or email to reserve your table!


Garlic Mustard Chimichurri Recipe

by Kyle Wagenblast, Executive Chef

Foraging is in full swing and while everyone is talking and raving about Wild Leeks (yes, they are amazing), we are diligently working on doing our part on another tasty, but invasive green: Garlic Mustard!

Garlic Mustard is an herb that was brought over by Europeans in the 1800s. It is high in Vitamin A and C, and it is very tasty. The leafs are tender and slightly bitter with tastes of mustard greens and garlic, while the flowers have a spicy horseradish flavour.

That being said, go out and do your part to combat this invasive herb! Pick as much as you can find and make yourself something delicious; Garlic Mustard Pesto is a crowd favourite, but seeing as BBQ season is upon us, let’s switch it up a little.

Chimichurri! The grass routes of this sauce are Argentinian and typically accompanies most cuts of beef. It can even be used as a marinade.

Garlic Mustard Chimichurri

Garlic Mustard Chimichurri Recipe

Ingredients
  • 2 cups Garlic Mustard leaves and flower buds, tightly packed
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
  • ½ cup good quality oil
Steps
  1. Add all ingredients except oil to food processor and pulse until just chopped.
  2. Slowly add oil and continue to pulse until all oil is incorporated.
  3. Scrape down sides of the bowl and pulse a few more times.
  4. You’re ready to go; enjoy! This makes an excellent sauce or marinade for beef.

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.