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Warm weather in September extends the Ontario growing season a bit

chef

The Chef reported this week from the Ontario Food Terminal that almost all typically summer food was on offer. He even found the one last farmer offering Ontario favas and English peas which are normally finished by now. Unfortunately there were fewer farmers at the Terminal and many of the Ontario specialities he liked were not available. You had to get there early. The favas and English peas were late planted crops. This crop is a gamble for farmers since it is often ruined by early cold weather. This year the later planters won the gamble

The Chef bought nice raspberries and strawberries and even end-of-season BC cherries which have been so good this year. Apricots are over but there are Ontario peaches around. The Chef said that some of them were coming out of cold storage and they should be avoided.

There were plenty of good peppers, eggplants and zucchini flowers. Canadian artichokes are done. Fall vegetables like squashes, kale and swiss chard are here along with apples, melons and watermelons. The one Ontario failure this year was Ontario artichokes. For some reason, as yet unexplained, the weather badly affected them.

Field tomatoes are available and the best variety to buy according to the Chef. Look for ones with irregular shapes which are a bit dirty. These can be better than even the heirloom varieties which are hit and miss. Avoid the standard field tomatoes which are perfectly round and hard.

The cauliflower crop is particularly nice. Cut them into same-size small florets and roast them at 400 degrees for 25 minutes turning them occasionally in a roasting pan with parchment paper taking great care not to crowd them. Before roasting them, coat them good olive oil and kosher salt.

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With the zucchini flowers, make tempura if you can or put them in an egg frittata.

Fresh onions are good at this time of year. Caramelize them.

BC chanterelles are available as are BC pine mushrooms which are very expensive. Porcinis are coming but held up by bad weather.

The Chef continues using lighter meats like sweetbreads but has placed his first order of venison. Organic Qu’appelle tenderloins from Saskatchewan are on offer.

The Nova Scotia tuna and swordfish season has ended replaced by mid Atlantic wild cobia. Soft shell crabs have finished but the Chef has been able to purchase remarkably good Fogo Island prawns from Newfoundland. Unfortunately, these are only available to selected chefs in Toronto. NS scallops and Pacific and Atlantic halibut are still excellent.