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Television Debut

Mar 11 2013

Dena and me

Here at Farm and Wild, we've been fortunate to be busy taking care of clients lately, but we're anxious to get back to blogging. In the meantime, I wanted to share my appearance on Daytime Durham, a great little talk show produced locally by Rogers. I put together an Oscar-themed canapé demonstration over two segments, including a canapé take on classic Caesar salad and some Red Carpet Oysters, served raw on the half-shell with a mignonette. It was tons of fun, and the producer seemed to like what she saw. She asked me to come back again for another segment in the future.
 
Here's Farm and Wild's television debut!
 

Click here for video

 

Second appearance

 

Free range eggs appearance (Tilsin farm)

 

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Some sage advice

Oct 09 2012

 blog sage finalOur friend Dorothea Helms (aka The Writing Fairy) recently said she loves sage, grows it in her own garden, and yet isn’t sure what to do with it all. Most people catch the faintest scent of sage and think only of stuffing their holiday turkey, so I suspect she’s not alone.

(My mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, always loved sage in her traditional Christmas turkey stuffing, a bacon-and-bread-cubes concoction. Not only did she use dried sage, but I’m pretty sure it was dried in the Second World War — a dab in her holiday dressing was the only time it was ever used. But it was her recipe, and my fresh herbs were not allowed. Eating that stuffing once a year was a small price to pay for the love she showered me with.)

Sage is one of the easiest perennial herbs to grow, and one of the prettiest, with fat, almost fuzzy foliage (in a lovely shade of sage green, of course!) and great blooms in spring. Its aroma is earth and unique, as is its flavour.

It’s a must in stuffing — the fresher, the better. But I also dry my own. Just cut it down in the fall, tie the stems together, and hang it upside down in the garage or mudroom. Your own dried sage is far superior to anything you can buy over the long, cold winter.

But back to the big question — where, besides turkey stuffing, can you use sage?

In spring, the blue blooms make a beautiful garnish, and even a striking part of a centrepiece of cut flowers, plus the aroma wafts about, setting the stage for the meal that’s coming.

As an earthy, strong herb, sage goes best with hearty dishes.

-    Veal saltimbocca: Sage and prosciutto go beautifully together. For this easy dish, layer a slice of prosciutto on a veal medallion, then put a fresh whole sage leaf on top of that, and another veal medallion. Pan-fry each side in a skillet with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a dollop of butter over medium high heat. Or, roll the prosciutto and sage up in one medallion, dredge it in a little flour, and sauté each side. It takes only a few minutes per side. For the sauce, just reduce the heat to medium, deglaze the pan with about a cup of dry white wine, add a little lemon juice and butter, and simmer for a few minutes to thicken it up. Pour it over the veal.

-    Liver and onions: Add a little sage to, as Emeril would say, kick it up a notch.

-    Gnocchi con salvia: Boil up some gnocchi, and while you’re waiting, melt some butter in a frying pan big enough to hold the gnocchi. Heat the butter just until it’s brown — brown butter is burned butter, but don’t go crazy; you don’t want black butter — and add the drained gnocchi, some fresh sage, a healthy shaving of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and presto. Dinner.

-    Add a little fresh sage to your next beef (or other hearty) stew.

-    Sage oil: There are two ways to make sage oil, both easy. For the first, stuff sage leaves into a sterile glass bottle, add some warm olive oil (heat it up in a pot on the stove, but don’t boil it), seal it and store it for about a week before you break into it. The second method, my favourite, is to take fresh sage and warm olive oil and chuck it in the blender. Put it in a container for 24 hours at room temperature. Strain through a fine sieve. I stay away from cheese cloth because I like the wee green specs the sieve lets through. Let is settle for a couple of hours, and the oil will float to the top. Skim the oil off to keep, and throw away what’s left at the bottom. Sage oil made either way will keep a couple of months in a cold cellar or the fridge. The next time you’re cooking in the dead of winter and your spring sage seems a lifetime ago, just drizzle a little of the oil into a favourite recipe instead of the plain oil or butter it calls for.

The great thing about sage — besides the taste and scent — is that once it’s established, it’s just about foolproof. You can harvest it aggressively and it will grow back with minimum effort.

Dorothea, I trust my dinner invitation is in the mail.

Got some food for thought? We welcome your comments on our posts, and would love to answer your questions in a future post. Leave a comment below, or drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . And keep on cooking!

 

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Sep 29 2012

 BS soupI just finished making my yearly grape jelly — a late harvest vidal — and that means one thing: summer’s over. It’s a bittersweet time, as it marks the last preserving I’ll do from my garden. I finished the pickles, fruit preserves, pesto and tomato sauce weeks ago, and these days the garden is barely giving enough tomatoes for a single-serving salad (and that only because it’s been ridiculously warm), and the few herbs that are left are good only for next year’s seeds.


But every time a door closes, another opens. Walking the dogs recently, I see the apples are ripe. Exciting! The end of summer bounty means the beginning of fall goodies.


Trout and salmon are on the move, hunting season is starting. Mushrooms are still to be foraged and farmers are about to bring in apples, pears, squash, cabbage and grains. (And soon, of course, pumpkins!)


As a chef, seasons are a huge part of my craft. Food should be eaten as fresh as possible, so we like to change our menus with the season. We are blessed in Canada to have access to anything we want — we get strawberries for Valentine’s Day! — but what’s fresh locally will always have the best flavour when it gets to your table. Produce ripened on the vine or in the tree and eaten right away has flavour far superior to any shiny, colorful produce that has been shipped to us from overseas or Mexico and sat in warehouses for weeks.


Working with fall ingredients can be intimidating — unlike a peach or a strawberry that can be bitten into right off the tree or out of the window box, squash, parnips and cabbage take a little more prep.
The good news is cooking root vegetables and squashes is a lot more forgiving then using green summer veggies. If we overcook our broccoli or beans, they turn soft and unappetizing., but even the most unseasoned home cooks can make a great fall soup with no worries about overcooking the produce.


To prove my point, here’s a quick and delicious apple and butternut squash spiced soup. Darn near fool-proof.


Apple & Butternut Squash Spiced Soup


1 large onion peeled and roughly chopped
1 large butternut squash peeled and seeded and chopped to 2-inch pieces
1 spy or gala apple peeled, cored and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup apple cider
Vegetable stock (enough to cover all the veggies in the pot)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp of brown sugar
Pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg
Touch of unsweetened heavy cream for garnish

 

In a soup pot, sauté onion till soft and translucent. Add cinnamon and nutmeg and sauté for another 30 second to bring out their natural oils.


Add squash, apple and cider, and top up with enough vegetable stock to cover the veggies, plus about an inch above that.


Simmer until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes to half an hour. Purée the whole shebang with an immersion blender or in a food processor until it’s smooth. Add a little more stock if it’s too thick, and then drain it through a sieve.


To serve, ladle into a soup bowl and dribble a wiggly line or two of heavy cream on top, then use a toothpick to create a funky marble design. The orange soup with the white cream can’t help but look elegant. As my father-in-law would say, it’s so good you could serve it to guests!


Keep it in the fridge (before you do your artistic thing with the cream) and it’ll last the better part of a week. Just reheat it gently on the stove or nuke it if you must. It freezes well, too.
If you make it, let me know how it goes. Or better yet, post a pic of your finished soup.

 

 


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Love is all you need

Sep 18 2012

french scrambled eggs

Chefs are a funny bunch. Inspired by the simplest ingredients, we are prone to wandering off on tasty tangents that seem, to normal people, like sheer silliness.

Just this morning, I found myself enchanted by the possibilities of the seemingly simple scrambled egg. Everybody’s mom made these, and they were usually a bit on the dry side, with the consistency of plastic wrap. You probably make them yourself, as a back-up plan when you’ve got nothing thawed out for dinner, or as a breakfast option when you can’t be bothered to fry or poach.

But with a little technique, and lots of love, the unheralded scrambled egg has the potential to be among the silkiest, best-tasting foods you ever ate. 

Here’s where my tangent led:

You’ll need six of the freshest eggs you can find, about three tablespoons of butter (c’mon, now, you can just work out a little harder tomorrow!), a touch of heavy cream (ditto), salt and pepper, and a little patience.

The trick to cooking eggs beautifully is to take things slow, and use a good non-stick pan. (On an electric stove, controlling the heat is trickier, but here’s a little tip that will help: put a couple of inches of water in a pot and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat so it simmers gently. Then, use a metal bowl on top of it, double-boiler style, to cook the eggs in.)

Melt about tablespoon of butter and coat the pan. Crack in the eggs whole along with the rest of the cold butter. Don’t stir it vigorously — instead, break the yolks and gently keep turning it with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, bringing the cooked bits off the bottom to the top.

When the eggs are almost cooked (but still looking quite quivery and wet-looking), add the cream, give it a final stir or two to incorporate, and take it off the heat.

Season with salt and pepper. If you really want to elevate your scramble to the next level, add a mild fresh herb like chervil, chives or basil, or a fresh Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese. The love you can — and should — add at every step.

Eat them right away. I find scrambled eggs made this way are particularly delicious eaten standing up in the kitchen with a slice of your favourite bread.

This method takes about 15 minutes, but I guarantee you, it’ll be worth it.

Got some food for thought? We welcome your comments on our posts, and would love to answer your questions in a future post. Leave a comment below, or drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . And keep on cooking!

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Welcome

Sep 09 2012

daniel corn field

Welcome to our new catering company, Farm & Wild. I am the chef/owner, Daniel Bresca.

I was born in Israel to Argentinian parents. Lived mostly in Israel and with a couple of high school years in Argentina. Came to Canada when I was 18, got my first job in the kitchen as a dishwasher and slowly moved up the ladder.

I was blessed to work with amazing chefs who taught me proper cooking technique, how to pair wine, food chemistry, and quite frequently simply kicked my butt. In 27 years of cooking, I've run kitchens big and small, in restaurants, hotels, private clubs, non-profit centres and catering companies.

My favourite is catering. There is something special about working towards one common meal. All hands are busy preparing something that will be a shared experience for a group of people tied together by one event. It requires a different set of skills and brings a different set of challenges than a restaurant or any a la carte operation.

I also like that it's about pleasing customers, not about my chef's ego or what I want to serve. It's collaborative — your desires and tastes put parameters on my creativity, and together we create something uniquely wonderful. Believe me, I've had my share of ego-driven culinary experiences, but these days I'm really into sharing the passion I have for food and service with the people in my community.

That's why as a company, the Farm & Wild philosophy is to be personally available to collaborate on every event, and create a unique menu for each client if that's what they want. I've created some set menus I think represent my culinary point of view, and you're very welcome to order from them too.
We want to serve you the ingredients you love in a way that will surprise and delight you, and your guests. We want to impress you, and for you to impress them. We'll get as in-depth as you want about how your food will be prepared, what spices and flavours we'll use.

We'll help you find a creative venue, or make your home or venue gorgeous. We'll provide everything you need from linens, tableware and bar set-up to sweet tables, décor, and party favours. Or, we'll just show up, prepare amazing food, clean up after ourselves and disappear into the night. Whatever you need.

Our name, Farm & Wild, represents the only two places we think great catered food should come from: the farm or the wild. Not a jar, box, or can. We don't use bought sauces or spice mixes, or any chemicals. We don't buy ingredients until you place an order — nothing sits around.

I loved my restaurant career, but I am super excited to take on the challenge of entrepreneurship, and looking forward to practising a far more collaborative kind of cooking. I can't wait to knock your socks off.

I'm looking forward to using this blog to continue to communicate the spirit of Farm & Wild through commentary on trends, relaying of interesting article and information, chatter about the world's great chefs, recipes, fisheries, foraging, and everything else related to the food we love to eat.

I'd also love to answer any culinary questions you have about technique, ingredients, substitutions, whatever you want to know. Email me your questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I'll answer them on this blog.

Come back and visit regularly, and please offer your honest comment.

I'm working on coming up with a great tagline, so leave me your thoughts on that too. For now, we'll just experiment.

Food up!
Daniel

(You're right. "food up" is terrible. I'll keep trying.)


 

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