Cooking in the parks is all about getting creative and experiencing the great outdoors. One of the magical things about Ontario is it’s four seasons. Eating in the spring is as vastly different from the fall, as it is from winter and summer.
Enroute to the park, stop by a local farmers’ market and see what’s available. Most of these recipes are easily adaptable with different fruit, vegetables and meats.
by Chef Julia Graham, The Quirky Carrot, Alexandria, ON
2 large Ontario candy cane beets, grated 2 large Ontario yellow beets, grated 1 large Ontario red beet, grated 1/2 cup soft goat cheese -- we like Woolwich Dairy Salt & pepper to taste 2 large Ontario carrots, shredded 2 cups cooked quinoa 1/4 tsp ground cumin zest & juice of 1 lemon 1/2 cup golden raisins 1 cup Ontario black walnuts (or pumpkin seeds!) 2 cups Ontario winter kale 1 diced tart Ontario apple 2 whole-grain tortillas
In a medium sauce pan, cook quinoa until soft. Fluff with fork. Add cumin, pinch of salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, raisins and walnuts. Stir and set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, shred kale and massage with a bit of oil and salt. Once translucent, add diced apple. Set aside. To assemble, lay tortilla on flat surface. Pile half the beets, carrots, kale slaw and quinoa slightly off center on the wrap. Fold sides in so they nearly touch -- but gently -- you don't want to tear the wrap. With sides folded in, use your thumbs to bring up the bottom of the tortilla. This is almost like wrapping a present; tuck in the ends while bringing up the bottom flap. Bring up the bottom of the tortilla and pull it tightly. Roll the bottom of the tortilla tightly. From here on out you'll be rolling up the tortilla as tightly as you can, squeezing the roll back towards you as you go. Roll... Keep rolling... Press and crease the end of the tortilla as you finish rolling it up. Try to curve the rest of the tortilla around the wrap so it stays in place.
Chef says: “These wraps are perfect for an afternoon hike. We also pack them enroute to the parks so we have an easy, fresh lunch upon arrival. If you’re traveling quite a distance, cut down the lemon juice and salt by half. It will save your wraps getting soggy and still taste great!”
by Chef Judy Dempsey, The Table Community Food Centre, Perth, ON
¼ cup Ontario Sunflower Oil
2 cups Ontario onion, chopped 2 tsp Ontario garlic, minced 1½ tbsp smoked paprika 1 tsp ground cumin ½ cup fresh green chili, chopped ½ tsp dried thyme 2 jars preserved Ontario tomatoes 1 tsp sugar ¼ cup Ontario cilantro, chopped 2 tbsp Ontario flat leaf parsley, chopped 1 cup Ontario corn 8 Ontario eggs Salt & pepper, to taste Crumbled feta cheese, to taste
Heat oil in a large,cast iron pan over hot coals or gas stove. You need even, moderate heat for this recipe, so let your fire burn down a bit. Add onion, paprika, cumin and garlic to pan and cook a few minutes to soften. Add green chilies, thyme and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep a close eye -- you want it to thicken, but not dry out. If it looks too dry, add water. Add corn. Season with sugar and salt to taste. Once thick, grab a wooden spoon. Use the spoon to create ‘wells’ in the tomato mixture. Gently break the eggs into the wells. Season with pepper, sprinkle with feta. Cook 10-15 minutes or until eggs are cooked to your liking. The eggs will continue to cook once you remove the pan from the heat -- so under cook them a little! Sprinkle with cilantro and parsley. Scoop 2 eggs with a good amount of the tomato mixture into a bowl and serve with crusty bread.
Chef says: “You can pre-mix and pack your spices to save space. If your trip isn’t to long -- you can also prepack chopped onions and garlic! It makes for easier clean up.”
by Chef James Eddington, Eddington’s of Exeter, Exeter, ON
1 lb fresh pickerel, cleaned ¼ cup Ontario garlic scapes, diced ½ cup Ontario strawberries, diced 2 tbsp Ontario honey 5 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped 3 sprigs fresh basil, chopped Salt & pepper to taste 1 cup of flour mixed with salt/pepper and cayenne 1L grape seed oil
Before setting out, mix 1 cup flour with 1 tsp of salt, pepper and cayenne. Pack in ziplock bag. This mix can be used to dredge chicken, fish or even veggies for an easy fireside “fish” fry! Lightly dredge cleaned pickerel in pre-mixed flour mixture shaking off any excess. Fill large cast iron pan with approximately 1 inch of oil. Heat over hot coals or gas stove. Drop dredged pickerel into hot oil for approx 2 minutes per side, depending on size of filets. Pickerel should be golden brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towel or newspaper. Meanwhile, in a bowl, add garlic scapes, red pepper, strawberries, honey, cilantro, and basil. Toss lightly. Salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for 5 minutes. To serve, top pickerel fillets with fresh salsa.
Chef says: “The joy of such a fresh seasonal recipe is you can change your ingredients throughout many seasons! Can’t find strawberries? Try blueberry! Late harvest peach is lovely too. Not into fruit? Sub in Asparagus. Have fun and be creative!