Winter Is Over, Spring Is Here

Reader Contribution by Sue Van Slooten
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Greetings all! I promised a couple of blogs back that I would have some pleasant surprises for you all, and indeed, there are. I have an all new, absolutely gorgeous new website/blogsite combo for your viewing pleasure at The newly expanded course line up for “Bread and More!,” as it is known now, includes not just breads, but soups, and eventually desserts, too. Most exciting is a one-day course on how to start and operate one of my favourite cooking devices, the Big Green Egg (more about that later). The blogs will contain mostly eastern Ontario content, but useful if you’re traveling here. There will be reviews on restaurants, shops, interesting places to see, and things to do. From time to time, there will be other goodies as well. I’d love to hear from you, and hopefully, some of you will be encouraged to come and see me, and take a course. Let’s cook!

Cooking With The Big Green Egg

The Big Green Egg, as many of you already know, is, well, large (but not all), green, and yes, egg shaped. It’s a BBQ, smoker, outdoor oven, all rolled into one large package. Eggs were developed from the Japanese kamado cookers that had been in use for centuries in Japan. Mine is the large size, but there are the most adorable mini eggs, barely 18 inches high. I was sorely tempted to get the Xtra Large, but reality fortunately kicked in. The other half, Bob, was already getting nervous about that latest cooking venture. He takes most things in good stride, but worries about when I tend to get a little creative. While an Egg isn’t the cheapest thing in the world, it’s an awful lot cheaper than building an outdoor oven, and takes the place of about three appliances. Besides, what appliance has its own group of dedicated followers, calling ourselves Eggheads? I’m going on my 3rd season with the Egg, and it’s working beautifully. Last Saturday night was an example. The following will give you a pretty good idea of the versatility of what you can do with an Egg, and to realize that nothing is carved in stone.

I had been to the market and found fresh tuna steaks, not always easy when you basically live in the mid-West. We’re almost equidistant from either coast, so truly fresh seafood doesn’t come our way too often. I get mine either from the Butcher’s Edge in Perth, Ont., or Farmboy, various locations in Ottawa, this tuna came from Farmboy. Here’s what I came up with: The tuna steaks were marinated in olive oil, a mixture of lemon and lime juice, and some mustard. White wine would also have worked beautifully, but alas, I didn’t have any. Any citrus juice would have worked here, but lemon or lime would be best.

There was this little problem of leftover Italian bread dough, a large batch of dough that had already given rise (pun intended) to two pizzas, and two calzones, all Egg baked. Solution: Take a 6-inch cast iron frying pan, coat liberally with oil, pat down into pan. I also had some corn on the cob, and the new Big Green Egg cookbook has an app (recipe) for that, too. Soak the ears in water for an hour, with husks on. I placed the pan with dough, and the ears, on the grid. They recommended 45 minutes for the corn, but I took bread and corn off after about 20 and 25 minutes respectively, bread was slightly singed, and corn was perfect. I found the bread not quite done on the interior to my liking, so I cut it in half and toasted the cut sides. Temperature was a little high, or use a pizza stone to deflect the heat some, but no matter, it turned out delicious.

The next thing to go in the Egg was a 9-inch cast iron frying pan with mushrooms, oil, and a little garlic powder, my signature Egg veggie dish. To the side of the pan went the two tuna steaks. This took about 10 minutes, the mushrooms coming out first, perfectly done. Then the tuna came off, and you couldn’t have asked for better tuna, still very slightly pink in the middle. The flavours were all divine. The bread was crusty, (even the slightly singed part was delicious), which we drizzled with plain olive oil. Bob pulled the husks off the corn, and had eaten his by the time I sat down. He got scolded for that one, but said he just couldn’t help it. I understand. The temperatures I was cooking at ranged from about 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, although she did sneak up to almost 500 at one point. Generally, once the Egg is set at a certain temperature, it pretty much stays there, I just hadn’t quite equalized yet. The Egg can go much higher, but I don’t see a lot of need for 700 degrees. They say that’s where you sear a steak, but, really now.

So that is how you celebrate “Winter is Over, Spring is Here” Egg-style.

Go check out my latest adventures at www.SVanSlooten.comand you will find something interesting for everyone.