London is among the hottest locales in Ontario for chefs supporting farmers and local terroir. Our chefs are a burgeoning group dedicated to creating ethical, local and sustainable food networks. This issue we asked three of London’s notable farm-to-table chefs to showcase one of their signature seasonal recipes. This trio of chefs are among the local culinary vanguard applying time-honoured traditions and trusted techniques yet delivering a seminal, seasonal and “from scratch” experience in ground-breaking ways. They are trailblazers for the pioneering and emerging culinary regionalism found in London.
The Springs’ Chef Andrew Wolwowicz has earned the not so easy approbation of fellow chefs with his aesthetic and attention to detail. Wolwowicz cooks with reverence and purpose, sourcing locally grown ingredients from farms dedicated to sustainable agriculture, organic growing practices, and ethically raised livestock. His farm-to-table menus are progressive, with menu items crafted from local, regional and hyper-seasonal ingredients and are executed with aptitude, innovation and flair.
Chef/owner Paul Harding’s The Only On King is a paean to locavorism and farm-to-table dining. Chef upholds the rigorous demands of cooking an ever-evolving, locally sourced daily menu. Harding plays to all his strengths with a tight grasp of the tenets of terroir and sustainability. Chef’s culinary viewpoint and cooking repertoire continue to astound while drawing farm-to-table enthusiasts to the intimate 40-seat dining room. If you are looking to satisfy your inner gastronome this is the ticket. Standout brunch. Satellite location at Western Fair Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market.
Windermere Manor’s Executive Chef Kristian Crossen built a formidable reputation with an ethical and sustainable culinary philosophy, solicitous about the provenance of his ingredients and how they are grown or raised. Chef and his culinary team showcase a farm-to-table sensibility with a selection of “old favourites,” signature ingredients, and taste experiences that change to take advantage of the seasons. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and à la carte Sunday Brunch.
Andrew Wolwowicz’s Wildwood Duck Salad
Chef Wolwowicz prefers these local suppliers:
- Bistro Greens, Beets — Soiled Reputation
- Duck, Sea Buckthorn Juice — Everspring Farms
- ‘Nika’ Sheep’s Milk Cheese — Monforte Dairy
- Apple Cider — Western Fair Farmers’ Market
12 oz (approx) (350 g) duck breast
6 whole roasted beets, peeled and cut to preference
16 oven-dried cherry tomatoes
toasted hemp seeds
3 oz (85 g) Monforte ‘Nika’ cheese
acidulated shallots, for garnish
8 oz (225 g) apple cider
1 oz (28 g) sea buckthorn juice
2 oz (56 g) fresh squeezed orange juice
a good squeeze of a nice floral wildflower honey
2–3 oz (56–84 g) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
To marinate duck:
1. Whisk together some extra virgin olive oil, a good splash of sherry vinegar, orange juice, bay leaves, juniper berries and smashed garlic cloves. Just know to go easy on the acids here, a couple splashes will do fine with about ½ cup of oil. Wrap in ziplock bag and place in fridge for six hours.
To cook duck:
2. Pre-heat a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. Season duck breast and lay skin side down in the skillet to begin rendering off some of the fat.
3. When skin is golden brown and starting to crisp up, place the skillet in a pre-heated 400°F oven until duck is cooked to your preference. Cooking about five to six minutes for a nice medium rare is a good general guideline.
4. Set the duck aside to rest the juices.
To make the dressing:
5. Place the hot skillet (with the duck fat as a base) over a medium low heat. Add beets, apple cider, orange juice, sea buckthorn juice and the squeeze of honey. Reduce by about a quarter volume, then turn the heat to low.
6. Slowly add the chilled cubed butter, a couple cubes at a time, while whisking. You want to achieve a creamy, velvety finish.
Season very lightly with a little coarse salt.
To the plate:
7. Lightly dress greens with a light acidic dressing, and combine with dried tomatoes. Crumble Nika cheese over greens and sprinkle with the toasted hemp seeds.
8. Place onto the centre of a dinner plate. Assemble beets, along with warm dressing, around the greens. Slice duck breast and divide equally over the greens.
Paul Harding’s Wild Leek Soup with Battered Fieldgate Organic
Chicken Livers, Mad Tom IPA-Pickled Wild Leeks & Mayo
1 lb (450 g) clean wild leeks (bulb separated from leaf )
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 ½ litres (6.4 cups) organic chicken stock
½ cup (120mL) of 35% cream
1 cup (240 mL) dry white wine
1 tablespoon (15 mL) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15mL) olive oil
½ tablespoon (8 mL) lemon juice
½ tablespoon (8 mL) rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon (5 mL) chili sauce (srichacha)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Over medium heat add oil, butter and leek bulbs and cook until tender. Add white wine and reduce until syrup.
2. Add potatoes, stock and cream and turn up to high. Simmer until potatoes are tender.
3. Add leek leaves and cook on high for 5 minutes.
4. Add lemon, vinegar, chili sauce, salt and pepper. In blender purée until smooth and pass through fine strainer. Adjust seasoning to your liking and serve.
Beer-battered Chicken Livers
Canola oil for frying
8 chicken livers (seasoned with salt and pepper)
¾ bottle of Muskoka Brewery’s Mad Tom IPA
1 cup (240 mL) Arva flour
1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
Salt and pepper
¼ cup (60 mL) flour for dusting livers
1. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, add the beer, and add half the flour. Using a wooden spoon mix the remaining flour, baking powder salt and pepper. Cover and let rest for about 15 minutes before using.
2. In a deep frying pan add canola oil until it covers bottom and comes up ½ inch.
3. Turn on medium heat. Dust each liver and batter. Carefully place in oil and fry until golden brown. Flip over and fry until golden. (Five minutes total).
4. Remove from oil and place on paper towel. Season with kosher salt. Serve as soon as possible. Livers should be medium rare!
Pickled Wild Leeks and Mayo
Makes one large mason jar of leeks
Ingredients for leeks
1 lb (450 g) of wild leek bulbs
1 ½ cups (350 mL) rice wine vinegar
2 ½ cups (595 mL) water
3 tablespoons (60 g) kosher salt
2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar
1. Heat all ingredients in a sauce pot (except for the leek bulbs) until they come to a boil.
2. Place the leeks in a heat-proof container. Pour in liquid. Let stand for one hour. Jar and process or use within two weeks.
Ingredients for mayo
1 cup (240 mL) home-made or good quality store-bought mayonnaise
¼ cup (60 mL) finely diced pickled wild leeks
Combine and serve. Dip the livers in the mayo!!
Kristian Crossen’s Wild Leek Soup
with Poached Egg & Shaved Gunn’s Hill Handeck Cheese
1 kg wild leeks, whites rough chopped, tops reserved
700 g Spanish onion, rough chopped
350 g Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and rough chopped
water, or light chicken stock to cover
salt and white pepper
500 ml 35% cream
8 small eggs, poached
200 g sweet butter
200 g Gunn’s Hill Handeck cheese, shaved thin
1. In a deep stockpot, sweat onions and leek whites in the butter until they start to soften. Season lightly. Continue cooking for 5 minutes over medium-low heat keeping from browning.
2. Add the chopped potatoes and cover with water or stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are completely tender, seasoning while cooking.
3. Transfer soup to a bar blender and carefully purée until smooth. Return to soup pot. For a smoother soup pass through a fine mesh strainer, pushing through with a ladle.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and add salt to taste. Blanch chopped leek tops for 2 minutes and then transfer to an ice water bath. Blanch in small batches so as not to bring the temperature of the water down from a boil.
5. Purée the tops in blender until smooth and pass through a fine mesh strainer. Reserve.
6. To serve, bring soup to a simmer and add in the cream. Adjust seasoning. Add in leek top purée for colour and additional flavour. Serve immediately as colour will diminish quickly.
7. Top each soup with a warmed poached egg and some shavings of the Handeck cheese.