A fresh approach to beat the winter blues!

By James Eddington, Eddington’s of Exeter

As January rolls into February, we look to break from the whirlwind of activities of the past months. We yearn for less indulgent foods that are lower in fat – a change from the heavy sauces and extravagant desserts of December: foods with clean crisp tastes.
As few believe, Ontario still has a substantial supply of locally grown produce, including beets, cabbage, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, squash, sprouts, etc.

Beautiful beet soup
This delicious dish brightens any table. Serves 4.

1 tbsp (15 mL) cold-pressed olive oil
1/2 medium onion
1/2 tsp (3 mL) curry powder
4 medium beets, peeled and chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
3 cups (750 mL) vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
1 1/2 tsp (8 mL) honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste
2 tbsp (30 mL) yogurt or kefir
2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped green onions

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft. Add curry powder and cook for a minute longer, then the beets, potatoes and stock or water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender, 30-45 minutes. Purée or mash with a potato masher. Reheat the soup and add the honey. Season to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the sour cream and green onions.

Braised red cabbage and apples
A little sweet, a little sour, this sensational side dish of braised red cabbage and apples is an easy accompaniment to roast turkey that can be made ahead of time and reheated right before dinner.

2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 small head red cabbage, quartered and thinly sliced
2 apples, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) red wine (any kind)
1/4 cup (50 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) salt

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring for five minutes, until softened. Add cabbage and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until cabbage is thoroughly wilted and softened. Now add apples, wine, vinegar, sugar and salt, lower the heat to low and simmer, covered, for one-and-a-half to two hours, stirring once in a while.
Stir in apple jelly, replace the cover on the pot and continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Crispy mushroom strudel with fresh herb cream sauce and cranberries

Ingredients for filling:
2 oz unsalted butter
1 lb sliced mixed fresh mushrooms (oyster, portobello, shiitake, button, cremini)
4 fresh garlic cloves – minced
1 small yellow onion – diced
Salt & pepper to taste
2 oz plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp fresh chives – chopped
2 oz chardonnay white wine

Ingredients for dough:
2 oz unsalted butter – melted
5 sheets phyllo dough
1 egg

Ingredients for sauce:
8 oz low sodium chicken stock
6 oz Chardonnay white wine
1 shallot onion – sliced
8 oz heavy cream
2 tbsp mixed chopped herbs (parsley, chives, rosemary, basil, thyme)

4 tbsp sliced cranberries
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Heat medium-sized sauté pan, add butter and onions and cook for one minute. Add garlic and mushrooms and sauté for about three minutes. Deglaze pan with white wine and season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushrooms into a mixing bowl and let the mushrooms cool off. Add chives, breadcrumbs and chives and mix everything very well. Lay out a kitchen towel and place first sheet of phyllo dough on it. Brush the sheet with melted butter then place the next layer of phyllo dough and repeat the first step until the last sheet of dough is placed. Spread mushroom mixture along the longer side of the sheet – about two inches wide. Take the towel and start rolling the strudel. Transfer strudel to a greased baking sheet pan, brush with beaten egg and bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes. Put chicken stock, Chardonnay wine and shallot into a saucepot and bring mixture to a boil on high heat. Turn the heat to medium and let the liquid reduce (cool down) to about 5 oz. Add the heavy cream and let the sauce reduce to half. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve.
Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Add the fresh chopped herbs. Heat cranberries with butter in a small sauté pan. To assemble strudel, pour sauce on the center of the plate, sprinkle cranberries across the sauce and place a two-inch slice of Strudel in the middle of the plate. Garnish with fresh thyme. Sautéed baby spinach or root vegetable julienne accompany this appetizer very well.