I owe it to Centennial College Culinary School for introducing me to The Bumpercrop at the 2012 Feast of Fields. The college was serving organic elk sausage topped with The Bumpercrop preserves and it was their Beer Red Cabbage that completely stole the show in that dish for me.
I could have, no lie, had a bun with their preserves (minus the elk) and walked away from the whole day feeling quite content.
Soon afterwards I gave Joanna Sable and Lisa Tarek, owners of The Bumpercrop, a call. I wanted to meet with them about an idea. Considering The Bumpercrop sources many of their fruits and vegetables from Niagara, I thought that using some of their products to create some of my favourite winter meals would be a fun adventure for Local Lux. Naturally, Joanna and Lisa both loved the idea and tasked themselves with determining which Niagara-sourced products I’d enjoy working with.
And so, during a trip to Toronto, I had the pleasure of having coffee with Joanna to chat and pick up their choices. She took me to Balzacs in Liberty Village where we could actually find a table on a Sunday morning and we spent an hour or two chatting about cooking, hot-spots in Toronto and Niagara, and about recipe ideas for the four new Bumpercrop additions to my pantry.
Joanna and Lisa chose:
- Savoury Chocolate Cherry Jam – These cherries come from Cherry Lane in Vineland.
- Twisted Cherries – These cherries come from Puddicombe Farms in Winona.
- Savoury Green Tomato Garlic Jam – The green tomatoes come from Linda Crago at Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm in Wellandport and the garlic comes from Arran Hill Garlic Farm in Allenford, Ontario – near Barrie.
- Twisted Pears – The pears come from a local Niagrara farmer named Sanjeet.
- Mostarda Nectarines – These I picked up on my own at the Upper Canada Cheese Co in Jordan.
The cider vinegar that The Bumpercrop uses in many of their products comes from Reinhart Vinegars in Stayner (near Collingwood). The beer they use, like in their Beer Red Cabbage that first caught my attention, is Auburn Ale from Cameron’s Brewing Company in Oakville.
Armed with four jars, knowledge about The Bumpercrop and a new appreciation for preserves, I headed home to form my plan. The list-maker that I am, I grabbed a pen and my Local Lux notebook and started fiercely scribbling the recipe ideas that Joanna had suggested that I was intrigued by.
I tried to plan what date I would make what and put together shopping lists and everything that an organized woman with a plan would do. Well, turns out that my subconscious had another idea – spontaneity. I would, whenever the “spirit moved me” (as my great-aunt used to say), grab a jar and create a masterpiece. In the end, I think I succeeded!
THE RECIPES & RESULTS
So, here is what I ended up, over the course of two months, putting together. You will have to forgive me for not including amounts in some of my the recipes below – especially the ones that I made intuitively.
Recipe #1: Chocolate Cherry Pork Tenderloin with a Pinot Noir Glaze
For this recipe, I marinated the pork tenderloin in the whole jar of The Bumpercrop Chocolate Cherry Jam for 4 hours. Then, I put the tenderloin in the oven with vegetables in a roasting pan on 350° until done. I also put two washed potatoes in the oven to bake – right on the racks.
On the stove-top I combined the rest of the marinade and some Hidden Bench 2009 Felseck Pinot Noir. I let it simmer and bubble and reduce until it was a sweet glaze.
Let me say that this pork was the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. You could taste the bitter-sweetness of the chocolate and the tartness of the cherries in every bite. The glaze enhanced the heavenly flavour and we paired it with a glass of the Hidden Bench Pinot Noir I used in the glaze. I will definitely be making this again!
Recipe #2: Twisted Cherry Chocolate Goat Cheese Truffle
Joanna suggested that I make chocolate truffles with the Twisted Cherries and boy was she spot-on! I found this Chocolate Goat Cheese Truffle recipe on Foodnetwork.com and used it as a foundation for the truffles. Instead of bitter chocolate I used semi-sweet and, when all was said and done, I rolled the truffles into more dipped chocolate – milk and white – instead of rolling them into powdered sugar.
As for the Twisted Cherries, I pitted them and cut them into pieces and mixed them into the truffle filling before I added the melted chocolate. I added about 1/3 cup of chopped cherries – next time I would add more for a stronger presence in the truffle.
My family and I enjoyed these together on New Years Eve with a glass of Cattail Creek Catastrophe Strawberry Chocolate Infusion dessert wine. They were a hit!
Recipe #3: Mortadella and Provolone Tartine with Green Tomato Garlic Jam
Being Italian, I love the combination of mortadella and provolone cheese on a fresh-baked baguette. Until recently, I really did not think there was anything that I could add to make this flavour combination any more amazing. But, it turns out that I was wrong. Adding a dollop of The Bumpercrop Green Tomato Garlic Jam to the top of an open-faced mortadella and provolone sandwich turned it into a heavenly lunch.
I especially like that there are chunks of the green tomatoes in the jam – it hasn’t all been pureed. In future, I will be adding this savoury jam to my antipasto plates.
Recipe #4: Spinach, Tomato and Comfort Cream Salad with Mostarda Nectarine Vinaigrette
I love making salad for my lunch; it is light and delicious and healthy. But I must admit that sometimes I get a little bored with my dressings. So, in a stroke of genious, I decided to put together my own dressing using the Mostarda Nectarines in my fridge. I pitted one nectarine, added olive oil, a little lemon juice, salt and pepper and blended with my hand blender until combined. Then poured on top of the salad.
The dressing was fantastic, especially combined with the creaminess of the Upper Canada Cheese Comfort Cream. This is now my go-to dressing, until the nectarines run out at which time I’ll be calling Joanna and Lisa begging for more.
Recipe #5: Baked Ham with Twisted Pears and Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze
Well – I have to admit that I have yet to try this one. But, I thought that before I do I would leave you – my readers – a chance to suggest a recipe or two for my Bumpercrop Twisted Pears. Have you ever used them before? Do you have an idea for how I might? Please, share by commenting below and I will make it along with my final recipe planned above.
My adventures with these great products will continue through the winter and beyond. I love the idea of being able to have local Niagara produce on my table even in off seasons. From now forward, you can bet to find The Bumpercrop in my pantry and I encourage you to add them to yours.