Chef Shawn Kretz – Springing into fresh veggies and new menus

Chef Shawn Kretz – Springing into fresh veggies and new menus

Here is another Column from Chef Shawn Kretz of Cornwall’s newest French Bistro CHEZ NOUS

By: C. Shawn Kretz shawn

Spring is here, I think.  With it brings the promise of new growth and the revival of our favorite seasonal recipes, or the introduction of new-found gems.

I always look forward to the beginning of a new growing season, wrought with excitement, anxiety, and a stack of seed catalogues.   How big should my garden be this year?  What should I grow?  What needs to be started as seedlings, and what can I start in the ground.

It can be a rather arduous task to make all these decisions, but it will soon be worth it, when the first plants begin to break through the soil.  Spring also heralds the bounty of the streams, wetlands and forests; and for me, the most exciting part of the summer.

Of course I am referring to foraging.   Luckily, throughout the spring,  summer and fall there are a plethora of wild edibles.  Armed with my trusty foragers handbook, and mushroom identification manual I plod through the forest looking for these treats.  Spring brings some of my  favourite items to cook with: Morel mushrooms, morelwild asparagus, wild leeks (aka ramps), wild ginger, fiddleheads (osterich fern), Jerusalem artichokes, cattail shoots and strawberries (late spring, early summer),and scores more tasty treats.


For those of you that read the last article, you know that I am interested in a local cuisine, following a hundred mile concept.   Luckily for us here in Cornwall and surrounding area there are a number of local producers of meats, vegetables, and other commodities.   We also have the nearby wine regions in SW Quebec, as well as Prince Edward County.  Many of these items will feature prominently on my Menu’s at Chez Nous in the coming months.

I am looking forward to the coming weeks and months. Mushroom hunting is one of my most enjoyable hobbies, so why not include an interesting recipe?  Consult an appropriate foragers guide to ensure the correct identification, or obtain these ingredients from those who have experience. Many of these are available at your local supermarket during the early/late spring. Happy Hunting and cooking. Remember to check us out at Cheznous.ca.

Spring Ragout Stuffed Morel: 4 Servings
4 Large Morels from the nearest bush (Sorry, I have to keep my hunting grounds a secret)
1/2 stick, salted butter
2 wild leek bulbs, minced
1/4 cup chopped Pancetta or Proscuitto
4 stalks, Asparagus, Cut into 1″ lengths
10 fiddleheads (make sure it is the ostrich fern!)
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Start with a hot saute pan, use enough butter to coat the pan, then on medium heat, without colouring, sweat the wild leeks and Pancetta, cook slowly for 5 minutes. Place the Fiddleheads and Asparagus in boiling salted water for 30 seconds to set the colour.  Add this to the saute pan with the rest of the butter, and the Parmesan. Check the seasoning then fill the morels from the base of the stem. Lay the stuffed morels on their side in a buttered baking dish, and bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve as an appetizer, or as a main with your favourite vegetable/starch accompaniments.

Copyright: C. Shawn Kretz

Visit Chef Shawn at his restaurant at 333 Second ave. West in Cornwall – 613.932-HOME (4663)

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