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Cooking Up a Flavour Bomb in Montreal (Potato, Tomato, Spinach & Morel Bake)

Potatoes, spinach, tomato and morels in a delicious bake – flavour bomb!

Greetings from Quebec, the train to Quebec city to be precise. They have wifi on the train which is wonderful, I can keep myself entertained and work. I had planned to snooze but who has time to sleep anyway? Not I right now.

Lots of you are asking, so I should clear up this Richmond stuff. In brief, a few months ago in grim January, when all of life seems hopeless just for a brief time, a friend spotted it and messaged me and asked if I had applied. I had no idea what she was talking about but quickly discovered, as she enthusiastically recounted, that Richmond in Canada were looking for a food blogger to go there for a year, they would pay them, house them etc. I could write my second book there and have an adventure.

It seemed perfect. I threw my name in. 1500 people applied. I didn’t think of it again for a bit.

Then I found out that I had made the shortlist of 12. That was exciting. Online voting would determine one of the final 3 and the others would be chosen by a panel. So I asked you to vote for me. Bizarrely, I was the only non North American selected. A couple of days later – last Thursday to be precise – I had a detailed hour long chat with lots of people in Richmond over Skype and discovered that the expectation would be that I wouldn’t leave Richmond even once over 365 days, they wanted the blogger to be there every day. I thought about that and decided it wasn’t for me. So I didn’t ask you to vote again.

It also made me think about my life in London, the UK and Europe and you know, I quite like it! I don’t really want to leave, not now anyway. I just hate January. I do want to continue travelling, maybe a little less than I do now in truth, but we will see. Life is good to me right now and so I will stick with it.

Back to Montreal. I spent a lovely second day in Montreal yesterday. I stayed in the flat and local area for most of the day, shopping for food, I even bought a new cast iron pan, and cooked up something indulgent and delicious, a bit of a flavour bomb. It was such a lovely bright kitchen well stocked with everything I needed, I couldn’t resist it. I want to bring it back home to London with me.

My lovely Montreal kitchen

Foraging is big here, the winters are so harsh that they pickle, can and dry lots of things. I found wonderful selections of dried mushrooms everywhere, and treated myself to some dried morels, which are much cheaper here than in the UK anyway.

Slow roasted tomatoes

I decided to make something vegetarian as eating out here is a very meaty affair, but I wanted something that packed a flavour punch. So, I brought the morels back to life by submerging them in boiled water for half an hour, then I chopped them finely and added them and the morel water (passed through a sieve to remove the grainy bits) to some cream (350ml) with some chopped garlic (2 cloves) and a couple of tablespoons of fresh tarragon. I brought it to just below the boil and cooked it gently for about 5 minutes.

In this time, I had roasted some really good tomatoes, chopped in half, drizzled with oil and a little sea salt for an hour or so at 120 degrees until they were a little jammy (my tomatoes were small, if you want to recreate this it will depend on the size of your tomatoes but trust your eyes and nose). I peeled and sliced two potatoes and kept them in some water to the side so they would stay nice and white. I blanched some spinach in boiling water for just a couple of minutes to soften it and strained it dry.

Layering the vegetables

I then layered them in my lovely new cast iron pan. A layer of potatoes, half of them, then tomatoes, then spinach. I added some of the morel mushroom cream ensuring about half of the morels themselves were on this layer. I then added another layer of tomatoes, the rest of the potatoes and drizzled the rest of the cream on top. If you want to be even more indulgent some cheese would be good now. I didn’t add any, but only because I forgot.

I then baked it for about 50 minutes at 180 deg C until the top was brown and the potatoes soft. It was lovely. Pure comfort and flavour, bright juicy tomatoes playing with earthy savoury morels and the comfort of spinach and potatoes.

Now, what could be wrong with that? Nothing.

… et voila!

I stayed in my apartment in Montreal as a guest of Housetrip – details on my apartment here.

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I like food. I like to make food. Eat food. Photograph food. Write about food. Mainly in London but when I am lucky or organised further afield.

13 Comments

  1. I wondered about that with the Richmond thing. Now that you’ve decided not to do it I can say… Richmond is not the loveliest of places. The eating would have been fascinating as it’s got some great Chinese, but you don’t want to spend a year there. Let’s just say I drive that bit further to go to the IKEA in a different suburb because it’s that much of a pain. I was just excited to have you so close! I know you’re going to probably not do so much crazy travelling but you really must come out to Vancouver sometime, our food carts are going bonkers and the seafood is great. Ahem – chef-led kayaking trips? http://www.ediblecanada.com/tours.php#tour-4
    xxxxxxx

    Reply

    • Hi Erin! Thanks for the lovely comment :)

      I know, the minute it became a reality and I started to think about it in depth the more I worried. I am happy where I am really & I have lots of stuff happening in London that I want to stick around for.

      Hope you three are well xxx

      Reply

  2. I voted for you in the Richmond comp many a time, sounds like it’s not so bad not winning.
    I’m a little jealous of your new cast iron pan!! Very nice! :)

    Reply

    • Oh thanks so much, I do appreciate it, and I do feel really bad about ever even asking. I don’t think I was entirely clear on what it was. Just jumped in feet first as always.

      Love my new little pan but it is bleddy heavy! Getting it home might be tricky but I will manage it :)

      Reply

  3. I have the same pan and I’m definitely going to be making that in it – it looks fantastic! It’s really great for cooking steaks in when you feel like eating meat again ;)

    I think you made the right choice about Richmond. Travel is one of your passions and one of the reasons why people (myself included) love to read you blog is to travel vicariously with you.

    Keep up the good work!

    Reply

    • Sam, thank you for your lovely comments. I knew immediately it wasn’t right. I always trust my gut, even if I have a tendency to over think or persuade myself into things :)

      Working on ideas for my second book now, I have at least 5 I want to write!

      (ps. great pan eh? I want about 5 of those too ;)

      Reply

  4. That is exactly what I want to eat, right now! Looks delumptious – think it’ll be tomorrow night’s supper. Brilliant.

    Reply

  5. Good for you Niamh – you went with your heart – ALWAYS the best way to make a decision! Anyway, what would we all do without you on this side of the globe??? XxX Karen

    Reply

    • Thanks Karen! Very kind. I am completely happy with everything right now, so why leave it? :) x

      Reply

  6. Envious of your lovely bright rental kitchen – and the pan! Can a girl ever have enough cast iron pans?? And how come dried mushrooms are cheaper almost everywhere else other than the UK? I brought back loads from Portugal, of all places… Love the flavour bomb dish!

    Reply

  7. Interestingly, food in Montreal offers you to experience various cultural contributions and different styles of cooking. One of the biggest food events in Montreal is the month long ‘Gourmande a Montreal’ celebration that allows you to taste the delicious Martinique food. Situated in the Lesser Antilles island chain of the Caribbean, Martinique’s cuisines offer an inventive and refreshing blend of Creole and French culinary traditions drawn from a mixture of Indian, Caribbean and African influences as well.

    Reply

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