fall.

I have been a sartorial disaster lately.

I don’t know how it happens that each time the seasons change, I find myself caught out, at least a day or two (if I am being generous) behind the weather.

It’s autumn, friends, officially and irrevokably, and yet each chillier-than-I-anticipated morning finds me stuffing my feet into clogs when what I should be wearing is proper shoes. The wool sweaters and skirts – the ones that I have been pining for since roughly mid-August – all need a quick trip to the dry cleaner’s. And my rather vast collection of vintage coats? The repairs needed would fill a blog post all their own.

My stockings have holes in them. I need a new scarf. The moths have discovered my cashmere undershirts – as I discovered, to my horror, just yesterday.

When my birthday twin told me she’d found a fabulous grey fur while on a wine tasting holiday in the Niagaras, I was envious to an unseemly degree.

Disaster!

But there is really no need to speak in such dire terms on a day like today, inching towards the end of a week like this one, when I’ve been spoiled beyond measure on every front.

I’m anticipating that some austerity (again, on all fronts) will be in order before too long, but before that takes hold I’ve got stacks of new reading material, a cupboard full of wine, the promise of more glorious company this weekend, and – yes! – possibly a little shopping to look forward to.

Bon weekend mes amis!

Farro and Chanterelles For an Indulgent Weekend
adapted from Bon Appetit

Indulgent, indeed: I used chanterelles here because they are a seasonal treat and a serious favourite of mine, and I made this dish as a part of my birthday feast last week. But they are neither easy to find nor easy on the pocketbook, so my plan for the next time is to use a mixture of tasty common mushrooms and ramp up the flavour with some coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts.

2 cups semi-pearled farro*
4-6 tbsp olive oil
500g chanterelles, carefully cleaned and cut into one-inch pieces
1 c chicken broth
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

*I found farro vexingly difficult to track down, and wound up being given some in a very roundabout way by a neighbourhood friend. Pearled barley, which is much more readily available, would be a fine substitute.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Add farro and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain and toss lightly in a colander, then set aside to cool completely.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add roughly one third of the mushrooms and cook, turning once, until mushrooms are crisp and golden on the edges. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Repeat with remaining olive oil and mushrooms.

Bring broth to a simmer in a saucepan large enough to hold everything. Add farro to pan and cook, stirring, until farro is hot and has absorbed some of the broth. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. With pan still on the heat, beat in butter a few cubes at a time. Stir in mushrooms, chives and thyme. Taste once more and adjust seasoning if necessary, then serve immediately.

Serves four as a main, eight as a side.


OMG.

Behold, friends, Toronto’s best focaccia.

At least that’s what the sign outside the bakery said, and who were we, overtired and glassy-eyed with hunger, sitting stuck in traffic in our car in the rain, to argue? We had said goodbye to my mom just that morning and two of the four of us were suffering from miserable end-of-summer colds.

We weren’t going anywhere anyway.

So we pulled over and dashed right in to check it out.

My knowledge of the Toronto focaccia scene is perhaps not the most extensive, but I can say that the good people who baked this bread have done everything right.

There is a reason their establishment is named OMG Baked Goodness; in fact it was all I could do not to devour most of our loaf during the ten-minute drive home.

Instead, I turned it into this vast, indulgently-proportioned sandwich, which is exactly what we (and by “we,” I mean, mostly, me) needed on a dreary, emotional grey day.

OMG Focaccia Sandwich to Feed the Masses

Since we are coming up to a long weekend, I’d like to suggest that this sandwich, or a similar incarnation of it – without the cheese perhaps? – would be just the thing for lunch or a light dinner en plein aire.

1 large round focaccia loaf (preferably OMG’s Herb & Garlic)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
225g crimini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3 tbsp pesto mayonnaise (I made my own: 1 tbsp pesto + 2 tbsp mayo)
8 sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
6 slices grilled zucchini*
a generous amount of cheese

*I happened to have some leftover grilled zucchini in the fridge, and if I hadn’t had that I’d have used something else – likely prosciutto.

Preheat broiler.

Cut focaccia in half horizontally, to make two rounds.

Melt butter and olive oil in a medium pan set over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms until golden.

Divide pesto mayonnaise evenly between focaccia halves, and then layer each half with equal amounts of each topping. Place on a large baking sheet and cook under the broiler until cheese has melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Cut into wedges, this would easily feed six, or even eight with a side salad.