Cooking Smart by Chef Dave Smart: A Nova Scotia tradition

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Chef Dave Smart is the chef at Front and Central restaurant in Wolfville and author of the Cooking Smart column in the Kings County Advertiser and Register.

When I think of Nova Scotia cuisine, hodge podge is at the top of the list. Truthfully, I never had it growing up, as I was born in Scotland, and it hasn’t been until my recent career transition from engineer to chef that I actually rolled up my sleeves and explored the potential of this classic Nova Scotian dish. 

Armed with fresh seasonal baby vegetables, a curious mind and some crazy ideas, I started from my basic foundations from culinary school and I took to blanching each of them separately, preserving their color and nutritional value.

Next part was the cream sauce. Rather than just cream, I thought it would be nice to add a fresh herbal note; chives and mint it was. A small amount of celery root provided additional richness.

After a little bit of tinkering in the kitchen, I had a beautiful, bright herbal cream sauce that I could use to gently warm up the blanched vegetables. My version of hodge podge was born.

Blanched vegetables

Ingredients:

2 tbsp salt

1 bay leaf

1 cup baby carrot

1 cup green and yellow beans

1 cup peas

2 cups new potatoes

Method:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Set up an ice bath (50 per cent ice, 50 per cent water) in a second large pot or bowl.

Add the vegetables (carrots, beans, peas) one type at a time to the boiling water and cook until desired consistency is reached. Immediately transfer them to the ice bath to stop the cooking. 

For the new potatoes, cover them in cold salted water. Add a bay leaf (if using) and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until desired consistency is reached. Drain and transfer to ice bath.

When vegetables are fully cooled, remove them from the ice bath and blot dry. They can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two days until ready to use.

Chive cream

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp vegetable oil

¼ cup shallot – diced fine

½ cup celery root - diced fine

½ cup white wine

2 cups vegetable stock

2 cups cream

½ tsp salt

½ tsp white pepper

¼ cup chopped chives

1 tbsp chopped mint

Method:

Melt butter and oil over medium heat. Add shallot and celery root and sweat until shallot is translucent and celery root starts to soften, about three to four minutes. Add white wine and reduce until pan is almost dry.  Add vegetable stock and cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the celery root is very soft, about seven to nine minutes longer.

Off heat, add chives and mint. Transfer to a blender and puree in batches. Season to taste with salt and pepper adding additional stock if required to reach your desired consistency.

To serve:

Add desired amount and selection of vegetables to your pot and cover with chive cream. Gently heat until vegetables are warmed through, about three to five minutes. Adjust seasoning if required. 

Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh chopped chive and mint.

 

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Scotland

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Recent comments

  • Steve
    July 24, 2014 - 09:55

    We made this last night. It's a nice upgrade to the traditional hodge podge. We also added bacon from Village Meat Market here in Canning and browned some pearl onions in the bacon fat. Plus we added cayenne pepper for a little touch of heat. @Tanya, the thing about "traditional", is that traditions need to be broken from time to time. The mint is a real nice touch, but dont over do it, just enough for a subtle summer freshness

  • Steve
    July 24, 2014 - 09:49

    We made this last night. It's a nice upgrade to the traditional hodge podge. We also added bacon from Village Meat Market here in Canning and browned some pearl onions in the bacon fat. Plus we added cayenne pepper for a little touch of heat. @Tanya, the thing about "traditional", is that traditions need to be broken from time to time. The mint is a real nice touch, but dont over do it, just enough for a subtle summer freshness

  • Tanya
    July 14, 2014 - 11:57

    Sounds interesting, (although I'm not a fan of mint) but in no way does that recipe resemble 'traditional' hodge podge which, in our family, is just basically cook potatoes/vegetables, drain, add milk (with some cream if desired), butter and serve!