International Women’s Day Dinner and Mona Johannson amazing Roasted Carrots and Tomatoes soup recipe
What and Why
International Women’s Day was special this year in Kelowna. With the hashtag #BEBOLDFORCHANGE women around the world gathered to celebrate social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women by holding various events and raising money to better their communities and beyond. Here in Kelowna a limited number of lucky guests were treated to a memorable dinner to celebrate women and forge a better, more gender inclusive world. Fittingly, the proceeds from our dinner and the associated silent auction were donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna and Slow Food Thompson Okanagan.
The five course dinner event was the brainchild of Aman Dosanj of the Paisley Notebook, a local chef who recently returned from an eight months tour around the world eating and cooking her way through several continents. She returned with a youthful enthusiasm and we in Kelowna are benefiting from her skill and sense of adventure.
Aman recruited five chefs and four wine makers, all women who work here in the Okanagan to provide the food and wine for the dinner. In addition to Aman the lineup included chefs Mona Johannson, Dana Ewart and Jenna Pillon, pastissier extraordinaire Sandrine Raffault and wine makers Nikki Callaway, Severine Pint, Penelope Roche, and Heidie Noble, more about them below. It was promising to be spectacular evening.
The dinner took place on March 8th at the beautiful Quail’s Gate Family Estate Winery in a private dining room off the spacious tasting room overlooking the Okanagan lake and snow covered mountains beyond. Yes, it’s March and we still have snow here this year.
Upon arrival at the winery we were greeted with an award winning Gin cocktail prepared by Aman’s award winning bartender brother Harry Dosanj. (The Dosanj family is multi talented and we know them well from their former restaurant Poppadom’s.) I wish I could remember what was in this delicious drink, especially what he used to spray the rim of the glass with, but I do recall it had a fragrant and refreshing floral and herbal flavour and aroma.
After enjoying the drink by the fire in the beautiful Quail’s Gate tasting room, visiting with friends and bidding on an item or two in the silent auction, we were invited to proceed into the adjacent dining room where tables were set with white linen, long stemmed glasses, fresh flowers and individual place cards designating our seat at the round tables for 10. We had a fascinating mix of women at our table including food writers, a book author, travel experts, a food enthusiast, Opera Kelowna’s artistic director, Opera board VP and last but not least two of the women wine makers whose wines were served with the dinner. I only wish I could have played musical chairs and move from one woman to the next to learn more about each. Perhaps another time.
After a brief introduction by Aman, dinner was ready to be served. “Each of the women who are cooking and who made the wine for this dinner were my first choice for this event” says Aman. “I asked and they all agreed to donate their service, talent and products for this occasion”. I cannot think of a better lineup.
The five course dinner was prepared by the five gifted Okanagan female chefs and paired to perfection with sophisticated wines made by the four equally gifted local women wine makers. By local I mean our Okanagan valley in British columbia, a treasure trove of good food, memorable wines, organic farming and respect for the integrity of the land and what it produces.
First course was offered by Aman Dosanj who prepared a vegetarian course with Okanagan vegetables, Keralan ‘Ishtew’, rice cracker and a fragrant and light coconut sauce that enhanced all the flavours on the plate. This was paired with Quail’s Gate Rosemary’s Block Chardonnay 2016 made by wine maker Nikki Callaway who was sitting at our table. Appropriate for the occasion, the Rosemary’s Block Chardonnay 2016 was named after a woman, the mother of the Stewart brothers who had a significant contribution to the family’s establishment of the winery. The wine had elegance and style with floral and citrus notes and a little oak. Together with Aman’s vegetarian creation it was a memorable first course experience.
The delicious soup course was prepared by Mona Johannson of Sunshine Farm Seeds. Mona was so generous to share her recipe for this soup with me for this post (see below). The fire roasted heirloom tomato and carrots soup was served with crispy radish, micro cilantro and a wedge of house made sourdough bread. Needless to say it was made with tomatoes from their organic heirloom farm and was deep flavoured and beautifully smooth. The soup was paired with Heidi Noble’s Joie Farm Winery’s Noble Blend 2015, an Alsatian inspired blend of 6 grapes producing an aromatic wine with warm spice notes and a refreshing palate.
The fish course was prepared by Aman’s “culinary crush” Dana Ewart of the incomparable Joy Road Cuisine de Terroir fame. Dana prepared lightly smoked and seared arctic char with salmon roe, scallion puree, house cured creme fraiche of wonderful consistency, crispy potato rosti and naturally fermented carrots and turnips. It was a skilled and artistic melody of flavours and textures. This course was paired with Le Vieux Pin Vaila Rosé 2016 that I believe was just bottled for this event by the winemaker Severine Pinte who was sitting at our table. The off-dry pale salmon wine made from the free run juice of pinot noir grapes is attractive to both the eye and the palate with rhubarb notes alternating with red currant and yielding a lingering finish.
The main course was prepared by Jenna Pilon, chef at Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek Estate Winery. Jenna prepared a wild moon pork loin with house made fennel bacon, crispy polenta, smoked carrots, celeriac puree and last summer’s blueberries jus. As an aside we are just notified that RauDZ creative Concepts LTD (aka Chef Rod Butters and Audrey Suarrao) have taken Terrafina into their family of restaurants and Jenna will be working with them. This main course was paired with Roche Wines 2014 Pinot Noir, brought by Roche winemaker Penelope Roche. This was a classic French style pinot with fine balance of tannins, acidity and dark fruit aroma, one of the best pinot in the Okanagan.
Dessert was made by patissiere extraordinaire from Paris Sandrine Raffault of Sandrine French Pastries and Chocolate. Sandrine prepared a beautiful plate of berry pistachio mascarpone mousse, raspberry sorbet, pistachio and lemon macaroons. There wasn’t a crumb left on my plate. The dessert was served with Quail’s Gate Winery botrytis affected Optima 2016, a late harvest Sautern style wine with tropical fruit flavours and floral aromas. It was a treat to end the evening with this “nectar of the Gods”.
Many lingered at the tables long after the food was gone and the wine “evaporated” from the glasses. It was a lovely evening of friendship and appreciation for the generous and talented women that make up the Okanagan food scene and a contribution to two important institutions that do much to improve the well being of the Okanagan community. On the International Women’s Day call to action I would say it was mission accomplished.
Thank you to Aman and her gifted team of chefs and winemakers. We can’t wait to have more of your food and wine this year.
A votre Santé.
Mona Johannson’s Roasted Heirloom Carrot & Tomato Soup with Roast Heritage Radishes and Salsify Puree
The recipe is large, yielding 5-6 litres of soup, but it would be easy to cut the ingredients by half or even divide by 3 to yield a smaller quantity. As is, the recipe is great for a good size summer gathering. Thank you Mona Johannson for yet again generously sharing your culinary secrets with us.
Other posts about Mona’s food and recipes:
3 lbs Heirloom carrots (Mona used Dutch Gold in order to keep a light sunny colour)
3 lbs Heirloom tomatoes (Mona had fire roasted tomatoes from their farm but roasting them in the oven will give a similar flavour – see directions below)
3 large onions
2 Tbs of cumin
5-6 cloves of garlic
2 litre of chicken stock
Bouquet garni ( 2 fresh thyme sprigs, 2 parsley sprigs, 2 bay leaves, 10 black peppercorns tied together securely in a piece of cheesecloth)
1 litre of coconut milk
Note: Mona also used a variety fire roasted dehydrated peppers that she had from last season but dried tomatoes would work too.
1. Peel and chop carrots and two onions into large uniform chunk and set in large bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt & pepper and cumin. Spread out on foil lined sheet pan and roast at 375°F for about 30 min or until soft and partially caramelized. Set aside to cool.
2. Chop tomatoes into uniform chunks and toss with olive oil, salt & pepper. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and roast at 400°F. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
3. In a large stock pot heat about 3 or 4 Tbs of olive oil and add the remaining onion (large dice) and the garlic (thinly sliced). Cook until translucent but not brown.
4. Add all the roasted veg to the pot and cook on Med until most of the moisture has evaporated.
5. Add the stock a little at a time to deglaze the pot. The stock should just cover the vegetables at this point, if not add a little water.
6. Simmer for about 30 min (at this point Mona added a bouquet garni and a couple of dried hot peppers).
7. Turn off and let steep for about an hour.
8. Puree the soup in a Vitamix for a very smooth consistency, or use an immersion mixer.
9. Return the soup to the pot and add the coconut milk.
10. Taste and adjust the seasoning
Garnishes for the soup:
Chop about 15 to 20 radishes into 406 pieces, depending on their size. Toss with olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Place on a foil lined baking dish and roast in 375°F for about 15 to 20 min. They should just turn golden. Do not let them brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
1 lb Salsify peeled and cut into uniform chunks (see note below).
1/4 cup heavy cream or as needed
1- 2 tablespoons butter
Note: when peeling salsify it is good to slip them directly into a bath of acidified water (water & lemon juice) to stop browning. And adding a little oil to your hands as you peel helps with the stickiness of the natural latex salsify secrets as you peel.
Simmer Salsify in stock or water until tender and set aside to cool slightly.
Using a food processor puree salsify with enough stock to keep it moving, adding splash of the heavy cream and a tablespoon or two of the butter.
Season to taste.
See image above.
Pour the soup into warm bowls
Garnish with the salsify puree and a few of the roasted radishes.
Some micro greens are nice if you have them.