Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Acorn Squash Ravioli w/ Brown Butter Sage & Toasted Pecan Sauce


 I had some leftover acorn squash in the fridge from making this recipe the other day and the urge to make homemade pasta.  One thing led to another and before anyone knew it, this was being served for dinner!  I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine did! 

Ingredients
- 1 recipe for fresh pasta
- 1/2 acorn squash (about 1 cup, mashed)
- 4 tbsp real butter
- 1/4 cup pecans
- fresh sage
- pepper to taste

Directions

Roll pasta according to directions.  

Stuff ravioli's with mashed acorn squash (I like to use 1 tsp filling for small ravioli, and 1 tbsp filling for large ravioli) and cut using your favourite method.  I really like this ravioli stamp I found at Williams-Sonoma last year. 

Boil pasta for 3-5 minutes, or until until ravioli floats to the surface of the water.  Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta, so be careful not to overcook.  Once pasta is finished, strain and add a small amount of butter or oil to keep the pasta from sticking together. 

In a medium saucepan set to low heat, brown the butter for 5-7 minutes, or until it starts to brown.  This will add a wonderful nutty dimension to the sauce. 

Add in fresh sage and pecans and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the pecans are lightly toasted.  

Pour sauce over cooked ravioli.  Garnish with a dash of freshly ground pepper and a few sprigs of fresh sage. 


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Monday, March 9, 2015

Orange Coconut Bread


Every month I write a recipe column for my local newspaper, The Hinton Voice.  Here is my column for March. 

[Recently a friend of mine gave me a vintage cookbook that features historical recipes from Jasper.  In it I found a multitude of recipes for orange bread, including the recipe that inspired this one.  Once I delved into the book I discovered that orange bread in Jasper was fairly popular in the early to mid 1900’s, and is a proud Jasper tradition to this day.  Orange bread was served at a local teahouse in the area (the Mount Edith Cavell Chalet) and was a favorite of many notable guests such as King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Bing Crosby and Marilyn Monroe, not to mention the multitude of tourists that came to visit Jasper each year.  Many thought the secret to the light airiness of the bread was due to the high elevation.

In addition to the rich historical origins, one of the things I love most about vintage recipes is their simplicity.  All of the recipes use only a handful of ingredients that are readily available in most kitchens, or are easy to find at a local grocery stores.  Best of all, the recipes boast no fancy equipment - a simple mixing bowl and a sturdy spoon and you’re good to go.  This recipe book in particular even mentions using teacups in place of cups for measurement, which in itself is incredibly telling of the era in which these recipes were cultivated.

Whether you’re making this bread for a little bit of Jasper nostalgia, or simply for afternoon tea, be sure to make a double batch because once the smell of this sweet orange bread hits your kitchen, nothing but a plate filled with crumbs is soon to follow.

The earliest version of orange bread that I could find was served at the Cavell Teahouse located in Jasper, Alberta in 1927 by Mrs. Slark (and later Anne Guild, who took over the teahouse until it closed in the 1970’s).  The bread was made in batches of 12 loaves at a time, several times a day to keep up with the flock of tourists after WWII!]

Recipe makes 1 loaf

Ingredients
- 2 oranges
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 cup shredded coconut

Directions

Using an orange peeler, scrape the rinds of 2 oranges into a bowl.  Add sugar and let orange/sugar mixture sit for about an hour to allow the oils from the orange rinds to incorporate into the sugar.

Place sugar in a medium saucepan, and cover with 2 cups cold water (hint - for an even stronger orange flavor, substitute some of the water with freshly squeezed juice from the oranges).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until mixture becomes a marmalade type consistency.  Allow to cool.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour and baking powder.   Slowly stir into the marmalade mixture, alternating with egg and milk, being sure to start and end with flour.  Gently fold coconut into batter being sure not to over mix.

Pour mixture into a buttered pan and let stand for 15 minutes.

Bake in a preheated, 350 degree oven for approximately 1 hour.

Serve with freshly sliced oranges, or a make a simple glaze using a few tablespoons orange juice and a cup or so of icing sugar.

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Catching up with Big Sugar



Catching up with Big Sugar

{I sat down with Gordie Johnson from Big Sugar this week to chat food, the new album, and their upcoming show in my local stomping grounds of Jasper, Alberta}

J: So let’s cut the chase, what’s the last thing you ate?

G: We just had some meatballs from famosos (a pizza chain in Alberta) that we went to right before the show.  We needed something good to eat – so we ordered from famosos.  It’s a small little quaint pizza place with really great sauce.  Order me famosos and I’m good to go.

J: The band has been touring across Canada this winter, any great local eateries along the way you’d like to tell us about?

G: We are always on the lookout for good Ethopian food – we know a couple of cities in Canada that we like to go to - Lethbridge Alberta has a really great restaurant [Abyssinian Restaurant]   The restaurant smells like frankincense, they make popcorn, roast all their own coffee, amazing vegetarian food - it’s a whole experience really.

J: What’s your favourite Canadian cuisine? 

G: I like a good poutine, I haven’t had any in awhile!   I have a drummer from Texas with me, and we have to get him a good poutine, where do you recommend?

J: L&W Restaurant (a local eatery) has the best poutine you’ll ever taste – their poutine’s are legendary.   Kids away at college come home and the first thing the do is grab one of their poutines.

G: Any other great eateries we should know about while we're in Jasper?

J: Well we have a Famoso's, since I know you like that - Jasper is really a great hub for unique eateries.  Café Mondo has the best mulligawtany of your life and since I know you take your coffee pretty seriously, Coco’s Café serves up a great cup.

G: Oh ya, that will make me happy.

J: So you’ve been playing in rural communities vs big cities for this album - tell us about that. 

G: The vibes have been lovely everywhere we go – big cities, small towns – because it’s an acoustic presentation it lends itself nicely to any space.

J: What made the band go in a more acoustical direction for this album?

G: It’s almost like recreation for us.  It’s so much fun and so easy to do – to play the music acoustically.  It was something that was inspiring us and
it got such a nice response that we booked a tour around it.  We really like doing this.

J: What’s your favourite song on the new albumn?

G: All of them – we only play the songs we love.

J: What inspires you?

G: I’ve written hundreds of songs, I haven’t narrowed it down to one thing.  We’re constantly scribbling in books, cataloguing little ideas as we go.

J: Something that helps you get in the mood to write?

Yes, yes, red wine – there’s lyrics in every bottle! 

J: Any wine recommendations?

G: We are really liking the 2010 Chianti Reserve right now – we are really liking those. You’ve got to have a good red wine for it to be a good show.

J: Are there little pieces of home you like to bring while on tour?

G: Once we get on stage, we are at home.

J: Any great Gordie recipes you'd like to leave us with?

G: Something I’ve been doing lately is experimenting with Jamaican food.  I learned how to make a fried egg with coconut oil – it’s almost like a deep-fried egg. You heat up coconut oil, it will get really hot really fast, and you break your egg gently in the oil – it just crusts perfectly round.  It looks just like an English muffin when it comes out.  It’s hard and crispy on the outside, with a little salt and pepper, and it’s nice and runny on the inside, it's really great. It’s such a simple thing, but that coconut oil gives it a certain fragrance and it’s really great. 

See you at the show!

Location: 
401 Geike Street 
Jasper, Alberta

Showtime:  
Sunday, March 1st @ 8:00pm

Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.ca

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bonhomme Carnaval: Traditional Maple Sugar Candy




Every year, my hometown has a "Bonhomme Carnaval"event at our local ski hill. This event is a celebration of French Canadian culture with traditional activities like this maple sugaring off on snow, cross country skiing, Norwegian sledding, RCMP in serge, and a bonhomme mascot.  This year the event was hosted by the graduating class of 2015 - with all proceeds going towards their prom.  The students were hard at work all day with the sugaring off, selling cans of maple syrup, and serving up traditional french tourtiere (meat pies), sugar pies, split pea soup, and baked beans.  It was a truly French Canadian experience, and everything was authentic and delicious!  

First they started by levelling off the snow: 


Here they have pure Canadian maple syrup bubbling on the stove (at 113 degrees Celsius to be exact!): 


A ladle of this is about to be turned into something quite delicious... 


The ladle full of bubbling hot maple syrup is poured onto the snow: 


You're given a wide popsicle stick, which you adhere to the maple syrup immediately.  As it starts to cool, you slowly start to wrap the maple syrup around the popsicle stick until finally...


You have a stick of ooey, gooey, maple deliciousness. 


Today was a good day.

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Homemade English Muffins


Here is my most recent column in "The Hinton Voice", my local newspaper. 

[In an effort to save money on groceries, my husband and I have been making all of our bread from scratch for the past several months.  Not only do we save copious amounts on our weekly grocery bill, the novelty of a fresh loaf of bread directly out of the oven never loses it’s charm.  Once we had the art of homemade bread down to a science, I knew it was time to step it up a notch and start cutting out other store bought purchases like pizza dough, bagels, and the perfect bed for eggs benedict … English muffins. 

Whether served simply toasted with butter and jam, or in the most incredible breakfast sandwich you will ever make in your life, these English muffins are definitely worth adding to your baking list.   They are both dense and light all at the same time, with airy nooks and crannies just begging to be filled with something delicious.]

Recipe makes a dozen

Ingredients
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 ½ tsp yeast
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 2 tbsp butter
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp oil

Directions

Heat milk until just warm (either in a saucepan, or in the microwave).  Add yeast and brown sugar.   Allow to sit for 5 minutes or so, to give the yeast a chance to activate.

Meanwhile, combine flour, butter, and salt in a medium bowl.   Once yeast has bloomed, pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, mixing well to combine.

If using a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook, kneed on a low speed for 6-8 minutes, or until dough is nice and elastic.  If kneading by hand, you’ll need to knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes in order to get the right consistency.

Did you know most ovens come with a proof setting?  If yours doesn’t, simply preheat your oven to it’s lowest temperature (around 170 degrees), then shut off for 5 minutes or so before placing the dough inside.

Place dough in a large, greased bowl and cover loosely with a clean towel for 60-90 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size. 


Punch the air out of the dough and separate into 12 equal sized biscuit shaped pieces.  Alternatively, for more uniform pieces, roll the dough out onto a floured surface and cut using a biscuit cutter.


Once you’ve formed the biscuits, allow the dough to rise once again for 30-60 minutes, or until they have doubled in size.


Add 1-2 tsp of oil to a medium frying pan set to medium heat, and brown the muffins for a couple of minute on each side (a cast iron pan works great for this because you can transfer it directly into the oven for the next step).


If your frying pan isn’t oven safe, transfer to a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.   

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Calories -115   Fat - 2    Carbs – 20     Protein - 4   Fibre – 1





Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins


Here is this week's column in The Hinton Voice (my local newspaper).  Enjoy! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Best of 2014



Last year I put together a list of the top recipes of 2013 and it was such a hit that I decided to do it again this year!  These are the 10 most popular recipes that I posted in 2014. 



Back in July I had the privilege of interviewing Gordie Johnson, the lead singer for Canadian Rock Band Big Sugar.  It was an amazing experience that you can catch a glimpse about my experience here.  Gordie shared with me his recipe for authentic Italian tomato sauce, a recipe that he makes weekly for his family.  His family's recipe was the 10th most popular recipe posted in 2014.   




I made these balsamic glazed carrots with ingredients from my summer garden.  From the carrots, right down to the thyme, all of the fresh ingredients were grown and picked by yours truly.  Gardening is a bit of a new experience for me, so it's always exciting when I'm able to incorporate my love for nature with my love for cooking!  A lot of you thought this recipe was delicious as well because it rang in as the 9th most popular recipe posted in 2014! 




Earlier in the year, my friend Kate and I decided to get together every couple of weeks and try out a new recipe.  One day she brought a couple of salsa ingredients for lunch and we decided to throw a ripe mango I had on the counter into the mix.  A few squeezes of lime and some fresh cilantro later, and we had ourselves a sweet and refreshing salsa that went great on tortilla chips!  I've made this recipe several times now, and it looks like a lot of you have as well!  This recipe rang in as the 8th most popular recipe posted in 2014! 




In 2014 I had the privilege of working with Hershey's Canada.  Even though I only posted this recipe a couple of weeks ago, it's fast becoming a favourite and rang in as the 7th most popular recipe of 2014! 




This cheesecake bar encompasses a lot of my favourite flavours.  I don't think there's anything that combines caramel and apples that I haven't adored.  Throw cheesecake into the mix, and you have yourself a winner.  This recipe rang in as the 6th most popular recipe posted in 2014. 




This recipe has been a family favourite for years.  It's one of those quick, easy recipes that make a great weekday meal when you're pressed for time.  This recipe rang in as the 5th most popular recipe posted in 2014. 




I am a huge fan of all things french onion.  My husband and I purchased our first propane barbecue this summer and I think it's safe to say that 90% of our meals came of the grill in the weeks that followed.  This recipe was the brainchild of one too many barbecues where we wanted something different than just a cheeseburger.  This flavour packed burger doesn't disappoint, ringing in as the 4th most popular recipe posted in 2014. 




Every New Year I do a bit of a food cleanse.  I try to negate the bounty of holiday treats with a solid few weeks of healthy eating.  This recipe is one of my favourite lightened dinners, and even my pizza loving husband thinks it's a win.  So did a lot of you, because this recipe rang in as the 3rd most popular recipe of 2014. 





I often host cooking classes throughout the year, and this year I decided to bring in my friend Sandy to make her recipe for authentic Mexican tacos and homemade salsa.  This recipe is incredible and will have you dreaming about it for days.  The salsa has a surprising ingredient that makes it stand out and keeps you coming back for more!  This tasty treat came in as the 2nd most popular recipe posted in 2014! 





The most popular recipe that was posted in 2014 is this recipe for chicken pot pie made in mason jars. Not only is this pot pie the perfect combination of creamy tender chicken and golden flaky crust, anything that I can cook, store, and eat all in the same dish is a winner in my books!  Plus, isn't everything in a mason jar just awesome?   





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