Tuesday, December 28, 2010

January: In the Bleak Midwinter, There is Good Food Awaiting!


Black & Kidney Bean Chili Soup

Onion Soup and Garlic in White Wine

White Beans in Cream Sauce with Onions

Stewed Cabbage with Sausage

Beef Bourguignon

Vegetarian Chili

Winter Vegetable Pie

Hungarian Goulash with Pumpkin Chutney

Sweetbreads with Tarragon and Red Wine

Dried Tomato, Mushroom & Onion Pizza

Chicken Sage Lasagna

Marmalade Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Cake

Mincemeat Bread Pudding with Orange Brandy Sauce


Cranberry Apply Jelly

A shopping expedition in January is a very cold and daunting experience so dress in layers, zip up, wear that heavy toque you got from grandma for Christmas and let’s (not start that vehicle and burn fossil fuels) head to the neighbourhood grocery store for the ingredients for a delicious January meal based on the philosophy of enjoying foods that are ‘good, clean and fair’ according to the season. ‘Good’ because they are grown in Ontario, in the vicinity on farms that you support; ‘clean’ because they are destined to regional markets and therefore free from use of herbicides, pesticides, and additives that extend the life of the produce; and ‘fair’ because the producer has grown the produce under humane conditions and received a fair wage for his goods. Your grocery trip will necessarily result in a very low carbon footprint in that you’ve walked to the store and used food ingredients that have travelled a relatively short distance to get to your table.

This concept was put forward by Guido Petrini in Slow Food Nation, 2005 published by Rizzoli Ex Libris, to heighten awareness about the need to re-align our eating habits to think local, purchase healthy fresh ingredients and have a willingness to spend time preparing a fresh dinner. This ‘slow food movement’ is a conscious choice for many of us to actually turn away from companies who place before us in larger mega food chains heavily processed foods designed and packaged by international agri-businesses. In its place you may discover a wide array of choices you may have overlooked, so walk with me to the grocery store, smile at your local grocery owner and select the ingredients for an Onion Soup in White Wine, a Beef Bourguignon and an Apple Cinnamon Cake for dessert. Enjoy a fresh cole slaw in a light vinaigrette with the main course along with a robust red wine. Serve the Apple cinnamon cake warm with creme anglaise or English cream.

These dishes celebrate the foods that are grown locally and have been stored in cool dry conditions and also require preparation time. Look at the many available foods we can work with in this cold season. First dried bean, black, navy, kidney and lentils are very inexpensive, provide a great source of protein as does tofu, a bean curd that is used in many vegetarian dishes and makes a great meat substitute. Root vegetables provide vitamins and nutrition during this season. Dried fruit and nuts we also enjoy in this cold month as quick energy sources and great dessert ingredients.

This shopping list has 6-8 golden onions, 4 boxes of beef broth, 2 sticks French bread, a small block of parmesan cheese, creme anglaise, 3 oz. of bacon preferably uncut and smoked, 3 carrots, tomato paste, garlic, 1/2 lbs (250 grams) mushrooms, 11/2 lbs (750 grams) stewing beef and a bag of apples.

Onion & Garlic Soup

This is a notably light broth and will be a great starter for something substantial in the main course to come. Adjust the garlic to your taste. Remember that onions and garlic are very high in vitamin C, and of course very flavourful. This soup can be added to for a more hearty texture as a lunch the following day.

11/2 cups thinly sliced golden onions (375 ml)

6 cloves garlic or more dependent on taste

4 tbsp unsalted butter (50 ml)

6 cups beef broth

1/2 cup dry white wine (1500 ml)

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme (2 ml)

6 slices of French bread cut in diagonal slices

1 cup grated parmesan (250 ml)

Gently sautee the onions and garlic in butter for 20 minutes under low heat in a large casserole then add 6 cups beef broth to simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes adding the wine in the last 10 minutes. Grill or broil buttered French bread and add the bread onto the top of the soup. Sprinkle a generous amount of parmesan cheese and place in the oven at 350 degrees to allow the cheese to melt. Serve directly from the casserole at the table.

Boeuf Bourguignon

(beef stew in red wine, bacon, onions and mushrooms)

Recently this recipe has gained renewed attention in the movie Julie/Julia: 2 True Stories. It is truly a delicious way to prepare beef and transforms a January evening meal into a celebration. The classic cookbook that is a new addition to my cookbook collection was co authored by Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. Julia Child’s recipe in ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ 1961 published by Alfred A. Knopf is laborious so I have adapted the recipe to suit today’s cooking styles. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

3 oz smoked bacon in thick 6 inch lengths

3 lbs stewing beef

1 tbsp olive oil

1 carrot

1 onion

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp flour

11/2 cup beef bouillon

11/2 cup young full bodied wine

1 tbsp tomato paste

10 small pearl onions

1/2 tsp thyme

bay leaf

3 cloves garlic

Cook bacon on low heat, remove from pan and set on paper towel to drain. Add olive oil to pan and, after the stewing beef is patted dry, saute the beef gently a few pieces at a time. Place the stewing beef and bacon into a casserole pan. Add flour, salt and pepper by sprinkling over the cooked beef and stirring to coat each cube with flour. Place the casserole uncovered for 5 minutes in the oven to crust the beef. Chop the onion and carrot coursely. In the same oil and bacon fat, sautee the onion and carrot briefly and with a slotted spoon remove vegetables to place into the casserole layered over the beef. Add beef boullion, tomato paste and wine to your casserole. Over medium heat on the stovetop bring the stew to a simmer and reduce heat. Place in the oven for one hour. In the saucepan, add 2 tbsp butter, saute sliced mushrooms and small pearl onions and finally add the above to your bourguignon to the top layer along with crushed garlic and thyme. Return to the oven for another 11/2 hrs and serve with the rest of that young robust wine.

Apple Cinnamon Cake

You can still find fresh crispy Ontario MacIntoshes and Cortland apples in the local produce section. This is a soda bread originally made with pears but this adaptation will work very well too. After your beef bourguignon has come out of the oven, turn down the temperature to 350 degrees F. (180 degrees C.) and place your dessert in for cooking while the soup is being served. Use a spring form pan for this simple but very visually pleasing cake.

3 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

3-4 thinly sliced unpeeled apples or dried apple slices

3 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup butter melted

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp allspice

21/4 cups unbleached flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Place the butter in the bottom of the spring form pan and place in the oven while pre-heating until butter is melted. Remove from oven and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Arrange thinly sliced apples in a fanned circular manner over the bottom of the pan.

To make the cake batter, whisk molasses and melted butter with milk, egg and the second teaspoon of cinnamon until blended. Mix flour, sugar, soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add the mixture to the wet ingredients and spread this thick batter over the apples.

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool briefly and release the spring form. Place a large dish over the top of the cake. Release the bottom of the pan from the fruit to display the apples taking care to use a rubber spatular to replace caramel sauce onto cake.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

November Recipes and Highlights

The local harvest is still very generous in November with local Spartan and Macintosh apples available from local orchards. A neighbour offered quarts of healthy crabapples for jelly reserves and fresh desserts in season.

Aromas of tangy Sweet Pumpkin Marmalade and Pumpkin Chutney filled our cosy house early in the month while later the kitchen filled with the rich scents of Apple Sage Roasted Chicken.

Most economical purchases were apples from local orchards, Bosc and Bartlett pears, local sweet peppers, cabbage, carrots, beets and of course, the pumpkin. With one pumpkin, I was able to set aside over 50 250 ml. Jars of chutney, marmalade and pickles!


Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup

Apple Cider Pumpkin Chutney Soup

Vegetables Au Gratin with Pumpkin Chutney topping

Leek Tart (Flamiche)

Leeks in a Sidedish

Apple Beet Sidedish

Barley and Beet Risotto

Apple Sage Roasted Chicken

Chicken with Apricots and Herbes de Provence


Apple Peach Clafouti

Crabapple Crisp

Chocolate Cheesecake with Coffee Liqueur

Dessert Crepes with Seasonal Fruit

Pumpkin Pickles

Pumpkin Chutney

Pumpkin Marmalade

Sweet Pepper Relish

Pear Liqueur

Cranberry Hot Pepper Jelly

Rosehip Jelly

Apple Butter

Spiced Crabapple Jelly

Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup

In late fall, harvest or purchase more than one pumpkin. Early Canadian pioneers had many uses for the late harvest vegetable in addition to creating a jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. The colour of this rich creamy soup is simply autumn itself in Ontario.

4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil

3 golden onions

4 cloves of garlic

2 large yams or sweet potatoes

2 c. peeled and diced pumpkin

1 c. orange concentrate

2 tblsp tarraon

salt and pepper to taste

8 cups water

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Dice and sautee onions. Finely dice garlic and add to saucepan. Add water. Prepare sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Cook until tender. Puree the soup, add orange concentrate and return to saucepan to add tarragon, salt and pepper.

Vegetable au Gratin with Pumpkin Chutney Topping

This dish uses cooked vegetables and serves delightfully well, without the monotony of thinking that you’re eating leftovers…..again. The delicate taste of the vegetables comes through with a lovely bouquet of rosemary.Serves 8-12.

8-10 c. winter vegetables (squash, parsnips, carrots)

1 ½ c. 35% whipping cream

3 eggs

1 tblsp butter

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup grated edam or gouda cheese

½ cup bread crumbs

2 tbsp rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

2 golden onion

optional: 1 cup pumpkin chutney

Prepare winter vegetables by cutting them in large sections placing them in a bowl and drizzling them with 1/3 cup olive oil. Place them in the oven at 325 degrees for approximately 45 minutes until cooked but not extensively soft. Remove from the baking dish and let cool for 30 minutes. In the same baking dish, melt butter and sautee onion in the oven. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Peel the cooked vegetables and add them to the baking dish along with herbs, crumbs, and cream and cheese. Cook for 40 minutes until cream has been absorbed and top is golden. Finally add spoonfuls of Pumpkin Chutney.

Apple Peach Clafoutis

The French has a country classic called the ‘clafoutis’ that is a richly flavoured custard dessert that presents fresh and preserved fruit and their flavours in a luscious and honest way without a dominant sweet taste. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

¾ c. all purpose flour

½ c. sugar

1/8 tsp. Salt

3 large eggs

3 tblsp rum

1 tsp. Vanilla

2 c. milk

1 lb apples unpeeled in slices

1 c. Peach Almond Conserve

icing sugar for dusting

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Prpare eggs beating them and gradually add the flour mixture. Add rum, vanilla and milk and beat vigorously until mixture is smooth. Pour into a deep buttered casserole that has already received an attractive arrangement of sliced apple and Peach Almond Conserve (see Preserves). Bake for 45 minutes or until the clafoutis is browned but still soft. Serve warm with a dusting of icing sugar and perhaps a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Foodsmith December Recipe List and Highlights

December offers many occasions in the calendar to gather with friends and family to toast good health, good food and being together midst the cold flurries of the cold Canadian winter. As I reflect on the numerous opportunities besides the proverbial 'sunday roast' or 'friday night dinners', there is in this month the honoured ritual of Hanukah early in the month, Winter solstice mid month and of course Christmas and New Year's Day.

Large gatherings at this time of year prefer a casual format, warm hearty comfort food with roasted meats and vegetables straight from the oven while the house wafts with the scents of cloves, cinnamon and allspice.

This month it is time to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with an spectacle of edible gifts to wrap, serve and share and so these recipes are entered as a special entry.

Take care to be selective about the number of creative projects one endeavors at this time as this month can turn into a frenetic hoopla of stresses furnaced by commercial interests.

Friends, family and food is meant to be enjoyed by the host as well so be selective in your social planning while serene in your enjoyment of your crowd.

December Recipe List

Cranberry Chutney Almond Cheese Mold

Olive Tapenade Onion Triangles

Pintade or Caramelized Onions

Dried Apple Onion Soup with Baguette Sandwich

Roasted Squash with Apple Pork Stuffing

Chicken Curry with Peach Chutney


Stuffed Pork Loin with Apple Plum Chutney

Lemon Cake with Pears in Red Wine

Dried Fruit & Nut Cake

Almond Mincemeat Currant Biscotti

Cranberry Walnut Apple Crisp

Apple Mincemeat Pie

Mincemeat Cake with Caramel Sauce


Fruit Liqueurs


Fig Jam

Applesauce with Nuts and Raisins

Cranberry Chutney Almond Cheese Mould

Warm winter evenings call for appetizers that offer rich tastes and dashes of colour all the while using a colourful cranberry chutney that was prepared during the thanksgiving season only a few months ago. Prepare this cheese mould the day before a Friday evening gathering and avoid expensive moulds that lack freshness.

16 oz. Cream cheese

2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

6 tbsp. Sherry

2 tbsp. Worcestshire sauce

11/2 tsp. Curry

½ tsp. Salt

1 c. cranberry chutney

¾ c. almonds toasted

½ c. green onions, thinly sliced

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, sherry, Worcestershire, curry and salt until well blended. Pour into mould that has been lined with plastic wrap. Wrap well with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze overnight. Remove from the mould using warm water and spread with chutney. Press the chopped almonds followed by green onions and serve 10-12 party goers.

La Tourtiere

This meat pie has a very long and revered tradition at Christmas gatherings throughout French Canada as well as parts of New England. The word 'trourte' has its first sighting in 1611 where it was understood in France to be the cooking ladle to hold a small bird. In the dishes' travels to North America it was known for its savoury pastry in a deep dish and was filled with the passenger pigeon. It was harvested intensely during the 1800's and skies were cloudy with 3-5 billion birds. By 1880 the species had disappeared but the romance and nostalgia connected with 'tourtiere' as a treat or precious dish remained. It was commonly served at Christmas after midnight mass at the exuberant party called the 'reveillon' where there would be feasting, singing, and dancing. The English connection calls the dish 'pate a l'angloise', or red-devil's dish as it was known to be served with a red sweet and sour condiment (that sounds like ketchup). This flavourful recipe is one that is brought together from the traditional Jehanne Benoit ‘Canadiana’ cookbook from 1975 as well as the ‘Canadian Living’ classic cookbook published every year. Here I include an early painting from the Quebec artist, Joseph Legare: Josephte Ourne c. 1840. She is holding the now extinct passenger pigeon she had just successfully hunted with her bow along with her bountiful catch of the day. Was she bringing the pigeon home to add to her 'tourtiere'?

3 medium potatoes

3 lbs of lean ground beef combined with pork

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 large golden onions

1-2 carrots

6 cloves garlic

1 stalk celery

6 cups sliced mushrooms

2 tsp salt

3 tsp. thyme

2 tsp. sage

1 tbsp savory

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ c. chopped fresh parsley

Peel potatoes in a separate saucepan. Drainwater except for 1/3 cup water and mash them until smooth.

In a deep skillet, cook onions, garlic, celery and mushroom and set aside. Separately, cook 3 lbs meat thoroughly and drain the fat. Stir in parsley, herbs and finally add chopped carrots and mashed potatoes previously cooked separately. Generously fill the pies prepared with pie crust.

For Pastry:

6 cups unbleached flour

11/2 tbsp salt

1 1/3 cups lard

1 egg

1 tbsp lemon juice

11/2 cup cold water

Mix flour and salt in a separate bowl. Blend in lard into flour mixture until it is the size of small peas. Prepare beaten egg, cold water and vinegar up to one cup, and add to flour mixture. Make into a large mass without working the dough, and finally divide it into 6 balls of dough. Place into the fridge to cool (makes 3 pies).

Make lower shell and add mixture. Make top shell of pastry. Bake in a hot oven at 425 degrees for 15 min. Reduce heat for 45 minutes at 325 degrees until done. Don't forget the ketchup or a tomato or cranberry chutney.


This Italian holiday sweet bread in the past purchased only in delicatessen stores in now largely available in large food chain stores. Traditionally it is served at Christmas, Easter, christenings and weddings. It is a very interesting and economical bread to make at home with the convenience of the bread maker while also using many of the ingredients you enjoyed using during the period you prepared Christmas edible gifts. This recipe uses dried apples and cranberries dried at home with a portable dryer. You may find your own personal combinations to make this recipe your own. If you only select to make this bread by making the dough (by hand or in your bread machine), you can find a medium sized tin, grease it and bake in the oven for a high cylinder shaped loaf.

1 cup milk 250 ml

1 egg

1 tsp salt 5 ml

2 tbsp honey 25 ml

2 tbsp buter 25 ml

31/4 cups unbleached flour 800 ml

1 tsp anise seed 5 ml

2 tsp yeast 10 ml

1/2 cup dried apples 125 ml

1/2 dried cranberries 125 ml

1/3 cup dried currants 75 ml

1/4 cup brandy 50 ml

1/4 cup water 50 ml

Add all ingredients in the same order as listed into the bread machine container and select the 'sweet' cycle to program it. Prepare the dried fruit by placing them in a small saucepan adding the brandy with water and bringing it to a simmer over a 10 minutes period to soften them. Delay adding the dried fruit until the bread machine indicator allows for it during the 'add ingredient' signal. You will be encouraged to make this bread on a few occasions throughout the festive season.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Epiphany: A Cake for a King and Queen

Epiphany Cake

This aromatic honey cake that harkens of old world flavours is what I offer to Epiphany when, in Christian tradition, we celebrate the gifts of the Magi who came to worship of God child in Bethlehem. It is steeped in honey and needs no egg. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

1/3 cup honey

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups unbleached cake flour

1/2 tsp soda

2 tsp double acting baking powder

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup shredded almonds

1 tbsp grated orange rind

1 tbsp grated lemon rind

In a large bowl, blend honey, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix flour, soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Pour the flour mixture slowly into the liquid mixture until thoroughly blended. Finally add almonds, orange and lemon rind. Bake for approximately 1 hour. Age it for three days to allow the spices to really take on their flavours.