Friday, December 30, 2011

Baba's Pan-fried Burgers with Onions and Mashed Potatoes

I couldn't tell the story of my favourite dessert from my paternal grandmother, without talking about my favourite comfort food from my maternal grandmother, Baba.

From the time my grandmother retired, she would visit pretty much every weekend, and whenever I was sick. Sometimes, I'd be whisked to her place when my parents were on the way to work and I was too sick to go to school. If I was able to keep food down, more than likely, I was getting burgers with onions and mashed potatoes. It still is my favourite comfort food. I usually stayed in the kitchen when she was making it, so when I was older, it was me who made it for her.

I'm not a big fan of dishes that use so many pots and pans,
but for this, I make an exception.
The most interesting part of the dish is how she made the potatoes. My grandmother wasn't kosher, however, she didn't really mix milk with meat. Well, no milk makes making creamy potatoes very difficult. Instead, Baba whisked a raw egg and a bit of water together and added it to the potatoes. I worked pretty well, when the alternative was using some non-dairy creamer.

In November, I caught a nasy cold for the second time in six weeks, and Meredith was sick as well. It's very difficult when we're both sick. Normally, my mom would come rushing over with enough food to feed us for a week (hey, she enjoys it, so why should we fight it?). However, my parents were out of town, so we were on our own for food. The past few days had been packaged soups, toast, and soft boiled eggs. I needed something more, and I thought of my grandmother's burgers.

Baba's Pan-fried Burgers with Onions and Mashed Potatoes

6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
500g (1 lb) lean ground beef
3 cups beef stock
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup margarine
pepper, to taste
  1. Place the potatoes in a medium pot and fill until the water is about one-inch above the potatoes. Add salt and bring to a boil. Let boil, uncovered for around 30 minutes, until potatoes are soft and break apart easily.
  2. Add oil to a deep pan and heat on medium. Add onions and let simmer, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and begin to brown.
  3. Divide the beef into six equal parts and form into patties about 1/2-inch thick. Heat a non-stick pan on medium and fry the patties for 2-4 minutes per side, until nicely browned.
  4. Add the beef stock to the onions and heat on high until boiling.
  5. While continuing to boil the broth mixture, add the patties. Let mixture boil for around 30 minutes, until broth is reduced.
  6. When potatoes are ready, crack the egg into a small bowl, add 1 tbsp water and gently mix with a fork.
  7. Drain the water from the potatoes, add margarine, and quickly mash roughly with a potato masher. 
  8. Add egg mixture and continue to mash. Add pepper to taste.
  9. Serve in a bowl by making a well in a pile of potatoes and placing a burger, onions and some broth in the middle.
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas from the Haggis and the Herring

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Review: Johnny's Charcoal Broiled Hamburgers

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
On a sick Friday (meaning ALL of us were sick), we opted to get some take-out for dinner. Neither of us wanted to cook. We were getting Johnny's.

Johnny's Charcoal Broiled Hamburgers is an institution in North York and Scarborough. It has been around since I was a kid and, frankly, hasn't changed since it was established in the mid-late 1970s. It's still known as the place to grab a late-night burger, and it's inexpensive. It has been graced by the likes of Mike Meyers (one of the princes of Scarborough), and has a special place in the hearts of my generation.

Now, don't kid yourself thinking that this place is in the same league as South St. Burger, Burger's Priest, or Hero Burger - because it's not. It's a 70s burger place stuck in a time warp, and if you take it for what it is, then you're going to have a great time and enjoy the food.

You place your order at the counter, you're handed a chip with your number, and you wait on the bench until your number is called. Johnny's offers some basic toppings, including pickles, fried onions, ketchup, mustard, and relish, and your burger is prepared to order. The buns are plain, but adequate, and the fries are crunchy, but a bit oily. For a little over $5 for a burger and fries, it even beats McDonald's as a price point.

I unfortunately didn't get a chance to snap any pictures because we tore into it as soon as I opened the bag, so you'll have to trust me. If you've got the munchies for a retro-style burger, Johnny's Hamburgers is the place to go.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate Balls (כדורי שוקולד)

I read this article in the The Jew and the Carrot and immediately, I knew that I wanted to make it. It's a simple no-bake recipe for chocolate balls, kadorei shokolad, that use biscuits. The name is a literal translation of "chocolate balls," from Hebrew. The draw of this dessert is that they're apparently only made at home. Bakeries don't sell them. If you want them, you need to make them yourself.

When I showed Meredith the recipe, she also got excited. I wasn't expecting her to be enthusiastic about it since it didn't exactly involve baking or working from scratch. However, she saw great potential - a new idea (at least for her) for her holiday cookie exchange.

The trial run went really well. We unfortunately didn't have any candy-covered balls, and we ran out of sprinkles really quickly, but we didn't run out of coconut - so most of them are coconut-coated.

Chocolate Balls (כדורי שוקולד)

200g biscuits (1 small package)
3/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
7 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
7 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Shredded coconut, small coloured candies or sprinkles in a bowl
  2. Put the biscuits in a large zipper bag. Crush the biscuits using a rolling pin until they're the consistency of rice.
  3. Transfer the biscuits into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, cocoa and the cinnamon and mix well. 
  4. Add the vanilla, butter and milk, and continue mixing until the batter is thick and thoroughly combined.
  5. Take the batter by the tablespoon and roll it into a ball in your hands.
  6. Coat the balls in the coconut, coloured candies or sprinkles by rolling them in the bowl and place them on a serving tray or in mini paper muffin cups. 
Makes 42 one-tablespoon balls.

Mostly from The Jew and the Carrot.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Hong Kong Barbecue

On the first weekend in November, we finally had a long-delayed barbecue with our neighbours. Mostly organized by our neighbours, I was in charge of the grilling, with limited additional instructions for items that I've either never tried, or require special treatment.

When I was told that we were having a Hong Kong barbecue, I had to know how it differed from a North American barbecue. In general terms, it means a wide variety of foods to be grilled, and in this particular case, coated in a diluted honey mixture when each item was nearly done.

Olivia applying the honey wash for our grilling.
With the amount of food we were grilling, it was more of a marathon than a meal. We really enjoyed it.

I was responsible for the salads - some of which were barely touched. We had some hummus as an appetizer, and I had made a gigantic pasta salad. I had bought a couple bags of Caesar salad, however, we didn't even bother opening them because there was just so much food!

We started the grilling with some sweet potato and Chinese eggplant (not pictured - we were too busy eating). Both were wrapped in foil and roasted. The eggplant was served with a bit of soy sauce.

Next was the squid - just the tentacles.

I oiled the grill, but the squid still stuck a little. When I took them off the grill, it was like they were holding on, trying to get away.

The final bit of seafood was an unidentified fish (unidentified because I forgot what it was called). It was bigger than herring, but smaller than a trout.

The fish was actually the most dramatic dish. It was a little oily and caused a flare up on the grill when I was inside eating some squid:

I had never had flames that big on this grill. But the flames were not nearly as impressive as the job Meredith did separating the fish from the bones:

We also grilled some zucchini and peppers...

chicken wings...

pork, and pineapple.

And like the first items we grilled, we finished off with another item we forgot to photograph - steak.

Yes, there was that much food, and both the food and the company was excellent.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Chocolate Mocha Mug Brownie

On some nights, our neighbour Pia drops by to visit the kids, the dog (and us) when her brothers go to Air Cadets League of Canada. Just before Remembrance day, Pia dropped by and was looking for some instant coffee, and she was carrying a mug filled with some batter and a recipe on a piece of paper.

It was time to make a brownie.

I'd seen several cake, and brownie in a mug recipes here and there, but never got around to actually trying one. And this one is a mocha brownie, so even better!

Chocolate Mocha Mug Brownie

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp water
3-4 drops vanilla extract
dash salt
pinch instant coffee
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp flour
  1. In an 8 oz mug, stir together oil, water, vanilla, salt and coffee.
  2. Add sugar, cocoa powder and flour, stir, and microwave on high for one minute.
  3. Let cool for at least one minute before eating.
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Macaroni in Cheese Sauce

I finally got Jacob to try real macaroni and cheese. He still prefers boxed macaroni and cheese :-(

Anyway, I asked Meredith to teach me how to make proper cheese sauce and she did, but I made one mistake. With such a mild sauce, I shouldn't have used whole wheat pasta. It didn't allow the full flavour of the sauce to come out. The next time I make this, I'll use regular pasta.

Macaroni in Cheese Sauce

1 package macaroni, prepared following package directions
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp salted butter
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  1. Whisk together milk and flour in a sauce pan.
  2. Add pepper and butter and begin to whisk on medium heat.
  3. When butter melts and mixture begins to boil, slowly add cheese, constantly whisking until cheese melts.
  4. Pour mixture over pasta and toss before serving.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Chocolate Mint Macaroons

On a Sunday near the end of October, our neighbour dropped by to ask Meredith for some help with baking. She had a bunch of egg-whites left over from a previous dish and Meredith suggested making macaroons.

Not wanting to make something conventional, Meredith brought some mint extract with her. Clearly, there was already some chocolate waiting to be used.

The end result was a tasty batch of chocolate mint macaroons. Lucky me, I managed to steal a sample before they went away.

Chocolate Mint Macaroons

2 egg whites
1/2 tsp mint extract
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 325-degrees.
  2. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl beat egg whites and mint extract using an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
  4. Gradually add sugar (1 tbsp at a time), beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold in chocolate.
  5. Drop mixture by teaspoon 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Mushroom Quesadillas

I know I missed October,  but it's Movember, and it's time for Secret Recipe Club, hosted by Tina of Mom's Crazy Cooking.

This month's assignment is A Southern Fairytale, run by Rachel, who, according to her site is a "deep fried southern belle and aspiring domestic darling."

Well, if I was going to be doing something southern, I was happy to try some Tex-Mex. I found a recipe for mushroom quesadillas that looked quite yummy (and tasted great) and went straight to work. Rachel's recipe had you making full-sized quesadillas by using a full tortilla on the top and bottom. I found that very difficult to flip on the grill - I just haven't had enough practice. Next time, I'll only fill half of the tortilla and fold it over. Flipping it will be much easier.

Mushroom Quesadillas

4 tortillas
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded and divided into 2
5 mushrooms, chopped and divided into 2
1/4 red pepper, chopped and divided into 2
1/4 small onion, chopped and divided into 2
salsa or sour cream for serving
  1. Preheat grill on medium.
  2. Place 2 tortillas on grill and sprinkle with half a portion of cheese each.
  3. Sprinkle on a portion of each vegetable and top with the rest of the cheese.
  4. Place remaining two tortillas on top and gently press down.
  5. Grill for 3-5 minutes on each side and let cool for two minutes before cutting using a pizza cutter.
  6. Serve with sour cream or salsa.
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Mama’s Bollos con Chocolate (Chocolate-filled Orange Blossom Buns)

There is a very long story attached to these buns, but I won't go through the entire heart-string-pulling bit. My grandmother used to make these buns, and they are my favourite dessert.

I hadn't really had them since my grandmother passed away over ten years ago. I have one cousin who has the recipe, but she refused to share it for reasons I won't discuss here.

Well, after getting my hands on a similar recipe from one of my dad's cousins (which I was asked to not share), Meredith made the buns. They didn't turn out as expected, but the flavour was right. That didn't stop us from sharing a sample with my aunt as it was still the closest to my grandmother's buns that I had ever tasted. I just couldn't share the recipe here.

Fast-forward a few more days and we're getting ready for Rosh Hashanah. My aunt decided to go through some papers from my grandmother and found an original copy of her bun recipe - in Spanish. She translated it and gave us a copy when we got together, and asked Meredith to make a batch for the following Saturday - for breaking the fast after Yom Kippour. My aunt also made it clear that my grandmother was all about sharing the joy that food brings, and I was welcome to share this recipe with my readers.

The second attempt, using my grandmother's notes, was a smashing success. I only hope Meredith wasn't discouraged by the amount of work involved, because I'm so incredibly happy with the result.

While making the buns, we consulted with Penny from Sweet Sadie's baking to fill in a few gaps and answer some questions, and we learned a few lessons. I've also included some additional notes:

1. For our particular stand mixer, we should cut the recipe in half. There's just too much dough and we made an incredible mess.
2. Don't experiment with a milk wash instead of an egg wash. It just doesn't turn out the same.
3. You need to buy a lot of chocolate. A lot. I'm not kidding. Around a pound, depending on the size of the pieces (maybe more). It's best if the pieces you use are maybe 1-2 inches x 1/2 inch or it gets too wide rather than long. We had pieces that were more square in shape.
4. You can make these without chocolate and roll the dough into balls as well.

Mama’s Bollos con Chocolate

2 packs yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
8 eggs
1 cup oil
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup orange juice
2 tsp orange blossom water
rind from 1 orange
11 cups flour
several chocolate bars or 1 bag chocolate chips (at least)
2-3 eggs for egg wash
2 tbsp confectioners sugar (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast and lukewarm water and let sit for 10-20 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil, sugar, milk, orange juice, orange blossom water and rind. Whisk together.
  3. Slowly add 4 cups flour to liquid mixture and mix using a large standing mixer with a dough hook.
  4. Add the yeast mixture and mix again.
  5. Slowly add the remaining flour until well mixed. Add extra flour if necessary.
  6. Roll dough into a large ball, place in a large bowl and cover with plastic.
  7. Let dough rise for three hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
  8. To make the rolls, press a small handful of dough into a 3 x 3 square. place some chocolate at one end and roll it up. Place rolls on a non-stick baking sheet.
  9. Cover rolls with plastic and let stand for a few minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 335-degrees.
  11. Beat eggs for wash and brush onto buns with pastry brush.
  12. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until buns are slightly golden-brown on top.
  13. Sprinkle buns with confectioners sugar when done.
Buns can be frozen for later use.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Hummus with Meat (hummus bi-lahm)

Whenever my brother-in-law comes to town, we frequently end up eating middle-Eastern food, and his most recent trip was no exception.

The very first time I met him, I had just returned from Israel determined to duplicate the amazing felafel I had near the Western wall. It was served wrapped in a huge piece of thin, round flatbread, contained every salad imaginable (eggplant salad, hummus, moroccan carrots, beet salad, etc., etc.) and it had French fries in it. It was unbelievable. Our apartment smelled like felafel for a week after all of the deep-frying.

Me Va Me on UrbanspoonThe next time, we took him to our favourite Israeli-Mediterranean restaurant, Me Va Me, where Meredith and I had one of our first few dates. On that date, Meredith and I shared a large salad plate (with various Mediterranean salads) and had a couple of pints - more than enough for two people. After finishing, Meredith asked me "why doesn't all baba ghannouj taste like that?" to which I answered, "It does. You just haven't been eating baba ghannouj. You've been eating generic grocery store fake baba ghannouj. If it was real, it wouldn't have mayonnaise in it!" She hasn't eaten the fake stuff since.

Me Va Me's Shawarama is also top notch, as is their felafel, an inexpensive add-on to a salad plate if you're not going to indulge in shawarama or their excellent grilled fish.

Anyway, for this most recent visit, it was actually a coincidence that I was making this particular dish, as I didn't know he was coming at the time. We weren't expecting to see him until Thanksgiving. I had just been reading about different ways to serve hummus when I came across a few article that mentioned serving it with meat, and I realized that I could have a complete meal quite quickly.

One of my tricks when working with ground meat is to use a potato masher in the pan to evenly break-apart the meat.

Hummus with Meat (hummus bi-lahm)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground sumac
500g ground chicken, beef, or lamb
salt and pepper, to taste
1 batch of hummus, already prepared
2-3 tbsp raisins
toasted pine nuts (not pictured above)
1 tomato, sliced chopped
  1. Heat oil in pan on medium and saute the onion until translucent.
  2. Add the cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, cumin garam masala and sumac, and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Add the ground chicken, using a potato masher to gently break up any large pieces as the meat cooks.
  4. When the chicken is nearly done, but some liquid still remains at the bottom of the pan, stir in the raisins.
  5. Continue to stir until chicken is done and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. To serve, spread the hummus on a broad platter or shallow bowl. Top with the chicken mixture and garnish with sliced tomatoes and toasted pine nuts.
Serve with warm pita.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sababa Lentil Soup

In another case of the chef not telling the entire story, I stumbled upon the lentil soup recipe for a restaurant called Sababa. Sababa is one of the several Israeli places around Bathurst and Steeles that offer shawarama, felafel, grilled fish, middle-Eastern salads, etc.

Sababa does stand out, however. It's the only restaurant that has its own grocery store where you can get Israeli and Eastern European goodies (canned, preserved and otherwise) to take home with you.

One of the dishes that Sababa is known for, is its lentil soup. I've had it and Another friend of mine was going on about it, so I decided that I should give it a try. Especially because the recipe is right on their website.

Well, I knew something was awry when the soup was boiling and it was clearly far too thick, so I added more water. I also toned the salt down exponentially, and used prepared stock instead of powdered. The original Sababa recipe advises to serve the soup with a wedge of lemon, however, we didn't have any on-hand, so we used around a teaspoon of lemon juice per bowl.

I must say that the resulting soup was okay, but certainly not inspiring. There was too much cumin and I made the mistake of pureeing the soup. Meredith thought it was a little pasty in texture. I won't puree it again.

Sababa on Urbanspoon

Sababa Lentil Soup

1 1/4 cups red lentils
1/2 cup white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
5 cups water
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
lemon wedges or lemon juice for garnish
  1. Soak lentils and rice in warm water and set aside.
  2. In a pot, heat the canola oil on medium and add onion. Saute onion until translucent, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add stock and water and bring to a boil.
  4. Drain the soaking lentils and rice and rinse thoroughly. Add to boiling water and bring back to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and let simmer, covered for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add cumin, olive oil and salt, stir and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: Paradiso, Oakville, Ontario

The weekend after Meredith's birthday, we were in Oakville and were taken out for dinner. I looked the place up on Urban Spoon before we left and wasn't sure about it when I saw a dish marketed as "Moroccan chicken supreme," that included "balsamic paint." It seemed like a bit much, so I was apprehensive.

But the reality is that Paradiso is a Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Oakville that looks like it's the place to be. The wait staff are great and when we got there we were given a detailed explanation of the menu - the specials, what was popular, etc. It was a little dark inside, so the photos I took don't do the dishes justice.

When our drink orders were taken, we were served some freshly-baked bread with olive oil. It was moist and flavourful.

Meredith started with the sesame cornmeal crusted calamari served with horseradish cocktail sauce, toasted seed and cucumber aioli and grilled lemon. I wasn't sure what the grilled lemon was about, however, it did look good.

I started with the honey roasted beet and goat cheese salad. It was very tasty - the beets were sweet and the cheese really complimented the sweetness.

For my main, I had the twelve-hour braised wild boar gnocci. The gnocci was hand-rolled and very soft, not dry at all,  and served with the shredded boar meat, in a cream sauce with a "truffle scented pecorino crust." The crust wasn't anything to write home about - is was a little salty, however, it didn't take away from the pork and gnocci - it was excellent.

Meredith's main was a crab ravioli in a dill and cilantro cream sauce. It was very tasty. The ravioli was so good that Meredith finished eating before I did, even with a great deal of dinner conversation.

Meredith was also given a chocolate torte for a birthday dessert. It was very, very, rich. Solid chocolate, crusted with nuts  and topped with cream. It was a serious dessert. Not for kids.

Overall, I'd go back. The food was great and so was the atmosphere. I just won't order the Moroccan chicken.

Paradiso on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mulligatawny Soup

Soup season is definitely here. There's no doubt about it, and here's another restaurant soup from my past.

Years ago, I attended a franchise presentation for a small chain of Indian fast-food restaurants. It was a very interesting concept, as all of the food was prepared off-site and managed in a manner that made it easy to prepare and serve quickly.

Anyway, their website had a recipe for Mulligatawny, a soup that was made famous in North America by TV's Seinfeld. I made it at the time and it was quite tasty. When I decided to make it again, I was surprised to find that the website no longer existed. Fortunately, the Internet Archive had a copy of the page and I was able work from there.

The recipe on the website had a few errors in it, and I never bothered to write the authors for a correction, so I winged it in a few places. Fortunately, that's the nature of the soup - most of the ingredients vary wherever you go. Some variations use meat, some don't. Some use coconut milk, others use milk and cream.

Another tasty looking variation can be found at Foodland Ontario. Unlike their Moroccan Chicken recipe, I'd probably attempt the Foodland Ontario soup by following their directions.

Mulligatawny Soup

Phase 1

2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
4 cups water
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
2 tsp sugar
  1. In a pot, heat oil on medium and sauté onions and cumin seeds until onions are translucent.
  2. Add garlic, red peppers, and tomato sauce stirring continuously.
  3. Add water, basil, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, curry powder, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce to medium and cook, covered for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  5. Transfer mixture to a blender.
  6. Add milk and puree the mixture.
  7. Return soup to the pot and stir in cream and sugar.
Phase 2

2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup eggplant, peeled and diced
1/4 cup green peas
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a deep pan over medium heat.
  2. Let vegetables simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until cooked.
  3. Pour mixture into pot from phase 1 and let simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Pie

In September, our friend Penny, of Sweet Sadie's Baking, entered a pie baking contest at Chudleigh's apple farm. Meredith assisted preparing the crust and we all pitched in to peel and core the apples.

A Ginger Gold apple at Chudleigh's.
Penny prepared for a long night of pie baking.
Meredith's pie wasn't as refined (we bought a prepared crust), however, she based her filling on Penny's method.

Apple Pie

2 prepared pie crusts
Apple Filling
4 medium Ginger Gold apples
4 medium Macintosh apples
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp butter
1 egg white, beaten lightly
1-2 tbsp sugar, for topping
  1. Combine 3/4 cup sugar, salt, allspice, cloves and cinnamon in small bowl.
  2. Peel, core, and cut apples into 1/2-to-3/4-inch slices and toss with lemon juice, then add sugar mixture and toss again. Let mixture sit for 30 minutes. Drain and boil juices with 2 tbsp butter for 5 minutes to reduce. Pour 1/3 cup of these juices back over apples.
  3. Remove dough from refrigerator. If it is still stiff and very cold, let it stand until the dough is cool but malleable.
  4. The pie is baked on the oven floor. If you have a pizza stone available, place it on the oven floor and cover it with foil before preheating the oven.
  5. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  6. Gently press dough into sides of 9-inch pie pan (glass, foil, or tin) leaving some crust hanging over the lip of the pie plate.
  7. Empty the fruit mixture, including juices, into the chilled pie shell and mound slightly in centre of the pie.
  8. Place the second dough round over the filling. Trim the top and bottom edges to one half-inch beyond the pan lip and tuck the rim of dough underneath itself so the folded edge is flush with the pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal.
  9. Make a 1-inch hole in the top crust in the centre of the pie. Cut four slits at right angles on the top around the centre hole. Brush egg white onto the top of the crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  10. Reduce oven temperature to 425-degrees. Place pie on the floor of oven or the pizza stone and bake for approximately 25 minutes, until the top crust is golden.
  11. Reduce oven temperature to 375-degrees and continue baking for an additional 30-35 minutes, until the juices bubble and the crust is deep golden-brown.
  12. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to almost room temperature, at least 4 hours.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Skagway Brewing Company Spiced Carrot Soup

I garnished the soup with a little more fresh ground
pepper and some toasted cumin seeds. You might find
the cumin a little strong.
This is one of my favourite recipe stories.

Meredith and I honeymooned in Seattle for a couple days before embarking on an Alaskan cruise. It was beautiful.

Waiting to eat some crab and drink some
Alaskan beer in Ketchikan.

Taken during our air tour in Ketchikan

When we were in port in Skagway, after the bus tour, we walked around town. That's when I saw The Skagway Brewing Company. It was one of two breweries and the only brewpub in Alaska at the time.

Enjoying some down time at the
Skagway Brewing Company.

We had finished touring the town and had some time to kill - and I was hungry. The beer was great and I ordered a spiced carrot soup to tide me over until we got back to the ship.

Skagway Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon
Well, the soup was amazing. I had to have the recipe. I asked the bartender, who said that the chef would gladly share it, however, he's really busy right now. I told her that I could wait - and I did. We waited for about three hours, sipping through our pints and talking to people in the pub. We had a great time.

When the bartender realized that I wasn't leaving without the recipe, she went into the back, scratched some notes on a piece of paper and handed it to me. I returned the favour by buying a shirt and an oilskin cap to remember the brewpub.

The recipe itself wasn't very detailed. No quantities, just ingredients, when to add what, and how. It was up to me to figure out the rest. I made it once when we got back, but the recipe has languished in my "to-do again" box since then.

Now that the days are starting to chill, it was definitely time to bring that recipe back. I got everything together on a quiet Sunday when we were in the mood for a nice soup with some bread for dinner. It's not exactly what you'd be served in Skagway, but it's pretty darn good.

Skagway Spiced Carrot Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt (if chicken stock is low- or no-sodium)
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
500g carrots, grated (1 lb)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
3 cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp pepper
1 medium potato, peeled and grated
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream
  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a deep pot. Saute onions for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, ginger and garlic and saute an additional 2 minuets. Add carrots and saute an additional 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add dried cumin, ginger cloves, nutmeg and pepper, and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add potato and chicken stock, cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce to medium and let simmer for 10-15, until vegetables are tender.
  5. Puree using an immersion blender and add cream.
Recipes by the Haggis and the Herring: tasty world recipes tested in our kitchen
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Friday, October 14, 2011

Chicken Tajine with Apples

Running out of new ideas for a Friday dinner, I found a recipe for Moroccan chicken on a Foodland Ontario website. The point of the recipe was mostly to pitch the benefits of Ontario-farmed chicken, apples and onions to unsuspecting consumers.

But really, what does this guy know about Moroccan food? (Running a province, yes, Moroccan food: not so much.)

So I ran with the recipe as a base and fixed it from there - eliminating the cornstarch, adding saffron and swapping out the boneless, skinless chicken for recognizable pieces. My friend Simon called it "de-Martha-Stewartifying - making the dish much more my style, and specifically less... umm... this guy.

Chicken Tajine with Apples

2 apples, cored, peeled, thinly sliced and tossed in 2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
dash salt
1 to 1 1/2 kilos chicken legs and/or thighs
1/4 cup oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 cups chicken broth
pinch saffron, infused in 1-2 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp cup raisins
1/4 cup blanched almonds
4 dates, pitted and chopped
7 dried apricots, chopped
  1. Core, peel and slice apples into thin wedges, toss in lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Combine cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper and sprinkle onto chicken.
  3. Heat oil on medium in a large pot, brown chicken on both sides. Set chicken aside.
  4. Saute onions in the same pot for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Place chicken back in the pan and add broth and saffron. Bring to a boil and let simmer on medium for 25-30 minutes, uncovered.
  6. Add apples (with lemon juice), dried fruit and nuts, reduce to medium-low and let simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
Serve with cous cous or rice (for gluten-free)

Recipes by the Haggis and the Herring: tasty world recipes tested in our kitchen
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Grilled Curry Salmon

Another excellent recipe I created using the camila oil from Three Farmers. The oil and spices created a nice glaze on top.

This fish was probably the best I've ever made, however, as I've mentioned before (salmon recipe from a couple weeks back), the quality of your ingredients can affect how your dish turns out, and in addition to the high-quality oil, the cut of fish was top-notch.

Grilled Curry Salmon

1 salmon fillet
1 tbsp camelina oil
1 tsp curry powder
  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  2. Make a tray out of three sheets of tinfoil and place the salmon on it, skin-side down and lightly sprinkle with salt.
  3. Brush the oil evenly over the salmon.
  4. Sprinkle the curry powder evenly over the salmon - use more if necessary.
  5. Place the foil with the salmon on top onto the grill and let grill for 15-20 minutes, until the salmon flakes easily.
Recipes by the Haggis and the Herring: tasty world recipes tested in our kitchen
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Grilled Baba Ghannouj with Chinese Eggplant and Zucchini

I was contacted by the people at Three Farmers in Saskatchewan (Canada) asking if I'd like a sample of their new oil from a seed called camelina. Rarely do I turn away free stuff, so I agreed, and several weeks later, a teeny, tiny package arrived at my door:

Clearly, this must be some hot stuff if they only sent me about a half a cup's worth of the stuff. I imagine it's related to the amount of processing required to render a high-quality cold-pressed oil. It's only available at high-end retail outlets such as Pusateri's and The Cheese Boutique. You can check their website for other places in the GTA and across Canada.

Camelina is what's referred to as an aincent grain. The oil itself is rich in omega fatty acids, has a slight nutty flavour and an earthy smell (Meredith: "it smells like dirt, but the food tasted so good with it!")

According to the Wikipedia article on camelina, the seed has been busy in areas like biofuel production and animal feed as well, so it's clearly starting to pick up again in terms of popularity, even if it's not in the human consumption department.

Three Farmers has some good ideas behind it - a small collective of farmers working together to make a specialized product. Neat from a technical standpoint: each bottle comes with a QR code to help geographically locate where the seeds were harvested from.

Anyway, the day the oil arrived, I was already preparing Meredith a nice meal of grilled vegetables and fish. With the addition of the oil, I decided to do something different using those ingredients. To use more of the oil, I decided to turn the vegetables into a baba ghannouj, and I also used the oil on the fish before grilling to help the spices stick around.

Salmon served with the baba ghannouj, a baked potato and
some of the Haggis and Herring's famous salad with
balsamic vinaigrette.
Both dishes turned out spectacular. The oil wasn't overpowering and blended well with the flavours.

Grilled Baba Ghannouj with Chinese Eggplant and Zucchini

3 Chinese eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 tbsp camelina oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt to taste
3 tbsp tehina
1/4 cup camelina oil
  1. Toss the sliced eggplant and zucchini in 1 tbsp oil
  2. Grill the eggplant and zucchini until soft on the inside and a bit crispy on the outside
  3. Quickly puree lemon juice, garlic and salt in food processor.
  4. Add tehina and camelina oil and puree again.
  5. Add eggplant pulp and puree until smooth.
Recipes by the Haggis and the Herring: tasty world recipes tested in our kitchen
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Linked to Jane Deere's Fusion Fridays

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Banana Bread

Apparently, custard does not freeze well.

We had a three-tiered cake at our wedding. The bottom was chocolate, the top was carrot and the middle was vanilla custard cream. With a fairly decent dessert table, not much of the cake was eaten. We took a small chunk of the bottom tier home with us, and Meredith's mom took the carrot cake (which we enjoyed last year) and my mother took the middle layer home.

This year, to celebrate our third anniversary, my mom took the cake out of the deep freeze. The cake looked perfect. No freezer burn or other disfigurements. We ate some partially frozen (the custard was still mostly frozen), and it wasn't bad. We took the rest home to serve during the weekend and at our Labour Day barbecue.

On the Sunday, we served some more cake to our friends after dinner, and it was a disaster. The cake had finished defrosting and the moisture from the custard had soaked the bottom of the cake. Gross. More than half of the cake ended up in the garbage.

Needless to say, on Labour Day morning, Meredith got to work on making some dessert for the barbecue. She decided on her banana bread recipe since everybody loves it.

Banana Bread

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups (3 bananas), mashed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Grease two 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2 pans and preheat oven to 350-degrees.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and make a well in the centre of the bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, bananas, sugar and margarine and add to flour mixture.
  4. Stir until moist (still lumpy) and fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Divide mixture and pour into pans.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when stuck into the centre of the bread.
  7. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, remove from pan, and let cool completely on the wire rack.
Loosely based on Better Homes and Gardens banana bread recipe.

Recipes by the Haggis and the Herring: tasty world recipes tested in our kitchen
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