Friday, September 28, 2012

Swiss Chard and Cheddar Soup

NOTE: This post was scheduled by Daniel Saraga of Haggis and Herring before he suddenly passed away.  We have decided to ensure his scheduled posts continue.  Daniel's wife Meredith posted her eulogy.  Please read more about our wonderful Daniel.

September cooled down right away, just the way I like it. I dislike hot-and-sticky August. Cool nights, warm soup, some hearty bread and a beer. That's my idea of a September dinner.

Earlier that week, I read Chaya's Swiss Chard Soup recipe and it inspired me. I knew I had to make my own version. You can read Chaya's post if you'd like to learn more about Swiss chard.

Well, I've made my first soup of the season, and according to Meredith, I've set the bar high. The cheese in the soup really complimented the beer. We nearly finished the entire pot ourselves - with barely enough left over for lunch the following day.

Swiss Chard and Cheddar Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
2 carrots, chopped
4 cups chopped Swiss chard, cleaned and chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
3-4 cups vegetable broth
1 can mixed chickpeas and kidney beans, drained
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded old Cheddar cheese

  1. Heat oil in a deep pot on medium and fry onions for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and carrots and continue fry for another 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add Swiss chard and stir for 2-4 minutes, until wilted.
  4. Add broth, beans, thyme, salt, oregano, and pepper, stir, cover and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to medium and let simmer, covered for 30-40 minutes.
  6. Remove 1 cup of vegetables into a separate container and and using an immersion blender, puree.
  7. Add pureed vegetables back to pot, stir in cheese, and serve.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Vermouth Chicken

NOTE: This post was scheduled by Daniel Saraga of Haggis and Herring before he suddenly passed away.  We have decided to ensure his scheduled posts continue.  Daniel's wife Meredith posted her eulogy.  Please read more about our wonderful Daniel.

I guess my friends and I are at that age when our parents are starting to get older and are moving out of houses they've occupied for 30+ years and into smaller places – apartments, condos or otherwise. You can imagine the fun of emptying a lifetime of accumulated stuff from basements. I'm not looking forward to helping out with that task when the time comes.

Our good friend, Dr. Karen, has been on such a mission for the last few weeks. Back in July, she uncovered a case of Vermouth which her father apparently "bought for next to nothing - practically free!" What on Earth was she going to do with it? Why, call up her friends and ask them what they'd do with a bottle, of course!

I immediately said "I'd cook with it," and started to look up what exactly Vermouth was, aside from one of the ingredients in a Martini.

To my surprise, I learned that Vermouth is actually a fortified wine, so it doesn't last long once opened. It really needs to be kept in the fridge once the seal is broken, and tossed after six months.

Now put up your hand if you or your parents have a half-empty bottle of Vermouth sitting in your liquor cabinet that's at least 14 years old. You should throw that out.

I also read that Vermouth can be used as a substitute for red wine in savoury dishes, and quickly found a recipe for Vermouth chicken. Not being satisfied with the original recipe, I rewrote it and adjusted many ingredients, including upping the amount of sauce (both literally and figuratively) and adding olives – you could just smell that it was begging for olives, seriously.

We served the chicken with baked potatoes, however, I think we'll serve it with rice next time.

Dr. Karen made her own, mostly following this recipe,
using less onion, putting the olives on top
afterwards, and serving it on top of spatzele,
a German pasta.

Vermouth Chicken

2 tbsp olive oil
1 kilo chicken legs
1 red onion, sliced
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp salt (if tomatoes are unsalted)
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
1 cup dry Vermouth
1 can diced tomatoes
250g mushrooms
1/4 cup olives, sliced
1 small can (150ml) tomato paste
  1. Heat olive oil on medium in a deep pan and brown chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Add onions, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and saute for 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add the Vermouth and quickly scrape any remains of chicken from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  5. Add back chicken, reduce to medium, cover and let simmer for 25 minutes, turning chicken after 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in tomato paste, add olives and reduce to medium-low. Cover and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
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Monday, September 17, 2012

Daniel Saraga - the Herring at the Haggis and Herring

It is with a broken heart that I write this.

My beloved Daniel passed away suddenly on Friday night, surrounded by his family.  In true Daniel style he had just finished barbecuing dinner for everyone.

I wanted to share the eulogy that gave at his service yesterday.  There is a hole in my heart.

I have to apologies to Daniel for the COMPLETE lack of editing. I know it's an insult to post something so lacking in proper editing on your blog - but I am so tired and I need to this.

My Darling Daniel.   That’s how I addressed all my cards to him and he called me his one and only.  And I know that’s true - he lived it and proved it everyday.

I needed to speak today because I need all of you to understand what the world has lost.  What his parents and brother have lost, what his children have lost and what I have lost.  A few people thought speaking today might be too much for me - to that Dan says “have you met my wife?”  

Daniel was the single greatest person I have ever met.   I loved him and I hope he knows and understands that. We had a lifetime planned but only got six years.  Luckily for me I have my children for that lifetime. 

Daniel was a son, father, brother, cousin, nephew, son-in-law, brother-in-law, grandson, friend and my husband

I fell in love when Dan on our 3rd date.  That day he showed a strength of character that is rarely seen.  The third  time we were supposed to go out I tried to cancel because my brother Jeremy’s cat was dying in Burlington and I needed to go and be there.  Dan immediately told me he would drive me.  I protested that it would be an odd situation because of the cat and that my mother has no idea he existed.  He said it would be fine so I accepted.  He drove out there, watched as I held my cat, brought flowers for my mom, and then when we had finished dinner he realised Raffi had died.  He immediately consoled me and took me out for a walk.This sound small but showed a tremendous amount of compassion for a person he barely knew who was devastated over the death of their cat.  That is who Daniel was. I knew immediately that I would be able to count on him no matter what - through what ever happened.  And I was right. That is what makes this especially hard.

The greatest gifts he gave me are our three children and he was an amazing father.  They made his face light up.  And you all know that thousand watt smile of his.  

Jacob- You are so like him in many ways. I see his generosity and compassion in you. The very first time I meet a your Dad he showed me a picture of you and you should have seen him face when he showed it me.  He was was so proud of you.  Learning how to ride a bike this summer, reading Harry Potter with you was the highlight of his life for over a year, putting the duck away, your hats and the special sense of humour you shared.  For example. Labeling ice cream in the freezer “Babba’s Soup” so I wouldn’t know you two had bought it.

Jeremy- Your dad often would just spontaneously say - you are so darn cute. He delighted in watching you eat.  He actually often used to entertain people by feeding you various food and telling them to watch.  And entertaining it was. Not may under twos enjoy calamari, fish, jerk chicken, curry, haggis and herring etc the list goes on.  There is no doubt you inherited your dad passion for food and I can’t wait until you start cooking food for me.

J3- the one that Daddy only met through ultra sound pictures, my growing bump and the kicks that he finally got to feel on thurs night.  I know your daddy’s spirit will be with me everyday of your life.

I wanted to mention some highlights from Daniel life to show what an extraordinary individual he was.

1. Music - you can’t talk about Dan without talking about music. He loved music.I was amazed when I discovered what a talented musician Dan was.  He could play almost any song by ear on his clarinet. When he found out how impressed I was by that talent he said “should have done that on the first date- that would have been it.” 

2. Family- Family was everything to Dan. This included blood and non-blood related individuals, Dan bestowed the title family to many people. There was no differentiation between his side and my side. It was  a collective. He supported me through the passing of my grandparents. He called his Mother every morning. So his brother learned from him and called her every night.   His children were his greatest delight.  He would do anything for family.  

3.Travel.  Before we met Dan hadn’t had the opportunity to travel much.  I soon changed that and the bug firmly took hold.  We went on a cruise, then Aruba, Israel, Alaska, England, Calgary, Edmonton and the Dominican.  We had so many more trips planned.

4. Food.  The Haggis and the Herring. His blog.  Well not just his blog but our house.  We call ourselves the Haggis and the Herring - a nod to our heritages.  The night we went into labour with Jeremy we actually had haggis and herring for dinner. Certainly not your typical combination but at first glance neither were Dan and I.

I need to mention some imperfections - lest you all believe he was too perfect- or rather things that we had “discussions” about as my grandparents would say . His idiosyncrasy made much of how he was.  The pacing- something he and his brother share and something which Amanda and I hope I children DON’T inherit, he could be a dog with a bone at times worrying at something that long ago should have been dropped, his refusal to wear anything but jeans- we had a battle every single time a dress up event approached. My solution was to schedule a meeting with him in his calendar in advance to discuss his wardrobe.  He refused to understand that I wasn’t disorganised I just wasn’t his style of organized. 

Sensitive, compassionate, always ready to help. He lifted me up.  He believed in me and us and life when I couldn’t. When we lost our two babies, when we celebrated Jacobs milestones and Jeremy arrival and the hundreds of thousand little moments that we celebrated. and he was my rock.  That final Friday - his very favorite special night- we did get one great last moment- maybe half an hour before he died, where he told me he loved me and  that everything was going to be ok.  

I would like to read from our Ketubah- because this is really truly how we lived and sums up all I am trying to say about Dan.

"Today I love you completely, as I did yesterday and as I will tomorrow. I will be there for you when you need me most.” We will always try to be understanding and forgiving, sensitive to each other's needs and feelings. We will be there for each other in times of need as in times of celebration. We will share in each other's hopes and dreams and support each other to achievements great and small and through all of life's setbacks. May our hearts be united forever in faith and hope. Let our home be built on understanding and loving-kindness. May our home be rich with wisdom and reverence. May we always keep these words in our hearts as a symbol of our eternal commitment to each other: I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.

Anee L'Dohdee V'Dohdee Lee

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Ultimate Bacon Sarnie (Sandwich)

At the end of August, I read an article about an ongoing debate on the ultimate bacon sarnie (sandwich) in The Register, a UK-based technology magazine. The author, Lester Haines, welcomed readers to email in their photos by Friday, September 14, so here it is.

To prepare, Meredith and I had a deep discussion about how we'd make our ultimate bacon sarnie:

Bread: bread can be a contentious issue. Clearly, a proper English sarnie would be built upon slices of hand-sliced white bread. Well, we had just finished our loaf and chose a different avenue. Instead, we opted to get some Gryfe's bagels - one of the best bagels you can get that's not baked in Montreal.

Bacon: our initial thoughts would be to Canadianize the sarnie a bit further by using pemeal bacon. That thought lasted until we realized that we already had some traditional slices in the freezer from a local butcher.

Sauce: there was no debate here. It must be brown sauce, and it must be HP's brown sauce in particular.

Eggs: yes, our sarnie has an egg. We hope it's not interpreted as an Aussie move, we just thought it would go really well with everything, and it sure did.

Cheese: this is where things fell off the rails, sorta. We trotted off to the nearest grocer with high hopes to get some old Cheddar. We didn't want to buy the generic 1/2 kilo block of tasteless cheddar - we wanted something nice from the deli. There was only one problem: the Cheddar was made in Normandy. Say what? Yes, Normandy, France. We're hoping to be forgiven for that particular indiscretion. We're keeping the bagel, but we're hoping for proper English Cheddar for our next go.

Verdict: this is the ultimate bacon sarnie. The bagel wasn't overpoweringly dense and allowed you to taste the rest of the sandwich. The brown sauce complimented both the bacon and the egg, and the cheese, despite surrendering as soon as it touched the egg, added just the right flavour.

Ultimate Bacon Sarnie

2 bagels
1 tbsp butter
6 rashers (slices) bacon
2 eggs
2 slices old cheddar cheese
1-2 tbsp brown sauce (i.e., HP sauce)
  1. Slice bagels in half and butter both sides. Set the slices on plates.
  2. In a non-stick or cast-iron pan, fry the bacon and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the pan and and fry eggs, over easy.
  4. Before removing eggs from pan, place slices of cheese on top of the eggs and remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Assemble each sandwich as follows:
    bottom bagel slice
    brown sauce
    3 rashers bacon
    egg (with melted cheese on top)
    bagel top slice.
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Felafel

It's time for the September edition of Secret Recipe Club, where a group of dedicated food bloggers try out each others recipes. This month, I was assigned Corina of Searching for Spice. Corina blogs to keep a record of the new things she tries. I immediately decided to try out her felafel recipe, just because I've been itching to make felafel for a very long time.

I've only made felafel once before, and it was a big mess (but tasted excellent). I modeled it after felafel I ate in the Old City of Jerusalem, where the felafel was served in a very large flatbread called lavash (the resulting wrap was about a foot long), and served with a varaiety of salads (hummus, baba ghannouj, beets, Moroccan carrots) and french fries. It was (and continues to be) the best felafel sandwich I've ever had.

This round of felafel wasn't going to be quite as elaborate. In addition to me substituting 1 tbsp dried parsley for the fresh parsley (or cilantro), we weren't going to make the different salads or serve it in that particular bread, but we were going to serve it in a tortilla wrap with lettuce, vegetables, dressing and fries. It got great reviews at the table and we'll definitely be making it again!


1 can chickpeas, drained
2 tsp pureed garlic
1/4 cup parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1-2 tbsp water (optional)
1/2 cup flour (for rolling)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (for frying)
  1. Place chickpeas, garlic, parsley, cumin, coriander, chili powder, flour, onion and water in a food processor and puree on high.
    Note: you may need to stop the mixer a few times to scrape the sides with a spatula until it really gets going into a workable paste. If you're really having trouble, add a tablespoon of water and keep going (you don't want the mixture to be too loose).
  2. Roll into 1-1/2 inch balls, roll balls in flour, flatten slightly on top and set aside for 30 minutes on a sheet of floured waxed paper.
  3. Heat oil on medium-high to high and fry felafels for 3 minutes on each side, turning gently with a spatula. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb some of the oil, and serve.
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Rickard's Cardigan: Get it While it Lasts

Earlier this week, my friends at MolsonCoors invited me to the launch of their first seasonal beer: Rickard's Cardigan. Meredith was unable to attend (and was quite upset about it), so I was accompanied by my close friend Kristian instead. After our first sip, we were both sold.

Dan with his sample six-packs on the subway ride home. Kristian with his first bottle of Rickard's Cardigan

Cardigan was developed by Brewmaster Gary Matthews who drew inspiration from what fall means to him – preparing for the upcoming holidays. Cardigan has hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and brown sugar, so it does just that. Memories of preparing for Thanksgiving (and Rosh Hashanah) immediately came to mind and the beer pairs well with seasonal foods like turkey, ribs and other sweeter dishes. It's a great tasting beer.

Kristian noted that "there is no shortage of seasonal beers on the market – winter ales and summer lagers (typically involving some sort of citrus accompaniment) come to mind. The beauty of Cardigan is that the taste really does conjure up all that is synonymous with autumn."

The packaging is clearly a nod to the Argyll sweater-wearing, Instagram-snapping hipster and I think it's a great move.
Argyll sweater-wearing,
Instagram-snapping hipster
 waiting for his beer
Not only does the packaging really catch your attention, it points out that a large beer company can jump out of the mainstream with a micro-brew-style product.

Of course, if Rickard's is looking to take things up a notch and pick up a spokesperson, this particular hipster has a secret identity:

Cardigan Man!

Turning the focus back to the event, Brewmaster Matthews gave us a generous portion of his time to discuss Cardigan, beer in general and other topics, including fresh-water scuba diving and cooking.

Matthews took his undergrad in Environmental Sciences at Trent University (my alma mater) back in the 1980s. The transition into brewing came about when he started a job as a lab assistant at Molson. He continued in various different jobs until he was offered a position as a brewer. He even put off his honeymoon to attend brewing school - that's dedication!

Matthews is currently working on his next project: Rickard's seasonal brew for this upcoming winter. I'm really looking forward to trying it.

Back to the beer and food! Some of the food served at the event was actually made using Rickard's Cardigan. This included pulled-pork sliders with a Cardigan-based barbecue sauce and chicken skewers with a Cardigan glaze. Matthews even told me about a beer-braised ribs recipe his wife has made on a few occasions.

I'm hoping to get my hands on at least one or two of those recipes shortly. Hopefully I'll have time to make one before we run out. Which leads me to something very important:

Hoarding Alert!

Rickard's Cardigan is a small run for a big brewery like MolsonCoors. They estimate that it should be available at The Beer Store until around Remembrance Day, however, if it sells out faster, stocks won't be replenished and you'll likely need to wait at least until next year.

Pick up a case while you can.

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White Bread

Meredith wanted to make bread for some friends who were coming over for dinner one evening, and she had all day to make it. It was pouring outside and Jeremy was feeling a bit under the weather as well.

For Christmas, Meredith's mother gave her a copy of the Five Roses cookbook, knowing it's the same book that her grandmother used (an earlier version, at least). In my opinion, the recipe for white bread is quite a task. There's lots of punching and kneading, and even more waiting. I guess that's why I don't bake.

The bread itself turned out great. We used it with our dinner that evening and shared some with the neighbours (who's going eat four loaves?!)

White Bread (makes 4 loaves)

1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
2 cups milk (we used 3.5%)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp vegetable shortening
2 tbsp salt
2 cups water
10-12 cups flour
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve 1 tsp sugar in 1/2 cup water. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand for 30 minutes, then stir.
  2. In a saucepan, scald the milk, add 1/4 cup sugar, 2 shortening and salt. Stir until the shortening melts and add 2 cups water. Make sure milk mixture is lukewarm.
  3. Add yeast to milk mixture and using a standing mixer, mix in 6 cups flour until smooth.
  4. Gradually add the remaining 5 or six cups until the mixture no longer sticks to the board or mixing paddle.
  5. Remove dough from mixer and knead by hand for 8-10 minutes.
  6. Grease a bowl with shortening and place the dough inside, turning it around so it's also covered in shortening. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm room (approximately 80 or 85-degrees Fahrenheit) for about an hour, until it doubles in size.
  7. Punch the dough down and let it rise again for about 45 minutes.
  8. Punch the dough down again and divide into four equal parts.
  9. Cover the portions and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Shape into loaves and place in four 8.5" x 4.5" x 2.5" bread pans, cover, and let rise again for 1 hour.
  11. Preheat oven to 400-degrees and bake loaves for 30-40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack before removing from pan.
Mostly from the Five Roses Cookbook

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