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Archive for the ‘Comfort’ Category

I am a firm believer that the birthday girl should always get to choose her birthday cake. So when my friend Kaitlyn recently celebrated hers, she requested that I make a cake using this recipe, an old family favourite.

I was a little dubious – a gluten-free chocolate cake that claimed to be moist and intensely chocolately.  Boy was I ever proven wrong – this cake is amazingly rich, with one of the best structures I’ve ever tasted for a gluten-free cake.  It’s also super easy to mix up.  I decided to frost it with a White Chocolate Ganache, but the cake is tasty enough to stand on its own if you are in a pinch for time.

Best of all, my friend said that the cake easily converted to lactose-free too – all that’s needed is to substitute the butter for vegetable oil and milk to almond/soy milk.

 

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Carson & Rose Chen

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Carson & Rose Chen

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

(Original recipe from Quinoa 365: the Everyday Superfood)

No one will believe this chocolate cake is made with cooked quinoa —
no flour required. It is kid-friendly and gluten-free.

Serves 8-16

Ingredients

2/3 cup white or golden quinoa
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

1-1/2 cups white or cane sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce  to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the  covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a  fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round or square cake  pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add  2 cups of cooked quinoa and the butter and continue to blend until  smooth.

Combine sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on the centre rack for 40 to 45  minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan before serving. Frost if desired.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for up to a month.

Bon appetit!

 

– Catherine

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Since March, G and I have decided only to eat wild meat and fish for the remainder of the time we’re living in Hay River. It’s been marvelously delicious, and really neat to hear people’s stories about their favourite recipes for different meats and for different times of the year. We’ve got a lovey friend and her family who lives across the river and loves to spoil us and share her traditional culture with us through food, language, sewing and endless stories. She’s an excellent story-teller, and constantly gives her time and energy to the community. She also loves to share her food with us, and a few weeks ago she gave us a nice rack of moose ribs along with a couple that she had recently smoked. “Make pulled moose meat” she told me, with a big smile. So I set out to find a recipe I thought did justice to the meat, and planned to eat this on a Monday. An emergency called us out just as we were about to begin cooking, so the meal was post-poned one day and it marinated overnight. It was a happy coincidence, because Tuesday we had a good reason to celebrate, and this meal was just the perfect touch.

I built the recipe from one published by the Temiskaming Shores Fishing and Angling Association, converting it somewhat to what I found in the fridge and the bush on a walk the day we made it: juniper berries and labrador tea leaves.

I’m sure this recipe would work well with other meats as well, but if you have access to moose I highly recommend it.

Pulled Moose

Ingredients

3 Tbsp paprika

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp salt

8 juniper berries

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 cup labrador tea, leaves removed

1 cup barbecue sauce

2 cups mushroom broth

2 smoked moose ribs

3 lb moose ribs

Directions

Boil the smoked ribs for 20 minutes and then drain. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl to make the rub. Wash the ribs and coat both the raw and the smoked ribs in the rub. Refrigerate and leave covered for a night.

The following day, warm up the stock, tea, barbecue sauce and the maple syrup until simmering. Place moose ribs into slow cooker and cover with broth.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours. While the meat is warm, pull shreds of the tender meat off the bone using a fork. Pour sauce over meat and serve with toasted buns or mashed potatoes!

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A few years ago now, I spent some time studying in several communities in Belize. It was a lovely experience, and it set off an insatiable desire to live and work in diverse and distinct communities both outside and inside of Canada.

One of the my favourite aspects about travelling is all the different foods I taste, the flavours of each country, and learning to cook the food in different communities. While this recipe is not identical to any I learned in Belize, it is inspired by the sunny, fresh, and wholesome food cooked in a hard-working Maya community in the Southernmost part of Belize in the Toldeo District. The women there taught me simple ways to cook beans which I use to this day. The ingredients are simple, and the result is ever delicious.

I like to make this with many different types of beans, but black-eyed peas are a favourite with the delicate flavour of cilantro and garlic cooked they are cooked in from the start.

Beans

Ingredients – 8 servings

1 1/2 cup black-eyed peas, soaked for 8 hours at least after a boil

1 onion, dinced

3 cloves garlic, minced or pounded in a mortar and pestle

1 jalapeño pepper, minced (remove seeds if you want less spice)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup shredded cilantro leaves

1 cube vegetable bouillon

1 tsp chilli spice

5 cups water

Directions

To soak the beans, place 1 1/2 cups of the beans in 2L of water. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat for 6-8 hours or overnight (if doing overnight, you don’t need to boil them if you don’t want to). Once ready to cook drain and rinse beans.

Dice the onions, garlic, and jalapeño. If you have a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and jalapeño together with the bouillon cube and the chilli spice.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until it is slightly browned. Add the garlic and jalapeño (and the whole mixture if you did it in the mortar and pestle). Stir and cook for a few more minutes. Add the jalapeño, chilli and the bouillon cube.

When the mixture smells fragrant, add the beans. Stir to coat, and then add the water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Keep boiling for two minutes and then transfer mixture over to a slow cooker if you have one. Add the cilantro. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

If you do not have a slow cooker, continue to simmer for an hour or two or until the beans are tender.

You can continue cooking this as long as you wish, and the dish will change accordingly. At first it is somewhat stew-like, and then it will begin to appear like refried beans, with the beans breaking down more and more. You can eat the beans alone, with rice, or in tacos for example! There are really a lot of options! I hope you enjoy these.

-Sitelle

 

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Muskox burger

I’ve been saving photos of many things for Gourm(eh) in the past month. Life up North has been ever-consuming, and I was waiting for a window during which I could start posting. Since we started up Gourm(eh), we’ve been trying to explore Canadian cuisine. We’ve posted traditional dishes and others from almost each continent. I think that really points to how wonderfully multi-cultural our country is, and I must say I really enjoy that fact.

During my stay up in Hay River, I think I finally have learned a little more about Canadian cuisine. As a small northern community (although large for the territories), pot-lucks, dinners, the market and cooking clubs with kids at the school have shown me several new secrets about Canadian food. Here, if it contains meat (wild or store-bought) and it sticks to your ribs it is good, keeping you fuelled through the cold and dark months. It’s pretty much “no meat, no good” in the families that have been here for generations. An influx of new folks has started to change up the tastes in town (including Chinese and vegetarian), but those are not yet mixed into the norm, from my observation.

One pleasure I’ve had has been to explore wild meats here. I am always asking the kids stories about hunting with their families, talking with elders about how they lived on the land. It’s fascinating, and every story involves new and interesting information I’m still not sure how to fit together. It’s also been fun trying all the different wild meats common around here, from Bison to Caribou and Fish. Last week, we made these Muskox burgers which were unbelievably delicious. Muskox has its own unique flavour, and is totally lean. The afternoon before we cooked them, I happened to hear some advice from a child’s mother: include oats and eggs or else they will fall apart the meat is so crumbly!

The most surprising thing about Muskox is that even though we always buy extra lean ground beef, I’m used to my burgers and meatballs shrinking. With Muskox meat, we shaped burgers into medium-sized patties hoping to end up with small patties, as we do with beef. This time, though, the patties did not shrink at all, leaving us with exactly the same volume as we began with. If you’re a meat-eater, I highly recommend trying Muskox if you ever have the opportunity!

Muskox feast

Muskox burgers – (5)

Ingredients

1 lb ground Muskox meat

1/2 cup instant oats

1 leek, white and light green only, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp crushed rosemary

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1-2 eggs (depending on how crumbly the mixture is)

5 buns (I like to make bannock buns)

Suggested toppings

5 lettuce leaves, washed

1 tomato, sliced

Cheddar slices

Dijon mustard

Caramelized leeks (optional)

Directions

In a bowl, pat dry the muskox meat as best you can. Mix the ground meat up with your hands. Add all the additional ingredients except the egg. Mix well, and once it is evenly mixed, add the egg. Form the mixture into patties and cook as you would a burger.

Serve on freshly baked bannock buns with any of the toppings you enjoy!

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Wishing you and yours a very happy new year!

The past year has flown by.  It’s been a busy year – finishing up my Master’s thesis, travelling in Tanzania, starting medical school – and I have been very fortunate.  While I’ve had fewer new cooking adventures (to be remedied in 2013), I have certainly enjoyed many old favourites with friends and family!

Gourm(eh?) continues to exceed expectations. It’s hard to believe that a small project for me and Sitelle to share recipes has turned into a blog that has received over 30,000 hits!  We look forward to sharing many more in 2013 – including a few more Canadian specialties.

To start off 2013, I wanted to share the five most popular recipes from 2012.  Bon appetit!

– Catherine

5. Lotus Land Linguini

Creamy lotus land linguine

This pasta from rebar was initially cooked to fulfill a peanut craving.  The lotus land linguini turned out to be a fun and tasty dish enjoyed by all – the leftovers were perfect as a picnic lunch the next day on a wintertime outing to Peggy’s Cove!

4. Whitewater Cinnamon Buns

Waiting for the cinnamon buns to finish rising

Waiting for the cinnamon buns to finish rising

These cinnamon buns from Whitewater Cooks were nice and cinnamony, and perfect for a late morning brunch!

3. Spicy Steamed Fish, Gambian Style

Gambian platter

Sitelle shared many of the recipes she picked up while living in Gambia – and this one looks divine!

2. Christmas Cookies

Swedish Pastries (Thumbprint Walnut Christmas Cookie)

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Slice-and-Bake Icebox Cookies

Icebox Cookies

Christmas baking is a favourite family tradition, and these two cookies are my great-grandmother’s secret recipes.  They continue to be loved year after year!

1. Benachin

Bowl of benachin

Another of Sitelle’s Gambian dishes was our most viewed of 2012, and this is certainly a dish meant to be shared with company!

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One thing we do not lack for in medicine is exams.  As such, finding ways to make studying more exciting is a constant occupation.  Somehow carrot sticks just don’t aways cut it.  A surefire way to liven up any study session is cupcakes.  Who doesn’t love cupcakes?  They are the perfect sugar boost in anyone’s day – especially when covered in delicious chocolate icing!

This particular study session happened to fall on my cousin’s birthday, so to make them more fun, I decided to add sprinkles to a Martha Stewart Recipe.  The chocolate buttercream icing is a time-tested family recipe.  I suspect the confetti will be a regular addition to my future cupcake baking adventures 🙂

IMG_4259

Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Icing

(Makes 24 cupcakes)

 

Ingredients

Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (or 3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk

Multicoloured sprinkles

 

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

3ish tablespoons butter, room temperature

3 or 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

2-3 tablespoons of cold coffee (the stronger, the tastier)

A lot of icing sugar

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated; scrape down sides of bowl, and beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.  Add as many sprinkles as you desire (I used about 1/4 cup).

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Cream together the butter, cocoa powder, and coffee.  Incorporate icing sugar until chocolate-mocha icing is thick, yet spreadable.

When the cupcakes are cool, generally frost with the chocolate buttercream icing.  Top with a few extra sprinkles.  Delicious with a cold glass of milk!

– Catherine

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As the wintry weather continues to approach (it’s scary to say approach since it feels like beyond the winter I’m used to), I’ve been craving comforting meals in the warmth of our apartment. It’s funny because although I’m living in one of the bustling metropoles of the Northwest Territories (there are four, I am told, in total), the town is small at 3000 people, and has a couple of stop-lights. I cannot find half the spices I want in the grocery store (not even things you’d expect, like dried thyme), yet the baking isle is stocked with as many varieties of flour as your usual grocery stores in Ontario, or more. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that many people here take the time to bake their own bread and make their own preserves with the slower pace of life here. The smell of baking bread is not uncommon in the neighbourhood, and people definitely take baking their bread seriously – hence the large variety of flour available.

Tonight, as I thought about the chili we’d be having for dinner, I decided it was time to bake a Sunday night dessert. It’s apple season, so I’ve been going wild with apple-themed things, and this is no exception. It’s an upside-down apple-cinnamon and brown sugar cake, the perfect consistency to have with a hot chocolate, tea, or early afternoon coffee. It was completely invented in our kitchen, since the one cookbook we have here does not have a similar recipe, and we don’t have regular access to the internet (only at the library and those few times at school when we have free time). So, this is the first new recipe born out of Hay River!

Ingredients

2 eggs, beaten, in a medium bowl

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

2 apples, sliced

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 or 400 if your oven is on the cold side.

Grease a medium rectangular cake pan (we used a pyrex oven dish, maybe 6 inches by 9), and sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar.

Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved, and then add melted butter.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre, add the wet ingredients to the well, and carefully incorporate all ingredients together, removing any lumps that are formed.

Toss the apples in the cinnamon and half the brown sugar and mix the remaining brown sugar with the butter. Line the bottom of the pan with apples, and cut the remaining apple slices into small chunks and reserve them. Sprinkle half the brown sugar-butter mix over the apples. Cover with half the cake batter, and sprinkle the remaining apples and brown-sugar butter over top. Top with the remaining batter.

Bake on middle rack in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired, and toffee syrup if you’re feeling particularly fancy – although it’s not necessary!

-Sitelle

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