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Archive for the ‘Freezable’ Category

I’ve been waiting for some inspiration in the last year in order to bring you some new recipes on Gourm(eh), and I’ve finally admitted to myself the reason that it’s been a slow time in my culinary adventures. The truth is, it’s not very exciting to cook for oneself. One thing that I’ve really enjoyed, however, has been long-distance meal-planning with my significant other, especially because it’s so exciting to see that despite distance, food is still able to bring us together and we often send messages back-and-forth of ideas and questions about how best to prepare things, and what produce has been good lately at the market or grocery store. Yes I’ll admit, Hamilton is a bit ahead of Ottawa, but we’ve got some good things here too now! It’s not nearly as nice as a meal together, but it will do if it’s all we’ve got for now!

I’m telling you this because this recipe was inspired by his own a few weeks ago. A tomato sauce with beets! I had one pound of delicious ground beef from my CSA box, new young leeks, fresh oregano and beets, so I decided to attempt some meatballs with spaghetti and a spicy beet tomato sauce. The spicy sauce is well-balanced by the sweet beet base, and it goes very well with flavourful beef.

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Ingredients – 4 servings

Meatballs

1 lb ground beef, extra lean
2 young leeks, cleaned and minced
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
3 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed (I like to pound mine in a mortar and pestle)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 egg
dash salt and pepper
olive oil

Spicy beet tomato sauce

1 onion, diced
2 young leeks, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 – 1 tsp dried chili flakes (to taste)
1 beet, diced into small pieces
1  good tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 can diced tomatoes (796 mL or 28 Oz)

Spaghetti or other pasta, enough for 4 (according to package)

Parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Mix all ingredients for meat balls except olive oil and egg in a bowl with hands until everything is well mixed, then add the egg. Form into small balls in the palm of your hands, and place on a plate drizzled with olive oil. Roll the meatball in the olive oil so it is coated, and repeat until you have made all the mixture into meatballs. Depending on the size, you should get 20-30 meatballs. Set aside in refrigerator while you prepare the sauce.

For the sauce, dice the onions first, and heat up the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onions for a few minutes, then add the minced leek. Cook for a few more minutes and then add the garlic, chili flakes and basil. Stir until the onion is soft and everything is fragrant. Add the beet, and then the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a strong simmer and then reduce the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, while you prepare the meatballs and the pasta.

For the meatballs, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat in another frying pan. Once the oil is hot, cook the meatballs, turning them carefully so all sides brown. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, until they are cooked through (you should not see any pink inside).  Set on a paper-towel lined plate once cooked.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook pasta to your liking. Pour a ladle-full of water into the beet sauce to make it a little saucier if you like. Serve the meatballs tossed in the sauce, over the pasta, with grated parmesan and enjoy!

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The other day, a friend asked me the question “What is your favourite cookie?”   Now this is a truly challenging question.  How can one decide between such delicious cookies as oatmeal chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, and candy cane cookies?

I pondered for a few minutes, before I realized the answer was simple.  There is nothing more delectable than gingerbread.   Gingerbread can be soft or snappy; the spicing can be subtle or bold; the end product a humble round or fancily decorated.  And is it ever versatile –  a delight on its own, gingerbread is also delicious crumpled into the crust of cheesecake or on top of stewed rhubarb.  My personal favourite is with a tall glass of cold milk.

My friend Sam introduced me to these cookies ten years ago, and I have never seen a plate of cookies turn into crumbs so quickly as to when these are offered.  Very humble looking, they are delicately spiced and ever-so-chewy! The trick is to under bake them slightly – pull them out of the oven when they are are cracking, but still slightly puffy.

 

Ginger Cookies

Makes about 40 cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 tsp baking soda

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

2 1/4 cup flour

 

~ 1/3 cup white sugar (for rolling cookies in)
 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and molasses.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then mix into wet ingredients.

Cover dough with waxpaper and freeze until firm.  Roll dough into balls, then roll in white sugar.  Arrange on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies until cracked, about 10-12 minutes.

(And if you want to save a few cookies for a snowy day, once the dough is rolled, freeze in an airtight container.   You can pop two or three onto a tray for a late night ginger cookie snack!)

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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A year and a half ago I was browsing through my mother’s books in her living room and I came to “The Boreal Gourmet – adventures in northern cooking”. It caught my eye, and I was soon going through it, savouring the stories and their accompanying recipes. The book is written by a woman who grew up in Toronto, was deeply influenced by her mother’s delicious cooking, spent time in Greece learning to cook traditional Greek food, and who finally ended up in the Yukon Territories cooking up a storm.

When my mother came in and found me reading the book she was very disappointed – somehow I’d managed to pick through her entire book collection to land on the ONE book I was not supposed to see – it was intended as a birthday present later that year for me. I quickly put it away and basically forgot its existence until my birthday a few months later.

Alexandra Falls gorge covered in 1.25m of snow!

Soon after I was given the book, though, I stepped into an adventure taking me to Gambia, and my exploration of the recipes in the book was postponed until this year when I have somehow managed to walk myself right into the Northern refrigerator. There is over a meter snow on the ground, the boreal forest is scraggly at best, and I live on the very Northern end of the Canadian Railway in the Northwest Territories. G. and I brought one cookbook with us: “The Boreal Gourmet”, and we’ve had a great time taking a crack at many recipes already.

Spirited cranberry sauce is great with everything from cheesecake to pancakes to meats… and probably many other things I have yet to try!

We’ve got a large mound of buffalo in the freezer, along with several whitefish fillets, and 10 cups of rosehips we’ve planned to transform into preserves. What fun! All these ingredients come from the land around us. I was hoping to harvest cranberries to make this sauce but the snow came unexpectedly fast, and so I was forced to buy a bag of fresh ones at the store (I was lucky enough to find some!).

Ingredients

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

3 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp raw honey (I used wild honey from Gambia with a smoky flavour since that’s how they collect it by smoking the bees out!)

Juice and rind of two oranges

2 Tbsp rum

Directions

Put all ingredients into a pot, and add a Tbsp of water if the liquids are too low to get a simmer going. Simmer covered for 20 minutes, until thick. Use a fork to mix it up and puree the cranberries a bit.

Serve with roast meat or turkey, or with cheesecake (as I will post soon!)

-Sitelle

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Several posts ago I wrote about peanut butter-based snacks. I love peanuts and peanut butter so much. Although there is a risk of peanuts carrying aflotoxin (you know, on those really gross-tasting peanuts), the Canadian food supply keeps them at acceptable levels. Peanuts were my dietary staple in The Gambia. I’d grab a bag of roasted peanuts on the road; I’d pick them in the fields with the women and we’d carry them home in big buckets on our heads; we’d hull them on raised concrete platforms with a nut in each hand which we’d whack on the concrete and remove from the shell, with a big pile between our knees that never seemed to end. Peanuts are the way of life there. I ate them every day.

To make peanut butter, simply roast your peanuts, squeeze them in your hands to remove skins when they have cooled, and then place them in a blender or food processor or food grinder and let it spin! The longer you go, the smoother it gets. Add a teaspoon or two full of vegetable oil if it is not liquid enough – that will depend on the variety of groundnut you have! Adding a pinch of salt will bring out the flavours more if you’re interested.

Upon my return, I’ve craved peanuts big time. Thanks to my lovely host families, I had a plentiful supply, despite my distance. I quite enjoyed roasting them and turning them into peanut butter, before they were transformed into the delicious snacks and meals which I’ve already started posting including the Domoda and the Chocolate Kickers, and this childhood favourite snack of mine, these peanut butter logs.

Ingredients – three 4-inch logs (approximately)

1 cup peanut butter (I prefer the ‘just peanuts kind’, which you can buy or make yourself with a food processor or blender – simply follow the instructions under the picture)

4 Tbsp honey

5 Tbsp milk powder (or 7 Tbsp if instant), or more as needed

2-3 Tbsp desiccated coconut

Directions

Mix all ingredients together using a strong fork or whatever works for you. Place a third of the desiccated coconut on a sheet of parchment paper, and spread evenly. Form a third of the mixture into a log, and roll in the coconut. Place in parchment paper or wax paper and freeze.

Slice once frozen, and serve immediately for an energy-packed snack!

You can also add dried cranberries or mini chocolate chips for extra punch.

Hope you enjoy these!

-Sitelle

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I mentioned we’re working on emptying our pantry, and the result is big baking extravaganzas every so often when the weather cools off enough to justify heating up the oven.

Ice cream sandwiches have been a favourite easy dessert of mine for a long time now. They can easily be made according to your schedule: you can make the cookies or buy the cookies; you can make the ice cream or buy the ice cream, or use any permutation in between. Just as long as you have a bit of time to soften the ice cream and then give it a good freeze again, you’re in for a treat!

Ingredients – 8 ice cream sandwiches

16 cookies (plus a few more for snacking on during prep if you’re that type of cook)

1 batch ice cream or one tub (maple-walnut or your favourite flavour from the store)

Directions

Let ice cream soften a bit (leave it out for 10-15 minutes depending on how cold your freezer is). Place cookies in the freezer in the meantime.

When cookies are frozen and ice cream is softened, use a spoon to scoop some ice cream onto one cookie, and slap another cookie onto the other end! It’s that easy. Place in a tupperware container and re-freeze for another hour or so, so they don’t squish everywhere when you serve them to your guests/friends/children!

Bonne appétit.

-Sitelle

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When I was a kid, my parents enrolled me and my sister in the Nancy Greene Ski League. The two of us would spend our days whooshing down the ski hills at Camp Fortune, while my parents would escape into the backwoods to go cross-country skiing. After a long day of skiing, our entire family would enjoy a few rituals: clementines and Toblerone in the car on the way home and Shepherd’s pie for dinner. Our family was content eating President’s Choice’s Shepherd’s Pie — until it was featured in the Ottawa Citizen as one of the top 10 food items filled with saturated fat. Needless to say, we quickly (although sadly) abandoned our Saturday night favourite.

Our family tried to find a store-bought alternative – but inevitably, the Shepherd’s pie would be a little dry or the potatoes would be lacking any flavour. Since I love Shepherd’s pie, I decided to invent my own version. Inspired by my grandmother’s tortiere recipe, I developed the following last winter and have yet to look back. The secret is the cream of mushroom soup: it keeps the ground beef ever so rich and creamy.

This recipe makes 1 13×9-inch Shepherd’s pie – although I often divide it into two. The larger of the Shepherd’s pies (9×9 baking dish) goes straight into the oven, while the second (in a banana loaf pan) goes straight into my freezer for a future delicious dinner. This is the very essence of comfort food on a cold winter’s eve!

Shepherd’s Pie
(serves 12)

Ingredients
MEAT FILLING
1 1/2 to 2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
2 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 large splash Worcester sauce
1 large dollop Heinz Chili sauce
1 teaspoon thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 large can kernel corn, drained

MASHED POTATOES
8 large potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters/sixths
2 tablespoons butter
Large splash of milk
Salt and Pepper to taste

Your favourite cheese (Mozerella, Cheddar, and/or, Parmesan)

Directions
Saute the meat, onions, garlic, celery, and carrot together until the meat is browned and the veggies are cooked through. Drain off any extra fat. Stir in the mushroom soup, Worcester, chile, and thyme, and simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes to reduce the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper (if so desired, add more heat with Tobasco and more tomato flavour with the Chile sauce). Stir in the corn.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a large pot of boiling water. Drain once the potatoes are cooked. Mash the potatoes with the butter and milk, adding more milk if necesasry. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the meat mixture to a 9×13 baking pan. Gently spread the mashed potatoes overtop. Bake for 20 minutes or until the meat mixture begins to bubble. Sprinkle as much grated cheese overtop. Bake for a further 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Broil until the cheese is bubbly.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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