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Posts Tagged ‘Comfort’

As the end of BBQ season is approaching, I wanted to share one of my family’s absolute favourites: a tangy BBQ sauce for pork ribs.  For me, the very definition of summer is enjoying these ribs on a hot summer night at the lake, preferably with corn on the cob and potato salad as sides!

Bewared: I’ll admit this sauce has destroyed me for all other pork ribs.  After savouring this superior sauce, the overly sweet or overly spicy sauces you find at restaurants just never makes the cut in comparison.  What I love about this sauce is how easy it is to prepare, how the tomato caramelizes just so when grilled, and how there is a hint of sweet and spicy without those flavours overwhelming the rest.

The ribs take some effort to assemble – boiling the ribs, preparing the sauce, then grilling the ribs – but the first two tasks can be prepared a few hours (or even a day or two) before you get down to grilling the ribs. Certainly there’s no rush in assembly, and my grandmother (the champion-maker of this recipe) more often than not takes a swim in between steps.

I’m already counting down the days until it’s summer again, so I can chow down on these ribs!

The magic of these ribs is the sauce!   I can never get enough of it...

The magic of these ribs is the sauce! I can never get enough of it…

Country-Style Barbecued Ribs

6-8 servings

Ingredients

4 pounds pork country-style ribs

1 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 8-oz can tomato sauce

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp prepared mustard

1 tsp salt

1 tsp celery seed

1/4 tsp pepper

Directions

Cut ribs in 3-4 rib portions. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven cook ribs, covered, in enough boiling salted water to cover till ribs are tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes.  Drain well.

Meanwhile, in saucepan cook onion and garlic in hot oil till tender, but not brown.  Stir in tomato sauce with brown sugar, lemon juice, Worchestire sauce, mustard, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Grill ribs over slow coals until charred, about 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. While grilling, brush ribs with sauce so they are well coated.

Serve ribs with the extra sauce and your favourite summer sides such as potato salad, asparagus,  or corn on the cob.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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If you’re looking to find some warm colours and comforting flavours on this Ontario Election Day, look no farther than this simple farmhouse vegetable stew! This recipe created itself from the remaining vegetables in my CSA box this week, and I’ve already put it into jars as I’m looking forward to sharing some with someone this weekend!

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Ingredients – for 6 portions

1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 turnip, peeled and diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 acorn squash, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp flour
4 cups vegetable stock, hot
1/2 cut hot milk
Grated parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Dice the onion, and then sauté over medium heat in the olive oil in a stockpot. Once the onion is soft, add the remaining vegetables and cook  and stir for 5 minutes or so, until fragrant. Sprinkle the flour onto the veggies and stir to coat.

Add the hot vegetable stock and hot milk, and bring to a simmer. Allow the whole soup to simmer on low for 45 or so minutes, with the lid partially on to prevent too much evaporation.

Serve hot with grated parmesan and crusty bread!

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By March, I’m tired of winter food: the root veggies, onions, and garlic are at the end of their time, and the new spring crops are far from being ready, unless Maple Syrup falls in the category of a proper food!

Instead I’ve been leaning to dried pulses: beans and lentils, which seem to be timeless. This week, I’ve been inspired to create new dishes inspired by Latin American flavours. This dish came together on its own, from simple ingredients, and requires little effort other than remembering to soak the beans in advance. The result is a delicious bean stew, which can be eaten with tortillas, over rice, or even as a soup if you cook it in large volumes of water or broth!

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Ingredients – 4 servings

-1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked for 1 day or boiled, rinced, boiled again, and soaked for 3 hours
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1 jalapeño, finely diced (seeds removed if you don’t like it too spicy)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tsp chili powder
-1 stick cinnamon
-1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-juice from 1/2 a lime
-1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (omit if vegetarian, and add 1/4 vegetable bouillon cube to replace)
-1/2 red pepper, small dice
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
-1L water

Directions:
Soak the beans in advance. When ready, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until they become soft, then add the garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon stick and the spices. Sprinkle the salt over the top, and stir, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

When the onion begins to brown, add the water, and bring to a boil. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the lime juice and simmer on low for 1-2 hours, covered.

Increase the heat to medium and add the red pepper. Remove the cover, stirring and crushing a few of the beans. Allow to simmer uncovered at a mild boil until most of the liquid is either absorbed or boiled off. The beans stew should become a bit thicker, and there should not be more than a ‘sauce’ when it is ready. Finally, add the cilantro, and if you like the lime feel free to add another spritz or two of lime before serving!

-Sitelle

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With the rush of every-day life it can be difficult to think of new recipes, and although the internet can be very helpful, I find sometimes it prevents me from being truly creative with my own cooking. I love the practicality of being able to be creative on the spot with what ever ingredients are available in the refrigerator and on the shelf. Lately, I haven’t had as much time or opportunities for creativity as I’m cooking for myself only most of the time, as one meal will last me days and days. Today, however, I had the chance to try something new, and it was delicious and fun as well!

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Ingredients: 4 servings (as a meal), appetizer for 8+

Carrots

-6 large carrots, cut into thin sticks (quarters or eighths)
-2 Tbsp canola oil
-2 tsp cumin
-2 tsp paprika
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper

Hummus

-1 generous cup dried chickpeas, boiled and soaked overnight; then skins removed (if you’re crazy like me, but I’m sure it’s not necessary – you can also use canned chickpeas I’m sure)
-1 head roasted garlic (400F oven roasted for 40 minutes wrapped in tin foil)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp cumin
-2 tsp paprika
-1 tsp (or to taste) hot pepper flakes
-juice of 1 lemon
-2 Tbsp warm water
-2 tsp dried parsley flakes
-1 Tbsp tahini
-1-2 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

To make the carrots, preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the carrots and place in a bowl with all the seasoning and the oil. Toss until evenly covered and then lay out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer, with no carrots touching (it’s the key to perfect roasted veggies!). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden-brown. Serve with hummus if you like!

To make the hummus, soak the chickpeas or use canned, and roast the garlic. Then combine chickpeas, garlic, water and tahini in a food processor and process for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Then add remaining ingredients, and process for another 1-2 minutes. Place in serving bowl.

I envision the carrots and hummus would be great as a finger food for a dinner party: just have tooth picks on hand and enjoy!

-Sitelle

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Baked Beans

Sitelle and I have been negligent of Gourm(eh?) of love.  Sitelle has a good excuse, being in the Gambia and all, while I have just been over-run with my thesis.  But my thesis is now off with my external examiner(!), so I’ve had a little more time to breathe, sleep, and most importantly cook.

When I was little, my grandparents used to throw a Christmas carolling party for our extended family (we’re talking fourth cousins being invited here).  It was an evening of good cheer and off-tune carols, with a delicious potluck feast.  One of my favourite dishes was my grandmother’s baked beans, with just the right balance between salty bacon and sweet molasses.  Baked beans are one of my absolute favourite comfort foods, and I still dream about her baked beans.

I got fed up with canned pork and beans the other day.  So I thought, how hard can it be to make baked beans from scratch?  And indeed, making the beans is easy enough – its all the time in between that tries one’s patience: soaking of beans overnight, boiling the beans for at least an hour, and then baking them slowly for four to five hours.  The end product, however, is certainly worth it – both in abundance and in flavour.  (Although admittedly, not quite as delicious as grandma’s!)

The recipe below is slightly modified from the Joy of Cooking. 

Baked Beans

(serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

2 cups dried navy beans (or white kidney beans)

1/2 cup beer

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup chili sauce

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

A few slices of bacon

 

Directions:

Soak the beans overnight.  Drain then cover with fresh water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then simmer slowly, covered, until tender, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 250 Fahrenheit. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking water.  Combine the beans in a greased casserole with the remaining ingredients.  Lay the bacon slices over the beans.

Bake the beans, covered, for 4 to 4 and 1/2 hours.  Uncover for the last hour of cooking.  If they become dry, add a little of the reserved bean water.

Bon appetit!

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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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Falls

Beulach Ban falls

A few weekends ago, I visited Cape Breton with my sister and my friend Alex.  The colours were just past their peak, although still vibrant.  We stopped a few places along the Cabot Trail to take in all her splendour.  The skyline trail led us through spruce groves before opening to a magnificent view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  At MacIntosh Brook, we strolled through maple forests beside a babbling brook to a waterfall. We ventured down a small gravel road to the beautiful Beulach Ban Falls.  Ever searching for the perfect picnic spot, we lunched at the rocky headland on Green Cove, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  At Franey, we climbed like mountain goats to a small look-out perched on a steep cliff, with lovely views of the Clyburn River Canyon and the coast.

Towards the Atlantic Ocean at Freney

We spent the night in Pleasant Bay, a lovely fishing village halfway around the Cabot Trail.  Having dallied to arrive, the only restaurant still open was the Pleasant Bay motel.  The dining room was modest, but the kitchen was a delight with delicious, yet simple Maritime fare.  We each started with a bowl of chowder – creamy with a generous serving of seafood.  La piece de resistance, however, was the fish and chips: crispy batter around succulent haddock, cooked to perfection served with tangy coleslaw and home fries.

Since visiting Pleasant Bay, I have tried to recreate my taste experience.  I’m still brainstorming on how best to create homemade fish and chips without a deep-fryer, but with winter descending, this has given me the perfect excuse to experiment with chowders.  Inspired by cans in the pantry, this corn and salmon chowder was hearty, yet refreshing with the added dill.

Salmon and corn chowder

Salmon and Corn Chowder

(serves 6 bowls)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

2 onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cans kernel corn, drained and rinsed

4 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoons flour

Generous dash of tobasco

2 cans of salmon, drained and finely mashed (I like my soup infused with salmon – if you wanted to let the corn shine through, one can would suffice)

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped plus more for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Saute the onions and garlic in the butter.  Stir in the potatoes and saute for another five minutes, and then stir in the broth, corn, and bay leaves.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Throughly mix the flour into the milk before adding it to the chowder base. Return the soup to a simmer and allow to thicken, about five minutes.  Add the tobasco, salmon, dill, and salt and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.  Serve, garnished with extra chopped dill.  Delicious served with a crusty piece of bread!

– Catherine

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After Catherine posted her Chicken Dijonaise recipe, I had to laugh because that very same night we had ‘Poulet Dable’, which is a similar recipe to hers, although still different enough that I could justify posting it a few weeks later.  Plus, when is there ever enough mustardy goodness in a main course?  Another benefit of having two similar recipes is that it allows one to see how a recipe can be altered.

I thought I’d wait a while to share my take on the recipe, or actually, Dorie Greenspan’s take (which we changed ever-so-slightly).  This is a typical meal in Normandy, where my family comes from, and when I’m missing the green moors and the salty taste of the ocean on my lips, I crave these flavours especially.

The spiciest condiment in the french kitchen gives this dish it's name - mustard

From Dorie Greenspan’s “Around my French Table”, one of my favorite cook books recently published (page 217).

Ingredients

-2 whole chicken breasts, sliced at least in two, or 4 thighs and drumsticks, skin removed (I always get bone-in because it’s cheaper and more delicious)
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 large shallot, finely diced
-1 garlic clove (not too big or not too pungent), germ removed, and very finely chopped
-1/3 cup dry white wine
-1/2 cup heavy cream (whipping cream or crême fraiche, or table cream if you must)
-3 Tbsp extra strong dijon mustard (the stronger the better)
-1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (this is something that isn’t normally added in France, but I find that flavours in cream, butter, and poultry are generally less strong in Canada so this helps perk it up)
-1 pinch (1/8 tsp) nutmeg
-1 tsp thinly shredded gruyere per person (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 200F.  In a large skillet, heat  oil and butter until butter has melted.  Add chicken, and brown both sides, about 5 minutes on each side (try not to touch it while it is browning, so keeping the temperature low enough, in the middle range is key so it doesn’t burn but also browns nicely).  If there’s too much chicken to make it at once, try doing one batch and then another.  After the chicken is cooked through, place it in a covered dish in the oven to keep warm.  Ensure there’s still enough oil in the pan (if not, just add a tad), and sauté the shallot and the garlic for a few minutes, until they are soft.  Then add wine, and once the wine bubbles, add the cream, and stir to remove any bits attached on the pan.  Once this all comes to a simmer, add the mustard, stirring it in, as well as the Worchestershire sauce.  Season with a little salt if you like, and sprinkle the gruyere onto the chicken at the end and cover with sauce.  Serve this with boiled potatoes, rice, or even macaroni.  For me, this really qualifies as Normal comfort food, and always makes me think of my lovely grandmother.

-Sitelle

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Chili con Carne


There’s nothing as comforting on a cold winter evening as a bowl of piping hot chili, which has been simmering away for a few hours on your stove, making your kitchen smell tantalizing.  I am a big chili fan, so much so that I need containing when I cook it!  As a kid, chili was my favourite meal (still in my top 10), and I often volunteered myself to whipping up a batch or two or six (it freezes beautifully) for my family.  The first time I made it when I was living on my own, my roommate Alex nearly died laughing.   For one person, I had gone through 18 cans of tomatoes and beans.  Needless to say, it was gone by Christmas!

This recipe is half inspired from my head and half from my grandmother’s 1950s United Church Women cookbook.  I think the fact you can barely read the recipe through the food splotches speaks to the recipe’s success.  I even limited myself to a mere seven cans – a miraculous feat for my normal chili making nights.  Interested in turning it into vegetarian fare – omit the ground beef and simply add a few extra cans of beans and a few extra veggies (zucchini, mushroom, eggplant, or corn are my personal faves). Enjoy!

Chile Con Carne

(4 dinners for 2 people, with leftovers)

Ingredients:

2 onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 red pepper, coarsely chopped

750 grams of extra-lean ground beef (just under 2 pounds)

6 tablespoons of chili powder

1 tablespoon of cumin

3 cans of diced tomatoes

2 cans of tomato soup

2 cans of mixed beans

2 cups of lentils

Splash of bread and butter pickle juice

As many other chopped veggies as you would like (zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, corn, etc)

Directions:

Saute the ground beef, onions, and garlic until the beef is well cooked and the onions are translucent.  Drain off the extra fat.  Add the chili powder and the cumin.  Cook until fragrant, and add all the other ingredients.  Bring to a boil before turning down to low heat and simmer for at least 90 minutes and up to 3 hours.

I normally serve over rice, but equally as delicious is over garlicky cheese bread or just a crusty baguette.  Frozen, the chili can last for up to 6 months.

–       Catherine

14 February 2011

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I must admit I woke up yesterday realizing I had to get going on the banana bread front, because not only is it an easy and great recipe – but Catherine and I have even had a banana-bread baking competition, and I figured posting first means something.  The stakes were high in our competition – the title for best banana bread.  We both mixed and baked, and convened with a few friends to find out who would take the title.  I just had to post this recipe.

Conclusion: one bread needed chocolate chips (which were omitted to make the bread stand alone, but could not be actually compared to the bread with chocolate), and the other needed to cook just a wee bit longer.  I’ll let you guess who was who.

Needless to say, I thought it would be fun to post my recipe as it is new and improved.  I’m not sure if it’s better than Catherine’s, but it certainly is delicious.  It can be mixed quickly, and then thrown into the oven to bake while you have a shower in the morning.  Then you can have a mouthwatering breakfast, and be the envy of your workplace when you pull some out for a snack.

Personally, I like to put little sugar in (closer to 1/2 cup), but a lot of chocolate chips.  Those, however, are optional of course.  I also pack it full of nuts (pecans are the favorite, although walnuts do wonderfully).  In short, this is an absolute treat!

It was difficult waiting for this to cook while getting ready for school!

Ingredients:

-4 ripe mashed bananas (I like to freeze the black ones mashed up then pull them out in the morning)
-1/3 cup melted butter
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 egg, beaten
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp baking soda
-pinch of salt
-1 1/2 cup flour: can be whole-wheat, white, or a mix.  It depends on what I have on hand
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are great)
-1/2 to 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions (1 loaf, or 12 muffins if you prefer)

Loaf

Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix mashed bananas and melted butter in a large bowl.  Add egg, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix well, then sprinkle the baking soda on top.  If you are using a whole-wheat/white flour blend, mix them together in advance.  Add flour to wet mix, as well as cinnamon.  Mix quickly, but not too much: it should still be a little lumpy.  Then add nuts and chocolate chips, and mix.  Grease two loaf tins, and bake, for 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean, or grease just one tin, and bake for 60 minutes.

Muffins

Everything is the same except grease a rack for 12 muffins or line with muffin papers.  Fill them each approximately 3/4 full with batter, and bake, at 350, for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

There you have it!  Bonne appétit.

-Sitelle

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