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Posts Tagged ‘delicious’

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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Fish Stir-Fry

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go ice fishing with a local fisherman who showed us how to set nets under 4.5 feet of ice, which blew my mind. After we brought the nets in, I watched him fillet at least two dozen large fish, of four or five varieties. I’m looking forward to fishing myself, and attempting to fillet the fish after what I learned – I assume it will be a lot sloppier and slower, but I’m ready for the challenge!

After we fished we ate an absolutely delicious meal of sashimi, pan-fried fish with dill, and bannock in one of his cabins out on the lake. I have never had such fresh sashimi!

We ate so much fish, and yet there were many left-overs. We brought many different types home, including the left-over sashimi fillets which we turned into this delicious stir-fry for lunch the following day. This stir-fry is amazing not only because it’s delicious but because it is also incredibly fast and simple!

Heading out for fishing

Ingredients – 2 servings

1 lb fish fillets, sliced into strips

2 green onions, chopped

1 carrot, cut into match sticks

1 zucchini, halved and then finely sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

Soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Rice, cooked

Directions

Slice, dice, and prepare all stir-fry ingredients. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat, then add garlic. Stir, then add the fish. Saute on medium for a few minutes, then add the remaining veggies. Continue to stir often, and cook for about 6 minutes until the fish is cooked and the veggies are still crunchy but hot. Season with salt and pepper and soy sauce.

Serve the fish stir-fry over rice with soy sauce.

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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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Cran almond and feta salad

Since I’ve lived in two very different yet both remote locations these past two years, I’ve learned that a yearning for delicious food and the absence of many of my favourite items makes for some intense cravings. Last year, I would have done just about anything for something other than palm oil and broken-grade rice; this year I would do just about anything for something other than a tasteless carrot or bitter celery.

As a member of the local volunteer fire department and ambulance service, I’m learning about standing up for myself in conversations dominated by men. This past weekend we had a pot-luck at the firehall, and I knew the food would be heavy on “man food”, which I’ve determined through my engagement in the department to mean meat-heavy (always) and often sauce-based dishes or casseroles. The food is usually delicious, but it lacks in the veggie dimension. I hate to follow the entrenched rules and bring light food as is expected of a woman, but at the same time the extreme lack of the vegetable and fruit food group made my final decision to bring a salad a no-brainer. I knew it would just reinforce stereotypes, but that’s something I can handle.

Here’s the recipe for the delicious salad we brought along to the potluck!

Cran Almond Feta with Vinaigrette

Ingredients – 6 servings

1 head lettuce (anything except iceberg if you can help it), washed, dried, and torn into pieces

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2/3 cup crumbled feta

1/2 cucumber, quartered then sliced

Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp grain dijon mustard

11/2 Tbsp cider vinegar

4 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 shallot, minced

1 tsp crushed tarragon

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Once melted add the maple syrup. Once hot and mixed, drop in the almonds and cook, stirring every minute or so, until they brown. Allow them to cool and make sure the clusters are not too big by separating them with your fingers.

Wash the lettuce and cucumber and prepare. Place lettuce in a large salad bowl, and sprinkle the cucumber over top, along with the feta and the cranberries, and then the maple-candied almonds. Cover until ready to serve.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the mustard and vinegar well. Add the oil and stir vigorously until it combines. Add the shallot, tarragon, salt and pepper. Pour over salad when ready to eat!

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Sourdoughbread1

Since I was a little girl I loved eating fresh sourdough bread with butter, but I always felt like it was not something I could ever do from scratch – and I mean really from scratch.

Somehow, with a lot of love and flour, we’ve managed just that: make sourdough bread from scratch through the sourdough bootcamp, without any added yeast, and the result was absolutely amazing.

Follow the sourdough bootcamp instructions to get your sourdough starter, or obtain some from a crazy friend. Just make sure you give yourself a couple of days to complete this recipe, and if you observe your dough, you will not be disappointed. What I mean by observe is to be mindful of its behaviour and its texture as you work with it. Sourdough is not as easy as regular yeast, and it requires you to get a feel for what it likes. That said, once you start getting familiar with its quirks, it gets really fun!

Sourdough boules

Ingredients

1/2 cup sourdough starter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup warm water

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups warm water

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2 cups all-purpose flour plus one cup flour

1 cup quick oats

1 1/2 Tbsp salt

Directions

Day 1: morning

Feed the starter with 1 cup each flour and water. Let rest in a warm place for 8-12 hours.

Day 1: evening

Return 1/2 cup starter to the fridge. To remaining starter add 2 cups each flour and water. Cover loosely and let rest all night. This forms what is called the ‘sponge’ – it forms the basis of your bread tomorrow.

Day 2: morning

Your now bubbly and yeasty sponge needs:

2 Tbsp maple syrup, 2 cups flour and water, and 1 cup rolled oats. Stir it all in, and gradually add in the reserved cup of flour until you can’t stir with a spoon any longer. Dust hands and working surface with flour, and keep dusted throughout. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for a few minutes, working the remaining flour in. Use the following kneading instructions from the Boreal Gourmet Cookbook:

“Draw the edges into the centre, fold the dough in half, press the seam closed with the heel of your hand, push the dough away from you, give it a quarter turn, and repeat”. I tend to knead this portion by hand for about 10 minutes. After that, reflour the surface and place the dough on top for a 20-minute rest, covered with a damp towel.

Once it has rested, resume kneading, this time incorporating the salt little by little. I know the amount of salt seems large but it’s important, and I’m already reducing the salt content compared to the original.

Once you have finished kneading for about 6-8 more minutes, split the dough in half and form it into boules or rectangular loaves. To form the boule, work your hands around the round loaf, pulling the edges in and pinching them in the centre. Let them rest in a parchment-paper lined bowl covered with a damp towel. To fit it into a rectangular pan, flatten the ball and fold both edges in, tuck the ends in and pinch it all shut. Place the seam on the bottom of an oiled pan.

Cover the top with a light brush of oil and a damp towel. Let rest until doubled in volume, around 4 hours. Place the boules on a baking tray in their parchment paper, and leave the rectangular loaves in their rectangular pans. When ready, use a sharp knife to cut an “X” in the round boules or several slashes in the rectangular loaves. Preheat the oven to 450F and put a pot of boiling water in the oven. When the oven is hot, place both loaves inside. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the pan of water and bake for another 10 minutes. After that, crack the door open and maintain it that way for 5-10 more minutes to brown the loaves (keep a tight eye to make sure it doesn’t brown too much!).

When ready, remove the bread from the baking sheets/pans and cool on a wire rack. Wait until bread is cool for it to maintain its quality! Serve with soft butter to accompany whatever you like! A personal favourite is smoked fish… Enjoy!

 

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It’s always been my dream to eat from near-by as much as possible. It gives us variation through the seasons, simplicity, and always freshness. Freshness is especially salient up here in the Northwest Territories, as we do receive some imported fruits but all too often they are spoiled by the time they arrive, and they cost a pretty penny.

Living on the shores of the Great Slave Lake means we get a lot of fresh fish. Whitefish and Jackfish are the common ones, but there are others as well. As one of the deepest lakes in the world and being situated where few people live means there still is a good stock.
As winter settles in, and the cold envelopes everything, the fish is changing too. It gets fattier – more full of omega fatty acids – it’s reserves for getting through the cold winter months.

The whitefish from this lake is absolutely delicious. This recipe is one of my favourite. Rapid, simple, and delicious, it’s pretty well perfect.

DSCN3892

Ingredients

4 whitefish fillets
1 onion, diced

2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and thinly chopped

4 sprigs fresh thyme

olive oil

4 medium yukon-gold potatoes

butter

fresh parsley, shredded

salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F. Finely chop onions and carrots. Cut 4 squares of parchment paper. Wash the fish fillets, and then drizzle with 1tsp olive oil. Place diced onions and carrots on top, season lightly with salt and pepper, and top with thyme sprig. Fold the parchment paper over it all. Repeat for all 4 fillets.

Place in oven and bake for 14-18 minutes, until cooked (time depends on thickness of fillets).

Meanwhile, place water on to boil. Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes until just tender. Drain and slice in half. Serve potatoes next to fish with butter and parsley. Enjoy!

-Sitelle

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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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With probably almost 1.5 m of snow or more outside, it’s really hard to imagine that winter is more than a month away. The Christmas decorations are already up (and their light is welcome on the dark days). We even saw a Santaclaus parade last weekend in Yellowknife. Needless to say it’s already necessary to have warm and hearty soups cooked on the weekend so that we can come home after work and warm up with a bowl of it.

On Sundays in Hay River we have a winter market where people sell beadwork and baked goods, and where we can have what is by far the loveliest meal out in town at the “Real Food Cafe”. The wonderful woman in charge of that initiative cooks fresh fish caught by her husband, and serves it up with delicious soup, bannock, locally grown leafy greens (there must be a greenhouse somewhere!), coleslaw, homemade pickle, and a variety of jams made with berries I’ve never seen and sometimes never even heard of. It is absolutely lovely. There is also a vendor selling locally grown squash, potatoes, carrots, beets, and other root veggies, and she sells fresh eggs if her hens have produced enough. It’s a great event to look forward to each week. I imagine that until the stocks let up I will be posting many winter inspired dishes cooked up with vegetables from this very market.

This soup – a rustic squash soup with roasted garlic – is an absolute delight. We don’t have a blender or anything to make a puree with, but roasting all veggies in advance and then cooking it slowly until dinner results in a thick, rustic, and hearty soup. It’s delicious as is, and there is no need to puree it unless you want extremely even texture!

 

Ingredients – approximately 6 servings

1 medium butternut squash; washed, quartered, cored, drizzled in olive oil and roasted in the oven at 400F for 1 hour

1 head of garlic, top sliced off, wrapped in tin foil, and baked along with squash for same duration

2 medium onions, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

1 Tbsp butter or oil

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (home-made is delicious but not mandatory)

1/2 tsp salt

pinch nutmeg

pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F. Wash, quarter, and core the squash. Place in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with olive oil. Slice the top off the garlic and wrap the garlic in tinfoil. Place in oven with the squash. Bake for 1 hour until roasted golden and garlic is soft.

Dice the onions. Melt the butter in a large heavy pot with a lid. When hot, add the onions and stir. Reduce heat after a minute or two and allow the onions to brown slowly. When the onions are almost done, add the carrot, and cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the squash from the oven and scoop into the carrot-onion mixture. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin and into the pot as well. Stir everything together. Pour in the broth and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can use a potato masher if the squash maintains its shape but I found it quickly mixed into the broth.

Enjoy with a sprinkle of green onions and a hot slice of bread!

-Sitelle

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To accompany the cranberry sauce post I did a few days ago, here’s the recipe for an absolutely divine cheesecake we made for a dinner party last night. G. has been coaching boy’s volleyball, and last weekend he brought a big bag of his home-made chocolate chip cookies along for the team. They loved the cookies apparently, but the poor quality of the flour meant that before the boys managed to eat all of them many had disintegrated. He came home and announced we must make a cheesecake to use up the crumbs. Yes!

Warning! Bake this cake in the morning – it requires a lot of cooking and cooling and rest before you can serve it to your guests or bring it to a dinner party. It’s well worth the effort though, I promise. It’s lighter than many cheesecakes, and the nuts in the crust along with the browned butter make it absolutely irresistible.

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (we used crumbs from the chocolate chip recipe at the back of the “chipits” chocolate chip bag, and picked out the chocolate chips we could find)

3/4 cups chopped pecans

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup browned butter

Filling, first layer

2 eggs, well-beaten

1 lb (454g) cream cheese (this is two packages of philadelphia cream cheese, not one!)

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Filling, second layer

1 1/2 cups thick sour cream

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp maple syrup

pinch of salt

1-2 cups Spirited Cranberry Sauce

Directions

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once it is melted, allow it to begin to bubble. Reduce the heat and watch it carefully until the bubbles start to get bigger and then smaller. Once they are tiny and look foamy, keep your eye out for little golden and then light brown specks in the butter. Remove it from heat immediately as the butter is now at the browned butter stage which is delicious as it tastes like hazelnuts but it can easily be burned. If you like you can keep a shallow pan of cold water next to your stove and when the butter is browned you can dip the bottom of the pan in order to kill the cooking process and protect your butter from burning.

Mix the cookie crumbs along with the brown sugar, and then pour the butter over that whole mixture. Mix well, and then press into a round, 2 1/2 inch deep springform pan (ideal… we don’t have anything of the sort though and managed well enough). Press the bottom and sides up to form an even crust. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you process the first layer of cheesecake. Remove the cream cheese from the fridge so it can soften a bit, as with the eggs.

Next, preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk all the ingredients for the first layer together, except the cinnamon. If you have a food processor, process them together. If not, as is the case with us, you can press it through a sieve several times with a spoon and that does the job too although it is a bit messier! Spoon that into the crust and bake for 20-22 minutes. When it is cooked remove it from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. This takes several hours. Sprinkle the cinnamon over top of the first layer.

To make the second layer, preheat the oven to 425F. Mix the ingredients for the second layer thoroughly. Pour it all over the first layer. When the oven is ready, cook for five minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool first to room temperature and then to chill thoroughly in the fridge for at least 6 hours before it is ready to be served.

Before serving, prepare spirited cranberry sauce, and drizzle over top.

-Sitelle

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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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