Posts Tagged ‘leeks’

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)


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)


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!

Read Full Post »

I love leeks.  They have such a delicate flavour, with delicious nutty undertones.  Versatile, they are the perfect substitute for onions in any risotto or soup.  Leeks are often overpriced in the winter, but the Halifax market is currently overflowing with this vegetable, so I have been taking full advantage of their presence!

Vichysoisse is one of my go -to soups.  Ready in less than half an hour, this soup is lovely served either hot or cold. With a piece of crusty bread, it makes for a rusting meal. While purists may recommend serving it chilled, I also love this soup hot. Its flavour is subtle, but comforting.  The secret is to use flavourful broth (homemade is best – although if you buy yours in-store, I recommend spending the extra 50¢ to upgrade from a can to a box) and fresh leeks.

My largest recommendation?  Do not get impatient with your blender.  I may have tried to velouté too large a batch, only to end up with my blender and the hot soup exploding on me.  There are smudges of vichysoisse on my kitchen ceiling to prove it!



(serves 4-6)


1 bunch leeks, dark green segments discarded and the rest coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons butter

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 bay leaf

About ½ teaspoon salt

Broth (about 3 cups)

Pepper to taste

Cream (about ½ cup) – Both liquid or sour cream work well here

Chives or green onions for garnish, finely chopped (optional)


Sauté the leeks and garlic in the butter until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes, broth, bay leaf, and salt, and bring the soup to a boil.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes and leeks are cooked through.  Allow to cool slightly.

Blend the soup in batches in a food processor until smooth.  Return to the stove and season to taste with salt, pepper, and cream.  Serve either hot or chilled, garnished with chives or green onions.  Delicious with a crusty slice of bread.

Bon appétit!

–       Catherine

Read Full Post »

Family dinners at the cottage are often more exciting than one bargains for.  Earlier this spring, my grandmother was given a whole frozen Arctic char.  She decided that the occasion to serve it would be for her 63rd wedding anniversary.  The dilemma was how to cook the fish?  No one in my family had ever attempted to cook a whole fish before, and certainly not a beautiful large Arctic char!

On their 63rd wedding anniversary, my grandparents enjoying an evening swim!

We decided to try to poach it.  My mother dug up from her basement, a dusty fish poacher given to her as a wedding gift over two decades ago (never once used).  I was to look up a recipe, and chose Martha Stewart’s court-bouillon recipe for poached salmon.  It looked simple, yet flavourful using fresh spring ingredients.  And the Arctic char would add the Canadian twist!

Cooking the fish proved to be more exciting than expected.  Our first excitement came when we realized I had forgotten the recipe at the grocery store.  Then, as it thawed,  we discovered it had yet to be gutted (my uncle saved us here).  Finally, half way through the poaching, my sister scraped the crown of her foot on a rock covered with zebra mussels. She suffered a series of cuts, but more seriously, a gash that proved to need stitches!  Realizing emergency might take a while, we decided to enjoy the fish and chocolate zucchini cake before taking my sister into town for stitches.  But really, what would a special dinner be at the cottage sans adventure?

The fish itself was delicious – succulent, flavourful, and soft – the 14 of us polished it off nicely.  Indeed, my mother thought it was so delicious that she decided to cook it the following week for a dinner party!

A feast of Arctic Char!

Poached Arctic Char

(serves 12-15)


1 bottle dry white wine

1/2 fresh fennel, sliced

2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

3 bay leaves

1 bouquet garni (1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley and 1 bunch thyme, tied together)

1/2 teaspoon peppercorns


1 large Arctic char, between 6-8 pounds, gutted (salmon substitutes beautifully)


Set the poacher diagonally over the stove so it touches two burners.  Place all the ingredients for the court-bouillon into the fish poacher.  Add water until the fish poacher is about 3/5th full.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

Gently lower the Arctic char into the court-bouillon.  Cook at a bare simmer for about 20 minutes.  Slide two wooden spoons through each handle of the rack, and lift it to remove the fish.  Serve on its own or with a creamy dill sauce.  (Be sure to freeze the stalk for another dish.) Poached Arctic char is perfect for special occasions!

– Catherine

Read Full Post »

I love the infectious excitement that spring brings to so many people.  Clearly, it’s hit me since that’s what I’ve been blogging about non-stop for the last month.  It’s wonderful when something as simple as seeing my first daffodil flower can completely change my day, as it did today. It’s the fresh start, the fresh air, the fresh greens sprouting from the ground that put me in this mood. I’m planning a little adventure.

Today I made this leek and parsley tart.  I’m sure many will notice that leeks are a very, very common ingredient in the things I make – and it’s simply because I love them and they are toujours in our fridge – a staple. That means they often make an appearance, and I have never been disappointed, except when I open the door to find they have in fact already been used.

It’s funny how in different grocery store settings, people have completely different reactions to my purchases. When I am not able to make it to Kensington or the market, I usually frequent the local No Frills not far from our place. There, my tendency towards filling our cart with leeks and general vegetables and fruit always gets me into conversations with elderly women who are in awe that I like leeks and so many vegetables. I’m a little disappointed by their lack of faith in my generation to cook real food, but also happy to see I’m not the only one that thinks we’ve got a lot of work to do to improve our eating habits.

Ingredients – 8 servings

-2-3 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced
-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
-2 Tbsp butter
-4 large eggs
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-pinch salt
-1/2 cup grated cheddar or gruyère
-1 quantity savoury shortcrust pastry


Prepare the shortcrust pastry at least 1 hours in advance (I like to try to remember to do this the night before, but we all know that’s not always realistic).

Wash and slice the leeks, and then heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Melt the butter, and add the leeks when the butter is bubbly.  Gently sauté the leeks, reducing the heat to low, for 10-15 minutes, until they are nicely softened but try not to brown them too much.

In a bowl, crack the eggs and add the sour cream.  Whisk together until smooth, then add the chopped and washed parsley, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Roll out the dough. I like to do this between two sheets of wax paper as it makes transferring it to a baking dish really easy. Grease the baking dish with butter before putting the crust in, and then pierce the crust with a fork several times before adding the filling in order to relieve air bubbles that form during cooking.

Scatter 1/2 of the cooked leeks onto the crust, and mix the rest into the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the leeks, and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon.  Then sprinkle the grated cheese over top.

Bake in oven at 375F for 25 (or so) minutes, or until the filling is set and the top is golden.

I love to eat savoury tarts witha simple salad, and it definitely works well here.  Bon appétit!


Read Full Post »

Be they braised or sautéed, hidden in quiche or shining in vichyssoise, I absolutely adore leeks.  They combine the delicate flavour of a Spanish onion, with the vibrancy of a green onion and a lovely subtle nuttiness.  I have been eyeing leeks all winter long, but at $5.99 a bunch, they have been far overpriced for a student budget.  This week they went on sale, and I have been relishing their abundance in my refrigerator!

I wanted to create one-pot meal that was satisfying, yet let the leek’s flavour shine.  Without cream, I dared not attempt a vichyssoise. Instead, I decided a creamy risotto infused with leeks would be just the comfort food I needed.  To add some colour and sweetness (and inspired by the leek and potato theme), I included a sweet potato in the risotto.  The result was lovely and balanced, with earthy undertones from the potato and just a hint of spring from the leeks!


Leek and Sweet Potato Risotto

(4 servings)

½ sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes

1 tablespoon butter

2 leeks

2 garlic cloves

¼ cup white wine or sherry

1 cup Arborio rice

3-4 cups vegetable broth, kept piping hot (but not simmering) over low heat

1 teaspoon thyme

¼ cup fresh parsley

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Steam the cubed sweet potato until cooked, but still al dente.  Meanwhile in a separate pot, sweat the leaks and garlic cloves in the butter until translucent and fragrant.  Add the rice, and toast for 2-3 minutes.  Deglaze the pot with the wine, simmering until the alcohol has mostly evaporated.  Add ½ cup of broth, stirring gently until absorbed.  Continue adding ladlefuls of broth, allowing the rice to absorb each new addition before adding the next, until the rice is cooked al dente and slightly creamy, about 18 minutes.  You may not need all your broth or you may need extra.

Stir in the thyme, fresh parsley, sweet potato, and Parmesan.  Allow the risotto to sit covered with no heat for 2-3 minutes. (Incorporate an extra tablespoon of butter to make really rich and glossy). Adjust the seasoning and serve!

–       Catherine

Read Full Post »