- 4:52 pm - Sun, May 19, 2013
- 1 note
Happy Victoria Day
Vintage Tea Cup Filled With Empire Cookies
May 20, is Victoria Day, a national holiday celebrated across Canada. It celebrates the birth of Queen Victoria of England and the birthday of the current monarch, as Canada is still a member of the Commonwealth. The holiday goes back to 1845 when the Parliament of Canada declared it a national holiday even before Canada became a country in 1867. It was officially named Victoria Day in 1901, the year she died.
Canada is the only country in the world to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday, still holding on to its old traditions.
Although people don’t gather in front of Government House to raise a cheer for the Queen as they did in 1854, Victoria Day has evolved into a special holiday. Falling on the start of warm weather, the Victoria Day weekend is traditionally the time when people open up their cottages for the summer and plant their annuals, hoping that there will be no more frost. Garden centers and highways to cottage country are packed this weekend.
The other activities that occur on Victoria Day are barbeques and fireworks. It is legal for people to light fireworks on Victoria Day and municipalities put on public firework displays. Barbeques are cleaned up and put to work.
The nickname for this weekend is May Two-Four, as Victoria Day occurs on the Monday closest to May 24th. Two-four is the Canadian slang word for a case of 24 beers, which is a very popular beverage to go with a barbeque.
The cookies in the teacup are called Empire cookies (biscuits), a shortbread cookie, filled with raspberry jam, covered with a white glaze and usually topped with a candied cherry. The bakery I bought them from, The Danish Pastry Shop for some reason puts cherries on its Empire tarts, but not the cookie.
Empire cookies came to Canada with British and Scottish immigrants and are still found in some bakeries. They were originally called Linzer cookies, after the German Linzer Torte but were renamed Empire cookies, after World War I. They are a fitting cookie to enjoy on Victoria Day.
- 7:05 pm - Fri, May 17, 2013
- 1 note
A Bit of a Break
I’m on a break, a break from major cooking that is, not by choice but due to a very sore hip and back. Wear and tear has left me in a state of rest for about the last two weeks, mostly bed rest. Which feels unusual, and certainly not something people usually do in our fast paced society.
It feels like somehow what I am missing is a Georgian style drawing room with lavish silk curtains framing the window as I gaze out onto lush pastures, watching the rain gently fall while I recline on my chaise longue as in some sort of Jane Austen novel. Illness played a role in Austen novels; she often poked fun at hypochondriacs. But without antibiotics and vaccines illness was no laughing matter at that time. Rest and restorative foods were some of the main strategies to treat illness.
So I searched through some old cookbooks for healing recipes and found that most recipes are for sick people, with fevers, infections, or who have problems with their digestion.
Thus, I will pass on recipes for water gruel, eel broth, and although recommended as a great restorative, eating two calves feet which have been boiled in milk for three and a half hours, even if you do add sugar later.
These recipes come from the Sick Cookery section of A New System of Domestic Cookery formed upon the Principals of Economy and adapted to the use of private families by a Lady. Printed in 1819 you can read all these recipes free on Google Ebooks. Published just two years after Jane Austen passed away, she must have been familiar with these types of recipes.
Instead I will rely on the good graces of my physiotherapist, Jenny, to calm the aching muscles and guide me on my recovery.
- 12:02 pm - Sun, May 12, 2013
- 1 note
Happy Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day Cupcake from Short and Sweet Cupcakes
My mother was my inspiration for cooking. Long before the term Foodie came into being in the 1980’s my mother was, and considered herself to be a “gourmet” cook. She was an excellent baker and and was always interested in trying new things from all over the world. I grew up in the 1960’s thinking that it was a normal way of eating, but I realize now that my mother was really ahead of the times.
Nowadays it is quite normal to bring children to fancy restaurants, but in the 1960’s it was not very common. My mother (and father) took my brothers and I out for meals, giving us a culinary education without us realizing it at the time. She loved Gourmet Magazine and followed their advice when travelling.
She not only gave me an interest in trendy food but made me appreciate the traditional family dishes, with an understanding that my culinary roots came not only from my mother, but also from my grandmother, and great-grandmother.
If I was to share a meal with my mother today, in spite of all the sophisticated foods she liked, it would include her favourite indulgence of French fries with vinegar, and a cup of strong, quality coffee.
- 7:38 pm - Thu, May 9, 2013
I can’t think of a more prehistoric looking edible plant that a fiddlehead. Fiddleheads are ostrich ferns. Ferns were one of the earliest forms of plant life going back 350 million years ago to the Paleozoic Era, and were part of the dinosaur diet. Today, we don’t seem to eat many ferns.
Fiddleheads are native to eastern Canada and parts of the United States. They were part of the aboriginal diet, and are a spring plant only available for a short period of time.
Although they are packed with nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and vitamins A and C, fiddleheads also get their very own warning page on the Health Canada website.
They must be cleaned properly and boiled according to the website for 10 to 12 minutes in order to prevent any chance of food borne illness. These warnings came following some outbreaks that happened in the 1990’s following ingestion of fiddleheads. But those people may have gotten sick from eating the wrong type of fern.
Originally fiddleheads were foraged, and care has to be taken in picking the correct ferns. Today there are commercial growers who provide a safe product.
After carefully cleaning them, and removing the brown papery parts, fiddleheads should be boiled or steamed. The traditional way of cooking them following boiling or steaming is to lightly pan fry them with some olive oil, or butter and garlic, and finish off with some lemon juice. They can also be added cooked into salads or omelets.
Although they are said to taste like asparagus, or chives, I thought that they tasted like chewing on some freshly cut grass from your lawn. They may not be to everybody’s taste (including mine), but they give you an opportunity to try a different type of plant food.
- 1:53 pm - Sun, May 5, 2013
- 3 notes
Baked Celery Root Trine Hahnemann Style
Celery Root, or Celeriac, is the root of a type of celery and it tastes like celery. It is a very unattractive looking thing which probably accounts for its lack of widespread use, at least in North America. They are also quite large, and look intimidating to cut.
But don’t let looks fool you, celery root is good for you. Although it looks like it should be full of carbohydrates, it is actually low carb. It is a good source of Vitamin K and Vitamin C.
Celery Root is used in salads, soups and mashes. The classic French dish with celery root is Remoulade Salad, which is a julienned celery root with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and sour cream. David Leibowitz has a great recipe for it and he shows how to cut it.
When I attended Danish chef Trine Hahnemann’s cooking workshop in Toronto, she presented the celery root as one of the easiest foods to cook. You don’t even need to peel it! Trine believes that the peel is full of nutrients so it should be eaten, and also it is very wasteful to throw out all the peel.
She bakes the celery root, then cuts it into slices and serves it as is, without a dip or butter or anything added to it, as is commonly done with baked potatoes.
1 celery root
Clean the root well, even scrubbing it, and lightly rub with oil. Place on a lined baking sheet and sprinkle the top with salt. Bake at 350 - 375F for about 45 minutes until softened. Cut into pieces and serve.
- 5:26 pm - Sun, Apr 28, 2013
- 3 notes
Jello Shots are popular party drinks. As one of childhood’s favorite desserts, Jello gets an adult makeover when alcohol is added.
Although it is as modern a party item as you can think of, the first record of a Jello Shot goes back to the 1862 book by Jerry Thomas, How to Mix Drinks; Or The Bon-Vivants Companion, the first barkeepers’ guide written in the United States. It is available free on Google Books.
Jerry Thomas recommended adding gelatin to Ford’s Punch, a potent rum based punch, to his Punch Jelly. Thomas adds a caution though, “the strength of the punch is so artfully concealed by its admixture with the gelatine, that many persons, particularily of the softer sex, have been tempted to partake so plentifully of it as to render them somewhat unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper.”
The Jello Shot in the photo was made by my daugther as her contribution to a bachlorette party. How she made it: 1 box peach Jello, 1 cup boiling water, 2/3 cup vodka, 1/3 cup peach Shnapps. Stir the boiling water into the Jello powder in a bowl, until completely dissolved. Add the alcohol, mix and pour into shot cups and refrigerate for at least four hours.
For your convenience special Jello Shot containers with lids are available at party supply stores.
So if you aren’t going waltzing or quadrilling after supper try some Jello Shots.
- 5:26 pm - Wed, Apr 24, 2013
- 3 notes
Anzac Biscuits (Cookies)
April 25 is Anzac Day, a day of remembrance observed in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate the first time the armed forces of the two countries fought together in World War I. April 25, 1915 was the start of the battle of Gallipoli, a horrible battle in Turkey in which large numbers of soldiers on both sides were killed. The wartime experience instilled for the first time a sense of national identity in Australia and New Zealand. Canada also went through a similar experience in World War I following the battle at Vimy Ridge.
The Anzac Biscuit is named in honor of this event. These biscuits were made during World War I and sent by families to their loved ones fighting at the front. They will not go stale very quickly, are easy to make with few ingredients. They do not contain eggs.
I made my biscuits (cookies) using a recipe from Australia’s famous cookbook author, celebrity, and magazine editor-in-chief of Donna Hay Magazine, Donna Hay. Her recipes are well written, not complicated and accompanied with beautiful photography. Click here to get the recipe.
Anzac biscuits traditionally have golden syrup in them. I don’t have any so I substituted maple syrup, therefore my biscuits weren’t 100% authentic but they were tasty.
Try making some of these biscuits, a biscuit that not only is good but has a history to it.
- 4:51 pm - Fri, Apr 19, 2013
- 1 note
Copenhagen, Denmark is the home of the best restaurant in the world, Noma, according to the San Pellegrino list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants”. Copenhagen is also the home of Trine Hahnemann, chef, food writer, and owner of a catering company that provides healthy, home cooked style meals for government and office workers.
Both chefs are dedicated to the New Nordic Cuisine. The term Nordic includes the countries of Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Scandinavia usually refers to Demark, Norway and Sweden. In 2004 a group of Nordic chefs, got together to do something about reviving Nordic cuisine and wrote a manifesto. The New Nordic Cuisine looks at the relationship between the land and food, and a revival of older cooking techniques while modernizing them. You can read the manifesto here.
Today most non Nordic people experience Nordic cooking (and design) when they shop at IKEA. That is just one representation of Nordic food and design.
In Toronto recently, as one of the speakers at the Terroir 7 Symposium, Trine Hahnemann also gave a workshop for the Evergreen organization at the Toronto Brick Works, as part of the Terroir events. I was lucky to attend the cooking workshop.
I have been a fan of Trine for a while; I own two of her cookbooks, The Scandinavian Cookbook and The Nordic Diet. I’ve always felt that there is a natural connection with Nordic and Canadian cooking because we share many of the same agricultural conditions living in the Northern Hemisphere.
Trine didn’t just simply show us some recipes at her cooking workshop but also used the opportunity to explain her philosophy to us and encourage people to think about their food in new ways.
She believes that we make political choices when we eat, whether the food is local, organic and unprocessed or whether we eat processed and unseasonal foods. Our choices through economics will help influence what the farmers and food industry will produce. We have to take responsibility for our choices and not just sit back and let the government do everything for us.
But, although believing in local food, Trine understands that global trade is important and there are some foods such as citrus foods, coffee and olive oil that she is not willing to give up.
Even eating local doesn’t mean only sticking to a local indigenous diet, we should feel free to eat chili peppers or Mexican or Thai foods, and many of the ingredients can be grown locally. What Trine doesn’t see the need for is eating vegetables or fruits in the winter that are shipped in from long distances and have no flavor, such as tomatoes.
Cooking should be playful; there should be joy, not perfection. Chefs are taught to cut vegetables in the French style, where they are precisely cut up, all the same size. That is not necessary and she recommends just getting to it and cut-up your vegetables.
As a healthy way of eating, in the Nordic Diet Trine believes that 80% of your diet should come from plant sources and the other 20% from meats and dairy.
Grains are important to the diet, they contain fiber. She loves rye and although it has some gluten, it is still good to eat. By eating seasonally, roots play an important role in the winter diet. Wash them well and eat the peel is the new message that I heard.
She made Jerusalem artichoke soup with leeks and thyme. A fresh grating of nutmeg was added just before serving. For the main course there was baked mackerel with beet - apple salad and rye bread croutons, and rye berries with raw parsnip slices, and kale. The garnishes were goat milk yogurt and lingonberry preserves. There also was a horseradish cream.
Trine used the green parts of the leeks for the soup telling us that is where all the flavor is, and reserved the white parts for another time; the opposite of what most recipes call for, which is to use the white parts of leeks and discard the green. The mackerel was simply baked with oil, salt and pepper spread on top. The beets were cut into small pieces and roasted in the oven.
Trine explained that mackerel should be line caught, not caught from huge nets that dredge the ocean floor and destroy all sorts of wild life. Mass consumption of mackerel is not sustainable and it could become yet another fish on the endangered list. She recommends that you should ask how it was caught before you buy it.
All the ingredients used were locally sourced, many from the farmers who sell their produce at the Brick Works Farmers’ Market.
I’d love to attend workshops with Trine covering all the seasons. If she makes beets and parsnips sound exciting imagine what she does with fresh strawberries and asparagus. Although I have always cooked with root vegetables, (see Jerusalem artichokes and Horseradish) I have learned new things to do with them.
If you are interested in learning more about Trine’s philosophy you can see her TED Talk that she gave in Krakow in 2011. Check out her cookbooks and learn some new ways of preparing your food.
- 2:49 pm - Fri, Apr 12, 2013
- 2 notes
Tamar’s “Eggplant Pizza”
I really appreciate it when I travel and am lucky enough to be invited into people’s homes for dinner or coffee. I can learn new ideas, and observe different customs.
Recently when my husband and I were visiting Israel we had dinner at a friends’ house. Tamar served us a “light” meal, the table was covered with cheeses, salads, olives, bread, nuts, and great house wine.
One dish Tamar made that we enjoyed was eggplant pizza. It is great for people on gluten free or low carb diets and gives you a chance to use up that little bit of tomato sauce you are sometimes left with.
It is easy to cook. I am not giving exact measurements, just repeating the recipe as it was told to me.
Olive or vegetable oil
Grated cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, or Swiss
I didn’t peel the eggplant but if you want you can, and slice the eggplant into slices about ¼ inch thick. Brush the eggplant very lightly with olive or vegetable oil and place on a baking tray that has been lined with parchment paper or silicon, or use a nonstick baking tray.
Sprinkle with salt if you want, (there is already salt in the tomato sauce and cheese) and bake in a 350F oven for about twenty minutes until the eggplant becomes soft and almost cooked through.
Remove from the oven, spread the tomato sauce on top, sprinkle some oregano over, and top with your favorite grated cheese that melts well. Bake for another 5 to ten minutes, until the sauce is heated through and the cheese melts.
- 5:03 pm - Wed, Apr 10, 2013
- 7 notes
From Gastroposter Jenny Roger:
Sushi is also for dessert. Rice Krispies, Marshmallow Fluff, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Haribo Clown Fish, make a sweet sushi end to your meal. It’s vegan, dairy and gluten free.