Happy New Year!

30 12 2009

It’s been a busy holiday season this year, with family visits, shopping, traveling, a minor plumbing disaster and of course, eating well.  As the year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the past 365 days and look forward to the year ahead.  I can hardly believe it’s going to be 2010 – it sounds very futuristic!  I wish everyone all the best for 2010 and once the holiday chaos dies down, I will be bringing you many more original recipes, fresh ideas for using seasonal ingredients and reports of great places to eat and drink.

All the Best,

Trish





Potato Latkes

15 12 2009

Tonight is the 5th night of Hanukkah, the Jewish celebration of lights. Potato latkes are traditionally eaten during the eight days of festivities but you certainly don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy them.  You can sometimes find them on menus at delis but they’re very easy to make at home. The potatoes and onions can be grated by hand or with a food processor. Latkes are best eaten fresh out of the pan – they don’t really re-heat very well.  Serve with sour cream or applesauce.

Potato Latkes

(VEGETARIAN)

Makes about 8 large latkes

  • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • Neutral oil such as safflower, for pan frying latkes
  • Sour cream or apple sauce, to garnish (optional)
  1. Grate potatoes and onion and place in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and let sit for five minutes.  
  2. After five minutes, use your hands to wring any liquid from the shredded potatoes and discard the liquid (you can also do this by pressing the potato mixture in a colander).
  3. Add egg and flour to the potato mixture and use your hands to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
  4. In a large, deep skillet, add oil so that is about 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep in the pan. Heat on high until ready to fry (to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until a small piece of potato dropped in sizzles and turns golden).  Be sure to watch the oil carefully!
  5. Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop out some potato mixture.  Carefully place in the oil and flatten slightly with a spatula. Repeat scooping the mixture but make sure the latkes are not crowded in the pan (you will likely have to do two batches).
  6. Let the latkes cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes.  Carefully turn over with a spatula and cook the other side.  When the pancakes are dark golden and cooked through, remove from the pan and place on a paper-towel lined plate. 
  7. Season with additional salt to taste and serve with sour cream or applesauce, as desired.

Happy Hanukkah and Enjoy!

A Potato Latke topped with sour cream.





Pumpkin Breakfast Treats

24 11 2009

Pumpkin: it's not just for pie!

With pumpkin pie on the Thanksgiving menu this week in millions of homes, there will likely be some leftover pumpkin purée. Why not put it to good use by whipping up some delicious breakfast treats for a house full of guests?  Try these delicious recipes I wrote for Suite 101.com:

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Muffins – Pumpkin purée helps keep these muffins nice and moist. Filling the muffin cups almost to the top will make large, puffy bakery-style muffins. The recipe can easily be doubled to serve a crowd.

Pumpkin French Toast - French toast is always popular for breakfast but adding pumpkin and spices makes it even better. It’s also a great way to use up leftover bread. Serve with real maple syrup.

Pumpkin French Toast with maple syrup

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





A Vegetarian and Vegan Thanksgiving

23 11 2009

Fresh cranberries at the farmer's market

American Thanksgiving is this week and it’s the biggest food day of the year for millions of people. Cooks across America have been busy in on-line chat rooms and blogs discussing menus and what recipes they’ll be making for their feasts.  Turkey is usually the centerpiece of a traditional Thanksgiving meal but what if you or one of your guests don’t eat meat or poultry?  Not to worry – there are plenty of delicious options that everyone can enjoy without feeling like they’re missing out.

Many recipes can also be adapted for vegans (who don’t eat any animal products, including milk, cheese, butter and eggs).  To make a recipe vegan, sometimes all you have to do is substitute margarine or oil for butter and leave out any cheese the recipe may call for.  I have noted which recipes can easily be adapted for vegans. Here are some suggestions for a delicious, meat-free Thanksgiving dinner:

Stuffed Butternut Squash is an elegant vegetarian alternative to turkey.

White Bean Dip with Fresh Herbs – Get the party started with this vegan-friendly dip made with white beans and hearty autumn herbs. 

Mushroom Crostini – These make impressive hors d’oeuvres for any autumn dinner. Leave out the cream, parmesan and sour cream if serving vegans.  Adjust the flavour by adding more seasonings to taste.

Butternut Squash Soup – This low-fat soup is easy and delicious.  To adapt for vegans, omit the brown butter – use olive oil to sauté the sage leaves instead.

Peppery Leek and Potato Soup – Using vegetable stock instead of a chicken base makes this easy soup suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

Stuffed Butternut Squash – This makes an impressive main course dish that easily takes the place of turkey.  Can be adapted for vegans (see pointers in the article).

Potato-Sage Dressing – Cooking the stuffing outside the bird means that everyone can enjoy it, including vegans.

Roasted Green Beans with Shallots – Take a break from the usual green bean casserole with this vegan-friendly dish.

Cranberry Sauce – Just because you don’t have turkey doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some vegan-friendly cranberries with your meal.

Mashed Potatoes – Always a favourite, mashed potatoes can be adapted for vegans by nixing the butter and cream.  Use a little vegetable stock and a bit of olive oil to give them a creamy texture.

Mashed Potatoes are a must at any Thanksgiving table.

Butternut Squash Gratin with Sage and Parmesan – The key to this dish is the butter and parmesan so vegans may have to pass on this one but vegetarians and meat-eaters will no doubt enjoy it.

Corn Scallop – This dish is tasty and rich but unfortunately it’s not vegan-friendly. However, Roasted Corn with Red Pepper and Herbs is – just use olive oil in place of the butter. Fresh corn is not in season right now but canned corn works very well in this dish.

Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta – This hearty winter salad is practically a meal on its own.  Leave out the feta for vegans.

Braised Garlic Swiss Chard – Cooking swiss chard in lots of garlic and stock makes eating your greens a lot more delicious.  Use oil in place of the butter for vegans.

Roasted Tomatoes – These sweet and addictive slow cooked tomatoes are great in salads, on pasta or even just eaten with bread. They are vegan-friendly as well. 

Celery Root Slaw – This tangy salad is the perfect accompaniment to rich dishes.  If serving vegans, use a vegan-friendly mayonnaise that doesn’t contain any eggs.

Salads – Mixed greens and other vegetables are a great option for vegetarians, vegans and health-conscious diners.  Recipes for Basic Vinaigrettes will give you  lots of ideas for dressings.

Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline – The pumpkin custard contains eggs and milk so it’s not vegan-friendly but everyone else will enjoy this dressed up version of a classic.

Apple Pie – Another classic.  Be sure to use a pastry recipe (or prepared dough) that doesn’t contain animal products if serving vegans.

Take a break from green bean casserole with vegan-friendly Roasted Green Beans and Shallots.

Many people are eliminating meat and animal products from their diets for both health and ethical reasons but there’s no reason why they can’t enjoy a tasty holiday meal as well.  

Bon Appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!





Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline

19 11 2009

Pumpkin pie with maple-walnut praline and pastry leaves

No Thanksgiving table is complete without pumpkin pie.  Many places sell them but they are very easy to make and cost a fraction of what fancy bakeries will charge.  My version features a basic pumpkin custard that has been dressed up with a crunchy maple-walnut praline and cut out pastry ‘leaves’.  Of course, if you’re in a hurry, you can just make the basic pie without the additions – it will still be delicious.

Pumpkin Pie with Maple Walnut Praline

Makes one 9″ pie

Praline:

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil such as canola or safflower

Pie Filling:

  • 2 cups plain pumpkin puree (not spiced pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk)
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Uncooked pie crust for two 9″ pies (see Basic Pastry Crust for a good recipe)
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar

To Make Praline:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine walnuts with maple syrup and oil. Toss to coat.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Spread walnut mixture so it’s in an even layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, making sure the walnuts do not burn.
  4. Remove nuts from the oven and let cool. Gently break up any pieces that have stuck together with your fingers. Praline may be made in advance and kept covered in the fridge until use.

Preparing the Pastry:

  1. Roll out one portion of pastry dough (enough to fit a 9″ pie plate). Place pastry in pie plate and crimp edges.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prick a few small holes in the bottom of the pastry and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Roll out second portion of pastry dough. Cut out leaf shapes using a cookie cutter or knife. Use knife tip to score leaf ‘veins’ into the pastry.
  4. Brush pastry leaves with beaten egg mixture. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake for 10 minutes or until they are golden brown. Set aside to decorate finished pie.

To Make Pie Filling:

  1. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs, cream, sugar, spices, salt and vanilla. Stir until thoroughly mixed and spices are evenly distributed. Set aside. Filling may be mixed in advance and refrigerated until use.

To Assemble Pie:

  1. Pour pie filling into pastry crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until the centre has set.
  2. Remove pie from oven and let it cool completely. Sprinkle praline along edge of crust. Arrange pastry leaves decoratively in the centre of the pie. Serve pie with whipped cream.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Happy Halloween!

31 10 2009

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I have to admit that I’m not too into the Halloween spirit this year (I’ve been under the weather this week) so I don’t have anything new to post in honor of the holiday. However, last year I created a couple of special drinks for the occasion: the Vampire Slayer and Witch’s Kiss.  I also gave some suggestions for spooky snacks that you can serve the adults once the little ones have finished making their rounds.  You can read it here: Spooky Snacks and Cocktails.

As for me, I’ll be handing out candy to the neighbourhood kids and watching the hockey game tonight.  Here’s wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

Trish

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Enjoy a Witch's Kiss cocktail to celebrate Halloween





Thanksgiving Side Dishes

9 10 2009

Holiday turkey

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving.  While it’s pretty much a given that turkey will be on the menu for most people, my favourites are actually the side dishes.  We always have cranberry sauce, potatoes, gravy and dressing (stuffing), but the other dishes can vary.  Perhaps some simple carrots with butter, mashed sweet potatoes or some butternut squash might accompany the bird this year.  Here are some great recipe ideas you can serve with your holiday meal:

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Corn Scallop

Butternut Squash Gratin

Roasted Green Beans with Shallots

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Thyme Croutons

Potato – Sage Dressing

Cranberry Sauce

Braised Garlic Swiss Chard

Mushroom Soup

Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Sherry Vinaigrette

Corn with Red Pepper and Herbs

Celery Root Slaw

Peppery Leek and Potato Soup

And of course, don’t forget dessert!

Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline

Apple Caramel Tart

Harvest Strudel

Pear and Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Maple-Caramel Custards with Sea Salt

Apple Pie

Bon Appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!





To My American Friends…

4 07 2009

Happy 4th of July!  I hope everyone enjoys the holiday by celebrating with some good old fashioned American food like burgers, hot dogs and apple pie.  And if you’re feeling really inspired, why not make a patriotic flag cake? Either purchase or bake a rectangular cake (any flavour you like) topped with white icing.  Use strawberries or raspberries and blueberries to decorate the top.  You can fill in the ‘stars and stripes’ with a pastry bag of whipped cream or frosting.

American Flag Cake

Cheers and Enjoy!

Trish





Happy Canada Day!

1 07 2009

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To all my Canadian friends and family – Happy Canada Day!  Today is a great day to kick back with a uniquely Canadian drink such as a Caesar Cocktail or some local wine or beer and enjoy the holiday.  A lot of great fruit and vegetables are in season right now so celebrate with a ‘Canadian inspired’ barbeque with your friends and family!

Cheers and Enjoy!

Trish





Mother’s Day Menu Ideas

10 05 2009

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  

Today is mom’s day off and an easy menu will get the whole family cooking so she can relax and eat well. Here are a few suggestions for some relatively simple dishes that the family can make – and don’t forget to do the dishes!  

I’d like to wish my mom a very happy mother’s day – I hope you have a great day.

Menu Suggestions:

 

Bon Appétit and Have a Happy Mother’s Day!








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