All posts by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque

Aimée Wimbush-Bourque is a Montreal award-winning food writer and author of the bestselling Brown Eggs and Jam Jars. A mother to three children, Aimée is passionate about forging a healthy family food culture through home cooking, world travel and modern-day homesteading. Blog: www.simplebites.net
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Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Cider Stew From The Simple Bites Kitchen

If your slow cooker has a permanent place on the counter during these chilly fall days, you’re doing things right. It doesn’t get any better than coming in from the cold and sitting down to a bowl of hearty, homemade soup or stew.

A resolution to cook more from my pantry inspired this autumn dish. It combines many ingredients I keep on hand, such as canned chickpeas, tomato sauce, onions and spices, along with root vegetables, into a comforting vegetarian stew. Turnips and parsnips are some of the most underrated fall vegetables. They are not as vibrant as Brussels sprouts or as versatile as butternut squash, but they play nicely with other flavours. I love the earthiness they bring to a dish as well as their robust texture.

In this dish, cubes of turnip and parsnip are simmered slowly in a sauce seasoned with fragrant garam masala. They turn into buttery bites that hold their shape nicely, while a handful of golden raisins plump up to become almost as big as the creamy chickpeas. Nearly a pint of fresh-pressed apple cider adds both acidity and sweetness to the dish and a sprinkling of pistachios completes the hearty stew.

Serve it up as is or add a dollop of yogurt for good measure. It’s even better on the second day after the flavours have had an opportunity to mingle. Don’t forget the basket of crusty bread on the side.

Tip: For a vegan version, simply use olive oil in place of the ghee.

Slow-Cooker-Root-Vegetable-Cider-Stew-recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 to 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 medium turnips (about 1/2 pound)
2 large parsnips
2 tsp ghee or unsalted butter,  divided
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 cups fresh-pressed apple cider (unfiltered raw apple juice)
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup golden raisins
Chopped pistachios, for garnish
Full-fat plain organic yogurt, for topping (optional)

Directions:
1. Peel the turnip and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes. Peel the parsnips and cut them slightly larger. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tsp (5 mL) of the Golden Ghee over medium heat. Slide in the onion, then stir and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle in the garlic and garam masala and cook for an additional minute.
2. Push the onions to the side of the pan and melt the remaining 1 tsp (5 mL) Golden Ghee. Tumble in the turnips and parsnips and stir to coat with the ghee. Toss in a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the vegetables to a slow cooker. Add the chickpeas, cider, tomato sauce, raisins and remaining salt. Stir well. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 5 hours. Slow cookers vary, so check the stew after about 4 hours. The stew is ready when the turnip is tender but not mushy. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios and a spoonful of yogurt if you wish.

Simple Bites Kitchen cover

Excerpted from The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day. Copyright © 2017 by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque. Photos copyright © Tim and Angela Chin. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

The Ultimate Guide To Campfire Cooking

When we were very young, my sister and I used to canoe camp on our own in the wilderness of the Yukon Territory. From an early age, I learned the ins and outs of campfire cooking and that knowledge is just as applicable today when I’m prepping dinner for my family of five.

Now that I’m older, I still think that the best part of a camping trip is the food, and that cooking over an open fire makes it taste that much better. Camp cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, especially if you’ve put some time into the preparation.

Campfire Cooking

Below are a handful of tips for successful campfire cooking, along with an equipment list that brings your home kitchen to the great outdoors. Just remember to add a measure of patience and a good dose of humour, because things don’t always go according to plan when you’re out in the woods!

Campfire Cooking dutch oven

Campfire Cooking Basics 
Safety First
Always make the area safe by ensuring that there are no branches overhead or dried leaves too close to where you are building the fire. Start your fire with small tinder such as twigs or dried moss and build up to larger logs. If you can, always use dry wood, not green or wet wood.

Keep Heatproof Tools On Hand
Keep a sturdy pair of tongs on hand for cooking, as well as a thick dry kitchen towel or an oven mitt.

Adjust The Temperature
Once the wood has been burning for at least 10 minutes, create the equivalent of high, medium and low heat settings in your fire pit. To do this, use a sturdy stick to maneuver some of the burning wood into a higher level at the back of the fire pit while keeping a bed of coals at the front.

Mise En Place
As much as possible, prep your food in advance of starting the fire, because once your fire hits a sweet spot with both glowing coals and low flames, you’ll want to get cooking right away.

Campfire cooking, sliders beside the campfire

What To Bring: Campfire Cooking Equipment 

Dutch Oven
Packing this one-pot wonder on a camping trip means you have the option to stew, boil, fry or simmer your food. Heap hot coals all around and on top of the Dutch oven to create an oven-like heat. You’re then ready to bake up anything from deep-dish pizza to fruit crisps and cobblers.

Cast Iron Skillet
From bannock to bacon, this handy pan ensures even heat and perfect colouration, every time. Be sure to get the pan smoking-hot before cooking or foods can stick.

Tin Foil
Everyone loves a foil-packaged meal because all the delicious juices are sealed in. To avoid keeping those juices intact, use a rubber-tipped cooking tongs to move and maneuver my foil food packages. This way, the delicious juices stay contained and there’s no soot in my dinner!

Multi-Pronged Stick
Whether you’re sharpening your own green stick or packed a metal one, always choose two or three prongs instead of just one. You’re a lot less likely to accidentally drop your dinner into the fire this way.

Grate Grill
For quick cooking, it’s hard to beat slapping food on a grate grill over an open flame. Choose foods that are improved by a little char on the exterior such as whole fish, whole sweet potatoes or thick steaks.

Campfire Cooking, building a fire

Respect The Woods
Finally, be a conscientious camp cook. You can burn some garbage, such as paper plates, used napkins and food scraps, but never toss in used Styrofoam, plastic or tin foil as these produce highly toxic fumes. And always be sure to douse your fire with water when the last s’more has been consumed.

Happy Camping!

Now that you’ve mastered campfire cooking 101, watch how to cook pretty much anything over the open flames.

Strawberry Shortbread Jammy Bars

These Strawberry Shortbread Jammy Bars Are Almost Too Pretty to Eat

It’s not summer without a crumble bar filled with seasonal berries, and few are as decadent as these jammy shortbread treats. They are reminiscent of traditional thumbprint cookies, but offer the perfect amount of berryful jam in every bite.

Cornmeal gives the cookie base the crumbly texture we all love in shortbread, and the muscovado sugar adds a hint of caramel. A pinch of lavender sprinkled in the dough complements the bold strawberry sweetness.  With strawberry slices, garnishing every square, the streusel topping melts in your mouth. These are irresistible, especially with a cup of afternoon tea.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 32 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 42 minutes
Makes: 16 bars

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp culinary lavender, crushed
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup muscovado sugar or brown sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup strawberry jam
4 medium fresh strawberries

Strawberry Shortbread Jammy Bars5

Directions:
1. Place the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang on the sides.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, salt and lavender until well combined.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a mixing bowl with a sturdy wooden spoon, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in vanilla.
4. Carefully tip in the dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough is the consistency of damp sand. Scrape down the sides of the mixer and scrape off the paddle.
5. Reserve a heaping 1 cup of shortbread dough and add the rest into the prepared pan. Distribute the dough evenly around the pan and press into the bottom. Poke the crust a few times with a fork. Bake this bottom crust for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Strawberry Shortbread Jammy Bars4

6. Spread the jam over the shortbread base. Crumble the remaining dough over the jam, and then thinly slice the fresh strawberries and arrange them on top.
7. Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 20 to 22 minutes, or until the top shortbread crumbles are lightly browned and the jam is bubbly.
8. Cool the shortbread bars for 10 minutes, then while still in the pan, slice into 16 bars. Cool completely, then slice again when cooled. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Store the bars in an airtight container for up to three days. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Looking for more tasty summer treats? Try one of our 45 Best Summer Pies and Tarts.

Simple One-Pot Campfire Power Breakfast

The amount of energy we burn while camping with kids requires breakfasts of epic proportions. It’s essential to start the day with plenty of protein, nutritious veggies and big flavours, all accompanied by tons of coffee, of course.

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Made in a Dutch oven, this one-pot power breakfast is super easy to cook, with no chopping required. It does take some time to cook, however, so make sure you have a pot of coffee brewing and a good book on hand while you wait by the fire. Whether you’re fueling up for a hike, wrangling children or just tossing a Frisbee on the beach, this hearty breakfast will keep you full well into the morning.

Note that cooking times will vary as not all campfires are created equal. Just try for an even medium heat and it will turn out just fine.

Ingredients-1

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 organic pork sausages, raised without antibiotics (about 1 lb)
1 green pepper, seeded and quartered
4 green onions, trimmed to fit pot
10 large eggs
Fresh mild herbs, such as parsley or basil
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 oz baby spinach
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
A handful of fresh cherry tomatoes
Tabasco, for serving

sausages Step 1-1

Directions:
1. Heat a cast-iron Dutch oven over the camp stove or campfire, then add olive oil and 1 tsp of butter. Add the sausages, green peppers and green onions to the pot. Cook everything together, turning occasionally, until it gets plenty of colouring (a little char means a more flavourful dish).
2. Remove the onion after a few minutes and reserve. Continue cooking the sausage and peppers for a total of about 15 minutes. Remove everything from the pot and keep warm in tin foil.
3. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat gently with a fork just to break the yolks. Tear up the herbs and add to the eggs; season with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tsp of butter in the pot and add the spinach. Stir until the greens are cooked down, then transfer to paper towel and blot dry.
4. Add the remainder of the butter to the pot and swirl to coat the bottom. Pour in half the eggs; then arrange spinach over the egg. Sprinkle 3/4 of the cheese over the spinach. Pour over the remainder of the egg.

everything in. Step 3-1
5. Return the sausage, green pepper and green onions to the pot, arranging them in a single layer. Sprinkle the cherry tomatoes and the remaining cheese over the top. Add a few herbs if you have any leftover.

Cooking. Step 4-1
6. Cover the pot and place over low heat (low coals, rather than full flame). Carefully, with a pair of sturdy tongs, pile a few embers on the lid. Cook, covered, for about 30 minutes or until the egg is nearly cooked through. Time will vary with campfire heat, so just keep checking under the lid to see how the eggs are cooking.
7. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for about 10 minutes. The eggs will continue cooking during this resting period.
8. Serve hot with hot sauce on the side.

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Looking for more long weekend breakfast ideas? Watch this Lumberjack Breakfast recipe video and check out our 24 Easy Breakfast Casserole Recipes.

Mom Deserves This Waffle Cake With Maple Whipped Cream

This dessert comes together with much less effort than a traditional layer cake, but is every bit as impressive. Maple-cinnamon syrup is brushed onto multigrain waffles that are layered with maple-sweetened whipped cream. A swirl of maple butter and a cinnamon drizzle provides the finishing touch to this sweet treat.

Make this maplelicious cake for your Mother’s Day brunch or lunch, or just to celebrate sugaring-off season in Eastern Canada. To save time, prepare the waffles up to a month in advance, then cool, place in re-sealable plastic bags and freeze.

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Ingredients:
1 recipe Multigrain Waffle batter
Vegetable oil
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup, divided
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp salted butter
2 1/2 cups 35% whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup spreadable maple butter

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Directions:
1. Heat a round Belgian waffle maker and lightly brush with oil (I use a KitchenAid Waffle Baker). Place the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer in the freezer to chill.

2. Measure 1 1/2 cups of waffle batter into the centre of the waffle iron, close the top and cook for nearly 4 minutes, or until the waffle is golden. Remove the waffle and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining batter until you have three large waffles. You should have just enough batter. Cool the waffles completely while you prepare the cinnamon syrup.

cinnamon syrup soak layer 1-1

3. In a small pot, combine 4 Tbsp of maple syrup and the cinnamon over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring slowly. Remove from heat and whisk in the salted butter until it is melted and the syrup is smooth and a little creamy. Cool to room temperature.

4. In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the cream to soft peaks. Turn off the mixer and add the remaining 2 Tbsp of maple syrup and the vanilla. Beat again until very stiff. You are now ready to assemble your cake.

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5. Place a waffle on a cake stand or platter and brush with about 1 Tbsp of the cinnamon syrup, letting it pool slightly in the pockets. Dollop about 1/3 of the whipped cream on and spread it around evenly. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of maple butter over the whipped cream. (If it is not runny enough, simply warm it slightly in the microwave.)

6. Place a second waffle on top of the decorated first and repeat the layers; syrup, whipped cream, maple butter. Place the final waffle on the cake. Brush lightly with cinnamon syrup and heap all the remaining whipped cream on top, piling it up at least 4-5 inches high. Drizzle the remainder of the maple butter on top of the whipped cream. At this point the cake can hold, refrigerated, for several hours before serving.

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7. Generously drizzle the remainder of the cinnamon syrup all over the cake, letting it drip down the sides, then serve at once. To plate, use a bread knife cut the cake into wedges and serve.

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Looking for more maple madness? Watch these videos for Maple-Nut Wafflewiches, Maple Cinnamon Rolls and Canadian Maple Pie Parfaits.

Spring Appetizer: Crudités with Preserved Lemon Guacamole

Spring is perfect for al fresco dining; the outdoors providing a bright, natural setting for any dishes you’re serving. Next time you are entertaining, rather than spending hours on prep, try a simple yet impressive crudités platter. Typically filled with fresh, seasonal vegetables and a dipping sauce, this stunning appetizer is sure to delight your guests.

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Creamy, crunchy, spicy and tangy, this guacamole has got it all going on. Finely diced preserved lemon brings both a hit of salt and a good dose of acidity to this perfectly balanced dip. A rainbow of spring produce alongside the guacamole makes this vibrant appetizer the star of any spread.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Guacamole crudite prep-1

Ingredients:
3 firm-ripe Hass avocados
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 of a preserve lemon, rinsed
1/3 cup minced sweet white onion, such as Vidalia
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Assorted spring vegetables, such as baby carrots, snap peas, young asparagus and radishes

Guacamole-mixing-1

Directions:
1. Cut each avocado in 1/2 lengthwise. Remove the pit and discard. Scoop the flesh out of the peel with a soup spoon and place in a medium bowl.
2. Pour the lime juice all over the avocado and then mash them to a pulp. I like to use a pastry cutter for this job; a fork works just fine, too.
3. Finely mince the entire preserved lemon (rind and pulp) and remove any seeds you encounter. Add to the mashed avocado, along with the minced onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mash everything together, then taste the guacamole and add additional seasoning if desired. Since we are not serving this dip with salty tortilla chips, I find a little extra salt in the guacamole goes a long way.
4. Scrape preserved lemon guacamole into a serving bowl. Garnish with a fine dice of preserved lemon rind if desired. Serve immediately with a platter of spring vegetable crudités.

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