Category Archives: Great Canadian Cookbook

Weeknight Meal: Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers

By Randa Derkson

I’ll never forget the first time I made these stuffed peppers. I originally made them because they were a healthier option to what I was craving (Sloppy Joes) and while they were in the oven, the doorbell rang. It was my photographer, hand-delivering my son’s first birthday photos.

Ever since that day, the smell of these stuffed peppers roasting in the oven reminds me of running into my home office, popping the disc of images into my computer and being overjoyed with the memories captured from my son’s birthday, smashed cake and all. It gives me butterflies just thinking about it.

This recipe also shows me how far my blog has come. The stuffed peppers recipe is my most-pinned recipe on Pinterest and by far the most popular recipe on my blog. The original photo was a poorly lit, badly filtered image, yet still gathered an audience of admirers. It’s a reminder of my humble beginnings in both my personal and professional life.

Isn’t it amazing how a simple recipe can leave a lasting impression on your heart?

Paleo Turkey Stuffed Peppers, Courtesy of Randa Derkson, thebewitchinkitchen.com, Terrace, B.C.

Developed as a healthier alternative to Sloppy Joes, these baked peppers are just as easy to prepare for a fast and filling weeknight meal.

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Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 lb (450 g) ground turkey
3 cups (750 mL) spinach
2 cups (500 mL) crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh basil
1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
3 red bell peppers, stems removed, halved and seeded

Directions
1. In large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add turkey; sauté no longer pink inside. Add spinach, stirring until wilted.
2. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, parsley, basil, oregano and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Place on rimmed baking sheet. Divide turkey mixture evenly among pepper halves. Cook in 425°F (220ºC) oven for 25 minutes, or until meat mixture has browned and peppers are tender.

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The Bewitchin’ Kitchen
Randa is a work-at-home mom who resides in British Columbia. She believes that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Whether it’s discussing your day, sharing the highlights of a trip or just having quality time with a loved one, life revolves around the kitchen table.

Grandma’s Date Squares that Taste Like Home

The first time I tasted date squares I was about four years old and I absolutely hated them. But because they were at all of our family events, I eventually grew to love them, asking my grandmother to bake them for my eighth birthday.

To me, date squares taste like home. They’re sort of crunchy with the rolled oats on the outside, while date-filled centre is kind of gooey, especially when you warm them up.

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Because Newfoundland is an island, people didn’t always have the luxury of fresh fruit year-round, so canned fruits were always a hot commodity, and many traditional dishes here are made with dates. It was my mother’s mother, Grandma Morrissey, who taught me how to make date squares. I’d say I eat them once or twice a month, if I’m lucky, and at all family events, especially on my grandfather’s birthday. When I make them, I use homemade butter that my father’s mother, Dolores Tobin, taught me to make.

When my father was a child, my Nanny Tobin opened a creamery in Ship Cove, outside of Placentia. They started making butter and called it Spyglass Butter, as she would make prints on top with an old-fashioned wooden stamp shaped like a spyglass. My grandmother gave her kids shares in the creamery when they were young, and to earn their keep, she had them do things like watch the machines and churn the butter.

The photo on the butter label was of my great-aunt: Nanny Tobin’s mother’s sister. As a young girl, my great-aunt had a cream cow named Bessie, and it was her chore to make butter for the family. As she got older, she learned to make stamps of butter. She gave these stamped celebration butters to people for birthdays and holidays.

They were really, really good, so one day when Nanny Tobin was about my age, she asked her sister, “Can you teach me to make them, too?” Nanny said it was the hardest thing she’d ever done because the churning was all done manually, and she wasn’t used to that kind of work. When her aunt passed away, my grandmother continued to make the butter and started her company.

Nanny Tobin’s Spyglass Butter was eventually sold all over Newfoundland and in Ontario, too. The creamery grew so big that today it’s part of Central Dairies, and the butter is no longer made by hand.

Around Christmas, I go to my grandmother’s house where she has a big wooden bucket on the porch and we churn our own butter manually, just as she was taught by her aunt. For my date squares, I buy a lot of Spyglass Butter to bake them with, and that’s what makes them taste so good.

Grandma Morrissey’s Date Squares
Recipe courtesy of Caroline Tobin.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 ¼ hours
Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients:
2 cups (500 mL) dates
1 cup (250 mL) hot water
1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
1½ cups (375 mL) rolled oats
1 cup (250 mL) flour
¾ cup (175 mL) Spyglass Butter or other butter
1½ tsp (7 mL) baking soda
½ tsp (2 mL) salt

Directions:
1. In saucepan, combine dates, water and ½ cup (125 mL) of the brown sugar, then let simmer over medium heat until dates are mashable. Give them a stir to ensure the dates have fallen apart completely.
2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, flour, remaining brown sugar, butter, baking soda and salt until crumbly.
3. Divide oat mixture in half. Press half (or slightly more than half) into the bottom of an 8-inch glass baking dish. Spread the entire date mixture overtop, and crumble remaining oat mixture over top.
4. Bake at 350°F for just under 1 hour or until golden brown. Let cool and cut into squares.

Written by Caroline Tobin, as told to Valerie Howes

Caroline Tobin is a young teen living in Mount Pearl, N.L., near St. John’s. Date squares are one of her favourite things to bake because they bring together traditions from both her mother’s and her father’s sides of the family.

Print, save or share Grandma Morrissey’s Date Squares recipe.

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How Cream Cheese Transformed This Banana Cake

By Audrey Vrooman, as told to Alex Mlynek

Former bank executive Audrey Vrooman’s post-retirement passions—cake decorating and quilting—led her to this moist and flavourful banana cake. It’s become her go-to recipe for when a special treat is called for to celebrate family and friends, plus she gets special requests to make it for weddings and showers once or twice a year.

Twelve years ago, I was putting together a cookbook for our quilting guild to sell as a fundraiser. One of the members of our guild at that time, Ruby Sowpel, gave me a banana cake recipe. After reading the directions, it struck me as a very old recipe, so I had to ask Ruby where she got it from. She told me that when she was a young bride—so in the early 1940s—she had been given this recipe by her sister-in-law, who had received it many years before from her mother-in-law. We were able to trace the origin back to about 1900. It was originally handwritten with things like “a handful of butter”—there was no measuring. When I included this recipe in the book, I had to convert all the ingredients from the original instructions into what I guessed they’d be in measuring cups.

I like the original recipe, but I’ve made some changes that I think result in a much lighter, fluffier and longer-lasting cake. Using buttermilk, instead of regular milk or cream, definitely helps lengthen the life of the recipe. I also use a lot more bananas than the original recipe called for—I wouldn’t add any fewer than five.

Ruby’s original banana cake was served with maple fudge frosting, but I don’t care for the kind of firmness that a fudge icing gives (it makes it harder to decorate), so I started experimenting. I really like my recipe for maple cream cheese frosting even better than other versions I’ve seen because it’s less stiff on the cake. The original recipe called for chopped walnuts; personally, I wouldn’t put chopped walnuts in many things, as they go rancid easily. But in the olden days, that was all you could get. We’re quite spoiled. For instance, I remember that when it was winter, you didn’t get certain fruit or vegetables, but now we can get everything we want year-round.

I didn’t grow up in a family where my mother did much cooking or baking; it’s something I came to after I retired. I started to make cakes for my grandsons, and at first, I would make just chocolate and white. When I found this banana cake recipe, I began to play around with it. It reminds me of how when I was a child, my mother used to make banana bread. That would be a really special treat for us.

A bride-to-be asked if I would make her this cake for her wedding. On the night of her wedding, she wrote me an email while traveling between her reception and hotel room to say how awesome the cake was, that there was none left. That was really, really nice.

The truth is I don’t eat much dessert, but I do love to make them. I like the satisfaction of knowing how happy they make other people. This is a delicious, awesome cake, and people are going to get a lot of accolades if they make it.

Banana Cake With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, courtesy of Audrey Vrooman

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Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 ¼ hours
Yields: 1 large 9-inch (2.5 L) square cake or 9-inch (1.5 L) round cake, or 12 to 16 servings

Ingredients
Cake
5 bananas, peeled
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
½ cup (125 mL) butter
1½ cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups (500 mL) cake-and-pastry flour
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk
1½ tsp (7 mL) vanilla

Frosting
250 g tub cream cheese
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¼ cup (60 mL) pure maple syrup, medium grade
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1 tsp (5 mL) pure maple extract
4 cups (1 L) icing sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) meringue powder

Directions
Cake
1. In small bowl, mash bananas; add baking soda. Set aside.
2. In separate bowl, cream butter with sugar; whisk in eggs.
3. In third bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add one-third of flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in half of the buttermilk. Stir in another third of the flour, the remaining buttermilk and the remaining flour. Stir in banana mixture; stir in vanilla.
4. Scrape into cake pan. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for about 40 minutes. (Option: Slice cake horizontally to make two layers, instead of cake with no layers.)

Frosting
1. In large bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add maple syrup, vanilla and maple extract; beat until well combined. Beat in icing sugar and meringue powder until smooth.
2. Ice top and sides and cake.

Option for layer cake with banana filling: Cut cake horizontally into 2 layers. Ice cut side of bottom layer (you could use vanilla cream cheese icing between layers with maple cream cheese icing on top and sides of cake. To make vanilla cream cheese frosting, omit maple syrup and maple extract). Lay sliced bananas on top of iced layer. Replace second layer of cake over filling, cut side down. Frost sides and top of cake.

Any leftover cake or icing can be double-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to three months.

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Fried Zucchini: A 15-Minute Recipe With Crunch

By Alisha Enid

My mother always found ways to spend one-on-one time with each of her three children. Usually she would show up at school, pull one of us out for the day and we would enjoy a special lunch at a restaurant, just the two of us. Those are the days I remember like they were yesterday.

On one of these lunches, she asked if I wanted to share a plate of zucchini sticks. We didn’t really eat zucchini growing up, but I was feeling adventurous that day, so I agreed.

The sensation of the crunchy coating combined with the mild flavour of the zucchini made this dish love at first bite.

Since then, I have tried many versions of zucchini sticks. Baked, fried, coated, uncoated, you name it: they all make me think of those lunches with Mom. To this day, when we go out for lunch, we always share a plate of zucchini sticks. It’s tradition now, and one that I hope to continue with my own sons.

In this version, I went for zucchini rounds rather than sticks, and I coated them in crunchy Panko crumbs combined with Parmesan cheese. Fried to perfection, these zucchini rounds bring me back to my childhood.

Panko-Crusted Parmesan Zucchini Rounds, Courtesy of Alisha Enid, alishaenid.com, Delta, B.C.

A healthier, homemade version of deep-fried zucchini sticks.

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3 minutes per batch
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) ground pepper
2 large eggs
1 cup (250 mL) Panko crumbs
1/4 cup (50 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fine sea salt
1 large yellow or green zucchini; cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 cups (500 mL) oil for frying

Directions
1. Using three shallow bowls, set up dredging station. In first bowl, combine flour and pepper. In second bowl, beat eggs. In third bowl, stir together Panko, salt and Parmesan cheese.
2. Heat oil in deep cast-iron skillet over medium heat until a breadcrumb dropped in the oil creates bubbles and turns brown.
3. Working in small batches, dredge zucchini rounds in flour, then submerge in beaten eggs and dredge in Panko crumbs.
4. In batches, lower breaded zucchini rounds into hot oil; fry about 3 minutes, or until golden brown all over. Remove from pan; place on paper towel to soak up excess oil. Repeat with remaining zucchini rounds.

Serve with your favourite dipping sauce.

Click here to print, save or share this Panko-Crusted Parmesan Zucchini Rounds recipe.

Alisha Enid
I am a wife, a mother and a daydreamer; a lover of film, food and photography. You can usually find me in the kitchen, behind the camera or chasing after my boys.

Grown-Up Summer Corn Salad

By Denise Bustard

Eating corn on the cob is always at the top of my summer bucket list, along with fresh berries, cherries and s’mores. There is just something about corn on the cob that represents all things summer to me. For one thing, it is the ultimate easy summer food. And I’m sure that everyone remembers eating it as a kid on a hot, sticky summer night, pretending to be a typewriter…chomp, chomp, chomp, ding! (I’m not alone here, am I?)

As a grown up, I look for new ways to enjoy my summer corn, and this salad is my new favourite way! It is healthy, packed with summer produce (hello, blueberries and fresh mint) and other delicious goodies (goat cheese and sliced almonds). The barley gives it some staying power, the almonds some crunch, the blueberries and corn a hint of sweetness, and goat cheese lends creaminess to it all. Best of all, it is easy to make this salad ahead of time, and it’s a perfect picnic lunch or barbecue side.

Grilled Corn and Barley Salad with Goat Cheese and Blueberries
, Courtesy of Denise Bustard, sweetpeasandsaffron.com, Calgary, AB

A fresh and summery salad that’s perfect for a barbecue.

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Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients
Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup (50 mL)white wine vinegar
1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) honey
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Salad:
1 cup (250 mL) pearl barley (uncooked)
2 cobs corn, husks removed
1 cup (250 mL) blueberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced almonds
1/4 cup (50 mL) red onions, sliced
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped parsley
1 pkg (4 oz/115 g) soft goat cheese, crumbled

Directions
Vinaigrette:
1. In bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Salad:
1. Cook barley according to package directions. Allow to cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, heat barbecue to medium-high heat. Spray grill rack lightly with cooking spray. Grill corn, turning every 5 minutes, for 25 minutes. Cool, then cut kernels from cobs.
3. In large bowl, combine barley, corn, blueberries, almonds, red onion, parsley and goat cheese.
4. Pour reserved vinaigrette over salad ingredients and toss gently to combine.

Click here to print, save or share this Grilled Corn and Barley Salad recipe.

Sweet Peas & Saffron
Sweet Peas & Saffron is a food blog run by busy mom and grad student Denise. Here you’ll find a variety of fast and healthy dinners that are perfect for busy families who struggle with the 5 p.m. “what’s for dinner?” dilemma.

How to Make Creamy Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite-Potatoes

By Abram Shantz, as told to Jasmine Mangalaseril

Abram Shantz was born in 1933 to an Old Order Mennonite family in Wallenstein, Ont. At 16, Abram left his family and moved to Kitchener, where he got married, raised a family and started a construction company. This retired widower and great-grandfather now lives in Breslau and happily shares the food of his childhood with his friends and family.

I was born during the Depression. My father had many kids: He had 10 with my mother, then after she died, he married again and had three more. We didn’t have a farm, but we had three acres with two little barns and one or two cows for milk, cream and butter, some pigs and a pen with chickens for eggs and meat. And we always had a big garden.

We kids weren’t in the kitchen a lot while the cooking was going on—we were outside playing or outside working—but I most vividly remember the smell of cooking when we came in. Everything had its own aroma. Of course, potatoes don’t give off as much of an aroma as a chicken in the kettle!

In our house, bledley grumbara (“saucer potatoes” in Pennsylvania Dutch), or cream potatoes, was a common Mennonite dish my mother served at the evening meal.

We weren’t tempted to sneak a taste while it was cooking, but the moment that cream was added, and especially when my mother grabbed a big slab of butter, that’s when you really wanted to taste it.

I got my wife to make cream potatoes a few times, but she said that cream costs too much, and they just didn’t turn out when she used skim milk! After she passed away, I did my own cooking and started trying this, trying that. I didn’t have the recipe, but I knew what was supposed to happen, so I had to make it happen.

I use russets, but I think white potatoes would have good flavour, too. Peel the potatoes, then slice them like saucers, as thin as you can comfortably slice them, as you would for scalloped potatoes. The texture isn’t right if you chop them so that some are thick and others are thin. Boil the potatoes in water with a pinch of salt until they fall apart. Drain the water, then pour in enough cream to coat the potatoes and the inside of the pot. Bring to a boil to create the sauce—the potatoes will absorb a lot of the cream, which will stop them from becoming dry. Add a spoonful of butter and more salt, if you want, for flavour.

When I eat cream potatoes, I think back to when I was little, sitting at a big table along with lots of hungry kids. My father is at the end, and then my mother, and then we kids are all around. The potatoes are in a great big bowl served with summer sausage and pickled beets. Always in the middle of the table is a plate with a tall stack of fresh bread. Everyone grabs what they want.

Cream potatoes are so simple to make. It just happens I like them, and I’ve liked them for 80 years.

Do you have a delicious dish to share with the rest of Canada? Submit your recipe for a chance to be featured on Great Canadian Cookbook and Food Network Canada!

Waterloo County’s Most-Coveted Butter Tarts

By Peggy Nagle, as told to Jasmine Mangalaseril

When Peggy Nagle first tasted her future mother-in-law’s butter tarts, she didn’t know she would eventually become the keeper of a prized family tradition. These Waterloo County–style butter tarts are sweet and just a little gooey—popular additions to dessert tables and potlucks.

My mother-in-law, Teresa Weadick, was an amazing cook. In her day, the farming community had a lot of events where people would get together and share food: You’d roll back the rug at home for family reunions and get-togethers; all the neighbours gathered together for “presentations,” which were community showers to honour a bride and a groom; and, of course, people would have potluck dinners.

Teresa always received a lot of praise whenever she brought her butter tarts. Sometimes, people would hide one or two away to be certain they’d have one when dessert time came! I don’t know where she got her recipe, but she knew it from memory. She usually made the same type, but occasionally, she’d try something different, like adding a dab of raspberry jam to each tart before she poured the filling.

She was known as the “Queen of Tarts,” and she was really particular about them. If they were the least bit too brown, the least bit too pale or they broke as they came out, they weren’t good enough to go; those stayed home. Not many were culled, but the kids were always ready to help out with the ones that weren’t “good enough.”

The first time I had Teresa’s butter tarts was probably when I was dating her son, Rob. It was summertime. Rob and I were both at the University of Waterloo, but he was home for the summer while I was still in class because I was a co-op student. I remember thinking how amazing his mother’s tarts were. They were divine! I had made butter tarts before, but I knew these were really, really good.

I treasure the memory of Teresa teaching me how to make them. At the time, I felt it was special, but as I was so young—I was probably 21—I didn’t really realize how special. I was focused more on eating the finished product than on the learning process, or appreciating the teaching. But it was a fun activity, and I’m so glad I did it.

I worked on the tarts and served them to my mother-in-law quite a few times—she really liked them. I found the pastry difficult, and I still find the pastry difficult. It’s about balance: work it too much and they’re tough; not enough and they’re too crumbly.

Follow the jump for Peggy’s tutorial on making the perfect butter tart pastry.

What made Teresa’s butter tarts so good? I think it was the texture. They weren’t gelatinous, like store-bought ones, or dry, like some others. When you bit into hers, they had a fabulous viscosity—runny, but not too runny. Maybe the reason is how she baked them: a few minutes in a hot oven, then finished off in a moderate oven.

Our family’s tradition is to “only” eat butter tarts the day they’re made. Day-old butter tarts don’t cut it—they may as well be culls! Of course, there’s nothing wrong with day-olds, but butter tarts are best on that first day, and they’re even better when they’re still warm.

Waterloo County Butter Tarts, courtesy of Peggy Nagle

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Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours (includes pastry chilling time)
Yields: 18 tarts

Ingredients
Pastry
5½ cups (1.375 L) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) salt
1 lb (450 g) chilled lard, cut in chunks
1 egg
1 tbsp (15 mL) vinegar

Butter Tart Filling
½ cup (125 mL) raisins, scalded and plumped
1 egg
1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) corn syrup
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter or margarine
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

Directions
Pastry
1. In large bowl, combine flour and salt.
2. With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in lard until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger pea-size pieces. (I used to do it that way, but now I blend this mixture in my food processor. Much faster and less messy.)
3. In glass measure, using fork, beat egg with vinegar. Add enough very cold water to make 1 cup (250 mL). Drizzle into flour mixture a bit at a time, mixing with fork until dough looks evenly moistened and holds together when gently pressed between fingers. (You might not need all of the liquid.)
4. Divide dough equally into 6 balls. Chill in refrigerator for 3 hours. Prepared dough can be stored for 2 days in the refrigerator or 2 months in the freezer.
5. Roll dough on lightly floured surface. Using jar lid or cookie cutter or large glass, cut circles of the right size for your tart tins. If the dough cracks while rolling, allow it to sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes or until pliable enough to roll without breaking. The secret to flaky pastry is to handle the dough as little as possible. The more you handle it, the tougher it gets. (Tip: Butter tarts are best fresh, even better warm, but they’re messy to make at the last minute. I like to make the dough and fill the tart tins the night before, then just add the raisins and the filling and bake right before serving.

Butter Tart Filling
1. Place raisins in bottom of pastry-filled tart tins.
2. In a bowl, beat together egg, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and vanilla. Spoon about 1 tbsp (15 mL) filling over raisins into each well of tart tins. (You should have enough filling for 18 tarts.)
3. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for 5 minutes, then turn down to 350°F (180°C) for 15 more minutes.
4. Remove from oven; let cool. They generally slide out of the tart tins fairly well. However, the rule is that any broken ones cannot be served at a meal or to company. These culls must be given to onlookers in the kitchen who are hinting for a tasty treat (or at least that’s what Rob tells me!).

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A Newfoundland Kitchen Party Seafood Feast

By Ray Palmer, as told to Crys Stewart

When Ray Palmer was growing up, his family didn’t need a lot of people to have a kitchen party. With him on guitar, his brother at the piano and his dad playing the accordion, they were the party. Now sharing a home with his wife, Wanda, in the City of Mount Pearl (near St. John’s, N.L.), this born-and-raised Newfoundlander keeps the province’s strong traditions of hospitality alive and kicking.

You’re definitely going to have a kitchen party at Christmastime, and during the year, there might be an occasion, too. The food is always out in the dining room. Over the years, we’ve learned that you shouldn’t keep the bar in the kitchen because that’s where everybody hangs out, and the first stop, of course, is always in the kitchen.

Squid is the highlight for a lot of my friends. You can stuff them with anything, really, but we use a basic bread crumb dressing. They’re a ‘picky’ type of thing, like an hors d’oeuvre. I’ve got a son who comes early when he knows I’m doing squid. And I say, “Now, boy, you can only have a couple because you know there’s a few more here besides you, so don’t have them all gone.” My friend used to have a kitchen party every Christmas with a crowd of 20 or 25 people, and there’d be more there than cod tongues and squid, I can guarantee you—we’d have a moose heart that would be stuffed. Other kinds of pickies, too.

A lot of people think that fish don’t have tongues, but they do. When you look at the fish and open its mouth, there it is looking at you. Years ago, young boys on the wharf would wait for when the fishermen came in with their fish, cut out the cod tongues, then go sell them. They were very cheap back then. The better ones are the smaller type that cook pretty quickly. The bigger cod tongues take longer to cook, so they’re not as good. Once they’re crisp and crunchy, they’re fantastic.

If you get a knock on your door and a bunch of mummers come in that you’re not expecting, you can have no idea who they could be. Mummery is sort of a dying thing, but we’re trying to keep it alive. A bunch of people get together and dress up—you’re disguised—and you go around to your friends’ homes. They don’t know you and your fellow mummers are coming, and you’ve probably got a guitar and an accordion with you. You come in and have a little scuff (a little dance) in the kitchen or wherever they can fit you, then have a little toddy. Everyone in the house is trying to guess who everybody is, of course. Sometimes, they’re right; sometimes, they’re wrong.

When we’re having a party, my three grandchildren are always a part of it. They’re only six and seven years old, but I’m sure once they get into their teens, they’ll be having kitchen parties, too. Guaranteed, they will.

Fried Cod Tongues With Scrunchions, courtesy of Ray Palmer
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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
2 lb (900 g) cod tongues (preferably fresh; I prefer the smaller tongues)
½ cup (125 mL) flour
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
½ lb (225 g) pork fatback

Directions
1. Wash tongues carefully; dry with paper towel. Add flour, salt and pepper to plastic bag. Add tongues, shaking bag to coat. Set aside.
2. Cut pork fatback into small cubes. Add to skillet; fry at low to medium heat until fat is rendered out and fatback is crispy and brown. (Don’t overheat or the fat will burn.) Remove pork scrunchions; set aside.
3. Add tongues to same skillet; cook over medium heat until tongues are brown and crispy on both sides. Put scrunchions back in skillet when tongues are almost ready. Cod tongues can be served as an appetizer by themselves or served with fries as a main meal.

Print, save or share this cod tongue recipe.

Baked Stuffed Squid, courtesy of Ray Palmer
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Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
6 squid tubes, cleaned and washed thoroughly
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
4 cups (1 L) bread crumbs (1 bag of bread crumbs)
¼ cup (60 mL) savory
¼ cup (60 mL) melted butter
1 medium onion, chopped finely
pepper to taste

Directions
1. Sprinkle squid with salt.
2. Mix together bread crumbs, savory, butter, onion and pepper. Loosely stuff squid (don’t overstuff).
3. Add enough cold water to cover bottom of 13 x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish. Add squid; cover with foil. (Don’t seal foil around sides of dish; keep tented.) Bake in 325°F (160°C) for about 50 minutes. Turn quid halfway through; add more water, if necessary. Remove from pan when cooked; slice into rings.

Click here to print, save or share this stuffed squid recipe.

Follow the jump to see more of what a Newfoundland kitchen party is really like.

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Fresh and Minty Salsa Verde

By Amy Bronee

Chips and dip are party classics, and fresh tomatillo salsa kicks things up a notch at the snack table. I like to make my tomatillo salsa verde with fresh mint leaves from the patch in my garden that returns faithfully along our backyard fence every year. Those tender mint leaves are so flavourful and so versatile, ending up in everything from salads to sauces and even meatballs in our kitchen— and also regularly make their way into our mojito cocktails. My kids like to munch on mint leaves straight from the plant while running through the sprinkler in the summer sunshine.

Tomatillos come wrapped in a husk, and although they look like green tomatoes they are more closely related to the cape gooseberry (also known as a ground cherry, Peruvian cherry and golden berry). One thing they do have in common with tomatoes is that they make fantastic salsa.

Fresh Tomatillo Mint Salsa, Courtesy of Amy Bronee, familyfeedbag.com, Victoria

A tangy green salsa you’ll love with tortilla chips, tacos or enchiladas.
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Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 cups (500 mL)

Ingredients
1 lb (450 g) fresh tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and cut in quarters
15 fresh mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
Tortilla chips for scooping

Directions
1. In a food processor, combine quartered tomatillos, mint leaves, garlic, lime juice, salt and cumin. Pulse until finely chopped.
2. Serve with tortilla chips.

Note: If you don’t have a food processor, simply finely chop tomatillos and mint leaves, and mince garlic, before stirring ingredients together.

Click to print, save or share this Mint Salsa recipe.

Family Feedbag
Amy Bronee is the writer and photographer behind the award-winning home cooking blog FamilyFeedbag.com. Her bestselling cookbook The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes was published by Penguin Canada in June 2015. Amy’s favourite place in the world is her cozy family kitchen in Victoria, where she enjoys an island lifestyle with her husband and two young sons.

Borscht: ‘My Family’s Version of Chicken Soup’

By Sam Yachiw, as told to Leslie Wu

Sam Yachiw shares her love of curling with local kids through the nonprofit Curl Saskatoon. At home, this fourth-generation Ukrainian-Canadian loves sharing a hearty bowl of her baba’s borscht with family and friends. In fact, Yachiw’s favourite way to explore her heritage is to navigate her grandparents’ dinner table, where some of her fondest memories take place.

Borscht was my family’s version of chicken soup, fed to us when we were sick or sad. I’ve had it since I was a toddler, and I’ve always liked its unique taste and that warm feeling with every mouthful. It would have been my great, great-grandmother who brought the recipe over from Ukraine. The core recipe is the same, but it’s been adapted and tweaked over the years.

With my baba [grandmother] and dido [grandfather], we make a big batch of this soup once a year: about 20 single-serving jars and a whole bunch of larger jars, which are distributed among the family. On borscht cooking day, we start early in the morning with the chopping. The whole process takes about two hours, or even three, depending on how much we’ve been talking. We’re usually done by noon, then we’ll heat up some fresh borscht for lunch. For most of the afternoon, we come together as family and just talk! We’re such a close-knit family, and I love it.

We sit down to share borscht as the second course at Ukrainian Easter. This holiday is different for every family, depending on how traditional you are. For us, it’s lunch after church, which turns into about four hours of feasting, then relaxing in a comfortable chair to chat with someone you may not have seen in many years. My grandparents know so many people I’ve never met in the 27 years I’ve been alive, so there’s always someone new at the kitchen or dining table. Last year, they hosted a lady who was in their wedding party more than 60 years ago.

Borscht has brought my baba and I together. Most of my memories of her are in the kitchen; it’s part of who she is, and she’s always been like that. My grandfather, on the other hand, doesn’t really do a lot of cooking, but he helps out. Any memory I’ve had, he’s been around helping, especially if it’s a bigger meal. My baba’s a social butterfly, so she loves to cook for people. It didn’t matter if we were just visiting for a day or a weekend, there were these amazing, extravagant meals. It’s something I learned from her, and I try to continue this tradition even now with my own friends; we all get together and celebrate, even if it’s just over an everyday meal. Food is one thing that brings everybody together—it doesn’t matter what culture you’re in.

Baba’s Borscht, courtesy of Sam Yachiw

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Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1½ hours
Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
4 cups (1 L) beets, peeled and shredded
2 carrots, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large potato, diced
? cup (75 mL) diced celery
2 tbsp (30 mL) white vinegar
1 cup (250 mL) canned diced tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh or frozen dill

Directions
1. Add salt to 8 cups (2 L) water. Cook peeled and shredded beets for 30 minutes.
2. Add carrots, onion, potato and celery; simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add vinegar, tomatoes, tomato soup and dill; simmer for about 15 minutes. (Add peas and/or beans, if you like.) Cook until vegetables are tender. Serve with borscht.

Click to print, save or share this hearty borscht recipe.

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A Healthy Cantaloupe Salad

By Janet Malowany

Cantaloupe may seem like an odd ingredient to use in a salad, but the sweet fruit plays a lead role in this delightful, unassuming recipe.

Bulgur—steamed wheatberries that need little additional cooking—is another underused ingredient featured in this salad. It has a nutty flavour and chewy texture that melds beautifully with chunks of sweet cantaloupe. For a Middle Eastern-inspired twist, I infuse the bulgur base with a vibrant citrus dressing, fresh mint and parsley. Crunchy hazelnuts round out the flavours and textures.

Pick a small cantaloupe that is firm and fragrant, but not overripe. That way, the flesh you use in the salad will keep its shape better and not overwhelm the other ingredients.

Bulgur and Cantaloupe Salad with Hazelnuts and Mint, Courtesy of Janet Malowany, tastespace.wordpress.com, Toronto, ON

Healthy and vibrant, you’ll love this sweet-and-savoury cantaloupe salad.
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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yields: 6-8, as a side

Ingredients
Juice of two large oranges (about 3/4 cup/175 mL)
Juice of half a lemon (2 tbsp/30 mL)
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
1 cup (250 mL) medium-grain bulgur
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt, or to taste
fresh-ground pepper to taste
4 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped mint
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cantaloupe, cubed (4 cups/1 L)
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Directions
1. Combine orange juice, lemon juice and water in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Add bulgur and stir. Turn off heat, cover pan and let sit for 20 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed.
2. Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir in green onions, mint and parsley. Add cooked bulgur and stir well. Stir in cantaloupe.
3. Just before serving, sprinkle with hazelnuts. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Jump over here to print, save or share this Bulgur and Cantaloupe Salad recipe.

The Taste Space
I’m a doctor by day, amateur chef by night. I enjoy creating and sharing healthy, delicious recipes. Five years ago, I adopted a whole-food vegan diet without refined sugars or flours, and I haven’t looked back. The Taste Space focuses on healthy, whole-food vegan meals.

How to Make the Perfect Pork Schnitzel

By Teresa Huegle, as told to Jasmine Mangalaseril

For Teresa Huegle, food and restaurants are in her blood. Her extended family owned several restaurants and cafés in Waterloo County before her parents opened Angie’s Kitchen (now The Original Angie’s Since 1962) in Uptown Waterloo in 1962. Today, this Waterloo landmark continues to offer foods once favoured by the area’s early German settlers.

When my parents opened Angie’s in the ’60s, hot beef sandwiches and fish and chips were the big things here. Schnitzel really didn’t become famous until the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest was established a few years later, in 1969.

Customers didn’t want to wait until the festival came, so schnitzel became part of the food we’d serve. All the local university teams ate here—schnitzel was for the pregame meal or for the party after they won. Later, it became part of our catered banquets, while in the restaurant, schnitzel became a staple for an evening meal, or on a bun at lunch.

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Originally, our breakfasts were bacon, eggs, toast, jam and sausages, but people started asking for an egg on top of schnitzel. We eventually created a breakfast platter with Oktoberfest sausage, Krug’s smoked sausage, schnitzel, eggs and a slice of lemon.

While some of the guys like it, the full breakfast platter is a very, very big meal. I think to finish the platter you need to be young and know you can wear it all off! I’ve dissected it and cut the portions a bit, so you can get a taste and have just one of the sausages or schnitzel. At breakfast, sauerkraut isn’t normally served, but you can certainly have it. Personally, I love the flavour combination of lemon on top of schnitzel with eggs and salt and pepper.

My father was Greek, and my mother was Italian, so food was always a part of our lives. Since I was the eldest of five, I was constantly in the kitchen as the clean-up girl. My mum was cooking all the time, and I learned by watching her. My parents used to bread chicken, and also pork, so basically the schnitzel was a family recipe. I married a German-Austrian, which means schnitzel also came into my life through his family.

For me, a great piece of schnitzel is made with salt, pepper and garlic. At home, I’ll often serve it with fresh homemade applesauce. If the kids want pasta on the side, I might add oregano to the breading, just to give it a different flavour. I make a curried schnitzel salad by adding chopped celery, onions, curry powder and mayo to leftover schnitzel that I’ve cubed—it’s awesome!

Schnitzel is a treat, and a treat can also be healthy and fun. For those who aren’t supposed to have salt, take it out, but add some oregano and thyme. Will you miss the salt? Not if you’ve got lemon juice squeezed over it!

When we think of schnitzel, we think of fun. We think of beer. We think of a good time. That’s part of this community, what Kitchener-Waterloo is.

Pork Schnitzel, courtesy of Teresa Huegle

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
4 boneless pork loin pieces
1 cup (250 mL) flour, mixed with salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
splash milk
4 cups (1 L) bread crumbs, mixed with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil for frying
Lemon wedges for serving
Applesauce for serving

Directions
1. Place each pork loin between sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound each loin with meat tenderizer until thin and even. (The wrap will help prevent splattering the counter and yourself.)
2. Put seasoned flour in shallow bowl or pan, making sure seasoning is well mixed into flour.
3. In second bowl or pan, whip together eggs and milk.
4. In third pan, add seasoned breadcrumbs, again making sure seasoning is well mixed.
5. Dredge each loin in flour, then dip in egg mixture, then in bread crumbs. Pat lightly; put on plate until frying pan is ready.
6. Heat oil in pan. Fry each schnitzel until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
7. To serve, place schnitzels on platter with lemon wedges. Serve with fresh applesauce. For breakfast, I add any style of eggs. You will love the flavours with a bit of extra salt and pepper on your eggs and a squeeze of lemon on your schnitzel. Yummy!

Click here to print, save or share this Pork Schnitzel recipe.

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How to Shape a Perogie

By Colleen Fisher Tully

When Lynn Crawford paid 90-year-old Mary Didur a visit to enjoy her homemade perogies, even Lynn couldn’t stuff and shape a perogie with much finesse. Luckily, Didur has shared her step-by-step method so we can all practise her time-honoured technique.

You’ll need:
• 4½ cups (1.125 L) flour
• 1 cup (250 mL) milk, room temperature
• 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
• ½ cup (125 mL) vegetable oil
• 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
• rolling pin
• chopping board
• small knife or pizza cutter

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1. Mix and Roll Out Dough
Mix together flour, milk, water, oil and salt. Knead dough until smooth. Let stand for 30 to 60 minutes. With rolling pin, roll dough as thin as you can, as shown.

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2. Square Off
Cut dough into squares, as shown. (Didur prefers to make smaller perogies, so they’re 2 x 2 inches/5 x 5 cm.)

Editor’s note: Why aren’t these circles? Didur prefers squares. We trust her.

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3. Fill
Spoon about 1 tbsp (15 mL) filling onto each square, as shown. The filling can be any sweet or savoury combination. Featured here is Didur’s potato-cheese filling.

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4. Fold and Pinch
Fold dough into triangle and pinch edges closed to seal in filling, as shown.

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5. Boil and Enjoy
Add perogies to saucepan of boiling water. Once floating, cook for 1 to 1½ minutes. Serve with sour cream, chef Dale MacKay’s caramelized onions and his crisped lardons.

Here’s the full recipe and story behind Didur’s perogies with potato-cheddar filling.

What to Do with Leftover Plums

By Mardi Michels

Just this past summer I discovered the joys of canning and preserving, a wonderful way to make the most of the short-lived season for some of my favourite fruits: apricots, cherries and plums.

While it’s lovely to be able to enjoy the taste of summer in the dead of winter through jams and jellies, there’s nothing quite like enjoying fruit at the height of its season. At the market I can sometimes be a little over-enthusiastic in estimating the amount of fruit I can use. After a few days I find myself racking my brains for ways to use up the abundance of fruit in my kitchen when it’s not quite enough for a small batch of preserves or jam.

The answer? Cake. (Let’s face it, there aren’t many situations when cake isn’t the answer!) And with this recipe—a simple butter cake studded with jewel-like, juicy summer plums—there’s nothing better.

Nana Russell’s Plum Cake, Courtesy of Mardi Michels, eatlivetravelwrite.com, Toronto

This simple, summery cake highlights the beauty and flavour of plums.

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Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients
2 oz (60 g) butter, at room temperature
4 oz (112 g) sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
6 oz (170 g) self-raising cake and pastry flour
¼ cup (50 mL) milk
5 to 6 plums, halved and pitted
granulated sugar

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180ºC). Butter and flour 8-inch (2 L) square cake pan.
2. Cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest. Add eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition.
3. With wooden spoon, stir in half the flour. Gradually stir in half the milk, mixing until just combined. Stir in remaining flour, then remaining milk. Mix until well combined.
4. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Place plum halves, cut side up, on top of cake batter. Sprinkle plums with sugar.
5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden brown on top. Serve warm.

Jump to print, save or share this Plum Cake recipe.

Eat. live. travel. write.
Mardi Michels is a full-time French teacher to elementary school–aged boys. She writes eat. live. travel. write, a blog about culinary adventures near and far. She also runs twice-weekly cooking classes for seven- to 13-year-old boys and teaches cooking and baking classes for adults. She was one of the founding members of Food Bloggers of Canada, is a Food Revolution Day Ambassador for Toronto and contributes to jamieoliver.com.

LemonTart

Not-Too-Tart Prairie Lemon Tarts

By Kim Butcher, as told to Devon Scoble

Self-taught pastry queen Kim Butcher, the owner of a thriving Saskatoon bake shop, has spent her entire life learning to bake, often drawing on old family recipes for inspiration. Here, she tells the story behind her wildly popular lemon tart, sold daily to happy customers at her Little Bird Pâtisserie & Café.

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My mom is not a great cook, and she’s especially not a baker. She always jokes that when she bakes, she makes hockey pucks—and it’s true. It was my grandmother and my mom’s sister who were the bakers in her family growing up, and fortunately, it’s something I also picked up easily.

My mom’s cookbooks are an amalgamation of recipes she’s used over the years, always with a person or story attached to them. I love when I come across a random recipe card in somebody’s handwriting that I don’t recognize, especially when I can tell it’s old from the grease spots on the paper that’s fraying around the edges. When I ask who the recipe is from, my mom will say, “Oh, that’s so-and-so from such-and-such a time, and she gave that recipe to me when this happened.”

The lemon tart I sell at my café is my own creation. I find the traditional lemon meringue–type of filling to be too sticky and too tart for my tastes. I wanted something a little more to my liking, so I experimented. I started with a lemon curd recipe that was tucked away in one of my mom’s recipe books. I added more eggs, a bit more sugar and, later, I added some butter as well. Now, the base is more like a lemon cream than a lemon curd.

For the crust—and for everything sold at Little Bird—we try to use local flours milled right here in Saskatoon. As a baker who works with flour every single day, there’s really no better place in the world to be.

I don’t like to call myself a pastry chef because I’m self-taught, which I think is nice because I’ve been able to concentrate on the things I enjoy and get really good at them.

At Little Bird, we have four bakers, including a cook, on staff, and we all work together, not only to come up with ideas but also to get these ideas into the pastry case to be sold. So everybody’s doing a bit of everything, which is the other reason why I hesitate to call myself a pastry chef, since I’ve got this team behind me. I honestly can’t do this job without them.

Little Bird Pâtisserie and Café’s Lemon Tarts, courtesy of Kim Butcher

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 13 hours (includes chilling)
Yield: 4 tarts (3¾ inches/10 cm each)
Ingredients
Dough
1 lb (450 g) very cold butter, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
1½ cups (375 mL) icing sugar
½ cup (125 mL) blanched whole almonds, finely ground
1 tsp (5 mL) fleur de sel, preferably Fleur de Sel de Guérande
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
4 eggs
4 cups (1 L) pastry flour

Lemon Cream
4 lemons
1½ cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
7 eggs
1 lb (450 g) cold butter, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes

Directions
Dough
1. Place butter in bowl of stand mixer. With paddle attachment, work butter until smooth.
2. Add icing sugar, ground almonds, fleur de sel, vanilla, eggs and flour, one ingredient at a time, fully incorporating each one and scraping bowl before adding the next.
3. Combine until dough comes together. Do not overwork dough.
4. Form dough into disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
5. Roll dough to ¼-inch (5 mm) thickness and line four 3¾-inch (10 cm) tart moulds.
6. Place in freezer for 10 minutes. Line tart shells with parchment paper; fill with dried beans to blind bake shell.
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 20 to 24 minutes or until edges and bottoms are golden.

Lemon Cream
1. Zest and juice lemons; discard seeds.
2. In large saucepan, combine granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch and eggs.
3. Cook slowly over medium-low heat until mixture starts to bubble. Stir frequently; do not allow to scorch.
4. Remove from heat; add butter.
5. Using whisk or immersion blender, fully combine butter.
6. Fill tarts immediately; refrigerate until completely set, about 4 hours.
7. Optional: Once tarts are set, brush with glaze and garnish as desired. To make glaze, heat a little apricot or apple jelly until liquid and brush on tarts.

Click here to print, save or share this Lemon Tart recipe.

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Traditional Fish and Brewis at Bidgood’s in Newfoundland

By Leslie Bidgood, as told to Valerie Howes

Leslie Bidgood runs Bidgood’s in Goulds, N.L., alongside her father, Rick. Her grandfather, Roger, founded the business with her grandmother, Jenny. The couple began their work together—which would evolve into the Bidgood’s company of today— 68 years ago in Petty Harbour. Back then, it was a small general store, passed down by Leslie’s great-grandfather. Today, it has expanded into a supermarket, restaurant, bakery and wholesale operation with its own food line. Bidgood’s specializes in traditional Newfoundland cuisine, made with home-harvested ingredients. Here, Leslie talks about a customer favourite: fish and brewis.

Leslie Bidgood

Leslie Bidgood

Bidgood’s is much the same today as I remember it from my childhood. It has always had that family feeling. My sisters and I would come up and play hide-and-seek out back in the boxes in the warehouse after school, and I started working here myself when I was about eight, washing dishes and things like that. Two of our aunts and one uncle were involved then. And most of our staff lived locally, so there was always an upbeat, friendly kind of environment. We actually have some of the same staff now as we did when I was out back jumping on boxes and driving everyone nuts.

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Fish and brewis (pronounced “brews”) is one of the main items we sell in the store. It has been a staple Newfoundland dish for so many years. I ate it once or twice a week as a child—I grew up eating everything we make and sell here. And at my grandparents’, we were always exposed to traditional food. Nowadays, I only eat it now and again as a treat. The family recipe we use in the store hasn’t really changed over the years. If it’s working and we’re getting positive feedback from the customers, we don’t mess with any recipe!

To make fish and brewis, the girls soak hard bread overnight, then the next morning they boil it for about an hour to soften it. Then, they put this soaked bread in the strainer to drain excess water. Next, they put it into a huge mixing bowl and add fried scrunchions—diced pork fat cooked up fresh while the bread was boiling. Next, they add salted cod that has been soaked overnight—sometimes twice—to take away some of the saltiness and boiled for about 20 minutes. They stir it all together, allow it to cool and package it.

Hard bread is a traditional bread here in Newfoundland. It has to be soaked in liquid to soften it up. It’s very shelf stable, so many years ago, when people had no means to preserve foods, it was a staple in homes and at sea. As kids, when we’d go to my grandmother’s place and come out of the pool starving, she’d give us hard bread as a snack.

The difference between salted cod and fresh cod is like day and night. Obviously, salted cod is much saltier, while the fresh cod melts in your mouth. Salted cod is also harder, though it softens up once it’s soaked, drained and cooked. It’s not as tender as fresh fish, but it’s not quite as chewy as steak, either.

Fish and brewis is such a simple, quick and easy meal. And it’s tasty. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or supper. Some customers come in and order it for breakfast, and they pour molasses over it. A lot of people who live out of the province then return home, that’s the kind of food they’re looking for. It brings back memories.

See more photos of Lynn Crawford’s visit to Bidgood’s market here.

A Traditional Jiggs Dinner in Newfoundland

By Ed Sears, as told to Valerie Howes

Like most Newfoundlanders, Fire Lt. Ed Sears grew up eating Jiggs dinner on Sundays with extended family. Today, he carries on that tradition at the fire halls where he works in Mount Pearl and St. John’s, N.L.

Fire Lt. Ed Sears

Fire Lt. Ed Sears
Alibi Entertainment

I’ve been eating Jiggs dinner since I was a child. I believe it’s called Jiggs dinner because of a cartoon strip, where the main character was an Irish-American called Jiggs who loved his boiled dinner. It consists of boiled potatoes, turnips, carrots, peas pudding, cabbage—and, sometimes, a blueberry duff—then salted beef and usually roast turkey or roast pork. It’s hard to pinpoint one item I like best in Jiggs dinner; I like the combination of everything put together. It’s a clever meal!

A duff is similar to a bread loaf. It’s boiled in the pot along with the dinner inside two bags so it doesn’t absorb the taste of the salted meat. It swells up to whatever size the inside bag is. You can make a molasses duff with raisins, but I like to use blueberries—mine tastes a bit like blueberry muffins. Some people slice it up and eat it with their meal, and some have it after dinner with a cup of tea.

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When I was young, my mother or grandmother rotated cooking Jiggs dinner for family gatherings on a Sunday. If you have it for dinner (dinner being at around noon), it’s an all-morning preparation that starts at 8 o’clock. There were grandparents from both sides, aunts and uncles, in-laws, my parents and my siblings around the table—anywhere from a dozen to 20 people. It was quite a gathering! We’d put a leaf in the table and all sit down at once; sometimes, there would be two seatings, depending on how big the crowd was.

I learned to make Jiggs dinner a little bit from my grandmother, but a lot from being in the fire department for 21 years. We have certain traditions in the fire hall: Friday is fresh fish day; Saturday we have pea soup; and Sunday is always Jiggs dinner. You’ve got to learn to cook it right or you end up annoying a dozen fellows, and that’s never good.

If there’s a fire in town while I’m cooking, everything gets turned off and left exactly as it is. Hopefully, it’s a false alarm, and if we’re back at the hall in time, we can turn the oven back on and salvage the meal.

When it comes to sitting down and eating our Jiggs dinner at the fire hall, it’s pretty quiet while everyone enjoys the food. But in the buildup to the meal, there’s excitement. While the guys are out there doing their work, a really nice mouthwatering smell floats through the whole station. As the cook, you always get a little bit of sarcastic criticism and carrying on while you’re making dinner, but normally, the boys will tell you honestly if it’s good or bad at the table. And at the end of the meal, everybody’s so full they can’t even move.

How to make Jiggs Dinner
If including a roast turkey, start by thawing it a few days in advance. The second step is to soak the split peas for the peas pudding overnight.

Cooking day starts off with the salted beef; that’s the very first thing that needs to go in the pot. I boil it down because the meat is pickled in an awful lot of salt, so cover it with water and boil it for about an hour (some people soak their salted beef overnight to remove even more salt, but I just boil mine). Fill the water up again to cover the meat and taste the water to be sure it has the saltiness you want. If not, boil it longer until the water tastes the way you want. I leave the water in the pot a little bit salty, knowing I will be adding the peas pudding (boiled in a bag, like the duff) and vegetables that will be absorbing a bit more salt. You want your food to have just enough flavour to it.
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The peas pudding goes in one bag; the duff is put in two bags. Put both bags in the boiling water with the beef for about 2 hours. During those 2 hours, add your vegetables (turnips, carrots and potatoes) at different times to prevent them from overcooking: Cabbage needs about 40 minutes; turnips and carrots, 30 minutes; and potatoes, about 20 minutes.

Once it’s all boiled through and ready, the vegetables come out. A bit of pot liquor (the remaining water in the pot) will be used to mix with the juices left from the roast turkey or roast pork to make gravy.

The recipe depends on the number of people you’re feeding. We allow once piece of salted beef per person, plus two pieces of carrot, two pieces of turnip, two potatoes and a heaping spoonful of cabbage. Cabbage is served in a bowl all cut up so everyone can take a big spoonful. The peas pudding, same thing: served in a bowl so you can take a spoonful.

From a whole roast turkey, you serve yourself one portion. Whatever’s left of the turkey when the meal is done, you boil it down to make turkey soup with.

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Sweet and Simple Lobster Rolls in Old Town Lunenburg

By Adam Bower, as told to Signe Langford

Oh, how times have changed! Back in the 1950s and ’60s, when Adam Bower’s mom was growing up in a small fishing village outside Lunenburg, N.S., the curtains were drawn if lobster was on the table for dinner. In those days, it was considered poor man’s food, a source of shame. Today, it’s with great pride the sommelier-owner of Grand Banker Bar & Grill in Lunenburg serves what is now a highly prized delicacy.

By the time I was growing up in Lunenburg, eating lobster was no longer considered shameful or something you had to do when times were tough. It was a pretty special occasion, and we only had a big lobster feed a couple of times a year. Mom and Dad would make a call, then go and meet a lobsterman at the dock for 10 pounds of the freshest lobster—literally, it had been out of the water for just minutes! Mom would boil it and serve it with potatoes, corn on the cob, salad and lots of melted butter. Dad would break them all down—claws in one bowl, tails in another, legs and all the smaller bits in another—so we kids got to pick our favourite parts. The next day, Mom would turn any leftover lobster meat into lobster rolls. But to be honest, I was a picky eater, and it wasn’t until I was in my early teens and had started working in the restaurant business that I really started to appreciate lobster.

When I was 19, I went to work for Alan Creaser at the Grand Banker Bar & Grill. The place was a fixture in Old Town Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The restaurant is on the waterfront, across from where the Bluenose II is docked. When Creaser called to tell me he was selling the restaurant and asked if I wanted to buy it, I leaped at the chance to come back home to take it over. I started hearing from locals and loyal customers. I’d get letters saying, “I hope you’re leaving such-and-such on the menu.” So I left core signature dishes but made many enhancements, including fresh menu items, an in-depth wine list, craft beers and switching over to a local artisanal bakery—Boulangerie la Vendéenne—for all the breads and buns we use. That’s one of the reasons our lobster roll is so special; I serve it in a warm brioche roll that’s eggy and a little bit sweet, and it complements the claw and knuckle meat perfectly.

Our lobster roll is simple: some house-made citrus aioli, green onion, a small amount of lettuce and a good quarter pound of claw and knuckle meat—I want the lobster to shine. When lobster is in season, I take a 20-second walk down to the lobster pound for lobster that’s just come off the boats. We don’t do anything fancy; the lobster meat is so sweet and fresh we don’t need to—just boil them in salted water. And don’t forget a cold Propeller pilsner or one of Nova Scotia’s delicious white wines to wash it down!

Nova Scotia Lobster Roll, courtesy of Adam Bower

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Yields: 1 sandwich

Ingredients
1¼ lb (565 g) Nova Scotia lobster, bands removed
2 tbsp (30 mL) mayonnaise
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon zest
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) green onions, chopped
1 artisan-style hotdog bun
1 leaf romaine hearts, chopped
1 handful of parsley, chopped
lemon wedge

Directions
1. In stockpot, bring water to boil. Add live lobster; cook for about 10 minutes, until lobster is bright red. Remove; let cool. Crack claws and knuckles, removing meat. Reserve remaining meat for future use.
2. In bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice and green onions. Stir in lobster meat.
3. In oven, toast bun (fresh from your local bakery, if possible), until warm and crisp outside. Score down middle; fill with romaine.
4. Place lobster mixture on top of romaine; sprinkle with parsley. Serve with lemon wedge.

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The Panfried Pickerel That’s so Canadian

By Patrick Hearn, as told to Devon Scoble

Patrick Hearn and Kent Rumpel live in Saskatoon’s Riversdale neighbourhood and co-own the Park Cafe and Diner, which has been credited with revitalizing the once-rundown area. One of their most popular weekend dishes is panfried pickerel, something Patrick remembers eating on fishing trips with his dad in northwestern Ontario. While it was Kent who tweaked and perfected the recipe for the diner’s customers, the dish is still made in Patrick’s grandmother’s cast-iron pan.

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Between the ages of seven and 17, I lived in a small mining town in northwestern Ontario. My mum had taken a millwright maintenance course for mechanical at the mine; she was one of the first women in Canada to be a millwright maintenance mechanic—all while raising seven children! So my dad did all the cooking throughout the week, then on weekends, my mum would do all the baking and all the stuff for our lunches.

My mum was pretty creative as a cook, often using cheaper cuts of meat to make stuff go farther. She has an English background, so we’d have pigs in a blanket, Swiss steak and steak-and-kidney pies. My dad was a pretty good cook, too, but he was more of a meat-loaf-and-mushroom-gravy or spaghetti-and-sauce kind of guy. He learned what he knew from his mother, my Grandma Hearn, who was also an excellent cook.

My dad made panfried pickerel for us kids as a shore lunch when we were fishing. He’d heat up potatoes left over from last night’s dinner and fry up a few eggs. He’d catch fresh pickerel from the lake, clean it lakeside, then panfry it with the eggs and potatoes for a delicious lunch.

The fried pickerel recipe we use at the Park Cafe is actually Kent’s. It’s something we’d done one weekend that people really enjoyed. The fish is seasoned and floured on both sides, then panfried in my Grandma Hearn’s cast-iron pan and served with eggs, hash browns and toast. This cast-iron frying pan is something we’ve used in countless ways my whole life. I’ve even turned it into a running joke over the years: “101 uses for Grandma’s frying pan!” Through the week, the panfried pickerel isn’t a big seller, but on Sundays, it just goes.

Growing up, we ate meals accompanied by lots of gravies and sauces and pastas—comfort food, I would call it. And home-cooked comfort food is what the Park Cafe is about. It kept Grandma Hearn alive until 92, so hopefully by eating the way she did, I’m going to be around for a long time!

Park Cafe and Diner’s Panfried Pickerel, courtesy of Kent Rumpel

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients
6 to 8 oz (170 to 225 g) pickerel fillet
pinch sea salt
pinch freshly ground pepper
? cup (75 mL) (approx.) flour
1½ tbsp (20 mL) clarified butter
lemon wedges

Directions
1. Lightly season fillet with salt and pepper.
2. Cover a plate with flour; dredge each side of fillet to lightly coat.
3. Melt clarified butter in cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; panfry fillet for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Flip and fry on other side until golden brown and fish flakes easily.
5. Top with freshly squeezed lemon, or try it with hollandaise sauce. Serve for breakfast with eggs, hash browns and toast.

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How to Crack Open a Whole Lobster

By Colleen Fisher Tully

You’ll need:
• whole cooked lobster, cooled
• kitchen shears
• bamboo skewers
• lobster-shell cracker or nutcracker

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1. The Tail
Bend lobster tail back slightly and twist to remove—it should come apart easily. Starting at open end, using kitchen shears, cut shell down middle of tail’s underside, as shown. Open up shell like a book; remove meat in one piece. If there is green pasty stuff (the liver and pancreas, called tomalley), wipe it away with a paper towel and discard. The same goes for any tiny eggs.

Editor’s Note: Some Canadians love tomalley! Just remember, Health Canada advises children avoid it and adults to restrict their consumption to no more than the amount found in one lobster.

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2. The Claws, Part A
Twist two front legs off body of lobster. If they don’t twist off easily, use kitchen shears to snip through any cartilage. Bend small pincer back and forth until it breaks off, as shown. Carefully pull shell away from meat to keep claw intact. If meat breaks apart, use bamboo skewer to pull meat out of pincer.

 

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3. The Claws, Part B
Using lobster shell cracker, break into large claw shell at base, as shown. Using fingers or skewer, pull out claw meat. If needed, use kitchen shears to cut into shell further, opening it like a book and lifting out meat. Make sure all hard cartilage has detached from claw meat before setting aside. Don’t forget the knuckle! Break this leg section into pieces and push out meat with skewer.

 

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4. Reserve Shells
Now you have the secret ingredient to the most amazing soups, stocks and flavoured butters: lobster shells. If you can’t use them right away, toss them in a freezer-safe bag or container and store them in the freezer.

Editor’s Note: The skinny leg pieces have very small bits of meat you can extract with a skewer, or many cooks leave them intact to help flavour the next recipe.

Here’s how to make Lobster Butter.

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5. Enjoy!
From lobster rolls to risottos to decadent eggs Benedict, there’s no end to enjoying succulent Canadian lobster meat. Try it in this seafaring chef’s signature dish: Oleg’s Seafood Chowder.