Tag Archives: GCC comfort food

poutine week feature image

A Poutine for Each Province and Territory

Oh, Canada! To celebrate Poutine Week, we’re highlighting local ingredients from each province that would make tasty additions to our gravy-covered national treat. Get the fries cooking and your taste buds ready for these creative poutine combos.

Poutine week

British Columbia: Dungeness crab and sautéed wild mushrooms

Yukon: Smoked salmon and citrus crème fraîche

Alberta: Braised short ribs and baked beans

Saskatchewan: Roasted beets and sour cream

Northwest Territories: Ground bison and grainy mustard

Manitoba: Sweet corn and pickled red onions

Nunavut: Grilled caribou and caramelized onions

Ontario: Pulled pork and apple slaw

Québec: Montreal smoked meat and toasted caraway seeds

lobster poutine

Nova Scotia: Lobster and lemon aioli

New Brunswick: Grilled oysters and hot sauce

Prince Edward Island: Clothbound cheddar and stout gravy

Newfoundland and Labrador: Salted cod and summer savory

For more creative ways of making this class Canadian dish, check out our tasty poutine recipes.

Poutine combos by Charlotte Katz.

Jos Louis Cake

How to Make a Giant Jos Louis Cake

Before red velvet became all the rage, Canada had the humble Jos Louis. A red velvet cake sandwich with a creamy marshmallow-y filling and milk chocolate coating, this portable snack was one of my favourite lunchbox desserts in the 80’s.

So what could be better than a Jos Louis? A giant Jos Louis! This cake, inspired by an iconic Canadian snack, is sure to delight both kids and adults with its delicious and nostalgic flavour.

Jos Louis Cake

Giant Jos Louis

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 min
Total Time: 1 hour 30 min
Makes: 12 servings

Ingredients:
1 box red velvet cake mix, baked in two 9-inch round cake pans

Marshmallow Icing:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 x 198 g jars marshmallow creme

Chocolate Glaze:
1 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup whipping cream

Jos Louis Cake

1. Use a serrated knife to cut the domed top off one of the 9-in. round cakes. Place cake on a platter. Leave the second cake as is.

2. To make icing, beat whipping cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 min. Beat in butter and icing sugar until very stiff, 1 to 2 min. Fold in marshmallow creme until just combined. (Icing should not be runny.)

3. Spread marshmallow icing over cake layer on platter to the edges. Top with second cake layer. Place cake in freezer for 10 minutes.

4. To make glaze, microwave chocolate chips and whipping cream for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is melted. Let the chocolate cool slightly.

5. Pour glaze over top of cake. Use a metal spatula to spread the glaze over top and sides of cake. If chocolate pools at the bottom of the cake, use your spatula to scrape off excess chocolate. Refrigerate cake for 1 hour or overnight.

6. Slice and enjoy!

Tartiflette

A Hearty French Dish to Comfort You This Winter

By Corinna Horton

The chef in my life, Benoit Gelinotte, is Burgundy born. Raised in Renève France, a small village just south of Dijon, he possesses an almost encyclopedic knowledge of French cuisine. As a child he shunned family vacations and long, hot days of sitting in the backseat of the family car en route to the French Riviera for the certainty of being well fed in his grandmother’s kitchen. A chef herself, she proved time and again that even the humblest of ingredients; handled with a measure of respect and solid technique, can be made into the mightiest of meals.

On occasion, when he pines for an authentic taste of home, he takes to the kitchen and makes this incredible dish out of a couple of potatoes, an onion, a chunk of bacon, a sizeable amount of cream and a piece of pungent, soft cheese. The result is classic simplicity, in its purest form.

Tartiflette, Courtesy of Corinna Horton, foodgypsy.ca, Aylmer, QC

Tartiflette

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
2 1/2 pounds (1 kg) new potatoes
1/2 pound (225 g) thick-cut, smoked bacon
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups (475 mL) heavy cream
1 lb (450g) Reblochon-style cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Wash and scrub potatoes well. Slice 1/4 inch slices and rinse in cold water. In a medium sized pot, cover with cold, salted water and boil until just tender (10-12 minutes). Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside. (If using late harvest potatoes peel first.)
2. While potatoes cook, slice bacon in two inch pieces, sauté over medium-high heat until tender.
3. Pour off excess fat, leaving about a tbsp. Add chopped onion to sweat with the bacon until transparent. 4. Taste. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat to cool.
5. Pre-heat oven to 350°F (175°C).
6. When potatoes are cool enough to handle place a layer in the bottom of a large ovenproof pan and season with salt and pepper.
7. Take remaining potatoes and toss with bacon and onion. Season as needed and add to the top of the potato layer.
8. Add cream until potato mixture is almost covered.
9. Cut cheese into 1-inch chunks and place on top before sliding pan into the oven. Bake until tender, with a crispy, browned top (about 45 minutes).
10. Check with tip of a knife. Be sure potatoes are tender, but not mushy. Remove and rest 10 minutes.

Food Gypsy
Corinna Horton Pro Cook. Amateur Mom. Passionate Wino. Gypsy.
Recipe testing, blogging about food, wine and the art of living well from her home kitchen just outside Ottawa; Corinna (Cori) Horton trained at Le Cordon Bleu, spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia’s Dragonfly Inn, and is currently at work on her second book.

Maple Taffy

How to Make Maple Taffy on Snow

How to Make Maple Taffy on Snow

Design by Alexandra Tanner
Alex Tanner

Maple syrup is a sense of pride for many Canadians and rightly so. We produce 85 percent of the maple syrup that the world enjoys on their pancakes, waffles and crêpes. And here in Canada, we get to enjoy one quintessential Canadian experience — eating the oh-so-delicious taffy on snow.

Charlie Temple knows the joy of serving up the delicious golden sticks of taffy to visitors to Temple’s Sugar Bush in Ferguson’s Falls, Ont. Each year, he opens up his sugar bush and restaurant to the public, serving up lots of syrup and sharing the sweet secret to making liquid gold.

“It’s magic,” says Charlie, who’s been making syrup since the 1970’s. “The liquid pours out the trees and becomes the most wonderful tasting stuff.”

As guests walk through the trails in Temple’s 80 acres of sugar bush, they’ll see the criss-cross of tubes collecting sap from the trees each spring. As the days get warmer and warmer, the sap starts flowing from sugar maple trees and travels down the tubing to the boil house. There it’s boiled for hours until thick and golden. It takes about 40 litres of sap to produce just one litre of syrup.

Every year, visitors are excited to witness the process first-hand and learn how one of Canada’s favourite foods is harvested from the forest.

“Even for me I’m still awestruck by the whole process,” says Charlie.

Looking for more sweet ideas? Try these 20 sweet and savoury maple syrup recipes.

The Ultimate Canadian Kitchen Sink Cookie

If there’s one cookie that will both satisfy your cravings and fill you with Canadian pride, it’s this one. A twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie, this wacky recipe combines uniquely Canadian junk food, like Hickory Sticks and Coffee Crisp, with good old-fashioned maple fudge, so you get a bit of Canada in every single bite.

The result: a cookie that’s so Canadian, it can only be made here.

Canadian Compost Cookie

Canadian Kitchen Sink Cookie

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Makes: 14 cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup Hickory Sticks
1/2 cup Coffee Crisp Bites, halved or 1 Coffee Crisp bar, roughly chopped
1/2 cup maple fudge, roughly chopped

Directions:
1. Arrange oven racks in top and bottom thirds. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, stir flour with salt, baking soda and baking powder.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter with sugars until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in flour mixture until just combined. Mix in remaining ingredients.
4. Roll dough into balls about 2 Tbsp in size and place on prepared sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating and switching sheets halfway through, until edges are just golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Looking for more Canadian treats? Discover 10 Iconic Canadian Foods You Can Make at Home.

ketchup chip seasoning feature image

How to Make Ketchup Chip Snack Seasoning

Since the 1980s ketchup chips have been one of Canada’s favourite chip flavours. While the origin of these much loved, finger-staining chips remains unclear, there’s no denying their uniquely appealing aroma and ketchup-ish flavour.

And if ketchup makes a good flavour for chips, you can bet it makes a great seasoning for many more delicious snacks.

Learn how to make your favourite chip flavouring at home and go wild with this delicious, buttery topping. Add it to popcorn, roasted potatoes, parsnips, even squash for a sweet taste of nostalgia, minus the artificial flavours and colours.

Ketchup Chip Seasoning

Ketchup Chip Snack Seasoning

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Makes: About 1/4 cup of seasoning

Ingredients
2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 tsp white vinegar
½ tsp smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
12 cups air-popped popcorn (about 1/3 cup kernels)

Ketchup Chip Seasoning

1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in sugar, tomato paste, vinegar, smoked paprika, salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute.

2. In large bowl, toss popcorn with tomato mixture to coat. Spread coated popcorn on large parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet.

3. Bake in 300°F oven, stirring once, until coating is dry to the touch, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes to crisp.

Ketchup Chip Seasoning Popcorn

How to Make a Classic Canadian Fried Dough Treat

I first tried these soft, oval-shaped doughnuts while skating down the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. A classic Canadian treat,  these delicious snacks are fried to perfection then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. But toppings can vary from lemon juice with sugar, nuts, chocolate sauce and even caramel. Whichever topping you prefer, just be sure to eat them warm!

Classic Canadian Fried Dough Treat

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: 8 doughnuts

Beaver Tails donuts

Ingredients:
1/4 cup warm water
8g pkg or 2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, warmed
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 eggs
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 L vegetable oil for deep-frying

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the warm water, warm milk, yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Add melted butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and eggs. Give everything a good mix together. Add flour and mix with the dough hook (or with a wooden spoon if you’re not using a mixer) and mix until the dough comes together and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Knead for about 6 minutes in the mixer and 10 minutes by hand, until the dough is smooth, silky. Use extra flour if dough is sticky.

3. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

4. Punch down dough and place onto a lightly floured countertop. Shape into 8 equal sized pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough into an oval shape. If you like, score a crisscross pattern in the top of dough.

5. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet and leave to rise, covered, for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

6. Make cinnamon sugar by combining sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.

7. Heat a large wide pot with about two inches of oil. Heat to 350F/176C. If you don’t have a thermometer, check the oil’s temperature by tearing off a small piece of dough and see if it sizzles and floats to the surface. Keep a close eye on the oil, adjust temperature as needed to prevent it from getting too hot. If you see it smoking or crackling take off the heat to cool down before frying.

8. Fry your doughnuts on each side for 30-60 seconds until they are golden brown. Dunk immediately in cinnamon sugar or top with lemon and sugar, Nutella, jam or my favourite, maple syrup!

CreamyMashedPotatoes

The Creamiest Mashed Potatoes for a Holiday Dinner

By Ashley Fehr

Is there a person on Earth who doesn’t like mashed potatoes? To me, they’re the perfect holiday dish.

When I reach back in my memory, I can’t think of a single Easter, Christmas or Thanksgiving that didn’t have mashed potatoes on the menu. They are the epitome of comfort food, and they go with anything.

A steaming bowl of mashed potatoes brings back memories of being in Mom’s kitchen, with the whole family gathered round the table. And, yes, since being in Manitoba means we could very well be under snow at Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving, a warm, hearty meal with family is one of the best remedies for the winter blues.

But even though we’re all yearning for a holiday feast, we’re not always willing to give up time together to spend hours slaving over every aspect of a meal that will most certainly be devoured in minutes. These potatoes come together quickly, with help from a secret ingredient, to keep you from having to hide out in the kitchen all day. They are rich, creamy and the perfect accompaniment to any holiday meal.

Ultra Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Courtesy of Ashley Fehr, thereciperebel.com, Portage la Prairie, Man.

These rich mashed potatoes will make a decadent side dish for your holiday dinner.

CreamyMashedPotatoes

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 15 mins
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
5 russet potatoes (about 10 cups/2.50 L chopped)
1 can (10 oz/284 mL) condensed cheddar cheese soup
¾ cup (175 mL) heavy cream or whipping cream
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped chives (optional)

Directions
1. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of salted, boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain well. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Mash to desired consistency.
2. In pan over medium heat, combine soup and whipping cream. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until simmering. Fold in mashed potatoes. Stir in butter and pepper. Garnish with chives if desired.

The Recipe RebelAshley Fehr creates and shares easy, family-friendly recipes, homemade breads and decadent desserts on her blog The Recipe Rebel. She loves to put a creative, new twist on old favourites.

BuffaloChickenMacnCheese

The Ulitmate Mac ’n’ Cheese for Game Night

By Elizabeth Lampman

My Buffalo Chicken Mac ’n’ Cheese is a flavourful twist on a classic recipe. I took my mom’s delicious macaroni and cheese recipe and ran with it to create a true taste sensation. This recipe combines all the comfort of mac ’n’ cheese with the addictive flavour of Buffalo chicken wings.

I didn’t just add a little heat – I also included the blue cheese that I love so much when paired with my wings. It really helps to tame the heat and adds another dimension of flavour.

It’s incredible how much this Buffalo Chicken Mac ’n’ Cheese takes me right back to my college days, when I’d go out with my friends to watch a hockey game, eat some wings and have a good time.

My kids can’t really handle a lot of heat in their food, but it is easy to split the recipe and omit the buffalo sauce from their portion. Bake it separately in a small casserole dish.

Buffalo Chicken Mac ’n’ Cheese, Courtesy of Elizabeth Lampman, frugalmomeh.com, Hamilton, Ont.

Whether it’s game night or just a family dinner, this familiar dish (with a bit of heat) is sure to be a crowd favourite.

BuffaloChickenMacnCheese

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40 min
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
4 cups (1 L) macaroni
1 cup (250 mL) milk
1/2 to 3/4 package old cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) Buffalo wing sauce, divided
2 cups (500 mL) shredded Salerno peperonato cheese
1 cup (250 mL) cubed cooked chicken
1 cup (250 mL) crumbled blue cheese

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium stockpot over medium-high heat, scald milk. Remove from heat.
4. Add cheddar cheese to hot milk, stirring until melted. Stir in 1 cup (250 mL) Buffalo wing sauce.
5. Pour cheese sauce into the bottom of 13- x 9-inch (3 L) casserole dish.
6. Fill casserole dish with alternating layers of macaroni, peperonato cheese and chicken, finishing with layer of cheese.
7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese topping is lightly browned.
8. Remove from oven; top with reserved Buffalo wing sauce and blue cheese. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is slightly melted.

Frugal Mom Eh!
Elizabeth is an IT professional turned stay-at-home mom and Canadian mom blogger. Look to Frugal Mom Eh! for delicious recipes for your family, brilliant DIY and craft projects for all ages, travel tips and great parenting advice.

How to Make Montreal-Style Bagels

In the bagel world, there’s quite a divide between the classic New York bagel and the sweeter, Canadian counterpart — the Montreal bagel.

Montreal bagels are denser, sweeter and traditionally made in wood fired ovens as opposed to the fluffy-on-the-inside, crisp-on-the-outside, baked bagels made south of the Canadian border.

888_Montreal-Bagels1

Both varieties of bagels are made using yeasted dough and are boiled before being baked. NY-style bagels are dipped in boiling water that has baking soda or lye, whereas Montreal bagels get dunked in boiling water that has honey or malt, creating a sweeter, denser dough.

The sweet and chewy nature of Montreal bagels lends them to eating them plain. So put away the cream cheese, jam and butter because once you make a fresh batch of Montreal bagels, you’ll want to enjoy them just as they are!

888_Montreal-Bagels4

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 mins
Makes: 12 bagels

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water
2 *x 8 g pkg quick-rising yeast or 1 tbsp

1 Tbsp sugar
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
1 cup honey, divided
4 ½ cups flour (or more if dough becomes too sticky)
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds for tops of bagels (about ½ cup each)

888_Montreal-Bagels3

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, mix together warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Mix in egg, vegetable oil, salt and ½ cup honey. Gradually add flour until mixture comes together to form a dough. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Pop the dough back into the bowl (no need to clean) and cover with a damp tea towel. Let the dough rise until about doubled in size, about 1 hour.
4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fill a large pot with 8-10 cups of water and add remaining ½ cup honey. Bring to a boil while you shape your bagels.
5. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized balls. Shape into bagels by either rolling into long logs and joining the ends together or shaping into rounds and poking holes in the middle using a wooden spoon. Stretch the dough around the spoon handle to make large holes. Make the holes quite large as they will rise and shrink considerably when baked.
6. Preheat oven to 450°F. Put the bagels onto the baking sheets and let rise for about 10 minutes. Place your poppy or sesame seeds onto a plate.
7. Using a slotted spoon dip your bagels, about 2 at a time, into the boiling honey water and leave for about 30 seconds per side. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and dip them straight into the seeds and then back onto the baking sheets, seeds side up.
8. Once boiled, bake the bagels for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

The Warming Gnocchi You Can Make Ahead of Time

By Cassandrea Gascoyne

Gnocchi has always been one of my favourite dishes. The first time my husband and I tried making it at home, it was on a winter night that was -30ºC, so now making and eating gnocchi always makes me feel warm and cozy. This recipe is a little different than traditional gnocchi in that it is made with a light tomato broth instead of a rich cream or cheese sauce.

When we were making the broth that cold winter night, the kitchen windows fogged up from the steam. The whole house smelled of tomatoes and garlic. The broth is light and complements the gnocchi well.

As we ate our heaping bowl of gnocchi and broth I can remember thinking this is the perfect winter dish! The best part is that the gnocchi and broth are freezable, so you can come home from work during a blizzard and know you can look forward to a warm bowl of comfort food that will be ready in just a few minutes.

Gnocchi in Tomato Broth, Courtesy of Cassandrea Gascoyne, chewsandbrews.ca, Spruce Grove, Alta.

This simple pasta dish is the perfect comfort food for dinner in the depth of winter.

 

888x600_gnocchi-in-tomato-broth

Prep time: 2 hours
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: approximately 80 gnocchi and 2.5 cups (625 mL) broth

Ingredients
Gnocchi

4 russet potatoes
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
3/4 cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (175 mL) whole-wheat flour

Tomato Broth
2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine
2 cups (500 mL) chicken stock
12 oz (341 mL) jar Italian tomato purée
handful fresh basil (plus more for garnish)
salt
pepper
Parmesan cheese

Directions
Broth
1. Meanwhile, in large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Sauté until vegetables have softened and onions and garlic have started to brown.
2. Pour in wine and stir, scraping up browned bits. Cook until wine has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Stir in chicken stock, tomato purée and basil; reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Gnocchi
1. Bake potatoes in 400ºF (200ºC) oven for 1 hour or until easily pierced with a knife. Let cool.
2. Peel cooled potatoes and grate into large bowl. (Or use a potato ricer, instead of grating.)
3. Stir in beaten egg and salt. Add all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, 1/2 cup (125 mL) at a time, mixing until the mixture forms a soft dough that isn’t too sticky.
4. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 3 to 4 minutes. Divide dough into quarters; roll each quarter into a long rope, about 3/4 inch (2 cm) in diameter. Cut rope into 3/4-inch (2 cm) pieces.
5. Place gnocchi on parchment paper–lined baking sheet. If desired, freeze gnocchi on tray, then transfer into a freezer bag.
6. To cook the gnocchi, drop into a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook the gnocchi about 2 minutes, or until they float. (If cooking from frozen, let them cook for 3 to 4 minutes.) Drain.
7. To serve, put 10 to 12 cooked gnocchi in each bowl and top with hot tomato broth. Garnish with fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Note:
-If you like a traditional-looking gnocchi, there are some neat tools you can use in Step 6 to add ridges, such as the Gnocchi Board or Gnocchi Stripper.
-A slice of garlic toast goes nicely as well, and can soak up any leftover broth at the end!

Chews and Brews
Cassandrea Gascoyne loves to cook and eat, and now has a passion for writing about and sharing everything she cooks and eats. She also enjoys wine, craft beers and good coffee. When she isn’t eating or drinking you can find her camping and hiking with her husband in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Her kids have four legs and are fuzzy and are named Bob and Sam.

SkilletLasagna

Skillet Lasagna in Under an Hour

By Kelly Kwok

Once the weather begins to cool down, my family starts craving comfort food. Anything with cheese or pasta is always a hit at our house.

My husband’s favourite pasta dish is lasagna, but I only make it on the weekends – it takes time to layer everything, and creates a huge mess and piles dishes to clean afterwards. During the week, one-pot meals are my favourite.

After some digging around in my pantry, this easy skillet lasagna was born. I added my own touches to make it lighter, and packed it with veggies, including zucchini and spinach. I even used low-fat Parmesan and cottage cheeses to cut down on the fat without sacrificing taste. The entire dish – pasta cooking and all – is done in the same skillet on the stove.

The best part? It was a hit with my family!

Easy Skinny Skillet Lasagna, Courtesy of Kelly Kwok, lifemadesweeter.com, Niagara Falls, Ont.

This easy one-pot meal is a surefire weeknight dinner.

SkilletLasagna

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Yield: 5-6 servings

Ingredients
1½ tsp (7 mL) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb (225-450 g) extra-lean ground turkey
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
2 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped (optional)
14 oz (398 mL) can diced tomatoes (San Marzano or fire-roasted)
8 oz (225 mL) can tomato sauce
2½ Tbsp (37 mL) chopped fresh basil, divided
1½ tsp (7 mL) dried oregano
½ tsp (2 mL) crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups (500 mL) water or low-sodium chicken broth
8 oz (225 g) bow-tie pasta
2 cups (375–500 mL) spinach, chopped (optional)
1 cup (250 mL) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
⅔ cup (150 mL) fat-free cottage cheese
⅓ cup (75 mL) low-fat ricotta cheese (optional)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions
1. In extra-large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute or until fragrant.
2. Add ground turkey and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes or until browned. Drain excess fat.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add zucchini, if using. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.
4. Stir in water or chicken broth. Add pasta. Bring to boil; cover skillet with lid and reduce heat.
5. Cook, stirring every 3 minutes and adding more water or broth as needed, for 15 to 18 minutes or until pasta is tender. If using spinach, stir in after 13 minutes.
6. Remove from heat. Stir in mozzarella and cottage cheeses. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
7. Dollop ricotta cheese over top; cover skillet for 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
8. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, remaining basil and Parmesan cheese, if using.

Notes
This recipe allows for lots of creativity. You may choose to use a different protein or choose to substitute gluten-free or whole-wheat pasta. Cooking times may vary.

Life Made Sweeter
My name is Kelly Kwok. I am a wife and mom of two – and the writer, recipe developer and photographer behind Life Made Sweeter, where I share desserts, family favourites and healthy recipes.

SkilletEggs_Waffles

Easy Waffles and Eggs in a Skillet

By Lisa Bolton

In our house, brunch is one of the most special meals, because usually it means slow, lazy mornings with loved ones. Whenever family or friends stay with us, brunch is always my favourite meal to plan. There is a high likelihood the dress code will be cozy pyjamas. And to me, brunch should always be family style – let everyone take a little of this and a little of that and pull up a seat at the dining table, a stool at the counter or even call dibs on the cozy spot on the sectional.

This skillet waffle and eggs dish is perfect for those occasions. Making one big waffle means the host won’t be confined to the kitchen cooking two waffles at a time. This dish has a little bit of savoury, a little bit of sweet and even a hint of heat – something for everyone. With the vibrant green and red, this brunch is our family go-to over the holiday season.

Skillet Waffles and Eggs, Courtesy of Lisa Bolton, foodwellsaid.com, Surrey, B.C.

Enjoy lazy holiday mornings with this all-in-one brunch dish.

SkilletEggs_Waffles

Prep time: 7 min
Cook time: 12 min
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
2 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) milk
1 cup (225 g) all-purpose flour
4 tsp (20 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
3.5 oz (100 g) butter, melted and cooled, plus more for skillet
4 eggs
4 thick slices smoked bacon
1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
sliced scallions
jalapeno pepper
chopped cilantro
plain Greek yogurt mixed with sriracha sauce

Directions
1. In bowl, whisk together egg yolks and milk.
2. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until combined.
3. Drizzle in butter; mix until just incorporated.
4. In bowl, whip egg whites until peaks form. Carefully fold into batter.
5. Heat skillet over medium-high heat; grease generously. Pour batter into skillet and cook about 8 minutes or until bottom is golden. Using two spatulas, flip and cook until golden, about 4 minutes more.
6. Meanwhile, soft-boil eggs, cooking for about 6 minutes. Remove eggs from saucepan and run under cold water. Peel and set aside.
7. While eggs are cooking, heat frying pan over medium-high heat. Add bacon and maple syrup; fry until bacon is crisp.
8. To assemble: Break waffle into quarters. Top each quarter with a bacon strip, halved, and an egg. Just prior to serving, break egg to release yolk.
9. Garnish as desired with scallions, pepper, cilantro and yogurt.

Food Well Said
Lisa Bolton is a part-time freelance food writer and recipe developer, and a full-time mom. Her blog, Food Well Said, focuses on thoughtfully prepared, whole-food recipes that will please carnivores, vegetarians and everyone in between. Knowing we eat with our eyes first, she likes to focus on presenting family-style comfort food in an elevated fashion.

Chicken-Dumpling Soup: Kaillie Humphries Shares Her Fave

By Kaillie Humphries, as told to Valerie Howes

As an elite athlete, Kaillie Humphries—two-time World and Olympic champion in bobsleigh—has to watch every bite she eats. It’s important to consume the perfect balance of proteins, carbs and fats for peak physical performance. Every so often, however, this Calgarian indulges in her favourite meal: a bowl of her grandmother’s chicken-and-dumpling soup. Sometimes, what the body needs most is a little nourishment for the soul.

Kaillie Humprhies

Kaillie Humphries (Photo Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee)
Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee

My favourite childhood dish is definitely my grandmother’s chicken-and-dumpling soup. It tastes similar to chicken noodle soup, only instead of noodles, it has these big, doughy dumplings floating in every bowlful. Although curry powder is not traditionally used in German cooking (my grandmother’s family immigrated to Alberta from Germany not long before she was born), just a pinch is added to the dumplings, which warms up the soup even more. It has generous chunks of browned chicken breasts, along with celery and carrots, in a rich-tasting broth. My dad does his own version with sweet parsnips added. Any way it’s made, this soup is very comforting.

I was my grandmother’s first granddaughter, and very close to her, so I love that this soup recipe can make me feel close to her again. After my little sisters were born, she became my babysitter, and we spent a lot of time together. She was a hairdresser and worked out of her basement—I spent countless hours down there with her as a child, playing with all her hairdressing stuff. She also had a piano and taught me to bang out some songs.

When I was about 12, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and she passed away in 2006. We never did cook together, so it was my mother who eventually passed on the recipe to my sisters and me.

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I crave chicken-and-dumpling soup when I get sick—or just homesick and in need of a little love. During the World Cup here in Calgary, I’d been away training for a while and had been missing home, so my mum made me this soup and drove it down to where I was staying. It was perfect. During race time, you don’t want to be feeling down, mentally or physically.

Strictly speaking, this soup is not a part of my diet as an athlete. I usually add way more chicken and veggies than the recipe calls for to make up for the dumpling carb-load. I don’t tend to eat it with anything else, such as bread, but you don’t need to; it’s pure soul food on its own. I probably eat it about five times a year. It’s my feel-good soup!

Anne’s Chicken-and-Dumpling Soup, Courtesy of Kaillie Humphries, Calgary

From the kitchen of Olympic athlete Kaillie Humphries, this chicken soup delivers a dose of comfort when you need a pick-me-up.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients
Soup
8 cups (2 L) chicken stock or turkey stock (approx.)
1 or 2 ribs celery, diced
1 or 2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 or 2 parsnips, peeled and diced (optional)
1 onion, chopped
2 cups (500 mL) cooked chicken or turkey (approx.), diced
salt and pepper to taste

Dumplings
8 eggs, well beaten
½ cup (125 mL) flour (approx.)
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) curry powder

Directions
Soup
1. In large stock pot, add stock, celery, carrot, parsnip and onion; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; add chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste; add chicken stock to taste. Reduce heat to low; simmer.

Dumplings
1. While soup is simmering, mix together eggs, flour, salt, curry powder and ¼ cup (60 mL) water until mixture is thick paste like Play-Doh. Add more water, flour or egg as necessary until right consistency.
2. Increase heat to high; bring soup to rapid boil. Drop dumpling mixture by 1 tbsp (15 mL) into soup. If first few dumplings dissolve into little bits, they need more flour. Drop in remaining dumpling mixture by 1 tbsp (15 mL). Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

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Quick and Easy Mexican Pasta

By Stacey Mebs

Mexican food has been a favourite of mine for most of my life. I didn’t have it often as a child, but I clearly remember the first time we went to a Mexican restaurant. I was about 10 years old and ordered cheese quesadillas (butchering the pronunciation, I might add). I quickly determined that this was the best food I had ever had. I haven’t really changed my mind on that in the years since.

I’m very happy that my children seem to have inherited my love of Mexican food. Nights when it makes an appearance (which is often) are met with cheers. What parent doesn’t love that?

This Mexican Baked Pasta is a favourite of everyone in the family and has been since the first time I made it. It’s the ideal dish, my go-to meal when I have no idea what to make for supper. It’s fast, it’s easy, it freezes well, everyone loves it, and I always have everything on hand to make it.

Comfort food at its finest, and perfect for those busy school nights.

Mexican Baked Pasta, Courtesy of Stacey Mebs, bakeeatrepeat.ca, Edmonton

A quick family favourite made with just a handful of ingredients.

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Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
2 cups (500 mL) uncooked small pasta (such as shells, penne or rotini)
1 lb (450 g) ground beef
2 cups (500 mL) salsa
1 cup (250 mL) frozen corn kernels
3/4 cup (175 mL) canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 to 3 cups (500 to 750 mL) shredded cheese (such as Monterey jack, mozzarella or cheddar, or a combination)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, and drain the grease. Stir in salsa, corn and beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes more. Stir in cooked pasta.
3. Spoon half the pasta mixture into 13- x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish; sprinkle with half the cheese. Cover with remaining pasta mixture and top with remaining cheese.
4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until hot and bubbling. (Or, to make ahead, cover and refrigerate or freeze until ready to bake. If necessary, thaw before baking. Add 5 to 10 minutes to baking time.)

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Bake.Eat.Repeat.
I’m Stacey, a stay-at-home mom of three, living in Edmonton. I discovered a love for being in the kitchen once I had kids to cook for. On my blog, Bake.Eat.Repeat., I share the family-friendly recipes I’m loving. Mostly healthy, some, not so much—it’s all about balance!

Really Good Roast Chicken Dinner

By Melanie Boldt, as told to Helen Racanelli

Melanie Boldt and her husband, Kevin, own and run Pine View Farms – All Natural Meats  in Osler, Sask. Both are of German-Mennonite background and grew up in rural Saskatchewan. Kevin is a fourth-generation family farmer, and Melanie, whose dad worked in the city, grew up on an acreage with a big kitchen garden.

I always said I’d never marry a farmer, that I was bound for the big city. But love takes you where you least expect it, and now we’ve been married for 24 years. Roast chicken dinner is something we both grew up on. Kevin’s mom—a wizard cook—would even take a complete chicken dinner into the field to feed a large farm crew: hot chicken, potatoes, vegetables, gravy, stuffing, fresh buns and pie. Farming is hard physical work, so Saskatchewan is a meat-and-potatoes province.

In my home growing up, if we were to have a roast chicken dinner, we would have it after church on Sunday. You would come home and your mouth would water when Mom put the meal on the table. There would also be pies and other German-Mennonite family recipes like bubbat, a very basic sweet dough of flour, sugar, milk, raisins and prunes that you stuff into the chicken.

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There’s nothing more welcoming than food being prepared and waiting for you; it’s such a loving gesture. When I would come home from school, it might be bread day or fresh cookies or canning fruit. As a kid, you think homemade food is the worst thing ever. It’s, like, “Why can’t I have Oreos? Why do I have to have homemade cookies?” Now I realize what a privilege it is.

My mom was an adventurous cook, and she was ecologically conscious. She made us curries, beans and other pulse crops. But we didn’t have kiwi, mango or sambal oelek sauce—it was a simpler flavour profile back then. For my family, I make chicken with sides such as mango salsa, so it’s much more of a global table. I’ll also make them puttanesca, butter chicken and fish tacos.

When I got married, Kevin’s mom said the way to his heart is through his belly. I’m of a different generation, but I still incorporate the family meal table. It’s our one time to connect and talk to each other. We have two sons—one is 17 and one is 14—and they help on the farm. We work hard to make sure we all sit down together.

At Pine View Farms, we’re not performing rocket science; we’re just returning to our roots in smaller-scale farming. Our chickens are a little more mature because we’re not trying to grow them so fast, so their meat is richer in flavour. You can’t get an eight-pound roasting chicken at a supermarket! They’re great and an easy way to feed a lot of people at one time.

My roast chicken recipe is my own updated, quicker roast chicken dinner—that’s why the chicken is in pieces. I love to cook traditional foods, and while Kevin’s mom and my mom were full-time homemakers, I work at my job, so supper has to be a little quicker. I roast the chicken on a baking sheet, which is faster. I also add roasted vegetables to the same sheet to maximize oven space, so it’s all ready at the same time.

Roast Chicken From Pine View Farms, courtesy of Melanie Boldt

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Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
1 whole free-range chicken, cut in pieces
2 to 3 tbsp (30 to 45 mL) Three Farmers Camelina Oil (Original or Roasted Onion & Basil)
salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 potatoes, cut in 1- to 2-inch (2.5 cm to 5 cm) chunks
4 to 6 parsnips, cut in 1- to 2-inch (2.5 cm to 5 cm) chunks
4 to 6 carrots, cut in 1- to 2-inch (2.5 cm to 5 cm) chunks
4 to 6 beets, cut in 1- to 2-inch (2.5 cm to 5 cm) chunks
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary)
garlic cloves and onions, quartered (optional)

Directions
1. Spread chicken on parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil; generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. In large bowl, toss together potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beets, remaining oil, salt, pepper and herbs. Add garlic and onions, if using; toss to combine. Spread in single layer among chicken. Use separate baking sheet if necessary.
3. Roast in 375°F (190°C) oven for about 1 to 1½ hours (depending on size of chicken pieces), until vegetables are fork-tender and chicken is well done (juices will run clear when pierced).
4. Serve chicken on platter with vegetables.

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Musician Elizabeth Shepherd’s Jazzed-Up Mac and Cheese

By Elizabeth Shepherd, as told to Valerie Howes

Montreal-based jazz singer-songwriter-pianist Elizabeth Shepherd is a four-time Juno nominee and has also been nominated for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize twice. With five albums under her belt, she’s currently working on a trilogy of albums to be released over the next eight to 10 years. Touring for four months every year, she sometimes gets a little homesick. At those times, she says, there’s one special dish from her childhood that can chase away the blues.

When I was growing up, my mom would ask me just before my birthday what I wanted as a special birthday dinner. I’d always say homemade mac and cheese. Actually, it’s my birthday on Monday, and I’m going over to my parents’ place with my husband and daughter. Even now, I know that’s what my mom will make for the occasion.

My mom would only make mac and cheese about twice a year when I was a kid. That’s why it was so special. She had a couple of no-frills recipe books—super–North American ones, like the Betty Crocker Cookbook—and I’m guessing the recipe came from one of those. She wasn’t one to experiment.

She makes her mac and cheese with egg noodles, sour cream and a cheese blend—a lot of Gruyère with some cheddar and Parmesan. Then, she sprinkles bread crumbs on top and little pieces of butter so you get this golden, crispy topping.

On my birthday when I was a kid, we’d have family and friends over to share it with us. There would also be salad with everything in it: lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, celery, apples, nuts, raisins—you name it! We’d have a special juice drink, too, such as ginger ale with grape juice or one of those bottles of nonalcoholic bubbly drinks. While we lived in France for four years (my parents were posted there as Salvation Army officers), there would be a mandatory baguette. I didn’t like birthday cake, so we’d always have pie for dessert.

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This year, I’ve been on the road a lot: I was in Mexico in March, Germany in April, and before the tour ends in December, I will have been in the U.S. and across Canada from British Columbia to Newfoundland. I do the bulk of that touring with my husband and four-year-old daughter, Sanna. Eating out every night for what amounts to four months a year can be costly and not so good for your health, so recently we’ve been staying in hotels with kitchenettes or, more often, in apartments rented out on Airbnb to have more home-cooked meals together.

I make my mother’s mac and cheese for us when we’re feeling homesick; it’s the ultimate comfort food. Mom didn’t actually give me her recipe, so when I decided to make it, I looked up several recipes on the Internet and came up with my own version. I mix cooked penne with cream, lemon, Parmesan cheese, egg, bacon, diced shallots, salt and pepper. It’s the lazy woman’s mac and cheese, but at the same time, it’s a little more gourmet than the boxed version. My version of my mother’s mac and cheese is now one of my own daughter’s favourite dishes.

Elizabeth Shepherd’s Jazzed-Up Mac and Cheese, Courtesy of Elizabeth Shepherd, Montreal

This celebrated singer-songwriter-pianist turns to this recipe when she’s touring and in need of a little comfort.

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
6 or 7 cremini mushrooms, sliced
butter for frying
three-quarters Spanish onion, cut in small pieces
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup (250 mL) cream
1 cup (250 mL) Parmesan cheese, grated
1 pkg penne, cooked
5 strips cooked bacon, chopped
2/3 cup (150 mL) cooked peas

Directions
1. In skillet, fry mushrooms in butter for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add onion; fry for 10 minutes, or until onion is softened. Add garlic and salt and pepper to taste; fry for 1 minute.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Add cream, stirring, and cook until bubbling; add ¾ cup (175 mL) of the Parmesan, stirring, until melted and smooth.
3. Pour mixture over cooked pasta; add bacon and peas, mixing well to combine. Divide among 4 bowls; top with remaining Parmesan and pepper to taste.

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Even Chickens Turn Into Hippies On the West Coast

By Lisa Ahier, as told to Pam Danter

As chef-owner of the hugely successful SoBo restaurant in Tofino, B.C., Lisa Ahier is constantly creating new and unique recipes. Many are inventive takes on old recipes, and her Hippie Fried Chicken is no exception. It also makes a perfect finger food for potluck feasts, especially after Ahier enjoys a morning of paddleboarding on the ocean with friends.

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When I was growing up in Texas, southern fried chicken was a mainstay at church picnics and county fairs. If you brought fried chicken to an event, you were the star of the day. However, unlike many people with fond memories of their grandmother’s cooking, my experience with this succulent dish was the opposite. Unfortunately, my grandmother was a horrible cook! She would throw a whole chicken in a pressure cooker for half an hour, then plunk it on a plate. It was not very appetizing. My own mother was a good cook, but she didn’t fry chicken, either; she rolled chicken pieces in butter and potato chips, then baked them.

My mother worked in restaurants through my whole childhood, and I would often accompany her. Even though, as manager, she was at the front of the restaurant, from a very early age, I would stand on milk crates in the kitchen and watch the cooks prepare the food. It was always fascinating to me, watching them mix and cook the ingredients so effortlessly and magically. My love of cooking was born! Being a child of the ’60s, eating prepared and packaged food was the norm: cooking with canned soups and packaged sauce mixes. This is what my mother used, certainly a far cry from the farm-to-table food of the past.

I moved to Florida when I was 18, where I was introduced to Caribbean cooking. My southern fried chicken started becoming more sweet-and-savoury; I started using chipotle sauce instead of the traditional buttermilk, and seeds and nuts instead of bread crumbs.

When my husband and I arrived in Tofino, I was introduced to foraging. For me, the essence of Canadian food is the “wildness” of it. You could pick onions, mushrooms, seaweed, crabs, berries, right from your own backyard. I wasn’t in Texas anymore! Hemp is used in just about everything in Tofino, so I started using hemp seeds in my fried chicken recipe. Friends giggled about it, making jokes about the “hippie” and “free-spirited” culture in British Columbia. And that’s how “Hippie Fried Chicken” was born.

In contrast to my upbringing, I’m proud to say my children are lucky enough to know a lot of the people who provide our ingredients. They understand the connection between nature and food, unlike so many children who only experience their food coming from a grocery store. As a family, we are connected and committed to our local food. It’s important to me to support our local food harvesters.

Hippie Fried Chicken, courtesy of Lisa Ahier

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Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3 ¾ hours (includes marinating)
Yield: 8 to 10 pieces

Ingredients
Marinade
½ cup (125 mL) cider vinegar
½ cup (125 mL) lemon juice
½ cup (125 mL) tamari or soy sauce
½ cup (125 mL) light brown sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) mashed chipotle chilies
1 tsp (5 mL) dry mustard
4 cloves garlic, minced

Fried Chicken
1 whole chicken (breasts cut in 2 to 3 strips; drumstick, thigh and wing separated)
¼ cup (60 mL) unbleached organic flour
¼ cup (60 mL) almonds, finely ground
¼ cup (60 mL) pumpkin seeds, finely ground
¼ cup (60 mL) sunflower seeds, finely ground
¼ cup (60 mL) hemp seeds
2 tbsp (30 mL) white sesame seeds
2 tsp (10 mL) salt
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) cayenne pepper
4 eggs, well beaten
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
half stick butter

Directions
Marinade
1. In large bowl, mix together vinegar, lemon juice, tamari, brown sugar, chipotle chilies, mustard and garlic until well combined.
2. Add chicken, tossing to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

Fried Chicken
1. In bowl, mix together flour, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, half of the salt and the cayenne pepper.
2. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs and remaining salt.
3. In cast-iron skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. (If deep-frying, increase oil to appropriate amount for size of fryer. Set fryer at 325°F/160°C.)
4. Dredge chicken in egg mixture, then in seed mixture, pressing to coat. Coat each piece right before frying to keep crust intact. (If you coat too far in advance, breading will fall off when you turn the chicken.)
5. Add chicken to skillet. (You should hear slight sizzle; if you don’t, temperature is too low and chicken will absorb too much oil.) Cook, turning after 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted in chicken reads 165°F (74°C). Avoid cooking large portions in skillet at once, as it will take chicken too long to cook and run risk of burning. (If deep-frying, submerge chicken in oil, make sure not to overcrowd fryer. Move it around a bit to ensure even cooking.)
6. If chicken is browning too quickly and inside is underdone, finish it in 400°F (200°C) oven for about 4 to 5 minutes.
7. When chicken is cooked, remove and drain on rack or paper towels. Add more salt to taste, if desired, while chicken is hot.
8. Serve with vegetable slaw or with mashed potatoes, biscuits and collard greens.

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Mac and Cheese: A Canadian Twist on the Classic

By Shep Ysselstein, as told to Michele Sponagle

Shep Ysselstein, owner of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, near Woodstock, Ont., is one of Canada’s brightest young cheese makers. By the time he reached 30, he’d already snagged the top honour at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix for his Five Brothers in the firm-cheese category. (And in April 2015, his Handeck won for best farmhouse cheese at the same competition.) A dairy-inspired life was mapped out for him as a child: His parents still own Friesvale Farms (right next door to Gunn’s Hill), which supplies the milk for Ysselstein’s Swiss-style cheeses. It’s all in the family there.

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Alpler macaroni is an old Swiss recipe. “Alpler” is the name for the people who work up in the mountains, milking cows and making cheese. Traditionally, this dish is what they would have eaten. For a summer, when I learned cheese making in the Berner Oberland area of Switzerland, I would have been considered an alpler.

While I was there, the head cheese maker had a friend who was a chef make us the macaroni dish with the cheeses we made. We ate it in a very traditional cheese-making hut: several hundred years old with thick stone walls built into the side of the mountain. It was very rustic and primitive with low ceilings that were black from all the smoke generated by the fire used to produce the cheese. In that space, we cooked and ate our own meals—we even slept upstairs.

When I ate alpler macaroni for the first time, I thought, Wow! I need to know how to make this! Obviously, I’m a big fan of dairy products, and this recipe has a lot of them, drawing flavour from the types of cheese you use.

The chef taught me how to make alpler macaroni, but he didn’t give me a written recipe. So I learned the steps but not specific volumes. He just told me, “If it’s too thick, add a little more milk. Too thin? Add more cheese.”

This dish is a meal—a heavy one. Historically, alplers would not have had access to a lot of foodstuffs since everything would have had to be trekked up the mountain. So they used what they had available, primarily dairy products: milk, butter, cream and cheese. For this dish, they would have just needed to bring dry pasta up the mountain.

When I came back home to Canada, I made it for my family: Mom, Dad and whomever of my four brothers was around. I’ve made it more than once for them, and I make it for different groups of friends, too. I also made it for my wife, Colleen Bator, when we were first dating. It worked out pretty good—she married me eventually.

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Alpler Macaroni is my go-to recipe for many occasions. It incorporates the things that are important in my life: my cheese factory in Oxford County; and my summer in Switzerland that helped me become a cheese maker. Plus, our cows make the milk, so it’s special in that way, too. This dish is handcrafted from the very beginning, starting with a cow. The only thing I need to do now is make my own pasta…

Alpler Macaroni and Cheese, courtesy of Shep Ysselstein

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
1 cup (250 mL) macaroni
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) flour
1 cup (250 mL) (approx) milk
1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream
1 cup (250 mL) (approx) Handeck cheese (18-month cow’s milk Swiss alpine-style cheese)
2 cups (500 mL) (approx) Five Brothers cow’s milk cheese or Appenzeller cheese
pepper and nutmeg to taste

Directions
1. In pot of boiling water, cook macaroni; drain.
2. Add butter to large pan; fry onion and garlic until soft. Add flour (to thicken and bind mixture). Add milk and cream. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is warmed throughout and just beginning to bubble.
3. Add Handeck and half of the Five Brothers cheese, 1 small handful at a time, stirring constantly, until cheese is completely melted. Do not boil. Allow to slightly simmer; add pepper and nutmeg. If mixture is too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more cheese. (You can never have too much cheese!)
4. In buttered baking dish, add half of the macaroni. Pour in half of the cheese mixture; sprinkle on remaining Five Brothers cheese. Add remaining half of macaroni; pour in remaining half of cheese mixture.
5. Bake, uncovered, in 400°F (200°C) oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

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Grandma Mary Didur

The Perogie Recipe 80 Years in the Making

By Mary Didur, as told to Valerie Howes

Mary Didur was born in 1925 on a farm in Wakaw, Sask., about 90 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. The child of Ukrainian immigrants, she grew up eating—and cooking—dishes with eastern European flavour. At 18, Didur attended cosmetology school in Saskatoon, then found work at the local hair salon. After the war, she met her future husband, John, at a community hall dance. A modern woman, she continued to work after getting married and having two children, eventually opening her own salon, La Chez Marie. Here, this Saskatoon grandmother shares with us her famous recipe for perogies—soft and pillowy stuffed dumplings.

Grandma Mary Didur

The first time I made perogies, I was probably five or six years old. I learned in the old-fashioned kitchen of the farmhouse where I grew up one of eight children: two girls and six boys. There was a spare table where we used to roll out the dough. I found it fun; kids like to work with dough.

The recipe has gone through so many changes. I actually got my basic recipe from a friend, and she got it from somebody else. Each time it has changed hands, it has been improved. My mother probably got her recipe from her mother, in Ukraine.

When my mother was making the dough, she used just flour, water and salt. Today, I use milk and oil, and sometimes an egg, too, and that makes a difference; you get a richer dough. My mother taught me that the dough must be soft, and not pasty; we used to work with it to make it smooth with good elasticity.

At that time, my mother made her own cottage cheese, and we’d use it as a stuffing, mixed with potatoes and onions sautéed in butter. Now, I do a mix of cottage cheese and cheddar. Mother wouldn’t have had access to cheddar; she used what she had. We now eat them with mushroom sauce and sour cream, or bacon bits and onions. They accompany a meal, like you could have fried chicken with perogies and mushroom sauce instead of potatoes.

You can stuff perogies with all kinds of things. It was a tradition in our family to have poppyseed rolls at Christmastime, and one time I had leftover poppyseeds, so I tried making a perogie filling with those and some honey. They didn’t go over so well! I’d say Saskatoon berries or plums are especially delicious as a filling. Perogies are just a bit harder to make with fruit, because of all the juices.

We’d eat regular perogies at least once every two weeks when I was growing up. It was lively at family dinnertimes with all those people at the table. And the next day, if there were any leftover perogies, we’d fight about who could deep-fry them to eat as a snack.

With all those unmarried boys still living at home there were a lot of perogies to make for one sitting. When boys over the age of 15 eat them, they’ll eat at least 20 each. Today, my granddaughter is married to a man who has a 15-year-old boy, and the last time they were here, they had a competition to see who could eat the most perogies. He ate 32. Still, 20 is the average.

My two sons didn’t ever learn to make perogies; they just ate them. But my granddaughter, who is now in her 30s, learned in her teens. Every time she used to come over, she’d say, “Grandma, no perogies?” So one day, I told her she’d better learn to make them with me the next time she visited. And she did. She really loves them.

Follow the jump to see Mary’s guide to shaping perogies.

Grandma Mary’s Perogies with Potato-Cheese Filling, courtesy of Mary Didur

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Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 1 ¾ hours
Yield: about 100 small perogies

Ingredients
Dough
4½ cups (1.125 L) flour
½ cup (125 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 mL) milk, room temperature
1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
1 tsp (5 mL) salt

Potato-Cheese Perogie Filling
6 large red-skinned potatoes (not baking potatoes), peeled and halved
4 to 6 oz (115 to 170 g) medium cheddar cheese
1 medium onion, diced, sautéed in butter
salt and white pepper to taste
½ cup (125 mL) dry cottage cheese (“not the sloppy kind” says Mary)

Directions
Dough
1. Mix together flour, oil, milk, water and salt. Knead dough until smooth. Let stand for 30 to 60 minutes.
2. With rolling pin, roll out really thin. Cut dough into squares. (I prefer to make smaller perogies, so they’re 2 x 2 inches/5 x 5 cm.) Spoon about 1 tbsp (15 mL) of potato-cheese filling onto each square. Fold dough into triangle and pinch edge closed to seal in filling.
3. Add to pot of boiling water. Once floating, cook for 1 to 1½ minutes.

Potato-Cheese Perogie Filling
1. Boil potatoes as you would for mashed potatoes. Drain.
2. While potatoes are hot, stir in cheddar. Cover until cheese is melted, about 1 minute.
3. Stir in sautéed onion; using potato masher, mash until smooth. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Using clean cloth, squeeze out all moisture from cottage cheese. Stir into potato mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

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