Tag Archives: GCC vegetarian

Mennonite Favourites Made with Love

By Trish Mayor, as told to Devon Scoble

Trish Mayor grew up in Martensville, a community outside Saskatoon with a strong Mennonite presence, where she was raised with love, tolerance and an appreciation for butter. She has fond memories of eating her mum and omi’s roll kuchen (cookies) and fleisch perishky (meat dumplings) on Sundays.

The town I grew up in had a very generous environment among a family-oriented community of people. Kind and loving and accepting: That, for me, is the definition of Canadian—how we try to be as caring and accepting of others as possible.

I believe roll kuchen and fleisch perishky are very old recipes. Like with many Mennonite recipes, they’re made with whatever’s in the cupboard; you throw them together with leftovers. I fondly remember visiting with my grandparents and eating both dishes for Sunday brunch. My grandparents would make them ahead of time and serve them cold.

My mum often made roll kuchen to have with soup, but you can have them with jam or syrup, too—it’s a wonderfully diverse recipe. My mother said that many Prairie towns have fundraisers where they sell watermelon slices with roll kuchen—so it does go with sweet—but most often, we eat them with savoury soup. Roll kuchen is something I make when I don’t want a biscuit, plus they’re quicker and easier to make than buns!

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These days, fleisch perishky aren’t so much a staple as they are a treat. When we do make these meat-filled dumplings, we make a large batch to freeze so we have some on hand.

I’m expecting my first child this summer and I’m looking forward to cooking with him. I want to teach him to understand the benefits of eating “real” food (as local as possible), that food is not just about eating what you like, that it’s also about nourishing your body—and to eat his vegetables! One of my favourite things to do now is cook with my partner, who is also a very good cook. We turn on music and enjoy ourselves in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to having our child as part of this happy picture.

I think my love of food and cooking came from growing up and not being worried about small things, such as too much butter in my food. Food was more like, “This is good, and we’re sitting together and enjoying this together.”

I do think that food is love. And when it is prepared with love, it can be something very special.

Omi’s Fleisch Perishky, courtesy of Trish Mayor

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 3/4 hours (includes rising time)
Yield: 24 to 36 dumplings

Ingredients
Dough
1½ pkg yeast
2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (125 mL) warm water
1 cup (250 mL) warm milk
½ cup (125 mL) melted shortening or butter
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
2 eggs
4 to 5 cups (1 to 1.25 L) flour
2 egg yolks

Filling
1 lb (450 g) ground beef or leftover roast that has gone through meat grinder
1 onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 cups (approx) (250 to 500 mL) mashed potatoes (enough to bind meat) (optional)

Directions
Dough
1. Dissolve yeast and 1/4 tsp sugar in warm water; cover and set aside until light and fluffy, about 20 minutes.
2. Stir in milk, shortening, remaining sugar salt and eggs; mix until well combined.
3. Add flour, a bit at a time, mixing until it comes away from bowl. Knead until elastic, about 8 minutes.
4. Place dough in greased bowl; cover and let rise, turning once, for 1 hour.

Filling
1. In skillet, cook beef and onion until beef is no longer pink inside and onion is softened; season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Add mashed potatoes, if using, to form paste.

To Finish
1. Pinch dough into about 24 to 36 pieces.
2. Flatten each to form oval; add about 1 tsp (5 mL) filling to centre. Wrap and close dough around edges to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, placing each dumpling on greased baking sheet to rise for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.
3. Mix egg yolks with equal amount of water. Brush dumplings with egg yolk mixture.
4. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve hot or cold.

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Roll Kuchen, courtesy of Trish Mayor

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 32 cookies

Ingredients
2 cups (500 mL) flour
½ tsp (2 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream
2 eggs
oil for frying

Directions
1. Into bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well; add cream and eggs, mixing well. Add a bit more flour if dough is too soft.
2. On floured surface, roll out dough to about 16 x 16 inches (40 x 40 cm). Dough should be springy and no thicker than a pencil.
3. Cut dough into strips about 4 x 2 inches (10 x 5 cm). Cut lengthwise slit in centre of each strip; pull half of the strip through it.
4. Fry, turning once, until golden brown.

Watch Chef Lynn Crawford make roll kuchen here. 

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A Gourmet Caponata You Can Make at Home

By Christine Martin

Eggplant is not a vegetable that I cook with often. It has a very unique flavour and texture, which can make it challenging to know how to use it properly. So I am always intrigued to find new ideas about how to incorporate this beautiful vegetable into my cooking.

On Valentine’s Day a number of years ago, and I was searching for a new appetizer recipe, when I first came across caponata. Our kids were just babies and we couldn’t find a babysitter in order for us to go out to eat. Instead, my husband and I decided to have a nice, romantic dinner at home once the kids were asleep. It was my first time making caponata and we both instantly fell in love with it. Now, whenever we want a gourmet treat, we make this dish!

Over the years, I’ve tweaked the recipe a few times, to make it exactly how we like it. This rustic Italian recipe is so versatile, you can serve it many different ways: hot or cold, as an appetizer or salad, or as a sauce on top of chicken or fish. The flavour is so incredible that your taste buds will be longing for more after every bite.

Rustic Italian Caponta, Courtesy of Christine Martin, amidstthechaos.ca, Pickering, Ont

This versatile dish is an elegantly easy way to enjoy eggplant.

rustic-italian-caponta_888embed

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 appetizer servings

Ingredients
1/4 cup (50 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into ½-inch pieces
salt
1 medium onion, diced
2 large ribs celery, thinly sliced crosswise
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 (14 oz /398 mL) can diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
2 tsp (10 mL) rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) white sugar
2-3 Tbsp (30-45 mL) pine nuts, toasted

Instructions
1. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil.
2. When oil starts shimmering, add eggplant and pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until eggplant is softened and browned. Remove from heat; scrape eggplant into bowl. Set aside.
3. Return skillet to heat. Add onion, celery and another pinch of salt. Sauté until onions are slightly softened and somewhat translucent.
4. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Stir in tomatoes, vinegar and sugar.
6. Return eggplant to skillet. Reduce heat and simmer on low, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes, adding reserved tomato liquid if needed to keep mixture from drying out.
7. Remove from heat and fold in the pine nuts. Salt to taste.

Tip: Most pine nuts are sold raw. For this recipe you’ll want to toast them in a frying pan on low heat. Make sure to keep a close eye on them, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

Amidst the Chaos
Christine is the editor and creative thinker behind Amidst the Chaos, a food and lifestyle blog that focuses on finding beauty every day, amid the chaos of life. She is a work-at-home mom who resides in the Greater Toronto Area with her husband and their three kids under the age of five.

A Celery Soup to Warm You Up This Winter

By Samantha Turnbull

When I was a kid, winter was my favourite season. Every morning I would run down the stairs, turn on the radio, and cross my fingers waiting for another snow day. If I was so lucky that the weather cancelled my education for the day, I would pull my snowsuit right over my pajamas and leap outside into the snow to build snowmen, make snow forts and go tobogganing. I would eventually get so frozen that I would toddle my frozen self back inside, peel off the layers of soaking winter wear, then wrap myself in a bundle blankets and hunker down in front of a movie until I thawed.

My mom was well aware of my freezing routine and would have a big bowl of soup waiting for me, made with whatever she could scrounge up from the fridge. Whether you put off going to the grocery store or you are completely snowed in, it’s pretty likely there may be a big bunch of celery in the back of the fridge. Combine the celery with the creaminess of cashews and you create a soup that is velvety, deeply flavoured and totally lick-the-spoon scrumptious until the last drop.

Vegan Cream of Celery Soup, Courtesy of Samantha Turnbull, itdoesnttastelikechicken.com, Toronto, ON

After a long day of building snowmen and tobogganing, there’s nothing quite like coming home to a hot bowl of creamy soup.
Vegan-Cream-of-Celery-Soup_888embed

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
6 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 cups (1 L) vegetable broth
1 cup (250 mL) water
? cup (75 mL) all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
½ tsp (2 mL) dried thyme
½ cup (125 mL) raw cashews
salt to taste
pepper to taste
celery leaves (optional)

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion and garlic; sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, or until celery and onion begin to soften and look translucent.
2. Add vegetable broth and water, then slowly whisk in flour, mixing well to break up lumps. Add bay leaf, thyme and raw cashews. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, until cashews are very soft.
3. Remove bay leaf, then blend soup in small batches, being careful not to fill blender too full, so it doesn’t overflow. Blend soup very well, so cashews are completely blended.
4. Return to pot briefly to reheat. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with celery leaves, if desired.

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It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken
Hi! I’m Sam. I created, run, write and photograph the blog It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken. I like vegan food, and I hope to show you that vegan food should really just be called food. It’s not as weird as it sounds – I promise!

Palak Paneer: An Indian Favourite

By Suganya Hariharan

One of my most craved, all-time favourite Indian dishes, palak paneer is a scrumptious curry made of rich cottage cheese cubes simmered in creamy spinach sauce—“palak” meaning spinach and “paneer” is the Indian cottage cheese. This dish is famously served alongside fragrant rice and garlic naan in India.

To make it your own, replace the spinach with kale or create a blend of your favourite leafy greens. Spinach already goes well with garlic and cheese, and when it becomes a curry mixed with fragrant spices it becomes infinitely more delicious.

This dish takes only 30 minutes to prepare at home. To make it purely vegan, replace paneer with firm tofu, avoid cream and use oil instead of butter. It tastes great with basmati rice and warm naan.

Palak Paneer: Spinach with Indian Cheese, Courtesy of Suganya Hariharan, relishthebite.com, Montreal

Take your leafy greens to new heights with this traditional Indian spinach and cheese curry dish.

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Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients
2 tbsp (30 mL) ghee, unsalted butter or oil, divided
1 small stick cinnamon
3 cardamom pods
1 small dried bay leaf
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds (jeera)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 fresh green chillies, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger, minced
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) chilli powder
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) turmeric powder
8 oz (250 g) fresh spinach (or other leafy greens), washed
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp (15 mL) kasuri methi leaves, crushed
½ tsp (2 mL) garam masala powder
½ tsp (2 mL) chilli powder
3 tbsp (45 mL) cream
8 oz (250 g) paneer

Garnish
1 tsp (5 mL) fresh cilantro
1 tsp (5 mL) cream
Pinch garam masala

Directions
1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf and cumin seeds and sauté briefly, until slightly golden in colour. Add onion, chillies, garlic and ginger; sauté until soft.
2. Add the tomatoes, chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder to skillet; sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until well mixed and soft. Add spinach and cilantro and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until wilted.
3. Remove bay leaf. Transfer the spinach mixture to a blender and pulse it few times until smooth but not puréed, being careful of hot splashes.
4. Return spinach mixture to skillet; add remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil, crushed kasuri methi leaves, garam masala and chilli powder and cook over medium heat. Stir in cream, adding water, if mixture seems too thick.
5. Add paneer to skillet and simmer, covered, for 5 to 6 minutes or until the paneer has absorbed the curry flavours.
6. Remove from heat. Garnish with coriander leaves, cream and garam masala.

Tip: For extra flavour, try frying paneer lightly in butter before adding to the curry.

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Relish the Bite
My name is Suganya Hariharan, author of Relish the Bite. I do the cooking, writing and photography for the blog. Visit my site for all kinds of recipes but mainly tasty, spicy, flavourful Indian recipes. Never be afraid to try new flavours in your cooking!

An Asian Twist on Eggplant Parmigiana

By Lisa Le

I fell in love for the first time in Italy. I was there on a high-school band trip and, of course, 16-year-old Lisa was awkward when it came to boys. I’d find excuses to sit close to my crush on our tour bus, stealing shy glances, but I’d talk to him the same way I always did, like he was an affable idiot, only to bolt the second he looked my way. I didn’t find romance in Italy.

What I really fell in love with was food. If I could live anywhere in the world, it’d be Italy. Italians know how to live. They live to love, they love to laugh and they love to eat. Eggplant, pesto, tomatoes, artichokes, capers…Italians bring out the richness of their ingredients simply by complementing them with herbs, lemon and olive oil. Italy is where I remember savouring my first taste of eggplant parmigiana: crisp outside, tender inside and smothered in marinara sauce.

I’ve taken eggplant parmigiana and given the dish an Asian treatment. I started with Italian almond flour, garlic and olive oil, but I swapped in Chinese eggplant and added toasted sesame oil to add an extra dimension of flavour.

Almond-Crusted Baked Eggplant
Your family and friends will fall in love with this crunchy baked eggplant. Serve it as an appetizer with your favourite marinara sauce.

Courtesy of Lisa Le, thevietvegan.com, Mississauga, Ont.

almond crusted eggplant parmigiana

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients
¼ cup (50 mL) olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 tsp (5 mL) dried basil
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) garlic powder
¼ tsp (1 mL) onion powder
¼ tsp (1 mL) black pepper
2/3 cup (150 mL) almond flour (ground almonds)
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
3 medium Chinese eggplants, sliced diagonally
olive oil cooking spray (or olive oil in an oil spritzer)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Line a heavy, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In shallow bowl, whisk together olive oil, toasted sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, basil, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper until emulsified.
3. In another bowl, mix almond flour and salt.
4. Slice eggplant into ¼-inch slices.
5. Dip eggplant slices into oil mixture, then into almond flour mixture, turning to coat. Place on prepared baking sheet.
6. Spritz slices with cooking spray.
7. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip slices and spritz again. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until crispy and golden.
8. Serve with your favourite marinara sauce.

TheVietVegan
Lisa Le is the Toronto-based vegan food blogger behind The Viet Vegan. She blogs about food with stories about Vietnamese culture, nerdism, feminism and her life sprinkled in on top.

A Colourful and Crispy Tofu Dish

By Suganya Hariharan

When I was young, I spent most of my time with my family in the kitchen, and I don’t regret it. I used to sit on the kitchen counter and taste my parents’ cooking. I had no idea what tofu was until I was in tenth grade, when my dad bought it from the market in Singapore. At first, I was a little hesitant to have it for dinner. I stood near the kitchen with my mom as she cooked the scrambled tofu with chopped onions and chilies. We had it with some hot rotis (Indian bread) and it tasted scrumptious! My dad started buying tofu regularly after that, making me different kinds of dishes with tofu – this recipe is one version of that dish. Using garlic with the skin on gives this dish a different flavour.

Serve this recipe as an appetizer with toothpicks, or alongside rice noodles or plain sticky rice. You can also use it as a sandwich filling for a quick, healthy breakfast.

Spicy Garlic Soy Tofu, Courtesy of Suganya Hariharan, relishthebite.com, Montreal

This vegan dish doubles as a crowd-pleasing weeknight dinner or a quick and easy appetizer when unexpected guests arrive.
Spicy-garlic-tofu_888embed

Prep time: 4 mins
Cook time: 6 mins
Yield: 2 cups (500 mL)

Ingredients
8-10 dry red chilies
1 2-inch (5 cm) piece ginger
1 tbsp (15 mL) white sesame seeds
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
7-8 cloves garlic, skin on
2 tbsp (30 mL) sesame oil
2 tsp (10 mL) soy sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) pepper powder
1 lb (450 g) extra-firm tofu, in bite-sized cubes
green onions, chopped

Directions
1. Place the chilies, ginger, sesame seeds, salt and garlic in blender and pulse 3 or 4 times, or until coarse paste forms.
2. Heat oil in frying pan over medium-low heat; add spice paste. Fry for 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, pepper powder and tofu cubes.
3. Toss well to coat, cooking for about 2 minutes or until tofu turns slightly golden and crispy.
4. Garnish with chopped green onions.

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RelishTheBite
My name is Suganya Hariharan, author of RelishTheBite. My “factual job” is writing SQL queries for my quality control analyst position. In the cooking department: I do the cooking, writing and photography for the blog. I believe in the taste of happiness and my blog is a place to find the recipe for your favourite food. Never be afraid to try new flavours in your cooking!

Weeknight Dinner Hero: Pizza with Broccoli Sauce

By Kacey Joanette

When it comes to dinner, pizza is usually a family favourite because it can easily be customized to suit anyone’s likes and dietary concerns. Homemade pizza is a favourite here and weekly pizza night is not something new. But eating a lot of the same meal can sometimes become repetitive, and my family finds coming up with unique pizza toppings is fun and exciting. This broccoli sauce was definitely created by the need for change. Not only is it different, but it’s also a great way to get nutritious veggies into your child’s diet. Hiding broccoli in this pizza sauce is a great way to introduce it to your child.

Growing up we had the same sides: steamed or boiled veggies with butter. They were nothing special, and definitely not memorable (sorry, Mom and Dad!) Creating recipes on my own time and experimenting a lot with different cooking methods, I have come to appreciate the finer qualities of simple ingredients. My daughter is a good eater and requests broccoli often, but I want to steer clear of plain and simple sometimes, especially if she is having friends over who may not be as fond of certain veggies. Being able to hide broccoli in this pizza sauce is fantastic for the child in your life who does not get enough greens or the child who loves them but wants a change. Top the sauce with cheese and their favourite toppings and they’ll never notice the broccoli!

Homemade Pizza with Yummy Broccoli Sauce
This sauce is so delicious, your child won’t ever suspect it’s chock-full of broccoli.

BroccoliPizzaSauce_888x600

 Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: Sauce for one large pizza

Ingredients
1/2 lb (225 g) broccoli
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) all-purpose flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (250 mL) heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (50 mL) vegetable broth (approx)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) red chili flakes
salt and pepper
pizza dough for 1 pizza
mozzarella cheese
asparagus (optional)
red pepper (optional)
artichoke hearts (optional)
olive oil (optional)
balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 475ºF (240ºC).
2. In food processor, blend broccoli until puréed (about 2 cups/500 mL).
3. In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until evenly combined and roux is deep brown (the longer you cook it, the deeper the flavour and the less likely it is to taste like flour.)
4. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in cream. Stir in broccoli, broth, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until sauce is thick and creamy.
5. If necessary, stir in additional vegetable broth to thin sauce until spreadable.
6. Roll out pizza dough and spread with sauce. Top with your favourite pizza ingredients, such as mozzarella cheese, asparagus, red pepper and artichoke hearts. (I marinated the asparagus and red pepper with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, then added to pizza along with artichokes.)
7. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until crust golden and cheese is melted and bubbling.

TheCookieWriter
The Cookie Writer is all about recipes that can be easily adapted to suit dietary and lifestyle choices.

CurriedCarrotSweetPotatoSoup

A Velvety Vegetable Soup Perfect for Winter

By Marie Asselin

My mom is an excellent cook. When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to enjoy homemade lunches and dinners every single day. She was a clever planner, and she usually bought everything she needed for a whole week of meals in just one grocery trip.

Because she didn’t like to waste anything, come the end of the week, she would blitz withered vegetables in the blender to make a delicious, creamy soup for lunch. No two soup batches ever tasted or looked exactly the same, but I loved them all. They were a dose of vegetables I didn’t balk at, especially after walking home from school on a cold January day.

When I moved out of my parents’ house, her humble vegetable soups were the ones I had the most trouble reproducing on my own. Every time I’d make one, I would find it bland and boring. It’s only when I stopped trying to exactly reproduce them that I began enjoying my own creations. This flavourful soup combines more “exotic” ingredients than my mother used to cook with, but eating it makes me feel just as warm inside.

Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup, Courtesy of Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com, Quebec City

This soup is a wonderful way to use up leftover vegetables at the end of the week.

CurriedCarrotSweetPotatoSoup

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tbsp (15 ml) fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp (5 ml) Madras curry powder
½ head cauliflower, in florets
1 lb (454 g) carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium sweet potato (about 12 oz/340 g), peeled and chopped
4 cups (1 L) vegetable or chicken broth
½ tsp (2 ml) sea salt or kosher salt
plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (optional)
fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Directions
1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions; sauté until softened and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add grated ginger and curry powder and cook 1 minute more, until fragrant.
3. Add cauliflower florets, carrots and sweet potato to pot, stirring to coat vegetables with spice mixture.
4. Stir in broth and salt. Partially cover pot, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
5. Purée the soup in batches in a blender, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If desired, serve topped with Greek yogurt and cilantro.

Print, save or save the recipe for Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup.

Food Nouveau
Marie Asselin is a French-Canadian food/travel translator and writer, blogger and passionate cook with a weakness for sweets. She is the author of the food and travel blog Food Nouveau, the artistic director of Quebec City’s online food magazine, Fou des foodies, and Travel+Leisure’s Quebec City expert.

RoastedRedOnion

Budget-Friendly Dinner: Sweet Roasted Red Onions

By Bridget Oland

When I was growing up, onions were an unassuming kitchen staple.  Sliced and diced, they disappeared into dishes, leaving nothing but a little flavour. But all that changed when I moved to France after university. It was there I discovered this vegetable could star in a meal.

Pizza au onion (onion pizza) seemed like a bit of a joke when I spied it on the menu at a little bistro in eastern France, but one bite in I was converted. Who knew that onions could be so sweet? That revelation convinced me that this cheap and humble vegetable could stand on its own in any dish.

Years later, a friend wrote to me about roasting onions whole “until their shoulders slump.” By that time caramelized onions were standard fare in our house, the star of galettes and the occasional pizza. The idea of roasting them whole sounded like a delicious, easy way to use onions as a vegetable side dish.  Any size onion works with this recipe, although I prefer small- to medium-size onions. The dressing is optional.

Roasted Red Onions with Walnut Dressing, Courtesy of Bridget Oland, bridgetsgreenkitchen.com, Rothesay, N.B.

Serve these sweet, caramelized onions as a main or as a side dish to complement a hearty meat entrée.

RoastedRedOnion

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
Onions
1tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
pinch sea salt
pinch pepper
4 red onions (small or medium), tops and bottoms removed
1/2 tsp (2 mL) chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme or oregano)

Walnut Dressing
1/3 cup (75 mL) walnut oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
1½ tsp (7 mL) fancy molasses
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste

Directions
Onions
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
3. Starting at top and stopping 1/2 inch (1 cm) from bottom, slice an “X” into each onion cutting it in quarters.
4. Place onions on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gently pull wedges slightly apart; drizzle with oil mixture.
5. Bake for 50 minutes, or until fork-tender. (Cooking time will vary depending on size and  freshness of onions.)
6. Sprinkle with herbs and drizzle with Walnut Dressing just before serving.

Walnut Dressing
1. In Mason jar, combine walnut oil, cider vinegar, molasses , salt and pepper. Shake well.
2. Drizzle over onions.

Tip: Try substituting plum vinegar or sherry vinegar for the balsamic vinegar.

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Bridget’s Green Kitchen 
Bridget Oland is a creative home cook and mom of two young kids who shares recipes for wholesome everyday food that’s family friendly, eco-friendly and easy to prepare. Her blog, posts green-living tips to help readers make planet-healthy choices as they prepare great food.

JessicaPelland

How to Make Argentine-Inspired Food at Home

By Jessica Pelland, as told to Michele Sponagle

Jessica Pelland is one of few chefs in Calgary who is actually born and raised there. As part owner and executive chef of Charbar, the city’s hottest new restaurant, she has an opportunity to showcase the local ingredients she knows and loves with a South American flair.

Pelland started in the kitchen at 17, peeling potatoes in a small family-owned restaurant, and she has basically stayed in one ever since. Before leading her team at Charbar, she mentored under John Jackson and Connie DeSousa, the chefs behind another Calgary favourite, Charcut Roast House. There, she honed an approach to food that can be summed up in four words: simple, fresh, local and delicious.

JessicaPelland

JessicaPelland
Colin Way

Alberta loves beef. I think it’s because of our geography, our grass and our climate. Our weather isn’t as cold as Saskatchewan’s or as wet as British Columbia’s. It’s more moderate, which makes it a great place to raise cattle.

While still at Charcut, I met the owner of 7K Panorama Ranch, Michael Kaumeyer, who breeds Texas longhorn. The meat is grass-fed and grass-finished, so it’s leaner than other beef. When I visited Kaumeyer’s place, I absolutely fell in love with it, so he supplies all the beef to Charbar and you can really taste the difference.

Argentine cuisine inspires the food we serve at Charbar. After a recent visit to Argentina, I was completely wowed by the culture and the culinary scene. I loved their approach to grilling meat, called asado, which is now a focal point of the Charbar menu. To me, Argentine-style grilling is the closest thing to cooking over a campfire. Hardwood charcoal lends a beautiful smoky flavour to meat and a nice char as well. The grill itself is also unique: Instead of each grate on the grill being round, it has a V-shape, which channels away the fat and juices and prevents flare-ups. We collect those juices and use them to baste the meat and our beef-fat fries.

Our beef is served with house-made chimichurri, an Argentine sauce they consume as enthusiastically as we do ketchup. They pair it with every kind of meat imaginable: pork, chicken, beef, lamb…. It’s full of herbs and has a bit of acidity that helps cut through the fat of cuts like New York strip loins or short ribs.

In Argentina, many restaurants make their chimichurri a bit differently—some are green and some bright red. Even street vendors selling grilled sausages offer a little bowl of it on the side. One of the versions I created for Charbar has lots of fresh herbs—parsley, mint and oregano—plus capers from Italy, garlic and sherry vinegar. It works well with the steak I serve, without overpowering it.

Another favourite is our eggplant chips. They’re made from Alberta-grown eggplant, and they’re coated in seasoned panko bread crumbs, egg wash and puffed quinoa, making them so crunchy and addictive. They’re the next best thing to french fries, and our guests love them!

Chef Jessica Pelland’s Argentine-Inspired Recipes, Charbar, Calgary

Eggplant Crisps With Aji Picante Aioli (Spicy Chili Mayo)
These crunchy, bite-sized morsels are a Charbar favourite. We hope they’ll become a favourite of yours too!

EggplantChips

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) milk
1 cup (250 mL) flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp (5 mL) garlic powder
1 tsp (5 mL) oregano
½ cup (125 mL) panko bread crumbs
½ cup (125 mL) puffed quinoa (optional)
2 baby eggplants, cut in ¼-inch (5 mm) thick slices
3 cups (750 mL) canola oil

Aji Picante Aioli
1 cup (250 mL) mayonnaise
½ cup (125 mL) aji paste
½ tsp (2 mL) onion powder
¼ tsp (1 mL) garlic powder

Directions
Eggplant Crisps
1. In shallow dish, whisk together egg and milk. In separate shallow dish, whisk together flour, salt, garlic powder and oregano. In third shallow dish, add panko; mix in quinoa (if using).
2. Dredge each eggplant slice in flour mixture, turning to coat. Dredge in egg mixture, then dredge in panko mixture, turning to coat.
3. In medium saucepan, heat oil to 375°F (190°C). Carefully place 6 to 8 eggplant slices in oil. Do not overcrowd. Deep-fry for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown. With slotted spoon, remove from oil; pat with paper towel. Add salt to taste.
Aji Picante Aioli
1. In medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, aji paste, onion powder and garlic powder. Serve with eggplant crisps for dipping.

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Traditional Argentine Chimichurri
This fresh and flavourful condiment can be paired with any grilled meat.

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Chimichurri on a grilled steak, courtesy of Charbar.

Ingredients
1 cup (250 mL) fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2/3 cup (150 mL) fresh mint, roughly chopped
2/3 cup (150 mL) fresh oregano, roughly chopped
½ cup (125 mL) capers, drained
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
½ tsp (2 mL) sherry vinegar
½ tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper (approx)

Directions
1. In blender on high speed, blend parsley, mint, oregano, capers, oil, garlic and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve on any grilled meat.

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Vegan Roasted Cauliflower and Caper Salad

By Janet Malowany

Paradoxically, when I began to eat a vegan diet, restricted to non-animal food products, I found myself with more food options. I wanted to try so many new foods. Instead of recreating meat-centric dishes, I explored naturally vegetarian ones from around the globe. Living in Canada, with its multicultural population, meant I had easy access to international ingredients and that is how this salad was born.

If you think you don’t like cauliflower, I urge you to try it simply roasted with salt and pepper. I could easily eat a whole head of cauliflower this way. Fried capers were revolutionary in my kitchen. Perhaps most reminiscent of crusty bacon bits, brined capers explode into crusty flowers at the touch of hot oil. They contrast nicely with pickled currants. Together, they round out this autumn salad of roasted cauliflower, creamy avocado and your favourite leafy greens.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Fried Capers and Pickled Currants, Courtesy of Janet Malowany, tastespace.wordpress.com, Toronto 
An unusual ingredient, fried capers will bring an explosion of flavour to your mouth!

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil (or other cooking oil)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/3 cup (75 mL) sliced almonds, toasted
1 tbsp (15 mL) white wine vinegar
3 tbsp (45 mL) dried currants
2 tbsp (30 mL) capers, soaked in water for 10 minutes, rinsed and drained
Coconut oil
8 cups (2 L) mixed greens
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
2. In large bowl, toss cauliflower florets with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread on 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets and roast for 40 minutes, stirring half-way through, until tender.
3. Meanwhile, in small skillet over medium heat, toast almonds, being careful not to burn. Remove from pan and set aside.
4. In small bowl, pour white wine vinegar over currants. Set aside.
5. Using paper towel, dry capers thoroughly.
6. In small skillet over high heat, melt enough coconut oil to coat bottom of pan. Carefully add capers to skillet, taking care not to be spattered with hot oil. Fry capers, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove capers to paper towel–lined plate.
7. To serve, top mixed greens with roasted cauliflower, toasted almonds, currants, capers and sliced avocados.

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TheTasteSpace
My name is Janet Malowany; I’m a doctor by day and amateur chef by night. I love creating healthy, delicious foods. In March 2011, I adopted a whole-food vegan diet without refined sugars or flours, and I haven’t looked back. The Taste Space is where I share my favourite recipes.

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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Learning to Forage in Ucluelet, Britsh Columbia

By Alexander McNaughton, as told to Crys Stewart

Based in Ucluelet, B.C., on the west coast of Vancouver Island, 27-year-old Alexander McNaughton is a professional forager. The not-so-pretty mushrooms he can’t sell to his discerning pro chefs go into his own enviable meals, such as the flavourful Wild Onion and Wild Mushroom Tart he prepared with Lynn Crawford at his home. That’s just one of the benefits of having a job that pays in so many surprising ways.

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I started foraging as a kid and tapped into that primal, deep human experience of eating wild berries—it’s in our DNA, how to forage. We’re hunter-gatherers. I learned foraging skills from my grandparents’ generation, old ladies picking mushrooms who taught me a lot of things.

These days, breweries and distilleries want spruce tips. Local restaurants want seaweed and wild edible greens. People are looking for sea lettuces, giant kelp to make chips out of, wild arugula off the beaches and the first edible flowers of the season. To find all this, there’s a lot of walking involved, a lot of exploring and discovering for, say, a good seaweed-picking spot. Even though it’s a beautiful wild environment here, it’s still rugged and you can’t assume you’re going to harvest things everywhere.

You know how leeks are buried on a farm? It’s called “hilling up,” and it causes the onion to produce more white from the bulb. Well, the same thing happens to wild onions; they get covered in sand and seaweed from each incoming tide, so they get this long white bulb that’s really quite pretty. They’re also called nodding onions as the flowers bend downward, nodding in the breeze.

The forests here are full of mushrooms. It’s a big part of the culture here on the west coast. It captivates people. They call mushroom foraging “getting the gold” because at the end of the day, your hands will be painted the orange-gold colour of the chanterelle. Wild mushrooms are such a treat that you want to share them with people. That’s part of the fun of my job. I bring something out of the deepest forest and get to share it with people who are a part of my life.

The Wild Onion and Wild Mushroom Tart recipe is a dish we make when the foraging season is cranking and there are a lot of leftover mushrooms. If you can’t get wild mushrooms, you can use any kind of mushroom, but wild mushrooms have that depth of flavour that a cultivated mushroom doesn’t come close to.

Foraging will always be something I do. I love getting out in the wilderness. I’m cash poor, but I’m rich in a lot of other ways—I get to eat gorgeous chanterelles and spend time in beautiful wild outdoor places.

Wild Onion and Wild Mushroom Tart, courtesy of Alexander McNaughton

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Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 1 ½ hours
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients
Premade pastry
Good-sized handful of wild onions or 2 to 3 large leeks, finely sliced
2 to 3 large shallots, minced
Butter for sautéing
Salt and pepper to taste
⅓ cup fresh thyme, destemmed
1 cup (approx) white or red wine, sherry or stock
2 to 3 lb (900 g to 1.35 kg) wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, morels, hedgehogs or angel wings, cleaned and shredded finely by hand. Can substitute store-bought mushrooms. (Tip: Use a damp paper towel to gently clean your mushrooms if they’re a bit dirty; ideally, your product should be clean if you or the harvester picked it properly.)
3 to 5 egg yolks, depending on tart size
1½ cups (approx) cheese, such as a Parmesan, manchego or Asiago

Directions
1. Roll out pastry and chill in tart pan in fridge for up to 30 minutes. (One of my tricks is to make the pastry bigger than I need and fold the crust tightly into a roll, creating a flaky layered crust that’s sure to impress.) Roll out dough approximately 2 inches (5 cm) bigger than your pie shell (this will allow for a nice crust).
2. While pastry chills, thinly slice onions and shallots; caramelize with butter in a pan. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Add about a cup of wine, just as the onions/leeks release their sugar and begin to stick for rich, sweet flavour. Once liquid has evaporated, remove onions and shallots; set aside.
3. Increase heat to high and add small amount of oil and butter; sauté mushrooms until they release liquid and edges are crispy. Mushrooms should be seared hot so they caramelize nicely; remove from heat before they go watery or limp. Once filling components have cooled, combine with 3 to 5 egg yolks (depending on tart size) and generous amount of cheese (about 1 cup) to bind tart. Top with about ½ cup cheese.
4. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for up to 40 minutes. (Make sure oven is preheated to ensure a crispy bottom.) Cheese should bubble and crisp up before removing from oven.

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To see more details from Lynn’s day with Alex, see the photo gallery here.

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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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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.

A Winning Canadian Soup Recipe

By Jordan Zakoor, as told to Elsa Goldstein

Jordan Zakoor entered her recipe for Citrus Red Lentil Soup as part of the PotashCorp Wintershines Warm the Heart Novice Soup Cook-Off, an event held in conjunction with the PotashCorp Wintershines Festival. And win the cook-off she did! This comforting lentil concoction is also what she serves at the Underground Cafe, a restaurant she co-owns in the Riversdale neighbourhood of Saskatoon.

My paternal grandfather was born in Windsor, Ont., but his family emigrated from Lebanon. It was his mother who taught my grandma how to cook Middle Eastern–style dishes, which we ate a lot of growing up, from hummus to tabbouleh to these amazing stuffed grape leaves. I remember my childhood food being a mix of these types of recipes in addition to more classic family-style dishes like roast beef and potatoes.

Growing up in Windsor, I ate at a lot of Lebanese restaurants as well. Most places had a staple lentil and lemon soup on their menu, and I was set on re-creating the dish at home while adding my own twist. My Citrus Red Lentil Soup recipe is inspired by my grandmother’s Lebanese cooking as well as the soup I so often enjoyed while eating out with my family in Windsor.

I now make this soup at the Underground Cafe, which I co-own and operate in Saskatoon. My partner started the café about 3 years ago, then I joined this past year. We’ve expanded the café since I joined and, while it didn’t start this way, I’ve been cooking more and more. When I added my soup recipe to the restaurant’s menu, a lot of our customers gave it rave reviews.

I’ve always loved cooking with lentils; they’re healthy, high in fibre and iron and really versatile. I like to use them in salads and pasta dishes, plus in tomato sauces and soups. Growing up, my aunt and my mom used them in a lot of vegetarian dishes, so I was very exposed to their flavour and texture.

For me, Canadian food is all about using local ingredients whenever possible. Sometimes, this can be a challenge because those ingredients might be harder to hunt down, but it’s always worth it. Here in Saskatchewan, we use a lot of locally grown grains, legumes and root vegetables, which I love. The red lentils I use for this particular recipe are also grown here in Saskatchewan. I pick them up from the SaskMade Marketplace, a small market that sells mainly locally sourced goods.

I think everyone can enjoy this recipe because it only uses a handful of ingredients yet manages to be both hearty and refreshing at the same time, thanks to the use of filling lentils and bright lemon juice.

Citrus Red Lentil Soup, courtesy of Jordan Zakoor

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Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients
3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) ground cumin
2 tsp (10 mL) dried cilantro
1 tsp (5 mL) dried parsley
½ tsp (2 mL) salt + more to taste
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cayenne pepper
6 cups (1.5 L) vegetable broth
2½ cups (625 mL) split red lentils
¾ cup (175 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) liquid honey

Directions
1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat Sauté onion until translucent and slightly softened. Stir in garlic, cumin, cilantro, parsley, ½ tsp (2 mL) salt and cayenne pepper. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in broth.
2. Rinse lentils well in lukewarm water. Drain.
3. Once broth is close to boiling, stir in lentils; simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. (Optional: Once lentils are tender, purée soup slightly to get smoother consistency. The lentils tend to break down the more you boil them.)
4. Stir in lemon juice and honey until well combined. Adjust salt to taste.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.