I had a chicken carcass from a roast dinner with family and friends the other night along with some lovely left over gravy and pan drippings, and I set out to make good ‘ol chicken noodle soup, but had a hankering to bake something lovely, with this urge I decided to make a flakey spelt pie crust and bring together a thick and savory chicken pot pie with roast potatoes cabbage and slivers of prosciutto ham. This is so funny; we haven’t had TV for years and years and years and only just got good internet out here in the bush so over this holiday time I have been knitting and streaming food porn, mainly master chef. I watched the first 3 seasons in the last 2 weeks, so now as I cook anything I can here Ramsey addressed each of my steps. “Just look at that pastry… flakey, golden… it’s (dramatic pause) absolutely perfect” I can here him saying. Master chef, that is a reality show I would love to rock! But enough about Gordon, lets talk about pot pie. You can make a bang up veggie pot pie, in fact I do that more often, as we only roast a couple chickens a year in this kitchen. Mushrooms, onions, potatoes, carrots, peas, and squash slowly simmered in a thick mushroom gravy, all makes for a divine pot pie. Tonight I veered from the veggie train and assembled a luscious lemon infused herb chicken gravy that you could literally eat with a spoon.
This would make for a lovely start to Christmas morning!
First off I got to use the Proof function on my new convection oven, which made this recipe a real treat, but the sweet dough itself was to die for! It was so very lovely to work with, dreamy in fact. I found the recipe through Chef Michael Smith (whom I really do admire for focusing on local Canadian seasonal food often), My daughter requested we make cinnamon buns and as I have no go to recipe I hit the net, when I found Michael Smiths recipe I knew I could trust it, he has a way about his cooking I really resonant with, I love how he cooks with his nose and without stuffy measurements.
Anyway I didn’t make any changes (which is soooo unlike me) I only added a slathering of maple cream cheese frosting on the warmed soft and perfectly baked buns. Did I say how delightful this dough was already? the initial rise was huge, after a punching and re rising it really started to shine, then after forming and sheeting the buns and a 2 hour proofing in the oven the buns were huge and almost marshmallowy.
Not sure I have ever sought out marmalade for my toast, but on occasion I have indeed indulged in its citrus sweetness. For some reason I decided on a whim in the local natural food store to load my cart with 8 lbs of organic Mexican oranges and a big bag of candy ginger, In that moment I dreamed of lovely jars of marmalade, which seemed to be festive, although oranges are certainly not local or seasonal, nor have they ever been part of my holiday traditions, yet here I set out to get jamming on the snowy solstice. This recipe yielded a really unique and kicking gingery citrus spread that had not to many chunky bits and just the perfect balance of sweet and heat. We will be enjoying this recipe for years to come I am certain it will make many a repeat performance in my kitchen. I am dreaming of ginger cookie sandwiches with marmalade cream filling…
For someone who loves so much to cook and bake as much as I do, I must admit I have had some challenging equipment to “enjoy” over the past few years of mountain living. This smallholding adventure started with only a fire pit and camp stove to cook on, which was fine, even novel and fun in the spring & summer, but by fall I was thrilled to upgrade to a 2 burner electric cooktop and the infrared oven! Finally a vintage wood / electric stove from the 50’s caught my eye (it was love at first sight), however the love dwindled as the reality of cooking with ancient wiring where scald or burn were the only two settings I had. All in stride I managed to pump out some very lovely meals in volume for the last 2 years, enjoying my single oven rack in it’s cozy 16″ oven. Well that all change yesterday when we installed my spanky new convection range! yip convection range! The hum of the mixer called to me and I was eager to get baking and test out just how even the convection baking could be!
I had a lovely afternoon of knitting with my backroad fibre-y friends on Sunday, but found myself stumped with what to bring to snack on. It was early and I was running late so I opted for a no bake sinful super berry chocolate number. Upon our arrivals we quickly realized 3 of the 4 of us, all made / brought quiche, and not just any old quiche but spinach and feta quiche, a trio of them to be presise! We had a lovely filo crusted cumin kissed variety, one with a rustic sourdough tart shell made with homemade goat feta , and one with a traditional flakey pie crust laced with shredded carrot. What a delicious suprise! Good thing my chickens were on strike and I was eggless or else we may have had a serious quiche-athon! As I said I opted for chocolate and whipped up this super silly easy fudge, which actually went very well with quiche and snake bites on a snowy sunday in the slocan.
Wheat-berries are new to me, although I have enjoyed eating them a few times, last night was my first attempt and cooking them, and they couldn’t be easier. After so much pantry eating; meat and potatoes, root veggies and such I was aching for some iron and deep dark greens. (Begrudgingly) I purchased a bunch of dark leafy green kale, and a bag of green beans and set off to sauté them along with caramelized onions, toasted almonds and wheat-berries all drizzled with a little lemon and tamari, kicked off with some ginger and garlic. Mmm glorious greens.
I had the great pleasure of finally making this Hungarian 6 layer cake this weekend, and even more pleasurable was the eating of it! My friend had his mother share his family traditional favorite with me in hopes that I would make it for his birthday months ago, and instead we made it together for mine. I taught him a few baking tricks and he made sure each step tasted and looked like his mom’s. Considering all the steps and careful mixing, I think we did pretty good. Each thin layer of fluffy spongey cake is slather with a chocolate coffee layer of frosting. We took the liberty of adding freshly toasted and then ground hazelnuts to 2 of the layers, and did a chocolate top rather than the caramel sauce shown below… I did try to make the carmel sauce but my vintage stove is all hell at heat control, I have hot and burn settings only on my cooktop, and when it comes to candy making consistent heat is key. I did however get to play with deeply sticky candy sugar and had fun making a little decorative poof for the top.
For my veggie friends as promised a lovely bunny free dish. I love the combination of tofu and beans. The crunchy golden fried tofu bits along with melt in your mouth saucy beans, laced with crisp bitter greens. This one of the flavors I desire most.
I used to fret a lot about bean cooking, mainly because I always forgot to soak the beans first, and didn’t plan ahead very well. I have finally got around that by using a pressure cooker, which allows me to cook dried beans in minutes, which means that on a whim I can bang out a beanie meal without breaking a sweat. Sure you can use canned beans, but I find the taste and texture of dried beans much nicer… also I try to avoid brining home extra garbage by way of tin cans, most of which (in fact all but a mean few companies) have BPA liners in the cans, another nasty toxin I try to limit my families exposure to.
So lets start with having 3 cups of cooked white cannellini beans on hand (by whatever means you choose to get them)
cube 1/2 block of organic tofu into 1″ pieces
2 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp olive oil
squeeze lemon juice
In a large cast iron pan heat up some nice olive oil and brown the tofu until golden, remove from pan and set aside. To the hot pan add a drizzle of olive oil and fry:
1 yellow onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic or two minced
once golden brown add beans and season with:
squeeze of lemon juice
chili flakes just a pinch
parsley dried or fresh
1 tbsp grainy mustard
add in a pad of butter (or oil)
Toss in a big ‘ol handful of bitter greens, along with a splash of white wine, cover and let simmer and steam for two minutes, before adding the tofu back in. Toss and season if needed with extra S+P
Serve hot and enjoy!
This is the story of Romeo, our rabbit buck who was to propel our rabbit breading program forward. The idea of breeding rabbits has always been 3 fold for me: nice fur for crafting, great manure for soil building, and lovely lovely meat for enjoying. We did however has some issues trying to get the bunnies, to do what they are meant to do best. When we finally felt we had a pregnant Juliet and just as I was beginning to dream of rabbit dished for the winter, our doe made a dash one day while foraging with the chickens, out and under the fence, where a good race took flight but our playful guard dog won, and his reward, well he ate her and all the little bunnies to in utero too. It was a sad day for all of us, including her lover Romeo. The poor guy was heartbroken to loose his friend, and as the winter approached, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep him in solitary confinment. Instead to celebrate my Birthday this week past, I requested that we butcher him and eat him, celebrating his life and time with use these past few months. And I wanted to be very very hands on for the whole process, I felt this dinner would be a great test to ensure we really do want to take another go at rabbit breading in the spring.
I was really thrilled to have a butcher friend walk us through the whole process, which compared to chicken processing, was a breeze. Way less smelly and messy and time consuming. The following day I broke down the rabbit, Which was unlike any process I was familiar with there were bones in places I least expected them and pockets of meat where I didn’t imagine, After some time I yielded a good 5+ lbs of lean meat. I left lots of bits on the bones, and today they will make a nice rabbit soup.
The rabbit meat got a good 4 hour marinade in chili, onions, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, our dried garden parsley, and some sweet paprika.
I wanted to cook the rabbit with as much of our own garden fair as I could, following no particular recipe, but inspired but a creamy tomatoes Cacciatore (hunter) style stew. I busted open the first jar of my precious canned red peppers, and unfroze about a dozen plump red tomatoes, used up the last of our tiny red onion bulbs, and spiced it up with our dried oregano, thyme and parsley all still hanging in the drying rack. In addition to all of that garden goodness the stew was filled also with yellow onions and mushrooms, thickened with yogurt and garnished with fresh parsley. I quickly seared the meat for only 3 minutes of so, before adding it to the pressure cooking “Instapot” along with the deglazed pan liquids and some S+P. I set the pressure cooker to stew and let it cook for about 3 hours. The result was a tasty thick rosa sauce that we ladled over potatoes from the garden roasted golden brown, and everyone at the table enjoyed the feast, and gave thanks for Romeos huge contribution to the meal.
The following day I cooked some Italian semolina noodles and used the rest of the stew as a lovely pasta sauce. There way even enough left overs for my daughter to get lunch out of that stew today. All that and the soup today, made for a good amount of feeding the family and friends from one rabbit.