Canadian Favourites: Red River Cereal

 

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We are fond of the four seasons in Canada, it gives us a chance to change our wardrobe, our outdoor fitness activities and it gives us a chance to indulge in seasonal cuisine. Now that it actually feels like winter it’s a good time to indulge in a wintry morning standards like oatmeal or that classic Canadian breakfast favourite, Red River Cereal. On a hot summer day, maybe not so much, but Canadian winters and Red River Cereal have been going hand in hand and mitten in mitten since the early nineteen twenties.

Read all about the amazing woman who invented the cereal here! Continue »



Essential Pantry Ingredients: Powdered milk

 

Powdered milk in your hot chocolate - how tantalizing!

Powdered milk in your hot chocolate – how tantalizing! Seriously…

 

Having a secret stash of powdered milk hidden in your cupboard is not exactly sexy or exciting; it’s not like having a bottle of rare brandy stashed away only to be broken into on special occasions. Few of us have heard the words, “Time to break out the powdered milk!” when celebrating. But instant powdered milk, most often the fat-free or “skim milk” variety is a healthy, handy and helpful foodstuff that has a place, if not in our hearts, at least in our cupboard.

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Rooting Your Own Mint

Rooting mint

Rooting mint in a small decorative vase.

There’s nothing like having fresh mint on hand, and I don’t know about you, but when I buy a bunch of mint, I tend use it a couple of times for a specific recipe, or to add to the best gin and tonic recipe anywhere.

Best Gin & Tonic Anywhere

Mix up whatever ratio of gin and tonic you prefer, with ice cubes.

Add to it, a generous squeeze of fresh lime, a couple of slices of cucumber, and a mint leaf or two. Swirl. Enjoy the taste of summer.

But after making my gin and tonic or whatever, I generally toss the remaining mint bunch into the fridge where it often dies because I forget it’s there. Pulling a squishy bunch of decaying mint out of the fridge is always sadness-inducing. And the last thing we need is more sadness in January, the month that contains the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday.

Fresh mint showing root development.

Fresh mint showing root development.

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Syrian Cuisine: Qatayef

 

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It’s always exciting learning about new foods and trying new recipes, especially so when the recipe hails from another part of the world. And if the recipe happens to be a scrumptious dessert, so much the better! How about a small, hand-held yeast pancake, folded over and filled with creamed cheese and nuts, then fried until crunchy on the outside, and then served with a sweet and delicately scented orange blossom syrup. How does that sound? Continue »



Fall In Love With Lard

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With the Holiday season right around the corner, many of us (who are prone to this sort of thing) are up to our arms in cookie dough, gingerbread, shortbread and sweet and savoury puddings of all shapes and sizes. Guests will be dropping in at unexpected times, and it’s always nice to have something to serve them. Now is the perfect time to fall in love with lard.

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Take cretons for example; this humble little French Canadian paté owes much of its unctuous deliciousness to lard.

 

Cretons (or creton) is a mild, smooth pork spread flavoured with onion and savoury spices like clove and allspice. Not necessarily a holiday thing, indeed it is served as a breakfast side at most diners in La Belle Province throughout the year, it is great on toast or crackers with a little mustard, and makes a great side with eggs. The spicing of cretons is similar to that of tourtière, another French Canadian favourite. If the pork is quite lean it may be enriched with pork fat (lard); fine breadcrumbs are added to the mix and it is cooked slowly with milk so that it turns out creamy, fatty and delicious. Maybe that is why it has a holiday appeal to it; it is a bit rich, and a bit of an indulgence. Anyway, a little lard is good for you, and it is, after all, the holidays.

 

 

Anyone who makes cretons will have a favourite version of it; the spicing is the key. Cloves, for sure, but maybe a little garlic with the onion, and perhaps a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon. In the end, it’s what pleases your taste buds the most, and those of your guests. Here’s a recipe for a traditional cretons based on the one my Grandmaman used to make every year.

Cretons

Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs regular ground pork

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 cup milk

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

Creton spice mix: 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon nutmeg

Fry the pork in a pan over medium heat, stirring gently to break it up. Add the onion and stir often making sure nothing sticks or burns. Add the milk, breadcrumbs and creton spice mix, stirring regularly for about five minutes. Lower heat and cover, cooking for another hour and a half. Check occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid, if it seems to be drying out lower the heat and add a little milk and lard. After an hour and a half remove lid and stir until the liquid has been absorbed and the water from the milk has evaporated; the creton will be smooth and creamy. Remove from heat and let cool a bit before transferring to a serving dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. A little fat cap will probably form on top, this is desirable. Serve at room temperature with toast and crackers and a good mustard.

 

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