Cooking Classes


Drive in the Country #5

I went back to my home town and the farm again this weekend.  One of  my nephews was married and it was a family time.  This is the bride with my niece.

I took more pictures of the farm than anything.  This is the home site.  Not much is left now.  Parts of the foundation of the house.

Overgrown trees and grasses.

I drove out to the fields and where we used to have wheat, there is now canola.  It is harvest time and the grain has been swathed.  It looked like a nice heavy crop.

I drove down to the creek on our neighbour's land.  Usually at this time of year we can drive through but the water level is quite high still.

There were so many birds singing and the ducks were enjoying the day.

It was rather gray and cloudy but they didn't seem to notice.

This is my entry for Fresh Friday.


Green Olives Sevilla Style

I have always loved olives.  But I have found that most people on the prairies don't really like them as much as I do.  I served these to a friend who hated olives but she did consent to give these a try.  She is now a convert.  This recipe is from Tapas - the Little Dishes of Spain by Penelope Casas.

Green Olives Sevilla Style

7 oz. jar of large green Spanish olives
½ t.            cumin
½ t.            oregano
¼ t.            crushed rosemary
½ t.            thyme
2                bay leaves
½ t.            fennel seed
2                cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
4 T.            vinegar
4                anchovy fillets

Place the olives in a  glass jar in which they just fit.  Add all the other ingredients, then fill the jar with water.  Shake well and marinate at room temperature for several days.  They will keep for weeks in the refrigerator, but do bring them to room temperature before serving.

Note:  I use the jar the olives came in.  I just drain and put them back in and add the marinade.


Peach Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting for Fresh Friday

This is my entry this week for Fresh Friday with La Bella Vita.  Peaches are in season and I rarely take the time to make something with them.  I usually just eat them out of hand.  I made this for another birthday at the office!  I am taking these peach cupcakes and some chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate glaze.  I have posted the recipe for cream cheese frosting here.  The fresh peach cupcakes were a huge hit.  My chocolate cupcakes were so-so.

Peach Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 18 mini cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp  baking powder
1/2 tsp  ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups  granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange zest
3/4 cup milk
2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced and cut into thirds

1. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.

2. In a large bowl, using an stand mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and orange zest, beating well. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of milk, beating until smooth. Fold in peaches or nectarines.

3. Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated over for 23-28 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.

Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.


A Drive in the Country #4

I have decided to keep the same title for all these forays into the country.  Sometimes they are about the 'tour' and sometimes they are about an event.  Today is about an event.

Shaunavon is a small southwestern Saskatchewan town.  Its biggest claim to fame is that it is the home of Hayley Wickenheiser, the Olympic gold women's hockey player.  That is pretty big fame in anyone's books, I would say.

They also have begun an annual sheepdog trial event.  I love to watch sheep dogs.  I love to watch their spark and excitement about doing their job.  These border collies are amazing.  There had to be 40-50 of these beautiful dogs at the event.  And did they ever bark?  I don't think I have ever been anywhere with more than one dog when I didn't hear barking.

They thrive on their handler's love and mastery of the art.  I said to a co-worker today that I thought some of these dogs thought they were smarter than their masters.  He said, "Some?"  They are such intelligent animals.  Given the right conditions with proper training and affection, I believe they are next to human.  No, I would say that they have a better sense of the job than any human does.

So.... back to the story.  I went with a friend and her two grandchildren.  We had a great day.  It was so hot.  We got to cuddle babies who were still nursing.  And pet babies who were a bit bigger.  Learned a whole lot about herding dogs.

My only regret is in not taking more pictures of the wonderful countryside of fields, pastures, shelterbelts and sage.  Such a variety in a small area.

The local SPCA also had a couple of reptiles that Morgan had to cuddle.

Grilled Chicken Breast with Peach Adobo Sauce

So many times I am stymied by ingredients that are just not available in my little town.  The latest is chipotles in adobo sauce.  It is almost a staple but is nowhere to be found in all my local grocery stores.  Then I remembered that Memoria had a post about making adobo sauce on her blog Mangio da Sola, Eating Alone.

I have some dried chipotles.  And I can easily buy more online.  I also have other dried chiles from my trip to Tennessee a few months ago.  I had everything on hand!  Even Mexican oregano.

So now I have two jars of chipotles in adobo sauce in my fridge.  This should keep me for awhile.  I can hardly wait to compare them with the canned that I usually buy.

And peaches are in season...

Grilled Chicken Breast with Peach Adobo Sauce
  • 1 peach, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles
  • 2 teaspoons hazelnut oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1 large peach, rinsed, fuzz wiped away and sliced in half
  • 2 boneless chicken breast halves with skin
Coat grill rack with nonstick spray. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Stir preserves, next 3 ingredients, 2 teaspoons oil, and chopped cilantro in medium bowl; season dressing with salt and pepper. Transfer 1/4 cup dressing to small bowl.
Brush peaches, then chicken with oil and dressing from small bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 7 minutes per side. Grill peach until slightly charred, about 2 minutes per side.
Place 1 chicken breast on each plate. Garnish with peach half. Drizzle dressing from bowl over chicken and peaches. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.


Blackberry Jam

Summer fruits last for such a short time up here, in the North.  I am not much of a fan of blackberries but felt compelled to buy some B.C. blackberries.  I will never eat them 'out of hand' so thought I would make a jam or sauce so I can use them in recipes this fall and winter.

Blackberry Jam

2 cups washed blackberries
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Boil all together until the mixture thickens.  Ladle in jars and refrigerate.  You could also process in a hot water bath.


Spicy Duck Meatballs

I made my own ground duck after cutting my Hutterite ducks into breast and legs.  I was amazed at how much meat was left after removing these two important pieces.  With 7 ducks, I made about two pounds of ground duck.

When I was in Quebec, I found this wonderful little farm near Saint-Apollinaire, Le Canard Goulu.  They raise their own ducks and make a plethora of products.  One of these products that I bought was duck meatballs in a jar.  They were amazing.  I have wanted to make them ever since.

They also have a great restaurant in Quebec City that is a must if you find yourself there.

Spicy Duck Meatballs
Makes 2 servings
1 tbsp. duck fat or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion, very finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1/2 pound ground duck
1 tbsp. coarsely chopped sage
1 tbsp. chile sauce, such as sriracha or sambal
2 tablespoons panko
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup veal stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 roma tomatoes or 1 cup of tomato sauce
grated Grana Padano cheese
2 quail eggs, optional
cavatelli pasta

1. Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Cook, stirring until translucent, about five minutes; remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place the ground duck in a stainless steel bowl. Add the cooled onion and garlic mixture to the duck. Add the sage, Sriracha sauce, panko and eggs. Add salt and pepper. Form this mixture into 1 1/2 to 2-inch balls and place on a baking sheet.   Cook for 10 minutes in the oven.

3. In a separate pot add wine, veal stock, chopped tomatoes and fresh thyme. Bring to a boil and then let simmer until liquid is reduced, about 30 minutes.

4.Transfer meatballs to liquid and place over medium heat. Let meatballs simmer until cooked through, about 25 minutes.

5. Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Sauté with remaining clove of garlic. Cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked cavatelli and heat through.

6. Transfer duck meatballs with some of the liquid to cavatelli sauté pan. Spoon the meatballs, cavatelli and liquid into the serving dishes. Garnish with one quail egg per dish, if desired, and a few gratings of Grana Padano cheese.


Duck Confit Risotto

Risotto with my very own duck confit!  I simply browned the confit leg skin side down to render out some fat.  Used that to saute shallots.  Added arborio rice.  Sauteed for a minute.  Added, gradually, morel mushroom stock, water and white wine until tender but chewy.  Grated in some Gran Padano cheese and stirred in the cut up duck confit.  Add a little salad and voila!

I meant to include the link to making your own confit.  I didn't take pictures this time.  I should have because it turned out really well and much prettier than last time.  But here is the link for making confit.


My Biggest Summer Project Completed

I have nothing but projects with my 'new to me' house.  Truth be told, it is a true fixer upper.  I posted yesterday about my patio project.  Well that pales in comparison to this.  I painted the entire exterior of my house!

My cooking has truly taken a second seat to all the work I am doing with my house.

I have removed ugly trees.  Removed a couple of yards of ugly red shale.  Hauled in top soil.  Added a flower bed or two.  Ripped off the indoor/outdoor carpet on the front step.  And have had new windows installed.  I am not finished yet...but I'm gettin' there!  Next year the vegetation will be able to have a chance and start to hide my foundation!  I have to do something about the adhesive on the front step.  I am just not ready to remove it 'inch by inch' quite yet.  I might wait until the dead of winter so I can just chip it away while it is as frozen as dry ice.

And I think new asphalt shingles will be a huge improvement.  I am just waiting for a big hail storm and can make an insurance claim!  It isn't such a stretch in this part of the country.  And the house numbers will be replaced with something more modern and with solar lighting.

This is the 'before' picture.  You can't see through the screen door, but there are only 2 diamond shaped windows in the front door.  I thought 3 would have better balance.


Butterfly in My Garden and Another Summer Project Completed

This is my first pretty butterfly this season.  See all those ants in the blossom, too!  For some reason all the insects like the false spirea...

...even the ladybugs

My cilantro has gone to seed and now it is coriander.  I decided to cut it down and spread the coriander seeds to dry in the sun.  Finally my chamomile and rosemary are taking hold.  Without the shade of the huge cilantro it should do much better now!

But this is my big project yesterday.  I had removed the ugly, rotten indoor/outdoor carpet from my patio.  I was left with a lot of adhesive.  And it is not easy to remove.

Coincidence ... I don't know ... but a company right here in Swift Current manufactures snap-together patio tiles that can be used to cover this situation.

It took me 6 hours on Saturday to finish the job and what an improvement.


Pear and Asiago Flatbread

I have frozen some thin crust pizza crusts.  I also have a new pizza stone!  Pardon the quick picture but I loved this impromptu dinner.  I brushed the pizza dough with hazelnut oil.  Sliced a fresh pear.  Ground some coarse black pepper.  Shaved off some asiago.  In the oven for 10 minutes and it was so good.


Help Needed for Calendar Girl

Our local SPCA is publishing a calendar and as a fund raiser they are selling 'spots'.  Well, I think my Miss Sugar should be on a calendar but I can't decide which pictures to use.  Now does she have supermodel attitude or what!

I have purchased a day in June for her picture.  It will be a small picture just for that day.

And I have entered a draw for the 'month' picture.  This is Miss Sugar in January with her haircut and the coat I bought her because I felt guilty when it was so cold outside.

Help me choose!  Which two would you pick?

Cottage Cheese Perogies

My batch of perogy dough makes millions of the tasty little dumplings.  I have made potato with asiago cheese, potato with sauteed onions, potato with morel mushrooms, potato with truffle sauce, saskatoon berry, and carrot puree with Egyptian spices.

And I still have dough!  I have never had cottage cheese perogies and I hear people rave about them.  I have egg yolks in the fridge so this is perfect.

Serve, as usual, boiled and with onions sauteed in butter and with sour cream.  You could also fry them after boiling.

Cottage Cheese Perogies

2 cups dry curd cottage cheese
3 egg yolks
salt and pepper to taste

Mix in a food processor and fill perogy skins as prepared in my previous post.


Pureed Carrot Perogies with Egyptian Spices

 I had a lot of perogy dough from participating in the Daring Cooks Challenge so made a few more varieties.  This one is very interesting and unusual.  Loved it.

Pureed Carrot Perogies with Egyptian Spices

2 T toasted ground almonds
1 T ground coriander seeds
1 T ground cumin
2 T finely cut unsweetened coconut, toasted
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 c pureed carrots
2 T tahini
1/4 t ground ginger
1 t harissa

Boil carrots to make 2 cups of carrot puree.  Use just enough of the cooking liquid to puree the carrots in a food processor or blender.  If the mixture is runny, then cook over medium heat to make it thicker.

Toast almonds in a hot pan.  When lightly toasted, move them to a small bowl.  Toast the coriander and cumin in the same pan.  Just heat lightly and when lightly heated, add to the almonds.  Toast the coconut lightly and add to same bowl.  Add salt, pepper and ground ginger.

Mix the spices with the carrot puree.  Add the tahini and harissa and mix until well blended.

Use about a teaspoon in a perogy skin.  See my previous post on making the perogy dough.

Boil in salted water and serve with butter, sauted onions and sour cream.  Can be frozen before boiling.  Cook the frozen perogies by dropping into salted, boiling water while they are still frozen.


Perogies Daring Cooks Challenge

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

My friend, Luscious Linda, taught me  how to make perogies a couple of years ago.  We used her Baba's recipe which went something like this...take one large bowl and fill it half full of all purpose flour.  Add two coffee cups of unbleached flour....etc.  We followed the directions and Linda tried to remember how big a large bowl was or what size a water glass would be.

As we went along, we also measured and wrote down the recipe.  This is it!  And, hey, it works beautifully.  Don't go out and buy those hokey perogy makers.  There is absolutely no need.  Just use a 'juice glass' to cut circles.  Then roll them again to make ovals and fill and fold.

This recipe makes a very large batch and they can successfully be frozen.  Lay the perogies out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze.  Then put them in a freezer bag.  To use, boil the frozen perogy in plenty of salted water.  Then they can be sauted in butter and served with sauteed onions and sour cream.

Perogy Dough

9 c all purpose flour
3 c bread flour
5 T canola oil
4 ¼ c warm water

1.     Mix and knead into a ball and let rest for 5 minutes.
2.     Dust rolling pin and counter top with flour and roll dough out to 1/8 – ¼ inch thick.  Cut into circles about 3 inch diameter.  Roll again a little bit more to make an oval.
3.     Continue until all dough is made into perogies.
4.     Boil perogies in a large pot of water that has had a little oil added, until they float, about 8 minutes.
5.     Serve with sautéed diced onions, butter and sour cream.

Saskatoon Berry Perogies
Mix 1 cup of sugar with 3 T flour.  Put 10 saskatoons and 1 T sugar mixture in each.  Close and pinch the seam together. 

These are little more challenging, believe it or not.  The sugar seems to get into the way when you are pinching the perogy shut and makes it difficult to get a bond.

I like these as a brunch item.  I tried them sauteed in butter and with brown sugar sweetened sour cream and liked it.  My Ukranian friend has them with melted butter and regular sour cream. 

Potato and Asiago Cheese Filling for Perogies
4 – 6 medium potatoes
1 c. grated asiago cheese
1 small chopped onion finely
Salt to taste
Milk to thin, if necessary
Pinch of pepper

Boil potatoes and drain.  Mash with the rest of the ingredients until it reaches a pureed texture.  Put one tablespoonful in each perogie.