Cooking Classes


Peach Flat Pie

 I have been holding back. We made this pie in September. Flat pie is a common farm dessert to take out to the field during harvest. My neighbour came over and showed me how to do it.

She rolls out the pastry very thinly and is not afraid of working the dough. I am always so afraid to overwork pastry. She used very little flour on the countertop and with the rolling pin. Look how thinly it is rolled! I have to practice some more. The secret ingredient for her pastry is lard. We used the recipe from the box. This will normally make enough pastry for 3 pies.

Tenderflake Perfect Pastry
5 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 lb lard
1 tbsp vinegar
1 egg, lightly beaten
cold water

Mix together flour and salt. Cut in lard with pastry blender or your finger tips until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. In a 1 cup measure, combine vinegar, egg. Add cold water to make 1 cup. Gradually stir into flour and lard mixture. Add only enough to make the dough cling together.

Gather into a ball and divide into 2 portions. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll and use.

Sliced peaches were laid out over the pastry. The peaches had been tossed with sugar and a little cornstarch to thicken the juices. Simple as that. Just sweeten to taste.

Crimp edges of top crust to seal and cut vent holes. Bake at 375F for approximately 40 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned. Cool and serve.


Easy Milk Chocolate Fudge

I make a lot of Saskatoon Berry & White Chocolate Scones for the Market. Last time I ran out and placed my order, I mistakenly ordered 4 - 5 kg boxes of milk chocolate rather than white chocolate. Now I have all this in my pantry.

This is creamy and rich just like fudge should be and just in time for your Christmas baking. If you have any other favourite recipes for milk chocolate I would love to get your ideas. Just leave a comment here.

Milk Chocolate Fudge

Gourmet  | February 2007

    1 1/2 pound fine-quality milk chocolate, chopped
    6 tbsp unsalted butter
    22 oz  sweetened condensed milk (2 cans)
    1 teaspoon salt

Line bottom of an 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper or wax paper.

Heat all ingredients in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

Pour into baking pan and chill, uncovered, until firm, about 4 hours. Run a knife around edges of pan and invert fudge onto a work surface. Remove parchment and cut fudge into 1-inch squares. Serve chilled.  (I cooled this at room temperature overnight. It is much easier to cut and remove from the parchment paper when chilled)


Christmas Sugar Cookies

I have started my Christmas baking for the markets. I love making sugar cookie stars and think that a glaze of icing just finishes them off nicely. Last year I used a Royal Icing and I loved the cookies. This year I found an idea in a Winnipeg foodie magazine. They used a simple glaze and that is what I also tried this year.

I like how it is just a light glaze of icing. Sprinkles and dragees adhere nicely. You can colour the icing and you can layer it if you wait an hour between colours.

Check out the adorable sugar cookies at in Ciao magazine here

My sugar cookie recipe is a keeper. I recommend it. I used this icing recipe from Ciao magazine.

1 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon white corn syrup
2 tablespoons water

Mix until smooth. Paint on to the cookies. Sprinkles can be added now but let the icing set for an hour before layering on more colours. Leave cookies 24 hours for the icing to set before packaging.


Chicken Wings are a Blank Canvas

I remember when I was in high school working my summers at KFC. I always felt so guilty because we hid the wings on the bottom of the bucket. My boss told me they were the sweetest meat and the dessert. But I always felt I was deceiving the customer, for some reason.

Fast forward to today and now we all appreciate this sweet meat. I love chicken wings. All you have to do is toss them with a few ingredients and they are so tasty.

Tonight they were tossed with Worcestershire sauce, sriachi, freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt and maple syrup. I even sauteed them stovetop rather than in the oven. Yum.


October 18...Anniversary for Women as Persons in Canada

“We are not here to beg for a favour but to obtain simple justice. Have we not the brains to think? Hands to work? Hearts to feel? And lives to live?” (Nellie McClung)

I was in university during the Burn the Bra era and soon the Status of Women Action Committee was formed. It was a time of wanting equality in all aspects of life and work. It was a time to claim ownership of our own bodies. It was a time when we were thinking we could change the world.

At that time I had no concept of the brave and tenacious women ahead of me. My own grandmother graduated from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1909 with a Bachelor of Arts.

My grandmother has always intrigued me more than any other person in my family. Perhaps it was the mystery of having known her only through her university and teaching pictures and her personal scrapbook of poems and clippings that captured me.  She died when my father was only 20 years old.

Writing this article has made me aware of how little effort I spent getting to know her. Now it is very difficult for me to piece together the puzzle of why she was so fortunate to attend university. Was it, as my father thinks, because she wanted to? Her family was not wealthy but was devout.  Akin to the Ivy League colleges of the east established by the Puritans, Carroll College was begun by the Presbyterians.  What was her mother like? Was her father a feminist in his time?

She was a teacher in both Canada and the U.S. After marrying, she was very active in the church, community and loved the arts. For 9 years she was the local correspondent to the Regina Leader Post. I wonder how an active and intelligent woman like this would be reacting to what was happening in the women’s movement of the time.

Voting but Still not a Person
Women’s suffrage is not unique to Canada and the United States. Rather each country has its own story. The isolation and lack of opportunities for women are almost universal. With Canada being a colony, women came from their own countries and brought experiences hoping to improve life in their new world.

The suffragette movement struggled in Canada and other countries. Then with the outbreak of World War I in 1914, and the enlistment of men in the armed forces, women had entered the work force in unprecedented numbers and their role in the country’s economy could no longer be ignored.

On 28 January 1916, Manitoba became the first province in Canada to extend the right to women to be elected to a seat in the provincial house. A series of measures between 1917-19 declared the women of Manitoba are now citizens, persons, human beings, who have stepped politically out of the class of criminals, children, idiots and lunatics.

By 1925 women could vote provincially everywhere except Quebec, where fifteen more years would pass before the right was granted.

Finally Women are Persons
Much work was done by many women through a range of organizations as the Temperance Union, several women’s suffrage groups, and lobbying husbands and colleagues with mock parliaments, skits and plays and the like.

On 18 October 1928 the Privy Council of Britain declared, “Women are Persons”.  Until now a British ruling of 1876 declared that women were held to be persons in matters of pain and penalties but not persons in matters of rights and privileges.

In 1929, after two years of legal debate, Canada’s highest court of appeal declared that the word ‘person’ included both women and men. Five Alberta women who became known as the Famous Five had brought the case before the courts in 1927. The case became known as the Persons Case.


Salad in a Jar

Make these on Sunday and they will keep all week in the refrigerator. Just grab one as needed. Make a variety so monotony does not set in. Don’t just make them for the children’s lunches. They are great adult food, too.

The guide for making a layered salad is simple. On the bottom, place dressing and liquids. Then add ingredients that hold up well when submerged in dressing like beans, cucumbers, radishes, onion, and hard cheese. They may even pickle a little in the dressing.

Next add heavier items that you may not want directly touching the dressing when stored. That might include some type of protein such as eggs, chickpeas, lentils or meat. On top of that add leafy greens and light ingredients that take up a lot of space like spinach, kale, chard, beet greens, and lettuces.

Then place a small amount of accent items such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit, croutons, and accent spices. And finally, on top place colourful ingredients to perk up the taste buds when you pop open the jar, for example fruit, herbs or nuts. Grains and pasta could also be placed near the top so they don’t get soggy in the dressing. Many schools are nut-free so be sure to follow the guidelines of your school.

Commit some thought to providing an interesting salad. Using variety in shapes, sizes, colours and flavours creates interest. Tear rather than cut salad greens to prevent browning on the edges.

Beet Green Salad with Peaches and Feta
beet greens, washed and dried
peach, sliced
cucumber, diced or sliced
lemon juice, real or bottled
feta, cubed
sliced raw almonds
canola or olive oil
tarragon white wine vinegar or any light vinegar
Dijon mustard
salt & pepper
wide mouth 1 pint Mason jar 500 mL
Amounts of ingredients will vary depending upon how many jars you wish to make.

A few issues back, I shared my recipe for tarragon white wine vinegar. If you made it, then it can be used here. Otherwise, simply use something light like cider or white wine vinegar. Rice wine vinegar would be lovely. Use one part vinegar to three parts oil, add a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard 5-10 mL to help create the emulsion. Whisk vigorously. Add honey and salt & pepper to taste and whisk again.

To each Mason jar, add in the following order:
3 tbsp. vinaigrette dressing 45 mL
1/4 c. sliced or diced cucumber 60 mL
1/4 c. cubed feta cheese 60 mL
greens to fill almost full, well packed but not tightly packed
2 tbsp. sliced raw almonds 60 mL
peach, unpeeled, sliced and drizzled with lemon juice to prevent browning

The great thing about salads is that you can make them to suit your taste. If you like more dressing, add more. And so on with the other ingredients. If you can’t find feta, use another firm cheese like mozzarella. Be creative and try new combinations. I make salads like I make soups and use what is on hand.

At lunchtime, turn the jar upside down and shake so the dressing is distributed throughout. Open and enjoy!


Finding a new red house wine

The liquor store has discontinued my favourite house red and now I am searching for something new. I am partial to South American and Italian wines and tried these three.

The Finca Los Primos malbec from Argentina was just okay. It tasted young and had lots of tannins. Espritu de Argentina on the other hand was wonderfully mellow and nice sipping. It stood up well with food, as well. Finca was 14.5% alcohol while Espiritu was 13%. I much prefer the Espiritu.

Ogio Primitivo 2010 was also very nice. Primitivos are among my favourite and bring back fond memories of my travels to Puglia, Italy.

It was a good day! Two nice wines under $12 and perfect for every day wine.


Individual Christmas Fruitcakes

I am busy baking for the Christmas markets and this week I'm making my Christmas cakes. I am partial to dark fruitcake. These adorable little individual paper bakeware were purchased on sale after Christmas last year. In a couple of weeks these will be decorated  with a marzipan star studded with silver dragees and then wrapped in cellophane. Until then they will be basted occasionally with a brandy spiked simple syrup.

I have a lot of Thompson raisins so used them exclusively. For the mixed spices, I used 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground anise, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice.

My Kitchenaid Steam Assist oven was perfect for this job. There is a steam bake cycle for desserts that bakes at 275F and constantly pumps steam into the oven. After 3 hours I had perfectly steamed fruitcakes.

Rich Dark Fruitcake               Chatelaine Cookbook

1 lb each, candied pineapple, glacé cherries, muscat raisins, seedless blue raisins, cut mixed peel, currants
1/2 lb each, figs, dates, pecans
1 - 10 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 1/2 cups butter
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup cooking molasses
8 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 tsp baking powder
5 cups unsifted pastry flour
1 tbsp mixed spices

Dredge prepared fruit and nuts with 1 cup of the flour. Cream next five ingredients together. Make pineapple juice up to 1 cup with orange juice or brandy. Add to creamed mixture alternately with dry ingredients sifted together. Add fruit mixture. Steam cakes 3 to 4 hours, depending on size; then bake at 300F for 45 minutes, or until top is dry. Makes 12 pounds.