Cooking Classes


Glazed Roast Pheasant

This is another contribution to our Wild Night on December 23. I brined the pheasant and then followed this recipe from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. It was delicious! There was more meat on the birds than I had expected. I served it with my home preserved Gooseberry Chutney.
We also enjoyed moose roast, venison sausage, spicy moose sausage and saskatoon berry pie with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

My father has been collecting coins for as long as I can remember. Now he felt it was time to pass them on to us. We spent about two hours going through everything from Meat Ration Tokens from WWII, to shinplaster, Two Dollar American paper bills to turn of the century coins. Thanks, Dad! It was fun.

Glazed Roast Pheasant                    Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Serves 2

1 pheasant, plucked with skin on
1/4 c. Kosher salt
4 c. water
1/4 c. maple syrup
dried garden sage leaves
1 tsp. cayenne
ground black pepper

Mix salt and water together. Whisk to dissolve salt. When it is dissolved, pour it over the pheasant in a plastic bag. Leave in refrigerator for 4 - 8 hours. Remove and pat dry. Let it rest on a cutting board while the oven heats to 450F.

Put sage in pheasant cavity and dust the bird with cayenne. Place sliced carrots, celery and onion on the bottom of the pan and place pheasant atop this.

Roast for 15 minutes at 450F, then drop the heat to 375F and roast for another 20 minutes. Baste with syrup. Roast for another 30 - 40 minutes, basing twice in the first 20 minutes. Remove pheasant if the glaze burns.

Remove to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 - 15 minutes. Carve and serve.

Gooseberry chutney   adapted from blog Senses in the Kitchen

Makes 2½ jars, 190ml each

1 lb gooseberry, topped and tailed
1 large onion, peeled and diced
handful of sultanas
2/3 cup soft brown sugar
3/4 cup malt vinegar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
tsp mustard seeds

Place all of the above in heavy based pan and bring to boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 1.5 hrs. Occasionally stir, gently so you do not break up gooseberries too much. Keep an eye on it on last 15 minutes, stirring more often, so it prevents the chutney to catch and burn.

Place hot chutney in sterilised jars, seal and turn up side down. Leave it to cool down and store in cool, dark place. Allow to mature for about 2 months.


Ponche Caliente Updated

I know I wrote about this hot Mexican Christmas punch back when I was in Tennessee. I was served this lovely warm punch by a woman who grew up with the tradition of enjoying it every Christmas.

I thought it would be nice to serve tonight, Christmas Eve, on a very cold prairie winter night. It is very warming.

The problem is that all the tropical fruits are not available in Canada and particularly in my small city on the prairies. So I adapt. We all enjoyed it and it was also nice spiked with a bit of rum.

Ponche Caliente
1/2 pineapple, cut into 1" pieces
1 green apple, diced
1 orange sliced and then each slice quartered
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
5 cups unrefined apple juice or cider
1 cup piloncillo
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 long cinnamon sticks, broken
4 whole cloves
4 whole allspice
8 cups water

Combine all in a pot and simmer for about an hour or until mellow. Serve in glasses with the fruits and a spoon so the fruits can also be eaten.


Christmas on the Colony

It is 7am and I am in the kitchen at Waldeck Hutterite Colony. It is Friday and they are making dinner buns. This is their routine. 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of flour become 20 dozen double dinner buns and I want to be a part of the ritual. There is a proofing room but it is hardly needed as the kitchen warms to the perfect temperature while the commercial oven readies.

The children are first to enjoy this treat. The women call the school the instant the buns come out of the oven and the girls run to bring back these soft pillowy delights and we all take a break to enjoy them while they are hot.

Throughout Western Canada the farmscape is dotted with Hutterite Colonies. Most often these are grain farms with livestock, chickens and a garden. A few colonies are also into light manufacturing such as metalworking or cabinet and furniture making.

I am a substitute teacher and regularly visit Waldeck Colony, SK. I have enjoyed learning about their way of life. As I think about Christmas I thought you might be interested to see into their lifestyle how they celebrate the season.

First, I will give you a brief history. Jakob Hutter was the founder of this religion in 1536. They believe in absolute pacifism and practice community of goods. These goals have resulted in hundreds of years of reestablishing in different countries seeking the freedom to practice their beliefs. In the 18th and 19th centuries they settled in North America. Today their population is around 43,000 in Canada.

There is a division of labour that is arbitrary by age. Adulthood is reached at the age of 15. The boys and girls become men and women. The men work in the farming operation Women start working in the kitchen and are finished at age 45. After this they continue to contribute by working in the garden, cleaning in the kitchen and by helping with the many tasks for the communal family.

There are 3 sects within the religion. The Schmiedeleut are settled in Manitoba. Elsewhere in Western Canada we find the Dariusleut and Lehreleut. You can distinguish one from the other by the size of the dots on the women’s scarves called shawls.

I asked the children what they would like others to know about their colony. Here is what they told me. We want people to know how nice it is here. We have a wonderful garden, the crops and fields are very good and we have 3 coulees. Lake Diefenbaker passes through one. We also want people to know we are nice. We want people to know our name. We are Waldeck Colony! We would also like to see some recipes and some pictures in the newspaper.

Hutterites are devoutly Christian and Christmas is celebrated in its true sense. There is no excess of gifts and parties. There are no elaborate Christmas light displays. It is simply a time to celebrate the birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ, and life goes on as usual.

At Waldeck Colony, there are three consecutive days of church worship beginning on December 25. The church is a simple building without adornment. The altar is a simple table. There are rows of pews and a few have cushions for the comfort of the elderly.  Each church service is followed by the usual communal meal. After dinner the children return for Sunday school.

Of course I am very interested in the meals so I asked the ladies in the kitchen, what do you serve?

A tradition is to have a dinner of goose. Everyone is served a goose leg with thigh. It is poached in water until tender and served simply with potatoes and vegetables. All vegetables with the exception of garlic and celery are from their garden. The younger women admit they prefer the stuffed chicken dinner to goose. The elders appreciate goose.

Fruitcake is usually made but also may be purchased. Nutmeg (Eggar), carrot and vanilla cookies are favourites.

Roasted chicken with stuffing is another traditional meal during this time of quiet celebration. As we all do, they say they just eat too much food over the Christmas season.

Christmas is also a time for visiting. They might visit family at another colony or receive guests. There is a modest exchange of gifts within the home.

I begged these recipes as the women wondered why I would want recipes that serve 64 people. Initially I agreed and then thought about all the churches and community groups who plan events such as fowl suppers. Large recipes are hard to come by these days. They generously shared these two favourites that caught my eye.

Eggar Cookies  (Nutmeg Cookies)
These cookies are made twice each year. They are always made for Christmas and then once again during the year. I have been warned that if they are not made properly they can be dry. Usually I find European cookies much drier than ours.

10 1/2 lb sugar                                    4.8 kg
5 lb margarine                                    2.25 kg
30 eggs
 5 tsp vanilla                                    25 mL
10 lb raisins                                    4.5 kg
16 lb flour                                    7.25 kg
5 tsp salt                                    25 mL
1/8 lb baking powder                        90 g
1/8 lb cinnamon                        90 g
1/4 lb baking soda                        180 g
1 1/2 tsp allspice                        8 g
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg                        8 g

Simmer raisins in 10 cups (2.4 L) water for 7 minutes. Add 11 cups (2.6 L) cold water and cool well. In a separate bowl cream sugar and margarine. Add eggs and vanilla. Add raisins with liquid. Mix flour with all the dry ingredients and sift 3 times then sift into creamed mixture. Drop onto cookie sheets and bake at 425F (220C).

Orange Cake
This is a cake traditionally also served twice a year. It is enjoyed at Easter and once during the harvest.

16 1/2 lb sugar                          7.5 kg
6 3/4 lb nuts                                    3 kg
10 1/2 lb dates                                    4.7 kg
22 1/2 lb four                                    10 kg
6 lb butter                                    2.7 kg                       
3/4 cup baking soda                        180 mL
3/4 cup baking powder            180 mL
15 lb oranges                                    6.8 kg
3/4 cup vinegar                        200 mL
3/4 cup vanilla                                    200 mL
5 1/4 lb eggs                                    2.4 kg
8 3/4 quarts milk                        8.3 L

Grind oranges with peels and put aside 5 cups (1.2 L) for the icing. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and the rest of the ingredients except dates and flour. Mix the chopped dates with flour and add. Pour into cake pans and bake at 350F (175C). When cooled make a butter icing with the reserved orange added.


Saskatoon Berry Pie

We are having a traditional Saskatchewan Christmas with the whole family. I will share some of our recipes here. On Christmas Eve my sister decided to have a Wild Night. No, no, no! It isn't that kind of wild night! We are making some wild game recipes! This dessert of saskatoon berry pie is a natural pairing. This is a berry native to the Canadian prairies and northern American Great Plains

Saskatoons are a very healthy berry. They are high in antioxidants and fibre. Pie works best if the filling is made in advance and then bake the filled pastry. I made this in advance. I made the pies, froze them, then defrosted in the refrigerator for about 6 hours. Then baked as fresh below. 

Serve with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. Yum! 

Saskatoon Berry Pie 

  • 4 cups saskatoon berries
  • 3/4 cup sugar, granulated
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Pastry for double crust pie
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  1. In a saucepan, simmer saskatoon berries in water for 10 minutes. Add lemon juice. Stir in granulated sugar mixed with flour. 
  2. Pour into pastry lined pie plate. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust; seal and flute edges. 
  3. Bake in 425F oven for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350F oven and bake 35-45 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

4 egg yolks
2 cups half and half cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

Whisk yolks and sugar until lemon coloured.  In a sauce pan scald the cream with the vanilla seeds and bean.  Temper the egg yolks with this hot milk.  Do this by adding a little at a time while whisking the egg yolks.  Eventually you will have added all the milk.  Cook this mixture in a double boiler until thickened.  Cool, strain, churn according to your machine's directions.


Vegetarian Ideas for Christmas Entertaining

 This salad has a festive appeal and the phyllo cups can be made in advance. All the recipe names are a link to the recipe on my blog. Just click. Goat Cheese Souffle in Phyllo Cup

Christmas is just around the corner and you are probably already planning meals. Keeping everyone happy is always stressful especially if they eat differently than you. There are many people who practice a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian lifestyle. A vegetarian abstains from eating meat, fish and seafood and products thereof. Milk and eggs are usually okay but be sure to check with your guests in advance. My sister grew up beside me on the farm and for her own reasons has, since a teenager, been vegetarian.

Rather than roll your eyes into the back of your head when you are presented with a vegetarian guest at your table, just make something nice that everyone will enjoy. There is usually no need to buy a lot of extra ingredients. Use vegetable oils and vegetable shortening rather than lard especially in pie and turkey stuffing. Cook some stuffing outside the bird. Use vegetable stock, water or milk rather than chicken, turkey or beef stock. Avoid using the same utensils, cutting boards and pans while you cook vegetarian beside meat dishes.

Don’t assume that vegetarians will pick vegetables out of a meat dish or eat fries and vegetables that have been cooked in the same oil as meats. Be sure you serve all guests equivalent quantity and quality of food. Don’t assume that a wedge of iceberg lettuce or pasta in boring tomato sauce will satisfy while others enjoy a full meal.

Avoid the tofu burger and mock meat syndrome. Vegetarians are not interested in meat substitutes. Read labels. Often there is a fish or meat product in things like curry sauces and pasta sauces. Remember that vegetarians eat what non-vegetarians eat except without meat. Pizza, pastas, crepes, tacos, stews and quiches are easily adapted. Offer lots of vegetable dishes without meat stock, fresh or frozen fruits, breads, and non-gelatin desserts. Serve protein rich quinoa rather than rice and add lentils and legumes for added nutrition.

Pear and Roguefort Salad

 This Cheese and Tomato Tarte is so yummy that everyone will want to try it.

Waldorf Salad

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach  Feta Triangles)
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil                                                           
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 c chopped parsley or fresh dill                        
4 large eggs
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled                                    
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese                        
1/2 tsp salt                                                            
1/4 tsp black pepper                                                
Pinch of nutmeg
1 box phyllo dough, thawed
1/2 lb butter, melted                                                

Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped onion. Sauté until soft but not browned. Squeeze out all liquid from the frozen chopped spinach and add to the skillet. Add green onions and parsley. Cook until all the liquid is evaporated and spinach is dry. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Lightly beat eggs and add to cooled spinach mixture. Add feta cheese and seasonings. Stir to mix.

Lay out the phyllo pastry on the counter and with kitchen shears, cut in half lengthwise and then cut each half in half again so that you have 4 stacks of phyllo strips. Cover with a dry tea towel. Then cover with a damp tea towel.

I brush the countertop liberally with melted butter so that you can lay out 6 or 7 strips of phyllo pastry. This prevents strips of pastry from moving around and also butters the outside at the same time. Brush each strip with melted butter and top with a second strip of pastry. Just brush the top 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the second strip with butter. Put a tablespoon (15 mL) of spinach mixture on the bottom end of the pastry strip. Fold the corner over the spinach mixture to make a triangle. Continue to fold like a flag until the whole strip is folded into a triangular packet. Brush with melted butter. Continue with the remainder of pastry and filling.

Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes or until brown and crispy. These can be frozen unbaked and stored in freezer up to 3 months. Bake frozen at 375F for about 20 minutes. 

This can also be made in a 9” x 13”  pan. Spray pan generously with oil. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo in and up the sides of the prepared pan. Brush lightly with butter.  Top with 7 more phyllo sheets and brush each one with butter. Spread spinach mixture over pastry. Top with 8 more sheets of phyllo and brush with butter between each, including the top layer. Roll the overhanging phyllo from the sides to form a border all the way around. With a thin, sharp knife, cut the pie into squares, but do not cut through the bottom layer or the filling will leak out. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Bake at 375F  for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool a few minutes. Cut squares right through to the bottom and serve. (Adapted from The All New Joy of Cooking)


Trying Some New Bread Recipes Today

I had a day off work and felt like playing in the kitchen. I wanted to work with what I had on hand and tried a few new kinds of bread. I made Fougasse with Herbes de Provence. It looks like a leaf shape and tastes like a baguette. I made Cheddar and Jalapeno Bread. It smells great. And finally I made rye bread with a starter. The rye bread recipe was by braille. The others are recipes from Epicurious.