Cooking Classes


Drive in the Country Saskatchewan

Was there a castle on this lot?

This past weekend there was a Highway #1 Artist's tour. Several galleries opened their doors all down the road from Swift Current. It was a nice day to take a drive. As usual, I wish I had taken more pictures. This is all I have.

This secret garden was a delightful find in a village. It begs for more research and find the significance.

Concrete walk up to...the house?

Stone fence all around.
It appears to be a lovely lot where a house was once situated. Now it is a lovingly cared for garden.

UPDATE:   Mystery Solved

The town of Herbert has a wonderful website. I don't know why I didn't try that first. Thanks to Nana and Anonymous for encouraging me to find more info.  Here it is:

H.M. Klassen House - 420 Herbert Avenue (Castle Yard) - A beautiful house was built here for the H.M. Klassens in the early 1900s. It was traded to Senator William Sharpe in 1920, and then sold to Dr. Bejamin Funk and renovated to become Herbert's First hospital in 1923. the hospital burned down in 1925. The "Holme's Castle" was built on this property by Tom Holmes in 1933. The Nursing home owned the property for a time an it now is owned privately.


The Best Lamb Burger Ever

Last Sunday was the first ever block party for my street. Some residents have lived on this block for 50 years. So hats of to neighbour Hannah for getting this going.

It was great. Odd house numbers brought salads and even numbers brought desserts. We have way more odd numbers so we had a lot of salad choices. And no repeats. How does that always work?

We each bring something to barbecue and my big decision was what do I make for myself? My first stop was the freezer. Emptying the freezer is on the agenda before purchasing more food. A lone bag of ground lamb was the answer.

This is Black Welsh lamb and is ever so flavourful. I am choosing to use only salt and pepper so the beauty of this meat is not masked. Mint pesto will compliment the flavour perfectly.

This burger is simple and delicious. At the party I served it on foccacia with a thick slice of heirloom tomato and a thin slice of red onion. Oh, yes, and with the homemade mint pesto. The real trick to take it to the next level is to hide baby bocconcino inside the burger. This cheese melts like a dream.

Best Lamb Burger Ever
1 lb. ground lamb
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Baby bocconcino
Mint pesto

Season ground lamb with salt and pepper. As you shape the burgers, hide the bocconcino inside. Grill as usual. Spread the bottom of the foccacia bun with mint pesto. Top with burger and layer on sliced tomato and red onion. Top with foccacia and serve.

Mint Pesto 

1 c. (packed) fresh mint leaves
1/2 c. (packed) fresh cilantro leaves
2 tbsp. pine nuts
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1/2 c. (or more) extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. Serve. Can be refrigerated for up to 4 weeks in covered container.


Wild Mushroom Soup

A week or two back I showed off some mushrooms that I foraged from my neighbour's front yard. They were shaggy parasols. In this soup they are very meaty and tasty. I must add that I have never foraged for mushrooms...ever. I admit a bit of intrepidation to cook them. Even though I was 99% sure the mushrooms were indeed shaggy parasols and edible when cooked, that lingering 1% can weigh on your mind. To satisfy myself and my neighbour friend who shared these gems, I ate a full bowl of this soup first. Fortunately I reported no ill effects. Phew!

This soup is very thick and you may want to thin it with more stock. I think that a tablespoon or two would make a nice addition to risotto. Adding a touch of heavy cream or creme fraiche turns it into a cream soup.

I made this recipe for Thanksgiving in 2000 and loved it. The bonus is that it freezes well.

This recipe is adapted from The New Basics cookbook by Julee Rosse & Sheila Lukins

Wild Mushroom Soup
1/2 c. sherry or madeira
2 - 3 c. chicken broth
3 leeks, well rinsed and dried
1 onion
1/4 c. unslated butter
3 tbsp. flour
2 c. beef stock
1 lb. wild mushrooms
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
creme fraiche or heavy cream
fresh herbs such as chives or thyme for garnish

Dice leeks, white part only, and onion and cook over medium heat in butter until soft. Add roughly chopped mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms are soft. Sprinkle with flour. stir and cook 5 minutes.

Add chicken stock and beef stock. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the mushrooms are thoroughly cooked. Cool. Puree in batches in a food processor. Return to pan to reheat and serve. Serve with garnish of creme fraiche or heavy cream and fresh herbs.

Freezes well.


Pickled Peppers

There is nothing simpler than pickling peppers. They are in season now and so fresh. I have put these away for the winter. Use any peppers you have.

Pickled Peppers
peppers, any hot peppers you have
white vinegar

Slice peppers into rings, remove all seeds and pith. Pack into a jar.

Measure vinegar to fill jars into a saucepan. Heat with garlic cloves that have been crushed. Discard garlic and fill jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Water bath process for 20 minutes.


Fresh Tomato Soup with Minted Cream

Today was the day to deal with the fresh fruits and vegetables that are overflowing from my refrigerator. I had a mix of tomatoes from my garden and the market that must not go to waste. They became this rustic tomato soup now stowed away in my freezer for school lunches.

Rustic Tomato Soup
2 lb tomatoes, whatever you have
2 cloves garlic
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 c. chicken stock
heavy cream
mint pesto

Slice tomatoes in half and place cut side up on a lightly greased baking sheet. Generously season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Wrap garlic cloves in foil and place on baking sheet with tomatoes.

Roast at 400F for about 20 minutes or until tomatoes begin to carmelize.

Puree tomatoes, garlic and chicken stock. Heat and serve. Garnish with lightly whipped cream flavoured with mint pesto.


Fresh Peach Cake

Peaches are in season. It wait all year for fresh fruit from British Columbia. Mostly I eat it fresh out of hand but I had sour cream in the refrigerator. This is not your store bought type of sour cream. I had real sour cream. I have real fresh cream from the farm and I became so busy that I forgot about it. The thing about real unpasteurized cream is that it makes good sour cream if you happen to forget about it in the back of your fridge. I could not let it go to waste.

The peaches and pecans beckoned for a dollop of bourbon whipped cream. Add just a splash with a little powdered sugar after beating the cream to stiff peak stage. Makes a great breakfast. The rest will be packaged individually and stowed in the freezer for my school lunches.

Fresh Peach Cake            adapted from Ina Garten      Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups organic white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.

Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans.

Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Saskatoon Berry Pie - My Cherished Canadian Recipe

The Canadian Food Experience Project is the brainchild of Valerie at A Canadian Foodie. This is the 4th edition of a yearlong project. This month we have 80 participants. I am blown away by the participation.

My previous posts in this series can be found at these links:
My Earliest Memory of Canadian Food
Regional Canadian Food - SW Saskatchewan 
Local Food Heroes 

This is a re-post of pie I made last Christmas for our family gathering. I had to think long and hard what I would consider my most cherished recipe. As with all cultures around the world, except the most isolated, cuisine evolves. Most recipes have been tweeked and adjusted to fit our lifestyle today.
Then I remembered saskatoon berry pie. This is a recipe that will never change. It will always be the same because it is just perfect the way it is.
I have tried many recipes and this one is the best I have tried. 
I made the pies, frozen them, defrosted in the refrigerator for about 6 hours, then baked as fresh below. 

Serve with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

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.


Harvest is one of my favourite times of the year

As I was catching the afternoon sun to photograph home preserves I saw a little girl on her bicycle through my front window. It was possibly her first day of school.  She stopped at my neighbour's fence, shimmied up the retaining wall grabbing the fence boards with her little fingers. What in the world is she doing? One arm reached high to the apple tree and plucked a fruit.

Without hesitation she took a big bite and it must have been a tasty bite. It was quickly followed by a second bite as she hopped back on her bicycle and continued her tour.

The wonder of the harvest is with us. I was too slow with my camera to photograph that delicious moment.

The same evening my neighbour called and asked if I could help ferry farm trucks from one field to another faraway field. Farms are now 12,000 acres and the fields are far flung. The combine does not stop on a good dry day. That means others are called to move trucks as the harvest moves from one field to another. A drive in the country is a welcomed event for me even though I live in a small town. It is never the same old drive. Tonight a huge grain bin was being transported with a pilot truck ahead and behind. It was a slow drive. Harvest promises slow drives on gravel roads and minor paved roads. There is always the chance of farm equipment on the road.

I am happy to help out. After all, I am often the recipient of the fruits of the harvest. Last year I was gifted a tub of lentils. The previous year it was field peas. This year it is mushrooms.

As we pulled into the driveway after the long drive,  I noticed a grouping of large mushrooms on my friend's lawn. I took a sample home with me and identified it as shaggy parasol. These are edible when cooked.

Now I am carefully tending them while they ripen so I can pick them before the lawn is mowed on Friday.


Tailgate Food for Virtual Supper Club

Football season is in full swing and tailgating is one of the fun things to do on game day. Susan is hosting dinner this month.

I am bringing the appetizers. This really doesn't have a recipe. You can use whatever you enjoy or have on hand. It can be vegetarian, like mine, or not. Add prosciutto, smoked sausage and cheeses.

If you have a barbecue for tailgating, just make these on site. If not, they can be made ahead and served at room temperature. Both are tasty.

Fire Roasted Antipasti

red peppers
baby carrots
head of garlic
fresh peaches
corn on the cob
fresh lemons
block of feta cheese
olive oil for drizzling
sea salt

Red Peppers - blacken with skin on over hot coals. When fully blackened put in a sealable bag and let sit for 20 minutes. Then peel the skin off, remove stem and seeds and slice.

Eggplant - slice about 1/2 inch thick, rub with oil and grill over hot coals. Turn when browned, about 6 minutes.

Garlic - cut off top of head to expose the cloves. Rub with oil. Place cut side down on hot coals to carmelize. Remove from grill and drizzle a little more olive oil. Place back on grill, cut side up and roast until tender.

Corn on the cob - Trim the cob on both ends and remove outer leaves. Soak for 15 minutes in water. Place on hot grill and turn when blackened. Occasionally remove charred leaves and grill until tender.
Mushrooms - slice and toss with oil. Place in barbecue basket and grill until tender. Cut into small coblets.

Baby carrots - if they are fresh, scrub until clean. Otherwise peel. Toss in oil and place on grill until tender.

Potatoes - scrub and slice about 1/2 inch thick. Toss in olive oil. Grill over hot coals until done and turn as necessary.

Lemon - slice in half. Place cut side down on hot grill until there are grill marks.

Arrange all on a platter. Drizzle with olive oil. Crush sea salt over all. Squeeze lemon juice over all. Add prosciutto, cheeses. Serve.

Find the rest of the menu here...

Val at More Than Burnt Toast has  Apple Streusel Cupcakes
Sandi at The Whistle Stop Cafe made  Sweet Potato Chips
Jerry at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings and Rants has  HeirloomTomato Salad  with Herbs and Capers
Susan at The Spice Garden  Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Coleslaw