Monday, 26 November 2012


There is some Arctic Char living in our freezer, not 1, not even 2 but I believe there are 4. A friend of ours, who spends time up in Baffin Island has befriended some fishermen. And fortunately for us, this friend does not own a freezer (he's a bit of a nomad)
After some communication with another friend living in the way North we devised a menu around “our” Arctic Char. The considerations were based on traditional foods (the char, blueberries, and bannock) and what they can actually get up there. And by get up there, I refer to the fact that their groceries must be able to withstand being flown, dropped out of planes and manhandled often.
We took 2 of the char out of the freezer , with one we stuffed it with some chopped onion & garlic, seasoned with salt & pepper, wrapped it in foil and baked it for about an hour. We made a Blueberry Balsamic sauce for it (it didn't need it) and served  with roasted potatoes & carrots.
We finished our meal with bannock and home made jam.

To make bannock:
4 cups white flour
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
½ cup vegetable oil or lard
4 cups water
¼ cup powdered milk

Mix all dry ingredients. Cut in the lard with 2 knives. Make a well, and then slowly pour in water until mixture becomes doughy. From here, you can make little balls and flatten them on a cookie sheet and bake for about ½ hour. You can also wrap bits of dough around sticks and roast over them over a fire. This time, we chose to pan fry them in oil.....we set the fire alarm off twice doing it this way, but it was well worth it!

We worked hard at eating a lot of the char, but alas between the 4 of us we didn't make a big dent. The heads, tails and bones of both char went into the big soup pot.....and we ended up with a big yummy pot of chowder.....which we called “Arctic Char-der” We dined on this chowder for the next 3 meals.
With some of the meat from the baked fish, we made fish cakes, well enjoyed by all 5 of us (we ran out of cat food, so Cyrus got a taste for a couple of meals)
But, the highlight of our Char experience, was when Shawn fired up the smoker, sliced the char, used the last little bit of our own maple syrup for a glaze, and smoked it.....

Thursday, 22 November 2012


We're jammin' in Jamaica mon! So we threw some Bob Marley on the stereo, made a blender of Hummingbird, nibbled on coconut lime shrimp, grilled some Jerk Chicken with mango salsa with a side of Rice & Peas(rice & red kidney beans cooked in coconut milk) and finished with Toto. Was another fine tropical dinner on a cool fall evening.

Hummingbird (well, my interpretation of the drink, based on ingredients in the kitchen already)
2 oz rum
2 oz Kaluha
2 oz milk
1 banana
6 strawberries
Blend, pour drink!

Jerk Chicken
I used the recipe from the Looneyspoons cookbooks......I have all 4 of them! Highly recommend them to any kitchen

1/3 cup green onion
¼ cup lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sou sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grated ginger root
2 clove minced garlic
2 jalapeno peppers, minced & seeded (I used less to accommodate the boys palates)
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp thyme (I used fresh from the garden)
salt & pepper
½ tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg
Combine above ingredients for marinade, pour into a large resealable plastic bag with chicken (I used legs, the recipe called for 12 skinless, boneless thighs)
Let marinate overnight, and BBQ!

Mango Salsa
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 diced red pepper
½ cup minced red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tbsp each lime juice & cilantro
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp
olive oil
cumin & salt to taste
Combine all, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving

This was a dense coconut cake that was quite delicious, we served it with some sliced mango on the side. As Shawn is not eating wheat, I substituted the flour for 1 cup soy flour + 1 cup ? Flour + 1 tsp xantham gum....result was good!

1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
cinnamon & nutmeg (about 1 tsp each)
2 cups grated coconut ( I used a blend of dried and fresh.....see below for tips on how to crack a coconut!)
2 tsp vanilla
¼ lb butter
½ cup milk
1 egg
lime zest form ½ lime

In our trusty, and well loved Kitchen Aid mixer
Cream butter & sugar
Sift in dry ingredients
Add lime & coconut
Add egg and vanilla
Slowly add milk, the end result is a fairly stiff dough.
Spread mixture into a greased cake pan and bake at 350 for about ½ hour.

My new sure fire method for cracking a coconut: (I learned it from the Food Network Magazine.....I am addicted to buying food magazines, I totally get hooked by the yummy covers, and the promises of having all my lunchbox dilemmas solved....they have yet to be solved by the way)

1.      Poke the 3 eyes with a skewer to find the one that is soft. Push the skewer through the soft eye, working it to create a ½ inch hole
2.      Drain the water, you will have to shake it quite a bit. You'll get about ½ cup coconut water (I used it to cook my rice in)
3.      Hold the coconut with a towel, and firmly tap with a hammer, turning as needed until the shell starts cracking in half.
4.      Split the shell, then put coconut cut-side down on a flat surface. Tap with hammer to loosen flesh.
5.      Carefully pry the flesh away from the shell with a butter knife (this was the trickiest part)
6.      Peel off any brown skin that may be on the flesh.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


So, we never actually landed on France.....but we had taken a break for a couple of weeks, and I needed to get back on track, and thought France would be a great pick!
SO many options for this menu.....considering how much my boys (I include my husband in this description) LOVE seafood, I decided on oysters to start, and Bouillabaisse for the main. 
With the oysters on the half shell, I made a Mignonette, an amazingly simple sauce for oysters. The peppercorns and vinegar heighten their flavor without overwhelming the oyster's pleasing brininess.


3 tbsp Black  peppercorns, coarsely ground
2-3 minced shallots
2/3 cup red or white wine vinegar (I used red)
pinch of salt
Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and chill well.
Of course, I had a baguette, some brie and wine! White with the oysters, and the red with the Bouillabaisse.

Mmmmm....the Bouillabaisse....for the stock I actually used stock I had made with the lobster shells from our Newfoundland stop (part of the reason I chose France for this stop, really wanted to use the stock!)

And for dessert.....Creme Brule! We devoured the entire dish, I think it was supposed to serve 6

6 egg yolks
6 tablespoons white sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
·         Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).   
·          Beat egg yolks, 4 tablespoons sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl until thick and creamy.
·          Pour cream into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it almost comes to boil. Remove the cream from heat immediately. Stir cream into the egg yolk mixture; beat until combined.    
·          Pour cream mixture into the top of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon; approximately 3 minutes. Remove mixture from heat immediately and pour into a shallow heat-proof dish.    
·          Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight.          
·          Preheat oven to broil.   
·          In a small bowl combine remaining 2 tablespoons white sugar and brown sugar. Sift this mixture evenly over custard. Place dish under broiler until sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so as not to burn.    
·         Remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until custard is set again.


When asked what country are you on this week by friends, no one had ever heard of Suriname! Us included. A tiny country between Guyana and French Guiana, Suriname has a very rich and interesting cuisine - quite different from the rest of South America.  Suriname was a Dutch colony until the 1970's, and the Dutch brought Indonesian and East Indian laborers to work on their plantations. These workers made their favorite dishes with locally available ingredients. Their cooking gradually blended with the native and European dishes (there's Chinese influence too), and all of this together became modern Surinamese cuisine.
I found it slightly challenging to find something that I thought would be distinctive, yet different, considering the Indian influences; we had already "dined" in India.
And now, I have an extra challenge to our tour.....Shawn in no longer eating wheat!

The menu for this stop:

Goedangan (mixed vegetable salad with Coconut Dressing)
Surinamese Chicken Curry 
Bojo Cake (a Coconut and Cassava cake)

My Mom was on her way to visit from Toronto, so I asked her to bring me some Cassava; a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy, tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. .  Cassava, when dried to a starchy, powdery (or pearly) extract is called tapioca. Who knew?

Goedangan (adapted from

  • 1 small head of cabbage
    8 ounces green beans
    2 hard boiled eggs
    1 sliced cucumber
    1/3 cup coconut cream (I used the top part of a can of coconut milk, if you buy the Thai kitchen brand and don't shake it up, there is a thick cream at the top)
    1/2 cup plain  yogurt
    3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    1 small green chili pepper, like a jalepeƱo, very finely diced
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    Juice of 1 lime
    Pinch of salt

    Make the dressing: Whisk together the coconut cream and yogurt. Stir in the minced green chile (to desired spiciness), sugar, coriander, lime juice, and salt. Chill until ready to serve.
    Slice the cabbage into thin strips.
    Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
    Add the cabbage a to the boiling water and cook very briefly, for about 2 minutes.
    Drain cabbage and dump into ice water.
    Bring another pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain green beans and add to the bowl of ice water.
    Drain cooked vegetables into a colander.
    Arrange vegetables on a platter with slices of hard boiled egg and cucumber slices. Drizzle with coconut dressing, and serve extra dressing on the side.

    I like to bake, and was delighted to find a dessert I could bake, that was also flourless! Bojo is a rich flourless cake made from grated coconut and cassava, that is flavored with rum and cinnamon.....and it will certainly be made in our kitchen again!

Bojo Cake

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup rum
  • 1/2 pound peeled cassava (with woody center removed)
  • 2 cups grated coconut (fresh or dried)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Soak the raisins in the rum (overnight if possible).
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
  3. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan, or 9 inch square brownie pan, and line bottom of pan with  parchment.
  4. Finely grate the manioc root (easily done in a food processor). Stir the coconut and grated manioc root together with the cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. 
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. 
  6. Stir the liquid ingredients into the coconut mixture. Stir in the melted butter. Stir in the raisins and the rum. 
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown on top. 
  9. Run a knife around the edge of the pan while the cake is still warm, then let cool in the pan. 
  10. Cut into small squares or slices and serve. This cake is delicious warm or cold, with a dollop of whipped cream.