Thursday, 31 January 2013


A reminder; when we land in North America, we use the State, Province, Territory or general region. I am full aware that Oregon is not a country!  We were delighted to be in yet another coastal region though....another excuse for a seafood dinner!
I had tried to convince the boys (I include Dad in the term "the boys") that we should do a pioneer, Oregon Trail kind of meal......Shawn said I was only thinking that because of the computer game we played in grade 6, Oregon Trail although he does not know what I'm talking about when I reminisce about this, apparently they did not play this game in Kingston. I loved “buying” things in the store, and trying to get my cattle across the country. He also makes fun of me when I talk about King's Quest; the game I always played on my Grandparent's computer. Does anybody out there know what I'm talking about??
Anyway, they were having nothing to do with beans and biscuits, not when we could dine from the sea.
Research showed me that the nut of Oregon is the Hazelnut (98% of the hazelnut production in the US is grown in Oregon) the fruit is pear (although, I came across more references to berries) and the mushroom is chanterelle. OK, I can work with all of this. And round it out with some oysters and mussels.
Using the LCBO website, I found there were 2 stores that had a beer brewed in Oregon on it shelves. The first one I visited could not find the beer. The second one had it; Rogue Ales' Pumpkin Patch Ale. Another location had 3 bottles left of a wine; Evolution by Sokol Blosser Winery.....and it was on sale! After 3 LCBO visits, I had my drinks.

The beer was actually quite nice, I wasn't sure about a pumpkin ale, but I liked it! The wine too was a nice surprise.....I'm developing a taste for white, and this was nice, crisp and refreshing.

The Menu
Appetizer: Oysters on the half shell while sipping on Pumpkin Ale. I even found Kumamoto Oysters, harvested in the Pacific Northwest, USA.....perhaps they even came from Oregon?
The Main: Golden Chanterelle Mushroom Soup and Pumpkin Ale and Shallot mussels
Dessert: Pear & Hazelnut Crisp

The Recipes:

Golden Chanterelle Mushroom Soup
Found the main recipe on I'll share that recipe, and make notes of the changes I had to make. The first one being, just how was I supposed to find (and afford!) 1 ¾ pounds of chanterelle mushrooms in Kingston, in January? Instead of the amount called for in this recipe, I used 4 cups sliced mixed mushrooms (oyster, white and cremini) and 2 packages of dried chanterelles. Each package produced about 7oz and cost $4.I don't want to do the math, but I  would have had to buy A LOT of the dried packages to make up 1 ¾ lbs. For the broth, I used the venison broth Shawn made. THAT is a whole other I'll tell in my other's coming soon. This soup produced a rich, earthy flavour.

                     ½ cup olive oil (I used about ¼ cup)
                     1 ¾ pounds chanterelle mushrooms
                     ½ pound white mushrooms, chopped
                     2 large celery stalks, chopped
                     2 medium leeks, chopped
                     ½ cup shallots, sliced
                     4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
                     3 quarts strong chicken stock (I used about 6 cups of venison stock & 2 cups of mushroom soaking liquid)
                     3 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1 tsp dried
                     2 bay leaves
                     salt & pepper
                     inner leaves of one bunch of celery, chopped

In a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan (I used my beautiful new Le Creseut I got for Christmas!) heat olive oil. Add mushrooms, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add celery, leeks, shallots and garlic stirring until all vegetable juice has evaporated and mushrooms start to brown, approximately 15 minutes. Add stock, stir, add thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 60-90 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool. Blend most of the soup your favourite way (If you don't have a hand held submersible blender, you should ask someone to get you one!) Season with salt & pepper. Garnish with celery leaves.
A side note: we told the boys the soup was made with venison (not a lie......if we told them it was made with mushrooms, they would have said it was yucky) They tasted, and loved! Even after we told them that it was mushroom soup, and the chunks they ate were not venison, they still had seconds!

Pear Hazelnut Crisp
Shawn really likes my apple crisp (and I don't just think he's saying that because he has to) But, my crisp calls for wheat  flour, and he is not eating wheat. This recipe I made up totally on my own, based on my apple crisp recipe, that I probably learned from my Mom.

                     6 pears, peeled and sliced
                     1 cup oats
                     ¾ cup brown sugar
                     ¼ cup rice flour
                     ½ toasted hazelnuts; grind them up in a coffee grinder or food processor until you get a flour like consistency
                     ½ butter, chopped into ½ pieces
                     handful of toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Arrange pears in bottom of a baking dish. In another bowl, combine oats, sugar, rice flour and hazelnut flour. With your hands, work the butter in, until you have a nice crumbly “mess” with small bits of butter showing, but all dry ingredients are incorporated. Spread crumble over pears, and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts on top. Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, depending on how crunchy (or mushy) you like the pears. A bit of bite to them is nice; the top should be nicely browned.

Thursday, 24 January 2013


I was a good high school student. Rarely did I skip class, I always did my homework,  joined clubs (I wasn't much of an athlete; was always given the position of “manager”) and was respectful to my teachers. Much of my behaviour was because of my mother.....I was too afraid of her wrath if I  strayed (those of you who went to high school with me can vouch for all of the above statements, including the one about my mother!) I got pretty good grades, and I worked hard for them. So, I still can't figure out just how I managed to miss the fact that Yugoslavia is no longer a country. I should have learned this is either geography, or at least world issues. Well, I guess the map in the kids room is a few years old!

Researching this meal was a bit challenging, as there is very little on the Internet regarding Yugoslavian cuisine. So we then looked at the 6 countries that make up the old Yugoslavia (Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and M....)  for some inspiration. Here is the menu we put together:
Appetizer: Cevapici with Ajvar the one “classic” Yugoslavian dish I was able to find.
Main Course: Leskovaccka Muchkalica (Pork & Paprika stew)
Dessert: Tufahije (Bosnian Poached Apple)

Even harder than researching the meal, was finding something to drink! After harassing the good folks at 3 different LCBO's (and discovering their on line search engine, complete with inventory and location) I was able to find a wine from both Croatia & Macedonia. I also splurged on a on a treat from Serbia, Stara Sokolova Medovina; a plum & honey liqueur that “strikes a perfect chord between the honey of the Mediteranean and plum brandy. Every sip opens with the bright, natural sweetness of honey and is filled in by the full, fruity base of the underlying spirit” It was very nice with dessert, and I enjoyed another couple of sips in a hot bubble bath days later.

The Recipies

Cevapcici- Basically a skin-less sausage made up of a combination of meats. I found a few different recipes and merged them together to come up with this:
                     1lb ground pork
                     1lb ground beef
(use any combination of meats you'd like, lamb was in many of the recipes I came across)
                     1 minced onion
                     3-4 cloves minced garlic
                     handful of minced fresh parsley
                     1 tsp baking soda
                     1 egg, beaten
                     ½ tsp each: paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, pepper
Combine all ingredients. Shape the meat into finger like sausages, about 4” long. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat some oil in a large non-stick pan. Cook sausages, turning until done. Many recipes called for cooking on the grill, which I would have done if it wasn't winter.
Serve as an appetizer with a side of Ajvar for dipping (which we did) Would also be nice in a pita with the Ajvar, lettuce, onion and sour cream or tzatziki.

Ajvar- this was like a cross between baba ghanoush & roasted red pepper dip

·         2 large eggplants, about 3 pounds 
·         6 large red bell peppers
·         Salt and black pepper
·         1 garlic clove, finely chopped
·         Juice of 1 lemon
·         1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
·         1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (optional)

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Place washed eggplants and peppers on a baking sheet with a lip to catch any juices, and roast until their skins blister and turn black, about 30 minutes.

Place roasted vegetables in a paper bag and let them steam for 10 minutes.

Peel off and discard blackened skins, stems and seeds. In a large bowl, mash or chop vegetables, depending on how smooth or chunky you like your ajvar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add garlic and lemon juice, and drizzle in oil, stirring constantly.

Transfer to a glass dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley for garnish, if desired. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Tufahije- Bosnian Poasched Apples
I found this recipe on; it is from chef Julia Jaksic, a New York City chef of Croatian-American descent. The dessert is popular in parts of the Balkan where it was introduced during Ottoman rule, but is originally from Persia. Whereever it came from, it sure was delicious! And I got to buy a new kitchen tool to do it right, an apple corer......or as Fin calls it “the apple core gun” How have I lived without this tool?

                     6 golden Deliciuos apples, peeled and cored
                     2 cups suger
                     2 cups water, or enought to cover apples
                     1 tbsp lemin juice
                     ½ cup ground almonds
                     ¼ cup ground hazelnuts (I used pecans, as that what was in the cupboard)
                     2 tsp cinnamon
                     2 tbsp creme fraiche or Greek style yogurt
                     whipped cream

Apples: In a saucepan large enough to hold all the apples, mix together sugar, lemon juice and water. Add apples, weighing them down with a plate on top. Make sure apples are completely covered with liquid. Simmer on medium heat until apples are tender, but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove them from the water, and place them on a rack to cool. Reserve the poaching liquid.
Filling: In a medium bowl, stir together nuts, cinnamon and yogurt until smooth. Fill the cooled apples with this mixture.
To serve: Pour reserved poaching liquid over apples, and top with whipped cream. Yum!

Monday, 14 January 2013

New Zealand

Wow, December can really mess up your routines!! It's been awhile since we've taken a “culinary trip”, and I can't remember where we are supposed to travel to next.  It's been on my mind, but I pushed it aside to go out for another ski over the Christmas holidays (we got the boys skiing!!!) but as we were skiing it came to me, we would do New Zealand! OK, how did I get from skiing (cross country at that) to New Zealand? Well, here's the route I took:

We were getting dressed into our Icebreaker (a wonderful merino wool clothing and base layer company, from you guessed it New Zealand)) and it occurred  to me that my order was due when I returned to work. (for those of you who don't know what I do to earn money, I buy (among other things) for Trailhead, an outdoor store in Kingston) Thinking of work made me think of wine; well at least the bottle of New Zealand wine sitting in the wine rack given to me by my Icebreaker rep. Thinking of that wine made me think of the bag of lamb Shawn received as a birthday present. (That's another story: one of the guys we curled with knew that we liked to cook, and on Shawn's birthday, which fell on a curling night, he presented Shawn with a bag or organic lamb that he raised himself.....really what guy wouldn't love a bag of meat for his birthday?...ok maybe a vegetarian) Anyway, thinking of that lamb and wine reminded me we needed a plan for dinner that night.....and well you can probably put it all together now!
We marinated the lamb in red wine, (not the New Zealand Flying Kiwi, but some home brew given to us by our neighbour)garlic & rosemary.
When researching for this dinner, I learned that Kumara is a staple, and was delighted to learn that Kumara was the Maori word for sweet potato, which we are all a fan of in this house. And we happened to have some (which no one gave or grew for us, theses came from the grocery store) I found a recipe for Kumara Salad. It was a way I had never prepared sweet potato before, and I am happy to report it got rave reviews. The vinegar offsets some of the sweetness, which was quite nice.
The recipe is below. For dessert, I made Pavlova. I know that I had already made this when we were “in” Australia, but considering there is debate as to the origins of this dessert, I thought it fitting to make it again. Besides, it is wheat free, and delicious!!

After the lamb had marinated, Shawn decided to cook it over the open fire......a very yummy choice.

Kumara Salad
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1” pieces
3 tbs vegetable oil
4 slice of bacon, diced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ sugar
¼ cup parsley

1.Cook sweet potato in boiling water for about 8 minutes, you should be able to stick a fork in them, but still feel some resistance. Drain and cool
2.In a bowl, toss the potatoes with salt, pepper and vegetable oil. Grill them for 3-5 minutes until well browned. (we did them over the fire, if you don't have that, use your BBQ)
3.In a large pan over medium heat, cook bacon until they start to crisp, remove  to paper towels.
4.Pour out about half of the fat, add onions and cook for a couple of minutes, then add garlic and cook for a few more. You don't want anything burnt, just nicely browned, caramelised would be tasty! Remove pan from heat and stir in vinegar, olive oil, sugar and bacon. Salt & pepper to taste.
5.In a large serving dish, place your kumara, and toss with bacon  mixture, sprinkle with parsley and serve! is written, floor is vacuumed, load of laundry in and there a 4 hours before the kids get off the bus. I'm putting on some Icebreaker and going for a ski!!