Glenn’s Good Beef Stock

Beef Stock

It was cold, windy and snowing this morning when we opened our eyes and started to think about getting out of bed. I got up and put the kettle on for our morning cuppa Joe. When Glenn finally made his way downstairs he looked me in the eye and we both knew there was really only one thing to do on a day like today; while I built a fire in the woodstove Glenn got out the stockpot! So now the beef bone broth is simmering nicely on the stove and the air is filled with an aroma that promises a tasty soup will soon follow.

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 beef marrow bones
  • 2 litres water
  • 3 T cider vinegar
  • 1 cooking onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 6 pepper corns
  • 2 bay leafs
  • ½ bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  1. Arrange the soup bones on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with foil and place on the middle rack of the oven. Roast the bones for 1 hour until they are browned nicely.
  2. Carefully remove the cookie sheet from the oven. There will be some liquefied fat from the bones in the pan, so keep it steady as you lift it up out of the oven.
  3. Put the browned bones, liquefied fat and everything else into a large soup pot and bring the liquid to the boiling point. Immediately adjust the heat under the pot so the liquid cools to a point where it is just simmering gently. The trick to getting a nice clear broth is to simmer the broth slowly and not let it get up to a full rolling boil. It’s also important to skim off any scum that forms on the top of the stock and around the edges. Do these two things and your broth will be clear and not cloudy.
  4. You can let the bone broth simmer all day if you want but do it for at least 4 hours to achieve a deep enough flavour. When you take it off the stove and it is cool enough to handle discard the bones and veggie chunks before pouring the stock through a fine sieve to remove all the little bits. Let the broth cool to room temperature then store it in the fridge. The excess fat will solidify on the top once it’s been refrigerated for a few hours making easy to remove. I always leave a bit though, because it adds so much flavour to a broth.

Tip: You can also save leftover bones from meals like T-bone steak, cross-rib pot roast or beef short ribs in the freezer and toss them into the stock pot along with fresh marrow bones when it’s time to make a good beef stock.

Beef Bone Broth

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies

This cookie is a much-loved classic. Now there’s some debate about the type of rolled oats that should be used. Many recipes stipulate not to use the quick cooking variety. I use whatever type of rolled oat I have in the pantry when a craving for these old fashioned cookies hits and have found that it doesn’t really matter … both seem to work well. I used quick oats for the cookies pictured above.

You can also add some chocolate chips if this tickles your fancy. I cut back to ¾ C of raisins and add ¾ C of chocolate chips when going down this road.

Ingredients

  • 2 C unbleached white flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C butter (softened)
  • 1 ½ C brown sugar
  • ½ C white sugar
  • 1T vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ C rolled oats
  • 1 C raisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 350

  1. Mix flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, large enough for all the ingredients cream together the softened butter, brown sugar and white sugar using a mixer.
  3. Add the vanilla and eggs and continue to mix until the mixture is light and creamy.
  4. Do the last steps by hand. Slowly add the rolled oats to the creamed mixture, a bit at a time, until the oats are completely incorporated.
  5. Now add the raisins and mix until they are evenly distributed. The dough will be very stiff.
  6. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and form small mounds of the dough on the sheet using a tablespoon, leaving about 2 “ between the mounds of dough.
  7. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 12 – 15 minutes. If you like a crispier cookie bake for the full 15 minutes and only 12 minutes for a softer, more chewy version. Oven temperatures vary so keep an eye on the cookies after 10 minutes … you don’t want them to burn!

Yield: 36 cookies

Tomato & Ginger Jam

Tomato and Ginger Jam

This tomato & ginger jam is the perfect accompaniment for roasted pork. Glenn and I often roast pork tenderloin so I like to keep a jar of this condiment in the fridge at all times. When it’s time to use up the roasted pork left-overs the jam also works well in a sliced pork sandwich along with some mayo.

Yield: 1 pint jar

Ingredients

  • 6 or 7 medium sized ripened plum tomatoes (4 cups prepared)
  • ¾ C white sugar
  • ¾ C cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves minced finely (or use a garlic press)
  • 3T fresh ginger (peeled and minced)
  • 1/4 tsp. of hot paprika
  • ¼ C raisins

Directions

  1. First, place whole tomatoes into a large bowl and cover them with boiling hot water and let them sit for a few minutes. The skin will split and peel off easily once the tomatoes have cooled down a bit. Seed first, then chop the tomatoes into a small dice and set aside.
  2.  Combine the sugar, vinegar and salt in a stainless steel pot and bring this mixture to a boil over high heat. Turn the burner down to medium and let the mixture continue to simmer until it is reduced by half. This will take between 10 – 15 minutes.
  3.  Add the diced plum tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger and hot paprika to the vinegar mixture and simmer for 30 minutes. The mixture will thicken slowly. Make sure to stir often during this process, especially towards the end, as the jam may scorch and could make a mess on the bottom of your steel pot!
  4.  Remove from burner and add the raisins. Once cooled store tightly covered in the fridge.

Tomato & Ginger Jam

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

We’ve had several snow storms hit one after the other, over the past three weeks. When a nasty nor’easter blows cold wind down from Northern Canada I need warm soup in my belly to see me through. This Italian wedding soup goes together quickly and hits the spot on a cold winter afternoon after shovelling the driveway and bringing in the wood. I am not quite sure why this warm concoction is called wedding soup. Maybe it’s because when the soup is finished, the tiny white pasta balls (acini di pepe) look a bit like confetti floating around in the soup bowl.

Ingredients

  • 1 cooking onion – medium dice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 litres beef bone broth (or two, 1 litre tetra packs)
  • ½ C acini di pepe
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage (hot or mild)
  • 1 package of baby spinach leaves

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in soup pot, add the chopped onion and sauté until the onion is translucent
  2. Add the beef broth and heat until the broth begins to simmer
  3. Add the acini di pepe and continue to simmer the soup for another 15 minutes
  4. While the soup is simmering make tiny little sausage meatballs by rolling about 1 tsp of the meat between the palms of your hands
  5. Add the little meatballs to the soup and continue to simmer the soup for another twenty minutes or so
  6. Add the spinach and stir until it has all wilted

Your soup is ready to serve. However, as with most soups, the flavour will continue to develop if the soup is brought to room temperature and then gets to rest in the fridge overnight.

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Cilantro & Sweet Thai Chili Dipping Sauce

cilantro and thai chili dipping sauce

Couldn’t be easier; simply combine all the ingredients listed below and you’re good to go! For a simple and quick lunch or supper pair this dipping sauce with Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas.

Ingredients

  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1/4 C Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
  • 2 T cilantro paste (see photo below)

While I usually prefer to use fresh herbs when available, I make an exception for this cilantro paste from Gourmet Garden. This is a product I use often when making curries or sauces like this cilantro & Thai Chili Dipping Dauce. Give it a try – you’ll see what I mean!

Cilantro paste

Chicken & Cheese Quesadillas

Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla

Roast chicken makes a regular appearance on our weekly menu plan leaving us with leftover chicken to use up the next day. Glenn and I find these quesadillas make a quick and easy lunch or dinner when busy schedules have us eating on the run. To add a little something on the side you can whip up some Cilantro & Thai Chili Dipping Sauce in a matter of minutes!

Ingredients

  • 2 T oil
  • 1 large onion – cut into thin wedge slices
  • 1 small Jalapeño pepper – small dice
  • 4 tortillas – 10” diameter
  • 4 T Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
  • 2 C cooked chicken – small chunks
  • 1C shredded marble cheese (or other mild cheese)
  • chopped cilantro leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F

  1. Heat 2 T of oil on high heat in a heavy frying pan
  2. Add the thinly sliced onion wedges and immediately lower the heat to medium
  3. Sauté the onions slowly until they turn a golden brown and are caramelized
  4. Add the diced jalapeño to the caramelized onions and sauté until the jalapeños are soft – remove from heat
  5. Place the tortillas, laying out flat, on two separate cookie sheets sprayed lightly with cooking oil
  6. Spread each tortilla with 1 T of the Sweet Thai chili sauce
  7. Divide the caramelized onion and jalapeño mixture, chicken chunks, grated cheese and chopped cilantro evenly amongst the four tortillas (place these ingredients on only one half of each tortilla)
  8. Fold the tortillas in half
  9. Place both of the cookie sheets on the middle rack of the oven
  10. Bake 10 min.
  11. Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve with Cilantro and Thai Chili Dipping Sauce 

Miche’s Thin Bread Seed Crackers

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Pictured above on the right hand side of the breadboard, these thin bread seed crackers are likely to become a staple in your pantry once you try them. My good friend and chef extraordinaire, Miche Genest, features versions of this delectable thin bread in both of her recently published cookbooks; The Boreal Gourmet and The Boreal Feast. I’ve added poppy seeds to Miche’s list of ingredients because they are a particular favourite of mine. You can easily substitute seeds and spices of choice to customize these tasty crackers for your own table!

Check out Miche’s blog for more of her mouth-watering recipes at: http://www.borealgourmet.com/

 Ingredients

  • 1 C corn flour Note that the texture is floury; not grainy like corn meal.
  • 1/2 C toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 C sesame seeds
  • 1/4 C poppy seeds
  • 1/4 C pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 C flax seeds
  • 1/4 C canola oil
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) anise seeds
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) ground juniper berries
  • 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt

 Directions

Preheat oven to 300 F

  1. Line a 9″ x 13″ cookie sheet with parchment paper
  2. Stir dry ingredients together.
  3. Combine canola oil and boiling water and then add this mixture to the dry ingredients – mix thoroughly. The dough will be quite runny at first, thickening as the corn flour absorbs the water.
  4. Using a spatula, spread as thinly and evenly as you can onto the parchment paper lined baking tray. Don’t worry if there are small gaps in the dough.
  5. Cover the dough in the pan with another piece of parchment paper that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil (pam). Using a rolling pin over the parchment paper flatten the dough as much as possible inside the pan. Remove the top piece of parchment paper and sprinkle the flatbread evenly with the Kosher salt.
  6. Place on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour.
  7. Turn the oven off, prop the door open and leave the bread in the cooling oven for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cool on a baking tray. When at room temperature, break the bread into large pieces. Store in an airtight container. The thin bread seed crackers will keep for several days.

Makes about 45, 2″ x 3″ pieces.

The Boreal Feast: http://www.borealgourmet.com/#!shop/cjg9

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The Boreal Feast – Miche Genest

Ham & Cheese Strata

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Ham & Cheese Strata photo by: Janet Moore

Glenn and I are hosting a Boxing Day brunch tomorrow morning and I’ll be assembling this ham and cheese strata before tucking in tonight. It will come right out of the fridge and pop into the pre-heated oven a half hour before we plan to eat. This recipe serves six but can easily be scaled up or down to suit the number at your table. It might sound odd, but I use Sweet Thai Chili sauce in the strata for added zing! Give it a try – you’ll find it adds a unique flavour to a tried and true brunch favourite.

Ingredients

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 6 stale croissants cubed
  • 3 C of shredded old cheddar cheese (225 gm)
  • 2 C  of baked ham cubed
  • 3 oz of cream cheese cut into small chunks
  • 12 eggs
  • 1½ C milk
  • ½ C Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp salt (omit if ham is salty)
  • Grinding of pepper

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 F

  1. Sauté onions in melted butter until softened and beginning to brown – remove from heat and cool slightly.
  2. Spray large casserole or individual ramekins with cooking oil
  3. Place half of the cubed croissants into a large casserole dish or 6 individual ramekins. Add half of the ham, sprinkle on half of the sautéed onions, ½ of the cream cheese chunks and half of the grated cheddar cheese. Repeat this layering process ending with the rest of the grated cheddar cheese.
  4. Wisk the eggs, milk, Sweet Thai Chili sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, thyme, salt and a grinding of pepper together in a large measuring cup.
  5. Pour the egg mixture over the casserole (or spread evenly amongst the ramekins) and cover with plastic wrap. The strata(s) can now be refrigerated overnight.
  6. In the morning pre-heat the oven to 350F and place the strata on the middle rack once the oven is hot.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes (20 – 25 minutes for individual ramekins).

To test for doneness insert a metal skewer into the centre of the strata. If it comes out clean the strata is ready to serve.

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Nuts & Bolts

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Nuts & Bolts photo by Janet Moore

My Mom and aunts used to make these every Christmas when I was a child. It was the only time of year this tasty snack made an appearance in our household. The recipe has been tweaked by my cousins and I over the years so a unique version exists in each home come the holiday season. I like a deep buttery flavour so my Nuts & Bolts are a little richer than most but what the heck… It’s only once a year!

Ingredients

  • 8 C Cheerios
  • 8 C Crispix
  • 1 box Bugles
  • 4 C pretzels (use the mini version)
  • 1 lb peanuts
  • 1/2 lb butter (1 C)
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1 T Worcester sauce
  • 1T garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp hot smoked chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste!)

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 F

  1. In a large roasting pan mix together the Cheerios, Crispix, pretzels, Bugles and peanuts.
  2. Put the rest of the ingredients in a microwavable bowl and microwave on high until the peanut butter and butter have melted. Give it a stir before pouring it over the dry ingredients. Mix until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
  3. Place the roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 200 F. Bake stirring every 15 minutes or so until the Nuts & Bolts are dried out and toasty. Let cool completely and then store in several airtight containers.

The Best Fudge Ever!

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Caramel Fudge

Glenn and I LOVE fudge, so I rarely make it … too hard to control ourselves. However, with the holiday season ahead I’ve made several batches for friends and family members also afflicted with the sweet tooth syndrome. I always thought the fudge I made was top notch. However, this year I’ve discovered an even better fudge recipe, made using Eagle Brand Dulce de Leche sauce. You can get the recipe for this caramel flavoured Dulce Fudge on the Eagle Brand website. It’s simply the best fudge I’ve ever tasted. If you are a fudge fan then give this recipe a try. You can make it using the microwave and it never disappoints!

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