In days gone by I used a mock mincemeat recipe from a really old version of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, but sadly this book has gone missing from my bookshelf. I have a newer edition of the book but I think the recipe in this one has been altered from the original.
So, here’s my current version of Vegetarian Mincemeat. It combines what I can remember from that original recipe with the spices I have available in my pantry. Plus, I have also factored in the amount of green tomatoes and apples I have on hand. The butter in this recipe replaces the suet used in traditional mincemeat.
Once again I have to give kudos to my good friend Pat who allowed me to pick green tomatoes from her garden. She also supplied lovely Gravenstein apples from the Annapolis valley. I used quite a few of the green cherry tomatoes that don’t have a hope of turning red before the killing frosts set in. I found these little green orbs to contain more moisture than their larger cousins so I strained them (once chopped) before adding them to the big pot.
The end result: just under 5 pints of really tasty mock mincemeat.
6 C green tomatoes, very small dice
6 C tart apples, very small dice
3 C raisins
2 C apple cider vinegar
4 C dark brown sugar
2 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp finely grated whole nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 ½ tsp allspice
¼ – ½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp kosher salt flakes
2/3 C butter
Prepare the green tomatoes and apples. It takes quite a while to dice these ingredients by hand so feel free to use a food processor. Just make sure to work in small batches and use the pulse action. The apples and tomatoes can easily go from being pulsed into an ideal small dice to unusable mush in the blink of an eye. Drain the tomatoes after they have been diced if necessary.
Put everything except the butter into a large pot and bring to the boiling point slowly, stirring occasionally. Note: I’ve used the smaller amount of ground cloves as I find it can be a strong and overpowering spice. Let your taste buds be your guide!
Adjust the heat so the mixture continues to simmer. Continue to stir now and then over the course of approximately 3 hours. The apples take a while to cook. The mincemeat is done when the apples are no longer white. The mixture will be slightly chunky and a dark golden brown when ready to come off the heat (see picture above).
If you need to keep the mincemeat until Christmas have your pint jars and lids sterilized and ready for canning. Process the filled jars according to your canners instructions.
Last year there was a bountiful harvest from the wild apple trees surrounding our home but this year there aren’t as many apples for easy picking. However, it seems the rose bushes are yielding plenty of ripe red rosehips so I’ve paired these tart little wonders with the apples I can easily reach for a small batch of vitamin c rich jelly.
I used approximately 5 cups of apple chunks (stems removed but skin and cores with seeds included) and 3 ½ cups of rosehips (stems removed and bottom parts cut off). You can vary the amounts of chopped apple and rosehip for this first part of the recipe. Just make sure to use more apples than rosehips as the pectin from the chopped apples is what actually causes the jelly to set up. You won’t be adding any extra pectin to this recipe for jelly.
I like to start the jelly making process in the early evening. This allows the juice used for the jelly time to drip out of the prepared fruit overnight.
Preparation Part One
The rosehips take longer to break down so start the jelly making process by placing them in a stainless steel or enameled pot and add enough water to just cover the fruit. Bring to a boil and adjust the heat so the mixture stays at a slow boil for about 30 minutes or until the rosehips become soft and their skins break open. You may have to add extra boiling water from the kettle during this process.
Add the apple chunks and more boiling water to just cover the fruit and continue to boil for 20 more minutes. Remove from the heat and lightly mash up the soft apple chunks and rosehips.
Pour into a sterilized muslin jelly bag and suspend over a glass or stainless steel bowl. Refrain from squeezing the bag if you want your jelly to be clear and not cloudy. Allow the juices to drip out slowly overnight. Alternatively, you can also line a large enameled colander with several layers of clean cheesecloth and place the boiled and mashed fruit inside. The colander can then be placed over a stainless steel or glass bowl and left overnight so the juices can drain out slowly.
Preparation Part Two
Measurements must be more exact for this part of the process. Measure the juice that has gathered overnight. Use one cup of sugar for every cup of juice. The amounts of fruit I used garnered 3 cups of juice so I used 3 cups of sugar to make my small batch of jelly.
Place sugar and juice in a stainless steel pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Adjust the heat under the pot to keep the liquid at a rolling boil. This mixture must reach 220 F which is thegelling point. The best way to know when your jelly should come off the heat is to use a thermometer. If you don’t have one you can always use the old fashioned method of placing a small amount of liquid on a cold plate. Place in the refrigerator for a few moments then drag your finger through the liquid. If the trough created holds its shape then it’s time to take the jelly off the heat.
Note: The amounts of fruit cited above took 20 minutes to reach 220 F. If you are making a larger batch the boiling time will be longer. I ended up with 3 ½ small jars of jelly. Each jar holds about 1 cup of jelly.
Pour jelly liquid into sterilized jars leaving ¼” space at the top of the jars. Screw on the sterilized lids and seal by placing in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (at sea level). Add one minute for every 1000 feet above sea level.
Here’s an easy variation of my Quick Banana Bread Loaf recipe. Simply add 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and spoon the batter into a muffin tin lined with paper cups. The yield from this recipe will be 10 large sized muffins. These moist muffins freeze well and make a great snack or lunch-box addition.
When you are in a hurry this recipe for barbequed Korean style ribs will fit the bill. Whip up the marinade a day in advance, cover the ribs with the mixture and refrigerate overnight. All you have to do at meal-time is fire up the barbie to medium high and grill these babies for 3 or 4 minutes per side. Serve with a side salad and some steamed rice for a yummy and satisfying meal.
¾ C soy sauce
¼ C Mirin ( Japanese rice wine) or sweet Sherry
¼ C rice wine vinegar
1/3 C brown sugar, packed
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 T minced garlic
2 tsp, minced ginger
½ tsp cumin
3 – 3 ½ lbs Korean style short ribs, 1/3” thick (16 pieces)
2 scallions, cut diagonally for garnish
Make the marinade by mixing together the soy sauce, Mirin, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Place the ribs in a re-sealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over the ribs. Seal and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours but preferably overnight. Flip the bag over periodically.
Pre-heat the BBQ to medium high. Remove the ribs from re-sealable bag and discard the left-over marinade. Place ribs on the BBQ over direct heat and grill for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Watch them closely and don’t overcook or they will be chewy instead of tender.
Don’t send those black bananas to the compost bin! You can whip this recipe up in one bowl. It tastes great, stays fresh for quite awhile and around our home it’s a family favourite.
3 very ripe bananas
1 C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 C melted butter
1 1/2 C unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place peeled bananas in a large bowl and, using a fork, mash the bananas into a pulp.
Crack the egg into the bowl and beat it into the banana pulp. Add the vanilla, melted butter and brown sugar. Mix well.
Sprinkle the flour, baking soda and salt into the banana mixture and continue to mix until everything is well incorporated.
Spray a loaf pan with cooking oil and spoon the batter into the pan, spreading it around evenly.
Place the pan on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Let the loaf rest in the pan for 5 minutes before removing and placing on a rack to cool.
As you know, I’ve recently been thumbing my way through, Jerusalem, a cookbook by Yotam Ottalenghi and Sami Tamimi. Today I am sharing a slightly tweaked version of a traditional Arabic casserole. Maqluba means “Upside-down” and that’s exactly how this savoury chicken and veggie casserole is presented. Once cooked, the pot, layered with tasty food is flipped over and if luck is with you, the casserole drops out in one piece onto the awaiting platter. Last night luck was with us and, posted here you see the results.
Traditionally the veggies are fried before being layered into the casserole dish but I roasted mine instead. This way, less oil was used and the vegetable flavours were deepened and intensified during the roasting process.
Now, the list of ingredients might seem long and daunting but really, most of what you see below is various spices. They add distinctive flavours to this upside-down casserole making it hard to resist.
1 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/2 ” slices
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 large onion, cut into quarters lengthwise
½ medium sized cauliflower, cut into florets
¼ C olive oil
1 tsp oregano
¼ tsp kosher salt & grinding of pepper
1 C basmati rice
8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
¼ C cooking oil
1 ½ C chicken broth (or water)
1 small onion, cut into quarter sections
1 bay leaf
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp black pepper
Lay the eggplant pieces out flat on a piece of paper towel. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt. Leave for 15 – 20 minutes. Beads of moisture will appear on the eggplant surface during this time. Pat the slices dry.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Coat the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, onion quarters, and cauliflower with the olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper. Spread the veggies out on one or two baking pans lined with parchment paper and place on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven. Roast the vegetables for about 40 minutes removing individual veggie slices/pieces as they are done.
Cover the rice with water and leave it to soak for at least ½ hr.
While the rice is soaking and vegetables are roasting, heat the 2 T of cooking oil in a large heavy pan with a tight fitting lid. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides. Add the broth or water to the pan, along with the onion halves, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to a boil then lower the heat so the broth is just simmering. Cover with lid and braise for 20 minutes. Remove chicken using a slotted spoon and strain the chicken broth. Set both chicken pieces and broth aside for later use.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the casserole pot you will use to assemble the Maqluba. Select a pot that has a tight fitting lid and doesn’t slope inward from bottom to top. The sides should be straight up and down with the top opening of the pot being the same size as the bottom of the pot (see what I used pictured below). Spray the sides of the pot with cooking oil.
Now it’s time to layer the casserole. First place the roasted cherry tomatoes on the bottom followed by the roasted slices of eggplant. The chicken thighs come next followed by the roast onion sections and cauliflower florets. Strain the soaked rice and distribute it evenly across the top layer of the casserole. Press everything down firmly.
Add the remaining spices (turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper) to the reserved chicken broth and stir. Slowly pour enough of the chicken broth mixture over the last casserole layer to completely cover the rice. Cover the pot with its lid.
Place the covered pot on the middle rack of the 350 F oven. Bake for one hour. Leave it for a bit longer if there is liquid that still needs to absorb and reduce. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before flipping onto platter. Good luck but don’t worry; the Maqluba tastes great even if it’s not in one piece when served.
Garnish with lightly browned pine nuts if desired.
We have had hot muggy days over the past week; the type of weather that isn’t conducive to indoor cooking. Who wants to slave over a stove in the summertime anyway? Not me. Tabouleh is a perfect option when the temperature soars and there’s no need to even crank up a burner. Just use the kettle to boil water for the bulgur. That’s it! Even though tabouleh is a filling salad, the fresh mint along with the lemon juice in the dressing keeps it tasting light and refreshing.
3/4 C bulgur (cracked wheat)
1 C boiling water
1 C tomato, small dice
1 small red onion, fine dice
1/2 C red bell pepper, fine dice
3/4 C peeled & seeded cucumber, fine dice
1/2 C minced fresh parsley
2 T minced fresh mint
1 tsp kosher salt flakes
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 C olive oil
Pour hot water over the bulgur and set aside for about 30 minutes. During this time the bulgur will absorb the water and soften up. Chill the prepared bulgur in the fridge for at least an hour before mixing with the remaining ingredients. I often prepare the bulgur the night before I make tabouleh.
Combine the tomato, red onion, bell pepper,cucumber,parsley, mint and kosher salt.
In a separate container mix together lemon juice, olive oil and chili powder.
Add the chilled bulgur to the vegetable mixture and combine with the prepared dressing. Chill before serving. Garnish the salad with sprigs of fresh mint.
Recently my friend Pat lent me her copy of Jerusalem, a cookbook by Yotam Ottalenghi and Sami Tamimi. It’s full of stories and great recipes. I’ve adapted this recipe for the traditional lentil and rice pilaf, popular throughout the Mediterranean, by tweaking the spicing to suit my own palate. I also used canned lentils that were already prepared. The crispy onions add texture and sweet flavour making this hearty dish something special!
4 cooking onions, sliced very thin
3 T white flour
1 tsp salt
½ C oil
1 can of cooked lentils
1 C cooked brown rice
3 T olive oil
1 T mustard seeds
1 T coriander seeds
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
First prepare the crispy fried onions. Mix together salt and flour then sprinkle over the sliced onions and toss. Heat oil and fry the onions until they are crispy and golden brown. It takes about 7 -8 minutes. Give them a stir now and then. The flour tends to stick to the bottom of the pot. Just keep scraping it up. These little bits will brown and add crunch to the finished dish. Drain the crispy onions on paper towel and set aside.
Rinse and drain the lentils – set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the mustard and coriander seeds. Stir over medium heat until the seeds begin to pop then add the remaining spices. Continue stirring for a minute or two then add the drained lentils, cooked rice and half of the crispy onions.
Combine it all together. (I didn’t have any coriander so I used Cilantro Paste instead and added it to the mixture at this point).
Salt & pepper to taste. Serve heaped into bowls and garnished with the remaining crispy onions. Glenn likes some heat so he adds some Sriracha hot sauce to his bowl at this point!
We use the left-overs for lunch the next day. I create wraps using large sized tortillas filled with the mejadra, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato and then dressed with the following sauce:
2 T mayonnaise, 2 T sour cream (or plain yogurt), 1 T cilantro paste, 2 T Sweet Thai chili Sauce
Here’s an easy recipe for using up bananas that have become too ripe. I usually have several over-ripe bananas in the freezer ready for banana mug muffins or a breakfast smoothie. Ready in five minutes, this easy version of banana bread serves one. You simply mix the ingredients up in a microwavable mug and pop it into the microwave. As you know, Glenn and I are lowering our carb intake these days. Now I know banana is usually on the hit list for low carb dieters but we still eat a small amount of banana now and then. If you are watching your carb intake, this mug muffin will add 9.9 G of carbohydrates in total to your daily count.
½ ripe banana, mashed
1 T melted butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 T stevia sweetener or sucralose (I use Sugar Twin Stevia Sweetener)
1 T PB2 powder or 1 T peanut butter (see note about PB2 below)
1 T coconut flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
Pinch of Salt
Place banana in a microwavable mug and mash into a smooth paste.
Add the egg, melted butter & vanilla and mix all the wet ingredients together with a fork until well blended.
Now add the rest of the ingredients (PB2 powder, coconut flour, baking soda and salt) and using the fork mix everything together right in the mug.
Microwave on high for 1 1/2 – 2 ½ minutes. My microwave is 1000 watts so I use the shorter time.
Yield: 1 serving
For those who prefer to use an oven: Pre-heat oven to 350 F and bake the muffin for 15 minutes.
Note: You may be wondering what PB2 powder is. Well, it’s a mighty fine addition to the pantry for anyone who likes peanut butter but is watching their calorie intake. PB2 powder is made from slow roasted peanuts that have been pressed to remove 85% of the fat and oil. The resulting powder is full of peanut flavour and is great for use in recipes like this Banana Nut Mug Muffin.I purchase PB2 online from: The Low Carb Grocery
Hummus is another item we make often. Versions of hummus first appeared in Cairo during the thirteenth century. It’s a dish that has definitely stood the test of time and now shows up on menus all around the world. A simple dish, hummus is a spread made from five basic ingredients: chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil, garlic and lemon.
1 15 oz. can cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
4 – 6 cloves of garlic, crushed through a garlic press
¼ C olive oil
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 T tahini
¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
Place all of the above ingredients into a blender (or food processor) and blend until the chickpeas have turned into a paste and are well blended with the other ingredients. If you use a blender you will have to stop the blender to scrape down the sides a few times until the chickpeas are broken down into a paste. Place hummus in a bowl or on a platter, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with black olives. Serve with pita bread or as a dip beside fresh veggies.