My favourite story growing up was (and still is) Alice in Wonderland. I would read it compulsively as a young girl, and now, whenever I’m looking for a nonsensical escape, I flip through the pages of this absolutely, wonderfully, heatwarmingly absurd story. You can imagine my mind-boggling excitement when I found out that Julie Van Rosendaal, my Canadian favourite food writer and cookbook author, was writing a cookbook based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! As always, life overtook me in the past few months, and I haven’t yet had the opportunity to explore the recipes in “Alice Eats.” The perfect opportunity presented itself this weekend when my niece, Roxanne, turned 5 and wanted to have a garden party theme birthday party…
I had received Alice Eats for Christmas, and had not yet had the opportunity to crack her open. I am so happy I got the chance this weekend!
My sister was already making cucumber sandwiches. So I decided to try my hand at Julie’s “Alice’s little girl bacon and egg salad finger sandwiches.” While I had to modify them, because my nieces are allergic to the raw eggs in mayonnaise, they were truly incredible sandwiches!
First things first, pop your eggs into a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil.
I was also making a veggie tray for the party, so I decided to dice some celery very small and throw it into the bowl for the sandwiches. The recipe also called for green onion, so while the eggs were boiling, I thinly sliced some green onion stems too.
Les voila, waiting for their egg friends.
In the recipe, Julie suggested running the eggs under cold water and then letting them sit in cold water until cool enough to handle. Smart idea! It certainly sped up the process.
Peel all of the eggs and throw them in the bowl with the chives and celery.
Using a potato masher, I minced the eggs into a tasty pulp.
Here they are, all ready for the sauces that will hold them together.
I diced up some bacon that we had made for breakfast that day and threw it in with the eggs.
Then I began to put together the sauce. As I mentioned, the girls are allergic to the raw eggs in mayonnaise, so I had to come up with a alternative. Scanning the fridge, I found sour cream & plain yogurt (perfect!), so I threw those into the mix. Then I added the grainy mustard and added some prepared mustard as well, because both my my nieces love the stuff (I know, right?). Trying to imitate mayonnaise is tricky – you need the perfect balance of zippy and sweet. I got the zippy down pat with the sour cream, yogurt and mustards, but then I just needed the sweet – and who doesn’t love a honey little honey with their mustard? After another taste, I felt like I had nailed the flavour profile of mayonnaise, without the raw egg!
In the sauce went to the mix.
For layering the sandwiches, I took two pieces of whole grain bread.
Then sliced it in half.
I made a lot, hoping they would be a hit at the party.
They turned out so well that Justin was thrilled there were leftovers from the party! We got to take them home and enjoy them all to ourselves.
Roxanne’s Little Girl Bacon and Egg Salad Finger Sandwiches (Modified from Julie Van Rosendaal and Pierre Lamielle’s’ Alice Eats)
You will need:
A dozen large eggs
2 tsp each grainy and prepared mustard
1/2 cup each sour cream and plain yogurt (Greek would make it thicker)
1.5 tbsp honey
6 slices of bacon, cooked
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 sprig of celery, minced thin
10 slices of whole grain bread
6-7 leafs of butter lettuce
Place the eggs in a large saucepan/pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Drain, then set the pan in the sink and run cold water over the eggs to stop them from cooking. Let them sit in the cold water until cool enough to handle. While the eggs are cooking, mince celery, green onion and crumble bacon. When eggs are cool enough to handle, peel and place them in the bowl. Roughly chop them using a pastry cutter or potato masher. Add your sauces and stir well to fully incorporate. Assemble sandwiches by layering salad and butter lettuce. Cut into quarters or halves to serve for a wonderful little girl’s fifth birthday party.
Once upon a time, there was a squash. Let’s call him Hubbard. A farmer grew him to sell at the Strathcona Farmer’s market, and grew throughout the summer of 2013. He was a medium sized squash destined for a tasty meal. Harvested in the fall and set out for sale, Hubbard was picked over for other squash. Time rolled on and Hubbard was still at the Market, waiting to be bought and taken home.
One day, a girl named Jacquie bought Hubbard and took him home. Finally, his destiny of turning into a tasty meal would soon be realized. Jacquie opened him to make a meal for her family. Inside were seeds – lots of seeds. Then she realized that because Hubbard had sat so long on his own, that the seeds inside his belly has begun to sprout! Much to Jacquie’s delight, Hubbard wanted to live, and by golly, she wasn’t going to stop him. She removed all of the seeds and picked through the ones that were most likely to survive.
She cleaned the seeds, wet a paper towel and left them to warm in the sun.
She filled four small planter boxes with soil and planted Hubbard’s seeds into each pot, approx 2-3 per pot. She watered them and placed them in the sun. Every 1-2 days, she’d check on them, speak kind words of encouragement to get them to sprout out of the soil and waited.
The baby buds grew stronger and larger every day, soaking up the sun’s rays and turning them into energy. More buds poked their heads out the soil to greet the early spring sunshine. They were happy to be here.
… To be continued.
Ah daylight savings time. It sure has its pluses and minuses, eh? Pluses, it means spring and longer days are coming. Minuses: you end up waking up super early for no reason, or at least I do. Ugh. I was up at 6:30 this morning (so actually 5:30), for no reason at all, so I decided to make a fancy breakfast: Baked eggs with roasted potatoes. Hmm!
I’ve seen baked eggs in several magazines, and they’ve always seemed like a good idea, but altogether too much work in the morning when you’re hungry. But when you have tons of time, it’s the perfect opportunity to make something elaborate.
Out they came, 20-25 mins later, cooked to perfection. I grated some Sylvan Star Grizzly Gouda on top, for some added awesome. You can serve it with crusty bread to soak up the awesome, or dip some roasted potatoes in the tomato goodness.
You will need:
1/2 small bell pepper
1/2 small onion
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic and rosemary, crushed together.
Aged cheese, grated.
Preheat your oven to 400. Dice peppers and onions and add to a ramekin. Cook for 10 mins. Mince garlic and rosemary. Add tomatoes, garlic and rosemary to ramekins. Crack egg on top and bake for an additional 20-25 mins, until eggs are cooked to your liking. Sprinkle with cheese. Enjoy!
Ah Pinterest. You always give me such good ideas that fill my fridge (and freezer) with yummies. Here’s a perfect example: Freezer Burritos! Now, do you ever have days where you’re running out of the house, with no leftovers in the fridge, on your way to work and you’re not inspired by another sandwich? In steps freezer burritos: saving your mornings and taste buds!
I opted to make mine cheesy and full of rice, to make as a full meal.
While the beef is browning, cook your rice. (I used an Uncle Ben’s package of Spanish rice. Super simple.) Throw in some black beans and frozen corn for good measure. I also added some salsa for more flavour.
You will need
1 lb ground beef
2 tbsp taco seasoning (I used chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika)
1 package of Uncle Ben’s Spanish Rice
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans
1 cup salsa
1 bag of shredded tex mex cheese (or cheddar!)
10 whole wheat flour tortillas
Begin by cooking your rice according to package instructions. Then, dice your onion and brown it with the ground beef. Add seasoning and let simmer for about 10 mins, until fully cooked. Let cool a little then transfer to a large bowl. Add corn, beans and salsa. Once rice is cooked, add to bowl. Add cheese. Mix until fully incorporated. Fill tortillas and roll burrito style. Using a hot non-stick pan, seal the burrito. Let cool before transferring to a freezer bag. You can freeze up to 3 months.
As part of the Canadian Food Experience Project, we are writing about regional food this month. I can’t think of a more regional food than raspberries. I remember when I was growing up, my Baba’s house had a huge raspberry bush that we would pick every summer. She would can her raspberries with sugar and we would serve them over ice cream. Some of my fondest memories are from summer evenings at the lake with a big bowl of Baba’s raspberries, all soupy, sweet and delicious.
So to celebrate one of the best regional food our province has to offer, I made a raspberry pistachio cake. It was lovely, and while the raspberries are obviously not local this time around (it is currently -35 outside), I will certainly make this again this summer from the raspberries that will bloom from our backyard bush once we plant it! (Stay tuned for exciting posts on our garden!)
Raspberry Pistachio Cake (Courtesy of Sips and Spoonfuls)
You will need:
- 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 5 tbsp pistachio meal
- 1 1/2 cup whole grain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup crushed pistachios
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 350. Grease your baking dish. Using your electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add dry ingredients (including pistachio meal) and stir to evenly combine. Add milk and fully incorporate. Pour into a baking dish, cover with crushed pistachios and fresh raspberries. Cook until middle is set and if you insert a toothpick or knife, it comes out clean (about 50 mins.) Enjoy!
I know what you’re thinking: “That sounds a little extravagant, doesn’t it?” Why yes, yes it does. But what else are you going to make on the coldest day of the year? That’s right. When you’re freezing your butt off, there’s nothing much you can do other than pack on the carbs, butter and caramel and hope that you survive until spring decides to rear it’s beautiful, green head. So, on the day that I decided, unequivocally, not to leave the house in protest of the season, I treated Justin and I to an over-the-top extravagant breakfast. So worth it!
I’ve only ever made homemade caramel once before, and it didn’t turn out so well the first time. I had better instructions this time, courtesy of the queen of caramel herself, Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen.
Dunk your bread into the egg batter and leave it there for about a half hour, while the bread soaks up the egg and your caramel cools in the fridge. Stir every once and a while to evenly coat the bread.
Tada! Perfect over the top breakfast for a morning that is colder than a witch’s bosom.
Salted Caramel Overnight French Toast (modified, from Smitten Kitchen)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 or 3 pinches of a coarse salt
1 loaf multigrain bread.
9 large eggs
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese (I used ricotta because I couldn’t find marscapone…)
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large cast iron skillet, place 3/4 cup sugar, butter and sea salt and heat over medium heat. The butter will melt and, after 7 to 10 minutes, the sugar will dissolve and begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir with a spoon or spatula so that it browns evenly. You will find that the butter separates from the melting sugar and this is just fine. Do your best to keep them stirred together but know that it will all work out in the end even if it’s split. Stop cooking the caramel once it’s reached a medium brown colour; it will continue cooking and darkening for a minute off the stove.
Place pan in refrigerator and chill until caramel is cold and solid, about 30 minutes. While the caramel is cooling, make your egg base and cut up your loaf of bread.
In a large bowl whisk together eggs and 1/4 mascarpone or ricotta cheese, until very smooth. Add milk and vanilla extract. Dump bread into your egg bowl, making sure to saturate all of it. Once your caramel is completely cool, pour bread over top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight. If you bread seems too high in the pan to get a good soak, you can weight it with a plate in the fridge.
In the morning, heat oven to 375°F. Take dish from fridge, remove plastic, and bake 50 minutes, until set. Remove from oven and run a knife around edge of dish, loosening bread from sides. Place a serving plate over top of dish (bottom side up), and, using potholders, hold pan over sink and flip french toast onto it. Lift baking dish off plate; scrape any extra caramel from pie dish over french toast. Serve, warm with a mug of coffee.
Last weekend, my friend made me Pad Thai. It was a pre-prepared sauce mix, but it was sooooo good! I didn’t realized I liked Pad Thai so much, and so, of course, I had to make it from scratch, now that I’ve tried a simpler, store bought version.
This recipe did require many steps and lots of dishes, but I think Justin didn’t mind all too much, considering I was making him an incredible meal from scratch!
You will need:
- 1 package of Thai rice noodles linguini-width
- 2 chopped chicken breasts (Marinade: 3 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp fish sauce)
- 10 tiger shrimp, peeled, tails removed.
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cups fresh snap peas
- 1/3 cup crushed or roughly chopped peanuts
- 3 cups fresh bean sprouts
For the sauce:
- 1/3 cup good-tasting chicken stock
- 3 Tbsp.white vinegar
- 3-4 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Place chopped chicken in a bowl and toss with soy and fish sauce (1.5 Tbsp). Set aside. Combine Pad Thai Sauce ingredients together in a cup, stirring to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dunk in rice noodles and switch off heat. Allow noodles to soak approximately 5-8 mins. Drain and rinse noodles briefly with cold water to keep from sticking. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle in some vegetable oil and swirl around, then add the garlic, onion, ginger and snap peas. Stir-fry 1 minute. Add marinated chicken and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, continuing to stir-fry until they turn pink and chicken is no longer pink (2-3 minutes). Add the rest of the Pad Thai sauce into the pan. Using two utensils, lift and turn noodles with other ingredients. Heat until sauce and noodles are warmed.
Fold in bean sprouts. Top with crushed peanuts. Enjoy, a lot!
As part of the Canadian Food Experience Project this month, we are all writing about our Canadian love affairs. I find it tough to write about how much I love this place, when my backyard is covered in snow, my skin is cracking and peeling, and I am so fed up with winter that all I can do it crumble about it. But rather than being a sourpus and making you all read about it (now wouldn’t that be a lovely post?), I am going to write about my favourite things, right now. I’m talking vendors, products, shops… etc. That’ll make me a little more hopeful for those lovely spring buds.
First things first. As I sit and write this, I am sipping a lovely, velvety thick hot chocolate from Choklat. They claim to be the only chocolate maker in Alberta (which I’m not so sure about… doesn’t Jacek and Bernard Callebault make their own chocolates? Or is that not the same thing?) Whatever. It’s gooooooooooood. Their hot choclates are so thick and spiced that it coats your tongue with awesome, making you crave more the second it’s gone. (I’ve been there twice in the past week). It’s melting my hard, cold exterior from the inside out and making me feel more positive with every sip. Try it. You won’t regret it!
The Blue whip cream is a nice touch, too!
Another great product I love it mighty trio. First off, Emily and Sean are fantastic people. Working across from them at Strathcona for a year really gave me an appreciation for how hard they work. Also, their kids are CUTE! Anyway, their canola oil is a staple at our place. I use it all the time. It’s got a great flavour and nice colour. It’s great!
Another fav: Elaine Wilson’s Food You Can Cook. Her sauces and spices make any meal just that much better. I’ve got a whole bunch of her dried spices in the cupboard right now (Try the smoky asado. Now. Do it!) I also just really appreciate her love of fresh, readily available ingredients. She always takes care of her customers, making sure they get exactly what they are looking for. Props, Elaine.
Finally, and of course you guessed it, Gold Forest Grains products. It might be because I was surrounded by John’s products for a year, or it might just be because they are truly awesome, but I love everything he comes up with. I use his oats, flour, barley and lentils on a regular basis. Using local grains make me feel more connected to my community and my province. Also, I’ve been graving cinnamon bunch and rich, creamy steel cut oats. Maybe it’s the weather. Yep. I think I’ll be making some thing weekend!
So, these are my favourite things. Hopefully, they’ll take me to spring.
Ah Cauliflower. It has appeared to have become the new “It” veggie, and thank goodness, too! Kale tastes like feet, so I’m happy to see a tasty, cancer fighting cruciferous veggie taking the spotlight for a while.
Creamy Cauliflower and Shrimp Alfredo (Adapted from a Pinch of Yum)
You will need:
- 8 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 5-6 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 3 cup milk
- 1.5 cups fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 10 shrimp, peeled, tails removed
- 1 box pasta
Boil water for your pasta. Begin by separating your cauliflower head into florets. Melt butter or heat oil in pan and cook cauliflower until it is tender. Add garlic and cook down some more. Transfer to your food processor and puree until smooth. Add cauliflower to a heatproof bowl and add Parmesan cheese and milk. Stir until evenly combined. Cook shrimp in the same pan as the cauliflower, until lightly pink. Add sauce back into pan with shrimp and coat the shrimp evenly. Once pasta is cooked, serve sauce over top, with extra Parmesan, if you wish.
Ok, so I know what you’re thinking: Jacquie doesn’t normally use quite such colourful language when writing her posts. Well, when I made these granola bars, I was seriously channeling some Thug Kitchen, and I had to have it come across. Also, I told Justin that is what they were called, and he made me promise to call them that on my blog. So here we are, with who gives a F%#@ Granola Bars.
Firsts things first, go to your pantry and take a look at all of the grains or pantry items that you have a tiny bit left of. I’m talking oatmeal packs, cereal boxes, puffed wheat, graham crackers… whatever. Pull it all out and get read to assemble.
Jacquie’s Who Gives a F%$@ Granola Bars
You will need:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
2 cups of whatever dry ingredients you have in the cupboard. (I used cheerios, some old granola, sesame seeds, graham crackers and peanuts.)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Heat peanut butter in microwave for 30 seconds, until runny. Mix well with honey. Add dry ingredients, stir until evenly coated. Press into a baking pan. top with chocolate chips. Chop into bar-sized servings. Wrap individually with wax paper. Enjoy!