here and there

Friday, August 30, 2013

Magnolia's Grill in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Magnolia Grill's in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Bread served before the entree

Pan fried haddock with Greek salad, with tons of lettuce!

Fish Cake with a Caesar salad

Quaint little house with a small patio that faces the harbour but view is obstructed by other buildings and trees... We ordered two dishes for lunch which we split.  My husband loves fish cakes but found these bland, tasteless and mainly potato.  I was surprised by my husband as he rarely if ever complains.  My haddock was lovely, but the Greek Salad was mainly lettuce.  We had been recommended this place by a local, but wish we had gone else where. 

German Fruit Squares- Fruit Platz

Not sure what the difference between Kuchen and Platz

But according to this Winnipeg Blogger Platz means a coffee cake. Kuchen means Cake

Here is the Mennonite Girls can Cook version of Platz.  If you're looking for an old recipe, they are a good reference. You can also follow them via email. 

Here is my co worker's recipe.. yes, the date is correct.. the School of Nursing where I taught in Winnipeg did a wedding shower for me and each one wrote a recipe.. Here is Tina's in her very lovely hand writing. Tina used to bring this dessert especially when plums were in season! It is a stunning looking dessert along with a very great taste! Another plus is that it serves a crowd when cut into sguares!

After purchasing a basket of peaches in Nova Scotia, that were ripening much too quickly, I decided to do my friend's recipe, but since I was not at home, I googled the recipe. 

I combined a couple of recipes as since I had done the recipe a few years ago, I only remember using a cookie sheet, baking powder and that I drizzled  an egg mixture over top!

Here is the recipe I used by combining a few recipes together
I did not remember the crumb topping for the cake, Tina then drizzle the egg mixture over the crumbs..

I was not sure how to slice the peaches, I would just quarter them the next time.

The name I found this recipe under was Kuchen now I know why it said to pour out the batter into the pan. The cookie sheet was way to large for this recipe.. But it worked! In Tina's recipe, the base is rolled out and placed into the cookie sheet.

2 cups of flour
 3 tsp Baking Powder
6 Tablespoons of butter 
1 egg
3/4 milk (used water and yogurt)
1/4 cup sugar

Mix flour, baking powder and sugar. 
Cut in 6 tablespoons of butter. 
Beat egg and milk
Pour into flour mixture
Mix the dry with the wet ingredients
Pour into a prepared Pan.
Arrange fruit on top


1 egg beaten
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon cream
1 Tablespoon flour

Mix together and drizzle over fruit layer

Bake at 400 

Although it did not look like my friend's recipe, the dessert quickly disappeared with an ice cream topping. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vietnamese Sub Sandwiches- Banh Mi

The Vietnamese sandwich, sometimes called a "bánh mì" sandwich is the result of the influence of the French Colonization in Indochina, using French baguettes, pate and mayo along with Vietnamese ingredients, such as cilantro, chilli peppers and pickled carrots.
In this recipe meatballs are used instead of cold cuts. The meatballs were made and frozen on tray for later use. 

Hot Chili Mayo 
Mix hot chilli sauce into mayonnaise
Add chopped onions
Cover and chill

1 pound of  ground meat.
chopped fresh basil
4 cloves of minced garlic2-3 
green onion, chopped
1 T fish sauce
1 T hot chili sauce like Sriracha
I T sugar
2 tsp corn starch
pepper and salt

Mix all the ingredients together and form meatballs. Bake in a 375 oven until cooked, about 20 minutes.

Pickled Carrots
2-3 cups of grated carrots
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup of rice vinegar 
Mix and let marinade for a couple of hours!

Basil leaves or Cilantro
cucumber cut horizontally into wedges
slices of jalapeños
Pate slices

Slice the baguettes in half. Spread spiced mayo on bread, add pate, meatballs, drained pickled carrots, basil, cucumber and jalapeños 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Highland Natural Beef - Homemade Pizza with Beef, Caramelized onion, Mushrooms and Cheese topping

The theme for this month’s blog for the Canadian Food Experience Project is to identify "What is a Regional or Local Canadian Food Hero?"
This is the third theme that participants in this project have been asked to identify.  What defines a "hero"?  Google defines hero as one "who is admired for courage or noble qualities". 

Madame Benoit comes to mind as her legacy was to educate one about food and preparation.  In the early eighties, her TV shows geared to children focused on "Kids can Cook"! Her books were more than cookbooks as they also gave a history on the origins of recipes.  Yet, Madame Benoit is unknown by the younger generation.  Her legacy has not been promoted as Julia Childs was with the recent film of "Julie and Julia".

  As Canadians we are a modest and humble bunch and not that eager to step forward to this recognization as "Hero".  My approach was to find someone who is making a difference in producing sustainable food in Alberta.   

Renee MacKillop from MacKillop Natural Highland Beef agreed to meet with me on her family farm.

The frist time, I saw Highland cattle was in Scotland by a castle gate.  These beautiful animals were so photographed by tourists that they were not curious or acknowledge me even with much coaching.

On a overcast warm day last Thursday, I headed out to High River with husband and granddaughter Sophia to see the MacKillop's farm.  With perfect directions to the farm, we drove to the bottom of the coulee, over a wooden bridge and turned into the road that snaked along Tongue Creek. We were so in awe of the landscape,we completely missed the cattle near the bridge.

Renee MacKillop greeted us and proudly showed us the horses who were being shod when we arrived.  

The dogs were feasting on the trimming from the hoofs. 

The excitement of a two year old who wanted to ride a horse quickly disappeared when she saw the size of the horse.  Seeing a donkey that has a saddle for the little ones to ride, became a stand off between a disinterested donkey and a standoffish 2 year old. 

Luke Skywalker  the donkey

Renee walked me to the end of road where we had entered the farm to see some of their Highland cattle.

The MacKillop family has been farming in Alberta since 1920 when Renee’s grandfather bought the farm, Holiday Ranch, from the legendary rancher, Pat Burns.  Later Donald Roderick, but everyone knew him as "Rod" purchasing native grassland on Pine Coulee near Nanton, AB where they raised their Scottish Highland cattle.

Highland is a distinct breed of cattle developed in Scotland that is much smaller than other breeds with a very unique look that sports long hair and horns. The Highland being one of the oldest purebred cattle breeds is extremely hardy for the cold north Atlantic coast of Scotland and has adapted well to the Alberta climate.  

Renee, a university sociology graduate, joined her parents and Uncle Larry to farm and market the natural Highland beef through direct marketing to the public.  Renee strongly believes this provides her with an ability to be part of something that is “environmentally sustainable and respectful of animal welfare” along with providing high quality and nutritious food for the family and their customers.

Renee did her internship in California at The Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First  in 2010 and currently co-chairs the Calgary Food Committee.  Renee developed and manages the MacKillops Natural Highland Beef website along with a Facebook page by the same name. 

Although the use  of modernizing technology is important in the marketing of their product and education of the public, the MacKillops have stayed true to traditional ways.  They use horses to work the cattle and do not use antibiotics or growth hormones.

Working with a smaller number of cattle has the advantage of lower diseases due to the lack of need for feedlots for Highland Cattle. This results in less manure disposal problem leading to healthier animals without a need for antibiotics.  Keeping the animals on a grass feed regimen leads to a more natural beef product.

When talking about natural Highland beef, Renee “really wants their customer to understand the land too.”  By understanding that the cattle on the land helps in improving the soil quality and water retention, resulting in healthy natural beef which is high quality and nutritious.  

Renee’s goal is to continue to promote and educate the public “to learn about nutritious food and sustainable farming and why natural, grass-fed meat is so important, not only for our individual health, but also for our environment”.

Renee works on the farm because she enjoys it and thinks it is an interesting way to make a living.  She is able to be an entrepreneur and learn new things as well as challenge herself. 

Renee is also a farmer because she believe that agriculture gives an opportunity to put environmentalism, health and community into action. She thinks that every person who choses to live by the values they believe in, make a difference because it inspires and enables other people with similar values to pursue them as well. Renee doesn’t think she is a hero, but has a lot of pride in the farm and in her family because they have worked hard work to make  the farm a viable business and a beautiful place to live. 

Although we did drive to see the larger herd of Highland cattle near Nanton, they were too far away in the rolling hills from us. 

On our return home with a very over stimulated child from an adventure filled day in the country, I began to wonder how I would best feature this beautiful animal in a recipe.

Scotch eggs came to mind, but was quickly vetoed as by my son, protesting that no one really liked them when I last made them!

Having prepared this meat before I am aware that the meat is superior in taste, tenderness and cooking. I did find the taste to be more intense in flavor and needed to be cooked less due to the lower fat content.

Scientific tests carried out on Guaranteed Pure Highland Beef (GPHB) by the Scottish Agricultural College- the national College for Food, Land and Environmental Studies demonstrate convincing evidence that GPHB is significantly lower in Fat and Cholesterol and high in Protein and Iron than other beef. 

 Homemade Pizza with Beef, Caramelized Onions, Mushroom, Mozzarella and Gorgonzola Cheese 

One onion, sliced
1/2 pound Highland ground beef
Fresh mushrooms, slice thinly
salt and pepper
red Chilli flakes 
One pizza shell

Mozzarelle Cheese, shredded
Gorgonzola cheese, slices or chunks

Arugula and Truffle oil for garnish 

Caramelizing the onions brings out the flavor of the onion. Slices of onions are slowed cooked on a low heat in olive oil until they turn golden brown by releasing the sugars in the onion.  Watch closely  by turning the onions over frequently as  the onions can quickly burn.  If the onions start to stick, add some water which will evaporate.  

Spread the caramelized onion over the pizza shell. 

Brown the ground beef until the pink is gone. 

After tasting the cooked meat, I decide that this buttery delicious meat could stand on it own and only seasoned it with
  salt and pepper with a handful of red chilli flakes. 

Spread the browned ground beef over the caramelized onions.  

Thin slices of Mushrooms were added as a layer to the pizza

Spread Mozzarella shredded cheese and slices of Gorgonzola  cheese on top of the mushroom layer

Bake at 425 for 10- 15  minutes if pizza shell previous cooked, or 10 minutes more if the pizza shell is uncooked.  The pizza can also be baked on the BBQ.  

Garnish with Arugula and Truffle Oil

Home made Pizza Dough 

1 Tablespoon of Traditional dry yeast  
1 Tablespoon of sugar
2 cups of lukewarm water
4 - 5 cups of flour
1/4 cup of olive oil

Proof your yeast in the warm water and sugar for 10 minutes.  You should see it fill with bubbles, then it's good to go!  Test your water first before adding the yeast, use your wrist to test the temperature of the water as if the water is too hot, it will kill your yeast.  

Start adding the flour, cup by cup, into the yeast mixture and mix  with a large spoon until you can no longer mix it.  Rub some olive oil into your hands and then work the dough along with some kneading until it all comes together.

Oil or grease a bowl, give a turn of your dough so it is well oiled, cover with plastic and a clean tea towel and let it double in size. Roll your dough very thinly. 

You should get  2 - 13 inch pizza shells and one cookie sheet  shell .. I usually precook my shells and freeze those not used for other meals.. In this case I dressed two pizza shell and froze one.

I plan to garnish the frozen pizza differently and will post pictures when I bake that pizza.  

Christmas Dinner Scones

The theme for this month’s blog for the Canadian Food Experience Project is to identify "What is a Regional or Local Canadian Food Hero?"
This is the third theme that participants in this project have been asked to identify.  As Canadians we are a modest and humble bunch and not that eager to step forward to this recognization as a "Hero".  My approach was to find someone who is making a difference in producing sustainable food in Alberta. 

After many attempts to contact a list of those that I considered "Hero" without success, my husband came to my rescue!  My husband of 40th years is my guest blogger as he writes on his Food Hero.

  I first started cooking for myself out of necessity.  I was living out of residence when attending university.  To say my meals were rudimentary would be a gross exaggeration.  Hot dogs, beans, canned soup, toast and coffee in the morning if I had enough time.  Later, I started to make spaghetti and through a succession of girlfriends it grew in complexity.  First meat balls, with Campbell’s tomato soup, then onions, celery, mushrooms, spices etc. …  Today, it’s chopped tomatoes, fresh spices ..

But to the point, my food hero is my wife’s mother.  Nellie was born and raised on a rural Manitoba farm and at the age of 13, she went to live and work with a well-to-do family raising cattle.  This was at the height of the Depression and her family needed the extra income. 

There she learned the rudiments of cooking – especially beef.  Once after we were married we took her to a steak house in Winnipeg.  When the waitress asked how Nellie wanted her steak cooked, she replied ‘rare.’  My wife said, “Mom, you’ve never eaten beef rare.”  She replied, “That’s ‘cause Matt wouldn’t eat it.”
Later, she worked in a hospital setting where the head chef was a Cordon Blu trained chef from Chicago.  She learned a lot for her and when I would ask her about different foods or sauces, she knew how make them – from scratch.  Her soups, always made from scratch, and butter tarts, always used butter, were legendary.  She rarely measured her ingredients accurately, having been taught by the Felician Sisters that touch and feel was the most important.  This annoyed my sister-in-law who is a great pastry cook, but makes everything by the book.  She was trying to get Nellie’s bread recipe so she could make her own bread.  
Nellie’s measuring instruments were cup and saucer and spoons from the drawer plus a knife or fork for cutting in pastry.  Nellie had no trouble experimenting.  When I had made her a batch of my spaghetti, she remade it the next time we were home and made it better!  In the seventies, Nellie didn’t think men belonged in the kitchen, but this changed as she was open to change.

Nellie always insisted on good basic ingredients.  Once when working in a restaurant, she was asked to substitute bouillon cubes for her soup stock and margarine for the butter in her pastries – she quit!  A friend of mine was working in area with Manitoba Hydro.  They took him to this restaurant that served homemade soup and wonderful pastries.  He told me that when we were in the area, we had to go to this restaurant.  Nellie was the new cook!
Nellie always insisted on good basic ingredients and she cultivated a large garden for her soups and other recipes.  Sadly, we’ve grown away from that …

Christmas Dinner Scones
My recipe owes a lot to her techniques and experimentation. It’s a basic scone recipe with a Christmas twist made as a roll.
Start with a basic scone recipe and add finely chopped onion and celery to the dry mixture along with poultry seasoning.  The quantities used are ‘to taste.’  I use a medium onion and two stalks of celery and three tablespoons of poultry seasoning.  After cutting in the butter, add the celery and onion, mix and then the liquids.  Roll out and fold three times.  This gives a layered effect.
After, you have rolled out the mixture to a rolling pin width and 1½ the rolling pin length, butter one side, add cranberries and cooked chicken or turkey.  Roll up as you would a cinnamon roll and cut in half.  Then cut each side to the desired width.  I use the width of a chopping knife – about 2”.  Starting width the smallest pieces placed in the center of a parchment lined 10” by 10” pan add the remaining pieces and insert in the oven, pre-heated to 425oF.  Cook for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Take out and enjoy.