Bannock (Nunavut)

BannockBannock, a quick biscuit–type bread, is a speciality of aboriginal cooks throughout North America, including in Nunavut. For the fluffiest results, toss the ingredients together as few times as possible. When cooking, use two spatulas to turn – one to lift and the other to support – to keep the hot oil from splashing. Enjoy bannock with tea, or serve with soup or stew to soak up the juices. This will make 10 slices of Bannock.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk*
½ cup water
vegetable oil, for frying

* For non-dairy Bannock, substitute with soy or almond milk.

Directions:

In bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Make well in centre and pour in the milk and water. Toss with fork just until soft, slightly sticky dough forms. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and with floured hands, press into an 8 inch circle.

Meanwhile, pour enough oil into cast-iron or heavy skillet to come ½ inch up the side. Heat the oil over a medium heat. Fry the dough, turning once, until puffed and golden, and tip of knife inserted in centre comes out clean, about 8 minutes. To serve, cut into 10 pieces.

Sorry… I’m so Canadian!

CCRF

Hey loyal readers, sorry I missed yesterday’s edition of our tour across Canada. I was out with a bit of a bug, and the last thing on my mind was food! As a true Canadian, I must apologize profusely. It’s part of our “constitution”. No, it is not the same constitution that the Americans have with all the “We the people” stuff, but a pretty rad document, made up mainly of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms… you should check it out! To make up for skipping yesterday though, I will be posting two recipes today, yesterdays nod to The Northwest Territories and today’s finale in our newest territory, Nunavut! I hope you enjoy!

Soy-Glazed Arctic Char (Yukon)

Arctic Char

Starting with Canada’s western-most territory, the Yukon is the smallest of Canada’s three territories, but has the highest mountain in Canada (Mt. Logan at 19,551 feet). I should mention though, even though I said it’s the smallest territory, it is in no way small! Meaning “Great River” in the Athapaskan language, in reference to the Yukon River (at 3,600 kilometres/2,237 miles long), the Yukon is 483,450 square kilometres (about 186,661 square miles), which is larger than the State of California and larger than Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands combined.

Its population however is just 31,881! A majority of this population is made up of members of different First Nations tribes, such as the Southern and Northern Tutchone, the Tlingit, the Tagish, Kasha, Tanana, Han and Gwitchin. In addition to wild game, a large part of the diet of the First Nations people revolves around fish. A popular fish from this region is the Arctic Char. Similar in taste and texture to salmon, it is extremely versatile, and can be eaten raw, frozen and dipped in soy sauce, or as in today’s recipe, with ginger soy glaze. Today’s recipe will serve around 6 people and is delicious and simple to prepare. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 skin-on Arctic Char fillets, (about 2 ¼ pounds total)
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger*
1 tablespoon liquid honey
¾ teaspoon pepper

* Click here to see my tip about peeling fresh ginger.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse off your fillets, and check for any missed bones. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and then place the fish on it, skin side down. If you are using a barbeque instead, either use a fish basket or make sure to pre-grease your barbeque racks, and well as rubbing a little oil on the skin side of the fish, to help it from sticking.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, honey and pepper. Brush the sauce over the fish and allow it to bake/grill for about 8-10 minutes. It will be done when the fish flakes easily.

If you like you can prepare extra sauce and cook it down slightly in a small pot on the stove-top. The sauce will reduce and create a nice sticky flavourful glaze to serve at the table.

Acadian Cod Pancakes (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Fish Cakes with Applesauce
Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada’s most easterly province, and is made up of the island of Newfoundland and the mainland portion of Labrador. In 1583 Newfoundland became England’s first North American possession when it was claimed by Sir Humphrey Gilbert for Queen Elizabeth. While Labrador was part of the Portuguese Empire (going back as far as 1500). The French formed a colony in Newfoundland in 1655, and went to war in the 1690’s, destroying nearly every English settlement on the island. The French however ceded their claims to the British and to the French possessions in Acadia (hello Acadian connection!) in 1713. For the next 150 years or so, the land goes back and forth between the French, the Spanish and the English… To be honest, it is all very confusing!

In the end however they became a part of Canada, and we are happy to have them! With all that history and culture, you know the food is going to have its roots steeped in some pretty interesting traditions! One of the biggest yields from this area though is its fish, particularly cod. Traditionally what was not sold right away was salted and preserved. Today, salt cod is still a popular ethnic ingredient. For today’s recipe though, we’re going to use the unsalted version, either fresh or frozen, to make Acadian Cod Pancakes. If you want to be a real Newfie, make sure to eat them with apple sauce! This recipe will make enough cakes for 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh or frozen cod fillets
6-8 potatoes, cooked and mashed (about 3 cups)
2 small onions, diced
¼ cup water
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of pepper
oil, for frying
apple sauce, for serving

Directions:

Peel and boil your potatoes, until cooked through, then drain and mash the potatoes, allowing them to cool enough to handle. Thaw your fish fillets if necessary, then break them apart and chop the fish very finely. In a small pan, cook the onions with the water, so that they become translucent, but do not brown. Once the onions have cooked through, set them aside and allow them to cool enough to be handled.

Beat the eggs so that they are well blended. In a large bowl mix together the fish, mashed potatoes, cooked onions, eggs, flour, parsley, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Make sure to combine the ingredients well. If you find the mixture is too loose, you can add a bit more flour. If you find the mixture to dry or not forming cakes well, you can add another egg.

Heat the cooking oil in a large non-stick pan, until very hot but not smoking. Using a ⅓ cup as a measure, form small cakes or patties. Place the cakes onto the pan in the hot oil. Do not over crowd your pan, or you will find it difficult to flip them. Fry the cakes for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. If you find your cakes browning too quickly, lower the heat. Flip the cakes over with a spatula, and then fry for another 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, remove the cakes to a piece of paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Serve the cakes hot with apple sauce for a true Newfie treat, or with cocktail or tartar sauce.

Rappie Pie (Nova Scotia)

Rappie Pie

Ahhh Nova Scotia, Latin for New Scotland, is the last of Canada’s Maritime Provinces, and is located almost exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. While it is the second smallest province in Canada with a land mass of 55,284 square kilometres or 21,300 square miles, it is in fact the second most-densely populated province (behind PEI) with a population of just under 950,000. Speaking of its people, you have a vast mixture here between old Scot and French, with the colourful history of the Acadians thrown in for good measure. Like a lot of food in this part of Canada, it has French roots, as you will see with today’s recipe for Rappie Pie. The name Rappie Pie originates from the French word râper, which means to grate. Although râpure was a favourite dish among Acadians throughout South West Nova Scotia, it was not an easy dish to prepare for a large family. The grating and draining does take a pit out of a person, however the end result is delicious! This can definitely be a one-dish meal, or you could always serve the left over broth as a first course. This recipe will make enough pie for at least 6 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 large whole chicken
3 large chopped onions
2 ribs of celery
2 large whole carrots
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
chicken soup base (optional)
10 pounds potatoes, peeled
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can keep the chicken whole, or cut it into large pieces. Place the chicken into a large soup pot, along with the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaf and thyme, and fill with just enough water to completely cover. Simmer the stock until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pot, as well as the celery and carrots, but leave the onions and the broth in the pot. Taste the broth; if it needs to be more “chicken-y” add some of the chicken soup base to the mix. Keep the broth warm, not too hot, but allow the meat to cool so that you can handle it. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, and cut it into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

For this recipe, you want to grate the potatoes, not shred. You can do this with a hand grater (and elbow grease) or by using a juicer that collects the pulp in a side compartment. Another method would be to purée the potatoes using the steel blade on a food processor. No matter what method you choose, you are going to want to remove as much (read ALL) the liquid from the potatoes.

Important note: Do not throw out the liquid drained from the potatoes! It has two purposes:

  1. You’re going to want to measure how much liquid you drained in the end, because you’re going to want to use that same amount of chicken broth to add the moisture back to the dish and;
  2. You’re going to want to save any of the starch that collects at the bottom of your measuring container (that whitish sludgy stuff) to add back you’re your strained potato mixture.

To remove the liquid, place the grated/puréed potatoes in a cotton bag (like a clean pillow case), a dish-towel or several layers of cheesecloth, and twist it until you have a tight package. The liquid will just pour off of it.

Using an equal amount of chicken broth to the amount of liquid you drained, blend the potatoes and broth liquid. You may want to do this in stages so that it gets very well mixed. Potato mixture consistency is correct when the spoon just slightly falls over when made to stand up in the mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add half of the potato mixture into a greased rectangular baking pan or a large casserole dish. Then layer on the cut up chicken, and top with remaining potato mixture. Bake for about 2 hours, or until top is uniformly brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into and serving.

Our Southern “Canadian” Heritage

Cajun MapSo there is a cultural demographic located in the southern United States know as Cajuns (pronounced KAY-jun). This group of people celebrate a rich and fascinating history, filled with their own language, music, religious leanings, and of course, foods! So what does Canada have to do with this? Quite a lot actually.

Back in the day (y’know, around 1710), the British overtook the section of what was then called French Acadia (now the maritime area of Canada). Over the next 45 years, the Acadians (pronounced Ah-KAY-dee-yans), loyal to the French, refused to sign an unconditional oath of allegiance to Britain, and in fact did everything they could to participate in militia operations against the British. The British, not appreciating the local rebellion, began to deport the Acadians from Acadia, in what became known as “The Great Upheaval” or “Le Grand Dérangement”.

While some moved to France, or other parts of Canada, a large contingent moved to the region of Atakapa, in present-day Louisiana. Over time, the term “Acadians” became “Cajun”, and the Cajun people flourished in the warm climate of Louisiana and it’s Bayous. While there are endless topics that I could focus on within the Cajun world, this week, I’m going to zero in on the food! So this week, look forward to Jambalaya, Gumbo, Dirty Rice and more!