Copycat Recipes – Famous Soups!

So some of these soups I’ve only heard about, whispered, as if part of a fabled legend, the epic tastiness, the supreme awesomeness, the warmth, the… well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, I don’t see The Cheesecake Factory opening up a kosher establishment anytime soon, so the chances of me getting my hands on a bowl of their famous Chicken Tortilla Soup is pretty much slim to none.

So, my fellow kosher foodies, I have tracked down a few of the greats here below for you, from Panera, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and yes, Cheesecake Factory. You will notice the use of items like non-dairy creamer or shredded cheese, or pareve chicken stock (made from bouillon). You can always switch items up, use real chicken stock, and then use creamer instead of heavy cream, margarine instead of butter, etc. If you have any requests, leave a comment, and I’ll try and track down the recipe for you! Enjoy!


Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup“Panera” Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups pareve chicken stock
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)*
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for serving
salt and ground black pepper to taste
* Click here to learn about cleaning broccoli.

Directions:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic in the hot butter until translucent, about 5 minutes, and then set it aside. Whisk the ¼ cup melted butter and flour together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until flour loses its granular texture, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk if necessary to keep the flour from burning, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually pour the remaining milk into flour mixture while whisking constantly. Stir chicken stock into milk mixture. Bring to a simmer; cook until flour taste is gone and mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, celery, and sautéed onion and garlic. Simmer everything until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir the cheddar cheese into the soup until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with extra cheese on top.


“Applebee’s” Tomato Basil SoupApplebee Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup minced white onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
3 cups pareve chicken broth
¾ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup minced fresh basil*
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley*
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
seasoned croutons, for serving
parmesan cheese, for serving
* Click here to learn how to clean basil and parsley.

Directions:
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and then add onion and garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let mixture cool, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so. You can let it sit for as long as an hour, if you like.

Pour approximately half of the tomato mixture into a blender. Put the lid on the blender and hold it down with a dish towel. Mixture may still be hot and you don’t want the lid of the blender to pop off. Blend on high speed for about a minute, pour the mixture into a large bowl or pitcher, then add the rest of the mixture to the blender and blend on high speed for a minute.

Pour all of the pureed tomato mixture back into the saucepan and then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the soup back up to a bubble then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve approximately one cup of soup with a garnish of 3 or 4 croutons on top and a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese.


Olive Garden Pasta e Fagoili Soup“Olive Garden” Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 (540ml) can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 (540ml) can navy beans (with liquid)
1 (680ml) can tomato sauce
1 ½ cups vegetable cocktail juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ pound (½ pkg.) ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)

Directions:
In a large pot over medium heat, brown the ground beef, until it is cooked through. Drain off most of the fat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

Once the soup has been cooking for about 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1 ½ to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is just slightly undercooked. Drain the pasta, and add it to the large pot of soup. Simmer the soup for an additional 5 to 10 minutes and serve hot.


“Cheesecake Factory” Chicken Tortilla SoupCheesecake Factory Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 gallon water
6 carrots (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
6 celery ribs (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
1 onion (chopped)
4 tablespoons garlic (minced)
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup cilantro (chopped)*
½ (796ml) can diced tomatoes
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup non-dairy creamer
1 (341ml) can corn
20 corn tortillas, fresh
oil for frying
1 ½ cups non-dairy shredded cheese
* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:
Simmer chicken in water, with the 3 roughly chopped carrots and celery, ½ the chopped onion, 2 tablespoons of the garlic, the salt and the white and black peppers for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, remove all the excess fat and the vegetables used to simmer the chicken in and discard.

Add the remaining carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the soup pot, along with the cayenne, cumin, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapeno and corn. Stir well. Remove the chicken meat from the carcass and add it to the soup in large chunks. Add the non-dairy creamer to the soup for colour and thickness.

Cut tortillas in strips and fry in oil. Put tortillas in bottom of bowl, sprinkle with non-dairy cheese and pour soup on top. Top with more non-dairy cheese and serve hot.


Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup“Panera” Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Ingredients:
½ cup orzo pasta
¾ teaspoon olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
8 cups chicken broth
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
½ lemon, zested
5 ounces cooked chicken breast, chopped
½ (8 ounce) package baby spinach leaves*
½ lemon, sliced for garnish (optional)
* Click here to learn how to clean baby spinach.

Directions:
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo in the boiling water until partially cooked through but not yet soft, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, and rinse it with cold water until cooled completely.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté and stir carrots, celery, and onion in hot oil until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion becomes translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Season the mixture with thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and the bay leaf. Let everything cook for another minute before pouring chicken broth into the pot. Bring the broth to a boil, and then partially cover the pot, reducing the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir the orzo, lemon juice, and lemon zest into the broth and add the chicken. Cook the soup until the chicken and orzo are heated through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the baby spinach, stirring until the spinach wilts into the broth and the orzo is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

Make-Ahead Soup Mixes

Soup Mixes in a Jar

So according to the weatherman, this afternoon with the Humidex it is supposed to feel like 39°C, or 102°F. For those of you that don’t know what a Humidex is, you are SO lucky! Humidex is the humidity index, that takes the actual temperature, and then adds the humidity factor, so it tells you that while it may only be x degrees out, it feels like the surface of the sun. In Toronto, we’re fortunate enough to have both the Humidex in the summer and the Windchill in the winter, which calculates how much colder the lake effects wind makes it seem, so again, it may be x degrees out, but now it feels like the dark side of the moon. What can I say, we can’t seem to win here… except for our falls (autumns) which are pretty awesome. Oh well, one out of four ain’t bad. (yes it is, it’s very bad.)

So continuing on our theme of prepping ahead, and making it look like we are uber organized, I thought today in honour of the heat, we’d hit up some soups. It may seem strange, but trust me, when the days start getting cooler, you’ll appreciate being able to open your pantry and see these beautifully layered, labelled jars of soupy goodness. Again, these also make great hostess gifts or last minute grab-n-give ideas for a friend who has a cold. I’ve even included a recipe for the traditional condensed “Cream of _____” soup. You know what I’m talking about. You come across a recipe that calls for cream of mushroom, or celery or asparagus, and at least here in Canada, it’s pretty hard to get a decent kosher one. With this recipe, you will have the base for any flavour “Cream of” soup you want. You’re welcome.


Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
½ cup dried split peas
3 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, leaving the bay leaf on top, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound stew meat, cut in 1″ cubes
6 cups water
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 jar Beef Vegetable & Barley Soup Starter Mix
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the meat, sautéing until the meat is browned on all sides. Add the water, tomatoes, and soup mix. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the celery and carrots. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Discard the bay leaf.  Serve with Cornbread or biscuits.


Beef Chili Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup dried red kidney beans
½ cup dried navy beans
½ cup dried black beans
⅓ cup dried minced onions
2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried cilantro or parsley flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried minced garlic

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds ground beef or stew meat
6 cups water
1 jar Beef Chili Soup Mix
1 (1.36 L) can tomato juice

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the meat, sautéing until the meat is browned. Drain any excess fat that has come off the meat, then add the contents of the soup mix, plus the water and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Add the tomato juice, and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat again, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with Cornbread or biscuits.


Colourful Soup Mix

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon beef bouillon powder
¼ cup dried minced onion
½ cup dried split peas
½ cup uncooked macaroni
¼ cup barley
½ cup dry lentils
⅓ cup long-grain white rice
1 cup uncooked tri-colour spiral pasta

Measure all of the above ingredients, except for the tri-colour pasta and macaroni, into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Put the pastas in a separate smaller baggie, and then put the baggie in the larger container with the rest of the soup mix. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound ground beef or stew beef
12 cups water
1 jar Colourful Soup Mix

In large pot, brown the ground beef or stew beef the oil. Remove the pastas from top of jar and set aside. Add 12 cups of water and the remaining jar contents to the pot. Bring the soup to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tri-colour pasta and simmer 15 minutes more. Serve with your favourite bread or rolls and a tossed salad.


Country Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
½ cup dried split peas
½ cup uncooked white rice
½ cup dry lentils
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
2 tablespoons beef bouillon powder
½ cup uncooked alphabet pasta
1 cup uncooked macaroni

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Country Soup Mix
3 quarts of water
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup shredded cabbage* (optional)
2 large tomatoes, diced

*Click here to learn how to clean cabbage.

In a large pot, combine all of the above ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for at least an hour, until the veggies are tender and the barley and peas are cooked through.


Cream of Anything Soup Mix

Ingredients:
1 cup powdered milk
⅓ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons pareve chicken/beef/vegetable bouillon powder
1 teaspoons dried onion flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This makes the equivalent of 4 cans of Cream of “Something” soup and can be stored for up to a year. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
⅓ cup cream mix
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
½ cup minced or chopped “______” Choose one or more for whatever “cream of” flavour you need: onions, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, celery, etc.

In a pot, melt the butter and sauté the “something” that you are using (mushrooms, onions, etc.). Cook until translucent, then add the cream mix, and stir to combine. Add the water, and whisk gently over a low/medium heat until thickened.

This can now be used directly in a recipe that calls for a can of condensed “Cream of ___” soup or you can dilute it with milk and water to make “Cream of ____” soup.


Layered Bean Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup kidney beans
½ cup split yellow peas
½ cup black beans
½ cup red lentils
½ cup small red beans
½ cup split green peas
1 tablespoon dried sweet pepper flakes
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon celery seed
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Measure all of the above ingredients, keeping the spices separate from the beans, peas and lentils. Put the spices in a separate smaller baggie, and then put the baggie in a larger contain with the rest of the soup mix. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Layered Bean Soup Mix
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
10 cups water, divided

Rinse the beans and place in large stock pot. Pour 4 cups boiling water over beans; cover and let soak overnight. Drain the beans and return to the stock pot. Add 6 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until beans are almost tender. Add the tomatoes and seasoning mix. Stirring occasionally, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover beans and continue to simmer about 1 hour longer or until beans are tender and soup thickens. Serve warm.


Mushroom Barley Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
¼ cup dried mushrooms
2 tablespoons dried minced onions
¼ cup dried carrot slices (optional)
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
2 tablespoons dried dill
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, leaving the bay leaf on top, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Mushroom Barley Soup Mix
1 quart water
2 carrots, sliced (if you didn’t use the dried variety)

In a large pot, add the carrots and soup mix to 1 quart boiling water and simmer until the barley and carrots are tender. Remove the bay leaves before serving.


Sun Dried Tomato & Penne Soup Mix

Ingredients:
2 cups penne pasta
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms (or other variety)
¼ cup dried onion flakes
¼ cup dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Sun Dried Tomato & Penne Soup Mix
8 cups vegetable broth
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 (540ml) can cannelloni (white kidney beans) beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, combine all of the above ingredients, except for the beans. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer until the pasta and veggies are tender. Add in the beans and simmer an additional 15 minutes or so. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot with some crusty bread.

Roasted Cornish Hens with Apple, Date & Almond Stuffing and Honey Pomegranate Glaze

Cornish Hens

So on Rosh HaShanah we eat many symbolic foods, in order to have a healthy, happy and prosperous new year. This entrée includes 4 of these foods! The apple symbolizes Gan Eden(The Garden of Eden), which according to the Sages had the scent of an apple orchard. The word date in Hebrew is תמרים and related to the word תם – to end. So on Rosh HaShanah we eat dates so that G-d will bring an end to our enemies.

Honey, as you know is sweet, and what could be a better symbol for a sweet new year? Lastly, the pomegranate is full of seeds (some say 613 seeds to be exact, just like the number of laws in the Torah). So we eat pomegranates so that we will be as full of mitzvot (good deeds) and the pomegranate is seeds. This recipe is geared for 8 guests, and will give some extra stuffing and sauce to serve along with your final dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

¼ cup unsalted margarine (½ a stick)
8-12 (about 4 pounds) Fuji apples, chopped
20 Medjool dates, pits removed, chopped*
2 lemons, zest and juice**
2 oranges, zest and juice**
1 cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
8 Cornish hens (1 ¼ pounds each)
¾ cup dry white wine
⅓ cup chopped shallots (about 1 ½ large shallots or 3 small ones)
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups pomegranate juice
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons margarine

* Click here to learn how to inspect dates.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons and oranges.
♦ Click here to learn how to truss a Cornish hen.

Directions:

Melt margarine in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add apples and sauté, stirring occasionally, until brown but still crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Add dates, zests, and juices; cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat, cool, and stir in almonds and salt.

Place the chopped onions, carrots and celery in the bottom of a large roasting pan (or divide into two smaller pans) and mix the vegetables so that they are combined.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Remove and discard the giblets and necks from the hens. Rinse the hens under cold water and then pat dry. Trim off any excess fat. Season each cavity with salt and pepper, and then loosely stuff with apple mixture. Truss the hens♦. Place the hens, breast-side up, on top of the chopped vegetables.

Boil the wine and shallots in a heavy small saucepan until most of the wine has evaporated, about 4-6 minutes. Add the broth, pomegranate juice and honey. Boil again until the sauce has reduced to about 1 ¾ – 2 cups, about 7-9 minutes. Whisk in the margarine and then remove from the heat.

Brush the hens with the honey-pomegranate sauce. Roast the hens at 475 degrees for 15 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 35 minutes, or until juices run clear. While the hens are roasting, baste them occasionally with more of the sauce, about every 10 minutes or so. Serve the hens with any remaining stuffing and remaining sauce.

Safety Note: Before serving the remaining sauce or giving a final basting to the fully cooked hens, put the sauce back on the stove and bring it back up to a quick boil. The reason for this is because you have been dipping your basting brush back and forth between the hens while they were cooking, and therefore at various stages of rawness, and then dipping the brush back into the sauce pot. You want to eliminate any chances of salmonella or other food borne pathogens from contaminating your final dish. The re-boiling of the sauce will kill off these pathogens. Safety first!

One-Pot Thai Pasta

Thai Pasta

Love Thai food, but hate takeout? Or maybe you don’t have Thai takeout in your area? Here’s the fix for that my friends! This easy one-pot Thai pasta will serve six and cook up quickly! Wanna add some protein to the mix? Heat up some left over chicken or fish, and toss with the pasta before serving. Just note though that if you do add chicken to this dish to read up on the use of Worcestershire Sauce and meat by clicking this link. This dish will serve at least 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (500g) box dry fettuccine or other long noodle
6 ¾ cups vegetable broth
2 medium carrots, julienned
1 ½ red bell peppers, julienned
6 green onions, sliced thinly*
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons fresh minced ginger**
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce**
1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemongrass paste or minced*
¾ teaspoon fresh chili paste, like Sriracha (to taste)
¾ teaspoon turmeric
1-2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
½ – 1 lime, juiced
crushed peanuts, for garnish
chopped cilantro , for garnish*
sesame seeds, for garnish

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions, lemongrass and cilantro.
** Click here for tips on peeling ginger and using Worcestershire sauce.

Directions:

In a large pot, add the pasta noodles, breaking them in half if needed to fit, and then the rest of the ingredients except for the lime juice, peanuts, cilantro and sesame seeds. Add the broth last, pouring it over everything. Drizzle the oil over all the contents.

Cover your pot and bring the contents up to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, remove the lid and give the contents a good stir, to help keep the pasta from sticking together. Return the cover and reduce the heat to a steady simmer (medium to medium-low heat). Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and al dente.

After this time, the noodles should be al dente. Uncover and allow to cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally, until there’s only about ½ inch of sauce on the bottom (or however much sauce you prefer). Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice. Serve hot and garnished with a liberal amount of crushed peanuts, chopped cilantro and sesame seeds.

Roast Bison or Venison with Red Wine and Onion Jus (Northwest Territories)

Roasted Venison

Wanna hear something cool about the the Northwest Territories (NWT)? Did you know that the Northern Lights (that crazy natural laser light show seen in the utmost northern part of the globe) can be seen about 243 nights out of the year? In the NWT, game meat such as Bison and Venison are a big seller, as they tend to have readier access to such meats, rather than beef. Personally, I’m jealous! I kinda feel that today’s game meat, tastes the way that beef used to taste before we over commercialized the industry. Keep in mind though that game meat is always leaner than domestic meat, so special care must be taken when roasting to prevent it from drying out. It’s important to never cook it past medium. This roast will serve 8.

Ingredients:

5 pound bison or venison roast
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced*
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
½ teaspoon pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cups dry red wine
2 cups pearl onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs.

Directions:

In small bowl, combine the garlic, thyme, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Make some slits (about 8) around the roast, about an inch wide. Stuff some of the spice mixture into the slits, and use the remainder to rub over the whole roast.

Place roast in re-sealable plastic bag, along with the regular onion, carrots, bay leaves and wine. Seal the bag, and let it marinate in refrigerator for 6-24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Once the roast is finished marinating, remove the roast from the bag, reserving the vegetables and the marinating liquid separately. Place the vegetables and bay leaves in the bottom of a roasting pan, and pour in about 1 cup of water. Set the roasting pan aside for now.

In a large enough skillet to fit the roast, heat the vegetable oil over high heat, and then sear the roast, turning it in the skillet so that all sides get seared. Lay the seared roast over the vegetables in the roasting pan, and sprinkle with half of the salt.

Cover the roast loosely with foil, and roast for about 2 hours, or until meat thermometer inserted in centre reads 125 to 140 degrees for rare to medium. Do not cook beyond medium. Transfer to warm platter and tent with foil; let stand for about 10 minutes before carving.

To prepare Onions and Jus:
In heatproof bowl, cover the pearl onions with boiling water and let stand for 1 minute. This will loosen their skins. Drain the water and peel the onions.

In the same skillet you browned the meat in, melt the margarine over medium-high heat, and brown the pearl onions. You are not cooking the onions through at this point, just browning them. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to bowl (keeping the oil in the skillet).

Add the sugar to the skillet and stir over medium heat until it turns a nutty brown, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved marinade and remaining salt. Bring the jus to a boil over high heat and boil until reduced by half to about ⅔ cup, about 5 minutes. Strain through fine sieve or cheesecloth into small saucepan.

Strain liquid found in the roasting pan into glass measuring cup, and add enough water, if necessary, to make ½ cup. Add the roast liquid to the reduced marinating liquid and bring to a boil.

Add the pearl onions to the saucepan, and cover, cooking over a medium heat until the onions are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Spoon a little sauce over the roast slices and serve with remaining 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.

Chicken Fricot (New Brunswick)

Chicken Fricot

New Brunswick is one of Canada’s three Maritime Provinces, boarding on Quebec and sharing its entire southern border with the state of Maine. Its eastern border is entirely coastal – along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait. It even has warm sandy beaches, with the warmest salt water north of Virginia. It is probably most well-known though for the Bay of Fundy and the Confederation Bridge, which connects it with Prince Edward Island. It’s food however has quite a French flavour, with it being so close to Quebec and having many Acadians living in the province. So with that I bring you today’s recipe, Chicken Fricot, which is like the southern classic Chicken and Dumplings, but highlights the herb savoury, which is very popular amongst the New Brunswickers. This hearty one-pot meal will serve 6-8. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, divided (about 3-4 pounds)
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 6 potatoes)
2 teaspoons dried savoury
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 cups chicken stock
2 ice cubes

Dumplings:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried savoury
½ teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
⅔ cup cooking liquid from soup

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven, heat the margarine and oil over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and then add chicken pieces to the pot. Brown the chicken all over, turning the pieces as needed. You are not cooking this all the way through at this point. Once browned all over, (about 8 minutes) transfer the pieces to a plate and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat from pot.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook the carrots, celery, onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened but not coloured, about 3 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, savoury, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 2 minutes, letting all of the ingredients combine. Return the chicken pieces and any juices that have rendered to the pot, and stir in the chicken broth. Bring the soup to a boil, skimming any foam or debris from the surface as needed. Once boiling, reduce the heat and cover, letting the soup simmer for about 45 minutes.

Next, place the 2 ice cubes in a measuring cup, and add enough of the soup to make ⅔ cup. Set this aside to cool. Meanwhile, remove the pieces of chicken with slotted spoon, and transfer them to a plate. Let the chicken cool enough to be handled, and then strip the meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Shred or coarsely chop the chicken. Before returning the chicken to the pot, skim any excess fat the surface, then return the chicken to pot and bring it back to a simmer.

Dumplings:
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, parsley, savoury and salt. Stir the egg yolks into reserved the cooled soup, and slowly add it to the flour mixture. Bring the dumpling dough together with a fork. It will make a sticky, stretchy dough.

Increase the heat on the soup to medium, and drop the batter in 8 mounds evenly spaced around the soup. Cover the pot and simmer until the dumplings have puffed and a knife inserted into centre of dumpling comes out clean, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the soup hot with the dumplings.

Wild Rice and Edamame Salad (Manitoba)

Wild Rice Salad

So nestled between the plains of Saskatchewan the rockier terrain of the Canadian Shield of Ontario you have the province of Manitoba. Manitoba is known for it’s thousands of lakes and vast rivers. It boarders along the Hudson Bay, and it’s northern cities are known to get a polar bear or two wandering down the street from time to time. But back to those lakes! Besides great fishing, those lakes provide ample opportunity for wild rice! Manitoba is a large producer of a variety of wild rices, and cultivated rice as well. I thought for today’s recipe, a side dish might be a nice change up, and with it being summer and all, how about a nice salad, with bright spots of colour from carrots, cranberries and edamame? Don’t forget the added protein that the edamame and almonds give you as well as the wonderful fibre found in the rice! This salad will serve 6-8 and I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

½ cup blanched slivered almonds
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
4 cups cooked wild rice**
3 medium scallions/green onions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)*
2 cups shelled cooked edamame, thawed if frozen
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
½ cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
¼ cup rice vinegar, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons honey
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.
** To get 4 cups of cooked wild rice, you will need to make about 1 to 1 ½ cups raw wild rice. Cook according to the package directions and then allow to cool.

Directions:

Place the almonds in a medium frying pan over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until golden brown (do not let the nuts burn), about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Add the sesame seeds to the pan and toast, stirring often, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the almonds.

Add the rice, scallions, edamame, carrots, and cranberries to the bowl with the almonds and sesame seeds and toss to combine.

Whisk the olive oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Drizzle over the rice mixture and toss to combine. Taste and season as needed with more salt, pepper, and vinegar. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving.

Dim Sum (Scallion Pancakes, Chinese Potstickers & Dipping Sauce)

So Hong Kong is known for it’s famous Dim Sum services, a unique style of buffet like eating, but where the food comes to you, rather than you to it! Like the Spanish Tapas, Dim Sum is a style of Cantonese dumpling prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. During a Dim Sum service, carts are wheeled around the restaurant filled with little bamboo steam baskets, each containing a new and wonderful dish. All in all, there may be dozens of different types of dishes served, on carts pushed by wait staff around the restaurant for diners to choose from. For today’s entry, I’ve chosen two dishes, a Scallion Pancake and a Vegetarian Potsticker, along with a dipping sauce that would go great with either. These recipes will serve 4-6 people, as part of a larger meal. I hope you enjoy!

Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup self-rising flour
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or sesame oil
2 scallions/green onions, washed and thinly sliced*
a bit of oil to brush on pancakes
a bit of salt to sprinkle on pancakes during frying

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.

Directions:

Combine the flours in a large bowl. Stir in the vegetable oil/sesame oil. Pour in half the boiling water into the flour and begin stirring immediately, then use your hands to combine into a dough. Add the remaining boiling water as needed. Cover the dough and let it rest for 2 hours.

While the dough is resting, wash and dice the spring onions. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead briefly, then cut into thirds and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Roll each of the three sections of dough out into a flat piece approximately ½ cm or ¼ inch thick. Brush the pancake with a bit of oil, and sprinkle with spring onion pieces. Roll up the pancake and cut into 7 – 8 pieces. Use the palm of your hand to flatten each piece. Stack the flattened pieces on top of each other, and then roll out again, to make one whole pancake again. Heat a bit of oil in a large skillet. Shallow fry the pancakes until both sides are golden brown, being sure to sprinkle with a bit of salt during frying.

While cooking, press down on the centre with a spatula to make sure the pancake cooks. Serve whole or cut into wedges. Serve plain or with soy sauce or another dipping sauce if desired.

PotstickersChinese Potstickers

Ingredients:

½ pound firm tofu
½ cup finely shredded carrot
½ cup finely chopped bok choy*
¼ cup finely chopped water chestnuts
¼ cup finely chopped bamboo shoots
¼ cup finely chopped garlic chives*
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 package potsticker or gyoza wrappers (in a pinch, wonton wrappers will suffice)
2 tablespoons oil for frying the dumplings

* Click here to learn how to clean bok choy and chives.

Directions:

Drain the tofu, cut into cubes and mash. Wash and prepare the vegetables. Combine the tofu with the remainder of the ingredients and seasonings (except the wrappers and the oil used for frying).

Lay out one of the gyoza wrappers in front of you. Dip your finger in the water and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Fold the gyoza wrapper over the filling and pinch the edges to seal it shut. (You may want to use a cornstarch/water mixture to make this easier).

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok. When oil is ready, carefully add the dumplings and cook on high heat until golden brown (about 1 minute). Without turning the dumplings over, add ½ cup of water and cover. Cook for about 1 minute to cook the raw filling and then uncover and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Serve the potstickers with the burnt side on top, with potsticker dipping sauce or soy sauce mixed with minced ginger for dipping.

Dipping SaucePot Sticker Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

½ cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
1-2 small chilies, finely sliced (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced or grated
2 green onions/scallions, sliced thin*

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions/scallions.

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients. For best results, prepare ahead of time to allow the flavors to blend. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use. (Use within 3 to 4 days). Serve with potstickers.

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Roast ChickenOkay, so back in Queen Victoria’s day, she had multiple main courses, there was the entree course, the removes course and the roast course… for me, that’s about 2 courses too much, but what do I know, I’m not the queen. So in her honour I’ve found a modern take on one of the dishes from her roast course. She served (or more accurately was served) Rots les Poulets (see picture below), or Roasted Chicken. My modern take uses garlic, lemon and thyme and roasts the chicken with onion, carrots and fennel. It will serve 6-8 people, and I hope you enjoy!

Poulet RotiIngredients:

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs*
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges*
olive oil

* Click here to learn how to clean fennel and thyme.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chicken giblets, or any other extra chicken parts that were stuffed inside the carcass. Rinse the chicken inside and out, and remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the margarine and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 ½ hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.