Grand-Maman’s French-Canadian Baked Bean

I have a special treat for you all today!

Phil Wilson from Baconhound has recently started a very interesting new project for his blog called the Community Table Project. He is the brains behind the YEG Pizza Odyssey and the YEG Burger Odyssey, which pits some of the best Edmonton restaurants’ specialities against one another. The Community Table Project takes a different journey through YEG’s food scene. Through this project, Phil wants to feature recipes that are important to the Edmonton home cooks that create and cook them. I was scrolling through Facebook the other day when I came across this video, describing the project. I just had to participate. And what better recipe to share than my Grand-maman’s French Canadian Baked Beans?

My Grand-Maman was an incredible woman. She was orphaned in her teens and being the only girl in a traditional French-Canadian family of five, she was responsible for taking care of her brothers in every way after her parents passed: cleaning, washing and of course, cooking. Being from St. George de Beauce, Quebec (pretty much as down-home French-Canadian as they come), she cooked a plethora of traditional French Canadian recipes: Pudding Chomeure, Tarte au sucre, tourtiere and cretons. She went on to create an incredible, large family legacy of Canadiens-Francais with my Grand-Papa (My extended family is now 61 strong!). I am so proud to be able to share one of her signature recipes with you today.

DSC_0515Many French-Canadian Baked Bean recipes call for salt pork. When I picked up some bacon ends from Irvings at the Strathcona Market, I asked them about that. They told me that salt pork was essentially illegal, unregulated bacon. Well, since I wasn’t going to make my own bacon for this recipe, Irving’s high-quality, Berkshire bacon ends would do the trick quite nicely.

DSC_0517Using my cast-iron skillet, I crisped up the bacon ends.

DSC_0518Next, I made the liquid that the beans would be slow-cooking in. Very simple, really. I used 2 tablespoons of dried mustard.

DSC_0519

Then I used 3/4 cup of maple syrup.

DSC_0520

Here are the delicious bacon ends, all crisped up.

DSC_0521Because I was making the recipe the day ahead, I combined all of the ingredients in a Tupperware, and popped it in the fridge.

DSC_0522Including the crispy bacon, of course!

DSC_0524Before turning in that night, I emptied a one-pound bag of white navy beans in a bowl.

DSC_0527Then I covered them with water and let them soak overnight.

DSC_0528In the morning, I drained the soaked beans and rinsed them off, then I combined all the prepared ingredients, beans and 6 cups of water into the crockpot.

DSC_0529Then I cooked them on low for 10 hrs.

DSC_0530Here they are at the end of the day. Saucy, sweet, salty, beany goodness. Taste them and adjust seasoning to your liking.

DSC_0534

Traditionally, this dish is prepared in a bean pot. I am so fortunately to have inherited my Grand-Maman’s bean pot. You can tell that this pot was well loved. The sealed ceramic is cracked from use and there are ancient burnt beans marks on the bottom of the pot.

DSC_0535Serve up the dish with a piece of bread, or serve for breakfast with a poached egg on top.

DSC_0532Enjoy!

French-Canadian Baked Beans (Fèves au lard)

You will need:

  • 1 lb bag of dried white navy beans
  • 1 pack of back ends from Irvings Farm Fresh (or one package of regular bacon)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1.5 tablespoons dried mustard
  • 6 cups water
  • 1.5 teaspoons of salt or to taste

Soak beans overnight in a large bowl with water. In the morning, slice bacon and fry in a pan. Dice onions. Combine maple syrup and dried mustard, and add to a crockpot. Add water and stir to combine. Add bacon, onions and beans. (You can make ahead by combining cooked bacon, onions, syrup and mustard in a large tupperware in the fridge and add beans and water to crockpot in the AM.) Stir to combine and slow cook on low for 10 hours. Once beans are cooked, add salt to taste.

To cook in a beanpot, preheat oven to 350 while preparing your ingredients. Cook at 350 for about 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 200 and cook for a total of 8 hours. Check and stir occasionally, and add more water if needed.

Serve with a slice of homemade bread, or for breakfast with a fried egg on top. Enjoy, with classic memories of Francophone Canada.

Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes

I love tuna melts. They carry such an interesting flavour combination with their tuna, tomato and cheese combination of deliciousness. I was perusing the latest All You Need is Cheese Magazine, put together by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, and I came across a recipe for Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes. Instant inspiration!

DSC_0471

I didn’t have many of the items the recipe called for on hand, so I substituted them. These turned out so incredibly delicious, I am so happy with the variations!

DSC_0477First, make sure that your tomatoes are sitting upright. I used some larger tomatoes on the vine that I picked up at the Strathcona Market, so they sat upright nicely on their own. If you’re using any other kind of tomato, you can cut a thin slice off the bottom of each tomato. Then, cut the top off to create a large enough opening to stuff them.

DSC_0484Scoop out their insides and reserve the flesh and liquid.

DSC_0487For the stuffing, I used oats, Gruyere, onion, the reserved tomato flesh and liquid. Dice the tomato flesh and add the other stuffing ingredients. Add reserved tomato liquid to help soften up the oats.

DSC_0488Stuff each tomato and cover with the tops.

DSC_0489I baked the tomatoes on the grill, because it was waaaaay too hot in my house to even fathom turning on the oven. I grilled the dish on medium for about 20 mins (until the cheese was all melty and gooey).

DSC_0498We devoured these tomatoes right off the grill. They were so delicious!

Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes (modified from All You Need is Cheese)

You will need:

6-8 large tomatoes (I used large on the vine, but beefsteak tomatoes would be perfect for these!)

1 can of tuna

1/2 cup Gruyere, cut into small cubes

1 medium onion, diced

3/4 cup rolled oats

If baking, preheat oven to 450. If grilling, preheat BBQ to medium-high. In both instances, line a large baking dish with foil.

Make sure that your tomatoes are sitting upright. If they aren’t, cut a thin slice off the bottom of each tomato. Then, cut the top off to create a large enough opening to stuff them. Scoop out their insides and reserve the flesh and liquid. Dice the tomato flesh and add to a large bowl. Add oats, tuna onion and Gruyere. Add reserved tomato liquid and mix well to coat. Stuff each tomato with filling and top with tomato cap. Bake on grill or in oven for 15-20 mins until the filling is very hot and cheese has melted. Serve right away and enjoy every last crumb.

*Tip: If you have any extra filling, bake alongside tomatoes in a separate dish and eat it right out of the pan.


Baked Ranchero Eggs

Good morning all! I’m so sorry that I’ve been MIA recently. Things have been a little crazy over here. We’ve had kitchen renos done! Yay! We now have direct access to the back yard through a sliding patio door, as well as a more open kitchen with a hole in the wall leading between the dining room and kitchen. We also had some more counter space and cabinetry installed. I love it. I am so happy that we finally invested in a more functional kitchen!!

This recipe is from the great Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen. I bought her cookbook when it came out and have loved making the delicious recipes therein. For father’s day last month, I asked Justin to peruse my cookbooks and choose a breakfast recipe. He settled on Baked Ranchero Eggs from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Hmmmm.

IMG_4574First things first, I roasted a can of diced tomatoes.

IMG_4575I also boiled some black beans.

IMG_4576For the ranchero sauce, blend tomatoes, onion and garlic in a food processor.

IMG_4577Then transfer to a skillet.

IMG_4578Add the beans.

IMG_4579Then add the eggs.

IMG_4580Cook them, lid on, until they are still pretty soft.

IMG_4581Then cover with Jack cheese and broil in the oven on high for 5 mins.

IMG_4583Add dollops of sour cream and fresh, chopped cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Baked Ranchero Eggs (Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen)

You will need

1 large can of diced tomatoes (or fire-roasted tomatoes. This will save you a step!)

1 medium white onion

2 garlic cloves

salt and pepper to taste

1 can black beans

12 eggs

1 cup jack cheese

Sour cream

Lime juice

Chopped fresh cilantro

Begin by roasting the tomatoes at 350 for 30 mins, if you weren’t able to find fire-roasted tomatoes. Transfer to a food processor. Add onion, salt and pepper and garlic and blend until smooth. Transfer to a skillet. Add black beans. Cook for 15 mins on medium-low. Add eggs ad cover. Cook until still very soft. Add jack cheese and broil on high for 5 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and browned. Top with sour cream, lime juice and cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!


Coconut Crusted Sole with Mango Lime Salsa

My goodness! It’s been over a month since I last posted. May has been an absolutely balls-to-the-wall crazy month for us over here. Justin applied for and got a promotion, we’ve been trying to rent our basement, and I started my own business. Add trying to find child care for Anna into the mix and you have one set of stressed-out parents. That said, I’ve done a lot of cooking; I just haven’t had the opportunity to post!

I was lucky to have been able to attend a cookbook launch back in April. Lick Your Plate by Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat is an absolutely delicious and gorgeous Canadian cookbook, complete with step-by-step guides to tasty recipes. I’ve been cooking a lot of recipes from their book lately. This recipe is one of my new favourites!

DSC_0383The salsa was extremely fresh tasting. Complete with lots of fresh veggies, mango, cilantro and lime juice. Hmm!

DSC_0385Here it is. Ready to top some tasty coconut-crusted fish!

DSC_0392Now, make three bowls. First one has seasoning salt and flour. Mix well to combine.

DSC_0393Next plate has an egg and lime juice. Beat with a fork.

DSC_0394Next plate has panko breadcrumbs and shredded coconut.

DSC_0395Dredge the sole filet in the flour.

DSC_0396Then the egg.

DSC_0398Then the coconut and panko.

DSC_0399The recipe asks you to fry the fillets, but I prefer baking them.

DSC_0407They got nice and crispy in the oven.

DSC_0411Top the fish with the salsa and serve alongside some wild rice and you have yourself a fresh-tasting and delicious meal.

Coconut Crusted Sole with Mango Lime Salsa (Courtesy of Lick Your Plate)

You will need:

For the fish:

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp seasoning salt

2 eggs

1 tbsp lime juice

1 cup panko

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

8 sole fillets

 

For the salsa:

2 ripe mangos

1 sweet red bell peper

1 red onion

1 cup fresh cilantro diced

1/4 cup lime zest

2 tbsp lime juice

 

Begin by dicing all of the salsa ingredients into small pieces. Add to a bowl and mix in lime juice, lime zest and cilantro. Set aside in the fridge. For the fish, take out three separate bowls. In the first, combine flour and seasoning salt. In the second, combine eggs and lime juice. In the third, combine panko and shredded coconut. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and preheat oven to 375. Dredge a fillet in flour, then egg, then panko. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat for all fillets and bake at 375 for 20 mins, until fish is crispy. Serve topped with mango lime salsa. Enjoy!


Adventures in Sourdough Bread Baking

Guys, I’ve done it. I’ve finally taken the plunge into learning how to bake my own bread. I’ve tried baking with yeast in the past and have had so many mixed results that I quickly gave up. I’ve read many accounts that baking with sourdough culture is actually easier to get a good rise out of your baking, and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it could be.

Recently, I’ve embarked on a food adventure with Michael Pollan. The netflix documentary series “cooked” was so beautiful and awe inspiring that I picked up the book. The chapter on sourdough bread lends such respect to one of our most basic foods – bread – that I had just to go through my own journey in order to learn how to create it, just like Pollan did.

Kaelin, over at the ruby apron, hosted a sourdough bread baking workshop two weeks ago. She took great care in explaining the many steps involved in sourdough bread baking. Trained as a chef in Ireland, she learned how to perfect her loaf across the sea. Once she got home, she had to re-learn her sourdough culture, modify her technique to fit with her kitchen. The recipe below is credited to Kaelin, who adapted this recipe from Tim Allen at Ballymaloe Cookery School to use with local flours.

DSC_0338Kaelin was selling all the essentials needed to make sourdough bread. I committed and even bought a chunk of her culture. I named him Sam the sourdough culture. He is now a new fixture in my kitchen.

DSC_0340First things first is the measure out the ingredients using a kitchen scale. Bread-making is a precise skill, so you do need a scale to ensure that you are getting your measurements right.

DSC_0341Next, using a wooden spoon or paddle attachment on your mixer, incorporate all of the ingredients in your bowl.

DSC_0342Next, knead the dough using the bread hook attachment on your mixer. Set it to medium-low and let the dough knead for about 10-15 minutes. You’ll know that it’s ready once the ball pulls away from the sides of the bowl and bread hook can hold the weight of the dough.

DSC_0343Cover the dough with saran wrap and leave it to rest on the counter for 3-4 hours, or you can pop it in the fridge to rest overnight. I tried to do all of the steps in one day, and I found that it was a little overwhelming. If I make the dough the day before and let it rest overnight in the fridge, you cut down the work and waiting time significantly.

DSC_0344Here’s how the dough will look after you’ve let it rest.

DSC_0345The next step is the shape the dough. At first, when you transfer the dough to your counter, it will look like this. Using a bench scraper, turn the dough over onto itself. Do this every 5-10 minutes until the dough begins to form a tighter ball.

DSC_0347Like this!

DSC_0348Next step is to let it rest again. Line a breathable mesh basket with a clean tea towel that has been sprinkled with flour. Gently transfer the dough to the basket, fold the ends of the tea towel over the dough and place in a plastic bag. At this point you can either leave to rest on the counter for 3-4 hours or you can pop it in the fridge overnight again.

DSC_0351Here’s how your dough will look after it’s rested a second time.

DSC_0352Now for the baking process. Kaelin uses a Lodge cast iron combo cooking pan with a lid to bake her dough. It is essentially a deeper-set cast iron pan with a lid. Rather than going out and buying another piece of equipment to bake my bread (I was already accumulating quite the hefty tab during that class), I decided to try and use my tagine to bake the bread. It worked brilliantly. It trapped the heat and steam of the bread inside exactly like the combo cooker would.

Here are the steps for baking: Preheat your oven and pan to a whopping 500 degrees. Quickly tip the dough into the pan and score with a knife – be careful not to burn yourself. Cover with the deep pan or tagine lid and pop back into the oven. Cook, covered for 10 mins at 500. Turn oven down to 450 and bake for another 5 mins. Next, take the lid off the top and bake for another 5 mins (still at 450). Turn the oven down to 400 and bake for another 10 mins. The best way to test if the loaf is fully cooked is to tap the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, you’re good to go!

DSC_0353Here it is. My first gorgeous loaf of sourdough bread! This loaf had it all, delicious texture, a great crust, and it wasn’t too sour. I was very impressed with the flavour. My only qualms were with the flour. This loaf was 70% white flour, and 30% whole grain.

If you’ve been following this blog for you a while, you know how I feel about white flour. Pollan drove home my feelings about it in “Cooked”, when he went deep into the history of white flour and the health problems it has caused for those eating it. Quite simply, white flour is bad for you. Eating white flour has been linked to a host of chronic diseases, as well as the rise in gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease across the globe.

When you eat whole grains on the other hand, you’re getting all of the health benefits of a diet rich in fiber and protein. This is why I started using John’s flour from Gold Forest Grains. You can taste and feel the difference when eating fresh milled, whole grain flour. I haven’t had to pick up a bag of white flour ever since.

Experimenting with a whole grain sourdough loaf was not without its challenges. My first loaf was a thick dense brick that was overly sour and chewy. I was completely disheartened, but I wasn’t willing to give up on my sourdough adventure yet.

Luck had it that I read a passage in “Cooked” right as I was grappling this problem. Pollan had encountered the same issues with his whole grain sourdough loaves. He, however, came up with a brilliant solution to solving his problems!

To combat the extreme sourness he came up against, he retarded his dough int he fridge overnight for the first rise. I tried this as well.

DSC_0399Next, Pollan put his thinking cap on and determined that the major factor preventing his loaf from rising as it should was the wheat germ and bran that gives whole grain flour its incredible mouth feel. He had sifted it out so that it doesn’t break the gluten during the loaf’s first rise.

DSC_0400While shaping the loaf, he incorporated the germ and bran back into the loaf to maintain the health benefits of the flour without compromising the rise.  DSC_0402I followed the same steps as above for the baking process and what came out the oven was a revelation. A delicious 75% whole grain loaf that was not too sour and had great rise. I was so thankful that Pollan took the legwork out of it for me. Now I make my loaves just the way he did, and they come out tasty every time.

 

Whole Grain Sourdough Bread (Recipe modified from Kaelin Whittaker from the Ruby Apron)

You will need:

340g sourdough starter

200g water

250g Gold Forest Grains Red Fife Flour

90g Highwood Crossing Organic All Purpose Flour (If you have to use AP, you may as well use the good stuff, eh?)

10g salt

 

Begin by building up your starter. Add 150g of whole grain flour and 150g water to the starter and mix well. It will take about an hour or two to become active. Test if your starter is active by adding a heaping teaspoon to a glass of water. If it floats, you’re good to go. If it sinks, wait a little longer, as it is not quite active enough yet.

To make the dough, sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Reserve the bran and germ into a separate container and set aside. Add the other ingredients and, using the paddle attachment on your mixer, incorporate all of the ingredients. (I used a wooden spoon and it works just as well!)

Knead the dough using the bread hook attachment on your mixer. Set it to medium-low and let the dough knead for about 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to set the mixer to high as you can break the gluten! You’ll know that it’s ready once the ball pulls away from the sides of the bowl and bread hook can hold the weight of the dough. Cover the dough with saran wrap and pop it in the fridge to rest overnight. This is called retarding the dough.

To shape the dough, use a bench scraper to turn the dough over onto itself. Do this every 5-10 minutes until the dough begins to form a tighter ball. On your last 2 turns, reintroduce the reserved bran and germ into the loaf, making sure to cover as much as the loaf as possible.

Line a breathable mesh basket with a clean tea towel that has been sprinkled with flour. Gently transfer the dough to the basket. Fold the ends of the tea towel over the dough and place in a plastic bag. At this point, you can either leave to rest on the counter for 3-4 hours or you can pop it in the fridge overnight again.

To bake, preheat your oven and pan to a whopping 500 degrees. Quickly tip the dough into the pan and score with a sharp knife – be careful not to burn yourself. Cover with the deep pan or tagine lid and pop back into the oven. Cook, covered for 10 mins at 500. Turn oven down to 450 and bake for another 5 mins. Next, take the lid off the top and bake for another 5 mins (still at 450). Turn the oven down to 400 and bake for another 10 mins. The best way to test if the loaf is fully cooked is to tap the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it is cooked throughout.

Let cool on a metal wire rack. Avoid cutting into the loaf too early, as you may burn yourself and let some precious steam escape.

Slather with butter and enjoy. Share with your family and watch them devour every crumb!

IMG_4049Seriously, she loved it!


Orange Ginger Glazed Chicken

I’ve been on a ginger kick lately. I’ve used so much ginger in the last few weeks that I’ve decided to invest in a pot of pre-ground ginger. I know, some of you a horrified, but the amount of time is takes to peel then mulch up the ginger sometimes makes me want to use ground ginger, so which is worse? For this recipe, I used the last of a large knob of fresh ginger I bought last week. It was definitely worth the peeling and mulching.

DSC_0386First things first, season and brown some chicken thighs.

DSC_0387The glaze called for some classic asian flavours: orange, hoisin, stock, sugar, garlic and ginger.

DSC_0389Mix it all together.

DSC_0390Add it to the frying pan and simmer, reducing it by a third.

DSC_0391Once reduced, add the chicken back in and coat the pieces.

DSC_0394I threw in some snap peas and mushrooms to boost the tasty factor.

DSC_0396Serve atop a bed of jasmine rice and enjoy.

Orange Ginger Glazed Chicken

You will need:

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

salt and pepper

1 cup fresh orange juice from 4 oranges

1 cup no sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup hoisin

4 cloves garlic, pressed

2 tbsp orange zest

1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and mulched

1 handful snap peas

8 mushrooms, sliced

Rice, to serve

Season chicken thighs and heat some oil in a pan over medium heat. Lightly brown chicken on all sides. Remove from pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients until well combined. Transfer back to the pan and cook the sauce over medium heat until reduced by a third. Add chicken back to the pan and simmer, coating chicken well with sauce, until reduced again and chicken is well cooked. Add snap peas and mushrooms. Serve over rice. Enjoy!


Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp Soup

I’ve been battling a naaaasty cold over the past few weeks. Coughing, sinusy stuff. Ugh. No fun. And with that cold has come a very strong hankering for soup. This soup helped the cold and made me feel a lot better!

DSC_0329First things first, melt some thai red curry paste in the bottom of a pot.

DSC_0330Add broth. I used no sodium added chicken broth.

DSC_0331Cube up some butternut squash and dice some onions and throw into the pot to simmer until soft.

DSC_0333Once everything is cooked, puree and transfer back to the pot. Here’s where I wish I had an immersion blender. Add the can of coconut milk.

DSC_0334Last steps include adding the shrimp, peas and spinach and cooking until the shrimp is no longer translucent, and the spinach has cooked down.

DSC_0336This beauty is ready to serve!

DSC_0338Aromatic and only slightly spicy. Enjoy to kick your spring cold to the curb!

Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp Soup

You will need

2 tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste

4 cups no sodium added chicken broth (make your own – it’s easy and delicious!)

1 can full fat coconut milk

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 onion, diced

1 cup baby spinach

1 cup frozen pees

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

Begin by heating red thai curry paste in a large pot. Add stock to pot and simmer. Dice and cube squash and onion and add to the pot. Cook until squash is tender (about an hour), and blend. Add coconut milk. Add shrimp, pees and spinach and cook until shrimp is pink. Adjust seasoning and enjoy!

 


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