Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Three – Manitoba –Bannock

Welcome to Week Three of the Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday! This week we explore the province of Manitoba, another Prairie Province nestled in the middle of Canada.

But first, I hope you all had a long and happy Thanksgiving weekend and somehow managed to survive Black Friday and Cyber Monday! I cooked a ton of food (I should have stepped sideways and shared some of those, :-/ ). Perhaps a future blog line will be about holiday cooking. I make a mean pie and this year made an oyster cornbread stuffing that was to die for. Yum!

On to Manitoba. This province is located between Ontario and Saskatchewan, with the Nunavut Territory and Hudson Bay to the north and the US states of Minnesota and North Dakota to the south.  Like its US neighbor to the south, Manitoba is graced with thousands of lakes, over 100,000, including Lake Winnipeg, one of the largest inland lakes in the world. The province’s name is from an Indian word meaning “the god who speaks”. Because of its physical location in Canada, Manitoba is both agricultural and urban, creating an interesting mix of Prairie west like Alberta and Saskatchewan and multicultural blend like Ontario.

When I went looking for a recipe, I found it difficult to find something that was uniquely Manitoban. There were many “influenced by” stuff and then there were the game meats (does everyone eat elk in Canada??). Ultimately my journey took me to the aboriginal people; the Assiniboin and Ojibwa Indians (part of the First Nations) and a simple bread called Bannock.

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Bannock

Similar to other really old recipes, there are many stories about its origin and also many versions. Basically, this is a simple non leaven bread that would be cooked in a cast iron pan over a low fire. Because it doesn’t contain milk or yeast, it is easy to make with pantry ingredients. I would imagine that there is a Girl Scout out there somewhere that will find this reminiscent of ‘campfire bread’. I have also read that this may have crossed over from Europe at some point in time and is sort of the basis for a scone.

The recipe that I used was very simple and sort of reminded me of a biscuit. I used unsalted butter, but you could use any shortening or even bacon grease. It comes together very quickly and I cooked it on my stove top in about 25 minutes.

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Bannock cooked on stove top

If you are ever in need of a simple bread side, I would highly recommend giving this a try. It is tasty, easy and a perfect addition to a quick mid week meal. We enjoyed it with some spaghetti and meat sauce. A smear of butter on a broken off piece was just perfect.

Thanks for stopping by. See you next week in New Brunswick!

Bannock

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cups water

Directions

  1. Measure flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir to mix. Pour melted butter and water over flour mixture. Stir with fork to make a ball.
  2. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface, and knead gently about 10 times. Pat into a flat circle 3/4 to 1 inch thick.
  3. Cook in a greased frying pan over medium low heat, allowing about 12-15 minutes for each side. Use two lifters for easy turning.

 

Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Two – British Columbia – Nanaimo Bars

Welcome to Week Two of the Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday! This week we explore the province of British Columbia, which has a long history as a populated area.

The history of British Columbia starts with the retreat of the great glaciers more than 10,000 years ago, and the crossing of people over the land bridge of the Bering Sea. These people were actually quite unique, in that they discovered plentiful food supplies in the area and became permanent settlers rather than nomads. They were able to focus less on survival and more on their culture. They developed complex languages, arts and strong ties to their region. The area remained this way for hundreds of years.

The first European explorers arrived in the area in the last 1700s, but it was not until the mid 1800s that gold was discovered and a mass of foreigners invaded the region. People from around the word came, as far away as China. Boomtowns emerged and similar to the Native American population, the aboriginal people were also decimated. The immigrants brought diseases that infected the local people and thousands died.

The area was originally claimed as Spanish territory, similar to the west coast of the United States, but was claimed as British territory with the fur trades. Interestingly, there was some dispute over BC as US territory during the same period that Washington, Oregon and California became US lands. In 1844, the US asserted that they held a legitimate claim to the Columbia District, but with the outbreak of the Mexican American War, then President Polk offered a compromise, drawing the official border between British North America and the United States at the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Trying to find a recipe for British Columbia was both simple and challenging. I really wanted to make an entrée, but I had a very hard time finding a dish that was quintessential BC. There are so many influences on the region, that I really couldn’t find one dish that said “British Columbia”. What I did find was a dessert that was truly so much BC, that it is named after a city in the province. That dessert is called Nanaimo Bars.

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Nanaimo Bars from British Columbia CA

There are no real concrete stories as to where this dessert came from, but its first printed origin dates back to the early 1950s. There are several variations, but the original is what is most famous. And in my research, I found that it is made all over Canada, and is also a big treat around this time of year. Several posts of the recipe actually have Canadian comments stating that they didn’t know this was a “Canada thing”; they just thought everyone made them. They are so popular in British Columbia that most pastry shops sell them.

I made the original version. This is a decadent and delicious treat, with a crumbly chocolate coconut nutty base, a butter cream middle and a semi-sweet chocolate top. The recipe makes an 8×8 inch pan, which is more than enough to treat a mid size gathering because it is so rich. My only critique is that the base layer was a bit thick and sort of fell apart when you ate it. I am thinking that I would reduce the graham cracker crumbs next time to try to make it bind better.

But overall, this was really delicious and I understand why they are so popular. I would absolutely make these again, and am looking forward to slipping them into the dessert options on Thanksgiving Day. A nice alternative option to the pie choices I am already planning.

Thanks for stooping by. See you next week in Manitoba!

Nanaimo Bars

Ingredients

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (I would probably reduce this to 1 cup)
  • ½ cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut (I used unsweetened, although the original recipe did not distinguish)

Second Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Third Layer

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

For the bottom layer:

  1. Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Temper the egg and stir to cook and thicken (Roughly 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

For the second layer

  1. Cream butter, cream, pudding mix, and confectioner’s sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

For the third layer:

  1. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool.
  2. Once cool, but still liquid, pour and spread over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Cut into 1 inch squares and serve slightly chilled and with a tall glass of milk!

 

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Nanaimo Bars

Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday – Week One – Alberta – Honey Garlic Beef Stir Fry

Welcome all! This week we start on our next culinary adventure. As you will recall, we finished up the United States Territories last week with Washington DC. It was all too appropriate that we ended there on Election Day, and it has been a most tumultuous week since.

During the very, very long election season, many people said that they would leave the country if Donald Trump was elected, and to that end, Canada seemed to be the country of choice. So I decided that our friends to the north were just beckoning me to explore them, so here we are on Week One of the Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday. And yes, I know it’s Wednesday. My son had a dress rehearsal last night and I was helping out, so we didn’t even have dinner last night.

Before we focus on our first province, here is a little background on the country itself. The name Canada is actually a translation error. In 1535, some Huron-Iroquois Indians were giving directions to ‘Kanata’ to the European explorer Jacques Cartier. Cartier thought they were speaking of the entire land area, but in actuality, the word means ‘village’. Canada is the second largest country in land area, but its population is smaller than the state of California. Even with its small population, it is still one of the United States largest trading partners. The US is the only country to share a border with Canada a total of 5,525 miles (but there are no plans to build a wall). Did you know that Canada produces 80% of the world’s maple syrup? Yep. And of that, 91% of it is produced in Quebec. I’m thinking this may be why their flag is a maple leaf. And this one is my favorite factoid… Winnie the Pooh was inspired by a black polar bear at the London Zoo in Regent Park, but the bear was actually Canadian. His full name was Winnipeg.

Ok, on to the provinces. I am going to do these in alphabetical order because that is how I feel like doing it. No other reason than that. We begin week one with the Province of Alberta. Alberta is one of the western provinces of Canada. It is the fourth most populated with approximately 4.2 million people, and is the most populated of the three “prairie” provinces. It is bordered by British Columbia to the west and Saskatchewan to the east. It shares the US border with the state of Montana.

When researching recipes, I discovered that because this was a prairie state, they were known for several agricultural items, including wheat, beef cattle and honey. There weren’t a lot of recipes tied directly to the province, but I did find an interesting one that used two of these ingredients; beef and honey.

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Honey Garlic Beef Stir Fry

The recipe that I made is Honey Garlic Beef Stir Fry. This one is super simple and comes together in about the time it takes to make some rice to go with it. I was a little leery of making a stir fry dish that had honey in it, but the end result was pretty tasty. I do admit that it was a bit sweet, so I would probably drop the honey down to a 1/3 cup and maybe add some soy sauce or even fish sauce to even it out. But for a quick week night dinner, this one was pretty good and I might even make it again sometime. I am going to give it an A- with some potential to make it better.

Thanks for joining me on our new adventure. See you next week in British Columbia!

Honey Garlic Beef Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Honey
  • ¼ cup teriyaki sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp hot sauce
  • 1 lb boneless sirloin steak, sliced against the grain in thin strips
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 lb bag of frozen stir fry vegetable blend

Directions

  1. Make the sauce by combining the first 6 ingredients in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl combine beef with ¼ cup reserved sauce.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water. Set aside
  4. Heat large non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add oil. When pan is hot, add the beef. Cook until outside of beef is cooked, about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the frozen vegetables and sauce. Bring sauce to a boil, cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes until vegetables and beef are cooked through.
  6. Add cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly until thickened, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

 

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Honey Garlic Beef Stir Fry

Five Territories of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Six – The District of Columbia – Senate Soup

Welcome to week 6 of the Five US Territories of New Recipe Tuesday.  Wait, what? There are five populated territories in the US, so why do I have a week six? Well, I needed to round this whole thing out properly, and that means that I needed to include the little piece of land that makes up our nation’s capitol, Washington DC.  How fitting that tonight is election night. A brutally contested election that culminates tonight in our nation’s decision on who will lead our nation for the next four years. I have my very strongly held personal opinion on all of this, but will refrain from getting political.

Washington DC was founded on July 16, 1790 and is unique in all cities in the United States because it was established by the Constitution to be our nation’s capital. President George Washington chose the exact location of the city along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, which was created when both Maryland and Virginia ceded land to found the new ‘district’. The city itself was designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, modeled after his home city of Paris.

On this Election Day, I find it interesting that the citizens of Washington DC actually lack full self-governance. Their representation in Congress is limited to a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives and a shadow Senator. It was not until 1964 that residents of DC were allowed to vote in Presidential elections and the city was allowed to elect their own mayor in only 1973.

When searching for recipe for our nation’s capitol, the decision was one of the easiest of this whole journey. I decided on a very old tradition called Senate Soup, which is a dish that has been served in the Senate restaurant every day since 1903.

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Senate Soup

Now don’t get me wrong, although the recipe is simple, of course the story of this soup is complicated. There are various versions of the history, attributing its creation to either Senator Fred Dubois of Idaho or Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota. And along with its different story owners, there are different versions of the soup. The actual recipe that is used today in the Senate restaurant is super simple, using just beans, ham hock and onion. The ‘other’ version actually uses mashed potatoes, which seemed like a whole lot of extra carbs without a lot of flavor gain.

I opted for a modified version that stuck to the simple version, but added some aromatics to enhance the overall flavor of the dish. I have never cooked with a smoked ham hock before and it was definitely a huge flavor booster to the soup, but it lacked meat on the bones. I fortunately had a ham bone in my freezer that I pulled out and added to the process, which gave me all the meat the soup needed. I would modify the recipe to include a meaty ham bone to insure you get a solid bean to meat balance. The result is a really delicious, homey, hearty soup that fills you up and makes you feel good. The perfect way to end this historic day.

I give my version a solid A+ and will add it to my rotation for future dinners.

This will round out our tour of the entire United States, including our territories and our nation’s capitol. I guess I need to get out my passport and decide where we are going next. Stay tuned! Thanks for stopping by and see you next week in…?

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Senate Soup

Senate Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 1 smoked ham hock, about 1 pound (if your ham hock does not have a lot of meat, you can also add a ham bone)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Place picked over and rinsed beans in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Cover with cold tap water by at least three inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover pot and let beans soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.
  2. Combine beans, ham hock, garlic, 8 cups of water and bay leaves in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 1-1/2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium flame. Add onion, carrots and celery and toss to coat with butter. Sweat aromatics until just softening, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Transfer the ham hock/ham bone to a shallow bowl and let it cool slightly.
  5. Transfer a ladleful of the beans to a small bowl, along with a little of the liquid. Using a hand masher or a fork, mash the beans thoroughly and return to the pot. Stir in the vegetable mix and season generously with pepper.
  6. When the ham hock/ham bone is cooled enough to handle, remove the skin, fat and bones and chop the meat into small pieces. Return the meat to the pot and simmer uncovered for another 1-1/2 hours, until beans are completely tender and the liquid has reduced somewhat, creating a slightly thick broth.
  7. Taste soup and season with salt only if needed. The ham will add quite a bit of flavor, so the soup may not need any additional salt. Discard bay leaves.

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Five Territories of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Five – The Northern Mariana Islands – Chamorro Shrimp Patties

Welcome to week 5 of the Five US Territories of New Recipe Tuesday.  This week, we explore The Northern Mariana Islands, the newest US territory. Like many other islands in this region, the indigenous people are Chamorro. Magellan first discovered the islands in 1521, and at that time the population of the native people was more than 75,000. With the introduction of disease and forced labor by the Spaniards, the population had diminished to a mere 3,500 by 1710.

Spain sold the islands to Germany in 1899, during the same period that Guam became a US territory. Germany did little with the islands, and when they were defeated in WWII, Japan assumed possession along with most of Micronesia in 1944. In 1947, the area was recognized as a United Nations Trust Territory, administered by the United States. The infusion of ‘Yankee’ culture  introduced the islands to better education and tourism.  But it was not until 1978, after years of debates and ballot propositions that the Northern Marianas entered into a commonwealth with the United States. Though still under foreign control, the new Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands introduced an autonomy that had been missing from Chamorro culture for over four hundred years.

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Chamorro Shrimp Patties

When I went looking for a recipe to make this week, I wanted to give the native culture a nod. Because the island culture was very similar to Guam, it became a challenge to find something different and unique. But I did finally find something that was attributed to Saipan (the capital), called Chamorro Shrimp Patties. These are essentially a fritter, and they were really delicious. They are very easy to make, and I was surprised that something with very basic seasonings was so tasty. On the islands, they are frequently served as an appetizer, but I found that they were filling enough to be my main dish. The shrimp was forward enough to be the star ingredient, and the use of frozen mixed vegetables was in line with the regions lack of local produce availability.

Overall, I give this dish a solid A. I would make these again, maybe for a party where I didn’t mind tending the deep fryer for awhile!

Thanks for stopping by! This wraps up our tour of the populated US Territories. I am going to wrap up this tour with our nation’s capital, Washington DC. Seems pretty fitting, since next Tuesday is Election Day! See you next week!

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Chamorro Shrimp Patties

Chamorro Shrimp Patties

A traditional shrimp fritter found at festive gatherings in the Mariana Islands

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, thawed, peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, completely thawed, and drained
  • About 4 cups vegetable oil, for deep frying

Directions

Important!  Make sure that the shrimp and mixed vegetables are completely thawed out; otherwise as it defrosts, it will water down your batter.

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the evaporated milk. Add the flour, baking powder, and the seasonings. Mix until smooth. Add a little more evaporated milk if needed to make a thick but smooth batter.
  2. Add the shrimp and mixed vegetables, combining well.
  3. Heat oil in a deep fryer or 12-inch skillet to medium heat (350°F). Using two spoons, scoop and drop about 2 tablespoons batter and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Turn the fritters with tongs to brown evenly
  4. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

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Chamorro Shrimp Patties