Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Seven – Prince Edward Island – Cottage Pie

Welcome to Week Seven of the Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday! This week we explore the province of Prince Edward Island, the smallest of all the provinces. Located on the far East coast of Canada, its area is only 136 miles long and 6 to 36 miles wide. Up until 1995, the only way to get to PEI was by ferry. The opening of the Confederation Bridge now connects the island to New Brunswick. The toll is a whopping $45.00.

For my book loving folks, you may already know that Prince Edward Island was the home of author Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote about the province in her 1908 book Anne of Green Gables. The house that inspired the book is located in Cavendish, and today is a national historic site open to visitors.

A good portion of the island is rural and its rich soil makes it the perfect place to grow potatoes. It is by far their largest cash crop, with over 89,000 acres planted annually. It is also famously known for its fresh seafood, especially lobster.

When I went looking for a recipe, there were plenty of seafood soups and stews, but since no one in the house loves fish, I decided to focus on potato instead. What I discovered was a dish that has its roots in Ireland (another potato growing island). The dish is called Cottage Pie, and is essentially Shepherd’s Pie made with ground beef. I learned that for the dish to be a Shepherd’s Pie, it need to be made with lamb (makes sense).

Prince Edward Island Cottage Pie

I liked the many seasonings that were in this filling, and also the use of a tomato base. It is very different from the Irish versions I have had before and I really liked it. My son tasted it and said ‘no thanks’ and headed to the freezer for a frozen pizza. Oh well. He isn’t a vegetable fan and mashed potatoes aren’t his thing either. I can’t believe he is part Irish and doesn’t like potatoes! Where did I go wrong?

I give this one an A-, mostly because it has what I would consider to be too many ingredients and I am the only one eating it. Not a whole house winner. Looks like I will be eating this for lunch for the next few days. If you are looking for something a little different on a cold winter night, give this one a try. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list. You probably have most of it in your pantry already. And you just might like it as much as I did.

Thanks for stopping by. See you next time in Quebec!

Cottage Pie


For the Potato Topping:

  • 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 2 lbs)
  • 4 Garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tbsp soft butter
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • ¼ cup grated cheese of choice (I used cheddar)
  • 1 egg yolk

For the Filling:

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ large red pepper, chopped
  • ½ c. each frozen corn and frozen peas (or 1 cup mixed vegetables)
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ c beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ tsp Tabasco
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of each – ginger, cinnamon and coriander


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease an 8”x8” baking dish and set aside.
  2. Place the potatoes and garlic in a pot of lightly salted, cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 12-14 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  3. Rice or mash the potatoes and garlic. Add the milk, butter nutmeg and cheese. Beat the egg yolk slightly, and then add to the potato mixture. Combine well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, then ground beef; cook until the meat is browned. Add onions and peppers; cook until tender.
  5. Drain off the fat, return skillet to heat and add in the remaining vegetables, broth, tomatoes, seasonings and spices. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Transfer mixture to baking dish and press it down. Top with the garlic mashed potatoes and lightly sprinkle paprika over top. Place the baking dish in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Cottage Pie

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Eighteen – Louisiana – Crawfish Étouffée

Welcome to week 18 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Louisiana, who joined the union on April 30, 1812.

So here are some fun facts about Louisiana. It is the only state in the union that does not have counties. Their divisions are called parishes. It has the tallest state capitol building in the US; it is 450 feet tall with 34 floors. It was named after King Louis XIV. And it is known as both the Creole and Cajun capitals of the world.

So what better way to celebrate this great food state than with a dish that has variations in both of these food styles ~ Crawfish Étouffée. The history of this dish dates back to the 1950s, with some records indicating it may have been made even as early as the 1920s. It started in the bayous and backwaters of Cajun country and didn’t make it to the larger cities (like New Orleans) until the early 1980s. The story has it that a waiter at a popular Bourbon Street restaurant called Galatoire’s brought the dish in to his boss to try. At the time most of the food in New Orleans was French Creole, but when this Cajun dish was introduced, it was an immediate hit. The rest, they say, is history.

The word Étouffée is French and literally translated means “to smother”. Smothering is an actual cooking style in cajun and creole cooking, where found, usually seafood, is cooked at a simmer in a small amount of liquid for a long time. This dish sort of does that, although it really starts with a roux and then cooks out vegetables with liquid to form a gravy. It is only at the end that the crawfish is added.

In looking for a recipe to try, I found there were hundreds of versions, although all used the same slow browning method to form the roux. This is a critical step in the dish, so don’t rush it. Some versions brown out the roux to a deep mahogany color, while others keep it much lighter to the color of peanut butter. I opted for the lighter color version, both for time and flavor.

This recipe is from the famous New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse. I really liked it, but now looking at my ingredient list, I am thinking that it would have been better if it had been “kicked up a notch”. Although it contains cayenne pepper, I think it would be even better if it had some more authentic Cajun or Creole seasoning. Something to work through on a future occasion! Regardless, I give this one a solid A, and even Josh thought it was really good. I will make this one again.

Enjoy, and see you next week in Indiana!


Crawfish Etoufee
Crawfish Etoufee

Crawfish Étouffée


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cups seafood stock (if you can’t find, substitute chicken stock)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Cayenne, as needed (I added about 3/4 tsp)
Smoked paprika, as needed (I added about 3/4 tsp)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound crawfish tails


First, you make a roux. In a Dutch oven, add the butter over medium-high heat and melt. Add the flour and whisk until combined and there are no lumps in the flour. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and flour mixture browns to the color of peanut butter, 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure to stir continuously and do not allow the mixture to burn. If you notice little black specks, discard the roux and start over.

Once the roux is sufficiently dark, add the garlic, celery, onion and bell pepper and stir. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the seafood stock and bring to a simmer. Add the parsley, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves and some cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the crawfish tails and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

Serve over rice.

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Fourteen – Vermont

Welcome to week 14 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome Vermont, who joined the union on March 4, 1791.

I have to say, I like Vermont. It has some cool facts about it. Like it is named for the French Verd Mont, which means Green Mountain. Its capital, Montpelier, is the only state capital without a McDonalds. It was the last state in the US to have a Walmart. And the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company gives their food waste to local pig farmers. The hogs seem to like it, except the Mint Oreo flavor.

They are the largest producer of maple syrup in the US. And they have more cows than people. And all those cows make milk, which then becomes delicious Vermont Cheddar.

So it is no surprise that this week focused on maple syrup and Vermont cheddar. Fortunately, I knew better than try to combine these things! I once again have two dishes for you, and both of them came out great.

The first is Vermont Cheddar Soup. This creamy, hardy dish is full of flavor, and the use of mustard and Worcestershire sauce add some nice zing to the background. My son has developed a pretty sophisticated palette over the years, and he spotted the small amount of beer almost immediately. He is not a fan of alcohol in food, so this one was a no go for him. If I had left the beer out, I bet he would have liked it. It is only a ½ cup, so if you decide to remove it, I would just add a little bit more chicken stock. I also used my evaporated milk trick in this recipe to guarantee it didn’t curdle. The original recipe calls for whole milk, but using a can of evaporated milk will give you the same creaminess, but it won’t curdle.

Vermont Cheddar Soup

Here is the first recipe:

Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup
Adapted from alexandracooks.com

¼ cup small-diced pancetta (about 2 oz.)
½ T. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced (to yield about a ½ cup)
2 ribs celery, diced (to yield about a ½ cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, diced (to yield about a ½ cup)
1 T. fresh thyme
½ large red potato, peeled and diced
3 cups chicken stock
6 oz. beer such as Nut Brown Ale
1- 12 oz can evaporated milk
½ c. whole milk
1 ½ T. Dijon mustard
2 dashes Worcestershire
2 dashes (or more) hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 cups grated Vermont sharp cheddar cheese (about a ½ pound)
1/3 cup flour
fresh Italian parsley, optional

  1. In a large soup pot, sauté pancetta in olive oil until crisp and brown. Remove pancetta with slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
  1. In the rendered fat, sweat the onions, carrots, celery and pepper over medium heat for 15 minutes until soft.
  1. Add thyme, potato and chicken broth and simmer until potato is soft, about 10 minutes. Add beer.
  1. Heat the evaporated milk and whole milk in a separate pot until it just barely boils. Meanwhile, grate the cheese on the large-holed side of a grater and place it in a large Ziploc bag. Shake with the 1/3 cup flour. Add this cheese-flour mixture to the hot milk and whisk until the cheese has melted and the mixture has thickened slightly.
  1. Add the milk mixture to the pot with veggies and stock. Add mustard, sauces and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk for a few minutes to avoid curdling.
  1. When serving, sprinkle some reserved pancetta in each bowl. Add more hot sauce to taste.


The other dish was Vermont Maple Cookies. These are a fairly simple sugar cookie, with the addition of pure maple syrup and nuts. The original recipe called for walnuts, but I like pecans better so I used them instead. These are really soft and sweet, and the nuts add just the little crunch it needed. These were a hit with everyone in the house. If I make these again, I might swap out the vanilla for maple extract to try to bump up the maple flavor even more.

Vermont Maple Cookies

Vermont Maple Cookies
From yankeemagazine.com

3/4 cup room temperature butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Pecan halves

  1. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt, and add to creamed mixture alternately with maple syrup. Blend well and fold in nuts.
  3. Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of dough with a spoon and drop it on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Top each cookie with a pecan half.
  4. Bake 8-10 minutes at 400°F.


Both dishes get solid A’s from me. The soup only got a B from Josh, but he is more than happy to polish off the cookies in trade!

Have a Happy New Year everyone, and see you in Kentucky next week!


Happy New Year! See you in 2016!

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week 11 – New York

It’s Tuesday, and that means we are challenging another state. But not just any state. Week 11 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday takes me to New York, who joined the union on July 26, 1788. Now in case you don’t know, this is my home state; the place where I grew up, went to college, met my hubby… you get the picture. No pressure.

But here’s the thing, of all the states for me to have my start, it is also a hugely diverse place, where people are upstate, downstate, southern tier, Long Island, Adirondacks, 1000 Islands, Lake Ontario and of course New York City. Each area has its own special take on food, so finding one recipe that covers the whole state is, well, impossible.

I actually found a really great diagram created by a Buffalo woman by the name of Shannon Glazer, who shows us just how crazy this little state is about its food regions. Everybody has something they identify with, and I think she did a pretty good job of dividing up the state with some of the highlights.


New York State Food Regions by Shannon Grazer

So for me, I needed to find something a little personal, and also a new recipe. What I decided on was what has been referred to by some as “The Best Sandwich No One Has Ever Heard Of”. And that would be Beef on Weck.

Beef on Weck

If you are not from Rochester or Buffalo, I am pretty sure you have never heard of it. But for those of us that grew up there, it is what a beef and brew is made of. All the local bars serve it. And it’s really good.

Basically, Beef on Weck is roasted beef dipped in au jus, then served with horseradish on a kimmelweck roll. A what roll? A kimmelweck roll is a soft Kaiser that has been covered in coarse salt and caraway seeds. As legend has it, a pub owner in Buffalo created the sandwich, hoping the salty rolls made by a local German baker would help increase drink sales. And from personal experience I do know that beef on weck works well with beer.

So our new recipe this week is actually two parts, the roll and the beef. The rolls are very easy, especially if you have a bread maker, since they only need one rise before you set them up as rolls. They came out great and start to finish only took about 2 ¼ hours.

 Recipe for 8 Kimmelweck Rolls (from Food Wishes):

1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

1 cup warm water (105 F.)

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 large egg white

1 generous tsp honey

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour total

 For the topping:

1 large egg white beaten with 2 tsp water

Coarse grain sea salt

Caraway seed

 Combine the bread ingredients in a bread maker and set to the dough cycle. When the dough has finished, turn onto a floured surface and flatten it into a rectangle shape. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape them into a ball. Set them on a silipat covered baking sheet and allow them to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes.

Once they have risen, cut the tops with kitchen scissors to make a small cross. Brush each roll with the egg white wash, them sprinkle them with salt and caraway seed.

Cut the tops of the dough, then add your salt and caraway seeds

Bake at 425F for 18-20 minutes.

Kimmelweck rolls

The next part of dinner was the beef. Since I did not allow myself the time to do beef the proper way (with a slow braise), I instead found a recipe that used a top sirloin and pan fried it. This resulted in some yummy crusty bits in the pan, that you then used to make the au jus. I was surprised with the addition of a little balsamic vinegar, but I have to say it really make it delicious, so much so that I would use that trick again in any beef based gravy. The meat was not quite as ‘fall apart’ as I would have liked it, but the taste was there.

Served up with the required horseradish, and yep, it was Beef on Weck.

Recipe for the Beef part (also from Food Wishes):

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 pound top-sirloin roast

salt and pepper to taste

2 or 3 teaspoons flour

2 1/2 cups good quality beef broth
2 tsp aged balsamic vinegar, or to taste

 4-6 kimmelweck rolls

extra hot prepared horseradish, as needed

 Coat the steak with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet (preferably not non stick, so you get some good meat bits) over high heat until it is really hot. Add the oil and swirl it around to coat the pan. Add the steak and let it sear, undisturbed for 2-3 minutes. Turn over, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. You want it to come to medium, so your cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your steak.

Once done to your liking, remove the steak to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Thinly sliced beef, done medium rare

In the same pan, add the flour and stir constantly for about a minute. Add the broth and balsamic, and using a whisk, stir up all the bits from the pan. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by about 1/3. It will not get thick like gravy, you want it to be a sauce (au jus). Season with salt if needed.

Au jus

Slice the steak very thin. Turn the pieces into the au jus for just a moment to moisten, and then pile onto a split kimmelweck roll. Add horseradish to your liking.

Serve with additional au jus for dipping.

Well, there you have it. My little take on New York. It might not be what you expected, but that’s ok. It is from the part of New York that I called home for the first 27 years of my life. Perhaps someday, we can come back around and see what else NY has to offer.

See you next week… in North Carolina!

Fifty State of New Recipe Tuesday – Week 10 – Virginia

It’s Tuesday, and here we are at week 10 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. Tonight, I am presenting Virginia, who joined the union on June 25th, 1788, just 4 days after New Hampshire.

Researching Virginia was not only easy, but really interesting. It has earned the nickname ‘Mother of Presidents’ because it produced eight of America’s early leaders. And one of those presidents is also unofficially America’s First Gourmet: Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson had extensive gardens at his home, Monticello, where he brought all kinds of ‘exotic’ food from his travels, including eggplant, broccoli, mustard seed and rice. He was also a large grower of peanuts.

Virginia owes a lot of its culinary heritage to those who were brought to these shores against their will. Slaves brought foods such as okra, peanuts and black-eyed peas from Africa, paving the way for dishes such as fried black-eyed peas and one of our dishes for tonight, Cream of Peanut Soup.

Cream of Peanut Soup

Ham has also been a staple in Virginia since the 1600s, when colonists learned to smoke meats from the native Americans. And where there is ham, there is often a Southern Buttermilk Biscuit, which is my second dish for this evening.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

The story of Cream of Peanut soup really comes from Colonial Williamsburg, where it is believed it was served almost daily to George Washington. The recipe I used was a traditional one that has been served at The King’s Arms Tavern since the 1700s. It is really easy to make, and I can say that I liked it. It is really rich, so a good starter, but I wouldn’t want a huge bowl full. A cup is more than enough. I think that kids would really like it, because the flavor is simple and sort of just tastes like liquid peanut butter. Here is the recipe for it.

 Cream of Peanut Soup
Serves 10-12
(Recipe courtesy of King’s Arms Tavern, Colonial Williamsburg, VA)

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
3 tbsp flour
8 cups Chicken Stock
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 3/4 cups light cream or half-and-half

1 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)

Finely chopped salted peanuts, for garnish

In a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, three-five minutes. Stir in flour and cook two minutes longer.

Pour in the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour into a sieve set over a large bowl and strain, pushing hard on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Return the liquid to the sauce pan or pot.

Whisk the peanut butter and the cream into the liquid. Warm over low heat, whisking often, for about five minutes. Do not boil. Serve warm, garnished with the chopped peanuts.

Now, when you are in the south, it does seem to be all about the biscuit, and I thought that a good Southern Buttermilk Biscuit would pair nicely with some Virginia Ham. The recipe that I found was from Southern Living Magazine, and was fairly straightforward in ingredients. What I found interesting was the technique of flouring and folding the dough, which was supposed to make it fluffy and layered, sort of like puffed pastry. I have to say, I was not impressed. Don’t get me wrong, the biscuit flavor was delicious; all buttery and golden, but they were not airy, fluffy or otherwise puffed pastry like. They were just biscuits. I’m thinking this technique requires some practice, so I am not going to give up on. If I make biscuits again, I would definitely use this recipe and maybe try this folding thing again. I will let you know.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuit with Virginia Ham

Here is the biscuit recipe:

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe

(From Southern Living Magazine)

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, plus more for the pan if needed

2 1/4 cups self-rising flour, or 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons homemade self-rising flour* (you may need up to 1 cup more flour if the dough is sticky), plus more for the work surface

1 1/4 cups buttermilk (either low-fat or full-fat)

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted

Cut the cold butter into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Dump the flour into a large bowl and toss in the butter slices. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly and resembles small peas. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Lightly butter a baking sheet or jelly-roll pan or line it with parchment paper.

Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture, stirring just until the flour is moistened. The dough will be very sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it 3 or 4 times, gradually adding additional flour as needed. Using floured hands, press or pat the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (it should measure about 9 by 5 inches). Sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour. Starting with a short end, fold the dough over onto itself in 3 sections. Then fold the dough rectangle as if folding a letter-size piece of paper. Press the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (yes, again) and repeat the entire process 2 more times, adding additional flour as needed.

Press or pat the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough with a floured 2-inch cutter. Place the biscuits side by side on the prepared baking sheet or jelly-roll pan. The biscuits should touch. Quickly and gently press together the dough scraps while the dough is still cold and cut out as many more biscuits as you can.

Bake the biscuits for 13 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Brush the tops with the melted butter and let them cool ever so slightly. The biscuits are best warm from the oven, so don’t dally.

*Self-Rising Flour Note

Self-rising flour isn’t necessarily a staple in everyone’s pantry, so here is how to make it yourself: 1 cup of self-rising flour = 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1 cup all-purpose flour

So, all in all, we had some pretty tasty stuff this week, and I am generally happy with the results. Next week is New York. My home state. This one may take more than one week to conquer. See you next time.


Cream of Peanut Soup and Southern Biscuit with ham