Superbowl Spiced Nuts

Here’s a quick recipe for some awesome spiced mixed nuts. This is an awesome Superbowl snack and beer is definitely the ideal pairing. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

WARNING: These nuts are addictive. Seriously.

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Oyster-ific!

Oysters

One of my favourite creatures.

It is almost here! That one night out of the year where lovemaking is all around us, and what do we need to eat to make it happen? One might call it an “aphrodisiac”, some might call it revolting, but I like to order these by the dozen and slurp them down with reckless abandon. I am of course talking about the ever lovable and super sexy, oyster.

What can I say about these bivalve molluscs? They are quite certainly Mother Nature’s most perfect food; salty, chewy and slippery on the tongue. These slippery little suckers also pack a vitamin rich punch! High in zinc, calcium, Iron and vitamin A and B12. A dozen of these eaten raw, is also the supreme diet food; adding a mere 110 calories to your body.

All healthiness aside, there are a few things you should know about the beloved oyster. Did you know it takes between five and seven years to grow an oyster from spat? (Spat; a baby oyster). Oysters thrive in in plankton rich, well oxygenated salty water, that is why the Maritimes is the perfect place to cultivate them.

What about choosing the perfect oyster? I prefer larger, more meaty oysters, while my husband likes the smaller more delicate ones. Always make sure to buy oysters that are tightly shut. If it is open, it should close when touched and if it doesn’t, then don’t buy or eat it! An old rule about the oyster was that is was best to consume during the months that contained an “R” in their name. Not sure about that shucked oyster that was just brought to your table? If in doubt, don’t eat it, but let me just say that a “bad oyster” can be a extremely foul smell that you could sniff from a mile away. I was known, back in the day, the be the bad girl who would drop the rotten oysters in the compost bin beside the head chefs work station. Needless to say, he put a quick end to that! Read the rest of this entry…

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Vegetarian Lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna

I love lasagna. The cheesy, gooey lasagna. But, since being in my meatless faze, I decided to forgo my usual meat version  and try a roasted vegetable one.

This was easy enough; fresh pasta sheets, bechamel sauce, roasted vegetables and cheese (lots and lots of cheese!). The mix of vegetables; sweet potato, peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower, were simply done in the oven with olive oil and seasoning. The bechamel, a simple white sauce enhanced with bay leaves. Some frozen chopped spinach and a good mound of mozzarella cheese finished the job.

Layer upon layer of sauce, veg, spinach and cheese. Into a 375 oven for 45 minutes and what came out was a heavenly, light lasagna. Try this vegetarian version next time you have a hankering for a cheesy delight.

Bechamel Sauce

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Bay leaves

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Add Bay leaves and cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and set aside until ready to use.

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Asian Noodles to the Rescue

Asian Noodle Soup

Simple, quick and always enjoyable.

This isn’t the first time I have written about Udon noodles, and it won’t be the last! My love for these thick, chewy noodles began a long time ago. Udon soup is my go to; my feel good. Now that the New Year is in full swing, and I, like many others, have decided to go meatless for awhile. I have begun to count on such old favorites as this quick and easy soup.

A good broth is needed; whether you make your own dashi broth using Kombu and bonito, or use store bought that you can enrich with some mushroom stock. I do a bit of both. With broth simmering away, noodles should be cooked and placed off to the side, then the secondary players in the soup get into the action. I like to add a handful of dried wakame, some shelled edamame, medium firm tofu and sweetened fried tofu too. Sliced shitake mushrooms, and handful of the cutesy enoki mushrooms and some seafood such as shrimp or scallops. All this goes into the stock, then the noodles go in to just heat through and you have what I like to call the perfect food.

This soup is great the next day too. Heated up, with the addition of a handful of fresh spinach, it makes a great breakfast or lunch. When in doubt, I like to get the noodles out and make a batch of my favorite rescue food.

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The Famous Lavallée Tourtière

The Lavallée Tourtiere

This meat pie isn't only for the holidays.

Due to popular demand, I am posting this recent column that I wrote for The Chronicle Herald.

What is tourtière? That is a question that was asked to me before the holidays by a group of lovely ladies at “Our Thyme Cafe” in Dartmouth. I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with these ladies, cooking and talking and showing them how to make my “famous” tourtière. Many of the women had never heard of such a thing. A pie made of meat? With spices? One woman in particular almost fell over in shock when she saw me add my mix of ultra-secret spices. Her disdain was quite apparent, and she kept repeating over and over again how crazy my recipe sounded. Guess what? In the end, she was the first to try it, and the one who took most of the tourtière home.

But is tourtière all about the meat mix and spices? Hardly. Those are but two components that make up such a perfect pie. To me, the most important part, is that of the crust. Yes, good ‘ol crust. Flaky and light. What makes the perfect pastry? Nimble little hands and love.

Some people use butter, which I think is great, but for my flaky pastry I like to use lard. What is lard you might ask? Well, it’s the fat from my favorite animal, the pig. Not only do I use lard in my pastry, but the fatty goodness also makes my baked beans with salt pork outta this world. Not feeling the love for the lard? Shortening would probably work almost as well. Read the rest of this entry…

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