Friday, February 20, 2015

Northern Ontario Breakfast

Hello dear friends, I hope you are not cold like me.  The weather is extremely cold, all this week the temperature was between -40C to -45C with the wind-chill, and the school buses are not running in this cold weather, this is not fun for working parents, when they get the call that the school buses are not running due to severe cold weather.

I can imagine their chaos to rush the children to drop them to school before they go to work, and the same in the afternoon, either they have to leave early to pick up the children to take an hour from their schedule to pick up the children and then go back to work… not fun at all.

For some time I was planning on inviting a dear friend for breakfast but the timing didn’t work for both of us.  Yesterday we both decided that we do need to get together and enjoy some quality time … and for that I decided to make a pancakes breakfast, to be honest I was wishing on a Lebanese breakfast, but either the weather or the convenient were working for me.

For my breakfast I decided to prepare savoury and sweet pancakes and serve them with tea and then end up with Turkish coffee and cardamom Danish Fritters.

For some years I had a Æbleskive (Danish Fritters) cast iron pan which I never used, and every time I make pancakes or waffles I plan to use my fritters pan and practice on making some , this never happened, until yesterday –which I advise don’t try it when you have company coming and you are busy doing more than one thing at one time.  I thought it’s an easy process heating the pan greasing it pouring and then turning – it is not and you need practice to be able to pour the right amount, control the heat, and be an expert in turning the fritters...  I did make two pans the first one was not good at all, the second pan were accepted but my batter was not enough to get a real round fluffed fritter.  I didn’t give up, I need to practice more.

For the savoury pancakes I added white pepper, sharp old cheddar cheese, dash of nutmeg and I sprinkled some Himalayan sea salt .  Chopped chives or green onions will complete the flavour but to be honest it was so cold to go out warm the car for at least 30 minutes to drive to the store and pick up a package of chives.  If you are trying this version do add some it will lift the flavour .

For my sweet pancakes what is better than Northern Ontario Blueberry pancakes served with amazing local maple syrup (this past summer I got some nice local blueberries from a friend who sell at the farmer’s market and I froze them, the berries you buy at the store these days don’t  the same at all, they are good for decoration only)

I served my pancakes with a local Northern Ontario maple syrup, prepared by my friend Lori who is producing amazing products from the maple sap and she won many prizes for  the good quality of her products, Lori also participate at the North Bay Farmer’s Market from May till October .  I do use her maple syrup in some savoury dishes, with salmon and in marinating meat.

Danish Fritters


Bella Hill Maple Syrup Products
Best Pancakes Recipe
1¾ cup buttermilk or 1 ½ cup milk + ¼ cup white vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar  -  1/4 cup if you are making sweet version
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
¼ cup melted butter plus extra for the pan or use cooking spray

In a bowl whip the eggs until fluffy add the melted butter, buttermilk and sugar and mix well.  In another bowl sift all the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until no lumps. 

You can prepare this mix and leave it in the fridge and take it out one hour before cooking, or prepare the mix and let it rest for half an hour to rest before you start making your pancakes.  Some flour requires more liquid than others, you might need more buttermilk to adjust the recipe. 
I doubled the amount to have enough for my recipes.

I hope you give this recipe a try, honestly it’s an amazing recipe and the pancakes are fluffy with amazing flavour .

Cheese Pancakes some has cheese and blueberries


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Best Gourmet Chili

Day-after-day it seems you hear of weather records being shattered . it seems we are bombarded by records we hear on a day-to-day basis. Is there a reason for this? 
                                              """Global warming"""
Since mother nature is not mercy on us these days, especially if you live in Northern Ontario where the temperature hits -40C up to -45C with the wind-chill, and when the weather is extremely cold you often think of something warm and satisfying and tastes better the second day and freezes well in case of any leftovers.  You can prepare the chili in a slow cooker and when you come home from work, your dinner is ready to  serve, you can cook it on top of the stop, or even bake it in the oven.
Best Gourmet Chili

1/4 c olive oil
1 lb. roast meat cut into small pieces (sirloin roast)
1 lb. ground Italian sausage, ( I will share my recipe later)
2 lbs. ground beef
2 c diced onions
1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 c red wine, such as Chianti, Merlot
2 cans stewed tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
1 can tomato sauce (29 oz.)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate or cocoa
1 1/2 - 2 cups water from cooking the beans
1 cup dry kidney beans and 1 cup black beans soaked and boiled
* Garnishes: Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions, sliced radishes baked tortilla strips or a piece of my corn bread.

1) Heat oil in a large pot and brown the stew meat on all sides.  Remove at set aside.  Brown the Italian sausage and ground beef.  Remove to the same bowl as the stew meat.
2) Remove excess oil leaving about 2 tbsp. and add the onions and peppers.  Sauté until tender.  Add the wine and reduce by half.
3) Return the meat and any juices that have accumulated to the pot and add all remaining ingredients (tomatoes through red pepper flakes).  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and cook for 2 hours on medium low , stirring occasionally. the meat will shred completely.
4) Add the beans and let the chili simmer for another 1-2 hours , stirring occasionally.
Note:  in case you cannot find a good quality sausages, you can substitute one pound of good quality smoke bacon, and use the fat rendered from the bacon to fry the meat and the vegetables.
My addition to the recipe two sprigs of finely chopped celery, two finely chopped carrots, and two smoked chipotle chili from a jar with the juice. 
Buttermilk Corn Bread
1/2 cup of sweet butter
½ - 2/3 cup white sugar depends how sweet you like it
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk  
1 cup flour
1 cup coarse cornmeal
½ cup frozen or fresh corn
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
Melt the butter and mix in all the ingredients and whip well to avoid any lumps.  Warm the oven at 375F , grease an 8x8 square pan and you can line it with a parchment , pour the mixture, smooth the top by tapping the tray on the counter, bake for 35-40 minutes or
Until golden brown and the toothpick comes clean.
I hope you give these recipes a try , and let me know what do you think .