Cooking Classes


Kitchen Sink Granola

We jokingly call our stews and soups 'Kitchen Sink' because everything goes into them except the kitchen sink. This is exactly how I make my granola.

Granola is a simple formula - butter or other fat, sweetener, rolled oats or other grain and dried fruits and nuts.

Today I cleaned out 8 containers from my cupboard by using up these saved bits and pieces. I added toasted coconut, hazelnut praline, dates, dried mango, honey, vanilla, organic rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios and toasted almonds to my rolled oats.

The benefits of making your own granola are worth the once a month ritual. Fats, sugars and salt is lower resulting in lower calories and sodium per serving. You will have better quality oats and more of the good morsels. And no unknown additives.

Formula for Granola

10 c. old fashioned rolled oats, spelt flakes or any other grain flaked
1/2 c. butter, or any other fat such as coconut oil, canola oil, camelina oil
1/4 c. honey, or any other sweetener such as maple syrup or sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar or homemade jam
2-3 c. combination of chopped dried fruits and nuts
1 tsp. pure vanilla, or any other flavouring such as cinnamon or maple
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add sweetener, vanilla and sea salt.

Mound rolled oats, nuts, seeds and coconut on a 12 x 18 inch baking sheet. There is no need to grease the baking sheet. Pour the butter mixture over it all. Gently mix until everything is coated. Pat the mixture into the pan.

Cook at 325F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir so that browned edges are now in the centre of the pan and the unbrowned bottom layer is stirred up to the top. Pat down again. Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until edges are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool, undisturbed.

Meanwhile put all the dried fruits in a large bowl. When the granola is completely cool add it to the dried fruits. Mix so as not to break up any chunks of oatmeal mixture. Store in a tightly sealed container or in freezer bags and in the deep freeze. Will keep for a month in the cupboard or three months in the freezer.


Golden Milk - On the Turmeric Trend for 2017

Turmeric is a spice derived from a rhizome root and is similar in appearance to fresh ginger. It is cultivated in tropical climates, most often southern Asia. Curcumin is the compound in turmeric that gives its bright yellow colour and health benefits.
Turmeric is a highly effective anti-inflammatory and helps with joint pain and arthritis. It aids in digestion and heartburn and is a powerful antioxidant. However, you can have too much of a good thing. Too much turmeric can cause stomach upset. It can also strengthen the effects of blood thinning drugs including aspirin, stomach acid drugs and diabetes medications. Seek medical advice if you are on these drugs before using large quantities of turmeric on a regular basis.
Turmeric is widely used in cooking and gives Indian curry its yellow color. It is also used in mustard and to color butter and cheese.

Golden Milk
1 c. unsweetened non-dairy milk such as coconut milk beverage or almond milk 250 mL
1 c. water 250 mL
1 cinnamon stick
1-inch piece turmeric, unpeeled, thinly sliced, or 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric 2.5 cm/2 mL
1/2-inch piece ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced 1.2 cm
1 tbsp. honey 15 mL
1 tbsp. virgin coconut oil 15 mL
1/4 tsp. whole black peppercorns 1 mL
ground cinnamon for garnish
Whisk coconut milk, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, honey, coconut oil, peppercorns and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer until aromatic, about 10 minutes. Strain and pour into mugs. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Golden milk can be made 5 days ahead. Store in an airtight container and chill. Warm before serving.


Curried Meatballs


 Turmeric will be trending this year. I will post tomorrow about all its health benefits and more ways to add it to your diet. But I couldn't wait to share these meatballs. I know, the recipe is more than a couple of ingredients but these are so delicious. And they freeze well so make up a big batch while the kitchen is in a mess.

Curried Meatballs
The amount of spice used will depend upon how fresh your spices are. Fresher spices have more flavour. Vary to suit your taste. Cayenne, chiles, jalapenos and curry powder add the heat. Turmeric does not. Chile de arbol are small red hot chilies. Crushed red chiles can be substituted. For an interesting variation add a can of coconut milk to this curry sauce. This will tone down the heat of the spices, as well.
Resist the temptation to used extra lean ground beef. The lack of fat can make the meatballs dry and hard. If that is all you can find a few tablespoons of butter can be added to the ground beef mixture to improve the texture of the cooked meatballs.

olive oil
6 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces 2.5 cm
2 jalapenos, seeds removed if desired
6 garlic cloves
1-inch piece ginger, peeled, chopped 2.5 cm
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 15 mL
1 tbsp. garam masala 15 mL
1 tsp. ground coriander 5 mL
1/2 tsp. ground cumin 2 mL
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper 2 mL
2 lbs. lean ground beef 1 kg
1 large egg, lightly beaten with a fork
3 tbsp. plain yogurt 45 mL
2 tsp. kosher salt 10 mL

Curry Sauce
1/4 c. cooking oil 60 mL
4 medium onions, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled, chopped 3.7 cm
3 dried chiles de arbol
4 tsp. curry powder 20 mL
4 tsp. ground cumin 20 mL
4 tsp. ground turmeric 20 mL
3 tbsp. ground coriander 45 mL
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns 5 mL
1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes 450 mL
2 c. water 500 mL
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. kosher salt 15 mL
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 15 mL
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper 2 mL

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Puree green onions, jalapenos, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, garam masala, coriander, cumin and cayenne in a blender until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add beef, egg, yogurt and salt. Mix with your hands until mixture is homogenous, about 1 minute. Avoid over mixing because it will make the meatballs tough. Roll beef mixture into golf ball size portions and place on baking sheet, spacing 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Makes about 24 meatballs. Drizzle meatballs with more oil and bake until browned on top and cooked through, 20–25 minutes.

Curry Sauce
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent and starting to brown, 8–10 minutes. Stir in chiles, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, coriander and peppercorns. Cook, stirring often, until mixture is very fragrant and spices begin to stick to the pot, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, stirring and scraping bottom of pot, and bring to a boil. Add bay leaf, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) salt, and 2 cups (500 mL) water. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until aromatic, 25–30 minutes.
Let sauce cool slightly, then transfer to a blender. Blend until very smooth. Transfer curry sauce back to pot. Stir in lemon juice and cayenne. Taste sauce and season with more salt if needed.
Gently nestle cooked meatballs into sauce, bring to a simmer, and cook until meatballs are heated all the way through, 10–15 minutes. Serve topped with cilantro. Makes 8 servings.
Meatballs and sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Gently reheat meatballs in sauce, covered, thinning with water if sauce is too thick. Adapted from Bon Appetit.



Catalan Stew with the warm flavours of chocolate and cinnamon

A few years ago I spent Christmas in Paris. It was two weeks of bistros, fine dining and petits dejeuners. And Paris is where I saw the movie Julie and Julia! It was a rainy afternoon and cold so rather than walk and see more sights I chose the coziness of a movie theatre.

But I digress. I remember one meal in particular at a small quiet yet classy restaurant on Ile St. Louis which was within walking distance of my hotel. I ordered a simple beef stew however, it was anything but simple. The flavours were complex, well balanced, beef perfectly tender with hints of chocolate and orange. I didn't take notes but I thought it was perhaps a daube, a Provencal beef stew, yet I have not found a daub recipe with chocolate. This Catalan stew comes close to what I remember.

Catalan Stew

8 oz. pancetta or other unsmoked cured pork
1/3 c. quality cooking oil such as olive, camelina or organic canola
4 lb. stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
2  medium sized yellow onions, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 c. beef stock
1 c. dry red wine
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 - 4 inch cinnamon sticks
4 sprigs fresh thyme or dried
3 strips orange peel
3 tbsp. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
fresh Italian parsley, garnish

Turn oven to 350 F.

In an ovenproof pot add a tablespoon of the cooking oil and chopped pancetta. Saute until lightly browned. Remove to a bowl.

In three batches brown the beef in the same pan and adding more cooking oil as necessary. Remove to the same bowl as pancetta.

Deglaze pot with red wine vinegar. Add to beef mixture.

Add another tablespoon or two of cooking oil. On medium low heat saute onions and garlic until tender but not browned. Add meat back to pot. Add the rest of the ingredients except Italian parsley.

With the lid on the pot cook in the oven for about 2 hours or until beef is tender. Cool. Refrigerate overnight. Next day remove any congealed fat before warming to serve. Serve in heated bowls garnished with chopped Italian parsley. Or as I did, top a dollop of mashed potatoes with the stew and garnish with roasted baby carrots. Serves 8.


Preserved Lemons

When I left my home in a city of over a million people and moved to a town with only 16,000 souls I had to give up a lot when it came to ingredients and grocery choices. For this reason and because it is enjoyable I now make some of the things I can't buy in a local food store. Preserved lemons is one of those items.

Preserved lemons are commonly used in Moroccan cooking. I love Moroccan foods with their aromatic cinnamon, cardamom, saffron and rosewater. I often use Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. They are sweeter and less acidic.

These preserved lemons will keep in the refrigerator for several months and I almost always have some on hand.

Preserved Lemons

1 jar with a tightly fitting lid
lemons to fill the jar
lemons to make juice to fill the jar
kosher salt

Slice the lemons into quarters without cutting completely through so they still hold in one piece.

Rub the cut edges with coarse salt and stuff into the jar until the jar is filled. Alternate with more coarse salt. End with more salt. Fill the jar with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Seal.

Leave the jar on the countertop for one or two days so the juice is more quickly released from the lemon. Then refrigerate for 2 - 4 weeks before using.