Honey Whisky BBQ

Aug
20

Did that get your attention? It got mine! My sister recently purchased a jar of this awesome concoction of a barbecue and dipping sauce. It was so good! It did not have a strong BBQ flavour but definetely smokey. Just thought I’d share a quick tidbit about it if anyone is planning to venture into British Columbia. We came across this sauce at a local Farmer’s Market at Fairmont Hot Springs, BC; unfortunately I am unable to add a website for your convenience as I was unable to find one. The  vendor was Jubilee Mountain Apiary Ltd., based in Spillimachen, BC. A treasure of honey jams, flavoured honey, and honey sweetener sticks were available to sample and buy. True to my form, the raspberry honey jam that I purchased was all but meant to be as I accidentally dropped the jar soon after I bought it.

I do plan to make this sauce based on the ingredients listed and then I will post my experience. Stay tuned for a cabbage roll recipe that includes this kickin’ sauce!

Reuben Perogy

Jun
18

I have not had a reuben sandwich in ages! My husband ordered a reuben sandwich at the Enjoy Centre not long ago and he had no choice but to share. My mouth is watering as I am writing this entry; the flavour of the sauerkraut and hot smoked meat together, the heat from the mustard and sweetness of the sauce came together deliciously!

I began to conjure up ideas for a perogy recipe. Let’s just get into it, shall we?

A traditional reuben is made up of rye bread, a filling of sauerkraut, caraway seeds, smoked meat or corned beef, swiss cheese and a thousand island sauce or Russian sauce, a sauce with a base of mayo, ketchup and horseradish. There are variations on the Russian sauce and I made a basic sauce using what I had in the fridge. I did not add caraway seeds because I do not like them at all. My late great Babcia would flavour her sweet sauerkraut dishes and beef stews with the seed and I would always pick out each and every little seed. Yes it did leave behind the seed flavour but I could not stand to bite into the actual seed! The meat I used was a smoked kielbasa that I purchased from a local Polish deli shop known as Hunter sausage.

I decided to bake the perogy to be able to hold the filling in and have the texture of rye sandwich bread.

Rye Perogy Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 egg with a little water for the egg wash
Reuben filling
  • 1 round link of smoked kielbasa, diced
  • 3 cups store bought jar of sauerkraut, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped very fine
  • 150ml of beer ( i used a lager that we had on hand, but a darker ale might be a better choice to add more depth and flavour. With the lager, once cooked down with the filling the flavour was reminiscent of white wine, which could also be used in place of beer)
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • slices of swiss cheese (slices will be placed on perogy dough, upon which the filling will be added; I just used a marble cheese that I had on hand; swiss cheese will add much more flavour; maybe a smoked gouda can be added in future?)
Russian Sauce
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • creamed horseradish; I used a roasted beet and horseradish sauce that I had made at Easter time. In Polish it is called cwikla (pron. ch-vee-kwa). Goes great with meat sandwiches and on hard boiled eggs.
1. Mix all dough dry ingredients in bowl.
2. Mix all wet ingredients for dough in separate bowl, adding to dry mix. Mix with hands or let your mixer do the work for you!
3. Turn out dough on floured surface and knead until dough is soft. Cover and let rest while the filling is made.
4. Saute onion and sausage together in pan until lightly browned. No need to add oil as the fat from the sausage will help cook the onions and meat together.
5. Add sauerkraut and beer, cooking on med-low heat. Add some fresh cracked pepper for seasoning. Cook until most of beer is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
6. Let filling cool. In the meantime make the russian sauce as a side and at this time set the oven for 350F.
7. For the sauce, mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.
8. When filling cooled, begin to roll out your perogy dough until about 3mm in thickness. I used a 3.5″ diameter glass/cookie cutter this time.
9. Place a slice of cheese on the dough circle, followed by 2 tbsp of filling.
10. Continue to bring together the dough like a taco and pinch the sides to form your perogy.
11. Place on parchment paper on baking sheet. Paint some egg wash on each perogy and puncture with fork. At this point, if caraway seeds are up your alley go ahead and sprinkle some on.
12. Bake for about 12 minutes, flipping over halfway to get both sides nicely browned.
13. Serve with the homemade russian sauce and a side of dill pickles.And a glass of beer.
Just a side note, the filling for this recipe can also be used as a main or side dish alone. Add some chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, bacon, beef cubes, peppercorns, and potatoes and you have yourself a typical rustic Polish dish known as Bigos (pron. bee-gos). I love my bigos, especially in the winter, around a fire or at home with family and friends, served with a thick slice of rye or sourdough bread and a beer. My mom makes huge batches a few times a year and shares the wealth. Quick and easy, makes lots and freezes really well!
Smacznego!

A hearty perogy

Jun
18

 

In our "backyard" - Fish Creek Park

 

This is a much delayed entry, originally started in January of this year. Better late than never!

This is a vegan friendly recipe in that it does not contain any eggs nor dairy products in the dough recipe, nor in the filling. This recipe was inspired by a friend of ours who is a strict vegan and has been for nearly two decades. He was visiting us last summer and at times it was challenging to either cook a vegan friendly meal or look for restaurants that would accommodate this diet. However, the search proved to be enlightening and fun, discovering either new ingredients or replacements and discovering restaurants to experience. By the way, the Buddha’s Veggie vegan friendly dry-ribs are deee-licous!

Flax seed gel is what replaces the egg and I first came across it in a recipe book entitled Health by Chocolate by Victoria Laine. I used her recipe for the flax gel and the dough turned out so soft and so easy to work with! Not too sticky and not too dry or tough. Just right. Definetely a little grainier when cooked but I did roll out the dough a little thinner so as not to have too thick and heavy dough but still strong enough to hold the contents inside.

The filling was fruit of my labour. Last summer I had a chance to visit and take part in some u-pickin’ at The Saskatoon Berry Farm south of Calgary. The  further we got into the orchard, the bigger and juicier the berries got! I am still using the berries to this day for various recipes! Definitely will return this July/August for some more scrumptious berries.

No pics to share but the recipe is easy to follow and make!

Vegan Perogy Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • flax gel (replaces one egg): 1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed in 3 tbsp. warm water
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp. oil (use canola, safflower, sunflower or vegetable oil. Olive oil can have too strong a flavour for the dough)
Saskatoon Berry filling
  • 3 cups saskatoon berries
  • 1 tbsp cane sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla seeds or 1/2 tsp. vanilla seed paste
1. Mix the flax seed and water together; let sit for 10 minutes to soften. Then use a whisk or fork to beat the mixture until becomes lighter in colour and smooth.
2. Wash and dry the berries. Mix all berry filling ingredients and let sit while you prepare the dough, gently stirring every so often. Can also be prepared night before.
3. Place flour and salt in large bowl.
4. Mix water, oil and flax seed gel together. Add to flour mix.
5. Work with hands or mixer to make dough.
6. Turn out on floured surface and knead lightly until you get a soft dough. Let rest 10 minutes.
7. Roll out dough until 1/8” in thickness.
8. Use a glass/cookie cutter 2.5″ in diameter to make perogy cutouts.
9. Add 2 tsp. worth of berries in the middle of dough and pinch around to form a perogy.
10. Cook on med heat in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until perogies begin to float.
11. Serve hot with soy vanilla yogurt or plain soy yogurt with a little maple syrup drizzle!
Smacznego!

 

These are a few of my favourite things!

May
22

Rain and garden centres! This post is not a recipe but just a little ditty about my spring so far.

 

Spring has sprung with a fair bit of rain these past couple of months. Although some days were a mix of rain and snow, I still ventured out with my family as I love love love the rain! Experiencing the fresh air, the moisture and blossoming greenery all without having to load up on layers of clothing leaves me feeling refreshed and happy!

April showers bring May flowers. The flowers at the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert, Alberta are worth checking out, among other great things. My family and I along with my in-laws spent a day there one beautiful Saturday at the end of April to celebrate my hubby’s and mine 5th wedding anniversary.

Open and fully functioning now for over a year, the Enjoy Centre was developed by the Hole family and boasts a large greenhouse, a garden centre full of beautiful and colourful pots and plants and garden decor. But that is not all. There is also a home decor store, a kitchen gadget store, a bistro that cooks up local and organic fare, an organic and whole foods market as well as a local meat shop and of course, a spa. All this under one glass roof.

My hubby and I took advantage of spa treatments at The Water Garden while our little guy spent the morning with Papa and Grandma. I got a Mama Belly rub followed by a mini-pedicure (no massaging of ankles here!) and hubby got a relaxation massage then continued to relax on the large round swings in their Relaxation Room. Then we all met up for lunch at the bistro, aptly named Prairie Bistro, where Papa and Grandma treated us to an anniversary lunch! Being Alberta, majority of the menu boasted local meats but vegetarian options were also available. As we were going to have steaks that night, I opted for a greens salad with a simple vinaigrette and a spinach and artichoke hummus and foccacia crostini-type bread. Hubby got Reuben with smoked meat (look out next for a perogy recipe inspired by said sandwich!) and a salad as well, my little health bunny. My little guy got a chicken sandwich and salad that was not a kids’ portion but a tastier option than what was available on the kids menu. What little was left from his meal was shared between me and hubby. Dessert completed the meal with two portions of a Saskatoon berry crumble and many forks for sharing! The Prairie Bistro has a sit-down section as well as a deli-style section for those opting for food on the go.

 

Soaking up the rays at the Enjoy Centre

It is easy to spend a good portion of the day there as there is so much to see! Not only that, but sitting among all the real trees and plants and in the warmth of the sunshine coming in through all the windows made me want to curl up like a cat and take a nap. Sigh. A day at the Enjoy Centre is on my list of things to do this summer with my family again for sure! Check it out for yourself!

Take care and I’ll be back soon!

 

 

The Baked Perogy

Jul
23

 

Away from the hustle and bustle

 

“Milan’s beauty is in its’ courtyards” my brother-in-law would often say as we walked the narrow streets of Milan. My family and I recently spent 3 weeks there visiting my sister and her family. The city is after all a business and financial centre but still very European: the fashion, the cars, the architecture, and laid back lifestyle were all amazing and an awesome experience to be part of.

Besides the courtyards, my favourite spots to look into (and spend some time in) were the bakeries! Namely Princi and Bethlehem. Not only were the freshly made pastries and breads delicious, but the presentation of them was truly charming. You could see that there was alot of thought and care put into presenting the baked goods. We also popped into a little shop that sold beautiful marzipan, made to look like miniature fruit and other bubbly colourful things. I regret not having my camera on me at the time. I did take one photo of a marzipan fig that I bought to sample. Word of caution, when asking for a fig in Italy do not ask for a “fica” but a “fico”. The former vulgar slang for a part of the female anatomy.

Nestled inside this sugary fig is sweet sweet marzipan!

 

For this perogy recipe, I drew inspiration from the Bethlehem Bakery in Milan. My sister treated us to a wonderful sweet bread that was made with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips!! So yummy and divine. I decided to bake the perogy as that would ensure the contents would stay nestled inside. The baked perogy is also known as a “piroshki”, a Russian dumpling. Fillings can be either sweet or savoury.

For the baked perogy dough recipe I found this one online that was quick and easy. For the filling I added some vanilla bean and orange zest to add more flavour. Plus I love a chocolate and orange combination! I first prepared the filling a few hours or up to one night before to let the flavours really come together, leaving the vanilla bean pod inside once the seeds were scraped out, and removing it before filling the perogies.

Baked Perogy Dough Recipe

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 full c. sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 additional eggs for egg wash

Filling

  • 2 cups of dry pressed ricotta cheese
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split open and vanilla seeds scraped out; save the pod  (see tip below)*
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 cup of miniature dark chocolate chips

Method

1. First prepare the filling by using a fork to mash the ricotta. Next add the remaining ingredients and let the filling mix sit in the fridge for 4 hours or up to 8 hours. *(Tip: you can either leave the vanilla bean in the mix and remove later or you can leave out the pod and add it to your stored sugar to make vanilla sugar. Or along with 2-3 more pods add to vodka to make your own vanilla extract,ready to use in a few months. A great gift for the baker in your life!)

2. For the dough, make a well in the flour and add remaining ingredients. Work all together adding more flour or sour cream should dough be too sticky or too stiff. Form dough into a ball and let rest in fridge for an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough when ready and use a 2.5 inch round cutter to cut out circles.

4. Add a tablespoon amount or more of the filling onto each perogy circle and pinch along as you would when making perogies.

5. Place the perogies on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

6. Paint each perogy with egg wash and pierce with a fork 2 times.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

8. Let cool and enjoy!

 

Before going into the oven

 

Goes great with a hot cup of coffee on a cool rainy morning