Sausage Potato and Veggie Stir Fry with Garlic-Toasted Flax Sauce

Potatoes? In a stir fry?

I know I’ve introduced some odd ideas  to traditional comfort foods, but this one I actually had in a Northern Chinese-style restaurant years ago. If you think about Northern China, they have their fair share of cool weather and snow, so their climate would be hospitable to growing potatoes and other cool weather root vegetables. I loved the heartiness of it at the time, especially for a cold, Prairie Canadian day, and always wanted to replicate the idea in some way.

I’ve been planning to do a stir fry featuring potato for a few days, being suddenly struck by that memory of that particular restaurant…but you know how weeks can go. Suddenly a Monday plan doesn’t happen til Wednesday. So here we are. Since it was potato, I was thinking with my Hungarian side of my brain and added a great sweet paprika Hungarian smoked sausage. You could use any meat in this or just leave it fully veggie. The accompanying sauce that I worked into it has enough flavour to carry the dish. And the rest of the veggies…that’s just one of those “clean out the veggie drawer” moments…

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Sausage Potato and Veggie Stir Fry with Garlic-Toasted Flax Sauce

For the Garlic-Toasted Flax Sauce:

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

3 Tbsp flax seeds, dry toasted in a nonstick pan for 4-5 minutes until deeply golden in colour

5 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil

1 tsp salt

   Add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.

For the stir fry:

2 tsp cold pressed canola oil

1 medium potato, cut into long strips about 1 cm wide

1 small red onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

50g/2 oz Hungarian smoked sausage, cut into strips

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

1 medium parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced

6 or 7 radishes, with green tops

50g/2 oz broccoli florets

70g/3 oz baby bok choy

6 or 7 Brussels sprouts

1 sweet banana pepper, or 1/2 bell pepper, cut into strips

1 hot Hungarian banana pepper, cut into strips (if you don’t like it spicy, use a second sweet banana pepper or a full bell pepper), cut into strips

1-1/2 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock, or water

   In a wok over medium high heat, heat the oil until smouldering but not smoking. Add the potato strips and stir fry until deeply golden on all sides.

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   Add the onion, garlic and sausage. Stir fry for 90 seconds to two minutes until the sausage starts to go golden along the edges. Add the celery and stir fry for another minute. Add the carrot, parsnip, bok choy stems, radishes and 1 cup of the stock. Stir and simmer until about half of the stock evaporates (about 3-4 minutes). Add the Brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet and hot peppers and the Garlic-Toasted Flax Sauce. Toss to coat the entire blend lightly. Add the final 1/2 cup of stock, stir to round out the sauce a little bit as it thickens from the stir frying, stir fry for a further 1-2 minutes and take it off the heat. Add the radish greens and bok choy greens, letting the residual heat of the wok wilt the greens. Serves 2-3. Serve with spelt nokedli (Hungarian egg dumplings) or over rice.

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Chicken Paprikash (Paprikas Csirke)

While I was making Butter Chicken last week, I was immediately struck with a memory from my dad while simmering the sauce. With an almost unconscious impulse, I was hearing my dad say, “Just ten more minutes. It’s not thick enough.”

I was hearing that voice because while showing me how to make “Cream Chicken” as we called it growing up, or Chicken Paprikash, he would have the same mantra, ensuring I get the consistency right, “If you think it’s ready, cook it for another ten minutes.” Those “ten minute” intervals went on for 30 minutes sometimes. Today, while making Chicken Paprikash, I was struck by what he meant in concrete culinary terms. Slowly simmer and reduce until all of the excess moisture evaporates in the cream and sour cream without burning the fat. It can be a delicate balance, but the care and attention is worth it to get such a simple, yet luxurious sauce.

The way we had Chicken Paprikash growing up was an event. The chicken was slow poached with a bunch of vegetables. The chicken was for the creamy, paprika-spiked sauce later, but the carrots and parsnips were taken out, the stock was strained and noodles were cooked in the stock along with the reserved carrots and parsnips for a chicken noodle soup starter.

Next, was making nokedli, or a spaetzle-like dumpling made of egg, flour and milk. This was the starchy base to catch all of the wonderful sauce that covered the chicken.

Finally, we usually had a pickled cucumber salad that was the perfect accompaniment to such a rich dish. To see the basic method of how to make a pickled vegetable salad, see my recipe for Pickled Potato Salad.

We had this every second Sunday for dinner growing up. Mainly because it made an obscene amount of dishes (haha) and I think it was a way to keep it somewhat special, while at the same time staying connected to my dad’s Hungarian heritage.

I know the idea of Chicken Paprikash is as varied as the cook who does it. My dad was from northeastern Hungary. Variations could include the chicken simmered directly in a paprika-laden broth and finished with sour cream, or simmered in milk and finished with sour cream. The vegetable component can shift depending on the cook. Hungary is much like Italy. Both can be fiercely attached to not only their town’s culinary identity, but to their own home’s version of a dish. Mama, or in my case, Papa’s was always best.

Chicken Paprikash (Paprikas Csirke)

For the Poached Chicken:

6 chicken thighs (or various parts. Growing up, we just cut up a whole chicken: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, breast cut into 4, even the back pieces were poached too. My parents had four growing boys to feed haha)

1 large or 2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped (about 2 cups total)

4 or 5 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups total)

4 medium parsnips (peeled and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups total)

3 bay leaves

Water, to cover

   In a large pot, add the onion, carrot, celery and parsnips. Place the chicken pieces on top and add water to just cover all of the ingredients (about 6-7 cups). Add the bay leaves and bring to a simmer over medium heat. When the water just starts to simmer with a constant, gentle bubbling, cover, reduce heat to low and poach for  35-40 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces with tongs and the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Strain the broth through a fine sieve and set aside.

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For the Creamy Paprika Sauce:

2 cups/500mL sour cream

2 cups/500mL heavy cream (35%) (Be sure that both the cream and sour cream are naturally processed. If either contain chemical thickeners like carrageenan, guar gum or gelatin, the sauce doesn’t thicken properly)

1 tsp flour (I used spelt flour, but regular plain/all purpose flour works equally well)

1 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp salt

   While the chicken is poaching, whisk together the cream, sour cream, flour and paprika. Add to a medium, wide-bottomed pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once it starts to bubble lightly, reduce the heat to low and, while whisking occasionally, simmer to thicken (about 35-40 minutes depending on your cream/sour cream or the degree of memories you have of your father giving instructions in your ear haha). Don’t try to rush it, the slow, gentle simmering is key to a rich sauce that doesn’t split or scorch. Set aside.

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For the Spelt Nokedli:

1 cup spelt flour (or plain/all purpose flour)

1 large egg, beaten

1/2-3/4 cup milk

   In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and egg until the egg makes the mixture granular. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of milk. If the mixture is still too thick (you want a batter slightly thicker than a pancake batter), add milk one tablespoon at a time.

   Bring water to a boil in a medium pan. Place a spaetzle maker or coarse grater, flat side up over the simmering water. Add a ladle of prepared batter and press through the grater with a flat spatula. Simmer the dumplings for two minutes or until they start to float. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remaining batter.

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To serve:

   Cook 100g of csiga (a small handmade, Hungarian soup noodle. You could use broken spaghetti in place of csiga) in the strained stock. Add the reserved carrot and parsnip pieces. Ladle into bowls and serve as a starter for 4-6 people.

   Shred the poached meat from the bone and add to the finished Creamy Paprika Sauce. Reheat if necessary and serve with the Spelt Nokedli and a pickled vegetable salad. Serves 4-6.

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Italian Sausage and Jalapeno Deep Dish Pizza

There seems to be a rather silly debate on what is “real” pizza. In America, the two major warring factions are from Chicago and New York. Both varieties are perfectly good, but the misunderstanding may come from the overall disconnect between the two environments.

In Chicago, the weather can be much more blustery and with bitter winters. This kind of environment requires heavier dishes to develop. Having grown up in the cold, Canadian prairies, I can see this being the case. Prairie pizza has a thicker crust with a greater amount of toppings. I’m sure it evolved in this way to ward off colder winter nights.

In New York, the weather can be cooler, but it has an historically closer connection to the original Neopolitan-style pizza. Thin crust, sparse toppings. Their passion may come from these ties to Italy, where only the Italian way is right.

It’s nice to have passion, but when a new style develops that contravenes the original, there will always be an underlying tension. It’s best to appreciate the evolution as a way to respect the region it came from. I’ve chosen to do a Chicago-style deep dish pizza today because it is such a fascinating method. Part pie. Part pastry. Part pizza. And 100% full flavour and heartiness.

Today’s variety is one of the classics of Chicago. The Italian sausage. I added pickled jalapenos today because I like an extra spiciness with my sausage, but they can be omitted without a problem.

Italian Sausage and Jalapeno Deep Dish Pizza

For the dough:

1 cup spelt flour (or all purpose flour)

1/3 cup oat flour (just put 1/3 cup rolled oats in a blender and grind to a fine flour)

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup warm water

1 tsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp dry active yeast

2 Tbsp softened butter, for Lacquering Step

   In a medium bowl, combine the spelt and oat flour. Make a depression in the centre of the flour mixture. Sprinkle salt around the outer edge. Add the water and maple syrup to the centre. Sprinkle in the yeast and stir lightly. Allow the yeast to bubble for about 10 minutes. Stir the flour mixture into the yeast mixture until a soft dough forms. Tip out of the bowl on the counter and knead until smooth and no longer very sticky. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour. Proceed to the sausage layer step.

For the Sausage Layer:

150g/6 oz Italian sausage meat (if in links, just squeeze out of the casing)

75mL/3 oz tomato paste (about 1/2 small can)

1/4 cup water

2 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped coarsely

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 tsp salt

   In a small bowl, stir together the tomato paste, water, oregano, garlic and salt.

   In a medium bowl, add the sausage meat and the tomato mixture. Stir to combine. Set aside.

For the Lacquering Step:

   After the dough has risen, press it out on the counter with your fingers until it is in a rough rectangle about 30cm x 24cm (12″ x 8″).

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   Spread 2 Tbsp of softened butter over the surface of the dough.

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   Fold over one third of the dough over the buttered surface.

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Fold over the other third on top, then fold the rectangle into a square. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another hour.

For the pizza:

Prepared Lacquered Dough

Prepared Sausage Layer

100g/4 oz gruyere cheese, shredded

50 g/2 oz pecorino (I used a chilli-infused pecorino, but any dry aged cheese would be fine, like Parmesan), shredded

9 slices pickled jalapenos (optional)

   Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Line a 25cm x 25 cm (9″x9″) cake pan with parchment paper and oil it lightly.

   Press the square of lacquered dough in the prepared pan. Press to ease the edges of the dough up the side of the pan slightly (about 2cm/1″ up or so). Flute the edges like a pie, if you desire, like this:

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Sprinkle the bottom with gruyere cheese. Spread the sausage layer over the cheese. Place the jalapeno slices evenly over the top and cover with the shredded pecorino. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven to broil/grill and broil the top for a further 7-10 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to set in the pan for another 10-15 minutes. Slide it out of the pan, cut into four squares and serve. Serves 2.

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Mom’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Last weekend, before going to visit my brother for Thanksgiving weekend, he texted me this picture and asked, “Could you make these?” with my niece while I was there:

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I immediately recognized my mom’s handwriting. Her loss still lingers in our family. Anyone who says a family member’s death gets easier over time is a liar or a cold, soulless person. It sucks. Every day you’re reminded of things that hurt. This recipe was one of those things that bring back happier memories. School lunchboxes, after school snacks or watching weekend cartoons. A cookie makes it better.

I didn’t hesitate in wanting to make these. Of course, being the way I am now, I changed the margarine to butter because I agree with this:

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I also decided to double the recipe because my niece was going to a friend’s birthday party later that day and wanted to take extra. It was also an opportunity to teach her step by step how to make cookies without any fancy kitchen equipment. No mixers. No whisks. Just a bowl and a fork to whisk, with a wooden spoon to fold in the ingredients as the cookie dough tightened up. Just like my mom used to do it.

I gave visual and aural cues throughout, like when creaming together the butter and sugar, look for the sugar to be fully incorporated and listen as you mix. When the sugar is fully incorporated you shouldn’t hear a sandy noise against the bowl. When whisking with a fork, you’ll hear what sounds like sand scraping the bowl. When it’s fully creamed, it will just sound like smooth butter whipped against the bowl.

Slow down. Don’t let a machine do it all. Bring back the human element. It makes it taste better.

Mom’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies:

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar (I’ve used both light brown sugar and dark brown sugar. Both are great)

1 large egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup flour (I’ve used both all purpose flour and Red Fife heritage wheat flour. Both are great)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup rolled oats (both quick oats and traditional oats work well)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, doesn’t affect texture, so if you don’t like nuts or are allergic it’s ok to omit)

1/2 cup raisins, chocolate chips or other dried fruit (I did a mix of raisins and dried cherries)

1/4 cup milk

   Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

   In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

   In a large bowl add the butter and brown sugar. Whisk together until smooth and no longer granular. Add the egg and whisk until smooth and lighter. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine.

   Add half of the flour mixture and whisk together. At this point, as the dough thickens, you may need to switch from a fork to a wooden spoon. Once half of the flour mixture is incorporated, add the other half and stir to combine. Add half of the rolled oats and stir it in until uniformly combined. Add the rest of the oats and stir to combine. Add the raisins and walnuts and stir to combine.

   At this point, the oats start to really absorb moisture and the dough is very tight. Add the milk to loosen the dough enough to be an easily spoonable dough.

   Spoon the dough in rough 2 Tbsp portions (you could use a portioning/ice cream scoop if you want, but just using a regular spoon is fine). Leave about 5cm/2″ in between balls of dough to accommodate spreading as it bakes. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until starting to go lightly golden along the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the pan. Makes 25-30 cookies depending on how big you spoon them.

To serve:

Get some milk and be a child!!

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Butter Chicken…errr…I mean…Turkey

Yes, I know, Butter Chicken is one of those populist recipes that are everywhere. I’ve seen it as a pizza topping at one of the big chains (no, just no. A mom & pop Indian family doing it along with their own butter chicken, on the other hand, do it!).

I wanted to try my hand at this ubiquitous Indian dish because, firstly, it’s my lady’s favourite Indian dish and secondly, it’s very similar in design to a classic Hungarian dish, chicken paprikash (at least the sauce component…and I’ll be posting a recipe for Paprikash soon, honest!)

Anyways, the final reason to do a butter sauce is to use up the last of the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. Having said that, this won’t be a 100% authentic take on Butter Chicken since there’s usually a tandoori preparation of the chicken beforehand. With a quick simmer of leftover, shredded turkey, it takes a little of the time and effort away from the original, so I’ve modified my sauce accordingly to accommodate that flavour variation by adding sour cream in the sauce. The tandoori marinade for the chicken usually has yogurt and I wanted that sour component. I find when I simmer yogurt in a sauce, it splits, but sour cream blends beautifully in a creamy sauce.

Enough rambling. To the sauce. And dinner!!

Butter Sauce:

For the Spice Mix:

1 Tbsp coriander seed

1 Tbsp cumin seed

8 green cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom)

1-1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika

1/2-1 tsp hot Hungarian paprika (or your favourite red chilli powder), depending on how hot you like

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

   In a spice grinder, grind the coriander, cumin, cardamom pods, mustard and fennel seeds until a fine powder is achieved. Add the sweet and hot paprika, turmeric and salt and quickly blend to combine. Set aside.

For the Butter Sauce:

Reserved Spice Mix

3 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil

1-1/2 tsp finely grated garlic

1 Tbsp finely grated ginger

1 small can (156 mL/6 oz) tomato paste (or Roasted Tomato Sauce)

1 cup cream

1/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup water

   In a large, wide skillet pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the grated garlic and ginger and fry for 2-3 minutes until it starts to brown, scraping the bottom of the pan as it tends to stick somewhat. Add 2/3 of the spice mix and fry for another 2-3 minutes until the spices are very fragrant and starting to smoulder but not burn. Add the tomato paste (or Roasted Tomato Sauce, if using) and stir to toast the tomato paste (about 1-2 minutes). Add the water, cream and sour cream. Stir to combine all of the flavours, again scraping the bottom, and whisk in the remaining spice mix. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes, if using tomato paste or 60-70 minutes if using the Roasted Tomato Sauce (the sauce has more liquid so requires more simmering to thicken the sauce).

To serve:

   Add 4 cups of shredded, leftover cooked turkey (or chicken) to the finished Butter Sauce and simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the turkey is heated through and softened. Serve with rice. Serves 4-6.

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Ham and Brussels Sprouts Colcannon Cakes

Being knee-deep in Thanksgiving leftovers still, I decided to incorporate some leftover ham into an idea I’ve done before, Irish Colcannon. Normally a cabbage and mashed potato dish, I added the saltiness of cubed baked ham and instead of cabbage, I used its baby cousin, the Brussels sprout.

Brussels sprouts are a normal part of Thanksgiving dinner, but my brother’s family aren’t part of Team Brussels Sprouts, so I actually came home and steamed some myself to have the “leftover experience.” Yes, I’m that guy. I’m the one who eats all the Brussels sprouts at holiday meals. I’m the guy that relatives mumble to themselves, “Oh, good. Someone’s eating those things.”

My family’s background is Hungarian where cabbage was more common than fries and gravy, so having “baby cabbages” were nothing new.

If you don’t have leftover mashed potato and steamed Brussels sprouts, it’s okay, I’m including basic techniques to do this dish from scratch (except for baking a ham. I do a lot of things fresh, but baking a ham for potato cakes is beyond my madness!) 😉

Ham and Brussels Sprouts Colcannon Cakes

For the mashed potatoes:

300g/12 oz potatoes (a good high starch potato like Russet or Yukon Gold works), cubed

1 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup (70 mL) milk

1 tsp salt

   In a medium pot, add the potatoes, salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain away the water, mash with a potato masher and add the butter and milk. Mash further until the potatoes are smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

For the steamed Brussels sprouts:

200g/7 oz Brussels sprouts, stems removed and halved

   Add the halved Brussels sprouts to a steamer and steam, covered, for 10 minutes. (I have a steamer insert for one of my large pots and steamed these while I cooked the potatoes below. Champion multitasker!) Remove from the steamer and roughly chop into smaller pieces about 1cm (1/2″) in size. Add to the bowl with the mashed potatoes.

For the Ham and Brussels Sprouts Colcannon Cakes:

Reserved mashed potatoes and steamed Brussels sprouts

3/4 cup (about 4 oz/100g) cubed ham

Potato starch for dredging (about 1/4 cup) (or flour is fine, I just happened to have potato starch and it works great with potato dishes)

2-3 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil, for pan frying

   To the prepared mashed potatoes and steamed Brussels sprouts, add the ham and stir to combine. Or mix with your hands. It’s food, using your hands is perfectly acceptable and much more fun! I portioned the mixture with a portioning scoop (ice cream scoop). My scoop is about 3-1/2 oz or about 1/4 cup (70mL) but you could use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to portion too. I formed each portion into thick cakes and set aside on a wax paper-lined baking sheet.

   Place the potato starch in a small bowl.

   Preheat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add some of the oil for frying. Dredge 3 or 4 of the portioned cakes in potato starch, shaking off the excess lightly and pan fry in the preheated pan for 5-7 minutes per side until deeply golden. Repeat with remaining cakes. Makes 7 cakes.

   I served mine with an Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce, but a quick pesto or cream sauce would be great too. Or if your kids want ketchup, go ahead. It’s predominately potato and fries are made of potato, so go crazy with it! It’s just dinner after all! 😉

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Buttercup Squash Soup with Maple Ginger Glazed Turkey

This past weekend, it was Thanksgiving in Canada. A time to celebrate the harvest and be thankful for all we have. We don’t have the elaborate Pilgrim-filled folklore of our American neighbours to the south, so we have our Thanksgiving 6 weeks earlier. We can quietly celebrate up here in our Canadian way, saying “Sorry” for no reason and having maple syrup chugging contests (Note: We don’t really chug maple syrup in contests. It’s just a fun thing weird people like me tend to do in their spare time). That, and if we’re gonna honour the harvest we have to do it now because at the end of November most of Canada is under about a metre of snow….give or take 😉

I spent Thanksgiving with my brother and his family. My sis-in-law has the “Noah’s Ark” approach when it comes to what animals to serve, namely, ALL THE ANIMALS!!! Turkey, ham, meatballs, oftentimes lamb. It’s a carnivorous orgy of the flesh. No matter how many other friends my brother and his wife may invite, there’s always a mountain of leftovers. I came home with a bunch of leftover turkey and ham. I’ve already made an easy Denver omelette sandwich. Basically a scrambled egg filling with sautéed ham and peppers with shredded cheese. Brown cubed ham, sauté with chopped sweet bell pepper and add beaten eggs. Cook until the scrambled egg is softly cooked. Add shredded cheese off the heat and allow the residual heat of the pan to melt it. Serve it on a bun with tzatziki sauce (when I don’t make my own, I buy from awesome people at the local farmer’s market) and voila!

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Anyways….I digress from what I was gonna get into. Tonight, I made a soup with a leftover turkey garnish to enhance the soup’s flavour. A savoury buttercup squash soup is accented with a sweet and spicy maple-ginger glazed turkey.

Buttercup Squash Soup with Maple Ginger Glazed Turkey

For the Buttercup Squash Soup:

1 tsp cold pressed canola oil

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup, peeled and chopped carrot (about 3 medium carrots)

1 cup, peeled and chopped parsnips (about 3 medium parsnips)

1 softball-sized buttercup squash, halved, seeds removed, peeled and chopped (could also use acorn, butternut, Hubbard squash or any autumn/winter squash you choose. The overall volume of chopped squash should be about 1L/4 cups)

2 cups/500 mL chicken stock (or vegetable stock or water)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

3 cups/750 mL water

1 tsp celery seeds

4 tsp dried sage (or 2 Tbsp fresh sage leaves)

1 tsp salt

   In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt and sauté until the onions are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the parsnips and carrots and sauté for a further 5-7 minutes to soften but not brown. Add the stock, garlic, water, dried sage and salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until all of the ingredients are softened. Purée with a hand blender (or in a regular blender/food processor in batches) until smooth. Set aside and keep warm. Makes about 8 cups.

For the Maple Ginger Glazed Turkey:

5 cups leftover cooked turkey (or the same thing could be done with leftover shredded chicken, pot roast or crumbled, cooked sausage)

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

4 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger

1 tsp hot Hungarian paprika

   In a small saucepan, heat the maple syrup and ginger over medium heat. Simmer for 7-10 minutes until the syrup thickens to a glaze. Add the paprika and stir to combine. Add the shredded turkey and stir to coat and glaze. Let it simmer a few minutes to thicken further and completely coat.

To serve:

   Ladle the soup in bowls and divide the Maple Ginger Glazed Turkey in the centre of each bowl. The soup should serve 4 as a main course. Some of the turkey will sink to the bottom of the soup but as you pile it in the centre, it will stay above the surface for presentation purposes. You’ll be digging and stirring the turkey through the soup as you eat it, so it doesn’t matter too much how it’s presented. It’s just dinner after all! 😉

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By the way, the pile of turkey being shaped roughly like a Canadian maple leaf is purely coincidental. I’m just that Canadian that meat piles into a maple leaf shape naturally 😉

And if you really don’t want to make a soup for this glazed turkey component, just put it on a bun and call it a sandwich. It’s like pulled pork, but more maple-y, ginger-y good!

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Lasagna with Bison Tail Ragu, Herbed Whole Milk Ricotta and Homemade Pasta

When I make lasagna, it’s an event. I don’t buy premade pasta sheets, I don’t use jarred sauce, and I don’t buy ricotta cheese. I make every step myself. It’s a marathon of steps that I usually split into several days, but it’s worth it. You could take only one thing from this lasagna, the homemade pasta for example and use store bought other stuff if you must, just to get you started into making things yourself. What’s important is you care enough to cook your own food. To know what’s going into that pan.

Since I made the Bison Tail Ragu Bolognese yesterday, that shortened the work a little today. I usually just make the ricotta on day two, but decided to just plough through and eat lasagna tonight. I’m gonna sleep like death because of it, but I’ll have the lingering flavours inside this lasagna with me as I doze into dreamland.

Lasagna with Bison Tail Ragu, Herbed Whole Milk Ricotta and Homemade Pasta

For the Herbed Whole Milk Ricotta:

1-1/2 cups Whole Milk Ricotta (most store bought is fine, just look for very few ingredients. If it has things like carrageenan, guar gum or other thickeners, look for a different brand)

2-1/2 Tbsp dried oregano

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil

1 egg

   In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, oregano, garlic, salt, oil and egg. Set aside.

For the Red Fife/Park Wheat Pasta:

1-1/2 cups Red Fife flour (a heritage variety of wheat with a medium protein amount. Regular whole wheat flour would work fine)

2 cups Park Wheat flour (another heritage variety of wheat with higher protein. Whole wheat bread flour would work fine).

1 tsp salt

5 large eggs

2 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil

3-6 Tbsp water (as needed)

   In a large bowl, combine the Red Fife and Park Wheat flours with the salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the eggs. Beat lightly and add the oil. Whisk together the eggs and oil with a fork until smooth and start to gradually bring in the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out on to the counter and knead until soft, smooth and no longer sticky (about 10 minutes). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

For the Lasagna:

1 Recipe Bison Tail Ragu Bolognese

Reserved Herbed Whole Milk Ricotta

Reserved Red Fife/Park Wheat Pasta

1 small can (137mL/5oz) tomato paste + 500mL(2 cups) water + 2 Tbsp honey

300g/12 oz gruyere cheese, shredded

200g/7oz herb and garlic flavoured gouda cheese, shredded

   Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

   Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the pasta dough into 8 equal pieces. Form them into flat rectangles and using a pasta roller (either an attachment on a stand mixer or an old school one that you bolt to the counter or kitchen table), roll out each piece into a long pasta sheet about 1/4cm (1/8″) thick. Cut each sheet into smaller sheets that will fit into the lasagna pan. Boil four cut, rolled pasta sheets at a time in the boiling water (about 90 seconds to 2 minutes).

   Spread 1/4 cup of the tomato paste/honey mixture at the bottom of two lasagna pans (15cm x 30cm or 6″ x 12″). Lay two pasta sheets on the bottom of each pan. Spread 1/3 of the Bison Tail Ragu Bolognese over the pasta sheets. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the gruyere cheese. Repeat with the other pan.

   Boil four more pasta sheets, add two to each pan. Spread 1/2 of the Herbed Whole Milk Ricotta mixture in each pan. Boil four more pasta sheets. Lay over the ricotta layer. Divide the remaining Bison Tail Ragu Bolognese over the two pans. Split the remaining tomato paste/honey mixture over the ragu and finish with the herb and garlic gouda. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until deeply golden.

*Note: There will be some leftover pasta sheets. Feel free to cut them into rustic tagliatelle and toss with another pasta sauce.

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