The extended family came over for an impromptu dinner tonight – my nephew made burgers, and I scoured the house for something to make a salad out of. We had no greens, or kale, or anything green, really – but we had tons of carrots, and I remembered a grated carrot salad we ate at various events when I was a kid, and so I tried to recreate it. It was easy to grate two large carrots, dice an apple, add a handful of raisins and dress the whole thing with rice vinegar, salt and pepper, a pinch of salt and a spoonful of mayo. And it turned out to be delicious on burgers, too.
This seems like a classic Best of Bridge recipe – homemade doughnuts made from a recipe handed down over generations. After all, you only make doughnuts when you have friends and family around to eat them. Olie Bollen are traditional Dutch apple and raisin fritters – the easiest kind of doughnut to make.
There’s no need to roll and cut them, you can simply drop spoonfuls of dough into the hot oil and fry until golden and crisp. Experiment with other fruit in season, too – ripe peaches are delicious, just pat them dry if they’re overly juicy. This recipe comes from a friend of a friend of a friend, who says it was her grandmother’s specialty. Serve them as an after school snack if you have extra hungry kids in the house, or for brunch when you’ll have more people around the table. They’re best warm, doused in powdered sugar.
Homemade granola is a virtuous thing. A handful of it will ward off hunger (I keep a ziplock baggie of it in the car at all times) and layering it with some homemade or local Bles Wold vanilla yogurt and frozen berries will give you the healthiest breakfast imaginable. It also makes great muesli, if you stir it into some yogurt along with a grated apple, and pop it in the fridge overnight. Homemade granola also makes a great gift, encased in a big glass mason jar. And it’s far more expensive than most granolas you find on store shelves.
Best of all, you can customize it with dried fruit and chopped nuts, and flavours like vanilla or maple extract, cinnamon or ginger, according to your taste.
Spring has sprung, buds are starting to appear and green things are poking out of the ground. Which means in Alberta, it’s almost asparagus season. While asparagus from California or Mexico is generally available year-round, it doesn’t compare to that which is grown right here – it’s not exactly a common back yard crop, but our soil conditions, lack of pests and cool climate produce tender, sweet stalks. (So long as it doesn’t snow immediately before the May-June harvest.) Some of the best asparagus is grown out in the Innisfail area, so as soon as you see it hit the market, it’s best to eat as much as possible while we can get it.
Here’s a way to preserve asparagus for a time when we won’t be able to get our hands on the local stuff – asparagus soup is simple, delicious hot or cold, and perfect to make if you happen to get a wrinkly bunch.
- 1 Tbsp. each butter and canola or olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 leeks, chopped (white and pale green part only) and then washed in a bowl of cool water
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1" pieces
- 4 cups (1 L) chicken or vegetable stock
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup half & half or heavy (whipping) cream
- In a large saucepan or smallish pot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the onion and leeks and cook for a few minutes, until they start to soften. Add the potatoes, asparagus and stock and cook for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the cream.
- Purée the soup in the pot using a hand-held immersion blender, or do it in batches in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Add a little extra stock or water if it seems too thick. Serve hot, or chill and serve cold.
- Serves 6.
Easter is coming up quickly, and many families roast a turkey instead of a ham – it’s perfect for feeding a crowd, and provides an excuse to make (and eat) stuffing! If you have a turkey on your menu this weekend, here’s a refresher. We took some guidance from local experts Darrel Winter and Corinne Dahm, who have been raising free range turkeys in the small hamlet of Dalemead, 20 minutes south of Calgary, since 1977, in the same house Darrel grew up in.
Thawing: To quickly thaw a frozen turkey, place it (still wrapped) in a deep sink or a large container, such as a cooler or Tupperware bin, and cover completely with cold water. Allow 1 hour per pound of turkey (2 hours per kg) to thaw. Alternatively, sit it in a large roasting pan (to catch any drips) in the refrigerator and allow 5 hours per pound (10 hours per kg) – keep in mind that large birds can take days to thaw.
Stuffing: Spoon stuffing loosely into the cavity of the bird just before roasting; never pack it tight or stuff your turkey the day before. When you’re ready to eat, remove the stuffing before carving and if you like, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes to ensure it’s thoroughly heated through. Alternatively, bake your dressing in a casserole dish alongside your turkey, and stuff a handful of fresh herbs, a halved head of garlic and/or lemon into the cavity instead. Unstuffed turkeys will cook more quickly.
Seasoning: Place the bird breast side up on a rack in roasting pan, pat dry with a paper towel and rub the skin with soft butter or canola oil. Season the skin and inside the cavity with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, cayenne, thyme, rosemary or your favourite herbs and spices. If you’re using one, insert an oven-safe thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful to not touch the bone.
Roasting: Cover loosely with foil or a lid and roast in a preheated 325° oven. The general rule of thumb for oven cooking a stuffed turkey at 325° F is 15 minutes per pound (30 minutes per kg). If you choose to baste your turkey, limit the number of times you open and close your oven – once an hour is sufficient. Begin checking for doneness about one hour before the end of the recommended roasting time, and keep in mind that fresh turkeys cook faster. Uncover about an hour before the end of the cooking time for crispy, golden skin. Your turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted into meaty part of the inner thigh reads 180° F for a stuffed turkey or 170° F for an unstuffed turkey. Temperature is the best indication of doneness, as the juices may still have a slight pink tinge.
Resting: Cover your turkey loosely with foil and let it stand for at least 15 minutes while you make the gravy – this will help retain its juices, keeping the meat tender and easier to carve.
I love a good chewy bar, like a brownie only without the chocolate – these are essentially blondies, rich with butter and brown sugar, which acts as a blank canvas you could add anything to. These are made with crunchy nuts and chewy dates, which are a winning combination.
Soft Medjool dates are most often found in the produce department of the grocery store, and have pits that are easy to remove, but mean they stay soft, unlike the hard bricks of dates you so often find in the baking section.
I’ve made these with soft brown sugar, but one time when I was out I used turbinado – the result was still sweet and caramelly, with a slightly crunchy texture I loved. They’re so fast to mix together, they may become your new go-to when you need a quick dessert or comforting after school snack. (After all, there’s nothing like coming home to the smell of something baking.)