Berbere Lentils Recipe (Yemisir Wat)

As you may know from previous blog entries – and social media posts! – we recently attended Folklorama, in Winnipeg. It’s my absolute favourite event every year, and has been kind of … therapeutic?… since moving to the USA.

Anyway, I’m planning to do a write up on it eventually, but in the meantime, back to today’s recipe!

The Ethiopian Pavilion is a must stop for us, every time that we make the trip for Folklorama. It’s not as big and flashy as many of the other pavilions, but what it DOES have is some of the absolute best food of the entire festival.

After returning from the trip this year, Porter requested that I figure out Ethiopian cooking – ESPECIALLY the firey lentils that he loves. So, I did a bunch of research and put together recipes for both the berbere seasoning (which seems to vary wildly, based on who makes it!), and the lentil dish named for the seasoning. Made a batch, LOVED it.

Couple days later, I get the following photos and a text of “YOU FINISHED THE LENTILS!?” from my husband:

… So I made another batch, and decided that I should probably blog the recipe. HIGHLY addictive stuff, this is!

First off, you’ll need to make the Berbere Seasoning. This makes more than you’ll need for the lentils recipe, but is great in almost anything that could use a kick. Try it as a dry rub on chicken!

Berbere Seasoning

½ cup dried chiles (packed!)
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cardamom seeds
½ tsp black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
2 Tbsp sweet paprika
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Measure chiles, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, peppercorns, and cloves into a dry, nonstick pan. Toast over medium heat, stirring constantly, until aromatic. Remove from heat, allow to cool.

In a spice grinder, process toasted spices into a fine powder. Allow to spices to settle a bit before opening the grinder – the powder can be irritating to lungs and nasal passages!. Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add remaining spices to the bowl, stir well. Store in an airtight container until use.

Berbere Lentils

Makes about 3 1/2 cups

1/2 cup canola oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped or grated
1/3 – 1/2 cup Berbere seasoning
1 Tbsp ginger puree
1 Tbsp minced, pressed, or pureed garlic
1 cup dried red lentils
3+ cups water
Salt and pepper

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, cook onions in canola oil until soft. Add Berbere (Start with 1/3 cup if you’re not used to this!), ginger, garlic, and lentils, stir well. Add 3 cups of water, bring to a boil.

Once mixture boils, turn heat down to medium or medium-low. Simmer lentils – stirring frequently – until water is absorbed and lentils are mushy. Remove from heat.

Taste, add more Berbere if you’d like, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, with injera.

Spinach Pies Recipe

So, we’re at that point in the moving phase, where we’re starting to look at pre-move bucket lists : things we want to do here, before moving to Canada.

For me, that means spending time with friends when possible. For my husband – who grew up here – it’s more things like going to the State Fair, Valley Fair, etc one last time. Also: Have me create a great Spinach Pie recipe. There’s a great local Lebanese deli – Emily’s – that makes spinach pies that he adores.

While we’d usually go for a direct replica when it comes to something like this, he decided he preferred to have a bit of fun with it, developing a custom filling. So, if you’re looking for an Emily’s knockoff, this is not the recipe you’re looking for! (It is definitely in the same ballpark, though.)

To adjust it a bit more to my husband’s tastes, there is more filling than in the source material, as well as flavour additions like kalamata olives. Ours features an egg glaze, giving the outside of the crust a bit of sheen, and a bit of bite/crunch. For a softer finished crust, skip the egg glaze.

Enjoy!

Makes 6 large hand pies

1 cup warm – not hot – water
4 tsp yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
½ cup sour cream
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, beaten

4 packets frozen chopped spinach (40 oz total), defrosted
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 oz crumbled feta
3 Tbsp finely chopped kalamata olives
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 oz pine nuts, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper

1 egg
1 Tbsp water

Stir yeast and sugar into warm water, allow to stand for 10 minutes – it should get very bubbly.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl: combine flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine. Add sour cream, olive oil, and eggs; mix well to combine.

Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.

While dough is rising, make your filling:

Squeeze all of the water out of the spinach, set aside.

In a large pan, saute onion in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add spinach and garlic, stir well to combine, cook over medium heat until liquid is completely gone. Remove from heat.

Stir in feta, olives, dill, pine nuts, lemon zest, and nutmeg, stirring until well combined. Add yogurt, stir until completely incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Once dough has doubled, punch it down, and divide it out. We divided the mixture into 6 equally sized balls, – but you can make them smaller by dividing into 8 sized pieces.

Preheat oven to 350 , line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stretch each dough ball into a round, approximately 8″ diameter. Scoop about 3/4 cup of filling into the center (1/2 cup, if making smaller ones), and fold the edges in to make a triangle, as shown below:

Gently flatten each pie out to about 1″ thick.

Once you have all of your pies formed, set them on lined baking sheets to rise for another 10 minutes.

Whisk egg together with 1 Tbsp of water, brush over the tops and sides of each hand pie. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm or room temperature, with tzatziki dip, if desired. (I have a great recipe for it in More Than Poutine!). Wrap any unused pies in plastic and chill until use.

Gluten Free Beaver Tails Recipe

With More Than Poutine available for pre-order now, it time for me to get the word out!

So, for this blog entry, I’d love to share one of the HUGE requests I had for the cookbook, and talk a little bit about the gluten-free accommodations in the book.

More Than Poutine is probably the most ambitious concept I’ve taken on for a cookbook project. Not only was the scope pretty big – Canadian food! – I decided that I wanted to provide gluten-free versions for (almost) everything, as well.

The vast majority of the recipes are gluten-free by default. Many have a very easy swap, such as using a GF soy sauce instead of a regular soy sauce. Most of the rest have a note at the end with ingredient substitutions, etc to make a gluten-free version. I think only 2-3 of the 120+ recipes do not have a gluten-free version. It’s kinda hard to make a gluten free version of Winnipeg Style Rye bread, for instance, given that rye itself is glutenny!

For all of the recipes with alternate ingredients, I developed the GF versions the same way I developed Beyond Flour and Beyond Flour 2 – using custom combinations of alternate flours, specific to each recipe… rather than “all purpose” mixes. Doing it this way guarantees the best results, and tends to turn out a product that’s as good as the real thing, if not *completely* indistinguishable from the original.

Anyway!

These pastries are based on a well known, extremely popular pastry, widely available at festivals and fairs across Canada. Whole wheat dough is stretched out to long ovals and fried, then topped with a variety of goodies. You can go as basic as a brushing of melted butter and sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, or go more wild.

On the “more wild” end, the pastries are usually spread with something sweet – Nutella, peanut butter, Jam, Maple butter, etc – before being sprinkled with candies, chopped nuts, sliced fruits, etc. You can even follow up with a drizzle of more sugar – chocolate sauce, caramel, etc!

When it came to making a gluten-free version, the challenge was twofold: Make a bread product that has a great texture (soft, not gummy or chalky!), AND replicates the taste of whole wheat.

Well, I’m proud to say I succeeded in both! This dough makes a very soft BeaverTail, with none of the “gluten-free” texture issues.

The use of rice bran and flax meal is a combination I came up with when developing Beyond Flour 2, when creating legitimate graham crackers… and it worked beautifully here to mimic the flavour and character of whole wheat flour.

So, whether the source material here is something you miss from pre-gluten-free days, or whether it’s something you’ve never been able to have – and always wanted to try – this recipe will serve you well!

Enjoy … and be sure to pre-order your copy of More Than Poutine, here!

Note: The photos in this blog entry are specifically the gluten-free version, NOT the full-gluten version. The gluten/original version is pictured in the actual book, though. As with all recipes based on a commercial source material, this recipe is named something else in the book!

Gluten-Free Beaver Tails

Makes 6 pastries

Warm milk 3/4 cup 175 ml
1/3 cup Brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tsp Active dry yeast
3/4 cup light buckwheat flour
½ cup rice bran
½ cup unflavoured whey protein powder
½ cup sweet rice flour
2 Tbsp flax meal
2 tsp Xanthan gum
3/4 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Canola oil
1 Large egg
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Canola oil
Toppings*

Combine warm milk with brown sugar, stir until sugar is almost dissolved. Add yeast, stirring until incorporated. Set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes, or until foamy.

In a large bowl, combine flours, rice bran, protein powder, flax meal, xanthan gum, and salt. Add canola oil, stirring until well distributed. Pour in yeast/milk mixture, egg, and vanilla extract; stir until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap, set aside in a warm spot to rise for an hour or two, until about doubled in size.

In a large, deep pot, heat 2-3″ of canola oil to 350 F (180 C). While oil is heating, divide dough into 6 equal sized pieces. Use clean, wet hands to flatten and shape each dough ball into a long, thin oval, about 1/4-1/2″ thick. Allow each to rest on a clean work surface as you form the rest.

Working with one pastry at a time, carefully transfer to the preheated oil. Allow to fry for 1-2 minutes , or until golden on the underside. Gently flip and repeat, cooking until evenly golden.

Transfer fried pastry to a baking sheet lined with paper towels, blot to remove excess oil. Spread and top as desired, serve immediately!

* Topping Suggestions:

Cinnamon Sugar: Mix together 1 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp cinnamon. Brush hot pastry with melted butter, sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Squeeze fresh lemon slices on top for a traditional variation on this!

Spreads: Peanut butter, Nutella, maple butter, frosting, jam, pie filling, etc

Toppings: Small candies, crushed chocolate bars, crumbled gf cookies, sliced fruit, berries, chopped nuts, mini marshmallows, etc

Drizzles: Maple syrup, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, etc

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes are included.

“More Than Poutine” is available for purchase, here.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Dill Pickle Cream Cheese Dip Recipe – and More Than Poutine Pre-orders!

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but I’m happy to announce that the big day is finally here – pre-orders are now open for my upcoming book, “More Than Poutine: Favourite Foods from My Home and Native Land!

If you’re new here, the basics: It’s a cookbook that is written from the point of view of a Canadian no longer living in Canada. Not only does it have great recipes for all of the well known, national favourites… it covers many regional specialties, as well as accurate homemade versions of many of the foods that you can’t buy outside of Canada! It was a lot of fun to develop, and I’m so proud of it!

Anyway, to mark the occasion, I’m going to share one of the recipes that was MOST requested when I polled other expats for commercial foodstuffs that they miss: Dill Pickle Cream Cheese Dip.

There is a line of cream cheese dips back home that is very popular, but not really seen as a Canadian thing… until you leave. Amazingly enough, while the brand that produces them is widely available in the US, this particular product is not carried anywhere but in Canada.

For “More Than Poutine”, I developed VERY accurate replica recipes for all 6 flavours of this line – all of which are very quick and easy to make! Gluten-free, too!

The look and texture are bang-on, as-is the flavour… so long as you use the right pickles! The type of pickle you use will affect the overall taste in the end, so for maximum accuracy, go for a Kosher Dill or Garlic Dill pickle. If you’re not familiar with the source material, feel free to use whatever type of pickle you love to eat.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and the many others (120+!) in the book. Click here for more information on the book, and to place your preorder today!

Dill Pickle Cream Cheese Dip

Makes about 2 ½ cups

3/4 cup Milk
1/4 cup Pickle brine
2 tsp Corn starch
8 oz Cream cheese, softened (1 brick)
3/4 cup Finely chopped dill pickles
1/4 tsp Salt

In a small saucepan, whisk together milk, pickle brine, and corn starch.

Add cream cheese, carefully whisk until smooth. Add chopped pickles and salt, stir to combine.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.

Remove from heat, cool to room temperature before covering and chilling until cold.

Serve with chips or veggies.

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes are included.

“More Than Poutine” is available for preorder, here.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Cosplay Tutorial: Adding a Non-Slip Sole to Spandex Boot / Shoe Covers

Spandex boot covers are a great way to customize less-than-perfect footwear to work with your costume. You can sometimes buy ready made covers, but personally, I prefer to make my own (I have full instructions available in my spandex cosplay sewing manual – Sewing for Superheroes). It just gives me so much more flexibility on the footwear I can use, and the final effect.

For some costumes – such as this “Peek-A-Blue” one – I’ll build my boot covers right into the tights, for an all-in-one look. The shoes are inserted into the tights, and the whole thing is put on like you would roll up pantihose. It can really complete a look!

The thing is, spandex boot covers can be a weak point in your costume, in terms of wear and tear. Spandex isn’t really meant to be footwear, after all – and all that walking can tatter it quickly. No worries, though – adding a sole to your boot covers is easy, relatively inexpensive, and wildly extends the life of your costume. It protected the seam itself, as well as the fabric under the shoe. Additionally, this creates a nonslip surface – makes your costume safer to wear!

I use a rubberized soling material called “ToughTek” that I purchase on Etsy, here. It comes in several colours, I like to keep a supply of white, black, and beige on hand, so I can best coordinate with whatever I’m adding a sole to.

Here is how I do it.

You will need:

Paper for patterning – either printer paper or craft/tissue paper
Pen
Scissors
Soling material
Craft paper, parchment paper, or etc to protect your work surface.
Shoe Goo
Disposable plastic knife, or similar
Clamps, vice grips, masking tape, etc (optional)
Clear Silicone Caulking
2 rolls of masking or packing tape
Small bowl for water
ScotchGard spray (optional, but recommended)

Method:

1. Put your shoe/boot inside the cover, being sure to line up the seams where they should go. In this case, that means the long seam goes straight up the middle of the sole, with the vertical seam extending from that seam, up the middle of the instep. Smooth out any wrinkles:

2. Place your shoe/boot over your pattern paper, and carefully trace out the sole shape:

3. If the shoe curls up at the front, be sure to roll forward on the sole when tracing, to get the full shape:

4. Your tracing will likely be rough, like this:

5. Cut out your tracing, cleaning up the edges as you go:

6. Place your tracing up against the bottom of your shoe, to see how well it fits:

7. Trim off any excess, if applicable. In this case, I needed to trim a little from around the ball of the foot:

8. Lay out your soling material, rough side down. (Rough side is up in picture):

9. Trace out your adjusted pattern piece onto the back (non-rubber, fabric) side of the soling material, once:

10. Hold your cut out soling piece against the bottom of your shoe. Make sure it fits well – you want it to cover everywhere that hits the ground, without extending beyond that surface area. Trim any excess, if necessary:

11. Place your adjusted cut piece down on your soling material – fabric side down, facing the fabric side of the main piece. Trace and cut a second, mirror-image piece:

12. Lay out some paper to protect your work surface. This can get messy:

13. Squeeze a fair amount of Shoe Goo out onto the underside of your shoes, being careful to keep it to the area that will be covered by the sole. For reference, this one piece took one entire mini tube as pictured in the last step:

14. Repeat with the fabric side of your cut out sole pieces:

15. Use the flat side of your plastic knife to smooth out the Shoe Goo on all pieces:



16. Allow the pieces to dry a little, 5-10 minutes. Once the time is up, CAREFULLY line up one sole to the appropriate shoe bottom, and apply. Aim to get it right on the first try, as it’s messy and difficult to try to reposition it once placed. Firmly press into place, then repeat with second sole/shoe.

17. Allow to cure for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 to be thorough. I’ll usually just set them up as pictured, so the weight of the shoe holds the sole in place. You MAY need clamps or tape to help, depending on the shoe/boot / shape of the sole:

18. Once the curing time is up, carefully pipe a line of clear silicone caulking around the edge of the soling. Aim to get it on the outside/top edge of the soling, right where it touches the spandex. The idea is to seal the edge of the soling. This may (read: will!) get a bit messy, don’t worry too much though:

19. Set your shoes/boots sole side up in the rolls of tape, as pictured. This will allow everything to dry freely, without getting stuck to work surfaces, etc. Fill a small bowl with water:

20. Dip your finger in the water, and use it to smooth out your line of caulking. Be sure to work it into the area between the spandex and the soling material. Try to get this as snmooth as possible – it likely won’t be perfect – mine usually isn’t – but once it dries, imperfections aren’t very noticeable. There’s a reason we’re using clear caulking, after all!

21. Place your shoes back into the rolls of tape, as shown, and allow to fully dry, 12-24 hours, until silicone is completely clear:

22. Once silicone caulking is completely dry, follow instructions on ScotchGard to treat the boots, if you like – I usually do, as it keeps them looking fresh and new. Be sure to test on a scrap piece of material to make sure nothing weird happens with the Scotchgarding:

When wearing, pull on as usual, and just be sure to adjust the cover so that the sole lays where it is supposed to, in case it shifted while putting it on.

Gluten Free Schmoo Torte Recipe

Schmoo torte is very much a Winnipeg thing, though locals don’t tend to *know* how exclusively Winnipeg it is, til they move away!

Schmoo – or “Shmoo”, depending on who’s writing it – is a soft, pecan-laced angel food cake that is torted and filled with sweetened whipped cream, before being served up with a buttery caramel sauce. This decadent cake is served at various bakeries and dessert restaurants around the city, and apparently it’s very common at Winnipeg Bar Mitzvahs- but you don’t really see it anywhere else.

While it’s not generally something that people tend to make at home, it’s not actually all that difficult to make. As a bonus, it’s not something that has much pressure to look pretty, either! Slather some whipped cream on, messily drizzle that caramel over it… it’s all good.

When it comes to doing a gluten-free cake, Schmoo adapts beautifully. Where there is such a reliance on the egg whites for structure – and the fact that it includes nut meal, a staple in gluten-free baking – much of the concerns with GF baking don’t even apply.

Choosing flours and starches purely for flavour and texture, this recipe produces a Schmoo torte that is virtually indistinguishable from the full-gluten source material.

Schmoo Torte is one of the over 80 recipes featured in my upcoming book, More Than Poutine. Preorders will be opening soon, be sure to subscribe to our email list to receive that announcement! (Note: We only send emails once every few months / a few times every year)

Gluten Free Schmoo Torte

Cake:
12 egg whites
1 cup pecan meal / flour
1/3 cup light buckwheat flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup corn starch
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch salt
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Frosting:
2 cups Heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp Icing (Powdered) sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Caramel:
1/2 cup butter
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish:
Chopped pecans, pecan halves, etc

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line the bottom of a tube / angel food cake pan with parchment paper, set aside. (Do not grease the pan)

Separate egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer, allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix together the pecan meal, flours, starches, baking powder, and xanthan gum; set aside.

Add cream of tartar and salt to the egg whites, use a whisk attachment to bear on low until combined. Turn speed up to high, beat until stiff peaks form. Turn speed down to medium, and slowly add the sugar, a little at a time, until combined. Turn speed to low, add vanilla, mix just until combined.

Remove bowl from stand mixer, gently fold in the flour mixture – about ½ cup at a time – JUST until combined. Be gentle- you don’t want to deflate the eggs!

Gently spoon mixture into tube pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Invert cake onto a cooling rack – leaving it in the pan – and allow to cool for about an hour. Remove pan, slice cake into 3 equally thick layers.

Whisk 2 cups of the heavy whipping cream together with the icing sugar and vanilla until very thick. Spread as filling between the 3 cake layers, stacking as you go. Use remaining whipped cream to frost the sides and center of the cake, decorate with more pecans as garnish if desired. Chill for at least two hours.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add brown sugar and heavy cream, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, allow to cool.

To serve, warm the sauce, drizzle over whole torte, and/or individual slices.

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

“More Than Poutine is available for preorder, here.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Canada Day Playlist – Canadian Dance Music!

As you may have noticed, I’m a HUGE fan of dance music – 90’s-ish dance, in particular. I tend to just label most of it “Eurodance” by default, but a lot of what gets lumped in as Euro is actually Canadian!

There were a ton of great Canadian dance music artists back in the day. I’d listen to them on Chris Sheppard’s radio shows (and Canadians of a certain age now know exactly where “Celebration Generation” came from!), I’d watch them on Electric Circus, and – after moving to the GTA – I’d even hear them on top 40 radio, via Z103.5. Z has a heavy focus on dance music even to this day – It’s my favourite radio station ever, as a result!

So, with Canada Day coming up, I figure I’ll use the big party as an excuse to blog a Canadian Dance Music Playlist. It is out 150th, after all… so I’ll take any excuse to mark the occasion 🙂

To keep this reasonable, I’m only going to embed one song per group, though many featured have several / many great songs. If you hear something you like, I encourage you to look more into them. I love the high energy, uplifting nature of dance music, and love to share it with all of you!

In no particular order..

Laya – All My Dreams

This is one of my all time favourites, and gets played pretty much any time I’m in the truck or in front of the computer.. usually on repeat. LOVE.

Beatman – Nadia

This is one song I first heard through Z, and it’s a classic. High earworm potential, btw.

Roxxy – I’ll Never Stop

I love the speed and energy on this one, it was always great to play during skating practice or for workouts.

Jet Fuel – Hang on Here We Go

This song has a special place in my heart, as someone who was basically addicted to Electric Circus in my early-late teens – this song was the theme for the show Every Friday night, I would plan to watch, and usually record it. Living in Winnipeg – and being too young to go to clubs – it was the most readily accessible dance music, and it was fabulous. They’d open the Much Music studios and basically turn it into a club. The dancers wore bright colours, metallic fabrics.. spandex and feathers everywhere. LOVED. IT.

Capital Sound – Desire

Capital Sound was based out of Ottawa, and had a bunch of great songs. It was hard to narrow it down for the purposes of this list – so many good ones to choose from! I think “In The Night” was probably their biggest hit, but don’t quote me on that. “Higher Love” was right up there, too. “Feel the Rhythm” is probably tied for my favourite, but for my embed, I’m going with “Desire”. I don’t think it got as much love, in general… but I <3 it so.

Bif Naked – Spaceman

Now, I love me some Bif Naked at times, but she wasn’t really known for her dance music. I still find it a bit hilarious that she put out a dance remix of her “Spaceman“… but I’m certainly not complaining! I am firmly of the belief that dance music makes everything better.

Emjay – We All Need Love

I think “In Your Arms was my first exposure to Emjay, and it was DEFINITELY on Electric Circus; she performed live on the show at least once, and they played this video often. She had quite a few great songs, like “Fascinated“, “Flying to the Moon“, “Sound of my Heartbeat“, and “Point of No Return“. For the purposes of this list, though.. I’m picking “We All Need Love”. The video is so spectacularly 90s, and I just don’t hear this song get as much play as the others.

BKS – Living in Ecstasy

BKS was one of Chris Sheppard’s projects – featuring Simone Denny, who I adore – and they put out a lot of great music. Astroplane, Dreamcatcher, Take Control – which was, IMHO, the best song on Much Dance ’95…

I happened to be listening to the Astroplane album when I was trying to come up with a name for my business. It was during their cover of Swamp Thing, when inspiration struck. Chris Sheppard yelled “Celebration Generation, you know who you are!” – “The Celebration Generation” being his name for his fans – and in that moment, I just thought “Yes, I do!”. It stuck.

For this playlist, though, I figured I’d go old school and highlight my current favourite of theirs, “Living in Ecstasy”

Love Inc

Love Inc was another Chris Sheppard project, also featuring Simone Denny. Broken Bones was their first hit, and remains a favourite of mine today. You’re a Superstar is an amazing, feel-good anthem – one I load up on regularly, and make a point of sharing when someone needs it. Here Comes the Sunshine, Who Do You Love?, and more – all great.

Their song “Into the Night” didn’t get the same amount of play as some of the others ones, but it’s just such a gorgeous song, I had to include it here!

O.O.P featuring Simone Denny – You Make Me Feel Like a Star

Ok, this is probably my last Simone Denny song in here, I swear! So far as I can tell, I don’t actually know any other songs by this group, but this one – on the BeatClub CD – is definitely a favourite of mine.

Dion – Maybe

This is one of those songs that just really perks me up when it comes on the radio. Love it!

Ivan – Open Your Eyes

I never cease to be amazed at how obscure Ivan’s solo dance music seems to be. I do love to see the shock on friend’s faces when I point out that Ivan is Ivan Doroschuk, from Men Without Hats. Remember Safety Dance? Yep – that’s Canadian too!

Anyway, he put out an album in the mid 90’s – “The Spell”. This, and “SuperBadGirls” were my favourites from that album.

Temperance – Lost in Love

Temperance was a Toronto based group that had a couple of hits – A great cover of “Forever Young“, and Lost in Love, which was my favourite of the two.

Yakoo Boyz – Pipe Dreamz

Techno version of “Scotland the Brave” – what else can I say? This one has a special place in my heart, as I used to skate to the instrumental version. I thought my coach would kill me when I cut the music, choreographed it, and showed up to a competition with it, without telling him. The skirt was neon plaid, the bodice was made of 4 way stretch black PVC with metal zippers and rivets – looked like a stylized biker vest. I had my tattoo showing (a no-no for figure skaters back then!), a blue stripe in my hair… and I had FUN. This song makes me smile, just remembering all that nonsense 🙂

YBZ – Now That I Found You

Yakoo Boyz teamed up with Cleo-Patra,became YBZ (the code for a Toronto airport), and put out this song. Love it!

Outta Control – Tonight It’s Party Time

OK, I was wrong, this is another Simone Denny song. Whoops. This one was the first song on one of the compilation dance music cassettes I had way back in the day. Can’t remember which one, but I wore it out over this song. 🙂

Joee – Feel it in the Air

Joee is another one that had a bunch of great songs, making it difficult to pick one for this. Angel, Almost Suicide, Died in Your Arms, Arriba, etc

IN the end, I’ve gotta go with “Feel it in the Air” as my fav (“Almost Suicide” is a close second!)

Boomtang Boys – Dancing with Myself

Boomtang Boys are a group of producers/remix artists. Yep, they were the ones behind HamsterDance(and Hamster Dance 2.0)… but are much better known/respected for their work on other’s remixes (see “Spaceman”, above), and their own singles, Squeezetoy and Pictures (which had a memorably disturbing video!), and Both Sides Now, and – my favourite – Bang a Gong. (Which seems to be blocked in the USA, boo!)

My second favourite is their version of “Dancing with Myself”… even if I find the video – full of kids bouncing around – to be a completely bizarre choice, given the song’s rumoured (Though disproven) subject matter!

Prozzak – Omobolashire

I enjoy The Philosopher Kings, but I LOVE Prozzak – a project started by two of their members. Yes, the songs are cheesy, and the videos are corny, and the fake British accent is ridiculous.. but I LOVE it all. Judge all you want! 😀 Sucks to be You, www.nevergetoveryou, Europa, Strange Disease, the uplifting Be as… it’s all great for listening while sewing. My favourite, though, is the first song of theirs that I’d ever heard, Omoboloshire.

Jefferson Project – All I need is the Night

I don’t know much about this group, other than that I first saw them on Electric Circus back in the day. Love the song though!

Shauna Davis – Get Away

This song is a classic… and the singer is fascinating. Shauna Davis is Stéphane Moraille, who went on to sing for Bran Van 3000 (“Drinking in LA” is one of my favourite songs ever!), before becoming a lawyer and politician in Quebec!

…. this list is getting long! I’ll wrap it up with:

Solina – I Wanna Know

So. Yes. Canadians do Dance Music well! 🙂

Cold Smoked Potato Salad Recipe

Last week, I happened across “smoked potato salad” at a specialty food store. Given that my husband is a sucker for anything smoked, I picked some up. It was ok – good even – but the smoked flavour only came from the mayo.

Of course, we discussed how we would have done it – smoking both the mayo and the potatoes. We discussed the other ingredients we’d use, and before I knew it, we were grocery shopping to make it happen.

Part of our discussion involved the various ways we could tackle the smoking. We could hot smoke the potatoes from raw, or we could pre-cook and cold smoke them. In the end, we decided to cold smoke them after boiling. It gave us more control over the finished texture, for one.

Secondly, I just prefer the texture of boiled potato salad, to roasted potato salad – and hot smoked potatoes would be closer to the texture of roasted.

Now, I’ve already got a great boiled potato salad recipe – my Grandma’s Potato Salad – which I believe to be the *best* potato salad ever… but this comes very, very close to that #1 spot for me, now.

Gramma’s will always have the nostalgia, but this one has a really great flavour, and it’s unique. This turned out fantastic, with a really great smoked flavour throughout! I think we’re going to have to smoke mayo on its own, just for use as a condiment on its own – it would be amazing on burgers and sandwiches.

Enjoy!

Cold Smoked Potato Salad

5 lbs small red potatoes
3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 ears corn, shucked(optional)
5 ribs celery, thinkly sliced
3 Green onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced in half, seeded, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
6 hardboiled eggs – cooled, peeled, and sliced

Wash potatoes, chop into 1″ cubes. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain, cool to room temp.

Prepare your smoker for cold smoking, based on your smoker’s instructions. Get smoke going!

Whisk together mayo, sour cream, and mustard. Spread on a small, rimmed cookie pan or baking dish. Fill another, larger (but small enough to fit in your smoker!) pan with ice. Place mayo pan on the ice.

Place stacked pans in smoker, along with cooled potatoes, and corn (if using). Cold smoke for 10 minutes.

Remove mayo mix pans from the smoker, allowing corn and potatoes to continue smoking. Stir the mayo mix, replace ice if melted. Return to smoker, continue to smoke for 10 more minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, celery, green onions, and jalapeno. If using corn, use a sharp knife to remove kernels from ear, stir kernels into potato mix.

Add about half of the mayo mix to the bowl of vegetables, mix well. Add more mayo mix, to taste. Season with salt and pepper, before gently stirring in sliced eggs.

Chill for an hour or two before serving.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Cosplay Tutorial – Handmaid’s Tale Bonnet / Cap

So, as I’ve mentioned on my Facebook Page, I’m in a Handmaid’s Tale cosplay group for Convergence 2017. With Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic – Canadian, btw! – novel being SO great, we just have to! I was originally going to do it with just my husband (who wants to be “Janine”/”Ofwarren”), then with a friend or two, and then we ended up joining up with a group of strangers. Adventure!

I offered to pattern up some of the elements, and here we are. Because many of our group are novice seamstresses, I’ve done this tutorial so that even beginners can make them. Yes, there are cleaner, fussier, more accurate ways of doing it… but this looks legit, and is easy to make. So, here we are!

You’re going to want about 1/2 yard of a natural, white fabric. I used a linen-look fabric from JoAnn (Here), for budget reasons. Actual linen or cotton would work, also.

Additionally: White thread, a bit of elastic (I like 3/8″ braided elastic), a sewing machine, a serger (if you have it), a cord threader or safety pin, and a hand sewing needle. For pattern making, some tissue, craft, or medical examination table paper, a ruler, and a pen.

Let’s get to it!

Part 1: Patterning

Measure from the middle, top of your head, down the side of your head, to the bottom of your ear. For most adults, this should be about 10″ – we’ll be using 10″ as the measurement for this tutorial.

On your patterning paper, draw 2 lines that are perpendicular to the edge of the paper, and this measurement (10″) apart. Have at least 15″ of paper extending out to the left.

On one of the lines, mark a spot that is 2.5″ from the edge of the paper. (left side, as pictured). On the other line, mark a spot 3.5″ from the edge of the picture. Using a ruler, join these two spots.

On the edge of the paper, mark a spot that is 2.5″ away from the line marked at 3.5″ – in this case, the line on the right. Use a ruler to join this new spot, to the 3.5″ mark

Mark a seam allowance out from the line you just drew. I like to use a 1/4″ seam allowance. So, I marked 1/4″ out at both ends, and joined those two spots to form a line 1/4″ out from the original line, parallel to it.

Fold the paper at the 2.5″ line, lining up long edges. Cut out pattern piece.

This is what your pattern piece should look like.

On another piece of paper, use a ruler to draw a line perpendicular to the edge of the paper. Mark it at the measurement you came up with earlier (10″, in this case).

Along the edge of the paper, you need to mark a spot that will become the length of the “bag” of the cap. For a larger bag (lots of hair), I like to use 14″. For a smaller bag (not much hair to hide), you can go 11-12″.

For this tutorial, I used 12″. I marked 12″ away from the original line.

Fold the edge of the paper to meet the line you drew, and press to form a sharp crease. This will show you the halfway point.

Unfold pattern. Mark a spot along the fold, that is the difference between your two measurements. As I was using 10″ and 12″, this means I marked a spot 11″ from the edge of the paper, measured along the fold.

Draw a curved line that smoothly and evenly connects your 3 measurement points.

Draw a second curved line 1″ outside of that line. This will be your seam allowance.

Cut out your pattern pieces. I like to add arrows pointing to the original paper edge on both pattern pieces, as pictured – this is where the fold of the fabric will be.

Part 2: Cutting


Fold your fabric, place arrow-marked edges of the pattern pieces on the folds, cut through both layers of fabric.

These are the two pieces that will make up your cap.

Part 3: Sewing


With right sides together (if applicable) – folded lengthwise – sew or serge the pointed ends together, as shows.

Clip the very tip off each point, without cutting the seam.

Carefully turn the points right-side out. Use a chopstick or other pointy instrument (closed tip of scissors works, just be careful!) on the inside, to push the very point out as much as possible.

While I didn’t bother, using a hot iron to press sharp creases into the fold/ pointed ends can make things easier for you.

(not pictured) Serge or zig-zag the rounded edge of the “bag” piece.

Your pieces.

With the right side (if applicable) facing down, fold up and sew a 1″ seam around the curved edge of the bag. Sew close to the serged/zig zagged edge, leaving a nice big tunnel, clear.

As you sew, gently gather in the excess fabric that needs to be worked into the seam. Don’t worry, this doesn’t need to be pretty.

The bag, with the tunnel sewn.

Measure the back of your head, from behind one ear, straight across to the other. Add 2″ to this measurement, for the length of elastic to cut. 8″ is what we get, so I cut a 10″ long piece of elastic.

Thread the elastic into your cord threader, or attach a safety pin to one end.

Thread your elastic through the tunnel you made, being sure not to lose the end of the elastic.

Leave 1″ of elastic hanging out the side you started threading through.

Sew across the opening of the tunnel, securing the elastic. This seam should be done very close to the opening.

Pull the cord threader or safety pin out the other side of the tunnel. Allow 2″ of elastic to stick out, hold it securely!.

Sew the second tunnel opening closed, as you did the first.

Trim excess elastic from both ends (It was just for ease in working with it). This will leave you with a length of gathered elastic that is 1″ shorter than your measurement – this is what we want. (it will be too big, otherwise.)

With the right side of your “bag” facing up (ie, the edge seam/tunnel underneath)Line up the raw edge of your brim piece with / on top of the raw edge of your bag piece, as pictured.

Sew or serge the brim piece to the bag. make sure to keep the brim piece folded and lined up with itself the whole time – you can pin it, if needed.

If you find that you didn’t do so well with cutting, or with maintaining the seam allowance measurements, you may find one piece slightly bigger than the other, as you approach the end. Feel free to just fold and tuck extra fabric to match the seam ends up, within the last 2-3″, if needed. This will be hidden by the folded point.

What it should look like at this point.

While not necessary, I like to tack the joining seam backwards against the elastic, just for an inch or so at each edge, as pictured. It just makes it look cleaner when wearing it – You can do this by hand or machine.

The end tack, from the right side.

Fold one point backwards to meet the joining seam, as pictured. Press with a hot iron, if desired.

Thread a hand sewing needle with white thread, and knot the end. Bring the needle up from the under/inside of the cap, right under where the point will touch the seam. Make a few stitches to secure it to the seam, bring needle back down to the wrong side of the cap, and finish off with another knot. Trim excess thread, and repeat with the second point.

The secured point.



And that’s it! If you’d like a video walk through of how to make them, I’ve now got one uploaded to youtube, here.

If you’d like to make the “Wings” – the large bonnet that the Handmaids wear outdoors, Click here to go to my Etsy listing for the pattern and tutorial!

Gluten-Free Fried Brie Recipe

Sometimes, inspiration comes from the weirdest places.

My husband and I used to play Ingress. One night, we were hanging out in one of the Ingress chat rooms, and the subject of poutine randomly came up. Myself and one other player were adamant about the fact that you *cannot* get legit poutine anywhere in Minneapolis, while some other players asked for details about what poutine even IS.

One guy asked if it used cheddar curds, or if it was something else. My husband was feeling troll-y, so he replied “Brie curds”, knowing full well that such a thing could never even exist, technically. Well, one thing led to another, and we decided engage in some sacrilege – battering and deep frying brie. Rather than a normal beer batter, I decided that this needed a white wine batter, with a little garlic.

Oh, these were *fantastic*. So much so, that they ended up in my cookbook, Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking

The first time we made this, we used the cheapest brie we could find – we were feeling a bit guilty about what we were about to do to it! It turned out so well, we tried it again with a name brand, mid grade brie. We definitely recommend going with a nicer brie, rather than the cheapest you can find. It really did make a difference, and the finished product is SO good, I don’t think it ended up counting as sacrilege.

Try to use a pretty fresh brie – you want it relatively firm. Once the center starts liquifying, it would be very difficult to work with.

Not gluten free? You can make this with gluten, just use 1 cup of all purpose flour in place of the garbanzo and rice flours. It won’t have quite as nice of a flavour, but it will definitely taste great!

Gluten-Free Fried Brie

Serves 4

Frying oil

1/2 cup garbanzo (chickpea) flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
pinch black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup white wine
1 lb Brie

1/2 cup corn starch, for dredging

Apricot preserves for serving

Start heating your oil to 350F – you’ll want at least 2-3″ of oil in your pot or deep fryer.

In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add egg and wine, stir well to form a thick batter. All batter to sit for 15 minutes or so, to soften the flours.

Carefully cut the rind off the brie – freezing it for a few minutes can make this easier. Slice into small wedges.

Gently dredge cheese wedges in corn starch, shaking excess flour back into the bowl. One piece at a time, dip into batter, allowing excess batter to drip back into bowl for a few seconds, before carefully transferring to heated oil.

Fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. Use a slotted metal spoon to transfer fried cheese to paper towels. Allow oil to come back up to temperature between batches.

Serve hot, with apricot preserves.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.