Canadian Election Cocktails

This Canadian election has been the craziest I have ever seen in my entire life.

In my experience (up til 9 years ago when I moved, anyway).. our elections are usually pretty boring compared to the USA. We don’t really get big sex scandals, or many of the “OMG DID YOU HEAR WHAT HE/SHE SAID!?” kind of moments. Everyone is usually pretty middle of the road, election season is usually quite short, and then we move on.

Then we got Stevie, and everything started to change. The tone of elections got a little darker. Ads started to be a little more nasty. This election season is officially the longest we’ve ever had. Stevie and company have just gone WAY off the deep end with unabashed bigotry.

The backlash has been amazing to watch. As I’m writing this, just YESTERDAY ALONE, I’ve heard about Sluts Against Harper, a marijuana dispensary offering weed as an incentive to vote, and Niqabs of/du Canada. Oh, and Danny Williams telling people of his own (former, as he retired) political party to not vote for Stevie, and to not vote at ALL if they can’t bring themselves to vote for another party. (Danny for PM!)

I want my CBC. Curse geo-blocking, I bet This Hour has 22 Minutes and Rick Mercer Report are PARTICULARLY fruitful and fantastic, this go around.

As soon as this election was announced, I knew I would need to be well stocked on alcohol to get through the actual election day, along with all of my Canadian expat friends. It sucks, having our hands tied like this!

So, rather than just make a few gallons of Rum Runners, I thought it would be fun to come up with themed cocktails for the event.

I swear, when I had the idea a few weeks ago, it was with the absolute best intentions. I have a lovely cucumber vodka that I thought would work well for the Green Party cocktail, for instance.

Brainstorming for them, however, took me way off into snarkland.

It’s always fun to describe Canadian politics to my American husband. The parties, what they stand for, how they came to be, key players… things like how minority governments work, what a coalition government is, etc. I don’t know what they teach about Canadian politics, here… but I get the feeling there’s an assumption that it’s basically the same system. NOPE.

As he learned more and more about the whole deal, he failed to hold me back on my snark, and instead egged me on. It was the night we photographed (and subsequently drank!) our Boozy Sparkling Cider Floats recipe, so that didn’t help keep things polite, either 🙂

So… I’m not sure if I should apologize in advance for these recipes (as a Canadian!), or proudly present them as the obvious and necessary result of such an insane election. I mean really: at this point in the Canadian election, is it even reasonable to expect that a post about election themed cocktails would be anything other than really snarky?

Probably not.

So, here we go!

A Note on ingredients: As an expat, these cocktails are made with ingredients that are readily available in Minneapolis, where I live. I have no idea what’s available where in Canada. Really, if I have to watch this shit show FASCINATING election from afar – with my hands tied – I’m going to use what I can to get through it 🙂

Liberal Party

In designing a cocktail for the Liberal party, the obvious starting point was “Red”. From there, I decided that it should have some heat to it, because… well, Trudeau is so PRETTY. I’m not honestly that shallow, but if you look at the history of Prime Ministers in my lifetime… he does stand out!

Additionally, they’re leading the poll I just read, as I write this… so we’re going to go sparkling, and in a champagne glass, to make it celebratory.

1 oz Cinnamon Schnapps
Sparkling Wine

Pour Cinnamon Schapps into a tulip glass, top with sparking wine.

If you’re less concerned about staying on theme with “heat” and want a drink that doesn’t taste like mouthwash, use something like “Pom” Pomegranate liqueur instead of the cinnamon schnapps. Ick!

NDP Party

I really do want to like the NDP, and I tend to… but Mulclair has eyes that remind me of the demons on “Supernatural”. That really throws me off… especially when you consider that the very first reason I disliked Harper, waaay in the beginning, was that his eyes really creeped me out. I digress.

Growing up, I had Gary Doer as a premier, and he was a good guy. Also, I got choked up with Jack Layton feels as I discussed the NDP with my (American) husband. I told him a bit about their evolution as a party, general stances, etc. I told him that I remembered them being a bit more leftist back in the day, and that it seems like they’re moving more centrist – that they’re basically the Liberal Party with a different leader, at times. I brought up the concern about vote splitting.

To make: Squeeze a little yellow food colouring into a glass. Pour half of the Liberal cocktail into the glass, stir to turn orange.

Conservative Party

Oh boy. Initially, I wanted to just do a rocks glass full of Everclear… with the idea of “this is what we’ll need if Stevie gets in again…”. My husband quipped “Plenty of spirit, no SOUL!”… and we were off.

This cocktail retains the base Everclear, because really. I decided – to my husband’s horror – that what it really needed was some Budweiser. Also: bitters.

The bitters is mostly me projecting, as I AM bitter about what that party has become. I’ve voted Progressive Conservative before, and never regretted it. I would vote that way again, in different circumstances (Again: Danny Williams for PM!!)… but I am truly disgusted with what the current iteration of the federal party has done to my country.

To make: Measure about 2 oz Everclear into a tall mug. Add several drops of bitters of choice, stir well. Top with Budweiser. Might wanna chase it with Aspirin, especially if things go poorly in a week and a half.

Honestly, I have no idea how this tastes, there’s no way I’m going to drink it.

Green Party

I’ve never really thought much of the Green Party. Back in the day when I was a young voter, they were VERY far off and unknown, and seemed way too hippie for me.

I was pleasantly surprised by Elizabeth May during one of the early debates. She wasn’t at all what I pictured from the Green Party I’d known of when I was still in Canada, and pretty much came off as the best choice of all of them, based solely on that debate. My husband and I agreed that it was a shame they had no chance in hell of getting in.

So, we decided to go with something greenish, vegetal, and refreshing. The Prairie Cucumber Vodka we used was “certified organic”, so that seemed pretty appropriate too!

To make: Place 2 thin slices of honeydew melon and 3-4 fresh mint leaves in a tall glass. Measure 2 oz cucumber flavoured vodka, a good squeeze of fresh lime juice, and 3 mint leaves into a shaker filled with ice. Shake for 15 seconds or so, strain liquid into prepared glass. Top with sprite.

This one was actually REALLY good. Will totally make it again – definitely a summery drink though!

Bloc Quebecois

Bien que la moitiĂ© de ma famille est originaire de QuĂ©bec , et vit lĂ -bas , je ne l’ai jamais vĂ©cu un endroit avec un membre du Bloc quĂ©bĂ©cois se prĂ©senter aux Ă©lections . Mon exposition au parti a toujours Ă©tĂ© de loin.

Si je suis notamment un cocktail pour le Parti vert , il semble juste de faire un pour le Bloc ! Ils sont , après tout, en avance sur les Verts dans le sondage actuel que je lis.*

To Make: Pour about 1 oz of maple liqueur into a flute glass. Top with champagne.

If you don’t have maple liqueur, use a splash of maple syrup instead. Or, you know, add maple syrup anyway. MMMMM maple syrup…

* Thank you, Shirley, for providing the translation! (As I mentioned to Shirley… I’ve only managed to retain the ruder bits of French that I’ve learned over the years. Whoops)

Canadian Flag

Finally, let’s do a layered shot in honour of the Canadian flag, while we still have one!

First, you’ll want to read my post on doing layered shots, Shot Tectonics: The Science of Layered Shooters.

For the bottom layer, use grenadine.

For the middle layer, use Rumchata

For the top layer, we used Cinnamon schnapps.

Really, again… unless you like that mouthwash taste, find some other kind of high proof, red coloured booze. Go for tasty!

Note: This will turn out nicer if you make it early in the evening, if you know what I mean. Doing layered shots after an evening of developing and photographing cocktail recipes isn’t necessarily the best plan.

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.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Boozy Sparkling Cider Float

Last year while at Minnesota Renaissance Festival, Porter and I tried sparkling apple cider floats for the first time.

It was nice… refreshing while still being “seasonal”. The bright flavour from the sparkling cider constrasted the rich creaminess of the ice cream well.

So of course we went home and made our own. A little less G-rated, our home version was made with our Homemade Hard Apple Cider. SO good!

This year we did it again, but played with the ingredients a little. Instead of using hard apple cider, we used a complimentary liqueur. Very tasty, and a really fun take on a childhood tradition of rootbeer floats… as my husband pointed out:

“Like growing up on hamburgers, and then having an Apple Chicken Burger with Basil and Gouda… really similar base, and has that nostalgia … but wow this is cool and different. I’m trying not to say ‘it tastes like fall in a glass’, because I think I could easily overuse that phrase, and it kind of makes me want to punch myself in the face.”

Enjoy!

Boozy Sparkling Cider Float

2 oz Apple or Maple flavoured Crown Royal*
Sparkling apple juice / apple cider
1 large scoop vanilla ice cream**

Pour Crown Royal into a tall mug. Add sparkling juice/cider, filling the glass a little more than 2/3 full. Stir gently.

Add ice cream scoop, serve immediately

* Not a fan of whiskey? You can use other alcohol here too! Sour Apple pucker, butterscotch schnapps, cinnamon schnapps, Whipped Cream Flavoured vodka… if it’s a flavour that’ll taste good with apples, go ahead and do it! Or, skip this ingredient and just use hard apple cider.

** We tend to use a good quality French vanilla ice cream, but have fun with it. Cinnamon, caramel, salted caramel…

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Miruvor Recipe

Well, this is fun. As I started to blog this recipe, I realized that I probably need an “Elvish” category. 🙂 I nested it under my Ethnic Foods category, LOL!

Anyway. A couple months ago, I started work on a recipe for as-legit-as-possible Miruvor. I’d seen recipes out there for cocktails called Miruvor, but nothing that seemed really canon. So…

Miruvor (or MiruvĂłrĂ«) is an elvish drink, from Tolkien’s writings. “Miruvor” was mentioned in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as “Cordial of Imladris”. Made by the Rivendell elves, its purpose in the stories is to revive those who drink it… sort of an elvish energy drink.

“As soon as Frodo had swallowed a little of the warm and fragrant liquor he felt a new strength of heart, and the heavy drowsiness left his limbs. The others also revived and found fresh hope and vigor.” – Fellowship of the Ring

Elrond gave it to Gandalf, who shared it with the Fellowship – in small doses – explaining it to be precious.

Miruvor was based, in-world, on MiruvĂłrĂ« – a drink created and imbibed by the Valar, in Valinor. MiruvĂłrĂ« was made from flowers grown in Yavanna’s gardens, and has been referred to as “A kind of nectar” by Tolkien, and as a sweet mead by Galadriel. So, enough information to use and build on, but still fairly vague.

While my *serious* Miruvor is indeed a mead recipe, next week’s “One Last Party” seemed like an ideal occasion to break out a bottle of Miruvor… but my brewing batch will not be ready for several more months. I decided to do a “quick” version: liqueur, rather than mead. So… Miruvor, rather than MiruvĂłrĂ«. As with the in-world beverages, my Miruvor will similarly be inspired by my upcoming MiruvĂłrĂ« 🙂

So, as I do not personally have access to flowers from Yavanna’s gardens in Valinor – and because pretty much no information was ever created in terms of the actual FLAVOUR of said flowers, I had to get imaginative. In my mind, it would be a light floral flavour, almost fruity. I didn’t picture it as anything heavy, like rose or lavender, for instance.

In running through my knowledge of edible flowers that were also readily accessible, and deciding whether any were suitable as what I was picturing, it hit me: ELDERFLOWERS. Not only is their flavour pretty much exactly what I was picturing, the name is perfect. Elder flowers… Eldar flowers!

Ok, yeah, Rivendell elves aren’t technically “Eldar” elves, but Elrond WAS captured and raised by Maedhros and Maglor, who WERE Noldor, and therefore “Eldar”, so … Whatever, it’s headcanon now. Elderflowers = elvish.

For this recipe, I decided to use elderflower syrup, as it’s available year round and just a few clicks away on Amazon. You can use IKEA’s Elderflower syrup for a budget version, but I find the D’Arbo White Elderflower Syrup to be vastly superior in taste. Plus, you know… it’s SUPPOSED to be a precious drink, go ahead and spend the extra money to get the really good stuff!

Miruvor

500 ml Elderflower syrup (IKEA or D’Arbo)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
Peel of 1/2 lemon
peel of 1 orange
1 vanilla bean, split
Pinch salt
2-3 cups (500-750 ml) GOOD vodka

In a large pot, combine Elderflower syrup, honey, water, citrus peels, vanilla bean, and salt, whisking until well combined. Bring JUST to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Stir about 2 cups of vodka into the cooled syrup mixture, and taste. Continue adding vodka, to taste, until desired flavour / alcohol level is reached.

Strain through fine cheesecloth or a coffee filter, discarding peels. Funnel into clean wine or liqueur bottles.

After bottling, you should let it age for about a week in a cool place before drinking it – IF you have that kind of patience! Aging results in a smoother, more mellow flavor.

Con Food – Hotel Room Smoothies!

Today is day two of a week long feature I’m running on my Facebook Page – Convention Food.

Yep, with Convergence just over a week away… it’s about time to start planning for our hotel room cuisine: Food that’s easy to make (possibly make ahead), uses very little in the way of equipment to make/serve in the room, and that supplements some of the nutrition that we tend to miss out on during a 4 day long party.

The featured recipe yesterday was my “Convention Sloppy Joes” – our favourite con food to date, and the recipe we’ll be doing up once again for our room at Convergence.

Today’s recipe is more of a non-recipe, but an outline of what our plans for breakfast are: hotel room smoothies.

Breakfast is generally seen as the most important meal of the day… and that’s doubly true when you’ve got long days of costuming, panels, and parties ahead. Also: when you had a looong night of partying ending just a few hours earlier!

Smoothies are what we settled on for our go-to hotel room breakfast this year. They’re done up quickly, require very little equipment (just a blender!), and many of the ingredients don’t require refrigeration / cooler space.

They’re easy to customize, and easy to scale. Make one for yourself, or enough for your roommates too!

Done right, you’ll hit a few key nutrition needs, as well. Protein, vitamin C, some calcium… good stuff!

Here is what I recommend to bring:

– A good protein powder, vanilla or unflavoured. (We use Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein, Vanilla Ice Cream flavour).

– Plain or vanilla Greek yogurt (more protein!)

– Orange juice

– Frozen berries (Pack a few baggies worth – they double as ice!)

– Bananas

– Powdered peanut butter, if that’s your thing (We use PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter)

– Wheat germ (allergies permitting, of course!) or Flax meal (Fiber!)

Per person, this is what I blitz together:

1 scoop protein powder
1/4 cup yogurt
3/4 cup orange juice
½ cup frozen berries
½ banana
1 Tbsp powdered peanut butter (optional)
1-2 Tbsp wheat germ or flax meal (optional)

… and that’s that. Be sure to rinse your blender out well if you won’t be washing it right away, because – in the words of my husband – the smoothie residue is “like cement” when it dries.

Enjoy!

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.

Grownup Hot Chocolate & Hot Cocoa

The weather here has been pretty miserable for the last little while – TONS of rain, heavy winds, and pretty cold on top of it. Many of my friends have flooding in their homes, and I’m just super thankful we live up on the hill.

We spent yesterday morning running errands in that nonsense, and ended up soaked to the bone while grocery shopping in a walk-in fridge. Getting home from THAT, all I wanted to do was make a big pot of boozy hot chocolate.

As I whipped it up, I realized that I’d promised some friends my hot chocolate recipes a few months ago. Whoops. I’ve been super swamped with “Beyond Flour – A New Kind of Gluten-Free Cookbook“, and with costuming orders. It’s been a while since I posted anything at all – sorry about that! Things should clear up in a month or two, I expect you won’t be able to shut me up, then!

Anyway – hot chocolate. I actually have two recipes for you today, because I do differentiate between “hot chocolate” and “hot cocoa”. “Chocolate” using chocolate, and “cocoa” using cocoa. Easy, eh? 🙂

Both of these recipes are the way *I* like it – so ridiculously rich, that 1 coffee mug is enough. I would never be able to drink these in huge, gas station sized cups. It’s diabetes in a cup! When it’s cold and rainy, though – perfect. Feel free to thin them down with additional milk, if you’d like something a bit more … chuggable.

Also, while I advocate always having a baggie of vanilla beans on hand (they can be obtained from Amazon at reasonable prices!), I get that not everyone does. SO, if you don’t have a bean, just add one tsp of really good vanilla extract right before serving.

Grownup Hot Chocolate

Mini Marshmallows
Liqueur of choice*
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 cup good quality chocolate chips
Pinch salt

Place a handful of mini marshmallows in each mug, top with about 1 oz of liqueur per mug. Allow it to soak while you prepare the hot chocolate:

In a saucepan, whisk together milk and brown sugar. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds into the pot – throw the bean into the pot when you’re done scraping it out!

Add chocolate chips and salt to the pot, then turn the heat on. Bring the mixture up to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently. Once the chocolate has all melted and is well incorporated, remove from heat.

Pour hot chocolate over marshmallows and booze, serve immediately!

Grownup Hot Cocoa

Mini Marshmallows
Liqueur of choice*
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup hot water
3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean

Place a handful of mini marshmallows in each mug, top with about 1 oz of liqueur per mug. Allow it to soak while you prepare the hot chocolate:

In a saucepan, whisk together cocoa, brown sugar, and salt. Add hot water, whisk to form a thick paste. Slowly add milk, whisking to fully incorporate it.

Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds into the pot – throw the bean into the pot when you’re done scraping it out!

Bring the mixture up to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently. When hot enough, pour hot cocoa over marshmallows and booze, serve immediately!

* SO many liqueurs work in this, it really is whatever you want. I love Rumchata, Amarula, or Amaretto, while my husband leans more towards whiskey. Kahlua, any of the cream tequila liqueurs, pistachio liqueur, Grand Marnier – if it works with chocolate, toss it in!

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.

Butter Tart Liqueur!

A while back, I was craving butter tarts .

That’s nothing new, I’m a Canadian away from home – I’m always craving something that I either can’t get at all, or will have to make myself.

What was new is that I was drinking at the time, (Ok, THAT part isn’t new!)… and got it in my head that “Butter tart” would make a lovely flavour for a liqueur or cocktail. I immediately set about working through some ideas, deciding which way would be best to go.

In the end, doing a custom infused spirit and then turning it into a liqueur made the most sense.

This takes very little in the way of ingredients or effort, and the result will make any butter tart fan – or general Sweet Tooth – very happy!

Also: there is time to make this as a Christmas gift!

Buttertart Liqueur

1 cup dark raisins
2 vanilla beans
3 cups decent quality vodka
2 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water

Place raisins in a large, clean jar.

Slice vanilla beans lengthwise, scoop the seeds out. Add beans and seeds to the jar, top with vodka, and shake well. Store in a cool, dark place for about 4-7 days, shaking daily.

After a few days, taste. If the flavour is good and strong (it’ll likely be!), strain out raisins and vanilla, discard.* If you want more flavour, allow it to sit for another week or so, shaking daily.

Combine brown sugar, maple syrup, and water in a pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat, allow to cool.

Combine infused vodka with maple-brown sugar syrup, stirring or shaking well to combine. Bottle in clean wine or liqueur bottles.

After bottling, you should let it age for about a week in a cool place before drinking it – IF you have that kind of patience! Aging results in a smoother, more mellow flavor.

* Saving a few vodka raisins to place in the liqueur bottle makes for a cute presentation idea.

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.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition 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.

Homemade Blueberry Wine Recipe

Last summer, we happened upon an AMAZING deal on fresh blueberries at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. As we looked at the cases upon cases of blueberries that were available at that ridiculous price, Porter and I had the exact same thought: We should buy a TON of these, and make wine!

We had made a batch of blueberry wine from frozen blueberries a few years ago, and that was amazing – fresh could only be better, right?

RIGHT!

We made something like 10 gallons of this, but I’ve pared our recipe to be done “by the gallon”, so you can adjust for how many blueberries you have to work with.

No fresh blueberries? No problem, just substitute an equal weight of frozen blueberries! I would put them through a food processor, rather than squish them by hand – freezing and thawing berries breaks them down well.

As is, this batch ran pretty dry at the end, so we sweetened it up with a bit of sugar at the end. We like our wine pretty sweet, though.

If you haven’t attempted making wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!

Fresh Blueberry Wine Recipe

Ingredients, per gallon of water
3-4 lbs fresh blueberries
2 lbs white sugar
1 gallon spring water (will use slightly less)
1/2 tsp acid blend
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1/4 tsp wine tannin
1 packet Red Star “Pasteur Red” yeast
Wine stabilizer of choice (optional)

Equipment:
Large pot
Fermenter bucket and lid
1 or 2 lass carboys & stoppers
1 air lock
Siphon, siphon tubing.

Rinse and pick through blueberries, removing any that are moldy, etc. Place in a large pot, along with the sugar. Using a potato masher or VERY clean hands, stir and mash blueberries.

Add water, stir well. Heat to ALMOST boiling, then simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stir in acid blend, enzyme, nutrient, and tannin.

Pour mixture into a freshly sanitized fermenting bucket. Cover with sanitized lid and air lock, allow to cool to room temperature (overnight).

The next morning, give the mixture a quick stir with a long, sanitized spoon, and – using sanitized equipment – take a gravity reading of the liquid (strain out any blueberries). Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)

Sprinkle yeast into fermenter, cover with sanitized cover and air lock. Within 48 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the wine must. This means you’re good to go!

After a week or so, use your sanitized siphon setup to rack the must into a freshly sanitized carboy. Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or so.

Using sanitized equipment, rack the blueberry wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.

Rack one more time, leave it for another 3 months or so.

When your wine has been racked a few times and shows NO more fermenting activity for a month or so (no bubbles in the airlock, no more sediment being produced, you can move on to bottling.

Follow the instructions on your selected type of wine stabilizer to stop fermentation. For potassium sorbate, this needs to be done 2-3 days before bottling.

Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading, then rack the wine into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork. (We like to use these for corking our homemade wine. Easy to use – no special equipment needed! – easy to uncork, and – should you have any wine left in your bottle after serving (pfft!), the “cork” is easily replaced for temporary storage!).

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.

Quick Sweet Corn Soda Recipe

If you haven’t already purchased your copy of my latest cookbook – “Sweet Corn Spectacular” – you may be surprised to hear that there is a whole section of the book dedicated to not only condiments, but BEVERAGES as well!

Yes, beverages. Not only can you make various sauces, chutneys, and jellies from corn, you can drink it too. Included are a couple different corn liqueur recipes, a corn cob wine recipe, a hot South American corn beverage, and two recipes for soda – one traditionally brewed, and one “quick”. Today, I’d like to share my recipe for quick corn soda with you.

While the traditional brewed recipe involves yeast, fermentation, and you know… WAITING… this corn soda is easy to make, cooking up in just minutes.

It’s also very versatile. With this syrup, you can make basic corn soda, corn cream soda, run it through a soda machine, or just enjoy it as a quick soda mix, a little at a time. You can also use it in place of heavy simple syrup in craft cocktail design!

Whatever direction you go with it, enjoy!

Quick Sweet Corn Soda
Makes about 3 cups syrup

3 ears fresh sweet corn, husks removed
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
carbonated or seltzer water

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut kernels off the ears of corn. Add kernels to a food processor or blender along with the water. Process until corn is pureed.

Transfer corn puree to a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, cook mixture until almost boiling, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to steep for 10 minutes.

Strain corn mixture through a wire sieve into a clean bowl. Rinse pot and sieve with cool water. Line sieve with at least 3 layers of cheesecloth, and strain corn liquid through cheesecloth back into the pot.

Add sugar to corn liquid. Cook over medium heat, stirring until completely dissolved. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Transfer syrup to a clean bottle or jar, cover, and store in fridge for up to 3 weeks.

To use:

• Measure about 3 tablespoons soda syrup into a tall glass, top with carbonated or seltzer water, and stir gently to combine.

• Use in soda machines just as you would store-bought syrups.

• To force carbonate, if you have the equipment: make 6–8 batches syrup for 5-gallon keg. Top with distilled water. Seal off keg and carbonate according to your set up.

For Corn Cream Soda: Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract to cooled syrup before storing, stirring well to combine.

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.

Canadian Food Experience Project: Newfoundland Partridgeberry Wine Recipe

A month ago, I joined the Canadian Food Experience Project, writing about my memories of a uniquely Canadian food experience.

The Canadian Food Experience Project began on June 7 2013. Per the project:

“As we share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.”

This month’s topic is “A Regional Canadian Food”.

My mind immediately went to the years I spent living in Newfoundland. Newfoundland has a unique culture – even within the Atlantic Canadian provinces alone! – and that really comes through in their food. I was spoiled on some of the best seafood ANYWHERE, and was always trying new things.. rabbit stew. Flipper pie. Every manner of deep fried seafood imaginable. Unique preparations of fish and shellfish, and the most wonderful game meats.


St. John’s … this was home!

I love moose stew, and I’m proud to say that I make the most insanely amazing moose stew ever. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get my hands on any moose in the past 7 years… and I’d be afraid to admit to just what depravity I’d agree to, just to get some at this point!

Part of what makes my moose stew insane is the inclusion of partridgeberry wine – a unique wine that is locally produced and readily available in Newfoundland. The tart, bright flavours of the wine work so beautifully with the gamey flavor of the meat… oh, it’s a work of art. I really, really need to get some moose meat soon. (Sorry, I mean.. “Gotta get me moose, b’y!”).


Yum. These guys are EVERYWHERE, back home. So tasty.

ANYWAY.

Partridgeberries are indigenous to Newfoundland, as well as Scandinavia. They’re tart little red berries that taste like a cross between a cranberry and a blueberry… you may know them as “lingonberries”, if you’re a fan of IKEA!

They are one of a few amazing berries that grow wild in Newfoundland, and they’re very popular in Newfoundland cuisine, appearing in jams, sauces, in candies, on cheesecake… and in wine. You can buy partridgeberry wine in local wine stores back home, as there are several Newfoundland wineries that specialize in it.

Unfortunately, you can’t buy partridgeberry wine here in Minnesota, anywhere I’ve seen. Homesick desperation is one of the mothers of invention in my kitchen, and a few years ago I created a recipe for partridgeberry wine. We were able to buy a case of the berries from a local wholesaler!

This makes a very full bodied, gorgeous wine. It’s a fairly sweet wine, with a great mouth feel .. very delicious, and very luxurious. Definitely worth the effort of finding a case of partridgeberries!

If you haven’t attempted making wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!

Unable to get your hands on partridgeberries? I actually designed a “faux partridgeberry” wine recipe a while back, click here to go there!

Partridgeberry Wine
Makes about 5 gallons

15 pounds frozen partridgeberries
13 pounds granulated sugar
5 gallons water
2.5 teaspoon acid blend
2.5 teaspoon pectic enzyme
1 teaspoon nutrients
5 pounds golden raisins
1.25 teaspoon tannin
1 package Red Star Montrechet wine yeast

Allow the partridgeberries to partially thaw, then coarsely chop them (A food processor comes in handy!).

Place berries and sugar into a large (7+ gallon) pot, stir until well combined. Add water, stir well to dissolve sugar. Heat to ALMOST boiling – stirring constantly – then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in acid blend, enzyme, nutrient, and raisins.

Pour mixture into a freshly sanitized 1.5 gallon fermenting bucket. Cover with sanitized lid and air lock, allow to cool to room temperature (overnight).

The next morning, give the mixture a quick stir with a long, sanitized spoon, and – using sanitized equipment – take a gravity reading. Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)

Sprinkle yeast into fermenter, cover with sanitized cover and air lock. Within 48 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the wine must. This means you’re good to go!

After a week or so, use your sanitized siphon setup to rack the must into a freshly sanitized 6- 6.5 gallon carboy. Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or so.

Using sanitized equipment, rack the partridgeberry wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized 5 or 6 gallon carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.

Rack one more time, leave it for another 3 months or so.

When your wine has been racked a few times and shows NO more fermenting activity for a month or so (no bubbles in the airlock, no more sediment being produced, you can move on to bottling.

Follow the instructions on your selected type of wine stabilizer to stop fermentation. For potassium sorbate, this needs to be done 2-3 days before bottling.

Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading, then rack the wine into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork. (We like to use these for corking our homemade wine. Easy to use – no special equipment needed! – easy to uncork, and – should you have any wine left in your bottle after serving (pfft!), the “cork” is easily replaced for temporary storage!).

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.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

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.

Ginger 3 Ways – Candied Ginger, Ginger Syrup, Ginger Sugar

Here at the Porter house, we love ginger. We usually have some fresh ginger root in the house, and go through it pretty fast – sometimes when cooking Indian cuisine, sometimes Asian… but a LOT of the time, we use it for making ginger syrup.

Ginger syrup is great for flavoring and sweetening tea, and also in cocktail making. It’s easy and simple to do, and lasts a long time when refrigerated.

Recently, we’ve taken to being more efficient with the ginger we use for making ginger simple syrup. Rather than throwing away the “spent” ginger, we now use all of it, turning out 3 separate ginger products: ginger syrup, candied ginger, and ginger sugar. Simple ingredients – just fresh ginger, sugar, and water to produce everything! Let me show you how…

First, we start with the candied ginger…

Candied Ginger

Ginger Root – We usually use about 1 1/5 lbs
Water – About 4-5 cups per lb of ginger
Sugar – About 2.5 cups per lb of ginger
Pan spray

Use a vegetable peeler to peel all of the skin (rind?) off of the ginger, carefully slice it all into uniformly thin pieces. (I like to aim for between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick). Place in a large pot with the water, cover, and cook for about 45-55 minutes on medium heat. The ginger should be tender.

Strain off the ginger, reserving ALL of the cooking water (This is what you’ll use for the ginger syrup!). Add your cooked ginger back to the pan, along with the sugar and about 1/4 cup of cooking water per lb of ginger. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly. Once mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down slightly and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often.

While you’re waiting, set up a baking rack (we use one with a small grid) over some parchment or wax paper, and spray it with pan spray.

Around the 15-17 minute mark, the water will evaporate and the whole thing will crystallize and go dry – once it starts happening, things go quickly! As soon as it’s all dry, dump it all out over your baking rack, spreading and separating the pieces as needed. Allow to cool completely at room temperature.

(Instructions continue under the ginger sugar section!)

Next, we do the ginger syrup…

Ginger Simple Syrup

Ginger cooking water – however much you have left
Sugar

Measure the remaining cooking water, and measure out an equal amount of sugar. For every cup of ginger water, you’ll use a cup of sugar, etc.

Add measured ginger water and sugar to an appropriately sized pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring until water dissolves. Turn the heat up a little, and bring it JUST to a boil.

Once syrup starts to boil, remove from heat, strain through a fine wire mesh into a clean bowl/pot, and let it cool completely.

Transfer to an appropriate container – we’ll usually use clean wine bottles with “tasting” corks, but mason jars work well too. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Finally, the ginger sugar…

Ginger Sugar

This isn’t so much a recipe, as a minor clean up procedure!

Go back to your candied ginger, after it’s completely cool. Transfer the pieces to an airtight container, gently knocking them against each other (I’ll roll them in my hands) to dislodge any loose, excess sugar. Cover tightly, store at room temperature.

You’ll be left with a fair amount of excess sugar, mostly clumpy. Run all of that through a food processor until it’s as fine as you’d like it – this will depend on your desired uses for it. Transfer to an airtight container, store at room temperature.

The candied ginger should last 2-3 weeks when stored properly, IF it stays around that long. It’s great for snacking, baking with, topping desserts with (sliced up!) and even making ice cream out of!

The ginger sugar last much longer, maybe 4-6 months? I don’t know, it’s usually gone before it goes bad. Use it to add a bit of extra flavor to your baking, to coffee or tea, or to rim your cocktail glasses!