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.

Vegetarian Donairs / Vegan Donair Meat

Last May, I started dabbling in the creation of vegetarian meat substitutes – you may remember the entry on Boneless, Meatless Ribs, or the Vegetarian Chorizo Burger with Grilled Poblano and Cilantro Pesto.

Well, I was working on Donairs for More Than Poutine this week, and I was feeling a bit guilty that my husband wouldn’t get to try them. He’s never had a Donair, so that wasn’t helping things – he’s ALL about trying new foods.

So, as my own loaf of tasty tasty donair meat was almost ready to go in the oven, I decided I’d play around with my seitan recipe, and come up with a vegan donair meat for him. It was done completely as a surprise for him, he had no idea what I was up to. Frankly, I didn’t want to disappoint him if it didn’t turn out.

Well, I guess I was overly cautious, because it turned out amazing. I was kind of shocked at how much it looked, smelled, and felt like the real thing. I was actually able to taste a bite (I’m gluttening for the next week or so), and… damn. I could absolutely be tricked by it in a sandwich, had I not made the thing. Completely bizarre!

Anyway, he LOVED his first Donair ever, and joked that it should be called a “DON’Tair”, along the lines of food names being changed a bit to denote their vegetarian status. We also used red pepper instead of tomato, as he hates tomatoes.

While the Donair “meat” here is vegan, the sandwich itself is vegetarian. As he doesn’t have to be dairy free, I just haven’t played with the alternatives enough to have the first clue on how to make vegan donair sauce.

Vegetarian Donair Recipe
Makes enough for 4-6 Donairs

1 1/2 cups hot water
3 “Beef” flavoured vegetarian bouillon cubes
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
2 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
2 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
2 1/2 tsp Onion powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp Cayenne powder
2 Tbsp Almond butter

1 can (300ml) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 1/4 tsp garlic powder

4-6 pitas
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes (or, in his case, red pepper), chopped

Preheat oven to 325, grease a glass loaf pan (4″ x 8″ or similar size)

Dissolve “beef” bouillon cubes into hot water, set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and seasonings.

In a separate bowl, whisk together almond butter and 1 cup of the “beef” bouillon mix – a little at a time – until relatively smooth.

Once wet ingredients are well whisked, pour into dry ingredients and stir to form a lumpy dough. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface, and knead for at LEAST two minutes. This is important – if you don’t knead it enough, it’ll turn out puffy, and more like a baked good than a “meat” substitute. It won’t really look any different as you go, you just have to trust in your timing.

If you have a stand mixer, you can beat it in there on medium speed for a couple minutes, instead of kneading.

Press dough evenly into prepared loaf pan, bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool.

Excuse the crappy cell phone photo! I’m still shocked how proper it looks!

For sauce:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, vinegar, and garlic powder.

Use a whisk to mix together the sauce ingredients until well combined and thick. Transfer to a covered container, chill until use.

To Assemble:

Brush pitas with a little water, heat in a hot frying pan until warmed through.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan. Slice vegan donair meat into 1/4″ thick slices (or however thick/thin you prefer!), add to pan and reheat until desired texture (If you like the crispy edges, cook a little longer than you would if you don’t!)

Pile reheated “meat” on warm pita, drizzle generously with sauce, top with onions and tomatoes. Wrap in wax paper, parchment paper, or foil to hold it together while eating, serve immediately.

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!

For MOST recipes that aren’t inherently gluten-free, high quality GF versions will be included.

Reuben Buns – Recipe

About a week ago, I decided to treat my husband to a batch of my Buffalo Chicken Buns. Cooking with wheat flour is a rare occasion in this house… partially because breathing it in makes me miserable for a day or two, and partially because the cleanup (allergens!) is such a pain.

This weekend, I took advantage of having procrastinated on that cleanup, to finally make a recipe I’d thought up for him, and hadn’t gotten around to actually *making*. Going on the theme of a cinnamon bun inspired savoury roll, this one is based on one of Porter’s favourite sandwiches: The Reuben.

The dough is flavoured like a rye bread, while still being soft enough to be appropriate for this application. The filling consists of traditional Reuben fillings: Corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese, and the finished bun is drizzled with Thousand Island (our preference) or Russian (traditional) dressing.

As he’s not able to eat beef or pork anymore, I had to substitute fake pastrami from The Herbivorous Butcher, which worked well for his needs.

It’s a fun – and convenient – take on a sandwich. One batch of this made his work lunches for the week, all individually wrapped and ready to go. Unlike sandwiches made ahead, these do not get soggy, so long as you drain the sauerkraut well.

In other news, development and photography for More Than Poutine is coming along very well! We have just a little more than 3 weeks left in the campaign, and we’re working on our first stretch goal – adding more recipes. Be sure to check it out, back the campaign, and share it with your friends!

Reuben Rolls
Makes 6 giant buns

1 3/4 cups warm – not hot! – water
4 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup Rye flour
2 Tbsp Caraway seeds
2 tsp salt

2 cups finely shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 lb corned beef
1-2 cups WELL DRAINED sauerkraut

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

In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, caraway seeds and salt. Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine. Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
(OR: mix it in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes or so!)

Once dough is fully kneaded, place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Once dough has doubled in size, roll out on a floured surface. Aim to make it a large rectangle, say 15 x 20″ or so.

Scatter half of the cheese across the rolled dough, avoiding the very edge of the rectangle. Evenly layer corned beef over cheese, again avoiding the very edge. Scatter drained sauerkraut over meat, top with remaining cheese.

Starting with one of the shorter edges, tightly roll the dough up. Generously grease or spray a 9x 13″ baking pan.

Using a very sharp knife, slice the roll into 6 even rounds. Carefully place each roll into the pan, spacing them evenly.

Cover pan with plastic wrap, allow to rise one more time – about an hour. While waiting for the buns to rise, heat oven to 375F.

Once final rise is over, pop the pan in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and perfect.

Allow to cool for a few minutes, if you’re patient. Serve hot, preferably with a drizzle of Thousand Island or Russian dressing! (Hey, the whole idea was themed around cinnamon buns, may as well continue that thought in serving them!)

Vegetarian Chorizo Burger with Grilled Poblano & Cilantro Pesto

My husband’s recent inability to handle eating pork or beef has certainly been a learning experience for both of us – new ingredients to work with, figuring out how to use them, how they differ from meat based counterparts, etc.

Recently, I was in the mood for a chorizo burger. I had some fun ideas, and didn’t want him to feel left out. So… we came up with a vegetarian chorizo burger for him.

I wasn’t able to actually try these – on account of my own dietary issues – but he was THRILLED with them. He loved the taste and texture, and even preferred it to the real thing. He especially loved all of the contrasts and complimentary flavours / textures in the overall burger.

If you don’t have smoked serrano powder, you can skip it if you would like- it’s good for a little extra kick, but isn’t absolutely necessary!

Enjoy!

Vegetarian Chorizo Burgers with Grilled Poblano & Cilantro Pesto
Makes 4 burgers

14 oz pack soy chorizo (we used “LightLife” brand)
14 oz pack meatless vegetarian sausage (we used “LightLife” brand)
½ small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
pinch smoked serrano powder
2 poblano peppers
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 hamburger buns of choice
Queso Fresco , sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, sliced
Cilantro Pesto (Below)

Heat grill.

Crumble chorizo and sausage into a food processor, blitz until broken down and well combined. Squeeze excess moisture out of the grated onion, add onion to processor along with garlic and serrano powder. Blitz to combine.

Remove sausage mixture from food processor, divide into 4 equal sized balls. Form balls into patties – slightly bigger than your buns. Set aside.

Cut poblano peppers in half, lengthwise. Brush poblanos and burgers with olive oil, sprinkle poblanos with a little salt and pepper. Grill until burgers and peppers are seared and heated through.

To assemble, stack a poblano slice, burger, cheese slice(s), onion, and avocado on each burger bun. Top with cilantro pesto, serve immediately.

Cilantro Pesto

3 cups cilantro
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 green onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp lime juice
salt and pepper

Combine cilantro, garlic, onion, olive oil, and lime juice in a small food processor, blitz until a sauce is formed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and chill until use.

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Burgers with Pea Hummus, Goat Cheese, and Beets

The other day, I posted a recipe that was the indirect result of my husband’s recent business trip to Ireland: Tandoori Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mango. Insane!

Today I’m posting the first “inspired by that trip” recipe I actually made – the day after he got back. Yes, tired, jetlagged, and just happy to be home, I dragged his ass to the grocery store to get ingredients for it. To be fair, he shouldn’t have shown me his photo and told me about what was in it. He knows what I’m like 🙂

This was developed based on the burger he actually ordered at G Counter, whereas the Tandoori one was based entirely upon a menu description. What he was attracted to about this burger in Ireland was that it’s SO different from anything he’s ever seen locally. Also: he’s addicted to beets.

We made this up as 2 giant burgers, and were full all day. It would definitely work as smaller burgers – 3 or 4 of them. Actually, I bet these would be super cute and elegant if done up as a tray of sliders!

This has many layers of flavour, all of which complement each other without being overwhelming. It’s a very satisfying burger! Additionally, this can be made gluten-free with the appropriate choice of bun (or exclusion of the bun, which is how I had it!)

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Burgers with Pea Hummus, Goat Cheese, and Beets

Makes 2-4 burgers

12 oz Goat cheese
1/3 cup Heavy cream
1 tsp Lemon zest
salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp mint
1 clove garlic

1 lb ground lamb
1/4 cup grated onion
1 Egg
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
Pinch cinnamon

Burger bun of choice
Thinly sliced roasted beets

In a small food processor, using a stick blender, or whisking by hand, blend together the goat cheese, heavy cream, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and chill until use.

In a medium saucepan, cover peas with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, drain well. Place cooked peas, olive oil, lemon juice, mint, and garlic into a food processor, blitz until smoothish. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and chill until use.

In a large bowl, combine lamb, onion, egg, garlic, cilantro, and spices. Gently use hands to get a really good mix going, making sure that everything is evenly distributed and well incorporated. Divide meat mixture into 2-4 evenly sized balls. Flatten each ball into a patty that is roughly the size of your burger buns – maybe a little larger.

Grill over medium heat until fully cooked.

To assemble:

Spread goat cheese on upper buns, pea hummus on lower buns. Place burger on lower bun, top with sliced beets and upper bun.

Enjoy!

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Tandoori Spiced Chicken Burger with Mango

My husband recently got back from a work trip to Ireland. As I have him trained well (if he’s dining without me, he takes photos of EVERYTHING that he wants me to replicate… including the menu info. Good man!), that meant some fun with creating in the kitchen after he got back.

As I was getting set to make my own version of a lamb burger he had at The G Counter Deli, I happened across a menu item that sounded amazing: “Tandoori spiced chicken burger with mango & lime mayo”. What a great idea! I would have to make my own.

So, I started with a Tandoori marinated chicken breast, as I prefer that to actual ground chicken burgers. I used mango slices, rather than in the mayo… and did a mint, cilantro, and lime mayo – I just can’t bring myself to serve an Indian inspired dish without some sort of nod to cilantro-mint chutney. I may be an addict. Anyway… I also added some red onion for colour and crunch, and cucumber for texture, and as a nod to raita – the creamy dip served with many Indian dishes.

… what an utterly mind blowing sandwich! So many colours, flavours, and textures that both stand out from, and complement each other. The coolness of the cucumber, sweetness of the mango, and the bright green flavour from the mayo spread really work well against the spicyness of the chicken. It all comes together for this amazing, complex, and really well balanced sandwich.

Pretty sure I could live on these… SO good! (Even without a bun, for me!)

Tandoori spiced chicken burger with Cilantro-mint mayo and mango slices

Makes 2 large sandwiches

Tandoori spiced chicken breasts

2 large chicken breasts
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup greek yogurt
2 tsp finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
Pinch cardamom
1 clove garlic, pressed

Trum chicken breasts, pound to flatten out to a relatively even thickness, if desired. Combine

Mix all together, marinate for 6-12 hours. While marinating, make the spread:

Cilantro-Mint Mayo

1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tsp lime zest
Pinch salt

Mix all ingredients together well. Cover and chill until you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches.

For Assembly

2 buns (Gluten-free, if needed)
Mango slices
Thinly sliced red onion
Thinly sliced cucumber

Grill chicken breasts until cooked through.

Spread buns with mayo, arrange mango, red onion, cucumber, and chicken as desired.

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.

Gluten Free Sauerkraut Buns Recipe (Pyrizhky)

Yikes, it’s been over a month since my last post! Sorry about that. We’ve been super busy with 3 conventions, Pi Day, AND a long road trip in that time. Back now, and it’s about a month til our next convention, so… here I am!

Growing up, I loved Sauerkraut buns… soft little bready balls of joy that would show up at family gatherings. Though we’re not Ukrainian ourselves, growing up in Winnipeg meant that many of the traditional foods from other cultures – Especially Ukrainian – were pretty… ubiquitous. Bacon, onion, and sauerkraut is a pretty genius filling, so it’s no wonder that these were super popular back home.

I’m kind of surprised that it seems like no one I know here in Minneapolis has ever heard of them!

While preparing for Pi Day, I decided that it was time to develop a recipe for a gluten-free version. These aren’t QUITE as soft as the original – and the technique is different for putting them together… but they are full of flavour, inside and out. The bread has a great texture, and they’re easy to make.

Enjoy!

Gluten Free Sauerkraut Buns (Pyrizhky)
Makes about 35 buns

Dough:
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 envelope yeast
1 1/2 cup+ Brown rice flour
3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup Amaranth flour
1/2 cup Millet flour
1/4 cup Corn starch
1/3 cup Potato starch
2 Tbsp Tapioca starch
3 tsp Xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream

Filling:
1 lb bacon, chopped
1 bag saurkraut (about 19 oz), well drained
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt
Pepper

Melted butter

Prepare the dough:

Gently mix together warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of the brown rice flour, remaining flours, starches, xanthan gum and salt. Form a well in the middle, and pour oil, eggs, and sour cream into it. Mix well, then add the yeasty water. Mix until everything is well incorporated, then knead lightly for 1 minute – it will be a bit wet. Place dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise somewhere warm for 1 hour.

As you are waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the filling:

Cook bacon & onions until bacon is almost cooked, but not crispy. Add saurkraut to the pan, cook and stir well until bacon fat is absorbed and everything is heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool.

One the hour rise is up, mix remaining 1/2 cup rice flour into the dough. Pinch off a walnut sized piece of dough, and work into a circle. If dough is too wet to work with, add a little more flour. You want it more wet than normal dough. Let stand for another 10 minutes.

Assemble the sauerkraut balls:

Note: I like to wear latex gloves for assembly:

Divide dough into a bunch of walnut sized pieces – about 35 of them.

One at a time, flatten a piece of dough into a circle approximately 3″ across – I like to do this in the palm of one hand. Place a 1 Tbsp mound of filling in the center of the circle. Carefully pull up the edge of the circle up and around the filling, sealing the filling in (like a drawstring bag). Roll around between your hands a bit to get a uniform spherical shape, and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough/filling, leaving at least 2″ between dough balls.

Loosely cover cookie sheets with plastic wrap, and allow to rise another hour.

Heat oven to 375F. Remove pastic wrap from cookie sheets, bake for 25 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and brush liberally with melted butter.

Great served hot, fresh out of the oven, cold, or even reheated. IF they last that long.

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.

How to make Peameal Bacon and Back Bacon

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the annoying things about living away from my homeland is the lack of availability of many of the grocery basics, treats, and general comfort foods of home. For the most part, they’re easy enough to make, once I put my mind to developing a recipe (Tiger Tail Ice Cream, or Honey Garlic Cooking Sauce, for instance!)

Recently, I was disappointed with a purchase of “Canadian bacon” (we don’t call it that – it’s back bacon!). I lamented the lack of availability of not only GOOD back bacon, but also peameal bacon. My husband had never even heard of peameal bacon, and had only ever had “Canadian Bacon” as they sell it here in the USA… anemic, flavourless, very blah ham product. This was a situation that needed to be rectified!

So, I did some research on recipes and techniques, and created a recipe of my own, using the flavours I wanted. I ordered a few necessary items – including Prague Powder, which I’d never even heard of – and then called my husband to let him know that I was taking up a new hobby – curing meat. You know you’ve married well when such a declaration isn’t met with some variation of “WTF? Because we don’t have enough hobbies?”, but with “Awesome! I’ve been meaning to take up smoking meats! We can do both!”!

Anyway, both back bacon and peameal bacon start out the same – soaking in a flavourful brine for a few days – and then veer off in different directions from there:

Peameal Bacon is then rolled in cornmeal (Back in the day it was crushed up dried peas), wrapped, and chilled. It’s then cut into thick slices and fried up as needed, usually served in sandwiches. So far as I can tell, peameal sandwiches are mostly a Toronto thing… I have no idea why. They’re fantastic!

Back Bacon skips the cornmeal, and gets smoked until fully cooked. You can serve it as-is, though it’s usually reheated in some form: fried as part of breakfast or in a sandwich, or thinly sliced and used to make pizza. I promise you, making a pizza with this will wreck you for all other pizzas. I made a spicy Hawaiian one the other day – back bacon, pineapple, thinly sliced jalapenos, and a drizzle of sriracha.. spectacular!

Says Porter: “It has a better texture than the stuff I’ve had – firm but not stringy or chewy. Much better flavor, more character. I definitely see a big difference, and I’m not going back”

While back bacon requires smoking – usually requiring special equipment / technique – peameal bacon is ridiculously easy to make, and requires no special skill or equipment. I was really kicking myself for not having done it sooner!

Homemade Peameal Bacon and Back Bacon Recipe

1 Pork loin, about 4 lbs
12 cups cold water, divided
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup pickling salt
2 Tbsp Prague powder #1 cure (I found it on Amazon)
2 Tbsp mustard seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 lemon, sliced into wedges

Cut pork loin into 2 approximately equal sized chunks (crosswise, NOT lengthwise!). Trim most of the visible fat, if you’d like. Some people don’t both, I don’t like the extra fat on mine. Set aside (in fridge).

Measure 4 cups of of water into a large pot, add remaining ingredients (aside from rest of water!). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add remaining water, stir to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Place one chunk of pork loin in each of 2 gallon sized freezer bags. I like to manually divide the lemon wedges and bay leaves equally between the two bags before pouring half of the brine into each bag. Push out most of the air, seal the bags, and put them in the fridge – I put both bags into a 9 x 12 cake pan, just in case of leakage, etc.

Allow the pork to brine for 5 whole days, turning once daily to ensure the pork loins are completely submerged.

After 5 days, discard brine, and rinse pork loins with cold water. Use paper towels to pat dry.

For Peameal Bacon

Pour a generous amount of yellow cornmeal onto a plate large enough to accommodate the chunk of pork loin. Roll loin in the cornmeal, pressing to form a uniform crust. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, chill for at least an hour before slicing and frying/grilling… if you can handle the wait! (I was unable to!)


(Excuse the crappy cellphone pic. Hubby was at work, and I was SO excited to try some!)

For Back Bacon

Hot smoke it with your choice of wood chips until it reaches an internal temperature of 145-150 F. I left this completely up to Porter, here’s what he has to say about how he did it. (This was the very first thing he’s ever smoked!):

“First I put it in the propane grill at about 225°F for one hour. Then I transferred it over to the charcoal grill for about 2 1/2 hours. The charcoal grill was about 250°F (that wasn’t intentional, was trying for 225°F). While on the charcoal grill I put on soaked applewood chips about every twenty minutes or so, just a small amount each time. I put the wet chips directly on the coals.”

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.

Roasted Beet Ketchup Recipe

I’m back from my recent vacation to my hometown (Winnipeg). It had been 4 years since I’ve set foot on Canadian soil, and I had a wonderful time. Because we were specifically visiting for Folklorama, we pretty much ate the entire time. No joke.

Now, I am refreshed, inspired, and ready to go! Expect at LEAST a good handful of ethnic recipes to pop up on this blog over the next while, as I come up with time to develop them.

Today’s recipe is one that was inspired at the Indian pavilion. There was a beet ketchup available for sale, and my husband JUMPED on it. He’s an avid hater of tomatoes. While he’s ok with tomatoes in ketchup, he’d just as soon never have to eat tomatoes of any kind. As he also adores beets in general, the idea was GOLD to him. So, he bought a bottle.

It tasted good, but was very thin and not really ketchup-y. Also, it didn’t really taste like they’d been roasted, and I pictured roasted beets making a better ketchup. So, I developed this recipe this weekend, using my awesome Pickled Beets Recipe for inspiration on the seasoning!

If you like beets, you’ll love this. Even if you like normal ketchup and have no issues with beets, you’ll enjoy this as a fun alternative. It satisfies the “creamy but acidic” thing you want from ketchup, is casual and fun while still being earthy, rich, and fancy. SO good!

Enjoy!

3 lbs small beets
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cups vinegar*
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each: mustard powder, celery seed, coriander
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch allspice
Black pepper, to taste

Place beets, onion, and garlic on a large piece of aluminum foil, folding edges up to create a pouch around the beets. Roast at 375 for about 1 hour, or until beets are quite tender.

Allow to cool slightly, then rub the skins off the beets with some paper towels (or your bare hands – expect some staining!).

In a food processor, blitz roasted beets, onion, and garlic together remaining ingredients until smooth. Transfer to a large pot.

Bring ketchup just to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes or so, until thickened to desired consistency. Remove from heat, cool to room tempurature before transfering to jars or bottles. Chill.

* I used red wine vinegar, but cider vinegar would also taste wonderful. In a pinch, use regular white vinegar

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.

Baked Reuben Poppers


Taking a quick break from developing my next cookbook, to write a few quick blog entries. Time to go through a backlog of older recipes and photos!

Back a few years – damn, had to be about 6, now – I made deep fried Reuben rolls for my husband. Think egg rolls, but completely different filling. I’d had the idea after having some “Ham and Swiss” deep fried dough balls at a pub somewhere a few years earlier. With Porter being completely in love with Reubens, it was brilliant!

Several years later, though… being married to a cook/baker is taking its toll, and he’s trying to avoid excess fat and calories. So, I decided to make a baked version of this favourite of his. There’s still a bit of oil involved – it’s necessary to crisp up the wonton wrapper skin – but it’s not *bathed* in oil. So… much better for you, even if it’s still not exactly health food!

Says he: “The Reuben poppers are delicious pockets of yum. Crap, I’m not good with words. I love the crispy texture of the crust with the kraut and beef. I could eat way too many of them!”

Baked Reuben Poppers

Cooking oil or nonstick spray
8 egg roll wrappers
8 oz sauerkraut, well drained
8 oz corned beef deli meat
8 oz Swiss Cheese, grated
Caraway seeds (optional)

Thousand Island dressing, for dipping

Preheat your oven to 375F. Generously grease a baking sheet with cooking oil or spray, set aside.

Lay 1 egg roll wrapper flat on your workspace.

Spread about 1/8 of the corned beef in a single column, diagonally across the middle of the wrapper. Make sure to avoid about 2″ border around the edge of the wrapper.

On top of the corned, layer 1/8 of the sauerkraut, then top with 1/8 of the swiss cheese, again avoiding the border. Sprinkle with caraway seeds, if using.

Fold one corner of the wrapper across the filling layers, pressing down to the other side of the wrapper.

Use a pastry brush and some water to dampen the two side corners. Fold them in to the center, gently pressing excess air out from the filling as you go.

Apply a little water to dampen the remaining corner edges and roll the popper carefully towards that corner, sealing all filling in as you go.

Place your rolls on your well-greased cookie sheet, brush/spray with additional oil on top. Bake for 15 minutes, flip all of the rolls over, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Serve hot, with Thousand Island dressing for dipping!