Saturday, August 29, 2015

WIN $100 to set up your own canning kitchen!

So much of my life has felt more than a little surreal since my cookbook The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes came out in June. Numerous interviews have resulted in exposure for the book on TV, on the radio, in magazines and newspapers and online publications. All of it has been exciting and a little overwhelming, and I have felt grateful every step of the way for how warmly it has been received.

One of the best parts about all this excitement has been the reminder about how supportive the food blogging community is in Canada, and how lucky I am to know so many of these creative, talented people. An initial blog hop organized by Food Bloggers of Canada has now been followed up by another blog hop with 10 more food blogger friends who are coming together to offer one lucky reader an incredible prize:

A signed copy of The Canning Kitchen PLUS a $100 gift card to Canadian Tire to purchase all your canning needs to get you started!

You can use the book to find your inspiration, then head to Canadian Tire to stock up on jars, a canner, a funnel, a jar lifter and anything else you might need to make the best homemade preserves right in your very own kitchen.

I am humbled by how each of these bloggers has made a home for The Canning Kitchen on their own bookshelves, and I am so delighted to see all the tasty preserves they have made from the pages of the book. Some of them had previous canning experience, some had no experience at all, and yet they all found something to love about the book. That's what I had hoped to accomplish in writing it. I wanted to inspire people who had never canned before to give it a try and find success, and I wanted to offer experienced canners some new flavours they hadn't put in jars before. Their personal stories about canning and their beautiful foodtography is worth a click through to every post.

To enter to win this fantastic prize, visit any or all of these incredible food bloggers to see what they made from The Canning Kitchen and enter the group giveaway at the bottom of their posts:

Jenny of The Brunette Baker made Blueberry Sauce
Brittany of My Daily Randomness made Lemon Raspberry Jamalade
Charmian of The Messy Baker made Blueberry Orange Marmalade
Chelsea of Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen made Peach Jam
Gwen of Devour and Conquer made Tomato Red Onion Relish
Heather of The Tasty Gardener made Triple Red Pickle
Kristy of She Eats made Crunchy Dill Pickles
Libby of Libby Roach Photography made Peach Chutney with Garam Masala
Meg of Sweet Twist of Blogging made Beer Hive Grainy Mustard
Robyn of What's Cooking on Planet Byn made Bread and Butter Pickles

The winner will be selected on September 2nd, 2015. Good luck, friends!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Maple Mustard Salmon Burgers (with French's)

Disclosure: I was sent French's new collection at no cost to myself. I am being paid my usual recipe development fee for this post. Opinions and burgers are mine, all mine. Make your own.

My family loves mustard and we have the clothing stains to prove it. Even when my boys were still in diapers, they both loved mustard more than any other condiment in the fridge. They wanted it on everything - sandwiches, chicken fingers, even on their mac and cheese. They would wipe their pudgy, yellow-stained fingers all over their shirts, making most of their clothes difficult to give away to younger friends once they outgrew them.

At ages 4 and 7 now, my boys are as crazy about mustard as ever. They are better about using napkins now, so we're not dealing with yellow splotches on their shirts anymore, thank goodness. However, they both have mustard on their chins and on the corners of their mouths at least once daily. They love the stuff. So when I was offered the opportunity to write a recipe here on Family Feedbag using French's new Sweet and Spicy mustards from the company's already extensive mustard collection, I kind of felt like it was meant to be.

I am going in a decidedly west coast direction with these Maple Mustard Salmon Burgers. Grilled or baked, it's a fun and tasty Labour Day weekend meal idea that also works just as nicely as a quick weeknight dinner. The salmon fillets are smothered in a quick sauce of mustard, maple syrup and dramatic black poppy seeds before going on the grill or in the oven. And either the Sweet or the Spicy mustards from French's new collection work just as nicely. You just have to ask yourself if you want it sweet or with heat!

Of course every burger needs some ace toppings, and there are a lot of different directions you could go in with salmon such as coleslaw, sliced pickles or a freshly-made salsa. I'm keeping it classic with red onion, slices of tomato, a mix of lettuces and of course a crunchy dill pickle. Piled onto a toasted bun, this is burger heaven for mustard fans.

Get the simple recipe below...

Maple Mustard Salmon Burgers
Makes 4 burgers (recipe can be halved or doubled)

4 salmon fillets (about 150 g/5 oz each, or whatever size you want for your burgers)
1/3 cup (75 mL) French's Sweet or Spicy prepared yellow mustard
2 tbsp (30 mL) maple syrup
1 tsp (5 mL) poppy seeds
4 burger buns
A couple big handfuls of lettuce
1 large tomato, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
4 dill pickles for garnish (optional)

Preheat the grill to medium heat (about 350°F/180°C) or preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

Create a disposable foil pan with two sheets of aluminum foil, crimping the edges to make it a little sturdier. Place the salmon fillets on the foil pan, skin side down.

In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, maple syrup and poppy seeds. Slather the sauce onto the fillets, coating the top of each fillet using the back of a spoon.

Place the foil pan directly on the grill. Cover the grill and leave the salmon skin-side down just until cooked through (about 10 to 12 minutes). If baking in the oven, place the foil pan on a baking sheet and bake skin-side down just until cooked through (about 15 minutes). If you want to toast the buns, pop them on the top rack of the grill or oven for the last few minutes of cooking time. Remove from the heat.

To assemble the burgers, place a few leaves of lettuce on each bottom bun. Using a metal spatula, scoop the salmon fillets off the foil (the skin will cling to the foil so you just get the pink part - this is why I like using foil for fish). Position the fillets over the lettuce. Top with slices of tomato and onion and the top buns. If desired, secure each burger with a pickle on a toothpick. Serve hot.

TIP: If you want to save some of the maple mustard sauce for serving, it's a good idea to transfer a few spoonfuls to a separate dish before coating the fish to avoid cross-contamination.

Does your family love mustard, too? What do you love to put it on? Got any tips for removing mustard stains? Leave a comment!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fall Apple Pie

Fall is coming and I'm starting to make plans. One of the things I'm wanting to do with my time this fall is to re-blog some of my all-time favourite recipes here on Family Feedbag. Since starting this blog in 2011, I have written hundreds of posts and hundreds of recipes, and looking back recently I realized some of them could use a re-write and new photos. My skills in both areas have improved and I want to honour those personal recipes with a fresh update.
My recipe for Fall Apple Pie was originally shared in October 2011. It has consistently been a reader favourite during apple season, so it was a natural one to add to my re-blogging list for this fall. But when an opportunity came up recently to contribute this recipe to another project, I moved up my re-blogging plans for this one. So, here it is in all it's re-written and re-photographed glory - Fall Apple Pie. From my kitchen to yours.

Fall Apple Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup (125 mL) vegetable shortening, cubed
1 egg
1 tbsp (15 mL) cider vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) cold water

5 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon

Food colourings in fall colours
1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.

To make the pastry, add the flour and salt to a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter and shortening using a hand pastry blender, or two knives working across each other, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, vinegar and water. Add to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork to bring the dough together. Divide into two balls, wrapping one in plastic wrap and setting aside. Roll out the other ball on a well-floured surface into a circle big enough to line a 9-inch pie plate (about 10 inches across). Transfer to the pie plate and set aside.

To make the filling, add the apple slices to a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Toss with the apples to coat. Pour into the pie shell. Arrange the apples to fill the shell evenly, ensuring the surface is relatively flat.

Roll out the other ball of dough into a circle that is about 10-inches across. Before transferring to the pie, use a knife to cut out the shape of a tree trunk with a few branches. Transfer the pie top to cover the filling. Trim off the excess pastry edges (you will need this dough for the leaves). Crimp the edges of the pie.

Divide the leftover dough into three balls. Mix each ball with a couple drops of food colouring (yellow, orange and green make nice choices). With small amounts of dough, use your fingers to form small flat diamonds. Position the diamonds on the pie like leaves on branches. Use the dull edge of a knife to press leaf details into the diamonds.

To finish, sprinkle the pie top with sugar. Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake on the bottom rack for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350°F/180°C and move the middle rack. Bake for another 45 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden.

Allow to cool for at least half an hour before serving to allow the filling to set.

Are you thinking about fall yet? What are you looking forward to baking this fall?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Farm to Fork: Beef with Apples, Tomatoes and Herbs

When people talk about knowing where our food comes from I think perhaps it's about a little more than that. Where it is from is important, but so is knowing what is in it, what isn't, how it is raised or grown, and who the folks are behind farming and ranching. All of these things help us better understand the food we buy, which ultimately makes us more knowledgeable, more confidant cooks.

Last week I made my second trip this summer to Saskatchewan. After last month's visit to this beautiful prairie province to learn about how lentils are grown, I had the opportunity this time with Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan to learn about several other crops as well as chicken farming and cattle ranching. As a city dweller, it is fascinating to me to stand there in those wide open spaces under that great big prairie sky and take it all in, just learn and listen to the stories being shared about the ingredients I buy all the time back home.

One of the stops our group of food writers and chefs made was to the vast lands of the Triple A Hereford Ranch in Moose Jaw. There in short grass country in the heart of the Missouri Coteau we heard from the Andrews family - Murray, Bridget and son Luke - about life raising cattle. They run 120 head of purebred Hereford cattle and 110 head of Hereford based commercial cattle. They pride themselves in having an exceptional herd with prize-winning genetics, and we know that healthy cattle go on to produce healthy, nutritious and delicious meat for our kitchens.

A concern we hear a lot about these days is hormones in beef. The Andrews' point out that there is no such thing as hormone-free beef since all animals produce natural hormones, regardless of how they are raised. Even plants have naturally-occurring hormones. Some beef farmers use Health Canada-approved hormones in their cattle to help them convert food into muscle more easily and quickly, which requires less feed and water and produces less waste. But, interestingly, tests show hormone levels in beef from cattle treated with hormones are virtually the same as beef from untreated cattle. Good to know.

Ultimately, the impression I was left with was that ranchers like the Andrews' want a healthy herd as much as I want safe beef. While only 2 per cent of Canadians are farmers, 100 per cent of us depend on the work of these businesses. So it's important to me as a home cook that farming be sustainable and profitable.

Being there on the ranch was incredibly inspiring. Now I know a little more about where beef comes from, what is in it and how it is raised. I also know that families like the Andrews' are working hard all over Saskatchewan and other Canadian provinces to give us the very best quality beef for our own families. In fact, 97 per cent of Canadian farms are family owned and operated.

At home in my west coast island kitchen, I wanted to prepare a dish that honours that quality. With ripe tomatoes and fresh herbs from my garden, plus a couple sweet apples, I turned a beef pot roast into a sumptuous and satisfying feast.

Get the simple recipe below...

Beef Roast with Apples, Tomatoes and Herbs
Makes 3 servings

A splash of olive oil
2 1/2 lb (1.125 kg) boneless beef pot roast
Salt and pepper to season
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine
2 medium apples, cored and cut into thick wedges
1 1/2 lb (675 g) whole Campari or large cherry tomatoes (leave stems on if you wish)
A small handful of fresh sage
A few sprigs of fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

Warm the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or braising pan. Add the beef, letting it sizzle on one side for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the beef over and continue browning 2 to 3 minutes a side until browned all over, seasoning once more with salt and pepper. Transfer the beef to a dinner plate and set aside. 

Turn the heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary to the hot pan or Dutch oven. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally. Pour in the wine. Simmer for about 2 minutes, use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Clear a space in the middle of the pan by pushing the veggies aside. Transfer the beef back into this space. Surround the beef with the apples and tomatoes. Nestle the sage and thyme around the works. Cover and transfer to the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

To serve, transfer the roast to a cutting board and cut into tender slices. Scoop the veggies and apples onto plates and top with the slices of beef. Spoon the cooking juices overtop.

How do you feel about the beef you buy? What is your favourite way to prepare it? Leave a comment and let's talk BEEF!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Peaches & Cream Ice Pops

My summer fling with peaches isn't over yet. After making peach pie, canned peach slices (page 222 in my book The Canning Kitchen) and country peach cobbler topping (page 221), I still wanted just a little more peachy fun before those gorgeous British Columbia peaches disappear again for another year. I picked up a great new ice pop mold while in Seattle recently and I've been dying to use it, so something cool and creamy seemed like a grand idea.

It takes just three ripe ones to whip up these tasty peaches and cream ice pops. I love a sweet treat from the freezer, but I also like to eat healthy when I can. These pops get their fun flavour from just the juicy fresh fruit, naturally sweet evaporated milk, plain yogurt and vanilla. That means I can feel good about feeding these ice pops to my kids, and enjoy one (or maybe two) as a snack myself.

Because of the hot, dry conditions this spring and summer in B.C., a lot of our tree fruit and other crops have been weeks early. So get out there now, if you haven't already, and stock up on peaches before they're gone for another year. I missed the sour cherry window this year and I'm still kicking myself about it. Oh well, they'll be that much more special to me next year. But I have certainly made the most of peach season.

Get the simple recipe below for these peaches and cream ice pops...

Peaches & Cream Ice Pops
Makes 10 ice pops

3 medium peaches
1 can (370 mL/12 oz) evaporated milk
2/3 cup (150 mL) plain yogurt
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
Place the peaches in a medium heat-proof bowl. Pour boiling water over the peaches just to cover them. After 1 minute, scoop out the peaches with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Once cool enough to handle, slip off and discard the skins. Cut the peaches in half, discarding the pits.

Crush the peaches with a potato masher in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the evaporated milk, yogurt and vanilla. Transfer to a pitcher or large jug with a spout. Pour into 10 ice pop molds, leaving a little space at the top for the ice pops to expand in the freezer. Insert sticks or holders and pop in the freezer until completely frozen (at least 5 hours).

What kind of ice pops are you making this summer?