Tried and true favorites and some from readers.
This is my mother’s recipe. They reheat perfectly, freeze well and are guaranteed to warm up a cold winter day. I serve them with homemade bread-and-butter pickles, soft dinner rolls and perhaps a slice of ham.
- 1 pkg Jacob’s Cattle Beans (1 Lb)
- 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses (I often leave a couple of tablespoons out and add maple syrup instead)
- ¾ tsp salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 med. sliced onion
Soak beans overnight in water to cover (they will swell). Next day, drain beans, put in large pot, cover with water & bring to boil. Simmer till tender, ½ hr to 45 min. To test, remove a bean from pot & blow on it. If skin cracks it’s close to being done. Beans should be tender enough to eat.
Drain and put in baking dish. I use a cast iron dutch oven. Slice bacon into 1 inch pieces and combine with the other ingredients, along with 1c of cooking water. Pour over beans, stir gently and add water to cover. Bake covered in 300 degree oven for 3-4 hours. Add water during cooking if necessary.
Classic Strawberry Jam
I got this recipe from Anna Olsen’s cooking program, Sugar. I like it because it uses a lot less sugar than most jam recipes, allowing the fruit flavor to come through, and it doesn’t require pectin.
- 3 cups strawberries, washed and hulled
- 4 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter (optional)
1. In a large saucepot, bring strawberries up to a simmer over medium-low heat, mashing roughly with a potato masher or flat spoon. Add sugar and lemon juice, stir, and bring up to a simmer for 2 minutes. NOTE: I have had trouble getting the jam to set. It might need to be cooked for about 10 minutes before adding the sugar, as I’ve heard that sugar inhibits the natural pectin in the berries. I’ll try that next time. Add butter and bring to a vigorous boil, stirring often and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, periodically measuring the viscosity of the jam by dabbing a spoonful onto a plate and tipping the plate. Once the jam slows its drip down the plate (it should no longer run like a syrup), remove from heat and skim off foam. Fill jars that have been washed, rinsed, dried and boiled in a pot of water for 3 minutes to ¼ -inch from the top. Fasten lids securely and boil jars in a vat of water (be sure jars are completely submerged) for 15 minutes. Remove jars with tongs and let cool upright. Check for secure seals on jars (lid should not spring when touched) and store in a cool place away from light for up to a year.
2. Any jars that do not achieve a proper seal should be refrigerated.
Sucre a Creme
A rich brown sugar fudge which I only make at Christmas. Otherwise I would be as wide as I am tall.
- 2 c brown sugar
- 1 c white sugar
- 1 small can evaporated milk
- 1/2 c butter
- 1 tbsp corn syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 c icing sugar
Combine all ingredients except icing sugar in a heavy pot, bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring only occasionally, for 5 minutes. That’s it, no testing involved. Don’t over-stir or cook over high heat. Overstirring makes the fudge grainy, and overheating makes it hard.
Remove from heat and quickly stir in icing sugar, one cup at a time. Add vanilla. Stir only until smooth, then pour into pan and allow to cool. Enjoy, and don’t tell your dentist.
Gravenstein Apple Pie
The secret to this pie is, quite simply, the apples. Gravensteins are an old variety grown in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, where my parents grew up. They’re tart and flavorful and, eaten fresh off the tree on a crisp fall day, they are delicious. Unfortunately they don’t stand up particularly well to storage or shipping, so they are a seasonal delight.
Combine 1 tsp salt with 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Cut in one cup of cold vegetable shortening until you have pieces the size of peas. Pastry is a metaphor for life, I think. You have to go by feel, and you spoil it by working it too much.
In a small bowl, stir one egg with a fork. Add 5 to 6 tbsp of ice cold water and 1 tbsp white vinegar. Combine with flour/shortening and mix just until it holds together. Turn out on a floured surface, knead two or three times (No more!) to finish combining, and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Peel and slice 9 medium Gravenstein apples into a bowl containing 1 cup of white sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 c flour and 1 tsp cinnamon. This will make a deep pie in a 10-inch plate. Assemble and bake for 15 min at 425, then reduce heat to 325 and bake for another hour or until apples are tender. Serve with sharp cheddar cheese.
Skillet Chicken Souvlaki with Yogurt Sauce
I love Greek food. This was inspired by the souvlaki at my favourite Greek restaurant, but ditching the skewers makes it much easier to prepare. This serves two but can easily be doubled.
For Chicken: 1 medium to large boneless skinless chicken breast, juice of one lemon, four medium or three large cloves of garlic finely chopped or grated, two teaspoons of dried oregano. I add salt and pepper during cooking.
For Rice: 1 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup long-grain rice, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, juice of 1/2 lemon
For yogurt sauce: 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dried oregano or fresh parsley or dill, one small clove of garlic grated. Note: This is similar to tsaziki, but I don’t bother with the cucumber because I like it as well without.
Vegetables: two cups of sweet peppers in mixed colours, chopped into bite-sized pieces; one large yellow onion chopped into bite-sized pieces. The vegetables should be about the same size they would be if they were going on skewers.
For frying: 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
A few hours before serving, mix the ingredients for the yogurt sauce and refrigerate so flavours will blend.
An hour to two hours before serving, cube chicken into bite sized pieces. Mix lemon juice, oregano and garlic in a container suitable for marinating. Add chicken, shake to coat, and refrigerate.
Half an hour before serving, bring chicken broth to a boil on high heat. As soon as it is boiling, add oregano and rice. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off heat, add lemon juice and leave on the burner. I find this method gives perfect rice. By the time the chicken and vegetables are done the rice will be ready to go.
When the rice has been cooking for about 10 minutes, heat oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet on medium high heat until hot. Remove chicken from marinade and add to skillet with vegetables. Discard marinade. Add a few shakes of salt and pepper to skillet. Stir fry meat and vegetables until chicken is cooked through and beginning to brown, and vegetables begin to soften. If everything browns too quickly, reduce heat.
Serve over rice, with yogurt sauce.
Greek Salad: Kalamata olives, halved cherry tomatoes, finely sliced shallot, sliced cucumbers and sliced sweet peppers, tossed with a dressing of 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, two tablespoons olive oil, a teaspoon of dried oregano or fresh dill or parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
Fried halloumi (Greek grilling cheese): in a non-stick skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add slices of halloumi and cook until the cheese browns. Flip and brown the other side. I usually start this when the souvlaki is almost done.