O Canada: Fried Pastry Dough “Tails”

Beavertails

It seems like Canadian cuisine is all about the different ways you can fry bread.  I’ll take it easy on you for the rest of the week but we’ll go with one more to end the month.

If you’ve ever done any touristy stuff in Canada you probably have tried Beaver Tails.  They’re especially good after a day of skating along the Rideau Canal, the longest outdoor skating rink in the world.  With a nice hot chocolate.  You can get them at fairs, too, and in the States (though they call them “elephant ears” there, what a silly name).

You can’t get them around here.  The franchise hasn’t moved this far east yet.  So I got the recipe from here, from a genius lady who has come up with her own form.  It makes about 20 pastries, so feel free to halve it.

Start with your yeast.  Mix a pinch of sugar with 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl and sprinkle 5 teaspoons active dry yeast.  Let that sit for a few minutes until the yeast is all dissolved.

Beavertails

Add in 1 cup warm milk, 2 eggs, 1/3 cup vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Beavertails

Then add 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and between 4 1/4 and 5 cups flour.  You may need more or less, depending on the vagaries of the weather and whatever else is going on in your life.

Beavertails

Stir that baby up real good until you have a dense but pretty elastic dough.

Beavertails

Knead the dough on a floured surface until it’s not tacky anymore.  This will take about 5-8 minutes or so.

Drop it in a greased bowl and cover it with a tea towel.  Leave it in a warm place to rise for about 30-40 minutes.

Beavertails

Look it at.  All nice and risen.

Beavertails

Punch that sucker down.

Beavertails

Pinch off a golf ball-sized hunk.

Beavertails

Flatten it out into an oval.

Beavertails

Plop those suckers on a tray and cover them with a tea towel while you heat your OYLE.

Beavertails

When your oil is hot enough to fizzle a pinch of flour, you can start yer fryin’.

Before you fry your ovals, stretch ’em out a little so they look a little bit more like beaver tails.

Beavertails

Slide them in one end at a time.  You can fry probably two at once, maybe two minutes per side.

Beavertails

Let them drain on paper towels and cool enough so they don’t burn your face off when you eat them.

Beavertails

Now you have a range of toppings to choose from of course.

Beavertails

How about chocolate hazelnut spread with bananas?

Beavertails

Bananas and honey?

Beavertails

Jam?

Beavertails

The Pie had himself some jam and peanut butter.  And banana.  He’s a fan of all three.

Beavertails

And of course my favourite: cinnamon sugar with lemon.

Beavertails

O Canada: Maple-Glazed Salmon

Maple Glazed Salmon

You won’t see too many fish or seafood dishes on here, because the Pie won’t eat them.  You can’t do a feature on Canadian cuisine without talking about Canada’s vast ocean resources, so I’ve kind of snuck this one in under the radar.  I discovered the recipe a few years ago when the Pie and I had two other roommates who were a little more into sea creatures than he is, and I made it often.  The plus is that the marinade works really well on pork chops as well, so when I make this I can make a piece of salmon for me and a piece of pork for the Pie and we’re both happy.

Maple syrup forms the basis of this marinade, but the lemon juice, ginger, and soy sauce give the sweetness a bit of a snap.  Quick and easy, too.  I pulled it from an issue of Canadian House & Home a million years ago.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup genuine maple syrup, 4 tablespoons light soy sauce (I used organic tamari), 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon minced ginger.  This is enough marinade for 4 pieces of fish.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

You’ll notice here that I butterflied the porkchop I had, just to make it the same thickness as the salmon. That way I could cook them at the same time.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Place your salmon* (or your pork) in a shallow dish and, saving about 1/4 cup of the marinade for later, pour the sauce over the fish.  Refrigerate that for an hour.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Preheat your oven to 450°F.

While that’s heating up (mine takes forever), peel 2 very large carrots and wash 3 very small zucchini.  Or whatever ratio you prefer.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Use a mandolin to slice the vegetables thinly lengthwise.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Plop them in a pot with a few inches of water.  Add a generous pat of butter and some fragrant herbs, like herbes de provence.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Cover and steam for 8-10 minutes, until the carrots are all bendy.

Thinly slice up about 3 tablespoons scallions or green onions.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Spray a glass dish and set your fish in it with a bit of marinade to coat.

Maple Glazed Salmon

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, basting halfway through with some leftover marinade.

Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with some of that 1/4 cup of marinade you saved earlier.  Sprinkle with the sliced onions. Drain the vegetables and serve as well.  Mmmmm … This makes up a little bit for the poutine we had last week, but won’t stand up in the face of what I’ve got planned for you on Friday.  Stay tuned!

Maple Glazed Salmon

*** THE END ***

*If you’re reading this asterisk-ed caveat, you got me: that is actually trout, not salmon.  It was in a big jumbled pile at the seafood counter and I picked it up by mistake, okay?  Sheesh.

O Canada: Nova Scotia HodgePodge with Beer Bread

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

In light of the Multilinguist’s excursions in Vega, we are making October Canadian Cuisine feature month (the Pie is thrilled because none of it involves tofu).

What better way to start us off than to take advantage of what the autumn harvest in Newfoundland has to offer us?  This creamy vegetable stew is easy and comforting (vegetarian, too, though certainly not vegan).  The recipe for the stew comes from All Recipes (with my modifications), and the idea itself comes from Delilah, one of the Pie’s classmates.  The beer bread comes from my mother’s own cookbook on Nova Scotian eatery.

For the Beer Bread:

HodgePodge with Beer Bread
Didn't have any Nova Scotia beer on hand, sorry.

In a bowl, mix 3 cups self-raising flour with 3 tablespoons granulated sugar.  If you don’t have self-raising flour, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt into every cup of all-purpose flour.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add in 1 12oz bottle of beer and mix well.  Use a commercially produced beer for a lighter loaf, or a home made beer for a denser loaf.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

This is supposed to turn out more like a batter, and you can see here that one bottle of beer has just produced a really dry dough.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

I poured in almost a whole ‘nother beer before I got the consistency I was looking for, but this will depend on your flour, your beer, the temperature/pressure/humidity of your environment, whether or not you got out of bed on the right side or the left side, whether a butterfly really did flap its wings in Brazil … you get the idea.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Pour into a greased loaf pan and chuck it into a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 350°F and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

The loaf will sound solid when you tap it and be a pale golden when it’s done.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Serve hot.  Also good the next day if you have any left over.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

For the HodgePodge:

Peel and dice 1 medium-sized turnip.  Chuck that in a large saucepan.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Dice 3-4 carrots and chuck those in as well.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Trim the ends off a couple handfuls of fresh wax beans (those are the yellow ones) and cut them into 1-2″ pieces.  Do the same with several handfuls fresh green beans.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add enough water to the saucepan to cover the vegetables.  Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Cube up 5-6 small potatoes and add that to the pot.  Let that simmer another 30 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add in 6 tablespoons butter and 1-2 cups heavy cream (we used a blended table cream here) and stir that in for a few minutes.  Soy milk would also work well here.  I have used soy milk in chowders and it provides a rich, nutty flavour that complements the vegetables nicely.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add 2-3 tablespoons flour to 1 cup water and stir that around.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Pour the flour water into the saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cook for a few more minutes to thicken the broth.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Season generously with salt and pepper and serve hot with beer bread.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Frankly, both the Pie and I found the hodgepodge a little on the bland side.  It tasted kind of like invalid soup.  But it was good.  And totally freeze-able.  Next time, though, I think I’d add an onion, some garlic, and some spices.  The beer bread was excellent and we plan to have what’s leftover with some chili tomorrow night.

O Canada Cuisine Suggestions

Toronto

One of my colleagues, the Multilinguist, is off in Vega doing research.  She has requested I whip up a feature month of Canadian food so she can impress her research participants, and it’s a challenge I have happily accepted.

And what a challenge it will be!  Canada is a country of vast natural resources, which include lots of fantastic things to eat.  It’s also a country of immigrants, which means that much of what we eat is flavoured by influences from other countries.

That said, I can’t do this without your help — what stands out in your mind as being distinctly Canadian cuisine?  I’d like to take a culinary journey across all Canada’s provinces and territories, but I just don’t know enough about all of them do it alone.  Not to mention that many dishes from many provinces (like the prairies, the territories, or the forever intertwined-and-annoyed-about-it Ontario/Quebec) tend to blend into each other in terms of available foodstuffs.  Your suggestions will be most helpful.

Is there a place you visited/lived/read about that had something tasty to offer?  What kinds of food do you think about when (if) you think about Canada?

I’m looking for main courses, desserts, beverages — anything you can come up with.

Here’s my opening salvo into this Canadian menu.  I’m really just spitballing here.  We’ll start out west, then zig-zag north and south as we work our way east, shall we?

CANADIANA — ON MY PLATE:

British Columbia

Smoked salmon on cedar planking.  Nanaimo bars for dessert.

BC has a large number of residents of Asian descent, so maybe smoked salmon sushi?

I also remember driving past a number of llama farms there as a child.  I wonder what llama tastes like?

Yukon Territory

All that comes to mind here is Robert W. Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee, which is not particularly helpful, I know.  But what did the gold-diggers eat (aside from their sled dogs)?

From a little bit of research I see that the Yukon has a thriving wheat growers’ association.  Perhaps some hearty hearth bread?

Northwest Territories

Caribou stands out as a traditional food here.  In fact, you can see all the useful bits of a caribou and other local fauna here.  I’m pretty sure I can get caribou in St. John’s, if I do some looking around.

Bannock is also another possibility, or a wild berry tart.

Alberta

Alberta beef is a dear, dear thing to us.  It’s not something readily available to me in Newfoundland, but I can probably make some substitutions.  Alberta also produces a large number of elk and other large livestock.

Saskatchewan

Most of the recipes coming up here involve home-grown grains, like rice, barley, and lentils.  Lots of pilafs and stews.

They (and all the other prairie provinces) also grow a hardy little berry called the saskatoon.  I am pretty certain I can’t find that this far east.

Nunavut

Because Nunavut is Canada’s newest territory (c. 1999), it’s gotten a lot of press in the past decade and so it’s all over the internet.  Nunavut recipes involve caribou, arctic char, and seal.  Please don’t ask me to cook seal.  It is such a strong, oily meat.  I’ll try anything twice, and seal has already reached its limit in my tummy.

A quirky adaptation is the Nunavut bar, a modification of the Nanaimo bar with a snow-white centre.

Manitoba

I really know nothing at all about prairie cooking.  I’m pulling all this stuff off the internet.  Pork, poulty, and mushrooms seem popular here.  Please fill me in if you know anything different.

Ontario/Quebec

This massive conglomerate has the same sort of food availability as the prairies.  You can get good Ontario produce all throughout the summer and fantastic Quebec cheese from tiny hamlets all across the province.  Having lived on the Ontario/Quebec border for a long time, I’m a little muzzy on who “owns” what kinds of food, but I’m definitely thinking poutine, which originated in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, as well as the ubiquitous beavertail pastries you can pick up on the banks of the Rideau Canal.

New Brunswick

Like the other Atlantic provinces, New Brunswick cuisine features glorious amounts of seafood.  Man do I love seafood.  And New Brunswickers can do their seafood with an Acadian twist, which makes their dishes just a little bit different from the rest of the ocean provinces.

Nova Scotia

All that’s running through my head is lobster lobster lobster lobster apple crumble lobster lobster blueberry picking lobster lobster lobster.  Though I do remember cooking an egg on the sidewalk in Lunenburg when I was little.  And the fact that lemon meringue pie is considered a maritime staple, despite the fact that lemons don’t grow on the east coast.

Prince Edward Island

Despite being Canada’s smallest province, PEI is BIG on potatoes.  I can definitely work with that.

Newfoundland and Labrador

We’ll finish off our tour at home, which will be a little bit less of a challenge.  Starting a blog while living here has made me a bit more conscious of what’s going on, food-wise, than I had been about the other places I lived.  Aside from the usual seafood and the absolutely vile seal-flipper pie (as I said, don’t ask me to cook seal, I won’t do it), there’s a bunch of scoffs (that’s Newfoundland English for a meal) around here with local flavour.  Fish ‘n’ brewis, scrunchions, any form of salted meat, moose pizza, toutons, and not to mention famous Newfoundland berries such as partridgeberries, blueberries, and bakeapples.  I’m sure I can arrange something outta that.

In Sum,

basically what we have to work with here are a wide variety of grains, fish, shellfish, livestock, berries, and fruits.  How can we make them Canadian?