Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 13

Do you hate beans but like chili? Do you like beans but also like chili that’s a little different? Do you like chili? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions then this chili is for you. It’s beanless and beefy and incredibly satisfying, which is good because though it may be spring SOMEWHERE, in Ottawa we’ve had some major flooding and on Monday it stopped raining enough to SNOW. ALL. DAY. So we kind of need something cockle-warming. This chili is adapted from one my parents found on the internet and printed out and that I stole off their fridge in Florida and smuggled across the border.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 1

Start with 2lbs cubed beef chuck or stewing beef, and huck that in a non-stick skillet on high to sear all the sides. Chuck the browned beef into a large slow-cooker pot.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 4

Next, add in 2 tablespoons Worcestershire (“wooster”) sauce, 1 cup beef broth, a 28oz can of diced tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Now, the recipe did not say to drain the tomatoes so I didn’t and I found my chili ended up a bit on the watery side (I also added twice as many tomatoes as the recipe asked for). I thickened the sauce with some cornstarch later on and it turned out super awesome, but I’ll leave it to your discretion to either drain the tomatoes or use a smaller can.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 7

Dice up the following: 1 white onion, 2 red bell peppers, 2 large carrots, 2 celery stalks, and a couple large green chilis. I used Anaheim chilis because they are huge and not too hot and I wanted to be able to feed this to LongJohn. Gather as well 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons paprika (ours is smoked), 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Chuck all that in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 5

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 8

Don’t forget to give it a bit of a stir.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 9

Cook that sucker on low for 8-12 hours, or on high for about 6.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 11

Before serving, juice 1 lime and add the juice to the mix.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 16

Serve garnished with either grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, or chopped cilantro (or all of the above, who are we kidding?).

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 15

Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing

I whipped up this pot of savoury delightfulness for our Canadian Thanksgiving in October, and I figured with Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday in America, you might find it handy. This particular incarnation of this recipe is both gluten-free and pork-free to reflect the dietary restraints of my Thanksgiving dinner guests, but feel free to replace the gluten-free cornbread with regular cornbread (may I suggest this recipe?) and the turkey bacon with regular bacon or sausage.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 5

Start with your cornbread. Because I was running low on time and energy (getting sick the week before Thanksgiving is not cool), I made the cornbread from the Bob’s Red Mill mix, and it turned out just fine.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 1

GF Cornbread Stuffing 3

I crumbled the cooled cornbread onto a baking sheet and toasted it at 350°F for about 15 minutes until it was a nice golden brown.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 11

Once it cooled I sealed it in a bag.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 13

Meanwhile, I dumped an entire package of turkey bacon in a pan and fried it up.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 6

Then I started chopping. In a large pot, I dumped about 1/3 cup butter, then chopped up 1 1/2 large onions, 4 green onions, and a whole head of fresh garlic and plopped those in as well. I heated it on medium and stirred the onions while they softened.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 7

Then I chopped up 1 bunch fresh tarragon and 1 bunch fresh sage and dumped those in.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 8

Then 2 red peppers and 4 stalks celery. I added in some pepper to taste.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 9

Then I chopped up the turkey bacon and hucked that in as well.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 10

Because I was making the stuffing the day before, I put the vegetables in a bowl to cool and then covered them and put them in the fridge overnight.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 12

On the day of, put everything together. In a bowl, whisk together about 3 large eggs and some salt and pepper.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 14

Add to that about 1 litre (~4 cups) low sodium chicken or turkey broth. Give that a good stir.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 15

Dump your cornbread and your vegetable mix into a large baking dish or your slow cooker pot and stir them around. Pour the eggy broth over top and give it another stir to make sure it’s made it all the way through.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 16

So if you have space in your oven the day of, feel free to bake this (at about 350°F for an hour or so) to make sure that it’s all nice and crusty around the edges. If not, then pop it in the slow cooker in the morning and cook it on medium until you’re ready to eat. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s incredibly tasty.

GF Cornbread Stuffing 17

GF Cornbread Stuffing 18

Punchy Potato Salad

Punchy Potato Salad 12

With potato salad, like most salads, you can wing it more often than not and it turns out great.  It does help, however, to have a general idea of what sort of flavour theme you want to have ahead of time.  For this one I wanted something creamy but also with enough greenery and fresh things in it I didn’t feel like it was coming straight from a plastic grocery store container.

Punchy Potato Salad 9

I started off by washing and chopping 13 medium sized potatoes.  I like to leave the skins on.

Punchy Potato Salad 1

I then boiled them until they were quite soft.

Punchy Potato Salad 2

Then I hard-boiled 6 large eggs by putting them in a pot of water with a dash of vinegar (the vinegar makes the shells easier to remove) and bringing it to a boil; then I turned the water off and left them for 20 minutes.

Punchy Potato Salad 3

I drained the potatoes and chucked them in a large bowl together with about 3 stalks minced celery.  Then I grabbed a handful of herbs from the garden and minced those as well: dill, chives, parsley, green basil, and purple basil.

Punchy Potato Salad 4

Into the bowl.

Punchy Potato Salad 5

Some chopped baby dill pickles too.

Punchy Potato Salad 6

And of course the eggs, which I peeled and chopped coarsely.

Punchy Potato Salad 10

The dressing was simple: Dijon mustard, Wafu’s sesame dressing, and some aioli I picked up at the grocery store (instead of standard mayonnaise).

Punchy Potato Salad 7

A little black pepper never hurt.

Punchy Potato Salad 8

Mix that all together.

Punchy Potato Salad 11

Oh the creamy, dill-y goodness!

Punchy Potato Salad 13

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffing

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 25

We made this for our Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations, but maybe the next time you cook up a turkey (say, for American Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or various other turkey-related feast days), you could try this stuff(ing) out.  You can make it all the day before and chuck it together at the last minute, which is awesome for big dinners.  It’s also the kind of stuffing that doesn’t actually go into the bird, so you can feed it to vegetarians, too!

Start with your bread.  You can buy bags of pre-cut, pre-toasted bread chunks specifically for making stuffing, but I kind of like to make them myself, because I can decide what kind of bread I’m going to use in my stuffing.  Here I used a loaf of Italian sourdough.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 1

I ripped each slice up into bite-sized chunks and spread them out across two baking sheets.  Shove them in your oven and bake them at 350°F until they’re dried out and lightly toasted, about 12 minutes.  Make sure to stir them occasionally.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 2

Dice up about a pound of fresh mushrooms.  The wilder the better.  Unfortunately all we had around were some oyster and regular white mushrooms, but feel free to experiment.  You should have about 9 cups diced mushrooms when you’re done.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 8

Chop up as well 2 large onions, so you’re left with about 3 cups chopped onions in total.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 7

And while you’re at it, go to town on 4-5 stalks celery, ending up with about 2 cups chopped celery in total.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 6

Find yourself some herbs.  These were all growing in our fall garden: sage, parsley, and thyme.  I thought about adding some rosemary to add to the “Scarborough Fair”-ness of the whole thing but managed to restrain myself.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 4

Chop up a couple bunches of each.  You can never have too many fresh herbs in your stuffing, so just go with what feels right.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 9

Dump 1/4 cup of butter and a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large skillet and melt over medium heat.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 10

Plop in your mushrooms and sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper.  Sauté those suckers until they’re all squishy and starting to brown, about 8 minutes.  Dump them in a large bowl for now.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 12

Slide another 1/2 cup butter into that skillet and let that melt.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 14

Add in your onions and celery and cook, stirring, until the veggies are tender, probably 12 minutes or so.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 15

Sprinkle in your herbs and cook for another minute.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 16

Then plop in a whole package (5oz) fresh baby spinach.  Toss in the skillet (maybe use a lid) until the leaves are just wilted.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 17

Chuck all that stuff into the bowl with the mushrooms.  If you’re making this ahead of time, this is where you stop.  Let the stuff cool, cover it, and bung it in the fridge overnight.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 19

When you’re ready to get this on the go, preheat your oven to 350ºF and butter a large casserole dish or 9″ x 13″ baking pan.  Whisk 2 eggs and some salt and pepper in a bowl.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 20

Pour in 1 cup low sodium chicken broth (you may need more if you find it dry) and stir that around.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 21

Toss your bread bits with your vegetable mix and pour your broth/egg stuff over top, stirring to make sure it makes it all the way through.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 23

Jam that into your baking dish and bake without covering until it’s brown and crusty on top, about an hour.  Let it stand a few minutes before serving (like, take it out when you start to carve up your bird and you’re set).

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 26

Guinness Beef Stew

Guinness Beef Stew 6

Oh yeah.  The fact that my fingers are going numb with cold right now tells me it’s comfort food season.  And what’s more comforting than a nice beef stew?

Guinness Beef Stew 6

The other day at Costco I went a bit nuts and purchased one of their large packages of excellent stewing beef.  “I’ll make boeuf Bourgignon,” I said, forgetting two important things: 1) I am horribly allergic to red wine; and 2) I do not own a Dutch oven.

So scratch that.  Let’s cook with beer instead.  I took a bit of inspiration from the Guinness Storehouse website, and a little from Jamie Oliver, but other than that I just kind of winged it.

Guinness Beef Stew 1

First I started off by roasting some of my vegetables.  That’s 1 head garlic, with the top chopped off, 1 package white mushrooms chopped in half, and 1 package pearl onions, peeled.

Guinness Beef Stew 2

Drizzle those with olive oil and roast at 400°F for about half an hour, and give the onions and mushrooms a good stir about halfway through.

Guinness Beef Stew 5

Then I peeled and roughly chopped 3 parsnips and 4 carrots, and a small bunch of celery.  And some potatoes, which aren’t in this shot.  How many potatoes?  I don’t remember. I didn’t take a picture of them.

Guinness Beef Stew 4

That all goes straight into the pot.

Guinness Beef Stew 7

You can tip in the roasted onions and mushrooms, too.

Guinness Beef Stew 9

Save the garlic on a plate for a little bit.

Guinness Beef Stew 8

Now you can work on your meat, and this is going to take a while.  This is whatever size the package of stewing beef is that comes from Costco, which is extremely large, but the beef is truly excellent and I highly recommend it.  I cut my chunks in half just to make them more manageable with a spoon.  Then  you pat them dry with a paper towel and put them on a plate.  You could use a clean tea towel to dry your meat if you were feeling environmentally conscious, but let’s face it: ew.

Guinness Beef Stew 10

In a bowl, mix together some flour (I used buckwheat just in case a gluten-free person came over for dinner sometime in the future – but then the Pie pointed out that Guinness has gluten in it so I’m an idiot), salt, pepper, and cayenne seasoning.

Guinness Beef Stew 12

Spill some of that onto a plate and spread it out.  Roll your meat chunks in the flour.

Guinness Beef Stew 13

Brown the meat, working in small batches, in that skillet you already used on medium heat.  Add some more olive oil if it starts to dry out and smoke.  Chuck the browned beef into the pot with the vegetables.  This is probably the most tedious step, and takes a while.

Guinness Beef Stew 14

Once you have browned all the meat, pour about 3 1/2 cups beef broth into the vegetable/meat pot.  I found this concentrated stuff at the grocery store. All you have to do is add boiling water. Sure takes up less space in my cupboard!

Guinness Beef Stew 3

Tie a bundle of thyme and rosemary together and chuck that in as well.  I find if you tie the bundle string to the handle of the pot it makes getting it out later a lot easier.  Bring the contents to a simmer.

Guinness Beef Stew 23

In the skillet that you have been using, plop a little butter and more olive oil and let that melt.

Guinness Beef Stew 18

Add in the garlic you roasted earlier and mash it with a wooden spoon.

Guinness Beef Stew 19

Then pour in 2 cans Guinness stout beer and bring that to a simmer.

Guinness Beef Stew 21

Scrape the bottom lots with your wooden spoon.

Guinness Beef Stew 22

Pour that whole lot into your bubbling stew and let that simmer with the lid off, stirring occasionally, to reduce for a while (at least an hour).  You may find you have to add in a bit of corn starch after a while for thickening if you used a gluten-free flour.

Guinness Beef Stew 24

We served ours with some beer bread made out of Mill Street’s Oktoberfest.

Guinness Beef Stew 5

You can simplify all this by doing it all in a slow cooker, but I find I prefer the sharper flavours of the roasted vegetables and the constant stirring — you’d still have to brown the meat before slow-cooking it anyway.  But boy it is time-consuming.

Guinness Beef Stew 4

Worth it, though.

Guinness Beef Stew 1

Wingin’ It Wednesday: Red Soup, Green Soup

Red Soup Green Soup

It’s been so busy here since Victoria Day that we haven’t had a chance to really do a lot of cooking for cooking’s sake.  As a result, when I cleaned out our refrigerator this weekend in preparation for my parents’ arrival tomorrow (!), I found a sizable amount of very sad-looking produce.  When I bought it, it looked sad, as most Newfoundland produce does, and two weeks in my crisper made it sadder still.  Sad vegetables are just begging to be chucked in sauces, roasted, layered in a casserole, or made into soup.  So I made soup.

Red Soup Green Soup

I had red vegetables and green vegetables, and so I decided to make two different soups.

Each one started with onions and garlic, obviously.

Red Soup Green Soup

The red soup was carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes.

Red Soup Green Soup

And I scooped out the seeds of the tomatoes.  Well, some of them. I got bored quickly.

Red Soup Green Soup

Chop that up, chuck it in a pot with some broth, some chipotle seasoning, and chinese five spice, then blend it up and you’ve got a savoury soup with a bit of kick.

Red Soup Green Soup

The green soup had fennel, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, leeks, and cabbage.

Red Soup Green Soup

To even out the flavours I added dill, mustard powder, salt, and a dash of cumin.  Blended up, it’s cool as the cucumbers inside it.

Red Soup Green Soup

Then I stored them all in plastic containers and froze them for future enjoyment!

Red Soup Green Soup

Farmer’s Market Potato Salad

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

This recipe comes from Potato Salad: 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool.  At one point in this book the authors note that potato salad is as American as apple pie.  Thankfully they leave it at that.  Because I am a sports researcher, it drives me absolutely bonkers when I read somewhere that something is “as American as baseball and apple pie.”  In case you didn’t know (and on the slight off-chance that you actually care), baseball actually originated in Canada.  So while it may be the great American pastime (and gridiron football will start hemming and hawing to be noticed at this point), it ain’t American.

I don’t, on the other hand, know anything about the origins of potato salad.  Sorry ’bout that.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that potato salad came from wherever it is that potatoes are indigenous.

Okay enough blather.  You want a recipe.  Of course I left the recipe book at home and I’m at school so I’m guessing on the measurements from my photographs.  It’s not like potato salad is an exact science.

Start with 2 pounds new potatoes.  Plop those babies in a pot, cover them with water, and boil them until they are nice and yielding when you stab them with a sharp knife.  Not that most squishy things don’t yield when you stab them with a sharp knife.  And I don’t really like the turn this post is taking … So on that note, drain the cooked potatoes and let them cool until you can handle them without burning yourself.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Chop the potatoes up into halves or quarters or thirds (whatever works for the size of your potato) and plop those in a bowl.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Take 1 stalk celery, with all the objectionable bits cut off, and chop that up for the bowl.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Then take a TINY onion.  You can see the scale.  I have tiny munchkin/carnie hands, so objects in photo are smaller than they appear.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Because the recipe calls for only 1/4 cup chopped onion and that’s a very small amount.    Stick that in the bowl as well.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

You’re going to need 1/2 cup green peas.  I thawed these from the freezer.  So much for market fresh!

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

You’re going to need 1 hardboiled egg, as well.  I don’t care how you get it, but once you have it, peel it and chop it up and add the bits to the bowl.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Chop up some fresh herbs, about 1 tablespoon chives and 2 tablespoons parsley.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

How I love chopping herbs!  Well except thyme.  That sucker’s a real pain.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

So that’s all the bits, in the bowl.  Except the herbs.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Now the dressing is something unnecessarily confabulated, like 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Or whatever the stuff in that wee bowl looks like to you.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Now, toss everything together and store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few hours   (or overnight) to let the flavours blend.  Then eat your face off!

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cream of Broccoli Soup

I was talking to Cait over GoogleChat the other day and she was scarfing down some cream of broccoli soup, a dish I adore.  She rubbed it in a little bit that she had some and I didn’t.  So I figured I’d blend myself up a batch.  And I thought that you could, too, if you wanted to.

Start with some onions.  Dice them up pretty finely.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Chuck them in a large pot with some garlic and a bit of olive oil and butter.  Let that cook on medium-high heat until the onions are translucent.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

While that’s going on, you can start on your broccoli.  I used three heads of broccoli, chopped up, including the stems.  Use a vegetable peeler to get rid of the tough skin.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Then I also sliced up about two stalks of celery.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

And cubed up several small potatoes. I leave the skins on for texture and vitamins but that’s up to you if you want to remove them.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Those go in the pot too, as well as about 4 cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth if you are feeling vegetarian).

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cover that and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes, until everything, including the potatoes, is tender and squishable.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Then remove it from the heat and use an immersion blender or a food processor to blend the soup to your ideal of smoothness.  I like mine a little chunky.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Then you can add in your flavourings.  The first is obviously some form of cream or milk.  You can use sour cream or yogurt or coconut milk or soy milk or whatever you like.  I’m going to go traditional here and use some heavy cream.  We keep it in a small Nalgene bottle because then we can see how much we have left and we don’t have to deal with the cream crusties on the mouth of the carton.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Dijon mustard is also a popular addition to this soup.  The Pie hates mustard but as long as I use it in moderation in things he doesn’t mind.  It definitely adds to the taste.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

And finally, you are going to need a shot or two of Worcestershire sauce.  That goes without saying.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

So add in whatever you like.  Feel free to adjust to your personal taste.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Give it a stir so it’s all nicely mixed in.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

And serve.  With crusty bread on the side and chives to top, or, if you are a real cream of broccoli fan, more grated cheddar cheese than is really sane.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

That’s it, that’s all.  Easy, huh?

O Canada: Quebec Three Bean Soup with Bannock

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

When you type in searches for French-Canadian soups on the internet you get a plethora of results.  “Plethora” is one of my favourite words.  That and the Spanish “desafortunadamente,” which gets me every time.

Jess sent me this beauty, passed down from the Iroquois nation.  I decided, however, that the ingredients were slightly too close to the hodgepodge I made earlier, and I want to give you guys some variety.

There are also a ton of recipes out there for a yellow split pea soup that is quintessentially French-Canadian.  Turn the peas green and you get pea soup from the Maritimes.  Thicken it up a little and steam it in a wee bag and you get pease pudding from the Atlantic.

I dislike all pea soups.  Sorry.  You won’t see one here.

If you happen to Google “French-Canadian bean soup” you get further interesting results.  Apparently, Arthur Flegenheimer (who went by the name of Dutch Schultz), was a rum-runner and all-out nasty mobster during Prohibition in the US in the early part of the 20th century (as a bit of Canadiana for you, pretty much all the contraband booze smuggled onto American soil during that time came from Canada, which wasn’t really into teetotalling).  Anyway, while using the men’s room at a New Jersey hotel, Schultz was repeatedly shot.  It took him about two and a half hours to die of his wounds, and when the police arrived to arrest the dying man, one of the officers recorded his words.  One sentence involved “French-Canadian bean soup.”  Who knew?  These words have been turned into all sorts of literature, most notably that of Hunter S. Thompson.  Weird stuff.

But we’re making soup here, not discussing books.

I cobbled together a recipe from here, here, and also from Jess’s suggestion above.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

First, I got myself some local fall vegetables, some sweet potatoes and an acorn squash.  Use whatever squash you like.  Or none at all.  Soups are pretty fluid, both conceptually and literally.  Ha.  Ha.

Slice up your squash and remove the seeds.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Slice up some sweet potato too.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Roast them until they’re browning at the edges and fragrant, about 45 minutes.  Remember to flip them every once in a while.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Meanwhile, drain and rinse 3 cans of beans.  I used romano, white kidney, and chickpea.  Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) seem to be consistent throughout these recipes, so I would make sure to use that one.  But other people use cannelini beans and lima beans and whatever else they have on hand.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Dice up an onion.  I have two halves of a red and a white so I’m going with that one.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Chuck the onion in a large saucepan with some minced garlic and some dried herbs, such as basil, and sauté until tender.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Dice up some carrots and celery and add those to the mix.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Plop in the beans as well.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Add 1 can diced tomatoes.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

When your roasted vegetables are ready, peel off their skins, cube them up, and chuck them into the pot. Don’t fret too much about cutting up the squash super small — it will fall apart and smush itself as it simmers in the pot.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Cover with vegetable or chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Now for the bannock.  As a child, on every field trip we went that involved learning some aspect of Canadian history (the Goldrush, the Fur Trade, the Potlatch, the Salmon Fishery …) we ended up making bannock on green peeled sticks over a campfire.  Every.  Time.

As a result, bannock in my mind will forever taste of ashes and stick.

But you can make it in a skillet too.  To avoid the taste of raw stick and ash.

Apparently, bannock is a Scottish flatbread, stolen from the Romans so very long ago.  If you squint your eyes you can kind of see how the Latin panecium can be bastardized into the Gaelic bannock.  Sure.  But remember that so many different cultures make a form of flatbread.  It’s some form of grain or bean flour plus water and heat and boom – flatbread.   The First Nations people of Canada, in the course of their various interactions with European settlers (good or bad), adopted and adapted bannock such that it is also recognized by many to be part of a bunch of First Nation food traditions.  Because it’s bread.  Everyone eats bread.

Some recipes for bannock use dried milk powder and shortening to fluff up the bread, but I firmly believe that this should be a flatbread, made with the barest minimum of ingredients.

So.  Dry ingredients.  Mix together 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Add enough water to form a dough and mix thoroughly. This will be dependent on the moisture content of the air and your flour. I added probably half a cup to this one. You want the dough to be slightly tacky.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Divide the dough into appropriate serving sizes and flatten into patties.  Feel free to wrap a patty around a stick and shove it into a fire.

Or you can slip the patty onto a hot buttered skillet and fry, flipping halfway through, until both sides are golden brown.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Serve with honey, butter, jam, salsa, soup, spaghetti … whatever you want. It’s bread.  It’s flexible.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

More Words on Bannock

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Family Oven: Bannock

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WikiHow on Bannock

Deep-Fried Dinner

Deep-Fried Dinner

For the Pie’s birthday dinner, we decided to try deep-frying for the first time.  We’d been putting it off because, well, it’s incredibly unhealthy, it’s a dangerous fire risk, and our kitchen has no fume hood so we’d be dealing with the aromas of cooking oil for several days.

But we needed to learn (in the same way that we need to learn everything else we do here).  So we decided to try two different methods and make Buffalo chicken strips (with blue cheese dip) and some beer-battered onion rings.  Both recipes come from Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food magazine.  Both recipes involve buttermilk.

Now, though I’m presenting two different recipes here, I’m going to give the instructions to you in the order I did them, because that makes the most sense to me.  In order for you to differentiate the two recipes, I’ll preface instructions for the chicken with BCS and use OR for the onions.

BCS/OR: Turn your oven to 250°F.  Put some cooling racks on top of rimmed baking sheets and put those in the oven.  Those will be your warming and draining trays for your chicken and onions.
Deep-Fried Dinner

OR: Slice 2lb onions into thick rounds and submerge them in 2 cups buttermilk for about an hour before cooking.  The buttermilk takes the acidic bite out of the onions, making them sweet and tender.  Just a warning: following this recipe results in a heckuva lotta onion rinks, so if you don’t want to fry up a million, I suggest halving it, or even quartering it.
Deep-Fried Dinner

BCS: Crumble up 1 cup blue cheese (I used 400g here and it crumbled to about a cup) and 1/2 cup buttermilk.
Deep-Fried Dinner

Stir that around and set it aside.
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Cut up some vegetables while you’re at it, why don’t you?  You’re about to consume pure fat — you should probably add in some vitamins.
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BCS/OR: Plop about 1 1/2 cups flour in a shallow dish and put that near your stove.  That’s for the batterin’.
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OR: Crack two eggs into a bowl.  Whisk ’em.
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Whisk in 1 bottle lager or pale ale.
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Whisk in 1 1/2 cups flour and 2 teaspoons coarse salt.  Set that near the stove as well.
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BCS: In yet another bowl, combine 1/3 cup hot sauce with 3 tablespoons butter.  Stir well and set that aside for now.
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Slice up 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into finger-sized pieces.
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Dip them in 1 cup buttermilk.
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Then into that flour you have ready.
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Lay them out on a baking sheet.
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I think we’re about ready to start cooking.  While I’m sure you could do these two dishes at the same time, I am far from experienced with hot-oil cooking, rather prone to accidents, and I only have one large-sized element on my stove.  So I am going to cook the chicken first, as it doesn’t need to be crispy and can therefore sit in the oven for longer.

As a safety note, we had a box of baking soda handy at all times during this, in case of flareups.  Never leave hot oil unattended, and never, NEVER add additional oil of any kind or any temperature to oil that is already hot.

BCS: Heat 1/2 cup to 1 cup vegetable oil in a heavy skillet.  You can tell if the oil is hot enough for frying when a pinch of flour dropped into it fizzes rapidly.
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Slide a few chicken pieces in, working in batches.
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Cook for about 6-8 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the chicken is golden brown.  Remove the cooked chicken to the rack in the oven.
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This was a very spatter-y process, so I wore long sleeves and kept my face averted from the pan.  My hands kept getting burned from little splashes of oil.  In the end I pulled on a pair of work gloves to protect them and worked happily after that.
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Make sure to let that oil cool before you move it anywhere.

OR: In a large, wide saucepan, heat up 5 cups vegetable oil.  I know, that’s a lot of oil.
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Use a candy or deep-fry thermometer and continuously adjust the temperature of your element to keep the oil at 375°F.  If it gets too cold, it won’t cook the onions all the way through, and if it gets too hot, well … let’s not think about that.
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What was interesting was the cool pattern the oil made while it heated.
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Take a ring of onion out of the buttermilk and dip it in the flour, then into the beer batter.  Shake off the excess.
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Slide the ring carefully into the hot oil.  Cook in small batches, rotating halfway through, for about 5 minutes.  Remove to the other rack in the oven to drain and keep warm.  This method of frying was wayyyyy less spatter-y, if you were interested to know.
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We had a lot more onions left to cook after we had cooked as many as we thought we could eat.  We figured they would keep until tomorrow and we would try again.
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BCS: When everything is cooked and you are ready to go, take the chicken strips out of the oven and toss them in the hot sauce.  These will be served with the blue cheese dip we made earlier.
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OR: For the onions we had a nice tzatziki dip as well as a chipotle mayo.
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All told, it was pretty epic.
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