Thursday, September 30, 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving

A New World Dinner
Harvest time has always brought humans together to feast and frolic, and to give thanks for the bounty of the earth. For Canadians, the National day to give thanks is on the second Monday in October every year.
While the American Thanksgiving is closely associated with the landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth Mass in 1620, Canadian Thanksgiving roots run deeper. In fact, in 1578 Martin Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to celebrate and give thanks for surviving a trip to our northern Atlantic waters.

What would you serve for Thanksgiving Dinner if you could only use native North American foods?

I would start with a salad of tomatoes, avocado and sunflower seeds, dressed with pressed cashew nuts mixed with maple syrup.

Turkey with wild rice and chestnuts or pecans would be using authentic North American foods, but it wouldn't be roasted because roasting foul is a distinctly European method of cooking birds. My authentic North American turkey dish would be cut into parts and simmered in a mole (mole ay) of spiced sauces and pastes of nuts and seeds, spices and herbs, peppers and tomatoes.

Side dishes in our strictly native North American foods meal would consist of potatoes, corn, beans, pumpkin and squash. Dessert would have to be something with chocolate or vanilla or peanuts or all three.

Try my easy and authentic Maple Nut Squash this Thanksgiving. It's designed to be made in advance and popped into the hot oven to heat through while the big bird (roasted of course) is carved.

Maple Nut Squash
13-inch x 9-inch (3L) baking pan, lightly oiled
preheat oven to 350°F (180° C)
3 cups cubed cooked squash
1 cup applesauce or chutney
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
freshly ground sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or cashew nuts

1. In prepared baking pan, combine squash, applesauce, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Grind some salt and pepper over. Cover with a lid or foil and heat in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Garnish with toasted nuts.

To roast squash: Use Hubbard, butternut, acorn or pumpkin for this side dish. Scrub and prick with a fork. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a 350° F (180° C) oven for 45 to 65 minutes, or until the flesh pierces easily with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove from oven and cool. Cut into quarters, scoop out seeds and set aside or discard. Trim away the rind. Cut the flesh into 1-inch cubes and freeze or store, covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thanks for voting-
I made it through the first challenge, but found myself spouting and demonstrating about the Stinking Rose, at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, where over 40,000 people enjoyed the hot autumn days in Saugerties NY.
So I missed the 3pm deadline on Monday to post my 'Classic from another Culture' challenge, and am out of the running. I had a Moroccan Tagine using saffron and dates lined up for this challenge and so this recipe will find its way into my next book..

Thanks to all who voted for me.

You can still vote for other great food blogs. See all the contestants for Challenge #2. And vote for your favourite!
For this challenge, my vote went to bellalimento, let me know who you like in this round.
see you at the festival in November, pat

Monday, September 20, 2010

As my latest post explains Challenge #1 as archived to the right voting is now open and the hunt is on for the best of the food bloggers.
Here is how it works- If you like my blog, click on 'see my profile' in the official contestant square on the right of this page.
That will take you to my bio and that's where you vote. You will see a box on the left with 'my trophies' and a tiny yellow square where you can click to vote for me.

Thanks, Pat

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Project Food Blog, Challenge #1 Chiffonade**

It's a Chiffonade** of a Contest
The Biggest contest to hit the food blogging community is Project Food Buzz, a deliciously interesting competition designed to sift through the hundreds of cyber food wordsmiths for the quintessential food blogger.
OK. I'm in...along with 1,818 other eager, food-slinging, photo-snapping entrants. There I am, way down at the bottom, around 1,400 profiles down.
So my job is to submit a blog and yours is to vote for the best of the best. Not hard, a bit like counting the shards of basil in my Mediterranean Herb Paste. Here we go: Challenge Number 1, from the fingers of the folks that think of these things, "..we're asking you to create a blog post that defines you as a food blogger and makes it clear why you think you have what it takes to be the next food blog star."

My name is Pat Crocker. No Kidding. Patricia Crocker: mother, daughter of British immigrants to Canada and father, son of robust Newfoundlander fisher-folk.
Nothing extraordinary there, but wait. While researching saffron for my cookbook, Tastes of the Kasbah, I happened to find a reference to the origins of my surname (I knew it had nothing to do with cakes from a box!).. In fact, it was a direct quote by the Reverend William Harrison, who in 1587 wrote that English saffron farmers "were known as Crockers", that gave me food for thought.
Hm. Pat Crocker, a.k.a. Patrius Crocus, descendent of English saffron farmers researches, grows, cooks, photographs and writes about herbs and their extraordinary relationship with food: Food Weds Herbs.

Stay tuned right here, because on Monday, September 20th I will be announcing that voting is open and I will give you the complete information about how you can vote your favourite food blogger to fame and frolic at the second annual Foodbuzz Festival.

**Oh, and Chiffonade?

That's where you take the finest of basil leaves and stack them up against one another.

Roll the whole lot into one big, fat cigar and cut them into finely shredded strips for flavoring melting-pot dishes.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to School

Back to Breakfast
When it comes to food, science has proved some things and disproved others. But one thing it has really nailed is that breakfast, that first meal after a long fast, really is the most important one of the day.
Recent research on the glycemic index (which lists foods from high to low in their ability to boost blood sugar levels) indicates that proteins and whole grains–two slow to digest power foods–can boost food satisfaction and energy that can last into the evening. So according to the latest knowledge, a good breakfast doesn't just see us through to lunch time. It is still keeping us from hitting that low blood sugar low around 2 or 3 pm, when high-calorie snacks are so tempting and irritability is creeping into our mood.
This is good news for school age children, teenagers and working adults because it means a well-planned breakfast can curb endless munching later in the day; keep us focused; and best of all, promote fat breakdown instead of its storage.
According to this new information, top-of-the-morning meals of whole grains, fruit or vegetables, cheese, yogurt, chicken and/or fish are the very best healthy breakfast combinations.
I like to make buckwheat and apple pancakes–lots of them–and freeze them so that I can use one or two on busy mornings. I stuff these incredible wraps with whatever I happen to have in the fridge: shredded cheese, hard-boiled egg, sliced or grated; cooked ham, cut into strips; cooked chicken, shredded; cooked chickpeas or other lentils; hummus; lettuce; chopped cooked vegetables; cooked brown rice.
For great breakfasts, make great healthy dinners and just cook extra so that you can have some the next morning. Stir-fried vegetables with chicken or fish; baked chicken in tomato sauce with wholewheat noodles; or any of the vegetable and protein dense one-dish meals in my Vegetarian Cook's Bible make nutritious choices for breakfast.

What whole grain, protein-packed breakfast combination do you favor?
Buckwheat, Apple and Cheese Breakfast Burritos an original Pat Crocker recipe
1/2 cup rolled oats or granola
1/2 cup spelt flakes*
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp organic cane sugar or brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
pinch salt
1 apple, shredded
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup rice or soymilk or low-fat milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
*spelt flakes are found in whole foods stores but if not available, use old-fashioned rolled oats instead
1. In a bowl, combine oats or granola and spelt. Stir in boiling water and let stand 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a batter bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary and salt and stir with a whisk. Add apple and nuts. Make a well in the center.
3. Stir milk, egg and 2 tablespoons of the oil into soaked grains. Pour this mixture into dry
ingredients and stir just enough to combine.
4. In a large skillet or griddle, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Spoon 1/4 cup pancake batter onto hot skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until pancake is lightly browned on bottom and bubbles appear throughout batter. Flip and cook 1 minute or until lightly browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter, re-oiling the pan as needed.
5. Serve immediately or cool and wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator for 4 days. Pancakes can be frozen individually on a baking sheet, then stored in airtight containers in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Suggestions for Filling
shredded cheddar, Swiss or other hard cheese
hard-boiled egg, sliced or grated
cooked ham, cut into strips
cooked chicken, cut into strips or shredded
cooked chickpeas, kidney, black or navy beans
cooked lentils
fresh greens such as spinach, sliced cabbage, sprouts, broccoli
cooked or raw chopped vegetables or fruit
chopped Bell or hot chile peppers or fresh tomatoes
chopped fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, oregano, savory, thyme, rosemary or tarragon
chopped nuts such as walnuts, pecans, cashews
seeds such as sesame, sunflower, poppy, chia
homemade spreads like hummus or pesto

To Fill Breakfast Burritos: Distribute 2 tablespoons of cheese and about 2 tablespoons of a protein ingredient (cooked egg, ham, chicken, fish or beans) along one half-side of a buckwheat pancake. Top with 1/4 cup greens and 1/4 cup vegetables or fruit; sprinkle 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs over all. Fold pancake in half. Secure with a toothpick. Heat in the microwave or oven just until the cheese melts.


All photographs and recipes are original and copyrighted to Pat Crocker. Pat invites you to use her recipes and share with family and friends. Please contact Pat Crocker for express permission for commercial, internet, or other use of her photographs and recipes.