Category Archives: Comfort Food

Bacon Jam

I first learned that bacon jam was a thing when I received a new cookbook in the mail from my aunt on the west coast.  (BEST. MAIL. EVER.) It obviously seemed like a brilliant concept and to be honest I was a little mad I didn’t think of it first, but I got past it and gave this recipe a try.   It’s incredibly rich and indulgent.  And sweet and spicy, and savoury and wonderful.  The mixture simmers aromatically for about 2 hours, cooking itself down into a sticky, sweet, spicy and rich jam like texture.  You can also use a hand held blender at the end to break it up further and make it even more jam-like.

Bacon Jam Ingredients

Bacon Jam Ingredients

Start by cooking up a pound of bacon, remove it to a paper towel lined plate, and drain off most of the grease.  Leave about 2 – 3 tbsp and then throw in onions and garlic, and allow to cook until soft and golden brown.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 2 hours.  Add 1/4 cup of water every half hour, or whenever it starts to burn a little or stick to the bottom of the pan.  Not surprisingly, your home is going to smell pretty unreal.

Cooking Bacon Jam

Cooking Bacon Jam

Blend the mixture slightly, so that it is spreadable but still has some texture.  Store it in a glass jar in the fridge and use it in any number of delicious ways.

Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam

Like on a grilled cheese sandwich! The one below also has herb and garlic cream cheese, roasted red pepper and old cheddar.  Serve this with Bread and Butter Pickles on the side for a sublime grilled cheese experience. 🙂

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Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam Recipe

1 lb bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp hot sauce
1 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp pepper

  1. In a deep pan, fry bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp.  Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Drain bacon fat from pan, leaving only about 2 tbsp.
  2. Add garlic and onions to the rendered bacon fat and fry over medium heat for 5 minutes or until translucent.  Return bacon to the pan and add all remaining ingredients.  Simmer uncovered for 2 hours, adding 1/4 cup water every 30 minutes.  Consistency should be thick and jam-like.
  3. Use immersion blender or food processor to pulse mixture for 2 to 3 seconds, leaving some texture.  Allow to cool.  Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

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Filed under Apps & Sides, Comfort Food, Junk Food

Ricardo’s Tourtière

This year Chris and I decided to give some of our Christmas gifts in food form, and settled on traditional, meaty and hearty tourtière.  For many people it’s a Christmas-time comfort food and it’s a great one dish meal that can easily be thrown into the oven some busy winter evening.   I personally think it’s a great gift idea, mostly because I love it whenever people give me food as a gift.  It doesn’t exactly wrap well for under the tree, but I haven’t encountered anyone who will turn away a home cooked item for their freezer!

Get your recipe out and line up some of your ingredients.  I used Ricardo’s recipe for tourtière this time, and it also passed Chris’ french-upbringing-tourtiere-eating test.  This is a legitimately québecois recipe!

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Get out a big pot for the filling (which I neglected to photograph for some unknown reason).  A mixture of beef, pork,potatoes, onion, garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.  And salt and pepper, of course.  The spices are pretty mellow but add a nice subtle flavour to the filling.  Pretty traditional and highly delicious….this recipe makes enough for six pies!

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Cook the onions and garlic in a bit of melted butter until they get soft and golden.

onion

Then throw in the beef and pork, and cook, stirring regularly, until no more pink remains.  Then dump in the rest of the ingredients and let it cook for about 45 minutes.  Not complicated at all!

In the meantime, prepare your dough, using the crust recipe from this pot pie recipe.  Light, flaky and perfect.

crust

There is a serious lack of counter space in my apartment, so Chris McGyvered up a chair-table to fit all the pies!

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Scoop the filling out into the crusts, and use whatever dough you have leftover to make fancy patterns on the top!

triple tourtiereAll of these went in the freezer to be used (mostly) as Christmas gifts, so stay tuned for pictures of the cooked, finished product!

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UPDATE!

The tourtières turned out excellently!  Just like I had hoped they would.  The crust was light, flakey and buttery, 🙂 and the filling was exactly how I remembered it tasting when my french-Canadian babysitter used to make it when I was little. But this time, because we served one of these at our New Year’s Eve dinner party, I decided to fancy it up a little bit by serving it alongside some homemade ketchup. It was the perfect compliment, and I will post the recipe soon!

Here is the one we cooked up on New Year Eve!  Maybe in the oven for slightly too long, but not so long that it ruined it. No complaints from the dinner crowd!

Tourtière

Tourtière

Here it is alongside some homemade ketchup and poutine (also homemade :)).  Did I mention it was a Quebecois themed dinner party?  We also had a variety of beers, including 50.  Très authentic.

Quebecois Dinner Party

Quebecois Dinner Party

And here is another one we pulled out of the freezer a few nights ago.  The ketchup was done, so we served it with a few slices of cheddar cheese instead.  I’m sad there are no more of these left in the freezer, they were such a treat!

Tourtière

Tourtière

Ricardo’s Tourtière Recipe

4 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
45 ml (3 tablespoons) olive oil
1.4 kg (3 lbs) ground pork
1.4 kg (3 lbs) ground veal
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
250 ml (1 cup) chicken broth
180 ml (3/4 cup) breadcrumbs
2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
Rolled-out pastry dough from this pot pie recipe (x 2), or store-bought crust

  1. In a large saucepan, soften the onions and garlic in the oil. Add the meat and continue cooking for about 15 minutes, stirring to crumble the meat. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring frequently, for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes begin to fall apart. Let cool. Adjust the seasoning.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or until completely chilled.
  4. With the rack in the lowest position, preheat the oven to 190 °C (375 °F).
  5. Line six 23-cm (9-inch) pie plates with pastry. Cover with the cooled meat mixture, about 1 pound of meat per pie. Cover with a second crust, and make an incision in the center. Or top with crust pattern or shapes of your choice. Press the lip the seal with a fork or your fingers. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown.

From:  Ricardo

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Filed under Comfort Food, Main Courses

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Fall is perfect meat roasting weather in my opinion, so why not slather up some poultry with a whole lot of butter and fresh spices, and make enough of this divine chicken to feed you for a week?  Rosemary, chives, parsley and lemon zest (and of course salt and pepper) bring the perfect flavour compliments to this fanstastic chicken.  So much butter.  So much flavour.   So much juicy.  So much awesome.

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Smear your butter and spice mixture all over a whole chicken.  It’s definitely slippery….just work with small chunks of the mixture when rubbing it in.

schmear that all over the place

Once you have the whole thing covered, stuff the cavity of the chicken with a few lemon halves and a few sprigs of rosemary.

I don’t have a roasting rack, but if I did, I would have put the chicken on top of that before baking.  It’ll make sure the bottom gets nice and roasty too!

Lemon, herb and butter smeard chicken

Bake @425 for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Voila!

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

I covered it with foil and let it sit for about 20 minutes before carving, just to trap the juices inside.

Then I served it up with some twice baked potatoes and sautéed snow peas.  Nom nom nom 🙂

Roasted Chicken Dinner

Close up:)  The skin was better than you can imagine…I think it was the gross amounts of butter.  Totally worth it.

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken, Twice Baked Potatoes and Sautéed Snow Peas

Store the leftovers in the fridge for up to a week, and use in salads, wraps, soups, leftovers etc.  This chicken would be a great addition to so many dishes!

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Recipe

1 whole Chicken, Rinsed And Patted Dry
3/4 cups Butter, Softened
3 whole Lemons
4 sprigs Rosemary
Bunch fresh Chives
Salt And Pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Zest two of the lemons. Strip the leaves off of one of the rosemary sprigs and chop it up finely.
  3. In a bowl, combine softened butter, lemon zest, rosemary, chives and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil and lay the patted-dry chicken on the foil, breast side up.
  5. Use your fingers to smear the butter mixture all over the chicken, under the skin, and inside the cavity. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice of one lemon all over the chicken. Place the six lemon halves (if they’ll fit!) and the three remaining rosemary leaves into the cavity of the bird.
  6. Place the chicken into the oven and roast it for 1 hour, 15 minutes or until done. Skin should be deep golden brown and juices should be sizzling.
  7. Carve/cut up to your heart’s content and dig in!

From:  The Pioneer Woman

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Filed under Comfort Food, Main Courses

Pulled Pork Tacos

I’m always on the look out for an excuse to eat something in taco form, when inspiration came from a recent Food Network magazine which listed 50 different ways to serve tacos, pulled pork being one of them.  Then, Flow, an excellent restaurant in my hometown shared their recipe for pulled pork in the local newspaper, and I thought I should probably go ahead and make this whole pulled pork taco thing happen.   Basically, the equation for this recipe breaks down to:

pulled pork recipe from Flow + general taco awesomeness = pulled pork taco dinner heaven

So here’s how the pork went into the oven.  In tenderloin form (healthy!), after marinating in a rub of paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, tomato paste etc., for a few hours.  Then into a roasting pan with carrots, celery, onion and broth.

Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Roughly 4 hours later it came out looking like this:

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Separate the meat from the broth (and reserve the broth to use in other recipes if you like, it’s tasty stuff) and pull the whole thing to shreds using a couple of forks.

Pulled apart pork tenderloin

But while the pork is in the oven, you can prepare the sauce.  Mix all these things together in a pot and heat on a stove for about 10 minutes.  Super easy, super delicious.

Pulled Pork Sauce

It doesn’t look like much, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste like much.  It turned out to be a delicious and tangy-sweet sauce.

Simmering Pulled Pork sauce

Next, stir the sauce and the pork together.  At first i thought pulled pork would be better the longer it simmered in sweet saucy goodness, but I wanted to try this just like Flow does it, so I followed the recipe and mixed them together right before serving.   Let me tell you, there was NOTHING wrong with this pulled pork.  Not one single thing.

Saucy Pulled Pork

As for turning it into a taco, I started with a flour tortilla (after being unable to find corn ones :(, but in the end the flour ones were great), then a layer of refried beans with the pulled pork piled high on top of that.

Sidenote: very difficult to take an appetizing photo of refried beans swiped on a tortilla.  Let’s skip that picture and go straight to this one:

Re-fried beans and pulled pork

Next you’ve gotta fry them up.  Use just enough vegetable oil to make them turn golden brown, but not get too greasy.

Fried Pulled Pork Tacos

Then it’s time for standard (but awesome) taco fare.  Guacamole, pico de galo, cheese, sour cream, etc. etc. etc.

Dressed up Pulled Pork Tacos

I also decided to top one of them with homemade apple coleslaw, just to see how it tasted when it was more liked a pulled pork sandwich on a tortilla, rather than a taco with pulled pork on it.  The coleslaw combo was great and I would have it again, but overall I preferred the traditional taco toppings.  In other words, my third taco that evening had traditional toppings on it 🙂

Taco Combo

I basically cut their recipe in half since I used a smaller tenderloin instead of a 5 -7 pound pork shoulder which Flow recommends for this recipe.  Below is their exact recipe, so adapt it as you see fit!

Pulled Pork Tacos Recipe

The Rub:
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon of canola oil
2 tablespoons of tomato paste (or ketchup)

The Stock:
1 cup diced onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1-2L of beef stock (to fill roasting half way)

The Sauce:
1/2 cup of pork shoulder stock reduction
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup yellow or brown mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Mix all rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork and marinate for as long as you have time for, as little as 1 hour or up to overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  3. Put the pork and stock in a roasting pan and bake for about 6 hours, flipping the roast at the half way mark.  Roast the pork until fork tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170 degrees F.
  4. To make the barbecue sauce: combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 10 minutes until smooth.
  5. Remove the pork roast from the oven and transfer to a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While still warm, take 2 forks and “pull” the meat to form shreds. Using 2 forks, shred the pork by steadying the meat with 1 fork and pulling it away with the other. Put the shredded pork in a bowl. Pour 1/2 of the sauce on the shredded pork and mix well to coat.
  6. *To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom 1/2 of the hoagie bun, and top with the slaw. Serve with your favorite leafy salad.

*I obviously ignored this part of the instructions and served it in taco form.  Pile pork on a tortilla, along with your favourite taco toppings, and eat!

From: Flow Café & Catering, Elmira Observer

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Comforting Apple Crisp

To me, baking is part chemistry and part alchemy – science and art coming together to create something enormously delicious.  Apple Crisp is one of those dishes that is relatively straightforward to prepare, but playing around with it a bit and adding some new ingredients can add a depth of flavour to what you might be used to in a traditional recipe.  I’m not talking big changes, but one or two little things, (like fresh vanilla!) that will equal subtle, tasty results.

Here I’ve taken my mom’s classic (and delicious as-is) apple crisp recipe and added fresh vanilla, lemon juice and honey to the apples.  There are a few options for the crust too, so you can customize your apple crisp to suit your taste buds! Play around a bit and enjoy!

Peeled and Chopped Apples

Scrape out a fresh vanilla pod to give the apples a bit of extra flavour.

Fresh Vanilla Pod

Close up of the apple mixture – check out that fresh vanilla action.  MMMMMM!

Apple Mixture Close-Up

I like to change things up crust-wise.  Here is option #1, with oats!

Pre-oven Habble crisp

Or if you’re more of a straight up sweet tooth, forget the oats and use the crust from this recipe. Option #2 will look like this:

Crust Option #2

Bake @ 350 until adequately crispy!

Piping Hot Apple Crisp

No matter how you prepare it, don’t expect it to last long!

Golden Apple Crisp

Don’t forget the ice cream 🙂

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp Recipe

½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup butter
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg (or fresh grated is even better!)
½ cup large flake oats (optional)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 fresh vanilla pod, scrapped out
1 tsp honey
Apples to fill a baking dish (something non-sweet, like MacIntosh or Granny Smith)

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.    Mix lemon juice, vanilla pod and honey in small bowl.
3.    Peel and cut apples, toss with lemon juice mixture, and cover bottom of baking dish (at least – add more if you like more!)
4.    Mix flour, sugar, butter cinnamon and nutmeg until it resembles a coarse meal, and cover apples.
5.    Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is as crispy and golden brown.

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Filed under Comfort Food, Dessert

Perfect Pancakes

These are not your typical light and fluffy pancakes you’ll find at the sugar shack, breakfast buffet or maply syrup festival (what my small mennonite hometown happens to be famous for).  These are panCAKES, in every sense of the word.  And they are GOOD.  They are hearty and thick, with a slighty sweet flavour.  The quintissential comfort food.   Usually pancakes fall into the breakfast food category, but I actually made these for dinner one chilly fall night (I always love breakfast for dinner days) and they hit the spot. 
 
The batter for these pancakes is really thick and dense…..don’t be alarmed, they are supposed to be that way.  That’s what makes them so cake-like.   After you throw some batter into a buttered pan, make sure you let it cook until little bubbles appear on the top, so you know it’s cooked through and the inside won’t be doughy.  This takes a bit longer than the average pancake, but it’s well worth the wait.
Pancake Batter

When it’s good to go, flip it over and admire how beautiful and golden it is.  Yes, I think pancakes are beautiful.

Pretty Pancake

These are super filling, so you won’t need many, but why not throw a few on a plate for yourself, just in case 😉

Pile-o-pancakes

Add syrup and butter.  Real maple syrup if at all possible.  And if you don’t have any, you should get yourself to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival the first weekend of April every year so you can stock up.  

Now you’re ready to eat!

Perfect Pancakes

Pancakes Recipe

3 cups Plus 2 Tablespoons (All purpose) Flour
½ teaspoons Salt
3 Tablespoons Baking Powder
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 cups Milk
2 whole Large Eggs
3 teaspoons Vanilla
4 Tablespoons Butter
Extra Butter
Maple Syrup

1.  Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl.
2.  Mix together milk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl.
3.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring very gently until just combined.
4.  Melt butter and add it to the batter, stirring gently to combine.
5.  Cook on a greased skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown. Serve with an obscene amount of butter and warm syrup.

From:  The Pioneer Woman

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Filed under Breakfast, Comfort Food

French Onion Soup

Fall is definitely upon us!  With the cooler weather come endless possibilities for belly warming soups.  I don’t know many people who don’t love French onion soup, so I won’t try and sell it to you on it, I’ll just share this solid (and relatively healthy!) recipe so you can make your own.  Happy Fall!

Throw some thinly sliced onions, garlic and salt into a big soup pot to get started.

Early Stages of French Onion Soup

Add some broth, red wine, sherry and a bay leaf, and simmer until you can’t handle the delightful fragrances emerging from your kitchen any longer.

Sizzling, Aromatic Broth 🙂

Load it up with some bread and cheese, and pop it in the oven until it’s all melty and gooey. Then dig in!

Sidenote:  I bought french onion soup bowls at the dollar store for, you guessed it, a dollar each.  No need to break the bank, and they’re oven safe!  These come in handy for way more than just French onion soup too – individual portions of pasta, baked dips, chicken pot pies, apple crisp etc.  Love these!

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup Recipe

1 tbsp canola oil
6 onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
6 cups beef stock (low sodium works best)
½ cup red wine
2 tbsp dry sherry or cognac
1 bay leaf
½ tsp pepper
4 slices French bread
1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese

1.    In soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Cook onions, garlic and salt, stirring often, for about 10 minutes until they start to brown.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until onions are very golden and very soft.  Add flour and stir to coat onions for 1 minute.
2.    Add beef stock, wine, sherry, bay leaf and pepper;  bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.
3.    Pour soup into desired bowls.  Place bread on top to fit bowls and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake in 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.  Broil for 30 seconds to brown top.

(Makes about 4 servings)

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Filed under Comfort Food, Soups & Stews