Category Archives: Canadiana

Thai – Inspired Poutine Recipe

Thai Poutine by The Aimless Cook

Today, I’m taking a Canadian classic and giving it a little bit of Thai love. I’m making a Thai-Inspired Poutine with sweet potato fries, fresh cheese curds, a rich coconut curry gravy and crispy skin chicken. There are a lot of beautiful things going on in this recipe that you are gonna love. Let’s cook!

You will need:

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 package of cheese curds (Bothwell makes a brand called Squeekers)
  • 2 chicken thighs, deboned and flattened (skin on)
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh lime
  • sweet potato fries (or regular fries)

In a wok, start by heating a couple tablespoons of oil. Add the shallot and garlic and stirfry for about 30 seconds. Add the curry paste and powder, combine and cook for about 3 minutes until the mixture darkens and becomes aromatic.

Once the curry mixture is ready, add the coconut milk and chicken stock. Whisk it all together, then add the fish sauce and sugar. Let it come to a boil, turn down to medium, and let simmer uncovered for about 15 – 20 minutes.

You can make your fries from scratch if you like, and you can find the recipe right here. For convenience sake, I went the way of buying them at the grocery store and baking them in the oven.

For the crispy skin chicken, I simply de-boned the thighs and laid them out flat like cutlets, preserving the skin (of course). Season well on both sides with salt and pepper and heat up a small skillet with oil on high heat. Lay the chicken down on the hot pan skin-side down and cook until golden brown on both sides. Since it’s thin, it won’t take long to cook (about 4 minutes per side). When they’re done, take them out and set aside to rest for about 10 minutes.

After the curry sauce has been simmering for 15 – 20 minutes, you’ll notice it has reduced by about a third. Test the consistency with a spoon. It should coat the back of a spoon. Give it a final taste and season to your liking. Now it’s time to assemble!

Grab a nice big bowl and put down a layer of fries with a few cheese curds on top. Add some gravy on top, then continue with another layer of fries and cheese curds. Add the crispy skin chicken (sliced into strips), then ladle more gravy on top. Make sure you get gravy on the cheese curds so they melt. Finish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

If you’ve had poutine before, then you’ll love this new twist. All the flavours of classic Thai cuisine are here with the gooey cheese and rich flavourful sauce. The crispy skin chicken has a wonderful crunch and is tender and juicy. Enjoy this recipe and have fun in the kitchen!

What is your favourite melty cheese dish?

Quick Bannock – Native Frybread Recipe

Quick Bannock by The Aimless Cook

Ever run into one of those mornings when you look in the fridge and discover that you have nothing to make into breakfast? I’m gonna show you how to make a quick version of a traditional bannock using a few basic ingredients from the pantry. Fresh from the pan, these are delicious with almost anything – jam, butter, syrup, cream or cinnamon spread. Breakfast solved!

You will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup cooking oil

We’ll start by mixing the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Start with the all-purpose flour, then add in 1 teaspoon each of baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk together to combine.

To that, whisk in 1 cup of water to make a pasty batter. Add up to a ½ cup more if it’s not enough. You want your batter to be like paste and hang off a spoon. At this point, you can add raisins, dried cranberries or saskatoon berries for some variation.

Heat up ½ cup of cooking oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat til the oil starts to shimmer. You can drop in a little piece of batter to test it. When the oil is ready, drop in the batter a tablespoon at a time and fry until golden brown. Flip over and continue frying until done. Carefully take out of the pan and drain on paper towels.

Fresh bannock goes well with just about anything, especially butter and your favourite jam. You can also dress this up like a scone with whip cream and fresh berries. It’s up to you!

Bannock is a traditional First Nations bread that was also enjoyed by the Metis. Because it was so easy to prepare, trappers and hunters often brought it out into the bush. It’s still made today and is gaining popularity with all Canadians.

What is your quick go-to breakfast?

Panfried Pickerel with Cannellini Bean Salad

Panfried Pickerel by The Aimless Cook

Pickerel, or walleye as its sometimes known as, is a freshwater fish native to Canada and parts of the Northern US. It has a nice white meat that is flaky and tender, perfect for pan-frying. Today, I’m going to show you a simple pan-fry recipe and make a nice beurre noisette (brown butter) sauce in the same pan. To go with our pickerel, I’m making a nice cannellini bean salad. This makes for a nice and easy weekday dinner, so let’s get cooking!

For the salad, you will need:

  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 handful of grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ package mixed greens
  • 375g Cannellini beans (white kidney, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 handful parsley (flatleaf if you got it, chopped)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • S&P

For the rest:

  • 2 pickerel fillets, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons, butter
  • olive oil
  • parsley, chopped
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • S&P

To make the salad, start by making a dressing with 3 tablespoons of a good quality extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt to season and mix well to emulsify.

In a large bowl, add the cucumber, 75g of mixed greens, a handful of halved grape tomatoes, a three finger pinch of chopped parsley and the cannellini beans. Add the dressing and toss lightly to combine. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper. Put a nice generous serving on each plate and set aside.

For the rest, start by scoring the skin of 2 pickerel fillets and seasoning with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat up a pan on high heat and add a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter. When the pan is hot, add the pickerel, skin side down to the pan and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until the fish comes free from the pan. You need to build that beautiful crust.

Turn the fish over and cook the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes. When the fish is done, take out of the pan and set a piece on each of the plates of salad.

In the same pan, melt another pat of butter on medium low heat and cook until it starts to brown. When you start to see the brown particles in the butter, remove from the heat, add the juice of 1 lemon and half a handful of chopped parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and spoon the brown butter sauce over the cooked fish and salad. Enjoy!

The cannellini beans brings a nice creaminess to the whole dish and complements the acidity of the dressing. The dried cranberries are a nice bit of sweetness that adds a touch of colour to the whole dish. If you don’t have pickerel, any white fish will do, including cod, halibut or even catfish. This dish is light, yet hearty enough with the beans to fill you up without having to make rice. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen.

Pickerel or Walleye – what do you call it where you come from?
Special thanks to my friends over at Dor-Bel Fine Foods and Mustafa from Nefiss Lezziz

Pea Soup Recipe

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Pea soup has been enjoyed since about 500 BC in ancient Greece. Since then, the dish has been adapted and refined all over Europe and the world. In this recipe, I’m using dried split peas and some leftover lentils. We’re also gonna make a stock with some roasted smoked ham hocks with maple syrup. This is gonna build us a nice foundation for a delicious batch of pea soup and its happening right now on The Aimless Cook.

You will need:

  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • some maple syrup
  • some water
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups dried split peas
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Start by drizzling some maple syrup on the ham hocks on a baking sheet and roast them in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown and fragrant.

Next, start your stock with a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a 6 qt stockpot on medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and sweat them out for about 6 – 8 minutes, adding the garlic at the last minute. Add in the roasted ham hocks, fill the pot with water and let it come to a boil. The moment it starts to boil, turn down the heat to medium and let simmer for at least 2 hours.

When the stock is done, take out the ham hocks and set aside. Strain out the veg and discard. Put the stock back on the stove and add the potatoes, split peas, some thyme and a couple bay leafs. Let simmer again for another hour until the peas are done and the potatoes are falling apart. The potatoes will help thicken the soup.

While the soup simmers, take the meat off the bones and chop into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

When the soup is done, skim the surface to get rid of the foam. Next, use an immersion blender to puree the soup until you get the desired consistency. Add in the ham and stir everything together to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and you’re ready to serve. To serve, ladle into bowls and drizzle with a little maple syrup. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Pea soup has been made for ages and during that time, has been refined and re-interpreted over the years. The are many different variations of this recipe all over Europe as well as places like the Caribbean and right here in Canada. Since we are using dried peas and ham hocks in this recipe, it’s a very cheap dish to put together. You can serve this dish in many ways: You can serve it with a drizzle of maple syrup with a side of crusty bread, you can add crema for richness, or just plain. They’re all delicious!

What was your favourite soup growing up?

Poor Man’s Pudding Recipe – Pouding Chomeur

Pouding Chomeur, or “poor man’s pudding” was invented at the beginning of the Great Depression in Quebec, Canada. It’s a very simple dessert to prepare, using some simple ingredients that are readily available pretty much anywhere. Though the recipe is very easy to do, the results will amaze you. I’m telling you, if there’s a dessert you have to try this weekend it’s this one!

You will need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup raisins

the sauce:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with the sugar, baking powder and nutmeg.

Whisk in the milk, ¼ cup melted unsalted butter and the lemon zest. Mix until combined, then add in the raisins. When the batter is complete, spread on the bottom of a pre-greased 8” baking dish.

For the maple sauce, whisk together the water, maple syrup, 2 tablespoons melted butter and the cornstarch. Pour the liquid mixture over the batter and pop it into a preheated 350F oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with extra sauce spooned over top. If you want to completely blow your head off, add a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

pouding chomeur

*notes

Originally, this recipe used 1 ½ cups of water in the sauce, but I reduces the amount to 1 cup to increase the thickness of the sauce. You can play with the amount of liquid in the sauce so as to experiment with different consistencies. Better yet, make a second sauce with a mixture of sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Or…sugar the top of your chomeur and torch it like a creme brulee. Experiment and have no fear. Great things come from the minds of people who aren’t afraid to explore. Have fun in the kitchen!

Buddocks – Home Style Meat Buns Recipe

Buddocks are a home style meat bun made with a basic bread dough, stuffed with ground beef or pork, cabbage and onions. You can actually put whatever you got in them and experiment. I got this recipe from Jo’s family recipe book. If you know where the name ‘buddocks’ came from, please let me know.

The buns:

  • 1T quick rise yeast
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 7 cups all purpose flour

Start with the warm water in a large mixing bowl and add sugar. Stir briefly, then add the quick rise yeast. Stir it in and let stand for about 15 minutes while the yeast activates. 

Add salt, eggs, butter and flour. Combine until smooth and let stand for 1 hour to rise. Now let’s start our filling.

The cabbage roll filling:

  • 300g sour cabbage, rinsed and minced
  • ½ lb each of ground beef and pork, combined
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • S&P

In this recipe, I’m using sour cabbage. I got this idea from the cabbage roll video back in 2010. It adds a lot of flavour to the filling. Be sure before you use it to rinse well in cold water to get rid of the excess brine. After that, shred the cabbage and set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, brown the ground beef until it starts to change colour then add onion. Cook for a couple minutes more, season with salt and pepper then add the cabbage and tomato. Mix well to combine, cover and cook on medium to wilt the cabbage and break down the tomatoes. When the filling is done, give it a final taste and season again. Remove from heat, set aside and let cool. 

At this point, your dough will be at least twice its size. Cut into 2 and roll your dough into a sheet to about the thickness of a chopstick. Cut them into palm-sized squares and get ready to assemble. 

Put a square of dough in your palm and scoop in some filling in the center of the square. Fold the corners into the center and pinch the edges to seal. Fold in the remaining corners and twist. Once you get a few dozen of these made, you’ll have the technique down.

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Pop your buns onto a baking sheet and bake on 350F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Once they are finished, set aside to cool since the fillings will be molten hot, especially if you’re using a filling with cheese. 

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Speaking of fillings, you can let your imagination go wild and put whatever you want; leftover curry, adobo, pulled pork… Be creative and have fun in the kitchen. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Poutine Recipe – Canadian Favourites

Poutine is a French Canadian favourite that is enjoyed all over Canada. Traditionally, it’s comprised of French fries, cheese curds and a rich gravy, although there are many variations and toppings available today such as smoked meat, bbq, or pulled pork to name a few. Today, I am making my poutine with sweet potato fries and topping them with fresh goat cheese and a rich butter miso gravy. The goat cheese goes well with the sweet potato and is all brought together with the savory flavor of the miso gravy. I hope you try this at home and enjoy!

Start by cutting up 2 large sweet potatoes into uniform ¼ inch sticks. This will ensure that they will cook evenly and at the same time. Now when cooking fries, I use a 2 step method. Heat a couple inches of oil in a pot to about 325F. Working in small batches, cook the fries for 3-4 minutes til tender. This will cook the inside of the potato. Then strain and dry on paper towels. For the second cooking turn up the heat to 375F. Working in small batches again, fry the potatoes until golden brown and crisp. This should only take a minute or 2. Drain on paper towel and season with salt.

Now let’s make our miso gravy. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ tablespoons of red miso, 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard, a dash of soy sauce, 1 dash of sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of flour. Gradually whisk in 2 cups of water until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large frying pan on medium heat and bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat and simmer til thickened. For added richness and texture, add 1 tablespoon of butter. Finally give it a taste and season with salt and pepper. 

To assemble the poutine, lay down a generous pile of fries and top with a nice, even distribution of goat cheese. Follow that with some miso gravy then finish with chopped green onion. Now grab a fork and enjoy!

Perogies

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When I was in Winnipeg I had some amazing perogies at this local institution, Alycia’s. I’ve had perogies before, but like I have said countless times before, fresh is the ultimate way to go. The good people at Alycia’s hand craft thousands of perogies every day. This dedication is what makes Alycia’s what it is… a local legend. When I got home, Sue was already on the case, calling up her friends and family in search of the ultimate perogy recipe. So, taking a lot of the traditional methods from our ancestors, we have given this recipe a little bit of an organic twist and a flavor update.

In this perogy recipe we used spelt flour, an ancient grain that has a high protein and nutrient content. Instead of regular cheddar or cheez whiz, we used organic feta cheese. I think the taste that we achieved in this recipe was spot on. The texture of the dough is hearty with a nutty flavor. The feta adds an interesting tangy zip that you will enjoy. So if you’re ready to rock, let’s get started!

You will need:

  • 2 cups of spelt flour (or all-purpose)
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1 egg

Combine these ingredients in a mixing bowl until you have yourself a rough ball of dough, kinda like the pasta recipe. Take the dough out of the bowl and work it on a nice surface until smooth. Next, roll out your dough until it’s 1/8 inch thick. Now let’s look at the filling…

  • 5-6 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • salt

Boil the potatoes til tender and mash until smooth. Crumble in the feta cheese and combine with the potatoes. Season with a little salt to taste. That’s the filling. Let’s assemble!

Using a medium sized drinking glass as a template, cut circles into the dough sheet. These will be the wrappers for your perogies. Spoon a little potato filling into the center of each circle, leaving about a centimeter of wrapper around the edge. Whenever making dumplings, it’s easy to overfill. It takes practice, but don’t fret… it doesn’t have to be perfect. We’re not making 3 star restaurant cuisine. We’re making non-pretentious, homemade comfort food.

Fold the wrapper over the filling and crimp the edges shut. If you want to, use a little water to moisten the edges to ensure a good seal. Repeat for the rest of your perogies. You see? The ones you made near the end of the batch look better already! Good job.

Get a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add your perogies and cook until they float on the surface. Once they float, give them a couple minutes before taking them out to serve. Perogies are traditionally served with caramelized onion, bacon and sour cream. I like them with just onion but play around and see what you like. Enjoy, have fun in the kitchen and take care!

J