Ikra! A Russian Relish to relish.

I had the ingredients on hand.  I had been wanting to attempt making this for a long time.  Now that I have, it is much easier to prepare than I had imagined.  Ikra.  It is a Russian condiment that I grew up having with meat buns, or, Fleischpersky.  Stephan, from Blue Lagoon Organics, gave me a couple of parsley roots, that I knew were part of the ingredient list.

I consulted the Mennonite Treasury of Recipes, and my Mom, for advice on how to make Ikra.  It seems like a kitchen sink kind of recipe to make with what one has on hand.  I had the following, that made 6 500ml jars.


4 onions, grated*
2+tbs olive oil
2 medium globe eggplant, finely diced
4 medium carrots, grated
2 bulbs of Parsley Root, grated
3 -4 celery stalks, grated or finely diced
3 yellow peppers, grated
4 good tomatoes (I used 4 large yellow tomatoes that I had frozen in Autumn)
4 tbs good Tomato Paste
1 dried red chili
1 tbs chili flake (I used Aleppo)
1/2 sugar
Salt and pepper, to tastes.
water, adjust as needed

*Grated, was done through the food processor blade.

I cooked the onions first and then added the remaining vegetables and seasoning.  After the water began cooking out, I added the remaining ingredients and cooked for up to 30 minutes. 

I sterilized 6 500 ml jars and lids.  Then, I filled each jar, closed the lids just under tightly closed, and cooked in the canner for 20 minutes.  I heard the lids popping now.


Easy Squash Gnudi with wonderful local ingredients.

Something easy.  Something delicious.  Something with ingredients that I have on hand now.

I baked a large Hubbard Squash to add to my daughter’s food (hidden in pasta and muffins).  With some of the baked squash, we made gnudi.  It is much easier than one would think.  We prepared half of a recipe. 

The squash was grown by Kelly Ditz, of The Farm.  The eggs, are by Nature’s Farm.  I used local Notre Dame Butter and Prairie Mills flour. 

Squash Gnudi
1  squash, about 3 lb. (baked and scooped out of shell)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. fine sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
2 cups flour, sifted
8 Tbs unsalted butter, browned
10 fresh sage leaves (to taste)
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 

 Pass the baked squash through a ricer or mash well.  When cooled, add beaten eggs and seasonings and mix well.  Sift flour into squash mixture and stir until well incorporated.  Add enough flour to make a light sticky batter.  Chill at least one hour.

Set a pot of salted water to boil.  Brown butter in another pan and add fresh sage leaves toward the end.  Turn butter off until gnudi is ready.  When water boils, drop gnudi into gently boiling water with a small spoon.  When the gnudi floats, scoop out of water, drain and add to hot butter. Let coat gnudi and plate.  Top with grated cheese.


December 22nd – Last Christmas sale at St. Norbert’s Farmer’s Market!!!

I’ll be at Saturday’s St. Norbert’s Farmer’s Market on Saturday, December 22nd for the last Christmas sale!  I’ll have my spice blends of Ras el Hanout, Turkish Baharat, Tea Masala, and Duq’qah. I’ll also have Onion Jam, Snap Pea Coconut Chutney, and More!  Perhaps Biscotti.

It has occurred to me that, while I use Duq’qah all of the time, I haven’t featured is as much on my blog.  It is so versatile.  Traditionally, with flatbread, salt and olive oil, it is also great as a dry rub on meats and for roasting vegetables.  I’ve put it on popcorn, Corn on the Cob, Chicken, lamb, burgers, and has given me a new taste for broccoli. 

I hope to see you at the market on Saturday.  It is open from 10 – 2PM.

Easy entertaining. Pickerel Cheeks

This is really such a delighfully simple dish to make.  Great local ingredients that shine.  Pickerel cheeks (yes, Walleye, to my non-local language purists) are so sweet and getting a package from Gimli Fish is inexpensive.  You don’t have to do the work!

Saut�ed Pickerel Cheeks

1 pkg pickerel cheeks
1-2 tbs butter (Notre Dame Butter is lovely)
Favourite herb (I used chopped sorrel, but have made this with basil, thyme, tarragon, etc.)
salt and pepper, to taste
splash of Vermouth or Mirin, to deglaze

Heat pan and melt butter.  You can also have browned butter for this dish.  Add chopped herbs and pickerel cheeks.  Cook, turning once, for a couple of minutes per side at most.  Deglaze pan and serve immediately.

Serve as an appetizer with breads or on crackers (rice crackers for Gluten-Free), or increase amounts for an easy entr�e.


By request! Tomato Chutney

There are only a handful of recipes that I treasure that I haven’t shared.  I’ve been selling and serving tomato chutney at the Farmer’s Market for a while.  I serve it with the Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and sell it in containers.  It is a yummy product and I did look into larger scale production of the tomato chutney but there are so many permits and hoops to jump through to produce anything with tomatoes. 

Tomato Chutney

1 medium onion, finely diced
olive oil, drizzle or more
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 tin unsalted chopped tomatoes
1-2 tbs curry spice blend (garam masala, cumin, coriander, mustard, chilies, star anise, pomegranate, cinnamon, cloves,
etc, ground, with turmeric)
1-2 tbs brown sugar or jaggery
salt, to taste
1-2 tbs vinegar

In a large saucepan, heat up oil to medium heat and add chopped onions.  When translucent, add spices and stir.  Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients.  Cook until fully softened for crisper onions, or long and slow, for a deeper flavour. 

Enjoy as a condiment, a side dish, dipping sauce, etc.  The secret is out!

An Autumn Harvest tradition – Stuffed Peppers

What’s for dinner?  Bags full of peppers, excellent ground beef, tomatoes, spices, rice, etc.  This is a Turkish version of stuffed peppers.  Well, they likely originated the dish.

Come to the St. Norbert’s Farmer’s Market on Saturday between 8-3PM for many of these wonderful ingredients!

Turkish Stuffed Peppers

 2 cups basmati rice
1/4 cup Zereshk (Iranian currants, aka Barberries)
drizzle olive oil
pinch salt
3 1/2 cups water

Prepare rice ahead of time.  Zereshk can be found at Millad’s Supermarket on Notre Dame in Winnipeg.

1 lb ground beef
1 onions, sliced
1 + tbs Turkish Baharat
3 chopped tomatoes (I used roasted tomatoes that were still soft and juicy)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
salt, to taste
 1/2 cup good tomato paste, also available at Millad’s Supermarket on Notre Dame

Saut� the onions until soft in a drizzle of olive oil.  Brown the meat and add the Baharat.  Add the remaining ingredients and some water or wine to dilute the tomato paste a bit.  Mix with the cooked rice and set aside.

Depending on the sizes of the peppers, up to 12 peppers, cored from the top.  In the baking dish, mix tomato paste, water, Turkish Baharat (about 1 tsp), and a pinch of salt, to cover the bottom of the dish at least 2-3 cm.  Fill each pepper and place, upright, in the baking dish.  Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350�F for at least one hour.  Remove foil and continue baking until peppers have browned.

Serve hot or warm.  Enjoy!

Sichuan food is comfort food – Easy Sichuan Cabbage

In our last CSA share, we had a couple of cabbages.  I’m always enjoying Sichuan food as comfort food.  Something about the warming chilies.  The small green cabbage and medium yellow onions came from our CSA share from Heart’s Acres Farm.  I lived in Chongqing, Sichuan for a time in 1983-84.  The recipe calls for peanut butter and peanuts but that can be substituted with tahini or ground pumpkin seeds, if there are allergies. 

Sichuan Peanut Cabbage

1 small-medium green cabbage, cored and medium-large dice
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
1 inch fresh ginger, chopped
2 whole star anise
2 whole dried red chilies
small piece cinnamon stick or a good pinch ground
drizzle preferred cooking oil
1/3 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth
1/4 whole roasted peanuts (optional)
2-3 tbs soy sauce
a dash of Chinese cooking wine or Mirin
1 good tbs Chinese hot sauce with peanuts (adjust to your own tastes)  Pictured here:

1 tbs Sichuan Peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

Heat oil in a wok at medium-high heat.  Add cinnamon and star anise.  Add chopped onion and ginger and cook for a few minutes.  Add cabbage and stir.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well.  You may need to add a bit of water.

Cook until cabbage is soft throughout.  Serve with rice.  Options:  add tofu cubes, or make with broccoli or other varieties of cabbages.  Some people add a bit of brown sugar to balance the flavours more.


Celeriac, it is easier than you think!

I got two gorgeous celeriac bulbs in my CSA share last week.  I have to admit to have never prepared celeriac but I was eager to try it out.  It couldn’t be easier and more delicious!  I looked up an Alton Brown recipe and adapted it.  Celeriac is available now at St. Norbert’s Farmer’s Market.

Blue Cheese Celeriac Pur�e

2-4 Celeriac bulbs, brushed clean, thinly peeled, cubed.  (place cubes in a bowl of cold water)
1 tbs butter
1/4-1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup Buttermilk Blue cheese, crumbled
pinch nutmeg
salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste

Bring a medium sized saucepan of water to boil.  Boil the drained celeriac cubes until quite soft, about 5-8 minutes.  Drain and place cubes back into the saucepan.  Warm butter and cream in the microwave and add to the cubes.  Add the crumbled blue cheese, nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. 

Using an immersion blender, pur�e until smooth.  Alton Brown’s recipe was even simpler, with no blue cheese or nutmeg.  Enjoy!

Pictured above with Turkish roasted tomato salad with pomegranates, Carrot Thoren, and Bulgogi Burgers.

Russian Pancakes with the Manitoba Food History Truck!

Today I had the great pleasure of sharing a treat from my childhood with the wonderful people from the Manitoba Food History Truck.  I hadn’t had this in many years, but, as the theme is food history, I wanted to honour my Gro�ma and this wonderful food, that I don’t know who makes it anymore.

Russian Pancakes

Set oven to 300�F.  Have one or two crepe, or non-stick pans available.

2 eggs
2 cups milk
1 – 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs butter, melted
pinch salt
1 tsp sugar
butter, for the pans

Whisk or blend the ingredients until well incorporated and set aside.  Prepare the sour cherry sauce.

Sour Cherry Sauce
1 jar sour cherries in light sauce
1 tbs corn starch
juice of half of a lemon
1/4 cup sugar

In a medium saucepan, start cooking the cherries, the whole jar except for 1/4 cup of the juice.  Mix the cherry and lemon juices with the corn starch as a slurry and add to the saucepan.  Cook on medium heat until bubbled for at least one minute and thickened and shiny.  Set aside.

Heat pans for the crepes.  Add a tab of butter and let bubble up over the entire pan.  Add a ladle of the batter and turn pan to cover.  When bubbling, flip the crepe.  When cooked, place the crepe on a pan in the oven and spoon some of the cherry sauce over it.  Repeat, stacking and alternating crepes and sauce until finished.  Serve immediately as cut wedges, with options of icing sugar and sour cream as toppings.


Farmer’s Festival at St. Norbert’s Farmer’s Market

What a day!  There was a wonderful celebration of making great things from local producers today at St. Norbert’s Farmer’s Market.  For my first cooking demonstration, I featured dry rubs and a few tips for great steaks.  The second cooking demonstration, I prepared Fresh Kimchi.  So addictive!

The Napa Cabbage, onion and garlic,  came from Heart’s Acre Farm, the carrot from Paseschnikoff Gardens, The garlic chives, from Fertile Farms.  I found the remaining ingredients at Arirang Trading Company, on 1799 Portage Ave. in Winnipeg.

I love the recipes found on Maangchi and I found this fresh kimchi recipe, aka,  Baechu-geotjeori.


One excellent question was, do I have to use shellfish or fish?  This recipe calls for fermented anchovy paste.  I used fermented shrimp paste.  I found that a good way to get the briny flavour is by using Black Vinegar.  The dish will be vegan then as well.