Make-ahead potato and pancetta puffs

Fancy ‘tater tots’ the whole family will love!

These little beauties were inspired two things: 1) my love of pierogis and 2) a big batch of leftover mashed potatoes. While their taste is evocative of pieriogi filling, they are a whole lot easier to make. I wanted something to serve with grilled sausages and have since made these as a side dish for fish as well, plus as part of a brunch buffet. Because they’re delicious at room temperature, they’d be terrific tucked into a lunch box. You can bake them up ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze, as they reheat beautifully. I chose to add crispy pancetta to my puffs but you could easily use bacon or ham instead, or simply omit for a vegetarian version.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced pancetta
  • 2 cups (500 mL) mashed potatoes, cooled to room temperature
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) finely minced chives or green onion tops
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • To serve: aioli or sour cream and lime wedges

Method

  • Cook diced pancetta in a frying pan over medium heat until crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.
  • While pancetta is cooking, grease 24 compartments of mini-muffin pans and set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Put the mashed potatoes in a medium-sized bowl. Add the beaten eggs, cheeses, minced chives or green onions, salt & pepper and cooked pancetta. Beat together with a fork until well blended; it should have a thick, somewhat smooth dough-like consistency.
  • Use a cookie dough scoop or two small spoons to fill the muffin pans completely with the potato mixture.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown and cheese has melted.
  • Remove the pans from the oven and let cool for 3 – 5 minutes. Carefully remove the potato puffs from the pan using a sharp knife. Serve warm or at room temperature with aioli or sour cream and wedges of lime.
  • Leftover puffs can be reheated in the microwave or, wrapped in foil, in a 325F oven for 10 – 15 minutes.

Makes 24 mini puffs.

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Cheesy garlic fingers with donair sauce

A made-in-the Maritimes delight!

A recent trip to Nova Scotia reawakened my love for garlic fingers dipped in the made-in-the-Maritimes delight that is donair sauce. Donairs are similar to gyros or shawarmas, but their sauce – a sweet and sour concoction that is oddly irresistible – is what sets them apart. Pair this sauce with cheesy, pizza-style garlic fingers and you’ve got a snack that’s as tempting at breakfast as it is at 3 a.m. after a night on the town.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110F)
  • Pinch white sugar
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

Donair sauce

  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) canned sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) garlic powder

Toppings

  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) garlic butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 cups (500 mL) shredded mozzarella cheese

Method

  • In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water (use a stand mixer if you have it). Add pinch of sugar. Let sit 5 minutes.
  • Add 2 cups (500 mL) of flour, salt, remaining sugar and olive oil. Mix thoroughly, adding another 1/2 cup (125 mL) of flour as the mixture comes together.
  • Keep mixing, adding more flour one tablespoon (15 mL) at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl without sticking. Knead in stand mixer for 3 minutes or turn out onto floured counter and knead by hand for 5 minutes.
  • Put dough in a second bowl which has been lightly oiled; cover with a clean towel.
  • Let rise for 1 hour.
  • While dough is rising, prepare donair sauce by combining sweetened condensed milk, vinegar and garlic powder in a bowl. Stir or whisk to blend well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  • When dough has finished rising, punch it down then remove from bowl to a parchment-lined pizza pan or baking tray.
  • Preheat oven to 450F.
  • With your hands, press dough outwards from centre to stretch to fill the pizza pan or create a large oval on the baking tray. Brush garlic butter over dough to cover evenly then sprinkle cheese over top.
  • Bake in preheated oven until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and transfer to cutting board. With a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut into sticks about 2 x 6 inches (5 x 15 cm).
  • Serve with donair sauce for dipping.

Makes 1 pizza-sized portion of garlic fingers. No judgement if that’s one serving in your world.

 

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Turkish-inspired kofte (meatball) sandwiches

An easy, flavourful dish with a playful nickname!

My son recently gave me a fun gift: The Turkish Cookbook by Musa Dağdeviren, whom you may have seen on the popular Netflix show, Chef’s Table. I was excited to leaf through it and one of the first recipes that caught my eye was – I kid you not – ‘Ladies’ Thighs Meatballs’ (Kadinbudu köfte in Turkish). How could I resist? Kofte (also called kofta) is a name applied to a broad assortment of meatball-type dishes found among the cuisines across a vast swath of the world including the middle East, Mediterranean, Indian subcontinent, South Caucasus, Balkans, and central Asia. The “ladies’ thighs” version gets its name from the meatballs’ flattened, oval shape. I chose to bake my meatballs instead of frying for an easier, healthier version and was very happy with how they turned out. We tucked them in pitas with all sorts of toppings the first day, then reheated the remaining meatballs and crumbled them over salad made from the leftover toppings on day two – a great gluten-free option! I’ll be making this dish again and again as it was so easy, flavourful and satisfying. Because the meatballs are delicious warm or at room temperature, it will be a perfect summer picnic food.

kofte

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds (700 g) ground lamb, beef or a combination*
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups (310 mL) cooked, cooled white rice (I used basmati)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) finely minced shallot or red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) each chopped fresh dill and parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground allspice

* ground chicken or turkey would work well also; add 1 tbsp / 15 mL of olive oil if using

Accompaniments

  • 6 pita or other flatbread
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Pickled turnip slices
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Sprigs of fresh dill
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Tzatziki

Method

  • Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Prepare the meatballs by putting all the ingredients into a large bowl. Use your very clean hands to knead the mixture together until well blended, breaking up any clumps of meat or rice with your fingers.
  • Shape the meat mixture into about 15 evenly sized balls, placing them on the prepared baking sheet as you work so you can gauge their size.
  • Once the meat has been divided, gently flatten each meatball into an oval shape about 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick, leaving about 1/3 inch (1 cm) between each meatball on the tray.
  • At this point the tray of uncooked meatballs can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before cooking.
  • When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400F. Once oven is hot, remove plastic wrap and bake meatballs for 25 – 30 minutes (if using a meat thermometer, the finished internal temperature should be 165F).
  • Set out accompaniments as listed above so people can create their own sandwiches (or bowls) as soon as the meatballs are cooked.
  • Remove the tray from the oven and transfer the cooked meatballs to a paper towel-lined platter.
  • Our favourite assembly method was to spread the pita with tzatziki then place lettuce, pickled turnip, tomatoes and dill on one side. Lay two meatballs on top, place cucumber on top of the meatballs and fold over before devouring.

Serves 6.

 

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Rhubarb upside down cake

A not-too-sweet treat that’s bursting with colour and flavour!

My mom has always had a rhubarb patch and even at age 90 she continues to tend it with great success. I didn’t much care for rhubarb’s tart flavour as a very young child, but I grew to love it and still adore it now. This cake is easy to make yet looks impressive and its taste is absolutely fantastic. It’s wonderful as a dessert but would be right at home at a fancy tea party, brunch or even a bridal or baby shower. Select the reddest rhubarb stalks you can find, for maximum visual appeal. If you are a fan of rhubarb, as I am, check out my rhubarb recipe roundup for lots more inspiration.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (225 g) fresh rhubarb, ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (165 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.2 5 mL) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) powdered ginger
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) vanilla extract

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8 inch (20 cm) square cake pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • To prepare rhubarb topping, use a sharp knife to slice the outside edges lengthwise off the rhubarb stalks (you want slices no more than 1/4 inch / 1.25 cm thick). Do not discard remaining rhubarb.
  • Selecting the section of each thin slice that has the most colour, trim to fit the bottom of the prepared baking pan and place side by side in a single layer.
  • Once you have enough slices to fill the bottom of the pan, sprinkle the rhubarb slices with the 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of sugar and toss with your fingers. Rearrange slices in side-by-side fashion.
  • Finely chop remaining rhubarb and set aside. You should have 2/3 to 3/4 of a cup (165 – 185 mL).
  • Prepare the cake batter by combining dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add eggs, melted butter, sour cream and vanilla all at once and stir quickly to blend thoroughly. Fold in rhubarb then transfer batter by spoonfuls to cover the rhubarb in the baking pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven until the top of the cake is light golden and a tester inserted in middle comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes then lift out carefully by the edges of the parchment paper.
  • Place a serving platter upside down over the cake then flip the cake to invert onto platter so rhubarb layer is on top. Gently remove parchment paper.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

Serves 9 – 12.

 

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Grilled cauliflower on a can with sweet and spicy BBQ sauce  

A vegan-friendly dish that everyone will love!

I’ve long been a fan of ‘chicken on a beer can’ but think perhaps I adore this vegan version even more! It’s easy to prepare and can serve as a delicious main course or equally-appealing side dish. You can use your favourite prepared barbeque sauce though the one below is simple to make and really packed with flavour. As an option, it is also possible to  cook the whole cauliflower directly on the grill, but perching it on a can of liquid helps to steam it from the underside which promotes faster, more even cooking. Never heard of chicken on a beer can? There are loads of recipes available online; I’ve also created an innovative twist: chicken on a Bundt pan which could work well for cauliflower also!

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) very finely diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon each (2.5 mL) salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup (165 mL) tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) tomato paste
  • 1/8 teaspoon (.65 mL) cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) each chili powder and smoked paprika

Cauliflower

1 medium sized head of cauliflower

Method

  • Make sauce by heating oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes, then add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more.
  • Add all other ingredients and stir to blend well.
  • Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until thick and smooth, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings to suit your preferences. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • While sauce is cooking, trim leaves off bottom of cauliflower and carefully cut out the core in the centre to make a cavity just big enough to hold the beer or soda can (you want approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the can to stick into the cauliflower. I found I needed a shorter can to fit inside my gas grill.
  • Take care not to cut all the way through the cauliflower. It’s best to work slowly and check often to be sure the can will fit.

  • Preheat grill to 400F. Place the cauliflower on top of the can which is half-filled with liquid (beer, water or fruit juice are all good options).
  • Place the beer can and cauliflower on top of the barbeque grate or a sturdy grill pan (one with holes in it) placed on the grates. Close the lid and let cook for 15 minutes, then start basting with sauce every 3 – 4 minutes until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife and the sauce has slightly caramelized (the whole cooking process should take about 25 – 30 minutes).
  • Note that if the cauliflower starts to fall apart as it nears completion of cooking time, simply remove it from the can and place directly on the grill pan or barbeque grates.
  • To serve, transfer the cauliflower to a plate and cut into wedges. Serve any remaining barbeque sauce on the side for drizzling or dipping.

Serves 2 as a main course; 4 – 6 as a side dish.

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Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods Season 2, Episode 6 recipes

Forget takeout fast food; this easy meal is a real kid-pleaser!

It’s no surprise that many kids love takeout or fast food. These meals are often come in colourful packaging, are crunchy, and usually loaded with salt or sugar. Making meals at home is a great way to keep things a little healthier but sometimes it’s fun to prepare a ‘treat meal’ that’s sure to get the whole family’s stamp of approval. On this episode of Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods, airing on Rogers TV Ottawa, I’m going to share three of my favourite kid tested and approved dishes.

Sweet and spicy crispy cauliflower nuggets

roasted cauliflower nuggets with a sweet and spicy sauce

Corn chip crusted chicken

Gingerbread cookie bars

kid-friendly meals don't have to involve takeout food!

To view recipes from Season 2, Episode 1, click here.

To view recipes from Season 2, Episode 2, click here.

To view recipes from Season 2, Episode 3, click here.

To view recipes from Season 2, Episode 4, click here.

To view recipes from Season 2, Episode 5, click here.

Use the search function on this site to access recipes from Season 1.

Stay tuned for more delicious inspiration as additional new episodes roll out over the weeks ahead.

 

 

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Three delicious and inspiring days in Lanark County – part three    

Day three: luxuriating in Lanark at Clyde Hall Bed and Breakfast

The word ‘quaint’ means attractively unusual or old-fashioned and the little village of Lanark, just 20 minutes outside of Perth, is as quaint as they come. The 199 year old town was first settled by Scottish immigrants who established lumbering and textile enterprises. These businesses were supported by the presence of the Clyde River which runs through the village; it served as a power source for the mills and a transportation route to convey logs eastward to the Ottawa River. Amazingly, the textile industry thrived for almost 170 years, finally felled by the flood of inexpensive Asian products. Logging, however, continues today, though on a smaller scale. Farms continue to dot the surrounding countryside, as they have done for generations. Today, Lanark is also popular as a recreational hub thanks to great hiking and snowmobile trails plus two picturesque, well-maintained golf courses.

Clyde Hall Bed & Breakfast in Lanark, ON

The jewel of Lanark, in my opinion, is Clyde Hall Bed & Breakfast. Housed in a stately stone building originally constructed in 1846 and almost destroyed by fire in 1999, the property was lovingly and painstakingly restored by its previous owners, Sherri and Brian Lillico. They expanded the footprint to include living quarters for themselves, but in keeping with the character of the home. While the original stone walls were mostly intact, they located stonemasons to hand-carve new stonework for the entranceway. A neighbour had rescued the mahogany banister from the central staircase and returned it to them. Multi-stepped cove mouldings, generously-proportioned baseboards and antique furnishings add to the feeling of travelling back in time to an elegant Victorian-era mansion. The restoration took two full years, and in 2003 Brian and Sherri began welcoming guests. They retired in 2017 after selling the property to Robert and Liisa Salzmann who have continued to operate Clyde Hall B&B.

Robert and Liisa made the move to Lanark two years ago after successful careers in Toronto. They co-owned a bakery for many years and Robert worked as a chef at a variety of establishments as well as teaching in the culinary program at George Brown College. Their experience in the hospitality industry makes them well-suited to their new semi-retirement career as bed and breakfast hosts; Robert continues to keep one foot firmly planted in the culinary world by teaching at Algonquin College.

Robert and Liisa Salzmann, owners of Clyde Hall B&B

While the bed and breakfast’s aesthetic is vintage, the amenities most certainly are not. A pool and hot tub are tucked into the hillside near the house and plastic tubing snakes through the maple forest for spring sap collection. The Clyde River rushes nearby and through the trees, it’s easy to spot Clyde Hall Cottage, recently-acquired a cozy three-bedroom house on the river’s edge that is also available for guests. Inside Clyde Hall, you’ll find spa tubs, in-floor heating, air conditioning and comfortable beds, plus the most welcoming hosts imaginable. There are four suites in the main house plus a gorgeous, secluded suite in a separate building, called Poolside Clyde. Shared spaces include the parlour, dining room and sunroom.

Clyde Hall’s Caldwell Suite, with its huge ensuite, is elegant and comfortable.

After a gloriously restful sleep in the Caldwell suite, with its massive ensuite as well as nice views of the pool, the laneway and the sugarbush, we were eager to join our hosts in their kitchen for two culinary demonstrations, both involving….you guessed it….maple syrup! The first was a gourmet breakfast which they made look effortlessly simple. Robert believes breakfast should awaken the palate so he chose to incorporate lots of different sensations (soft, crunchy, sour, sweet, warm, cold and spice) into the first dish, which was a sublime yogurt and granola parfait enlivened by peaches sautéed in cinnamon and maple sugar.

Robert explained each step to make his delicious yogurt, granola and peach breakfast parfait.

We learned that as a talented gourmet home cook with decades of experience, Liisa tends to handle the savoury elements of their menus while Robert, a pastry chef by trade, likes the precision involved with baking. During each phase of their cooking demos, Liisa and Robert explained every step clearly and effectively, patiently answering my many questions.

I was grateful to get some tips from Liisa on how to make extra-tasty candied bacon.

Liisa explained how she is a big fan of boosting flavour and presentation with fresh herbs and microgreens; to support this she plans to establish a small greenhouse at Clyde Hall this year. She then showed us how she makes her pan-roasted seasoned potatoes as well as her candied bacon, coating it in maple syrup, brown sugar and smoked Applewood seasoning, then baking for an hour at 250F.

Clyde Hall’s Eggs Benedict with candied bacon, pan-roasted potatoes and fresh fruit.

Some of this scrumptious bacon was served with our eggs Benedict which Robert put under the broiler for a few minutes after adding the Hollandaise sauce, ensuring the dish was served piping hot.

Immediately upon the conclusion of our very delicious breakfast, Robert started in on the dessert demo, featuring maple cheesecake with poached apples and maple sugar snap cookies. He showed us a unique spattering and swirling technique to allow both plain and maple-flavoured cheesecake batters to be visible once baked and removed from the small pans he was using. He also explained his preferred method of baking the crust separately, in the form of perfectly-sized, crisp cookies, then placing the cooked, cooled cheesecake on top at serving time.

I was similarly intrigued by Robert’s technique for making the maple sugar snaps which he broke into shards to top the cheesecakes but my biggest takeaway of the demo was his tip for poaching the apples. He explained his preference for Granny Smith apples, because they stay firm when cooked and have great flavour. His method involved bringing the peeled, diced apples to a boil in a simple syrup, then removing the pot from the heat and covering the top with plastic wrap. This creates a vacuum seal which gives the apples the ideal environment in which to steep for an hour. Once the apples were ready, he mixed up a little glaze of cornstarch, sugar and water which he blended with the drained apples to give them a glossy sheen and help them adhere to the cheesecake.

I learned so many great tricks for making an easy, elegant cheesecake dessert. Can’t wait to try Robert’s tips in my own kitchen but I’ll definitely need some practice to plate as well as he!

 

Robert’s plating tips were also memorable; using melted chocolate he drew a swirly design on each plate, then filled in some of the spaces with fruit puree. By the time he added the cheesecake, with its apple and cookie toppings plus a few berries, each dessert was a work of art begging to be devoured and which provided delightful contrasts of flavour and texture.

If this cheesecake lesson & tasting session is any indicator, I think Clyde Hall B&B could be very popular with a “demo & devour” series.

While all overnight guests are served a gourmet breakfast, the demos we enjoyed are a new offering for Clyde Hall Bed & Breakfast where the spacious kitchen island can accommodate up to 6 guests per session. Liisa noted they have also hosted high teas, wedding rehearsal dinners, cocktail parties, corporate functions and many more events at Clyde Hall. Based on our wonderful experience, I can only offer the highest of recommendations for a gathering or stay here.

Lanark’s Timber Run golf course features a beautifully crafted log clubhouse.

We were in no rush to leave Lanark County when we departed Clyde Hall, so we took a walk over to the nearby Lanark Timber Run Golf Course and then drove a short distance away to Blue Heron Golf Club, both of which looked to be very attractive. We then wandered through the village of Lanark before heading off to the hamlet of Balderson to visit Balderson Village Cheese where we marvelled at the incredible selection of cheese and other food products on offer. We were interested to learn that the Balderson Cheese Factory began operations in 1881, when Lanark County’s dairy farmers decided to form a collective, pooling their excess milk production and building a factory at Balderson’s Corners to produce a local Cheddar cheese. This same farmers’ collective was among the groups who participated in the making of the Mammoth Cheese which was sent from Perth to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Had we not been so full from Robert and Liisa’s amazing breakfast, we certainly would have bought some ice cream in addition to our cheese purchases. I guess we’ve just added one more item to our very lengthy list of reasons we’ll be going back to Lanark County soon and often. Interested to hear about our other recent adventures in this beautiful part of Ontario? Here are links to day one and day two of this fun getaway.

A side view of Clyde Hall B&B including its cozy sunroom, taken from across the Clyde River. We can’t wait to stay here again, preferably for a longer visit.

 

Note: We were invited to visit Clyde Hall as guests of Lanark County Tourism. Opinions, as always, are my own.

 

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