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Happy-Gourmand

Stocking up for winter

Now that the weather has turned colder and greyer, I think we need to cheer things up inside.

What better way to do that than preparing some homespun goodies? I’m going to supply you with a few fun recipes for food you can pull out later to bring back some of that sunny feeling of summer.

If you're not familiar with canning or pickling, a good resource is the folks at Canadian Living  who have lots of information on their website.

One good rule of thumb is not to vary the vinegar or sugar in a recipe, at least not till you try it out.

These elements balance the natural sweetness and acidity of the ingredients and help to ensure you have a recipe that will maintain its flavour.

Another rule is to follow processing instructions, unless you intend to keep your jars in the fridge until they are consumed.

Antipasto

I got this recipe as one of my first adult adventures into canning. Bessie Halton was a Grande Dame in the Crowsnest Pass when I was in my 20s. 

I was privileged to enjoy her cooking, thanks to a few years of hanging out with one of her grandnephews. Feel free to modernize this with differ spices if you like; this is a classic version.

This recipe has been reduced; the original made a lot. You will now have enough to enjoy, and share as well.

Sterilize jars and sealer rings first with soapy hot water, and put sealer lids in a shallow pot of water at medium heat on stove so they soften.

     1 lb/450 g of each of the following veggies, chopped into bite-size pieces:

  • cauliflower
  • green or yellow beans
  • dill pickles
  • pearl onions
  • green onions
  • green pepper
  • red pepper
  • green olives
  • black olives
  • mushrooms
  • 4 tins of tuna packed in water, drained
  • 1/4 lb/125 g anchovies, chopped
  • 2 - 20 oz/300 mL jar ketchup
  • 2 - 20 oz/300 mL cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup/125 mL vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp smoky paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper

Pour 2 tbsp olive oil into a large stock pot and sauté chopped veggies until tender. Add tomato sauce, ketchup and fish and stir well. Add seasonings and adjust to taste. Keep hot.

Pack hot mixture into hot jars, and seal. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Pickled beets or carrots (this comes from another very reliable source, my Auntie Maxine, a fantastic cook who represented her Ukrainian heritage well. I have a few old-fashioned classics from her.)

This recipe makes 2-3 jars 500 mL in size, depending on how much space there is between for liquid. Sterilize jars and sealer rings first with soapy hot water, and put sealer lids in a shallow pot of water at medium heat on stove so they soften.

  • 2 lbs/1 kg beets or carrots
  • /2 cups/375 mL vinegar
  • 1/2 cup/125 mL water, or cooking water from blanching veggies
  • 3/4 cup sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp / 5 g kosher salt
  • Herbs and/or spices for flavour - cloves, caraway, thyme, dill will each work (approx 1/2 tsp/2 g per jar)

Blanch veggies. Beets will take about 15 minutes in boiling water, carrots only 3-5 minutes. You want veggies that are still a bit firm if a knife is inserted in them.

Once cooked, remove them from water and plunge immediately into cold water. This will stop the cooking and also make it easier to remove the skins (they will slide off if you squeeze the veggies in your hands).

Save some cooking water for canning.

Prepare pickling brine: combine vinegar, cooking water, sugar and salt in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Keep hot.

Put peeled veggie pieces into sterilized jars. Add your herbs or spices to each jar.

Pour hot brine over veggies in jars, leaving just about 1/2 inch/1 cm at the top. Seal jars with lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Lids should not make any noise when pressed in after; if they do you don't have a proper seal. This means jars must be kept in the fridge until using.

Herb purée (an easy one, from my chef husband; more of a tip than a recipe, really.)

Take any leafy herbs (basil, parsley, tarragon, oregano, dill) and put them in your food processor with a good drizzle of olive oil. Pulse until you have a nice purée.

Put the purée in Ziploc bags and store them flat in the freezer. You can just break off the size of piece you need for a sauce or salad dressing all winter long.

If you're on a roll and feeling like you want to have something a bit fancy for the holiday season, you can try my pears poached in wine.

They are the perfect instant dessert with just a bit of whipped cream or mascarpone and maybe a ginger snap.

Stay warm and remember, it's only five more months till spring.



More Happy Gourmand articles

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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