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How to Make Homemade Corndogs

I love how when you ask people about some of their favourite memories, they often revolve around food. Whether it is dinners with their families, dishes they used to cook in the kitchen with someone, or even stories about travel and adventure which ultimately always end up in a story about where they ended up eating.

Food is also great at making people reminisce. Something as simple as a taste or a smell can bring you back to a special place in time. Next time you’re chatting with someone you don’t know that well, ask them about some of their favourite foods- I guarantee it will not only help you get to know them better, but it will help you connect with them in a much more meaningful way.

I have many of these memories from my childhood- and one in specific revolves around the recipe I’m sharing with you today. Every year until I moved out practically my family and I would go to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) together. We didn’t have too many traditions as a family, but this was always one of them.

What became one of the things I would look forward to was getting a Coke in a collectors cup (they would have exclusive reusable cups often in weird shapes or with fun straws) and getting a corndog! There were plenty of vendors that sold corndogs around the fairgrounds, but there was one that made them the best (in my opinion). They were the best mix of sweet, savoury, with just a bit of heat. They came in two sizes, regular (normal hotdog) and jumbo (a footlong hotdog). The batter was a great thickness, balancing out the thick juicy hotdog that was inside.

Remembering that corndog the other day, and having just picked up more cornmeal, I thought, “Why not corndogs?” So I started my corndog creation journey. This took me a few tries to get to where I loved it and I am happy I kept trying because these are a real crowd pleaser now! In fact, I’m making them for my parents next weekend for my birthday.

Make sure to let these cool a bit before eating. They won’t be too hot to eat, but I find the flavour comes out best once they’ve had a chance to sit.

Ingredients:

10 Regular Hotdogs, or 6-8 Jumbo dogs

1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 Cup Cornmeal

3 1/2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar

1 1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

1/2 Tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

1/4 Tsp Smoked Paprika

1 Cup Buttermilk

2 Extra Large Eggs

Vegetable Oil for frying

Instructions:

Using a paper towel, ensure the hotdogs are completely dry and then skewer with wooden sticks. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking soda, black and cayenne pepper, and paprika. Whisk together.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg until smooth and then pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix ingredients until just mixed. Let sit.

In a deep dish pot filled halfway up (3-4″) with oil, heat on medium until temperature reaches 375.

Dip the hotdogs into the batter and coat evenly. (Pro tip: coat my hands with flour and grab the hotdog first. The flour helps the batter stick). Ensure there are no holes in the batter. Add the coated hotdogs to the oil in batches of 3. Cook until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes).

Remove hotdogs from oil with tongs and let dry on paper towel. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt as soon as removed from oil.

Repeat this process until the oil gets back to 375F each time.

Serve with mustard or ketchup. Fresh dill goes very well with this batter too!

I hope you love these! I know I sure did. If you make them, tag me on Instagram at @JackDHarding

Cooking with Asparagus

This post has been sponsored by Loblaws. Although they have provided me financial compensation and products, my opinion and words are all my own. I am in partnership with Loblaws and will be bringing blog posts and recipes throughout the rest of the year, and all partnered posts will be marked as sponsored.

Food is one of my favourite things. It is something you can talk about, watch on TV, read in books, learn about in school, and most importantly, bond over. Growing up food was not something I was passionate about, nor something I really cared about (other than to eat). It wasn’t until my late teens and early twenties when I was on my own that I started to not only appreciate food – the flavours, the smells, the work that goes into it – but see first-hand how it can be a fantastic way to learn more about those around you, connect with people you thought you had little in common, and share experiences you may never have had otherwise.

Over the last few years, I have immersed myself in food. I have countless (no seriously, countless- see picture below) cookbooks which I have read front to back like they are novels as well as a growing collection of food-based history and literature (everything from the history of the apple in North America to books on food fights and culture wars all which revolve around an ingredient or a dish). I have also had the chance to experience numerous food-based experiences from fine dining tasting menus, to trips and vacations all which start around a conversation of “What food should we eat when we’re away.”

So when Loblaws came to me with the opportunity to share stories and recipes revolving around #FoodLoversUnite I couldn’t have been more excited. Loblaws was already my grocery store I’ve shopped at for years, so it was a nice way to combine my love of a place I spend a lot of time in, and their vision that food can bring everyone together. As part of my partnership with Loblaws, I’ll be sharing a number of recipes that involve different ingredients or themes. The first is that no matter what your food preference, we’re all food lovers. The ingredient I was chosen to feature was asparagus. What I love about getting asparagus is the fact that it is in season. It tastes so much better and I love knowing that it is coming from Canadian farmers. At my Loblaws (Maple Leaf Gardens if you ever want to visit it) during peak growing season (June-August) more than 50% of produce is coming from Canadian farmers (and this isn’t just my Loblaws, that is Loblaws across Canada). Loblaws works with over 450 Canadian farmers and continues to grow that which makes shopping Canadian and supporting our own farmers that much easier. If you have the chance, I encourage you to try in-season produce at Loblaws, especially when you see it is from Canadian growers, you’ll be impressed by the quality and taste!

Grilled asparagus on a plate

Asparagus was one of the first vegetables I remember liking as a child and one that I keep in my fridge almost all year round! Whether it’s quickly blanched and served super crisp, or oven-roasted to a beautiful toasty finish, for me, you can’t go wrong with asparagus. According to a poll done by Correlated, in general, 72% of people like asparagus. While that may seem like a lot, that also means that nearly 30% of people don’t! One of that 30% of people also happens to be one of my best friends Maleah. So with her in mind (and on her way over for dinner this week) I wanted to make something that asparagus could be the star of (for me) but could also be replaced and still be delicious for Maleah. I settled on Corncakes!

For myself, I made Asparagus, Bacon and Feta Corncakes. These are such a delicious spring and summer treat. They’re not super complex, and don’t take a long time to make so even the most kitchen shy person can make these with success! You can easily swap out the asparagus in this recipe for fresh peas, corn, scallions or leeks and still have a scrumptious dish. For Maleah, I swapped out the asparagus for leeks because they’re one of her favourite vegetables. I simply divided the batter into 2 once it was combined and mixed in the asparagus and leeks separately meaning we’d both got exactly what we wanted!

Ingredients:

1 Cup+ 2 Tbsp Grilled Asparagus, grilled or charred, diced (or substitute with 1 cup fresh peas or 1 cup fresh corn or 1 cup shredded leeks)

2.5 tbsp olive oil

6 slices bacon, baked, chopped

1 cup finely ground cornmeal (the higher quality the better)

1/2 cup+1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (pat dry before crumbling)

1 cup whole milk

1 extra large egg

2 Green Onion, finely chopped

Neutral Oil for frying (canola, sunflower, etc…)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Clean your asparagus, cut the hard woody ends off and drizzle with your olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat your grill or pan to medium heat. Add asparagus, and cook until slightly blackened and cooked- 3-4 minutes on each side. Once cooked, remove from heat and let cool. Cut into 1″ pieces after, reserving the tips.

With your oven heated, cook your bacon on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper for 15-20 minutes (you want the bacon crispy, but not so much so that it breaks into too many small pieces when cutting). Remove and let cool before dicing the bacon. Reserve the bacon drippings from the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and egg together. Once thoroughly combined add the feta, half the bacon crumbles, 2 tbsp of the reserved bacon drippings, both green onions and To it, add the crumbled feta, half of the diced bacon, 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings, the green onion, and the diced asparagus (keeping aside the tips mentioned before).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing well- you want to avoid clumps as they’ll leave floury pockets that aren’t enjoyable.

Heat a large frying pan to medium-high heat. Add leftover bacon drippings into the pan and enough oil so that the bottom of the pan is thinly covered.

Using an ice-cream scoop, scoop mixture directly into the hot pan.

Cook each side until golden and firm. This should take 2-3 minutes depending on your pan. Keep a close eye on them as they can burn easily. As they’re finished, place them on a paper towel to absorb the oil (if you don’t they’ll get soggy- also, don’t stack them on top of each other as they dry).

Serve with sour cream, the leftover bacon crumble and the asparagus tips!

Asparagus and feta cheese corncake on a plate with sour-cream and bacon.

If fried foods aren’t your favourite, or if you’re simply looking for something a little more satiating (you have to eat a lot of corn cakes to make it count as a meal in my opinion) then I’ve included a couple of other recipes that could help round out a great breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!

Now, if your childhood was anything like mine then one of your first baked goods memories was likely of either cookies or bread- probably banana bread or some sort of similar loaf (my mom would always make this great zucchini bread before I even knew that I enjoyed zucchini). Loaves and bread quickly became some of the first things I ever attempted to bake and something I continue to go back to again and again. (I’ve got a beautiful cinnamon swirl loaf I’ll share at some point). So when thinking of ways to make foods where an ingredient could be replaced my mind immediately went to a bread.

It took me a few tries to get this right (my first version was way too dry, and the second was too oily and there was an after taste I didn’t love) and that got me to here. I took elements from a couple of other types of breads (an olive oil bread for the texture and consistency) as well as from cakey bread (like the cinnamon swirl loaf I mentioned above) and was pleased with the outcome. No need for yeast, butter, or even to really prep your ingredients (other than the asparagus) before baking. You can also easily substitute the asparagus in this recipe with leeks, green onions, or even shaved white onions lightly sautéed. So without making you read more, I’ll get to the point- this is a recipe for a Cheesy Asparagus, Sundried Tomato and Black Olive Bread.

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Olive Oil (plus 2 tbsp reserved)

1/2 lb of fresh asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into four parts

1 1/3 Cup self rising cake flour

1.5 Tbsp Herbs de Provence

3 XL eggs, beaten

1/2 Cup 3.5% Milk

15 Pitted Olives (black or green)

2/3 Cup Sun-dried Tomatoes (roughly chopped)

1 Cup Finely Grated Beaufort Cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F.

Line the inside of a loaf pan with parchment paper, set aside.

Pan fry the asparagus on high heat in the reserved olive oil until lightly browned. Remove from heat, pat dry, salt, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and herbs de provence by whisking. Once combined, make a well in the middle and add eggs, milk and oil while stirring constantly, bringing the flour into the middle. Mix for about a minute until you have a smooth batter.

Save a few asparagus tips and olives, place aside. Using the rest of the asparagus, olives and 2/3 of the cheese, add to the batter until combined.

Pour batter into loaf pan, and top with remaining asparagus, olives and top with cheese.

Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on top, and seemingly firm. Once cooked, remove from oven and let cool in loaf pan for 10 minutes before removing onto a wire rack.

Slice and enjoy!

So far we’ve had some great snacks and sides, but haven’t had a chance to feed a crowd with a meal item. We’ve had two fairly cakey and heavy items, but what about when you’re looking for something a bit lighter?

Well, I wanted to combine two of my favourite things in order to help the asparagus shine, but also allow for any other ingredients used in place of the asparagus to shine. What are those favourite things? Puff pastry and goat cheese!

I bake to calm down and relax after a long day. There is nothing more cathartic than being able to get set up in the kitchen, put my music on, and shortly thereafter come out of the kitchen with cookies or cakes or flaky treats. I’ll often make my own puff pastry ahead of time to use for different treats, but in fairness, I don’t think it’s necessary for this recipe. I used store-bought puff pastry and it turned out GREAT.

But what turned out great? Well, the final recipe is my Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart!

Ingredients:

1lb Asparagus (or substitute with 1lb shaved leeks) cut into 1/5ths

1/2lb defrosted puff pastry

1/2lb herbed goat cheese

1 XL egg yolk mixed with 1tsp water

1 large shallot, finely chopped

6 slices of bacon (or substitute finely chopped salami)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450F.

With your oven heated, cook your bacon on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper for 12-15 minutes (you want the bacon crispy, but not so much so that it breaks into too many small pieces when cutting). Remove and let cool before dicing the bacon. Reserve 1tbsp of the bacon grease.

In a pan, heat bacon grease over medium high heat, and cook shallots for 1 minute, add the asparagus, and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and add the diced bacon to the asparagus and shallot mix.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a rectangle roughly 11x 14″. Move the puff pastry onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Lightly press the goat cheese into the puff pastry, leaving a 1″ border around the edge. Then add the asparagus, shallot and bacon mix. Season generously with pepper and lightly salt (the bacon will have the salt).

Brush the edges with the water and egg yolk mix to allow the edges to brown while baking.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool and serve!

Let me know if you make any of these recipes and be sure to tag me at @JackDHarding on Instagram! You can also DM me anytime with questions or tips on these recipes or any other on my site and I’ll happily help you out.

Sprinkle Donut Holes

If you’re an American friend, the term “TimBit” isn’t going to mean much to you which is why this recipe was called “Sprinkle Donut Holes” instead of what any Canadian would call it “Sprinkle Timbits.” If you grew up in Canada you’ll know that the term donut hole never caught on because the chain Tim Hortons sold “TimBits” (their version and branded with their name) and heavily marketed them for years. Now you can tell a Canadian traveller quite easy when they step into a bakery and ask for one. I’m really excited to have created a great recipe for these that not only fries well, but has a great mouth feel and are delicious! I guarantee that you’re going to love these!

Ingredients:

Donuts:
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 Cup Milk
1 Large Egg
1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Salted Butter, melted
1/3 Cup Sprinkles

Glaze: 
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sprinkles (for coating)

Instructions:

  1. Whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl, make sure it’s well mixed.
  2. Combine the milk, egg and vanilla extract in a smaller bowl and add into the flour mix. Add in the melted butter and the sprinkles and mix until a dough starts to form.
  3. In a large heavy bottom pot, heat at least 2″ of vegetable oil to 350F. Aside, line a wire rack with paper towel.
  4. Using an two spoons, spoon the dough into the hot oil. Fry until they’re golden brown (about 1-2 minutes per side) depending on how quickly your oil starts to cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the rack andlet cool. 
  5. Once the donuts have cooked and are cooling: whisk powdered sugar, sprinkles, lemon juice, milk, vanilla extract, and salt together in a bowl to make the glaze. It should be smooth.
  6. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Dip each donut hole (one at a time) into the glaze and place on the rack; allow excess glaze to drip off before serving. (I add some extra sprinkles while they’re drying, but this is totally up to you).

How to Make Cornmeal Muffins

Cornmeal muffins! These are so easy to make- and so delicious.
Why people don’t think of cornmeal muffins I don’t know- but they’re wonderful.
They’re one of those few recipes that don’t require a million ingredients, and don’t take half a day to make. They’re simple, delicious, and great for you!
Here is my recipe for easy to make, easy to eat, jalapeño cornmeal muffins.

Ingredients:

1 Cup Cornmeal
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup White Sugar
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Egg
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1 Cup Milk

Instructions

In a glass bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine beaten egg, and wet ingredients.
Pour wet ingredients into dry slowly, and mix gently.
Pour into whatever tin, muffin tin, cake pan, etc… that you like.
Bake at 400 for 15-17 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy!

Note: You can add things like chives, jalapeños, honey, etc.. to make these even better!

Let me know if you make these, and as always, tag me @JackDHarding and let me know how they turned out!

Easy to Make: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cups

This is going to become a new household favourite for you once you’ve had it. It definitely has for me! These are not only easy to make, but they’re really easy to eat (hah). I was excited to make use of the Sea Salt Flakes I got at an event celebrating Windsor Salt’s 125 Year Anniversary! 

On August 16th, Windsor Salt hosted Table for 125, an exclusive culinary celebration with Canada’s cultural and community leaders, held around a single communal table. Hosted by celebrity chef Eden Grinshpan, more than 125 guests shared an inspired, curated meal featuring signature dishes created by Grinshpan to celebrate all Canadians who bring joy and positive change to their local communities. At the event, Windsor Salt also honored their first-ever Joy Squad, a group of ten local heroes and role models who are making a difference in their communities.

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 cups caramels, chopped, unwrapped
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons milk 
  • Course Salt/Flake Salt

Instructions:

  1. Place cupcake wrappers in muffin tins (these are going to be big cups, not small like a traditional chocolate cup (think Reese’s)).
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl, add your chocolate chips and microwave at full power in 30-second intervals, stirring between blasts until smooth.
  3. Scoop an ice cream scoop worth of chocolate (~2tbsp) into each liner. You want to make sure about 1/4-3/8 of the chocolate is left for the top. Use a brush (pastry brush is best) to then spread and brush the chocolate up to the top of the liners. This will be a bit tricky so be patient. Place in freezer.
  4. In a medium sized microwave safe bowl, combine the caramels and milk and microwave on high for 120 seconds. Stir. Blast at 30 second intervals after that stirring each time until smooth.
  5. Remove muffin tin from freezer. Pour caramel into chocolate cups until about 2/3 full. Return to the freezer for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove muffin tin from freezer and use the pastry brush to brush the remaining melted chocolate over the top of the caramel being sure to cover all of the caramel (you don’t want any gaps). Sprinkle the salt on each cup and freeze for about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove muffin tin from freezer and peel away the cupcake wrappers from the chocolate cups (don’t put too much pressure on the cup- you don’t want to break them). Store in an airtight container or in the fridge for up to a week.

Let me know if you make these and if you do, tag me @JackDHarding and let me know if you made any changes.

The Ultimate Summer Party Menu

I love to host parties- there’s something really satisfying about hosting a good get together at my home. Whether it be a birthday party (mine or otherwise) a New Year’s Eve bash, or something as simple as a dinner on a weeknight with friends. Having my place be the gathering place has always been important to me. It’s why I’ve always made sure to be prepared for a guest or two to stop over, and more importantly, it’s made me know how to put together a menu for when I’ve invited people over.

This week I had a few friends over to celebrate the beautiful weather and more importantly- just get together! Knowing I wanted to put together a menu that would be tasty, would sit out well, and would be fairly easy to make (who wants to be slaving in the kitchen while you’ve got people over, right)? What made this fun was I got to work with Woolwich Dairy to help put together this summer feast and share my menu for the Ultimate Summer Party.

Here is the menu I put together and the food I served on the day:

Appetizer: Oven Roasted Corn with Chilli Lime Butter and Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles
Main: Hot Italian Sausages with Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles, Pickled Hot Peppers and Fresh Greens
Dessert: Woolwich Dairy Triple Creme Goat Brie and Cranberry Jelly Pops

Now before I start listing the ways to make these, you may be wondering- why only goat cheeses? I, along with many of my friends, are becoming increasingly picky about what we want to put in our bodies. It is important that we not only know where our food is coming from, but that we’re making the best choices to help fuel our body and keep us healthy. I personally prefer Goat Cheese for a lot of my meals using cheese because it has less naturally occurring sugars and contains more potassium, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Iron. It’s also higher in protein and most importantly, has lower lactose levels than normal milk. That last one is a big deal for me- I’m very sensitive to lactose, and whereas I may not feel as great after eating traditional dairy products, I don’t notice the same feeling after goat milk products! Always an added bonus! Now, onto the menu!

Oven Roasted Corn with Chilli Lime Butter and Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles

Corn on cutting board

Nothing says summer better than corn on the cob! Super sweet, can be dressed savoury and always a crowd favourite. This is a go-to recipe of mine and I make it every year. I play around with the amount of spices and seasonings (it’s not an exact science to say the least). So have fun with these and see what works for you!

Ingredients: 

Ingredients: 

Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Grill the corn in their husks until the husks start to blacken, about 3 minutes per side. (If you don’t have a grill, or you bought your corn without husks, you can simply bake these on a roasting pan for about 20 minutes at 400F.

Mix together the butter, chilli powder, cayenne pepper, lime juice and some salt and black pepper in a bowl until incorporated.

Peel back the corn husks or remove entirely. (If pre-husked, ignore)

Rub the chilli-lime butter all over the corn. Garnish with the goat cheese.

Hot Italian Sausages with Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles, Pickled Hot Peppers and Fresh Greens

Ingredients:

To serve: ketchup, mustard, relish, etc…

Instructions

Cook your sausages according to the instruction when you buy (typically around 350F for 25-30 minutes).

While your sausages are cooking, on a grill or grill pan, heat to hot, and place your buns inside faced down until lightly toasted.

Once your buns are toasted, prep your condiments (cut olives in half, put everything into bowls, etc..)

Once the sausages are cooking, start with a bed of greens in your buns, top with the sausage, and add your condiments, finishing with the goat cheese.

Woolwich Dairy Triple Creme Goat Brie and Cranberry Jelly Pops

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your first sheet of puff pastry to about 1/4″ thick. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, divide into 6 equal sized squares. Place aside and do same with second sheet.

With the first set of pastry squares, place ~2 tbsp of jelly in the middle of the square and place your brie in the middle of the jelly. Skewer the brie with your popsicle or lollipop stick and then repeat for all 6 squares.

In a bowl, whisk your egg and water together and brush the egg wash around the edges of the of the pastry square you have the brie and jelly in, and top with the second set up pastry squares (this will help them stick) and then use a fork to seal the edges by crimping around the whole square (being extra careful to seal around the stick).

Brush the egg wash over the top of each square and bake on a baking sheet with parchment paper for 12-15 minutes (depending on your oven, mine took 13).

Cool for 5 minutes and serve!

I hope that you enjoyed this summer party menu and are able to use some of these for your next get together! It’s an easy, stress free way to have a feast for your friends and family! Thanks again to Woolwich Dairy for sending me great product and being just as excited to work with me on this.

Holiday Menu for Hosting Guests

When given the opportunity to cook a dinner when there are no dietary restrictions, my mind tends to wander (in the best of ways) and I get to be really creative with what I put together. Depending on the group I have over, I’ll sometimes test recipes I haven’t made that often, or even try out something totally new. However, when it comes to the holidays, I like to stick to the tried and true- the old faithfuls that I have tweaked and edited over the last few years so that way everyone leaves with a guaranteed great meal. This may seem like the easy way out, but I like to view it as being as best prepared as possible!

With this menu, I decided to stray away from the traditional turkey, or ham, or fish, and go for something a little brighter! Each dish is warm and feels like you’re eating a hearty home cooked meal. With the weather being colder, I wanted to make sure my guests would be comfortable, and leave comfortable. Also, I wanted to make sure this was a meal I could mostly put together on the stovetop! Using Frigidaire’s induction stove top made these a breeze: I can always count on fast and even heat = a delicious result every time.

Here is my menu for my second holiday dinner:

Starter:

Creamy Mushrooms on Toasted French Bread

Main:

Dry Rub Flank Steak with Corn Salsa

Dessert:

Blueberry Galette

Creamy Mushrooms on Toasted French Bread

This is such a versatile dish- you can have it for breakfast, lunch, you can use it as a side or even on its own. For the purpose of this meal, I’m going to be using it as the starter for my guests. I wanted to make sure they had something warm as soon as they sat down that would cling to their insides while the rest of the food is being prepared. Using Frigidaire’s induction stove top makes heating up the cream really easy– it is really responsive and can go from simmering to boiling on-demand, ensuring you end up with the perfect finished product every time.

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Olive Oil + 2 Tbsp for brushing
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 Garlic Clove
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
8 Tbsp 35% cream
800 g Finely Chopped Cremini Mushrooms
2 French Sticks (Cut into ~24 rounds)
(Sprouts optional)

Steps

  1. Heat oven to broil
  2. Place the oil and butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the mushroom  and cook for a further 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the cream and parsley to the pan and bring to a simmer.
  5. Cook until the cream has started to reduce, and you have a thick mushroom mixture- you don’t want it super runny.
  6. While cooking, brush the cut up bread with olive oil and place in the oven for 3-4 minutes or until broiled and golden brown.
  7. Serve the mushroom mix on the toasted bread and enjoy

creamy mushroom on toast

 

Dry Rub Flank Steak with Corn and Jalapeño Salsa

Ingredients:

Dry Rub:
2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
1.5 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1.5 tablespoon paprika
2.5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1.5 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1.5 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 heaping teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon thyme

Steak and Salsa:
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grill
3 cups corn
1/4 large red onion,finely chopped
2 jalapeño finely chopped (I keep the seeds)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 limes
freshly ground pepper
1 medium sized flank steak (about 1.5lbs- ask your butcher to get you the right size).

Dry rub:
Combine brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, granulated garlic, mustard powder, thyme and cumin in a small bowl.

Salsa:
Add your corn and jalapeño to a medium sized skillet on medium high heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes (closer to 10 if frozen corn). This will get everything hot and release some flavour from the pepper. Remove from heat and add in your onion, tomatoes, cilantro and juice the limes. Add in pepper and stir until well mixed. Set aside (or put in the fridge covered if you’re making your steak later)

The Rest:
Take your spice mix, and rub into each side of the steak (I lay it all out in a tray, and drag the steak through it, and then I packed the spices it didn’t catch and rub it into the steak by hand until it no longer falls off. Add a bit of olive oil to each side to keep everything on. Pre-heat your grill or grill pan until very hot. You only need about 4 minutes per side if you want medium rare (a bit longer if you have a thicker or bigger cut). Once cooked to your liking, remove from heat. DO NOT CUT RIGHT AWAY. Leave it for 10 minutes so the juices seal in. Once that’s done, I put it in the broiler on high for 1 minute or so. Serve by cutting against the grain and top with the salsa.

 

flank steak with corn salsa on top

Blueberry Galette

I always like to end my meals with something that has a bit of acid  to help with digesting, especially if there have been fatty foods. I find that this dessert sits nicely after a large meal and doesn’t feel too overwhelming. You definitely don’t feel bad going back for seconds.

Ingredients:
1 refrigerated pie crust (frozen works as well, just let it thaw briefly before using)
2 Cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
⅓ cup sugar
2 Tbsp  cornstarch or Tapioca powder
Juice of ½ Lemon
Zest from ½ Lemon
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp butter divided into pea sized amounts
1 Egg
2 Tbsp raw sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  2. Prepare a baking dish with parchment paper and lay out the pie crust onto the baking sheet and set aside.
  3. In a bowl mix the berries (if you’re using frozen berries, let them thaw shortly first on the counter), sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, zest and pinch of salt.
  4. Spoon the berry mixture onto the center of the pie crust.
  5. Gently pinch up the sides of the pie crust to make crust bowl for the berry mix (remember, you’re not putting another crust on top, and want the sides to act like a partial crust coming in)
  6. Pull the edges in towards the center as you pinch around the outside of the pie crust. Dot the top of the galette with the pea-sized butter pieces. When completed, set aside
  7. In a small bowl whisk the egg and a splash of water together. Paint the edges of the pie crust with the egg wash (when baking, this will give the crust a nice golden color without overbaking). When done, sprinkle the edges with the raw sugar (be generous, if you need more sugar, use more).
  8. Place in the oven on the center rack and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove when the crust is golden and the center is bubbly.
  9. Let cool and serve with a sprig of fresh mint, or a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

blueberry galette

This post is Sponsored by Frigidiare Canada

Holiday Vegetarian Menu for Hosting Guests

The way I like to see it, there’s two types of people in life. Those who like to cook, and those who don’t. Growing up, I was one of the people who definitely did not like to cook. It was only after moving out that I started to venture into the kitchen.Over the last few years I have started hosting more and more dinner parties. These dinners have been for everything from “Let’s just have a dinner,” to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the like. My favourite meals to cook and my favourite dinners to host are holiday meals however. Why? Well, there is something about people gathering for a holiday in your home, celebrating over food that you’ve made for them that is really rewarding. It brings you closer together and leaves you with memories that will last a lifetime.

I have a lot of foodie friends who love cooking (and like me, are in love with the new Black Stainless Steel appliances which make your kitchen look so much more refined) and they’re pretty divided between vegetarian and not. Now, this isn’t the most difficult thing to deal with when hosting but it is definitely something you need to be aware of when putting together your menu, how you keep your dishes (making sure nothing mixes) and how you serve. What I’ve come to do, is host two separate dinners- one totally vegetarian, and one not. This way there’s no chances of mistakes, of one side being served more than the other. Everyone gets the meals they love in the way they like them! I’m going to share with you the two menus I’m planning on making this year- my vegetarian menu, and my other menu!

*Note* I like to keep my menus fairly simple, because not only do you have to make multiple courses, but there is nothing worse than finding a recipe, and not having, or not being able to easily find the ingredients. All of my recipes are pretty straightforward with ingredients you can get year round at the local grocery store.

Starter:
Parsnip and Apple Soup

Main:
Roasted Cauliflower with Wow This is So Good Sauce

Dessert:
Orange Cranberry Loaf

 

Parsnip and Apple Soup
(This is one of my favourite soups, and is a breeze to make. The Frigidaire Induction stovetops make cooking this really easy. Everything heats up and cooks that much faster, it’s easy to control the temperature so you don’t overheat or burn anything, and it’s a breeze to clean if you spill anything).

Ingredients:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp green cardamom seeds (from 3-4 pods)
40g butter
2 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 medium onion, chopped
700g  parsnips
3 garlic clove, crushed
5 cm fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
150g peeled and chopped Golden Delicious apple (about 1 medium-size apple)
1.2L fresh vegetable stock
2 tbsp crème fraîche
1 tsp chopped chives to garnish

  1. Heat a small, dry frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the cumin, coriander and cardamom seeds and shake them around for a few seconds until they begin to get a bit darker (you’ll also smell them toasting). Put these into a mortar and pestle or a pepper grinder and turn them into a powder.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a medium-size pan. Add the onion and cover. Cook for 10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Meanwhile, peel the parsnips and cut them into 2.5cm pieces. (Peeling is important or your soup won’t have a nice consistency).
  3. Uncover the pan, add the garlic, grated ginger and all the spices, then cook for 1 minute more. Add the parsnips, chopped apple and stock, then bring to the boil, cover and simmer. Simmer for 45-60 minutes or until the parsnips are tender when you poke them with a knife.
  4. Remove soup from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Using either an immersion blender, or blender, blend.. Pour it through a sieve into a clean pan, using a wooden spoon to push it through. Season to taste.
  5. To serve, stir in the crème fraîche. Pour into heated bowls and top with chives.

Apple parsnip soup

 

Roasted Cauliflower with “Wow This Sauce is So Good” Sauce

This has been one of my go-tos for a while after being taught it by a friend last year. It is really beautiful when brought to the table, and the sauce, if you couldn’t tell by the title, is one that will leave people talking.You’ll love having the induction stove top for the sauce because you need to watch it somewhat closely to keep it from burning and having better control over the heat than a gas stove top is really helpful.

Ingredients:
1 large cauliflower head, trimmed (Get as big and pretty of one as possible, fresh)
300ml dry white wine (pinot grigio preferred)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
Garlic bulb, halved horizontally (This is the whole bunch of garlic, not just a clove)
1 large egg, lightly beaten and seasoned well
Sharp cheese that you can sprinkle over the top (this is optional)

For the sauce:
Olive oil for frying
1 shallot, very finely chopped
50ml dry white wine (a pinot grigio works for this)
300g vintage or extra-mature cheddar, grated
125ml whipping cream (35% cream)
1 jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped (I keep the seeds in because I like the spice)
2 green onions, finely sliced

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Put the cauliflower in a large pan with the 300ml wine, bay leaves, peppercorns and garlic halves. Pour over boiling water from the kettle to just cover the cauliflower – there’s no need to worry if your cauliflower floats, it likely will – and simmer for 20 minutes, turning it halfway through.
  3. Lift the cauliflower out of the poaching liquid into a colander and leave for 10 minutes to steam dry. (Be careful when lifting- it will be hot, and you don’t want to be rough with it, you want to keep its shape).
  4. Put the cauliflower in a roasting pan (anything that is deep enough), brush all over with the egg, then grate over a generous amount of cheese so it covers all of the top and on the sides.
  5. Roast in the top third of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden (watch this closely after the 15 minute mark, it can go from perfect to burnt pretty quickly)
  6. To make the sauce, heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan (cast iron or nonstick is fine), add the shallot and cook for 5-6 minutes until translucent and soft.
  7. Add the 50ml wine and bring to a bubble (not a rapid boil) until evaporated by two thirds. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting, then add the cheese and cream. Stir constantly until the cheese melts to a smooth sauce. Stir through the chilli and spring onions, season, then pour into a warmed container. Put a piece of cling film directly onto the surface of the sauce and keep somewhere warm (I will put a stool in front of the oven and put it there so it gets the warmth off of the oven).
  8. When the cauliflower is roasted, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Take it to the table, then pour over two thirds of the sauce before carving. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Orange Cranberry Loaf

I was taught how to make this by a friend of mine who recently launched a bakery, and I never would have thought to make it. When I did, it was strange, apparently it was a dessert that a lot of my friends families made for them growing up. It was great to be able to bring back those memories for them. This is a breeze to make, and lasts in the fridge for up to two days after.

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in orange zest, and cranberries. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in orange juice. Beat in flour mixture until just moistened. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Orange cranberry loaf slice

This post was sponsored by Frigidaire Canada

Creamy Mushroom and Prosciutto Pizza

I have always been a fan of “different” pizzas. When I would order from a pizza shop it would never be a regular “Normal cheese, normal sauce” kind of ordeal. It was always “Light cheese, extra sauce,  toppings, additional sauce on top” or “No cheese, thick sauce, toppings that will sit well in the sauce” order. It must have driven the local chain pizza store insane. (Before you start thinking my taste is awful, I do enjoy a great Italian pizza, and will never make substitutions to ones I order at restaurants. This is simply me being picky about the basically cardboard pizzas you order for $6.99 on a Wednesday night when it’s cold and you don’t want to go outside).

Because of this pickiness with my pizzas, it usually meant I don’t make them myself. Everyone has that one meal or item they don’t make because it’s not worth it to them. Some of my friends only buy their curry out because it’s too much effort at home. Some friends only buy the rotisserie chickens because it’s so much cheaper than buy a raw whole chicken and making it yourself. For me- it’s pizza. That was until I was inspired by the creamy mushroom pizza in Martha Stewart’s Appetizers book. I realized that making pizza didn’t have to be that hard (especially if you cheat like I did and buy ready made dough). I have made some changes to the original recipe, making it more to my liking. Let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

3Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1 to 1-1/2lb mixed mushrooms (depending on how much mushrooms you want)
1/2 cup pinot grigio
3/4 cup heavy cream (35%)
Pizza dough (store bought)
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
Prosciutto (for serving)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 500F with rack in lowest position and a baking sheet (with rim) upside down in the oven.
  2. Melt butter in large pan over medium heat and add shallots cooking until they’re softened (about 3 minutes).
  3. Add mushrooms,salt, pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.
  4. Add wine, bring to a boil and cook until evaporated. Add cream and cook until mostly absorbed (about 5 minutes)
  5. Stretch your dough into an oval (about 6″ wide by 18″ long) and place on parchment paper. Brush your dough with 1tbsp olive oil and add the mushroom mixture (leave about a 1/2″ border)
  6. Place your pizzas onto the baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp (about 12-14 minutes).
  7. Remove from oven, sprinkle with tarragon and prosciutto and serve!

I hope you enjoyed this- if you did take a picture of your creation and share it with me at @JackDHarding on Instagram!

Parsnip and Apple Soup

There is nothing better than when the summer finishes, the colder weather has started to roll in, and you know the holidays are on their way. For me it means more dinner parties, more chances to host, and more chances to make and share food with those around me. It’s the perfect opportunity to create moments, and make bonds that you wouldn’t otherwise make. So when I have guests coming over and I want something to warm them up right away, this is my go-to dish! It’s soothing and the you smell it as soon as you walk in the door.

This may seem like a lot of ingredients, but you’ll be surprised by what you already have. Most are pretty basic spices and the rest are things like an apple, some stock, and a cream. If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, skip the cream- it won’t change the dish drastically.


Ingredients:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp green cardamom seeds (from 3-4 pods)
40g butter
2 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 medium onion, chopped
700g  parsnips
3 garlic clove, crushed
5 cm fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
150g peeled and chopped Golden Delicious apple (about 1 medium-size apple)
1.2L fresh vegetable stock
2 tbsp crème fraîche
1 tsp chopped chives to garnish

  1. Heat a small, dry frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the cumin, coriander and cardamom seeds and shake them around for a few seconds until they begin to get a bit darker (you’ll also smell them toasting). Put these into a mortar and pestle or a pepper grinder and turn them into a powder.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a medium-size pan. Add the onion and cover. Cook for 10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Meanwhile, peel the parsnips and cut them into 2.5cm pieces. (Peeling is important or your soup won’t have a nice consistency).
  3. Uncover the pan, add the garlic, grated ginger and all the spices, then cook for 1 minute more. Add the parsnips, chopped apple and stock, then bring to the boil, cover and simmer. Simmer for 45-60 minutes or until the parsnips are tender when you poke them with a knife.
  4. Remove soup from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Using either an immersion blender, or blender, blend.. Pour it through a sieve into a clean pan, using a wooden spoon to push it through. Season to taste.
  5. To serve, stir in the crème fraîche. Pour into heated bowls and top with chives.

I hope that you enjoy this, and if you did, feel free to tag me at @JackDHarding on Instagram and share your creation with me!