Broccoli Potatoe Chowder

Someone tweeted about a delicious sounding soup earlier this week, so I asked for the recipe.  What I got was this.  It made me laugh because there are no directions.  Somehow it assumes that you know what to do.  This is how the recipes are that I inherited from my grandmother.  I love it.  I’m going to re write it to tell you what I did and how I did it.

4 strips of bacon
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups milk
4 small red potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
2 stalks broccoli, peel the stem and chop the whole thing
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

I cooked the bacon in my soup pot until it was crispy.  While the bacon is cooking, cut up your veggies. Take the bacon out and chop it up, toss in the onions.  Once the onions are clear, toss in the garlic.
When the onions and garlic are clear and soft, add the flour.  Stir to make a roux (paste).  Add a little bit of chicken broth, stir until it comes together.  Add a little more chicken broth, stir until it comes together and bubbles a little bit.  Then add the rest of the chicken broth, the bacon, broccoli  and potatoes.  Give it a good stir, then add the milk.   Bring it up to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cover it and let it simmer until the veggies are cooked through.

This is delicious!

When I reheat a bowl for lunch tomorrow I will be topping it with some shredded cheddar cheese.

Fig and Walnut Pate

“the memory of a good French pâté can haunt you for years.” -Julia Child

When I was in cooking school there was a whole course dedicated to pates and terrines.  None of it impressed me at the time.  In fact, I often referred to it as ‘cat food’.

Late in December of 2010 I had a wonderful meal at a charming bistro in downtown Calgary and my date ordered the pate.  Whenever we went out we shared everything, eating off each others plates.  Yes, we were that couple.  I was smitten.  With my date at the time, but also the pate.  It was light and creamy and oh so delicious.  That day I vowed to try to make it myself.

For Christmas 2011 I bought myself a new food processor and I decided that the best way, the only way, to break her in was to make pate.

I did my research starting with MtAoFC and continued with the internet.  As is typical of my style, I found about 3 recipes to combine into the recipe I eventually created.  A good part of the fun was chasing down the best ingredients; chicken livers from Bon Ton meat market, walnuts and figs from Shaganappi Grocery and talking to the guy at the liquor store about cognac.

Here’s what I came up with;

1 pound of chicken livers
1 cup chicken broth
1 small onion, sliced
1/8 tsp ground allspice

1 cup butter, softened
1 Tbsp cognac (I used Hennesy at the liquor store guys suggestion)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup whipping cream, whipped

1 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup dried black Mission figs

1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1 french baguette (I made my own from scratch)

Simmer livers, broth and onion in a medium saucepan until livers are cooked through, stirring occasionally.  About 12 minutes.  Drain livers and onions and discard the cooking liquid.  Transfer the livers and onions to the food processor.  Add butter, cognac and salt.  Puree until smooth, then fold in the whipped cream.  Transfer to a serving dish.  Cover and refrigerate until firm.  About 4 hours.
Poach the figs in the wine for about 15 minutes.  Drain and quarter the figs.  Both the toasted walnuts and the poached figs are to garnish the pate.  This probably works best if you mold the pate and turn it out onto a platter.  Then you can press the walnuts into the side of the pate and cover the top of the pate with the figs.
Serve the fig, nuts and pate together to be smeared on to baguette rounds.

Raw chicken livers.

Livers and onion in my new machine.

A close up.

The finished product.

The finished product with garnishes.


 It was delicious! 
Some notes for next time;
– consider folding the walnuts into the pate mixture.
-pass the pate through a fine sieve to make it smoother.

As always, please let me know if you try this recipe.

Nanaimo Bars

After years of using the nanaimo bar recipe I found from Crisco.  I modify it some, of course, but it’s the one I use and it gets rave reviews.
I decided to try this recipe just to switch things up.

It got rave reviews by a small group of friends and I think it’s better than the other recipe.

Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Bottom Layer
½ cup butter
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 egg
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds (walnuts or pecans work too)
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

Second Layer
½ cup butter
3 Tbsp cream
2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.