Though I haven’t seen her much over the years, my Belgian aunt is known for her croquettes. She shapes them into short, stubby cigars – a mixture of mashed potatoes and other leftover ingredients that can often be found in the fridge, rolls them in breadcrumbs and fries them in hot oil, which she tests for the right temperature with the handle of her wooden spoon. They’re completely delicious, and the perfect thing to make when you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes and roasted turkey at the same time. (The only time she has made them for me, they were made with mashed potato and roughly or finely chopped turkey.)
Turkey has dominated my social media feeds this week, reminding me that (yay!) I had leftovers from our big feasts squirrelled away in the depths of the freezer. (I always roast a larger bird than we actually need, so there’s plenty.) Roasted turkey is infinitely useful – beyond the requisite sandwiches, for which I make an extra batch of Parker House rolls or Julia Child’s sandwich bread, it can be used in curries and casseroles, cheesy baked dishes and croquettes. (And of course soup, with all that stock.) Any meat that has been roasted on the bone tends to have more flavour, and having it pre-cooked is like having your own homemade convenience food, all ready to go. So when the Turkey Farmers of Canada asked me to come up with a few new ideas this season, and I was happy to oblige.
Meat on a stick. Anything beefy that can be eaten with your fingers and dragged through tangy-spicy peanut sauce I’m on board with. This is what happened recently when I dug through the deep freeze in search of something that could be cooked quickly. Occasionally I have a flash of insight, picking up beef when it’s on sale and quickly hacking it up and freezing it in a bag of marinade while we unload the groceries. A marinade can be anything, really – often I just go to town with an open fridge, pouring in OJ, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and garlic, something sweet like honey or brown sugar, something acidic like lime juice or balsamic. Plain yogurt that needs using up makes a good vehicle for flavours and spices, even a lob of curry paste. I try to convince myself it’s a good idea to label before tossing it in the freezer to marinate while in stasis, and the resulting package lies inContinue reading
Apologies for the plain photo, but this is what real life looks like – W was hungry (OK, we all were), and to be honest I didn’t plan to share this until I got several requests on Instagram. People like sloppy lentils! It was a last minute, just-drove-home-from-Edmonton-and-rummaged-through-the-freezer dinner, with a small handful of red lentils thrown in to boost fibre and other good things. Dry split red lentils cook quickly and mask themselves perfectly, soaking up the sweet-vinegary flavours of sloppy Joe sauce – no one has a clue they’re there. (If you like, you could use canned brown lentils instead – they work just as well.)
I’ve never been one to build dinner around a large meaty foundation, adding pots of starches and veggies to simmer on the side – I like things all together, not least of all because cooking everything in one big pot minimizes dishes. The thing about soups and stews and other one-pot wonders is that they’re all – stewy. Which is fine, but I firmly believe and will shout from the rooftops (does anyone ever do this?) that roasting is the best cooking method of anything ever, particularly vegetables. I can’t think of a vegetable that isn’t at its crunchy-sticky-caramelized best roasted: tomatoes? Yup. Broccoli? For sure. Squash? Obv. Cauliflower? Totally. But here’s the beauty: you can roast chicken thighs in about the same amount of time it takes to roast veggies. On the same pan. Spreading them out on a sheet rather than tucking them into a deep roasting pan allows the heat to circulate, which means they’ll roast instead of steam. And if theyContinue reading
Beef stew was, sadly at the time, a staple of our childhood. My mom would buy stewing beef and my dad, clearly unaware of the benefits of cooking such cuts low and slow, would brown the meat, add tomatoes and potatoes and green things and serve it up for dinner – and it was a long, meaty chew. Nowadays, I appreciate the flavour potential of inexpensive cuts of beef – and I love a good dark, sticky braise. A recipe that calls for a few hours’ cooking time sounds daunting, but dishes like beef stew and carbonnade can be slid into the oven after school and be done by dinnertime. Of course, starting with the proper cut of beef is important, which is why so many people panic in the meat aisle, why Mike dreads me sending him to the store with vague cuts of beef on his list, and why having a good butcher is a very good thing. But when there isn’t someoneContinue reading
Cook, cookbook author, writer, eater. Food columnist on CBC radio, contributing food editor for the Globe + Mail. ❤️ feeding people.