Smackerel Paté: a big surprise for Canada

When I was in Ontario earlier this year I was invited to some friends’ home for a long weekend and as is the custom over there, all invitees were to prepare a contribution towards meals. Living in England which has good access to salt water fish I thought I would take the easy route and make some of my smoked mackerel paté – so easy it’s like falling off a log and it’s delicious, too. However as you probably know darkest southern Ontario is a lot further away from salt water than you are anywhere in the British Isles, and it took quite a while to find a pack of smoked mackerel (or as we telescope it, “smackerel”) in a grocery store. Eventually my good friend Leslie F. produced two packs from her local Loblaws and off we drove to the glorious Prince Edward County where our hosts awaited us. No-one there had heard of smackerel, never mind smackerel paté, so I wondered whether this had been a good idea or not. Here’s what I made… Smackerel Paté recipe: a tasty, easy dip or starter for the Holidays To use as an appetizer or starter for 4-6 people (great as a party dip, too) you need: 400g packaged smoked mackerel (without peppercorns) 2-3 tablespoons prepared horseradish sauce Juice of half a lemon Good handful of chopped fresh dill leaves Crème fraiche, sour cream, plain yoghurt or cream cheese Flake the smackerel into a bowl. Add horseradish, lemon juice, dill leaves plus a good grind of freshly-milled pepper to taste. Stir in your choice of “mixer” – my personal favourite...

Tourtière: a Canadian Christmas comfort food

Like so many old recipes that have evolved from generations of families and friends, the Canadian Tourtière – originating from the French-speaking province of Québec – is one which can be interpreted in many ways. Essentially, it’s a savoury pie. Ordinarily it contains a variety of minced or finely chopped meats plus vegetables, spices and other flavourings. However the concept of Tourtière has moved around Canada and the northern United States, and has been adapted to make use of local produce, like fish and seafood from the Maritime provinces… “ Tourtière is not exclusive to Quebec,” says its entry in Wikipedia. “Tourtière is a traditional French-Canadian dish served by generations of French-Canadian families throughout Canada and the bordering areas of the United States. In the U.S., namely in the states of Michigan, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Minnesota, and New York, citizens of Quebec ancestry have introduced the recipe. There is no one correct filling, as the pie meat depends on what is available in regions. In coastal areas, fish such as salmon is commonly used, whereas pork, beef, rabbit, and game are often used inland.”   A family tradition that’s as important as turkey the next day In our family, as it is in many other Canadian families, Tourtière is the classic choice for evening dinner on Christmas Eve. In our case I have to be honest and confess that my aunt (who, with my uncle, hosts most of our family Christmases and normally is facing the preparation of a full-blown turkey dinner for anything up to 21 of us the next day) buys her Tourtières from a local producer … whose pies are utterly to die for....

14 great uses for coffee filters: had you ever thought of these?

Did you know that the humble coffee filter bag could be so incredibly useful? Neither did I. But here are some great ideas about their value in all sorts of culinary and non-culinary uses, sent to me by my lovely cousin Alyson in Canada. Sadly the original author of these is unknown, but whoever you are, thank you so much for sharing 1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave. Coffee filters make excellent covers.   2. Clean windows and mirrors. Coffee filters are lint-free so they’ll leave windows sparkling. 3. Protect crockery (china.) Separate your good dishes by putting a coffee filter between each dish. 4. Filter broken cork from wine. If you break the cork when opening a wine bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter.   5. Protect a cast-iron frying pan / skillet. Place a coffee filter in it when you store it, to absorb moisture and prevent rust. 6. Apply shoe polish: scrunch up a lint-free coffee filter.   7. Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter. (Bear in mind that recycling cooking oil is not normally recommended for health reasons, but research substantiating this is debatable.) 8. Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale to retain moisture and actual liquid content. 9.  Hold tacos, wraps, sandwiches, etc. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods! 10. Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes. 11. Prevent an ice lolly...