Category Archives: Recipes

Beef Stew

beef stew with garlic bunBeef stew is one of the easiest things to make. Brown meat cubes, add veggies and liquid and let it cook slowly. Plan on a couple of hours of cooking time. Stew can be a one-pot meal, with potatoes in it, or served on a bed of rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.

eye-of-round-steaksI like round or eye of round steaks for stewing beef. They have very little fat and you can easily slice or cube them. You can, of course, buy stewing beef. I find it’s more work because I remove the fat and cut the pieces smaller. However, any cheap cut of beef works, a blade roast or steak for example. The long cooking time makes the meat tender.

Stew Process, in short

  1. Brown meat cubes
  2. Add liquid
  3. Add barley, dense vegetables and dried herbs
  4. Let cook 30-40 mins, add delicate vegetables
  5. Cook an hour, add wine and fresh herbs
  6. Let cook 30-40 mins. (Cook stew ‘bed’ if needed)

Stew Process, long version

Put a bit of oil in a deep wide pot, let it heat up, and add chopped onions and garlic. When they have started softening, put the meat cubes in. Stir to get them browned on all sides. (If it’s a teflon pan, you don’t need oil.)

Browning the meat

A) Put it in the pan as is or (b) coat it in seasoned flour first. If you do (b) put maybe 1/4 cup flour on a plate or in a plastic bag. Mix a bit of salt and pepper in. Put the meat pieces in the flour and stir around or shake to completely coat them. Then put the coated meat in the heated oil in your pot. Stir to ensure all sides are browned.

Add liquid, barley, dense vegetables

Start with a cup or two. Any vegetable or beef stock is best, but water will do. The cooking veggies and beef will make their own stock. But using stock adds to the flavour of your sauce.

Stir a handful of barley into the liquid. It needs a long time to fully cook. Barley thickens stew wonderfully. I don’t add barley if I’m putting the stew on top of a starch. It makes it too dense.

Add potatoes (cut up if large or whole if very small) and chopped carrots. They take the longest to cook. Add any other dense vegetable, like brussels sprouts, now as well.

If you want a tomato-ey stew, add a can of whole or diced tomatoes.

Dried herbs, seasonings

Put in 1 or 2 bay leaves. Add dried herbs like basil or oregano as well. If you’re using fresh herbs, leave them until the final half hour of cooking. Add salt and pepper, a few shakes of Worcestershire Sauce and a dollop of ketchup. Simmer for 30-40 mins.

Add soft vegetables

beef-stew-cookingBy now, the potatoes and carrots should be softening. Time to add your other coarsely chopped vegetables. Celery, green and/or red pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini – whatever you fancy. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, either cherry or chopped, add them too. I add these vegetables later because they are softer and more delicate. You don’t want to cook them to mush.

Now just let it cook for maybe an hour. Add more liquid if it needs it or if you want a thinner sauce.

Red wine, fresh herbs

This is the time to add red wine, both as a flavour agent and a source of liquid. Also add fresh herbs.

If the sauce is too thin, mix up a couple teaspoons of flour in a tablespoon or so of cold water. Stir well to remove lumps and mix slowly in the stew. Or shake in some blending flour, stirring to avoid lumps.

Let it cook another 30 minutes, and it should be done. You’ll see a thin film on the top, almost like a glaze.

Stew more or less cooks itself and it’s remarkably versatile. You can add whatever you have in the way of vegetables. Or if you like meaty stew, you can leave all vegetables out. I’d still put in onions and garlic, though. You can make chicken stew instead of beef, or leave out the meat entirely and make it vegetarian or vegan. Just change the type of stock you use.

Tamale Pie

tamale pie with saladWith salad or garlic bread on the side, tamale pie makes a perfect winter’s night meal. It’s a Tex-Mex type of shepherd’s pie or baked polenta with tomato sauce. My husband uses his mother’s recipe, but has adapted it.

Jim’s Tamale Pie Recipe

“Basically, you make taco filling and put corn meal on top.”


1 clove garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1-2 jalapeño peppers, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp chili powder
dash cayenne
2 1/2 cups canned tomatoes (whole or diced)
1 1/2 cups corn (frozen, or 1 14 oz. can)
1 cup black olives

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 tsp salt

1 cup grated cheese (Monterey Jack or cheddar)


Sauté garlic, onion, celery, peppers and ground beef in a frying pan. Cook until meat is lightly browned. Add seasonings, tomatoes, corn and olives. Simmer 15 minutes. Oil a deep casserole dish and transfer mixture to it. (Or, if your casserole dish is stove top safe, use it for the frying as well.)

Mix corn meal with 1 cup cold water. Put 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Add salt and cornmeal mixture. Cook and tamale piestir until thickened. Reduce heat, cover pan and cook over low heat for 10 mins. Stir occasionally.

Pour over meat mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in 350°F oven about an hour. Serves 4 or 5.

Marji’s recipe

tamale-pie-recipe card 2I don’t know who this recipe card originally came from. It is not in Marji’s handwriting. I think she likely adapted it much the way he has. Cut down the salt, increase the ‘heat’ with jalapeños and eliminate the fat. However, Jim says that bacon fat would make it more flavourful. You can click the images for a larger view.

Cauliflower Cheese

I made baked cauliflower cheese with cherry tomatoes for supper cauliflower cheese with tomato-photo-d-stewartone night. It was so pretty that I had to take a picture. It tasted so good that I thought I should make it again right away while I could remember how I did it. I still had half a cauliflower but no cherry tomatoes so I used mushrooms instead. Just as good.

Cauliflower Cheese recipe

  • ½ cauliflower head, cut in bite-size florets
  • 1-2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tbsp onions, chopped
  • 6-10 small mushrooms or cherry tomatoes
  • (1-2 tsp pesto, if you like)
  • breadcrumbs or croutons
  • Parmesan cheese

casserole-ready-to-cook-photo-d-stewartMicrowave cauliflower florets about 2 minutes, so they’re partially cooked. Put them and all other ingredients in a greased 8×8 inch casserole. Pour cheese sauce over veggies and gently mix it in with a spoon.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs or croutons on top. Add a bit of grated parmesan if you wish. Bake at 350℉ for about 30 mins until the top is nicely browned and the cheese sauce is bubbly.

Cheese Sauce

¾ – 1 cup marble or medium cheddar (melts well) cut in small cubes
1 cup milk
2 tsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water (or blending flour without water)

partially-made-cheese-sauce-photo-d-stewartPour the milk in a large enough microwaveable bowl. Mix the flour paste in, then add cheese cubes. Microwave for 3 minutes at 70% power, stir, then nuke another 1½ minutes at 80% power. (More in ‘Microwave Magic’ near bottom of Helpful Hints)

You can also make cheese sauce on the stove top or pour it ready-made out of a jar. Use about 1½ cups.

baked cauliflower casserole-photo-d-stewartIf you like the idea of this meal but it seems like too much work, there’s an even easier way of making cauliflower cheese. Steam or microwave the cauliflower pieces fully and pour cheese cheese over them. Ta-da! You’re done.

Basil Pesto

Basil is easy to grow, and each plant produces a lot. There’s only such much fresh basil you can use at any one time. So make pesto with basilthat abundance.

On its own, it’s a light sauce for pasta or a topping for baked potatoes. Joy of Cooking says use 2 tablespoons per portion and mix with equal amount of butter. I toss pasta with maybe half that amount and no butter.

Use it as a seasoning for soups, stews or other types of sauces. Remember though it has an oily texture and pungent flavour, so best to start with a small amount and taste before adding more.

Here is how I make it – based on the recipe in Joy of Cooking (1997 ed.) with one big change. I use a blender instead of a mortar and pestle. I can’t pesto ingredientscompare the two directly since I’m not adept enough at using a mortar and pestle to have ever successfully made it that way. However, mine made with a blender tastes as good as pesto I have bought or had in restaurants.

Pesto ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Sardinia cheese
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

My Method

unsticking-blenderI put everything in the blender and use the lowest setting. Toggling the switch on and off helps keep it from jamming. If the ingredients do block the mechanism, turn it off and poke around inside to stir things up. I use a chopstick. It helps to do that anyway so that ingredients blend evenly.

It makes enough to fill a small (227 g) cream cheese container with enough left over for a fettuccine meal.

Joy of Cooking Method

Joy of Cooking says put basil leaves in mortar and pound with pestle. Add garlic and pine nuts and pound.

pesto in containerAdd cheese, until the mixture forms a thick purée. Very slowly add olive oil, stirring constantly, until it’s the consistency of creamed butter.

Put a thin film of olive oil over the top. Cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Parsley may be substituted, but of course the flavour is very different. (It’s really good too. Make it the same way, with the same quantities.)


Fruit Crumble

baked fruit crumbleFruit Crumble is one of the easiest desserts to make – and very, very delicious. The one I made today is fresh rhubarb and frozen black cherries. The recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking.

Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C). 8 or 9 inch baking dish. 6 servings.

4 cups of prepared fruit

rhubarb and cherries in baking dishChop rhubarb into 1/2 to 1″ (1-2 cm.) lengths. Sugar it lightly. I used about 1 tsp for 2 cups of chopped rhubarb.

The cherries I used were already pitted. If not, you have to pit them.

(Sprinkle with 2 tbsp lemon juice or kirsch if you like)

Mix crumble topping in a bowl

crumble mixtureCombine ingredients below in a bowl. Work it together like pastry with a pastry blender or fingertips (I used a fork). Work it lightly so the mixture doesn’t get oily.

1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C butter (soft)
1/2 tsp salt – if butter is unsalted

crumble on fruit ready to bakeSpread crumble mix over fruit in baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes.

Serve hot or cold with ice cream, sweet cream (whipped or not) or sour cream.

You can also use other fruit, alone or in combination – strawberries, apples, peaches. For apples, you might want to add 1 tsp cinnamon to your crumble mixture.

Roast Guinea Fowl

Hi Dorothy, from time to time I´m going through your web site. You are doing a great job to cover all fields and sharing with other people. I also checked the part with the recipes and decided that one is missing, so listen:

Roast Guinea Fowl with Vegetables and Rice

roast guinea fowl Gesell-photosYou need:

for the meat –
* two guinea fowls, each ca. 1 to 1.2 kg
* fresh garlic
* groundnut [peanut] oil
* beer
* salt
* pepper
* curry powder
* red sweet pepper powder

for the vegetables –
* potatoes
* sweet potatoes
Tilda rice Ghana Gesell-photos* carrots
* zucchini
* tomatoes
and what else you like

for the rice –
* 400 grams basmati (Tilda if possible)
* 720 ml water (180ml per 100 grams rice)
* salt
* two big spoons butter

for the joy –
5 to 7 friends to be invited for the dinner

How to prepare:

guinea fowl over veges-Gesell-photosTake a mortar and grind salt and plenty garlic until you get a smooth paste to an amount of 50 to 60 grams and apply it to the chicks.

Mix the spices with the groundnut oil and the beer. You will need it to pour on the chicks while they are roasting.

Set the chicks on the rack which fits in the oven and you need an oven veggies-in-roaster-Gesell-photospan to set below the rack and fill it with all the vegetables I have written and more if you like. Soft vegetables like zucchini can be added later because they are done faster.

To prevent the vegetables from burning, pour groundnut oil on the oven pan before you set the vegetables in.

guinea-fowl-veges-in-oven-Gesell-photosWhen every thing is set, you start the oven at 160°C [320˚F]. It might be necessary to rise the temperature up to 180°C. One has to watch. Don’t forget to pour the spices, mixed with beer and oil, over the chicks as they are cooking. After 70 to 90 minutes everything should be ready.

[ds – great oven design! In ovens with racks attached to the walls, you need to pull out both racks at once to baste – carefully, with oven mitts. Or maybe put the birds on a separate rack on top of a deep roasting pan?] 


To prepare the rice you melt the butter in a pot and fry the washed rice until it is glassy.

frying-rice-Gesell-photosBoil the water with salt in a different pot and pour it over the rice while it’s still on the hot stove.

adding water to rice Gesell-photosLet it boil for one minute on high temperature and stir it around. Then lower the temperature to the lowest point, take a cover that fits the pot exactly and close it.

rice cooking Gesell-photosLet it simmer for 18 minutes and don’t open the cover before the 18 minutes are over.

Now you can serve your guests and remember the guinea fowls of Tamale. Greetings from Germany.

Yours, Helmut

roast guinea fowl dinner Gesell-photos

My friend Helmut and I met years ago when we both lived in Tamale in Northern Ghana. I think the first guinea fowl I ever ate was made this way, at his house there, made by him or the cook he learned it from. Helmut sent me the recipe last month, then cooked it at home in Germany and Helmeted_guinea_fowl-steve-2007-wikicommonsdocumented the process. Danke schön, Conny, the photos are great.

I asked about substituting chicken since it’s easier to get here. Needs to be dark meat, he said. Guinea fowl of New Brunswick, beware!

Macaroni and Cheese

This stove-top macaroni and cheese recipe is the best ever. I’ve made it a lot of different ways, and love this one. It is easy and consistently good.

stove-top macaroni and cheese cookingMakes 4 main-course servings or 6-8 side-dish servings (If you really like mac & cheese, you’ll want this amount for two people so you can have seconds)


2 large eggs
1 12-oz (341 ml) can evaporated milk
¼ tsp (1 ml) Tabasco sauce
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
¼ tsp (1 ml) ground black pepper
1 tsp (5 ml) dry mustard, dissolved in 1 tsp (5 ml) water
½ lb (225 g) elbow macaroni
4 tbsp (50 ml) unsalted butter
12 oz (350 g) Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, grated (bat 3 c/750 ml). Use sharp or mild cheddar, as desired
Toasted bread crumbs or crumbled saltine crackers* (optional, to me)

1. Mix eggs, 1 cup (250 ml) evaporated milk, Tabasco sauce, ½ tsp (2ml) salt, pepper and dry mustard in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 qt (2 L) water to boil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven. Add remaining 1½ tsp (7 ml) salt and the macaroni; cook until almost tender but still a little firm to the bite.

3. Drain and return the macaroni to the pan over low heat, add butter and toss to melt.

4. Pour the egg mixture over the buttered noodles along with three-quarters of the cheese; stir until thoroughly combined and cheese starts to melt.

5. Gradually add remaining evaporated milk and cheese, stirring constantly, until mixture is hot and creamy, about 5 minutes.

6. Serve immediately, topped with toasted bread crumbs or crumbled crackers.

Macaroni and Cheese Styles

macaroni and cheese served with peasI got this recipe several years ago from a London Free Press AP article written by Tommy C. Simmons. He says about the different ways of making mac & cheese:

“There are two styles of macaroni and cheese. One combines macaroni with a cheese-flavoured white sauce… The other is layered macaroni and cheese topped with a milk or milk-and-egg mixture that forms a custard when the combination is baked.

The food staff at Cook’s Illustrated magazine found a third style of macaroni and cheese preparation, which they credited to John Thorne’s Simple Cooking cookbook. [This recipe.] The recipe testers at Cook’s Illustrated described Thorne’s recipe and their adaptations in the January-February 1997 issue and rated it the best macaroni and cheese recipe they tested.”

Reading a Kirkus review of Simple Cooking, John Thorne’s books sound worth reading as much for his commentary on food and foodie trends as for the cookery information and recipes.


Zucchini Boats

baked zucchini boats photo D StewartGot huge zucchinis? Stuff them. Here is how my husband makes them using left-over spaghetti sauce. The ingredient quantities below are for one zucchini, which makes two zucchini boats. Adjust amounts according to the size and number of zucchini. The one he used was about 10 in./25 cm.

Make zucchini boats

zucchini-scooped-out-photo-D-StewartSlice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the soft part in the middle. He discards the seeds and keeps the pulp. Chop that up and put it in a frying pan with chopped onion. Cook the mixture until it’s soft. Zucchini has a lot of water in it, so leave the pan uncovered so as much water as possible evaporates.

Make the stuffing

adding-spaghetti-sauce-photo-D-StewartAdd green pepper, mushrooms, hot sausage or whatever you like. Add half a cup of breadcrumbs. When everything is cooked through and the mixture is fairly thick, add about three-quarters of a cup of your leftover sauce. Heat it through.

Put the zucchini boats in a baking dish and spoon the stuffing mixture filling-zucchini-boats-photo-D-Stewartin them. Grate cheese – parmesan, cheddar or mozzarella – over the tops. Pour a bit of water in the bottom of the dish so they don’t stick to the bottom. Put in a 350° oven and bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes until the zucchini shell is nice and soft. If your zucchini has grown to monster size, the outer skin might stay too tough to eat but you can still scoop out the insides.


Perfect Rice

washing-rice The trick to fluffy steamed rice, with grains nicely separated, is wash it first. Put the amount of uncooked rice you want in a pot and add water. You’ll see the water go cloudy. Pour it off and add more water, repeat. You can let soak a few minutes before draining. Keep doing it until the water runs clear. By doing this, you’re removing the starch and it’s what makes rice sticky.

Long grain rice

measuring-water-for-riceUse long grain rice. Basmati and jasmine are my favourites. If your package doesn’t have instructions, or if they don’t work right, here’s how I was shown to make steamed rice. It’s easy.

To the washed rice in your pot, add cold water until it is over the rice. Lay your hand, slightly arched, so just your fingerpads lightly touch the rice. Add or remove water to make it cover your fingers to the middle of your first knuckle.

steam-coming-from-riceCook the rice on high heat, uncovered, until the water is almost gone. You usually can hear it, a change from bubbling to a slight crackling noise. Turn the heat to low (even turn off) and place a tight fitting lid on the pot. Let it sit for the same length of time as it took to boil the water off, about 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t remove the lid – the rice is steaming in there. Do not stir it at any point.

Steamed Rice

finished steamed riceAnd there you have it: perfect steamed rice. Depending on how much heat was under it during the steaming, there may be a crust of browned rice on the bottom and sides of the pot. That’s fine. Put cold water in the pot and it will soak off easily. I was told the crust was the mark of perfect rice. With it or without, this way of cooking rice has worked for me in any amount and any size pot.


DIY Kraft Dinner

kd with elbow macaroniKD – Kraft Dinner – is the ultimate comfort food/fast food, especially for Canadians (says Wikipedia) who have grown up on it since it came on the market in the 1930s. A lot of people take pride in “doctoring” it, using it as the base for their culinary skills. But for me, it’s best just as it comes out of the box, with ketchup on top.

Macaroni variations

But Kraft changed the macaroni from the regular elbow type to thin tubes. To me, two kinds of macaronithey always seem overcooked and they have no texture, no body. It’s like eating orange pablum. KD became a constant disappointment to me, despite always being hopeful that a new type they brought out would be how I remember it. (KD macaroni left in photo, elbow macaroni right)

Kraft Dinner boxes Then, in Bulk Barn one day, passing the bin of bright orange cheese sauce powder, I had a thrilling thought. Maybe I could make my own.

I had recently read that Kraft Dinner was born when, in 1937, a Kraft salesman put a rubber band around a packet of grated cheese and a box of macaroni and sold them together as an instant meal. Why couldn’t I retrace his steps? Treating them as separate components lets me pick the macaroni I want.

Bulk Barn cheese powderBulk Barn has instructions for its Macaroni and Cheese Sauce Mix #252 beside the bin. The amounts of cheese powder and macaroni called for is exactly the same as what is in a box of KD. You make it exactly the same way. And it tastes exactly the same, only with nice fat elbow macaroni. You can, of course, use any pasta you wish.

Amazon link for Jamie Oliver Comfort FoodJamie Oliver’s cookbook Comfort Food shows you how you can make tastier and healthier versions of your favourite foods. He probably has a delicious mac and cheese. But when you want Kraft Dinner, that’s what you want. Bulk Barn allows me to make it look and taste the way it does in my memory.