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Canadian Icons (January 5, 2006)

Over the past 30 years, Canadian Living magazine has established itself as a kitchen staple: a beloved and invaluable tool for everyday cooks everywhere.

We all love what comes out of their magazine pages: recipes that are easy, quick, healthy and affordable and, best of all, delicious and often inventive! And a nice surprise: their test kitchens use the same equipment as all of us do – no fancy restaurant stoves or super-hot grills, just good, solid everyday appliances you and I both have and use daily. They also make certain that almost no matter where you live you can get the ingredients you need to make these dishes.

To celebrate 30 successful years, they've produced a new and wonderful cookbook, Canadian Living Everyday Favourites. Sure, you'll find beloved recipes from the past, perhaps that dog-eared copy you pulled from the magazine can finally be retired, and we were really pleased to find updated recipes and some very "today" ethnic dishes. Who wouldn't love to feed the crowd Baked Potato Skins or Pesto Onion Steak Sandwiches, and one of those hungry game-watching gourmets will love the Garlic Rapini and Sausage Sandwiches!

Salads for all seasons are featured; we might try the Roasted Roots Salad tonight, followed perhaps by the Hoisin Pork Ribs. Want tradition for Sunday dinner? A glazed Ham with Orange Cranberry Sauce is just the ticket; the nice little update is a recipe for fresh pineapple salsa! Catfish Fingers with Cajun Mayonnaise or Salmon with Lentil Pilaf interested everyone in our house... and we couldn't wait to make the most chocolaty dessert ever.

Final nice touch: an eclectic collection of recipes in Chapter 10, Test Kitchen Favourites!

Excuse us, are we babbling? This is a delightful summary of 30 successful years, and we're not lending our copy to anyone. Better get your own Canadian Living Everyday Favourites.

On today's menu:

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (86 KB)


Smoked Salmon and Radish Dip

We love smoked salmon, and we love having friends drop over for drinks! This was the perfect answer, tasty and crunch firm... and will disappear fast. Better make a double batch!

Makes about 2 cups

  • ¾ cup sour cream (175 mL)
  • ½ cup low-fat pressed cottage cheese (125 mL)
  • ½ cup cream cheese, softened (125 mL)
  • Pinch each salt and pepper
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon, finely chopped (125 g)
  • ½ cup finely chopped red radishes (125 mL)
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion (125 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives or green part of green onion (25 mL)

In a large bowl, beat together sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, salt and pepper. Stir in salmon, radishes, onion and chives. Transfer to serving bowl. Make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Tip: Smoked salmon varies in its degree of saltiness. You can omit the salt and taste for seasoning just before serving, if desired.

Tony's wine recommendation:
A very dry white wine of brut champagne – Chablis, Muscadet, Mosel QbA Riesling.


Pork Chops Niçoise

We all need a batch of recipes for pork chops, and once we tried this, it went to the top of the list! We've always loved these Mediterranean flavours, and this dish is really tasty any time of year. We were thinking it could also be a good summer picnic dish served room temperature!

Makes 4 servings

  • 4 pork loin centre chops (about 1½ lb/750 g)
  • ½ tsp each salt and pepper (2 mL)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil (10 mL)
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil or Herbes de Provence (5 mL)
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Half large sweet green pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup black olives (125 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (25 mL)

Trim any fat from chops; nick curved edge of each to prevent curling. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; brown chops. Transfer to plate. Drain fat from pan.

Add onion, garlic and basil to pan; fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and green pepper. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Return chops and any accumulated juice to pan, turning to coat with sauce. Add olives; simmer until chops are tender and just a hint of pink remains inside, about 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Off-dry white wine or light red – Riesling, Viognier, Alsace Pinot Gris or Beaujolais, Valpolicella Ripasso.

Steamed Herbed Carrots

Carrots are the answer, especially in winter; always available and always fresh! This recipe is easy and fast and, hey, good for you as well. We also appreciate that it only takes minutes to prepare! Yum! Serve it with the pork chops above (you can see them in the picture, bottom right).

  • 4 large carrots (1 lb/500 g)
  • ½ tsp dried basil (2 mL)
  • ¼ each salt and pepper (1 mL)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil (10 mL)

Peel carrots; diagonally cut into ¼-inch (5 mm) thick slices. In steamer basket, toss together carrots, basil, salt and pepper; steam over saucepan of boiling water until tender-crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with oil; toss to coat.


Polenta with Sautéed Spinach and Red Peppers

Just what to serve with the little rotisserie chicken you picked up this afternoon, or the grilled steak. Polenta needs help, and this pretty version has it all, colour, nutrition and taste – in fact, it can be a meal all on its own. But we've got that chicken! Yum, ultimate comfort food all round. P.S.: Canadian Living suggests that Swiss chard may be substituted for the spinach.

Makes 4 servings

  • ½ tsp salt (2 mL)
  • 1 cup cornmeal (250 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp butter (25 mL)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (15 mL)
  • Half onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 sweet red peppers, diced
  • ½ tsp each salt and pepper
  • 2 pkg (each 10 oz/284 g) fresh spinach, trimmed
  • ½ cup shredded old white Cheddar cheese (125 mL)
  • 1 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce, heated (250 mL)

In large saucepan, bring 4 cups (1 L) water and salt to boil over high heat; reduce heat to low. Whisk in cornmeal; simmer, stirring almost constantly with wooden spoon, until thick enough to mound on spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter. Pour into greased 8-inch (2 L) square glass baking dish, smoothing top with spatula. Place plastic wrap directly on surface; let cool. Make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; fry onion, garlic, red peppers, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until peppers are softened, about 4 minutes. Add spinach; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until brightened and limp, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove polenta from dish. Cut into quarters; cut each in half horizontally. Arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Top with spinach mixture, adding any juices from skillet; sprinkle with cheese. Broil until polenta is hot and cheese is bubbly about 1 minute. Serve with pasta sauce.

Tony's wine recommendation:
You can go either white or red here – Soave, Sauvignon Blanc or Barbera, Chianti.


Baked Fudge Dessert

Oh, you've just got to have it... moist, warm with its own sauce. The original recipe came from Ruth Lee of Troy, Ontario, who said, "This moist cake which was in my grandma's recipe file, is an updated version of an heirloom recipe that dates back more than 100 years." Canadian Living Test Kitchen declared that this version of the two-layer chocolate dessert – with cake on top and sauce on the bottom – was the best they have ever tasted.

We do too.

So will you. Go on...

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 cup sifted cake and pastry flour (250 mL)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (125 mL)
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder (50 mL)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (10 mL)
  • ½ tsp salt (5 mL)
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (125 mL)
  • ½ cup milk (125 mL)
  • 2 Tb sp butter, melted (25 mL)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (5 mL)
  • 1/3'4 cups hot water (425 mL)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar (125 mL)
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder (50 mL)

Grease 8-inch (2 L) square glass baking dish; set aside. In bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; stir in nuts. Add milk, butter and vanilla; stir just until smooth. Scrape into prepared dish.

Sauce: In separate bowl, whisk together hot water, sugar and cocoa powder; pour over batter. Bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven until bubbly around edges and cake springs back when lightly touched, about 35 minutes. Serve warm.

Tony's wine recommendation:
10-Year-Old Tawny Port, Cream Sherry.


We wish to thank Random House of Canada for permission to publish material and photographs from Canadian Living Everyday Favourites. © Transcontinental Books 2005
Pork Chops Niçoise, Polenta with Sautéed Spinach and Red Peppers, Baked Fudge Dessert: Michael Alberstat
Smoked Salmon and Radish Dip: Yvonne Duivenvoorden
Senior Editor: Beverley Renahan


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (86 KB)




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