Seal of approval – Flipper pie for Lent

We are currently going through the Christian season of Lent.  Rooted in the time when Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days, Lent is the time just before the celebration of Easter and is meant for people to make some sacrifices in their lives.  These sacrifices, small or large, symbolically help people understand the sacrifices that Jesus may have been experiencing himself.

In reality, Lent ends up being different things, depending on the person. For some, it is a period of going on a diet; for others, it is when Catholic co-workers show up to work with ashes on their heads, and fast-food restaurants start selling fish sandwiches.  That’s how McDonald’s started selling their Filet O Fish sandwiches.  Back in the 60’s a Cincinnati manager wanted something for people to eat during the Lenten season instead of their regular burgers.  The fast food giant sells 25% of their fish sandwiches during the forty days of Lent.

The notion of eating fish during Lent is not something new.  Most of us don’t think twice about it.  Newfoundlanders have been doing it for centuries.  For some, the definition of fish can be generalized to anything one gets from the ocean.  Seal has been part of the Newfoundland diet since we first started living on the island.  In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the seals were caught for their pelts, oil, and meat.  It’s still a part of the Labrador Inuit diet and is high in vitamin A and protein. By the 1840s—at the apex of the sealing industry in Newfoundland—546,000 seals were killed annually and seal oil represented 84% of the value of seal products sold. Since then, a commercial seal hunt has taken place annually off Canada’s East Coast and in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Today, the seal hunting season provides more than 6,000 jobs to fishermen and vastly supplements the region’s economy.

Because the seal hunt takes place in the spring when the mammals are found near the edge of the ice floes—lasting from mid-March through April—the meat of the animal is most often eaten during the Easter season. But why does seal meat count as “fish” during Lent? According to The Northern Isles: Orkney And Shetland by Alexander Fenton, the meat was deemed Lent-friendly by the Catholic Church as early as the mid 16th century by Olaus Magnus (1490-1557), a Swedish patriot and influential Catholic ecclesiastic:

The people of Burrafirth in Unst sold the skins of seals they caught, and salted the meat for eating at Lent. Olaus Magnus noted in Sweden in 1555 that seal-flesh was regarded [as fish] by the church in Sweden, though eventually the eating of seal-meat on fast days was forbidden in Norway. Later in time, the eating of seal-flesh went down in the world, and was confined to poorer people, the flesh being salted and hung in the chimneys to be smoked.

For those who have tasted seal, the meat is described as a bit gamey and oily. The high oil content means that the meat has a tendency to spoil quickly if not prepared by smoking or baked in a pie.  Most recipes suggest that the seal meat is coated in flour, pan-fried and then roasted with onions, pork fat and root vegetables like carrots, turnips, potatoes and parsnips. Once the dish has a nice, flaky crust, it is often served with a side of Worcestershire sauce.  Nowadays, most Newfoundlanders will buy their pies premade.  One of the most popular places to get flipper pie is Bidgoods supermarket just south of St. John’s in Goulds.

So, if you’re adventurous, pick up some flipper pie the next time you’re visiting the Rock.  Enjoy the rich, flaky crust and the savoury deep brown gravy surrounded by potatoes, turnips and onions.  And the meaty chunks of seal of course.  I hope it will get your seal of approval.

Photo by Greg Locke

Buttermilk Banana Muffin

muffin, banana, buttermilk, sugar, dessert, cinnamonFor the longest time I thought everything my mother created in the kitchen was a Newfoundland invention.  When I was a youngster she would make cabbage rolls from scratch.  She would make the filling and boil the cabbage and spend the afternoon rolling them up and baking them for supper.  Same with Chinese food.  She would cut up pieces of chicken, dip them in batter and deep fry them.  Then she would make her own sweet and sour sauce and serve them with stir fried veggies and rice.  I thought both of those dishes were Newfoundland recipes.  Later, when I was older, I found out that those recipes weren’t authentic to just Newfoundland.  But that’s the great thing about food, it becomes authentic to the person making it.

As a baker I’ve learned how to do pastries and breads from around the world.  I’ve made baguettes from France, Victoria sponges from England, Swiss meringues, and countless others.  But when I try a recipe and I get comfortable with it, then I can experiment and make authentic to me.  I can add my ingredients and my take on the recipe.  So that’s what I’ve done with this basic banana muffin recipe.

I’ve added the richness of buttermilk and the sweet cinnamon sugar to just give it my spin on a classic muffin.  Yes, you can find many, many, many banana muffin recipes out there, but I haven’t found one that adds the cinnamon sugar on top.  And that’s the great thing about recipes.  You just tweak it a little and it becomes yours.

So, enjoy these wonderful buttermilk banana muffins with a nice cup of tea.  And who knows, maybe you’ll change it up to make it your own and it will be just as good, if not better.  Remember to invite me over so we can swap!

muffin, banana, buttermilk, sugar, cinnamon

Buttermilk Banana Muffin

A moist banana muffin with the slight tanginess of buttermilk and sweet sugar cinnamon topping.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 10 muffins

Ingredients

Muffin

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup mashed banana about 3 bananas
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Topping

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Use a whisk to mix thoroughly.
  3. In a large bowl with your hand mixer combine the mashed bananas, buttermilk, egg, and vegetable oil. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Blend until you cannot see any flour. Do not overmix.
  4. Transfer the batter to greased or lined muffin tin. Using a scoop, fill each until 3/4 full. Bake on middle rack in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The muffins should be slightly brown around the edges.
  5. Let cool for a couple of minutes in the pan and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Meanwhile combine the remaining cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl for the topping.
  6. Once the muffins have cooled, take one and first dip in the melted butter, shaking off any excess. Then dip in cinnamon sugar.

Partridgeberry Marshmallows

marshmallow, partridgeberry, newfoundland, dessert, sweet

It’s been bitterly cold for days here and I was starting to lose hope for all chances of ever warming up so I wanted to make something I could have a little snack with something warm.  While I don’t know if these would be good in hot chocolate, I do know that these would be great WITH hot chocolate.

The cool thing about marshmallows is that they are so deceptively easy to make, yet no one really thinks about making them.  And once you’ve had the homemade kind, it’s really hard to go back to the store bought chewy styrofoam ones.  The only reason I use the store bought ones is for Rice Krispie treats like my Apricot Curry Rice Krispies or my Cinnamon Bun Bites.  Both use the store bought marshmallows wonderfully.

These, though, offer the sweet, airy texture of marshmallow and the slightly tart perkiness of the partridgeberry.  The wonderful red swirl throughout the marshmallow isn’t necessary but it looks really good when you bring them out for guests.  I adapted this recipe for one using Nutella from www.papernstitchblog.com.

First lay out parchment paper over a 9×13 pan and dust extensively with powdered sugar. They will be sticky.

Pour the three packs of gelatin into 1/2 cup of water and let it sit for about ten minutes.

While you wait for the gelatin go ahead and add the rest of the water, corn syrup , salt, sugar to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow the candy thermometer to reach 240 degrees.

Next in your mixing bowl combine the gelatin and slowly add the sugar stovetop mixture. Be careful it will be very hot. Beat in the mixer for about 8 minutes until the bowl is warm to the touch and the mixture resembles marshmallow fluff. Now you can add flavor to the marshmallows by adding in your vanilla.

Next add in about 1/4 of the partridgeberry jam and beat until smooth about 1 minute. Work quickly and pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan and use a spatula sprayed with grease to smooth it out.

Then using a knife swirl the rest of the jam into the marshmallows.  Let it sit for about six hours or overnight.

Cut as desired and dust the marshmallows with the rest of the powered sugar.

Partridgeberry Marshmallows

Course Dessert
Servings 24 pieces

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered (icing) sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 packages unflavoured gelatin
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup This is the clear kind
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup partridgeberry jam

Instructions

  1. First lay out parchment paper over a 9×13 pan and dust extensively with powdered sugar. They will be sticky.
  2. Pour the three packs of gelatin into 1/2 cup of water and let it sit for about ten minutes.
  3. While you wait for the gelatin go ahead and add the rest of the water, corn syrup, salt, and sugar to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow the candy thermometer to reach 240 degrees.
  4. With the whisk attachment on your stand mixer combine the gelatin and slowly add the sugar stovetop mixture while the mixer is on low. Be careful it will be very hot. Turn the mixer to high and whip for about 8 minutes until the bowl is warm to the touch and the mixture resembles marshmallow fluff. Now you can add flavor to the marshmallows by adding in your vanilla.
  5. Next add in about 1/4 of the partridgeberry jam and beat until smooth about 1 minute. Work quickly and pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan and use a spatula sprayed with grease to smooth it out.
  6. Then using a knife swirl the rest of the jam into the marshmallows. Let it sit for about six hours or overnight.

Partridgeberry Chewies

cookie, newfoundland, partridgeberry, oatmeal, raisin, spices, dessertWhata yat?  It’s been a little while since I’ve posted, so I wanted to get you all up to speed.  I had a tooth removed so I wasn’t feeling the best for a couple of days.  The dentist told me that I had to eat soft foods.  You know, like oatmeal, soup, yogurt, and the like.  At least I know what it will feel like when I’m put in the home later.  Nothing could be too hot or cold, as it would cause me discomfort.

So I found this chewy oatmeal cookie.  The dentist said I could eat soft foods and this cookie is nice, soft, and chewy.  The partridgeberry jam gives it a bit of a tang, and the spices round out the flavour.

If you’re wondering what the heck are partridgeberries, they are a berry that’s common to the Atlantic provinces. They grow on bushes low to the ground and are very hearty.  The flavour is similar to a cranberry, but can be a little bitter on the finish.  You won’t notice the bitterness with this cookie though.

First preheat your oven to 350F.  Cream the shortening and the sugars with the paddle attachment on your stand mixer.  You want to get this mixture well blended and then add the egg and vanilla.  Whip for about two minutes so it’s nice and fluffy.  These cookies bake flat so you’ll want to get them nice and aerated.

While that is mixing combine the flour, baking soda and powder, salt, and spices.  Mix the dry ingredients together to distribute evenly.  Turn your mixer to low and slowly add the dry mix to the creamed batter.  Then add your oatmeal, jam, and raisins.  Spoon tablespoons onto a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  They will spread a bit so leave a couple inches between each.cookie, newfoundland, partridgeberry, oatmeal, raisin, spices, dessert

The cookies will look a little moist when they come out of the oven, but they will continue to bake slightly when they are cooling.  Let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Partridgeberry Chewies

Chewy oatmeal cookies with the slightly tart taste of partridgeberry jam
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup All purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup partridgeberry jam

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the shortening and both sugars. Cream well until blended. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat until fluffy, about two minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl mix your dry ingredients together: flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Blend so all is distributed evenly.
  4. Slowly add the dry to the creamed mixture with your mixer on low. Then add the oatmeal, raisins, and jam. Mix until blended. Do not overmix.
  5. Scoop about a tablespoon full (#30 scoop) on parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will be slightly moist in center. Let cool for a couple of minutes on the pan and transfer to a rack.