The new stalks of strawberry red rhubarb are always a delight for the first pie of the season. I have not been successful growing asparagus in my garden, but it grows wild in the bush around my home and I am able to find a few spears now and then that haven't gone to seed. My lady slippers are blooming, and it looks like it may be a good year for saskatoons.
One spring tradition I miss is picking the abundance of morels that grew on our family farm in Winnipegosis. My mom used to cook literally heaps of them in cream gravy that we ate over mashed potatoes. I had no idea what a gourmet and sought-after item they are until I moved to Winnipeg.
Now on to today's recipes. Gigi K. wanted to duplicate the chili that Junior's puts on its burgers and fries. Thanks to Debbie Saske, who sent in the rendition reprinted below, and also to Pat McNeill, Marcy Mazur, and to Shirley Patton-Penner of Petersfield.
Bonita Wiens was looking for a sweet-and-sour sauce like the canned China Lily variety. Audrey Mcleod supplied the recipe below. Thanks also to Sharon McDonald and Linda Goodbrandson for their recipes.
New requests include one from Otto Christensen of Arborg, who is looking for a good recipe for remoulade, a European-type tartar sauce, as well as one for regular tartar sauce.
Joan Dawson hopes someone may have an appetizer recipe that has been lost for a mushroom and goat cheese crostini, with three kinds of mushrooms. It was on a recipe card in a Martha Stewart magazine several years ago.
Darlene Michaluk and Laraine Parkes wonder if anyone has a recipe that duplicates the meat sauce served on spaghetti at Pizza Place.
Terri Pitzel asks if anyone has the recipe for the very rich chocolate strawberry buttercream torte that Hetherington's on Roblin used to make.
Terry Spack of Selkirk would like a recipe for pickled asparagus.
Lastly, Noella Lafond has misplaced a recipe that was in this paper earlier for a ginger cookie with no molasses in it. The dough was rolled in balls and then in sugar.
If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an e-mail to email@example.com, fax 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Darlene Henderson, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB., R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number. (Please note that your submission may not appear right away, due to space limitations.)
Like Junior's chili
30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
2 yellow onions, finely minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 kg (2 lbs) lean ground beef
30 ml (2 tbsp) chili powder
15 ml (1 tbsp) ground cumin
15 ml (1 tbsp) dried oregano leaves
10 ml (2 tsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
10 ml (2 tsp) salt
5 ml (1 tsp) celery seeds
5 ml (1 tsp) turmeric
5 ml (1 tsp) cinnamon
2 ml (1/2 tsp) hot red pepper flakes
500 ml (2 cups) tomato juice
500 ml (2 cups) canned beef broth
60 ml (1/4 cup) cornmeal
Heat oil in Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Add ground beef and cook until brown, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes.
Combine chili powder with ground cumin, oregano, cocoa, salt, celery seeds, turmeric, cinnamon and hot red pepper flakes. Mix into ground beef and stir for 3 minutes.
Add tomato juice and broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by 1/3, about 1 1/2 hours.
Add cornmeal and stir for 2 minutes.
Can be prepared ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and freeze in airtight container up to 2 months or refrigerate up to 3 days. Warm over medium-low heat.
Taste Tester Notes: This combination of spices makes a tasty chili with a nice bite. I used a reduced sodium tomato juice but still found the dish a bit salty. (I would not add any salt at all, as it is already in the tomato juice and broth, plus there are lots of spices for flavour, but that will depend on your taste for salt.) I cooked it in an electric skillet and it was ready in just under an hour. If you prefer it saucier you can shorten the cooking time. This is good on its own or use it in its traditional manner for chili dogs, burgers and fries. Pat McNeil also suggests using it for nachos. Top tortilla chips with chili and grated cheese, heat in a 350 F oven for about 10 minutes, and serve with sour cream and salsa.
Sweet and sour sauce
1 litre (4 cups) water
125 ml (1/2 cup) vinegar
310 ml (1 1/4 cups) sugar
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) lemon juice
180 ml (3/4 cup) ketchup
90 ml (6 tbsp) cornstarch
160 ml (2/3 cup) water
Combine 1 litre (4 cups) water with vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and ketchup. Heat to boiling. Combine cornstarch and water, and stir in until mixture boils and is clear. If desired add a few drops of red food colouring to brighten to a sparkling red. Makes 1 1/2 litres (6 cups). Stores refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or may be frozen.
Taste Tester Notes: This is very easy to make and a good balance between sweet and sour. You can vary it if you like by adding a bit of soy sauce and finely minced garlic to taste, and/or or pineapple tidbits or chunks. If adding canned pineapple, you can use the juice in the can in place of some of the water.