International Dinner Project: Canada (Ryan’s Choice eh!)

 Sunday, 29 April 2012

Finding out about Canadian food was interesting, lots of desserts, and snacks, so I made a couple of each to bookend the main course, we don’t rarely, if ever, have pies, so I was hoping the boys would be up for it.

My brother and sister-in-law lived in Canada for a year or two while they were both working for the same company, so we invited them along, for their inside knowledge. I was telling Sam that the national sport of Canada was Ice Hockey, and he said, “hang on Dad, I’ve got just the thing”, ran off and came back grinning with a Lego minifigure Ice Hockey player, complete with puck.

Then Uncle Greg turned up wearing a Hockey Jersey, so we were ready to go!

Maple Glazed Bacon
Poutine (Fries with gravy and curds)

Woah nelly! Now exactly the healthiest of snacks, but popular! I had prepared the crispy maple bacon earlier so put that out first, the adults got a piece each at most, and the boys took care of the rest – so that one was a hit.

Now the poutine, Ryan helped me make the curds and we put them in the fridge, wrapped in cheese cloth under weight overnight. While I was cooking the oven french fries, Sam came and looked in the oven (he was hungry) “Ryan”, he said “Dad’s cooking McDonalds Fries!” That was the excitement for them for the evening, shoestring fires!

I wasn’t too sure that they’d like them with the gravy and curds, Jocelyn even suggested doing a bowl without the gravy, but that’s not really the point of International Dinner – so out of the kitchen came two bowls of poutine. Ryan was a little hesitant at first, but then, bam, Uncle Greg and Ryan, took ownership of one bowl, and after Sam had gotten a taste for it, he took guardianship of the other bowl, even complaining loudly when Jocelyn managed to get a forkful of about five fries, that was her last lot – the rest were Sam’s, although I managed to charm a few out of him.

Sam and Ryan’s rating: 10/10

Tourtiere (Herbed Pork Pie)
Sweet Chilli Sauce, Ketchup

I don’t think I’ve ever made a proper pie before. This one was replete with breadcrumbs to soak up the fat coming out of the pork mince, so I was hoping it all went smoothly.

It smelled great, and the pastry wasn’t too difficult to work with – crumbly pastry can really get me grumpy at times! 😉

The pie cut up well, held together coming out of the pan, Sam, Ryan and “Me Too!” Ethan took the pie onto their plates, Sam added ketchup, Ryan has discovered a love of Sweet Chilli Sauce. Apparently it was a success, Tina and Greg were all compliments, Sam’s disappeared, Ethan made an honest attempt, Ryan liked it, but was pretty full from bacon and fries – his favourite part was the pastry! But that’s okay, that’s my favourite part as well – especially where the meat makes the pastry all soggy. Zero pie, and veggies left.

Sam and Ryan’s rating: 10/10 (That leaves only dessert to leave me with a clean sheet – it’s looking good)

Beaver Tails (Flat, long doughnuts)
Maple Mousse (Maple sweetened strained yoghurt) 


Ryan was feeling quite tired so he asked to go to bed before dessert, and we promised we’d save him some.

I’ve had success on previous dinners with deep-frying in a saucepan, and there’s nothing more iconic that Canada’s Beaver Tails Doughnuts – so I thought I may as well give it a go, mine were mini versions of the real thing, but they were still big enough. The dough smelt great, and when it called for vanilla, I thought I may as well use the real Madagascan Extract left over from Madagascar night, rather than the normal essence, good choice, that extract is top-notch.

Once the oil got hot enough, those Beaver tails were coming out faster than we could eat them. So once they were all cooked I brought out the Maple mousse as well. It was beautiful and fluffy, mildly sweet with a lemon zing from the lemon rind. Sam’s was gone in an instant, and I lost count but I think he had at least two Beaver Tails, and then took half of one to school for morning tea today, and had the other half when he came home – he’s definitely got the sweet tooth!

We’ve been doing really well lately, no leftovers for anything!

Sam and Ryan’s rating: 10/10

Nanaimo Bars (Cocoa, Graham Cracker slice with butter icing and chocolate topping)
Coffee (no sugar, the bars had enough!) 


Uncle Greg and Auntie Tina knew all about the Nanaimo bars, we even gave them a doggie bag to take home with them, as their was no way we’d finish of the 8″ x 8″ tray full. So we had a few helpings and coffee to counter the sweetness as supper, all in all a good night. The boys had gone to bed, but they got to have their bars today after school and for dessert tonight.

All in all a very good night, thanks to Greg and Tina for their company, and bringing the Canada Club for the cook! The boys were great trying and enjoying everything without any complaining – they enjoyed it all – Yay Canada!


Making curds for poutine

On Saturday, Ryan helped me make the curds we’ll be having on Sunday for our Canadian Dinner… let’s hope the kids like poutine…

Canadian ingredients in New Zealand

Being both British Commonwealth countries I thought we’d be able to find most of the things we need for our Canada Dinner, and luckily our local supermarket did stock authentic Canadian Imported Maple Syrup (instead of that fake stuff we normally have) albeit at a premium price.

We always used to call it Maple Syrple when we were growing up, actually I still do… the kids think I’m weird – but that’s par for the course 🙂

Cheese curds on the other hand aren’t easy to come by, luckily I found out how to make them from scratch, and my small test today, worked well, so I’ll be able to go full-scale curding for an iconic Canadian snack.

Graham Crackers are another thing that is just not available over here, but after a bit of internet trawling, I’ve found the name of their New Zealand equivalent – so we’re away…

The more I discover about Canadian cuisine, the more I’m surprised the whole country hasn’t died of a heart attack, there’s an awful lot of fat and sugar in everything… must be a sure sign it’s all going to taste really good!

And the boys are looking forward to the Beaver Tails…. shopping list is being written up – supermarket expedition is pending with the ever energetic young Ryan!

Shennanigans: Ryan chooses his country…

Ryan is in fine form choosing his country this afternoon. Full of energy and giggles… thought he’d up the misdirection this time and really keep me guessing…

I know quite a few people from the chosen country, so I’ll be hitting them up for ideas.

International Dinner Project: Brazil (Sam’s choice)


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Brazil night! It almost didn’t happen tonight, we had a late night last night helping my parents move into their new home, then the first game of the soccer season early this morning for Ryan, and straight after, karate for Sam and I. By the time we had, had lunch it was 1 o’clock.

I had promised Sam earlier in the week that we could go to the beach to investigate the rock pools, but that required low tide, which just happened to be at 1pm, which didn’t leave much time to shop and cook dinner for 5.30pm. Because I’d had a busy week with work I hadn’t finished researching my dishes.

I did have two semi-finalised, but sat down with Sam to choose the last one, before we went to the beach. As part of our beach mission, I told the boys we needed to seach for some crab, clam or scallop shells for one of our dishes tonight, if we could get the shopping finished straight after we might have enough time.

Well we searched, found a cave, sea anenomes, lava flow rocks, rocks full of iron and lots of sand, but no shells so we’d have to make do with boring old kitchen dishes as bowls instead.

The beach

But enough beach… on with the dinner!

Casquinha De Siri (Stuffed Crab Shells)

We did our best to find crab shells at the beach today, or at the very least clam or scallop shells, but we had no luck, so glass dishes it was.

This dish is sautéed onion and crabmeat, with tomatoes, coconut milk, topped with parmesan and breadcrumbs. Very tasty, and because of the crab meat, quite a sweet entree. The tomatoes added a nice acidity to the dish though, Jocelyn and I had seconds.

Sam was quite keen on this one and had a good sized helping, Ryan is all about textures at the moment, and while he did try a mouthful, he wasn’t keen on the texture of it. Being crab, slimy would be his description.

Sam’s rating: 10/10

Brazilian Savoury Meat CrepesSam with his dinner


Panquecas (Pancakes)

As part of getting the boys more involved in the choosing of the dishes, Sam sat with me while we looked for a main meal. We went past a lot of stews that he wasn’t keen on, but when he saw crepes/pancakes he said “That one.”

I made sure he knew these were savoury pancakes with meat inside, and he was cool with that – so crepes it was!

Quite a simple recipe, but with the herbs added to the meat a nice flavourful combination, the kids were keen to have it again. Now, while I say they were quite keen on it – let me clarify.

Ryan, liked his, but I had to pick the “grass” out of the sauce on top, which was no problem. And Sam, as you might be able to see in the photo, scraped all the sauce off his, he’s just not a sauce man – whereas I had to give Ryan some more sauce when he still had meat but no sauce left… amazing how brothers can be so opposite!

Both boys had seconds and thirds of this, so we might try a chicken version next time and see how we go.

Sam’s Rating: 10/10 – Not to be outdone Ryan gave it 100/10

Sweet Coconut bake


Cocada de Forno (literally Oven Coconut)

We still had a whole coconut left over from our Fiji Dinner Night, so this while looking quite delicious, was a no brainer (I didn’t wan’t the coconut to go off before I could use it). Store-bought dessicated coconut, has got nothing on freshly grated coconut!

So once again I found myself draining milk from a coconut (which I used almost all of in the entree). Then Sam cracked it open on the concrete (first try!) And I removed he meat so we could grate/shred it.

Another simple dish to make, which we left baking while we ate dinner.

Served with vanilla icecream (it was going to be a blended papaya icream mix (Creme de Papaya) – but it was getting late and we thought we’ll make that another night, as the boys had a late night the previous night). Man was it delicious, the smell when I opened the oven, sweet and coconutty.

Unfortunately Ryan, has had enough coconut lately it seems, and only wanted the icecream, and Sam tried it – but preferred only the icecream as well – which was fine it meant more for us (I had to eat the extra one I’d dished up) But I’ve learnt my lesson for the next few weeks at least – “Cool it with the coconut”. So let’s hope they choose a less equatorial country next week!

Dad’s Rating: 10/10 😉

All in all I was pretty pleased with their eating this week – and yet again – no leftovers – well a bit of dessert – but I’ll deal to that tomorrow!