I can’t decide.
That is the story of this northern Canadian country. Mother Nature plays with us. One day it is definitely still winter, then the next it is maybe, just maybe, a breath – a whisper – a possibility – of spring.
A few days ago it looked like this…
And then today there is this…
I am all mixed up, too. Some days I still crave to cocoon, and curl up inside, and make stews and slow-cooked things. And then some days I feel that excitement stirring – that twittering inside that starts to bubble up and make me want to get outdoors and start poking around in the dirt and looking at seed catalogues and thinking about flowers and brightly-coloured spring things.
So today’s dinner was a mixture of that.
On the weekend I was feeling winter, so I defrosted and roasted a turkey, but only half the family ended up being home, so guess what? Turkey it was … on Sunday, and Monday, and today, and probably tomorrow… (Thank goodness leftover turkey shines in many different incarnations.) But today I was also feeling spring, so I quickly sauteed a pretty medley of spring vegetables – sugar snap peas and radishes with mint. Plus some comfort-food-mashed-potatoes to tie the two together.
It was a successful marriage of winter and spring. Not to mention – mighty tasty.
One of our family’s favourite meals made of leftover turkey (or chicken) is fricassée, or at least what we call fricassée. I’m guessing it may not be truly authentic, because I don’t use butter or cream or milk in the gravy, but it is how my Tante Erdwina (another one of my amazing-cook aunties) used to make it for us when we were children. I remember it as childhood comfort food, and it still is for me today.
I don’t really have a recipe for my fricassée, but if you have leftover turkey or chicken, and gravy, you’re set. I always make sure to cook lots of flavourful gravy when I roast a bird – it’s handy dandy for so many different leftovers (and I thicken my gravy with sweet rice flour). Just heat up the gravy – 2 to 3 cups (250 to 375mls) is about right for 4 to 6 people. Throw in about the same amount of leftover cooked poultry meat, cut into large bite-sized chunks.
And then here’s the trick, (sh, don’t tell) the secret ingredient . . . . . nutmeg – and lots of it. Freshly grated from a whole nutmeg is best (but if all you have is the pre-ground stuff in jars, use it. Still great!). Start with a ½ teaspoon (2.5ml), taste it and add more if you like, up to 1 teaspoon (5ml). I usually don’t measure. Flavour the fricassée well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Simmer for a few minutes to heat it through.
Serve over buttered noodles, mashed potatoes or rice. Mmmmmm. Dinner is served.
My Mashed Potatoes
Slowly simmering the milk and onion add a richness and elusive sweet flavour to these potatoes.
- about 2 pounds (1kg) potatoes, peeled and quartered
- about 1 cup (250ml) milk
- 1 onion, diced fine
- 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to30mls) butter
- salt and pepper to taste
Put the potatoes into a saucepan with lid, pour in about 1 inch (2cm) water, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer until tender, about 2o minutes.
As soon as you put the potatoes on to boil, in another, smaller, saucepan, put the diced onion, milk and butter and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer uncovered, until the potatoes are done. During this time the milk should reduce by about half and the onions will get nice and tender, but it all depends on the temperature of your simmer – if it looks like the milk is boiling away too much, add some more to the saucepan.
Drain the potatoes and mash them with the hot onion-butter-reduced milk. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Sautéed Spring Radishes and Sugar Snap Peas with Mint
Kitchen Frau Note: I like to use sugar snap peas because they are so fleshy and sweet, but regular frozen peas, or snow peas, would work well, too. The amounts here are really just a guideline – use roughly equal portions of radishes and peas, and be liberal with the rest if the ingredients – whatever tickles your
The mint adds a spring brightness, but if you don’t have mint, try the dish anyway. It’s good with just the green onions and butter, too.
- ¾ pound (12 ounces or 350mg) radishes
- ¾ pound (12 ounces or 350mg) sugar snap peas
- 1 to 2 tablespoons (15ml) butter
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) chopped fresh mint
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Trim the radishes and cut them into quarters. Cut the sugar snap peas in half.
Heat the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the radishes and peas.
Saute, stirring often, until the peas turn bright green and the radishes turn soft pink. You want them firm and cooked through, but not limp or mushy.
Chop the mint and green onion, toss with the vegetables and cook about one minute longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serves 4 to 6
What a bright and colourful side dish. If you have never thought of cooking radishes, give this dish a try – you will be pleasantly surprised.