How to use local ingredients in holiday fare
Tips and ideas from Christmas in November at Fairmont, Jasper Park Lodge
By Carrie Selin
Whether it’s fairly standard or you like to impress your friends and family with great tasting foods, you can’t go wrong with Alberta ingredients. Early November, Taste Alberta enjoyed all the wonderful experiences at Christmas In November by Fairmont, Jasper Park Lodge. We noticed chefs from around the country use Canadian ingredients, and we thought we share some of their tips and recipes to show you how easy it is to use local ingredients in your holiday fare.
Cookies to squares, holiday baking includes locally produced ingredients such as Alberta dairy products (butter, cream etc.) and Alberta eggs. On a country drive in the summer you’ll find acres of wheat that is milled into flour, yellow flowers that produce a seed crushed for canola oil or maybe rows of sugar beets in Southern Alberta used for, you guessed it, sugar. Elizabeth Baird and Emily Richards shared five different recipes for holiday squares during CIN that are simple to make, that use locally grown ingredients and will wow your family with the great taste.
Emily and Elizabeth’s Cranberry Oat Bars
1 ½ cups large flake rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped pistachios or pecans
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup cold butter, cubed
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup pitted prunes, dates, dried apricots or Thompson raisins
½ cup cranberry juice
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp grated orange rind
Line a 9-inch square metal pan; set aside.
Preheat oven to 350oF (180oC).
In a bowl, combine oats, flour, pistachios (or pecans), sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in butter using fingers until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 ½ cups of the mixture. Press remaining mixture into prepared pan. Bake in centre of oven for 10 minutes or until soft.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring cranberries, prunes, cranberry juice, sugar and orange rind to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened and cranberries pop.
Spoon the filling onto the baked base layer and spread evenly. Sprinkle reserved mixture over top and bake for about 15 minutes or until light golden.
Let cool in pan on a rack.
Recipe Credit: Emily Richards and Elizabeth Baird
When preparing the side dishes for your Christmas dinner, why not try something a little out of the ordinary like Alberta pulses. Pulses are in the legume family and include dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Because they are low in fat and high in protein and fibre they make a nice healthy compliment to your plate. It’s also good to have a protein choice for any vegetarian or vegan family members. You’ll want them to taste delicious, so at CIN we asked Julie Van Rosendaal, cookbook author and food writer, to help us out with a recipe for lentils. Lentils are easy to cook, but for the kitchen challenged, you can also use canned lentils – just given them a quick rinse and add them to the recipe (hint: skip the stock and extra cooking time).
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2-3 Brussels sprouts, halved and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup dry green lentils
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
Garnish, chopped parsley
Heat a drizzle of canola oil in a medium saucepan and cook the onion, carrot, celery, Brussels sprouts and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Add the lentils and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until the lentils are just tender. Add a bit of red wine vinegar and season with salt. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Recipe Credit: Julie Van Rosendaal
There always seems to be at least one potluck during the holidays, and if you are like me, I’ll spend more time thinking about what I’m going to bring as actually making it. I’ll scroll through social media, and websites trying to find something a little different than what others might bring, but not too different that only a few would eat it. There were many great ideas at the CIN reception for potluck dishes such as charcuterie and cheese boards using local cured meats and Canadian cheeses, or a Cobb Salad with Alberta ingredients such as eggs, chicken, and bacon. I also gathered a few recipes you can try from our Taste Alberta protein friends:
1. Alberta Pork Brined Tenderloin with Maple Sauce http://www.passionforpork.com/recipes/brined-pork-tenderloin-with-maple
2. Alberta Chicken & Mini Potatoes in Creamy Red Wine Sauce https://www.chicken.ab.ca/chicken-mini-potatoes-in-creamy-red-wine-sauce/
3. Alberta Turkey Marinara Meatballs https://ab.canadianturkey.ca/recipes/mini-turkey-marinara-mmmeatballs/
Follow along for our next blog as we’ll provide you with some tips on how to shop for Alberta and Canadian produced foods at your local grocer.