recipe

Citrus Curd 3 Ways : Pink Grapefruit, Blood Orange, and Clementine

Citrus Curd 3 Ways : Pink Grapefruit, Blood Orange, and Clementine

Originally inspired by the lemon curd recipe in Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens, today I made three batches of citrus curd - pink grapefruit, blood orange, and clementine.

Read More

Easy Potato Gnocchi Recipe with Arugula-Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Easy Potato Gnocchi Recipe with Arugula-Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Let’s be clear on one thing - this recipe makes A LOT of gnocchi, but I like that because when I make a batch, I refrigerate the amount I want to cook that day and then freeze the rest for later use.

Read More

The Nanny Project : Rhea's Sugar Pie

The Nanny Project.

What is that?

It's an idea I came up with over two years ago. An idea to showcase recipes belonging to the women we call Nanny, or Nana, or Grandma (or whichever name we may have for them).

It's about tried and true recipes. Dishes that, the moment we take a taste, make us weak with nostalgia to be held by our grandmothers - smell their perfume one more time.

It's about women of generations gone by. Women whose lives we may know very little about.

And about how recipes are threads that tie us to the past.


I've posted about grandmother's a few times now. Here, here and my favourite, here.

Since the last time I posted a grandmother's recipe, I've pitched The Nanny Project as a cookbook idea to two different publishers, and both were excited by the notion. One wanted to sign a contract immediately after meeting, however, something big has come up that has pulled my focus (pun intended - more details to follow).

And so, for now, I'll continue to post these tried and true, tested-on-generations, grandma's recipes as I come across them.

The recipe for Rhea's Sugar Pie comes to me from a somewhat lengthy family connection. Rhea Marinier was my dad's wife Wanda's, sister Ruby's, husband Denis' mother.

Got it?

I don't know much about Rhea other than she lived in Quebec and that Ruby said she was a great lady, funny and she loved life.

Sounds like my kind of woman.

Yesterday, when I made Rhea's recipe, was the first time I've had Sugar Pie and if you're wondering, yes it's DAMN SWEET but it's oh so good. And how on earth can you resist the name? I knew it had to be next on my roster of posts when I couldn't stop singing this song -

Rhea's Sugar Pie

single unbaked pie shell, homemade or store-bought

2 C brown sugar

1.5 Tbsp flour

1 can evaporated milk

5 Tbsp butter (75g)

1 egg

0.5 tsp vanilla

- mix all and put in unbaked pie crust - bake 30-35 minutes

That's it for directions so I'm going to take it one step further and supplement the original steps with the steps I found helpful.

- preheat oven to 350º

- in a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and flour to combine and break up lumps in brown sugar

- whisk in evaporated milk

- whisk in egg and vanilla

- melt butter and whisk in

- pour filling into pie crust and bake 30-35 minutes - pie is done when it puffs slightly and has a slight jiggle in the middle - remove from oven and cool

- optional - top slices with whipped cream and a little sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon or cocoa

Sabatier Canada : Smashed Chicken Roasted with Herbs, Orange, Prosciutto and Brandy

I worked on a project with Sabatier Canada a while back. If you're not familiar :

Sabatier’s rich history is steeped in the traditions of excellence and time-honoured craftsmanship. Quality products utilizing premium materials are hallmarks of this world renowned brand. The Sabatier brand dates back to 1812, to a small workshop in the Thiers region of France.  Philippe Sabatier, a local craftsman, meticulously designed and produced a highly innovative kitchen knife, which rapidly grew in popularity across the region amongst professional cooks and butchers. To keep up with demand, Philippe recruited members of his family to help with production. Today, staying true to its European roots, Sabatier branded products exude refined elegance with contemporary tones garnering universal appeal. The trademark griffin insignia continues to guarantee the professional quality of distinctive Sabatier products.

I was tasked with creating 8 original recipes to be featured on the Sabatier Canada website, of which the Smashed Chicken pictured above is one. Here's the link to the chicken recipe, and, make sure to check out the other recipes I created. Also, have a look at the recipes some of my awesome fellow Canadian blogger friends created too!

Squash, Chorizo and Blue Cheese Strata

collaborate  (verb)   kuh lab uh - reyt

to work, one with another

My friend Kathy, from eatHalifax!, and I have been wanting to collaborate on a project for a really long time. Finally, last Sunday we got together to make this gorgeous breakfast Strata featuring Chorizo sausages from Ratinaud French Cuisine, Chef Jason Lynch's beautiful new Dijon Mustard and Blue Harbour Cheese's Urban Blue - all made right here in Nova Scotia.

Food styling and recipe : Kathy Jollimore

Photography : Kelly Neil

Squash, Chorizo & Blue Cheese Strata - serves 6

1 small or 1/2 large acorn squash, seeds removed, cut into wedges

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 Ratinaud Chorizo sausages, casings removed

6 eggs

1/2 cup cream

1 1/2 cup milk

1 tbsp. Jason Lynch's Dijon mustard

2 tbsp. chopped herbs: oregano, rosemary and\or sage

1 loaf rustic French bread, cubed or torn into pieces

1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano 

4 oz. Urban Blue cheese, crumbled

- Preheat oven to 450º - Place the squash on a baking sheet - Drizzle with 2 tsp. olive oil and season with salt and pepper - Roast until soft, about 20-30 min (you could also roast longer at a lower temperature if desired) - Remove from oven and scrape off any charred bits. Scoop out squash into a bowl. Lightly mash and season lightly with salt and pepper.

- Reduce oven to 375º - Butter a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

- Heat a skillet over medium heat - Add the remaining olive oil - Fry the chorizo until just cooked, breaking it into smaller pieces - Set aside.

- Whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, Dijon, and fresh herbs - Season with a pinch of both salt and pepper - In the baking dish, mix together the bread, squash, Chorizo, Parmigiano and Urban Blue cheeses - Pour the egg mixture over top - Press the bread into the liquid (if using day old bread, feel free to refrigerate an hour or even overnight) - Bake until the liquid is fully absorbed and the top golden brown, about 40 min. Serve immediately.

Nanny Neil's Apple Pan Dowdy

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 16.jpg

The woman in the picture above is Elodie Mary Gallien Wade.

And she was my Nanny.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 1.jpg

Nanny was very close to my sister and I when we were growing up. Every weekend, my Mum would take us to Halifax to visit Nanny where she had her own little apartment on Victoria Road. We'd go to movies, the Public Gardens, the beach and sometimes, we'd just hang out in her apartment. It didn't really seem to matter what we did. We were always together.

When I was 15 years old, Nanny came to live with us. She had been battling the first stages of dementia for a while. For three years, my mother, my sister and I lived with a stranger who cried constantly, begging us to take her home. 

She gradually withered before our eyes, at the end, an empty Alzheimers-ridden husk.

Twenty years after her death, I still carry the weight of grief, heavy, as apple peelings slip from my hands to the wooden board below.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 3.jpg

I can picture my 18 year-old self, after her freezing February funeral, dressed in a black turtleneck, burgundy courduroy skirt, black army boots, and black pea coat, roaming the streets of downtown Dartmouth, chain smoking, blinded by tears.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 2.jpg
Nanny Neil Apples WEB 15.jpg

Her death drove deep into my soul.

I will never get over it.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 17.jpg

Born in Caraquet, New Brunswick, my Nanny moved to Halifax when she married my grandfather. She spoke little English, and seemed embarrassed by her thick Acadian French accent.

I wish I could tell her how I've tried to learn French, that I chose to study French as my university minor, because of her.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 12.jpg

I love cats. My Mum tells me Nanny loved them too. Mum tells a story about a cat named Toni that would come to their house on Wright Avenue after the previous owners left him behind. Nanny worked serving night lunches at the VG hospital, and every night, Toni would walk with Nanny to the hospital, waiting outside for her, until it was time to go home.

It's these little stories I need, I crave, because I'm afraid I'll forget what little I can remember.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 23.jpg

My other grandmother, Barbara Jean Ellis, was a great beauty.

She lives today with my father, her son, sucked into the vaccuum of dementia.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 19.jpg

While I was growing up, she lived in Ontario.

I never got to know her and I'll never have the chance.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 9.jpg

I have so many questions.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 13.jpg

Last Christmas, I was thrilled when Sean's aunt offered me a box of her mother's cookbooks and handwritten recipes.

'I think you're the one that will appreciate them the most', she said.

She was right.

To me, Nanny Neil's handwritten recipes are something to be treasured; a small glimpse into a life I'll never know.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 8.jpg

Mary Elodie Gallien Wade - Barbara Jean Ellis - Almina Eugene Densmore Neil - Mary Ellen Harris Shand - Ethel Melvina Craig Shand

Who were these women beyond my perceived notion of them as grandmothers?

What was it like to be in their shoes?

What would they think of me?

These questions fascinate me.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 5.jpg
Nanny Neil Apples WEB 6.jpg
Nanny Neil Apples WEB 7.jpg

I've been wanting to share one of Nanny Neil's recipes for almost a year now. I approached James Ingram last spring with an idea for a project about grandmothers. This summer we spent a day shooting with Nicholetta from Pepper + Paint, testing my concept in her beautiful bright modern summer home on the North Shore.

Afterwards, I phoned James.

'It just didn't feel right', I said.

Maybe it's grief, maybe it's nostalgia.

Whatever it is, it doesn't feel light and airy to me.

Nanny Neil Apples WEB 10.jpg

I do know this.

Diving into the past, dragging up old memories?

It's complicated. And it hurts.

But it helps.

Me, anyway.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nanny Neil's Apple Pan Dowdy (I've adapted the recipe directions to be more clear than what's written on the original card)

1 C brown sugar

1/4 C flour

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 C water

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla

4 C peeled, chopped apples

Biscuit Topping:

1 C flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 C milk

2.5 Tbsp shortening (I used butter)

- preheat 350º

- cook brown sugar, flour, salt, water and vinegar over medium heat until thick, about 8 minutes - remove from heat and add butter and vanilla - mix well and set aside

- in a buttered casserole dish, arrange peeled, chopped apples 

- pour brown sugar sauce over apples and toss to coat

- Biscuit Topping - in a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, milk and shortening only to make wet - drop by the spoonful on top of apples - bake 40-45 minutes, or until biscuit topping is golden