IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is our personal experience at Sanagan’s and my re-telling of some of the advice we received and decisions we made. It does not constitute advice. Toronto businesses should directly contact Toronto Public Health to obtain advice pertinent to their particular businesses and circumstances.
Toronto Public Health's Covid-19 Hotline: 416-338-7600
March 23, 2021
My experiences over the last couple of weeks have allowed me greater access to Toronto Public Health than before, and I want to share what I’ve learned, in the hopes that there is greater understanding of how Covid-19 can be contained within the business community. As Toronto opens up, I feel like all businesses and customers can gain something from our experiences at Sanagan’s Meat Locker, and I firmly believe that the more knowledgeable we all are about this pandemic, the better equipped we are to combat it. Additionally, I believe that transparency and knowledge can help reduce anxiety at stressful times. The better we are prepared, emotionally and physically, the better we will deal with the virus in a workplace.
First, I want to state that this information is current as of today, March 23rd, in Toronto, and is reflective of my understanding of the information I was provided. Additionally, different regions, towns, and countries may have different tactics to fight Covid, as the levels of contamination and social behaviour are different from place to place. That is very important to understand, as well as the fact that this information is only up to date as of the date this was written. Things change, the scientists learn more, and there are variants of concern that we have to be ready for. Additionally, as more people get vaccinated, the situation will undoubtably change. Keep that in mind if you’re reading this in September 2021…
I want to clarify some things for everyone, as there has been conflicting or outdated information, and I want you all to understand the information Toronto Public Health conveyed to Sanagan’s in regards to Covid-19 transmission in the workplace. The advice we received is based on the scientific understanding of the Covid-19 virus and how it behaves.
1) Toronto Public Health's Role
The number one thing everyone should all know is that Toronto Public Health is the authority for all public advice related to Covid-19 in Toronto. You may have read articles from other regions, or heard something on the news, or even had been given information by an employee of a local hospital, that may conflict with what we're doing at the business level. There is no greater authority on the specific nature of what's happening in Toronto, and more importantly in a Toronto business, than the Toronto Public Health team that works directly with organizations. There is always an investigation into these matters, and any decisions are made based on the science and particular circumstances in the workplace. If you ever have any questions or concerns about Covid-19 in general, or how we (or any businesses) operate, I implore you to contact Toronto Public Health's Covid-19 Hotline at 416-338-7600.
2) Closing a Business due to Covid-19
As a business, I feel like we did the right thing last week by closing to examine what our next steps should be. However, Toronto Public Health does not currently recommend that businesses close if there is a positive Covid-19 case. As far as I understand, at no point does Toronto Public Health recommend that a business, or any organization, close due to a single case of Covid-19 or even if an outbreak has been declared. The most important piece for Toronto Public Health is containment of the virus. They contain the virus by determining who may have been exposed based on the level of risk during contact with a positive case. An organization is not required to close and test all employees. So, while I think we did the right thing for us at the time, it wasn't necessary in the eyes of science and Toronto Public Health.
3) Exposure Levels
There is a difference between "high-risk" and "low risk" exposures (or contact levels). A high-risk exposure is defined as being within 6 feet (or 2 meters) of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 for a cumulative time of 15 minutes over a day. Cumulative is important, as you don't want to assume that you can be close to someone for five-ten minutes, walk away for a half hour, then do it again a few more times. That could still be considered high-risk. Note that I say "considered". It can be extremely confusing and stressful to try to figure out if you have been a high-risk exposure to a contagious person. You may think "what if I talk to someone for a minute fifteen times a day", or "what if I pass someone in a hallway 100 times a day?" "How do you estimate the cumulative time you've spent with one person, when I work with up to 20 people per day?" These are all legitimate questions, and Toronto Public Health is the key investigator in determining who is at high-risk. They talk to the infected person, they talk to management, and they will talk to you if they think you are at risk. From my understanding, you are not considered high-risk if you walk by someone a bunch of times in a decently ventilated environment. You are considered high-risk if you have multiple 5–10-minute conversations with a contagious person within 6 feet (2 meters) a few times in an 8-10 hour shift. So, the lesson is: KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Move around and talk to someone from afar. Don’t eat lunch with someone without physically distancing yourself. And remember, at the end of the day, it will be Toronto Public Health who determines who is a high-risk contact and who isn’t. They know the questions to ask to get the answers they need to determine this, which leaves a lot of the guesswork out of your hands.
4) Contagious Time
The current advice is, after more than a year of learning about Covid-19, scientists now understand that a person is considered to be contagious up to 48 hours before the onset of symptoms. That is, if you feel a tickle in your throat on a Monday afternoon that turns out to be a symptom of Covid-19, Toronto Public Health considers you to have been contagious starting from the Saturday two days prior. Even if you had a close contact with another person on the Friday, that isn't actually considered high-risk for contracting Covid-19. That close contact will likely be eliminated from Toronto Public Health's investigation.
5) Isolation Time
A person who has tested positive for Covid-19 must isolate for 10 days from receiving the positive results. A person who is considered to have had high-risk exposure must isolate for 14 days from the last contact. Why the difference? If you have tested positive for Covid-19, science tells us that you will most likely only be contagious for a maximum of 10 days after getting results. If you were exposed to Covid-19, the virus can incubate and not express itself symptomatically for up to 14 days. Someone who tests positive for Covid-19, should not be contagious after ten days of learning of their result. Someone who may be incubating the virus, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms, could be contagious for up to 14 days. I use the word should when talking about a person with Covid-19, because it is still determined by Toronto Public Health if you can stop isolating. Again, it takes the guesswork out of the picture.
6) Getting Tested
Currently, Toronto Public Health recommends the earliest you should get a test is FIVE days after exposure. On top of that, they don't recommend you get a test unless you are considered a high-risk exposure case. By all means, you can get a test for your piece of mind, but the most important thing for any low-risk contact to do is to monitor symptoms, constantly wash your hands, and physically distance from each other.
7) Declaring an Outbreak in an Organization
If two or more cases of Covid-19 occur at an organization, and they can be epidemiologically connected to each other, Toronto Public Health will determine an outbreak has occurred, and post the business name and number of cases on their website. Before declaring an outbreak, they have to eliminate all other possibilities of why two or more people have contracted Covid-19. As we all know, this virus is rampantly spread throughout the community, and Toronto Public Health does not automatically assume that one case led to another. Rather, they will follow up with the positive cases, investigate thoroughly, and determine how else it could have been contracted. As discussed, Toronto Public Health will investigate who is positive, and who may be considered high-risk, and direct individuals to isolate based on the findings of that investigation. Although there are exceptions, we have been advised that Toronto Public Health generally would not recommend that a business should close. If we were to find ourselves in a situation where there are quite a few employees isolating, we would make decisions based on who is available and safe to work, and what Toronto Public Health recommends we do at that time. Remember, Toronto Public Health is the authority, and I am happy to take direction and guidance from them. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT I WOULDN'T CLOSE THE SHOP IF I FELT IT WAS AN UNSAFE PLACE TO OPERATE. I want to be clear with everyone on this, and I should hope that last week's decision shows you that I'm not afraid to make those hard decisions. Businesses should make decisions based on the scientific knowledge and guidance from Public Health.
8) Public Messaging
Currently, there is no requirement by Toronto Public Health for a business to message the public about Covid-19 cases in their workplaces. As mentioned, if there are two or more linked cases at a single workplace, Toronto Public Health will post this information on its website.
9) Remember to Breathe and Relax
This is extremely hard to do and extremely important to do. We may experience outbreaks, and we will handle them well, just like we've handled so many other hurdles over the years. I for one need to remember this, as I process stress and pressure with varying degrees of discomfort. To be honest I haven't slept much this last week. I've been emotional and have had to put on a good face. But that's ok, because I believe that we will get through this. It sounds corny, but it's true. This virus is terrible and is wreaking havoc across the planet, but the vast majority of us will remember it as "those terrible years". If we keep our sights on that, we can get through this. I could bore you with terrible events that happened in the business's lifetime that, while at the time felt immeasurably difficult to overcome, are now just memories.
Focus on good science and a positive future. These thoughts will help you get through the hard times.
by Graham Duncan
Two things got me thinking about making sushi. 1) Finally getting around to watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the documentary about Tokyo’s renowned sushi chef and his awesomely barebones restaurant. 2) Sanagan’s now carries high quality sushi rice and deluxe soy sauces. It was time to get rolling.
When you say sushi, you’re probably thinking of the Japanese cuisine — like going to a sushi restaurant. More accurately, sushi is Japanese-style short grain rice seasoned with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar and salt. It is this rice preparation, combined with seafood, egg or vegetables, that comprises what we commonly call sushi. The quality of your sushi rice is going to go a long way to defining the quality of your sushi. That’s why we carry Tamanishiki Super Premium Short Grain Rice.
You may be surprised to discover that Tamanishiki is grown in the Sacramento Valley, but Californian sushi rice is some of the best in the world. After: washing; soaking; boiling; seasoning with the vinegar mixture; and cooling it (you fan it like it just fainted), my sushi rice might have earned a dismissive half glance from Old Man Jiro. In other words, it was delicious and seemed a perfect midpoint of sticky but not gluey. The only problem was I couldn’t stop eating it. It’s hard to roll sushi when all the rice is gone.
Once you’ve made your sushi rolls, bowls, or nigiri, you’re going to want to flavour it with some Japanese soy sauce. Kuyo Murasaki started making soy sauce in the late 1880’s. They’re now into the 5th generation and are renowned for their premium soy sauce. Almost syrupy, It has an irresistible vegetative, fermented complexity and a relatively low salt profile. If you can get sushi grade fish, don’t think of using any other soy sauce.
If you want a more upfront salt bite to your soy sauce, the sort of condiment perfect for fattier rolls and tempura, or as an full-flavour ingredient, try the specially imported Kikkoman Prime Umami Soy Sauce, made with only water, soybeans, wheat and salt. It comes in a really smart non-BPA bottle with a collapsible inner liner to help keep it fresh.
Our new line of imported and locally produced foodstuffs continues to be a source of inspiration. I realize that may sound like marketing BS but it’s really what I’m experiencing. You get some jar of something, you find a recipe, employ a new technique, maybe feel like you’ve gotten a little closer to another culture, it tastes great; it’s like leaving home without leaving your kitchen.
by Graham Duncan
The Tran Family at the opening of their current location at 360 Spadina Ave. (1989) Left to right: Danny Tran, De Tran, Huong Tran, Dat Chuong Tran, Anna Tran, John Tran
One day while I was working in the shop I began chatting to a very engaging customer. She spoke thoughtfully about Kensington and Chinatown; the past, present and the future. I was impressed. And rightly so, as she turned out to be Jessica Tran whose family own Tap Phong, the amazing kitchen supply store on Spadina Avenue.
Barely a day goes by at Sanagan’s Kensington where we don’t run over to Tap Phong for a ladle, or box of skewers, or a pack of deli bags. So, when Jessica and her cousin, Lili, whose grandparents started Tap Phong back in Vietnam, consented to share some of their family’s Lunar New Year traditions and to talk about the store, I was thrilled. I love Tap Phong!
The Tran’s fled their home as boat people during the late stages of the Vietnam War. After a period in a Malaysian refugee camp, they gained sponsorship to Canada and soon after established the business in Chinatown, run as a partnership between brothers John and Danny with their wives, Anna and De. Lili and Jessica are part of the third generation of Trans at Tap Phong.
The strength of the Tran family bonds that allowed them to survive such a tumultuous past and prosper as they do today are celebrated at Lunar New Year or Tết as it’s called in Vietnamese.
“Our tradition is to gather on New Year’s Eve at Lili’s mom’s house”, says Jessica. “It’s a big feast — a lot of courses; dishes symbolizing wealth, happiness, fortune. Noodles equal longevity; duck or poultry for good fortune. Lili’s grandmother’s classic recipe is braised duck”. Lili continues, “The main dish is usually this big soup at the centre of the table. It’s got: chicken broth; carrots carved into flowers; daikon; napa cabbage; liver; shrimp balls; fish mah — the ladies love it, it’s full of collagen — pork-and-shrimp balls. It’s big”.
You can see that the Trans don’t kid around when it comes to Tết feasting but if Jessica’s any indication, they eat well the rest of the year too. “I love the product quality and selection at Sanagan’s. It’s like a candy shop. I get giddy. I cook just for myself so I can never buy all the things I want. I like to stock up on bacon for the weekend. I love the hanger steak with chimichurri; that’s great on the stovetop. If I’m treating myself - ribeye.”
If you’ve ever seen the sheer quantity of items at Tap Phong, you would understand that keeping track of it all would work up quite an appetite. Lili and Jessica fire off a cross section of what crosses the counter: “Portion control containers; spider strainers; bubble tea urns; dim sum steamers — “there were so many dim sum houses” — COVID stuff, like take-out supplies and insulated bags for delivery guys; industrial mixers; $20,000 refrigerator units; 6 ft pitchforks for barbecue restaurants”. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.
Quantity is one thing but the Tran's multi-generational understanding of their clientele and adapting as that clientele evolves is what defines a lot of their success. “When you have families coming to a new country, they’re just on survival mode”, says Lili. “You offer experience. Maybe they want to make dough. They don’t need a Planetary Mixer. They just need a dough spiralizer. Most people don’t know that exists. It makes my heart sing to help people find what they really need”.
If you spend any time in the kitchen, do yourself a favour and visit Tap Phong, once the lockdown’s over. Or check them out at tapphong.com for curbside pick up. If your heart doesn’t sing while you shop, you’ve got a tone deaf ticker.
What makes a chicken devilled? Its horns, obviously.
For whatever reason, when a quantity of mustard is added to a dish, it is often referred to as being “devilled”. I assume that there were not a lot of hot peppers in classic French cuisine, so mustard was the hot spice of choice. While we have moved on to spicier ingredients, I still love the flavour mustard brings to a dish, and this recipe is no exception. Great for a quick and easy weeknight meal, try it with some steamed green beans and plenty of lemon wedges for juicing.
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Beat the egg and the mustard together and season with salt and pepper.
- Set up a dredging station (one dish has flour, one dish for the egg/mustard mixture, one dish for the breadcrumbs).
- Coat each chicken thigh in flour, then transfer to the egg/mustard mixture to coat well. Finally, transfer to the breadcrumbs, pressing the chicken thigh firmly into the breadcrumbs to coat well. Transfer the breaded chicken thigh to a tray to await frying.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. When hot, place two chicken thighs in the pan, cooking until golden brown on one side before carefully turning over. Finish cooking each thigh until an internal thermometer reads 160°F, approximately five minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel, then repeat with the rest of the chicken thighs.
By Graham Duncan
Spread on bread, baked into a cake or enriching a sauce, better butter is best.
Butter is milk fat, separated and solidified from cream by an agitation process called churning. If you take pure heavy cream at home and shake it or beat it long enough, you’ll be making butter. Standard butters are 80% - 82% butterfat, the remaining content being almost all water. High-fat butter is 84%. Does that make a difference? Read on.
Golden Dawn salted and unsalted are high quality butters with the former being enthusiastically salty. Golden Dawn has been made at Alliston Creamery since the 1960’s. Owned and operated by the Kennedy family, Alliston Creamery is the last small independent dairy in Ontario. Alliston favours small scale production barrel churns which produce flavourful small batches of butter.
Photo: Alliston Creamery
A batch of butter just out of Alliston Creamery barrel churn
COWS butter is so good we decided to import it all the way from Prince Edward Island. COWS Creamery comes in 84% butterfat which makes for outstanding baking. To confirm this, we whipped up two identical batches of scones, one made with COWS Sea Salted butter and the other with No Name salted butter. In a blind scone tasting (my new blues name) there was no mistaking the difference. The COWS scone was decisively richer, saltier and more, uh, buttery.
Take a video tour of the COWS Creamery butter facility here.
Churned at Alliston Creamery from the cream of organic, grass-fed, Jersey cows. Jersey milk is renowned for its fat content and for its rich yellow colour. Both of these properties translate directly into Emerald butter with its pronounced golden hue and 84% butterfat content. And make no mistake, their southwestern Ontario cows’ all-grass diet — pasture in the summer, hay in the winter — give this butter an unmistakable depth of flavour. The salted version is made with sea salt from Vancouver Island. Emerald is as dedicated to creating a special kind of butter as they are to ensuring the sustainability of the grass-fed dairy industry.
Not all Christmases are full of Joy, as Graham has had to learn the hard way. He wanted to share his stories with you all this year, when we're all feeling a little less than jolly due to the pandemic, and getting used to the idea of smaller gatherings. It's a good reminder that, in the face of great adversity, life still goes on. Life has a fun way of toying with us, we just have to be okay with rolling with it.
by Graham Duncan
Christmas 2020 is probably going to be a bummer. I should know. I’m an expert on difficult Christmases. Don’t believe me? Feel free to join me on a bumpy ride down my broken candy cane memory lane of Recent Christmases Past. It ain’t pretty. But here’s a holiday thought for you; when you get a lot of coal in your stocking — light it up and watch it burn.
Ice Storm Christmas 2013
Toronto freezes up and there’s a blackout. I venture out into the wilds of Eastern Scarborough to care for my aging father who lives in a 9th floor apartment. It’s flashlights, blankets and a lot of stairs. After cooking meals on the balcony on a camp stove and sleeping on the floor, on Christmas Eve day, Emergency Services carry him all the way down. We retreat to my West End apartment which now has power. He immediately falls on the floor. Then on Christmas Day, stressed and exhausted, when I tell my brother that it is physically impossible to get my dad to the family Christmas dinner, a giant argument ensues. But at least we had a Sanagan’s Tourtiere in the freezer.
Stroke Christmas 2014
My brother — recurring theme alert — has had a stroke and is temporarily residing at Bridgepoint rehab centre. So, we transport the entire family Christmas — there’s nine of us, many brandishing canes or walkers — to the facility. I guess it sounds kind of heart-warming but, as the person in charge of cooking and transporting the entire Christmas dinner, it feels more like Operation Giblet Storm. And Bridgepoint had all the festive atmosphere of a Cold War bunker.
Stroke Christmas Part 2 2015
To the canes and walkers, now add a wheelchair. The only place that is accessible to all of us is my brother’s industrial workshop where he builds synthesizers. Nothing says Christmas like a rack of diodes. Also, my wife is out of town caring for her ailing mother. And then when dinner is all over I have to drive my dad back to Scarborough through a blizzard. Boxing Day, it’s me and the cat. Put a little eggnog in that rum.
Cancer Christmas 2017
After having my cancerous kidney removed in November, I remember almost nothing of this holiday season except I managed to go back to work just before the Holidays, gingerly hefting turkeys and inflicting scar viewings on my unsuspecting co-workers.
Care Home Christmas 2018
We’ve now unloaded dad into institutional care. The care home workers, bless them, provide some touching hospitality but there’s no avoiding the fact that the turkey is pressed, dad’s has been in the blender and we’re all in a “special” room, made festive with institutional fluorescent lighting and the loud hum of an adjacent transformer.
As I write this, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is laying it on with a trowel: Santa’s in lockdown but Walmart isn’t; I’m awaiting a date for my third cancer surgery; and we all wear masks all day at work. But you know what? Peter and company now feel so sorry for me, they’re giving me Christmas week off. Thank you Santa-gan’s!
The funny thing is, after all of this, I still look forward to Christmas morning. So remember, just when it looks like it’s going to be All Grinch and no Cindy Lou Who, keep on Christmasing and Happy Holidays.
photos and words by Graham Duncan
This holiday season, if you’re planning on visiting people, most likely those visits will be occurring outside. The last thing you’ll want is a frosty beer. For al fresco revellers, hot booze is good news. I’ve been knocking back the Hot Toddies since October and they’re a lifesaver.
Here’s a practical list of easy-to-make, yummy, cockle-warmers that will see you through the holidays and beyond.
Practical note — ditch the glassware. Mugs keep things warm, including your hands, and they will not crack due to extreme temperatures. Small mugs are best; this is no time for dilution! (See photo.) Pre-heating the mugs with a little hot water extends their precious life-giving warmth.
For all recipes, feel free to substitute one brown liquor for another (i.e. substitute brandy for whisky, rum for brandy etc.). Scotch in any of these recipes contributes a likeable peaty element. For “hot water” please use freshly boiled water from the kettle. All recipes make one cocktail, except for Kingsley Amis’ Hot Wine Punch, which makes enough for a longer outdoor hangout session.
Hot Buttered Rum (Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts)
scant tsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
2 oz amber or dark rum
as required hot water
pinch ground spices: nutmeg, clove, and/or cinnamon
- Dissolve sugar with a tbsp of hot water in mug.
- Add butter and rum.
- Fill mug with hot water and stir.
- Dust with ground spices.
Irish Coffee (Mr. Boston Guide)
1 1/2oz Irish whiskey
as required hot coffee
to taste sugar
one serving whipped cream
- Combine whiskey, coffee and sugar in mug.
- Top with dollop of whipped cream
Rum Flip (Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts)
1/2 tbsp sugar
2 oz amber or dark rum
- Beat together egg and sugar.
- Combine with rum in small saucepan and heat, stirring constantly. Do not boil.
- If you wish to obtain a frothy texture, like an old-time flip heated and stirred with a hot poker, pour your mixture back and forth from mug to mug until frothy.
- Dust with nutmeg.
Hot Toddy (Pierre Burton’s Centennial Food Guide)
2 oz brown liquor (whisky, brandy, rum)
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
1 tsp butter (very optional)
as required hot water
pinch mixed ground spices: nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and/or ginger
- Combine ingredients in mug with tbsp of hot water and stir together.
- Fill with hot water and stir.
- Dust with ground spices.
Hot Wine Punch (Kingsley Amis, Everyday Drinking)
750ml low-priced red wine
5 or 6 oz brown liquor, preferably brandy
to taste (optional) sugar
1 tbsp mixed ground spice; nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and/or ginger
as required hot water
- Slice fruit into sections.
- Heat all ingredients in saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the mix steams but does not boil.
- Transfer punch to any heat-proof vessel with a pouring spout. Fill mugs 2/3 full of punch and top with 1/3 of hot water.
One of our meathawkers, Ian, has been delighting us in the shop recently with his amazing baked treats, made using some of the new grocery products we carry at Sanagan’s! I’ve been lucky enough to get a taste of these treats before they’re gone, and they are delicious. Ian shared three of his recipes with us, I hope you all get to enjoy them as well this holiday season!
All recipes and photos by Ian Hoffam
This classic shortbread is as easy as 1, 2, 4 (1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, 4 parts flour)! All you have to do is whisk the sugar and flour together, then cut in the butter using either a pastry cutter or a food processor (try not to use your hands, you want to keep the butter as cold as you can). Roll small handfuls quickly into 3/4-inch sized balls, pressing each down with a fork twice to create a classic cross-hatch pattern (They might look overly crumbly, but they’ll bake up just fine). Top with flaky sea salt. Bake 30 minutes at 300°F.
Walnut and Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk
These cookies are a fast favourite all year round! Start by browning the butter in a pan with tall sides, melting over low heat and swirling around to prevent burning/uneven browning. The butter will foam; continue swirling until foam subsides, the butter smells like toasted nuts, and the solids have turned a golden brown.
½ cup brown butter (see note above)
½ cup walnut oil
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp kosher salt
200 gr dark chocolate, broken into small chunks
100 gr toasted walnuts, broken or left whole
to taste flaked sea salt
- In a work bowl, combine the brown butter with the walnut oil, then add the brown sugar and the granulated sugar. Then mix in 2 eggs, one at a time, followed by 2 tsp of vanilla.
- Add the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and kosher salt, and mix well to form a dough. Finally, the most important part: fold in the dark chocolate, broken into small chunks, and the toasted walnuts (I like to leave them whole, but you can chop them or break them up). Let the dough rest at room temperature for at least 1/2 hour, or longer in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Cut a small piece of the dough, and shape into balls about the size of a ping pong ball. Gently press the cookie dough down on the baking sheet, just enough to form a flat surface. Sprinkle flaky sea salt on cookies, and bake 9-10 minutes in the hot oven. You should let them cool 15-20 minutes before eating, if they last that long!
These are a revived version of an old family favourite! Using lard as well as butter produces a cookie with a lighter, crumblier texture than you’d otherwise get. The chocolate dough gets its intense colour from both melted dark chocolate and black cocoa powder, available at your favourite bulk retailer. It gives them a slight Oreo flavour!
- In a work bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Put the dry mix in a food processor, then add the lard and butter. Mix together using the pulse function, until a crumbly dough is formed. Add the orange zest and liqueur, and pulse until mixed. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly until a smooth dough is formed. Push down to create a disk, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.
- In a work bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Put the dry mix in a food processor, then add the lard and butter. Mix together using the pulse function, until a crumbly dough is formed. Add the melted chocolate and pulse until mixed. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly until a smooth dough is formed. Push down to create a disk, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.
- Roll each disk of dough between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper into a 9x13 inch rectangle.
- Remove top layer of plastic/parchment from each sheet of dough. Place chocolate dough rectangle directly in front of you on the countertop, with the orange dough rectangle behind it. In one fluid motion, grasp the sheet beneath the orange dough and pull toward yourself to flip the rectangle over onto the chocolate dough. Roll away from yourself, jelly roll style, then refrigerate another 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Slice dough log into cookies about 1cm thick, then bake on parchment paper for 11 minutes.
This is a great dish to serve on a cold winter’s night. The combination of chicken, cashew nut, and garam masala brings to mind a curry, but I’m not well-versed enough in Indian cuisine to claim it as such. The spices with the nuts are a lovely flavour combo that you will savour long after the meal is over. I like to serve this with steamed basmati rice and some stewed greens.
Serves four (with leftovers)
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp garam masala
pinch chili powder
1 tbsp salt
2 lbs chicken thighs, boneless and skinless (about 10-12 pieces)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup cashew nut
½ cup almond milk (or regular skim or homogenized milk will do)
- In a bowl, mix the garlic, ginger, garam masala, chili, and salt with the chicken thighs. Cover and marinate for at least four hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- On a baking tray, spread out the cashews. Roast in the oven until golden brown (about 10-15 minutes).
- Reserve 2 tbsp of nuts to use as garnish, and the rest place in a blender with the almond milk. Puree until creamy. Set aside.
- Add the vegetable oil to a large sauce pot over a high heat. When the oil is hot, sear the boneless chicken thighs until brown on both sides. Don't overcrowd the pan, as it could cause the meat to steam, when you want it to brown. Repeat until all the thighs are browned. Reduce the heat to a medium low, and add all of the legs back to the pot. Stir in the pureed cashew. If the cashew is very thick, add more almond milk to the pot until it is slightly saucy. Stir well, cover, and place in the oven to braise for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is almost falling apart.
- Stir in the whole roasted cashew pieces and serve.