Sunday, April 26, 2009

Canadian Regional Cuisine? Nova Scotian Gingerbread

Is there anything that can be called "distinctly" Canadian? Are there social, cultural, religious, political values that belong to Canada, and Canada alone? My ESL students have asked this question and are eager to hear my answer. I have pondered the question and can come up with only one honest answer, and that answer is "No". Canada is truly a mosaic. Our national fabric resembles a quilt,not a mono-chromatic blanket. We are one, and yet we are many. We speak many languages, although our official tongues are French and English. At one time we would have called ourselves a Christian nation, yet we embrace those of every creed and those with no creed at all, and long may we do so. We are Scottish, French, Irish, Kurdish, German, Korean, Israeli, English, Latvian, Italian, Greek, South-East Asia, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Australian, African, Iranian, Welsh, Ukrainian, and the list goes on and on and on. Our regional dishes include, but are not restricted to Cedar-planked Salmon ( Aboriginal Canadian) Banach (Scottish) Rappie Pie (French) Sauerkraut (German) Pirogi (Ukrainian) Spanakopita (Greek) Curry ( South-East Asian) Kimchi (Korean) Dolma (Kurdish) Sushi (Japanese). We celebrate the best of all cultures and dare to call the resulting beloved menagerie "Canadian". If we are distinctive it is because we desire to be inclusive of all that is lovely, honorable, wholesome and respectful. In case you have not yet cottoned on, I am passionately in love with this country and this culture. I can think of few blessings greater than that of having been born and raised here. In celebration of my own, east-coast heritage, I would love to share a very famous recipe from Nova Scotia. It is simply, Nova Scotian Gingerbread. Low in calories and high in taste, the fragrance of it fills the house with the scent of baking ginger and cloves. Served warm with a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream, or a delicious warm lemon sauce ( or a bit of both!) it is a delight both to the eye and the taste buds. Enjoy, and think of me as you indulge in your first bite!

Nova Scotian Gingerbread

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup lightly packed demerara brown sugar

1/3 cup Molasses

*1 egg

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup boiling water


In a medium-sized bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, and spices) Set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Into these wet ingredients beat in molasses and egg.Stir the dry ingredients gently into the creamed mixture, alternating with with boiled water, and ending with dry ingredients, combining until just mixed. Spoon batter into a lightly greased 8 X 4 or 9 X 5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F oven for 40-45 minutes or until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for ten minutes. on a baking rack. Remove from pan and allow to sit of baking rack until completely cool. (If you can STAND it, but I like to serve mine warm from the oven!) To store, wrap tightly or put in an air-tight container. Each 1/12 of a loaf is 133 calories! Pretty good for a delicious dessert, but that of course does not include the lemon sauce or whipped cream. (Lemon Sauce Recipe to follow! Yum, yum, oh yum!)

* your egg should be room temperature, but I NEVER remember to take it out of the fridge in time for that, so soaking the egg in warm water for 15 minutes before hand will bring it closer to room temperature.

Lemon Sauce

1/2 cup white sugar ( if you are concerned about calories you could use a 1/2 and 1/2 split if sugar and Splenda)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon butter ( Go ahead and indulge, it won't kill you!)

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

*the juice of one lemon

In saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg/ Gradually whisk in boiling water, stirring to remove any lumps. Simmer over low hear, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, lemon zest and lemon juice. Serve over warmed gingerbread and enjoy AS, NO DOUBT, YOU WILL!

* To get the most juice out of your lemon, heat it in the microwave for 10 seconds on high. You will double or even triple the amount of juice you will get from the lemon. I like to zest my lemon after if has been juiced, because if you do it before, the lemon falls apart as it is juiced.