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Our favourite dishes and meals are often forged in the hearts and kitchens of loved ones who came before us, so most of us are familiar with the connection between food and family. In his first book, Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, author Simon Thibault explores the history of his family and the culinary heritage of the Acadians.

If you ask Simon, Acadian food isn’t the sexiest cuisine in the world, but it’s humble, homely and very comforting. The dishes are traditionally made with potatoes and it’s substantive food that gets your through a hard day’s work.

Simon recently dropped by The Social to share some of the recipes found in Pantry and Palate, many of which date back to the early 20th century.

Salted Greens

You need salt, preferably kosher or a large-grained salt, Mason jars (or any reasonable jar that will close and seal properly), and green onions. Loads of them. If you have green onions in your backyard garden that have gone a little high and are sturdy from trying to go to seed, even better.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Green onions (scallions)
  • Large-grained salt/kosher salt

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Start by chopping off the roots of your green onions. Roughly chop green onions from base to tip and place them in a large glass or plastic bowl. Add enough salt so that green onions look like they are covered in small crystals Mix them together. And then add the same amount of salt as you did the first time. Mix it all together again, and then let it sit overnight, preferably in a cool place.
  2. The next day you’ll notice the volume of green onions has decreased slightly and you may have a bit of brine in the bottom. What you want to do is add more salt, until green onions look somewhat like they did when you first added salt. 
  3. Pack green onions tightly into Mason jars and close the lid. They will last for up to a year. If you want them to keep their colour, feel free to place them in the freezer. Use in soups stews, dumplings, rappie pies, fricot, or anywhere else you need a salty and oniony kick. IA little goes a long way.
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Clam Pie

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 pounds clam meat (quahog is preferable, but jarred clams are acceptable)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups flour, plus 2-3 tablespoons for thickening
  • ½ cup fat such as lard, butter or margarine plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a skillet large enough to accommodate the 2 pounds of meat, saute the onions in 2 tablespoons fat over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add the clam meat to the skillet. If using frozen clam meat, ensure it is thawed before adding it to the skillet. Cook the quahog and onions together for 4-5 minutes, stirring to ensure that any excess moisture from the quahogs is reduced slightly.
  3. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour to thicken the mixture. If necessary, add another tablespoon of flour, depending on the moisture content.
  4. In a large bowl, mix remaining 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Add the remaining ½ cup of fat to the flour, using a pastry cutter (or two butter knives) to mix. Alternatively, use a kitchen mixer (on low) to do the same. Add the milk to the mixture and combine. You’ll know it’s ready to roll out when you can squeeze the dough in your hand and it comes together.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  6. Flour your rolling surface with a little extra flour. Cut the dough in half. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry to about a 1/4 -inch thickness.
  7. Flour an 8x8-inch square pan. Line the pan with one half of the rolled dough, and add the clams. Place the other half of the dough on top, and seal the two halves together by pinching them. Be sure to create small vents in the dough to allow steam to escape, either by poking holes with fork tines or making small slashes with a knife.
  8. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool for about 45 minutes before cutting into it. Serve warm.

*The original recipe by Madame Cyr asked for margarine as the fat for the pastry. Feel free to use it, but I personally prefer lard or butter. If using lard or margarine use it a room temperature. Butter should be cold and the dough allowed to rest in the fridge for an hour before rolling.

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Scalloped Cabbage

This recipe was one of the first I tried to make out of my grandmother Rosalie’s notebooks. Beneath the list of ingredients (it was one of the few that contained instructions), was a note saying, “This can be done with any vegetable.”* Unfortunately, there was no recipe or directions for the white sauce mentioned in the recipe. 

I was gifted Rosalie’s Manuel de cuisine by my mother a few years ago. The cookbook was one of the few books she brought with her from her time in Trois-Rivières. The Manuel is more than just a cookbook; it’s a guide on how to stretch a budget, how much nutrition can be garnered from various cuts of meat, and so much more. My mother recalls that her mother often made “une sauce blanche” for dishes: a roux-based white sauce. The white sauce found here is very similar to that found in Rosalie’s Manuel, with a few additions to give it a bit more flavour.

The best kind of cabbage for this recipe is one that will keep its shape when cooked, such as hardy winter white cabbages. Check farmers’ markets or your local grocer for cabbages that are good for pickling as they tend to stand up well to this preparation.

TIP: The great thing about this dish is that you can season your white sauce in all sorts of ways. Traditionally the sauce would be made very plainly, with the nutmeg listed below or summer savoury, but feel free to play around with dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary, toasted caraway seeds, or even a small amount of grated hard cheese. Fresh mushrooms sautéed in the butter (before you add the flour) would be great as well.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 small cabbage (roughly 1 pound)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sauce
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs **
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • pepper to taste
  • White sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons summer savoury 
  • 1 1/2 cups whole (2%) milk

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Remove the core from the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into strips. 
  2. Add the cabbage to a large bowl, preferably glass or plastic. Drizzle salt on top. Mix thoroughly. Add enough water to cover the cabbage and allow to soak for about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 375 ̊F.
  4. Make the white sauce by heating a skillet or sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and sprinkle in the pepper and flour. What you want to do here is cook out the raw flavour of the flour. The butter and flour will combine easily, so make sure you keep stirring it around in the pan to ensure it doesn’t burn. Cook and stir for about two minutes.
  5. Add the salt, summer savoury, and milk. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often to ensure that the flour dissolves completely into the sauce.
  6. Drain the cabbage and place in a baking dish large enough so that the cabbage covers the bottom. Don’t worry if it’s a little bit snug in there.
  7. Pour the sauce over the cabbage and mix well to ensure that everything is well coated. 
  8. Cover with bread crumbs. Dust it all with nutmeg.
  9. Place in oven and bake for 25–30 minutes, or until the cabbage is cooked. It should be soft but still yield slightly to a fork. 
  10. Serve immediately.
  11. If you are using another vegetable, cooking and salting times will vary. Use your instincts and your sense of taste. 
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WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 cups molasses
  • 1 cup lard or shortening
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (optional)

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375˚F.
  2. Grease a 10x10-inch cake pan, and then dust generously with flour.
  3. Alternatively, add greased and floured parchment paper and place into cake pan.
  4. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, fold the flour and lard together on low speed until completely combined, about 4–5 minutes.
  5. Add the molasses, cinnamon, fresh ginger (if using), and allspice, and mix on low. Make sure to occasionally stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the molasses, lard, and seasonings are blended.
  6. Add the baking soda and salt, then the milk to the batter, and stir until well incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into the pan, and place into the oven.
  8. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake has receded from the edges of the pan and a toothpick placed in the centre comes out clean. Depending on the size of your pan, it may take a bit more or less time. Just keep checking until it comes out nice and clean.
  9. Leave cake in pan for about 20 minutes, and then invert onto a rack.
  10. Serve on its own or as a dessert with maple whipped cream.

Maple Whipped Cream

Makes 1 cup

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a bowl, sift the icing sugar over the whipping cream.
  2. Start whipping the cream until soft peaks form.
  3. Add the maple syrup and continue whipping until stiff peaks just start to form, Serve immediately in dollops on molasses cake.