baby bok choy sliced (1024x580)

lemon garlic balsamic baby bok choy

Baby bok choy is a common veggie in the Kootenay Spice kitchen. We enjoy regular-sized bok choy too, but the baby ones are just that much sweeter and richer tasting. Versatile, super healthy and oh so tasty!

lemon garlic balsamic bok choy ingredients (1024x701)

For this dish, we are using two heads of baby bok choy, our reduced balsamic vinegar, Kootenay Spice Lemon Garlic Pepper and olive oil. Super simple and absolutely delicious!

baby bok choy sliced (1024x580)

Chop baby bok choy lengthwise and place in a baking dish. Liberally coat with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle 1 Tbsp of Lemon Garlic Pepper over bok choy. You can go ahead and cook them right away, but they will be even better if you cover your dish and place them in the fridge for at least 1 hour or even overnight.

lemon garlic balsamic bok choy

Preheat your oven to bake at 400˚F. Cook your bok choy for 20-25 minutes, until they are tender.

This delicious side dish also works wonderfully seard over medium-high heat on the BBQ. Once they have marinated, cook the bok choy for about 4 minutes on each side.

Enjoy your lemon garlic balsamic baby bok choy! Let us know which way you like it better, baked or grilled?

lemon garlic balsamic bok choy

reduced balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is one of our favourite kinds of vinegar to use in many of our Kootenay Spice recipes. Reduced balsamic is sweet and perfect for salad dressing, drizzled on fresh fruit and veggies, dipping bread and so much more.

balsamic finished (1024x535)

Any balsamic vinegar will work when you are reducing it. We are fortunate to have Ferraro Foods, a local grocery store that has a fabulous selection of vinegars, including many balsamics. We use the most economically priced bottle we can find as vinegar quality is less important for reducing. Don’t go using a small, expensive bottle of quality, aged vinegar.

Use at least twice as much vinegar as you want to have in the end, more if you want it thicker and richer in flavour. We used one cup. Reduced vinegar can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month. It will thicken while cooled and you can thin it by heating it a bit, or use it as a syrup.

balsamic unreduced (1024x486)

Pour your balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer at least 30 minutes, until it is reduced to your desired amount. Our 1 cup of vinegar reduced to one quarter in about an hour.

balsamic heating (1024x980)

Be sure to watch it closely and stir often. As it thickens, it will be more likely to burn to your pot. Every once in a while, tilt the pot to be sure it is not burning to the bottom. When your vinegar is ready, take it off the heat, pour into a glass bowl and place it in the fridge to cool before using. Remember, it will continue to thicken as it cools.

balsamic reduced (1024x516)

Enjoy your reduced balsamic vinegar. It is also great mixed with a variety of Kootenay Spice flavours like lemon garlic pepper or steak spice, perfect for a marinades. Try it yourself and let us know your favourite way to use it!

Pictured at top of page: lemon garlic balsamic bok choy

finished hand rolled lasagna

hand rolled lasagna

finished hand rolled lasagna

Now that you know how to make your own herb infused noodles with your Kootenay Spice mixes, you need a great recipe to try them with! This rolled lasagna is one of our favourite meals! The pomodoro sauce is amazing and is yet another variation of marinara and tomato/basil sauce that we have come to love on so many dishes!

This recipe will make 8 rolls and feeds 2-4 people.

béchamel

This is a white cheese sauce that starts with a creamy roux. Once this is made, it can be put in the fridge while you are preparing the pomodoro sauce and veggies.

2 Tb margarine or butter
2Tb white flour
½ cup milk or cream
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup drained or dry curd cottage cheese
1 Tb grated parmesan
Salt & pepper to taste

Over low heat, melt the margarine in a pan. Add the flour and whisk until it forms a paste. Slowly add the cream and continue whisking until the milk is completely combined. Cook another 8-10 min, stirring occasionally, until it becomes thick and smooth. Cool in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before stirring in the ricotta, cottage cheese, parmesan, salt & pepper. Cover and place back in the fridge while you continue with the recipe.

pomodoro

Next, we start the pomodoro sauce. This is a super tasty tomato sauce that we will pour over the noodle rolls once they have cooked. While it is cooking, we will prep and cook the lasagna rolls.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in halves
3 medium tomatoes, blanched (or 1/2 a can of whole peeled tomatoes)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup red wine

In a medium pan, sauté the garlic in the olive oil for a minute, until it begins to soften and become fragrant. Add the tomatoes and let simmer a few minutes to heat. Add the chicken stock, basil and red wine and let simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Render to about half or until you can see the oil begin to turn red.

While the pomodoro sauce is rendering, prepare and cook the lasagna rolls.

lasagna rolls

8 herb infused fresh lasagna noodles
3 Tb olive oil
2 stalks celery, sliced into ¼” slices, approx. 3-4” long
1 red pepper, sliced into ¼” slices
12 pieces blanched asparagus, ends removed & cut in ½
16 ¼” slices mozzarella cheese, approx. 3-4” long
béchamel filling from fridge
½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced in halves
grated parmesan to taste
fresh cracked pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently place the noodles into the water and cook for 8 min, stirring occasionally. Run the drained noodles under cold water to stop them from further cooking. Drizzle a bit of oil over the noodles to prevent them from sticking and lay flat on a cookie sheet or clean countertop.

While the water is boiling, prep the veggies. Heat the olive oil over low heat in a medium pan. Stir the celery strips into the oil to coat & let simmer for 4 minutes before adding the red pepper and asparagus. Cook another 4-5 minutes, until the veggies have started to soften but are not fully cooked. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat the oven to bake at 350˚F.

Lay one noodle on a clean surface and place about a tablespoon of béchamel in the centre of the noodle. Lay 3 strips of asparagus, 2 strips mozzarella, and 1/8 of the celery and pepper over the béchamel.

filling placement

Fold the noodle in half, over the filling and roll loosely. Place the roll into a lightly oiled baking dish. Repeat for the rest of the noodles and filling. Drizzle olive oil over the finished rolls.

lasagna rolls in pan

Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the noodles are tender and the filling is warm.

Place the noodle rolls onto plates and top with the pomodoro sauce, grape tomatoes, grated parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh, chopped basil.

side view of roll

Enjoy your rolled pasta! It is absolutely worth the effort and you’ll hardly be able to wait until you have a chance to make it again!

cooked rolled lasagna

marinara sauce

This is our go-to recipe for pasta, eggs, shrimp, mussels, pizza, lasagna and so much more! So simple and easy to make, you should definitely give it a try next time you need a tomato sauce!

marinara ingredients

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large can whole peeled tomatoes or 6 blanched & peeled fresh tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
3-5 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red wine
2 Tbs dried basil
½ cup chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or pot over low to medium heat. Add chopped garlic & sauté 1 minute. Add the red wine and stir for a minute. Add chicken stock, tomatoes and dried basil.

cooking marinara

Continue simmering on medium to low heat, stirring frequently, until reduced to half. For thicker sauces like pizza and lasagna, render it down a little longer.  Stir in basil just before serving. Add pepper if desired. Enjoy!

finished marinara

herb infused lasagna noodles

At Kootenay Spice, we love making our own noodles. A bit time consuming, but worth every second! We notice a huge difference when we resort to dry, store bought salty pasta. We use a stand mixer to knead our dough, however; kneading with a bread maker or by hand is perfectly fine too. We change what kind of spice blend or seasoning we use, this time it was Kootenay Spice Italian Seasoning. Other seasonings that work well are Herbs de Provence or Poultry Seasoning.

finished pasta close up

We will be using these noodles for many upcoming blog recipes. The herbs are optional and, of course, you can always use purchased fresh noodles, but they will never be as good as these!

This recipe will make about 12 large lasagna noodles.

You’ll need:

4 eggs at room temperature (let sit on counter about 1 hour)
2 cups flour
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
drizzle of olive oil

herb pasta ingredients

First, whisk the eggs together in a small bowl & set aside for a moment. Mix together the flour and Italian seasoning in a mixing bowl. Create a well, a hollow space in the centre of the pile of flour. Pour the whisked egg into this well.

egg well

Start mixing on slow (or with a fork or spoon if kneading by hand). The egg mixture should slowly pull the flour from the sides of the bowl.

pulling flour   stirring pasta

Keep kneading until the dough is sticking together in a ball. Drizzle in about 1 tsp of olive oil when the dough ball has started to form. Continue kneading about 10 min, until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticky.

Wrap the dough ball in saran wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Once the dough ball has set in the fridge, cut off about 1/3 with a sharp, floured knife. Return the remaining dough to the fridge. Cut the new, smaller dough ball into 4 pieces, each will be one sheet of lasagna noodle.

pasta machine

Roll into a thin rectangle with a rolling pin or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, run it through a pasta machine to thickness level 6 or 7. As you finish a sheet, place it on a clean & floured dish towel on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle flour over the noodle and continue with the rest of the pieces. Cut the remaining dough in half and repeat until all of the dough has been used up.

sprinkling flour

Do not let the noodles touch, they will stick together. Place a new towel over the noodles as you need new layers. Remember to flour generously. A simple way to evenly distribute the flour is to shake it lightly through a sifter.

finished pasta II

You now have your own herb-infused pasta noodles! From here you can use them as lasagna sheets or cut them into your desired flat noodle type.

Be sure to check back in a couple of days, because this is what we will be making with our herb infused noodles:

finished hand rolled lasagna

One of our favourite dishes ever! We can’t wait to share it with you!

Boiling the noodles

To cook the noodles, fill a large pot with salt water & bring to a steady boil. Gently place the noodles into the water. This will need to be done in batches if you are cooking all of the noodles at once. You can freeze uncooked noodles for up to two weeks. Cut the noodles if desired before wraping in parchment paper or paper towel and sealing in an air tight bag or container.

If you are going to bake them with a recipe, or just like them quite el dente, boil for 8-10 min and run under cold water after draining (to stop them from cooking more). If you like more cooked noodles or are going to smother them in pasta sauce right away, cook as long as 12 min, or until they seem right to you. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the cooled noodles after draining to prevent them from sticking together until you are ready to use them.

breadcrumbs

Here is our quick and easy Kootenay Spice way to use up those heels and leftover slices of the ‘old bread’ that will also save you money!

Make your own breadcrumbs!

bread crumbs

Any kind of bread will work, fresh, whole wheat, buns, cut off crusts, dried and stale, whatever is left in your bread box that you would otherwise throw away.

Preheat your oven to bake at 350˚F.

Simply put the bread in a food processor and chop until they are quite fine. If you like, add some spices and seasonings. Kootenay Spice Italian Seasoning or Herbs de Provence work very well in breadcrumbs! Be creative, throw in whatever you think may taste good! Keep in mind, mixing in parmesan cheese or other perishables will require that all of the crumbs be used immediately. Once the crumbs are finely chopped, add a drizzle of vegetable oil (~1-2tsp) and continue processing to mix well.

Evenly spread the crumbs on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about five minutes, until the edges start to brown. Remove and stir the dark edges to the centre with a spatula. Repeat this process 2-4 times, or until all of the crumbs have browned and are thoroughly dry.

Let the crumbs cool and use immediately or store in a cool, dry place.

There you have it, your own breadcrumbs and a great way to use up bread that may have otherwise gotten thrown out!

grilled tortilla clubhouse

Today we share with you the first of many Kootenay Spice recipes that use our homemade tortillas. We are making a 3-layer grilled tortilla clubhouse sandwich. This is one of those recipes that while you’re making it, you just know is going to become a family favourite!

We are very fortunate to have received a grill/Panini press as a wedding shower gift this past summer. We love to use it for quesadillas, which eventually led us to this take on a clubhouse sandwich.

This recipe will make 2 sandwiches (one at a time) and requires the following

6 tortilla shells
5oz cooked chicken breast, chopped (approx. 1 breast)
5oz cooked ham, chopped
6 strips of bacon, chopped
3 fresh green onions, chopped
1 medium tomato, sliced
1.5 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
3-4 Tbs mayonnaise or whipped dressing
sour cream and salsa

grilled tortilla clubhouse ingredients

Preheat your grill to medium-high or 375˚F.

Pre-grill the top 2 tortillas until they are just beginning to get crispy. The bottom tortilla will cook long enough, it does not need pre-grilled.

Lightly mayo the bottom tortilla and place it on the bottom of the Panini press. Evenly sprinkle on the chicken, ham and then cheese.

grilled tortilla clubhouse bottom layer

Add one of the pre-grilled tortillas and close the press for 3-4 minutes, until cheese is softening.

Sprinkle on the bacon, evenly distribute the tomato slices and top with chopped green onion. Spread mayo on the third tortilla. Place it (mayo side down) on top of the chives.

grilled tortilla clubhouse top layer

Close the press for 4-5 minutes.

Take the sandwich off of the press and let stand 10-15 minutes.

finished grilled tortilla clubhouse

Cut into wedges with a large, sharp knife and serve with sour cream and salsa.

Enjoy your grilled tortilla clubhouse and be sure to try out your own variation based on your favourite flavours!

homemade flour tortillas

finished tortillas

In future Kootenay Spice blog posts, we will have many tasty recipes that use soft tortilla shells. Some will wrap, some will layer and some will get chopped up.

You have likely anticipated that we prefer to make our own tortillas for our meals and snacks. You’re right! This very simple recipe will make 24 tortillas and we will explain later the best way to freeze your leftover dough.

As with most of our doughs, we use a stand mixer for kneading. The camera was charging while we were kneading the dough, but was ready in time to cut the dough and roll out the shells. For best results, we put our shortening and water in the freezer for 15 minutes before mixing into the recipe. We also use a well seasoned cast iron pan for frying.

For these flour tortilla shells, you will need:

4 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp cold shortening
1.5 cups very cold water

In your mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda. Using a cold knife or pasta cutter, mix in the shortening to an even consistency. Slowly stir in the cold water until a dough forms. Continue kneading for 10-15 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic and doesn’t stick to the bowl or your fingers. Wrap the dough tightly in saran wrap and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Generously flour your working surface. A great way do this is to use a small sifter to sprinkle the flour.

sprinkling flour

Remove the dough from the fridge and cut the dough in 24 pieces. The easiest way to do this is cut it in half to get two, cut each of those in half to get 4, cut each of those in half to get 8 and cut each of those in thirds to get 24.

cutting tortilla dough

cutting tortilla dough

Coat each ball in flour and set aside. If you aren’t going to make all 24 tortillas, read ahead for instructions on freezing the unused dough balls.

DSC03463 (1024x440)

Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 10-12” (25-30 cm) circle, about 1/8” (2 mm) thick. As you make them, pile the shells onto a plate, flouring between each.

rolling tortilla

Heat your frying pan on medium-high heat. No oil is required. Cook each tortilla for 1-2 minutes on each side, until bubbly and lightly browning. Pile on a plate once cooked.

bubbly tortilla

finished tortilla

Use the tortilla shells immediately or store them in one of the following ways:

freezing dough

tortilla dough balls to freeze

Once dough is rolled into balls, freeze the ones you know you are not going to need. Place the balls on a floured cookie sheet and put in the freezer overnight. Once frozen, transfer into a zippered bag and return them to the freezer. To reuse, thaw balls at room temperature for 12 hours and follow the above directions. Coat in flour while thawing to prevent sticking.

freezing tortilla shells

If you’ve made too many tortilla shells you can keep them in the fridge for a week or so. If you don’t think you’ll use them in that much time, you can also freeze them. Separate portions of the noodles with parchment paper and seal them in a bag. To use them later, soften in microwave or let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

If you are apprehensive about making your own tortillas, give it a whirl! It’s simple, delicious and a fraction the cost of buying them at the store.

Try to save some shells for our next blog recipe, we will be making a 3 layer grilled tortilla clubhouse sandwich! Mmmm… Delicious!

cast iron

We love to cook with cast iron. We have an ever-growing collection of cast iron including a large frying pan, a medium sized Dutch oven, a griddle and two small Dutch ovens (which are perfect for French onion soup).

cast iron collection

There are so many benefits of cooking with cast iron. The flavor of whatever you are cooking will taste richer and once properly seasoned, you will have a non-stick surface that far surpasses Teflon. No cookware has as even or consistent heat distribution. You can use it anywhere! Braise and cook a roast on the stovetop or bake bread in the oven. It also works fabulously on a BBQ or campfire. Cast iron is very durable too, it seems to last forever. If you have inherited your grandmother’s pan or haven’t used yours in a while and notice a rust spot, scratch it off with steel wool and simply re-season!

Most cast iron pans sold today claim to come ‘pre-seasoned’. We disagree. They have only just begun their seasoning process. This is a simple but very important process for getting the most out of your cast iron. These seasoning and maintenance tips are great for a brand new pan or if you are trying to revive an old pan that has been in the family for generations. The process will need to be repeated a few times and as you cook with your dish, it will continue season with each meal.

Seasoning

To season your pan you will need some veggie or canola oil, (do not use olive or sesame, they will make the dish taste funny), some paper towel or a cotton cloth, a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil and some time.

Preheat your oven to bake at 450F.

Lightly coat your pan with veggie or canola oil and wipe with the paper towel or cloth. Make sure that the pan is completely coated in oil.

Put the tinfoil lined cookie sheet on the bottom rack of the oven. This will catch any oil that drips off of the cast iron.

Place the cast iron upside down on the middle rack of the oven and let bake for half an hour.

Using oven mitts, take the pan out of the oven and very lightly re-oil the pan and spread again with paper towel. Be careful and always use oven mitts, the cast iron will be very hot. Return to the oven for half an hour. Turn off the oven and let the pan cool to room temperature. Repeat this process for as long as you have time for. Remember, as you continue to use the cast iron it will become more and more seasoned.

In the above photo you may have noticed that the two small ovens are a lighter brown colour than the rest. This is because they are our newest additions and have only gone through a few seasonings so far. The frying pan and Dutch oven (below) are our oldest and most favourite of all our cast iron, which is why they are almost black. They are by far the best and most used cooking dishes in our kitchen.

pan and Dutch oven

Maintenance

Always clean your cast iron as soon as possible after using.

There are many techniques and opinions for cleaning cast iron. We use a few different methods and agree with the idea that you should never use soap to clean cast iron, as it will strip your seasoned coating. No matter what technique you use, always be sure to dry the pan completely and lightly coat it in veggie or canola oil before storing.

Every time we use our pans, we clean them with very hot tap water and a scrub brush until the water in the pan and on the brush wipe clean with paper towel.

About every third to fourth time, we pour about a quarter cup of rock salt and scrub it around the pot to loosen anything that may be sticking to the surface. We then re-wash with hot tap water and do at least one more round of the seasoning process above.

Once every month or so (or about every 10th use) we will fill the pan with water and bring it to a rapid boil. We let the water boil for at least 15-30 minutes, sometimes even an hour. This will loosen any particles in the crooks and crannies of the pan. We then dump the water, dry the pan and repeat the above seasoning process again.

Tips

Acidic foods like tomato or vinegar based sauces will cut the seasoning surface. In new cast iron, they may take on a slightly metallic flavour. We tend to avoid acidic foods until our cast iron is well seasoned.

You cannot over season your cast iron, it will only continue to get better. Once your cast iron is well seasoned it will become more flavourful, you will not need to use oil for cooking, it will be easier to clean and will become your favourite cooking dish too.

broiled cajun cauliflower

finished broiled Cajun cauliflower

We love jazzing up our veggies and sides with our spices and seasonings. Our Cajun seasoning is one of our many go-to flavors for such an occasion. Today we broiled cauliflower with our Cajun seasoning for the first time and will absolutely be enjoying this dish again! It`s healthy and super easy to boot!

1 head of cauliflower
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1.5 Tbs Kootenay Spice Cajun Seasoning

Preheat oven to broil at 425˚F.

Core and cut the cauliflower into large chunks. Microwave 3 minutes in an appropriate dish. If you prefer not to use a microwave, steam the cauliflower on the stove for 3 min.

oiled cauliflower

Place the cauliflower in a cake pan or casserole dish. Pour oil over cauliflower and toss or stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle on Kootenay Spice Cajun Seasoning and toss or stir again.

seasoned Cajun cauliflower

Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove lid. Stir gently and return to oven for 5 minutes. Stir again gently, rotate pan and return to oven another 5 – 7 minutes or until browned.

finished broiled Cajun cauliflower

Serve immediately and enjoy!