Monday, September 27, 2010

Is September a Crazy Month for Everyone?

I know it's been a few weeks since my last post but it's been a busy month. Doesn't it always seem like September should be the start of the New Year rather than January? Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) fell early this year and it's been a marathon of holidays since then. At the same time, everyone is getting out of summer-mode and falling back into the daily grind that is the rest of the year.

For me, cooking classes are getting started again and I've been working hard to create new and exciting classes full of delicious, simple and healthy recipes. I'm really looking forward to starting to teach for the LCBO in November with the class "4 Meals 1 Roast Chicken".

As well, my classes at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre got off to a really fun start this past Sunday with a soup give-away in the lobby. Dozens of people came by to visit and try my fantastic vegan Butternut Squash soup. I was thrilled that my soup was a big hit with grown-ups and kids alike, since I didn't skimp on the spices. It was a great opportunity to introduce myself to a bunch of people and see some familiar faces. My favourite "familiar face" of the day definitely belonged to my nursery school teacher, Debbie Sherman. I have the fondest memories of her and was thrilled that she remembered me. She was there teaching religious school and it was amazing to see her with a group of young kids - they're really lucky to have her.

My "Fall Harvest" class this Tuesday at the Miles Nadal Jewish Communtiy Centre is full but coming up in November is my "Feeding Your Finicky Eater" class and my "Chanukah Party" class. If anyone is interested in registering for either class, you can give them a call at (416) 924-6211 or check them out online at

Next week I leave on my once-in-a-lifetime trip to Scandinavia. I will be traveling in Denmark and Sweden for two weeks and I am so excited. Well, to be honest, right now I'm mostly anxious but I'm getting excited. I have no idea what to expect. I've heard Copenhagen is one of the great cities of the world and I just keep imagining Sweden to be like a huge IKEA store with LOTS of herring.

So, that's what's been going on with me. Hope you've all had a wonderful September and are getting back into the swing of things. Below is my Butternut Squash soup recipe that was such a hit this past Sunday - Enjoy.

Butternut Squash Soup


2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded & cubed
1 Apple, peeled, cored & cubed
1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Cumin
2 tbsp Brown Sugar
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
¼ tsp Nutmeg
4 c Chicken or Vegetable Broth
¼ c 35% Cream (optional)
Salt & Pepper


• In a soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add in squash, apple and onion. Season with a pinch of salt and a little pepper. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until squash and apple begin to soften and onion becomes translucent.
• Add curry powder, cumin, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and nutmeg to pot and gently toss with squash mixture. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes to toast spices.
• Add broth to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cover pot and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let soup cool slightly.
• Using either a canister blender or a stick blender, purée soup until completely smooth. (Soup can be strained through a sieve at this point if you want it to be extra velvety).
• Return soup to pot and reheat on medium. Stir in 35% Cream, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 - 6

© 2010 Elise Burton
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Forget Buffalo Wings, Try My Applewood Smoked Wings

Everyone loves chicken wings, I love chicken wings, but health food they are not. They are basically a good excuse to eat crispy delicious chicken skin with a little bit of chicken hiding underneath. But, if you like to eat your wings almost anywhere outside of your own home - i.e. sports-bar, pub, fast-food joint, restaurant - you have taken them from "High-Fat Treat" to "Can you just give me my angioplasty with the bill?".

Commercial establishments do three things to chicken wings that the home-cook most likely does not: 1. They deep-fry them in some kind of fat - doesn't really matter what kind because it's probably been re-heated so many times that it is full of free-radicals. 2. After frying them, they probably toss them in a sauce whose two main ingredients are margarine and high-fructose corn syrup. 3. They serve them to you with a side of dip, blue cheese or ranch, that is nothing but mayonnaise.

I say, take back the chicken wing! They are relatively inexpensive to buy and not hard to prepare. Make them as a treat for you, your friends and your family. Here is my recipe for Applewood Smoked Chicken Wings. It's a little time consuming but the result is totally worth it.

Elise's Applewood Smoked Chicken Wings

The spice rub below is pretty basic. Feel free to adapt it to your own tastes but don't leave out the sugar all together - it helps to caramelize and crisp the skin on the wings, and don't make it too spicy or it will mask the smoke flavour.


3 c Applewood Chips (other wood options are Hickory, Oak, Maple or Mesquite)

1/4 c Granulated Sugar
1 tbsp Cumin
1 tbsp Sweet Spanish Smoked Paprika
1 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 tbsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 lbs Chicken Wings, split & wing-tips removed


1. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, black pepper and cayenne to make wing rub.
2. In a large bowl, place chicken wings. Sprinkle half the rub over wings and toss well to combine. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
3. One hour before you are ready to start barbecuing, place wood chips in a large bowl and cover with water. Set aside and let soak.
4. While wood chips soak, remove wings from refrigerator and sprinkle over remaining spice rub, tossing to coat.
5. Preheat one side of your BBQ to LOW (250 F) and leave the other side OFF.
6. Place a generous handful of soaked wood chips directly on heated side of grill. Place chicken wings, right side up, in neat rows on cold side of grill. Close grill.
7. Every 20 minutes, check on wings and sprinkle wood chips with a little water to promote smoke. Every hour, add another handful of soaked wood chips to grill. Don't let temp. go above 250 degrees F. After approximately 3 hours your wings are done.
8. Transfer wings from grill to platter and serve.

Serves 4