A fun way to celebrate this year’s winter games with friends is to have an appetizer party with an Olympic theme. Since Canada is the host country I decided to create popular Canadian dishes or new recipes with key Canadian ingredients. Poutine, French fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy, is a staple "junk food" for many of our neighbors to the north. Nanaimo Bars, a three-layered chocolate bar named after a city in British Columbia, are a tasty treat that will add sweet finish to your party. I’ve also included chicken pieces marinated in maple syrup and a simple platter of Canadian sockeye smoked salmon.
French Fries and Cheese Curds in Brown Gravy
2 tbl Butter
2 tbl Flour
2 cu Beef Broth
4 lg Potatoes, peeled and cut into fries
1 quart Vegetable Oil, for frying
2 cups Cheese Curds*, room temperature
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture turns a light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add beef broth and continue to stir until mixture is smooth and about the thickness of light syrup, about 15 additional minutes. Set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a large pot. When oil is hot cook potatoes in batches for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Divide potatoes among 4 serving plates or bowls. Top with cheese curds and pour gravy on top (quickly reheat the gravy if necessary). Serve immediately.
1/2 cu Butter
1/4 cu Powdered Sugar
1/2 cu Cocoa
1 lg Egg, beaten
2 cu Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/3 cu Chopped Pecans
3/4 cu Coconut
4 tbl Butter, softened
2 cu Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 tbl Whipping Cream
2 tbl Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix powder
4 oz Semisweet Chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tbl Butter
Line the bottom and two sides of a 7” x 7” square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
Melt butter in a double boiler over low heat. Add sugar and cocoa and mix until smooth. Whisk in egg and stir until mixture thickens slightly (be sure temperature is on a low simmer or egg will overcook). Remove from heat and add graham crackers, nuts and coconut. Stir to combine. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and press it down firmly into the corners and bottom. Place in refrigerator until cool.
For the second layer, cream together butter and sugar. Add cream and vanilla extract and stir. Add powdered sugar and vanilla pudding then mix with a mixer until smooth. Spread this mixture over the bottom layer, getting it into the corners and against the side of the pan. Return pan to the refrigerator.
For the top layer, melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool. While mixture is still spreadable, cover the top of the second layer and smooth out as much as possible. Return pan to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
To serve, run a knife along the sides of the pan and remove the bar from the pan. Using a sharp knife, cut into 36 squares.
Maple Chicken Pieces
1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bit sized pieces (about 1”)
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
2 tbl Butter
1/4 cu Onions, finely chopped
1 tsp Fresh Thyme, minced
1/2 cu Maple Syrup
2 tbl Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tbl Lemon Juice
1/2 cu Maple Syrup
1 tbl Dijon Mustard
Season chicken with salt and pepper and set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add onions and thyme and sauté until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add syrup and lemon juice and increase heat just until ingredients start to boil and foam a bit. Remove from heat and allow ingredients to cool. Pour over chicken, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour chicken and marinade in a shallow baking dish and roast for 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through, tossing ingredients occasionally.
Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients and place in a small saucepan over medium heat until just warm. Transfer to a small serving bowl.
Place chicken on a platter and put dipping sauce in the center. Provide toothpicks or small forks for your guests.
Smoked Salmon Platter
4oz Sockeye Smoked Salmon
4 lg Eggs
1/4 cu Capers
1/2 cu Sour Cream
1 lg Lemon, thinly sliced
Cocktail Bread (pumpernickel, rye or wheat) or loaf slices, cut into small squares
Place eggs in a medium sized pot. Fill with water just to cover and bring pot just to a boil. Immediately remove pot from heat and cover for 15 minutes. Drain pot and rinse eggs in cold water until cool. Peel eggs and separate egg whites from egg yolks. Chop each separately and set aside.
Remove salmon from its packaging and, with a fork, separate the salmon slices and arrange them on a serving plate. Place a mound each of the egg white, egg yolk, shallots, capers and sour cream on the platter in a nice row. Arrange the bread on the platter and sprinkle a bit of dill on the plate and the salmon. Garnish the plate with lemon slices.
Cheese curds can be found in larger cheese shops. I purchased mine at Caputo's Cheese Market in Melrose Park