Recipes to get you through the pandemic

Culture Food | Drink
Photo by Darian Lee

It’s not easy these days to pop down to the market just because your cookbook has called for an oddly specific ingredient. With that in mind, a few Martleteers have compiled some flexible recipes to keep you busy in your kitchen no matter if it’s fully stocked or bare bones.

All-or-nuffin’ Muffins  

This simple muffin is hard to mess up and allows for the addition of anything and everything from your pantry. I’ve included the ingredients and my personal favourite additions, but go nuts (hehe) and put whatever suits your fancy. Got a handful of flax seeds from Bulk Barn on a whim but don’t really know what to do with them? This is their time to shine. Candied ginger left over from Christmas? Chop it up and toss it in! Feeling like something more savory? Grate up some cheese and slice up that sad lunch meat that’s been hanging out in your fridge! Just be mindful of additions like chia seeds which get jelly-like, and pumpkin seeds which tend to lose their crunch, and not to overload the mix. I would add one to one-and-a-half cups total of additions. These are the perfect muffins to get resourceful with and savour during the pandemic. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 muffins:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup white sugar (use ¼ cup if doing a savoury recipe)

1 egg

1 cup milk

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Optional:

½ cup frozen blueberries

1/4 cup dried cranberries

½ cup chocolate chips

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Stir together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar) in a large bowl. In a small bowl or cup, beat the egg and then stir in milk and oil. Pour this wet mixture into the dry mix. Mix with a fork until almost combined, then add in your optional ingredients of choice and stir until well mixed but lumpy. 

Now, add it into paper or silicone muffin cups, put a couple of berries or other toppings on to make them cute, and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Voila! You’ve got yourself a batch of customized all-or-nuffin’ muffins.

Fridge Soup 

This recipe is great because it uses only things that you probably already have in your fridge. The best way to keep your kitchen stocked with ingredients that can get you through isolation is to fill it with things that can be used multiple ways. Root vegetables in particular are a good example of this, as well are things like celery, broccoli and spinach. If you have onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, and celery, you can make a soup that fills you up and can be frozen for future consumption. Feel free to add anything else you might have in your fridge — like broccoli, spinach, or other green veggies — if you feel like making it even more hearty.

Ingredients:

2 onions

2 carrots

1 large potato

2 sticks celery

4 cloves garlic

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot. Brown four crushed cloves of garlic and two chopped onions. Add chopped celery and carrots, stir until mixed. Add enough water to cover chopped veggies, place the lid on top. Add one to two tablespoons of salt. Simmer on medium heat.

Chop the potato into small squares, rinse until all starch has been cleaned away. Soak in cold water until the water in your soup pot has begun to take on flavour and the veggies are semi-soft (15 to 20 minutes).

Stir in potatoes and taste. Add salt and pepper until you like the flavour. Cook on medium to high heat until veggies have reached your desired softness and the broth has taken on good flavour.

Add any desired green vegetables and cook until soft. Add leafy vegetables last, cooking until dark green.

Serve when hot or freeze when completely cool.

Community-Building Cinnamon Buns 

After a few weeks, I’m convinced the world will get tired of baking bread. With most of the same ingredients and skills, you can whip up these cinnamon buns. This is one of those recipes that has never been written down but that my mom knows by heart, and that I had to call her to get her to explain. While we’re all quarantined, I’m trying to make an effort to learn my family’s recipes. 

My Albertan family is used to hibernating all winter, and my mom has perfected a cinnamon bun recipe that is great for making when you’re stuck indoors. She usually makes this on a particularly cold day, and distributes the treats to her coworkers, neighbours, and family.

Makes (at least) four dozen cinnamon buns. If you don’t want enough buns to feed an entire community, halve the recipe. 

Buns: 

1 tablespoon active dry yeast (1 package)

½ cup white sugar 

½ cup butter 

1 teaspoon salt 

2 tsp vinegar 

3 ½ cups lukewarm water 

8–10 cups flour 

Tools: Parchment paper or wax paper, rolling pin, large bowl, several (4) oven-safe cake pans to bake these bad boys in (not a pizza pan, you’ll need some height on the sides.)

Filling: 

¾ cup melted butter

1 ½ to 2 cups brown sugar

1 ½ to 2 cups raisins (optional, but totally recommended!)

½ cup of cinnamon

½ maple (or other) syrup (optional)

In ½ cup lukewarm water, dissolve one teaspoon of white sugar and add yeast. Leave it to rise for 10 minutes in a warm place. 

Put all of the remaining ingredients except the flour into a large mixing bowl and mix gently. Next, add in the yeast mixture.

Add two cups of flour and mix for 30 seconds. Then continue to add remaining flour, one cup at a time, until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl. To test, knead the dough with your hands. If it sticks to your hands, add a bit of flour until you can handle it without sticking.

Cover the bowl with parchment paper and a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for two hours.

Now imagine that light and airy bowl of dough is (insert villain here) and punch it down until it’s about half the size. Then cover and let it rise for another two hours. 

Now you’re ready to get busy. Spread a thin layer of flour evenly over the surface of your kitchen table or other large flat surface, and cover the rolling pin in flour as well.  Use the rolling pin to roll out that big, beautiful ball of dough, working it into a large rectangle. You’ll want it as thin as possible, but thick enough that you’ll be able to pull it away from the table without sticking or tearing. If the dough starts to stick to the table, lift the dough up carefully and toss a little more flour underneath.  

Cover the dough with half of the melted butter, then liberally sprinkle brown sugar, raisins, and cinnamon over the entirety of the dough surface area. 

Starting from the longest side, roll up your dough into a long snake.

Cut your snake up into five- to 10-centimetre sections. Grease your baking pans (use your hands and a bit of butter to liberally spread a thin layer of butter on the entire inner surface of the baking pans), add some maple syrup, then place your buns in the pan. The buns should not be touching and expand before baking.

Cover with parchment and a kitchen towel and leave it to rise for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 190ºC.

Drizzle remaining melted butter over the buns. (If you have a pastry brush, brush it around evenly, otherwise, no big deal.)

Bake for about 20 minutes on the middle or upper rack of your oven, until they are golden brown.  

Remove pans from the oven and turn them over to flip the buns onto baking sheets or parchment paper to cool. (Tip: use the same kitchen towels and parchment paper from earlier if you don’t have baking sheets.)