70s Week: Terrific Women Make Pepperoni Salad

Pass the pepperoni. I’m eating salad here! I feel like we’ve lost our way with salads. They’ve become so over-simplified under the guise of showing off the best of the ingredients at hand—it’s really disappointing. Where’s the French, Catalina (okay those might be the same thing), Thousand Island, and un-ironic Ranch? Surely it’s time we started adding raw egg yolks to our dressing for creamy, heavy coatings to cover-up the refreshing and crisp icebergs and garden vegetables the greengrocer likes to stock. Who has ever gotten fat by eating a plateful of Pepperoni Salad on the daily?

140413 Terrific Women 1074

Obviously it’s a subject we feel strongly about, which is probably why we found this next photo set hidden in Jen’s Fleetwood Mac album sleeve. Get us on the subject of light-weight salads and it’s like Stevie Nicks flipping out at the end of “Rhiannon”.

140413 Terrific Women 1025

It’s clear from these photos how close Linda and Joy were outside the show—a regular Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern. They shared everything with each other from advice on the best military school to send Joy’s unborn baby, to tips on making macramé plant hangers, and the pleasures of having an ample Italian sausage every now and then. They both really loved this salad.

140413 Terrific Women 1079

For the time, these flavours were really pushing the boundaries of the foreign food aisle at the local Dominion supermarket but that’s what made Linda and Joy’s cooking so special—they weren’t afraid to take risks. Linda, the trailblazer that she was, stole inspiration, as well as the innocence of a few busboys, from her neighbourhood pizzeria. When she first started making this salad it was just a few slices of leftover pizza cut up over a big bowl of iceberg lettuce to make it more nutritious.

140413 Terrific Women 1114

The salad kind of evolved from there. One night when Linda was serving this at one of her “parties”, she had been bunged up for nearly two weeks, which her doctor attributed to her restrictive diet, consisting mainly of whisky and cigarettes. He recommended she try adding garbanzo beans to a salad for some dietary fibre. Though she was reluctant to try it, she loved the word “garbanzo” so picked up a can and added them to the party’s salad that night. Everyone loved the new twist and Joy then took it upon herself to tinker with the recipe on her own, replacing the pizza slices with pizza toppings.

140413 Terrific Women 1097

This is what made Linda and Joy’s friendship last so long. They could relate over anything and found life lessons in the most ordinary circumstances, whether it was sausages, constipation, or a mix of both.

Pepperoni Salad

1 head of iceberg lettuce, torn
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
1 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
19 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup pepperoni, thinly sliced
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/2 cup Italian dressing
salt and pepper to taste

Toss in a parquet bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

140413 Terrific Women 1018

70s Week: Terrific Women Make Pineapple-Ham Spread

140413 Terrific Women 0837

We still can’t believe it’s been 40 years since we first met! It doesn’t feel so long ago when we were packing Jen’s Oldsmobile—she liked her cars like she liked her dogs: white with red interior—filling the entire back seat with grocery bags crammed full of canned pineapple and curly parsley before heading over to the studio. That’s actually how we rediscovered the photos that go along with this sweet and salty spread.

140413 Terrific Women 0822

We were thinking back on that time when Linda was absolutely obsessed with Dolly Parton’s Jolene album, specifically the title track. She would get so passionate every time CHUM played it on the radio, reaching over from the back seat, in amongst the groceries, to blare it over the car speakers—I think it would stir up some rather raw memories of her first husband. It became a real distraction as Jen tried to manoeuvre the car down Yonge street one day, and caused her to crash into a stop sign narrowly missing our tiny, perfect mayor, David Crombie. To make a short story long, it was this Dolly Parton album that the photos for this episode were found in.

140413 Terrific Women 0897

The Terrific Women loved using ground ham in their recipes. It was one of those secret ingredients Joy liked to pull out of her back pocket to add a little heft and richness to her cooking. If she wasn’t satisfied that a casserole or salad was meaty enough she would sprinkle on a little ground ham, marvelling at the chewy pink rubble bits as they passed through her fingers. Most of the time we could find ground ham packed in a plastic tube at the butcher counter but occasionally would have to resort to picking up a few ham steaks and grinding them ourselves in the Cuisinart. It was horribly inconvenient but the steaks often came with a lovely lemon raisin sauce packet, which could be used for other things, like an ice cream topping or mixed in with a little mayonnaise for a quick and exotic condiment for hotdogs.

140413 Terrific Women 0853

Make your best “mayonnaise face”, ladies!

Linda and Joy always served party sandwiches when they entertained because it gave Joy a chance to show off her cookie cutter collection. She had shapes for every occasion; angels for Christmas, babies for New Years, cherubs for Valentine’s Day, etcetera. Actually, most of her shapes were of babies but she used a piggy cookie cutter exclusively for these sandwiches.

140413 Terrific Women 0994

There are two important steps to making this recipe successfully. First make sure the canned pineapple is thoroughly drained as any excess moisture will make the spread runny. I find the best way to do this is to use a clean sports sock so the tiny bits of pineapple can’t escape as you squeeze the juice out. Save the juice for a later use, perhaps to mix with some vodka for a Jackhammer before your guests arrive. The second important step is to make sure you use a lot of butter before sandwiching in the spread. The butter will act as a moisture-proof barrier, meaning the sandwiches will never go soggy, so they can sit out all night as the party goes on.

Pineapple-Ham Spread

1 cup fully-cooked ham, ground
8 1/2 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
12 slices white bread

Mix ham, pineapple, mayonnaise, brown sugar, and mustard in a bowl. Spread 12 slices of bread generously with butter on one side. Spread 6 slices of the buttered bread with pineapple-ham spread and top with a piece of buttered bread, giving you six sandwiches. Use a cookie cutter to cut out fun shapes like a pig or pineapple.

140413 Terrific Women 0998

Ice Fishing for Warmth

Early Saturday morning we left the perfectly warm indoors to take pictures in defiance of winter. My parents used to go ice fishing regularly in the winter, drinking Dubonnet and lemon, pulling behind them a sled with a bundled up baby tucked inside. I know these acts are not a part of my genetic make-up. I’m half Finnish but that half is non-practicing. It seems to me a joke that this going out on a lake with ice a full foot thick, to fish for the day, has anything to do with my ancestry.

Ice fishing huts

Jen and I make our first stop at the little convenience store at the park’s entrance to see how we get started. We look the part, in matching red Canada Goose parkas and bulky black snow pants but really we have no idea. My outfit isn’t my own but borrowed from Jen’s dad. I’m more worried that my leather city boots are going to get ruined in this real arctic tundra. Inside, we’re told to go talk to Sean out on the lake as he could hook us up with rods and a hole in the ice – the two things we were aware we needed for this shoot to work.

Ice Fishing

Towards the lake we go, making another stop to talk with the French Canadian man handing out mini fishing rods. We explain we have no interest in fishing *spoiler alert* but we want to take pictures to make it look like we’re fishing. He supplies us with rods and points us out to the lake to speak with someone else about setting us up with a hole. Now I feel like we’re playing a mission in RuneScape, chatting up merchants and locals, collecting bits and pieces of information that will help us on our quest.

Ice Fishing

With a bit of wandering we make it to one of the brothers running the hut program. He directs us to one of the brothers out further with the snowmobile because he’d have the ice auger we’d need to get that hole. Our story is that we’re working on a “project” since we’re both too embarrassed to say the words “food blog” in front of outdoorsy types.

Perch fillets in snow

Like everyone before him, the brother with the ice auger was incredibly accommodating and was kind enough to make us a hole in the ice for our shoot. Promptly after he left us to our work, Jen fell good and hard on that thick lake ice. It wasn’t like we had forgotten we were on ice or that it was slippery when the layer of snow was slicked with water but Jen’s graceful side plant (so as not to crush the camera) helped to drive the point home to take extra care.

Cooking Outdoors

The whole point of this exercise and as it turns out, winter weekend, is to show what people do when the environment you live in turns to snow and ice. There’s still warmth to be found from the people and traditions out in the bleakest of places. There’s also life underneath all that snow and ice. The lake is full of perch, reminding us of warmer days spent fishing off the end of the cottage dock.

Cooking Outdoors

I wanted to capture the warmth and its simplicity in these photos. The meal that brought us here is a basic perch soup made simply by frying perch fillets in plenty of butter and serving them in a stock made from the bones and heads. The burned cabbage may sound odd but is easy to do over the gas flame of a camping stove and not only does it make for an interesting garnish, the toasting brings out a flavour reminiscent of kale chips. It’s the kind of lunch that works well for the middle of a frozen lake where warmth must be made.

Cooking Outdoors

On our way back to the car, we did find Sean and admitted sheepishly that we were shooting for our food blog. We talked a while about how successful their hut program is running this season and how they hope to make some pretty fancy huts by next season, tricked out with potbelly stoves. I hope by next winter, once we’ve had a full summer to warm up, we can go back and take pictures inside one of those mini cabins on the lake. A potbelly stove inside would make it so much easier to find warmth.

Perch Soup

Though making your own fish stock is easy to do when you’re dealing with whole fish for this recipe, you can absolutely stick to a pre-made stock, seasoned lightly with the spices below if you caught your fish fillets at your local fish monger.

Perch Soup

Serves 4 as a light lunch

4 small whole yellow perch, cleaned
2 litres cold water
1 fresh bay leaf
5 allspice berries
5 whole white peppercorns
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 leek, sliced finely, tops reserved
8 leaves savoy cabbage
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
fennel fronds, for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Fillet the perch, reserving the heads and bones. Add the water to a large pot and add the perch parts, minus the fillets, then the allspice, white peppercorns, salt, and leek tops. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Strain the stock, and return to the pot over low heat.

Using a pair of tongs hold a leaf of cabbage over an open flame to toast it, allowing it to burn in places. Repeat with the rest of the leaves and reserve. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and gently cook the leeks just until tender. Remove the leeks form the pan and set aside. Season the perch fillets lightly with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and fry the perch, skin side down until lightly golden brown. Flip the fish and cook for an additional 20 seconds.

To assemble the soup, in a wide bowl place the leeks on one side and a burned cabbage leaf on the other, followed by a fried perch fillet. Garnish with a fennel frond.

Perch Soup

Chicken Soup with “Matzo” Balls

Now that we’ve covered that chicken fat is good for you, as much as I hate to do it, we have to talk about soup. It’s a necessary evil when you’re sick. Soup is warm, easy to digest, and restorative. But it’s also prescriptive and that’s why I really don’t like it. We have soup when we’re sick, when we’re cold, when we want to clean out the crisper, when we don’t really want to eat at all. Soup is not the food we want to eat when we want to enjoy life but when we’re recoiling from it.

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

When you’re sick – like really sick, I don’t expect you to go to the effort of making this for yourself. I don’t think you could unless you’re a highly functioning sick person. You have to do a bit of shopping with a special trip to the butcher to pick up the chicken carcasses and a whole chicken, though you could also be one of those “I have my life together” people and have the chicken bones stashed in the freezer or better yet, a supply of your own chicken stock ready-to-go. Unless you’re that person, this post is really for your *caretaker to read.

Chicken Soup

This is the soup to eat when you’re sick and trying to get back to normal life. I didn’t grow up with matzo balls in my chicken soup and never really gave much thought into what they were until I was in university. When I finally got around to making them for myself I realized they were a refined version of what I’d already been doing to my soup, which was crumbling in as many soda crackers as would fit in my bowl. Matzo balls, it turns out are cracker dumplings. After this epiphany, I thought I could probably sub out the matzo meal and replace it with the soda crackers that I was familiar with having in my soup. Between the chicken fat and garlic in the soup, and the chicken fat and rosemary in the “matzo” balls, this is an aromatic bowlful, which should have you returning to full health and proper food in a couple of days time.

Chicken Soup


Chicken Soup with “Matzo” Balls

Makes approximately 3 litres

For the Chicken Soup Base
2 pounds chicken carcasses
2 carrots, unpeeled and roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
1 onion, unpeeled with the root-end removed, halved
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled and halved
1 bunch parsley, stalks only
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 parmesan rind, approximately 3” (optional)
water to cover

For the Chicken Soup
1 small chicken
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
200g carrot, finely diced
270g parsnip, finely diced
20g celery, finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the “Matzo” Balls
(makes 17-18 balls)
20 (57g) unsalted soda crackers
2 tablespoons chicken fat (skimmed from the cold soup base)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

To start, make the chicken soup base, which is really just a chicken stock with a few more assertive flavours such as garlic and fennel seeds. If you’ve made chicken stock before it’s likely you’ll ignore this recipe entirely and just use your own and that’s okay. Chicken stock is personal and largely comes down to what you feel like throwing in the stock pot. To make this stock, just like any other chicken stock, throw all ingredients into a large pot and fill with cold water so that the water comes just a couple inches above the contents. Heat to just barely a simmer for at least 3 hours. Don’t bother skimming the top. When you’re done, strain the stock into a large vessel, be it a heat-proof bowl or another pot and allow to cool before refrigerating over night. Discard the stock ingredients.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

While the stock is simmering, remove the back from the chicken, and toss the back in with the rest of the stock ingredients. If you’re doing this on a different day than the stock, freeze the back for later use. On a quarter-sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the chicken breast side-up and coat it with the olive oil. Sprinkle on the thyme and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until the juices run clear. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan. Once it has cooled enough to handle, place the chicken on your board and pour any of the roast drippings into your chicken soup base. Remove the meat from the chicken, discarding the skin and bones. Dice or shred the meat into soup-spoon-sized pieces and store in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the soup.

To make the matzo balls, blitz the soda crackers in a food processor or blender until you have fine crumbs. If you wanted, you could also use the more traditional matzo meal in place of the soda crackers. In a small bowl combine the cracker crumbs with the rest of the matzo ball ingredients and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the matzo mix for approximately 30 minutes so the crackers can fully absorb the wet ingredients. Roll the mixture into small balls with your hands and drop carefully into a large pot of boiling water, being sure they don’t stick on their initial drop to the bottom. Turn the water down to a simmer and cover for 40 minutes by which time they will have plumped to almost double their original size. Strain out the matzo balls and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble the soup, in a large pot add the chicken soup base along with the carrots, parsnips, celery, and garlic. Simmer the vegetable gently in the base until just tender. Add the diced chicken and season the soup with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the matzo balls and serve.

Chicken Soup

*Note to caretaker: the choice of mug makes all the difference in the world to the sick person, so choose wisely.