Try two recipes from a newly published northern cookbook
Yellowknives Dene First Nation member Melissa Sangris and Fort Smith’s Barb Mercredi are releasing a cookbook with more than 90 recipes inspired by the North.
The book, Welcome to Our Northern Kitchen, features everything from soups, stews and salads to poultry and game. Sangris, who remembers preparing family meals by the time she was in Grade 5, says cooking was always “just something I enjoyed doing.”
“I was raised on a lot of caribou and fish, and occasionally moose meat and ducks,” she told Cabin Radio.
“It was all part of our daily diet and I enjoyed learning how to cook them.”
Sangris first released a cookbook 10 years ago for the Yellowknives Dene. Since then, she says, she has had requests for another one.
While isolating during the pandemic, Sangris reached out to Mercredi after seeing her posting on a CBC-run Facebook page titled The Arctic Kitchen. Though the two had never met in person, they decided the pandemic represented a good time to co-create a cookbook.
“There’s a lot of interest across Canada,” Sangris said of her book.
“I’ve heard from people in communities that I didn’t even know existed, all the way down to Newfoundland.
“I think there’s a lot of interest because it’s homestyle cooking that uses traditional foods, like moose meat and caribou and whatnot, but you could also substitute store-bought meat if you don’t have access to those meats.”
Sangris hopes to beginning selling the book from the Yellowknife Book Cellar in the next few months. She says she has also been contacted by Chapters and is working to get the book on shelves in Indigo stores around Canada.
“There was a part of me that was doubting myself – I didn’t go to culinary school or anything like that, and I was quite nervous,” she said.
“But now it’s out and it feels really good to get such positive feedback from everyone.”
We asked Sangris to select two recipes from the book as a sample. Below, find extracts from Welcome to Our Northern Kitchen that walk you through moose meat quesadillas and caribou with macaroni.
Moose Meat Quesadillas
This savoury recipe can be turned into a dessert by using jam as the filling and dipping it in a sugar-cinnamon mixture.
1 lb. moose meat, diced small
1 pkg. tortillas
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bell peppers, diced
1 pkg. taco seasoning/fajita
2 c. Tex-Mex cheese or preferred cheese
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. olive oil or preferred cooking oil, divided
Cut moose meat into small 1/2 inch cubes. Cook the moose meat in a large deep frying pan on medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once meat is no longer pink, add the bell peppers, onion and garlic. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often. Add the seasoning package and water; cook for another 5 minutes.
Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Place a flour tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle the tortilla with a handful of cheese, moose mixture and top with more cheese. Add the top tortilla, then fry both sides until lightly browned and the cheese is melted.
Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Cut quesadillas into 4 pieces. Serve with salsa and sour cream.
*I use a heavy pot on top of the quesadilla to weigh it down and flatten it. Use 2 spatulas to flip over the quesadilla so it does not fall apart.
You can always substitute the moose meat with any type of meat you have readily available.
My children personally love chicken quesadillas.
Caribou and Macaroni
1 lb. caribou meat, cut into small cubes
4 c. cooked macaroni noodles
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. of starchy water that the noodles are cooked in
1 tbsp. garlic powder (optional)
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese (optional)
Boil noodles according to package directions (set aside 1/2 a cup of the starchy noodle water), drain the pasta and set aside.
In a large frying pan on medium heat, fry the meat and onion in a tablespoon oil until the meat is no longer pink. Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of the starchy water to the pan; stir. Add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking for two more minutes. (Traditionally you only use salt to flavour but I like my caribou and macaroni with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese for more flavour.)
Sometimes the simplest recipe becomes a favourite!