I never used to be a big fan of vanilla. It was probably because I had only fake vanilla for many years. Even when I realized that there was real vanilla extract available, I found it odd and cloying. When it was called for in recipes, I didn’t use it. I did use it professionally, because that’s what people expect in certain baked goods or desserts such as creme brulee.
Chocolate was my preferred flavour, without vanilla.
I continued to ignore vanilla during the explosion of vanillawith-seafood, vanilla-withcauliflower, and vanilla-with-rice dishes during the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Years ago, a friend’s husband who was working in Indonesia gave me a very large bag of vanilla beans. I stuck it in the freezer. You may be raising your eyebrows at this. You see, my household does not eat baked goods or desserts. I only bake or make sweets when I need to for experimentation, for a recipe, or for writing purposes.
Back to the vanilla beans in the freezer. The beans stayed there for a few years until I needed vanilla beans for a prawn dish I was teaching. I tried one of the prawns during the class and it blew me away. It was sultry, beckoning and intoxicating. The vanilla flavour formed a big, sweet bubble in the part of my brain that holds the notes on flavour and scents.
I took a bean, split it, stuck it in a container of ricotta cheese. Another one went into a batch of yogurt. I chopped and roasted yet another one with chai-spiced sweet potatoes. I put one into a jar of salt, and another into a bottle of vinegar. I continue to use vanilla in savoury dishes. Even if I choose not to use it, I’ll still open the jar of vanilla and inhale deeply.
“I remember calling Korey on the first day of school two years ago. I told her about my idea, and she basically said, ‘No way,’” Phillips says, laughing.
With three children and a husband who play hockey, Korey Kealey knows all about living in arenas. The founder of Kitchen Konnected and Enerjive was leery at first about getting involved in a cookbook after seeing the amount of work and money involved in creating one.
But Kealey admits she couldn’t resist Phillips’ convincing plea to help other families deliver yummy, healthy meals that children will eat.
The Ultimate Cookbook for Hockey Families features more than 70 recipes from 27 hockey and skating pros, including Erik Karlsson, P.K. Subban, Dany Heatley and Rebecca Johnston.
“This is a combination of everything I love: recipe development, food styling and photographs, and nutritious meal planning,” says Kealey, who spends about f ive nights a week shuttling her children to area rinks. “If people take one thing away from this book, I hope it’s to inspire kids to eat and make better meals.”
The pair asked moms, dads and wives of the professional players to share their favourite recipes, and received an array of dishes that they diligently tasted and made at least twice. Each recipe comes with a photo of the pro, instructions, nutritional stats, serving information and handy tips.
Recipes include Captain Steve Yzerman’s Lasagna, Kyle Turris’s Top-Shelf Alfredo, Mike Fisher’s Slap- Shot Spaghetti Casserole, Bobby Ryan’s Comin’ in Hot Sweet Sour Chicken, and Jason Spezza’s Shootout Sea Bass. Tessa Virtue’s World Champion Chili made the cut, as did Grammie (Jamie) Salé’s Chicken Soup, Captain Cassie Campbell’s Slow Cooker Cacciatore and Chris Neil’s Neiler’s Takedown Vegetable Soup. Daniel Alfredsson has two entries: Power Play Meat Sauce and Alfie’s Swedish Meatballs.
“Whenever we had dinners at Bibbi (Alfredsson’s wife) and Alfie’s house, they’d serve the team Swedish meatballs,” says Phillips, who has a kinesiology degree and once played competitive hockey.
Popular desserts include Luke Richardson’s Buckeyes (peanut butter balls with chocolate), Zdeno Chara’s Rocket Rice Pudding and Liam’s Chocolate Chippie — Kealey’s real-estate agent husband’s delicious recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
“Nutrition wasn’t a priority when Chris first started playing hockey,” Phillips says. “The role of nutrition in sports has come a long way in recent years. Players started advocating for themselves, but everyone seems to be on board now.”
The cookbook is divided into four parts — Ultimate Fuel, Ultimate Performance, Ultimate Hydration and Kitchen Assist — and is full of helpful tips on such things as glutenfree eating, hydration, meal planning and what items to keep on hand in the pantry, fridge and freezer.
Canadian Tire, a sponsor and one of the outlets selling the book, is donating 100 per cent of its proceeds from sales to Jumpstart, a program that assists needy families with hockey fees.
“We didn’t do this to become rich,” says Kealey, who estimates they’ve spent more than $100,000 to produce their book. “Once we break even, I’ll sleep easier. I’ve already got our second book written in my head.”
Details on where to purchase the Ultimate Cookbook for Hockey Families, which sells for $20, can be found at Hockeyfood.com. The savvy duo also have accounts devoted to their book on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Nick Foligno’s Five-Hole Salad
snack. 1 large cooked, cooled chicken breast, diced or shredded 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped green onions 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped cucumber 2 tbsp (30 mL) mayonnaise (more, if needed)
Sprinkle dried thyme
Sprinkle dried dill
Dash salt and pepper
1 large ripe avocado
1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, green onions, cucumber, mayonnaise, spices, salt and pepper. Stir well, add mayo if needed.
2. Slice avocado lengthwise and remove pit. Place scoop of chicken salad in hole left by pit, letting it overflow a bit.
3. Instead of a spoon, use Enerjive quinoa crackers, wholewheat crackers, or celery sticks for scooping up the salad.
Make-ahead tip: Have cooked chicken ready in the fridge or have the entire chicken salad mixed and in the fridge, ready to add to the avocado.
Philly’s Blue-LineCannon Smoothie
This powerhouse smoothie will definitely improve the shot (cannon) from the point (blue line). The frozen fruit is a natural sweetener that also makes the smoothie very slushy and delicious.
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1/2 frozen banana
3 pieces frozen mango 4 frozen strawberries 1/2 cup (125 mL) plain Greek yogurt 1 scoop Progressive PhytoBerry powder 1 scoop Progressive VegeGreens powder 1 tsp (5 mL) Progressive OmegEssential liquid Water, to cover
In a blender, place ingredients in order listed. Cover and blend on high speed until desired consistency.
Variation: For a smoothie that’s “pretty and purple” or “brutish and bruised” (depending on who you are talking to), substitute 1/4 cup (60 mL) frozen blueberries for the mango.
Tip: Adding the water first helps prevent powders from clumping or sticking to the blender container.
Roadie’s Ham Salad
1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped ham 1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded carrots 1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped celery 2 tbsp (30 mL) minced green onions 3 tbsp (45 mL) Big Rig Ranch Dressing or mayonnaise
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Tip: Use your food processor or high-speed blender to speed up the chopping.
Liam Kealey’s Chocolate Chippies
These are a favourite of Korey’s husband, Liam. Make a double batch: one for immediate enjoyment and one for freezing as ready-to-bake dough balls.
1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened 3/4 cup (180 mL) light brown sugar, lightly packed 3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar 1 large egg 2 ¼ cups (560 mL) all-purpose flour 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda 2 cups (500 mL) semi-sweet chocolate chips 1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer on medium-high speed, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat on high speed for 1 minute. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Place one heaping tablespoon (about 20 mL) mounds of dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake on middle rack for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden and firm to touch. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then set on wire rack to cool completely. Store for up to 3 days in an airtight container, but these are best right out of the oven.
Make-ahead tip: You can freeze this cookie dough to have on hand for on-demand cookies. Form the dough into balls and then freeze on a baking sheet. Once the balls are frozen, you can transfer them to an airtight container for easy freezer storage. To bake from frozen, just pull out the amount you need and bake as usual, adding a couple minutes to the baking time.
Flavourful, fragrant vanilla beans split open to show seeds inside.