2016 Food 'n Recipes, A-Z, Alison Boston, Amazing, Baking, Food, Recipes, Use of Language, Vegetarian

Zantoon Trifle

Saskatoon Berry Soup on Bannock

…makes Zantoon Trifle!

I was treated to this exceptionally delicious dessert at a Cree Language gathering. I didn’t get the recipes, I just got to eat it…

an Invented Name

One of the  women at the Cree language lesson I attended – where I got to eat this amazingly delicious dessert – invented the word Zantoon as I was photographing the food.  I explained the pics were for the blog, and that I was going to write about it for my final post in the A-Z challenge,  and needed a name that starts with Z.  Before I’d finished taking the pictures, she’d come up with Zantoon, explaining: Bannock becomes Zannock, minus the nock, plus Saskatoon, minus the Saska = Zantoon.  Wow, she’s good!

And it’s not really trifle. There’s no jelly, or whipped cream (though whipped cream was served, but I think we ate it all before we got to the bannock…).  My oh my, how delicious this was.  But Zantoon Trifle has a nice ring to it; works better than Zantoon Dessert, or Zantoon Cake or…? Do you have any ideas?  Truth be told, this is probably more like scones and runny jam than anything else!

Bannock Cooked in Many Ways

This bannock was baked as a loaf, to save space in the baker’s apartment-size oven. She told me she can only cook a dozen scones at a time, while she can cook 6-8 loaves. Have you ever seen loaf-shaped bannock (or scones)?

The bannock was the softest, most melt-in-the-mouth scone I’ve ever had!  I want that Cree woman’s bannock secrets.  Will I have to learn how to make it in Cree?  Until then, I can always try this fried bannock recipe from Canadian Living.

So it’s a fried biscuit recipe.  What’s so special about that? Well, it’s fried for one thing…I’ve never had fried bannock, but I think it’s a bit like beaver tails, or Hungarian langos – though those are both made with yeast, which bannock never is.

Cooked on a stick

Or maybe you’d like to try cooking it rolled into a ribbon, and wrapped around a stick to hold over an open fire?  Yeah, like hot dogs or marshmallows…. For this and other traditional variations check these recipes from the British Columbia Forest Service.

Baker’s Secrets

Pahkwesikan is the Cree word for  bannock, which is the Scottish name for English scones, and some say scones are biscuits – and every cook I know who makes scones, biscuits, bannock or soda bread has a secret.  My Mom said it was cream of tartar.  The Bulgarians who treated me to their soda bread at Christmas told me it was lemon juice.  That soda bread was a different thing all together – it had the texture and flavor of a yeast bread.  But I digress…Apparently Canada’s First Nations were making their own type of bannock long before the Scots arrived.  They made it from the Camas bulb.  Here’s a wee history lesson for you brought to you by CBC (of course!)

Camas in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, B.C.  The First Nations people of Canada were making bannock from Camus bulbs long before the Scots arrived with their wheat and oats bannock.

Saskatoon Berry Soup

Saskatoon Berry Soup

We had 2 versions of Saskatoon Berry Soup. One with mashed berries (made by the woman who invented the word Zantoon), that was almost creamy in texture; another – as pictured here – with the berries pretty much intact. Most of us put both on our bannock – which absorbed the juice, leaving the berries sitting on top.

The creamier version had mixed berries, and was thickened with a little flour. The other version I have no idea about. I think it was just cooked Saskatoon berries and nothing else. Didn’t get a chance to pick the chef’s brain for his secrets – besides, I was there to learn Cree, not to learn to cook Cree food – but wouldn’t that be a great language lesson? I used to teach English as a foreign language in Europe, and always got my intermediate students to teach me how to make a traditional dish – in English. I learned a lot of great cooking secrets. But I digress, yet again…

I’ve had Scottish bannock and jam in Scotland, and English scones with cream and jam, even in Devon with real Devonshire clotted cream – but this Cree Zantoon taste experience beats ‘me all. Wonder how that Camas bannock tastes.   Maybe Canadian Cree chef Art Napoleon can teach us how to make that, eh?

Cree words

Bannock = pahkwesikan

Saskatoon Berries = misâskwatômina


2016 Food 'n Recipes, A-Z, Alison Boston, Baking, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

Yummy Navy Bean Pasta

…with blueberry cornbread on the side.

2016-04-24-22.26.21.jpg.jpgThis started out as soup, and ended up as a pasta dish when I asked the man who eats my cooking to go to the store to get some pasta. I wanted something small, like orzo, or pasta mista, something tiny, that would cook up to the same size as the navy beans.  He brought back tofette – medium size shells. I added a cup to the soup and saw they were filling with the beans, and diced veg, so decided to add more, then more – until it became a thick tomato sauce pasta dish.  The pasta, of course cooks in the juice so absorbs the flavors of the dish.

I cook most beans from scratch – dry, organic beans. So this morning, while making breakfast, I put about 2 and 1/2 cups of dry beans in a pot, filled it with water, then brought it to the boil. Let it boil while I finished prepping breakfast, then turned the heat off and left it till later afternoon when I started making supper.  I drained and rinsed the beans, covered the beans with fresh water and put them back on the stove to cook. Cover, bring to the boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for about an hour.

2 1/2 cups of dry beans is about double what you’ll need to yield the 3 cups of cooked beans for this recipe that serves about 6 normal size portions. When I cook beans from scratch,  I always cook extra, then keep them in a jar or plastic container in the fridge and use them for salads, or if they’re not going to be eaten in 2-3 days, I freeze them in the cooking water.


For the sauce, add about 1 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil to your favorite soup pot.  You’ll need a big one for this dish. I used a 5 litre, stainless steel Dutch oven.

Turn the heat up medium high, and add:

While the tofette pasta cooks, it absorbs the juice, and fills with the beans and veg, making a thick, yet juicy, nourishing pasta dish.
  • 3 carrots thinly sliced, n diced
  • 1/4 medium onion, minced
  • 4-5 small to medium cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • pinch dried thyme
  • pinch dried sage
  • 1/2 cup of water

Stir and toss with your favorite cooking utensil.  For this dish, and this pot, I used a normal sized wooden spoon.

Then reduce the heat to medium low, cover and leave for about 15 minutes.  You want the veg to cook together with herbs and spices to make a flavourful base.

Blueberry Cornbread (on the side)

Drizzle the cornbread with liquid honey just before popping it in the oven. It makes a slightly glazed top – without using sugar.

While I waited for it to cook, I made a single pan of blueberry cornbread by halving my recipe for blueberry cornmeal muffins and cooking it in pan. I didn’t, however, halve the quantity of blueberries, and were they ever good! I also added 1/4 tsp of baking soda to the dry ingredients, and double sifted the wholewheat flour. Then, just before popping it in the oven, I drizzled it with liquid honey! Yummy! It made a lovely, sweet glazed top, without it being sugary.

So once they were in the oven, I continued with the bean soup, cum pasta.

Add the beans and tomato passata

  • 24 fl oz/720 ml tomato passata.  I use bottle tomato passata, and always rinse the bottle with water, which I then add to the sauce.  You need to add a total of 3-4 cups water – but not right away. So at this point, just rinse the jar or tin out, adding a cup or two of water. 
  • 3 cups cooked white navy beans
  • 1 veg bouillon cube
  • dash Worcester sauce

Turn the heat up, bring it to a boil, reduce to low heat and let it simmer about 30 minutes.

Add the kale and pasta

  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
    If you don’t use organic kale, make sure you wash it well. It’s a special addition to this year’s dirty dozen.


  • 3 cups dry tofette pasta shells
  • water – as needed

Turn up the heat again, bring it to the boil again, reduce the heat again, cover and let it simmer 10-15 minutes.   During this simmering time, stir it occasionally and check that there’s enough water for the pasta to absorb without it sticking to the bottom of your pan.  When the pasta is al dente, serve it in shallow bowls. You can offer diced cheese as a garnish.

This was indeed a Yummy supper, even if it was a a bit of a cop-out for the letter Y.

Yummy navy bean pasta with blueberry cornbread on the side.