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Leaders share favourite family recipes

Here are some family recipes from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper, NDP Leader Jack Layton, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff in honour of Mother's Day.

Here are some family recipes from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper, NDP Leader Jack Layton, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff in honour of Mother's Day.

Prime Minister's Mexican Lasagna

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a fan of spicy food, and has created his own version of his mother's lasagna recipe. Hot banana peppers, Mexican beans and chilies can be added for a spicier dish, if desired.

500 g (1 lb) ground beef

1 medium diced onion

1 clove garlic

175 ml (3/4 cup) salsa

1 jar spaghetti or pasta sauce

1 750-ml container cottage cheese

Lasagna noodles (pre-cooked variety)

Pickled jalapeno peppers, to taste

250 ml (1 cup) Monterey Jack cheese, divided

250 ml (1 cup) cheddar cheese, divided

In a skillet, cook ground beef, onion and garlic until browned. Add salsa.

For first layer, line baking dish with one-third of the lasagna noodles and add enough pasta sauce over top to lightly cover. Add half the ground beef mixture, and jalapenos to taste. Cover with half the container of cottage cheese and 75 ml (1/3 cup) of the Monterey Jack cheese.

For second layer, add another layer of lasagna noodles and cover with half the remaining pasta sauce. Add remaining ground beef mixture, and jalapenos to taste. Cover with remaining cottage cheese and 75 ml (1/3 cup) of the cheddar cheese.

For the top, add layer of lasagna noodles and cover with remaining pasta sauce.

Cover dish with lid or foil and bake in a 190 C (375 F) oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

Five minutes before the lasagna is done, remove cover and add remaining cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Extra jalapenos can be added for garnish, if desired.

Bake for 5 more minutes or until cheese melts.

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Laureen Harper's Salsa

Tomatoes can be roasted under the broiler for a consistency that's more like a bottled salsa.

6 large tomatoes

1 small can of green chili jalapenos

1 white or yellow medium onion

1 clove of garlic (more or less, to taste) or powdered garlic

Juice of 1 lime

Chopped jalapenos, to taste

Cilantro, for garnish, if desired

Chop or food-process tomatoes to preferred chunky or smooth consistency. Place in a bowl and add can of chilies. Food-process onion and add to tomatoes. Stir garlic and lime juice into mixture and add chopped jalapenos. Garnish with cilantro, if using.

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Gumdrop Cake

NDP Leader Jack Layton treasures this recipe from his grandmother, who made it for a special treat when he and his three siblings went for a visit.

340 g (3/4 lb) gumdrops (omit black ones)

250 ml (1 cup) raisins

125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

125 ml (1/2 cup) flour

125 ml (1/2 cup) butter

250 ml (1 cup) sugar

1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla

1 egg

175 ml (3/4 cup) unsweetened applesauce

125 ml (1/2 cup) hot water

500 ml (2 cups) flour

2 ml (1/2 tsp) each salt, baking soda and nutmeg

Cut gumdrops if large. In a shallow bowl, dredge gumdrops, raisins and nuts in 125 ml (1/2 cup) flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add applesauce and hot water and mix well.

In a medium bowl, mix together 500 ml (2 cups) flour, salt, baking soda and nutmeg and add to sugar mixture. Fold in gumdrop mixture.

Pour into a well-greased tube pan or 2-l (9-by-5-inch) pan lined with wax paper and well greased.

Bake in a 140 C (275 F) oven for 45 minutes. Increase temperature to 150 C (300 F) and bake for 75 minutes.

Let sit for several hours or overnight before cutting.

———

Charleston Light Dragoon Punch

Elizabeth May says her great-grandfather made this punch every year for the family's two Christmas parties. There are many versions of the punch, which her grandfather called "the iron fist in the velvet glove."

4 l (16 cups) black tea

1.25 l (5 cups) lemon juice

1 l (4 cups) sugar

4 l (16 cups) California brandy (or any non-gourmet brandy)

1 l (4 cups) dark Jamaican rum

250 ml (1 cup) peach or apricot brandy

Blocks of ice, for punch bowl

Lemon and orange peel, for garnish

Club soda

Combine black tea and lemon juice and stir in sugar while mixture is still hot.

Add alcohol and set mixture aside or bottle for later use.

To serve, in a punch bowl, place blocks of ice and garnishes of lemon and orange peel. Pour in equal parts of the tea-brandy-rum mixture with club soda.

———

Pasta and Baked Vegetables

This pasta and baked vegetable dish became a staple for Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's mother, Jessie Ignatieff. You can omit the ham to serve it as a vegetarian dish.

1 eggplant, unpeeled and cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) pieces

1 zucchini, unpeeled and cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) pieces

2 yellow peppers, cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) pieces

4 tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 Spanish onion, finely chopped

30 ml (2 tbsp) finely chopped thyme

2 garlic cloves, minced

45 ml (3 tbsp) olive oil

750 g (1 1/2 lb) wide egg noodles

250 ml (1 cup) diced black forest ham

125 ml (1/2 cup) grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

Fresh basil leaves, to taste

Fresh chopped parsley, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a strainer, combine eggplant and zucchini; sprinkle with salt and let drain for 30 minutes.

In a casserole dish, combine yellow peppers, tomatoes and Spanish onion. Add thyme, garlic, olive oil and pepper and let stand.

After 30 minutes, add eggplant and zucchini to the other vegetables. Toss all vegetables until they're lightly covered with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in a 200 C (400 F) oven. The vegetables should be slightly charred and wilted but still firm.

While vegetables are baking, cook noodles in boiling water, following package instructions.

Drain noodles and combine with baked vegetables in a large wok. Add ham, Parmesan and fresh basil.

Mix everything together and let it stand over low heat for about 5 minutes to warm ham and melt Parmesan cheese.

Serve with chopped parsley and more grated Parmesan, as desired.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

 
 
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