Breakfast Tostadas with Egg, Chorizo & Bean Mash

These breakfast tostadas make no pretence of being truly authentic but they’re full of flavour and a mélange of textures, which is homage to this great and inimitable cuisine. They’re definitely a step up from the typical bacon and eggs combo that I’ve always looked forward to on weekends, and they really don’t take much more effort than that if you have the ingredients on hand.

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Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 7 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
8 eggs
2 chorizo sausages
8 tostadas
5½ ounces (150 grams) black beans
2 avocados
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
3 Tbsp water
4 Tbsp feta or other soft, crumbly cheese
¼ tsp spanish paprika
½ tsp coriander
¼ tsp salt
? tsp pepper
Handful of cilantro, stems removed, chopped
¼ cup sour cream, to garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges

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Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat and chop the chorizo into small pieces. Add chorizo and cook until it begins to crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towel.
2. Blend the beans, water, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper in a food processor until thick and creamy. Add more water if necessary to achieve the consistency of cream cheese. Stir in green onion.
3. Beat together the eggs seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. Scramble over medium-low heat, tossing in the chorizo when just about done.
4. Spread some of the black bean mash onto the tostadas and top with the scrambled egg, feta, and avocado. Garnish with sour cream and lots of cilantro and serve with wedges of lime.

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Darina Kopcok Darina Kopcok is a food writer and photographer based in Vancouver, BC. She writes the blog Gratinée, for which she also develops, styles and shoots each recipe. In addition to photographic training from Langara College, she holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia. She has a passion for Italian cuisine and French culinary technique. Darina Kopcok is part of the Lifestyle Blog Network  family.

LemonTart

Not-Too-Tart Prairie Lemon Tarts

By Kim Butcher, as told to Devon Scoble

Self-taught pastry queen Kim Butcher, the owner of a thriving Saskatoon bake shop, has spent her entire life learning to bake, often drawing on old family recipes for inspiration. Here, she tells the story behind her wildly popular lemon tart, sold daily to happy customers at her Little Bird Pâtisserie & Café.

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My mom is not a great cook, and she’s especially not a baker. She always jokes that when she bakes, she makes hockey pucks—and it’s true. It was my grandmother and my mom’s sister who were the bakers in her family growing up, and fortunately, it’s something I also picked up easily.

My mom’s cookbooks are an amalgamation of recipes she’s used over the years, always with a person or story attached to them. I love when I come across a random recipe card in somebody’s handwriting that I don’t recognize, especially when I can tell it’s old from the grease spots on the paper that’s fraying around the edges. When I ask who the recipe is from, my mom will say, “Oh, that’s so-and-so from such-and-such a time, and she gave that recipe to me when this happened.”

The lemon tart I sell at my café is my own creation. I find the traditional lemon meringue–type of filling to be too sticky and too tart for my tastes. I wanted something a little more to my liking, so I experimented. I started with a lemon curd recipe that was tucked away in one of my mom’s recipe books. I added more eggs, a bit more sugar and, later, I added some butter as well. Now, the base is more like a lemon cream than a lemon curd.

For the crust—and for everything sold at Little Bird—we try to use local flours milled right here in Saskatoon. As a baker who works with flour every single day, there’s really no better place in the world to be.

I don’t like to call myself a pastry chef because I’m self-taught, which I think is nice because I’ve been able to concentrate on the things I enjoy and get really good at them.

At Little Bird, we have four bakers, including a cook, on staff, and we all work together, not only to come up with ideas but also to get these ideas into the pastry case to be sold. So everybody’s doing a bit of everything, which is the other reason why I hesitate to call myself a pastry chef, since I’ve got this team behind me. I honestly can’t do this job without them.

Little Bird Pâtisserie and Café’s Lemon Tarts, courtesy of Kim Butcher

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 13 hours (includes chilling)
Yield: 4 tarts (3¾ inches/10 cm each)
Ingredients
Dough
1 lb (450 g) very cold butter, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
1½ cups (375 mL) icing sugar
½ cup (125 mL) blanched whole almonds, finely ground
1 tsp (5 mL) fleur de sel, preferably Fleur de Sel de Guérande
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
4 eggs
4 cups (1 L) pastry flour

Lemon Cream
4 lemons
1½ cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
7 eggs
1 lb (450 g) cold butter, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes

Directions
Dough
1. Place butter in bowl of stand mixer. With paddle attachment, work butter until smooth.
2. Add icing sugar, ground almonds, fleur de sel, vanilla, eggs and flour, one ingredient at a time, fully incorporating each one and scraping bowl before adding the next.
3. Combine until dough comes together. Do not overwork dough.
4. Form dough into disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
5. Roll dough to ¼-inch (5 mm) thickness and line four 3¾-inch (10 cm) tart moulds.
6. Place in freezer for 10 minutes. Line tart shells with parchment paper; fill with dried beans to blind bake shell.
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 20 to 24 minutes or until edges and bottoms are golden.

Lemon Cream
1. Zest and juice lemons; discard seeds.
2. In large saucepan, combine granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch and eggs.
3. Cook slowly over medium-low heat until mixture starts to bubble. Stir frequently; do not allow to scorch.
4. Remove from heat; add butter.
5. Using whisk or immersion blender, fully combine butter.
6. Fill tarts immediately; refrigerate until completely set, about 4 hours.
7. Optional: Once tarts are set, brush with glaze and garnish as desired. To make glaze, heat a little apricot or apple jelly until liquid and brush on tarts.

Click here to print, save or share this Lemon Tart recipe.

Do you have a delicious dish to share with the rest of Canada? Submit your recipe for a chance to be featured on Great Canadian Cookbook and Food Network Canada!

Traditional Fish and Brewis at Bidgood’s in Newfoundland

By Leslie Bidgood, as told to Valerie Howes

Leslie Bidgood runs Bidgood’s in Goulds, N.L., alongside her father, Rick. Her grandfather, Roger, founded the business with her grandmother, Jenny. The couple began their work together—which would evolve into the Bidgood’s company of today— 68 years ago in Petty Harbour. Back then, it was a small general store, passed down by Leslie’s great-grandfather. Today, it has expanded into a supermarket, restaurant, bakery and wholesale operation with its own food line. Bidgood’s specializes in traditional Newfoundland cuisine, made with home-harvested ingredients. Here, Leslie talks about a customer favourite: fish and brewis.

Leslie Bidgood

Leslie Bidgood

Bidgood’s is much the same today as I remember it from my childhood. It has always had that family feeling. My sisters and I would come up and play hide-and-seek out back in the boxes in the warehouse after school, and I started working here myself when I was about eight, washing dishes and things like that. Two of our aunts and one uncle were involved then. And most of our staff lived locally, so there was always an upbeat, friendly kind of environment. We actually have some of the same staff now as we did when I was out back jumping on boxes and driving everyone nuts.

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Fish and brewis (pronounced “brews”) is one of the main items we sell in the store. It has been a staple Newfoundland dish for so many years. I ate it once or twice a week as a child—I grew up eating everything we make and sell here. And at my grandparents’, we were always exposed to traditional food. Nowadays, I only eat it now and again as a treat. The family recipe we use in the store hasn’t really changed over the years. If it’s working and we’re getting positive feedback from the customers, we don’t mess with any recipe!

To make fish and brewis, the girls soak hard bread overnight, then the next morning they boil it for about an hour to soften it. Then, they put this soaked bread in the strainer to drain excess water. Next, they put it into a huge mixing bowl and add fried scrunchions—diced pork fat cooked up fresh while the bread was boiling. Next, they add salted cod that has been soaked overnight—sometimes twice—to take away some of the saltiness and boiled for about 20 minutes. They stir it all together, allow it to cool and package it.

Hard bread is a traditional bread here in Newfoundland. It has to be soaked in liquid to soften it up. It’s very shelf stable, so many years ago, when people had no means to preserve foods, it was a staple in homes and at sea. As kids, when we’d go to my grandmother’s place and come out of the pool starving, she’d give us hard bread as a snack.

The difference between salted cod and fresh cod is like day and night. Obviously, salted cod is much saltier, while the fresh cod melts in your mouth. Salted cod is also harder, though it softens up once it’s soaked, drained and cooked. It’s not as tender as fresh fish, but it’s not quite as chewy as steak, either.

Fish and brewis is such a simple, quick and easy meal. And it’s tasty. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or supper. Some customers come in and order it for breakfast, and they pour molasses over it. A lot of people who live out of the province then return home, that’s the kind of food they’re looking for. It brings back memories.

See more photos of Lynn Crawford’s visit to Bidgood’s market here.

A Traditional Jiggs Dinner in Newfoundland

By Ed Sears, as told to Valerie Howes

Like most Newfoundlanders, Fire Lt. Ed Sears grew up eating Jiggs dinner on Sundays with extended family. Today, he carries on that tradition at the fire halls where he works in Mount Pearl and St. John’s, N.L.

Fire Lt. Ed Sears

Fire Lt. Ed Sears
Alibi Entertainment

I’ve been eating Jiggs dinner since I was a child. I believe it’s called Jiggs dinner because of a cartoon strip, where the main character was an Irish-American called Jiggs who loved his boiled dinner. It consists of boiled potatoes, turnips, carrots, peas pudding, cabbage—and, sometimes, a blueberry duff—then salted beef and usually roast turkey or roast pork. It’s hard to pinpoint one item I like best in Jiggs dinner; I like the combination of everything put together. It’s a clever meal!

A duff is similar to a bread loaf. It’s boiled in the pot along with the dinner inside two bags so it doesn’t absorb the taste of the salted meat. It swells up to whatever size the inside bag is. You can make a molasses duff with raisins, but I like to use blueberries—mine tastes a bit like blueberry muffins. Some people slice it up and eat it with their meal, and some have it after dinner with a cup of tea.

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When I was young, my mother or grandmother rotated cooking Jiggs dinner for family gatherings on a Sunday. If you have it for dinner (dinner being at around noon), it’s an all-morning preparation that starts at 8 o’clock. There were grandparents from both sides, aunts and uncles, in-laws, my parents and my siblings around the table—anywhere from a dozen to 20 people. It was quite a gathering! We’d put a leaf in the table and all sit down at once; sometimes, there would be two seatings, depending on how big the crowd was.

I learned to make Jiggs dinner a little bit from my grandmother, but a lot from being in the fire department for 21 years. We have certain traditions in the fire hall: Friday is fresh fish day; Saturday we have pea soup; and Sunday is always Jiggs dinner. You’ve got to learn to cook it right or you end up annoying a dozen fellows, and that’s never good.

If there’s a fire in town while I’m cooking, everything gets turned off and left exactly as it is. Hopefully, it’s a false alarm, and if we’re back at the hall in time, we can turn the oven back on and salvage the meal.

When it comes to sitting down and eating our Jiggs dinner at the fire hall, it’s pretty quiet while everyone enjoys the food. But in the buildup to the meal, there’s excitement. While the guys are out there doing their work, a really nice mouthwatering smell floats through the whole station. As the cook, you always get a little bit of sarcastic criticism and carrying on while you’re making dinner, but normally, the boys will tell you honestly if it’s good or bad at the table. And at the end of the meal, everybody’s so full they can’t even move.

How to make Jiggs Dinner
If including a roast turkey, start by thawing it a few days in advance. The second step is to soak the split peas for the peas pudding overnight.

Cooking day starts off with the salted beef; that’s the very first thing that needs to go in the pot. I boil it down because the meat is pickled in an awful lot of salt, so cover it with water and boil it for about an hour (some people soak their salted beef overnight to remove even more salt, but I just boil mine). Fill the water up again to cover the meat and taste the water to be sure it has the saltiness you want. If not, boil it longer until the water tastes the way you want. I leave the water in the pot a little bit salty, knowing I will be adding the peas pudding (boiled in a bag, like the duff) and vegetables that will be absorbing a bit more salt. You want your food to have just enough flavour to it.
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The peas pudding goes in one bag; the duff is put in two bags. Put both bags in the boiling water with the beef for about 2 hours. During those 2 hours, add your vegetables (turnips, carrots and potatoes) at different times to prevent them from overcooking: Cabbage needs about 40 minutes; turnips and carrots, 30 minutes; and potatoes, about 20 minutes.

Once it’s all boiled through and ready, the vegetables come out. A bit of pot liquor (the remaining water in the pot) will be used to mix with the juices left from the roast turkey or roast pork to make gravy.

The recipe depends on the number of people you’re feeding. We allow once piece of salted beef per person, plus two pieces of carrot, two pieces of turnip, two potatoes and a heaping spoonful of cabbage. Cabbage is served in a bowl all cut up so everyone can take a big spoonful. The peas pudding, same thing: served in a bowl so you can take a spoonful.

From a whole roast turkey, you serve yourself one portion. Whatever’s left of the turkey when the meal is done, you boil it down to make turkey soup with.

Do you have a Jiggs dinner and blueberry duff recipe to share? Add it to the Great Canadian Cookbook for your chance to be published!

Sweet and Simple Lobster Rolls in Old Town Lunenburg

By Adam Bower, as told to Signe Langford

Oh, how times have changed! Back in the 1950s and ’60s, when Adam Bower’s mom was growing up in a small fishing village outside Lunenburg, N.S., the curtains were drawn if lobster was on the table for dinner. In those days, it was considered poor man’s food, a source of shame. Today, it’s with great pride the sommelier-owner of Grand Banker Bar & Grill in Lunenburg serves what is now a highly prized delicacy.

By the time I was growing up in Lunenburg, eating lobster was no longer considered shameful or something you had to do when times were tough. It was a pretty special occasion, and we only had a big lobster feed a couple of times a year. Mom and Dad would make a call, then go and meet a lobsterman at the dock for 10 pounds of the freshest lobster—literally, it had been out of the water for just minutes! Mom would boil it and serve it with potatoes, corn on the cob, salad and lots of melted butter. Dad would break them all down—claws in one bowl, tails in another, legs and all the smaller bits in another—so we kids got to pick our favourite parts. The next day, Mom would turn any leftover lobster meat into lobster rolls. But to be honest, I was a picky eater, and it wasn’t until I was in my early teens and had started working in the restaurant business that I really started to appreciate lobster.

When I was 19, I went to work for Alan Creaser at the Grand Banker Bar & Grill. The place was a fixture in Old Town Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The restaurant is on the waterfront, across from where the Bluenose II is docked. When Creaser called to tell me he was selling the restaurant and asked if I wanted to buy it, I leaped at the chance to come back home to take it over. I started hearing from locals and loyal customers. I’d get letters saying, “I hope you’re leaving such-and-such on the menu.” So I left core signature dishes but made many enhancements, including fresh menu items, an in-depth wine list, craft beers and switching over to a local artisanal bakery—Boulangerie la Vendéenne—for all the breads and buns we use. That’s one of the reasons our lobster roll is so special; I serve it in a warm brioche roll that’s eggy and a little bit sweet, and it complements the claw and knuckle meat perfectly.

Our lobster roll is simple: some house-made citrus aioli, green onion, a small amount of lettuce and a good quarter pound of claw and knuckle meat—I want the lobster to shine. When lobster is in season, I take a 20-second walk down to the lobster pound for lobster that’s just come off the boats. We don’t do anything fancy; the lobster meat is so sweet and fresh we don’t need to—just boil them in salted water. And don’t forget a cold Propeller pilsner or one of Nova Scotia’s delicious white wines to wash it down!

Nova Scotia Lobster Roll, courtesy of Adam Bower

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Yields: 1 sandwich

Ingredients
1¼ lb (565 g) Nova Scotia lobster, bands removed
2 tbsp (30 mL) mayonnaise
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon zest
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) green onions, chopped
1 artisan-style hotdog bun
1 leaf romaine hearts, chopped
1 handful of parsley, chopped
lemon wedge

Directions
1. In stockpot, bring water to boil. Add live lobster; cook for about 10 minutes, until lobster is bright red. Remove; let cool. Crack claws and knuckles, removing meat. Reserve remaining meat for future use.
2. In bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice and green onions. Stir in lobster meat.
3. In oven, toast bun (fresh from your local bakery, if possible), until warm and crisp outside. Score down middle; fill with romaine.
4. Place lobster mixture on top of romaine; sprinkle with parsley. Serve with lemon wedge.

Click here to print, save or share this Lobster Roll recipe.

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Anna Olson’s Top 10 Baking Tools

Want to create the most beautiful treats without a hitch? Baking expert Anna Olson shares her list of essential tools that every passionate home baker should have on hand.

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1. Off-Set Spatula

This great tool is used to lift cookies off of hot trays, loosen cakes delicately from their pans, and frost cakes with precision and panache. The spatula you see me use on Bake with Anna Olson is my own — I’ve had it for about 10 years, and I’d be lost without it!

2. Silicone Spatula

For effective folding and stirring, and for getting every last bit of batter out of a bowl, I favour the curved spatulas in this tool family. And silicone is heat-proof so it can be used to stir pastry creams, sauces and other preparations on the stove.

3. Oven Thermometer

This may sound trivial, but a thermometer placed inside your oven is a valuable and inexpensive tool that can save you frustration. You’d be amazed how many ovens don’t sit at the correct temperature risking underbaked or overbaked goods. Just because your oven displays the temperature you’ve set, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s accurate. When using this tool, if you find that your oven temperature is far out of range (10°C or more), you will need to get a repair person to calibrate your oven.

4. Disposable Piping Bags

Gone are the days of fabric piping bags that never quite come clean or are cut so far down that they only fit your largest piping tip. Most cake supply and even craft shops will carry disposable piping bags in an assortment of sizes. They can be reused and are fully recyclable.

5. Ice Cream Scoops

Ice cream scoops aren’t just for scooping ice cream. I rely on an assortment of sizes for a variety of uses, including portioning perfectly consistent cookies and dropping muffin batter into tins without a mess.

6. Candy Thermometer

The world of confectionery and chocolate work requires a precision that only a candy thermometer can offer. The difference between the “thread stage” and the “soft ball stage” of boiling sugar is only a few degrees, and a candy thermometer takes all the guesswork out of it. There are traditional models and also digital probe thermometers — both work equally well. (Note: If you have an induction cooktop, I recommend the traditional model. The magnetic energy of the induction can interfere with the digital reads.)

7. Microplane Rasp

This handy tool is commonly used as a fine grater for garlic and Parmesan, but I value it to finely grate citrus zest, nutmeg, chocolate and to mince ginger without fibres. There are models with larger grates so that you can make chocolate curls, not just shavings.

8. Bar Citrus Juicer

Lemon, lime and orange juice figure prominently in desserts, and I always use freshly squeezed juice. A bar juicer is a fast and convenient way to extract the most juice — and it’s easy to clean.

9. Measuring Tape

This may seem trivial, but a fabric measuring tape is immensely handy in a baker’s kitchen. First, I can verify how thick my doughs are as I roll them. Second, I can measure the circumference of a piece of fondant before I lift it to cover a cake. Lastly, I can ensure that my squares are all cut to the same size.

10. Cake Wheel

If you are getting serious about baking, this will be a tool you’ll want to invest in. A cake wheel spins on its base, making seamless frosting simple, and detailed piping less arduous and hard on your back. Professional cast-iron cake wheels can be pricey, but there are other more affordable options. (Tip: Ikea offers a lazy Susan that functions as a cake wheel.)

Watch all new episodes of Bake with Anna Olson Sundays at 12 pm E/T and online.

10 Crowd-Pleasing Cupcake Shops from Coast to Coast

While the macaron craze is beginning to run its course, cupcakes are here to stay. Check out this roundup of sweet shops from coast to coast that are doing this nostalgic treat proud.

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Cake-ology 

Cake-ology (Winnipeg, MB)

Stroll into the Exchange District in downtown Winnipeg and follow the scent of freshly baked goods until your nose leads you to Cake-ology (you can’t miss the big cake jutting out from the building’s exterior either). Of course you’ll find a variety of cakes including “cakettes” (think stickless cake pop) and cookies. Like any good bake shop, they can customize too, so ask ahead and your flavour-combination wish is their command.

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Crave Cookies and Cupcakes

Crave Cookies and Cupcakes (Calgary, Edmonton, AB and Saskatoon, SK)

One of the original upscale cupcake shops in Canada, Crave just turned 10 years old earlier this year and has significantly updated their concept since it first opened. Now, instead of simply rows and rows of cupcakes, you’ll find all sorts of delicious treats like red velvet sugar cookies, amazing cakes (try the ice box cake right now — summer-approved!) and pies.

The Cupcake Conspiracy (Saskatoon, SK)

Saskatoon’s first gourmet cupcake shop keeps things concise but tasty with their offerings here, baking up a short list of sweets that include chocolate banana, vanilla and rum buttercream, vanilla and coconut, and more.

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The Cupcake Lounge 

The Cupcake Lounge (Ottawa, ON)

There’s a lot of eating and drinking to be done in the ByWard Market in the heart of Ottawa. But what about dessert? This sweet little cupcake shop offers the regular suspects, seven days a week as well as daily specials like ginger lemon on Thursdays, butterscotch bourbon on Saturdays and banana peanut butter on Sundays.

The Cupcake Shoppe (Toronto, ON)

This popular sweet spot was arguably the first upscale cupcake shop in the country (opened in 2003) and always aims to impress. As many cupcake options as there are colours in the rainbow, expect a vast selection of flavours from the popular carrot cake, to margarita and many more.

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Jenna Rae Cakes (Winnipeg, MB)

When you’re noted by Martha Stewart as a place that makes beautiful cakes and cupcakes, you know you’re in for a spike in business, which is exactly what happened to Jenna Rae’s shop in Winnipeg. People line up out the door to get their hands on the pretty baked goods inside.

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ManCakes via Inside Vancouver

ManCakes (Vancouver, BC)

This bake shop aims to turn dainty cupcakes into a manly three-bite dessert. Look beyond the “masculine” design of the shop and you’ll find some impressive out-of-the-box flavours including red wine and chocolate, whiskey lime — or perhaps the most intriguing, a buffalo wing-inspired cupcake with blue cheese cheesecake mousse, spicy buttercream and crispy chicken crumble.

Susie’s Shortbreads (Halifax, NS)

The name may be slightly misleading, but Susie dishes out an array of gourmet cupcakes in addition to her famous cookies. Bite into a dulce de leche or cookies and cream cupcake and pair it with a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread for a truly satisfying dessert.

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Thimblecakes (Ottawa, ON)

Don’t let the name fool you, Thimblecakes bakes up anything but tiny, bite-size cakes. Custom cakes and cupcakes can be ordered ahead, but pop in during the week to get a mix of cupcakes with flavours ranging from red velvet and chocolate chip cookie dough to salted caramel tiramisu.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

DIY Packed Lunch Kits You’ll Actually Want to Eat

I blame my grade school days for my great distaste towards packed lunches. Day after day it was the same thing: The same plain sandwich with one slice of meat and no crust, and two boring snacks, which I’d usually eat at recess.

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Though I never lucked out with a pack of Dunkaroos or Gushers, my parent’s were still pretty good at pleasing a kid. I got a one-bite chocolate bar on occasion, or sometimes a few chips. My lunch aside, it was the other kids I had a problem with. There was the one who always had the stinky baloney sandwich, the smell in which would linger until afternoon recess, and the kid that would bring fettuccini alfredo and a carton of milk every Thursday. (Don’t tell me you didn’t just shiver.)

And now, we still don’t really have a choice but to bring packed lunches to work. Health-wise and money-wise, it just makes sense. And so, because none of us can eat the exact same thing every day, I’ve come up with an easy guide to help you choose healthy options guaranteed to keep you full all day long. Sure, you may think it’s a lot of food but it’s all about portions. Eating a little food all day long is a surefire way to keep you full without overdoing the calories.

Now, all you have to do is pick an item from each of the following lists, prep it, pack it, and you’re on your merry way. And yes, don’t worry, I have your sweet tooth covered too.

8 AM: For most of us, the idea of cooking a fabulous breakfast and actually sitting down to eat it is as foreign as leaving the house with wet hair. It just doesn’t happen. So, we resort to eating on the go. Choose one of these easily packable, easy to eat snacks that go perfectly well with the two cups of coffee you always have time for.

  1. Organic wheat cereal, like Kashi’s.
  2. A whole wheat English muffin, toasted, with butter or jam (with no added sugar)
  3. A homemade breakfast bar under 150 cals, like our Peanut Butter Bar version.

10 AM: Your coffee’s done, you still have a few more hours until lunch, but you’re hungry. Or, you’re looking for an excuse to take a break from work for a bit. Fair enough! I’ve got you covered with morning fruit options:

  1. An apple.
  2. A scoop of fruit salad (try our version with a savoury dressing)
  3. A small serving of fruit, granola and Greek yogurt.

1 PM: You made it! It’s lunchtime. That thing you’ve been looking forward to all morning? Ya, it’s here. And we have three lunch options all delicious, and all healthy.

  1. A salad with asparagus, radish, avocado, spring green mix, and any other veggies you’d like to add. This is the fastest option, so if you’re short on time while preparing your lunch before work, go with this.
  2. A little more extravagant, but totally filling, a turkey sandwich on a whole wheat bun is a great option.
  3. The BLTA: Just grab a whole wheat wrap, arrange bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado in it, and you’re done.

3 PM: Right about now, that darn sweet tooth starts acting up. This is the little kick we need to get us through the day, and it’s perfectly fine to indulge in something sweet, as long as this privilege is not abused, Meaning, no, I am not advising you to eat a whole dark chocolate bar, I’m talking about just a square or two.

  1. A small piece of dark chocolate (the darker you can go, the better!).
  2. 1 small cookie, like our chewy oatmeal cookies with apricots and pumpkin seeds.
  3. A small rice crispy square (do it right, and it can only be 150 calories).

5 PM: Some of us may still have another hour of work to put in, and some of us may have a super long commute home ahead of us. So, better take a little snack to hold you over until dinner, just so you’re not tempted to pick up a doughnut… or something.

  1. Fruit and cashew trail mix.
  2. Raw natural almonds.
  3. Light hummus with carrot and celery sticks.

11 Ways with Eggs, Ham and Cheese

Egg-cellent things happen when you make breakfast for dinner, so throw the meal plan a curveball and whip up one of these delicious egg, ham and cheese recipes for dinner tonight!

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1. Easy Veggie and Ham Supper Recipe

2. A Wicked Broken Egg Recipe

3. 6-Minute Egg on Creamy Polenta with Crispy Serrano Ham Recipe

4. Ham Hock, Cheese and Egg Pie Recipe

5. Ham and Egg Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe

6. Green Eggs and Ham Recipe

7. Nests with Ham, Eggs and Swiss Cheese Recipe

8. Phyllo Egg Cups with Ham and Cheese Recipe

9. Crepes Stuffed with Eggs, Cheddar, Ham and Vegetables Recipe

10. The Big Egg Monte Cristo Recipe

11. Ham Strata with Greek Salad Recipe

Quick and Easy Back-to-School Granola Bars

Granola bars never get old. If you’re back to school this week or just plain old back to work on Monday, granola bars are a great pick-me-up snack. Packed with nuts, seeds and oats these will help anyone get through their first week back to school.

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These granola bars are easily customizable—feel free to play with the fruit and nut combinations. Try chopped dried apricots or figs. Make your favourite combination of trail mix or try using almond butter instead.

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Ingredients:
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
3 cups trail mix
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp  ground ginger

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl combine oats, shredded coconut, and trail mix. In a small pot combine coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, lemon juice, peanut butter, cinnamon and ginger. Bring to a boil, let bubble for 4-5 minutes until slightly thickened. Pour over oat mixture and mix to coat evenly.
3. Pour mixture into a lined 9×13” baking dish. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing.

10 Fast Casual Restaurants You Need to Try in Canada

Describing an establishment as “upscale, fast and casual” doesn’t make the most sense. So, let’s think of this list as fast food joints that go the extra mile in terms of cooking from scratch and making a conscious effort to source quality ingredients. Yes, my friends, the fast casual movement is growing stronger in Canada with each passing week.

Here are 10 great places in Canada that can have you in and out in no time, while getting you still get your money’s worth with a delicious meal.

Ace Burger (Halifax, NS)

Ask anyone on the east coast and they’ll tell you that the fast food giants have certainly got nothing on Halifax’s leading quick service burger spot. Find beauty in their simplicity with Ace’s classic burger and the bacon cheeseburger, or kick convention to the curb and bite into a jerk chicken burger in a cornflake batter with coconut-chili mayo. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

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Banh Mi Boys

Banh Mi Boys (Toronto, ON)

Get your Asian food fix quick, fast and furious-style at this popular sandwich-focused shop with two locations in downtown Toronto. Naturally, there are the standard banh mi fillings like pork and chicken, but go out of the box and be pleasantly surprised with options like lemongrass tofu or an order of kimchi fries.

Go Fish Ocean Emporium (Vancouver, BC)

Head to this food stand to bite into some of the best crispy fish and chips this west coast city has to offer. With sustainability in mind, everything on the menu is fresh and caught with a conscious, which is something we should all appreciate.

Indochine (Halifax, NS)

In a similar vein as Banh Mi Boys and Watercress Express (see below), Indochine harnesses those robust Southeast Asian flavours in a variety of dishes, from noodle bowls and pho to fusion tacos, serving them all up in a quick-service environment. Once your meal is ready to go, head over to the Halifax Public Gardens to soak up the last few days of summer while you enjoy the tasty food.

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Mandy’s via Instagram

Mandy’s (Montreal, QC)

Quebec’s food mecca is well known for its love affair with foie gras, maple syrup and really, anything rich in general, but I think we all know we shouldn’t be eating (generalizing here) poutine, foie gras and smoked meat every day of the week.

Mandy’s is the popular salad bar staple of Montreal, a complete juxtaposition to the formerly mentioned, with a long list of greens-packed, to-go dishes like the Waldorf or smoked meat salad with “slaw” dressing. All right, so maybe the smoked meat is harder to escape than I thought.

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Tacofino via Instagram

Tacofino (Tofino, BC)

There are a few different Tacofino joints in Canada, which you can find in Tofino, Victoria and Vancouver, but nothing beats the one spot that started it all a few years back in one of the most western points of Canada. Technically a food truck, the business is more or less stationary and the menu is pleasantly simple. Freshly caught seafood, chicken or beef, served (mainly) in tacos or burritos.

Tractor Foods (Vancouver, BC)

Skip the subpar salad bar at your local grocer and pay Tractor a visit for all your fresh, vegetable-driven needs. With a long line-up of freshly made salads as colourful as the rainbow, you can have your pick between big bowls of quinoa and roasted mushrooms with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, orzo and feta, and a whole lot more. Fresh produce is arguably the main event here, but carnivores can still be appeased with chicken and steak salads, or sandwich options like roasted pork with apple and fennel slaw.

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Tres Carnales 

Tres Carnales (Edmonton, AB)

One of the original restaurants in Canada to embrace the contemporary taco trend — and also a You Gotta Eat Here! alumnus — Tres Carnales has won numerous accolades, both local and national, when it comes to their taco-making skills. Many people opt to sit down for a quick bite during lunch or dinner, but it’s just as easy to order a well-made Mexican meal to go.

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Took Tuk Thai

Tuk Tuk Thai (Calgary, AB)

Ordering pad Thai at a Thai restaurant is like ordering chicken fried rice when you’re getting Chinese takeout; a staple, but hardly anything ground breaking. Even though this come-and-go eatery on Calgary’s bustling 17th Avenue offers the famous dish, there’s so much more to enjoy on the menu here like the Moo Moo Lemon (barbecued pork shoulder in a chili lime dressing) or fried basa with eggplant. It’s going to be getting cooler soon, so grab a bowl of their beautifully aromatic tom yum soup to go.

One of the many highlights of dining at Tuk Tuk is the actual containers that your food comes in. Remove the sticker on top of the circular take-out box and it unfolds like a flower. Very cool!

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Watercress Express

Watercress Express (Calgary, AB)

Watercressexpress We are blessed to have so many Vietnamese restaurants across our beautiful country. True pho fanatics are always on the lookout for a bowl of noodles and broth, and I’d urge them all to try the sate pho here at Watercress. With a young, formally trained chef running the kitchen, this restaurant serves up everything that is to be expected of a traditional Vietnamese establishment, but with extreme attention to detail. Try a bowl of soup and a side order of the crispy fried wontons and you’ll see what I mean.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

8 Ways to Stretch Your Budget with Fridge Staples

We’re curious: how much money can you save on groceries if you really try to use the items lurking around — but still fresh — in your fridge?

Money-saving food tips often focus on pantry staples like pasta and beans, and we would never turn up our noses at a great pasta dish. But if you’re looking for new ideas or your cupboard is lean on beans, these ideas may fall flat after a week or two.

Consider this a refrigerator challenge. Chances are, you have random items in your fridge that don’t seem like meal-makers at the end of a busy day, and they eventually end up in the garbage, which is just as costly as takeout or fast foods that replace them — until now.

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1. Condiments

Have you ever found yourself saying, “we have no food” yet the door of your refrigerator is stocked with condiments? Or maybe you over-bought at the beginning of grilling season?

Different varieties of mustard, honey, vinegar, sauces and oils can easily be mixed into a homemade salad dressing: Begin by mixing roughly 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Mustards will emulsify or blend the dressing. Experiment with adding mustards (mustard will “emulsify” or blend and thicken), chopped fresh herbs, jam or marmalade, lemon juice, salt or garlic and adjust for flavour and acidity.

Experiment with condiments. Mixing them creates new and more intense flavours. Tartar sauce can be made with mayonnaise, sweet relish and lemon juice. Ketchup, mayonnaise and sweet relish blend to make a Thousand island-style dressing.

2. Cheese

Good quality cheese will make almost any meal taste great. Use Gorgonzola or feta to stuff chicken breasts before cooking them, or crumble it over salad greens and toss gently with some fresh berries.

Another great combination is crumbled goat cheese served with thickly sliced tomatoes and avocado, topped with your favourite vinaigrette. Or, marinate goat cheese with balsamic dressing and any fresh herbs. Serve with crusty bread or crackers and roasted or fresh veggies.

Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheeses are great refrigerator staples. Sprinkle some on vegetables before or after roasting, or toss into whole wheat pasta with some olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and watch it disappear.

3. Gourmet Grilled Cheese

You might have the makings of gourmet grilled cheese in your fridge and not even know it. A softer Monterey Jack or Gruyere is perfect for gooey grilled cheese or quesadillas.

Try one of these delicious combinations:

4. Eggs

If you have eggs, you can always make a meal. Cheese and herb omelettes and scrambled eggs with diced veggies are tasty and super easy.

A frittata, like Ina Garten’s Roasted Vegetable Frittata, helps clear out the fridge but involves a lot of chopping and dicing. So if you’re not up for a lot of work, try a big oven-cooked omelette instead.

You can also try poaching eggs and serving them over steamed spinach on toast — if you have smoked salmon on hand, even better.

5. Jams and Marmalades

If we took a collective peek into our refrigerators, spotting a half dozen jams, jellies and marmalades is probably a common thread. If you have raspberry, blueberry apricot or orange flavours on hand, use them to glaze salmon, pork or chicken.

Preserves, like Laura Calder’s Country Apricot Preserves, are also fantastic spread on pancakes or waffles (with maple syrup, of course).

6. Single Vegetables

Don’t let a single vegetable in your refrigerator get lonely — roasting it with some olive oil, salt and pepper is a quick route to a satisfying meal.

Another great tip for those lonely veggies is that you can combine almost any cooked vegetable — carrot, spinach, broccoli, potato, squash — with chicken broth and milk or cream if desired, and puree it into soup.

Try cutting a spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and microwaving it face-down in a dish with about an inch of water for approximately 9 minutes. Run a fork along the squash to create the “spaghetti” and toss with some olive oil, salt, pepper and a heaping spoonful of Parmesan cheese.

Add leftover steak or chicken to greens for a hearty salad, like a variation of Nicoise salad, a composed salad based on Provencal cooking, based on what’s in your fridge.

7. Chicken Broth — Braising

Chicken broth needs to be consumed within a few days after opening. If you’ve used a bit and now have leftovers, use it to braise meat for essential cold weather comfort food.

Braising essentially means slow cooking in liquid, where less expensive meat is actually better. Braising meat in broth makes one of the most tender, succulent meals and looks like it took a lot more effort than people may think.

Tougher cuts like shoulder, shanks, chuck and short ribs will give more flavour and texture. If you have leftover wine, carrots or potatoes, add them to your braising liquid as well. Braises both reheat and freeze beautifully, so try Michael Smith’s Apple Braised Pork or Chicken and Mushroom Stew and we bet your family or guests will sing the praises of your braises.

8. Lemons

A squeeze of lemon can brighten up any dish — and they can be handy in many ways:

– Lemon zest can be grated or shaved into sauces, over fish or chicken and pasta — it often adds more flavour (and colour) than the juice.
– Add both zest and juice to cooked pasta and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh basil if you have it and Parmesan cheese for a delicious (and rather healthy) weeknight meal.
Dress salad greens — some olive oil and lemon juice is all you need.
Don’t forget about dessert — lemon zest can be sprinkled over vanilla ice cream, yogurt or fruity desserts.
Have an avocado? Toast some slices of bread, tortillas or bagels, spread on some mashed avocado and top with lemon juice and a hint of pepper.

We’re interested to find out what you always keep in your fridge — how do you turn it into a simple meal? Let us know in the comments below!

10 Classic Potato Recipes Everyone Should Master

Make your spuds extra special with these tested-to-perfection preparations that are so versatile, you’ll be enjoying potatoes every day of the week.

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1. Easy Cheesy Casserole

Cube several potatoes and boil until soft. Place in a casserole dish with 1 cup each sour cream, cottage cheese and onion. Mix together and top with one cup cheddar cheese then bake in the oven at 350°F for 30-40 minutes.

Try The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Twice Baked Potato Casserole

2. Baked Sherry Spuds

Put a twist on your typical baked potato. Make several cuts in the potato and add a few slices of onion and pats of butter. Use aluminum foil to create a bowl for the potato to sit in, then pour a bit of cooking sherry over the potato, seal the foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Try this recipe for Little Potato Salad with Sherry, Grainy Mustard and Parsley

3. Steamy Potato Salad

Turn a summertime favourite into a holiday hit. Using your trusted creamy cold potato salad recipe, follow as instructed, but make right before serving or prepare everything but the potatoes ahead of time. Add warm potatoes, mix and
serve.

Try Laura Calder’s recipe for Warm Potato Salad

4. Mashed and Squashed Potatoes

Add 1 cup of canned pureed pumpkin or fresh pureed squash to your mashed potato recipe for a hit of flavour and colour.

Try this recipe for Shepherd’s Pie with “Squashed” Potatoes

5. Double-Baked Squash Potatoes

Boil a butternut or acorn squash, scoop out the pulp and mash with the potato pulp, then replace it into the potato skins, following any double-baked potato recipe.

Try Michael Smith’s recipe for Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

6. Chip Trip

Perfect as a side dish at lunch or as a snack, these chips are a cinch to make. Thinly slice Yukon gold potatoes and shake with olive oil in a freezer bag. Lay the slices flat on a plate and cook in the microwave until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with salt and let sit until cool and crunchy.

Try this recipe for Oven Roasted Potato Chips with Rosemary and Rock Salt

7. Potato Pouches

Follow your recipe for mashed potatoes, adding onion and shredded cheese. On a flour or corn soft tortilla, spoon potato mixture, fold, and grill in a frying pan until crispy.

Try this recipe for Garlic and Parsley Mashed Potatoes and then place them on a tortilla of your choosing.

8. Potato Loaf

Skin and mash potatoes adding two eggs, onion, shredded cheddar cheese and any spices you like. Place in a loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 90 minutes. Remove, cool and serve for a slice of nostalgia.

Try Anna Olson’s recipe for Potato Parmesan Focaccia

9. Sweet Potato Pancakes

Add 3/4 cup mashed sweet potato and a dash of nutmeg to your typical pancake recipe for a breakfast treat. Pour maple syrup and serve.

Try Alton Brown’s recipe for Sweet Potato Waffles — you can use the batter for pancakes, too!

10. Crispy Potato Skins

Instead of tossing the skins you peeled from your potatoes, lay them on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle with olive oil and your favourite seasonings, then bake until crispy for a spicy snack.

Try this recipe for Grilled Potato Skins with Provolone, Bacon and Sour Cream

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Sometimes you just have to stick to a classic! I had the urge to make the banana bread I remember eating as a kid at my grandma’s house. But I definitely don’t have her recipe lying around and it certainly wouldn’t have been vegan, so I figured it out. This is a moist and delicious chocolate chip banana bread you can bake up on the weekend or give to someone special.

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Ingredients:
1 Tbsp ground flax
3 Tbsp water
1 1/2 cups spelt flour (or whole wheat flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 ripe bananas
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 tsp coconut sugar, for topping (optional)

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Directions:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 375°F.
2. Whisk together ground flax and water. Let it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes to thicken.
3. Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, sea salt and cinnamon. Stir with a fork until well combined.
4. In a separate mixing bowl mash the ripe bananas to a puree. Then add in vanilla extract, melted coconut oil, non-dairy milk, coconut sugar, and the thickened flax mixture. Stir together until well combined.
5. Add the wet mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and gently fold together until just combined, careful not to over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
6. Transfer the mixture to an 8 x 4″ bread pan greased with a small pea size amount of coconut oil. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp coconut sugar on the top (optional).
7. Bake at 375°F for 50-55 mins. Stick a long skewer or toothpick in the centre to check if it’s done. It should come out relatively clean. Allow the banana bread to cool out of the pan on a rack before cutting into slices or wrapping.

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The Panfried Pickerel That’s so Canadian

By Patrick Hearn, as told to Devon Scoble

Patrick Hearn and Kent Rumpel live in Saskatoon’s Riversdale neighbourhood and co-own the Park Cafe and Diner, which has been credited with revitalizing the once-rundown area. One of their most popular weekend dishes is panfried pickerel, something Patrick remembers eating on fishing trips with his dad in northwestern Ontario. While it was Kent who tweaked and perfected the recipe for the diner’s customers, the dish is still made in Patrick’s grandmother’s cast-iron pan.

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Between the ages of seven and 17, I lived in a small mining town in northwestern Ontario. My mum had taken a millwright maintenance course for mechanical at the mine; she was one of the first women in Canada to be a millwright maintenance mechanic—all while raising seven children! So my dad did all the cooking throughout the week, then on weekends, my mum would do all the baking and all the stuff for our lunches.

My mum was pretty creative as a cook, often using cheaper cuts of meat to make stuff go farther. She has an English background, so we’d have pigs in a blanket, Swiss steak and steak-and-kidney pies. My dad was a pretty good cook, too, but he was more of a meat-loaf-and-mushroom-gravy or spaghetti-and-sauce kind of guy. He learned what he knew from his mother, my Grandma Hearn, who was also an excellent cook.

My dad made panfried pickerel for us kids as a shore lunch when we were fishing. He’d heat up potatoes left over from last night’s dinner and fry up a few eggs. He’d catch fresh pickerel from the lake, clean it lakeside, then panfry it with the eggs and potatoes for a delicious lunch.

The fried pickerel recipe we use at the Park Cafe is actually Kent’s. It’s something we’d done one weekend that people really enjoyed. The fish is seasoned and floured on both sides, then panfried in my Grandma Hearn’s cast-iron pan and served with eggs, hash browns and toast. This cast-iron frying pan is something we’ve used in countless ways my whole life. I’ve even turned it into a running joke over the years: “101 uses for Grandma’s frying pan!” Through the week, the panfried pickerel isn’t a big seller, but on Sundays, it just goes.

Growing up, we ate meals accompanied by lots of gravies and sauces and pastas—comfort food, I would call it. And home-cooked comfort food is what the Park Cafe is about. It kept Grandma Hearn alive until 92, so hopefully by eating the way she did, I’m going to be around for a long time!

Park Cafe and Diner’s Panfried Pickerel, courtesy of Kent Rumpel

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients
6 to 8 oz (170 to 225 g) pickerel fillet
pinch sea salt
pinch freshly ground pepper
? cup (75 mL) (approx.) flour
1½ tbsp (20 mL) clarified butter
lemon wedges

Directions
1. Lightly season fillet with salt and pepper.
2. Cover a plate with flour; dredge each side of fillet to lightly coat.
3. Melt clarified butter in cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; panfry fillet for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Flip and fry on other side until golden brown and fish flakes easily.
5. Top with freshly squeezed lemon, or try it with hollandaise sauce. Serve for breakfast with eggs, hash browns and toast.

Click here to print, save or share this Panfried Pickerel recipe.

Do you have a delicious dish to share with the rest of Canada? Submit your recipe for a chance to be featured on Great Canadian Cookbook and Food Network Canada!