Category Archives: Great Canadian Cookbook

Michael Smith's wild blueberry grunt with cardamom dumplings and fresh basil from Farm, Fire & Feast: Recipes from the Inn at Bay Fortune

Celebrate East Coast Flavour With Michael Smith’s Blueberry Grunt With Cardamom Dumplings

On Prince Edward Island, if you get one or two country roads off the highway and go down some dirt lane, chances are you’ll stumble onto a distinctive crimson-hued wild blueberry field. They are a wonderful addition to our agricultural landscape. Unlike their big bland berry-basket brethren (a high-bush blueberry hybrid grown year-round in warm climes), these wild northern plants grow low to the ground and produce smaller fruit with much more intense flavour. And lots of them. So many wild blueberries that Island cooks traditionally had enough to simmer into a delectable stew, often with maple syrup and bright lemon. Dumplings would then be baked or simmered in the stew. Our twist of fresh basil was not traditional, but if you try it once, you’ll discover one of our favourite farm flavours for dessert. Blueberries and basil are delicious together, and cardamom loves basil too. You can reliably find wild blueberries in the frozen fruit section of your favourite supermarket.

Michael Smith's wild blueberry grunt with cardamom dumplings and fresh basil from Farm, Fire & Feast: Recipes from the Inn at Bay Fortune

Related: How to Add Anti-Oxidant Rich Blueberries to Your Diet

Wild Blueberry Grunt With Cardamom Dumpling and Fresh Basil

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

Blueberry Stew
4 cups (1 L) fresh or frozen wild blueberries
1 cup (250 mL) pure maple syrup
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh basil, tightly rolled and thinly sliced

Cardamom Dumplings
4 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
2 tsp (10 mL) ground cardamom
¼ cup (60 mL) butter, frozen
¾ cup (175 mL) whole milk

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Fresh Herbs and Their Best Uses

Directions: 

1. For the Blueberry Stew, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Turn on the convection fan if you have one. (Alternatively, to cook on the stovetop, start the stew but instead of reducing it, add the dumplings, cover tightly, and simmer until they’re tender and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a dumpling comes out clean, 15 minutes.)

2. Toss the blueberries, maple syrup, and lemon zest and juice into a large, heavy skillet. Bring to a full boil over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and reduced by half or so. Remove from the heat.

3. For the Cardamom Dumplings, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cardamom. Grate the butter into the mixture through the large holes of a box grater and evenly mix in the shards with your fingers. Pour in the milk and stir the mixture into a smooth dough. Using a spoon or your hands, divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Nestle the dough into the blueberry stew. Bake until the dumplings are tender and lightly browned, 20 minutes. Serve with lots of fresh basil sprinkled on top.

Excerpted from Farm, Fire & Feast: Recipes from the Inn at Bay Fortune by Michael Smith Copyright © 2021 Michael Smith. Photography by Al Douglas. Published by Penguin Canada®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Farm, Fire & Feast: Recipes from the Inn at Bay Fortune, Amazon, $30.

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The Sweet Prairie History of Girl Guide Cookies

When the Girl Guides of Canada come a-knockin’, the gut reaction for many Canadians is to pull out their wallet and loosen their belts. Few Canucks can resist a box (or two) of Girl Guide cookies, famed for their chocolate and vanilla icing, squeezed between crunchy cookie layers.

But did you know that the now famous cookies were invented on the Canadian Prairies? It started in 1927, when one Girl Guide leader in Regina, Saskatchewan baked and packaged batches of cookies for her troupe to sell, hoping to raise funds for uniforms and camping equipment. Little did she know that her tasty treats would kick off a feeding frenzy spanning close to a century! Seeing the sales of the Regina troupe, Girl Guides of Canada joined the party in 1929, making  cookie sales the official fundraising activity for the organization.

However, the types of treats have evolved throughout the decades, starting with vanilla creme, maple cream and shortbread cookies in 1946. It wasn’t until 1953 that the classic chocolate and vanilla-flavoured sandwich cookies first made a cameo on the sweets scene. Finally, in 1995, a new kid on the block was born: crunchy, chocolatey cookies with a cool mint filling. But one thing hasn’t changed; the cookie craze across Canada continues almost 100 years later, with several million boxes of cookies sold in Ontario alone. If the boxes were laid down on a road, it would reach from Windsor to Timmins. That’s a lot of cookie love!

DIY vegan Girl Guide thin mints

Get the recipe for Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan Thin Mint Cookies

Ever since Girl Guides started selling door-to-door, Girl Guide cookies have become one of Canada’s best-loved food traditions — one that’s held a special place in Canada’s culinary history. During the Gulf War in the 1990s, every Canadian soldier was given a box of cookies upon arrival in Saudi Arabia and there are photographs of Canadian astronaut (and former Girl Guide) Roberta Bondar juggling vanilla and chocolate cookies in space.

The best part? Snacking on these crunchy and creamy cookies benefits more than your belly. The dough (no pun intended) goes towards supporting Girl Guides of Canada’s programming, which provides opportunities for girls to discover, explore, be adventurous and make a difference, while building the leadership and life skills.

Do you want more delicious Canadian food history? We roundup the history of Classic Canadian foods, from poutine to Hawaiian pizza.

Published March 16, 2017, Updated March 1, 2021

This Venison Carpaccio With Cedar Jelly and Sea Buckthorn Jam is the Perfect Appetizer

Not only does cooking reflect culture, but it also reveals the resources found in a community’s surrounding environment. I discovered a love for food as a child, later combining my passion for cooking with the desire to know the history and cuisine of the First Nations peoples better. This is the inspiration behind my dishes.

I work with foragers and hunters in northern Québec who supply me with exceptional products such as wild cattails and currant leaves. My venison carpaccio recipe, which includes cedar jelly and a sea buckthorn jam, is a great example of my cooking technique. Slices of the freshest venison are garnished with the boreal flavours of cedar and sea buckthorn, a tart vitamin C–rich berry that can be found fresh or frozen at specialty markets.

At its essence, my work is focused on adapting the traditional pantry of an ancient culture to modern tastes. For the First Nations, respect for Mother Earth is paramount. By staying in harmony with nature, my recipes permit me to rediscover forgotten flavours that long served as a cuisine of survival. The Canadian wilderness has so much to offer: spices, herbs, flowers, mushrooms and roots, plus boreal nutmeg, peppery green alder (or dune pepper), wood cardamom, serviceberry, wild celery root and the Labrador tea, a tisane of local herbs. These are the colours in my palette of Indigenous cuisine.

Venison-Carpaccio-With-Cedar-Jelly-and-Sea-Buckthorn-Jam_888embed

Venison Carpaccio With Cedar Jelly and Sea Buckthorn Jam

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Sea Buckthorn Jam
1 lb (600 g) sea buckthorn berries, rinsed
14 oz (400 g) apples, diced
17½ oz (500 g) sugar

Venison
12 thin slices venison
2 Tbsp (30 ml) cedar jelly
2 tsp (10 ml) duck fat
Fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper to taste
Microgreens for garnish (optional)

Related: Holiday Party Appetizers Your Guests Will Love

Directions:

1. In a saucepan with splash of water, cook sea buckthorn berries over low heat until they burst.

2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into clean saucepan then discard seeds. Add apples to berry mixture and stir in sugar. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, skimming any foam that forms on the surface. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Place venison on serving dish. Brush each slice with cedar jelly and duck fat, then sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper. Garnish with sea buckthorn jam and microgreens.

Published October 13, 2015, Updated December 28, 2020

Eggs benny with peameal bacon

The History of Peameal Bacon — Plus Our Favourite Recipes

Canadians know peameal bacon as an iconic national breakfast food, but the back bacon’s backstory is even richer than its flavour. For those who don’t know, peameal bacon is wet-cured pork loin from the back of the hog that has been trimmed of fat and rolled in cornmeal, creating a yellow crust.  Originally, it was rolled in crushed yellow peas, hence the name peameal. It is much leaner than regular bacon.

White plate with three pieces of peameal bacon

Peameal bacon holds a spot in 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die and it’s easy to understand why. The brining process makes it nearly impossible to overcook and it’s both leaner and juicer than regular bacon. A uniquely Canadian product, it’s often confused with Canadian bacon. What is Canadian bacon? A smoked back bacon that’s popular in the US — and isn’t Canadian at all.

These days, it’s hard to find peameal bacon outside of Canada, making it a favourite with tourists at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. The Carousel Bakery, which has occupied the same spot in the market since 1977, is a city landmark famous for its fresh peameal bacon sandwiches.

Related: The History of Cakes: From Red Velvet to German Chocolate

Robert Biancolin, who co-owns the bakery with his brother, dubs peameal bacon Toronto’s most original food. “It wasn’t brought here from somewhere else,” he says. “It is very uniquely Torontonian. Of course, like poutine was uniquely Quebecois, it spread across the country. It is one of those dishes that encompasses being Canadian. It is part of our tradition.”

Unlike Canadian bacon (which is, let’s not forget, American) peameal bacon must be cooked. Biancolin says the best way to prepare it is by griddling, although it can also be baked, barbecued or roasted.

Related: How to Make French Toast and Other Easy Big Breakfast Recipes

Peameal bacon is delicious, iconic and Canadian, but culinary historians have struggled to identify its origins with absolute certainty. “I don’t think that you’ll find a single origin story,” says Daniel Bender, director of Culinaria Research Centre and University of Toronto history professor. “There are and have been for centuries many ways of curing pork — ways of making it last through lean months. Smoking is one. Salting is another. Corning (curing through brine) exists in numerous locations and recipes.”

Toronto’s oral history offers a clue by naming pork baron William Davies the inventor of peameal bacon. This is the story that’s been passed down through muddy stockyards, told over deli counters and posted across the blogosphere — and while the well-told tale has likely changed over the years, that doesn’t mean it’s hogwash. What we do know is that William Davies forged an empire on bacon and other pork products.

William Davies stall, St. Lawrence Market, 1911

William Davies’ stall in the St. Lawrence Market, 1911.
City of Toronto Archives

By the early 1900s, with the help of business partner Joseph Flavelle, Davies had built what was believed to be the largest pork plant in the British Empire, processing nearly half a million hogs a year at his Front Street plant near the mouth of the Don River and earning Toronto its nickname: Hogtown.

Davies couldn’t have had better timing. By the Victorian era, bacon was considered a necessity and demand for the Canadian export was high. Canadian cured pork continued to be an important food product in Britain well into the Second World War, when the Bacon Agreement stipulated that the UK would accept no less than 5.6 million pounds of Canadian ham and bacon each week.

William Davies Store, interior, 1908

William Davies store interior, 1908. Sources differ on the store’s location, which was either in City Hall Square or on Queen Street West, between Bay and Yonge streets.

Changing dietary attitudes and demographics mean that Canadian pork isn’t as popular with Brits — or Canadians — as it once was. Still, Davies’ legacy lives on. His company would eventually become today’s Maple Leaf Foods, which still produces peameal bacon for national consumption.

Meanwhile, the St. Lawrence Market remains a hub for cured meats and other delicacies. Locals, tourists and celebrities continue to flock to the market,  going hog wild for Toronto’s most original food.

Peameal eggs benny

Feeling inspired? Here are some of our favourite recipes that use peameal bacon: Anna Olson’s Eggs Benedict With Peameal Bacon on Scallion Waffles and Tomato Cream, Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich and Maple Bourbon Peameal Bacon Sliders.

Published March 29, 2016, Updated December 20, 2020

Photos courtesy of Getty Images and City of Toronto Archives

Halifax Donair

The Delicious History of the Halifax Donair

The next time you’re in Halifax, skip the lobster boil and go straight to the pizza shop instead. After all, that’s where you’ll find the city’s official snack: the Halifax donair.

Unless you’re a native Bluenoser, you may never have tasted this popular late-night snack, and experienced the unavoidable drip of garlicky donair sauce down your chin. The sloppy sandwich is a pita filled with spit roasted shaved beef, served with tomatoes and onions, slathered in the signature sauce.

“It’s spicy, eaten normally at midnight,” says Alain Bossé, a top chef from Pictou, Nova Scotia and ambassador of all things culinary in Atlantic Canada. “After a long night out, you line up at a pizza corner in Halifax. It’s a great hangover food!”

Related: 10+ Canadian First Nations Recipes to Make at Home

Halifax Donair

As the story goes, the Halifax donair was first invented in the 1970s by Peter Gamoulakos. Originally from Greece, he started selling Greek gyros (a pita stuffed with grilled lamb and tzatziki) from his restaurant located off the Bedford Highway. But the sandwich just didn’t jive with the East Coast’s “meat and potatoes” palate.

Swapping lamb for beef, the brothers whipped up a sweet “donair sauce” and tried again. This time, however, a feeding frenzy erupted and Halifax’s signature dish was born. The late-night favourite has become so popular that in 2015, Halifax city council voted to make it the city’s official food.

Related: The Sticky-Sweet History of the Butter Tart

“There’s something about this dish that’s unique to Atlantic Canada,” says Chef Alain Bossé. “People will drive miles for a donair!”

Today, almost every pizza place in the province sells the sloppy and sumptuous late-night eat, some even selling more donairs than pies. Every East Coaster has a favourite spot, but The King of Donair and Tony’s Donair have long been local favourites. Both spots have been serving the snack since the 1970s. Recently though, donair-mania has infiltrated swankier eateries.

Garlic Fingers with Donair SauceGet the recipe for Garlic Fingers with Donair Sauce

“Now that Halifax has proclaimed the donair as the food of choice, restaurants and hotels are serving donairs,” says Chef Alain. “Some are serving miniature canapés with donair meat.”

Playful renditions aside, there are traditional techniques to making the beloved sandwich. First, spiced ground beef is moulded into an elongated log that’s roasted on a spit. The donair meat is then shaved, sautéed and stuffed into a pita, along with fresh tomatoes, raw onions, and a special sweet sauce made with sweetened condensed milk, vinegar and garlic powder. As Chef Alain says, it’s adding the donair sauce that makes it.

“The sweet sauce is what makes a difference between a donair and a gyro,” he says. “My favourite? Sam’s Pizza in New Glasgow. They make their own pita, so it’s always fresh and soft.”

Related: You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Tasted Butter Tart Cinnamon Buns

For decades, the Halifax donair largely remained a hidden treasure, scarcely found on menus outside Nova Scotia. But as more Nova Scotians started settling across the country and with the advent social media, there’s a growing appetite for this late-night nosh outside of the province. Canadian chefs are incorporating this trendy food item onto their menus and even getting creative with the recipe.

Donair PizzaGet the recipe for Donair Pizza

“The donair sauce is being used as an add-on,” says Chef Alain. “A lot of burger places are making burgers with donair sauce. There’s also pepperoni pizza with donair sauce.”

If you’re looking to truly replicate the original recipe, Mr. Donair — once the Gamoulakos brothers’ company — sells a do-it-yourself Halifax Donair kit, complete with pita bread, donair sauce and a pound of donair meat. The kits are sold in grocery stores, frequently used by chefs, and are gaining popularity in every nook and cranny of Canada.

Related: The History of Peameal Bacon — Plus Our Favourite Recipes

“Those kits are really starting to infiltrate the camps in Fort McMurray!” says Chef Alain. “With the kit, sauté the meat in a frying pan, crisping it. Then stuff your pita and just eat away.”

Once the key ingredients are ready to go, get busy adding your own influence to this classic Canadian dish. However, Chef Alain says to stick with some of the core ingredients: “It’s not a donair unless there are onions and tomatoes. And make sure to grill your pita!”

Celebrate Summertime With These Creative S’mores Butter Tarts

What do you get when you combine two classic Canadian desserts? The ultimate summertime treat: s’mores butter tarts! These feature a classic butter tart filling along with the three components of a s’more: milk chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows. Get the campfire songs ready — this dessert doesn’t disappoint.

S’mores Butter Tarts Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Servings: 18 s’mores butter tarts

Ingredients:

Crust
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ tsp fine salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
¼ cup ice water

Filling
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup corn syrup
1 large egg, whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch fine salt
½ cup chopped milk chocolate, plus more for topping
1 cup mini marshmallows
Graham cracker crumbs, for topping

Directions:

Crust
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs and salt. Using your hands, work in the butter until a crumbly mixture is formed.

2. Add the ice water and mix until dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc.

3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.

Related: Our Best Great Canadian Butter Tart Recipes

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut dough into 18 circles and shape into a muffin pan. If using a larger muffin pan, cut dough into 12 circles. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Filling
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, corn syrup, egg, vanilla and salt until well blended. Transfer to a pourable measuring cup.

3. Sprinkle a few pieces of chocolate in each tart shell. Evenly divide filling amongst the shells. The tarts should be ¾ of the way full.

4. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and crust is golden.

5. Remove from the oven and top with marshmallows. Just before serving, broil the tarts for 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. Top with a sprinkle of graham crackers and shaved chocolate. Enjoy!

Want more fun summertime treats? These Nanaimo bar popsicles and strawberry rhubarb cheesecake pastry pockets are so delish.

butter tarts without icings in white baking dish.

You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Tasted Butter Tart Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon buns are delicious. It’s just my opinion, but I haven’t found a single soul who disagrees. The warm, buttery, fluffy buns are hard to say ‘no’ to (anyone who does has an inordinate amount of willpower!).  I know this is going to sound crazy, but this recipe makes the traditional cinnamon bun yesterday’s news. We take your grandma’s cinnamon buns to a whole new level by adding a butter tart filling. Gorgeous buns are baked in a sweet mess, so when they’re flipped, they drip with butter tart goodness. You’re welcome!

Related: You’ll Jump Out of Bed for These Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Butter Tart Cinnamon Buns

How to Make Butter Tart Cinnamon Buns

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: about 4 hours
Makes: 12 buns

Ingredients:
Dough:
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8g packet dry active yeast
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
4 – 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Butter Tart Glaze:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt

Filling:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Directions:
1. Warm buttermilk over low heat until just slightly warmer than room temperature.

2. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix sugar into buttermilk and add yeast. Let stand until mixture becomes foamy on the surface, about 10 minutes.

Related: How to Make The Perfect Banana Bread Every Time (Plus Freezing Tips and a Recipe!)

3. Add in butter and eggs and stir to combine. Add in flour, 1 cup at a time until a soft, pliable dough forms. If dough is tacky, continue adding flour until smooth.

4. Form dough into a ball and transfer into a large greased bowl. Set in a warm place and cover with a dish towel. Let dough rise until double in size, about 1 hour 30 minutes – 2 hours.

5. To make the butter tart glaze, mix all the ingredients in a bowl until combined. Pour into a large baking dish.

6. To make the filling, mix cinnamon and sugar. Place dough onto floured surface and roll into a 20 x 12 inch rectangle.

Related: White Chocolate Funfetti Cookies Make for the Perfect Emergency Cookie Stash

7. Spread butter edge to edge on the dough and sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over top. Roll from the longer edge of the rectangle until a large snake is formed.

8. Cut 12 equal portions from the roll and arrange in baking dish with butter tart filling. Cover with a dish towel and let rise until buns have doubled in size, about 1 hour.

9. While buns are rising, preheat oven to 350°F. Bake until golden brown and baked through, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

10. Serve each bun flipped so the butter tart bottom is on top.

Butter Tart Cinnamon Buns

Looking for more baking inspiration? Here are our top chocolate chip cookie recipes and comforting baking project ideas (from sourdough to cream puffs) that deserve a pat on the back.

The Perogie Recipe 85 Years in the Making

Mary Didur was born in 1925 on a farm in Wakaw, SK, about 90 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. The child of Ukrainian immigrants, she grew up eating — and cooking — dishes with Eastern European flavour. At 18, Didur attended cosmetology school in Saskatoon, then found work at the local hair salon. After the war, she met her future husband, John, at a community hall dance. A modern woman, she continued to work after getting married and having two children, eventually opening her own salon, La Chez Marie. Here, this Saskatoon grandmother shares with us her famous recipe for perogies.

perogies on blue platter with side of sour cream

“The first time I made perogies, I was probably five or six years old,” says Mary. “I learned in the old-fashioned kitchen of the farmhouse where I grew up one of eight children: two girls and six boys. There was a spare table where we used to roll out the dough. I found it fun; kids like to work with dough.”

“The recipe has gone through so many changes,” Mary explains. I actually got my basic recipe from a friend and she got it from somebody else. Each time it has changed hands, it has been improved. My mother probably got her recipe from her mother, in Ukraine.”

Related: Tasty Dumplings Recipes From Around the World

“When my mother was making the dough, she used just flour, water and salt. Today, I use milk and oil and sometimes an egg, too, and that makes a difference; you get a richer dough. My mother taught me that the dough must be soft, and not pasty; we used to work with it to make it smooth with good elasticity.”

“At that time, my mother made her own cottage cheese, and we’d use it as a stuffing, mixed with potatoes and onions sautéed in butter. Now, I do a mix of cottage cheese and cheddar. Mother wouldn’t have had access to cheddar; she used what she had. We now eat them with mushroom sauce and sour cream, or bacon bits and onions. They accompany a meal, like you could have fried chicken with perogies and mushroom sauce instead of potatoes.”

“You can stuff perogies with all kinds of things. It was a tradition in our family to have poppyseed rolls at Christmastime, and one time I had leftover poppyseeds, so I tried making a perogie filling with those and some honey. They didn’t go over so well! I’d say Saskatoon berries or plums are especially delicious as a filling. Perogies are just a bit harder to make with fruit, because of all the juices.”

“We’d eat regular perogies at least once every two weeks when I was growing up. It was lively at family dinnertimes with all those people at the table. And the next day, if there were any leftover perogies, we’d fight about who could deep-fry them to eat as a snack.”

“With all those unmarried boys still living at home there were a lot of perogies to make for one sitting. When boys over the age of 15 eat them, they’ll eat at least 20 each. Today, my granddaughter is married to a man who has a 15-year-old boy, and the last time they were here, they had a competition to see who could eat the most perogies. He ate 32. Still, 20 is the average.”

“My two sons didn’t ever learn to make perogies; they just ate them. But my granddaughter, who is now in her 30s, learned in her teens. Every time she used to come over, she’d say, “Grandma, no perogies?” So one day, I told her she’d better learn to make them with me the next time she visited. And she did. She really loves them.”

Grandma Mary’s Perogies With Potato-Cheese Filling

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 ¾ hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 100 small perogies

Watch the how-to video here:


Ingredients:

Dough
4½ cups flour
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp salt

Potato-Cheese Perogie Filling
6 large red-skinned potatoes (not baking potatoes), peeled and halved
4 to 6 oz medium cheddar cheese
1 medium onion, diced, sauteed in butter
Salt and white pepper to taste
½ cup dry cottage cheese (“not the sloppy kind” says Mary)

Directions:

Dough
1. Mix together flour, oil, milk, water and salt. Knead dough until smooth. Let stand for 30 to 60 minutes.

2. With rolling pin, roll out really thin. Cut dough into squares. (I prefer to make smaller perogies, so they’re 2 x 2 inches/5 x 5 cm.) Spoon about 1 tbsp (15 mL) of potato-cheese filling onto each square. Fold dough into triangle and pinch edge closed to seal in filling.

3. Add to pot of boiling water. Once floating, cook for 1 to 1½ minutes.

Potato-Cheese Perogie Filling

1. Boil potatoes as you would for mashed potatoes. Drain.

2. While potatoes are hot, stir in cheddar. Cover until cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

3. Stir in sautéed onion; using potato masher, mash until smooth. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Using clean cloth, squeeze out all moisture from cottage cheese. Stir into potato mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Published September 21, 2015, Updated February 1, 2020

Make-Ahead Baked Stuffing Recipe That Will Satisfy Every Time

I learned from a very young age that it’s not a proper turkey dinner without bread stuffing on the table. Forget the cranberry sauce and you might be forgiven. Do roasted potatoes instead of mashed and my dad would probably thank you (he never liked mashed anyway). But don’t make stuffing and you’ll suffer the sad, empty eyes of everyone around the table. After all, what exactly is the point of a turkey dinner without stuffing?

When I made my first turkey dinner, I learned pretty quickly that the turkey cavity is just not big enough for the amount of cubed bread, diced veggies and spices that can be consumed in one sitting. I saw the empty eyes that year. I have been making stuffing outside the bird with my own recipe ever since.

Related: The Tastiest Ways to Use All That Leftover Turkey 

This moist, delicious stuffing can be made ahead of time to free up oven space for that great big side dish – the turkey. The best part is that doing the stuffing outside the bird means I can make a whole lot of it. That way my holiday table is always surrounded by people with satisfied bellies and happy eyes.

Written by Amy Bronee

Simple Oven-Baked Stuffing Recipe

Courtesy of Amy Bronee, familyfeedbag.com, Victoria BC

Make this stuffing the day before Thanksgiving to save yourself some precious time – and sanity!

OvenBakedStuffing_888embed

Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes
Yields: 8-10 servings

Ingredients
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
2 cups (500 mL) diced yellow onions
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced carrots
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced celery
2 Tbsp (30 mL) poultry seasoning
2 tsp (10 mL) dried rosemary (or 2 tbsp/30 mL chopped fresh rosemary)
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper
18 cups (4.5 L) white or brown sandwich bread, cubed (no need to dry it out first)
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) chicken or turkey stock

Related: Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes, From Turkey to Stuffing

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180° C).
2. Melt butter in large soup pot or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until beginning to soften.
3. Stir in poultry seasoning, rosemary, salt and pepper. Continue cooking 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
4. In two batches, add bread cubes to pot, stirring to evenly distribute seasonings and veggies. Pour in stock and stir. Transfer to large baking dish, such as lasagna pan. Cover with foil.
5. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes. Serve immediately or, if making ahead, cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat before serving.

Related: Repurpose Leftover Stale Bread With These Comforting Recipes

Family Feedbag
Amy Bronee is the writer and photographer behind the award-winning home cooking blog FamilyFeedbag.com. Amy has earned several awards and recognitions, including a Jamie Oliver blog of the month award, and being named one of Canada’s “Top 40 Foodies Under 40” by Western Living magazine. Amy’s first cookbook, The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes, was published by Penguin Canada in June.

bagged milk in bags sitting on grocery store shelf

Why Do Canadians Drink Bagged Milk?

Oh, Canada! As proud Canucks, we certainly have our share quirky traits and tastes, from profusely apologizing with “soar-ee” to our love of ketchup chips, butter tarts and poutine. But did you know that bagged milk is also a uniquely Canadian invention?

Believe it or not, milk bags have been in Canadian fridges since the 1970s, selling mainly in Ontario, Québec and the Maritimes. Each package contains three un-resealable plastic pouches filled with milk, equaling 4 litres total. Insert a single bag into a pitcher, snip off the corner and start pouring. Then put the pitcher back in the fridge, until you need it next.

It wasn’t always this easy. Until the late 1960s, milk was packaged in heavy, breakable glass bottles, racking up big bills for the dairy industry to transport. Soon, alternatives started arriving on the market, such as cardboard cartons, plastic jugs and eventually, plastic bags.

As the story goes, DuPont, a Canadian food and packaging company, unveiled thin, plastic bags that could be used to store and sell milk in 1967. Gradually, the dairy industry began ditching glass bottles and adopting this newfangled plastic pouch, which was far more practical and cost-efficient. Plus, Canada’s conversion to the metric system in the 1970s made the switch a no-brainer: while plastic jugs and cardboard cartons had to be redesigned and manufactured to be sold in metric units, plastic bags could easily be re-sized.

Related: The Delicious History of Classic Canadian Foods, From Poutine to Hawaiian Pizza

But we’re not the only ones in the world who are rocking the plastic udder. Milk bags can be found in many other countries, such as South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, Hungary and China. In Israel, there’s a Kankomat: soft, plastic milk bags with a knife built into a plastic container. So when it comes to milk, Canadians may march to the beat of their own drum, but there are many other nations playing alongside in the band.

These days, Canadians are doing some cool things with discarded “milk bladders.” Milkbags Unlimited, a volunteer network across the Greater Toronto Area, recycles milk bags into sleeping mats. Every adult-sized mat is made with approximately 400 milk bags, which are cleaned and cut into strips. Volunteers loop and fit each bag onto a frame, weaving it into the mattress that has a lifespan of approximately 25 years. In addition to the mats, milk bags are also used to stuff pillows and to weave into handbags. The milk bag mats offer a durable and washable alternative to sleeping on cold, damp, and dusty ground, and have particularly helped people living in disaster zones. When resources are scarce, health care professionals have even used these mattresses as substitutes for operating tables. Talk about MacGyver-style upcycling.

Related: The Delicious History of the Halifax Donair

So the next time you snip off the corner of a milk bag, you should feel a twinge of Canadian pride. This may be one of our weird and wonderful national habits, but no one can say that Canucks aren’t resourceful!

Get inspired (and patriotic) in the kitchen with these iconic Canadian foods you can make at home.

rhubarb relish in white bowl

Rhubarb Relish Recipe is a Breakfast Favourite

Katherine Eisenhauer, a ninth-generation resident of Lunenburg, NS, has been the chef-owner of The Savvy Sailor Cafe in her hometown since 2012. Her unassuming little restaurant, which boasts a view of Lunenburg’s historic UNESCO World Heritage Site waterfront, is a favourite with tourists and locals alike. Fresh locally sourced ingredients and a diverse menu that includes many of her own family’s favourite dishes are the secrets to her success.

rhubarb relish in white bowl

“Rhubarb is definitely a well-loved ingredient in Nova Scotia; it grows in many backyards, including my own,” says Katherine. “I still remember helping my grandmother — my dad’s mum, Josephine — pull rhubarb from the huge patch in the yard of the home she lived in with Gramps when I was a kid. I think they had the best rhubarb patch in town. We would have a great time together gathering it, washing it and chopping it up. Although she made different things with it, Gamma (as I always call her) was most famous for her rhubarb relish. I can hardly remember a family gathering where fish was served when it wasn’t on the table.”

“Hers is the exact recipe I still use today in the cafe. In fact, I followed it right from her own handwriting in the Dutch Oven cookbook just this morning! The Dutch Oven is a Lunenburg classic. It was first published in 1953 by Gamma and her friends in The Ladies Auxiliary of the Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital and it’s full of traditional Nova Scotia recipes. When they created it as a fundraiser back then, the ladies sure didn’t expect it to remain popular all these years later. It’s now in its 21st printing.”

Related: Anna Olson’s Best Savoury Baked Breakfasts

“Around here, rhubarb relish is typically eaten with whitefish, cod or haddock, or with other cod-based dishes, like fish cakes. That’s how we serve it at the cafe: alongside our famous fish cakes and baked beans as part of our Lunenburg Breakfast. It’s one of our most popular items, even though it’s pretty unusual for people to choose fish for breakfast. (I guess when they visit us, they figure: when in Rome?). People really love the relish — they’re always asking me, “Can I buy some? Can I buy some?” So when I have enough on hand, I sell some to customers. When stored properly in the fridge, it lasts many months. We also serve it for dinner alongside fish cakes and salad or pan-seared Atlantic cod and salad.”

“This recipe has so many great personal connections for me, but what really stands out is our family’s annual fish-cake brunch. For as long as anyone can remember, we’ve been gathering for this event between Christmas and New Year’s — both sides of the family, as well as family friends. It’s the sort of meal where we prep about 50 pounds of potatoes and 15 pounds of cod! The relish is always a big part of that meal.”

“We’ve been in Lunenburg since 1753, when the three Eisenhauer brothers first arrived from Germany. Traditions mean a lot to us. Grandma’s 90 now and though she still loves to cook, I make the relish these days and take my relish over to her. She’s given it her stamp of approval! I’m so happy to be keeping her tradition alive.”

The Savvy Sailor’s Rhubarb Relish

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 ½ hours (includes chilling time)
Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Servings: 8 cups

Ingredients:

8 cups chopped rhubarb
8 cups onions, thinly sliced
7 cups granulated sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

1. Chop rhubarb into rough dice; set aside.

2. Add onions to separate bowl. Cover with boiling water; let sit for 5 minutes. Drain and discard water.

3. In heavy-bottomed pot, dissolve sugar in cider vinegar on medium heat. Add onions, rhubarb, salt, cloves and cinnamon. Stir well. Cook, stirring often, until it reaches a thick jam-like consistency, 40 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Remove from heat; let cool. Place in jar and refrigerate.

Published May 24, 2016, Updated June 1, 2019

How to Make 5-Ingredient Cinnamon Buns in Just 5 Easy Steps

This is my great-aunt’s method of making cinnamon buns, which is so easy that even kids can help. When I was young, it was always my job to grease the pan with butter before the buns went into the oven. Added bonus: with just five ingredients and five steps, it is so easy!

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Easy Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients:

Flour for dusting
Ready-made dough, homemade or store-bought
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup soft butter + more for greasing
1-2 Tbsp cinnamon

Equipment:

Rolling Pin
Pastry Brush
Sharp Knife
Tea Towel

Directions:

1. On a floured work surface, using rolling pin, roll out dough to about ½-inch thickness, forming a rectangle.

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2. Mix together brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until very soft, but not melted. Using pastry brush, brush dough with brown sugar mixture. Gently roll up dough, jelly roll–style, ending with seam side down.

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3. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 1-inch thick slices.

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4. Place, cut side down, in a well greased 13×9-inch baking dish. (Aunt Lucy would hand me an empty butter foil to scoop up soft butter with and smear inside the pan.) Cover with a tea towel; let rise until doubled in size, about 25 to 30 minutes.

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5. Bake in 350°F oven until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Carefully turn buns out onto parchment or waxed paper. They should come out as one piece with gooey cinnamon-sugar sauce resting on top.

Published February 23, 2017, Updated February 8, 2019

Minty Nanaimo Bars

Holly Jolly Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Just in time for the holidays, we’ve taken the traditional Canadian treat and dressed it up with an extra festive twist. We’ve kept the Nanaimo bar‘s classic, with a chewy base and creamy custard filling, but added a splash of peppermint to the chocolate glaze. Who doesn’t love mint and chocolate together? A quick sprinkling of crushed peppermint candies fancies up this simple yet nostalgic treat — perfect for any holiday dessert buffet!

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Cook Time:  30 minutes
Total Time:  80 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
Base:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly whisked
Pinch salt

Filling:
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp custard powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 to 4 Tbsp milk

Topping:
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 to 1 tsp  peppermint extract, or to taste
Crushed peppermint candies

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut, walnuts, cocoa, sugar and salt. Stir in melted butter and egg. Mix until evenly combined.
3. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan. Press/smooth into an even layer using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
4. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the top feels slightly firm. Allow to completely cool on a wire rack before adding the next layer.

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

For the Filling:
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add in the remaining ingredients until incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium and mix until smooth and creamy. Add a bit more milk and/or sugar as needed until the filling is a spreadable consistency.
2. Spread on top of cooled base with an offset spatula. Chill in refrigerator until slightly firm, about 20 minutes.

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

For the Topping:
1. Once the custard base has chilled, place chocolate, butter and coconut oil in the top portion of a double-boil. Melt over simmering water and stir until smooth. Add peppermint extract to taste.
2. Spread melted chocolate over chilled custard layer. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies and refrigerate until chocolate sets.
3. Once set, run a thin knife around the edges of the pan and pull out the squares using the parchment paper. Slice into 12 even bars using a large, sharp knife. Enjoy!

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Looking for more tasty recipes? Try these 10 Tasty Nanaimo Bar Recipes.

Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo

Still craving pumpkin everything this fall? I know I am. So I made a comforting meat-less pasta dish that you can throw together in no time. Consider this a fancy mac and cheese of sorts; creamy, cheesy, smooth…I’ll take one bowl of comfort, please!

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For this recipe, I use canned organic pumpkin purée to make it a quick weeknight meal. But if you have time to make your own pumpkin purée, I would recommend roasted a kabocha or butternut squash to really elevate the dish. Both are the perfect amount of sweet, and roast and purée beautifully. This dish is a great way to hold on to that fall feeling before winter arrives!

Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

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Ingredients:
1 lb (454 g) fettuccine
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp flour
15 oz can organic pumpkin puree
1 cup table cream or half & half (10%-18%)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh black pepper
½ tsp fresh thyme
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

Shaved parmesan
Thyme leaves
Fresh black pepper

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the fettuccine until al dente, about 8-9 minutes depending on the brand.

2. Before straining, reserve 1 ½ cups of pasta water. Drain into a colander and run cold water over fettuccine until cool to the touch.

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3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add olive oil, butter and garlic cloves. Sauté garlic for about 2 minutes until fragrant.

4. Add the flour and cook for another 2-3 minutes until it begins to brown and smell nutty.

5. Transfer all of the contents from the skillet into a blender. Add pumpkin purée and table cream to the blender, and purée until smooth.

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6. Transfer the sauce back to the pan and place over medium-low heat.

7. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, and parmesan cheese to the sauce and cook until bubbling and thickened.

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8. Add the fettuccine and combine. If the sauce is too thick, thin it out with the pasta water (I added about ¾ cup). It will continue to thicken after turning off the heat, so it’s OK if it’s slightly thin. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

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9. Serve immediately. Plate the fettuccine and garnish with shaved parmesan, thyme leaves and lots of fresh black pepper.

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The Lip-Smacking History of Split Pea Soup in Canada

When the first chill creeps into the air, the knee-jerk reaction for many Canucks is to get soups simmering on the stove. While we love our minestrone and hearty stews, it’s hard to beat dipping your spoon into a steaming bowl of split pea soup.

This classic stick-to-your-bones soup has been a  Quebecois favourite for over 400 years. For good reasons, too: pure comfort made from easy-to-preserve ingredients.

“Split pea soup is made of yellow split peas, ham hock, vegetables, and thyme, and it’s usually served with bread,” says Ottawa Chef Marc Miron, who is an expert on the dish. “Split pea soup is a dish that can be served as a starter or as a main.”

split-pea-soup-parkersGet the recipe for Parker’s Split Pea Soup

But where exactly did this hearty soup come from in the first place? Miron has an inkling, based on his own extensive research tracing the roots of “habitant soup.” Although he’s headed up kitchens around the world and cooked for celebs like Chef Gordon Ramsay and the Rolling Stones, this busy chef was drawn to explore the history of this delicious Canadian dish.

“It’s a beautiful staple in the Canadian cuisine, not only in Quebec,” says Miron.

The soup’s origins are murky, but Miron believes today’s recipe is likely a distant relative of soup made aboard explorer Samuel de Champlain’s ships from France. On long journeys, the ships would be stocked with ingredients that preserve for lengthy times, such as vinegar, honey, cheese, rice, legumes, and salted meats and fish.

“All of those ingredients were on board that they made soup with,” says Miron. “It was probably not the split pea soup as we know now. But it was a [salted] ham-broth with some peas in it and some vegetables.”

As more habitants – or Canada’s first settlers – arrived from France and landed on Canadian soil, the soup served on ships gradually evolved and came to include game meats, pork, and locally grown ingredients.

“The habitants depended on the forests for their meat, but they farmed pigs along with vegetables, fruit, peas, and beans,” says Miron. “Soup was always part of the meal. Looking at the setup of the table, the spoon would always be there for the soup. They had to get creative with it: basically finding out that the peas matched very well with the ham hock.”

Whether called habitant soup or soupe aux pois cassés or split pea soup, this early settler soup with many names became a staple item on the menu for Quebec’s settlers. For starters, it was a filling and nutritious meal that helped them survive harsh Canadian winters.

“Going through the winter, times were pretty hard,” says Miron. “Pea soup is something that gave them everything from vegetables to legumes to protein. It’s a meal by itself.”

Most habitant farmers also had bread ovens, partly explaining why today’s version of the soup is usually paired with a slice of warm, crusty bread.

“Bread is always part the tradition,” says Miron. “When times were rough for the habitants, you needed a full meal and bread provided for that.”

Of course, the original habitant-style soupe aux pois cassés has changed over the centuries, swapping out salted meats for ham hock, but the soup has become a Canadian classic that has spanned generations.

“My grandmother is 96 and she told me that pea soup was served every Friday,” says Maxime Constantin, the owner of Cabane à sucre Constantin in Quebec where they serve a mean bowl of split pea soup. “So it’s become a traditional meal served in every family.”

In terms of regional variations, Miron says that most recipes still “respect the basics,” adding split peas and vegetables to the soup. The wildcard that he’s witnessed in the culinary world involves the broth.

“The consistency in the soup is where you see the most difference,” says Miron. “Some have it more ‘brothy,’ and some have it thicker.”

As the dish became popular across the country, dry and canned versions of the old school recipe popped up, with the first emerging in the late 1800s, according to Miron.

“They did an instant pea soup around 1867,” says Miron. “When you invent a soup dry, it’s because it’s popular.”

Pig-and-Pea-Soup

Get the recipe for Split Pea Soup.

If you’re not in a hurry, skip the ready-made varieties, and try your hand at creating a homemade batch of delicious split pea soup. There’s the traditional recipe for Québécois-Style Pea Soup made with unsmoked ham hock, but also Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup using a smoked turkey leg, leeks, and green split peas. Or follow Ina Garten’s recipe for Parker’s Split Pea Soup, which uses chicken stock instead of ham hock.

Short on time? Whip up a batch of Chef Michael Smith’s recipe Speedy Split Pea Soup using dried split peas, bacon, and frozen peas. Or if you’re not in a rush, try his more traditional recipe for Pig and Pea Soup with a ham hock broth.

For a soup with a zing, there’s this recipe for Split Pea and Ginger Soup from The Burnt Tongue in Hamilton, Ont. A warming soup with a kick of ginger spice, this dish is hearty to the core without being too heavy.

The food experts have a few tips for making split pea soup at home. At Cabane à sucre Constantin, Maxime Constantin regularly cooks up a colossal cauldron of pea soup that serves 700 people at their family-owned sugar shack. His secret to soup success? Soak the peas overnight.

“At the start, you have to soak the peas a night before,” says Constantin. “After we roast the piece of pork with carrot and onion, we add broth and peas. It has to boil about 2 to 3 hours until the peas are soft.”

For Miron, making split pea soup is a two-step process, which starts with the broth and then the soup. While the other ingredients are important, “the ham stock has to be very good.”

“It’s like roasting a chicken – the leg doesn’t cook the same way,” says Miron. “So I always de-bone and cook it separately. The pea soup is the same. To do a good ham stock, you would need 2-3 hours, depending on the size of your ham hock, to make sure the meat is cooked and falls off the bone.”

Once the broth is complete, Miron adds vegetables and chunks of ham to the rich, flavourful stock, and simmers the concoction on the stove for 30 to 45 minutes.

No matter which split pea soup recipe you choose or how you cook the broth, take pride in the fact that you’re slurping up a Canadian classic that been trending since the days of Samuel de Champlain. Now that’s definitely worthy of a Canadian Heritage Minute!

Persians-roll

The Sumptuous History of the Thunder Bay Persian Roll

If ever in you’re in Thunder Bay, Ont. there’s one thing you absolutely must do: treat yourself to a Persian.

No, it has absolutely nothing to do with the Middle East. In Thunder Bay, a “Persian” is an oval-shaped pastry that’s fried and frosted with pink berry icing. It’s a local delicacy with deep roots in this Northern Ontario town.

“It’s similar to a cinnamon bun,” says Danny Nucci, owner of the legendary Bennett’s Bakery and The Persian Man in Thunder Bay. “What makes it different from anything else is the icing on top. It’s not overly sweet. But it gives you a good feeling.”

Thunder Bay Persian

This prized pastry was first created in the 1940s by Art Bennett, the original founder of Bennett’s Bakery (formerly called “Art Bennett’s”). As the story goes, he named the sweet treat after John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing, an American World War I General who allegedly visited his bakery while he was making the dough. As a result of this memorable meeting, Bennett dubbed his now-famed pastry a “Persian.”

“General Black Jack Pershing happened to make his way to Thunder Bay and pull into Bennett’s Bakery,” says Nucci. “He and Art Bennett were talking, while Art was producing a newly formed product. They hit it off and he named it after him.”

Since then, Thunder Bay locals have been raised on these Persian doughnuts, even hosting eating competitions and selling them for community fundraisers. They’ll tell you that it’s a “must-eat” dish if you’re in town. Today, Bennett’s Bakery sells the dessert at their popular coffee shop, The Persian Man, as well as in packs of four at local grocery stores.

“The formula hasn’t changed, the recipe hasn’t changed,” says Nucci. “So it’s still the same goodness that you used to get since its conception in the mid-1940s.”

Thunder Bay Persian

Credit: The Persian Man
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But what exactly makes a Persian so special? The original recipe remains under wraps, so we can only speculate about its irresistible ingredients. But some claim the signature pink icing is the clincher.

“It’s a berry icing,” says Nucci. “A lot of people pick up Persians with icing on the side. What they do is put ‘em in the freezer and then put the icing in the fridge, and then have one as needed.”

There’s also an old school “toasted” version of the Persian. Back in the day, some Thunder Bay restaurants would toast the doughnut, adding butter and icing on top, and a lot of locals still adhere to this tradition in the kitchen.

“You take a Persian in half,” says Nucci. “Toast the cut halves in the frying pan until they’re golden, and put a little icing on top halves and flip over to caramelize the icing. There may be some toasted Persians still being sold in Thunder Bay restaurants.”

Regrettably, since Art Bennett’s original recipe remains a secret to this day, we’ll never know what exactly makes the Thunder Persian so dang delicious. Today, it’s been inherited by the Persian Man in Thunder Bay, who continues to use this classic recipe to make their cherished pastries.

“I got the recipe from working at the shop,” says Nucci. “Juliet Bennet ended up selling the bakery to my dad and his two cousins in 1962. It’s a secret, especially the dough product itself. There’s no set ingredients in the listing on the bag product.”

But don’t despair: instead, try your hand at making the doughnut in your home kitchen with this recipe for Thunder Bay Persians. Biting into the light-as-air fry bread and creamy icing, you can salute General Pershing and baker Art Bennett for gifting this doughy delicacy to the world.

Summer Starts With Saskatoon Berries (and the Most Delicious Berry Crisp Recipe!)

Growing up at her grandmother’s knee, learning to farm, forage and cook with the freshest ingredients, it’s no surprise that Candace Ippolito became the owner and CEO of the SaskMade Marketplace, a thriving business that showcases the best of what Saskatchewan’s farmers, food producers and artisans have to offer. Here, she recalls one of her favourite food memories: her grandmother’s Saskatoon berry crisp. “Every delicious bite of my grandmother’s Saskatoon berry crisp is a sticky, sweet flavour bomb, but there’s a lot more to it than that for me. My personal history is basically baked into that dessert.”

“Grandma’s crisp takes me back to the farm, where I grew up surrounded by my tight-knit family. Grandma and Grandpa lived right next door, and my aunt, uncle and cousins lived not too far away. As a kid, breakfast and lunch always took place at Grandma’s. Mom left early for work in town, so in the morning, my brother and I would have a quick bite with Grandma before boarding the school bus. At lunch, there was always a big made-from-scratch feast for everyone, including the men who worked with Dad and Grandpa on our cattle farm. Since Grandma was Irish, potatoes were always part of the meal. Every fall, we would dig the potatoes up and haul them down to her cold cellar in the basement, and every spring, we would haul about half of them back up again—never a shortage of potatoes. And since she had a huge garden, there were always veggies, too, either freshly picked or from her cellar stash of preserves and frozen vegetables.”

“The main attraction was usually a braised beef dish, but you never knew which parts you were going to get. Grandma was the original nose-to-tail chef! We never wasted a thing that was grown, butchered or foraged around our homestead.”

“Of course, Grandma’s spreads were never complete without her baked goods. She made wonderful cream puffs, rolls and fluffy biscuits. Best of all were her homemade pies, cinnamon buns, crisps and other sweet treats. Her Saskatoon berry crisp, always served with fresh whipped cream, was my favourite. There’s something about the texture. The base was ripe Saskatoon berries melted down, soft and sweet; then the crumb topping was really brown and rich and had kind of a caramelized taste to it. With every mouthful, you’d get a sweet, syrupy start, then finish with a delicate buttery crunch. I don’t know how else to put it except to say that, to me, that crisp tastes like love.”

“You know what else? To me, this recipe tastes like the month of July. July is the only time of year for harvesting Saskatoons. Our whole family would go up to a friend’s property, each of us with an empty ice cream pail in hand, and we weren’t allowed to quit until everyone’s pail was full. The older kids were always happy to help out the younger ones—otherwise, the day would never end! That once-a-year outing set us up with enough berries to last a long time. We sometimes worried about finding bears up there in the hills, and I sure didn’t like wearing Grandpa’s ugly old work shirts that protected us from the prickly bushes and mosquitoes as big as hawks—but all the same, I have really happy memories of those berry-picking days.”

“For a lot of my friends, memories of their grandmothers are about going for ice cream or shopping at a mall. We’re a fourth-generation farming family, so that’s not my experience. For me, it’s about sitting on a veranda, peeling carrots or shelling peas. It’s about pulling potatoes in the garden, gathering eggs from the chicken coop or picking Saskatoons. ‘Busy hands’ is what we used to call our time with my grandparents. There was always some work project going on with us, and that’s OK. She instilled in us that a family that works together, stays together!”

Grandma Betsy’s Saskatoon Berry Crisp

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

4 cups freshly picked Saskatoon berries (if using frozen
berries, they must be completely thawed and excess moisture removed)
¾ cup flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch salt
½ cup cold butter

Directions:

1. Add berries to buttered 10- x 6-inch (3 L) baking dish.

2. In bowl, mix together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Using pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture is in coarse crumbs.

3. Sprinkle flour mixture evenly over berries. Bake in 350° F oven for 40 minutes, or until  topping is golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream or  ice cream.

Published August 21, 2015, Updated August 20, 2018

Photo courtesy of Candace Ippolito

Annie Sibonney’s Comforting North African Shakshuka

Ever since we were little, my twin sister has always been willing to cook, and I’ve always been willing to eat. No one was surprised when Annie Sibonney became a chef (and Food Network host ), while I became a journalist who writes a lot about food. Though we pursued different interests and have even lived in separate countries over the years, sharing food together brings us back to our roots.

Growing up in a French Moroccan home, one of the most cherished food memories from our childhood is shakshuka, an impressive North African dish of eggs poached in a bubbling, fragrant stew of tomatoes and spices. This was the dish that got everyone out of bed in our house. It’s the kind of one-skillet meal that connects everyone around a table. It’s cutlery-optional. All you really need is a perfectly crusty loaf of bread for sopping up the sauce and the rich, runny egg yolks.

Shakshuka-ready-on-a-table

Photo by Claire Sibonney
Claire Sibonney

Shakshuka is wildly popular throughout the Middle East for breakfast or brunch but can stand on its own for any meal of the day. With its heady aromas of garlic, onion, paprika and cumin, it’s the kind of dish that gets people’s attention.

Eggs simmered in a spicy sauce is so simple and satisfying that it’s eaten in many iterations around the world—from Italian eggs in purgatory to huevos rancheros in Mexico and menemen in Turkey—all of these dishes involve a little magic as the resulting meal is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Some people add feta, olives, sweet bell peppers or even potatoes to shakshuka, but for purists it’s not necessary. Although a bowl of labneh—Lebanese strained yogurt—or olives on the side never hurt.

More than anything, it’s a dish that’s meant to be shared—the bigger and louder the gathering, the better. When it’s served, the shakshaka pan (Annie uses a cast-iron bottom of a traditional Moroccan tagine here) is placed in the centre of the table and the portion closest to you is yours. One of the only rules of sharing shakshuka: never dip your bread into someone else’s yolk, even if it’s your twin sister’s!

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Photo by Claire Sibonney
Claire Sibonney

North African Shakshuka Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling over the final dish
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or 28 oz canned whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand)
1 medium onion, finely sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small green chili pepper such as jalapeño or serrano, seeds removed and finely chopped
4 large eggs
1 ½ Tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp hot paprika or substitute with ground ancho powder, optional
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup water, plus more if necessary
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful of roughly chopped cilantro or parsley leaves, or a mix of both

Shakshuka-ingredients

Photo by Claire Sibonney
Claire Sibonney

Directions:
1. Heat a medium-sized heavy skillet, such as cast iron over medium heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the onions until they have softened but not browned. Add the garlic, chili pepper and spices and stir for 1 minute, just enough for the kitchen to smell wonderfully aromatic.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes, water and salt to taste and increase the heat to high for 1-2 minutes, stirring the mix so that the tomatoes start to break down into a sauce and comes to a bubbling simmer. Reduce heat to medium once more. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
3. The sauce should have a pungent flavour and a deep-red colour from the spices. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to scorch the sauce. Add more water if necessary to maintain the consistency of a rustic pasta sauce.
4. With the back of a large spoon, make room for each egg in the pan by creating little wells in the sauce. Carefully crack the eggs one at a time into a small bowl, making sure to keep the yolks intact.
5. Gently tip in your eggs, one at a time into the sauce, making sure to leave enough space between them. Season each egg with a little more salt. Cook for 10-13 minutes longer at a gentle simmer, rotating the pan constantly (do not stir!) to poach the eggs evenly in the sauce. The shakshuka is ready when the egg whites are set and cooked but the yolks are still bright, golden and velvety. Sprinkle the chopped cilantro and parsley over the finished dish with a liberal drizzle of olive oil.
6. For an authentic family-style meal, serve the shakshuka in its pan at the centre of the table and don’t forget plenty of good quality crusty bread to soak up the tomato sauce and to dip into the decadent yolks.

claire-and-annie-sibonney-eating-Shakshuka

Photo by Masumi Sato

Looking for more fresh summer recipes? Try our 40 Fresh Tomato Recipes.

 

A Saskatoon Musician’s Easy Saskatoon Berry Jam Recipe

There is an especially fun dynamic between the two women standing in the kitchen. Musicians Alexis Normand and Allyson Reigh are two-thirds of the popular Western Canadian band, Rosie and the Riveters. The trio is made up of equally talented singers, instrumentalists and songwriters.

Being a triple threat is a feat in and of itself, of course, but being able to cook on top of that trio of skills would make Normand the quadruple threat of the talented bunch. “She’s always cooking while we’re on tour, it doesn’t matter what city we’re playing in,” says Normand’s bandmate, Reigh, as she measures sugar for the Saskatoon berry jam they’re about to make. “She’s one amazing cook.”

saskatoon-berry-jam-on-toast

It’s clear that Normand is the foodie of the group. Growing up in Saskatoon, her grandmother was an avid cook and passed down a love of the kitchen to her mother, which she has also come to embrace whether she’s at home or on the road. Her speciality? Making big batches of Saskatoon berry jam that she cans, labels and brings on tour. Family, friends and fans alike have come to love the edible keepsake that pays homage to her prairie roots.

“It’s a really hot item, people love it,” says Normand as she adds the Saskatoon berries to the pot. “It’s funny, though, because they aren’t as ‘Saskatchewan’ as you would think. I learned that after travelling across the country, that you can find Saskatoon berries in abundance [in BC and Alberta too], but there, they’re called Saskatoons. That’s where I’m from and making this jam this is a family tradition!”

Alexis-Allyson-tea-and-toast

Like most jam recipes, Normand’s family recipe for Saskatoon berry jam only calls for a few ingredients: berries (fresh or frozen, though frozen is the most easily obtained year-round), sugar and a bit of water. You can feel free to add some lemon zest or a few drops of vanilla if you’d like, but good quality Saskatoons don’t need much to make a lasting impression. “There’s always something to be said about giving someone an item that’s homemade. It’s someone’s time that they’re gifting you, really. That’s the really nice thing about it,” she says.

Related: PB&J Recipes That Will Change Your Life

One big misconception about making jam at home is that you need to make a dozen jars and can them. Normand does make big batches before she goes on tour, but her small-batch recipe is just as good, and easily lasts a couple of weeks in the fridge. “Nothing about this process is hard, but when I was younger I was under the impression that it was challenging. I think people just need to try it once,” says Normand. “You cook down the ingredients, you put it in jars, cool it down and it tastes delicious! It doesn’t get any better or easier than that, does it?”

saskatoon-jam-complete

Simple Saskatoon Berry Jam Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 3 Cups

Ingredients:

4 cups Saskatoon berries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
¼ tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

1. Place ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat.

2. Reduce to medium heat and let cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Transfer to a heat-safe container and allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Cover and place in refrigerator to use as desired. Will keep for up to 2 weeks refrigerated.

460x307-winning-butter-tarts

Meet the Winning Bakers of Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival

It was the sweetest day of the year for Diane Rogers. The baker and owner of Doo Doo’s Bakery in Bailieboro, Ont. took home not just one, but the three top prizes at Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival, held in Midland on June 9.

The award-winning baker beat out more than 60 competitors to win first place in both the professional traditional and fusion competitions, plus took home ‘Best in Show’ with her stunning strawberry-rhubarb butter tarts. The annual one-day festival, which is a butter tart lover’s dream come true, saw more than 60,000 people descend on the town of Midland, eager to satisfy their sweet tooths. Not only is this a chance to taste tarts from the best bakeries, it is home to the ultimate annual baking competition. The top professional and home bakers enjoy the sweet taste of butter tart baking victory.

diane Rogers

Diane Rogers of Doo Doo’s Bakery took home three of the top prizes in Midland’s Best Butter Tart Festival on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Photo by David Hill.
Photo by Rodrigo Moreno

And Rogers is one of them. In 2016, she swept the professional, non-classic category, taking home first, second and third prize with her tarts. Yet, despite the accolades, the award-winning baker wasn’t confident that she’d bake a winning batch this year. Doo Doo’s placed 12th in last year’s competition, which had Rogers wondering how her tarts really measured up.

After going back to the drawing board, Doo Doo’s reclaimed its title and more this year. The classic, plain butter tart is simple, but judges found it to be simply the best.

“I’m a purist,” the self-taught baker said. “I like them plain.”

Rogers used the classic pastry and perfectly sticky-sweet tarts as a launching pad for the creation that earned her both top prize in the fusion category, plus Best in Show. Taking advantage of fresh strawberries and seasonal rhubarb, Rogers baked the award-winning batch at midnight the night before the competition.

“I’ve kind of got a knack for pairing flavours with butter tart filling,” Rogers said. “We’re always experimenting in our kitchen – even down to the last minute.”

best in show midland butter tart festival

The Winner of Best in Show at Midland’s Best Butter Tart Festival, Saturday, June 9, 2018. Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Butter Tart from Doo Doo’s Bakery in Bailieboro, Ont. Photo by Rodrigo Moreno.

The sweet and tangy tart was so good,  that as soon as the judging ended, a crowd descended on her booth before Rogers even heard that they’d won.

“I call it Butter Tart Christmas because that really is what it is,” she said. “It was fun, it is always lots of fun.”

While the winning strawberry-rhubarb creation wasn’t among the thousands of tarts Doo Doo’s sold that weekend,  fans can taste the award-winning tart at their bakery and cafe. Butter tart lovers can also seek them out at the Cobourg Farmers’ Market and the Peterborough Market.

While Rogers has had years of competition under her belt, Tonya Louks thought the festival would just be a fun weekend away. The amateur baker from Welland, Ont. is usually one to shy away from the spotlight, which is why she never expected to be crowned champ of the traditional amateur competition on Saturday.

“I thought I didn’t have a chance, but you just never know,” said Louks, who has been making butter tarts for her family for years. Armed with a family-filling recipe passed down from her husband’s great-great-grandmother, she’s perfected her thin, flaky crust and studded her tarts with raisins for a mouthwatering treat her family raves about.

Tonya-Louks-butter-tart

Amateur baker Tonya Louks’ award-winning traditional butter tart. Photo by Rodrigo Moreno.

“My family kept bugging me to enter and I said ‘you are all biased,’” said Louks, who relented after her family insisted she share her tarts with the world. Even though she made it through the first round of the competition with ease, she was worried how her thin crust would stand up against the competition, who had thicker pastries.

“You never know what the judges are going to like or not like,” said Louks, who was excited to see The Baker Sisters as part of the judging panel.

With the surprise win under her belt, Louks is already getting requests from friends and family, who want a bite of her award-winning treats. While she isn’t taking orders, she’s definitely taking inspiration from this year’s winners and from the variety of tarts available at the festival, including some impressive gluten-free tarts and ‘puptarts’ she brought home for her dog.

Looking to try some tasty tarts? Hit the road this summer and discover 10 Butter Tart Spots to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth.