Category Archives: Great Canadian Cookbook

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.

“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.

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

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

Butter Tart Cinnamon Buns

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.

Make-Ahead Baked Stuffing

By Amy Bronee

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.

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.

Simple Oven-Baked Stuffing

Courtesy of Amy Bronee, familyfeedbag.com, Victoria

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

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.

Jump to print, save or share this Oven-Baked Stuffing recipe.

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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.

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!

Pumpkin_Alfredo_Fettucine_Danielle_Oron-6

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

Pumpkin_Alfredo_Fettucine_Danielle_Oron-1

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.

Pumpkin_Alfredo_Fettucine_Danielle_Oron-2

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.

Pumpkin_Alfredo_Fettucine_Danielle_Oron-3

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.

Pumpkin_Alfredo_Fettucine_Danielle_Oron-4

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.

Pumpkin_Alfredo_Fettucine_Danielle_Oron-5

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

split-pea-soup-feature

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
https://www.facebook.com/399721353422346/photos/a.399722726755542.90459.399721353422346/1041271555933986/?type=3&theater

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.

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!

annie-sibonney-with-Shakshuka-ingredients

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 B.C. 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.

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

Makes: 3 Cups
Total Time: 25 Minutes

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.

Make the most of Saskatoon season with these Sweet and Savoury Saskatoon Berry Recipes.

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.

Patriotic Pancakes Perfect for Canada Day

With a bright red maple leaf in the centre, these patriotic pancakes are perfect for Canada Day. Fresh red berries, whipped cream and maple syrup are great toppings, but you can switch it up with your favourite fruit, nuts, sauce and more.

canada-day-pancakes1

Maple Leaf Pancake Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Makes: about 12 pancakes

Ingredients:
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
22 ml Red food colouring
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Garnish:
Maple syrup
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped

canada-day-pancakes2

Directions:
1. In large spouted bowl, whisk together egg, milk and butter, then whisk in flour, baking powder and salt until smooth. Let stand 20 minutes.
2. Measure 1/3 cup of the batter into shallow bowl, and thin with enough water turn into a creamy consistency. Tint red with food colouring.
3. Over medium-low heat, heat a nonstick skillet with 1 Tbsp oil per pancake. Brush 2-inch (5 cm) maple leaf-shaped cookie cutter with some of the oil. Place in skillet. Pour in enough red batter to fill, then cook 1 minute until set on bottom. Holding cutter with tongs, or hands, lift cutter away from maple leaf shape. Using a squeeze bottle or spoon, top each leaf with enough white batter to cover.
4. Cook until bubbles form on tops, about 3 minutes. Turn pancakes and cook until bottoms are golden, about 1 minute.
5. Working in batches and brushing pan with remaining oil as necessary, repeat with remaining batters, cleaning off cookie cutter when necessary.

Garnish:
Serve pancakes with maple syrup, raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

The Ultimate Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for Canada Day

Every year July 1st, I catch some of the festivities of the Canada Day celebration in my city. They have a large open fire salmon barbecue at the centre of the festival grounds surrounded by many vendors selling lemonade, fresh kettle corn and cotton candy. My favourite part of the festivities is the pie-by-the-slice fundraiser inside the local community centre.

There’s always quite a large selection; pies made with plump local blueberries or Okanagan peaches are always popular choices. But my go-to has always been the strawberry-rhubarb. There’s just something so irresistible about the combination of the sweet and tangy pink filling and the (optional but mandatory) à la mode, that keeps me going back year-after-year. So here’s an ode to my favourite July 1st treat, with an added Canada Day-inspired touch.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Canada Day Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Makes: One double crust 9-inch pie

Ingredients:
Crust:
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup cold butter, unsalted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
4 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 cup ice

Egg Wash:
1 egg
Coarse sugar

Filling:
5 cups chopped rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cups strawberries, halved
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cornstarch

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Directions:

Crust:
1. In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt and sugar. Set aside.
2. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay!).
3. Combine the water, cider vinegar and ice in a small bowl.
4. Add 2 Tbsp of the liquid mixture over the flour mixture. Mix and cut it in with bench scraper or spatula until fully incorporated. Continue adding the liquid, 1-2 Tbsp at a time. Mix until the dough comes together in a ball.
5. Shape the dough into 2 flat discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Filling:
1. Prepare the rhubarb and strawberries. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon and cornstarch.
3. Toss together the fruit and dry mixture. Add lemon juice and combine.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Assembly and Baking:
1. Once the dough has chilled, roll out the dough in between two sheets of parchment and fit it on the pie plate.
2. Line pie pan with rolled out bottom crust.
3. Roll out top crust. Using a maple leaf-shaped cutter, punch out maple leaves into the rolled out top crust. Save all the maple leaf cut outs to use for decorating the edge of the pie.

4. Pour filling into the bottom crust, leaving behind any excess liquid from filling.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

5. Gently place on top crust. Take the reserved maple leaf cut outs to create a border around the pie.

6. Coat top crust with a simple egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Place pie on a baking sheet before putting it in the oven, just in case any juices bubble over.
7. Bake at 425°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 35 to 40 minutes longer.
8. If the top crust is starting to get a little dark too quickly, place a pie shield on the pie.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

9. Once ready, let pie set for at least 1 hour before cutting into it. Serve as is or with a big scoop of ice cream.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Looking for more inspiration? Try our 60 Great Canadian Recipes.

Watch this video to get Anna Olson’s top tips on baking fruit pies.

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 in 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.

Bag of Milk

Getty Images

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 adopted 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.

Today, it’s estimated that 75 to 80 percent of the milk sold in Ontario is bagged, and across Canada, about 50 percent of milk drinkers buy the bagged variety. Nonetheless, our American neighbours find this practice a tad strange, and south of the border, most buy milk packaged in jugs and cartons.

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.

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!

This Maple Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich is Your Ultimate Canada Day Dessert (or Breakfast)

These red and white ice cream waffle sandwiches make for a scrumptious Canada Day dessert or decadent brunch. They’re best eaten right away, but you can stretch the time before they melt a little bit by freezing them after assembling. If you’d prefer to enjoy them hand-held, just skip the whipped cream and maple garnish, and dig right in!

maple-nut-wafflewiches-2

Maple-Nut Wafflewich Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Makes: 6 sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 cup whipping cream (35 %)
3 cups maple walnut or vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup maple syrup

Maple-Nut Crunch
1 Tbsp pasteurized egg whites
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Waffles
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp each baking powder and granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
4 tsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp red food colouring

maple-nut-wafflewiches-1

Directions:
Maple-Nut Crunch
1. In large bowl, whisk egg white until foamy. Whisk in maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Add pecans and sugar, tossing to coat.
2. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
3. Bake in 225°F, stirring every 15 minutes, until crisp and coated, about 45 minutes. Let cool. (Tip: Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.)

Waffles
1. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt.
2. In separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, sour cream and butter. Add to flour mixture, stir just until blended. Using food colouring, tint batter red.
3. Spray electric waffle iron with cooking spray. Heat iron to medium heat. Spoon amount of batter directed by manufacturer onto grids of waffle iron. Close lid quickly. (Do not open until waffle is done.)
4. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions. When done, lift waffle off grid with fork. Repeat with remaining batter. Let cool.
5. Meanwhile, whip cream to stiff peaks.
6. Place 2 scoops of ice cream onto 6 of the waffles. Top with remaining waffles, pressing to push ice cream to edges. Roll edges in maple-nut crunch. (Tip: Freeze for up to 1 hour.)
7. Transfer each sandwich to a dessert plate. Top each sandwich with a dollop of whipped cream and remaining maple-nut crunch. Drizzle with maple syrup.

trail-mix-in-a-bowl

Snacking Just Got a Little More Canadian with Butter Tart Trail Mix

Cottage canoe rides, road trips, relaxed barbecues and outdoor summer concerts all have one thing in common: they’re better with snacks! We’ve come up with a healthy staple trail mix that takes less than 5 minutes to make, along with a few fun Canadian twists to tickle your fancy and tantalize those taste buds, no matter where the summer takes you. Get out there and hike, paddle, cruise, grill and sway to your heart’s content – we’ll bring the snacks

four-trail-mixes

Basic Canadian Trail Mix Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 3½ cups

Ingredients:

1 cup roasted salted or unsalted almonds
1 cup roasted salted or unsalted cashews
½ cup roasted salted or unsalted sunflower seeds
½ cup roasted salted or unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
½ cup dried cherries

Directions:

1. Mix together almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas and cherries. Serve. Store airtight at room temperature, up to 1 month.  

nanaimo-bar-trail-mix

Take all your favourite flavours of Nanaimo bars into the woods with you by making some chocolatey trail mix. Not a fan of coconut? Our original trail mix is simply satisfying.

Nanaimo Bar Trail Mix Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 4 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup roasted  walnuts halves
1 cup toasted, shaved coconut
¾ cup dark chocolate chunks
½ cup roasted salted or unsalted cashews
¼ cup roasted salted or unsalted sunflower seeds
¼ cup roasted salted or unsalted pepitas
¼ cup dried cherries   

Directions:

1. Mix together walnuts, coconut, chocolate, cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas and cherries. Serve. Store airtight at room temperature, up to 1 month.  

butter-tart-trail-mix

The choice is yours: candied pecans or candied bacon? There’s no wrong answer! Both our tasty butter tart trail mix and sweet and savoury bacon mix are satisfying.

Butter Tart Trail Mix Recipes

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Cooling Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 3½ cups

Ingredients:

¼ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp water
2 tsp salted or unsalted butter
1 cup pecans
1 cup roasted salted or unsalted cashews
½ cup roasted salted or unsalted sunflower seeds
½ cup roasted salted or unsalted pepitas
½ cup raisins

Directions:

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

2. Melt brown sugar, water and butter in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture foams and the pan starts to look dry, about 5 minutes. Spoon onto prepared sheet and cool completely, about 10 minutes.

3. Mix together candied pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas and raisins. Serve. Store airtight at room temperature, up to 1 month. 

Candied Bacon Trail Mix Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cooling Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes: 4 cups

Ingredients:

6 strips bacon
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 cup roasted salted or unsalted almonds
1 cup roasted salted or unsalted cashews
½ cup roasted salted or unsalted sunflower seeds
½ cup roasted salted or unsalted pepitas
½ cup dried cherries   

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Fit a rimmed baking sheet with a cooling rack. Spray rack with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Place bacon in a shallow dish and sprinkle with brown sugar, turn to coat, pressing sugar onto bacon to adhere. Place on prepared cooling rack on baking sheet and bake 20 to 25 min, or until golden and crispy. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, crumble or roughly chop.

3. Mix together almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas, cherries and bacon. Serve immediately.

More bites this way with our Best Road Trip Snacks made for traffic jams and car singalongs.

Pecan Whisky Butter Tarts are a Classic Canadian Treat, All Grown Up

Canada’s quintessential dessert, the butter tart, gets a grown-up twist with warming whisky, rich pecans and pure maple syrup. Canadian rye whisky adds a touch of warmth and natural spice notes, complementing the super-sweet buttery interior. It’s all balanced by the addition of pecans to add the perfect contrasting crunch. For the pastry, a mixture of butter and shortening helps to create those pretty frilled edges homemade butter tarts are known for – they also help to capture every bit of that sticky, just runny enough, spiked filling.

Canadian Pecan Whisky Butter Tarts

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Bake Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 3 minutes
Makes: 12

Ingredients:

Pastry Dough
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping and rolling
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for tin
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup cold water
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Filling
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp Canadian rye whisky
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped 

Directions:

Pastry Dough
1. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar and salt until combined. Add shortening and butter, and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk together water, egg yolk and lemon juice until combined. With the processor running, gradually add egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture, until dough just begins to come together.

2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead until dough comes together. Divide dough in half and shape into two discs. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out one disc into a circle measuring 1/8-inch or so in thickness. Carefully transfer, with parchment paper intact (to keep it from sticking), to a baking sheet. Repeat this with the second dough disc (use two baking sheets or layer on top of each other using parchment to separate). Cover each rolled disc loosely with additional parchment paper to avoid drying out, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until chilled and firm.

3. Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking oil or lightly grease with oil or extra shortening.

4. Using a round 4- to 5-inch round cookie cutter or wine glass, cut dough into 12 circles, re-rolling dough once if necessary. Gently press rounds into prepared pan allowing edges to fold up around each other and extend above the rim of pan. Freeze for 20 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

Filling
1. In a medium bowl, preferably one with a pour spout, whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, melted butter, eggs, whisky, vinegar and salt until smooth and sugar begins to dissolve.

2. Remove pastry shells from freezer. Divide pecans evenly in the bottom of each frozen pastry shell. Pour or ladle filling on top of pecans, filling 1/2-inch below the top of the pastry.

3. Bake in the bottom third of oven for 10 minutes at 450ºF. Reduce heat to 400°F and continue to bake for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until filling is set and puffed, covering with foil or parchment to prevent excess browning if necessary.

4. Transfer pan to wire cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around edges of tarts and let cool completely in pan. Pop them out when you’re ready to enjoy them. Serve and store butter tarts at room temperature.

From cheesecake to ice cream, these fresh takes on Canadian butter tarts will satisfy every sweet tooth.

10 Butter Tart Spots to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Butter tarts are a uniquely Canadian dessert with a history as rich as the country itself.

If you’ve never experienced the glory of these treats, they’re delightful pastries filled with a sticky, sweet, buttery filling. Raisins or pecans are popular additions to the filling while some bakers get creative with fruit, candy, or other unique variations.

Invented in Ontario, the province is also home to award-winning tarts and even has a festival that has transformed the dessert into a full-day experience. If you’re on a quest for butter tart bliss, here are 10 of Ontario’s top spots to indulge in this tasty national treat.

Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival (Midland, ON)

The ultimate destination for butter tart buffs, Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival takes place in Midland June 9, 2018. With more than 60 vendors and over 150,000 tarts for sale, it’s the perfect place for the entire family to try baked goods from across the province. Home to Ontario’s Best Butter Tart competition, bakers enter their finest classic and contemporary creations, and a panel of expert judges selects the best of the best! Another highlight of the day is the Butter Tart Trot, which includes a family-friendly fun run, as well as a 5k, 10k and half marathon.

Maple Key Tart Co. (Locations in Toronto and Northumberland County, ON)

Rachel Smith and Jean Parker, hosts of Food Network Canada’s The Baker Sisters, have been baking tarts since childhood when they helped their mother with her butter tart business. After they became mothers themselves, they co-founded their boutique butter tart company, taking their mother’s award-winning recipe and making a few tasty tweaks. Their rustic, handcrafted tarts are made with locally-milled flour and vegetable shortening and are available in four varieties: classic, raisin, pecan, and maple walnut. Jean and Rachel are judges in the “Traditional Butter Tart” category at Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival this year, plus they’ll be taking part in a meet and greet.

The perfect buttertart ❤️ #buttertartfestival #themaidscottage

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The Maid’s Cottage (Newmarket, ON)

Three-time winners at Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival, sisters Pam and Debbie got a young start helping their mother, Jackie, sell tarts and other baked goods on their front lawn. As word spread about Jackie’s baking, she opened their first shop on Main Street in Newmarket, and expanded to a larger location nearby a year later. Jackie sadly passed in 2003, but Pam and Debbie have continued the tradition, making their famous butter tarts from a secret family recipe.

Bitten on Locke (Hamilton, ON)

Rebecca and Erica at Bitten conquered the cupcake game before venturing into butter tarts just over a year ago. They researched a number of recipes from cookbooks, friends and family to come up with a base for their tarts, and spent many delicious months adjusting it until they landed on their current formula. Their traditional flaky pastry is made with lard and includes one secret ingredient that really sets them apart. While their cupcakes venture on the wild side, this duo considers themselves butter tart purists, offering only plain, raisin or pecan tarts.

Nana B’s Bakery (Merrickville, ON)

Owner Anne Barr created the award-winning Maple Rhubarb Apple butter tart that took first place in the Pro All-Ontario Ingredient category at last year’s Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival. Anne’s tarts are proudly made with ingredients sourced locally, in Eastern Ontario, and while her bakery is popular with locals, it is also a destination for day-trippers, boaters and cyclists alike. Nana B’s is committed to helping keep the environment beautiful, reducing and recycling as much as possible, and sends its used vegetable oil to a local garage for biodiesel conversion.

The Sweet Oven (Barrie, ON)

This Barrie Bakery owned by Becky Howard and her family is known right across the country for their handcrafted tarts. Each tart is made from scratch from the highest quality ingredients and baked on site. With more than 20 flavours to choose from, there is something to please every palate. They have the classics like pecan and raisin, but chocolate chip, peanut butter, English toffee and their signature tart raspberry are other popular picks.

In honour of #TeamCanada and how proud they’ve already made us #pyeongchang2018

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Carla’s Cookie Box (Toronto, ON)

Carla’s love of baking started as a kid while making traditional Italian cookies with her mom. As an adult, she started her butter tart journey at the request of her son after sifting through recipes from friends. None were quite right, so she experimented until she landed on her own recipe. Her handcrafted tarts are made in small batches, sometimes with help from her husband and kids, using the freshest maple syrup, flour, eggs and butter from Ontario farms and businesses. In addition to traditional fillings, she dabbles in fun flavours like Nutella Swirl and Pina Colada.

Doo Doo’s Bakery (Bailieboro, ON)

It was a bittersweet beginning for Diane Rogers’ butter tarts. Newly widowed and raising a teen and a toddler; she started her late-night baking sessions while the kids were sleeping. A self-taught baker, she developed her signature pastry by experimenting with an old recipe. Her soft, hand-rolled pastry is made in small batches with the finest ingredients. The light, flaky tarts have a jelly-like filling that’s not overly sweet with a good filling-to-crust ratio. Diane’s best ideas still come at night, so that’s her favourite time to prepare for a competition or event.

Betty’s Pies and Tarts (Cobourg, ON)

Over 40 years ago, Betty sold homemade baked goods from a converted garage, using a butter tart recipe handed down from a bakery she worked at. Betty retired in 2001 and sold the business to Nancy Coady, who first moved it to Port Hope and then to its location on Highway 2. Current owner Ali Jiggins worked at Betty’s through high school, and after university, bought the bakery from Nancy. Ali still uses Betty’s award-winning recipe with a few tweaks. They have a slightly heavy crust with a runnier filling, and comes in unique flavours like PB&J and raspberry-coconut.

13th Street Winery and Bakery (St. Catharines, ON)

13th Street Winery and Bakery is owned and operated by Karen and Doug Whitty, with Karen’s sister, Jo, as head baker. Their butter tart recipe was given to Jo by an old neighbour, which had been passed down for three generations before ending up in her hands. The filling is hand-mixed, measured into pressed pastry, and then baked until caramelized on top and runny on the inside. Raisin or pecan is available daily along with seasonal flavours like heart-shaped chocolate butter tarts for Valentine’s Day. Drop by on the weekends, when they feature pancake breakfast-inspired bacon butter tarts.

Have a favourite butter tart spot? Tell us in the comments below!

Butter Tart Cheesecake

The Best Maple Butter Tart Cheesecake Recipe

The classic Canadian butter tart has many variations – pecans or raisins, firm or runny filling, crispy or flaky pastry — and everyone has their favourite combo. If there’s one thing that all Canadians can agree on, it is the fact that butter tarts are one of the most delicious desserts out there. So why not go one step further and combine your favourite Canadian sweet treat with another indulgent dessert — cheesecake. The result is a sweet and salty combination that gets topped with butter tart filling and lots of pecans for extra crunch!

Butter Tart Cheesecake

Maple Butter Tart Cheesecake

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes + chill time
Makes: 10 slices

Ingredients:

Crust:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecake:
1 (250g) pkg cream cheese
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup 35% whipping cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt

Maple Pecan Sauce:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp 35% cream
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Butter Tart Cheesecake

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter an 8-inch round springform pan.
2. In a large bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt. Firmly press graham cracker crumb mixture into bottom of greased pan and push 1 inch up the side. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
3. In a large bowl combine cream cheese and brown sugar. Using an electric mixer beat until well combined and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in maple syrup, cream, butter and salt.
4. Wrap bottom of the pan with aluminium foil. Pour in filling and place in a roasting pan. Pour boiling water into roasting pan about 1 inch up the side. Bake until edges are set and middle still has a jello-like wobble, about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove pan from water and let cool, about 1 hour. Remove from tin, cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight to chill completely before serving.
5. When ready to serve, make the sauce. In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, maple syrup, cream, salt and pecans. Bring to a boil and let bubble for 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Serve drizzled over cheesecake.

Butter Tart Cheesecake

Looking for more butter tart goodness? Try our Best Butter Tart Recipes.

The Cream Egg Brownie You Absolutely Need to Try

Who says cream eggs have to be round? Cake and Loaf Bakery has taken everyone’s favourite Easter treat and made it even better.

Inspired by Cadbury Creme Eggs, these Cream Egg Brownies are topped with a heavenly milk chocolate ganache, golden and white chocolate cream layered on top of a deep fudge brownie. In case your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied, there’s also a Cadbury Mini Creme Egg nestled inside the chewy brownie base.

It’s no wonder these beautiful bars have created a cream egg frenzy. The sweet squares have garnered a buzz around Hamilton, Ont., causing the bakery to quadruple production to meet the demand for their trendy treat.

Cream Egg Brownies

These tasty creations are the brainchild of bakery owners Josie Rudderham and Nicole Miller, who started Cake and Loaf Bakery in 2011 . You may remember Josie  from her winning appearance on Season 2 of  Donut Showdown, where she impressed us with her sweet skills.

The pastry pair pride themselves on sourcing ingredients locally and baking their creations from scratch. If you’re in the Hamilton area, you can try this deliciously creamy layered dessert yourself. While you’re there, you can also enjoy their handcrafted Cream Eggs made with fair trade organic chocolate.

Cream Egg Brownies

Unfortunately, the recipe for their Cream Egg Brownies is top secret, but you can make their Donut Showdown winning doughnuts at home.

Get the recipe for Sriracha Peanut Butter Crunch Donuts.