Tag Archives: Canadian

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.

“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!”

A Heavenly Blueberry and Bacon Breakfast Casserole Made With Croissants

Blueberry pancakes with maple syrup and a healthy serving of bacon on the side has to be one of the most celebrated breakfasts of all time. When you find yourself with stale croissants, do yourself a favour before tossing them: make this super simple (and reliably delicious!) casserole dish that’s a riff on the quintessential breakfast. With maple syrup, wild blueberries and bacon, it ticks all the boxes of our favourite Canadian ingredients… and the buttery croissant base takes it to the next level. Your weekend brunch game just got a whole lot sweeter.

Blueberry, Maple and Bacon Croissant Casserole

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1-¼ cups milk
⅓ cup 35% cream
⅔ cup maple syrup, divided
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp kosher salt, divided
8 cups lightly packed stale croissants, cubed or roughly torn into 1-inch pieces
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2-½ cups frozen wild blueberries, divided
1 Tbsp flour

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2L casserole dish; set aside.
2. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, milk, cream, ⅓ cup maple syrup, vanilla and ¼ tsp salt in a large bowl.
3. Add the croissant bread and bacon, and toss to combine.
4. Toss 1 cup blueberries with flour in a small bowl. Add it to the croissant mixture, tossing gently to combine.
5. Spoon into prepared casserole dish and bake until golden and set, about 45 to 50 minutes.  

6. Meanwhile, add remaining blueberries, maple syrup and salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 10 minutes.
7. Drizzle the sweet, syrupy blueberry sauce over each individual casserole serving. Bon appétit!

Looking for more comforting breakfast inspiration? Here are 10 Must-Eat Canadian Breakfast Sandwiches and 25 Easy Breakfast Casserole Recipes.

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.

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!

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.

ketchup-chips-history

The Crunchy History of Ketchup Chips

It’s no secret that Canadians love their ketchup chips. The crunchy, thinly sliced fried potatoes, doused in a tangy reddish powder, have been a favourite flavour since the early 1980s, sparking snack attacks and staining fingers across the nation. It’s bewildering that a Heritage Minute hasn’t been created for Canada’s signature snack.

But what’s the story behind ketchup chips? French fries and ketchup have gone hand-in-hand since the early 1800s, but the duo really became BFFs in the 1940s with the rise of fast food and drive-ins at the time.

Ketchup Chips

Inspired by this classic combo, adding ketchup-flavoured seasoning to potato chips came to be sometime in the 1970s. Each chip was dusted with tomato powder, garlic, onion and spices, infusing smoky, salty and sweet flavours with a tart bite into every crunch. Since then, millions of chip bags have been torn open and devoured by hungry hordes of Canadians, who can’t get enough of this quirky and addictive ketchup-y flavour.

Although a quintessential Canadian snack, the origins of ketchup chips are mired in mystery, with no one stepping forward to officially take the credit. At its simplest, it’s believed that this red-powdered snack was first invented by Hostess Potato Chips in the early 1970s, and sold exclusively to the Canadian market. The newfangled flavour was a huge hit in the Great White North, triggering a ketchup chip craze to erupt from coast-to-coast.

Digging deeper, it appears that the story could be more complicated. An American company in Pennsylvania, Herr’s Snacks, has reportedly been making ketchup-flavoured chips since the early 1980s. A decade later, the Heinz Ketchup company got on board with Herr’s, realizing that potato chips and ketchup seasoning makes a killer combo. They’ve since blended the brands to create Herr’s Heinz Ketchup Flavoured Potato Chips.

The bottom line? Although ketchup chips likely hold dual citizenship, it’s definitely a Canadian classic to the core. While the flavour tends to be scarce south of the border, Canadian store shelves are almost always well-stocked with bags of this favourite Canuck snack. Plus, smaller Canadian-owned companies are jumping on the ketchup wagon and making their own versions.

Ketchup Chip Seasoning

Featured on Food Network Canada’s Food Factory, the Covered Bridge Potato Chip Factory in New Brunswick uses their grandmother’s recipe to make their chips, but revamped the recipe to include Homestyle Ketchup Chips. Made with Russet Potatoes, these ultra crunchy chips are dusted with tomato powder and other goodness, making it a favourite Canadian brand.

Nowadays, Canadians can do more than rip open a bag, as chip lovers are taking ketchup-style snacking to the next level. For one, the ketchup-y powder makes a sensational seasoning for many other tasty snacks, and it’s easy to make in your home kitchen. With this homemade ketchup chip flavouring, you can spice up everything from popcorn to roasted potatoes to squash, without adding artificial flavours and colours.

Short on time? You can also buy ready-to-go ketchup seasoning from the Covered Bridge Potato Chip Factory (along with bags of chips too!). Or just crush up some ketchup chips and use the bits as a crunchy topping for hot dogs or other mains. For more adventurous home chefs, why not try making a batch of Ketchup Chips Chicken Strips? The crispy batter of crushed ketchup chips transforms routine pub grub into a tangy and sweet dish.

The verdict? Ketchup chips hold a special place in the history and hearts of our delicious nation — but we’re still waiting on that Heritage Minute!

For more Canuck eats, check out these 45 Canadian Comfort Food Recipes.

Butter Tart Doughnuts

Treat Yourself With Canadian Butter Tart Doughnuts

We love Canada, so there’s no reason not to inject some of our classic recipes with a little extra patriotism. In this dessert, we (literally) inject light, fluffy, yeasted doughnuts with a gooey butter tart filling. This recipe celebrates our love of Canada, our love of doughnuts and our love of our classic Canadian dessert, the butter tart.

Butter Tart Doughnuts

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Rising Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 12 to 14 doughnuts

Ingredients:
Dough:
1 cup 2% milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 (8 g) pkg quick-rise instant yeast
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Oil for frying (amount depends on size of pot)

Filling:
1/2 brown sugar
1/4 golden corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Assembly:
1/2 cup icing sugar

Butter Tart Doughnuts

Directions:

Dough:
1. In a small saucepan, heat milk over low until temperature is slightly warmer than room temperature (should feel comfortable to touch). Stir in sugar and pour into the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Sprinkle yeast over warm milk mixture and set aside until foamy bubbles appear on the surface, about 10 minutes.
2. After yeast is foamy, beat in butter, egg, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add in flour and beat on medium-high speed until a smooth dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl cleanly and climbs the dough hook, about 5 minutes.
3. Form dough into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover with a dish towel and place in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
4. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface until ¾-inch thick. Using a floured 3-inch round cutter, press into dough and twist to release dough from sticking to cutter. Place dough rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Reroll dough scraps one at a time and repeat. Cover dough rounds with kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
5. Prepare a baking sheet lined with a few layers of paper towel. Pour enough oil into a large pot until 3- to 4-inches deep. Set pot with a clip-on thermometer and heat until temperature reaches 350ºF. Adjust heat to maintain 350ºF temperature.
6. Working in batches of 3 or 4, fry doughnuts until golden, about 1 minute per side, for a total of about 2 minutes. Using a spider or slotted spoon, carefully transfer fried doughnuts to prepared baking sheet. Cool.

Filling:
1. Combine all filling ingredients in a double boiler. Heat over high while stirring until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Place mixture in the refrigerator until chilled, about 2 hours.

Assembly:
1. Transfer chilled filling into a piping bag. Poke a hole in the side of one doughnut using the back of a wooden spoon until you reach the centre of the doughnut. Pipe filling into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.
2. Dust doughnuts with icing sugar before serving.

Looking for more tasty recipes? Try these 20 Great Canadian Butter Tart Recipes.

Great Canadian Burger

Get Ready To Taste The Great Canadian Burger

This weekend, celebrate Canada’s extra-special birthday with a big, bold burger. Wildly delicious, moose is a lean meat endless in versatility. And this recipe brings the majestic animal out of the woods and onto your barbecue in the tastiest way possible. The key to juicy moose is to mix it with Alberta beef before it hits the grill. Slather in wild blueberry and red onion jam for a crave-worthy-burger that’ll make you proud to be Canadian.

Great Canadian Burger

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp wild blueberry jam
1 lb(s) ground moose meat
1/2 lb(s) medium ground beef
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 ciabatta buns
1/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup baby arugula, lightly packed

Directions:
1. Heat butter in a small pan over medium. Add in red onion and cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add in vinegar and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in blueberry jam and simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture is thick.
2. Combine moose meat, ground beef and salt in a bowl. Divide meat into 4 portions and form patties using your hands. Pack tightly, but do not overwork meat.
3. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high. Add in oil and gently place burgers down. Cook until a golden brown crust forms, about 4 minutes per side.
4. Cut ciabatta buns in half. Smear 1 Tbsp of Greek yogurt on to the bottom of each bun. Place burger on top of yogurt. Divide onion jam among burgers. Top with arugula and close with top bun.

Watch this Burger Edition of You Gotta Eat Here! where host John Catucci enjoys some of the craziest burgers out there.

You’ll Love Every Single Layer of This Nanaimo Bar Trifle

Transform the ultra Canadian dessert into an impressive party pleaser. This recipe takes the flavours of Nanaimo bars — coconut, chocolate and vanilla custard — and layers them into a decadent, drool-worthy trifle. We make it over the top with layers of chocolate wafer cookies and topping it off with whipped cream. Literally dig right into this deep-dish dessert of inspired by a classic Canadian square.

nanaimo-trifle1

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake:
1 box chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Vanilla Custard:
6 Tbsp Bird’s custard powder
1/2 cup sugar
3 3/4 cups milk

Assembly:
1 cup 35% whipping cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup desiccated sweetened coconut
10 chocolate wafers, crushed

nanaimo-trifle2

Directions:
1. Mix the cake batter according to box directions. Stir in walnuts.
2. Bake in a 9×9-inch baking pan according to package directions. Let cool.
3. In a microwavable bowl, mix custard powder with sugar and milk. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Whisk mixture until smooth then microwave for another 3 minutes. Whisk again, then let stand for 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap flush to the custard to avoid a skin. Refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.
4. Whip cream to soft peaks and fold in sugar.
5. Remove cake from pan and cut cake into 2-inch chunks. Layer 1/3 of cake pieces in the bottom of a trifle dish, spoon 1/3 of custard over cake pieces, then sprinkle on 1/3 coconut,  then1/3 of chocolate wafer. Repeat twice.
6. Spoon whipped cream on top, and sprinkle with reserved coconut and chocolate wafer.

Looking for more Nanaimo-inspired desserts? Watch these videos for Nanaimo Cheesecake Bars, Nanaimo Ice Cream Cake and Nanaimo Bar Pie.

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.

Girl Guide Cookies classic

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 crème, 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 over 2.3 million boxes of cookies sold in Ontario alone, just in 2014 and 2015. If the boxes were laid down on a road, it would reach from Windsor to Timmins. That’s a lot of cookie love!

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.

Nowadays, you can do more than gobble biscuits by the box, as Canadians are taking their love of Girl Guide cookies to the next level. There are a gazillion and one ways to make these cookies crumble in your home kitchen.

Girl Guide Mint Cookies

Try making this decadent No Bake Chai Cheesecake developed by Bal Arneson, host of the Food Network Canada’s Spice Goddess, using a dozen chocolate and vanilla cookies. On chilly days, warm up with a steaming mug of Minty Hot Chocolate paired with a moist slice of Chocolate Vanilla Coffee Cake, both made with GGC cookies. Got a bake sale coming up? Bake a batch of these decadent Girl Guide Brownie Cupcakes and watch ‘em disappear in seconds!

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.

Indulge In This Luscious Lobster Poutine

As if poutine wasn’t decadent enough — an indulgence of crispy fries, thick gravy and cheese curds — we’ve amped up the luxuriousness with fresh lobster, salty bacon, diced tomatoes and, of course, loads of gravy. This secretly easy-to-make weekend meal is worth every cheesy, lobster-filled bite.

lobster-poutine-2

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45
Serves: 2 to 4

Ingredients:

For the Fries:
3 russet (baking) potatoes, skin intact, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips or wedges
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

For the Toppings:
11/2 cups cooked lobster meat, torn into bite-sized pieces
200 g poutine cheese curds
2 strips cooked bacon, chopped
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 cup gravy, heated

lobster-poutine-1

Directions:

For the Fries:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. On a large baking sheet, toss all potato ingredients until potatoes are evenly coated.
3. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and golden brown on the bottom.

Assembly:
1. On a warm platter, add a bed of fries. Top with lobster, cheese curds and bacon, if using. Ladle over hot gravy (use as much as you like; there may be extra). Garnish with chopped tomatoes, parsley. Serve immediately.

Love poutine? Learn more about the iconic Canadian dish with these 9 fun facts.

flapper-pie-karlynn-feature

Rediscovering Old-Fashioned Prairie Desserts

Karlynn Johnston is bringing your grandma’s baking back. We’re not talking jello salad, but rum balls, danties, squares and the ultimate Prairie classic, flapper pie.

With her new cookbook, aptly named, Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky, the Edmonton-based blogger behind The Kitchen Magpie, takes us back in time with recipes for classic Canadian desserts of yesteryear. Passed down on scraps of paper or typically only published in community cookbooks, Johnston has brought together a perfect selection of long forgotten sweets from Prairie kitchens past and present.

flapper pie and blue prairie sky

Flipping through the cookbook, each page takes you back to your grandmother’s kitchen, school bake sales and community halls, where many of these desserts have been enjoyed for generations.

“My grandma, out on the farm, would always have danties in the freezer for company,” says Johnston. “That was a big part of Prairie life.”

For Johnston, her love of baking started at a young age, where she spent summers in her grandmother’s farmstead kitchen in Dauphin, Manitoba. There she was put to work turning buckets of freshly picked blueberries and Saskatoons into dozens of freshly baked pies, made with classic Canadian Tenderflake dough.

“Pie days were a lot of work,” says Johnston. “She’d start in the morning. If you could fit three in the oven, you’d bake those for an hour and have the next ones ready. It was a huge assembly line.”
From there, the pies were cooled, wrapped and frozen for the cold Prairie winter. While she ample experience mixing, rolling and baking pie dough, she admits that she doesn’t quite have her grandmother’s touch.

“She had the lightest touch, out of everyone I know,” she says. “By touch she always knew if it needed a little more vinegar or cold water. She made the best pie pastry.”

Karlynn Johnston's Flapper Pie.

Excerpted from Flapper Pie and Blue Prairie Sky: A Modern Baker’s Guide to Old-Fashioned Desserts by Karlynn Johnston. Copyright © 2016 Karlynn Johnston. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
Excerpted from Flapper Pie and Blue Prairie Sky: A Modern Baker’s Guide to Old-Fashioned Desserts by Karlynn Johnston. Copyright © 2016 Karlynn Johnston. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Johnston prefers to make the simple graham crust of the classic Prairie flapper pie, which dons the cover of her book. Known as the ‘almost’ forgotten pie, the custard-filled treat topped with meringue is a family favourite across the prairies, with variations abound.

“I’ve had a lot of people tell me it’s the proper one, because it has cinnamon in the graham crust,” says Johnston, who received the recipe from her mother. Once she baked it up, and posted it on The Kitchen Magpie, she was flooded with nostalgic notes from readers.

“I had hundreds of people telling me they had forgotten about it,” says Johnston. “I think it is one of those foods that their grandmas and their aunts used to make and it just has the memories attached to it.”

“My mom didn’t make it, but she remembers her mom making it. Her generation forgot about it and now my generation is going back and recapturing all those memories.”

Saskatoon-Berry-Pie

Excerpted from Flapper Pie and Blue Prairie Sky: A Modern Baker’s Guide to Old-Fashioned Desserts by Karlynn Johnston. Copyright © 2016 Karlynn Johnston. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Johnston isn’t surprised by the newfound love for classic recipes, especially Canadian ones. With new, over the top food trends popping up almost daily, she thinks that people still crave that down home comfort.

“It is fantastic to go to a restaurant and eat it, but these (classic recipes) are the recipes that mean the most to us,” she says.
That doesn’t mean she isn’t open to creative twists on the classics. Her book is riddled with new interpretations of Canadian sweets, including her new favourite: Saskatoon Butter Tart Pie.

“There’s something about the flavours that are perfect,” she says. “You won’t think they would work but it does really, really well. It is like the culmination of everything Prairies in one recipe.”

Pecan-Butter-Tarts

The Sticky-Sweet History of the Butter Tart

How do you like your butter tart — firm or runny? With raisins or bacon bits? Made with butter or shortening?

There are a gazillion and one ways to make (and eat!) a butter tart, but only one truly great place to enjoy them: in Canada, the birthplace of this sweet, satisfying treat.

“The butter tart is 100 percent Canadian,” says Food Network Star Anna Olson. “It’s an individual tart, as opposed to a full-sized pie.”

Pecan-Butter-Tarts

In case you’ve been in hibernation, a butter tart is a flaky, round pastry shell filled with a gooey buttery filling that’s semi-solid, with a crunchy top. Taste testing is almost a patriotic duty, offering a delicious way to sink your teeth into Canadian history.

Like many legendary dishes, the butter tart’s origins are fuzzy. It’s believed that filles à marier (“marriageable girls”) created a crude version in the 1600s. These newly arrived Québécois brides filled their French tarts with New World ingredients: maple sugar, freshly churned butter, and dried fruit such as raisins.

“The idea of mixing a syrup with eggs and dried fruit to form a dessert is an old one, and was likely born out of necessity to make do with ingredients on hand,” says Dr. Lenore Newman, Food Security and Environment Director at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Others believe the butter tart has roots in pecan pie, brought to Canada by Americans, or possibly is related to Québec’s sugar pie or even Scottish border tarts. And some experts credit pioneer cooks for creating the beloved version known today, tracing the earliest printed recipes back to the 1900s. Ultimately, no one knows for sure, but the tart’s origins are likely a combination of all of the above.

“It just slowly evolved and appeared,” says Anna. “It looks like a lot of other tarts: like the French [Canadian] tarte au sucre, or a treacle tart [a traditional British dessert].”

Four hundred years later, the butter tart has become the quintessential Canadian sweet treat. It was all the rage in the 1920s and 1930s, and it’s one of the few authentically Canadian recipes that exists on paper.

“The butter tart’s success in Canada is likely linked to our general love of sweet desserts,” says Dr. Newman. “However I do feel that the butter tart is being influenced ever so slightly by Canada’s cuisine with its dedication to local foods. British and French settlers loved sugar, but butter tarts also fit a model of early Canadian foods that needed to pack a really high calorie load into each bite. We worked outside in the cold and needed to eat a lot more than we do now.”

Butter Tart Cheesecake

Today, the craze continues. There are even butter tart trails that dessert lovers can follow, with Ontario’s Kawarthas Northumberland Region and Wellington County offering maps and self-guided itineraries to explore local bakeries and cafes. What’s even more incredible is the butter tart has become an international superstar.

“No matter where I am travelling, I’m always asked to demonstrate a butter tart,” says Chef Anna. “I have demonstrated butter tarts in Argentina, Moscow, Dubai, all over Southeast Asia. I just hosted a chef from the Philippines and the one thing on his checklist was trying a butter tart. Because the world knows the butter tart as ubiquitously Canadian.”

What makes an “authentic” Canadian butter tart? It’s a hotly debated topic within the baking community, especially when it comes to three aspects: should the tart’s filling be runny or firm? Should it contain raisins? And how far can you stray from the original recipe? According to Chef Anna, there’s no clear answers: it really depends on the baker, and the proof is, well, in the pastry.

“The butter tart has as many recipes as there are people who make them,” says Chef Anna. “But whether it’s a filling made with maple syrup or corn syrup is very particular to the [baker]. Some swear by lard pastry, others by butter. To call it a butter tart, you can’t change the shape or syrupy filling.”

Nonetheless, bakers and pastry chefs are making endless and ever-evolving variations on this favourite Canuck dessert. Some stuff the flaky pastry cup with toasted pecans instead of raisins, or even chocolate or bacon fillings.

The bacon butter tart has become a staple — it’s that salty crunch in the bottom,” says Anna. “I’m seeing more with chocolate melted into the syrupy filling. You could even put in marshmallows and chocolate chips for an s’mores butter tart!”

In recent years, some maverick chefs and bakers are even masterminding butter tart-flavoured foods, such as ice creams, cookies, cobblers, and Butter Tart Cheesecake.

“While you may not change the butter tart, you can integrate those flavours and textures elsewhere,” says Chef Anna. “For my new cookbook, I want to do a butter tart swirl cheesecake that has that the same pastry crunch, butteriness, and drifty caramel swirl.”

It’s worth taking a tantalizing tart trip across Canada to try all the variations and recipes, with Chef Anna naming Niagara’s 13th Street Winery and The Pie Plate Bakery & Café as being among the best. If you’re feeling adventurous at home, try mastering Chef Anna’s Pecan Butter Tarts or her swoon-worthy Butter Tart Coffee Cake. For holiday entertaining, you could even build a butter tart buffet that will entice guests to the table.

Despite her playful renditions, there’s one thing that Chef Anna is old-fashioned about when it comes to making a classic Canadian butter tart. “Can you make a low fat butter tart? No way!” she says. “But you could make them miniature sized.”

Make the Cutest Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies

Ugly Christmas sweaters used to be the curse of the holiday season. Yet, the tacky, colourful jumpers have somehow become the hottest holiday fashion statement. Holiday parties are planned around who can wear the most hideous sweater, and it’s always surprising to see who can find the most ironic and hilarious cardigan.

Meet the coolest holiday cookies around, wearing…you guessed it: ugly Christmas sweaters. Sure, you can always make gingerbread men, but we love how cute these iconic Canadian animals look dressed up for the season. You’ll have as much fun designing them as you do wearing them. Bring these to your next ugly sweater party and put everyone in a festive mood.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies

Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours
Makes: 26 cookies

Ingredients:

Cookies
2-2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Royal Icing
2 large egg whites
1 tsp lemon juice
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
Red food gel
Green food gel
Sprinkles
Sanding sugar

Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses, vanilla and egg and beat until combined.
4. Gradually add in dry ingredients and stir until combined.
5. Divide the dough into 2 portions. Wrap them in plastic and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
6. Remove 1 dough portion from refrigerator and roll out on a floured surface into a 1/4-inch thick sheet. Dust rolling pin and surface of the dough with flour to avoid sticking.
7. Using desired cookie cutters, cut various shapes out of the dough and place them on prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough portion.
8. Bake cookies until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely before decorating, about 30 min.
9. To make royal icing, whisk egg whites with lemon juice. Gradually add in icing sugar and whisk until smooth. The consistency should be thick enough that when you pull the whisk out of the mixture, the ribbon that runs off stays visible on the surface for a few seconds. You can add more icing sugar to achieve a thicker consistency or conversely, add small amounts of water to thin.
10. Divide the royal icing into 3 separate bowls. Dip the tip of a paring knife into red food gel and add colour to one bowl of icing and stir. Continue to add more gel until desired colour forms. Repeat with green food gel and one of the remaining bowls of royal icing. Leave remaining icing white. Transfer various icing colours to small piping bags. Pipe ugly sweaters onto your cookies using various colours, patterns, sprinkles and sanding sugar. Let dry for minimum 1 hour before serving.

How to Shuck an Oyster Like A Pro

Shucking oysters is a delicate process and at first glance, may seem intimidating. But once you learn to break through their tough exterior, you’ll relish the sweet and savory mouthful inside.

To get the best tips and tricks, we turned to the pros at the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival in Comox Valley.

With over 22 years of experience at Fanny Bay Oysters, Ray Silvey and oyster shucking Guinness World Record holder, Patrick “Shucker Paddy” McMurray share their best techniques to help you shuck like a pro at your next cocktail party.

What You’ll Need:
– Oysters
– Oyster knife
– Damp tea towel or stainless steel glove
– Serving tray (with ice, lemon wedges and condiments)

Steps:
1. Make sure the oysters are clean of any grit or debris that may still be attached from their time in the ocean and on the beach. A quick rinse in the sink will do.

2. A stainless steel glove and damp tea towel are interchangeable. A stainless steel glove is highly protective and will save you from any unwanted slips and cuts from the very sharp oyster knife. Alternatively, use a damp tea towel that has been folded into a small square, creating at least eight layers of protection to avoid slipping.

how-to-shuck-oyster-technique
3. To begin shucking, hold your oyster knife in your dominant hand. Place your other hand around the towel covered oyster.

4. You will enter the oyster at the hinge (the back) where the top and bottom shell meet. Here there is a natural opening perfect for the tip of your knife.

how-to-shuck-oyster-technique-2
5. Apply pressure with the knife in this sweet spot and turn the knife 1/4 turn like a key in a lock (do not jam it or pry it like wedging open a paint can). With this slight wiggle you will feel it crack open.

6. The top shell will still be attached by the adduction muscle. Scrape your knife along the top of the shell to detach.

how-to-shuck-oyster-protect-hand
7. Now that your oyster is open, take a moment to wipe out any debris that may have made its way into the shell. You’ll then have to cut the adductor muscle away from the shell, which is about 2/3 of the way up from the hinge on the right hand side.

how-to-shuck-oyster-main
8. Repeat these steps until all your oysters are open. Serve on a bed of ice with fresh lemon. Enjoy!

how-to-shuck-oyster-serve

Fun Party Tip: Shucker Paddy likes to serve up a shot of Canadian whisky as an oyster chaser. Have your guests slurp back their oyster and pour some whisky into the empty shell while they’re enjoying. The salt water and whisky compliment each other perfectly. Try serving oysters with Shelter Point Distillery Single Malt Whiskey, both from the beautiful Comox Valley.

Canadian No-Bake Cheesecake Bars

Celebrate Canada Day by proudly showcasing our beautiful maple leaf on top of these creamy no-bake cheesecake bars. The addition of a red graham cracker base makes it even more patriotic, but the best part of this luxurious dessert is that it can be made ahead, leaving you more time for celebrating!

Canadian-No-Bake-Cheesecake-Bars1

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cool Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Makes: 12 servings

Ingredients:
Base
1/ cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp red food colouring
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Filling
1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin
2 tbsp water
1/3 35% cream
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Topping
1/2 cup coarse red sugar

Canadian-No-Bake-Cheesecake-Bars2

Directions:
Base
1. In a small bowl, whisk together butter and food colouring. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter mixture. Mix until butter mixture is evenly distributed.
2. Pour into prepared pan and press evenly then set aside.
4. Line a 9-inch square metal baking pan with foil leaving a 2-inch overhang then set aside.

Filling
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water. Microwave on medium heat until dissolved, about 20 seconds.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl and using an electric mixer, whip cream then set aside.
3. In a separate bowl and using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until light. Add sugar, sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined.
4. Stir gelatin into cream cheese mixture. Fold in whipped cream. Pour over crust, smoothing top.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
6. Using foil overhang as handles, remove cheesecake from pan and transfer from foil to serving plate.
7. Cut Cheesecake into 12 pieces.

Topping
1. Place 1 3/4 inch maple leaf cookie cutter in centre of each cheesecake piece.
2. Spoon rounded 1/4 tsp coarse red sugar into centre of cutter.
3. Using tip of knife, gently spread sugar to fill cutter. Remove cutter being careful not to disturb sugar.

How to Throw a Canada Day Party for Under $50

The birthday of our home and native land is just around the corner, so we’ve got the perfect excuse to plan a stellar red-and-white-themed bash. But you’ll quickly find that a simple celebration can cost a lot more than you’re willing to spend. That’s okay! You can still throw a quaint Canada Day shindig without having to give up on all your patriotic party hopes and dreams.

From simple and reusable décor to snacks that’ll satisfy any true Canadian’s taste buds, learn how to throw a Canada Day party for your friends and family, all for under $50.

Canada Day Party

To begin, gather a few home décor pieces and party supplies you already own. This can include anything from a reusable banner, snack labels (along with a chalk pen), twine for the sandwiches, platters and a crate for the display, and some form of tea lights.

Décor Expenses:
Chip cups: $2
Poutine containers: $2
Napkins: $1
Flowers: $7
Sparklers: $1
Total: $13

For the food, it’s only appropriate to serve every cliché, most-loved food Canada has to offer. This includes BLTs, poutine, ketchup chips, butter tarts and maple doughnuts.

Food Expenses:
Bread, Canadian bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise for BLTs: $14
Smoke’s traditional poutine: $10
Ketchup chips: $3
Maple doughnuts: $5
Butter tarts: $4
Total: $36

Total Cost: $49

Maple Doughnuts

For the focal point on the table, stack maple doughnuts on a cake stand, sitting on top of a crate. I figured they’re maple, they’re doughnuts — surely they deserve the utmost attention at a Canadian affair, right? If you’re looking to make doughnuts from scratch, try this recipe for Anna Olson’s Maple Glazed Doughnuts.

Canadian BLTs

Make mini versions of our country’s favourite sandwich, the BLT, and line them up on a long platter. Want to opt for a heartier sandwich? Try this Fried Chicken BLT Melt recipe.

Canadian BLTs

Use twine to tie red and white striped napkins around the sandwiches for an al fresco feel.

Smoke's Poutine

And what Canada Day celebration would be complete without our country’s signature food, poutine? Use takeout-inspired boxes to display five mini servings of these gravy-doused, cheese-topped French fries. But if you want to add a little more flair to your poutine, try making your own version of Smoke’s Nacho Grande Poutine.

Butter Tarts

For a dessert that has “Made in Canada” written all over it, butter tarts are the way to go. Made with eggs, sugar, raisins, and of course, butter, this quintessential dessert features a buttery, flaky crust and super-sweet filling. How could we Canucks resist? If you have a little extra time on your hands, try this recipe for Anna Olson’s Pecan Butter Tarts.

Ketchup Chips

Chances are you won’t be able to find ketchup chips outside of the country, so it’s quite necessary to serve Canada’s “exclusive” snack at your little shindig. Set out portions of ketchup chips in red and white striped, easy-to-grab cups.

Canada Day Food Table

Accent the table with some mercury tea lights as vases to hold daisies.

Doughnuts and Sparklers

And of course, to continue with tradition, sparklers can be added for the finishing touch to the celebration.

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

The Best Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

We didn’t think mac and cheese could get any better, but enter: peameal bacon! Take the deliciousness of the classic pasta dish — macaroni smothered in ooey, gooey cheese — then top that with a crunchy cornmeal crumble. It doesn’t get better than this.

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups macaroni noodles
2 Tbsp panko crumbs
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 Tbsp cornmeal
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1-1/2 cups cubed peameal bacon
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup shredded smoked cheddar
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

Directions:
1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water with 1 Tbsp salt until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Combine panko crumbs, parmesan and cornmeal in a small bowl. Work in one Tbsp butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
3. Preheat broiler. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp butter, then the bacon. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
4. Melt 1/4 cup butter in the same pot over medium-low. Whisk in flour until mixture forms a paste, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Stir in cheese, cayenne and mustard. Stir in pasta and bacon. Scrape mixture into an oven-safe baking dish. Top with cornmeal mixture. Broil in centre of oven until top is golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Looking for more mouth watering recipes? Try our 10 Perfect Peameal Bacon Recipes.

Pecan-Butter-Tarts

Meet Ontario’s Butter Tart Champions

Diane Rogers knows the sweet taste of victory, and it tastes like butter tarts.

The award-winning baker beat out 165 submissions, and 69 amateur and professional baker to take home the top prize for her decadent cheesecake butter tarts at Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival in Midland, Ont. this past weekend.

The one-day festival saw thousands of nostalgic visitors descend on the Ontario town eager to satisfy their sweet tooth on more than 100,000 of the best butter tarts in Ontario.

Pecan-Butter-Tarts

Among the thousands of pastries enjoyed on Saturday, one recipe stood above them all. Rogers’ sweet, gooey tart topped with a tangy layer of cream cheese wowed the judges so much, she took home the best in show. In fact, her bakery, Doo Doo’s Bakery in Bailieboro, Ont., snagged first, second and third prize in the professional, non-classic category.

“I knew the competition was going to be stiff this year,” said the two-time festival winner. “I was worried.”

On top of bragging rights, this year, the best in show title comes with an entry to the Canadian Food Championships in Edmonton later this summer. There, Rogers will be competing against pastry chefs from across the country to earn her tarts the title of best dessert in Canada.

“It is pretty exciting just to go to Edmonton. We are pretty pumped about that,” says Rogers. “We’re going to have to start practicing.”

While Rogers’ cream cheese tarts earned best in show, The Maid’s Cottage in Newmarket, Ont. earned top marks in the traditional professional category with their classic, gooey pecan tarts.

The top secret recipe is generations old, belonging to the great-grandmother of sisters Pam Lewis and Debbie Hill. Growing up, Lewis knew that her grandma’s butter tarts were good, but it took prodding from a local customer at The Maid’s Cottage for the sisters to enter their family recipe in the competition.

butter-tart-festival

Festival-goers snapped up more than 100,000 butter tarts on June 11.

While Lewis won’t reveal the recipe, she will admit that the key to their flaky crust is lard, along with a commitment to good quality ingredients.

“It is made with all whole ingredients and a lot of love,” says Lewis. “They are our family pride and everyone loves them.”

The Maid’s Cottage has been serving up family recipes, like their now-famous butter tarts, since their mother opened the doors in 1998. Sisters Lewis and Hill joined the growing family business, which had grown to include a bakery, known as the “Tart Pit,” where their hard working bakers are busy creating beautiful hand-crimped pastries.

“My mom is a big part of this. She is always watching over us keeping busy — a real go-getter,” says Lewis who credits her staff for the hard work leading up to the festival. “Without our team it wouldn’t be possible.”

While their classic, pecan-filled tart earned first place, Lewis isn’t a butter tart purist.

“It is not that one is better than the other, it’s what one person likes, whether it is raisins or pecans,” she says.

Home baking champion, Jane Albert usually opts for the classic tarts, but the avid Ingersoll, Ont. baker couldn’t resist her own award-winning bananas foster butter tart. Her creativity earned her three festival titles, though she insists that the best tarts start with a perfectly flaky, handmade crust.

“It really doesn’t matter how ooey or gooey the filling is, the crust is the foundation for a good tart,” she says. “And you need to have your hands in it.”

Her first time entering the competition, Albert was excited to share her 200-year-old family recipe with the scours of butter tart lovers swarming Midland, looking to satisfy their taste for nostalgia.

Midland seems to have captivated an amazing market and concept of a very nostalgic dessert,” says Albert.

Looking for sweet recipes? Check out these tasty Canadian treats.