Tag Archives: saskatchewan

The Perogie Recipe 85 Years in the Making

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

perogies on blue platter with side of sour cream

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

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

Related: Tasty Dumplings Recipes From Around the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grandma Mary’s Perogies With Potato-Cheese Filling

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

Watch the how-to video here:


Ingredients:

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

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

Directions:

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

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

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

Potato-Cheese Perogie Filling

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

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

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

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

Published September 21, 2015, Updated February 1, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grandma Betsy’s Saskatoon Berry Crisp

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

Published August 21, 2015, Updated August 20, 2018

Photo courtesy of Candace Ippolito

A Saskatoon Musician’s Easy Saskatoon Berry Jam Recipe

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

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

saskatoon-berry-jam-on-toast

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

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

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

Related: PB&J Recipes That Will Change Your Life

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

saskatoon-jam-complete

Simple Saskatoon Berry Jam Recipe

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

Mennonite Favourites Made With Love (Fleisch Perishky and Roll Kuchen!)

Trish Mayor grew up in Martensville, a community outside Saskatoon with a strong Mennonite presence, where she was raised with love, tolerance and an appreciation for butter. She has fond memories of eating her mum and omi’s roll kuchen (cookies) and fleisch perishky (meat dumplings) on Sundays.

“The town I grew up in had a very generous environment among a family-oriented community of people. Kind and loving and accepting,” says Trish. “That, for me, is the definition of Canadian — how we try to be as caring and accepting of others as possible.”

“I believe roll kuchen and fleisch perishky are very old recipes. Like with many Mennonite recipes, they’re made with whatever’s in the cupboard; you throw them together with leftovers. I fondly remember visiting with my grandparents and eating both dishes for Sunday brunch. My grandparents would make them ahead of time and serve them cold.”

Related: Sweet and Savoury Saskatoon Berry Recipes

“My mum often made roll kuchen to have with soup, but you can have them with jam or syrup, too—it’s a wonderfully diverse recipe. My mother said that many Prairie towns have fundraisers where they sell watermelon slices with roll kuchen — so it does go with sweet — but most often, we eat them with savoury soup. Roll kuchen is something I make when I don’t want a biscuit, plus they’re quicker and easier to make than buns!”

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“These days, fleisch perishky aren’t so much a staple as they are a treat. When we do make these meat-filled dumplings, we make a large batch to freeze so we have some on hand.”

“I’m expecting my first child this summer and I’m looking forward to cooking with him. I want to teach him to understand the benefits of eating ‘real’ food (as local as possible), that food is not just about eating what you like, that it’s also about nourishing your body — and to eat his vegetables! One of my favourite things to do now is cook with my partner, who is also a very good cook. We turn on music and enjoy ourselves in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to having our child as part of this happy picture.”

“I think my love of food and cooking came from growing up and not being worried about small things, such as too much butter in my food. Food was more like, ‘This is good, and we’re sitting together and enjoying this together.’ I do think that food is love. And when it is prepared with love, it can be something very special.”

Omi’s Fleisch Perishky

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes (includes rising time)
Servings: 24 to 36 dumplings

Ingredients:

Dough
1 ½ packages yeast
2 tsp  + ¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
½ cup melted shortening or butter
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
4 to 5 cups flour
2 egg yolks

Filling
1 lb ground beef or leftover roast that has gone through meat grinder
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 cups mashed potatoes (enough to bind meat) (optional)

Directions:

Dough
1. Dissolve yeast and 1/4 tsp sugar in warm water; cover and set aside until light and fluffy, about 20 minutes.

2. Stir in milk, shortening, remaining sugar salt and eggs; mix until well combined.

3. Add flour, a bit at a time, mixing until it comes away from bowl. Knead until elastic, about 8 minutes.

4. Place dough in greased bowl; cover and let rise, turning once, for 1 hour.

Filling
1. In skillet, cook beef and onion until beef is no longer pink inside and onion is softened; season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Add mashed potatoes, if using, to form paste.

Assembly
1. Pinch dough into about 24 to 36 pieces.

2. Flatten each to form oval; add about 1 tsp (5 mL) filling to centre. Wrap and close dough around edges to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, placing each dumpling on greased baking sheet to rise for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

3. Mix egg yolks with equal amount of water. Brush dumplings with egg yolk mixture.

4. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve hot or cold.

Related: A Saskatoon Musician’s Easy Saskatoon Berry Jam Recipe

Roll Kuchen

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 32 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
Oil for frying

Directions:

1. Into bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well; add cream and eggs, mixing well. Add a bit more flour if dough is too soft.

2. On floured surface, roll out dough to about 16 x 16 inches (40 x 40 cm). Dough should be springy and no thicker than a pencil.

3. Cut dough into strips about 4 x 2 inches (10 x 5 cm). Cut lengthwise slit in centre of each strip; pull half of the strip through it.

4. Fry, turning once, until golden brown.

Borscht: ‘My Family’s Version of Chicken Soup’

By Sam Yachiw, as told to Leslie Wu

Sam Yachiw shares her love of curling with local kids through the nonprofit Curl Saskatoon. At home, this fourth-generation Ukrainian-Canadian loves sharing a hearty bowl of her baba’s borscht with family and friends. In fact, Yachiw’s favourite way to explore her heritage is to navigate her grandparents’ dinner table, where some of her fondest memories take place.

Borscht was my family’s version of chicken soup, fed to us when we were sick or sad. I’ve had it since I was a toddler, and I’ve always liked its unique taste and that warm feeling with every mouthful. It would have been my great, great-grandmother who brought the recipe over from Ukraine. The core recipe is the same, but it’s been adapted and tweaked over the years.

With my baba [grandmother] and dido [grandfather], we make a big batch of this soup once a year: about 20 single-serving jars and a whole bunch of larger jars, which are distributed among the family. On borscht cooking day, we start early in the morning with the chopping. The whole process takes about two hours, or even three, depending on how much we’ve been talking. We’re usually done by noon, then we’ll heat up some fresh borscht for lunch. For most of the afternoon, we come together as family and just talk! We’re such a close-knit family, and I love it.

We sit down to share borscht as the second course at Ukrainian Easter. This holiday is different for every family, depending on how traditional you are. For us, it’s lunch after church, which turns into about four hours of feasting, then relaxing in a comfortable chair to chat with someone you may not have seen in many years. My grandparents know so many people I’ve never met in the 27 years I’ve been alive, so there’s always someone new at the kitchen or dining table. Last year, they hosted a lady who was in their wedding party more than 60 years ago.

Borscht has brought my baba and I together. Most of my memories of her are in the kitchen; it’s part of who she is, and she’s always been like that. My grandfather, on the other hand, doesn’t really do a lot of cooking, but he helps out. Any memory I’ve had, he’s been around helping, especially if it’s a bigger meal. My baba’s a social butterfly, so she loves to cook for people. It didn’t matter if we were just visiting for a day or a weekend, there were these amazing, extravagant meals. It’s something I learned from her, and I try to continue this tradition even now with my own friends; we all get together and celebrate, even if it’s just over an everyday meal. Food is one thing that brings everybody together—it doesn’t matter what culture you’re in.

Baba’s Borscht, courtesy of Sam Yachiw

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Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1½ hours
Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
4 cups (1 L) beets, peeled and shredded
2 carrots, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large potato, diced
? cup (75 mL) diced celery
2 tbsp (30 mL) white vinegar
1 cup (250 mL) canned diced tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh or frozen dill

Directions
1. Add salt to 8 cups (2 L) water. Cook peeled and shredded beets for 30 minutes.
2. Add carrots, onion, potato and celery; simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add vinegar, tomatoes, tomato soup and dill; simmer for about 15 minutes. (Add peas and/or beans, if you like.) Cook until vegetables are tender. Serve with borscht.

Click to print, save or share this hearty borscht recipe.

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LemonTart

Not-Too-Tart Prairie Lemon Tarts

By Kim Butcher, as told to Devon Scoble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Panfried Pickerel That’s so Canadian

By Patrick Hearn, as told to Devon Scoble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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