“Canada’s Favourite Recipes”

CanadasFavouriteRecipes

So what, exactly, is Canadian food? Anything with maple syrup? Apples? Venison? Wild salmon? Or, that old favourite, butter tarts?

I’ve always fantasized about taking an eating trip across Canada, from sea to briny sea, in order to answer that question. Happily, I recently discovered a new cookbook that does the legwork and saves me from that time-consuming, diet destroying, not to mention expensive, proposition. Simply titled “Canada’s Favourite Recipes”, the cookbook is by Rose Murray and Elizabeth Baird and published by Whitecap, Canada’s most renowned cookbook publisher. This is a book that deserves to find a place on the shelf of every serious Canadian cook; it will be used over and over again and at $40 is well worth every penny.

The chapters cover everything from appetizers to sweets, candy and drinks, including one dedicated exclusively to that once-so-important Canadian necessity, preserves. How many of you grew up with a “fruit cellar” in the basement and the spicy smell of chili sauce an essential ingredient of the early September kitchen? Although I don’t do it myself, I actually do have friends who make their own pickles, jams and jellies and distribute the bounty as the most delightful gifts.

An attempt is made in the book to celebrate the diversity of this huge country, so that you can find everything from grilled salmon with tarragon mayonnaise using wild salmon from the west coast, to lobster rolls, that luxurious treat from Atlantic Canada; from a Quebec tourtière, to strawberry Pavlovas featuring berries from our own Springridge Farms in Milton. But the recipe selections are not entirely “traditional.” Essentially, what we once may have thought of as “Canadian” food, has changed dramatically over the last 30 years with our waves of new immigrants. So now, recipes for pad Thai, jerk chicken, pizza, hot and sour soup and souvlaki share the space with all of the usual subjects.

I decided to try three of the recipes before writing this review, so over the last few weeks have cooked the aforesaid grilled salmon recipe, an appetizer called Spiced Shrimp with Lime-Ginger Sauce and the butter tarts. The tarragon mayonnaise with the simply grilled salmon was lovely — tart and piquant — and you will definitely throw away the bottled tartar sauce. I also loved the spiced shrimp. It’s a great appetizer because you can make both the sauce and the shrimp ahead of time, quickly cook the shrimp (1 or 2 minutes) when guests arrive, and let them dip the hot shrimp in the cool sauce. The butter tarts were a little more complicated. I loved the pastry, called “Reputation-making Pastry.” The recipe uses lard which sounds awful, but anyone who uses it will become a devotée very quickly. I am a butter tart purist who resists all change, however, and much prefer sultana raisins in the filling, to currants. There was also a suggestion that dark maple syrup could be used instead of the traditional corn syrup. I am taking that under advisement. I must say that I can’t wait until I have a whole weekend to try the complicated looking recipe for chicken pot pie.

bairdmurray

Rose Murray and Elizabeth Baird

Anyway, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the recipes work. The cookbook authors both are veteran food writers who have been contributing to the Canadian food scene for more than 30 years. Rose Murray(http://rosemurray.ca/), has written ten cookbooks, including the award winning 2003 “Hungry for Comfort.” Elizabeth Baird was Food Editor of “Canadian Living” for 20 years and has worked in television extensively on the Canadian Food Network. The two writers and editors travelled across the country to research the 160 recipes and each listing is accompanied by an introduction that outlines the recipe’s genesis and puts it into context. The illustrations are beautifully photographed, lavish and colourful.

I’ll leave you with the recipe for grilled salmon.

salmon

Grilled Salmon with Tarragon Mayonnaise

from Canada’s Favourite Recipes by Rose Murray and Elizabeth Baird

Ingredients:

3 lb (1.5 kg) wild salmon fillet or fillets with skin

3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil

2 tbsp (30 ml) each chopped fresh tarragon and parsley

1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon zest

1 tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Divide the skinless side of the fillet into 8 portions by cutting down almost to the skin, but not through it.  Place the fillet skin side down in a shallow glass dish.  In a small bowl combine the oil, tarragon, parsley, zest and lemon juice.  Brush over the salmon and let sit at room temperature for at least 5 minutes or up to 30 minutes.

Place the fillet, skin side down, on a greased grill over low heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper;  close the lid and grill until the fish is opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork, about 30 minutes.  Insert a spatula between the skin and each portion of fish, removing the fish and leaving the skin on the grill.  (When the grill cools, it will come off easily.)

Tarragon Mayonnaise

(makes about one cup)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (175 ml) mayonnaise

2 tbsp (30 ml) sour cream

1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon zest

1 tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh tarragon

1 tbsp (15 ml) snipped fresh chives

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt

1/4 tsp (1 ml) freshly gound black pepper

Method:

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest and juice.  Stir in the tarragon, chives, garlic, salt and pepper.( Make-Ahead:  Cover and refrigerate for up to six hours.)

My Notes: 

I used separate salmon fillets with skin and made this in the broiler, since the weather is not really suitable yet for outdoor grilling. (The cooking time is, of course, much shorter if using individual portions — maybe about 5 – 7 minutes.) This was good, but I am looking forward to that special flavour that comes from cooking on the barbecue.  The sauce is delicious.  This is served with a summery-looking bean salad in the cookbook, which also sounds like a plan!  

manetstilllife

Paul Cezanne pre-Twitter

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