Category Archives: Canadian

Connie’s Asian Halibut and Mushroom Skewers

¼ C rice vinegar
2 T soya sauce
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 T sugar
1 T minced Serrano pepper
1/3 C olive oil
2 T Sesame oil
6 drops Tabasco
2 and 1/2 pounds Halibut cut into kabob size cubes
48 small shitake or cremini mushroom caps
½ half medium onion, peeled and cut into ¼”squares

Combine vinegar, soya, ginger, garlic, sugar and Serrano.
Whisk in olive oil, sesame oil and Tabasco.
Add fish and mushrooms, marinate for 1 hour. Alternate on skewers, onion, fish and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, grill medium high for 3-4 minutes per side.


James Barber: In Memoriam (Nov 2007)


James Barber died November 29 while reading a cookbook at the kitchen table on his small farm while soup simmered on the stove. He was 84.

He was not the first cook that I watched on television. The first was probably Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. He was entertaining and though he was showing how to prepare a meal I learned more about enjoying food and wanting to eat well than to actually cook.

James Barber taught me about cooking. A warm and humble man with a soft British accent, one who had come to cooking after many trades, was my original make do cook. I remember quite well when he was talking about preparing a dressing and how if you didn’t have vinegar, lemon juice will do and if not that just about any citric juice, and a light bulb went on in my head. To any cook this is simple stuff but to me at the time it was a revelation. And then I made his simple ginger pork and pears, and if you don’t have pears, apples and it was not fabulous but it was just fine.

He was quite low key compared to the celebrity chefs of today, more the warm presence, kind of a west coast Friendly Giant of cooking. Not as flashy, not self obsessed at all, and most of all utilitarian. He was a little like Anthony Bourdain in that food and eating was more about the company you kept and the deep basics of food rather than theatrical flourishes.

I haven’t seen Barber in over a decade though I just ordered his last book, in order to hear his voice once again.

Probably burning a little right now is a little stir fry concoction I have going on the stove, a mishmash of things, a very James Barber sort of meal. Thank you James for starting me on the path. I’ve made a few complicated dishes but I always come back to the good simple food that Barber championed.

Maple Sugar Pie

So sweet, but always a hit. Make sure you serve this with a dollop of whipped cream to cut the sweetness.

1 ½ c packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
½ C heavy cream
1/3 C maple syrup (good, dark stuff)
2 tsp unsalted melted butter
8 inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until creamy.
Add cream, syrup and butter and whisk until smooth and pour into pie crust.

Bake pie in lower third of oven until pastry is golden brown and the filling is puffed and looks dry but still “trembles” – 50 to 60 minutes.

Cool on a rack to room temperature, the filling will settle as the pie cools.

Elora Road Butternut Squash Soup

2 T canola oil
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 T ginger, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 T garam masala
4 C diced butternut squash
4 C chicken stock
1 red pepper, minced
1 C half and half cream

Add onion, garlic and ginger to oil and cook over medium heat until golden.
Add the seeds and garam masala and cook another 30 seconds.
Add squash to coat then the stock, reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender.
Season with salt and pepper, cool slightly and then whiz in the blender until smooth.
Reheat with red pepper 3 to 4 minutes and then stir in cream until hot (do not boil).

(from the Flavors of Canada by Anita Stewart)

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Molasses Sauce

1/2 C unsalted butter
1 C brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 C dates, finely minced
1.25 C boiling water
1/4 C molasses

Molasses Sauce

1 C brown sugar
1/4 C light molasses
1/2 C cold butter
2 C whipping cream

Cream butter til fluffy. Slowly add brown sugar and beat til combined.
In another bowl, whisk together egg and vanilla.
Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda.
Alternately add flour and egg mixtures to the butter, beating well with each addition.

Combine dates, boiling water and molasses, and set aside to cool.
Stir into batter.

Butter 10 ramekins. Divide batter evenly into ramekins and place on cooking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven at 350 F for 20 minutes.
Reduce heat to 300F and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

To make the sauce, combine brown sugar and molasses in saucepan.
Bring to boil over med-hi heat, stirring constantly.
Boil for 1 minute, then whisk in butter, a few cubes at a time.
Add cream and boil til sauce is reduced and thickened.
Should end up with about 2 C of sauce.

Serve puddings warm and drizzled with sauce.

(I added cream whipped with a little whiskey).

Taken from High Plains: the Joy of Alberta Cuisine by Cindy Chavich.

High Plains: The Joy of Alberta Cuisine


This is one of the best cookbooks I (Paul) have ever used. Our club decided to do Alberta one night, we had already had a great Canada night, and to our surprise this just rocked. I made the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Molasses Sauce and I think it was the only dish we’ve ever had where everyone there made it themselves within the week. The book takes advantage of regional specialties and products but does not ignore the contributions of various immigrant groups (such as the recipes for ginger beef and the turkey mole). Its a great basic cookbook.