The days are getting shorter. The air is getting crisper. That's our cue to start spending more time indoors, curled up with a glass of wine in one hand and something delicious in the other.
No one does comfort food better than Chef Stephen Pynn
. He launched his new autumn menu
a couple of weeks ago, featuring dishes like Ontario Harvest Venison and Rabbit Tourtière
with Osprey Bluffs honeyed roots, Heinz ketchup and allspice; Northern Woods Mushroom Pizza
chard, leek confit and mushroom mornay sauce; and Blue Goose Rainbow Trout
with Kozlik's Triple Crunch mustard potatoes, roasted leeks, saffron and apple gastrique.
But what really grabbed my attention was the Ontario Lamb Shoulder Shepherd's Pie
. Having grown up eating shepherd's pie all the time at home, I was interested in discovering Chef Stephen's take on the classic dish. I joined him in Bannock's kitchen this week to learn what goes into preparing this ultimate comfort food.
It turns out that it's quite
a bit of work - at least the way that Chef Stephen does it. He starts by curing his lamb shoulder overnight. He then braises the shoulder for four or five hours along with onions, carrot, garlic, thyme and rosemary.
"One of the great things about lamb is that it takes on a lot of flavour," says Chef Stephen. "It really lends itself to strong flavours."
Don't have five hours to kill? No worries - you can skip the shoulder and focus on the juicy ground lamb instead.
But first, the potatoes! Peel your Yukon Gold potatoes. Cut them into quarters and throw them into a pot of cold, salted water, and bring to a boil.
While those spuds are cooking, start prepping the rest of your vegetables. You'll also need 5 cloves of garlic. Chef Stephen likes to use local and organic garlic from Sweet Cheeks farm.
Once those potatoes are fork-tender, drain the pot and let the steam escape.
Now we're on to the meaty part. Start by searing your lamb with a little oil in a pot over medium heat. Chef Stephen suggests using a whisk to help break up the meat. If the meat is too chunky, it may end up being a bit too dry.
Once the lamb is browned, remove it from the pot and drain the excess fat. This is pretty important, since lamb tends to be very fatty.
But since we're talking about comfort food, be sure to add about a tablespoon of fat back into the pot, followed by your onions and carrot to give them a nice "lamby" flavour, as Chef Stephen describes it. Gently cook your vegetables over low to medium heat for five minutes. Meanwhile, you can take this opportunity to mash your potatoes while adding a little soft butter and salt.
Turning your attention back to the pot, add half a cup of red wine (Chef Stephen uses Biff's Juicy Red, but you can use whatever you have lying around!). Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the bottom of the pot to ensure the onions and carrots are soaking up all those lovely flavours.
Now it's time to add your spices. Chef Stephen uses dried Ontario Espelette pepper by 100km, but any dried chili flakes will do the trick.
"Espelette peppers are nice and spicy, but the spice doesn't linger like other chilis," he says. "It serves its purpose and then it disappears. The spice is very subtle."
Add your toasted and ground fennel seed and garlic. Add your lamb back into the pot, as well as crushed canned tomatoes.
"You don't want it to be too saucy, but you do want that moisture," says Chef Stephen as he mixes in the tomatoes.
Check the seasoning and add more spice, garlic or salt to suit your taste. Cook for another five minutes and add peas, rosemary and parsley. At this point, Chef also adds his braised lamb. Cook for another two minutes and add a splash of sherry vinegar (or lemon or red wine vinegar).
"The vinegar cuts through all the fat and brightens things up," says Chef Stephen.
Once you're satisfied with the flavours, spoon the mix into a dish. You can use either individual casserole dishes or one large baking pan. Add a layer of Swiss chard, topped off with the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle grated cheddar or feta (Chef Stephen uses three-year-old Canadian cheddar from Cheese Boutique
). Place in the oven and cook at 375F until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and garnish with chopped green onions or chives.
Finally, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour! Dig in and enjoy.
Bannock's Ontario Lamb Shoulder Shepherd's Pie (serves 4)
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1lb ground lamb
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1½ tbsp roasted garlic
1 cup green peas
2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
½ cup red wine
½ tsp Espelette pepper or 1/4 tsp. dried chili flakes
tsp fennel seed, toasted and ground
4 Swiss chard leaves, washed and torn
pinch fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
splash sherry vinegar (or lemon or red wine vinegar)
½ cup old cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place potatoes in a pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain and allow to sit while the steam escapes. Mash the potatoes with a fork, adding a little soft butter and salt.
- Sear ground lamb in a pot with a little oil over medium heat. Break up any chunks with a whisk. When browned, remove and drain excess fat.
- Add one tablespoon of fat back to the pot. Add onions, carrot and garlic, and gently cook over low to medium heat for five minutes.
- Add wine and deglaze with a wooden spoon.
- Add spices, roasted garlic, ground lamb and tomatoes. Check the seasoning at this point. Add more spice, garlic or salt to suit your taste.
- Cook for another five minutes and add peas, rosemary and parsley.
- Cook for two more minutes and add a splash of sherry vinegar.
- Spoon into a lasagna pan or casserole dish.
- Add a layer of Swiss chard and top with mashed potatoes.
- Sprinkle some grated cheddar or feta and place in a 375F oven until golden brown (approximately 20 minutes).
- Garnish with chopped green onions or chives
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Everybody knows that fall is the best season. After all, fall means the return of crunchy leaves, cozy scarves and pumpkin-spiced-everything. But one of the greatest things about fall is curling up after a long day with a piping hot bowl of your favourite soup. From classic chicken noodle to hearty French onion to spicy tortilla, the possibilities are endless.
Many of our restaurants are flipping over to their new fall menus over the next few weeks, and most of them have a brand new soup to feature. At Bannock
, Chef Stephen Pynn
has introduced a Parsnip & Yukon Gold Potato
soup with green onions, parsnip bark and goat cheese. Next month, Chef Zuzana Harsaghy
at O&B Yonge & Front
will be dishing out Apple, Parsnip & Celery Root
soup with polenta croutons and pumpkin seed oil.
I stopped by O&B Bayview Village
's kitchen this week, just one day after Chef Steven Kwon
launched his new fall menu
. While the Slow-Roasted Sticky Pork Buns
and the Ontario Harvest Venison Shepherd's Pie
sounded amazing, I was strictly on a mission to learn how to make the Collard Greens & Chorizo Soup.
Inspired by the traditional caldo verde
(green broth, in Portuguese), Chef Steven wanted to develop a soup that would work well with the cooler weather.
"The spices in the chorizo and the braised collard greens make this a very hearty and wintery soup," he says.
One of the best things about this soup is that it is relatively simple and inexpensive to prepare at home. You only need six ingredients: collard greens (kale may be substituted), onions, garlic, chorizo sausage from your local butcher, Yukon Gold potatoes and chicken stock. Sous Chef Omar McLeod was kind enough to teach me how to make the soup from scratch.
To prep, get started on peeling your raw potatoes. Chop them into medium-sized cubes until you have enough for 1.5 cups. Set these aside - they'll come in handy later on.
Next, grab an onion and start dicing! Don't stop until you have a full cup's worth. If you have to cry, go outside. Trust me, this recipe is worth the tears.
Now that the tough part is out of the way, use a large saucepan or deep skillet and heat it up over medium-high heat. Once it's hot enough, add a bit of olive oil and a cup of chorizo pork sausage (already ground or removed from its casing). It will take about 10-15 minutes to sweat off the sausage until its nice and browned, so keep an eye on this while you're finishing the rest of your prep.
Mince or purée three cloves of garlic. Or, if you're a garlic nut like me, add a fourth clove for good measure. Hey, soups are never an exact science!
Next, remove the stems of your collard greens and finely chop or chiffonade until you have enough for a cup.
At this point, your sausage should be giving off a delicious, smoky aroma. What makes this recipe extra easy is that your chorizo should already be seasoned with paprika, lemon and parsley, which means you don't have to worry about adding extra seasoning yourself (beyond salt & pepper to taste).
Throw in your onions and garlic first, and sauté until the onions become translucent. Then add the collard greens and cook for another two-three minutes.
While those various textures soften and the flavours deepen, make sure you have your potato purée ready to go.
"The potato makes the soup much more velvety and silky, rather than starchy," says Chef Steven.
Add your peeled, chopped potatoes to a blender and add two cups of chicken stock. Blend until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Add the puree, as well as another two cups of chicken stock, to your pot or skillet, and bring the contents to a simmer. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly and taste-testing often.
When you feel all the flavours and textures are nicely blended, start serving! Garnish each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. At O&B Bayview Village, we garnish with baked chorizo. This recipe yields enough soup to serve a group of six people (serving size is roughly 1.5 cups). Alternatively, you can freeze your leftovers in individual portions and keep them on-hand for another chilly fall evening.
Don't forget the bread! You'll need it to sop up every last drop.
Collard Greens & Chorizo Soup Recipe
1 cup cooking onions, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced or puréed
1 cup chorizo sausage, chopped or taken out of casing
1 cup collard greens, chopped
1.5 cups of raw, peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, roughly chopped and puréed with half of the chicken stock
4 cups of chicken stock
· Using a large saucepan or deep skillet, brown the sausage in a little oil.
· Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions become translucent.
· Add the collard greens. Cook for two to three minutes.
· Purée the potatoes in a blender or food processor until smooth.
· Add all the stock and the purée to your saucepan and bring to a simmer.
· Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
· Season with salt and pepper.
· Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil.
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Two Marcs – both Canadian Culinary Champions, combining forces for a spectacular dinner at a beautiful winery in Niagara on the Lake – can it get any better than this?
On August 30th, Chef Marc Lepine
) and Chef Marc St. Jacques
(Auberge du Pommier
) collaborated with Chef Frank Dodd
(Trius Winery at Hillebrand
) to craft an inspired menu that brought together the finest of French cuisine, modern techniques and local ingredients. Presented by Visa Infinite
as part of their Wine Country Experiences
series, approximately 60 food and wine enthusiasts gathered to enjoy a view overlooking the vineyards.
The two Marcs met in Kelowna, B.C. at the 2013 Canadian Culinary Championships (CCC)
. Ottawa-based Chef Lepine was the reigning 2012 champion at the time and Chef St. Jacques was competing for the 2013 distinction. “I had heard of him (Chef St. Jacques) before and when he was in Kelowna, I had an opportunity to try his food for the first time. It made a huge impression on me; I thought it was fantastic,” Chef Lepine recalled.
After Chef St. Jacques won the competition
, Gold Medal Plates
brought the two Marcs back together the same weekend to work on a few events. It was the beginning of more to come.
Each chef’s style of cooking is unique. While Chef Lepine has been associated with what some refer to as molecular gastronomy, he prefers to focus on flavour, using both modernist and old-school techniques. For Chef St. Jacques, it is important that his modern French cuisine reflects the cultural diversity of his kitchen team at Auberge du Pommier. In Niagara, Chef Dodd follows the seasons and tries to keep a regional stamp on his food by using only local ingredients - Niagara first, then Ontario, then the rest of Canada.
The evening began with a lovely outdoor reception where guests were greeted by a sparkling wine station upon arrival – we were not to go thirsty that night with Trius Brut
, Trius Brut Rose
and 2009 Showcase Sauvignon Blanc
Canapés by each of the chefs was served while we were serenaded by a local acoustic musician, Michael Saracino
. As the music played and bubbles were sipped, we noshed on tempura of frog legs, husk smoked duck tongue and a variety of savoury lollipops.
Chef St. Jacques: Tempura of Everglades frog legs, amandine rémoulade, dill couli
Chef Lepine: Sweet corn wafer, hush smoked duck tongue, crabonnaise, everything bagel crumble
Chef Dodd: Carrot, beet, bacon lollipops
It was a family affair, of sorts, as the host of the evening was our own Will Predhomme, an esteemed sommelier at Canoe
(he placed second in the 2012 Best Canadian Sommelier Competition
and earned the right to represent Canada at the 2013 World Competition in Japan). Course by course, each chef came out into the dining room to present the dishes, with wine pairings expertly explained by Will.
Behind the scenes, the camaraderie was in full force as everyone worked together to plate each dish with finesse. And there's always time for a photo, right?
Terrine – mousse of foie gras, dashi gelée, ginger-stuffed cherry, aonori Génoise
2012 Tawse Gewürztraminer, Niagara
Peller Estates Signature Series Ice Cuvée
Chef St. Jacques’ seasonal variation on his acclaimed CCC winning dish was a perfect way to begin the epic five-course meal. And if you haven’t tried it yet, this luxurious dish is currently available on Auberge du Pommier’s Chef's Tasting Menu
(also available à la carte). Both wines contain a hint of sweetness and concentrated sweet wines tend to pair well with rich dishes. Because both of these wines are Canadian, the higher level of acidity helped cut through the richness of the foie. The Ice Cuvée was paired with the CCC foie gras dish in Kelowna, B.C. How’s that for a perfect pairing?
Scallops – potato, celery, fennel, tonka, lemon, nasturtium
2012 Unplugged Flat Rock Chardonnay
2010 Creekside Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Chef Lepine’s delicate scallop dish contained notes of licorice, sweet spices and a hint of Sambuca. Strong aromatics came in the form of lemon and an abundance of thyme. Shallots provided acidity and the potatoes were cooked in tonka. The dish was finished with nasturtium from Atelier’s garden. These crisp wines with their higher level of acidity paired particularly well with the scallops, cutting through the savoury, umami flavour. The chardonnay is unwooded, which results in a bare chardonnay character – crisp and bright. I don't even eat seafood and I devoured this phenomenal dish.
Perth County lamb variations – pressed tomato, basil watermelon, lamb’s milk polenta
2010 Trius Grand Red
2009 Kacaba Syrah, Single Vineyard
Chef Dodd’s variations on lamb included lamb loin, lamb shoulder confit with Moroccan spice and merguez sausage (with some heat!) made from lamb trim. Both of these bold reds paired beautifully with the gamey and rich lamb dish. Will explained that when pairing food with wine, you want to compare the weight of the dish with the weight of the wine. In other words - big protein and big reds go well together. Syrah and lamb is a classic pairing because of the wine’s natural, gamey, meat-like character.
In anticipation of the next course, gorgeous miche breads arrived to the table, courtesy of O&B Artisan
's baker extraordinaire, Donny Pepin.
Dairy Farmers of Canada Cheese Course
Le Noble, Fromagerie Domaine Féodal, QC
Magie de Madawaska, Fromagerie Le Détour, QC
Five Brothers, Gunns Hill Artisan Cheese, ON
2008 ‘Unreasonable’, Foreign Affair Cabernet Franc
Presented by the Dairy Farmers of Canada
, this beautiful cheese course had not one, but two category winners from the 8th annual Canadian Cheese Grand Prix
– Le Noble, a delicate Brie (“Soft Cheese with Bloomy Rind”) and Five Brothers, a rich and flavourful “Firm Cheese”. Not to be outmatched, the Magie de Madawaska is a lovely washed rind cheese. To pair with this sublime cheese course was a very special wine – 2008 ‘Unreasonable’ – a Cabernet Franc by Foreign Affair. The proprietors of the winery were not only present at the dinner, but they also brought this extremely unique wine to share. Considered to be one of the most beautiful, extracted wines out there, the grapes are dried on straw mats for 163 days, with each cluster harvested delicately. A 100% Cabernet Franc with a hefty 16.4% alcohol level, it is one of the most extravagant wines known to wine aficionados. With its sweet notes, the ‘Unreasonable’ acted like a berry compote to the cheeses.
Blackberry sobert with Niagara sugar plums - sorrel, yoghurt and chocolate fudge
2008 Trius Riesling Icewine
Chef Dodd’s dedication to local produce was evident in the evening’s last course – dessert, which I always have room for. Will shared that this is a classic Canadian finish to a meal – pairing dessert with icewine. Just as wines need to be matched by weight, the sweetness of the dessert is on par with the sweetness of the icewine. The higher acidity level of a Riesling also helps cut down on the overall sweetness of a dish.
This Visa Infinite dinner is only the first of two – the second Marc & Marc event
will be held in at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
on September 27th in beautiful Oliver, B.C. Watch out, West Coast.
Marc and Marc, together again (not Marky Mark
What springs to mind when you think of the word terroir
? The traditional definition of the word suggests the environmental conditions, in particular soil and climate, in which grapes are grown that give wine a distinctive character. By the same token, it refers to the characteristics of the land where a food is grown or produced to give the final product its unique flavour.
This past week, Jump
's kitchen and sommeliers have been experimenting with what Chef de Cuisine Paul Benallick
calls "the ultimate expression of terroir, food and wine from the same vineyard."
A collaboration between Chef Paul and senior manager/oenophile Tracy Tucker, Jump Does Terroir
features Pearl Morissette
pork paired with Pearl Morissette wines.
"It was a pure magical coincidence," says Tracy. "The same day I had a meeting with their wine rep, Paul mentioned that he just got a whole pig from Pearl Morissette. I think the light bulb went off immediately for both of us!"
With five distinct Pearl Morissette wines and Chef Paul's creativity, the pairing possibilities were endless. According to Food & Wine
, all pork has an underlying sweetness and lightness that pairs best with light or medium-bodied wines with lots of fruit and low tannins. From Pearl Morissette's Cuvée Black Ball Riesling with hints of green apple, stone fruit, grapefruit, and zesty citrus and lime notes, to the Pinot Noir's classic strawberry and red cherry palate with great acidity and soft tannins, these exceptional wines represent some of the best that Ontario has to offer.
Being able to support local food and wine whenever possible has also been tremendously important to our team.
"Supporting local is not a trend," says Chef Paul. "It's a way of life."
When Chef Paul reopened Jump in April, he introduced a 'Meat of the Matter' feature to the dinner menu, which aimed at spotlighting high-quality local meat. All week long, he has been coming up with new and interesting ways of using his Pearl Morissette farm-raised piggy, from maple Dijon glazed pork rack to Ontario peach-glazed pork pot roast. Here, feast your eyes on a sampling of Chef's inspired pork recipes:
Breakfast for dinner: maple-glazed pork belly with scrambled eggs, tomato jam and brioche toast
Maple Dijon glazed pork rack with roasted kohlrabi and caramelized apple sauce
Apple-glazed pork chop with sautéed cauliflower mushrooms, herbed spaetzle and roasted beet purée
Pork T-bone with sautéed Clover Roads organic Swiss chard, organic currant tomato and almond jus
Not one to waste, Chef Paul made sure to use every part of the animal, who he named "George" (after Of Mice and Men, of course). He used pork ragù in lunch pastas, and pulled pork to make tacos for lunch and bar bites. Below, one can see all that is left of George.
If you're bummed out that you missed Jump's terroir experiment, not to worry! Word on the street is that the kitchen has two Virginia hams in the cure that they will be smoking and serving over Thanksgiving weekend. Chef Paul has also hinted at sourcing another Berkshire pig around Christmas.
Meanwhile, Tracy will ensure that Jump's wine cellar is well-stocked with Pearl Morissette and other local vino.
"There are so many great new Canadian wineries, so why not get to know them?" she says. "They live right beside us and they love what they do and so do we! It seems like a natural partnership to me."
For more up-to-the-minute news, "Like" Jump on Facebook!
Photos by Sous Chef Anthony Figliano
in full swing, this week has been crazy for all of our downtown venues, especially those located inside the TIFF Bell Lightbox: O&B Canteen
, and Malaparte
, our stylish event space up on the sixth floor.
From corporate events to themed bashes, Malaparte can be transformed to suit any type of event.
On Tuesday, September 10th, I stopped by Malaparte to check out William F. White'
s annual TIFF party. William F. White is Canada's oldest and largest provider of motion picture, television and theatrical production equipment. They've thrown a TIFF party every year for their clients, but this was the first year they hosted the event at Malaparte. And since 2013 marked the company's 50th anniversary, this soirée
was due to be extra special!
As it was a casual early evening affair, about 200 guests popped in and out at their leisure between 5:00pm and 7:30pm. While servers circulated the floor with trays of wine, some thirsty folks opted for ice cold bottles of Grolsch
instead. After all, it was the hottest day of the summer! While the sun was still blazing, most guests stayed under Malaparte's tent, slowly venturing out onto the uncovered terrace to take in the view as the sun set over King West (and I even took a Vine
of the view from the steps!).
As more people poured onto the terrace, I caught up with Malaparte's Executive Sous Chef Joseph Carta to see what kinds of canapé
s were coming out of the kitchen. Chef Joseph and his team have been prepping for this particular event for two full days, while also executing other events in the building.
"TIFF requires a ton of organization," says Chef Joseph, who works closely with Corporate Events Chef Jamie Meireles
on developing seasonal menus. "My team is strong enough and knows what has to be done. It can get pretty intense here in the kitchen, but we just make it happen."
First up: Tuna Tartare
, served in a refreshing cucumber cup for easy handling. Using the freshest (and therefore tastiest!) ahi tuna, Chef Joseph flavours it with pickled ginger, shallot, lemongrass, salt, pepper and lime juice.
"It's a classic," says Chef Joseph.
Another classic O&B canapé
is the juicy Harissa-Spiced Lamb Burger
with goat's milk yoghurt and fried onions. Each time a platter of these sliders were brough out to the terrace, they were all gobbled up in a matter of seconds. Who could resist those two delicious bites?
Lamb isn't the only filler you can choose between two mini buns. From porchetta sliders to chicken parm to beef with Thousand Island dressing, Malaparte's kitchen has a whole bunch of options for all you meatlovers.
Not a meatlover? No worries, because Chef Joseph and his team have lots of veggie-friendly nibbles up their sleeves, including Soft Tacos
with black beans, roasted corn salsa, and avocado mousse. Even a meatlover would appreciate these mini taco treats.
"At Malaparte, we often host lots of guests with dietary restrictions, so we try to cater to all the different needs that people have," says Chef Joseph.
Another amazing vegetarian option are Roasted Garlic Mushrooms
with duxelles, which are finely chopped mushrooms, onions, shallots, and herbs sauté
ed in butter and reduced to a paste. Shiitake, oyster, and cremini mushrooms are paired with goat cheese and honey, before being placed on pieces of rosemary brioche. For such a small bite, there is an awful lot of variety that goes into it. Plus, all the mushrooms are locally-sourced from Northern Woods, just north of the city.
"You've gotta support the farmers!" Chef Joseph grins. "Farms feed cities!"
Seafood aficionados will love the Grilled Branzino
with white bean paste, red onion and tomato cebolada. Chef uses Sustainable Blue
branzino, which ensures a responsible use of our resources. The branzino is served on jalapeñ
o and bacon cornbread, which is housemade and then redried in the oven to create a toast with more rigidity.
If you're looking for more than a two-biter, look no further than the Mini Beef & Yorkshire Pudding Sandwich, which features shaved medium-rare beef with horseradish mayonnaise and crispy leeks
. I'd be impressed to see anyone take this sucker down in less than four bites. These might be the heartiest of canapés, as well as the most popular!
"The Yorkie pudding actually tops the sliders in popularity," says Chef Joseph. "We serve them at about 90% of the receptions here."
These are just a small sampling of the canapés that Chef Joseph and his team execute every day at Malaparte. To learn more about Malaparte's breakfast, lunch, and dinner productions, plus food and beverage stations, check out
our events website
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