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Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

Brian’s cooking is seasonal, inventive and smart, but in no way unapproachable or fussy. When he is coaxed out of the kitchen and starts talking about food, his passion and knowledge are instantly recognizable.

"Chef Brian Henry cooked a series of delicious appetizers for us as we sat around a table in the kitchen". Thanks

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Archive for the ‘Catering’ Category

Gastronomically yours,

October 7th, 2016

Going Cold Turkey


Looking in your refrigerator the days after Thanksgiving may be akin to an archaeological dig as you unearth all of the remnants of the previous day’s or week’s meals. It’s like an adult version of waking up after a college party and trying to chronologically piece together the recent events of your life. We tend to go a bit overboard with holidays and Thanksgiving rules with sovereignty like no other.

Coming down from any holiday is  a crash for some and to finish the binge a la cold turkey can be a rough ride. Trying to make sense out of the leftovers piled precariously in your fridge, garage or out of desperation for food salvation on the back deck can be a daunting task.

Presence of mind and the simple understanding that eating is a bodily function, not an Olympic event may assist us in transitioning ourselves and warding off symptoms of withdrawal. Cold turkey is archetypal as a Thanksgiving leftover, which ends up being reincarnated in sandwiches, soups, stews and the ever foreboding casserole for a few days after its sole intended feast. These culinary creations often become littered with bits of ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, or cranberry sauce found sitting in the refrigerator, next to the turkey covered with torn bits of foil and plastic wrap.

The fate of your leftovers depends on when the food was prepared, how it was served, how long it sat out on the kitchen counter without being refrigerated and how you reheat them. Ultimately it is best not to produce so much food that you have leftovers. If your left-overs were left out on the counter for more than four hours, they are no longer leftovers, they are garbage. If your leftovers were properly stored in the refrigerator and cooled down to an internal temperature of 4°C or colder within 4 hours then you can reheat and serve them but only once. So do not pull out all of the food for leftovers and reheat them, just use what you need. When reheating your leftovers make sure that they reach an internal temperature of 74°C and discard the food if it does not reach that temperature within 2 hours and most importantly never add reheated food to fresh food.

Get a reliable kitchen thermometer and learn how to store, use and calibrate it properly. Use it for more accurate cooking results and as a tool in assisting you to serve safe and healthy foods to your family and friends.


Roasted Stuffed Squash



1 butternut squash

Cooking oil


Salt and pepper to taste




Cut the butternut squash in half, and scoop out the seeds and discard. Brush the squash with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then roast it on a parchment lined baking sheet at 350°f for 20 minutes or until the squash becomes soft. Scoop out most of the cooked squash flesh, leaving a shell around the edge. Mash the cooked squash with the leftover stuffing until evenly incorporated and then spoon the mixture back into the squash shells. Sprinkle with some grated cheese and bake the squash for another 20-25 minutes and it reaches an internal temperature of 74°C. Yields will vary depending on amount of people vs leftovers.




Turkey Pot Pie



1/2 pkg frozen rolled butter puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp. butter

1 onion, diced

1 rib celery, diced

2 cups acorn squash, peeled and cubed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken stock or white wine

3 cups shredded cooked turkey, white and dark meat

1 tsp. dried sage

1 pinch nutmeg

2 cups fresh baby spinach coarsely chopped

1/2 cup 10% cream or milk

Salt and pepper to taste



On a parchment line baking sheet, unroll the pastry and cut it into 4 equally sized pieces. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and then bake them at 400°F until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the onion, celery, and squash. Cook the vegetables until the squash is tender. Next stir in the flour and let it cook while continuously stirring for  a minute or so. Gradually stir in the stock and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce heat let the sauce simmer until it has thickened. Stir in all remaining ingredients and serve once all ingredients are heated through. Season with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls; top with the cooked puff pastry. Feeds 4


Gastronomically yours,

April 23rd, 2014

When spring is in the air

I love the aromas produced by foods being prepared in a kitchen. One of these favorite culinary induced aromas I can only smell in the bathroom. It is the smell of metabolized compounds found in asparagus. These sulphur based compounds give our urine a distinct perfume within 20 minutes of ingesting this member of the daffodil family.



The effect of eating asparagus on our urine has been of curiosity and study since the 1700’s. Most recently a study published in 2010 found that while almost everyone who eats asparagus produces the aromatic asparagus-urine only 40% of the population has the autosomal genes required to smell them. This trait is unique to asparagus as these compounds originate in asparagusic. The aromatic producing elements of asparagus are more concentrated in young asparagus are more present in young asparagus, with the observation that the smell is more pronounced after eating young asparagus.

Another food study in the 1700’s saw the cross breeding of Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chiloensis which lead to the creation of the cultivar more commonly known as the common garden strawberry.

These naturally sweet aromatic orbs are related to the rose family and have been used for centuries in the kitchen but also in cosmetic applications and of course the perfume industry. The strawberry is the first fruit to ripen and be harvested in the Kawartha’s. Their flavor can be influenced by weather and this year’s hot dry spring should produce exceptionally sweeter fruits than usual.

Asparagus and strawberries have a number of similar traits. They are both related to flowers; make great companion plants, they require human hands to harvest them, and are only available locally in season for a short period of time. Pick up both of these ingredients at farmers markets and grocery stores throughout our region while still in season and try them together in this week’s recipe that will welcome the delicious aromas of summer into our homes. The many textures and flavors of this salad are best served with barbecued chicken to making it a satisfying meal.

Asparagus and Strawberry Salad


2 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

2 tbsp. lemon juice

4 cups arugula

1 tbsp.  Honey

3 tbsp.  Balsamic vinegar



In a medium sized bowl combine the asparagus and half of the olive oil together and toss it until the asparagus is evenly coated with the oil. Cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes in either a preheated oven or barbeque at around 400 °f. Once cooked remove asparagus from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.

Place about a cup of arugula onto four dinner plates. Top the arugula with the strawberries and asparagus.  Lightly drizzle each salad with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.




April showers bring May flowers including tasty edible ones; my favourite being Asparagus. The Ontario asparagus harvest has begun, with the first crops appearing in Niagara and Prince Edward Counties.

This member of the lily family is a perennial that grows from its rhizomes hidden within the soil.  When Ontario asparagus arrives in the marketplace one can see it as the materialization of spring and that our local fields are warming up.

The natural artistic beauty of freshly harvested asparagus with its purplish blue tips contrasted by the rich green stems is a portrait of still life in itself and in need of a suitable canvas of fine bone china. You may sense some rapture and delight in these words but nothing compares to fresh asparagus which has an ephemeral existence with a shortened growing season here.

asp tip

First it must be harvested by hand, travel to market and be consumed within 24 hours. After that asparagus with up to 4% sugar content like other vegetables will begin to consume this sugar for its continued growth and survival. If stored for too long or exposed to light and warm temperatures the asparagus will start to loose its moisture and sweetness. Prolonged storage will see the entire stem grow more fibrous as the plant consume more of it’s self for survival. Some of the effects of storing asparagus can be minimized by simply treating the asparagus like fresh cut flowers. By simply cutting an inch off of  the bottom of  your asparagus and standing them in sugar water your asparagus will hold well in the refrigerator for a few days if need be.

The formation of lignin or the woody fibrous texture found in the lower portion of the stalk asparagus has been dealt with in the same manner for centuries by cooks who simply bend the asparagus stalk end to end. This stress causes the asparagus to snap on the border between the tough and tender parts of the stalk.

Asparagus contains asparagusic acid which is a substance high in sulphur and is classified as a relative of methanethiol; an active ingredient in skunk spray. Within half an hour of eating asparagus our digestive system turns the sulphur into methanethiol. This derivative of asparagusic acid ends up in our urine releasing an aromatic odor. Almost all individuals produce this odorous compound after eating asparagus, but oddly enough only about 40% of us have the autosomal genes required to smell it.

Asparagus is delicious eaten raw but its flavours can be accented by preparing it in a number of ways. A personal favourite is to wrap small bundles of asparagus with bacon and bake it in the oven. Other alternatives include pickling asparagus, brushed with olive oil and cooked on the bbq or blanching them and quickly cooling them under running water for a salad served with toasted almonds.




Sautéed Asparagus 

1 pound of asparagus cleaned

One quarter pound shiitake mushrooms (optional)

2-3 tbsp. butter at room temperature

Juice of one lemon or one-eighth cup white wine

Salt and pepper

Over medium-high heat, pre-heat a sauté pan. Add the butter and swirl it around the pan. Add the asparagus and shiitakes. Please keep your sauté pans moving constantly as sauté means to jump. After two to three minutes has passed remove the pan from the heat. Add the lemon juice and let it simmer for about a minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Serves 2-4 people.

Personally I prefer to serve my asparagus raw or chilled as this helps to avoid cooking it into a soggy camouflage coloured mass.

To serve asparagus as a hearty yet refreshing salad I like to use the following recipe.

]The combination of astringent and sour flavours of the asparagus and Goats cheese is balanced out by the natural sweetness of berries.

Raspberries or strawberries work best.


Chilled Asparagus Salad


1 bunch of asparagus cleaned

3 strawberries

½ cup Goats cheese

¼ cup toasted Pine Nuts

1 tbsp. lemon or orange zest

Kosher salt and cracked pepper


Blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water. Quickly cool it under cold water or in an ice bath. On salad plates arrange asparagus into equal sized log piles. Place sliced strawberries on the asparagus, top this with crumbled goats cheese, pine nuts and lemon zest. Sprinkle salad with Kosher salt and pepper. Serves 4

Gastronomically yours,

February 8th, 2014

My Bloody Valentine

February has long been celebrated as the month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, or  Feast of Saint Valentine as we know it today, contains leftovers of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition infused with modern day spending habits.

The history of St. Valentine’s Day and its patron saint are shrouded in mystery. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different patron saints named Valentine or Valentinus. From these three we have adopted the story of Father Valentine who was martyred on February 14, 269 who in his final hours started the tradition of exchanging Valentine messages with our loved ones.

For a few years before St. Valentines death the Roman Emperor Claudius was recruiting soldiers for his armies. Enlistment was down, and Claudius; a warring ruler blamed the declining recruitment on the men wanting to stay at home with their wives and families instead of going to war. Claudius’s solution to his dilemma was to ban weddings, hoping that this would cause boredom within in the male population and inspire men to want to go to war thus causing enlistment to go up.fruit rose

Father Valentine may have almost neurotically enjoyed performing marriage ceremonies. When Claudius banned marriages Father Valentine continued to conduct them in secrecy, which instigated Claudius to classify weddings as “pagan rituals” and when he heard that Father Valentine was illegally performing wedding ceremonies Claudius imprisoned Father Valentine until he denounce his Catholic faith, which would leave him defrocked and without his churchly powers.

While imprisoned Father Valentine befriended Claudius’s daughter and would spend long hours talking to her from his cell. Roman Emperor Claudius also known as Claudius the Cruel had had enough and ordered Father Valentine to be beaten and beheaded. One of Valentine’s final actions was to write a note to his jailer’s daughter. The note was signed “from your Valentine”. Shortly thereafter on February 14, 269 AD Father Valentine was executed. It wasn’t until 496 AD that Pope Gelasius marked February 14 the day to remember St. Valentine the patron saint of lovers and over time the day was marked with sending simple gifts, poems or messages.

During the height of prohibition, it is believed that on February 14, 1929 Chicago gangster Al Capone chose to send a Valentine’s message to George “Bugs” Moran. Capone had given orders for his men to take down the rival gangster by starting at the bottom and working their way up through the ranks until they got to Bugs himself. It is believed that these orders from Capone led to the “Valentine’s Day Massacre”.

After the Valentine’s Day Massacre, Capone went into hiding for a while but when he returned home to Chicago; Capone was welcomed by his family and friends with a celebratory feast. One of the dishes served at this feast was Chilled Pasta in Walnut Sauce, Capone’s favorite dish, as revenge is a dish best served cold.

The following Scarface Capone Pasta recipe is easy to make and can be enjoyed any day of the year, served hot or cold and made with locally sourced ingredients.


Scarface Capone Pasta


½ lb. walnut pieces, toasted

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbsp. butter, softened

¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese

2/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

2/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 lb. pappardelle or fettuccini pasta



In a food processor place the walnuts garlic, butter, parmesan and 1/3 cup of the parsley. Process the ingredients until they form a coarse paste. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil into the paste and continue to process until relatively smooth. Transfer the paste into a bowl and stir in the cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the sauce rest for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.

Cook your pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water. Drain the noodles and decide whether you want to serve your Scarface Capone Pasta served cold or hot. If cold simply toss the noodles in the sauce, let it stand for 30-45 minutes tossing it regularly and then refrigerate covered for 2 hours. To enjoy it hot simply return the drained pasta to the pot which it was cooked in and add the walnut sauce. Toss noodles over low heat until well combined. Top with remaining parsley and serve with extra grated parmesan cheese. Serves 4-6 depending on sides served with.Zombie-Donuts

Gastronomically yours,

November 3rd, 2013

Halloween Leftovers!

The scariest harvest of the year happened earlier  this week as some 4 million Canadian kids take to the streets and rake in their loot from more than 13 million homes that will participate in shelling out candy. These costume clad kids will return home and almost immediately pour out their pillow cases onto the floor to reveal their share of almost $360 million worth of candy that was purchased across Canada in the month of October.

As parents assist in checking through their kids candy for any detrimental items that may have made it into their stash, the kids in a sugar and caffeine induced state immediately are taking inventory and begin organizing their haul into rows and piles. If watched closely your children will go through an eerie transformation from goblin or ghoul to instant entrepreneur as they quickly will wade into the role of a business person as they will realize that they have a share of precious commodity in a market of excess supply.Halloween11

To watch children with their faces still smeared with makeup and half disrobed from their costumes enter into the frenzied barter and trading sessions with siblings or other kids from the hood would give any math teacher pause as they explore early lessons in economics.

It will quickly become evident that all candy was not created equally and the first things to get traded off will be the hard to move less-desirable candies which include Candy Corn, Tootsie Rolls, fruits or vegetables and non-edibles like pencils and toothbrushes. Halloween-Candy-Pie-Chart

This makes way for the serious trades to happen and is a quick follow based upon industry sales which see M&M’s, Snickers, and Kit Kat taking secondary positions to the highly prized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup which has an unprecedented high trading value and is often smuggled as dangerous cargo or contraband as our schools have become peanut free zones.

 Within a few days all of these child markets and kid-cartels will crash much like our children as their confectionary novelty and sugar buzz wears off. The market induced glut becomes stagnant and for some it can cause boredom, but with a few Halloween tricks up your sleeves you can still have plenty of fun by bringing the kids and the left-over candy into the kitchen to create meals that can be served right into December’s holiday festivities.halloween-candy1

 The easiest ways to cook with leftover candy is by chopping the candies and adding them into brownie and milkshake recipes. For more of a challenge you may want to try making ice cream and cheesecake recipes. For some real twists on food maybe even try the following recipe whose core ingredients can be purchased locally and as frightful as it may sound the combined flavours will leave you bewitched!


Beet Salad with Chocolate Goat Cheese and Black Licorice Vinaigrette


Black Licorice Vinaigrette


2 tbsp. chopped black licorice

¾ cup water

1/4 cider vinegar

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 green onion, minced

¾ cup salad oil


Combine the licorice and water in a small sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat until the licorice is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the cider vinegar, green onion and Dijon mustard. Finally whisk in the oil by slowly pouring it into the licorice mixture. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until needed.


Snickers Goat Cheese


2-4 oz. of chopped Snickers bar

4 oz. goat cheese, room temperature

1 chive, finely minced

Red pepper flakes or Cayenne to taste (optional)


Place all of the ingredients in a glass bowl and microwave it until it becomes soft. Stir the warmed ingredients together and set aside.


Roasted Beets


8 beets, medium sized, cut in half

1 tbsp. cooking oil

Your choice of salad greens

Salt and pepper


Toss the beets in a bowl with the oil, salt and pepper. Turn the beets out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 °f for about an hour or until fork tender. Remove the beets from the oven and let them rest for 30 minutes. Peel or pull the skins off of the beets. Slice the beets into bite size pieces. Lightly coat the beets with some of the vinaigrette and set them in the refrigerator to marinate for one hour.

To serve assemble the greens onto a plate and top them with the beets. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the salad and top with crumbled goat cheese.

Gastronomically yours,

September 25th, 2013

Sunflower, you are my sunshine

The sunflower was first cultivated throughout the region of what is now known as Arizona and New Mexico some 3000 years ago and as such has caused much debate amongst archaeologists as to whether sunflowers were domesticated before corn.

Spanish explorers introduced the sunflower to Europe in the early 1500’s where it quickly became widespread and was celebrated as an exotic ornamental flower. By the 18th century the sunflower’s beauty was only surpassed by its newly discovered high concentration of oil that could be extracted for medicinal and culinary uses. This quickly changed the cultivation of sunflowers as its oil became a prized ingredient and was approved by various religious groups. This made the sunflower a highly marketable commodity and lead to Russia becoming the largest producer of sunflower seeds and oil in the world.


Harvesting sunflowers with kids is fun and easyHarvesting sunflowers with kids is fun and easy

The sunflower industry came to North America in the early 1900’s with the esteemed variety of sunflower known as the Mammoth Russian. Canada started the first official government sponsored sunflower breeding program in the world and licensed the Russian cultivar called Peredovik as this particular variety produced high yields of seed with one of the highest oil contents. This seed variety went through further hybridization to increase its yields as well as make it disease resistant.

Today the largest Canadian producer of sunflower seed snacks is Spitz available across the country in almost every corner store. Most of the Canadian harvest of sunflower seeds comes from Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Late September and early October is when most sunflowers growing in our backyards are ready to harvest and roast the seeds for ourselves. Be sure that your flowers have matured with their sad hanging heads having turned brown and their petals have begun to fall; the seeds should be plump and striped black and white. Cut the stalk to create a handle to hold onto the flowers and vigorously rub the seeds out of the head with your free hand. Be cautious you’re your fingers do not get pinched by the tiny barbs found between the seeds and the flower head.

Once you have collected the seeds you can choose to remove the hulls and store the raw uncooked seeds for up to six months in your freezer or you can try the following recipe for your own sunflower snack.


Home roasted sunflower seeds

3-4 cups unshelled, raw sunflower seeds.

2 litres water

1/3 cup sea salt

In a large sauce pot combine the seeds, water and salt together and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the seeds simmer in the salt water for 2 hours. Drain the seeds and let them dry out on a paper towel lined surface.

Once dry, spread the seeds evenly over a baking sheet and roast the seeds at 300°f for about 30, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and allow the seeds to cool before shelling and eating. You can use this recipe for raw hulled sunflower seeds as well, except that after removing the seeds from the oven I would stir in a teaspoon of and further sprinkle some salt on them before eating.

Gastronomically yours,

September 23rd, 2013

Wild Grape Jelly


There are dozens of varieties of wild grapes. Locally we have what is known as the “Summer Grape”. This grape is virtually indestructible as it slowly creeps its way across the Kawartha’s.  It’s not a wonder that the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs classified wild grape vines as a weed as this disease and pest resistant plant can grow in excess of 50 feet in length with its snake like tendrils choking all vegetation that become snarled in their coils.

Annoying as this plant may be we need to closely examine it to appreciate its benefits. Wild grapes have been interbred with other grape varieties to produce hybrid grapes so they too can share its disease and pest resistant properties which has greatly benefited the commercial wine industry.

Genetics aside, all parts of the wild grape plant can be harvested and used in our kitchens. The vines can be used for making skewers, baskets and wreaths, their leaves are great in Mediterranean preparations like dolmades where grape leaves are stuffed, rolled and cooked like a cabbage roll and of course there is the grapes themselves.

The grapes are a food source for birds and wildlife which often leave few grapes behind to be harvested. This year seems to be the exception as wild grapes are quite plentiful and still available in abundance to be harvested. These grapes are perfect for making jelly, although they are usually quite sour, cold weather sees the natural sugars in the grape intensify.

I urge you to get outdoors this Thanksgiving weekend with your family and harvest some wild grapes and make a batch of grape jelly using the following recipe that was graciously provided by Susan Jackson who also inspired this week’s column.

Please note that grapes have multiple seeds. If the grapes you harvest have a single seed; they are not grapes but the poisonous moonseed berry.


Kawartha Grape Jelly

Using garden clippers and a pail collect 3 – 5 pounds of grapes. You may want wear gloves for this as grape juice will stain your skin. Keep clean and organized in your kitchen to prevent stain damage to clothing and countertops as well. Note that this is a two stage recipe.


3-5 lbs wild grapes stemmed and cleaned of leaves and insects.


Cover the bottom of a stainless steel pot with a layer of grapes and crush them with a potato masher. Heat the mashed grapes over medium heat, with the lid on, until they begin to release their juice. This will take about for about five minutes. Again crush the grapes and add the remaining grapes to the pot. Cover and heat over low heat for about an hour, frequently crushing the grapes during this time to extract as much of the grape juice as possible. Give the grapes one last thorough crushing. Transfer the mixture into a jelly bag, or cheesecloth lined colander and suspended it over a large stainless steel pot or bowl to collect the juice. Cover this mixture with a garbage bag to keep the fruit flies out. Let it sit overnight in a cool place letting gravity extract the juice. You will need to collect 3 1/2 cups of pure grape juice.

In a large stainless steel pot or pan combine

3½ cups of grape juice

¼ cup of lemon juice

7 cups of white sugar

Over high heat, bring mixture to a boil stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Skim off any surface foam that may appear. While the jelly is at a full rolling boil, pour in 1 packet of Certo fruit pectin. Continue stirring until the pot returns to a rolling boil. Let it boil for one minute and stir the jelly constantly as it boils.

Remove the pan to a trivet and continue stirring it for three minutes.

Quickly distribute the hot jelly to your sterilized jars, heat and seal the jars as per your preference but be sure to listen for the pop as the lids seal themselves as they cool. Label your jelly and store until needed.


Never double a jelly recipe as they are doomed to fail.






Off the Vine

Walking the dogs down a trail in my backyard this past week I found the old split rail fence being once again consumed by grapevines. For the wild species of grapes that grow in our area I prefer to use the vines and leaves to the grapes themselves, besides the birds usually beat me to the fruit clusters.

The vines make for a rustic yet chic skewer to use on the BBQ or for presenting fruit k-bobs. I like to take the vines with the leaves still attached and cover a smoking hot grill on the Barbie with them about a centimetre or two deep, then lay some trout or salmon fillets over top of the grape leaves and close the lid. The combination of flavours produced by this technique are delicious as the moisture released from the vines and leaves produces steam, then the vines will burn and impart a smoky flavour into the fillets.

One can also do recipes with a worldly flair using the grape leaves themselves to produce Dolmades, which is a Greek dish similar to cabbage rolls. These dainty vine leaf packets are traditionally served as meze an appetizer.


Kawartha Dolmades

12 larger sized grape leaves


1tbsp. olive oil

1 cup of ground beef or chicken

3 tbsp. Pine nuts or sliced almonds

1 yellow onion chopped fine

1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tomato minced

Salt and pepper to taste


Three quarters cup of beef or chicken stock

2tbsp. tomato paste

1tbsp. castor sugar


First gather your grape leaves. Pick nice healthy leaves and rinse them off. Gently simmer the leaves for 5 minutes in salted water. Remove the leaves from the water and allow them to cool.

For the filling, heat oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the meat, nuts and onion. Cook until browned. Next stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer for another 3-5 minutes. Lay the vine leaves shiny side down onto your work surface. Place some of the filling in the centre of each leaf and fold the stalk end over the filling. Fold the sides over as well and roll up the packet towards the leaf tip. Return the packets seam side down to your fry pan. For the sauce combine all of the ingredients together and mix well. Pour the mixture into the fry pan with the leaf parcels, over low heat allow everything to simmer together for 20 minutes and serve hot.



Gastronomically yours,

September 14th, 2013

 My Eccentricity on Ethnicity

 I personally loathe the word ethnic. We have bastardized this word into a misrepresentation of ones individuality for any non wasp person . Simple clarification of what the definition of the word ethnic is will assist us greatly in understanding it and its origins.

The word Ethnic dates back to times when Latin and Hebrew were the dominant languages.

It was first used to describe people who were non-Christians, non-Christians were considered to be heathens, pagans or simply gentiles.

 Just imagine how the early restaurateurs could have influenced our ethnic dinning experiences.

Any town in anywhere could see other additions to their franchise strip of processed food chain outlets  include such franchise concepts as The Gentile Grill House, maybe the International House of Pagans or my personal favorite Heathens on the Run with drive through windows.

Take me to the bank

 With the maturation of humanity the word ethnic has evolved to describe any sizable group of people who share a linguistic, religious, racial or cultural heritage. When one-steps out of their own culture to dine on another cultures food you are experiencing ethnic dinning. In short all foods originate from an ethnic source. I’m a Canadian of Irish descent   and no that does lead one to come up with some new fusion cuisine. However when I step out of my own cultural background and eat a Big Mac, Whopper or hot dog I’m actually eating American ethnic cuisine.

 My personal preference would be to use the words culture, cultural decent or ancestry. Better yet why not call it what is? Whether it be Jamaican, Honduranian, Guyanese…

 So in summary we can assume that dining for the ethno-curious is an Epicurean pursuit of understanding a culture through its food and etiquette.

I don't think the world will ever be ready for this face to be a marketable logo

Hitler Wine, Clothes by Hugo Boss

 My favorite dining experience takes place in a kitchen located in northern Alberta. Here my Lola creates some of the best food I have ever experienced. Having moved to Canada from the Philippines she brought with her some traditional Filipino recipes. The Philippines lie astride the main Asian trade routes and had many influences on their food. These influences include Malaysia, China, Spain, and Mexico. As well there are six distinct culinary regions within the islands themselves. These are Northern Luzon using bagoong for seasoning, the Central Plains known for Rellenong Manok, Southern Tagalog using vinegar’s, Bicol make use of coconut and hot chilies, Visayas with its salted fish and guinamos and Mindanao with Tiola Sapi and Piarun. My favorite dinner menu includes, Lumpia, Pancit, Pan de sal, Dinuguan Baboy, Erascaldo, Kilawin, numerous bowls of my father-in-laws goat soup, halo-halo and all forms of Palutan. My favorite is Adobong Manuk or Chicken Adobo. This is comfort food for me and it’s real easy to prepare…

Chicken Adobo

2 tbsp. Vegetable oil

1 tsp. grated ginger

3 cloves garlic minced

3 pounds of cut up chicken

½ cup of white vinegar

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper corns

½ cup water

2 Bay leaves

Method:  Heat oil in large pot and sauté the garlic and ginger. Add the chicken and brown lightly. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer, covered for approximately 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Next remove lid and continue to simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Yields 4-6 servings.






Gastronomically yours,

September 4th, 2013


Cider House Rules

Apples grown in Ontario are mostly harvested in early fall. While the varieties characteristics are at their peak at this time Ontario apple growers place most of their 1 100 000 000 lbs. harvest into cold storage. These apples are stored just above the freezing mark allowing us to enjoy them year round.

Within a month of being harvested sugars stored within starch molecules in the apples begin to breakdown making the apple’s taste sweeter and lowering their acidity. The longer apples are stored, the sweeter they become. This natural process led to the discovery that as the apples aged they would begin to ferment with their increased sugars which resulted in the production of hard cider.

Although apple cultivation originated along the Nile River, cider making is believed to have originated in England but it was of common practice throughout European monasteries.  Julius Caesar and his armies enjoyed the hard cider they discovered in England upon their arrival in 55 BC and embraced the practise of making hard apple cider. Farm laborers in this era were given a regular cider allowance as part of their wages. In times of harvest and planting the cider allowance was increased to assist with the pains suffered during peak demand endured by the labourers.

The popularity of hard cider grew and eventually made its way to North America. The hard cider industry collapsed during prohibition and has been slowly making a comeback ever since.

Soft cider and mulled cider are commonly enjoyed during the winter months as they can be served hot and they are filled with spices that warm our senses and our bones after playing outside. Try this recipe using Ontario grown apples to make your own cider. Children can assist in not only drinking this wintery beverage but can easily assist in the kitchen with making it.



Cookin 101

Cookin 101

Home made cider


20 apples of your choice depending on personal taste

6 cinnamon sticks

4 tbsp. allspice

10 whole cloves

1 tsp. nutmeg

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup maple syrup



Wash the apples in warm running water. Cut the apples into quarters with their skins intact. Take the time to remove the seeds as they contain trace amounts of arsenic.

Place the quartered apples in a large stainless steel stock pot. Add enough water to barely cover the apples. Tie your spices in bundle of cheesecloth and add this to the pot.

Bring the apples to a gentle boil over medium-high heat and let them continue to boil for about an hour uncovered.

Reduce the heat enough to let the apple mixture simmer and stir in the sugar and maple syrup with a wooden spoon. Let the soon to be cider simmer for two hours. After this remove the cider and allow it to cool for an hour.  Remove the spice sachet and discard it.

Next mash the apples with a potato masher or puree them with an immersion blender until smooth and quite pulpy in texture.

Strain the apples through a sieve and extract all of the liquid from the pulp by gently pressing down on it with a spoon. The pulp can now be either discarded or saved for future use as apple sauce or in muffin recipes.

Once the cider has cooled down to room temperature, taste it and adjust the seasoning if you choose. I like to add fresh ginger and lemon juice to mine. As well you may want to add more water if you find the cider to be too thick.

Cider will store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or it can be frozen to enjoy later for up to 3 months. Reheat the cider as needed in the microwave or on the stove and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 liters

Gastronomically yours,

August 29th, 2013

CNE and fried scream


The Canadian National Exhibition was founded in 1879 to encourage the development of agriculture, manufacturing, industry, commerce and the arts. It has evolved into a celebration of the arts, midway attractions, shopping and food.

The food attractions have evolved into a cultural smorgasbord with foods from around the world. At the core of the CNE’s food pavilion there also seems to be a group of budding gastronomes who work feverishly to come up with the most original must have food products. This year’s menu includes Nutella sweet potato fries, Cronut Burger, Bacon And Peanut Butter Milkshakes and all manner of bacon laced indulgences. Most of the other menu headliners include anything deep-fried, including butter, chocolate bars, whole onions and pizza.

Humans have been frying foods in oil since the discovery of rotary motion as this was the only way to process nuts and grains to extract their oils which happened sometime during the first century in the Mediterranean region. By the 10th century Arab cookbooks had detailed instructions on how to toast the grains for oil extraction as well as how to clarify, scent, color, and store the extracted oils. It was also during this period that olive oil production came into practice.

We often think of deep fried foods as unhealthy and greasy, but if executed properly fried foods should not be greasy as the moisture contained in the food to be fried will actually repel the oil as the heated oil will cause the food item to produce steam. This water vapour is expelled as steam creating bubbles which pushes the oil away from the food.  By keeping the oil temperature at a constant 350°f – 375°f and minimizing the time the food is fried for the oil will only be present in a very thin layer on the outer portion of the fried food.

If you can’t make it to this year’s CNE food pavilion but want to try some deep-fried food, try making some deep-fried ice cream at home. The following recipe uses Kawartha Dairy Company’s vanilla ice cream, but you can substitute your favourite flavour if you want to. Personally my preferred fried ice cream is Moose Track’s which isn’t bad when you consider that it’s deep-fried chocolate and peanut butter.




Deep Fried Ice Cream


1 liter of Kawartha Dairies vanilla ice cream

1 cup frosted cornflakes, crushed fine

1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut

2 eggs

2 tbsp.  sugar

Your choice of oil, for frying


Scoop out 4 medium sized scoops (3-4 oz.) of ice cream and pack them tight like a snow ball. Place the ice cream balls onto a parchment line baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and place them in the freezer for a couple of hours to set hard.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the cornflake crumbs with the shredded coconut.

Roll the ice cream balls in the cornflake mixture and immediately return them to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

In another medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar. Dip the crumb-coated ice cream balls into the egg wash and then roll the balls in the crumb mixture for a second time making sure that they are coated completely. Return the ice cream balls to the freezer and let them set for 1-2 hours.

Heat your counter top deep-fryer to 375°f. Deep fry the ice cream balls one at a time, using the basket to gently lower them into the oil. Fry the balls until they are golden brown which will take about a minute. Remove the cooked ice cream from the fryer basket and serve it in a bowl. Serve it immediately with some chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Yields 4 portions.


Food poisoning at Canadian events on the risehttp://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2013/08/27/toronto-past-canadian-food-illness-investigations.html



food and religion

Gastronomically yours,

August 21st, 2013

Paileontology: The history of the lunch pail!

Awesome Eeb's having a nosh on the go!

Awesome Eeb’s having a nosh on the go!

As long as humans have been on the move so has been the food we eat. Originally we would carry food and water about inside the well-oiled bladders and hides of different animals. We eventually evolved and started to carry our food wrapped in pieces of cloth in woven baskets or wooden boxes.

During the 1800’s working class men who had to leave their homes to work and not return until dinner time would convert their metal biscuit and tobacco tins into sturdy containers that would keep their lunches safe in factories, mines and building sites. These same containers were used for kids too when heading off to school. The mid 1800’s saw the first patents being registered for lunch boxes.

At the turn of the 20th century the increased industrialization of our society saw more and more people working outside the home in a variety of environments often making it impractical to go home for lunch. The lunch pail became a symbol of one’s economic status as it showed that you could not afford to purchase a hot lunch time meal. These societal demands and views lead to the invention of a sealed glass tube flask in 1904. This flask allowed everyone the opportunity to enjoy a hot lunch or beverage while at work as the Thermos quickly became a household word.

These turn of the century innovations saw the lunch pail transform into a sturdy virtually indestructible metal box that housed a thermos, had a convenient carrying handle and would last a lifetime. The postwar marketplace was a desperate period which had fashioned a demand for all styles of consumer goods. As such many companies began generating products with a planned obsolescence which ultimately crafted our present day economy in which consumers replace perfectly good products for the sake of passing style. This changed the lunch box into what became a 40 year trend.

The lunch box as most of us know it appeared on the market, shaped like a miniature television set and decorated with our favourite TV stars and shows which often had a lifespan of a couple of years if you were lucky or poor.  During this period, the working man’s lunch box was redesigned into the miner’s lunch box when a Sudbury mine worker named Leo May sat on his lunch box and it crushed beneath him. May designed and made the shiny, barn-shaped metal lunch box that was reinforced with heavy rivets.

For decades that followed the lunch box scene remained unchanged until in the mid-1980’s when metal lunch boxes were deemed dangerous and could potentially be used as weapons by students. Ironically the last character featured on these lunch boxes was Rambo. All metal boxes produced today that remotely resemble the old-school lunch boxes, are no longer called lunch boxes.

Things have only become more complicated since as I discovered while shopping for my daughter’s upcoming first day of school. She will not have a lunch box she will have a food transportation system. These “systems,” are simply a set of small containers that fit together and pack easily into an insulated bag. As well she may even carry the latest lunch transportation wave of compartmentalized containers in what is known as Laptop Lunches, which are modeled after the Japanese Bento Lunch Box. .There also is the Indian inspired tiffin lunch systems which are a stackable version of the old lunch pail.

If you too are shopping for a new lunch transportation system for your child I have some suggestions. Look for products made from insulated stainless steel or recycled BPA-free, lead-free, phthalate-free, PVC-free plastic and avoid products that are not dishwasher safe as it says a lot about the quality of the product’s durability and it’s potential health and safety concerns.

The soft-sided insulated cooler bags are an affordable alternative to paper bag lunches as they are durable and easy to clean. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes with segregated pockets that protect fruits and keep cold and hot items away from each other.

I recommend getting twice as much of everything for your child’s lunch transportation system as it will be appreciated on those busy mornings when you discover that everyone has slept in and that that you didn’t get to clean up everything from the day before.

When it comes to packing a healthy lunch that you know your kids will actually eat I suggest using leftovers from dinners that your kids enjoy. If you set some lasagna, soups and stews aside now in small portions in the freezer you will be more than set to start the school year with a little less stress.


Don't let your kids be guinea pigs

Don’t let your kids be guinea pigs












Chef Brian for Hire
The Spice Co.