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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

Tony Aspler, Wine writer

“Chef Brian Henry puts one hundred percent of his energy into going all the way.”

Birgit Moenke, Editor Stir Media Read More Reviews

Posts Tagged ‘culinary educator’

Gastronomically yours,

February 11th, 2017


Seth McGinn and his CanCooker

As a boy in the 1970s, CanCooker inventor Seth McGinn helped brand and vaccinate cattle on his grandparent’s Nebraska ranch. A roundup is hard work; you start at dawn, and by lunchtime, you’ve built up quite an appetite.

In eastern Nebraska, area ranchers would gather together to pitch in with each rancher’s roundups to vaccinate and brand cows and calves. At the start of the day, each family would drop portions of vegetables and meat into an old steel cream can that was placed on a fire to cook while they worked.

At lunchtime, stomachs were grumbling. The ranchers and their children would come back to a hot, hearty, homemade meal—cooked to perfection—that easily fed the entire group.

Decades later, McGinn tried to reproduce this cooking method for a family gathering, but the cream can that he used fell apart in the fire, ruining 50 pounds of food. McGinn realized that modern cream cans are primarily decorative, as compared to the durable cans of the ’60s and ’70s. After trying numerous alternatives, McGinn decided to create an improved design that was safe, durable, easy to use and easy to clean. The result was the CanCooker.

Introduced in 2009, the CanCooker is a unique cooking device that quickly and easily steam-cooks a complete high-quality meal for a large group of diners. Constructed of thick-walled, food-grade anodized aluminum, the CanCooker efficiently converts heat into steam that circulates inside to tenderize and cook the ingredients without boiling away the nutrients. In as little as an hour on just about any heat source—from a stovetop to a campfire—you can create an amazingly delicious dinner for family and friends

The CanCooker will cook just about any meal you can think of from cakes to ribs to omelets.


CanCooker on the Fire!



The US Midwest is a region that saw a great influx of immigration from Germany, Italy Hungary, and Scandinavia during the 1700’s. With them came beer, sausages, potatoes, pasta, sauerkraut and goulash. This combination of foods and cooking styles quickly led the way to Milk Can Suppers.

CanCooker making a steaming hot dinner

Cooking in a milk can is perfect for use in outdoor kitchens and for feeding large groups of people. They can be used like a slow cooker or a steamer. I have tried Italian dishes and Cajun Jambalaya but the following recipe is a bit more traditional with respect to its roots and can be prepared using all local ingredients.

Before you go digging an old milk can out of your garage there are a few things to consider about your milk can cooker. Often antique milk cans were not made from galvanized metals which means that they will have an adverse effect on your food and your health if you use one of these. CanCooker is the modern version of milk can cooking and are available for through their Facebook page. They come in a variety of sizes, are made with stainless steel and are easy to use.

They are perfect for tailgating, camping and any outdoor adventure

CanCooker Jambalaya

CanCooker Supper


1 – 6-pack of beer, something light

12 ears of sweet corn, shucked

12 medium red potatoes, washed and quartered

2-3 pounds of carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

3-4 large cooking onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

6 red peppers, seeded, coarsely chopped

1 head green cabbage, cored, quartered

2 heads of celery, coarsely chopped

4 small zucchini squash, coarsely chopped

12-18 chorizo sausages

3-4 sprigs of Rosemary

3-4 sprigs thyme



Place all ingredients in the milk can in the order as they are listed starting from the top, so pour in the beer, place corn in beer, topped with the potatoes and so on down the list, with the sausages on top with the lid.

Prepare a hot fire between two cinder blocks or something similar that will hold can above and close to the fire. If the wind is blowing, prepare something to protect the fire. Set the can on the blocks and tend the fire for approximately 1 1/2 hours.

Have two people armed in insulated gloves remove the can from the fire and set it on the ground for 20 minutes to cool. Carefully remove the lid while being mindful that the escaping steam can cause serious burns. Either serve supper strait from the can with ladles or pour out the contents into large serving bowls.

Remove the can from the fire and carefully remove the lid. Two individuals, wearing insulated gloves, should then pour the can’s contents into waiting large bowls. Add serving spoons and have guests serve themselves.




Gastronomically yours,

February 11th, 2017

Valentine’s Day, Food and Sex

As Valentine’s Day approaches many people are ordering flowers, buying chocolates and making dinner reservations in pursuit of romance. For some romance means sex and what we eat on Valentine’s Day can ruin the mood. Eroticism and foods have long been paired together, even before pairing food with wine.

Numerous foods are considered to be aphrodisiacs, something that increases sexual desires which historically people believed foods that resemble genitalia were the best catalyst for arousing desires. This saw people consuming clams, oysters, bananas, asparagus, eggs, avocados and caviar in pursuit of increased sexual drives. Others choose foods based upon texture, for which I will forgo discussing and leave this to your imagination.

Kick Ass Cajun, from The Spice Co. naturally

Sharing a meal is like a slow seduction, anticipation builds upon seeing a particularly inviting meal. It can cause us to salivate, our eyes widen, and our pulse quickens, just like a sexual response.

Modern day science has been able to determine that it isn’t so much the food but what is in the food that gets us going. Oysters contain zinc and amino acids that trigger production of sex hormones, chili peppers stimulate endorphins which quicken your heart rate and make you sweaty, chocolate increases our dopamine levels, bananas contain bromelain triggering testosterone production, strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C which improves blood flow to all body parts, Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium which helps raise testosterone levels, watermelon contains similar ingredients as  Viagra increasing  blood flow and your libido and vanilla for its sensual scent and exotic taste.

Humble Pie, from The Spice Co. naturally

Trying to combine all of these foods into a meal could see you leaving the table and heading to the bedroom for the nap and nothing else. So I developed the following recipe to include as many sensual ingredient in a manner that is mutually satisfying and falls under the hashtag food porn.


Aphrodite Ganache Tart


For the crust

3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs

¾ cup raw pumpkin seeds, chopped fine

1/4 cup butter at room temperature

2 tbsp. Humble Pie, from The Spice Co. naturally


Combine crumbs, chopped seeds, butter, and sugar in a medium sized bowl and mix until evenly incorporated. Press the crust mixture firmly and evenly into a 9 inch pie or tart pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 °f for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack before filling.

For the filling

12 oz. bittersweet dark chocolate chopped

1 tbsp. butter

1 ¾ cups light whipping cream

2 tbsp. ginger peeled and coarsely chopped

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. Kick Ass Cajun, from The Spice Co. naturally


Place the chocolate and butter into a medium sized bowl.  Separately in a medium sized sauce pan heat the cream, ginger and cayenne pepper over low-medium heat, do not let it boil! Immediately pour the cream mixture through a fine meshed sieve into the bowl of chocolate. Discard the remnants. Allow the cream and chocolate to stand for about 2-3 minutes, and then stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Pour the chocolate mixture into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving. Serve with fresh strawberries, water melon pieces and whipped cream.



Gastronomically yours,

February 8th, 2017

Getting married? Think twice about throwing rice…

Here Comes the Bride

The ritualistic trading of nuptials throughout society carries many traditions. From the ring to the veil and the colour of the brides dress all of these traditions have a story behind them. All evolved over time depending on many historical influences.
Wheat and grains are considered by some to be symbols of fertility. Often wheat sheaths would find their way into the wedding ceremony or grains were tossed in the air over the newly wedded couple’s heads to promote fertility. Over time as the world evolved we discovered how to use wheat to bake wedding cakes. Some cultures then began to take pieces of the cake and drop crumbs over the bride and groom. As well as tossing grains sometimes well-wishers tossed flower petals.
When the price of grains and flowers began to rise, people switched to throwing confetti and rice at the newlyweds. The novelty of confetti quickly wore off, as it is impossible to clean up the mess. Oh yeah and that guy who got the paper cut on his eye and sued the confetti company for millions is urban legend, but it had an effect on confetti sales.
A handful of rice thrown at point blank range by an overzealous newly met in-law is enough to make one never eat rice again let alone meet the rest of the family. Rice on church steps is the equivalent of marbles on the church steps.
Now here is the all-time urban legend that has affected the wedding rice trade… Don’t throw rice at your wedding because birds will eat it and explode.
I’ve heard this numerous times from all demographics and each time I laugh harder than before. If this were true you would be able to watch wild life shows on migrating birds stopping off for a nosh in patches of wild rice fields and then the poor unsuspecting birds would explode on film. There would be large groups of angry people trying to stop the senseless cruelty of the systematic self-inflicted genocide committed by the noble Chickadee. We would be hanging bird sized rice cookers from trees in an attempt to reverse the damage caused by years of rice emissions around the world.
No wonder we can’t figure out which came first, you know the chicken or the egg problem that has plagued the brilliant minds of time we’ve been trying to feed Alka-Seltzer to seagulls which from my childhood experience I can say is urban legend as well.
Here is an idea of what I like to do with rice

Creole Dirty Rice
1 lb. chicken livers, chopped fine
4 tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup onion diced
1/2 cup celery, chopped fine
1/2 cup red bell pepper diced
1 tsp. garlic, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. Kick Ass Cajun seasoning, from The Spice Co. naturally
6 cups-cooked long grain or Jasmine rice, HOT
1/4 cup green onions, chopped fine
1/4 cup parsley, chopped fine
Method: Sauté chicken livers, onions, celery, red peppers, and garlic with vegetable oil until lightly browned and add our Kick Ass Cajun. In a large bowl combine liver mixture with the cooked rice. Stir in the chopped green onions and parsley. Serve immediately.

Gastronomically yours,

February 7th, 2017

Chocolate Duck

Mexico is full of many secrets but none are as great as the seven secret sauces known as Mole (moh-lay) that I learned about while travelling in Mexico.

I like to use a brown Mole with duck as it quite rich and combining duck and chocolate into the same recipe is guaranteed to delight the palate and is perfect to serve on Valentines Day.
Pekin duck is a breed of duck bred from the Mallard duck in China. Its domestication was primarily for egg and meat production. In 1873 nine Pekins were exported to Long Island, New York which explains why some refer to this breed as Long Island duck. Since this time the Pekin duck has become the most consumed commercially available source of duck meat.
Peking Duck is a method of cooking duck which similar to the Pekin breed has its origins in China. This Imperial era dish originated during the Yuan Dynasty and was further developed and refined during the Ming Dynasty. The preparation of this dish focuses its attention on the crisp air injected skin preparation of the duck that is coated with seasoned honey and Hoisin sauce.

Enough about that… lets head to the kitchen and get to work on this recipe for Southwest Mole Marinated Duck with chocolate drizzle

Mexican Kitchen Cartel from The Spice co. naturally

Southwest Mole Marinated Duck

Two tomatillos husks removed and roasted (optional)
One half cup toasted sesame seeds
One half cup vegetable oil
Twelve dried Ancho chillies, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Four cloves garlic
Two thirds cup pine nuts
Two thirds cup chopped dried apricots
Three cups chicken stock
One half tsp. cinnamon
One quarter tsp. ground pepper
One eighth tsp. ground cloves
Two oz bitter sweet chocolate chopped
One tsp bread crumbs
One eighth tsp. cardamom
One half cup sugar
Six boneless duck breast
Use a spoon to scoop the pulp and juice from the tomatillos into a medium sized stock pot. Discard the skins. Add the sesame seeds to the tomatillos. In a separate pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Using a slotted spoon cook the Ancho’s in the oil until lightened in color. Transfer the Ancho’s to the tomatillo mixture. Cook the garlic and pine nuts in the oil until golden brown and add to the tomatillo pot. Remove the oil from the heat and let it cool for safe disposal. Add all remaining ingredients to the tomatillo sauce mixture excluding the duck. Cook the sauce over medium heat for half an hour.

Using an immersion blender puree the sauce until sooth and continue cooking it over low heat for another one to two hours until reduce to a thick paste. Remove sauce from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled marinate the duck breasts in the mole for twelve hours covered in the refrigerator.

Remove the duck from the marinade and place fat side up onto a baking sheet.

Roast the duck at 350°f for seven minutes for medium doneness.

Remove duck from oven and cut into slices for serving fanned out onto plates.

Drizzle the duck with chocolate sauce. Serve with a medley of julienne vegetable.

Gastronomically yours,

February 6th, 2017

Ice Cube

For most Canadians ice is something to skate on, fish through, serve with your favorite beverage or needs to be heavily salted and sanded after a storm. Nowadays ice seems to either be a luxury or a nuisance to us.

The earliest record of harvesting ice was written around 600 BC in northwest China. It was harvested in the winter months and stored for use in the summer months for refrigeration purposes. Over the next 1000 years not too much changed with ice and the harvesting of it.

Michael Tuinstra, of Cambridge, works on an ice sculpture during the Ice Sculpture Competition in Lakefield. The event was held as part of Polar Fest in Selwyn Township.

In the 1600’s Chinese peoples in the Heilongjiang province, began making lanterns out of ice to illuminate the long winter nights it wasn’t long before people started hanging these lanterns outside of their homes as decorative pieces. Before long these decorative pieces grew in size and began appearing as large decorative show pieces.

There seems to be some dispute as to whether China or Russia should be credited with starting the first ice based festivals. Seeing as the region where these traditions started were in the same general area with a border running through them I think it would be safe to reason that these carnivals grew to be a part of regional traditions. The trend spread, and people started hanging decorated lanterns from homes and parading them in carnivals.

The first large scale ice sculpture was of a palace created entirely out of ice in Russia in 1740. Highlights of this monumental piece included cannons that fired cannon balls of ice, and an icy elephant that sprayed water out of its trunk. Ever since the creation of this palace communities throughout China and Russia have been constructing entire towns out of ice.

Ice has been incorporated into many cuisines for its decorative accents. Most famously Chef Auguste Escoffier first presented the traditional Peach Melba dessert nestled in a dish that looked like a swan which was completely carved out of ice. Since this time chefs have plied their craft at making ice sculptures to decorate their buffet tables. This is exceptionally present on cruise ship buffets.

As a chef I enjoy sculpting ice as it allows one to create temporary works of art that are very pleasing to the eye.  I truly enjoy the fact that no matter how beautiful or big the sculpture we know that it will ultimately end up as a puddle of water. An ephemeral expression of art.

The ice blocks that I choose to carve are specially made, they come in 300 lbs. blocks and take three days to form. The water is continuously agitated during the freezing process producing crystal clear ice, without any pressure cracks or bubbles forming in the blocks. As well the water used is food friendly and can be ingested safely. Some carvers use lake water which works equally as well as the factory formed blocks, the downside being that bits of debris can be trapped in the ice, as well it is advisable not to ingest untreated water from our lakes.

Once I’ve decided on a design I draw a one dimensional paper template of what I intend to carve. I then etch the template into the ice. From here I use a chainsaw to remove all of the large pieces of ice that will not be needed in for the sculpture. Then using any of the following tools chisels, irons, grinders, drills and blow torches I begin to transform what began as a one dimensional drawing into a 3 dimensional sculpture.

We celebrated the 13th Annual Polar Fest Ice Sculpting Competition in Lakefield Ontario this past weekend. There were a dozen professional carvers on hand competing for the People Choice Award and the Carver`s Choice Award. This annual event has been sponsored since its inception by the Lakefield Village Merchants.







Gastronomically yours,

February 5th, 2017


Super Bowl LI

This Sunday more than 18 million Canadians will be watching the New England Patriots confront the   Atlanta Falcons in the 51st Super Bowl Sunday. It is billed as the second highest eating event after Thanksgiving and will see Canadians spend more than $1 billion on snack foods.

Dining etiquette for Super Bowl Sunday is relatively relaxed as is the menu. Traditional Super Bowl food includes chicken wings, pizza, chili, and potato chips. To put this into perspective consumption facts state that Canadians will consume over 100 000 kg of snack food in the form an estimated 6-7 million pizzas, nearly 1/2 billion chicken wings which we will wash down with some 1.3 million liters of beer. This one day feeding frenzy will see the average Canadian consume in excess of 2000 calories over the four hour game.

My gut hurts as I digest these numbers so to better manage your game day caloric intake you may want to consider making your own half-time show spread instead of ordering in take-out. Wings have become the most sport synonymous food, surpassing pizza and can be prepared without deep frying. Baking them in the oven and dusting them with herbs and seasonings will knock a couple hundred calories off of every serving.

Potato chips are the ultimate game day snack food, which will see us nosh down in excess of 3 million pounds of while dipping them into some 1 million pounds of dip like guacamole. A party’s just not a party without chips but if we reach for baked versions instead of fried chips we can still enjoy their crunchy texture without breaking the calorie bank.



The following recipes for our Reggae Rub Chicken Wings and our Kick Ass Cajun Southern Fried Chicken are both bone in comfort food s that are easy to prepare and enjoyed by many. It is best served with corn, mashed potatoes, slaw, gravy and of course some fresh baked rolls to ensure that your plate is clean when you’re done.

Reggae Rub Wings are best when grilled over charcoal!

Reggae Rub Chicken Wings


3 lbs bone-in chicken wings and drums

½ package Reggae Rub

3 green onions, minced

1 tbsp. cooking oil

3 cloves garlic, minced



Take the chicken out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking.  Combine all of the remaining ingredients together in an mixing bowl and mix until evenly incorporated. Add the wings to the Reggae Rub mixture and toss them about to make sure they are liberally coated.


For best the best possible flavour cook the wings on a pre-heated charcoal barbeque. If you don’t have charcoal you can use a gas grill, or if necessary you can roast them in the oven. Use a medium-high heat. On the barbecue they will take about 20-30 minutes in the oven at 425 °f you will need about f 45 minutes. More importantly you will need to ensure the chicken is cooked to a proper internal temperature of 74 °c / 165°f. This is best checked with a food thermometer. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6 people depending on what else you set out on the table.

Kick Ass Cajun Fried Chicken


1 whole chicken 2 -3 pounds

3 eggs

½ cup butter milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1-2 tsp. Kick Ass Cajun spice blend

A pinch of both salt and pepper

Vegetable oil or peanut oil, for frying



Using a knife break the chicken down into smaller cuts and pat the pieces dry with paper towel to remove any moisture.

Preheat your deep fryer to 350 °f and your oven to 200 °f.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk and set aside. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, garlic and ginger powders with salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken pieces one at a time into the egg mixture, then evenly coat them in the flour mixture and gently submerge them into your preheated fryer. Make sure each piece of chicken has plenty of space to cook in the fryer without touching anything. If necessary fry the chicken in small batches and transfer the cooked pieces using tongs or a slotted spoon onto a baking tray line with a roasting rack in your preheated oven.

Fry the chicken until brown and crisp, about 10-12 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. More importantly you will need to ensure the chicken is cooked to a proper internal temperature of 74 °c / 165°f. This is best checked with a food thermometer.

Numerous readers of last week’s column which discussed growing your own micro-greens responded wanting know where they could purchase micro-greens and forgo the tasks of indoor gardening so in the theme of keeping our food choices “Close to Home” I suggest that you visit the Peterborough Saturday Farmers’ Market where you will find Tiny Greens, a local sustainable microgreens grower who operates year round and pick up some pea shoot micro-greens to use in the following recipe for Pico de Gallo.

In Mexican cuisine Pico de Gallo is a freshly made style of salsa. The name Pico de Gallo translates to beak of rooster which symbolizes the way we eat by taking foods between our forefinger and thumb and them dipping it into a sauce. By sacking all of those creamy, fat-filled dips and making your own you can feel better and your waistline won’t run a foul on game day.


Pico de Gallo


1 cup minced red onion

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 limes, juiced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups Ontario hothouse tomatoes, seeded and chopped

¼ cup loosely chopped pea shoot microgreens

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

1 tsp. Mexican Kitchen Cartel seasoning (optional)



In a medium sized bowl combine the minced red onion, jalapeno pepper, lime juice and garlic. Toss mixture and let it rest for 15 minutes. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and let it marinate for another 15-minutes before serving. Do not refrigerate as this will diminish the quality of the texture and flavours of the tomatoes, use immediately.

Mexican Kitchen Cartel from The Spice co. naturally

Gastronomically yours,

December 17th, 2016

Ramsey started off with a furious expletive Which is why I believe he is a distant blood relative

T’was a Night in the Kitchen

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through’ the kitchen

Not a chef was stirring, nor washing the dishes

The pots were all cleaned and put back on the shelf

Knowing tomorrow it would be back to work for this elf

Our company had long ago gone to sleep,

While a pot of turkey bones silently did steep.

Removing my tunic and old chef’s hat

I had decided to partake in a stiff nightcap

When out in the kitchen the smoke alarm rang

I ran back to the galley and spouted some slang

I had rendered our festive dinner to ash,

And proceeded to quietly take it out to the trash

While back in the house I poured some Chablis

And ended up on the couch to watch some TV.

When, what to my bloodshot eyes should appear,

But some bloke on the network cooking with cheer

He was straining a sauce with a ladle and colander

Later it mentioned that his name was something Oliver

Soon my eyes were drooping and I began to nod,

As my mind was dreaming now immersed in egg nog.

Back in the kitchen I found myself looking

As this chap named Oliver was standing there cooking

He was calling out names of chefs, who arrived,

Through my exhaust fan looking rather surprised

Now Ramsey! Now Batali!, Now Lagasse! and Flay

“On De Laurentiis!, On Pepin!, On Puck! and Ray

They were dressed in chef whites and ready to cook

I interrupted them and asked them to sign their latest cook book

The pots and pans they began to rattle

As these chefs ironically prepared to do battle

Ramsey started off with a furious expletive

Which is why I believe he is a distant blood relative


Batali somewhat sweaty with red hair and round belly

Shook when he laughed, like a slab of pork belly

Lagasse was shucking a pail full of clams

His eyes how they twinkled! When he shouted out BAM!

Flay with a free-range turkey flung over his back,

Looked like a cook from not just any barbecue shack. 

De Laurentiis pulled out her knives which she honed

While this everyday personality looked already at home

Pepin the French chef worked rather free and wild

And that’s okay with me because I too lament for Julia Child

Puck and Ray the ever famed culinary tycoons

Were smiling and working on a curried crab Rangoon


It was obvious now that our Christmas dinner would not be traditional

As it seemed this merry feast would border on being biblical.

With a wink of their eyes and a twist of the pepper mill

I knew that Christmas dinner would not see us dining on krill

With a dash of caraway and a dash of dill, I sliced up the fillet

And fired up the chaffing dishes, Christmas dinner this year would be served up buffet.

What to do next I was no longer sure

I was just thankful that we would not dine on manure

All chefs on hand were given thanks and gingerbread

As they returned where they came from I went straight to bed

With the bread in the bread maker using fresh baker’s yeast

I wish Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good feast!

Merry Christmas from all of us in the kitchen!




Gastronomically yours,

December 13th, 2016

According to the National Restaurant Association here is what’s HOT and what’s NOT in 2017


What's Hot  in 2017!

What’s Hot in 2017!

What's Hot 2017

What’s Hot 2017

What's Hot 2017

What’s Hot 2017

What"s Hot in 2017

What”s Hot in 2017

What's Hot 2017

What’s Hot 2017

What's Hot 2017

What’s Hot 2017

What's Hot 2017

What’s Hot 2017

What's Hot in 2017

What’s Hot in 2017

What's Hot in 2017

What’s Hot in 2017

2017 Hot Trends and New Flavours

2017 Hot Trends and New Flavours


Gastronomically yours,

November 24th, 2016

Snow Cream is a scream

It was nice to wake up to a winter like scene this past week. The fresh fallen snow was a delight to see after our typically dreary November days. It was fun to get out and play in the snow, make snowmen and see all of our holiday decorations enhanced by snow. Whenever there is a fresh snowfall I can’t help but think about a recipe that I learned to make when I was about six years old… Snow Cream.  As a child, I was amazed how easy and fun it was to make dessert out of snow. I even began to believe that I could end world hunger with all of the snow that fell in my small Ontario home town.

I remember vividly as friends of the family came to visit us from Alabama late one fall to visit during hunting season. As luck would have it we had an early snowstorm which dumped several inches of fresh fluffy snow. Seizing the moment; one of our guests ventured outside with some bowls and collected as much snow as possible and quickly went to work stirring together some milk, sugar and vanilla. Then handful after handful I gradually added the snow while we took turns stirring the mixture. With short work we had created a couple of litres of Snow Cream that we drizzled with maple syrup.


Most people who have regular snowfalls and accumulations are the ones who have never heard of snow cream. This simple dessert seems to be more widely celebrated in the deep south of the United States a place not known for snow. It was not long ago that electricity was not a household item, making chest freezers rarer than the snow needed to make this recipe. So when it did snow in the south, this was an easy way to celebrate in Southern fashion by making do with what you have on hand.

The great thing about making snow cream is that it doesn’t require too many ingredients and those that it does can be found here locally. Naturally my milk and cream came from The Kawartha Dairy Company and my maple syrup came from my own trees leftover from early spring.  Alternately one could use crushed up candy canes instead of maple syrup to make a Christmas style snow cream.


The only advice that I give for the following recipe is to make sure the snow is clean. This goes beyond all the yellow snow jokes as you should only use fresh fallen snow, and be aware that it takes at least one to two hours for a fresh snowfall to clean the pollutants from the air, so use only snow that has fallen after that first cleansing snow.

How to go from Snow Storm to Snow Cream!


Snow Cream

1/2 cup 35% heavy cream

½ cup 2% milk

1-tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup locally produced Maple Syrup

6-8 litres of fresh fallen snow

Prepare an ice bath by filling an extra large mixing bowl with ice or snow half way. Set a slightly smaller bowl into the ice bath. Better yet, take your mixing bowl outside and set it in the snow. Combine the cream, milk, sugar, and in bowl and whisk together. Continue stirring while adding snow to the cream based mixture 1-2 cups at a time. The amount of snow needed will vary depending on the size of the snow crystals and the temperature of the snow. Stir in enough snow to make the cream mixture start to resemble ice cream in consistency.  Garnish with crushed candy canes. Serve and eat immediately as Snow Cream is not to be stored for any period of time.

Gastronomically yours,

November 24th, 2016


The Cookie Exchange

As the holiday season bears down on us like the coming polar vortex we once knew as winter, adults and kids alike are getting into the holiday spirit. This time of year is often spent with family, friends and the kitchen. No matter how you choose to celebrate the holiday season most of it will somehow see us in the kitchen.

The coming holiday season is a great distraction for us as we enter the darkest days of the year as our annual sojourn about the sun which is often filled with excess, expectations, and exchange. cookie

This is a great time to get your children involved in the kitchen and by getting them to help in preparing some holiday baking and take a lesson from the Grinch who “puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!”

My 2 youngest children and I have baked the following recipe a few dozen times with great success which she named after us while the second recipe is a classic standby often enjoyed by many.

The following cookie recipes contain nuts, eggs, dairy, and gluten so be cautious not to send these cookies off to school or to those around you with comparable dietary concerns.

Daddy-Rasi Cookies


8oz unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1tbsp. Vanilla

1 ¾ cup rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. Cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

¼ cup crystalized ginger, chopped fine

½ cup toasted almonds coarsely chopped

½ cup dried cranberries coarsely chopped

½ cup raisins coarsely chopped

½ cup chocolate chips


Method: In a stand mixer or in a large bowl using an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat again until smooth. In a separate bowl combine all of the dry ingredients together and mix until evenly incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and gently combine the two at low speed until they are evenly mixed together but do not over mix.  Form the dough into 1 inch balls and place them evenly spaced onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake the soon to be cookies in a preheated oven at 350f for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown around edges, but still soft in middle. Store in an air-tight container for up to five days or sealed in sealable freezer bags for up to 3 weeks.

Individual S'mores for 200 guests!

Individual S’mores for 200 guests!

Kawartha Chestnuts


3/4 cup peanut butter, salted, creamy

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup dark chocolate, broken into pieces


In a stand mixer or in a large bowl using an electric mixer beat together, peanut butter, butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until it pulls away from the side of the bowl and becomes crumbly.

Using your hands take about a teaspoon size amount of dough and roll into a ball, place the ball onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat this process until no dough remains. Place a toothpick into each ball and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Using the toothpick to pick up the dough balls, dip the balls 3/4’s of the way, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. You want to leave a little bit of the peanut butter showing on top so that they resemble a chestnut. Remove excess chocolate. Place back onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Remove the toothpick and refrigerate until firm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or sealed in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.

Cookie Monsters

Many people simplify their holiday baking by taking part in a cookie exchange. To the uninitiated the cookie exchange concept is a relatively simple gathering of friends and family who have each baked one kind of cookie in a large enough quantity to divide out a dozen of their cookies to each person in attendance allowing everyone to leave with several dozen different cookies.

Rasi says you know they are good when they are sticky!

Rasi says you know they are good when they are sticky!

These curious social engagements show how cookie baking has evolved from something of a sweetened biscuit to an artisanal craft. This evolution has impacted the culture of the cookie bakers as we can witness those who bake in collaborative groups sharing ideas, cookies and recipes to those who bake in private having all of their Holiday baking done before anyone arrives sharing cookies and time with guests, and there are those who bake a variety of cookies and share only specific cookies with certain guests, in a spendthrift way. Regardless the baking of great cookies has been symbolic of ones prowess as in the domestic kitchen.

Generations of immigrants from all over Europe have contributed to the Canadian tradition of baking and eating cookies. The holiday season sees the popularity of this tradition rise up like a soufflé with many people baking cookies, and a far greater number of people eating them. The challenges of baking cookies and holiday treats to accommodate everyone’s needs, preferences, allergies and intolerances can either make one rise to the challenge or simply walk away from the kitchen altogether. One of my favourite holiday treats is the Buckeye which can be prepared to accommodate most dietary restrictions. Traditionally the Buckeye is made using peanut butter which can readily be substituted with soy based WOWBUTTER produced here in Ontario. WOWBUTTER is made in a dedicated 100% Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Egg Free Facility and is Vegan, NON-GMO, Safe-for-School, and Kosher/Halal approved.




3/4 cup peanut butter, salted, creamy Or ¾ cup WOWBUTTER

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup dark chocolate, broken into pieces


In a large bowl, beat together, peanut butter, butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until it pulls away from the side of the bowl and becomes crumbly and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take a teaspoon size amount of dough and between your hands roll it into a ball, place the ball onto the parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat this process until you have rolled all of the dough into balls.

Insert a toothpick about half way into each ball and place the tray in the freezer for 40 minutes.

While the dough balls set in the freezer melt the chocolate in a stainless steel or tempered glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove the chocolate from heat and stir it until smooth. Using the toothpick dip the balls 3/4’s of the way, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. You want to leave a little bit of the peanut butter showing on top to make the buckeye look. Remove any excess chocolate and place the buckeye back onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Remove the toothpicks and smooth over the holes. Store the Buckeyes in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Holiday Baking

Shortbread, Thumbprint, Buckeyes, Bark.  Gingerbread, Snickerdoodles, and Lebkuchen where does one start? This past week’s sudden arrival of wintery weather combined with the month of December being only a week away has suddenly thrusted us into the holiday season and all associated festivities.

As our annual sojourn about the sun sees us enter the darkest days of the year we will distract ourselves with excess, expectations, and exchange.  No matter how you choose to celebrate the holiday season most of it will see us spending much of it in the kitchen. As we count down the days, many of us are trying to get ahead on our holiday baking which is a monumental achievement unto itself. Some choose to simplify their holiday baking by signing up for cookie exchanges which sometimes can compound stress as these occasions  can have  an underlying passive-aggressive competitiveness to them and are further compounded by accommodating the numerous dietary concerns of gluten, nuts, sugars, fats and vegetarians which can easily eliminate many people from your Christmas list.

Finding recipes that are able to accommodate everyone that still have flavour and a desirable texture is not easy to do. We are not only accustomed to but we are somewhat hardwired to consuming fats, sugars, salts and gluten as these ingredients not only create desired flavours but also anticipated mouth feel which are often difficult to replicate in a manner that has an appreciatively palatable.

My oldest daughter has a collection of recipes, mostly desserts as she has a fondness for sweets. She recently took one of the recipes out to bake. I glanced at it the paper which had the boldly written title “Black Bean Brownies”. I immediately had thoughts that were something like “oh barf” but I kept my mouth shut until they were baked and she proudly handed me one of her Black Bean Brownies, which as a father I was obliged to try, and as a chef was having a culinary conniption.

Well as the story goes I was pleasantly surprised and have included the recipe in this week’s column as it is share worthy. I have made a couple of minor adjustments to it like using maple syrup instead of honey so that it is vegan friendly as well as scaled back on some of the ingredients to suit my own palate. It is also notable that other than the chocolate and vanilla all of the ingredients can be sourced from Ontario producers.



Black Bean Brownies


1 ½ cups cooked or canned black beans drained and rinsed

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

2/3 cup quick oats

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup real maple syrup

¼ cup canola, vegetable or coconut oil

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

½ tsp. baking powder

½ cup chocolate chips


Combine all of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips in a food processor. Process the ingredients by pulsing them until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl every so often.

Using a spoon, stir the chocolate chips into the mixture. Grease an 8×8 pan and pour the bean-brownie mixture into it. Bake the brownies in a pre-heated oven at 350°f for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the brownies cool for at least an hour before cutting into squares. If the brownie still seems too soft to cut, let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or 2 and let them firm up. Cut into squares and serve.



Chef Brian for Hire
The Spice Co.