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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 ‘Emergency food response team’

Gastronomically yours,

September 21st, 2014

Here is a recipe and some lore on cabbage rolls with a conversation from Facebook that has some great ideas and suggestions add to it

Cabbage roll please

Humans the world over have been using food wrappers for centuries to either transport or cook their meals in. Leaves are the most commonly used food wrapper and vary only by geographical regions. Mediterranean people use the fig and grape leaves, the Americas used corn husks; tropical regions used leaves from banana, lotus and bamboo while Asia used seaweed.
As we began to discover flours and their uses we began to wrap our foods in a variety of thin dough’s that were often stuffed and then steamed, boiled or fried. While the dough recipes are often similar, they too are diversified only by their regions with examples including the Filipino lumpia, Japanese gyoza, and Jewish kreplach wrappers.
Although many of these wrapped foods are defined by their regions one wrapped food that has seen no boundaries is the cabbage role. Cabbage roles are cultural mainstays throughout European, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines and were quickly shared throughout the world as people began to move about the planet. Cabbage rolls are as unique as their creators as it seems that just about everyone has a different way of making them.
With cooler weather on the way we have a tendency to start eating differently, we start to put on our dietary winter coat which is often found in carb and fat heavy meals prepared throughout autumn. Cabbage rolls are a healthy, inexpensive alternative to other heavy casserole and crock pot meals and can be made well in advance or stored in the freezer. The following recipe is easily made using Ontario grown produce. It also requires a number of pots and pans so make sure someone volunteers to help with the dishes.

Cabbage Rolls
2 large heads savoy cabbage
2 tbsp. butter
2 large white onions, diced
1/4 tsp. caraway seeds, crushed
3 tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 cans (each 28 oz/796 mL) crushed tomatoes
Salt and Pepper

2 tbsp. butter
3 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Dried thyme
1/2 cup long-grain rice
1-1/4 cups chicken stock
1 lb. lean ground pork
½ lb. lean ground beef
1 tbsp. Hungarian paprika
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and Pepper

Cabbage: Place a large pot of salted water onto boil, as it won’t do so by watching it you can core out the cabbages. Cook the cabbages one at a time in the boiling water for about 5 minutes until the exterior leaves become tender. Remove the cabbages from the boiling water and cool them down under cold water.
Start removing leaves from core end, being careful not to tear them. After you remove about 8-10 leaves or when they become hard to remove you will need to re-boil the remaining cabbage for a few more minutes before continuing. With a paring knife remove any of the thick veins from the cabbage leaves and set leaves aside to dry.
Sauce: In a large sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté the onions until they become translucent before stirring in the caraway and brown sugar about 10 minutes or until onions are a deep golden brown colour. Stir in the tomatoes and let the sauce simmer for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Remove sauce from heat and set it aside.

Filling: In another large sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat; stir in the onions, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the onions begin to soften. Stir in the rice and continue stirring the mixture until the onions begin to brown. Next stir in the stock and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot and let the rice cook until tender and all of the stock has been absorbed
Preheat a skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat. Cook the pork and beef over medium heat, stirring often, until meat is thoroughly cooked. Remove pan from heat and drain off excess fat. Stir the paprika into the cooked meat, and then stir the cooked rice and meat mixture together. Taste this filling and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let it rest long enough that it cools down and can be comfortably handled. Once the meat has cooled, stir in the parsley, dill, and egg.
Lightly coat the bottom of a large roasting pan with some of the tomato sauce. Into the centre of each cabbage leaf spoon about 1/4 cup or a small handful of the rice/meat filling into the centre. Fold the end and sides over the filling and roll it away from you, then repeat until all of the filling is gone. Arrange half of the cabbage rolls seam side down, in the sauce lined pan Top these roles with half of the remaining tomato sauce. Arrange remaining cabbage rolls on top of the first layer also seam side down and finally; pouring the remaining tomato sauce over top the top. If you have any extra cabbage leaves spread them over the top of the cabbage rolls as it will prevent your cabbage rolls from scorching.
Cover and bake in 350°F oven for about 2 hours or until tender. Serve hot or let them cool down before storing them in the fridge or freezer.

Donna Geary
For the first time in my life, I am attempting cabbage rolls. Recipes? Please and thank you.

Stuart Harrison Boil the cabbage in someone else’s house…

Donna Geary I honestly forgot about that, Stu!

Barb O’Brien So many recipes, Joe says, call me when they are ready, I’ll bring the beer!

Greg Grimshaw Just need vodka, spaghetti sauce and rice. Mix sauce and rice. Place large spoon of mix in steam softened leaf cabbage. Roll it like you are tommy chong… Drink vodka.. Straight in shot glasses. mazal tov. Grab another leaf. repeat.

Kerry Jo Rudd there is something out there called cabbage roll soup….sounds easier than rolling those leaves! yikes! get the wine out

Nicole Grady Get the sour cabbage from metro. It makes them so much better!!

Jeannine Taylor I steam ours and use nappa. I have a great vegan recipe but you might miss the meat.

Paula J Wagar-Wilkinson Good luck.

Greg Grimshaw There is no vodka in Brian’s recipe. I have real Ukrainian women make rolls and pierogi. There is always vodka.

And vodka is gluten free

Kim Waudby I like Brian’s version. It’s close to mine but I done pre cook the filling and add the chicken stock to the roaster to help cook the rice. I also line the pan with all the left over bits of cabbage as well as on top for a cover. Then cook for 3 hours. Put the leftovers in individual containers and freeze for lunch. Yum

Penny Hope First…..take apart the cabbage and save the leaves for later use in the recipe.

Donna Geary Thanks Brian Henry and Kim Waudby for the recipes. I’ve been told that I will be eating it alone, so am less motivated.

Gastronomically yours,

September 18th, 2014

The Great Pumpkin 

As the first day of autumn approaches, and the shadows are growing longer it won’t be long until we will start scraping frost off of our windshields. This beautiful and vibrant time of year sees us consuming more food as an ingredient for decorating our homes than what we may actually put in our pantries.

As we decorate our homes with corn stalks, kale and all sizes and varieties of gourds and squash, the pumpkin has become synonymous with Thanksgiving and Halloween. Beyond the pumpkins symbolism most of us know little about this fruit and still has most of us reaching for this product in its store-bought canned form when it comes to cooking. Canning pumpkins are harvested in August and are a smaller early maturing variety.  Pumpkins for Jack-o-lanterns are a late harvest larger variety of pumpkin.

The pumpkin’s symbolic presence of the autumn harvest has made this fruit a traditional staple of the Canadian Thanksgiving and though it has taken a considerably longer amount of time than Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive, the pumpkin has come of age and has transitioned itself into a staple of our pantries.

Sun kissed pumpkins

Sun kissed pumpkins

Although many people are quaffing copious amounts of pumpkin spice flavoured coffees most of us devour pumpkins in sweet dessert like preparations such as pie, cheesecake and muffins. When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, steamed, baked, or roasted. Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking, from the fleshy shell, to the seeds, to even the flowers.

Pumpkins are the largest berry in the world and are related to other fruits like squash and cucumbers. Pumpkins that are still small and green may be prepared in the same way as squash or zucchini, where a more mature pumpkin might be served mashed like potatoes.

Pumpkin seeds, known as pepitas, are the small, flat, green, edible seeds. Most pumpkin seeds are covered by a white husk, although some pumpkin varieties produce seeds without them. Pepitas are a popular snack that can be found hulled in most grocery stores.

The origin of making pumpkin pie came about when after early colonist  were introduced to the pumpkin and chose to slice off the top of the pumpkin,, removed the seeds, and filled the pumpkin with milk, spices and honey. The pumpkin was then baked in hot ashes.

Pumpkins are available almost everywhere one would find food for sale right now. It can be fun to go to a pick your own field as well to get your pumpkins. Try cooking with pumpkin whether it be canned or fresh in the following recipe for pumpkin bread.


Pumpkin Bread



¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour

⅔ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. pumpkin spices

¼ tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 cup pumpkin purée, canned or freshly cooked

½ cup packed brown sugar

⅓ cup olive oil

⅓ cup maple syrup

2 Tbs. unsalted pumpkin seeds



In a medium bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients; flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin spices, and salt. Separately in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, sugar, oil, and maple syrup until evenly incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir them together with a large spoon just until smooth.

Spoon the batter into an oiled and floured 9×5-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with the pumpkin seeds and gently tap the pan on the counter a few times to settle the batter.

Bake on the middle rack at 350°F until the top is browned and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the cooked bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring it to a rack to cool completely before slicing.














Gastronomically yours,

September 17th, 2014


Cauliflower is most commonly recognized as a bright white bulbous vegetable with purple or green highlights with light green leaves, but it is also available in green or purple varieties similar to its parent plant the cabbage.

Cauliflower is a variety of the common cabbage that has begun to flower but stop growing at the bud stage. In the 17th century these budding growths were observed as a freak occurrence in wild cabbage, but through selective breeding these plants evolved by the 18th century into what we know them as today.

Culinary historians are uncertain in knowing the regional origins of the cauliflower. It’s modern day name comes from the Latin “caulis” meaning stalk and “floris” for flower and is believed to have been introduced to Europe by Arabs after the fall of the Roman Empire however it was referred to as Cyprus cabbage in France and opens arguments that support it’s Cypriot origins which predates the Roman Empire.

We do know that cauliflower is a large flower-like growth that is comprised of numerous florets that grow on the ends of a maze of stalks nestled in a base of leaves. We often refer to the floret portion of cauliflower as the head as in a “head of cauliflower” but it is properly referred to as the curd.

North Americans typically discard the stems, core and leaves and eat only the florets in raw, steamed or boiled preparations. Although this may seem like a practical approach in preparing cauliflower it is wasteful as the entire plant other than its roots is edible. The stems and core have a slightly stronger taste compared to the flowers but they contain a significantly higher concentration of nutrients such as vitamin C and iron.

Cauliflower photo credit to http://no-baloney.com/

Cauliflower photo credit to http://no-baloney.com/

When shopping for cauliflowers look for tightly formed curds with small florets that are vibrant in color without spots or discoloration. The leaves should be crisp and green, and are a sure sign to tell how fresh the curd is as the leaves begin to wilt and yellow within a couple of days after they have been harvested. Store your cauliflower in the refrigerator tightly wrapped in plastic or in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

I suggest cooking the white variety with a bit of lemon juice or milk in a non-reactivate metal pot to prevent the cauliflower from discoloration during the cooking process. The green and purple varieties should be cooked without acid but be advised that the purple cauliflower will turn green when cooked. Once cooked store cauliflower in your refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Ontario grown cauliflower is available from June through November and reaches its peak of quality after a week or two of high temperatures and minimal rainfall.

Local farmers markets and grocery stores are over flowing with Ontario grown produce with plenty of cauliflower to be enjoyed by all. I encourage you to try eating the whole curd including the leaves and core in the following recipe which can be prepared on your barbecue.


Roasted Cauliflower


1 whole cauliflower

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tbsp. minced garlic

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

4 tbsp.  Grated Asiago

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped chives, for garnish



Place the cauliflower in roasting pan. Gently rub the canola oil over the surface of the cauliflower, and season it with the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place the roasting pan in an oven or barbeque preheated to 400°F and roast for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even roasting. Once the cauliflower is roasted top it with the Asiago cheese, once the cheese begins to melt sprinkle the chives over the cauliflower which will stick to the melted cheese and serve immediately while still warm. Alternately one may choose to wrap the cauliflower in tin foil to allow you to bake the curd on the barbecue or over a fire.

Gastronomically yours,

September 17th, 2014

Brussel Stalks

Brussel sprouts are ranked as the least liked vegetable the world over. As a kid I remember staring down Brussel sprouts on my dinner plate until past my bedtime in my stubborn refusal to eat these nasty little camouflaged orbs under the ethos of “you can’t leave the table until you cleaned your plate”.

As I grew older I realized that most people did not know how to cook Brussel sprouts and boiling or steaming them into a state of sourly flavoured gobs of mush is not one of them. It wasn’t until I began to understand them that I could appreciate them fully.

Brussel sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable of the cabbage family. They are related to broccoli, kale, kohlrabi and of course cabbage.

Brussel sprouts look like miniature cabbages growing in a spiral around the side of long fibrous stalks. When purchasing sprouts; choose ones that are small, firm and a vivid green colour. Avoid those that are puffy or soft and they should be free of yellowed or wilted leaves. If the leaves have any perforations in them; be wary of pests waiting inside. When buying sprouts individually; be sure to choose ones of equal size to ensure that they will cook evenly. Brussels sprouts are available year round, but their peak harvest season is from autumn until early spring. The smaller sized sprouts taste best and they are sweetest after a good hard frost or two.

Keep Brussels sprouts in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator unwashed and untrimmed. They are best stored in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture for up to 3 days. If stored longer than 3 days they will begin to develop a strong flavour which undesirable.

Preparing sprouts is done by trimming any excess stem from the sprouts base. Then peel and discard any of the exterior leaves that have been loosened by the first cut. Many people prefer to cut a cross in center of the stem to aid in evenly distributing heat during the cooking process.

The simplest way to work with sprouts is to buy them on the stalk prepare Brussel sprouts for cooking is first to remove the sprout buds from the stalk and

Regardless of your chosen cooking method, great care must be taken not to overcook the sprouts. Overcooking them will result in their sulfur smelling compounds to be released. This is why most people profess to dislike Brussels sprouts; as they have only ever tried them overcooked with a sulfuric taste and smell.

Ontario grown Brussel sprouts will be popping up at local farmers markets in the coming weeks. The early harvested ones can be bitter compared to those harvested later in the season as a good frost or two causes the Brussel sprouts to become sweeter. The following recipe uses balsamic vinegar to help balance out the off flavors that are sometimes found in sprouts and maple syrup to make them more naturally sweet. The flavorless boiled version of the veggie you may remember from your childhood is now more likely to be served roasted, fried, or even raw and shaved into salads. I suggest trying them roasted on the stalk in the following recipe.


Maple Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts


1 Brussel Sprout stalk

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup, balsamic vinegar

¼ cup maple syrup or honey


To make your own glaze, mix together the balsamic vinegar with maple syrup or honey, in a small saucepan. Over low to medium heat simmer the mixture until it thickens up. You may want to open a window or vent the kitchen as boiling vineagar can make breathing a bit of a challenge.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse stalk well in fresh water and trim any unsightly parts.

Brush olive oil over sprouts. Wrap sprouts in parchment paper, and wrap parchment covered sprouts in aluminum foil. Place in oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove parchment and foil; brush on glaze, season with salt and pepper and return to oven.

Tent sprouts with foil to prevent burning.

Roast for about 30 minutes or until sprouts are fork tender. Rotate and brush on more glaze halfway through roasting. Remove foil and glaze once more during the last 15 minutes of roasting. Brush on more of the glaze just before serving.

Brussels Sprouts on the stalk http://www.specialtyproduce.com/

Brussel Sprouts on the stalk http://www.specialtyproduce.com/

Gastronomically yours,

September 16th, 2014

Discovering Capsicum

Christopher Columbus is the Italian explorer who sailed the ocean blue in an effort to discover a westward oceanic passage to India. On four different attempts Chris tried in vain to find a route to India.  Instead the Italian explorer was credited with discovering an already inhabited land; “The New World”. As Orwellian as this may sound and as easy as it may appear to repute his most celebrated discovery I think we can take heart in knowing that Mr. Columbus self-discovered many new foods as anyone who travels far away from their home still does today.

Many of Chris’s early findings left a legacy of inappropriately named articles and terms commonly found in the English language. Included in his list of christenings is his spurious naming of the fruit we commonly refer to as pepper, which ironically during the same time period the peppercorn produced by drying berries of Piper, an unrelated plant, were highly prized as an exotic condiment and traded for high profits.

The proper name for this family of fruits would be capsicum. Members of the capsicum family produce fruits in different colors. Most commonly we see them in hues of red, yellow, orange and green. Hybrids of capsicum will vary in colors, which include white, purple, brown, and almost black.

Green capsicums are the most plentiful of the capsicum fruits. They are also the least expensive as they are harvested before they have ripened. This allows producers to harvest multiple crops throughout the growing season forcing the plant to try and reproduce itself via the flower, fruit and seed life-cycle. Green capsicums are high in folic acid. It should be noted that many people develop indigestion or acid reflux after consuming these green or unripe fruits by comparison to ripened peppers.

Yellow and orange capsicums are at the stage of being semi-ripened.  They are sweeter than green capsicum and yellow fruits are usually juicier than reds.

Red capsicums have reached the final ripening stage. The red and yellow fruits are the most expensive. Their prices drop drastically every fall after harvesting, but the plants produce only one crop throughout each season.

Capsicum is native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Capsicum seeds were later carried back to Spain by Mr. Columbus and from there spread just like his contracted syphilis throughout Europe. Today, Mexico remains one of the world’s major capsicum producers.

Locally grown capsicums and Ontario grown capsicums are flooding the market and produce aisles alike and are a great ingredient in the following recipe which exhibits the brilliant colors of autumn.


Roasted Red Pepper Soup



4 large red bell peppers

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced

1 large russet potato, peeled and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock

1/4 cup cream or milk

2 Tbsp. butter

Cayenne, salt and pepper to taste


Roast the red bell peppers by exposing them to an open flame until they blacken on all sides. Your barbecue, gas fired stove or oven’s broiler will work best for this. Place the blackened peppers in a bag, close the bag and let the peppers steam for about 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the blackened skins, and remove all of the seeds. Coarsely chop the peppers into smaller pieces.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and potatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and roasted peppers. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the stock, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes are soft.

Remove the pot from heat and purée the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Be cautious not to splash it about as the soup will be hot and could cause burns. Stir in the cream and season with cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.

Gastronomically yours,

September 16th, 2014

A midsummer night’s Grunt

A summer drive out into the country can easily take one on an unintended culinary journey with many a butter tart, curd or poutine to be had along the way. If you venture into a small town festival you may find yourself in the middle of a culinary showdown that would make even the greatest contenders of Top Chef whatever-ica flee their kitchen and plunge the other fouled mouthed celebrity chefs into a deafening muteness while the boss of cakes hangs up the magical cape of fondant for there is no greater rivalry than those found at a community bake sale.

Mention comfort food and many people talk about a variety of savoury mealtime preparations but often overlook the comfort we can take in home-style cooked desserts, especially in the height of fruit harvesting season. To understand the language of comfort food and its homey heritage we must first travel back in time.

Somewhere around 8000 BC the peasants of Europe would often leave a cauldron over the fire to simmer away often days at a time. As the days passed ingredients would be added to the pot while meals would be ladled out of it.  This ever evolving pot of soup consisted of mostly vegetables and grains and became the dietary mainstay for nearly 10 000 years and inspired a nursery rhyme known as Pease Porridge.

Those of higher class also ate pottage but theirs was more refined and would consist of finer ingredients such as meat or fish. The nobel class always having to be better than others soon employed ways to better their pottage and began to eat their thicken soups by combing a suet laden pastry into the pottage and then steaming or boiling them like a dumpling or pudding. This gave way to creating more exact recipes and saw these typically savoury mealtime recipes shift into sweet preparations as well. These now mainstay recipes include that are still mainstays in our recipe boxes todays and include steak and kidney pudding, Christmas pudding and Clootie dumplings.

When early settlers arrived in Canada they had to adapt their traditional recipes to match their available provisions and cookware. No longer were they combining dough into their pottages and steaming them but instead began to cover them with biscuits, crackers, dumplings or their dough and cooking them on a stove top. This new way of cooking spread like a prairie wildfire through church bazaars and community gatherings and was christened Cobbler. Regional availability of ingredients and cultural backgrounds lead to a variety of cobbler style recipes coming along which include Pandowdy, Betty, Grunts and Slumps.

The Crumble arrived on the culinary scene shortly after the Cobbler as it was a simple adaptation of recipes that were reproduced using oats in the making of the streusel like top crust. The Crumble gave way to the Crisp which also has a streusel like crust but does not contain oats.

However you top it the filling of all of these antiquated North American if not Canadian born desserts have a few common ingredients; fresh fruit, butter, sugar and grains, all of which are produced right here.

Although it is accredited to the Southern US for adding a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream to their freshly cooked and served still hot desserts, we can take pride in knowing that our locally produced ice creams taste best when served with our home-style local cuisine.

The following recipe is an easy one to follow, get out and go for a drive, tour some out of the way communities. Visit their markets and bake sales. Pick up some fresh baked desserts and a tub of locally made ice-cream and take comfort in our local community’s bounty and homegrown talents.

Photo Credit http://alstedefarms.com/farm-store-chester-nj/home-baked-pies/

Photo Credit http://alstedefarms.com/farm-store-chester-nj/home-baked-pies/

Gastronomically yours,

May 26th, 2014

I’m currently working in Kapuskasing Ontario as the Culinary Director for O’Briens Emergency Food Service Response Team for Disaster and Evacuations.

I will update this page when time permits me the luxury of doing so, you may have to refresh your browser or the page to be able to view the updates.

I’m blogging about this so that those who read it will be able to form an informed unbiased opinion on the challenges faced in Northern Ontario.

If you are a person who thinks they have the world’s problems all figured out and are one of those who simply say “We should just move them somewhere else” I ask you this…

Why is it that we should simply move these people when year after year

The US Midwest is sees homes and trailer parks destroyed by tornadoes,

Hurricanes ravage the South Eastern parts of North America

Snow and Ice storms shut down communities throughout North America

and we do not move these people?

Kashechewan First Nation's flag was brought by Deputy Chief Amos Wesly and council to the Civic Center

Kashechewan First Nation’s flag was brought by Deputy Chief Amos Wesly and council to the Civic Center

Maybe one needs to contemplate the meaning of home and understand how that defines us as families,

individuals and a nation with respect to our global community.


The Civic Centre is where all meals and meeting take place with regards to evacuations

The Civic Centre is where all meals and meeting take place with regards to evacuations




Gastronomically yours,

May 26th, 2014


Smithworks Brewing Company

Over the past decade our palates and the beer we drink have developed into a league all of their own. Beer is no longer just a beverage of the working class but a culinary element that not only may be used as an ingredient but something more akin to wine as you may now attend multi-course meals that sees each course being paired with a multitude of brews.

Ontario’s sixty-some microbreweries or craft breweries account for more than 30 per cent of Ontario’s brewery industry and you can expect that amount to rise greatly in the coming weeks as Peterborough is now home to the new Smithworks Brewing Company. This recently opened, family operated brewery features an elegantly rustic tasting room with full view of the brewing floor giving you a true taste of the craft brewing experience as you watch the beer making process roll ousmithworks logot from start to finish.


International award winning Brewmaster Graham Smith produces an exceptionally high quality beer made using premium malts, hops and yeast, in small batches to ensure maximum freshness and taste. I had the fortunate opportunity of discussing the Smithworks Brewing process with their brewmaster and I learned that Graham is overtly passionate about the beer he chooses to brew and the process by which he executes its production.

Smithworks Brewing Company has released their inaugural beer “Hefeweizen”.

This German style white beer is named Hefeweizen as it translates as “Hefe” meaning yeast and “Weizen” wheat. Hefeweizen is a top fermented, unfiltered, bottle conditioned wheat beer with a visible yeast sediment and a cloudy appearance.

Smithworks Brewing Company’s Hefeweizen is an exceptionally easy drinking beer. Personally I know that a non-beer drinker may change over after having a nip of Hefeweizen. I found it to be a fresh tasting, effervescent beer that is easily quaffed as the bready, spicy and somewhat fruity aromas fill your head.

The spicy notes are naturally produced by the phenols and esters engendered by the living yeast that Graham uses in his beer making process which produces flavours of vanilla, coriander and banana.  Smithworks Hefeweizen is lightly hopped which eliminates the bitterness and harshness exhibited in other beers. It pairs well with barbecued foods, mild and spicy curries, nachos, grilled chicken and seafood.

Additionally to brewing great beer, which is available for purchase from their retail store located on Rye Street in Peterborough, Smithworks Brewing Company accommodates individual clients, or groups interested in educational tours and tastings as well as being able to organize group events.

Whether you are heading to the cottage or just taking it easy this weekend there is a good chance you’ll be reaching for a cold one so why not make it a Hefeweizen from Smithworks Brewing Company and maybe try using it in the following beer batter recipe. Smithworks Brewery is located at 687 Rye St Peterborough. Drive down to the end of the building on the right. They are located in the last unit #6


Hefeweizen Batter


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten

½ tsp minced garlic

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups Hefeweizen


The food truck was on hand for the Opening Night of Smithworks Brewing Company

The food truck was on hand for the Opening Night of Smithworks Brewing Company

In a small mixing bowl add flour, egg, garlic p, and black pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the beer and use the remaining ½ cup beer to adjust the batter to obtain your desired texture.  Lightly flour your foods to be battered before dipping them in the batter. Fry your battered foods between 350 ° f-365 °f. Yields 2 cups of batter.

Gastronomically yours,

May 10th, 2014

In the Patch –Rhubarb Patch

My first encounter with fresh rhubarb was a frightening experience for me. I was about six years old and my aunt had baked a strawberry rhubarb pie. It was a slice of heaven, lightly heated with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The next day one of my older cousins pointed out the rhubarb plant to me in the garden and suggested that I try it fresh seeing as I had enjoyed the pie so much. I eagerly broke off a stalk and started munching away. I quickly fled to the safety of my aunt’s kitchen with tears in my eyes making gagging accusations that my cousin was trying to poison me. It took about ten years for me to get over that experience before I started to eat and cook rhubarb again.

Rhubarb starting to sprout

Rhubarb starting to sprout

There is often discussion surrounding rhubarb that the leaves contain poisonous compounds. The most dangerous substance found in the leaves is oxalic acid. The median lethal dose for pure oxalic acid is about one ounce for a 150 lb person. The oxalic acid content found in rhubarb leaves vary but it would require that same 150 lb person to consume around 12 pounds of the extremely sour leaves in one sitting to cause death.

Rhubarb is indigenous to the Gobi region of eastern Asia and it is believed that the Hun’s and Mongol’s brought the plant westward with them. Rhubarb has been used throughout history as a medicinal plant in traditional Chinese medicine for its strong laxative properties and for its astringent effect on the mucous membranes of the mouth and the nasal cavity.

The consumption of rhubarb as a food became commonplace when the price of sugar fell in the late 1700’s and became available to the common people of England. Rhubarb eventually found its way to North America in the early 1800’s.

Although we cook rhubarb like a fruit it is an herbaceous perennial that is classified as a vegetable. In Iran and Afghanistan it is commonly cooked with spinach in a preparation known as khorest which is similar to stew. Polish peoples boil rhubarb with potatoes and aromatics while Italians use rhubarb to make a mildly alcoholic beverage called rabarbaro touted as a health tonic.

I enjoy rhubarb in a number of ways and prefer to incorporate it with citrus fruits and ginger. Try this traditional British recipe for Rhubarb and Ginger Jam. I recommend serving it with fresh warm scones at breakfast or serve it at dinner paired with roasted pork loin.


Rhubarb and Ginger Jam


Two lb rhubarb
Two lb sugar
two cups of water
Four oz crystallized (candied) Ginger

One oz fresh ginger root

Zest of one lemon
Juice of two fresh Lemons

One Jalapeno or Habanero pepper seeded and finely chopped- optional for those who like it hot!

Method: Wash and trim the rhubarb and cut it into one inch lengths. Squeeze the ginger in a garlic press to extract its juice and reserve. Chop the candied ginger into small pieces.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan combine the rhubarb, sugar, water, lemon zest and juice.
Over medium high heat bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Allow the mixture to boil for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the candied ginger and reduce heat to medium. Allow the mixture to simmer for a further 15-20 minutes. Skim the surface with a sieve to remove any bubbles and scum. Pour the jam into sterilized jars to be sealed and cooled.


The Ancient Greeks referred to rhubarb as “the vegetable of barbarians” and understandably so with its blood red, celery like stalks and its strong astringent flavour peppered with the toxic oxalic acid which can make you feel like your mouth has been pulled inside out when eaten raw.

The name rhubarb is Greek in origin and combined two words; rha and barbarum. Rha refers to the plant and to the Volga River where along its banks rhubarb has grown wild for centuries. It also symbolized the laxative effects of rhubarb and how it could medicinally be used to make your bowels evacuate themselves and flow like the Volga River.

too much rhubarb may have this laxative effect

too much rhubarb may have this laxative effect

Originally cultivated in China for its medicinal qualities; rhubarb became so valued that the Qing Dynasty on a number of occasions decreed that no tea or rhubarb was to be exported as foreign barbarians would surely die without these necessary staples.

It wasn’t until the 1700’s when sugar prices fell that we saw rhubarb being consumed as a food and cultivated in most people’s gardens. Since its arrival in North America rhubarb has found its home and is used in a variety of preparations that includes breads, cakes, pies, tarts and jams.

Whether you get your rhubarb from your back yard, a neighbor or the grocery store you need to know about the two basic types of rhubarb available and their differences. The traditional variety displays thick green stalks that possess a balanced mellow flavor while the modern hothouse variety has slender stalks with a deep red color which lends itself to striking presentation it is also far bitterer.

After you have selected your rhubarb you will need to rinse the stalks of any dirt and trim away the leaves as the leaves contain poisonous compounds. The most potent of which is oxalic acid. The median lethal dose for pure oxalic acid is about one ounce for a 150 lb. person. The oxalic acid content found in rhubarb leaves vary but it would require that same 150 lb. person to consume around 12 pounds of the awfully sour leaves in one sitting to cause death. Although tempting, do not peel the fibrous skin from the stalks as it holds most of the color and flavor.

If you do not plan on immediately using your rhubarb it can be stored safely for up to a week sealed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Alternately you may choose to freeze or can your rhubarb for longer storage. When rhubarb is cooked its juices will naturally thicken and the fibers will fray making it perfect to use for jams and chutneys.

The following recipe for rhubarb yogurt is delicious on its own but versatile as it can be served as a dessert topping, a salad dressing or frozen into an ice cream. Regardless I recommend getting your hands on some rhubarb and making some desserts this holiday weekend.


Rhubarb Yogurt


2 cups stewed rhubarb

1/2 cup plain yogurt

3 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. concentrated orange juice not diluted

Pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg


Using a food processor, puree all of the ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate until needed.


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

Chef Brian for Hire
The Spice Co.