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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 ‘Kawarthas’

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












Gastronomically yours,

August 9th, 2013

Be a Corn Star

Maize known as corn in some countries is botanically classified as a caryopsis or dry fruit more popularly known as grain. Maize is indigenous to the Americas with some archaeological findings of corn and its associated ground meal has been carbon dated back about 7,000 years.

The Sweet corn that most of us look for at this time of year for corn on the cob is a variety of maize with high sugar content. Unlike field corn, which is harvested when the kernels are dry and fully mature, sweet corn is picked when immature and eaten as a vegetable, rather than a grain. Since the process of maturation involves converting sugar into starch, sweet corn stores poorly and must be eaten, canned, or frozen before the kernels convert the sugar into starch making them tough and overly starchy to our palates.

When I see a field of corn I think of corn on the cob, frozen nibblets, corn starch and popcorn.  I often forget to consider that the average grocery store carries almost 10 000 products of which one third consist of corn or a corn by-product. Most of the 300 million metric tonnes of corn harvested in North America this year will be converted into high fructose corn syrup which will be used in the production of pop, candy and processed foods.  Additionally to its applications for food production corn will be used in the production of antibiotics, aspirin, fuel, windshield washer fluid, spark plugs, tires, batteries, cosmetics, latex paint, disposable diapers, chalk, carpeting, fibreglass insulation and shaving cream to name  a few as well as the cardboard boxes used to ship all of these product in. Rather amazing that an ear of corn that always has an even number of rows of kernels on every cob and contain 200 to 400 kernels on average can be used in so many products.

Fresh local corn is something that most of us wait eagerly for and is easy to serve in so many ways. By adding corn kernels to any meal will add to its hardiness and increase its nutritional profile. Adding corn kernels and diced tomatoes to your guacamole will increase its flavour and enhance its texture Add a handful of corn to soups, sauces, chilli or chowders as well. You can also try a chilled salad with an Incan influence by combining cooked corn kernels, quinoa, tomatoes, sweet peppers and red kidney beans.

Traditionally we enjoy corn on the cob with a side order of butter and excessive serving of salt. For other simple yet healthy alternatives for seasoning your corn I recommend you try brushing your corn with olive or flaxseed oils and top it with any seasonings you enjoy.

The following is a list of some personal favourite flavour combinations to stir into your butter or oil to be applied to corn.

Mediterranean- Mince together oil packed sundried tomatoes, basil and garlic.

New Orleans- stir in some Cajun seasoning or a little Tabasco sauce.

Asian Style- Combine some wasabi with thinly sliced scallions.

Italian- Stir together some chopped capers, roasted red peppers, minced garlic and basil.

Pesto- A blend of basil, garlic and grated parmesan cheese.

Curried- curry paste and cilantro

Savoury- rosemary, thyme or poultry seasoning



Well Fork Me!

Well Fork Me!

Gastronomically yours,

July 23rd, 2013
The 2012 Judging Panel

The 2012 Judging Panel

Here is the criteria I received for this weekends 2nd Annual Friendly Fire Rib Competition followed with a post on Barbecuing back or side ribs


from the classes at Friendly Fires

from the classes at Friendly Fires


This is how it's gonna role out on Satureday

This is how it’s gonna role out on Satureday


How to Judge Ribs

After turn in, the table Captain will put six trays onto a large tray and will tell the judges the numbers on the boxes (from lowest # to highest). Then the Captain will open the first tray for the judges to grade/analyze for appearance scoring. The judges will look to see that there is a minimum # of individual pieces (6); there is no sauce pooling; there is not any illegal items (radishes, red tipped lettuce, etc) in the tray. They will also look at the meat for uniformity in color (smoke ring is not a factor!), attractiveness and how it is being displayed. Although garnishment is now optional, I like to see it…although points are not suppose to be deducted if there is no garnishment.
After all trays have been scored for appearance, each judge selects any piece in the tray that they want to sample. The rib will be first subjected to the smell test, and then the judge will look at it to decide what portion he wants to eat first. The judge will take a bite from a side of the rib, which should come off at that point with just a little bit of resistance. If all the meat comes off the side of the bone, the judges know it is overcooked. If the meat is resistant to come off, then the judge knows it is not cooked properly. In either case, your entry will lose points. When the judge bites off the section of meat on the bone, he will then look at the bone for a few seconds while he tastes the sample. A well cooked rib will have a white bone at the site the meat was removed from. Within a few seconds, the bone will start to sweat with moisture and start turning slightly gray in color….this is the tell tail sign of a well cooked rib!!!The judge will score the entry and clear his pallet with crackers and water before moving onto the next rib.
If you use baby back or 3 lb St. Louis style, I would highly recommend you consider using the Hollywood style pieces…they are cut so that they have the bone in the middle and rib meat on both sides of it. Judges want to taste the meat when they bit into it, so give them what they want to get all 9’s across the board!!



Cutting Ribs

On ribs, I dont want the meat to look “torn” on the edge of the pieces, so I use a very sharp stainless steel 9 inch Santoku knife…and I cut the ribs after they have “rested” for about 12-15 minutes (while the rack is on edge–standing it up on the bones). Do not use a serrated edged knife, or you will tear the meat up…and stay away from cutting your ribs immediately after they have been removed from the pit as this will tear alot of the top portion of meat away from adjoining ribs. Hope this helps.


St. Louis Style vs. Hollywood Style

St. Louis style is where the butcher trims the rib skirt and squares the ends of the rack. Hollywood style is where the rib is smoked and the meat cut exactly between the ribs, so there is meat on both sides of the rib. In other words, the bone is resting in the middle of the rib with the same amount of meat on both sides of it. Not only does it look better, but the Judge’s prefer this appearance over one that has the bare bone on one side and alot of meat on the other. It is the recommended turn-in style in KCBS contests…providing your judges are KCBS trained. Take your time while slicing the ribs and follow the contour of the bones and you will score additional points in your next contest


Back and side to side


When it comes to barbequing pork ribs people are commonly confused with the choice between back ribs and side ribs. Both rib cuts are delicious but contain higher concentrations of connective tissue which can be broken down by using marinades, rubs and extended slow cooking over low heat to create the desired fall off the bone consistency of ribs. Knowing the differences between back and side ribs will help in understanding how to successfully prepare them.

Back ribs also known as baby back ribs are cut from the loin closest to the shoulder. They are the bones that remain when the loin meat is removed. Back rib bones are much narrower and rounder than side ribs with meat between and on top of the bones. A rack of back ribs narrows from 6 to 3 inches due to the natural tapering of a pig’s rib cage.

Back ribs are celebrated for their higher meat to bone ratio, lower fat content and overall tenderness compared to the side ribs. These more desired qualities are the reason that back ribs are more expensive than side ribs.

Side ribs also known as spare ribs extend down the sides of the animal over the belly and have had the breast bone removed. They are in close proximity to where we get bacon from, and which makes side ribs fattier. Side ribs are heavy, flat, wide bones that are generally 8 to 10 inches in length. Spare ribs contain more bone and fat than meat which is why side ribs are cheaper to purchase than back ribs.

Once you have chosen which cut of ribs you want to cook up you will need to purchase about a pound of ribs per person. Fresh pork products offered by our local grocery stores and butcher shops are Ontario raised if not at least Canadian. I recently purchased a whole pig locally from Smokey Joe’s which was delicious from tail to snout.

Both back and side ribs will require you to remove its pleura, the thin, translucent membrane that lines the inside of the rib cage. This membrane will prevent flavouring from rubs or marinades from penetrating the meat and will be tough and chewy if not removed prior to cooking. This membrane is easily removed by using a blunt knife like a dinner knife to detach a flap of it from one of the rack of ribs. Grab onto the flap and gently but firmly pull the flap while holding down the rack to rip the pleura away from the ribs in one pull.

Rib recipes sometimes recommend steaming or boiling your ribs before finishing them in the oven or on the barbeque. These techniques will provide you with a tender rib so long as you do not cook them too quickly as it will toughen the meat. I prefer not to boil my ribs as most of the flavour ends up in the cooking water. If you insist on wet cooking your ribs I suggest using side ribs and cooking them in a slow cooker then serving them with their cooking liquid over rice or potatoes.

Easy BBQ Ribs


Four pounds of back ribs, pleura removed

Two cups of your favourite grilling sauce

Method: Preheat your barbecue to between 225°F- 250°F. Shut down one half of your barbeque and place ribs on the side you shut down so that the ribs are cooked by indirect heat. Close the barbeque lid and keep it closed to maintain a constant temperature between 225°F- 250°F. Turn your ribs every 20 minutes. After an hour baste your ribs every 20 minutes when you flip your ribs over for one more hour for a total cooking time of 2 hours. This process will turn your racks into beautiful mahogany coloured slabs of goodness that will feed four. If you are using a sweet grilling sauce you should only baste the ribs during the last half hour of cooking as the sugar in the sauce will burn.



Gastronomically yours,

July 15th, 2013


Light and Easy Spinach Salad




Food historians believe that Spinach was first cultivated in southwestern Asia, in the region of Persia. Around 650CE documentation shows spinach being referred to as the “herb of Persia” in Chinese text.


By the 1200’s spinach had been introduced to Spain by the Moors. Within short time spinach made its way into European monasteries’ gardens and kitchens. It made its way to North America via settlers and immigrants.


Spinach is now grown all over the world wherever temperate climates prevail. The plant is most prolific during the cooler seasons as higher temperatures can cause the spinach to go to seed too early. A spinach grower has to plant over 600 000 seeds for every acre of land to be cultivated. That same one acre of land will yield over 10 000 pounds of spinach when harvested.


Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin A, fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. It also has high amounts of calcium and all most twice the iron of red meats. It was long touted as the secret behind Popeye’s strength. Oddly, spinach contains the same toxin as rhubarb known as Oxalic acid which can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium and iron. Regardless even when spinach is boiled it retains its exceptionally high nutrient content even though its volume is decreased by three quarters when cooked.


Locally produced spinach is making appearances at markets and grocery stores alike. Spring raised spinach is very light and fresh compared to the heavier and sweet fall harvested leaves and is perfect for making salads with.


This week I’m featuring a main-course spinach salad with grilled chicken and strawberries. If the ingredients aren’t all available locally just wait a couple of weeks because just like local products this recipe will be worth the wait.




Spinach Salad




Two tbsp. Toasted sesame seeds


One tbsp.  Poppy seeds


One third cup white sugar


One quarter cup canola oil


One quarter cup cider vinegar


One quarter tsp. Worcestershire sauce


One tbsp. minced green onion


One pound of fresh spinach; rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces


Two cups of strawberries; rinsed, hulled and sliced


One quarter cup of sliced almonds, toasted


Three Mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented


Four cooked chicken breasts sliced thin




In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, canola oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.


In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, almonds and orange segments. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 minutes before serving. Serve salad with cooked chicken on top. Serves four people.

Just say NO

Just say NO


Kale Chips




Kale is a member of the mustard family whose roots can be traced back to the Mediterranean and southern regions of Asia where it was considered to be a wild cabbage.  This nutrient dense green is related to cabbage and Brussels sprouts, but only produces leaves and does not form a proper head as other members in this family do. Kale looks like a cross between torn feathers, romaine lettuce and cabbage.


For centuries Kale was relegated as peasant food as its coarse texture and often bitter taste was as unappealing as it was misunderstood. By the time Kale made its way to North America, chefs and cooks for the most part did not know what to do with this vegetable and it appeared that it was destined to live a life outside the salad bowl as it was primarily used as an impractical vegetative garnish on buffets and dinner plates.


Kale having reached the lowest of lows is now one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, and we know how to make it taste good too. Our Kale learning curve has much to do with its success. First we learned that if we let Kale grow long enough in cold temperatures, its exposure to frost reduces its bitterness and it will actually become notably sweet. Secondly when Kale was put under the microscope it was learned that kale was loaded with iron, calcium, antioxidants, Vitamins A, C and K and has cancer fighting compounds.


Kale is currently believed to be one of the most nutrient dense greens on the planet. It grows incredibly well in Ontario and is a vegetable that grows where and when most others do not.


Although many varieties of Kale exist most Ontario Kale producers raise the following varieties. Curly Kale which has a lush green colour with curly leaves is the most commonly available Kale. Redbor Kale–looks identical to curly kale, but it’s purple in colour, Red Russian Kale is quite striking with its crimson to purple stalks yielding to green leaves and finally Lacinato Kale often called Dino Kale, is purple to black in colour with long, wrinkled leaves.  Once purchased kale will store wrapped in paper towel inside a plastic bag for 5 -7 days.


Kale can be used like any leafy green from raw in salads or steamed or sautéed. I think the best way to eat this super food is to prepare it as a junk food just for a bit of irony in the Kale story which allows it to be a very healthy snack food in the following recipe that is simple and easy to make Kale chips. A word of caution as these chips can be habit forming.




Kale Chips






1 bunch kale


2 tbsp. olive oil


Kosher or sea salt






Remove the core, and wash the kale leaves and allow them to dry.  Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces and place them into a medium sized mixing bowl. Drizzle the kale with the olive oil and gently massage the oil into the the leaves.


Spread the leaves over a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer without them over lapping each other.


Sprinkle the soon to be chips with a pinch of salt. You may choose to use a bit of curry powder or Cajun seasoning as well just to shake it up a bit.


In a preheated oven bake the kale at 350°F until crispy and dark green. Do not let the kale brown at all, not even the edges. This takes about 12 to 15 minutes. Once cooked allow the kale chips to cool down before serving.





Eat real food

Gastronomically yours,

July 6th, 2013
Sorry but is that "Not Intended?"

Sorry but is that “Not Intended?”


The Poutine Manifesto


Poutine is a French-Canadian food. The origins of poutine are disputed but restaurateur Fernand Lachance from WarwickQuebec is believed to have created and named this dish in 1957. Poutine is Acadian slang for mushy mess.

I have to mention that there is a proper way to pronounce poutine, which phonetically is ‘peu-tsin’, not ‘pooh-teen’. As well as its proper pronunciation, one must also respect how to properly prepare poutine.

Although most would describe poutine as French fries with cheese and gravy, these three components must be truthfully prepared. To explain this accurately we must first consider the potatoes. They should be fresh, washed and then cut by hand into a medium sized fry. These are to be fried so that the insides are still soft, with an outer crust.  Fast-food fries do not cut it. To cook the cut fries you need to fry the potatoes in pure lard. Canola oil or other politically-correct oils will take away from the flavours that are to be enjoyed in this artery clogging indulgence. Remember its poutine we’re talking about here.

Next we must consider the sauce. Yes the sauce not gravy. Its best prepared with a light chicken or veal velouté that is slightly acidic and mildly spiced with pepper.

Now let’s consider the most important component of poutine; the pillar to successful poutine is the cheese. The only acceptable cheese to use is fresh white, cheddar cheese curds. These curds have a taste and texture very different than actual cheddar cheese. The cheese curds will actually squeak in your teeth as you bite them.

When the curds are placed on the fries and the hot gravy is poured on top, the three flavours combine to produce what can only be described as the best all Canadian junk food taste sensation on earth.

I recently tried this recipe with some garlic flavoured cheese curds from Empire cheese factory in Campbellford. Oh my, was it good!!


Poutine Sauce

One litre of chicken or veal stock

Two ounces of flour

Two ounces of butter

One half tsp of tomato paste

Bring the stock to a gentle boil in a saucepan. Melt the butter in a small fry pan over medium –high heat. Whisk in the flour. Continuously stir the mixture until you have a pale roux or 2-3 minutes. Whisk the roux into the stock. Reduce heat to low-medium and allow sauce to gently simmer for 1-2 hours depending on desired consistency. Strain the sauce and add the tomato sauce then season with salt and pepper to taste.



Two cups of poutine sauce

One litre of lard for frying

Five medium potatoes cut into fries

Two cups of fresh cheese curds

First prepare the sauce and hold hot over medium heat. Heat lard in a deep fryer to 365 F.

Place the fries into the hot oil, and cook until a light golden brown. Make the fries in small batches to allow them room to move a little in the oil. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Place the fries on a serving platter, and sprinkle generously with curds. Finish by ladling hot poutine sauce over the fries and cheese. Serve immediately






Gastronomically yours,

June 29th, 2013

Thanks KawarthaNow.com



Korean BBQ aka Galbi


Korean barbeque is rated as one of the World’s Most Delicious Dishes in a reader’s poll compiled by CNN.  Traditionally it is referred to as Galbi Gui, in Korean galbi literally means rib whether cooked or raw and gui means grilled but it is usually simply referred to as galbi.

Galbi also known as Kalbi largely defines an assortment of grilled meats in Korean cuisine that is generally made with marinated beef or pork short ribs that have been thinly sliced across the bones to allow the marinade to penetrate the meat quickly and further allows for rapid cooking. The secret to great tasting Kalbi is to understand the balance of its sweet and savory flavors. Most North American Galbi is sweeter than what you would be served in Korea as it is more appealing to our palates.

The grilling technique for kalbi is the exact opposite of how you would grill a steak or burger as it requires you to be very hands on, constantly turning and moving the meat about the grill allowing the marinade to create a nice even glaze on the meats surface without burning the sugars.

Korean barbecue is traditionally cooked by grilling the meat on perforated dome grills that often are built into the dining table that allows for everyone to cook their own food to their own preferences.

Korean barbeque is usually served with a variety of side dishes which include spinach, rice, kimchee and whole leaves of lettuce which is used to wrap the meat and condiments together into nice little bite size packets.

I ‘ve received a lot of reader feedback over the past couple of weeks wondering if I had turned vegetarian and where are the barbeque recipes. Not to fear, I’ve been barbequing up a storm for clients, classes and family alike. The recent arrival of summer and it’s Caribbean like weather is perfect weather to fire up our outdoor kitchens and keep the house cool by not cooking indoors.

You may choose to make your galbi from thinly sliced sirloin or tenderloin but I find that the flavours of galbi are best represented when done with beef short ribs that are cooked over a charcoal based fire. If you wish to use whole racks of beef or pork ribs you can as opposed to the short ribs, they will just need to marinate for an extra few hours and may produce a less tender end product. Regardless this week’s recipe can be prepared using chicken, pork, beef, fish, vegetables and/or tofu all of which can be sourced locally.


This recipe is tried and true. I have used it a number of times and for those of you who missed the Korean barbecue class at Friendly Fires, this is one of the recipes we explored.



Grilled Korean-Style Galbi Marinade


3 pounds beef short ribs or other meat

Juice of lemon, lime, mango, papaya or kiwi

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup water

¼ cup shao hsing cooking wine or dry sherry

3 tbsp. white vinegar

2 tbsp. white sugar

1 tsp. black pepper

2 tbsp. sesame oil

1/4 cup minced garlic

1/8 cup minced ginger

1/2 large onion, minced



Liberally massage the meat with the juice of your choice using your hands. Distribute the brown sugar evenly on the meat by sprinkling it on each piece. Allow the meat to sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile whisk together soy sauce, water, wine, and vinegar in a large, non-metallic bowl. Whisk in, white sugar, pepper, sesame oil, garlic, and onion until the sugar has dissolved.

Marinate thick cuts of meat or ribs overnight; the longer, the better. Thinner cuts only need an hour or so. Preheat your grill and grill’em as you so desire





Gastronomically yours,

June 29th, 2013

Flower Power

This year’s growing season has been weeks ahead of schedule due to our early spring. This has been challenging at times to keep up with what’s in season locally.  The easiest crop to follow and know when it’s in season this year has been flowers; in particular edible flowers which can be as delectable as they are beautiful.

The most commonly consumed flowers are artichokes, broccoli and cauliflower. While capers, lavender and saffron are flowers that are used more for seasoning our foods.  There are over 200 varieties of wild edible flowers in Ontario and the list of cultivated ones is endless.

Before you venture out into the garden and start munching away, you will need to consider the following…

Are the flowers poisonous? Make sure you know what you are harvesting and even then slowly incorporate edible flowers into your diet to avoid possible allergic reactions.  Only consume flowers grown without chemicals and away from roadside exhaust. Flowers from florists should be considered inedible unless they are certified organic. Some edible flowers aren’t that palatable but most of them are high in vitamins A and C as well as iron and calcium.

Once you have safely identified and harvested your flowers you will need to remove the pistil and stamen from the flowers and gently rinse them in cool water. Once this is done your flower petals are ready to be sprinkled over salads and desserts alike.

Other ideas to use flower petals in the kitchen include placing a few petals into your ice cube trays when making ice to add an elegant edition to any cocktail on a hot summer day.  In a Mason jar one can alternate layers of flower petals with layers of white sugar, then seal the jars and allow the floral scent to permeate the sugar.  These vibrant, perfumed sugars can be used on the table or in baking to add a delicate flavor to foods and beverages.

Venture out to the garden and pick some flowers to try in any of these delicious preparations or try the following recipes and preserve the flowers of summer for use later in the year.








Two cups of white wine
One cup of fresh rose or nasturtium petals
Three cups of white sugar
juice of one half lemon
Three ounces of liquid pectin
One quarter cup of additional fresh flower petals


In a non-reactive pan bring the wine to a gentle boil. Remove the pot from the heat, add the petals, cover and let steep until cool. Strain off the flower petals.

Combine the cooled flower infused tea with the sugar and lemon juice. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once the sugar has dissolved, stir in the pectin and let the mixture return to a rolling boil for one minute while constantly stirring.  Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam. Let the jelly cool slightly and add the remaining flower petals.  Pour the mixture into sterilized jars. Process the jars in a hot water bath or seal with paraffin.





Three-quarters of a cup of chopped fresh flower petals
One pound of sweet unsalted Sterling Creamery butter


Finely chop flower petals and mix into softened butter. Let mix stand for several hours at room temperature, then refrigerate for three days to bring out the floral flavours. This recipe is great to use on bread and in sugar cookie or pound cake recipes. This butter can be kept in the freezer for up to three months.


Lilac Love


The heady scent of lilacs wafting through the air after a spring rain shower can be quite intoxicating especially if the sun comes out after the rain to increase the humidity making the scent of the lilacs almost seem to stick to us.

Lilacs and their beauty pass quickly, never staying open more than a week, being able to preserve their scent to be enjoyed at other times of the year can easily with a bit of time and sugar. The time that it will take to harvest, clean, and process the blossoms of the flowers will vary depending on the size of the blossoms. Large plump groupings of lilac flowers will hang like clumps of grapes allowing for an efficient harvest. Be sure to clip just the flower clusters as you do not want any of the leaves or branches to add any bitter flavours to your lilac concoctions.

Lilac sugar is easily made by sealing some lilac flowers and granulated sugar in a mason jar for a week and tastes great with black tea. Candied lilacs are made by brushing the petals with sugar and egg whites. Other culinary preparations to preserve your lilacs include vinegar, wine and jelly.

Lilac flowers will retain their colour if used fresh but if you heat them at all the flower petals will turn brown while cooking. If used in muffins, bread, or cake the end product will have a faded yellow appearance.

When harvesting any wild edible foods I advise to avoid those growing along busy roadsides as these flowers are exposed to heavier amounts of pollutants from exhaust and vehicular fluids.

Fill your kitchen and home with the wonderful smells of spring by trying the following recipe is for lilac flowers but can be used for any flowers depending on which you prefer. It works well with apple, rose and nasturtium flowers. Flower petal jellies will preserve the aroma and taste of flowers but not their colour. Most flower jellies are tinged with yellow and brown hues. To give your flower jelly a naturally intensified colour that represents the flower you may want to add some natural fruit juices to your recipes. For lilacs, blueberry and pomegranate can produce a rich violet colour to accent its appearance.



Lilac Jelly


4 cups lilac blossoms

2 cups water

2 cups white wine

Juice of one lemon

2 packages powdered pectin

6 cups sugar

¼ cup additional lilac flowers



In a non-reactive pan bring the water and wine to a gentle boil. Remove the pot from the heat, add the petals, cover and let steep until cool. Strain off the flower petals.

Combine the cooled flower infused tea with the sugar and lemon juice. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once the sugar has dissolved, stir in the pectin and let the mixture return to a rolling boil for one minute while constantly stirring.  Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam. Let the jelly cool slightly and add the remaining flower petals.  Pour the mixture into sterilized jars. Process the jars in a hot water bath or seal with paraffin like you would any other jelly.

Gastronomically yours,

June 27th, 2013

Roasted Asparagus with Rhubarb Vinaigrette


Earlier this spring Nourishing Ontario prepared a report for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  Their report emphasized the central role that farmers’ markets, co-ops, and other local food systems play on our economic and collective prosperity.

With a report like that how can you not want to get out and tour the best our area artisans and food producers have to offer? I find that getting out and touring all of the reawakened Farmers Markets throughout the region has me feel like I’m coming out of hibernation along with many other people who I haven’t seen since autumn.

As May comes to a close it is without a doubt that Asparagus and rhubarb are available in great abundance. Right now early harvested asparagus is at its peak of sweetness. Its sugar content can exceed that of maple sap which is approximately 4% sugar. Asparagus is best when prepared the day it was harvested as its sweetness quickly deteriorates after it is picked as the plant begins to consume itself to survive and it can readily use its own sugar.

Rhubarb on the other hand was known as the vegetable of barbarians by the Ancient Greeks 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 contrasting flavours of these two vegetable makes them a natural pair for the following recipe of roasted asparagus with rhubarb vinaigrette which can be served hot or cold and pairs well with barbecued beef or chicken.




Roasted Asparagus with Rhubarb Vinaigrette



2 bunches fresh asparagus, about 2 pounds

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 green onion or garlic scape, minced

½ cup diced rhubarb

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar

Brown sugar to taste

Salt and pepper



Heat half of the olive oil in a medium sized, stainless steel saucepan over medium heat. Add the green onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Gently stir in the rhubarb and cook it in the oil for an additional 2 minutes. Reduce the heat and cautiously stir in the vinegar as it may splatter a bit in the oil. Let the rhubarb mixture simmer until the rhubarb is begins to breakdown but does not become mushy this will take about 10 minutes.     Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat and simmer until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Adjust the sweetness of the rhubarb mixture as desired with brown sugar if needed. Reserve sauce.


Clean and trim the asparagus. Place the asparagus in a medium sized bowl and drizzle with the remaining half of the olive oil. Gently toss the asparagus to get it evenly coated with the oil. Sprinkle the asparagus with a generous pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper and toss the asparagus a couple of more times. Transfer the oiled and seasoned asparagus to a parchment lined baking sheet, be sure not arrange the asparagus in a single layer.  Roast the asparagus in a preheated oven at 400f until they turn an intensely deep green colour, which will take about 10-15 minutes. Be sure to give the pan of asparagus a gentle shake every so often while they are cooking so that they do not become overcooked on one side. Once the asparagus reaches desired doneness, remove it from the oven. If serving this dish hot, plate the asparagus immediately, drizzle it with the rhubarb sauce and serve. If you choose to serve this chilled, allow the asparagus and rhubarb sauce to cool down. Plate and serve when desired.

Gastronomically yours,

June 12th, 2013


The first marshmallows were made as a medical confectionary for treating sore throats in ancient Egypt.

They were produced from the mucilaginous sap and roots of the common Musk Mallow plant which were boiled with honey and dried. The result was something akin to a honey flavoured sponge. Recipes evolved to include spices, herbs and colours from natural sources.

 French confectioner’s discovered that the Musk Mallow sap could be whipped into a lighter texture as air bubbles became trapped within the sticky mass and further enhanced this by incorporating meringue into the recipe. Modern industrialization saw the recipe for of marshmallows change into a simple blend of sugar, gelatin and cornstarch. Today the Musk Mallow plant is considered to be an invasive weed while its ornamental cousin, the Hollyhock enjoys its ornamental limelight.

 If you’re stuck for ideas for what to do for Valentine’s Day why not make up a batch of marshmallows and serve them for dessert. You can serve them with chocolate, graham crackers and candles to produce tableside S’mores. The following recipe is easy to use and can include Canadian sugar extracted from sugar beets.

 Be aware that this recipe can make a sticky mess out of your kitchen if not approached with care. Keep plenty of warm water on hand to clean up any spills as you go. Make sure that you dust everything with icing sugar that you don’t want coated with marshmallow.







1 tbsp. powdered gelatin

½ cup cold water, divided

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup icing sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Food colouring optional






In a small bowl, whisk together the gelatin and half of the water. In a medium sized, stainless steel sauce pan, combine the granulated sugar and the remaining ¼ cup of water. Whisk this over medium –low heat until all of the sugar is dissolved.

 Whisk the dissolved gelatin into the sugar water and quickly bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes. Do not leave the pot unattended as its contents will double in size and easily boil over.

Remove the pot from the stove and transfer its contents into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk the contents at a low speed setting for 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla, salt and a couple of drops of food colouring if you choose. Increase the speed on your mixer to maximum and let it run for 8-10 minutes. At which time you should have a large sticky white mass of something that looks like shiny icing and smells like marshmallows.

Liberally dust your work space with icing sugar and pour the marshmallow mixture onto the sugar coated area. Let the mixture rest for about five minutes before completely dusting its surface with more icing sugar. Gently push the dough out until it reaches a thickness of about 1 inch. You can now cut out the marshmallows with a knife or cookie cutters and transfer them to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Let the marshmallows sit out for 45-minutes before serving. Marshmallows will store in a sealed air-tight container for 3-5 days. Yeilds: 30-40 marshmallows.


I’ve got to find me some of these sugar cubes! If you come across them please email me and let me know where they are at….




Chef Brian for Hire
The Spice Co.