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Our Food Truck Scene

Hamilton is steering food in a new direction. Like so many urban centres, this city, located a 45-minute drive from Toronto,is home to a blossoming food truck scene, offering some truly tempting treats.

Watch for the hot pink Cupcake Diner on wheels, parked in the downtown core of the city as well as at special events. Owner Natalie Ravoi tapped into her love of baking and took it to the streets, literally, and created Canada’s first mobile cupcake shop. She bakes gourmet cupcakes daily with a retro twist.

People line up for varieties like caramel apple pie, chocolate and peanut butter, the 1950s Classic (à la Hostess cupcakes), lemon meringue and raspberry white chocolate. Plus she offers gluten-free and vegan variations, too.

But before diving into dessert, there’s heartier fare to be had. You can’t miss Canada’s only grilled cheese food truck. Look for the gorilla. It’s a sign that you’ve found Gorilla Cheese, owned by Graeme Smith and Scott Austin.

Smith went to Liaison College to become a professional chef and Austin is a grass roots foodie himself. They came up with the idea for a grilled cheese truck, a perfect fit for comfort-food craving urbanites. These aren’t just any garden-variety sandwiches, but gourmet, grilled-to-order ones, made with real cheese from Jensen’s, an Ontario cheese maker based in Simcoe. They’re gooey and wonderful, served alongside tomato soup and baked beans, all made from scratch.

Roving the area called the Golden Horseshoe, stretching from Toronto to Niagara Falls, is El Gastronomo Vagabundo. It’s a joint Australia-Canada project, thanks to its owners Tamara Jensen and Adam Hynam-Smith, a professionally trained chef from Down Under.

They have been serving up tantalizing mobile eats, like heirloom tomato and watermelon salad, Asian specialties, and gourmet tacos like Thai coconut red curry and tempura salmon. Ingredients are sourced from small local producers, making this a true grass-roots operation. To catch El Gastro on the move, follow them on Twitter or Facebook. more…

Icewine Marshmallow Recipe

Here is Jason Parsons, of Peller Estates Winery Restaurant in Niagara-on-the-lake,  recipe for icewine marshmallows.



Beef Tips in Mustard Jus

Here is a delicious recipe from Chef Jan Willem Stulp of Vineland Estates Winery

Cook the noodles per the package instructions. If you begin boiling your water while you prepare the sauce, they will be done at around the same time. (if not, well….have another glass of wine!)


200 ml Good Beef ‘glace’ (usually available in the frozen food section)

300 gr Beef Tenderloin Tips, or Cubed Rib-eye

150 gr Mushrooms

250 gr Diced Root Vegetables (about 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 parsnip etc.)

Grainy Mustard

Salt, Pepper, Oil


Mark Picone’s recipes

Tyler Anderson / National Post

This summer risotto is an ideal way to get those fresh peaches into a main course

In the middle of a work week, when it is hot and steamy in the city, it’s a dream to think of spending the day in Niagara having lunch with Mark Picone, one of Canada’s top chefs. Picone, former chef at Vineland Estates Winery, now has his own culinary studio in Vineland, where people can book private meals or classes for eight to 12 guests. Our lunch, sponsored by Ontario Tender Fruit Producers, included nectarines, peaches and plums, but Mark promotes local food every chance he gets.

After lunch I visited The Moyers’ Cherry Avenue Farms “Pick-Your-Own” and picked (and ate) apricots in the middle of the orchard. If you can’t make it to Vineland, they have three stands on Saturdays at St. Lawrence Market (north side) in Toronto and also sell the red fife wheat pasta they make from the wheat they grow near their peach trees.


Add grilled steak or chicken for a main course salad.


– 3 tbsp (45 mL) Niagara Ice Wine vinegar

– 1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup

– 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) sea salt or more to taste

– 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) hot red pepper sauce

– 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil

– 2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh mint

– 2 tbsp (25 mL) sniped chives


– 12 cups (3 L) mixed greens

– 3 nectarines, cut into wedges

– 1⁄2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1. For dressing whisk vinegar with maple syrup, salt, hot pepper sauce and olive oil. Add mint and chives. Season to taste.

2. Place lettuce in a salad bowl and top with nectarines and onions. Toss with just enough dressing to coat the greens. Makes 6 to 8 servings


To peel peaches you can use a soft skin peeler or drop them into boiling water for 30 seconds, refresh under cold water and pull skins off with a knife. (Often I don’t peel them at all.) Mark served this with sautéed scallops. more…