Official Liaison College Blog

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's Fall Fair Time

Every year the fall is the time for fairs and the Milton Fair is the local event for me!  This year the Milton Fall Fair will be held Sept 21 - 23 at the fairgrounds.

The Milton Fall Fair is an annual event and features all of the fun and tasty attributes you would expect at any great fall fair.   Every year the exhibition halls are jammed with local creations and produce. And the livestock pens are also a neat place to visit.

Enjoy a taste of the country and check out a fall fair.  Feed your passion!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Student Chef of the Day

The pressure builds and the buzz in the kitchen is a frenzy of activity.  The stations are ready.  The menu is double checked.  The dining room is packed with eager foodies.  As the Chef of the Day can you handle the intensity?  Read on.

Students who are taking the Advanced Culinary program at Liaison College are required to design, cost, and implement a luncheon menu.  Sounds simple and easy in a few words, but the reality is far from simple.  The student Chef of the Day comes up with a theme or concept for their menu and they research recipes for the courses.  The chef instructors provide guidance and feedback as the menu is tweaked and adapted.  When the final menu is complete the next stage is to dissect the recipes and develop a food/ingredient listing for purchase.  Then classmates are divided to teams for preparation just like stations in a foodservice kitchen.  The food is ordered and arrives ready for prep - each item is scrutinized to ensure that quality standards are perfect.  The Chef of the Day reviews the recipes and the menu and answers questions from classmates (the brigade) about preparation and timing.  All before even one customer sits in the dining room.  The dining room has to be readied.  The "front of the house" is the first visual for the client so that has to be inviting and crisp.

Yesterday I arrived for a Chef of the Day lunch at Toronto Downtown.  Under the strict supervision of Chef Mick (voted in the top 5 chef instructors in the world on in 2010!!)  the student presents his menu to the guests who are suddenly quiet and straining to hear every word.
The applause is loud in anticipation of the presention of the menu as described.  Can he pull it off?  Each place is set is with sparkling silverware and a polished glass.  The lemon water is served and the freshly baked herbed foccacia is passed around.  Delicious.  The conversations and buzz around the room starts again as the pending meal is awaited.  We all notice the Critique Form in front of us; Chef Mick has asked us all to be brutally honest and judge the meal as this will assist the student chef in getting better and learning.  Now the pressure is really on.  This meal is part of the student's mark.
The room is full with almost 50 guests and the bright sun shines illuminating the atmosphere.

We start with an Amuse Bouche (a teaser to get your mouth watering):  Kaffir Lime Leaf Shrimp Satay with Miso Tomato Avocado Concasse

The presentation was very colourful and the flavour had just enough heat to warm the palette.

Appetizer:  Taiwanese Tamale with pickled cucumbere and Asian BBQ sauce

The presentation of the tamale in a corn husk was very unique and creative.  The BBQ sauce was tangy and sweet which complemented the sour pickled cucumber and the mellow tamale.
Entree:  Flank steak roulade served with succotash and herb crusted potatoes topped with potato skin tumbleweeds finished with Chilean red wine jus
The tender meat rolled with vegetable and egg accompanied by the flavourful jus was delicious.  The potatoes are hidden in this photo as they are under the meat, but they were large cubes delicately seasoned and nicely done.  The succotash was a rustic combination of  vegetables and legumes that completed the dish.  (my personal thought was that this dish was a perfect autumn lunch - warm and filling - but I'm trying to hang on to the last weeks of summer and would have enjoyed lighter fare with more seasonal ingredients highlighting the bounty and color of Ontario in August).  I couldn't finish my meal for two reasons:  the portion was big and the dessert was next!

Dessert:  Dulce de Leche sticky toffee pudding with nectarine ice cream and candied oranges

The name says it all.  This dessert was served warm with a decadent warm butterscotch syrup.  The ice cream was more like a sherbet - light and not too sweet - which rounded out the flavour profile perfectly.  The warm sweet pudding and syrup blended with the cool, refreshing ice cream was a delicious end to a great lunch.  I looked around the room and noticed that not a scrap was left on any plate (always a good sign) and the guests looked completely sated and happy.  What more can a chef ask for.

The brigade came out of the kitchen to a loud round of applause and their hard work was recognized in more ways than one - they got to eat the last of the desserts! 

Well done .... I will be back!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tonight's Dish is Fish

Tonight for dinner I have defrosted a couple of pieces of salmon.  I really enjoy eating fish as long as someone else cooks it; I don't like the slippery feel of the fish at all.  And saying that "the fish is too fishy" makes no sense literally, but I know exactly what you mean if you say it to me.  Fishy fish has a distinct odour and I avoid it at all cost.  In fact, this is something that I learned from our Chef Instructors at Liaison College - how to tell if a fish is not fishy:  check out the eyes - are they clear or cloudy and notice the odour - is it too fishy.  If the odour is strong and the eyes are cloudy, don't bother with the fish.

Now back to my dinner.

Everyone knows that eating fatty fish is a good idea for lots of health reasons, but I found this recipe to try that may negate the health factor due to the butter and nuts combo. 

Courtesy of "Busy Cooks"

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted cashews
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, softened (NOT margarine)
  • salt and pepper to taste


In food processor or blender, combine all ingredients. Process till blended. Cover the blended butter and chill this mixture and then form it into a roll 1" in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and chill until firm. Prepare and heat grill. Grill your salmon to desired doneness. Let the meat sit for about 5 minutes before serving, then slice the chilled butter and place on top of the hot salmon, letting it melt into the meat.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Super Food in Space?

Yes.  Super food in space.  It was not a typo.

Yesterday I met with a gentleman who told me about a project that he's involved in.  The topic came about as his group/planning committee has held a number of annual dinner events around their project and Liaison College supplied the in-home chef.  Loved the dinner.  Loved the chef.  But he mentioned the project about seeds in space and I simply had to know a bit more.

The project is a collaboration among a number of strategic partners including the University of Guelph - arguably the best in agricultural matters - and Heinz - the definitive producer of ketchup. The project is Tomatosphere - an effort to engage students in science, food and space.  An interesting combination to say the least.

I invite you to check out the site for this project to see the extent of knowledge and information that has been happening in our schools for several years.  There are presently over 600,000 tomato seeds in space.  Tomatos - the super food.  Nourishing and handy (you can extract water from their leaves).

Last year I was able to get a better appreciation for tomato growing techniques at the Chef Educators Conference.  But this concept is out of this world!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cottage Life - Eating in the Wild

Being invited to my friend Cathie's cottage is always an adventure.  Her cottage is located on an island in the Muskoka region of Ontario.  Beautiful country - the great north - loads of green landscape dotted with rockery and sprinkled with clear lakes.  God's country.

But Cathie has chosen to cottage "off the grid".  Amenities are few and modern conveniences are absent.  Sounds idyllic.  Or not.

When a group of friends, all women ranging from 45 to 60 years of age, gather at the island for a weekend of R & R, sometimes the Relaxation portion is put aside for CHORES.  Living off the grid is not for the faint of heart - there's power to generate and store (no doubt solar power sounds great until you have a week of rainy days), switches to flip and generators to operate.  Making hot water, for example, is a 30 minute ordeal with a few switches and maneouvers.  Definitely not for city slickers who demand instant everything as time is of the essence.  Not on the island - it's island time.

One of the main considerations of any weekend away is the menu - and who's buying the food - who's schlepping the food from the car to the boat and up the stairs - and putting away - and cooking - and cleaning up.  A lot to consider. 

And consider this:  there are a million stairs from the dock to the cottage.  Steep.  And many of them.

you are the human Sherpa.

One of the friends volunteered to do the shopping.  Great!  Off she went with a list and a mission.  Not known by the rest that her main mission was to use the facilities at the local Tim Hortons.  Like I said:  it's rustic.

So what's for dinner when the time comes?  Convenience food makes the day:  a veggie tray; frozen pizzas -- we decide to graze.  The cooking area is limited and no one is well versed enough in cooking in a rustic outdoor kitchen:

BBQ'd toast is actually really good.  And Glenna brought her famous chili dip which I will definitely repeat - in my mind it's the perfect Sunday NFL pre-game snack:

take a package of cream cheese and spread into a baking dish
top with a can of chili (I plan to use my leftover chili which I will freeze in can size batches for this purpose)
and top that with shredded cheese (again perfect placement for leftover cheese ends and bits that get wasted normally)
bake until the shredded cheese melts and voila - instant yummy dip!

(I should mention that by the time Glenna served the dip she had tempted our palates with island cocktails made in her blender - extremely tasty and easy to drink)

A weekend away with friends doesn't have to be gourmet and full of exotic ingredients.  The most important ingredient is the people.  And they are great.

The Stinking Rose - Garlic Season is here!

Driving home from the office last week I stopped by the local roadside market.  This is the best time of year for scoring homegrown produce and our local market is brimming with choices. But the one that always catches my eye is the GARLIC!

My family loves to eat garlic.  We incorporate garlic in everything possible and enjoy it cooked in many different ways.

Buzy Liz is the name of the local farm market and Liz prides herself on her vegetable farm and the bounty it produces - including the garlic.  Liz is always ready to help you start your own veggie patch and has a lot of helpful information; her Garlic Lovers Page is an array of information about garlic: how to grow, tend, harvest and eat.

So after chatting with Liz, I came home and surveyed our garlic patch.  I chose the driest strand and yanked it from the earth.

A lovely dirty garlic.

So what do you do with such a wonderful specimen?  This one ended up in a pasta dish. 

But our favourite is a grilled garlic whole.  We simply take the whole garlic and cut the top off (I use the top "caps" in salad dressings).  Then drizzle olive oil on the cut side of the garlic.  Invert the garlic on the oily side onto a small square of tin foil (if we BBQ I use two layers of foil).  Place the garlic on a cookie sheet in a 425F oven for 15 min or until garlic is golden and soft.

The garlic becomes a soft paste and is delicious warm or cold.  The trend at our dinner table is to smear the cloves onto potatoes, bread, vegetables - your choice.  The roasted garlic takes on a nutty and mellow version of its raw self.

In speaking to a friend whose in the midst of writing a cook book about baking, she tells me that the latest addition to her very comprehensive kitchen is a dehydrator.  What does she plan on dehydrating?  Well among other things, her first order of business is to create garlic powder.  I hope she can master it ... and when she does I will share it with you!

There's a story about the "Stinking Rose" - which is more like a family legend.  It takes us back to a wonderful restaurant in San Francisco called .... The Stinking Rose.  I will save it for another day.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A Birthday Feast for Leo

One of our favourite Leos is Sophia.  Sophia has been working with Liaison College for many, many years and has won several awards for her performance in the Admissions Dept.  Sophia's birthday is August 5th and in honour of her special day we have created a menu featuring her favourite foods!

For the appetizer we are showcasing Ontario MUSHROOMS and share this recipe for:  

Mixed Mushrooms on Crostini

Crostini is Italian for little toasts. For a flavourful mixture, use a variety of mushrooms. If using shiitake mushrooms, discard the woody stems. This is best served warm or at room temperature.
Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 10 Minutes
Servings: about 24 pieces
  • 1 skinny baguette
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 12 oz (375 g) mixed Ontario Mushrooms, including cremini, portobello, shiitake, oyster and white button
  • 1 Ontario Onion, diced
  • 2 cloves Ontario Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) each balsamic vinegar and water
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced smoked ham (such as Black Forest) or prosciutto
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
Slice baguette into 1/3-inch (8 mm) thick rounds. Brush with a little olive oil and broil until lightly golden in colour.
Clean mushrooms; slice small ones and chop larger ones to make about 4 cups (1 L).
In large nonstick skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until lightly softened, about 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and garlic; cook for 4 minutes. Stir in basil, then add vinegar and water; cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until liquid has evaporated.
Remove from heat. Stir in ham, parsley and half the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture onto toasted bread (crostini); sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Make-ahead tip: Cool filling, cover and refrigerate. Before serving, warm briefly in microwave, spoon onto toasted bread (crostini), sprinkle with cheese. Crostini can also be made ahead, cooled and stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Sophia's favourite entree is Prime Rib and I highly recommend Rowe Farms for purchasing meat products.  You can seek out humane farmers in your area, but if you are near Guelph Ontario, then Rowe Farms will have the best quality for your Prime Rib dinner.

Following is a tested recipe from the Canadian Living kitchens:

Roast Prime Rib with Rosemary Jus Lie

By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

Tested till perfect

Roast prime rib of beef certainly speaks of a grand celebration. The simple, flavourful sauce of slightly thickened pan juices, or jus lie mixed with wine and stock adds a touch of sheer elegance. For a dramatic holiday presentation, choose a roast with at least three ribs.

This recipe makes 10 serving(s)

Nutritional information available online.


  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh thyme, (or 2 tsp/10 mL dried)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 prime rib premium oven roast, (5 to 7 lb/2.2 to 3.15 kg)
  • 2 onions, thickly sliced
  • 4 Fresh rosemary sprigs, (or 1 tbsp/15 mL dried)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) beef stock
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter


On cutting board, mix thyme with garlic; sprinkle with salt. Holding knife blade at very low angle, rub many times to form smooth paste. Mix in pepper and cayenne; rub over roast. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.)
Scatter onions and rosemary in greased roasting pan. Place roast, bone side down, on onion mixture. Roast in 325°F (160°C) oven until meat thermometer inserted in centre registers 140°F (60°C) for rare, 1-3/4 to 2 hours, or 150°F (65°C) for medium-rare, 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours, or to desired doneness. Transfer to cutting board or warmed platter; tent with foil and let stand for at least 10 minutes or for up to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, skim fat from pan juices; place pan over high heat. Add wine; cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan, until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. In small bowl, whisk stock into cornstarch; whisk into pan and bring to boil. Boil for 1 minute; stir in butter. Strain into warmed gravy boat.
Slice bones off meat and separate each rib. Slice meat and arrange on platter along with ribs. Stir accumulated juices into sauce.

And for dessert Sophia's choice is RED VELVET CAKE (click for video and recipe)

Happy Birthday Sophia!  Best wishes from your friends at Liaison College :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

August 4th is Canada Food Day

On August 4th Canada celebrates FOOD DAY.  You may be wondering what this is?  Good question.  Some years ago I met a very dynamic and passionate foodie called ANITA STEWART . Anita is a Canada's premier food ambassador (and 2012 Order of Canada recipient).  I met Anita at a Cuisine Canada conference in Guelph and she is truly an inspiration.

Anita is always trying to conjur up ideas on how to promote Canadian Cuisine and even started Canada's Longest BBQ in 2003

Today foodies can join in the celebration of Canadian Cuisine by posting a recipe and story to her website and sharing with like-minded Canadians and abroad.

One of the very memorable moments with Anita for me was our discussion about the extinction of food.  Who knew?  Anita spends a lot of time promoting Canadian foods that are in danger of being extinct.  Among these is apples; a Canadian staple.  Anita told us about her work with Jeff Crump and creating recipes using apple varieties that were in danger.  Creemore Heritage Apple Society is one of the sites that I discovered checking out the concept of extint foods.

Happy Food Day, Canada!

From Canadian Living here's a winning apple pie recipe: 

Grandma's Favourite

Thanksgiving weekend last year and The Village at Blue Mountain, Ont., was filled with the fragrance of freshly baked apple pies. For the first-ever Quintessential Apple Pie contest, bakers from this apple-growing region that rings Georgian Bay carried their pies – double crust, single crust, lattice top, streusel, Cheddar crust, even a chocolate apple combo – to the judging tables. Collingwood baking enthusiast Brenda Hall took first prize with a classic double-crust pie – a family recipe that's not too sweet but full and juicy with freshly harvested local McIntosh apples.


  • 1 Double-Crust Sour Cream Pastry recipe 1 1Double-Crust Sour Cream Pastry recipe
  • 1 egg yolk 1 1egg yolkegg yolks
  • 2 tbsp coarse sugar 2 2tbsp tbsp(30 mL) (30 mL) coarse sugar
  • Filling:
  • 8 apples , (such as McIntosh or Northern Spy)about 3 lb (1.5 kg)8 8appleapples, (such as McIntosh or Northern Spy)about 3 lb (1.5 kg)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 3/4 3/4cup cup(175 mL) (175 mL) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch 2 2tbsp tbsp(30 mL) (30 mL) cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 1 1tsp tsp(5 mL) (5 mL) cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg 1 1pinch pinchground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch salt 1 1pinch pinchsalt
  • 2 tbsp butter , softened2 2tbsp tbsp(30 mL) (30 mL) butter, softened


Filling: Peel and core apples; cut into 1/4-inch (5 mm) thick slices and place in large bowl. In small bowl, toss together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt ; add to apples and toss to coat.

On lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pastry to generous 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness; fit into 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate. Trim to leave 3/4-inch (2 cm) overhang; fold under and flute edge. Scrape filling into pie shell; dot with butter.

Roll out remaining pastry. Whisk egg yolk with 1 tbsp (15 mL) water; brush over pastry rim. Fit pastry over filling; trim to leave 3/4-inch (2 cm) overhang. Fold overhang under bottom pastry rim; seal and flute edge. Brush egg mixture over pastry. Cut steam vents in top; sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake in bottom third of 450°F (230°C) oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F (180°C); bake for 65 minutes or until bottom is deep golden and filling is bubbling and thickened. Let cool on rack. (Make-ahead: Set aside for up to 24 hours.)
Source : Canadian Living Magazine: October 2007