Awards at The Royal

The Canadian Culinary Book Awards were handed out Friday at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, and I caught up with this year's three English-language gold winners to talk about their books (and of course, to get some great recipes).

Winners of the Canadian Culinary Book Awards 2009 - Presented by Cuisine Canada and The University of Guelph.

English-Language Culinary Books

Canadian Food Culture Category

  • Gold: Anita Stewart's Canada by Anita Stewart (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto).
  • Silver: Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover's Tour of Canadian Farms by Margaret Webb (Penguin Group Canada, Toronto).
  • Honourable Mention: A Taste of Canada: A Culinary Journey by Rose Murray (Whitecap Books Ltd., North Vancouver).

Cookbook Category

  • Gold: Small Plates for Sharing, Laurie Stempfle, Ed. (Company's Coming Publishing Limited, Edmonton).
  • Silver: The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book: The Essentials of Home Baking by Elizabeth Baird (Transcontinental Books, Montreal). 
  • Honourable Mention: Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan (McClelland & Stewart Ltd., Toronto).

Special Interest Food and Beverage Book Category

  • Gold: Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid (Random House Canada, Toronto).
  • Silver: Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto).

French-Language Culinary Books

Canadian Food Culture Category

  • Gold: Québec capitale gastronomique by Anne L Desjardins (Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal).

Cookbook Category

  • Gold: Ricardo : parce qu'on a tous de la visite : cuisiner en toutes circonstances by Ricardo (Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal).
  • Silver: Gibier à poil et à plume: découper, apprêter et cuisiner by Jean-Paul Grappe (Les Éditions de l'Homme, Montréal).
  • Honourable Mention: Les secrets des sauces révélés by Jérôme Ferrer (Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal).

Special Interest Food and Beverage Book Category

  • Gold: Les vins du nouveau monde, Volume 2, by Jacques Orhon, (Les Éditions de l'Homme, Montréal).
  • Silver: Répertoire des fromages du Québec, Édition augmentée by Richard Bizier  and Roch Nadeau (Les Éditions du Trécarré-Groupe Librex inc., Montréal).
  • Honourable Mention: Manger, Un jeu d'enfant by Guylaine Guèvremont and Marie-Claude Lortie (Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal).

Special Awards

Canadian Culinary Hall of Fame Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949 by Elizabeth Driver (University of Toronto Press, Toronto).

Founders Award (lifetime achievement) Judy Creighton, food writer, Canadian Press

The Edna Award (lifetime achievement, regional) Chef Robert Arniel, St. John's, Newfoundland

The Canadian Culinary Book Awards were handed out Friday at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, and I caught up with this year's three English-language gold winners to talk about their books (and of course, to get some great recipes).

Presented by Cuisine Canada and the University of Guelph, the annual awards recognize excellence and creativity in food and beverage writing in both English- and French-language culinary books published during the previous year. Gold, silver and honourable mention awards are handed out in three categories, for both English and French titles. (See the complete list in the sidebar right.)

Anita Stewart, who won gold in the Canadian Food Culture category, serves up Acadian Meat Pies from her book Anita Stewart's Canada.

Editor Laurie Stempfle, whose book Small Plates for Sharing won gold in the Cookbook category, shares her recipe called Almond Brie Croutons on Apple-Dressed Spinach.

From Beyond the Great Wall, which won gold in the Special Interest category, we have a recipe for Dai Carrot Salad from authors Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid.

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair runs until November 15 at Toronto's Exhibition Place.

Inspired by a visit to "The Royal" (as the fair is called), I decided to cook up a wholly Canadian dish myself this month: baked McIntosh apples with maple syrup, oats and walnuts. For me, the flavours of apple and maple make for a heavenly combination. Add oats and walnuts and things start to get really tasty. Think of this dish as inside-out apple crumble, since the ingredients that would normally form the toping on the crumble are actually stuffed inside the apples. I find that McIntosh apples are the best for this recipe, though you can always experiment with other varieties.

Baked McIntosh Apples, or inside-out apple crumble

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 6 McIntosh apples
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnut pieces
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 pinches salt
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 6 tsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

In a bowl mix together oats, walnut, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, and cider vinegar.

Lightly butter the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold the six apples without them touching each other. Remove the stem from each apple. Cut a thin, level slice off the top of each apple, about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Using a paring knife or melon baller, remove the core of each apple and some of the flesh around the core, being careful not to penetrate through the bottom or sides of the apple. Remove enough of the apple's flesh to form a small pocked inside the apple. Use your finger to coat the inside of each apple with about 1/2 tsp of butter.

Set the apples in the baking dish at equal distances from each other, with the pockets facing up. Spoon the oat and maple mixture into the six pockets, pressing the mixture down lightly as you fill the pockets. There should be enough oat mixture to fill all the pockets and to form a small mound on top of each apple. (If not, make a bit more oat mixture; apples do vary in size.) Place a small dollop of butter on top of each apple.

Tear off a piece of aluminum foil that is about one-and-a-half times longer than your baking dish. Crumple the foil and place it over the apples like a loose tent. Do not seal the sides; the foil is simply meant to prevent the top of the oat mixture from scorching. Bake at 450ºF for about 17 minutes, longer if your apples are exceptionally large.

Remove from oven and serve immediately, one apple per person. They are delicious with vanilla ice cream.

Anita Stewart's Acadian Meat Pies

(With excerpts from Anita Stewart's Canada by Anita Stewart, HarperCollins Canada.)

Anita Stewart's Canada has captured gold in the Canadian Food Culture category at this year's Canadian Culinary Book Awards. ((Robert Wigington))
"This is a cookbook that needed to be done," says Anita Stewart, who lives in the small town of Elora, Ont. "It includes the history of the nation's cuisine, why we're cooking what we're cooking and also the panorama of ethnicity that is Canada. I wanted to hold up a mirror to the county." 

The book in question  — Anita Stewart's Canada — won gold in the Canadian Food Culture category at this year's Canadian Culinary Book Awards. It presents recipes that Stewart collected travelling throughout Canada, as well as many she developed herself. It is structured around traditional Canadian ingredients, as shown in such chapter headings as Maple, Honey & Molasses; Corn, Beans & Squash; Salmon; Grain; and Fruit & Nuts. It also delves into subjects such as First Nations cookery, Canadian culinary symbolism, industrial developments and sustainable farming.

In addition to being an author, Stewart is a food activist and culinary advisor to His Excellency Jean-Daniel Lafond, husband of Governor General Michaëlle Jean. She has been working with the Governor General's office towards the creation of a Governor General Award for the culinary arts.

"That's been a real adventure, I'll tell you," says Stewart, hinting that things are progressing quickly toward the establishment of this award.

One of her favourite recipes from her cookbook is for Acadian meat pies, from at Hôtel Paulin in Caraquet, New Brunswick.

"Choosing just one recipe is like being asked to choose your favourite child!" she laughs.

The recipe calls for pork, chicken and beef. "It should probably have rabbit, deer and moose as well," she says, acknowledging however that not everyone has access to such game meats.

"I like this recipe because it has the salted herbs in it, it's a pretty old dish, but it's also got the upscale twist of minced fresh ginger."

Acadian Meat Pies

(Excerpt from Stewart's book, Anita Stewart's Canada):

These meat pies can be made with moose or wild rabbit. ((Robert Wigington))
When I stayed at Hôtel Paulin in Caraquet, New Brunswick, my second-floor room overlooked the clothesline filled with white linens and, just beyond, the Bay of Chaleur. Whitecaps randomly rolled in. The ocean is different here. If there is a word to describe it, it's "practical." Flat, expansive, panoramic — a plateau of steel-blue water with painted villages solidly built on the shore of the shallow bay and centred on a particular fishery. In this case, it's clams — delicious ones — oysters and lobster.

In the Acadian region of New Brunswick many excellent authentic recipes are still being used. This one comes from Gerard Paulin. Gerard's roots run deep — the boutique hotel has borne the family name for over a century. He knows and loves the cuisine of his ancestors. In the hotel, which he runs with his wife, Karen Mersereau, and young son, Jules, he serves some of the finest renditions of his culture's food that can be found.

These meat pies can be made with moose or wild rabbit, la lièvre, which can be purchased at the local grocery store in Acadian New Brunswick. This recipe makes enough filling for 12 three-inch double-crust meat pies. Lard pastry is essential — you will need the entire package of Tenderflake, and the recipe is printed on the inside of the box.

Ingredients (makes 12 3-inch pies)

  • 4 lb (2kg) total mix of pork, chicken and beef, cubed
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups (750 mL) chicken or beef stock
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) salted herbs*
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) summer savory
  • 1 tsp (5 mL)) dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL)) ground allspice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
  • Lard pastry for 12 3-inch (7.5 cm) double-crust pies

*Available in grocery stores and markets throughout Quebec and Acadian Atlantic Canada. I picked up my last jar in Montreal's Jean-Talon Market.

Place the meat, any reserved bones, celery stalk and onions in a large saucepan. Add the stock, reserving ½ cup (125 ml). Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 ½ hours, skimming occasionally. Remove celery and bones; discard.

Melt the butter in a large skillet; cook the garlic and ginger until softened. Add the cooked meat, stock, salted herbs, summer savory, thyme, cloves and allspice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the flour with the reserved stock until smooth and add to the meat, stirring to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and let cool.

Fill the pastry shells with the filling and cover with the top crusts, pinching the edges together well. Place on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 425ºF (220ºC) oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350ºF (180ºC) and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. If not serving immediately, let cool and wrap.

(Excerpted from Anita Stewart's Canada, by Anita Stewart. Copyright © 2008 Anita Stewart. Photography copyright © 2008 Robert Wigington. Published by HarperCollins Canada. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.)

Laurie Stempfle's Almond Brie Croutons on Apple-Dressed Spinach

(With excerpts from Small Plates for Sharing by Laurie Stempfle, ed., Company's Coming Publishing Ltd.)

Small Plates For Sharing won gold in the Cookbook category at the Canadian Culinary Book Awards. ((Stephe Tate))
Company's Coming is one of the most successful brands of Canadian cookbooks, best known for their spiral-bound cookbooks, iconic in grocery stores, bookshops and kitchens across the land. Last year, the Alberta-based company launched a new line of hardcover cookbooks called Practical Gourmet. The first in the series — Small Plates For Sharing — won gold in this year's Cookbook category at the Canadian Culinary Book Awards.

The book presents recipes for dozens of appetizer-style dishes that can be shared at either parties or around the diner table. "People enjoy that tapas style of dining," says Laurie Stempfle, editor of Small Plates For Sharing. "It's more  casual. You have a glass of wine with one dish, then another dish shows up and you enjoy that. You get to try a lot of little dishes that way, instead of committing to that one big entrée."

Stempfle, a former caterer who lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta, worked with a group of people at Company's Coming to develop the recipes and assemble the book. "There's a team of recipe writers," she states. "They were so excited to be able to step outside our regular style and write something that's has a broader list of ingredients and methods."

One of Stempfle's favourite recipes from the book is Almond brie croutons on apple-dressed spinach. She says the recipe is a modernization of old-fashioned deep-fried cheese sticks.

"Combining something rich and warm and crunchy with something fresh and green and cool, to get complementing yet contrasting flavours and textures was where I was going with that recipe," says Stempfle. "But it came from the idea of those cheese sticks — oh my God, I can do something better than that!"

Almond brie croutons on apple-dressed spinach

(Excerpt from Stempfle's book, Small Plates For Sharing )

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1 large egg, fork-beaten
  • 1 tbsp./15 mL Maple syrup


  • 7 1/2 oz./200 g Brie cheese round, cut into 6 wedges (see Tip, below)
  • 1/4 cup/60 mL All-purpose flour
  • 1 cup/250 mL Finely chopped sliced natural almonds


  • 2 tbsp./30 mL Maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp./30 mL Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp./30 mL White balsamic (or wine) vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups/375 mL Fresh spinach leaves, lightly packed
  • 1 Unpeeled green apple, core removed and cut crosswise into thin rings

Combine egg and first amount of maple syrup.

(Stephe Tate)
Press cheese wedges into flour until coated. Dip into egg mixture, then press firmly into almonds until coated. Freeze for 45 minutes. Place wedges on a baking sheet. Bake in a 450ºF (230ºC) oven for about 7 minutes until almonds start to brown on edges and cheese starts to soften.

Combine next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Add spinach and apple and toss until coated. Spoon onto a serving plate, placing some of the apple rings over spinach. Arrange cheese wedges over top. Serves 6.


When working with softer cheeses like Brie, you can freeze them for 15 to 20 minutes to make cutting and portioning easier.

(Excerpted from Small Plates for Sharing, editor Laurie Stempfle. Copyright © 2008 Company's Coming Publishing Ltd. Published by Company's Coming Publishing Ltd. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.)

Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid's Dai Carrot Salad

(With excerpts From Beyond the Great Wall by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid, Random House Canada Ltd.)

Torontonians Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford detail their travels in Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China. ((Random House Canada/Artisan))
Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford have been taking trips to China since 1980, and their book Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China, which won gold in the Special Interest category at the Canadian Culinary Book Awards, is the culmination of over 30 journeys to some of that nation's most remote regions.

"Most of my experiences have been in the outlying areas," says Naomi Duguid, who lives in Toronto, "in places like Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia. It was clear to me that they had different cultures than the center of China. It has always been interesting for me to talk about people who are in the minority, and how they still have their cultures."

During their travels, Duguid and Alford collect recipes, take photos and gather stories from people. Their book is a portrait of the many distinct, far-flung cultures that now find themselves under the control of the central Chinese government. Food, says Duguid, is one of the key ways such cultures are preserved.

"Most of us here in Canada are immigrants at some level in our history," she says. "Even after language goes, in the second and third generation, we still have our grandmothers' recipes. Similarly, going to other places, you can tell who is who by what they are eating. There are a lot of Tibetans, for example, who won't eat soy sauce. It is almost an act of patriotism."

(Random House Canada/Artisan)
The carrot salad recipe below comes from the Dai people of the southern reaches of China's Yunnan province, near the border with Burma and Laos.

"The Dai are Buddhist," says Duguid, "their language is closely related to language in Thailand. They are settled agriculturalists who live in river valleys, with beautiful houses and textiles. They eat a lot of fresh foods either raw or barely cooked. This salad is very typical. It is barely cooked carrots with that hot, sour, salty, sweet balancing of flavours that all the people of that region have in their food culture."

Dai carrot salad

(Excerpt from From Beyond the Great Wall by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid)

There is so much good cooking in the small city of Jinghong in southern Yunnan province that it would take a long time to feel well acquainted with all that is there. Restaurant-hopping in the warm tropical evenings of Jinghong is lots of fun, but even better are the morning and afternoon markets, where there is an incredible variety of prepared foods to choose from. This carrot salad is one such dish: colourful and full of flavour.

Ingredients (serves 4 as salad or appetizer)

  • 1 pound large carrots
  • About 2 tablespoons pickled chilies, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 scallions, smashed and sliced into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
(Richard Jung)
Peel the carrots. Using a cleaver or chef's knife, slice them very thin (1/8 inch thick if possible) on a 45-degree angle. You should have 3 cups.

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Toss in the carrot slices and stir to separate them. Cook just until slightly softened and no longer raw, about 3 minutes. Drain.

Transfer the carrots to a bowl and let cool slightly, then add the chilies and scallion ribbons and toss to mix.

Whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Pour over the salad while the carrots are still warm. Stir or toss gently to distribute the dressing, then turn the salad out onto a serving plate or into a wide shallow bowl.

Serve the salad warm or room temperature. Just before serving, sprinkle on the salt and toss gently, then sprinkle on the coriander and toss again.

(Excerpted from Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid. Copyright © 2008 Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid. Photography copyright © 2008 Richard Jung. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.)