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Oh Canada!

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What is Canadian food? Can anyone share recipes that everyone in Canada would recognize as Canadian? Baking recipes would be especially nice.

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  1. Nanaimo bar is a quintessential Canadian baked dessert. There must be recipes around - google?

    1. I spent my HS days in a town in NY State about an hour south of Montreal. You can Google for some of these recipes. They are dishes I relate to Quebec.

      Habitant Pea Soup. Made with yellow peas, bacon and sometimes a bit of lard to add flavor and mouth feel. Tourtiere, a dense meat pie, rich flaky top and bottom crust filled with ground pork and warm spices. Often served by the slice and topped with gravy. Cretons, the Quebec version of rillettes. Poutine, french fries topped with crumbled cheese curd and gravy. Dumplings boiled in maple syrup and served with cold heavy cream.
      These are all dishes I remember fondly.

      Canada is big and there are going to be diffrences from the Atlantic to the Pacific and all stopd in between. What you ask for is like asking for American dishes but not specifying from which part of the US.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        Indeed those are all dishes indicative of the cuisine common in regional Quebec...I have never in my life eaten Habitant Pea Soup, Cretons, Dumplings cooked in Maple Syrup, Tourtiere or Poutine. Poutine is ubiquitous all over the country now, but it too has it's origins in Quebec and has only spread in the last couple of years. The only baked thing that I can think of that is completely and totally created in Canada is the Nanaimo Bar, created by Susan Mendelson from the Lazy Gourmet in Vancouver. It is a graham wafer/cocoa/coconut crust filled with a sweet icing type filling and topped with chocolate. The essential ingredient is Bird's Custard Powder. I have a dozen or more recipes if you would like me to email you some.

        I was born and raised here in British Columbia, and it is entirely true that while we do have some regional foods common to the area, the same would be true of the US...basically we eat the same things that you eat. There is regional food, cultural food, etc, just like in the US. If you are looking for something specific, like for an event or something, I collect community cookbooks of the type where women from a group or a church submit recipes, and I would be happy to pass things on if you can point me in a direction. I have some going back to the 1940's, so let me know :-)

        1. re: Cyndy

          I am a Canadian living in Toronto. Real 'Canadian' food is a topic of some discussion up here as Asian fusion and 'ethnic' restaurants have become the lion's share of fine dining around here. Outside of the major city centre (with the exception of farmer's markets where the country visits the city), generally, is where you find 'non-ethnic' foods. Hamburgers, fried chicken, roast beef, etc. A mishmash of American, British, and 'Continental'. There is lots of this stuff in the city... but it tends to be fast food or diner style.

          Very few 'Canadian' restos exist because 1) Although there are many examples of Canadian food - it's not all that interesting ;-) and 2) People these days would not know what to expect!

          Here's a shortlist:
          -Butter Tarts (with or without raisins and pecans)
          -Donair (Eastern Canadian, like a Greek Gyros served on a pita with sweet sauce. Not my fave)
          -Back Bacon anything. Back bacon on an English muffin is pretty typical at most markets
          -Habitant pea soup (comes in a can, the company is Habitant) with ham and yes, lard
          -Pancakes with maple syrup (from Quebec, of course!)
          -Bannock (a simple dough made by early settlers and still made at summer camps across the country)
          -Tortiere - clove spiked ground meat pie from Quebec

          These are the most typical 'inland' specialties. Of course, if you go to either coast you can get into a deluge of seafood dishes.

          Each city also has their own selection of local inventions - just like the US.

          So if I was hosting an American food party, what would I serve? Here's one Canuck's perspective:

          Fried Chicken and biscuits
          Hot Dogs
          Cajun anything
          BBQ ribs
          Cheese pizza
          Apple Pie

          Americans - what am I missing??!

          1. re: Shiro Miso

            Baked Beans
            Chocolate Cake
            Coconut Cake
            Softshell crabs (sandwiches are great too)
            Lobster Rolls
            Clam Chowder (Nw England and Manhattan)
            Cheesesteak Sandwiches
            Subs, Grinders, Italian Sandwiches
            Tri Tip
            Santa Maria Beans
            English Muffins
            Corn Bread
            Bread Pudding
            I could keep going but I'm sure that there are others who would like to put in thier 2 cents worth.

            1. re: Candy

              Weren't burgers invented in Hamburg, Germany? I could be wrong... of course they are probably eaten in the US more than anyplace else.

              I can't believe I didn't think of succotash! ;-)

            2. re: Shiro Miso

              Hot dogs? Um, well... is this a superbowl party?
              Aren't cajuns called cajuns cause they're orig immigrated from acadia? Shouldn't you be making some wonderful, spicy canadian food?
              'Although there are many examples of Canadian food - it's not all that interesting ;-)' It is, it is.
              For your american food party (insted of pizza) How about chowder and cioppino, boiled dinner and simmered greens, succotash and hoppin john, chicken pie and tetrazzini, and cornbread and salt rising bread, and strawberry shortcake and toll house cookies, shaker tart and shoo fly pie, a grunt a slump and an indian pudding (sounds like a nursery rhyme).

              1. re: Sweeties

                Hmmm... when they left for the South they took the spices with them! I can't think of any spicy Canadian specialties... with the possible exception of the cloves in the aforementioned tortiere.

                1. re: Sweeties

                  The only Canadian "Acadienne" (those who stayed behind when the Cajuns-to-be left) specialty I know of is Rappie pie (or something like that), it is simply grated potato and chicken with no spicing to speak of! I can confirm that people do make this, although I don't think it's easy to find in a restaurant, I've had it at a catered Acadian wedding.

                  Link: http://www.novascotiatours.com/recipe...

              2. re: Cyndy

                Thanks for the generous offer but I generally like and am kind of hoping to find something maybe from an author/cook with a voice of his/her own and some kind of view on his/her natl cuisine which will inspire me to cook from it. I was trolling amazon canada; Have you heard of a book called 'Nothing More Comforting' by Dorothy Duncan? What do you think of it?

            3. If you know of any books that would be good too. Old fashioned Canadian home cooking or baking not the latest, sleekest, fusion, nouveau whatever.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Sweeties

                Here's a bit of what you are looking for, eh? If you can get the ingredients, try the Saskatoon Pie.

                Link: http://www.recipesource.com/ethnic/am...

                1. re: brookmonton

                  Interesting list but the only thing that strikes me as Canadian as opposed to regional or random are the butter tarts. And maybe those are regional too and I just don't know it.

                2. re: Sweeties

                  They just re-issued a cookbook by Kate Aitken on Canadian Cooking. Fabulous recipe for butter tarts. Amazon is your friend ;-)

                3. Voila!

                  (There is a version in English too, but I don't have it bookmarked.)

                  Link: http://www.saveurs.sympatico.ca/ency_...

                  1. For more on Quebec you might see if you can find any cookbooks by Jehane Benoit. They may be out of print. She was quite an autority of cooking in Quebec. If you Google her name you can find a number of recipes attributed to her.

                    1. Hi. We recently took a long, long drive around Lake Superior, through Canada. At a B&B we had the best rhubarb muffins... the lady told me it came from a Canadian Living Magazine cookbook, "Canadian Living's Best Muffins and More" (one of a special series they did). Anyway, checked many bookstores on the Canadian side and couldn't find it (out of print??), but found it through bibliofind when back home in the U.S. Canadian Living Magazine has several cookbooks out, as far as I know, and the people in the bookstores were showing me many Canadian cookbooks, so, if you're ever up there...
                      I find it wonderful that on the U.S. side, you see restaurant signs that say, "Chinese and American Food", and as soon as you cross the border, it says, "Chinese and Canadian Food".
                      We did come across those french fries with gravy and cheese... they looked delicious and deadly! And, we saw on a menu, "peameal bacon", which I had never heard of, which I got excited about, being a vegetarian (I thought it was some new imitation bacon made out of peas !!!), but, it's a real meaty thing. Also, when in Canada, we always buy Lyle's Golden Syrup, which is from England, I'm pretty sure, but is a divine thing. We bring back jars and jars of it. When in the actual town of Nanaimo once, we stopped at a little bakery for Nanaimo bars... very sweet! Enjoy your hunt for Canadian food. We live not too far from the border, so we get lots of Canadian crackers, and other products in our stores, and many of our packages have English/French on them.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JennBenn

                        Any chance you could post a paraphrased version of the rhubarb muffins recipe? They sound great.


                        1. re: Keri T.

                          Hi. Sorry for the delay in getting you the recipe. When it was served to us, it was as mini-muffins. I made it the normal size. It says it makes 18, and I didn't note in my book how many it made for me, as I usually fill mine a little fuller than suggested.

                          Rhubarb Muffins from Canadian Living

                          2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
                          1 tsp baking soda
                          1/2 tsp salt
                          1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
                          1/2 cup vegetable oil
                          1 egg
                          1 cup buttermilk
                          1 tsp vanilla
                          2 cups chopped rhubarb
                          1/2 cup packed brown sugar
                          1 tbsp butter, melted
                          1/2 tsp cinnamon

                          Paraphrased directions: Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the sugar and oil, then the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add this to the dry ingredients, then put the rhubarb in, and mix until just moistened. Fill muffin pans (grease them, or use paper liners), 3/4 full. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over the muffins. Bake at 350 for 20-25 min, or until done. Enjoy!

                      2. I'm not Canadian, but might be considered a Canadia-phile. (Canadian-phile?)

                        From my personal experience:

                        Donuts! ala Tim Hortons, of course.
                        Beaver Tails (a flat oval donut), with maple glaze.

                        From a book called "How to be a Canadian":

                        Poutine: french fries with cheese curds and gravy.
                        Prairie oysters (Western Canada), fried.
                        Maple syrup (80% of world's supply comes from Canada).
                        Coffee Crisp candy bars
                        Red Rose tea

                        From Canadian Living "Sweet Treats":

                        Nanaimo Bars.

                        You might check their web site: www.canadianliving.com

                        All this said, the Canadian I know best is vegan, super healthy, and would eat none of this stuff.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: eel

                          Sadly Tim Horton's is not what it used to be...they now make all the donuts in a factory in Ontario and ship them frozen to the stores across the nation. At the store, they 'rethermalize' them (heat them up in an oven, I'm guessing) and slap on some icing. It's disgusting. It's a donut, for crying out loud. How hard is it to keep making them onsite?

                        2. One more thing that is uniquely Canadian: Red River Cereal. It's a hot grain cereal and I think it's from Manitoba. Can't get it outside Canada.

                          1. Here are some distinctly Canadian dishes / drinks:

                            1. Ginger beef (invented at the Silver Inn in Calgary in the '70s.)

                            2. The Bloody Caesar (many claims to fame)

                            3. humperdinks (peanut butter, marshmallow and sour cream squares).

                            4. I have only ever heard Canadians call roast potatoes wrapped in foil on the barbecue "hobo packages".

                            5. The Stampeder roll (a type of rainbow maki sushi, invented at the Sukiyaki House in Calgary, and now widely available)

                            6. Game game game: the best piece of meat I ate last year was at Eden at the Rimrock Hotel in Banff: Caribou tenderloin.

                            7. All manner of perogies, from cheese to pumpkin. '

                            8. Ditto for cabbage rolls.

                            9. Italian poutine (for gravy, substitute spaghetti sauce.)

                            10. Indian candy (candied smoked salmon)

                            11. The Montreal bagel; also Montreal smoked meat; the chien chaud;

                            12. Winnipeg cream cheese.

                            13. Winnipeg goldeye.

                            14. Fish and brewis.

                            15. Boiled dinner.

                            16. The hot hamburger.

                            17. French fries with white vinegar.

                            There's more out there: I haven't done Newfoundland and the other Atlantic provinces any justice.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Miles

                              I've always known the term hobo packages, growing up in New England. But then again, my grandparents moved down from Canada, so they may have been the source. Still, I think I've seen it in cookbooks written here.

                              1. re: Miles

                                oh, yeah, I forgot all about the Ukranian influence in Manatoba. Great food! Love the cabbage rolls. Friends from Manatoba made them last Thanksgiving. And I had great borcht in Winnipeg once.

                              2. Someone has already suggested the Canadian Living web site but you should also check out another Canadian magazine web site for recipes, chatelaine.ca.

                                Some Canadian baked goods are Butter Tarts (a pastry crust with a sticky brown sugar and raisin or nut filling), Sugar Pie, Nanaimo Bars, and Bannock (First Nations dish: fried dough that can be rolled in sugar-Beaver Tails are an example).

                                This is what comes to mind at this moment. If I think of some more I will post again.

                                A recipe book I have been enjoying for years is called The Best Of The Best from the Best Of Bridge series.