Iconic Canadian Food: The History Of The Caesar, Canada’s Cocktail

Welcome to our series, Iconic Canadian Food! You may know which classic Canadian dishes you like, but do you know the stories behind them? And how can we define Canadian cuisine if we don’t know its past? Gabby Peyton will be sharing the back stories of a smorgasbord of iconic Canadian dishes to celebrate the country’s 150th birthday this year. This month Gabby explores the quintessentially Canadian cocktail, the Bloody Caesar.

Caesars are the best-kept non-secret secret in Canada. If you walk into a bar south of the border and ask for one, there’s no doubt you’re getting a Bloody Mary — the thicker (and lesser, in my opinion) older sister of our beloved hangover cure.

The Bloody Caesar or, as it’s more affectionately known, the Caesar is probably the most Canadian thing you can drink aside from a glass of Canada Dry ginger ale or Molson Canadian. In 2006, the drink was honoured as the 13th greatest Canadian invention and just over ten years later, we’re guzzling more than 400 million Caesars a year; that’s more than 33 million every month! There’s even a national Caesar day — make sure to conjure up a Caesar on May 18.

The original recipe is simple: vodka with Clamato juice, a dash of Worcestershire, a squeeze of lime and served in a glass of ice rimmed with celery salt. While the recent trend has careened towards skyscraping garnishes and potions of juices, one thing is for sure: Canadians will never clam up about Caesars. They’ll continue to order them in American bars and get the same perplexed looks from the bartenders.

FROM SPAGHETTI COMES CAESAR
While some culinary origin stories have a muddier history, there’s no question about who invented the Bloody Caesar. In 1969 Walter Chell worked as a bartender at the Calgary Inn (now the Westin Calgary) and was asked to conjure up a signature cocktail for Marco’s, the new Italian restaurant at the hotel. Inspired by a dish on the menu — Spaghetti Vongele (spaghetti with clams) — the Caesar was born after three months of development.

Unlike the salad (named after the guy from Tijuana who invented it), this cocktail was actually named after the historic leader. Chell’s granddaughter claims it was in homage to his Italian heritage. Legend has it he had originally called the drink by the simpler “Caesar,” but a regular British customer of the hotel was heard exclaiming, “Walter, that’s a damn good bloody Caesar!” and Chell added the British colloquialism to the name.

Despite the legendary invention, there’s some question about the originality of Canada’s favourite libation. Recipes for New England clam juice and vodka cocktails date back to 1909, and in Ritz Paris bartender Frank Meier’s 1936 book The Artistry of Mixing Drinks there’s a clam cocktail made with “a teaspoon of Tomato Ketchup, a small pinch of Celery salt, two or three drops of Tabasco sauce, one glass of clam juice; shake slightly and serve.”

Ironically Mott’s was also developing Clamato juice in California at the same time Chell was creating the Caesar. While sales were small initially, with the rising popularity of the Caesar in the 1970s, sales exploded in Western Canada. There’s no doubt Chell’s Calgarian cocktail creativity helped skyrocket Clamato juice.

ALL HAIL THE CAESAR REVOLUTION?

While the Caesar has remained a classic in the Canadian cocktail compendium, it’s also risen to #foodporn status on Canadian food bloggers’ Instagram accounts. In the past decade there’s been significant evolution of the Caesar. Newer variations of the Caesar include using horseradish instead of Worcestershire, and adding hot sauce or other spicy ingredients like wasabi, Sriracha or even jerk spice.

The Score on Davie in Vancouver is said to have started the trend of putting more-than-ample garnishes on the Caesar with their caloric catastrophe called the Checkmate Bloody Caesar. This $60 “drink” is topped with roasted chicken, the Score burger, a pulled pork Sriracha glazed slider, onion rings, chicken wings, a pulled pork mac and cheese hotdog and a brownie for dessert. Everything from lobster claws to Montreal smoked meat sandwiches have been balanced on the Caesar’s rim, and there’s no sign of it stopping. There have even been ice cream sandwiches and margaritas.

Build-your-own Caesar bars have also become a popular brunch staple in pubs across the country, at places like Pogue Mahone’s in Toronto and Durty Nelly’s in Halifax. Some criticize gluttonous gulps like the Scores, and many bartenders (and hungover patrons) still opt for a simpler approach.

GETTING CLAMMY ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Even Mott’s is jumping on the proverbial bandwagon: in 2000 they introduced ready-made Caesars across the country, and have made several variations on their original blend of Clamato including Extra Spicy, Lime and The Works. Just this year, they introduced Pickled Bean Clamato Juice. A few years ago, they also ran a contest to hire a CMO (or Chief Mixing Officer), won by Clint Pattemore. In 2014, he published a book entitled Caesars: The Essential Guide to Your Favourite Cocktail.

Then came Walter. In 2013 this Toronto-based Caesar mix came onto the scene made with all-natural and high-end ingredients like small batch vine-ripened tomatoes, horseradish and North Atlantic clam juice. French’s is also set to release their Not Your Ordinary Caesar Cocktail Mix in grocery stores in 2017.

Whether you enjoy the classic Caesar, or prefer one of the new creations, there are few things more Canadian than this iconic cocktail.

Food Styling: Tips For Styling Sandwiches

In our Food Styling 101 series, Lisa Bolton offers up food styling tips for conveying the stories you want your food to tell. Her advice will help you create food photography that entices readers to make your recipes and read your articles. This month she shares her tips for styling a meal that’s easy to make but finicky to photograph: sandwiches.

The sandwich. A deceptively simple meal that’s anything but when it comes to making it pop in camera.

For something that can literally be assembled with an efficient fridge forage, the sandwich is always one of my most finicky styling subjects.

Unless you’re shooting a hot sandwich, the good news is you have lots of time to play with the components and get them just right. The bad news is that building a camera-ready sandwich can actually be quite time consuming. The key is having patience to spend perfecting each layer so it all comes together for the perfect shot.

Not unlike approaching most food styling projects, quality ingredients are going to be your first step. For the sandwich, they’re even more critical. In most cases the sandwich is shot with ingredients in the raw, merely sliced, and therefore getting the reddest, firmest tomatoes, and the crispiest, greenest lettuce is most important.

Each layer of the sandwich is a focal point and needs to be given every opportunity to shine.

THE BREAD
Some would argue the single most determining factor in a what makes a sandwich spectacular is the bread. This creed holds especially true in food styling.

When possible, choose bread that’s unsliced so you can maintain complete control on the size and thickness of each slice. Your best bet will always be the bakery.

Bread with colour (i.e., rye or whole wheat) and texture (i.e., flour dusted, topped with grains and seeds) will always pop off a page, over a straight pre-cut loaf in a plastic bag.

Unless you’re shooting a clubhouse, in most cases you’ll want to cut your bread slightly thicker than a sandwich slice width.

Just like my earlier article on photographing raw ingredients, don’t forget to grab a few images of just the bread, or the bread and some of the sandwich ingredients. Part of composing any image is telling the story, and shots of a really beautiful loaf of bread can give that story a beautiful beginning.

The key to a beautiful sandwich is height. Each layer is lightly draped on top of the next to create as much vertical space as possible. When I make a sandwich for my six-year-old, everything lies flat, on the same plane. The bread and the “filler” — the cheese, the meat and veg — are evenly stacked in a vertical flat manner. This does not a pretty photo make.

When preparing a sandwich for a shoot, approach each layer with intention.

As you build out each layer, don’t lay it one on top of another; rather, either pull it forward slightly or push it back slightly. Often I start by pulling each layer back ever so slightly and then adjust once I’ve seen it in camera to ensure it gets adequate real estate in the lens.

APPLYING CONDIMENTS

When applying any condiment or spread, dollop the spread close to the edge of the bread with a small spoon. Using the back of the spoon, gently push and spread the condiment toward the edge of the bread so it just dips over the edge. If not enough is showing, you can always use a toothpick or a small squeeze bottle to dab a little more out.

As with most aspects of sauces and food styling, it’s always easier to add more than to take away, so use a gentle hand.

LAYERING MEATS

To create dimension with the sliced deli meat, you’ll want to create a sort of gentle ruffle. Depending on the shape of the meat, this is achieved by either pinching the slice in the middle and creating almost a rosette shape or folding it in half but not quite evenly, so the edges have texture.

Toothpicks can be extremely helpful in this process. As you fold and build each layer, small toothpicks will help hold the sandwich fillings in place.

THE ANGLES
Sandwiches can be shot from a variety of angles, but slightly higher than a horizon or overhead are two of my favourite ways to highlight a sandwich.

Because the layers are being built at a slight angle, sometimes shooting straight on can expose gaps in the sandwich. By lifting the lens up slightly you can still highlight all the layers but avoid seeing any hollow spaces. Try capturing a shot straight on and then a second one ever so slightly above that and see what appeals to you more.

My preference for most of my shots is to capture an overhead perspective. For a sandwich, that doesn’t always highlight its best side. To still achieve that bird’s-eye view, I remove the top slice of bread and capture the sandwich open face. This still puts all the layers in view, but tells a different story by bringing more elements into the frame.

The sandwich is a great food to get some practice with your food styling: no complicated recipes and you can just work with what you have. Practice the order of the layers, cutting ingredients into different widths and shapes. Start with a horizon shot and snap ten images moving the lens up slightly with each shot to discover the angle you prefer best.

Where To Eat This Weekend: Pei Edition

We’re back with a new edition of Restaurant Roundup! The theme? Where To Eat This Weekend. We profile different parts of Canada with a list of great dining recommendations for you to check out — from fancy to hole in the wall and everything in between! If you’re planning a trip to PEI this summer, look no further. Today Janice Lawandi take us on a tour of PEI restaurants. You’ll want to check it out whether you’re a local or planning a trip – now you’ll know where to eat in PEI!

With its gorgeous red sand beaches, Prince Edward Island, the home of Anne of Green Gables, is a popular summertime destination for travellers from all around the world. Prince Edward Island offers more than a scenic holiday, and scattered throughout the island are some great eats that you won’t want to miss on your next trip.

If you are visiting PEI, you are probably staying at a Bed & Breakfast, but that doesn’t mean that you should spend every single breakfast eating at the B&B. Breakfast at Leonhard’s Café is definitely worth leaving the B&B for.

Leonhard’s vanilla Swiss roll cake is very well known around town, but if you’re going for breakfast, Leonhard’s offers many great “non-cake” options (not that I would judge you if you ordered cake for breakfast). The French toast is made from Leonhard’s fantastic homemade multigrain bread. It’s a hearty French toast, served with maple syrup. Or if you feel like having eggs for breakfast, I recommend ordering an omelette (my favourite was garnished with black forest ham & a very generous amount of Havarti cheese).

And if you are still feeling a little peckish, you must try the cream horn (a.k.a “Schillerlocken” in German), which is a horn of flaky pastry filled with the most delightful vanilla cream.

RECEIVER COFFEE CO
To get your much-needed caffeine fix, head to Receiver Coffee Co. The great thing about Receiver Coffee Co. is that, besides good coffee, they also have a small, but impressive menu that changes often. When you visit, the breakfast menu may include a breakfast club sandwich, crêpes, Eggs Benedict, or even breakfast nachos (yes, I really do mean nachos that you eat at breakfast).

The daily lunch specials vary too, and usually include hot dishes like mac & cheese, sweet and savoury apple bbq beef brisket sandwich, feta stuffed lamb burger.

THE CHARLOTTETOWN FARMER’S MARKET
WHERE TO EAT THIS WEEKEND: PEI EDITION

MAY 16, 2016
We’re back with a new edition of Restaurant Roundup! The theme? Where To Eat This Weekend. We profile different parts of Canada with a list of great dining recommendations for you to check out — from fancy to hole in the wall and everything in between! If you’re planning a trip to PEI this summer, look no further. Today Janice Lawandi take us on a tour of PEI restaurants. You’ll want to check it out whether you’re a local or planning a trip – now you’ll know where to eat in PEI!

With its gorgeous red sand beaches, Prince Edward Island, the home of Anne of Green Gables, is a popular summertime destination for travellers from all around the world. Prince Edward Island offers more than a scenic holiday, and scattered throughout the island are some great eats that you won’t want to miss on your next trip.

BRUNCH OR LUNCH IN PEI

LEONHARD’S CAFÉ & RESTAURANT

Where to Eat in PEI | Food Bloggers of Canada

If you are visiting PEI, you are probably staying at a Bed & Breakfast, but that doesn’t mean that you should spend every single breakfast eating at the B&B. Breakfast at Leonhard’s Café is definitely worth leaving the B&B for.

Leonhard’s vanilla Swiss roll cake is very well known around town, but if you’re going for breakfast, Leonhard’s offers many great “non-cake” options (not that I would judge you if you ordered cake for breakfast). The French toast is made from Leonhard’s fantastic homemade multigrain bread. It’s a hearty French toast, served with maple syrup. Or if you feel like having eggs for breakfast, I recommend ordering an omelette (my favourite was garnished with black forest ham & a very generous amount of Havarti cheese).

And if you are still feeling a little peckish, you must try the cream horn (a.k.a “Schillerlocken” in German), which is a horn of flaky pastry filled with the most delightful vanilla cream.

RECEIVER COFFEE CO

Where to Eat in PEI | Food Bloggers of Canada

To get your much-needed caffeine fix, head to Receiver Coffee Co. The great thing about Receiver Coffee Co. is that, besides good coffee, they also have a small, but impressive menu that changes often. When you visit, the breakfast menu may include a breakfast club sandwich, crêpes, Eggs Benedict, or even breakfast nachos (yes, I really do mean nachos that you eat at breakfast).

The daily lunch specials vary too, and usually include hot dishes like mac & cheese, sweet and savoury apple bbq beef brisket sandwich, feta stuffed lamb burger.

THE CHARLOTTETOWN FARMER’S MARKET

Where to Eat in PEI | Food Bloggers of Canada

If you are visiting Charlottetown for a weekend, spend your Saturday morning eating your way through the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market, where you can have anything from a healthy smoothie or a fresh juice, a St-Viateur bagel topped with locally smoked salmon from Medalion Trading PEI, an incredible falafel pita from Shaddy’s, or even Polish pierogies and apple strudel.

Of course, you can also pick up fresh fruits and veggies at the Charlottetown Farmer’s market too, but the prepared food stands are so great, it’s hard to resist. The market is open Saturdays and Wednesdays too, from 9AM to 2PM.

When you drive around Prince Edward Island, you will probably notice that just about every restaurant seems to offer a lobster dinner, and even many of the churches too!

You can’t go wrong with a lobster dinner from the Water Prince Corner Shop and Lobster Pound (a classic recommendation from the locals, open 7 days a week), where I was served a dinner roll and a bowl of chowder (featured on Food Network’s You’ve Gotta Eat Here).

If you are on a tight budget, head to one of the local fish shops and pick up a cooked lobster. You can pick up cooked lobsters at Doiron’s Fisheries, which is conveniently located near The Olde Village Bakery, where you can grab dinner rolls and classic sides, like potato salad and coleslaw. The Olde Village Bakery is also known for their selection of classic squares, so you definitely don’t want to miss this gem for dessert.

It’s no surprise that Terre Rouge has been ranked among Canada’s top restaurants. Named after the red earth of PEI, Terre Rouge is committed to local growers and producers, and firmly believes in the farm-to-table movement. Whatever you decide to order for dinner (their menu changes almost daily), the house-cured charcuterie and cheese platter is a great way to start your meal.

Terre Rouge also has a small market area where you can shop for a few of the local preserves and ingredients they feature on their menu.

There are several locations around the island, of which the biggest location is the Cow’s Creamery factory offering a factory tour. The line of ice creams ranges from the classic vanilla to crazy flavours like “Wowie Cowie” and “Mooey Gooey”. My personal favourite is the PEI Strawberry ice cream. Their homemade waffle cones are awesome, so definitely order your ice cream in a cone.

This one’s for all the cheese-lovers! There was a Dutch lady in PEI who became famous for her gouda cheese and became known as the Gouda Cheese Lady. She made gouda cheese for over twenty years in PEI, until she handed the business over to the McCourts, who continue to make great gouda cheese, from plain to smoked, and even flavoured with cumin, red pepper flakes, or mustard seeds.

Glasgow Glen Farms also makes fabulous artisanal breads to go with all that cheese and even pizzas baked in a wood-fire oven.

Richard’s Fresh Seafood is apparently THE place to go if you are craving a lobster roll which, for the record, is excellent and served on a toasted hot-dog bun.

Really, you can’t go wrong with any of the menu items. Served with a homemade tartar sauce that is flavoured with fresh dill and sun-dried tomato, the fish & chips feature panko-crusted haddock fillets that are light and very crispy on the outside and almost buttery inside. And the fun part of Richard’s Seafood: they give you gummy candies for a sweet treat to enjoy after all that seafood.

A stop at The Chip Shack is an absolute must because the Chip Shack has THE BEST, crispiest french fries I’ve ever had. The french fries, made from PEI potatoes, are blanched and fried to order, and honestly, you should make a point of stopping by for a snack.

Get Creative With 15 Almond Beverage Recipes

If you think almond beverages are just for pouring on your granola or adding to your latte, you need to think again! We challenged 15 FBC members to come up with creative ways to use Almond Breeze almond beverage in the kitchen. You’ll be amazed at the versatility you can achieve with this beverage! Everything from cool, refreshing drinks to an impressive array of savoury entrees to try for dinner, and, of course, decadent desserts! And now, you can find Almond Breeze in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.

On Board In 20: Harissa Honey Rib Chops With Broccoli Tabbouleh

Welcome to On Board in 20: a recipe series where we share wholesome, family-style meals you can prepare in about 20 minutes. The recipes always contain whole food ingredients and are intended to be brought to the table for family members to build and construct their individual plates as their senses guide them. Along the way, we bring you tips and tricks for speeding up prep and clean up for those busy weeknight meal times.

Move over sriracha, there’s a new condiment in town! It’s time to add harissa to your pantry. Harissa is a blend of roasted chili peppers, garlic, oil and spices like cumin and coriander. It’s such a fantastic way to add a rich, deep flavor to a dish in a short period of time (not unlike how jarred roasted red peppers gave our 20-minute lentil stew a boost last month). There’s no doubt this sauce is the star of this month’s 20-minute meal of rib chops with broccoli tabbouleh. I chose a mild version and added a little extra honey for my little eater at the table, but you could easily go spicier for an extra kick.

Tabbouleh is traditionally a vegetarian salad made primarily of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, onion and bulgur. In this 20-minute meal we’ve swapped out the bulgur for quinoa, which gives this meal the added bonus of being gluten free. You could easily substitute couscous for the quinoa as well for an even quicker cooking time. The broccoli is barely blanched before processing and boosts the vegetable content of the side dish. The mint is a pretty important element in this salad. Although there’s only a small amount, it makes a difference in the final product.

As with most of our 20-minute meals, the order of execution is important. My kettle boils 1.5 litres of water in about five minutes, so this always goes on first. This is enough time to get my pots on the stove and preheating, and get out most of my ingredients. You don’t need to worry too much about the ratio of quinoa to water; just be generous with the water and you can always drain out the excess.

And one final tip: set the timer once the pork chops go down because four minutes goes by fast, and it’s pretty amazing what you can accomplish while they sizzle away. This dinner finishes beautifully with a squeeze of lemon and whatever fresh greens you may have on hand.

On Board In 20: Fish Tacos, Slaw And Avocado Crema

Welcome to On Board in 20: a recipe series where we share wholesome, family-style meals you can prepare in about 20 minutes. The recipes always contain whole food ingredients and are intended to be brought to the table for family members to build and construct their individual plates as their senses guide them. Along the way, we bring you tips and tricks for speeding up prep and clean up for those busy weeknight meal times.

There have been 12 installments in the On Board in 20 series and I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe for fish tacos here yet! Fish tacos are such a quick, family friendly meal — and by quick I mean lightning speed. Sometimes proteins can be tricky to get on the table in 20 minutes. They usually require some handling (pounding or mincing) and you have to keep a close eye on them. Most fish, however, requires little to no handling and cooks through in about four to five minutes.

The key is ensuring you start with very cold fish (unlike other animal proteins where you want to bring them to room temperature before cooking) and a smoking hot pan. The sear is essential to preventing the fish from falling apart when you remove it from the pan, and a good fish spatula doesn’t hurt either.

I selected cod for tonight’s dinner but easily could have used snapper, halibut or even salmon. Cod is nice because it comes boneless (as with any fish, always keep an eye out though) and flakes really well on high heat. As the cast iron gets to a smoke hot temperature, you can mix the rub and season the fish.

This recipe is very mild and suited for a little one’s taste buds, but a bit of Cajun seasoning or cayenne would give it a nice kick. The cabbage adds a much needed crunch and red cabbage would work equally well.

The avocado crema has several options for variety. If you don’t have a mini processor you could simply layer the avocado, sour cream and cilantro on each tortilla shell and add your own healthy dose of lime. We like the smooth texture of bringing them all together.

And finally, I wouldn’t skip the feta. You could also use queso fresco or Cotija but they are harder to find in our neighbourhood. A small amount of dry feta gives a perfect briny balance to the rich crema and smoky fish.

The Fbc Weekly Menu Plan With Kitchen Frau (Gluten-Free)

Each week, to help our readers with their meal planning, we invite an FBC member to put together a weekly menu plan based on recipes from their blog that includes a week’s worth of dinners from Sunday to Saturday. We include a printable shopping list so you can get everything you need and be ready to cook. And you’ll get introduced to some new recipes and meet some great new Canadian food blogs!

Since converting to a gluten-free diet several years ago due to health reasons, our family has never eaten better. We’ve rediscovered the wonderful flavours of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. My cooking has become more mindful and flavour-intense. Gluten-free cooking is really much simpler than it sounds, and the following recipes are favourites of ours that naturally don’t contain gluten. They include a variety of meats, a slow-cooker meal, a vegetarian meal, and a great menu for casual entertaining on the weekend. Try it out for a week, and see how you feel. You might just discover a whole new way to feel, and to cook.

SUNDAY
It’s summer, so fire up the grill for this easy outdoor meal. Grill some juicy mushrooms and zucchini alongside your chicken breasts and serve with steamed new potatoes to dollop with the zesty Romesco sauce. The extra sauce will be great, for sandwiches or dipping, on your weekday lunches. (Save any extra chicken to add to Tuesday’s salad rolls.) And since it’s Sunday, why not end with a light and luscious dessert with fruits from the farmer’s market? Ruby Red Fruit Salad with Pomegranate Glaze

MONDAY
Start your busy weekday off with the ease of coming home to the delicious aroma of dinner in the slowcooker. Prepare the ingredients on Sunday night so you can pop them in the slowcooker Monday morning without fuss. Serve this one-dish meal with a dollop of ketchup (I won’t tell) and this easy, food processor Red Cabbage Slaw for some added crunch.

TUESDAY
If you’ve never worked with rice paper wraps, you will be delighted with how easy it is. Turn any bits of protein or veggies into delicious hand-held wraps. Make this simple dipping sauce to add a burst of savoury flavour. Saute, grill,or bake a piece of salmon to make these rolls, or in a pinch, use good quality canned salmon (make a few with leftover chicken from Sunday’s dinner, too). Roll a few extras to pack in tomorrow’s lunch.

WEDNESDAY
In a little over half an hour, you can have this comforting and intensely flavourful dish on the table. It’s much easier to make than you think. Serve with a side of sauteed spinach or steamed broccoli for a colourful meal the whole family will love. Slice a juicy fresh mango for dessert.

THURSDAY
Dinner in 10 minutes? Yes, you can. This is the perfect quick and easy meal to serve on those nights when you have a hungry crew to feed in between rushing around to evening activities. It uses deli roast beef slices and any green vegetable you have on hand. Make up a batch of our family’s favourite Apple Cider Vinaigrette to serve over a salad of mixed greens on the side.

FRIDAY
Tonight’s vegetarian meal is perfect to arrange in big bowls, get a glass of wine, and eat while cozying up on the couch after a busy week. The hearty lentils and rice are topped with cranberries and candied spiced pecans, then drizzled with a knock-your-socks-off tahini & miso dressing. It’s time to unwind and celebrate the start of the weekend.

SATURDAY
It’s Saturday Night – why not have friends over for dinner out on the deck? Start with a refreshing Blueberry Sangria, throw some corn cobs on the grill, and let guests help themselves to all the fixings for summery Fish Tacos. Round off this festive tropical meal with glasses of slushy Watermelon-Lime Ice for dessert.

MENU PLAN SHOPPING LIST

Don’t forget to grab your downloadable shopping list (FBC Meal Plan – Kitchen Frau) that includes all your pantry staples as well as fresh foods and the more unique ingredients!