Thursday, 20 December 2012

Sunday Dinner with Chef Simon [Dec'12]

SaskMade Marketplace would like to welcome the esteemed Chef Simon of Simon's Fine Foods in Saskatoon for a new post series here on our blog. Sunday dinners have become a rare and treasured time for families to make time for each other, make meals to remember, and make memories to last a lifetime. Chef Simon will be bringing you inspiration and instruction for your own Sunday meal, using local Saskatchewan ingredients and European inspiration.

Wild rice, lentil, bean, vegetable and goats cheese Pasty

This month’s blog is about what we chefs in the UK used to call “Cornish Pasty” until July 2011 when it received Protected Geographical Indication by the European Commission, which means I have to describe it as above.

Here are a few other names it’s known by: Cornish pasty, pastie, British pasty, oggie, oggy, teddy oggie, tiddy oggin to name a few.

There’s an amazing amount of history behind this simple pastry, and some of the more fun aspects include the reasoning behind the design - specifically the crimping. It was designed to allow the Cornish tin miners to take a meal down the mine, hold on to the pasty by the crimped section, eat the pasty and throw away the piece they held - now covered in dirt. Now that’s some clever food design right there! Some pasties even had savoury at one end and sweet at the other.

 Christmas is fast approaching and food will be the main topic over the holidays so here’s a great way to eat some healthy items in a perfect pastry package.

This recipe is vegetarian, but you can fill your pastry with anything, beef, lamb, chicken, and any flavour to boot.

Here’s the recipe for the pastry I used and I’ll add a gluten free recipe too. The filling can be prepared the day before to speed up the process.

[ Pastry ]


Gluten free pastry dough
  • 2 cups brown rice flour 
  • 1 cup cornstarch 
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 3 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
  • 8-10 Tablespoons cold water 
  • 1 c water 
  • 1 c butter 
Regular Pasty dough (makes 6-8 pastries) 
  • 2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 cup diced cold butter or lard 
  • 2 pinches salt 
  • 8-10 tbsp ice cold water 

In a bowl add the flour, butter and salt and with your fingertips blend quickly until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the cold water and bring together to a dough, careful not to over work. Cling film (or plastic wrap) the ball of pastry and place in the fridge for 15 minutes to rest.

[ Filling ]

  •  4tbsp wild rice cooked and drained 
  • 4tbsp pinto beans cooked and drained 
  • 4tbsp lentils cooked and drained 
  • 3 carrots chopped finely 
  • 3 potatoes chopped finely 
  • 4tbsp goats cheese 
  • 1 small onion chopped finely 
  • 3tsp dried garlic 
  • 3tbsp chopped parsley 
  • 1tsp fresh thyme picked 
  • 1tsp fresh sage chopped 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 3-4 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 egg beaten 

In a bowl, add all the ingredients and mix well. The veggies are uncooked in the mix and will cook in the pastry. Take out the pastry and divide into 8 pieces, roll out to the size of a tea plate (6-7 inch). Place a mound of rice mix on one half and test to see if the pastry will close.

Brush the outside with beaten egg and fold over the pastry, seal the edges well and place on a tray with parchment paper. Brush the pasty with beaten egg all over and pierce the top of the pasty to allow steam to vent. Bake at 400F for about 45 minutes. You can eat the pasty hot or cold.

These pasties are a perfect way to use up meats and veggies and will look amazing on a Boxing Day buffet.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Sunday Dinner with Chef Simon [Nov '12]

SaskMade Marketplace would like to welcome the esteemed Chef Simon of Simon's Fine Foods in Saskatoon for a new post series here on our blog. Sunday dinners have become a rare and treasured time for families to make time for each other, make meals to remember, and make memories to last a lifetime. Chef Simon will be bringing you inspiration and instruction for your own Sunday meal, using local Saskatchewan ingredients and European inspiration.

Pan fried Saskatchewan lamb, pickled carrot and black bean salad, mustard mayo, fingerling potatoes, Saskatoon berry syrup.

Serves 3 Ingredients
  • 1 package lamb loin chops (roughly 6 chops)
  • 1 bag fresh oregano
  • 1 bag fresh mint
  • ½ tsp dried garlic
  • ½ bag fingerling potatoes
  • ½ cup dried black beans
  • 5 pickled carrots
  • 4 tbsp Saskatoon berry syrup
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp grainy mustard
  • Floating Gardens Greenhouse
  • M&M Garlic
  • Living Soils Farm
  • Willow Creek Organic Grain Co
  • Prairie Berries
  • West Bridgeford Meats Ltd.
  • Rylee Green
Lamb History of Saskatchewan  I did a little digging and Sheep have been part of Saskatchewan’s economy for over 140 years with the first Sheep arriving on the Prairies in the 1800’s. There are around 70,000 ewes in the province producing 110,000 lambs each year but there is still room to double this production due to high demand. - CTV news, Saskatchewan Sheep development board

Great news for lamb lovers, SaskMade is soon to carry lamb too! I did my monthly run to SaskMade to look for ingredients for the November blog and as usual I look for the main ingredient and build the dish around it, Candace Ippolito one of the owners of SaskMade had mentioned earlier there was soon to be lamb and beef making its way onto the shelves and I grabbed a package of lamb chops which gave me a head start in my choice.

Prep Work This is a dish in which most of the stages can be prepared ahead of time.
  • Marinate the lamb chops in the chopped mint, oregano, dried garlic and canola oil and place in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • Boil the potatoes until tender and run under cold water until cold, then into the fridge.
  • Making the salad ahead of time will actually improve the flavour, so boil the beans for 60-90 minutes until very tender, then under cold water to chill.
  • Slice the carrots into bite size pieces and place in a bowl, add the drained beans, mayonnaise and mustard and mix well, place in the fridge till required.

Here’s my tip for lamb: if you’re purchasing rack or loin chops then cook the lamb pink! This is going to give you the most taste and the tenderest lamb you can eat.  

Let’s finish the dish...
  • Remove the chops from the fridge about an hour before cooking to allow the meat to come up in temperature.
  • Cut the fingerling potatoes length ways and sauté in canola oil and a knob of butter until golden, then season with salt and pepper and place to one side.
  • In the same pan, add the chops and cook for 3-4 minutes each side on a medium heat. Take the Saskatoon berry syrup and drizzle generously around the lamb to give a sweet kick.
  • Place the potatoes back in the same pan to warm up again and then plate as the photo.
  • Add the pre-made salad to the plate and serve.
  • This dish is so tasty and the combination of the flavours works extremely well with the minty lamb and the piquancy of the pickled carrots with the sweetness of the Saskatoon berry syrup!!
If you have bad memories and experiences eating lamb then a chop is one of the best ways to remedy this as the meat is mild, tender but rich which is perfect for adding lots of flavours to. The recipe allows two chops per person, but I would personally eat at least three.

So for a quick and easy Sunday dinner with lots of flavour try this at home and slam on the lamb!

Happy Cooking!
Chef Simon 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Sunday Dinner with Chef Simon [oct 12]

SaskMade Marketplace would like to welcome the esteemed Chef Simon of Simon's Fine Foods in Saskatoon for a new post series here on our blog. Sunday dinners have become a rare and treasured time for families to make time for each other, make meals to remember, and make memories to last a lifetime. Chef Simon will be bringing you inspiration and instruction for your own Sunday meal, using local Saskatchewan ingredients and European inspiration.

Boneless BBQ Wild Boar side ribs, pearl barley and wild mushroom risotto

This month’s dish is inspired by the weather getting cooler, but still longing for those BBQ days of summer.

People who love to barbeque do so all year round, whatever the weather, but if you want an indoor version then this a great way to achieve a similar product in the oven.

I thought about putting pumpkin somewhere in the dish and you can of course add some to your recipe, but I’m already getting pumpkin fatigue so I went down the road of local carrots and dried wild mushrooms to add depth to my dish.

Firstly, I do want to mention that I’m used to making all my food from scratch so when I design a recipe, one of the most important things is the taste test. This is one of the things I really like about SaskMade - they actually have samples of most of the products they sell for tasting, which makes life much easier when purchasing a new product.

I actually tasted a couple of products that day; one just didn’t quite fit for this dish and the other was the BBQ sauce which tasted very similar to one I make so this was a great fit.

Golden Prairie Wild Boar side ribs: Wild Boar meat is a darker leaner version of domestic pork and the taste really depends on what the animal has foraged but generally it’s a little gamier than pork. The side ribs are generally tougher than the back ribs so just need a little more cooking time.

Prairie Infusions
: Porcini and Chanterelles both dried, Porcinis have a chewy texture and a strong nutty-woodsy, sweet, and meaty taste. Chanterelles have a fruity and nutty taste with a little peppery note. Drying actually increases the taste of mushrooms and they work great in the barley risotto.

Living Soil Farms
: Carrots which are a good size, but still tender and sweet.

Floating Gardens Greenhouse: Hydroponic produce giving me fresh Oregano, Dill and Italian flat leaf parsley.

Barrs BBQ sauce
: Very tasty and I can recognize all the ingredients
Willow Creek : Pearl Barley which is very common in the UK and classically used in Lamb stew and broths.

  • 3 packages of Wild Boar Ribs
  • 6 cups apple juice
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
  • 1 bag dried Porcini mushrooms
  • ½ bag dried Chanterelles
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 5 cups chicken stock (canned or homemade)
  • 2tbsp Canola oil
  • 2tbsp soft butter
  • 6tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 4tbsp fresh chopped Oregano
  • 2tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 6tbsp BBQ sauce
  • Salt and pepper

    • Firstly you need to remove all the membranes and cut the rib in half for ease of use.
    • Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil and a sheet of baking parchment (1 pouch per packet of ribs)
    • Lay the fresh thyme on the paper and one packet of ribs; place the ribs meat side up.
    • Bring the edges of the foil together to make a pouch then add 2 cups of apple juice to each pouch and seal tightly.
    • Place on a baking tray and into a preheated oven at 325 for 2-2.5 hours till the meat is very tender.
    • Once cooked you can allow them to cool then refrigerate for up to 3 days allowing you to do the prep the day before.
    • While hot remove the meat and place into a bowl. (you can leave the meat on the bone and just brush with BBQ sauce)
    • Add the BBQ sauce and mix well then place the meat on a clean tray and broil or roast for 2 minutes until lightly caramelized.
    • While the meat is cooking you make the barley risotto
    • In a thick bottomed pot add the canola oil and butter and soften the diced carrot and onion
    • Next add the garlic, barley and dried mushrooms and 5 cups of chicken stock.
    • Bring to the boil and simmer stirring occasionally until the barley is tender.
    • Finally add the fresh chopped parsley, dill and oregano and taste, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
    • Serve with the BBQ meat on top of the risotto.

    Wild Boar is a great option to the home repertoire, and is perfect for long and slow cooking techniques. Combined with barley, it’s a delicious meal for cold autumn evenings and add a glass of your favourite red wine - wow!

    Wednesday, 3 October 2012

    [product feature] Spelt and Millet: Ancient grains for today’s healthy diet

    When I was growing up, whole wheat flour and rice were exotic options. Now we have a whole range of intriguing choices – buckwheat, spelt, millet, kamut – the list goes on and on. My problem is that I don’t know very much about some of these grains, so I arranged a phone call with Nicole Davis, the Owner/Manager of Daybreak Mill near Estevan.

    Daybreak Mill grows and processes approximately 18 different kinds of flour, whole and de-hulled grains, flakes, cereals, and legumes. They are 100% organic. “We want people to have access to healthy, wholesome food,” Nicole explains.

    Two of Daybreak’s products – spelt and millet – have been nourishing people around the world for over 9,000 years.



    Spelt was cultivated by ancient civilizations in Europe and the Middle East for thousands of years. It grows well in poor soil and doesn’t require fertilizer. It’s resistant to frost and the thick husk protects the grain from insects. However, spelt requires more processing than wheat as the hull must be removed.

    There are, however, advantages to eating spelt. It has more protein than wheat and contains a different form of gluten that is easier to digest.

    Daybreak has been growing spelt since 2003, and it’s their most popular product. “It has a high moisture content and makes a light, moist loaf,” Nicole says.

    They also sell spelt flakes and whole grain. Spelt flour is one of the main ingredients in Daybreak’s Sunrise pancake mix.



    Millet is a member of the corn family with long, broad leaves. Daybreak grows a very old variety of millet that came from the Ukraine. “We call it Alvin’s Millet,” Nicole says, “after Alvin Scheresky, one of the first organic farmers in North America and the original owner of the farm and mill.”

    In North America, millet is primarily used for bird seed, but it’s the sixth most important cereal grain in the world, sustaining more than one third of the world’s population. Millet has a short growing season and grows well in hot, dry conditions. It also stores well, so it’s often set aside in case of famine.

    Millet is gluten-free. Its protein content is similar to wheat and corn, and it’s rich in B vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron and zinc.

    Millet is one of the main ingredients in Daystart cereal, which also contains buckwheat, oat bran, sunflower seeds and brown flax.


    Did you know?

    • There are references to both millet and spelt in the Bible (Ezekiel 4.9, Isaiah 28:25).
    • In 1850, 94% of the cereal acreage in one region of Germany was planted with spelt. Only 5% was producing wheat for bread.
    • Sweet millet porridge is a popular dish in Russia and Germany.
    • Millet is fermented to make beer in Taiwan, pombe in East Africa, and a distilled liquor called rakshi in Nepal.
    • Daybreak Mill has a wide assortment of processing equipment to handle all its different crops. Millet seeds are much smaller than grains of spelt, so they require a different de-huller. The spelt flakes are processed using an old roller mill.
    - by Penny McKinlay, Wanderlust and Words (

    Friday, 21 September 2012

    Sunday Dinner with Chef Simon [Sept21]

    SaskMade Marketplace would like to welcome the esteemed Chef Simon of Simon's Fine Foods in Saskatoon for a new post series here on our blog. Sunday dinners have become a rare and treasured time for families to make time for each other, make meals to remember, and make memories to last a lifetime. Chef Simon will be bringing you inspiration and instruction for your own Sunday meal, using local Saskatchewan ingredients and European inspiration.

    I’ll start by introducing myself and what the purpose of this blog is. I’m a British Chef living here in Saskatoon with my wife and daughter.

    I’m an amateur food photographer (you’ll see my work on the blogs), blogger, and foodie. I’ve been cooking professionally for 24 years now working and running kitchens in hotels restaurants, gastro pubs, wine bars in fact anywhere there’s a stove and a fridge. My food background is making food from scratch using seasonal, local, organic and free range wherever possible.

    I’m the previous Chef/Owner of Simon’s British Flavours restaurant and now run a business called Simon’s Fine Foods where I run cooking classes. I also produce frozen gourmet meals, which can now also be found at SaskMade Marketplace.

    After a recent meeting with April Nichol and Candace Ippolito who are owners of SaskMade, we happened to discover a common theme, and part of that theme is the fact that as busy as we all are in our daily lives, we should try to get back to some traditions where food is concerned.

    Now to me, one of those traditions that is still strong in the UK is Sunday lunch, typically a time when you have a roast joint of meat such as Beef striploin, leg of lamb, pork loin with crackling, chicken and all the accompaniments.

    Here in Canada, Sunday dinner is the tradition. So the idea was between my knowledge of food and SaskMade’s products, we could offer some unique recipes using the wealth of products that are available here in Saskatchewan. Hopefully we'll entice you to try the recipe for yourself, and start your own family tradition where once a month for 2-3 hours you get family or friends together make a meal and sit and talk.

    We make time for lots of things so why not make time to eat well and hang out together? Today I decided to roll into SaskMade and grab a basket and just see what dish would jump out at me, I checked out the frozen meat and fish section first as this would guide the whole decision making process.

    The first item that jumped out was bison, the reason being we don’t have bison in the UK so whenever I get the chance I like cooking with this magnificent beast. So after looking around the shop I chose the following ingredients:

     Burgers? Yep, slabs of ground bison ready to be made into meatballs!

    Meatballs are common in pretty much every country in some form and flavour so as the evenings are starting to cool off I thought this would be a perfect start to a Sunday dinner blog. I would take the meat and use fruit to compliment with the apple and Saskatoon berries, mustard for a little kick and bergamot for a wild prairie note, the wild rice was a great way to add a little texture and chewiness.

    The final dish would be “Baked Bison and Wild Rice Meat Balls,” which sounded pretty good to me.

    • 1 package bison burgers / 2.1lbs 
    • 1 pckt dried wild crabapple (soak in hot water for 1 minute) 
    • 5 tbsp wild rice (before cooking) 
    • 2 tsp dried minced garlic 2 tsp chopped dried bergamot (green leaves only) 
    • 4 tsp German style mustard 
    • 4 tsp Saskatoon berry chutney 
    • 4 tbsp finely chopped shallot or yellow onion 
    • ½ tsp dried thyme leaves 
    • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved 
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil 
    • ½ tsp ground black pepper 
    • ½ tsp salt 4tbsp Canola oil for frying meatballs 
    • 1 whole egg beaten 
    • 3 tbsp panko or dry breadcrumbs 

    Chop the rehydrated apple and bergamot into small pieces.
    In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the tomato and basil.
    Make into 1-1.5 inch balls and place on a tray then into the fridge for 20 minutes.
    In a medium hot frying pan add the canola oil and then seal/brown the bison on all sides.
    Place into a deep pan or a casserole dish then add the chopped tomatoes, torn basil and 1 cup of water.
    Place a lid on top and into a pre-heated oven 345F for about 1 hour.
    You then remove the meatballs and keep in a warm place and reduce the cooking liquid if needed on the stove (you’ll know by taste), then pour over the meatballs top with more torn basil and serve.

    Monday, 12 March 2012

    We might be onto something...

    Last week, organic food news source Rodale News released an article listing the "11 Healthiest Foods in the World". According to J.I. Rodale, they are:
    1. Fish
    2. Kelp
    3. Mushrooms
    4. Coconut
    5. Watercress
    6. Wild berries
    7. Wild rice
    8. Wild game
    9. Maple syrup
    10. Honey
    11. Nuts
    The bolded items are ones we carry in our store. Count 'em - that's 8 of the 11 foods! And you might have noticed that the first one on the list is fish, which just happens to be our feature product this month (we have trout, pickerel, whitefish and pike available). More importantly though, is the fact that those eight foods are available right in Saskatchewan!

    We often lament that it's difficult to eat locally on the Canadian Prairies. With our extreme climate, fresh fruits and vegetables are only available a few months of the year. But this list includes eight foods that we can get right here in Saskatchewan, all year long! Yes, the berries have to come out of the freezer in the winter time, but Saskatoon berries freeze extremely well.

    Aren't we fortunate to have access to some of the healthiest foods in the world, right in our backyard?

    Monday, 30 January 2012

    Life's lessons

    Last night we had a table set up at the SUMA convention in Regina.  It was a great event, probably over 500 people - all very committed to Saskatchewan and its growth!  Met all sorts of awesome peeps and lots who were very interested in some of our best selling products. 

    My business partner, Candace and I had a great chat about social media earlier yesterday - how to better use outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Blogging and what not.  We both agreed that we can use these tools better, that there is great opportunity to talk to our customers and followers. 

    We normally consider ourselves relatively intelligent, easy to have a conversation with and having fairly sharp intuition.  We show up for this trade show with no computer, no iPad and no Camera.  Yup - really ramping up the social media.........good job girls, way to pay attention.

    I always maintained that this journey of opening a business was going to be an experience worth writing about at some point later on in my life and there would be a few key learning's along the way.

    Here is my key learning for this one:
    1) When my kids were born, I had a camera.
    2) When we go on vacation, to swimming lessons, or out for a walk - I take a camera.
    3) When you go to a tradeshow to promote your guessed it - TAKE A CAMERA! 

    Anyways, it's only a mistake if you do is twice; and sometimes you just need to laugh at yourself.  Yesterday was one of those days.

    Friday, 27 January 2012

    The Newsletter

    Greetings all and Happy New Year!

    So in the last 2 weeks we have been working diligently on our upcoming newsletter - to be launched February 6, 2012!! 

    I thought I would share the story on how the newsletter originated.

    Way back in the summer when we were working with our web-designer, we knew instinctively that we wanted to have a way to communicate with our customers and followers so we included a "Sign up for our Newsletter" button on the homepage.  What we underestimated, was how many subscribers there would be so quickly; the "newsletter" idea was one that we kicked around but really thought it would be a late 2012 initiative. 

    While at a party for a friend this fall we were chatting away about how exciting our business is, how much we've learned and just laughing with close friends about all of our "learning's" thus far - trust me there have been many.  A friend of ours pipes up "Hey ladies, hows the business going?  When is the newsletter coming out - I signed up a long time ago and haven't heard anything?"  Candace and I instantly look at each other with the deer in the headlights look.....Newsletter????  What Newsletter?? You see, at this point we are knee deep in Christmas plans and hadn't even thought about the newsletter.  So I came home that night and did a little digging - if a friend has signed up for this, how many others had signed up?  And where did their contact information go?  I had no idea.  Upon searching, and searching - I am by no means technologically inclined; I found what I was looking for.  On November 17, 2011 we had 180 people already subscribe to a newsletter that did not exist.  Holy Crap, I thought!  We have a lot of work to do.  We do not want to disappoint these people.

    So since then, we have created the concept for what I believe is going to be and EPIC (yes I just used that word) newsletter experience!

    We are featuring local food writer and enthusiast Amy-Jo Ehman, author of Prairie Feast; Recipes by Chef Jenny, of New Ground Cafe in Birch Hills and an exciting contest with hopes of engaging the inner cooks in all of our readership!

    If you haven't already subscribed, please follow this link to our homepage and scroll to the "join our newsletter" button!  We look forward to knocking your socks off on February 6 - stay tuned!