Making Jam at St. Lawrence Market


A couple weeks ago, I visited St Lawrence market in Toronto for the first time. I’d been meaning to go for years, but there was always some reason—it was never open on the day I was in Toronto, or I was off elsewhere in the city.

My main reason to go was that I signed up to take a cooking class on Marmalades and Jams. But of course, who goes to a food market and doesn’t buy some delicious things to eat?


Above: Slicing some succulent bacon at Carnicero’s.

My first stop was to buy a breakfast sandwich. Carousel Bakery might have the “World Famous Peameal Bacon Sandwich” but those sandwiches at Carnicero spoke to me. They had gorgeously dark and roasted side bacon and back bacon laid out just waiting to be consumed. The staff member sliced off thick slabs of bacon for me and laid them on a fresh bun. It was almost too much to eat in one sitting, but I tried my best. It had a delicious crust, and moist bacon inside. If I had a cooler, or lived in Toronto, I would have purchased some of the maple chili pork chops they had on display. Alas, I shall just have to make my own!

(One downside to St Lawrence market is that they seem to have neglected people who may want to eat and linger. There are few places to sit down to eat, so be sure to snap up whatever bench or chair becomes available.)

Conveniently, most of the bacon sandwich stands are located right by the main entrance of the market. Coincidence? I think not!

The market does not have many fruit and vegetable stands—San Lorenzo market in Florence is far better for that! However, there was a fresh pasta stand I perused, and some cheese stalls, where I found some Lincolnshire Poacher cheese. One highlight was the cheese and mustard breadsticks at Kozlik’s Mustard shop. I bought one: it was a glorious cheddar and grainy mustard combination, twisted into a croissant dough, and baked with more cheese on top. The combination of flavours is one of my favourites! (I tried the mustard and gruyere cheese stick, which was also excellent).

After some snacking, I went to the demo area upstairs for my cooking class. It was a nice, airy space with a long island workspace. My skills with jam making are already pretty good, so I was primarily there to get some tips and new ideas. I’d never made any sort of marmalade before, nor worked with any professional chefs. It was interesting, and insightful. And the smells of the fruits cooking down was divine!

Meyer lemons have a rich, almost orange-hue, and are full of sweet juice.

We made a batch of Meyer lemon marmalade. The skins are fairly soft and delicate, so it took less time to cook down. The Seville oranges, in contrast, were thicker and more robust, so they needed to cook down for a good hour or more. I’m not much of a fan of marmalade, but those that we made were inspiring and so, so fragrant! We also made a Hot Pepper Tequila jelly, which is excellent with cheese. It has jewel-like flecks of hot pepper in a beautifully clear jelly that catches the light wherever you put it! We got to take home a jar of each of the types of preserves we made. They are so pretty I almost hesitated to open them!

Ladling the Seville orange marmalade into the jars for processing.

Top to bottom: Tequila Hot Pepper Jelly, Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Seville Orange Marmalade.

After the class, I met up with friends for lunch at one of my favourite Toronto restaurants. Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu is a little joint in Koreatown that specializes in soon tofu jigae, a delicious and hearty stew filled with tofu, kimchi, and different cuts of meat. Every time I have been before, the place has been packed. Because of the grotty weather that day, it actually was only about two-thirds full, so we did not have to wait. The menu is small and limited, making food choices simple. I ordered the same thing I do each visit: Kimchi Soon Tofu, which includes little bits of beef and pork in a spicy broth (you pick how hot). The meals are served with banchan, little appetiser-like dishes of kimchi, vegetables, and other pickles. I love the sweet-and-savoury pickled daikon and the umami¬-rich kongjang (soy beans braised in sweetened soy sauce). Our table went through two rounds of banchan—and we ate every little mung mean scrap!

Hot, comforting Korean food on a cold day in Toronto.

When I visit a favourite restaurant for the first time in a while, I always worry that my food won’t live up to the memory I have of it. However, my Kimchi Soon Tofu was as delicious as I remembered, bubbling hot and filled with fluffy clouds of soft tofu. It was the perfect food for the cold, drizzly afternoon we had. If I had easier access to Korean ingredients in my town, I would love to try making my own version of the dish. Perhaps a future experiment?

Buttermilk Scones


When I lived in the UK, one of the many foods that I discovered were scones. I’d heard of them before, of course, but I’d never had any reason or inclination to try them. Friends of mine used to enjoy whipping up a batch as an afternoon snack. One afternoon when I visited, we made a fresh batch and ate them with strawberry jam and heaps of double cream. They were simple, sweet, and delicious. After that, I made a point to a) find my own go-to recipe, and b) have scones whenever the opportunity presented itself, especially when visiting country houses and castles.

Scones originated in Scotland, where they were with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle before being cut into triangular sections for serving. The word is first recorded in the early 16th century, so they have been around in some form for the better part of 500 years. Scones became a popular component of the Afternoon tea, after Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788 – 1861) ordered her servants to bring her tea and some sweet breads, which included scones.

Scones can be sweet or savoury. Some are made from oats or potatoes; others include dried fruit or nuts. My favourite way to eat a scone is with the ubiquitous strawberry jam and double (or clotted) cream. Double cream can be hard to find in North America, so I don’t have scones as often as I did in the UK.

My favourite scone recipe is and old one from—from so long ago that the website no longer exists! You can easily halve the recipe, which I often do, and they freeze well.

Buttermilk Raisin Scones

Makes 9 scones

2 cups A/P flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
1 cup raisins
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 2 tsp lemon juice topped with milk to total a 1/2 cup)

1. Preheat the oven to 385 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or by hand until the pieces are the size of peas. Add in the raisins.

3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add the egg and buttermilk to the well. Stir liquid ingredients, then mix everything together until just combined.

4. Turn the mixture onto a floured surface. With floured hands, pat the dough out to a rectangular shape about 1 inch thick. Fold the dough over itself, pat out again, then fold it back into a circular shape. (Basically, fold the dough over itself twice)

5. Cut scones into triangular shapes, or use a 2-3” diameter biscuit cutter to cut the dough evenly into 9 scones.

6. Place the scones about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. For a nicely golden top, brush scones with milk or an eggwash (optional).

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Serve with jam, and butter or double cream.

Chef’s Plate review

(Note: No one paid or encouraged me to write this review. I just want to share my food experience with others!)

Does anyone else find themselves in a food rut from time to time? Usually around January every year I find myself in a “food rut.” I’m tired of the same old recipes we’ve been making for the season, but I can’t seem to think of anything interesting or exciting to make. Or if I do come up with a different idea, I don’t have the time or inclination to make it on a weeknight.

Some of my work colleagues swear by Chef’s Plate, one of the many meal kit services that deliver door to door. I was intrigued by some of the recipes—Spicy Chicken Taquitos, Greek Turkey Burgers, Pork and Ramen Stir Fry. These were recipes I could easily make myself, but hadn’t thought of on my own. Like most people, I have my usual repertoire of recipes, and have to be in the right cooking frame of mind to do something completely new.

My colleagues raved about the food. “Everything has been delicious!” one told me. I was a bit skeptical, as my colleagues happily eat stale cookies and think those are fantastic. Nevertheless, I wanted to get outside my food rut.

We decided to order food for the week. You have a choice of how many suppers: two, three, or four. To get the best price with our introductory discount, we choose three suppers. The box of food was delivered by courier, and packed well: produce on the top, followed by a divider, with ice packs and the meat on the bottom. The meat was still partially frozen when it arrived, which alleviated my fears about the fish and chicken.

First Night: Lemon and Za’atar Basa with Broccoli Tabbouleh

I was intrigued by this meal. I had never eaten Basa before, and I like broccoli. Unfortunately, the website does not allow you to filter out (or pick out) most foods you don’t like. I do not like fresh tomatoes, so I set those aside.

All of the ingredients were portioned out, from the spices to the vegetables. The recipe cards are very time specific, and you have to follow the steps exactly. My cooking tends to be a bit more freestyle, with a bit of mis en place and a bit of chopping and adding extras to taste as I go. I did my best to follow the steps religiously, and the timing of the meal (30 minutes from start to finish) was pretty much spot on.

I admit, I doctored the meal. Firstly, I don’t like raw garlic or tomatoes. So I added the garlic and about 5 baby tomatoes to the millet as it cooked. I also added some chicken stock paste to the water to better flavour the millet. When mixing the millet “tabbouleh,” I added some feta cheese as well.

Result: The meal had good flavour. I liked my changes to the broccoli tabbouleh, especially the added feta, which added a nice salty, creamy hit to the roasted broccoli. Roasting the broccoli was delicious, and I would do it again for different recipes. Because I had extra tomatoes left over, I gave them to a colleague the next day.

The fish was good with the za’atar, but better with only lemon. The texture was a bit soft for our tastes. Perhaps a piece of sole, or a thin piece of cod would be tastier.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 plates

Second Night: BBQ Chicken with Warm Potato Salad

This meal was one of the “15 Minute Meals,” so everything is pre-chopped for you. The instructions, again, were pretty straight forward.

The green beans were a bit sad looking, so I chopped the ends off. I usually buy much smaller, tenderer beans. The beans included were very old and stringy. I wasn’t sure how they would turn out.

I had to dry off the pre-roasted potato chunks, then warm them in the oven with the beans. Chef’s Plate uses a LOT of the same style of cooking: something in the pan, and something roasted in the oven. This recipe was consistent with that style.

The potato salad, again, required doctoring because we don’t like fresh dill. Instead, I chopped up some green onion and swapped out half of the regular mayo included for Miracle Whip. It needed a bit of sugar as well.

The chicken needed more BBQ sauce. This was an easy fix with our bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s.

Result: Like the first night, this meal also had good flavour. I don’t think I would roast beans again with panko crumbs, but we agreed that we would make the potato salad again. The chicken portions seemed a bit small, though we didn’t feel hungry after eating. Less leftover sides this night.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 plates

Third Night: Balsamic Steak with Parmesan Potatoes

I was particularly looking forward to this supper, because I like to eat a good piece of steak!

After cutting the potatoes, I decided that they seemed a bit anemic seasoned only with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Some paprika and oregano helped kick the potatoes up a notch before I started roasting them.

The salad was simple: lemon juice, honey mustard, oil, salt and pepper, and oil. All of the recipes assume you have some sort of oil on hand, so for the dressing, I used a lemon-infused olive oil, which ramped up the flavour. We also added some dried cranberries and feta to the salad for texture and flavour, because spinach leaves on their own aren’t terribly exciting.

The balsamic reduction for the steak didn’t make enough. I increased the amount of balsamic vinegar and butter, and added a bit of sugar to counterbalance the sourness.

As for the potatoes, I was immensely disappointed that the meal kit included a package of ground canister-style “parmesan.” If you are going to have parmesan, have the real umami-filled Parmegiano Reggiano (or at least Grana Padano). Of course, I grated some real Parmegiano to add to the potatoes.

Result: This was probably our favourite meal. The salad was tasty. The potatoes we would definitely make again. The steak sauce was luxurious with the buttery balsamic shallots. However, the steak itself had a big piece of grizzle running through it. We had to hack around it, and gnaw at it like Neanderthals. Flank steak is not my favourite cut of beef in the least. I also wanted a shade more meat, since there was a fair bit of wastage once we got the grizzle out.

Rating: 4 out of 5 plates with a different cut of steak

Overall, I thought it was worth a try. It did give us some different recipes from our usual, and I enjoyed having everything delivered to my doorstep. However, there was a LOT of packaging—everything was individually packaged in little bags or containers. At least it is nearly all recyclable or reusable.

For a person who doesn’t cook much, or needs a lot of guidance in the kitchen, a meal kit would be a great way to improve their cooking. If you have a hard time with portion size, or cook only for one, it would also be a good investment. For me, though, it was fun to do for a week, and I like getting ideas from their upcoming menus, but it won’t be a regular thing.