Toronto Eats Book Excerpt

Toronto Eats

By / Photography By Ryan Szulc | October 01, 2017
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Just three years after the chart-topping launch of Toronto Cooks, award-winning journalist and food writer Amy Rosen and photographer Ryan Szulc are, as Rosen writes, "back for seconds" with the follow-up cookbook, Toronto Eats. The book includes more than 100 recipes by 50 of the city's top chefs, representing new talent and restaurant openings as well as returning favourites. As Rosen writes in the book's introduction, "our city's chefs represent the countless cultures, and their flavours and techniques, that make up the culinary fabric of our city today. From Mumbai chili crab to okonomiyaki, the world appears on our dinner plates." And while the book showcases the growth and diversity of Toronto's culinary landscape by sharing the recipes of many of our beloved restaurant dishes, you don't need to be a professional chef to recreate them at home. Whet your appetite with the following recipes we've selected from Toronto Eats as the perfect celebration of the fall harvest. — Tara Simpson


Peter Sanagan
Sanagan's Meat Locker

Peter Sanagan was a chef for many years before opening his eponymous butcher shop in Kensington Market. “I was interested in bringing the kind of local quality Ontario meat you see in restaurant kitchens to a retail level,” he explains, “and cutting it in a way to help people cook it at home.” Sausages are a specialty. “When you buy whole pigs, you have to figure out what to do with all the bits that are difficult to sell. We learned to make good sausages very quickly.” Pigs, lambs, and goats are brought in whole, but Sanagan is especially big on pork. “It’s the one animal we can use almost all of,” he says. The look of the space mimics the excitement of the butcher shops of Italy and France; it’s basically butchery porn. There are the fresh cuts of protein, of course, but also roasted chickens, sandwiches, terrines, pork hocks, and a million types of bacon—which can be used to make choucroute garnie, a popular Alsatian dish that’s easy to replicate at home. “On the next cold night, invite some friends over, put down a pot of this in the centre of the table, and serve it with a baguette, good-quality mustard, a jar of gherkins, and plenty of riesling,” says Sanagan. “You’ll be a star.”

Sanagan's Meat Locker
176 Baldwin St., Toronto, Ont., 416.593.9747

Choucroute Garnie Serves 8

Spice bag
1 tablespoon juniper berries
6 bay leaves
10 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 slices bacon, diced
3 large onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large smoked ham hock, cut into quarters (ask your butcher to cut it on the band saw)
1 small head Savoy cabbage, shredded
2 cups fermented sauerkraut
2 cups dry white wine (e.g., riesling, gewürztraminer, or pinot gris)
4 smoked pork chops (Kassler chops)
4 pork wieners (hot dog style)
4 large smoked pork sausages (any decent brand will do)
4 weisswurst sausages (look for them in any German or Eastern European deli)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Boiled mini potatoes, to serve
Melted butter and chives, for garnish

Spice bag Combine berries, bay leaves, and thyme in a cheesecloth sachet.

Choucroute In a heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat, melt butter. Add bacon, onions, and garlic and sauté for 7 minutes, until translucent. Add ham hock, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Add cabbage and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until cabbage is translucent.

Add sauerkraut, wine, and spice bag, cover, and cook for 11/2 hours, until the meat on the hock is pulling away from the bone. Using tongs, transfer ham hock to a cutting board. Remove the bones and skins from the hock and return it to the pot. Add pork chops, wieners, and sausages. Cover and steam for 12 to 15 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer pork chops, wieners, and sausages to a cutting board and cut into 1-inch slices so they can be shared. Check the seasoning of the cabbage and add salt and pepper, if necessary.

Discard the sachet. To serve, pile cabbage stew onto a large platter and arrange smoked meats on top. Toss potatoes in butter, salt, and chives and serve alongside the choucroute garnie. Other great accompaniments include crusty bread, gherkins, and grainy mustard.

Pork in Cider Serves 6

6 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
2 cups dry hard apple cider
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Puréed celeriac or mashed potatoes, to serve

3 tablespoon olive oil
3 lbs boneless, skinless pork shoulder (capocollo), tied
4 large onions, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, seeded, and quartered
2 large carrots, chopped
1 rib celery, diced

Bouquet garni
4 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
6 sprigs fresh sage

Rub In a small bowl, combine rub ingredients. Rub over pork, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Pork Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat olive oil in a large heavybottomed roasting pan or enamel pot on medium-high. Add pork shoulder and sear all over to brown. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Reduce heat to medium, add onions, and sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Add apples, carrots, and celery and cook for another 10 minutes, or until vegetables have lightly caramelized.

Bouquet garni Tie herbs together with kitchen string. Return pork to the pan, pour in cider, and cook for about 8 minutes, or until cider is reduced by half. Add chicken stock and bouquet garni to the pan. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, cover, and place on centre rack in the oven. Braise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning pork once during cooking.

Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to rest for 30 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board, remove the twine, and cover with foil and a tea towel to keep it warm while preparing the sauce. Strain cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve, then push the solids through the sieve with the back of a ladle. Place liquid into a saucepan, bring to a boil, and reduce by a quarter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (The sauce will be on the thin side.)

Slice pork and place on a serving platter. Pour sauce over pork and serve with puréed celeriac or mashed potatoes.


Jennifer Italiano
Live Organic Food Bar

Jennifer Italiano and her co-owner brother Christopher Italiano's groundbreaking hub for plant-based food is colourful and streamlined, yet homey too. Generous organic, vegan, and gluten- and wheat-free meals are served without guilt but with loads of quotation marks: there are the crave-worthy nachos with corn chips, sunflower "refried beans," guacamole, salsa, walnut "taco meat," cashew "sour cream," and cashew cheese. Some of the most popular items include imaginative twists on go-to classics, such as Jennifer's pulled burdock burrito and the vegan manicotti. "The pretty and satisfying zucchini manicotti with cashew dill ricotta is a Live staple," she says. She suggests preparing the main ingredients a day ahead, making for quick and impressive assembly around dinnertime. Meanwhile, her "cheesecake" with local strawberry sauce is a no-bake delight and the perfect capper at your next dinner party. "Your guests won't even know it's vegan," she promises. Delicious food (and amazing juices and smoothies) that makes you feel better for eating it? That's just one of many reasons why this healthy spot is still so hot.

Live Organic Food Bar
264 Dupont St., Toronto, Ont., 416.515.2002

Zucchini Manicotti with Cashew-Dill Ricotta Serves 4

Cashew-dill ricotta
1 1/2  cups raw cashews, covered in hot water and soaked overnight
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon grey salt
Water, to thin mixture (optional)

Red pepper marinara
1 clove garlic
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grey salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, covered in warm water and soaked for 4 to 6 hours
2 field tomatoes, diced
1 red pepper, seeded
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Hemp seed basil pesto
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons raw hemp seeds
1 clove garlic
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil, plus extra if needed

2 to 3 zucchini, ends trimmed
1 cup sprouts or microgreens, to serve
Fresh dill, to serve

Cashew-dill ricotta Drain cashews and set aside. In a food processor, combine dill, onions, garlic, yeast, lemon juice, and salt and pulse until a paste is formed. Add cashews and mix until very smooth yet fairly firm. Add a little water to loosen mixture up, if necessary.

Red pepper marinara In a food processor, combine garlic, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne and pulse. Drain sun-dried tomatoes and add to mixture, along with tomatoes, red pepper, and olive oil and process until smooth.

Hemp seed basil pesto Place basil, hemp seeds, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, scraping down sides as needed. Add lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Gradually drizzle in olive oil until mixed. If pesto is too thick to dollop, thin out with additional oil.

To assemble Using a mandolin, cut zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices. You will need 32 slices in total (8 per person). Lay slices on a cutting board. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of cashew-dill ricotta on top and spread along the surface. Roll to enclose the filling.

To serve, spread 1/4 cup of pesto around the perimeter of each of 4 plates, then place 8 zucchini rolls horizontally across the plate. You can stack some or leave them neatly beside each other, depending on how creative you feel. Dollop some marinara on the rolls and top with more pesto. Garnish with sprouts or microgreens and a few sprigs of dill. Serve at room temperature.


Cory Vitiello
Flock Rotisserie and Greens

Cory Vitiello, chef and owner of the late, great Harbord Room, has opened another instant hit, which features two enduring trends in one handsome spot: take-out gourmet salads and rotisserie chicken. With four locations in the works, it's a concept that works. Gleaming French Rotisol rotisseries spin naturally raised chickens with crisped skin, which you should choose to side with sweet potato chunks cooked in the schmaltz dripping and chililime salt. But back to those salads. The Boho Flock is a great example of a kitchen-sink winner: marinated kale, red quinoa, roasted and raw beets, currants, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate vinaigrette and more texture, flavour, freshness, zing. A nourishing chicken soup is also on offer, as well as pulled rotisserie sandwiches with crunchy lettuce and avocado on soft milk buns. The Harbord Street location — with the beautiful room and its marble-topped bar and leather booths as well as a patio — is a more elaborate sit-down affair rather than a graband- go deal and features the likes of a fried chicken platter and mac and cheese on the menu. But kudos to Vitiello for giving Torontonians hearty and healthy options, done with such care. It's nice to feel good about what you've eaten, even when it happens to be a killer lime tart for dessert.

Flock Rotisserie + Greens
97 Harbord St., 330 Adelaide St. W., 67 Richmond St. W., 175 Bloor St. E., Toronto, Ont., 647.748.7199

Slow-Cooked Chicken with Tomatillos, Poblano Peppers, Sheep’s Milk Cheese, and Corn Pudding Serves 6

Slow-cooked chicken
6 chicken legs, bone-in, skin-on
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon canola oil
6 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
10 tomatillos, husked, washed, and halved
3 poblano chilies, stemmed, seeded, and quartered lengthwise
1 small onion, sliced

Corn pudding
8 ears of corn, kernels removed
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Butter (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled fresh soft sheep's milk cheese (such as feta)
Cilantro leaves
1/2 charred lemon (optional)
Pickled red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds
Juice and zest of 2 limes
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stems and roots chopped (set aside leaves for garnish)
1 tablespoon salt

Slow-cooked chicken Season chicken legs with salt and pepper. Heat canola oil in a frying pan on high. Add chicken legs, skin-side down, and sear for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Flip and sear for another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on mediumhigh heat. Add tomatillos and cook for 15 minutes, until browned, blistered, and the juices are released. Add chilies, onions, garlic, fennel seeds, lime juice and zest, and wine and cook for 5 minutes, until wine has reduced by a quarter.

Add chicken to the pan, pour in stock, and add cilantro stems and roots and salt. Ensure that three-quarters of the chicken is covered in liquid (add more stock, if needed). Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir gently, cover, and cook for another 45 to 60 minutes, until the meat falls off the bone. The end result should be slightly soupy. If there is too much liquid and you want to thicken and intensify the stock, carefully transfer the chicken to a plate, increase heat to high, and boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Return chicken to the pan.

Corn pudding Preheat the oven to 300F. Place corn kernels and water into a blender, working in batches if necessary, and purée for several minutes, until silky smooth. Transfer corn to a small roasting pan, add butter and salt, stir, and bake for about 30 minutes. Stir and then bake for another 60 minutes, until thickened. (You want the pudding to cook down very slowly to reduce and concentrate its naturally sweet flavour.)

To assemble Stir Parmigiano-Reggiano into the corn pudding and add a knob of butter, if desired. Spoon a generous amount of corn pudding into a wide-rimmed plate or wide bowl and spread it out slightly, leaving a well in the centre. Spoon a chicken leg and a generous amount of sauce into the well. Garnish with sheep’s milk cheese and cilantro leaves, plus lemon and red onion, if using.

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